Is He A Muslim?

A man once came to the learning-circle of Imām Abū Hanīfah (may God have mercy on his soul) and asked the great Imam whether or not his neighbor was a Muslim. He asked the Imam that if his neighbor died, if he had to wash his body, bury him, and pray the janāzah prayer over him.

Imam Abu Hanīfah asked him, “Why do you think that he is not a Muslim?”

The man replied, “My neighbor says the following seven things, and because of this, I do not know whether or not he is still a Muslim. The first thing is that he says he has no imān (faith) in the signs of Allah that he sees. The second is that he says that he does not fear Allah. The third is that he says he does not have any hope for Paradise. The fourth is that he says he does not fear the Hell-Fire. The fifth is that when he prays, we see him praying without any bowing (rukū`) or prostration (sajdah). The sixth is that he says he eats meat that he already finds dead. The seventh, and last statement, is that he says that he doesn’t like truth (haqq) and he loves corruption/chaos (fitnah).”

The Imam smiled and looked around his circle of students and fellow scholars. He asked them, “What do you say after listening to this account? Is this man’s neighbor a Muslim?”

The students all looked around at one another, confident that this matter was quite easy. They looked to the senior most student-scholar of the gathering, Qādī Abū Yūsuf (may God have mercy on his soul), who also had the same look on his face that this matter was quite clear. Abu Yusuf confidently said to the Imam that the opinion of all the scholar-students present was that this man was not a Muslim.

Abu Hanīfah smiled and asked if this was the students’ final decision, and they all replied in the affirmative. The Imam remained quite pensive for a while, then he smiled and said, “Have you not heard the hadith of the Prophet (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him) wherein he said, “Think good of the believers (Zunnu bi’l-mu’minīna khayran)”. He continued and said, “If a man’s faith can be divided into 100 parts, and if 99 of them are corrupted and false, and even one is sound and whole, then we look at that sound part first, disregard the other 99 parts, and consider him as a believer.”

He continued, “However, this case goes beyond simply just that. In fact, after hearing this man’s description of his neighbor, I am quite pleased to listen to his narration and I wish that every believer would have a similar creed (`aqīdah) as this man’s neighbor.”

A hush fell over the students. They thought to themselves, How could the great Imam make such a statement? How could he not only give this man excuses, but then say that every believer should have a similar creed?

Abū Hanīfah continued, “I will now explain to you why I have made such a statement and tell you why that perhaps this man’s creed is a model for all believers.

“As for the first statement, that he says he has no faith in the signs of Allah that he sees. Have you not read the verses in the Qur’an when Prophet Musa (`alayhi al-salām) asks Allah to show him Himself: ‘And when Musa came at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said: My Lord! show me (Thyself), so that I may look upon Thee. He said: You cannot (bear to) see Me but look at the mountain, if it remains firm in its place, then will you see Me; but when his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain He made it crumble and Musa fell down in a swoon; then when he recovered, he said: Glory be to Thee, I turn to Thee, and I am the first of the believers.’ Now Musa did not see this sign of Allah that he asked for, yet he believed. Compare this to Fir`awn, who at the moment of his drowning saw the sign of Allah and said he believed: “…until when drowning overtook him, he said: ‘I believe that there is no god but He in Whom the children of Israel believe and I am of those who submit.’ And then Allah said to him, “What! now! and indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers.” So here, Fir`awn saw the sign of Allah but it was too late for him since he brought faith only after seeing. So perhaps it may be that this man is saying he has no faith in those types of signs of Allah that when upon seeing them, it is too late for him to benefit from such a witnessing.

“As for the second statement, that he says he doesn’t fear God. Now, you know that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will have complete dominion over all things and there is no one who can question Him in His decisions and choices. He has the choice to judge with fairness and equity or to judge without it. Yet, He says that He will judge with truth and balance, “…and they shall be judged with truth and they shall not be wronged.”, and in another place, He says, “…and they shall be judged with equity.” So perhaps it may be that this man is saying that he doesn’t fear that Allah will judge without truth and fairness, and he has full certainty that God will judge with fairness.

“As for the third and fourth statements, wherein he said that he has no hope for Paradise and no fear of the Hell-fire. We know that both of these things are creations of Allah, and they have no power or authority to determine who will enter them and who will not. Only the One who created them has the authority to decree who will enter Paradise and who will enter Hell-fire. Why should anyone fear Hell or put their hope in Paradise. So perhaps it may be that this man is saying that he doesn’t fear Hell or hope for Paradise since he knows that God will decide who goes where.

“As for the fifth thing, which is that you say that when you see him praying, he doesn’t make any bowing or prostration. Know then that the Prophet said that a believer has six rights over another believer: when he meets him, he should greet him; when he is sick, he should visit him; when he invites him, he should accept the invitation; when he sneezes, he should pray for mercy on him; whether he is present or absent, he should think only good of him; and when he dies, he should pray the funeral prayer over him. Now, when this man prays, he is only standing and not making any bowings or prostrations. So perhaps it may be that this man is taking part in a Janazah prayer that is going on anywhere in the Muslim lands when you see him like this. We know that one does not have to be present in front of the dead body to pray the Janazah prayer, as the Prophet prayed the funeral prayer of the Negus (who was in Abyssinia) while he was in Madinah. So perhaps he is always praying the Janazah prayer for any Muslim that has passed away and therefore fulfilling his obligations.

“As for the sixth thing, which is that he says that he eats meat that is already dead (al-maytah). Know that the Prophet said in a hadith, “Made lawful for us are two bloods and two dead meats (Uhillat lana al-damān wa’l-maytatān) [i.e., the two bloods are the liver and spleen of a lawful animal and the two dead things are fish and locusts… a person may freely eat these if he chooses]”. So perhaps it may be that he is referring to dead fish or dead locusts that he finds and he eats of them. So therefore, perhaps this statement is correct.

“As for the seventh and final thing, wherein he said that he loves fitnah and hates the haqq. How is he any different from any of you in this statement. When he said that he hates the haqq, don’t you recall that the Qur’an says, “and the stupor of death will come in truth.” There is not a man amongst us who loves the stupor of death and does not hate it. No man in his right mind would love the stupor of death, so perhaps it may be that he when he says he hates the truth, that he is referring to this. Now, the Qur’an also says, “Indeed your wealth and your children are a fitnah.” There is not a man amongst us who does not love his wealth and his children. What makes him any different than us? So perhaps it may be that when he says he loves fitnah, that he is in fact referring to this.

“You did not meet this man’s neighbor or ever speak to him, yet you all unanimously agreed that he was not a Muslim. You did not think good of him after you heard these seven things. And now that you have heard my responses, perhaps this is why his creed is indeed sound, and why every Muslim should have a similar creed.”

Those who were present were astonished and amazed by the Imam’s insight, intelligence, leniency, and wisdom.

A hush fell over the students and scholars as they became silent out of respect.

Imam Abu Hanifah had spoken.

What else was left for them to say?

(this story was originally taken from

A Butterfly Story

A man once found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it had and it could go no further.

Then the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If Allah allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. And we could never fly.

A Tale of a Servant of Allah

A poet once said:

Ask and never get bored

Because the sickness of asking is boredom

Don’t you see that the rope

Which consistently strikes a rock

Leaves a mark

There is a tale told of a servant of Allah in Mecca who worshipped Allah steadfastly for forty years.  Every day he would rise with the invocation, “Labayk, Allahuma, Labayk (Ever at your service, Oh Allah, ever at your service).”  And every day, for forty years he would hear this response, “La Labayk wa la Sadayk (We are not at your service nor will you be happy).”

Nevertheless, the servant of Allah remained in Mecca calling upon his Lord for forty years, never tiring, never despairing.   It was in this state that a visitor found him, entreating his Lord … “Labayk, Allahuma Labayk…”  As the servant of Allah continued his worship, his visitor heard the identical response to that which the worshipper had heard for forty years.  Immediately, assuming himself to be in the presence of one who had fallen out of the mercy of Allah, he escaped from his friend’s home.  The steadfast worshipper called out after his friend, wanting to know why he had left.  “Oh Master, ” the visitor answered, “when you called out ‘Labayk’ you were answered with its negation, ‘La Labayk'”.

To this the worshipper responded, “You have heard this once and run from fear, I have been hearing this for forty years, and I remain.  Tell me, where else can I go?  Through which other door may I enter upon Him?  Here I stand knocking, and though He may continue to banish me, I will continue to knock.  I will not leave His door.”

Upon this, Allah gave His acceptance and replied, “Labayk wa Sadayk.”  So, he who stands at the door, knocking patiently and continually, will find the door opened for him, and will find himself joined with the Beloved.  This is why the Prophet (saws) has said, “To Allah, the most loved act of worship, no matter how seemingly trivial, is the one done consistently.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

Why Allah Doesn’t Answer Your Dua

Ibrahim ibn Adham was once asked “Why is it that when we make dua, we aren’t answered, while Allah says ‘Ask me and I will answer you!’ (Quran 40:60)?” He replied “It’s because your hearts are dead.” When they asked about what killed their hearts, he mentioned eight attributes:

1. You know the rights of Allah but you don’t give them to Him.

2. You read the Qur’an but you don’t apply its limits.

3. You love the Prophet (saws) but have left his sunnah.

4. You fear death but don’t prepare for it.

5. Allah has warned you that the devil is your enemy : ‘Verily the shaytan is an enemy to you so take him as an enemy.’ Yet you join him in disobedience to Allah.

6. You fear Hell but you destroy your bodies in it.

7. You love paradise yet you work not for it.

8. When you rise from your beds you throw your bad qualities behind your back and spread the bad qualities of others in front of your eyes and get busy with them.  So you arouse Allah’s anger and then wonder why your prayers aren’t answered.

The Adab of Islam

A companion of the Prophet (saws) , Khalid bin Waleed narrated the following:

A Bedouin came one day to the Prophet and said to him, “O, Messenger of Allah! I’ve come to ask you a few questions about the affairs of this life and the Hereafter.” The Prophet responded “Ask what you wish!”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be the most learned of men.”

The Prophet replied, “Fear Allah, and you will be the most learned of men.”

The Bedouin said, “I wish to be the richest man in the world.”

The Prophet replied, “Be contented, and you will be the richest man in the world.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be the most just man.”

The Prophet replied, “Desire for others what you desire for yourself, and you will be the most just of men.”

The Bedouin said, “I want to be the best of men.”

The Prophet replied, “Do good to others and you will be the best of men.”

The Bedouin said, “I wish to be the most favored by Allah.”

The Prophet replied, “Engage much in Allah’s praise, and you will be most favored by Him.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to complete my faith.”

The Prophet replied, “If you have good manners you will complete your faith.”

The Bedouin said, “I wish to be among those who do good.”

The Prophet replied, “Adore Allah as if you see Him. If you don’t see Him, Know that He sees you. In this way you will be among those who do good.”

The Bedouin said, “I wish to be obedient to Allah.”

The Prophet replied, “If you observe Allah’s commands you will be obedient.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be free from all sins.”

The Prophet replied, “Bathe yourself from impurity and you will be free from all sins.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be raised on the Day of Judgment in the light.”

The Prophet replied, “Don’t wrong yourself or any other creature, and you will be raised on the Day of Judgment in the light.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like Allah to bestow His mercy on me.”

The Prophet replied, “If you have mercy on yourself and on others, Allah will grant you mercy on the Day of Judgment.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like my sins to be very few.”

The Prophet replied,  “If you seek the forgiveness of Allah as much as you can, your sins will be very few.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be the most honorable man.”

The Prophet replied, “If you do not complain to any fellow creature, you will be the most honorable of men.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be the strongest of men.”

The Prophet replied, “If you put your trust in Allah, you will be the strongest of men.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to enlarge my provision.”

The Prophet replied, “If you keep yourself pure, Allah will enlarge your provision.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like to be loved by Allah and His messenger.”

The Prophet replied, “If you love what Allah and His messenger love, you will be among their beloved ones.”

The Bedouin said, “I wish to be safe from Allah’s wrath on the Day of Judgment.”

The Prophet replied, “If you do not lose your temper with any of your fellow creatures, you will be safe from the wrath of Allah on the Day of Judgment.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like my prayers to be responded.”

The Prophet replied, “If you avoid forbidden actions your prayers will be responded.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like Allah not to disgrace me on the Day of Judgment.”

The Prophet replied, “If you guard your chastity, Allah will not disgrace you on the Day of Judgment.”

The Bedouin said, “I’d like Allah to provide me with a protective covering on the Day of Judgment.”

The Prophet replied, “Do not uncover your fellow peoples faults, and Allah will provide you with a covering protection on the Day of Judgment.”

The Bedouin said, “What will save me from sins?”

The Prophet replied, “Tears, humility and illness.”

The Bedouin said, “What are the best deeds in the eyes of Allah?”

The Prophet replied, “Gentle manners, modesty and patience.”

The Bedouin said, “What are the worst evils in the eyes of Allah?”

The Prophet replied, “Hot temper and miserliness.”

The Bedouin said, “What alleviates the wrath of Allah in this life and in the Hereafter?”

The Prophet replied, “Concealed charity and kindness to relatives.”

The Bedouin said, “What extinguishes hell’s fires on the Day of Judgment?”

The Prophet replied, “Patience in adversity and misfortunes.”

(Related by Imam Ibn Hambal)

A Mind Filled with Analogies

The third most famous, but hardly inferior, companion of Abu Hanifa was Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl. He was known as being someone of analogous thinking, and would easily relate analogies even in normal contexts. This is one example of his sharp intellect in this field.

Abd ar-Rahman ibn Malik ibn Mighwal narrated that a man asked Abu Hanifa: “Last night I drank fermented juice and am not sure whether I divorced my wife or not.” He replied “She is your wife until you become sure that you divorced her.” He went to Sufyan at-Thawri and asked him the same question. He replied “Go and declare that you have brought her back. If you did not divorce her, it is of no consequence.” Then he asked Sharik ibn Abd-Allah who replied “Divorce her, then bring her back.” Then he asked Zufar who said “Did you ask anyone else before me?” He said yes and named all of the above. Zufar endorsed Abu Hanifa’s reply and praised Sufyan’s but laughed at Sharik’s, then said “This is like a man who passed by water splashing, some of which reached his garment, whereupon Abu Hanifa said ‘Your garment is clean and prayer complete until you become sure about the water being dity,’ while Sufyan said ‘Wash it, and if it were clean in the first place it is only cleaner now,’ but Sharik said [in effect] ‘Go piss on it then wash it!'”

Knowledge as a Form of Mercy

One of Abu Hanifa’s most famous students was Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, who along with Abu Yusuf, are the most famous Hanafi scholars after Abu Hanifa himself. The Qadi Ahmad ibn Abi Raja said that he heard his father Mahmuyah, who was considered a religious devotee, say: “I dreamt of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan after his death and asked him what happened to him. He said ‘I was forgiven.’ ‘Through what?’ I asked. And he replied ‘I was told: We did not place all this learning in you except to forgive you.'”