Since the beginning of Ramadan we have settled on one goal alone and that is pleasing Allah [SWT] by picking out a most beloved deed to Him [SWT]. Today’s deed is one that when present in a believer’s heart raises him above others in this world and the Hereafter in spite of himself. It draws him closer to Allah [SWT] and His Messenger (saw). It’s the slogan of the righteous. It is their logo; their medal of honor. Should today’s deed be one that you already practice, then know that it is evidence of the health of your faith and your Islam. Because of it your Islam is wrinkle-free, because you understand that it is not just a religion of ritualistic worship but one that governs your everyday dealings with others. The act of worship that we want to talk about today is appreciating and respecting humankind. It is the sense that wherever you are among people, it doesn’t matter to you whether they are educated or uneducated, rich or poor, practicing or non-practicing because regardless you appreciate and respect them. With so many societal divisions nowadays, this noble trait has literally become a needle in a haystack. It’s become outdated; a jewel that has fossilized. People are too busy to include it in their daily schedules. A human being, the crown of Allah’s creation, is like a diamond. Whether it is embedded on a golden band on the finger of a beautiful lady, or whether it is embedded in a mine somewhere covered with impurities waiting to be discovered. It is always a diamond at heart. It’s a precious stone no matter its state. Such is a human being.
Do you know why Allah [SWT] loves that we appreciate and respect human beings? Because it’s the mainstay of monotheism; monotheism [Tawheed] is not just a word, although it begins with the words ‘La Illaha Ila Allah’ [there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah]. Monotheism is to acknowledge in words and actions that there is no Creator but Allah and every creature is solely His handiwork. More importantly you honor what Allah [SWT] honored. That is true monotheism. When Allah [SWT] created humankind He said:
And surely We have honored the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them of the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellence over most of those whom We have created. [17:70]
Notice that Allah [SWT] says that “We have honored the children of Adam”, so it is inclusive and not exclusive. It is regardless of their religion, race, profession, class, color, tribe etc. So if you are “Muwahed” i.e. a person who believes in Islamic monotheism then you honor what Allah [SWT] has honored, and you appreciate and value what He [SWT] has. For this reason out of love for this form of worship, He [SWT] seated those who practice it close to Prophet Muhammad (saw) in Jannah: “The nearest to me in heaven are those with the best manners.” There is no way that you can show appreciation and respect to another human being– whether in kindness or tolerating their bad manners–except because you value them and have swallowed your pride to be on your best behavior for the sake of Allah. When Allah [SWT] sent Muhammad (saw) to whom this characteristic was second skin, the companions understood its solid relationship with monotheism. Ali Bin Abi Taleb said: “Those who have the most knowledge of Allah are those who honor greatly the creation of La Illah Ila Allah.” Every time you are out on the street and you see crowds of people, know that every single person is honored in the eyes of Allah [SWT] because He said, “And surely We have honored the children of Adam.” So, today we’re going to learn how to leave our homes with the attitude that we respect all human beings without exception.
So, what is the secret behind Allah [SWT] honoring us human beings? We were born with medals of honor, because Allah [SWT] breathed into us His secret [our souls], “So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him” [15:29] It was because of this that the angels were asked to bow down to our father in reverence of this soul breathed into us by Allah [SWT] Himself. It is what makes us human. Regardless of who someone is, what class they belong to, what race they are from Allah [SWT] honored him by breathing into him a soul that He [SWT] created. It is this jewel that is inside us all that we should recognize in each other, not the outer shell that has been exposed to the elements and has hardened. It is what we should strive to reach in others—touch their hearts, their souls.
How can we through actions show our appreciation and respect for other fellow humans? Two things we can do:
The first is spread peace [Salam] in words and actions. When you are out on the streets Allah [SWT] has taught us to spread the beautiful greeting of Islam “Salaam [peace]” but your actions should also follow suit. Scholars say that harming others are of three types: hurting them physically [bodily], emotionally [in feelings], and materially [in rights property]. So, a person practicing these three has a warning label on him: “harmful to humans.” There is a hadith in Bukhari that talks about those who are close to Allah [SWT] and another type that are far, and remember we are striving here to be of the former and not the latter. The Prophet passed by a funeral and said, “’One rests and one others rest from.’ The companions asked, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘When a believer dies he rests from the suffering and toil of this world and heads to the Mercy of Allah. As for the corrupt the land, its people, plants and animals are relieved to be rid of him.” So, think about it? What kind are you? Are you the kind of person who will be missed? Will people make dua for you? Maybe even Umra [smaller pilgrimage] and Hajj [Pilgrimage] on your behalf? Or do you have a tongue that lashes out at people, and a hand that is ready to beat the living daylights out of them? Will people remember the way you looked down at them? Will your mother remember you with kindness, or will she be relieved you’re finally gone? Seriously, those of us who want to love Allah [SWT] need to focus on this form of worship. We want to be “peace” to people in both words and actions.
Listen to this beautiful hadith, “A man passed by a branch of a tree leaning over a road and decided to remove it, saying to himself, `By Allah! I will remove it from the way of Muslims so that it would not harm them.’ On account of this he was admitted to Jannah.” [Muslim] What did this man do? Remove a branch? No, he did more than that. He did not want to cause harm to other humans. He couldn’t bear seeing other humans harmed if he could help it.
Do you know why Allah [SWT] wants you to be a person who spreads peace, because it means that you do not trivialize the human being that He [SWT] has honored. If you trivialize then you trivialize Allah. Be like your Prophet (saw), Anas ibn Malik says he lived with the Prophet (saw) for 10 years and the Prophet (saw) never hit him, insulted him or frowned in his face. That’s 10 years! Another narration says “I served the Prophet (saw) for ten years and he never said to me ‘why did you do that?’ after I had done something or ‘why did you not do that?’ after I had neglected to do something.’ ‘He never said a word of contempt to me.’ ”
Second is that you treat all people equally. If you want to really please Allah [SWT], then know that He does not like to look in your heart and see any trace of arrogance towards others. That you feel you are better because you are rich and others are poor. Know that your economic status is Allah’s [SWT] choice for you and is not your own doing. Unfortunately, many of the rich make the poor mad at Allah [SWT] by mistreating them and flashing their wealth at them. Have you ever read “Chicken Soup for the Soul”? In it is this story of a boy who only has 50 cents. He heads to the pizza store. When he gets there he asks after the price of a pizza with 3 toppings. The girl behind the counter says, “50 cents.” He contemplates for a while and asks, “What about the one with no toppings?” She says, “25 cents.” So, after thinking it over, much to the impatience of the girl behind the counter, he buys the one with 25 cents. She rolls her eyes and serves him. When she finishes her shift, she looks in her cup of tips and finds that the boy has left her a 25 cent tip. He valued her so much, that he preferred to eat a 25 cents pizza so that she would be happy.
Just a quick note, when you come across a person who is disobedient to Allah [SWT] and it shows, it does not give you the right to look down at them. Allah [SWT] says:
O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. [49:11]
Among the beautiful interpretation of this ayah is that the person whose sins have not been disclosed should not make fun of the person whose sins have been exposed. Every single one of us has sins. Remember to “err is human.”
So, let’s repent to Allah for every moment when we thought we were better than others. For every moment we hurt another human being. Let’s turn to Allah in sincere repentance and promise never to return to such behavior ever. We love you O Allah by appreciating and honoring all human beings without exception because you honored them and that is enough for us to do so.