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Certain Qualities of Believers

Adil Salahi

Arab News

Some Hadiths specify certain characteristics or qualities of believers. Such Hadiths either express the normal state of things or a state to which a believer should aspire because it indicates how a believer should handle matters, or how he should conduct himself in different situations.

One such Hadith states: “A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah). The Prophet (peace be upon him) uses here for biting a word that is associated primarily with biting by reptiles or other poisonous creatures. This Hadith means that while it is possible for a believer to suffer a bite by a snake or a similar creature because he is taken unaware, the same thing should not be allowed to happen twice. He should always be careful so that he would not commit the same mistake, or be in the same situation of overlooking real danger, more than once.

While this Hadith speaks of a real life situation that requires paying full attention to one’s surroundings at all times, it is also meant figuratively. Indeed, the circumstances leading to this statement provide a clear indication that it is so. During the Battle of Badr, one of the unbelievers taken prisoner by the Muslims was Abu Azzah, a poet who often attacked Islam and the Prophet. When the Prophet decided that the prisoners could be freed in return for ransom, Abu Azzah spoke to the Prophet and appealed to him to grant his release without a ransom, because he was poor and had a family to support. The Prophet granted his request after the man pledged that he would never criticize the Prophet or attack Islam. However, soon after he was granted his freedom, Abu Azzah reverted to insulting the Prophet and satirizing Islam in his poetry. Some time later, he was again taken prisoner by the Muslims. Again he appealed to the Prophet for his release, protesting that he had a poor family to support. In reply to his appeals, the Prophet made this statement: “A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice.”

Thus, the Hadith means that a believer should never be so gullible that he would be deceived by the same trick more than once, in the same way one who is bitten by a snake would be very careful not to be bitten again.

The Prophet also highlighted certain actions and made clear that a person who resorts to them does not belong to the Muslim community. These are actions that are treacherous or hostile or unbecoming. One such action that is universally known by all Muslims is cheating, because the Prophet says: “Whoever cheats does not belong to us.”

Another Hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: “Whoever hits us at night does not belong to us.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Ahmad). However, Ahmad’s version reads differently: “Whoever hits us with arrows does not belong to us.” In Arabic writing the two versions look very similar with a difference in two letters of one word. Regardless how we read it, the Prophet makes clear that a person whose attitude is such as to try to cause injury to a group of believers does not belong to the community of believers.

A similar Hadith is reported by Abu Hurayrah and Abu Musa Al-Ashari, quoting the Prophet as saying: “Whoever carries arms against us does not belong to us.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Al-Tahawi). This is easily understood because a person who carries arms against a group of people certainly has no love for them and does not consider himself belonging to them even though he may be related to them by blood. This applies in a wider context, with one who carries arms against a group of Muslims, in his own community or in a different community, considered not to belong to the Muslim community in totality, i.e. he is not a Muslim. How could he belong to them when he is ready to fight them with arms? Commenting on this Hadith, Imam Al-Nawawi says: “Such a person does not benefit by our guidance, follow our example and implement our ways. It is like a father who says to his son, ‘you do not belong to me’, when the son’s behaviour is unacceptable to the father.”

All these Hadiths that place certain individuals outside the Muslim community point out certain odious, contemptible or evil practices which cannot be associated with the Prophet, his message, or divine faith. Hence, the Prophet always described them as not belonging to him or to his community. Only what is good, respectable and beautiful belongs to him. Hence people who do the former type of practices do not belong to the Prophet’s community, and those who do the latter type belong to him.

On a totally different subject, the Prophet is quoted to have said: “If God wants to gather someone’s soul in a particular area, He makes it necessary for him to travel there.” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Tirmidhi and others).

This Hadith provides a hint of how God’s will is accomplished. God does not determine only the time when every living thing dies, but He also determines how and where that person or animal meet their death. The Prophet tells us in this Hadith that if a person is scheduled by God to die at a particular place, God makes it necessary for him to go there. It may be something that attracts him to the land in question, or he may need to go there for business or to attend to some other need. Whatever it may be, if he lives somewhere else, or happens to be somewhere else and his time of death approaches, but it is scheduled to happen at a distant place, he will find it necessary to go to the place where he is to spend his last moments. When he is there, death occurs at the time appointed by God and by the cause He has determined. The important thing for everyone of us is to be ready to meet one’s end at anytime, because we cannot be sure when this happens. Since we will all meet God, it is important to be prepared at all times, doing what earns His pleasure and refraining from what incurs His anger.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.