Appreciativeness and loyalty

Appreciativeness and loyalty are one of the most important signs of Islam. They are of the traits that make a person human. They are spiritual virtues that are characteristic of the prophets, the saints and people of virtue and they crown human life with the highest of stations. This elevated emotion is a precious measure which is given to those loved or those who deserve to be loved. Those who do not possess the feeling of loyalty are selfish people who think only of their own selves, their pleasure and benefit.

The human being must first of all be loyal to his Lord. This can only take place however through complying with His commands. Almighty Allah has said in the Qur’an:

Do not be like those who forgot Allah so He made them forget themselves. Such people are the deviators’ (Al Hashr, 59:19)

After loyalty to Allah, the most lofty and necessary loyalty is that which is towards the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). This loyalty is an expression of one’s gratitude to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), whose priority was his community as he expressed in his prayers to Allah “My community, my community”. This loyalty, which begins when one’s feelings of love for the Prophet deepen, is possible when one is devoted to his Sunnah.

Every believer should harbour feelings of loyalty for the great men of this religion, that is, for the friends of Allah. For it is these friends of Allah who have transmitted the commands and prohibitions of Allah and His Messenger, and his beautiful character, to us.

Those to whom we must show loyalty are not limited to those we have just mentioned. On the contrary we must establish loyalty in our hearts for our friends and brothers and sisters in religion. Moreover, loyalty to our forefathers, our living and our dead, our country, and to the trusts that we have been entrusted with are all characteristics of sound character and personality.

Jalaluddin Rumi has nicely expressed the virtue of appreciativeness and loyalty as follows:

“Traits such as love and ardour and friendship all depend on loyalty and always seek out the loyal person. They are never befitting for a heart which is disloyal.

The pen wrote: “The response to loyalty is loyalty; and the response to harshness is harshness” and then the ink dried.

A sultan would cut off the head of the one who was treacherous to him, even if it were his son. However if an Indian slave were to show loyalty to the sultan, then hearts will be loyal to that slave, and appreciate him… the regard in which is he held will not be shown to one hundred viziers.

And the slave; even if he were a loyal dog at the door then the owner of that dog will feel pleased and content with that dog hundred times over and the owner will caress that dog with love…”

Scenes of Virtue

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has said:

“I am the result of the prayer of my father Ibrahîm, the good tidings of my brother Jesus, and the dream of my mother Amina[1]”. In saying so, he displayed superior loyalty to them.

In the year of the treaty of Hudaybiya, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) once passed by Abwa, on a journey to Mecca to perform the lesser pilgrimage. The Prophet asked Allah for permission to visit his mother’s grave (which was located in Abwa). He smoothed over his mother’s grave with his blessed hands and then began to cry out of his sorrow. The Muslims who saw him also began to cry. Then they asked him why he did so and he answered:

“I remembered the compassion and mercy of mother for me and it made me cry”(Ibn Sa’d, I, 116-117; Also see Muslim, Janaiz, 105, 108).

***

When Allah’s Messenger blessed the world with his presence, a lady name Suwayba Hatun who had a son named Masruh, wet-nursed him for a period of time[2]. A model of loyalty, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) paid much attention to and concerned himself with Suwayba Hatun when he grew up. While they were in Mecca both Allah’s Messenger, and his wife Khadijah, were very good to her and made her many offerings. When the Prophet migrated to Madina, he always sent Suwayba Hatun food and clothes and continued to meet her needs. In the seventh year after the migration, on returning from the expedition to Haybar, he was informed of her death. Allah’s Messenger asked:

“What is her son Masrun doing?”

He received the reply:

“He passed away before his mother”.

Upon this, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asked whether there were any other living relatives and was told that there was nobody. (Ibn Sa’d, I, 108, 109).

***

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was ever loyal to his milk-relatives for his entire life. Whenever he saw his foster mother, Halima Hatun (who wet-nursed him as a baby), he would address her as: “Mother dearest, mother dearest” and show great affection, love and respect for her. He would lay down his rida (upper garment) for her to sit on and immediately grant any request she may have had to make. (Ibn Sa’d, I, 113, 114)

One day when the Prophet was sitting in his house, the husband of his foster mother came to see him. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) immediately laid down part of his garment for him to sit on. A little while later, his foster mother also came. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stood up for her and sat her down in front of him. (Abu Dawud, Adab, 119-120/5145).

One day Halima Hatun came to Mecca to see the Prophet. At that time, he was married to Khadijah. They hosted Halima Hatun as their guest. Halima spoke to them of the drought and shortage that was current in their land and the plight of their animals. When the Prophet told his wife about the situation of his foster mother, she made a gift to her of forty sheep and a camel to carry them and their load. In this way, Khadijah showed her own loyalty to our Prophet (Ibn Sa’d, I, 114).

***

During the conquest of Mecca, while the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was in the area of Abtah, the sister of Halima Hatun came to visit him. He made her a gift of some skim-milk cheese and butter amongst other things. Allah’s Messenger immediately asked her about his foster mother. When she told him that she had passed away, the Prophet’s eyes filled with tears. He asked who was left behind. He later gave orders that this lady be given clothes to wear, and a gift of a camel and 200 dirhams of silver coins be made to her. On returning to her country in great happiness she said:

“What a wonderful relative you were when you were small and now that you have grown” (Wakidi, II, 869; Belazuri, I, 95).

***

Along with the victory and the booty that had been obtained at the Battle of Hunayn, there were also many slaves taken. Amongst these slaves was the foster sister of the Prophet, Shayma.

He had her brought to him and took off his upper garment and laid it down for her. He showed great loyalty for this precious foster sister of hers with whom he had grown up with at Badiye and he was very kind to her and welcomed her. As he remembered the old days his eyes filled with tears. He asked about her mother and father. Shayma informed him that they had passed away. Allah’s Messenger asked about their other relatives and then he said:

“If you wish you can stay with me and be the recipient of love and respect. If you wish I can give you goods and send you back to your tribe. I will do this for you”.

Shayma replied:

“Give me goods and send me back to my people”. She later became Muslim. Allah’s Messenger gave Shayma Hatun and those of her relatives who were still alive, camels and cattle. He also bestowed upon her a male and female slave whom she later married to each other (Ibn Hisham, IV, 101; Wakidi, III, 913).

A little while later declared that he had set free those of the slaves who had fallen to him and to the sons of Abdulmuttalib including his foster relatives. He said to his Companions:

“Whoever of you likes to please their siblings by setting free the slaves for no ransom and purely for the sake of good let him do so. And whoever does not wish to let those of the slaves who fall to them go without a ransom, we will pay them with the booty that Allah has bestowed upon us. Let whoever so wishes do so…”

In a display of great virtue the Companions said:

“We too have pledged our slaves to the Messenger of Allah” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 54; Ibn Hisham, IV, 134-135).

On the day thousands of prisoners of war were returned to the Hawazin in return for nothing. As a result of the loyalty of Allah’s Messenger, thousands of people were revived and blessed with faith and reunited with their freedom.

***

When he was six years old the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) went to Madina to visit his father’s grave with his mother. On their return his mother also passed away in the village of Abwa. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was thus left orphaned and returned to Mecca with their servant, Ummu Ayman .

Throughout his life the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would often visit his nanny, Ummu Ayman and would address her as “Mother”. He would compliment her and show her great love and respect saying: “She is my mother after my mother. She is all that is left me of the people of my house

***

Fatima Hatun, the wife of Abu Talib, was a very virtuous and good-hearted woman. After the Prophet migrated to Madina, he would frequently visit this blessed lady and would take his late-morning nap in her house (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 222).

When Fatima Hatun passed away, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) wept with tears that fell from his blessed eyes like pearl drops. “Today my mother passed away” he said, and then made his shirt into a funeral shroud for her. He prayed her funeral prayer, and then lay down in her grave for a period of time. When he was asked about the reason for this act, he replied:

After Abu Talib, there is no other person who was as good to me as this woman. I made my shirt her funeral shroud so that she could wear clothes of Paradise in Heaven. And I laid down in her grave so that it would be warm for her”.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would say to those who were surprised at how he was saddened by Fatima Hatun’s death:

“She was my mother after my own mother. While her own children went hungry and soured their faces, she would feed me first, comb my hair and rub rose oil over me. She was my mother”. Then he prayed for her as follows:

“May Allah forgive you and reward you with good. May Allah have mercy on you dearest mother. You became my mother after I lost my mother. You would remain hungry so that I could eat. You would favour me so that I could be clothed (and not worry about yourself). You would let me taste the most delicious of bounties, and you would deprive your own self. And you would only do this in hope of pleasing Allah and reaching the afterlife…” (Hakim, III, 116-117; Haysami, IX, 256-257; Ya’qubi, II, 14).

***

Aisha (r.ha) tells of the loyalty the Prophet Muhammad showed for his first wife, Khadijah (r.ha):

“I was never jealous of any of the wives of Allah’s Messenger as much as I was of Khadijah. And I never even saw her. However the Messenger of Allah would remember her often. Whenever he would sacrifice a lamb, he would send the various pieces to Khadijah’s close friends. Sometimes I would say to him:

“It is as though there is no other woman in the world except Khadijah”. He would then begin to enumerate her virtues saying:

She was such and such….” And then he would say: “She was the mother of my children” (Bukhari, Manakibu al-Ansar’, 20; Muslim, Fadailu as-Sahaba, 74-76).

***

At the time that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave the command to bury the martyrs from the Battle of Uhud, he said about Amr ibn Jamuh  and Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Haram (r.a):

“Those two stood shoulder to shoulder in one rank and they were very intimate friends. Lay down these two martyrs, who loved each other dearly, in the same grave, next to each other side by side”. (Ibn Hisham, III, 49; Ibn Sa’d, III, 562).

What a magnificent display of loyalty…

***

There used to be a black lady who would sweep the Prophet’s Mosque. One time, the Prophet failed to see her. He was curious and asked where she was. They told her that she had passed away. As a paragon of loyalty, the Prophet said:

“Should you not have informed me?” Later he said: “Show me her grave” and then he went to it and prayed the funeral prayer for her. (Bukhari, Janaiz, 67).

***

Years had passed after the migration to Abyssinia. One time, the envoys of the Ruler of Abyssinia entered the presence of Allah’s Messenger. The Prophet paid close attention to them, and in fact served them himself. His Companions told him that they could carry out this service themselves but the Prophet’s response was most significant:

“These people showed those of my Companions who had migrated to Abyssinia, a place to stay and showed them great hospitality. Now I want to serve them in response”.(Bayhaqi, Shuabu al-Iman, VI, 518, VII, 436).

***

The Negus of Abyssinia passed away in the month of Rajab, after the return from Tabuk. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) informed his Companions’ of the Negus’ death that same day and he said:

“Pray the funeral prayer for your brother who has passed away in a far-off land”. His Companions asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah. Who is it?” He replied:

“The Negus, Ashama. Today, Ashama, the righteous servant of Allah passed away. Ask for forgiveness from Allah for your brother”. He then performed the Negus’ funeral prayer in his absence. (Muslim, Janaiz 62-68; Ahmad, III, 319, IV, 7).

Later they were to learn that the Negus had passed away on the exact day that the Prophet had informed them.

***

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stayed for fifteen days in Mecca after its conquest. During this time, some of the Ansar from Madina became concerned that the Prophet (pbuh) would not return to Madina. Because Allah Most High had made possible for him the conquest of the blessed and sacred land in which he had been born and grew up. As he prayed on the hill of Safa, the Prophet sensed this anxiety of the Ansar and after finishing his prayer he went to them and said:

“What is that you are talking about?”

When they expressed their concerns, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, in a display of great loyalty:

“O Ansar! I seek refuge in Allah from doing such a thing. I migrated to your land. My life is your life; and my death will be at your side”.

After these words, the anxieties and concerns of the Ansar vanished (Muslim, Jihad, 84, 86; Ahmad, II, 538).

***

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) never forgot those of his Companions who fought for the cause of Islam with their wealth and their lives, nor did he forget those of his Companions who were martyred in the process. From time to time he would visit the grave of Baqi and other graves where the martyrs lay and he would pray for them. His Companions narrate:

“One time the Prophet ascended the pulpit. After pronouncing the declaration of faith (I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger), the first thing he did was to pray to Allah to forgive the martyrs from the Battle of Uhud”. (Ibn Sa’d, II, 228).

After that in display of loyalty to the Ansar, he said:

“O people. Other people are on the increase while the Ansar are decreasing in number. In fact they will become as small in quantity as the salt in food. Whoever of you reaches a position in which he has the power to bring benefit or harm to people, then let him respond to the goodness of the Ansar with good and let him forgive those of them who do him wrong”(Bukhari, Manakibu al-Ansar, 11).

“I advise you to treat the Ansar well. They are my community, my confidants, and my trustees. They have carried out fully the duties that have befallen them. The reward for their service has not however been totally given (It will be paid many times over in the afterlife. This is why you should accept the good that they do and discourage them from doing wrong” (Bukhari, Manakibu’l Ansar, 11).

***

The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) also never forgot the sacrifices made by the Emigrants and in assigning various duties to his Companions he always made sure to consider those who gave their support to Islam from the beginning. Amongst these Abu Bakr (r.a) had a special place. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) has expressed his gratitude to him as follows:

“We have recompensed all of those who have been good to us, either equally or with increase. However, not so Abu Bakr. He has done so much good that Allah Most High will be the One to give him his recompense on the Day of Judgement. No other person’s wealth has been of more benefit to me than that of Abu Bakr’s. If I were to choose an intimate friend, I would choose Abu Bakr. Know that your friend (indicating himself) is the intimate friend of Allah Most High” (Tirmidhi, Manakib, 15/3661).

***

When Abu Bakr (r.a) became caliph, he made a pronouncement that whoever the Prophet Muhammad had made a promise to come and collect it, and he paid for these with the wealth that came from Bahrain (Bukhari, Kafale, 3).

After the Prophet’s death, Ali  also made a pronouncement saying:

“Whoever has been promised something by the Messenger of Allah or are owed something by him, let them come to me and receive it”. As long as he was alive he would send a man to Mina on the Day of Sacrifice and continue to make this pronouncement. He would give whoever came to him whatever they requested. In the same way, his son Hasan did the same, as did his son Hussain until he was martyred (Ibn Sa’d, II, 318).

***

Abdullah ibn Umar (r.a) was famous for his loyalty and devotion to the memory of Allah’s Messenger. After the death of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), Abdullah ibn Umar (r.a) would walk the same path that he had walked, thinking about Him. He would sit and remember the Prophet as he sat under the very same tree that the Prophet had rested under. He would make sure to water these trees wherever they were, on a mountain side or plain, so that they did not dry up. All of this was proof of his peerless loyalty to the memory of the Prophet of Allah and his great love for him (pbuh).

***

Feriduddin Atar describes the state of those who forget the bounties given to them by Allah and display disloyalty by becoming slaves to the most base of their carnal tendencies:

There was once a hunting dog who had attracted the special attention of the Sultan. He was very talented and an expert at hunting. The Sultan valued him dearly and would always take him with him on all hunting expeditions. He had his collar embellished with jewels, and would place rings and bracelets of gold and silver around his ankles. His back was covered with cloth of silver-threaded satin.

One day the sultan again took this dog with him and went out to hunt with the other men of the palace. The sultan was in high spirits as he moved forward on his horse in a dignified manner, holding the silk leash of the collar in his hand. But all of a sudden, he saw something which took away the joy he had been feeling. The dog that he loved so much had forgotten all about him and was occupying himself with something else. In great sorrow the sultan pulled on the leash, but the dog resisted, continuing to gnaw on the bone that was in front of him. Amongst feelings of astonishment and anger the sultan cried out:

“How can you stand there in my presence and occupy yourself with something else, forgetting all about me?”

He was deeply saddened. The ingratitude, disloyalty and lack of feeling the dog showed had affected him greatly. He could not bring himself to forgive him, even though he was just a dog. This act of disloyalty was enough to break his heart and it was an act impossible to forgive, in the face of all of the honour, bestowal and offerings he had made to the dog who had forgotten him in an instant for a mere piece of bone. In anger he said:

“Make way for this most uncouth of creatures”.

The dog understood the meaning behind his anger, however it was too late and there was nothing left to do. Those around the sultan said to him:

“My sultan. Let us first remove the jewels, gold and silver on him and then let him go”. However the sultan replied:

“No, let him go as he is” and then he added:

“Let him go as he is. Let him go and be left forlorn in the vast, scorching, empty desert, hungry and thirsty; let him go and remember the bounties and offerings that he has lost and live continually the pain of that loss…”

This story is very significant in telling of the state of those unfaithful people who forget the endless bounties that Allah Most High has bestowed upon them, not appreciating their value but rather destroying themselves in pursuit of simple, fleeting and base benefit.

***

The duty of decorating the dome of the Sulaymaniye Mosque was given to the calligrapher Karahisari. Karahisari began his work in an extraordinary effort to match his calligraphy with the magnificence of the mosque. He had given himself so much to this task that the moment he finished the last stroke he lost his eye sight.

When the mosque was finished and it was about to be opened for worship, Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent said:

“The honour of opening our mosque for worship goes to the head architect, Sinan, who designed and built it in such splendid fashion”

The architect Sinan who began his trade by first learning humility, in a display of outer unparalleled modesty together with maturity of the heart, thought about the sacrifice made by the calligrapher Karahisari and responded to the words of Sultan the Magnificent in all courtesy:

“My Sultan! The calligrapher Karahisari sacrificed his eyes in order to embellish this mosque with his calligraphy; he became blinded as a result. Please let this honour go to him…”

Upon this, Sulayman the Magnificent, in great appreciation and amongst the tears of those present, decreed that Karahisari open the mosque.

***

My late Persian teacher who was originally Christian but became Muslim after reading the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Al-Rumi and took the name Yaman Dede, when he was asked the reason for his love of Rumi, he answered:

“My son, Jalaluddin Rumi took me by the hand, and leading me to the door of the Blessed Prophet, he became the means for my being guided to Islam. For me to refer to someone who has saved me from the fire this much is even too little”.

What great loyalty and subtlety of thought…

***

Our father and teacher, Musa Efendi was known amongst those who loved him as ‘Sahibu’l Wafa’, that is the master of loyalty. We can relate just a few of the many examples of loyalty of Musa Efendi as follows:

He would become very emotional whenever he saw forlorn and old people in society, abandoned to their solitude and left alone with their pain. He would say:

“We should take these poor people into our houses, however this is not possible for us. In that case, we should build refuges for them”.

In fact, together with some of his close friends, they managed to bring this idea to fruition. From time to time they would also visit these people and concern themselves with their needs.

The heart of Musa Efendi would be concerned even with the cats in his garden and he would name them according to their character, and would treat them each according to their own loyalty and compassion for their kittens.

There was a nurse who looked after me when I was still in my crib, and he searched for this lady 55 years later, finding her and honouring her showing her hospitality.

In particular, his loyalty to his spiritual guide, Sami Efendi, was known by all. The first place he would visit on the eid celebrations was Sami Efendi’s house. Again the first sacrificial animal he would have sacrificed would be for him. He would be the means for the Qur’an being read and dedicated to him and his loyal heart would be very pleased when every year tens of thousands of ‘hatm-i sharif[3]’ would be completed and dedicated to his beloved teacher.

In short, he taught us, through the beautiful behaviour that encompassed his entire life, what and how the loyalty of the one who loves should be. In this way he was similar to Abu Bakr (r.a) in his love and devotion.

May Almighty Allah bestow this beautiful state of his upon us all.

O Allah! Include us in the group of righteous people by bestowing on us the beautiful states of the people of loyalty. Bestow loyalty and sincerity in our deeds and make us heirs of Paradise. Bestow upon us from our offspring, children that will be the apples of our eye and be leaders of piety. Make us loyal to You, to Your Messenger, to our mothers and fathers, our relatives and to all of the people of this faith, to our country and our nation and to the other trusts that we behold. Allow us to live in the spiritual atmosphere of your pleasure in both worlds…

Amen!…

[1].     Ahmad, V, 262; Hakim, II, 453. Ibrahîm (upon whom be peace) made the following prayer about the Prophet Muhammad: Our Lord, raise up among them a Messenger from them to recite Your Signs to them and teach them the Book and Wisdom and purify them’ (Al Baqara, 2:129). Jesus (upon whom be peace) gave good tidings of a prophet who would come after him and who would be called ‘Ahmad’ (as Saf, verse). Amina, the mother of the Prophet once saw in her dream before the Prophet was born, a light that was emitted from her and which illuminated the entire universe. (Ibn Sa’d, I, 102)

[2].     Ibn Sa’d, I, 108

[3].     A hatm-i sharif is a complete reading of the Qur’an