Explanation of Hadith
Four attributes of a perfect believer
Maulana Nasir Jamal Attari Madani
The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: ‘وَاَعْطَى لِلهِ وَمَنَعَ لِلهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَكْمَلَ الْاِيمَانَ مَنْ اَحَبَّ لِلهِ وَاَبْغَضَ لِلهِ’ ‘Those who love for Allah’s sake, hate for His sake, give for His sake, and withhold for His sake, they have perfected their faith.’ (Abu Dawood, vol. 4, p. 290, Hadith 4681)
Love and hatred are inward actions stemming from the heart whereas giving and withholding are outward actions of the limbs. Therefore, we can conclude that people’s faith is only perfected when both their inward and outward actions are solely for the sake of Allah Almighty. In this dual relationship, the heart is central because, as the scholars have explained, outward actions reflect the state of one’s heart; when the heart prefers the pleasure of Allah Almighty over everything else, the limbs follow suit and are naturally inclined towards performing actions that please Allah Almighty. (Ghiza-ul-Albaab, vol. 1, p. 47 Summarised)
This Hadith is akin to a golden rule for life, stipulating that every aspect of our being, from our thoughts to behaviour, be driven by the goal to seek the pleasure of Allah Almighty and it is this approach to life that begets perfect faith. In pursuit of this perfect faith, we should begin by exploring the four traits described in the aforementioned Hadith:
1. Loving for Allah’s Sake
‘Love is a state in which the heart is attracted towards something due to a quality or virtue it possesses.’ (Fayz-ul-Qadeer, vol. 1, p. 217)
Realising that true perfection is exclusive to Allah Almighty, a person measures his intention against the scale of sincerity before performing any act. Then, throughout the act, he strives to save himself from violating the laws of Allah Almighty. If he falls short or errs, he is quick to seek Allah’s forgiveness. Such a person’s actions are grounded in one goal: the pleasure of Allah Almighty.
Imam Al-Ghazali رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه explains how we can recognise whether or not our love is for Allah’s sake: If a person loves a chef because he can prepare good food in order to distribute it to the poor, then this is love for the sake of Allah Almighty. If a person loves a scholar because he can learn the religion from him for material gain, then this is love for the sake of the world. (Ashi’a-tul-Lam’aat, vol. 1, p. 67)
2. Hatred for Allah’s Sake
The reason for hating someone or something can either be self-stipulated or divinely stipulated. The former is sure to be flawed and a cause of misery in both worlds whereas the latter, the standard set by Allah Almighty, ensures that one’s feeling of dislike is solely for the sake of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
3, 4. Giving and withholding Allah’s Sake
If our giving is driven by ulterior motives and greed, then the results are going to be disastrous. If however, Allah’s pleasure is the driving force, then one will develop unique characteristics such as empathy and kindness. Depriving someone out of disdain or personal animosity is blameworthy and must be avoided. From the aforementioned exposition, we learn that by adopting the four attributes mentioned in the Hadith, we can perfect our faith and purify our inner and outer.
May Allah Almighty make all of our actions for His sake and source of closeness in His blessed court.