When the Salaf Would Wish For Death…

1 – Prophet Yusuf said:

{“…cause me to die as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous.”} [Yusuf; 101]

Qatadah said, commenting on this verse:

“When his possessions were many, and his eye had been cooled, and he was engulfed in the worldly pleasures and delights, he longed to be joined with the righteous people before him.”

[at-Tabari’s ‘Jami’ al-Bayan’; 13/48]

2 – The magicians of Fir’awn said, after Fir’awn threatened to kill them:

{“And you take vengeance on us only because we believed in the signs of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! Pour out on us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims.”} [al-A’raf; 126]

3 – Mu’adh bin Jabal said:

“One day, the Messenger of Allah did not show up for the morning prayer, to the point that we noticed the Sun was about to rise. We then saw him coming out quickly, and he called for the prayer, and quickly prayed. When he made taslim, he said to us: “Remain in your places.”

He then turned to us and said: “I will speak to you about what prevented me from showing up earlier. I got up at night, performed ablution, and prayed as much as I could. I then felt sleepiness to the extent that I was overtaken by it, so, I slept. Suddenly, I awoke to find myself in front of my Lord – the Mighty and Exalted – in the best image possible. He Said: “O Muhammad! Do you know what those of the highest ranks are busy quarrelling over?”

I said: “I do not know, my Lord.” [The Prophet repeated this three times, then said] I then saw Him laying His Palm between my shoulders until I could feel the coolness of His Fingers in my chest, and then everything was revealed to me, and I knew it. Then, He Said: “O Muhammad! Do you know what those of the highest ranks are busy quarrelling over?”

I said: “Regarding those deeds that wipe out sins.”

He Asked: “What are they?”

I replied: “Walking to the congregational prayer, remaining in the mosque after the prayer, and making your ablution lengthy and perfect in times of hardship.”

He then Asked: “And what are those deeds that increase one’s ranks?”

I replied: “Providing food to the people, speaking gently, and praying at night while the people are asleep.”

He then Said: “Ask!”

I said: “O Allah, I ask You to grant me the ability to perform good deeds and abandon the bad ones, the love of the poor, and that You Forgive me and have Mercy on me, and that if You want to test a group of people, I ask You to allow me to die without having experienced any fitnah, and I ask for Your Love and the love of those who love You, and the love of a deed that brings me closer to Your Love.”

The Prophet then said: “It is true. So, study it and learn it.”

[Reported by Ahmad (5/243) and at-Tirmidhi (3235), and it is authentic]

4 – The Messenger of Allah said:

“None of you should wish for death because of a calamity that has befallen him. But if he has to wish for death, he should say: ‘O Allah! Keep me alive as long as life is better for me, and let me die if death is better for me.'”

[Reported by al-Bukhari (5671) and Muslim (2680)]

Ibn Hajar said, commenting on this hadith:

“The Prophet’s saying because of a calamity that has befallen himis intepreted by a group of the Salaf to mean a calamity in his worldly affairs. So, if he is stricken with a calamity in the affairs of the Hereafter by way of him fearing a fitnah in regards to his religion, this does not fall under the Prophet’s prohibition…and this indicates the permissibility of longing for death if one fears fitnah in regards to his religion, and Allah Knows best.”

[‘Fath al-Bari’; 10/128]

an-Nawawi said what is similar to the above in his ‘Sharh Sahih Muslim’ (9/8).

5 – The Messenger of Allah said:

“There are two things that the son of Adam hates: death – and death is better for the believer than fitnah – and a lack of wealth – and a lack wealth makes the Account lighter.”

[Reported by Ahmad in his ‘Musnad’ (5/427), and it is authentic]

6 – The Messenger of Allah said:

“The Hour will not be established until a man passes by the grave of another man and says: ‘If only I were in his place.'”

[Reported by al-Bukhari (7115)]

Ibn Hajar said, commenting on this hadith:

“Ibn Battal said: “The inhabitants of the graves being envied and death being longed for at the time of the emergence of fitnah will be out of fear of the weakening of religious practice with the increase in falsehood and its people, and the emergence of disobedience and sin.” [Ibn Hajar continued] and this longing is not something general for all people. Rather, it is specific to the people of righteousness. As for the rest, then they might long for death because of a calamity that has befallen them in their health, family, and worldly affairs, without any of these things having affected his religious practice…

…and many of the Salaf did this, such as ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, ‘Isa al-Ghifari, ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and other than them. al-Qurtubi said: “It is as if this hadith is indicating that overwhelming trials and hardships will descend until the importance of and concern with religion becomes minimal, and there will remain for nobody except the concern with the worldly affairs and connected matters. As a result, the value of worship in the times of fitnah has been magnified greatly, as Muslim reported, from the hadith of Mu’aqqal bin Yasar: “Worship in the times of trials and tribulations is like a migration to me.”

…and al-Hakim reported that Abu Salamah said: “I visited Abu Hurayrah and said: “O Allah! Return Abu Hurayrah’s health to him.” So, Abu Hurayrah said: “O Allah! Do not return it to me. O Abu Salamah, if you are able to die, then do so. By the One in Whose Hand my soul is, there will come a time upon the scholars in which death is more beloved to them than red gold, and one of them will pass by the grave of his brother and say: ‘If only I were in his place.'””

And ‘Abdullah bin as-Samit reported that Abu Dharr said: “There will come a time when a funeral procession will pass through the marketplace in front of a group of people, and a man will see it and shake his head, saying: ‘If only I were in this person’s place.'” So, ‘Abdullah said: “O Abu Dharr! This must be because of something overwhelming!” Abu Dharr replied: “Yes, it certainly is.””

[‘Fath al-Bari’; 13/81]

So, these narrations show that the early Muslims would prefer anything – even death – over being put at risk in regards to their religious commitment and practice.

One Response to “When the Salaf Would Wish For Death…”

  1. Reblogged this on Your brother in Islam and commented:

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