The Companions (Radi Allahu Anhum) were always trying to prioritize, and so whenever they had the chance so ask the Prophet (salah Allah alayhe wa salam) they would ask , “Which deeds are the most beloved to Allah?” They meant of course , those deeds after the obligatory ones. There is no doubt that obligatory deeds take precedence in a Muslims life,
O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers.” (Qur’an 63:9)
…Remembrance of Allah” means Salaah, prayer. This does not mean that your wealth and children are not important, but rather an indication that obligatory deeds, like obligatory Salaah at their appointed times, should take precedence over our children and wealth. All too often, familial obligations and career/business obligations are major excuses for delaying Salaah, or not performing Salaah at all. If this is news to you, then you haven’t been paying attention. Today I pondered on 3 things I should prioritize:
Knowledge before action. The Arabic words for knowledge and action support this notion. In Arabic, knowledge is “ ‘ilm ” and action is “ ‘amal ”. When we write these two words in Arabic “علم” and “ عمل ” we realize that the two words have the exact same letters, but in “knowledge” the letter “ل ” comes before the “م ”, as it does in the Arabic alphabet. Interesting! Also, the word “Read” [Iqra] was revealed in the Qur’an before, “O’ you who covers himself [with a garment] / Arise and warn” (Qur’an 72:1-2). Knowledge without action is obstruction [you’ve all heard the legal phrase ‘obstruction of justice], and action without knowledge is misleading and even deceptive. Experiential learning or hands-on learning still applies here, because one is still learning through reflection on doing. Acquiring knowledge before taking action is important in all matters of our lives including Da’wah—inviting other to understand and/or accept to Islam. Remember Da’wah is an “invitation” and so you’re involved in hosting a guest. So if you don’t know how to host a guest in this capacity please don’t wing it. It won’t work. You’ll do more harm than good.
The second priority is to opt for what is lighter and easier. Oftentimes we want to do with that which is difficult, uptight and harsh. This applies to all matters in our lives, spiritual and worldly. The Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said, “Indeed this religion is strong, so go through it gently.” Of course, this is without sacrificing our struggle for excellence and perfection —within human abilities and limitations of course. Anas Ibn Malik said, “I have never prayed behind an Imam with the lightest and most perfect Salah than the Messenger of Allah.” Light and perfect? That’s a strange combination, but the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) embodied it in all aspects of his life. Once ’Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz was asked whether it was better to fast or not during travel? His response was, “It depends. The best of the two is the easiest of the two on the traveler.” Only the traveler can gauge his comfort. The traveler wants to fast while traveling, May Allah accept from him. If the traveler want to accept the concession from Allah and not fast, then May Allah accept from him. The most important things is that we fast or do any deed for the sake of Allah with willingly and lovingly.
The third and last is to prioritize those deeds that are for the general good, than those limited to ones own benefit. Let me explain. The Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said:
“Shall I not tell you something that is better than the status of (voluntary) fasting, prayer and charity?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “Reconciling in a case of discord, for the evil of discord is the shave. I do not say that it shaves hair, but that it shaves (i.e., destroys) religious commitment.”
To make it even clearer here’s another hadith:
“One who cares for widows and the poor is like those who fight in the way of Allah or those who spend their days fasting and their nights praying.”
The Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) is not telling us to leave voluntary acts of worship, but is rather challenging us to think beyond deeds that just benefit us personally to those that are for the general good. So, next time a deed limited to your personal benefit (voluntary deed) conflicts with a deed that will benefit yourself and others then choose the latter. It’s worth it.
O Allah , I ask you wisdom in getting my priorities straight so that you may be pleased with me.