How did the greatest generation (the ṣaḥābah) understand the concept of knowledge and action?
Now, we come to amazing stories of the ṣaḥābah, may Allāh ﷻ be pleased with them all, who, once they learned something, they acted upon it immediately. How clean their hearts were! How willing they were to sacrifice everything they had for their Creator! How motivated they were that they always had Paradise and Hell-fire in their sights! This is what raised them in the Sight of Allāh ﷻ and this is why Allāh gave them victory and opened up the entire world for them.
‘Ali ibn Abi Ṭālib, may Allāh ﷻ be pleased with him:
He was taught by the Prophet ﷺ to say before going to bed, subḥānallāh 33 times, alḥamdulillāh 33 times and Allāhu akbar 34 times. The Prophet ﷺ said that this would suffice him for any material needs. ‘Ali, may Allāh ﷻ be pleased with him, never left this act. He was asked, ‘Not even on the battle of ṣiffīn?’ He replied: ‘No, not even on the battle of ṣiffīn.’ The battle of ṣiffīn was during the caliphate of ‘Ali while he was also a commander engaged in tactics of warfare. His acts of worship were so great that once, a person entered upon him during one of the nights of the battle while he was praying the night prayer in his tent. The person complained saying, ‘O leader of the believers, by day you are fasting and by night you are praying lengthy prayers, and between all of that you are involved in the business of warfare!’ ‘Ali replied: ‘the journey to the abode of the hereafter is a long journey, and it is shortened by excessive night prayer.’
Umm ḥabībah (The Prophet’s ﷺ wife), may Allāh ﷻ be pleased with her:
Nu’mān ibn Sālim narrated from ‘Amr ibn Aws, who narrated from ‘Anbasah ibn Abi ṣufyān, who narrated from Umm ḥabībah bint Abi ṣufyān, who said: The Prophet ﷺ said:
“A person who performs 12 rak’ah (units of prayer) every day will have a house built for them in Paradise. They are: 4 before Dhuhr and 2 after it, 2 after Maghrib, 2 after ‘ishā and 2 before Fajr.” (at-Tirmidhī)
There’s a reason why I quoted the chain of narration.
Umm ḥabībah said, ‘I never left these [12 rak’ah] after I heard of them from the Prophet ﷺ.’ ‘Anbasah (the person who narrated the ḥadīth from Umm ḥabībah) had the same response and never left these 12 rak’ah prayers. The other narrators in the chain, ‘Amr ibn Aws and Nu’mān ibn Sālim also had the same response and didn’t leave these sunnah prayers either!
There are stories like this in our times!
An elderly man came to the Imām and asked him to teach him something. The imām didn’t know this man and so gave a general teaching and quoted to him the ḥadīth of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ found in ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri:
“Two statements that are light on the tongue, heavy on the scales and beloved to ar-Raḥmān: subḥānallāhi wa bi ḥamidih, subḥānallāhil ‘aẓīm (Perfect is Allāh ﷻ and all praise and thanks are to Him, Perfect is Allāh ﷻ, the Great).”
The elderly man asked the imām to repeat this to him so he could memorize this ḥadīth. The imām repeated it. The elderly man then requested the imām to repeat it again until the imām repeated it a good few times. The elderly man memorized it, said it to himself a few times and then walked away.
Every time the elderly man would meet people he would teach them this ḥadīth. He became known amongst his family for teaching this ḥadīth to everyone who came by. It so happened that he became ill and undertook a procedure in a hospital. When he woke up, he looked around and noticed his family members were there. He also noticed someone he hadn’t seen before – one of the doctors from the hospital. He told the doctor to come closer to him. He then said to him:
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“Two statements that are light on the tongue, heavy on the scales and beloved to ar-Raḥmān: subḥānallāhi wa bi ḥamidih, subḥānallāhil ‘aẓīm (Perfect is Allāh and all praise and thanks are to Him, Perfect is Allāh, the Great).”
He then passed away. These were the last words of his life. What a noble death!
Dear readers, this elderly man possessed very little knowledge. What made him stand out from others, however, was that he actually lived with his knowledge. He mastered it. He never left it. He implemented it in his daily life.
What about us?
We know the virtues of many different good deeds but do we practise them ever, let alone practise them daily?
We know so much but we act so little! We know we should stay away from doing ḥarām deeds, yet we do them – we indulge ourselves in interest, lusts, desires, wronging others, leaving obligations. We know what we should and should not do but we don’t act upon it.
Is our knowledge an evidence for us or an evidence against us?
- Intend to be a person who acts upon their knowledge! Intend to invest in your next life through performing many good deeds! Remember, an intention is not simply a thought that crosses the mind, rather it is the driving force – the real purpose – behind an action