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Central Sermon (Khutbah)

Good deeds that purify and elevate the believer

Angels are creatures who have never disobeyed Allah the Most High, but like humans and jinn, they are creatures endowed with reason and they reflect. What is less known is that sometimes angels discuss in a manner described as deliberation among themselves.

Tirmidhi and Ahmad reported the following hadith from Muaz b. Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him: “One morning, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not come out to pray Fajr with us. We waited until we almost saw the sun rise. Then, he quickly came out, the call to prayer was made, and he led the prayer. He prayed briefly. When he finished the prayer, he called us and said, ‘Remain seated in rows.’ Then, he turned to us and said: ‘I will tell you what prevented me from coming out this morning. I got up to pray the night prayer, I performed ablution, and I prayed as much as I could, then I fell into prayer and slept deeply. Suddenly, I saw my Lord in His most beautiful form. He said to me, ‘O Muhammad!’ ‘Here I am, O my Lord!’ I said. He said: ‘What are the angels discussing?’ ‘I do not know, O my Lord,’ I said. Then, He placed His hand between my shoulders, so that I felt the coolness of His hand between my chest, and everything became clear to me, I knew the answer. Then, He said to me: ‘O Muhammad, what are the angels discussing?’ So I said: ‘They are discussing expiations and degrees.’ ‘And what are the expiations?’ He asked, and I said: ‘They are: walking to prayer in a group, sitting in the mosque after prayer, and completing ablution in uncomfortable situations.’ ‘And what are the degrees?’ He asked, and I said: ‘Feeding the poor, speaking kind words, and praying while the world sleeps.’ Then, He said to me: ‘Ask what you wish,’ and I said: ‘O Allah, I ask You for good deeds and to abandon all evil, to love the poor, to forgive me and have mercy on me, and if You wish to test a nation, take me before the trial. And I ask You for Your love, the love of those who love You, and the love of every action that brings closer to Your love.’” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “These words are truth, study and learn them.”

After quoting this hadith, Tirmidhi said: “This hadith is hasan-sahih”, meaning authentic, then he said: “I asked Muhammad b. Ismail al-Bukhari about this hadith and he said that the hadith is authentic.”

  • Meaning of the Hadith
    This hadith mainly addresses two subjects: expiations for sins and high ranks with Allah, meaning the things that enable one to achieve both.
  • Expiations for Sins
    In this hadith, three things are mentioned as a means for a believer to repent from their sins: completing ablutions in discomfort, walking to prayer in congregation, and sitting in the mosque after prayer.
  • Completing Ablutions in Discomfort
    For ablutions to be a special expiation for sins, two conditions must be met: completing the ablutions and doing so in discomfort.
    Completing ablutions involves washing every part of the body and wiping the entire head. Some scholars say that washing must be done three times for ablutions to be complete, although washing each part once is sufficient for them to be perfect.
  • Walking to Prayer in Congregation
    This is the second thing that serves as expiation for the sins of the believer, especially if it is linked to ablution at home before going to the congregation. This is confirmed by the hadith where the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “The prayer performed in congregation is better than that performed at home or in the market by twenty-five degrees. This is because the believer, when he properly performs ablution, then goes to the mosque only for prayer, does not take a step without it dropping a sin and causing him to rise a degree” (Bukhari and Muslim).
  • Sitting in the Mosque After Prayer
    Sitting in the mosque after prayer is an expiation for sins due to two things. The first is mentioned in the hadith: “For whoever among you sits in the place where he prayed, the angels pray for him, saying: ‘O Allah, grant him Your mercy, forgive him’, and they continue thus until the person begins to say or do something that interrupts their supplication.”
    Some scholars, like Ibn Rajab, consider sitting in the mosque after prayer to include waiting for the next prayer, as mentioned in the hadith that says sins are erased by “waiting for the prayer after performing the prayer” (Muslim).
  • High Ranks
    Feeding the poor, speaking kind words, and praying at a late hour of the night when most people sleep are three things mentioned in this hadith that enable one to attain high ranks with Allah and for which high ranks are granted in the hereafter.
  • Feeding the Poor
    Describing His special servants, Allah the Most High says: “They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor, the orphan, and the prisoner. ‘We feed you only for the sake of Allah, we do not ask for any reward or gratitude from you. We fear our Lord, on the terrible Day when hearts will be shaken and eyes will be lowered. And Allah will preserve them from the evils of that Day, and will grant them joy and happiness, and will reward them, for their patience, with a Paradise and silk garments, lying on couches, they will not feel burning sun or freezing cold, near them the shade will be drawn near and fruits will be suspended within their reach” (Ad-Dahr, 8–14). This verse confirms the mentioned hadith.

There are three degrees of feeding the poor: feeding any poor person, feeding a neighbor or relative who is poor, and feeding a poor person while being hungry oneself. Each of these three degrees is part of the actions that enable one to attain high ranks, but the best is the last, followed by the preceding.

  • Speaking Kind Words
    The greatest form of kindness to people is to help them when they need food to survive. After mentioning the physical act in the hadith, which is to feed the limbs, a verbal act is also mentioned, which is that the believer to attain high ranks must constantly speak kind words.
    The two actions are mentioned together to emphasize the importance of kindness both through deeds and words, as one cannot feed someone while bothering them with words. It is better to speak kindly than to give them goods. It is reported that Luqman said to his son: “My son, speak kindly to people and be cheerful, you will be dearer to them than those who give them gold and silver.”

A wide range of kind words exists, but the most beautiful are those spoken elegantly by a person endowed with good character, who knows that the most beautiful words are those that glorify the greatness of Allah, His path, and then everything that is beautiful. People love them even in this world, so imagine what rewards await them with Allah!

  • Praying at Night While People Sleep
    The best prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer, which is preferable to perform during the last third of the night. However, to be counted among those who pray at night, the minimum to do is to pray two or more than two rakats after the Isha prayer, as Abdullah b. Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Whoever prays two rakats or more after the Isha prayer is counted among those who pray at night” (Tefsiru Begavi). However, the hadith emphasizes that this is a prayer when most people sleep, indicating that one who does it is in a special relationship with Allah, and that this relationship distinguishes him particularly.
  • And finally – the supplication
    The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, concluded the hadith with a supplication and a message asking to learn everything mentioned in the hadith, as well as the following supplication: “O Allah, I ask You to perform good deeds, to abandon bad deeds, to love the poor, to forgive me and have mercy on me, and if You wish to test a community, then take me before the trial. I ask You for Your love, the love of those who love You, and the love of every action that brings closer to Your love.”

The mention of this supplication at the end also means that man cannot purify himself of his sins or attain high ranks without the help of Allah, but also that he can only aspire to this if he sincerely loves Allah and good deeds. This is why this hadith is great and why it is worth learning its teachings and the supplication it contains.

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