AbuS and I embarked on a project last night – to read and reflect on the whole Riyad as Salihin, one of the famous hadith books collected by Imam Nawawi (ra). A few years back, I printed out the whole (wonderful) Bewley translation from Sunnipath and stuck it in a binder. It went on my shelf and was promptly ignored amongst all the other great islamic texts I’ve printed out and never read. We dusted it off last night, and began at the beginning, at the chapter on sincerity.
One of the things I love about this hadith collection is that the Imam begins each chapter with the Words of Allah (swt) from the Qur’an and then proceeds to relate to us the words of our beloved Messenger (saws). It is a beautiful illustration of how the mission of the Messenger (saws) was to illuminate the Words of the Divine.
There are a myriad of opportunities to reflect and learn in each hadith. For example:
5. Abu Yazid Ma’n ibn Yazid ibn al-Akhnas and he, his father and grandfather were Companions said, “My father, Yazid, had put aside some dinars to give as sadaqa and placed them in the care of a man in the mosque and then I came and took them and brought them to him. He said, ‘By Allah, I did not mean you!’ I took the case to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said, ‘Yazid, for you what you intended, and for you, Ma’n, what you took.'” [al-Bukhari]
Who is the narrator of this hadith? Obviously he was a sahaba, as were his father and grandfather, may Allah (swt) be pleased with them all. So I ask AbuS, and if he doesn’t know, we’ll put them down on a list of people to look up. So, we learn about companions we might not have known before.
Second, sometimes the meaning of the hadith isn’t clear, at least to me (and AbuS). In this, the father gives his charity to man to distribute, and it looks like his son possibly accepted that very money as charity? So now that’s on a list of things to look into further.
Third, we can reflect on the beauty of the situation and the wisdom of the Prophet (saws). There is a connection between sincerity and intention. So a part of making sure our actions are sincere is that we have the proper intention. Also, we may begin an action with the best of intentions, but things do not always go as planned. But, even if we fail, what matters is that we tried. Allah (swt) will reward us for our intentions, so we should never be shy to try something out of fear of failure. We should take opportunity by the reins and pursue greatness, without fear that we will not succeed. If we don’t, we still will have accomplished something with Allah (swt), which in the end is what really matters.
Because of the father’s sincerity in his intention, he is rewarded, even if all did not go as planned. SubhanAllah, how merciful is al Rahman, al Rahim? Oo, look at that, we can relate the hadith to attributes of Allah (swt), so fourth, it causes us also to reflect on the greatness of our Lord.
Fifth, how did people give sadaqa at the time of the Prophet (saws). It looks like one of the ways is that they would trust someone to distribute it for them, and from the masjid. So today, we should make sure that we have someone at our masjids that we trust to know the community and know those who need the sadaqa.
It’s like a ready made study guide on 372 topics. We only made it through 6 of the 12 ahadith in this chapter, and it took us half an hour to make it that far. If we stick to this plan, inshaAllah, it may take us 2 years to finish, but in the end, how much the richer will we be for it?