The Rank of the Messenger and His Community — `Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam

Bidayat as-sul fi Tafdil ar-Rasul (The Beginning of the Quest for the High Esteem of the Messenger) is a concise work summarising succinctly forty distinctive virtues and characteristics of the Messenger of Allâh (Allah bless him and give him peace)

The Author Imam ‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, known by many as the Sultan of Scholars, produced a number of brilliant works in Shafi`i jurisprudence, Qur’anic exegesis, methodological fundamentals of Sacred Law, formal legal opinion, government, and Sufism, and a masterpiece on Islamic legal principles, Qawa’id al-ahkam fi masalih al-anam [The Bases of Legal Rulings in the Interests of Mankind].

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14. Another favour is that Allah, exalted is He, records a reward for every prophet according to the actions, states and words of his community, and his community will be half the people of the Garden,[21] and Allah, exalted is He, reported that his community is the best community brought out to people.[22] Their being the best of all communities is because of the knowledge, goodly states, words and actions, which characterise them. Every knowledge, goodly state, worship, statement or anything by which one draws close to Allah, mighty is he and exalted, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless his and grant him peace, directed people to and prayed for, he has the reward for it and the reward for whoever acts by it until the Day of Rising[23] because of his, may Allah bless his and grant him peace, words, “Whoever calls [others] to guidance has the reward for of whoever acts by it until the Day of Rising.”[24] None of the [other] prophets reached this rank.

It is reported in a hadith, “Created beings are the dependants of Allah, and the most beloved of them to Him are those who are the most beneficial to His dependants.”[25] Since the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was beneficial to half of the people of the Garden, and the other prophets were only beneficial to one section of the other half, his position, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in nearness [to Allah] in according to his position in being of benefit.

There is no gnostic of his community but the like of the reward of his gnosis is added to the gnosis of the Prophet, may Allah bless his and grant him peace.

There is no one of his community with a goodly state but that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has the same reward for his state added to the states of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

There is no one statement by which he draws near to Allah, mighty is He and majestic, but that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has the same reward of that statement added to his statements and his conveying of His Message.

There is no action by which one draws near to Allah, mighty is He and majestic, whether of prayer, zakat, setting slaves free, jihad, piety, dhikr, steadfastness, pardon and forgiving, but that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has the same reward as the one who does it added to his reward for his actions.

There is no high degree or glorious rank which any of his community obtains by guidance and direction but that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has the same reward added to his degree and rank, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. That is multiplied because for those of his community who call people to guidance[26] or initiate a good sunnah, he has the reward for that according to the number of those who act by it and then this multiplied reward goes to our Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, because he directed people to it and guided to it. This is why Musa, peace be upon him, wept on the Night Journey with longing for the good fortune of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, since more of his community would enter the Garden than those of the community of Musa.[27] He did not weep out of envious resentment as some ignorant people imagine, rather it was out of sorrow for what he had missed of a rank like his.

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[21] That is reported as a marfu` hadith by Abu Sa`id al-Khudri with the wording, “Allah, mighty is He, will say on the Day of Rising, ‘O Adam!’ He will reply, ‘At your service and your obedience, our Lord!’ There will be a call in a voice, ‘Allah commands you to bring out from your descendants those to be sent to the Fire!’ He will ask, ‘O Lord, what is [the amount] of those sent to the Fire?’ He will reply, ‘Of every thousand (and I think) nine hundred and ninety-nine.’ ‘At that time the child will become white-haired and every pregnant female shall drop her load (unformed), and you will see mankind as in a drunken riot, yet not drunk, but dreadful will be the punishment of Allah.’ (22:2) That was hard on the people and their faces were ashen. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Nine hundred and ninety-nine will be taken from Ya’juj and Ma’juj and one from you. Among people you are like black hair on the hide of a white ox, or like white hair on the hide of a black ox. I hope you will be a quarter of the people of the Garden.’ We said, ‘Allah is greater!’ Then he said, ‘A third of the people of the Garden,’ and we said, ‘Allah is greater!’ Then he said, ‘Half of the people of the Garden,’ and we said, ‘Allah is greater!'”

Al-Bukhari relates it in the Book Pertaining to the Softening of Hearts under the heading ‘The tremor of the Hour will be a tremendous event,’ and Muslim in the Book of Iman under the heading “His statement: ‘Allah says to Adam ‘Bring out.'”

[22] He means His words, exalted is He, “You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong, and believe in Allah.” (3:110)

[23] He indicated the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Anyone who inaugurates a good sunnah in Islam will have its reward and the reward of those who act by it after him without decreasing their reward at all.” Muslim and others related it from the hadith of Jarir ibn `Abdullah al-Bajah in the Book of Knowledge under the heading ‘He who inaugurates a good sunnah or a bad one and he who calls to righteousness or misguidance.’

[24] Muslim narrated the hadith (2674) under Knowledge, the chapter on ‘Whoever sets a good or a bad sunnah,’ from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, as a marfu` hadith with the wording, “Whoever calls to guidance will have the same reward of as the rewards of follows him without decreasing their reward in any way. And whoever calls to misguidance will have a punishment like the punishments of those who follow him without decreasing their punishments in any way.”

[25] Reported by Abu Ya`la in his Musnad (3315) and al-Harith ibn Abi Usamah as in al-Matalib al-`aliyyah (897) from Anas ibn Malik.

[26] Indicating the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Anyone who calls to guidance has a reward like the reward of those who follow him, and that does not decrease their rewards at all.” Muslim related it in the Book of Knowledge under the heading ‘He who inaugurates a good sunnah or a bad one and he calls to righteousness or misguidance.’

[27] This story of the Night Journey is confirmed from the marfu` hadith of Anas ibn Malik. It has: “Then he ascended with me to the sixth heaven and when I arrived there, there was Musa. Jibril said, ‘This is Musa; greet him.’ So I greeted him, and he returned the greeting. Then he said, ‘Welcome to the righteous brother and righteous Prophet.’ When I passed he wept and he was asked, ‘What makes you weep?’ He replied, ‘I weep because a lad who was sent after me will have more of his community enter the Garden than will enter it from my community.'” Al-Bukhari related it in the Virtues of the Ansar under the heading, ‘The ascension’ and Muslim in his Sahih in the Book of Iman under the heading, ‘The Night Journey of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to the heavens and the obligation of prayers.’

Bidayat as-Sul fi Tafdil ar-Rasul (The Beginning of the Quest for the High esteem of the Messenger), Imam `Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam, translated by Aisha Bewley, published by Turath Publishing, p.28-31

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Filed under Aqidah/Belief, Hadith, Islam, Religion, Seeking knowledge

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