Freeing the heart from spite and grudges
September 20 2019 12:29 AM
Zitouna mosque
Zitouna mosque in the Medina, in the old city of Tunis.

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Slaves of Allah! Islam encourages making reconciliation between people in order to maintain good relations amongst the Muslims, to spread love and to keep the hearts of Muslims free from spite. Allah Says (what means): “So fear Allah and amend that which is between you” [Qur’an 8: 1]. Additionally, Islam ordains all that which spreads mutual love and frees the hearts from spite, as in the narration of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, who reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), said: “You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I guide to that which would make you love one another? Spread greetings (Salaam) abundantly amongst yourselves” [Muslim]
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was asked: “Who are the best type of people?” He replied: “A person who is truthful in his speech and Makhmoom in his heart.” People asked: “We know what is truthful speech, but what is a Makhmoom heart?” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, responded saying: “It is a pure pious heart that does not have envy, evil or spite.” [Ibn Maajah]
Spite has greatly increased amongst people today, resulting in the severing of relations and in people holding grudges against each other. This is in spite of the fact that Allah has made legislations, which would prevent this from happening. For example, a Muslim is allowed to request a fellow Muslim who wants to visit him to return at a later time. In normal situations, people would not appreciate someone not allowing them entry when they visit them, but since Allah The All-Knowing, knows that people might have certain circumstances that would not allow them to receive visitors, He legislated this to protect people’s hearts from holding grudges due to this.
Allah Says (what means): “And if it is said to you, ‘Go back (Or a similar expression showing that the occupants are not prepared to receive visitors)’ then go back; it is purer for you” [Qur’an 24: 28]. This is a way to console the person who was not granted permission to enter, lest he feels insulted or saddened, and a means to protect the hearts from spite. This is why some of the Salaf, may Allah have mercy upon them, used to be happy when they went visiting someone and were not permitted in, because they sought the consequence of returning mentioned in the above verse – which is the promise of becoming purer (i.e. in their hearts).
Having pure hearts that are free from spite is a bounty and a blessing from Allah which He grants to the dwellers of Paradise upon their entry into it. Allah Says (what means): “And We will remove whatever is in their chests of resentment (i.e. ill will or ill feelings towards one another), [so they will be] brothers, on thrones facing each other.” [Qur’an 15: 47]
In addition to a pure heart being a blessing and a bounty from Allah, it is also a source of comfort. This is why Islam puts great emphasis on purification of the heart from spite, so that people can live together in peace and harmony.
The great importance attached to this issue is because it is a difficult state to achieve all the time. A person may have a strong will which enables him to wake up in the middle of the night to offer optional night prayers, but he may not be strong enough to overcome some of his bad feelings towards his fellow Muslims.
Undoubtedly, this quality is a praiseworthy one indeed; Allah praised the Ansaar (i.e. the residents of Madinah) for possessing such a quality saying (which means): “They [i.e. the Ansaar] find not any [ill] feelings in their chests [i.e. hearts] of what they were given [i.e. the Muhaajireen – emigrants from Makkah] but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation.” [Qur’an 59: 9] When Allah favoured the Muhaajireen with certain things, the Ansaar did not feel any objection to this, nor did they harbour any ill feelings or envy towards their brothers in faith for being distinguished with these favours. Instead, they favoured them over their own selves with whatever they had, even if they themselves were in need of what they offered.
The following great story reflects the rank of possessing a pure heart that is free from spite, and that it is a blessing from Allah. Anas Ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “We were sitting with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, once when he said: ‘A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now’ so a man from the Ansaar (i.e. residents of Madinah) walked in whose beard was dripping from the effect of ablution and who held his slippers with his left hand. The next day the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said the same thing, and the same man walked in. On the third day, the Prophet said the same thing, and the same man once again walked in. When the Prophet left the gathering, ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr followed that man and said to him: ‘I had a misunderstanding with my father and swore not to stay in his house three nights, so if you permit me I would like to spend these three nights with you.’ The man said: ‘Yes, I permit you.’” 
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, added: “ ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr told us that he spent three nights and did not notice that the man prayed the optional night prayers during any of these nights, but if he woke up during the night, he would simply mention Allah. Nonetheless, I never heard him utter except good things, so when the three nights finished, I almost belittled his deeds (as they were insignificant) and I said to him: ‘O slave of Allah! There was not dispute between me and my father or anger, but I heard the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, saying thrice: “A man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now” and you walked in all three times, so I wanted to sleep in your place to see what you do in order to imitate you, but I did not see that you exert extra effort in performing any extra deeds. How did you reach such a status to deserve what the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said about you?’ He replied: ‘My deeds are nothing more than what you saw.’ Then when I left, he called me back in and said: ‘My deeds are nothing more than what you saw, but the only thing I do is that I do not hold any grudge against any Muslim or envy anyone for what bounties Allah has granted them’. Thereupon ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr said to him: “This difficult quality to obtain is what granted you this rank”.  [Ahmad]
It is not an easy task for someone to maintain a heart free from spite and hold no grudges against anyone. On the other hand, it is not an impossible mission either, and can be achieved with training, practice and constant striving.
The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, were very keen to remove any bad feelings from the hearts of their brothers towards them. ‘Aa’ith Ibn ‘Amr al-Muzani, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “Abu Sufyaan passed by Salmaan, Suhayb and Bilaal and some other Companions (after the conquest of Makkah, when he was still a disbeliever). They said to him: “The swords of Allah did not exact their due from the foes of Allah?’’ Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said to them: “Do you speak like this to the chief of the Quraysh and their master?’’ Then he went to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and related this to him. He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “O Abu Bakr! Perhaps you have angered them. If so, you have angered your Lord”. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, rushed back to them and said: “O my brothers! Did I offend you?’’ They replied: “No. May Allah forgive you, brother”. [Muslim]
This proves that a person must rush to make amends and apologise for his actions, if he fears that a fellow Muslim was offended or his feelings were hurt, to make sure his brother’s heart remains pure towards him. The one who is being apologised to must accept without delay and comfort his brother, and assure him that he is not holding any grudge against him and supplicate for him as the Companions did with Abu Bakr.
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The meaning of the dual testimony of faith

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), and on his household and all of his Companions.
HOW many times have you heard or even said the following words? Ash-hadu allaa ilaaha illallah wa ashadu anna Muhammadar Rasoolullah. [I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah]. Yes indeed, it is the two-part testimony or declaration of faith by which the one who utters it enters into the fold of Islam. More importantly however, is whether you as a listener or as the one who has made this declaration have really considered the meaning of this great declaration and its implications for the one who utters it? 

Importance of Understanding the Testimony 
This testimony of faith is the foundation upon which Islam is based. The concept of life, the universe and man is diffused from it, and upon it is based the message of all Messengers (‘alaihimus salaam) beginning with Noah (‘alaihi salaam) and ending with Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), peace be upon them all. The first half of the testimony constitutes what is also known as al-kalima, which literally means ‘the word’ Laa ilaaha illallah.
Allah the Exalted says: We did not send a Messenger before you without revealing to him: ‘There is no God worthy of being worshipped except I, therefore worship Me’ [Al-Anbiyaa - 21:25]

The Testimony Comprises Two Pillars: Denial and Affirmation
1. The first half of this first part Laa ilaaha – There is no Ilaah (deity) – denies everyone and everything other than Allah, the Exalted, the attribute of divinity. This is known as nafy (negation) in Arabic.
2. The second half of this declaration illallah (except Allah) affirms and restricts divinity to Allah alone. That is, the slave must believe that Allah is the only true God, and therefore must not dedicate any act of worship to other than Allah. This is known in Arabic as ithbaat (affirmation).

Conditions of the First Half of the Declaration 
Confessing the testimony of faith must be coupled with fulfilling its seven conditions. Every door has a key that unlocks it. These conditions may be analogised with the teeth of that key in order that it function properly. Though one may have indeed entered Islam upon uttering the words it can also be said that complete faith cannot be attained unless he fully understands the implications of his testimony. 
1. Knowledge which negates Ignorance. Allah states: So know [O Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)] that La ilaaha Illa-Allah. (There is no God but Allah). [Q 47:19]. The more a believer knows about Allah and His Deen the less likely is he to fall prey to the traps of Satan and more likely to benefit himself and others.
2. Certainty which negates Doubt. Only those are the believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), and afterward doubt not but strive with their wealth and their lives in the Cause of Allah. They are the truthful. [Al-Hujuraat - 49:15]. The declaration should be made with the fullest conviction and confidence that Allah is One and Alone and Islam is indeed the true religion.
3. Sincerity and purity of intent which negates Shirk. Surely the religion (i.e. worship and obedience) is for Allah only. [Az-Zumar - 39:3]. No deed will be accepted if it is not done with pure intent and aim to please Allah.
4. Truthfulness which negates Hypocrisy. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say ‘We believe’ and will not be tested? And we indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make known those who are true and will certainly make known those who are liars. [Al-Ankabut - 29:2,3]. It is very simple for one to feign belief but it is Allah who indeed knows the inner truthfulness of all who claim to believe in Him.
5. Love and devotion which negates disdain of Allah’s religion. And to mankind are some who take some (associates for worship) besides Allah as rivals; they love them as they love Allah. But those who believe love Allah more (than anything else). [Al-Baqarah - 2:165]. Loving Allah necessitates that the believer put full trust in him and loves all that he learns of what Allah has commanded and forbidden. Therefore the true believer loves each and every aspect of Islam and he loves those others who likewise do so.
6. Submission which negates Disobedience. And turn in repentance to your Lord and submit to Him in Islam. [Az-Zumar 39:54]. To willfully disobey when Allah’s commands have been made clear is to belie the declaration of faith.
7. Acceptance which negates Rejection or Denial. Truly when it was said to them: ‘There is no God except Allah’, they puffed themselves up with pride (i.e. denied it). And (they) said : ‘Are we going to abandon our gods for the sake of a mad poet? [As-Saffaat 37:35-36]. There can be nothing but full acceptance of the truth of the declaration. Partial acceptance is like no acceptance at all. 

The Second Half of the Testimony: Muhammadan Rasoolullah
This is the declaration that “Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is the Messenger of Allah”. This second part of the testimony of faith is no less important than the first. In fact. It is impossible for one to be a true believer in the first part without also believing in the second. It necessitates belief in the following:
1. Total submission to Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in whatever he ordered. Allah states: But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions and accept them with full submission. [Q4:65] and He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah [Q4:80] 
2 . Avoiding what he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) forbade. And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad), gives you, take it and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it). [Al-Hashr 59:7]. 
3. Believing in all those matters he informed us about. The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him form his Lord and so do the believers [Q 2:285] 
4. Loving the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). The Prophet has said about himself None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his parents [lit. father], his children [lit. son] and all of mankind. [Al-Bukhari]

A Sobering Thought
Allah states: O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of glad tidings and a Warner. And as one who invites to Allah (i.e, to worship Him Alone) by His Leave and as a Lamp spreading Light (through your instructions). [Al-Ahzaab - 33:45, 46]  
In an age when there is actually controversy over whether or not a Muslim must actually obey Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and adhere to his way, no true Muslim should remain ignorant of the great meanings contained within the two-part testimony by which one joins this great Deen of Islam. It may well be true as is said by some “There are many who have been Muslims for all of their lives who are really in need of taking the Shahaadatain all over again.” The Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is the one who brought us Islam in its final form and exemplified it in his speech and character. Though him (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) Allah has spread His light all over this earth and surely in such a dark place as the world can at times be, there is nothing more needed than a beacon to show us the way.

Matters that lead to spite, and envy
When people went to visit Abu Dujaanah, may Allah be pleased with him, in his death sickness, they saw him happy and his face radiant; they asked him about the reason, to which he may Allah be pleased with him replied: “I have two qualities I possessed in my life; one is that I never interfered in that which did not concern me, and the second is that I always had a pure heart, free from spite towards my fellow Muslims”.
Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah mercy upon him, was another great example in this matter. Some people of knowledge of his time who envied him, spoke ill of him to the Caliph who commanded him to be imprisoned; yet while he was in prison he, may Allah mercy upon him, sent a letter to his students saying: “You know very well that I do not like to see anyone from the common Muslims getting hurt because of me, let alone the people of knowledge. People are three types: one who strives to do what is correct but fails, and such will be rewarded for striving to do what is right and will be pardoned for failing as he tried; another is one who strives to do what is correct and succeeds, and such will be rewarded twice, once for striving to do what is right and another for achieving such a goal; the third type is a person who is a sinner, and we ask Allah to forgive him. I will not forgive any of you if you start talking about anyone who was the cause of my imprisonment”.
Not only that, but Allah Willed that Sultan An-Naasir, may Allah have mercy upon him, became the Caliph and wanted to take revenge from the people who were the cause of his imprisonment, but Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah mercy upon him, refused and continued to talk to the Caliph and admonish him about the quality of forgiveness and tolerance, until he changed his mind and let them go unharmed.
Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, saying: “The devil has despaired of being worshipped by those who engage in prayer in the Arabian Peninsula but (has not lost hope) in creating dissension among them.” [Muslim]
This was a statement made by the Messenger of Allah while addressing his Companions. Satan strives very hard to instil spite in the hearts of the believers towards one another, hence, we must avoid anything that could be the means or cause of enmity or spite. We must know that Satan is the source of spite and envy.
Moreover, spite, dispute and envy are the reasons for one’s good deeds being rejected: Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “People’s deeds are presented before Allah on Mondays and Thursdays, and then every slave (of Allah) is granted forgiveness (of minor sins) if he does not associate anything with Allah in worship. But the person in whose heart there is rancour against his brother, will not be pardoned. With regard to them, it is said twice: ‘Hold these two until they are reconciled’. ‘Hold these two until they are reconciled.’” [Muslim] In fact, this was the reason why the exact night on which the night of Al-Qadr falls was not disclosed to the people.
The matter is even graver than this, as indicated in the following narration. Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “It is not lawful for a Muslim to forsake his (Muslim) brother beyond three days; and whosoever does so for more than three days, and then dies, will certainly enter the Hell.” [Abu Daawood]  We ask Allah to purify our hearts from spite and grudges.
One of the main things that leads to having a spiteful heart is backbiting and tale bearing. These two evil qualities often result in hatred and severing of ties amongst people. Therefore, a Muslim must control his tongue and not allow himself to talk about others, backbite or slander them.
Allah Says (what means): “And do not backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would detest it” [Qur’an 49: 12]
Another matter that results in spite is disputes and arguments, thus people must beware of this bad quality. People can hold different opinions but do not have to become enemies due to this. Yoosuf As-Sadafi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “I never saw anyone wiser than Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee. I argued with him once about a matter but we could not come to an agreement, so when he saw me later, he took hold of my hand and said: ‘O Abu Moosaa! Can’t we disagree and remain brothers?’” Prejudice and partiality –  whether to one’s opinion, a group or a person – also lead to spite creeping into the heart.
Competing over worldly matters results in spite in most cases; this is why Islam forbade a person from attempting to buy something that his Muslim brother has already started negotiating about, or proposing to a woman who a fellow Muslim has approached earlier. The reason for this is that Islam tries to prevent all the possible reasons that could engender spite and hatred.
The zeal of attaining high posts and positions makes a person envious; Al-Fudhayl Ibn ‘Iyaadh, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Striving to reach high posts and positions and leadership makes people envious and leads them to transgressing other people’s rights.”
There is another matter that people neglect, which has a direct connection to this issue: straightening the rows during prayer. Nu’maan Ibn Basheer, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Straighten your rows (during prayer) or Allah would create dissension amongst you”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Joking too much with people and two people talking in seclusion in the presence of a third are more reasons for spite amongst Muslims, which we must be careful to avoid. There are certain things a person can do to prevent spite and spread love instead, like supplicating for others and giving them gifts.
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