On the authority of Abu Huraira who said: The Messenger of Allah (upon whom be Allah’s blessings and peace) said: “Allah the Almighty has said, ‘Whoever has mutual animosity with a friend (wali) of Mine, I declare war upon him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties that I have imposed upon him; and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory work such that I love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks. Were he to ask of Me, I would surely give him; and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
Abu Huaira, may Allah be pleased with him, embraced Islam in the seventh year after hijrah, and was well known for his piety. Abu Huraira was his kunya or nickname and it means the father of cats, after the pets that he so loved. His given name was Abdul Rahmaan ibn Sakhr ibn al-Dausi. He, may Allah be pleased with him, was a constant companion of the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him. He lived in the Prophet’s mosque as one of the people known as ahl al-Suffa, or the people of the verandah, due to his living there. His close proximity to the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, meant that he was able to relate more hadith than any other companion, 5374 in total. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him,
guided Abu Huraira to an act that would ensure that he never forgot any of the hadith that he learnt, which was that at night, along with praying the late night prayer, he would study and memorise hadith. He was very cautious when narrating them, may Allah be pleased with him.
“Allah the Almighty has said…”
This statement shows that this is a qudsi hadith, the third one in this collection, in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, directly related words of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, that were not to be contained in the Qur’an.
“Whoever has mutual animosity with a friend (wali) of Mine, I declare war upon him.“
This hadith begins with a very stern warning: Allah declares war upon the one who opposes His devoted servants or auliyaa. In order to understand this statement properly, we need to understand the correct meaning of a wali or friend, of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, as it is established from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Correct Understanding of Who is a Wali of Allah
Wali (plural auliyaa), according to the Islamic understanding, means support, love, honour, respect and being beloved in both a spiritual and material sense. In Allah’s description, He points out two essential characteristics for anyone to be among theauliyaa of Allah. The first condition is imaan (faith) and the second condition is to have taqwa (God-consciousness). Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, says in the Qur’an:
“Lo, verily the friends of Allah are those on whom fear comes not, nor do they grieve. Those who believe and keep their duty to Allah.” (Surah Yunus:62-63)
We can see from this that the auliyaa of Allah are those who believe and continually obey Him, and have the highest levels of imaan and taqwa. This shows us that the auliyaa of Allah are not all of the same rank. In fact some scholars have said they fall into three categories, due to the ayah:
“Then those who We chose of Our servants inherited the Book. But of them are some who wrong themselves and of them are some who are intermediate, and of them are some who outstrip others through their good deeds, by Allah’s leave.” (Surah Faatir:32)
Ibn Katheer explains in his book of Qur’anic commentary that those ‘who wrong themselves’ are believers who are negligent of obligatory some duties and perform some forbidden acts. Those who are ‘intermediate’ are those who perform obligatory duties and abstain from forbidden acts but may not perform all of the recommended acts and may perform some makrooh or disliked acts. Those who ‘outstrip others through good deeds’ are those who perform the obligatory and recommended acts and abstain from both forbidden and reprehensible deeds. This shows us that, by the mercy of Allah, perfection is not is prerequisite to be an auliyaa of Allah. Even those of us who commit some sins may still gain entry to this category.
Since imaan and taqwa are not something that can be seen by others, it is not possible to know who is definitely in fact a wali or friend of Allah, unless we have been informed of this in the Qur’an and sunnah. From these we know that the greatest auliyaa of Allah are the angels and messengers and then the prophets. After that come the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them all, and the true and sincere scholars of Islam, all of whom act on their knowledge and as such are the ‘heirs of the Prophet’, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
Incorrect Understanding of Who is a Wali of Allah
Unfortunately, many groups including the Shiah and the Sufis have taken this concept of Wali of Allah and used it to give their Sheikh’s a kind of demi-god status, considering them higher than the Prophets, and assuming that no faults can be attributed to them. They believe them to be so near to Allah that they should ask the Wali for help instead of Allah. May Allah protect us from this type of shirk, or associating partners with Allah, all praises and glory be to Him.
The words ‘whoever opposes…‘ are in the reciprocal form, meaning that the enmity if from both sides. We may ask why a wali would have animosity towards others when they should be forgiving and patient? We should remember that an auliyaa of Allah loves andhates for the sake of Allah not from their own desires. This animosity may be between the auliyaa who are the people of the sunnah, and the innovators, or between the auliyaaand those are sinning. There there will be a mutual dislike for the actions of the other in each of these cases.
What is referred to in this hadith is a warning to those who dislike the auliyaa of Allah or oppose them simply because they implement and follow the law of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. The enmity referred to does not apply to worldly disputes or disagreements. This hadith tells us that if someone opposes a wali of Allah simply for obeying Allah, then Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, has declared war on them, and we seek refuge with Allah from that.
“My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties that I have imposed upon him.”
After describing how no one should oppose His devoted servants, Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, goes on to describe the characteristics of a devoted servant. They are those who strive to get closer to Allah through performing deeds that are pleasing to Him, with pure sincerity.
In this part of the hadith, Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, describes how His servant draws near to Him through their performance of the obligatory duties, namelythe five pillars of Islam. A person in this category would also avoid what is forbidden as this is also a type of obligation from Allah. These people are known as the ‘companions of the right hand’ that Allah speaks about in the Qur’an (see Surah al Waaqiah:38). It is part of Allah’s immense mercy that the deeds that are obligatory upon us are also those that draw us closer to Him, the Praised, the Glorious.
Many people do not seem to realise that the obligatory duties are for a believers own benefit. Allah tells us:
“Verily the prayers restrain one from evil and lewdity” (Surah al-Ankaboot:45)
“But prostrate yourself and draw near (unto Allah)” (Surah al-Alaq:19)
“O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you in order that you may attain God-consciousness (taqwa)” (Surah al-Baqarah:183)
“Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them by that” (Surah al-Taubah:103)
All of the obligatory deeds serve to purify us and draw us closer to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. They are like the root of a tree and voluntary deeds are like its branches. If the believer first fulfills the foundations, they are demonstrating their willingness to submit to Allah, and this in turn earns His approval. This commitment grows and spreads to the performance of voluntary deeds as a way of further pleasing Allah.
Obligatory deeds are also deeds of the heart. The heart must have a pure, sincere intention, free of envy and pride and other ills, in order for the action to be acceptable to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. The servant of Allah therefore draws nearer to his Lord though purifying both their intention and action, and performing the obligatory duties for the sake of Allah alone.
“My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I love him.”
Allah’s servants draw near to Him by performing the duties that He, all praises and glory be to Him, has obligated us to perform. Those who strive even harder, and voluntarily perform extra good deeds, and protect themselves from acts that will earn Allah’s wrath, continue to draw nearer to Allah until He loves them.
We can see in the example of human beings, that a person becomes beloved to another by doing more than is required to assist them. If a person, for example, returns something that he borrowed from another, but also gives a gift as thanks, that will make him beloved in the eyes of the one that lent to him. This hadith shows us that this works in the same way in the case of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, His love for us grows as we strive harder to please Him.
There is ample evidence to indicate that a servant of Allah must also strive to stay away from what is forbidden (haraam) as well as what is disliked (makrooh). The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt” (Recorded in Ahmad)
“Place between you and the forbidden acts a covering [or barrier] of permissible acts.”(Recorded in ibn Habbaan)
‘That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and honour. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like a shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all of the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)
Unfortunately, many Muslims consider the ‘legal’ definition of makrooh (a disliked act) which states that it is an act that the person will be rewarded for avoiding and will not be punished for committing, and therefore consider it ‘permissible’ to engage in such acts. But those who strive to be nearer to Allah, look beyond this definition and consider the act from the point of view of the value of the act in the sight of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. When we consider that Allah, ‘dislikes’ the act, would we want to be one of those who perform it? Rather we should strive to stay away from such acts, even though they are not strictly forbidden. As we can see from the hadith cited above, when a person strays into performing dislikes acts, they come nearer to committing forbidden acts. If they should then slip into what in unlawful, they will fall into performing deeds that are hated by Allah, all praises and glory be to Him.
An important aspect of performing voluntary deeds that many people neglect, is that they also make up for shortcomings in the obligatory deeds. If we ask ourselves about the quality of performance of our obligatory prayers, how many of us could say that we have no shortcomings that need to be made up? The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“The first deeds for which the slave of Allah will be held accountable for on the Day of Judgement will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and been successful. But if they are wanting, he will have failed and been a loser. If there is some shortcoming in his obligatory, the Lord will say, ‘See if My slave has any voluntary prayers with which may be completed that which was wanting from the obligatory prayers’. Then the rest of his deeds will be judged in like fashion.” (Recorded in al-Tirmidhi)
From this we can see why it is that those who perform the voluntary deeds receive the love of Allah, both in this life and the Hereafter. These are the people that Allah is describing in this part of the hadith. SubhanAllah Allah is telling us that He will LOVE us if we perform supererogatory or voluntary good deeds. What more motivation could we need? Let us reflect on the statement of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him:
“If Allah loves a slave, He announces to Gabriel, ‘Verily Allah loves so and so, so love him.’ The Gabriel loves him and he announces to the inhabitants of the heavens ‘Verily Allah loves so and so, so love him’ Then the inhabitants of the heavens love him. And then he is granted the acceptance of the people of the earth.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks.”
When we read this part of the hadith, the first question that comes to mind is, ‘What does it mean that Allah would become a person’s hearing etc?’. The scholars have differed in their interpretation of this phrase. The majority agree that this is an allegorical reference to Allah’s support for His wali. When the wali sincerely strives to get closer to Allah by performing obligatory and voluntary deeds, they will be raised in rank from imaan (faith) to ihsaan (goodness). Then they will able to worship Allah as if they see Him, and look at the world knowing that He sees them, turning to Him in their hearts and fearing Him such that they dare not disobey Him. Their hearts are filled with the greatness of Allah and there is no room for anything else. Their own desires are abandoned in favour of Allah’s. They look for Allah’s sake, see for His sake, hear for His sake, speak for Hi sake, and act for His sake.
Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, has described the people for whom He becomes their eyes, ears and so on, in the Qur’an. They are the type of people who do not even turn to the evil that they see. They are numb to the effects of other’s sins. This does not mean that they do not fulfill their duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, but it means they would not be tempted by the evil around them. Allah says about them in the Qur’an:
“And when they hear vanity, they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you. We desire not the ignorant.” (Surah al-Qasas:55)
“The faithful slaves of the Beneficent are those who walk on the earth modestly and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace” (Surah al-Furqaan:63)
This is the real essence of pure tauheed, the meaning of la ilaaha illa-llaah, when a person devotes all of their love, hope, fear and obedience to Allah alone. We love what Allah loves and hate what He hates, all praises and glory be to Him. Sins only occur when our own desires love something that Allah hates or dislike something that Allah loves, even if only for a short period of time. If a person gives into their own desires then this is actually a type of deficiency in their tauheed.
Purification of the Soul According to the Qur’an and Sunnah
This hadith describes how a person becomes beloved to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, by purifying ourselves and our souls. It is through purifying ourselves that we draw closer to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. As Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
“The Day [of Judgement] whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who comes to Allah with a clean, sound heart.” (Surah al-Shuaraa:88-89)
The purification of the soul is one of the main reasons why the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was sent. Allah tells us:
“He it is who sent among the unlettered ones a messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His verses, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Sunnah. And, verily, they had been in manifest error.” (Surah Al-Jummuah:2)
Since the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was sent to purify the souls of the people, there can be no question that his method of purification of the soul is the method that is approved by Allah and is pleasing to Him, all praises and glory be to Him. This path is clear and easy to follow:
1) We must first purify our beliefs and cleanse ourselves of any shirk or associating partners with Allah.
2) We must strive to become beloved to Allah by performing deeds that are obligatory upon us.
3) We should strive to perform extra voluntary good deeds which will make us even more beloved to Allah.
This is the correct path for purification as outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is a path that does not necessarily take a long amount of time or involve any passing through levels or stages. A person could become an auliyaa of Allah very quickly if they have sincerity and devotion to Allah. Anyone who claims that one can draw closer to Allah by means other than this, such as through other practices or the assistance of a pious person, is no different to the idol worshippers who claimed they were getting closer to Allah by worshipping their idols. The evidence clearly contradicts them.
Purification of the Soul According to the Sufis
Historically and contemporarily speaking, it has been the Sufis who claim to follow the path of purification. This hadith provides one of the main sources by which their claims can be evaluated in that it shows us the path for how one can become beloved to Allah.
For the Sufis, the path to become a wali of Allah is a long and arduous journey. One must do spiritual exercises and through many stages to get to this level. As detailed in Zarabozo’s commentary on this hadith, the Sufi’s begin their path with fulfilling obligatory deeds, but when they move to the ‘second level’, it is recommended that the person only perform obligatory deeds and spend the rest of the time on other exercises. The path also contains practices that are not contained in the Qur’an and Sunnah such aszuhd (renunciation of the world), special types of rhyming dhikr, listening to music and dancing. After all of these, one finally ‘witnesses’ Allah, which is for them the essence of being a wali. In reality, this is a heretical path that has no basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah. It has as its goal the ‘witnessing of Allah’, whereas the purification according to the Qur’an and Sunnah seeks only to make a servant the best servant that they can be, nothing more or different to that.
Some Sufis use this hadith to try and prove their belief in fanaa (annihilation and loss of oneself in God), hulool (incarnation in God) and ittihaad (union with Allah). They argue that this hadith states that Allah is becoming one’s vision, hearing and so forth, so the person must be becoming one with Allah, and we seek refuge in Allah from beliefs such as that. In reality though, this hadith is an argument against that concept, because it makes the distinction between the Creator Allah and the created wali. Allah makes it clear that he opposes those who oppose His auliyaa, hence they are clearly separate from Him, all praises and glory be to Him, and He Protects them. The remainder of the hadith also shows us that the wali comes to Allah to ask of Him – Why would they need to do that if they had become one with Him? We can see from this that no matter how pious the waliof Allah becomes, they are still only human beings and dependent on Him, the Sublime the Glorious. And we seek refuge in Allah from beliefs that lead us astray.
“Were he to ask of Me, I would surely give him; and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.”
Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, is able to grant His servant anything that He wishes, without any need of him having to ask for it. But it is through being asked, and granting the request, that Allah becomes more beloved to the slave and the slave becomes even more beloved to Allah. SubhanAllah, Allah is the Most Merciful, the Most Sublime.
This hadith shows us that if a person performs the obligatory deeds and further voluntarygood deeds, and stays away from what is forbidden (haraam) and disliked (makrooh), this person will be honoured with a special place with respect to Allah. Allah’s love will cover them, such that if they ask Him, He will grant their request, and if they were to seek refuge in Him, He would grant them refuge and respite. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said:
“There are from the slaves of Allah people who, if they were to make an oath upon Allah, He would certainly fulfill it.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
It is interesting to note that many of our pious predecessors often preferred to patiently bear the afflictions of this world, in the hope that they would receive the reward of Allah in the Hereafter. One of the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who was promised Paradise, Saad ibn Abu Waqaas, lost his sight later in his life. He was told by his friends that he should ask Allah to return it. His reply was, “The decree of Allah is more beloved to me than my eyesight.”
As some of the early scholars have noted, Allah knows what is best for His slaves. Sometimes a believer will ask for something while Allah knows that what they ask for is not what is best for them. As a result, Allah may not answer the supplication directly, but rather He may give the believer something that is better for them in both this life and the Hereafter. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, told us:
“There is no Muslim who supplicates Allah with a supplication that does not contain anything sinful or ask for the ties of kinship to be broken, save that Allah gives him one of three things: either he will give him what he asks for soon, or He will delay it for him for the Hereafter or he will keep a similar evil away from him.” (Recorded in Ahmad)
The Benefits of Asking Allah
One might ask, ‘What is the benefit of asking Allah when He already knows what is in our hearts and what is best for us?’ When Allah gives the person what they have asked for, and the person realises that Allah has responded to their supplication, this brings them joy and a deeper faith, which encourages them to do more good deeds in order to draw closer to Allah. In addition, supplication is one of the greatest forms of worship, and all its benefits would be lost to the person if they were not to make dua. Finally, the wali of Allah is freeing themselves from the illusion of self-sufficiency. Everything is in Allah’s hands, we are completely dependent on Him for everything and we need to remind ourselves of this. No matter what level of closeness to Allah one reaches, we will always be reliant on Him.
Extracted from Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi (Vol 3) [Previously published in 3 Volumes] by Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo Pages 1379-1442