24- Be concerned about others
People usually like to be valued. This is why one sees individuals at times acting in a certain manner in order to attract attention.They may even invent tales or stories of their valour so that people may show them concern or be amazed by them.
Imagine a person who returns home from work tired. He enters his living room and ﬁnds his four children sitting alone. The oldest of them is eleven-years old and is watching a television program.The second is having his dinner.The third is playing with his toys, and the fourth is doing his homework.The father then greets them in a loud voice:“as-Salaamu ‘alaykum!” One of the children is lost in his television program, the second is completely enchanted by his toys and the third is busy with his dinner.As for the fourth,when he turns around and sees his father, he drops his books and rushes in delight to welcome him, kisses his hand, and then returns to his books.
Which of the four children would be the most beloved to the father?
I say with certainty that our response would be the same: the most beloved of them would of course be the fourth; not because he is the most beautiful or the most intelligent, but only because he showed his father that he valued him. Hence, the more one cares for others, the greater their love and respect will be for him.
The best of the creation peace be upon himwould consider these factors in people. He would make everyone feel that their problem was in fact his own problem, and that their worry was indeed his own. Once, when the Prophet peace be upon himstood on his pulpit to address the people, a man entered the mosque. He looked at the Messenger of Allah peace be upon himand said:“O Messenger of Allah!”, and then began to ask him about his religion, for he knew little about it.
The Prophet peace be upon him turned to him and noticed that he was a Bedouin who might not have been able to wait for the sermon to ﬁnish in order to obtain an answer. He feared that the man may have even left the mosque and never returned.
The issue was of utmost importance to the man, to such an extent that he had interrupted the sermon in order to ask him about religious rulings! The Prophet peace be upon him was thinking from the perspective of others and not his own.Thus, he (peace be upon him) descended from his noble pulpit and called for a chair to be brought. He (peace be upon him) sat in front of the man and began teaching and explaining religious rulings to him until he understood. He then stood up and returned to his pulpit to ﬁnish his sermon. How great he was! How persevering he was!
Since he also cultivated the Companions in his school, they would also show concern for others, be welcoming towards them, and share with them in their moments of happiness and grief.
An example of this is how Talhah dealt with Ka’b – may Allah be pleased with them both. Ka’b bin Malik – may Allah be pleased with him – was an old man. Let us sit with him after he has grown old, his bones have weakened, and he has become blind, as he relates to us the memories of his youth, when he lagged behind in the expedition of Tabuk, the last expedition the Prophet peace be upon him participated in...
The Prophet peace be upon him called the people to set off for Tabuk and prepare for an expedition. He collected people’s contributions to prepare an army, until the number of combatants reached 30,000 - this was in a season when the shade was pleasant and the fruits had ripened,yet the desert heat was severe.The journey was long and the enemy was mighty and haughty.The Muslims were great in number but some of their names were not listed in the register.
Ka’b said,“I was the wealthiest I had ever been at the time. I had managed to accumulate two rides, and I found myself the strongest that I had ever been. At that time, I inclined towards the shade and the sweetness of fruits, and remained so until the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him set off to leave.
So I said to myself:‘I will go tomorrow to the marketplace, buy something in preparation for the expedition, and join them later.’ I then went to the marketplace the next day, but some things came up and so I returned.Thus I said:‘I will return tomorrow – Allah willing, buy something and then join them’, but then again, some thing delayed me. I then said:‘I will return again tomorrow – Allah willing’… This kept happening until days went by and I was left behind by the Messenger of Allah – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. I then began strolling the marketplaces and walking around the city, only to ﬁnd people who were either drowning in hypocrisy, or those whom Allah had excused from marching forth.’
Yes, Ka’b was left behind in Madinah.
As for the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him, he along with his 30,000 companions marched forth until they reached Tabuk; he peace be upon him looked at the faces of his Companions to ﬁnd that he was missing a righteous person from amongst those who had witnessed the Pledge of ‘Aqabah. He therefore asked,“What happened to Ka’b bin Malik?” A man replied: “O Allah’s Messenger! He has been prevented by his two Burdas (cloaks) and his looking at his own ﬂanks with pride.” To this Mu‘adh bin Jabal replied: “How evil is what you have said! By Allah, O Messenger of Allah! I have not known except good from him.” The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him remained silent.
Ka’b continued:“When the Prophet peace be upon himﬁnished with the expedition of Tabuk and made his way back to Madinah, I began to think;‘How do I save myself from his displeasure?’ I would seek advice from whoever had to offer me advice from my family, until the Prophet peace be upon himﬁnally arrived in Madinah, and I realised that I would not be saved except by being honest.”
The Prophet peace be upon himthen reached Madinah and directly entered the mosque, wherein he prayed two units of prayer, and then sat with the people.There came to him those who had lagged behind, making excuses for their actions and swearing oaths. They were about eighty-odd people.The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him accepted their excuses at face value and sought forgiveness for them, leaving their innermost secrets to Allah.
Ka‘b bin Malik also came.When he greeted him, the Prophet peace be upon himlooked at him.He smiled at him,the smile of one who is angry. Ka’b walked towards him and sat in front of him.The Prophet peace be upon him said to him:“What made you lag behind? Did you not buy a ride for yourself?” Meaning: your riding beast. He replied: ‘Indeed, I did!’ The Prophet peace be upon himasked:“Then, what kept you behind?” Ka‘b said:“O Messenger of Allah,if I were to have sat in front of anyone in the world other than you, I would have saved myself from his anger by making an excuse. I have been given the power of persuasion. But by Allah, I know that if I were to tell you a lie today in order to attain your pleasure, then Allah would soon make you angry with me anyway, and if I were to speak the truth, then surely you would be upset with me, but I would hope that because I spoke the truth,Allah would forgive me.O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, I do not have any excuse. By Allah, I had never been stronger nor wealthier than I was when I remained behind!”
Ka‘b remained silent. Thereupon, the Prophet peace be upon him turned to his Companions and said:“He has indeed spoken the truth.Get up (O Ka‘b) and wait until Allah decides your case.” Ka‘b got up and left the mosque, dragging his feet, feeling remorse and being grief stricken, not knowing what Allah would decide for him.
When the people saw this, a group from amongst them followed him and began to censure him. They said: “By Allah! We have not known you to have committed a sin before this.Though, you are a poet, you failed to make excuses to the Messenger of Allah peace be upon himlike the rest of those who lagged behind! You could have made an excuse by which he would have been pleased with you and sought forgiveness for you, so that Allah may have forgiven you.’
Ka‘b said: “They continued to censure me so much that I considered returning to the Prophet peace be upon himto inform him that I had lied. But I then asked:‘Is there anyone else who has had the same experience?’ Someone replied:‘Yes.Two men also said what you said and were told what you were told.’ I asked:‘Who are they?’ They said: ‘Murarah bin al-Rabi’ and Hilal bin Umayyah.’ These were two righteous men who had witnessed the battle of Badr − men whom I thought could be examples for me. I therefore said:‘By Allah,I will never return to the Prophet to retract what I have said and belie myself!”
Thus Ka‘b walked along, broken inside and full of sadness, until he reached home, where he remained. Not much time had passed after this when the Prophet peace be upon himforbade the people from speaking to Ka‘b and his two Companions.
Ka‘b said: “After this, people completely changed their attitude towards us and would shun us. If I were to go out to the marketplace, no one would speak to me. The people became estranged from me as if I never knew them. It was as though even the walls had become estranged from us,as if these weren’t the walls we were familiar with and the earth that we knew had also become a stranger.The two companions of mine would sit in their homes and weep night and day.They would never show their faces.They would busy themselves with worship as if they were monks. As for me, then I was the youngest and the ﬁrmest of the three. I would go out and attend the prayers with the Muslims and roam around the marketplaces, yet, nobody would speak to me.
“I would enter the mosque and approach the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him and greet him, then be left wondering to myself if he even moved his lips to return my greeting or not. I would pray close to him, looking at him stealthily.When I became busy with prayer, he would turn to me. When I turned to him, he would turn away from me.”
Days went by and pain led to more pain. Ka‘b was once considered a noble man amongst his people and a leading poet. He was known amongst kings and princes. His poetry circulated amongst the great so much that they would long to meet him. Yet here he was in Madinah amongst his own people, and no one would speak to or even look at him, so much so that the tragedy was gruelling and the estrangement became almost impossible to bear. Still, there was to come to him another test…
One day, as he was roaming around the marketplace, there came a Christian from Syria.He said:“Who can take me to Ka‘b bin Malik?” The people pointed to Ka‘b, so he came to him and gave him a letter from the King of Ghassan. How strange! From the King of Ghassan! Therefore,his news must have reached Syria, so much so that the King of the Ghassanites showed concern for him! How amazing! What exactly did the King want from him?
Ka‘b opened up the letter and read:“To proceed: O Ka‘b bin Malik! It has reached me that your companion has turned cold towards you and distanced you from him.You do not deserve loss or ruin, or to be disgraced. So join us, and we would give you consolation.”
When he ﬁnished reading the letter, he said: “To Allah we belong! The people of disbelief have now shown interest in me! This is indeed a great calamity and evil!” He then went with the letter immediately to an oven,set it alight,and burned it.Ka‘b did not consider the king’s offer for a moment.
Yes, the doors were opened up to him to the kings’ palaces and the mansions of the great who would invite him to honour and companionship, whilst the city of Madinah around him censured him and people frowned in his face. He would greet people, yet none would return his greeting. He would ask, yet none would respond. Despite that, he did not turn to the disbelievers. The devil failed to shake him or to make him a slave to his desires. He simply tossed the letter into the ﬁre and let it burn.
Thus the days passed, one by one, until a whole month went by. Ka‘b remained in this state as the boycott continued to grow heavier around his neck and the pressure continued to increase. Neither did the Messenger peace be upon him pardon him, nor did revelation descend decreeing anything in this matter.
When forty days had passed, a messenger from the Prophet peace be upon him came to Ka‘b, knocking on his door. Ka‘b went out to him, hoping that he might have come with concessions, only to ﬁnd the messenger saying:“The Messenger orders that you distance yourself from your wife.” He said: “Should I divorce her?” He said:“No, but keep your distance from her and do not approach her.” Thereupon,Ka‘b went to his wife and said:“Go back to your family and stay with them until Allah decrees for this matter.”
The Prophet peace be upon himsent the same message to his two companions.So the wife of Hilal bin Umayyah came to him and said:“O Messenger of Allah, Hilal bin Umayyah is a weak old man. Will you give me permission to serve him?” He replied:“Yes, but do not let him approach you.” The woman said:“O Prophet of Allah, he is not even able to move for anything he needs. He is still very depressed and cries, night and day, since the day he did what he did.”
The days became very difﬁcult for Ka‘b and the boycott became so unbearable for him that he began to re-examine his faith. He would try to speak to the Muslims, but they would not respond to him. He would greet the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him but would not hear a response. So where should he have gone? Whom should he have consulted?
Ka‘b said:“When the calamity had gone on for far too long, I went to Abu Qatadah, who was my cousin and the most beloved of people to me. I found him in his garden. I scaled the wall, entered and greeted him, but by Allah, he did not return my greeting. I said:‘I beseech you, by Allah, O Abu Qatadah, do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger?’ He remained silent. I then said:‘O Abu Qatadah, do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger?’ He remained silent. I then said: ‘I beseech you, by Allah, O Abu Qatadah, do you know that I love Allah and His Messenger?’ He then said:‘Allah and His Messenger know best.”
When Ka‘b heard this response from his cousin and the dearest of all people to him, it was as if he could no longer tell if he was a believer or not. He could not bear what he had heard. His eyes ﬁlled with tears. He climbed over the wall, went back to his house and remained therein,looking here and there,conﬁned within the walls of his house. He had no wife to accompany him, nor a relative to console him.
Fifty nights had passed since the Prophet peace be upon himforbade the people to speak to them. On the ﬁftieth night, it was revealed to the Prophet in the last third of the night that the repentance of the three men had been accepted.At the time, the Prophet peace be upon himwas in the house of Umm Salamah. So he recited the relevant verses, after which Umm Salamah said:“O Prophet of Allah, shall we not give the glad tidings to Ka‘b bin Malik?” He replied:“The people would throng and prevent you from sleeping for the rest of the night!”
Hence, when the Prophet peace be upon himprayed the Fajr prayer, he proclaimed the fact that Allah had accepted their repentance. The people then rushed to give them the glad tidings.
Ka‘b said: “I had prayed Fajr on the rooftop of one of our houses. I was sitting in a state which Allah has described in His Book,in which my soul felt intense restriction,and even the earth had become restricted, despite its vastness, and nothing worried me more than the thought that I may die and the Messenger of Allah peace be upon himmay not pray over me,or that he may die whilst I remain boycotted by the people, such that no one speaks to me ever, nor prays over me upon my death.
“So, whilst I was in that state, I heard the voice of a person on Mount Sala’,shouting at the top of his voice:‘O Ka‘b bin Malik! Glad tidings for you!’ I fell into prostration and realised that relief had at last arrived from Allah. There came to me a man on a horse, whilst another man was shouting from the top of the mountain, and his voice reached me more swiftly than the horse.
“When the man whose voice I heard ﬁnally came to me to give me the good news, I took off my two garments and gave them to the men. By Allah, I didn’t have any other garments, so I borrowed two others, wore them and set out to see the Messenger of Allah – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. The people came to meet me in droves, congratulating me on the acceptance of my repentance, saying: ‘Congratulations that your repentance has been accepted!’ I entered the mosque and found the Messenger of Allah peace be upon himsitting with his Companions.
“When they all saw me, by Allah, none stood for me except Talhah bin Ubaydullah. He stood up, hugged and congratulated me, then sat down again. By Allah, I will never forget Talhah’s action! I kept on walking until I reached the Messenger of Allah peace be upon himand greeted him. I noticed that his face was radiant with happiness.Whenever he became happy, his face would become radiant, as if it were part of the moon.When he saw me, he said: ‘Glad tidings to you for the best day you have witnessed since your mother gave birth to you!’ I said:‘Is this favour from you, or Allah?’ He replied:‘It is from Allah.’ Then he recited the verses.I sat down in front of him and said:‘O Messenger of Allah! As part of my repentance, I should give the sum total of my wealth in charity for Allah and His Messenger.’ He said in response:‘Keep some of your wealth, for that is better for you.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah,Allah only saved me for being truthful, and a part of my repentance should be to always speak the truth as long as I live.’”
Yes,Allah accepted the repentance of Ka‘b and his two companions and revealed in that regard Qura’nic passages, saying:
“Allah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhajirin and the Ansaar who followed him in the hour of difﬁculty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He was to them Kind and Merciful.And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them in spite of its vastness and their souls conﬁned [i.e., anguished] them and they were certain that there is no refuge from Allah except in Him.Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed,Allah is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.”
The point to note in this story is that Talhah – may Allah be pleased with him – when he saw Ka‘b,he stood up for him,hugged and congratulated him. Hence, Ka‘b’s admiration increased for him, so much so that he would say after Talhah’s death, whilst narrating this story years later:“By Allah! I will never forget what Talhah did!”
And what did Talhah do to captivate the heart of Ka‘b? He demonstrated a great skill, by showing concern for him and sharing in his moment of happiness with him, and hence he became beloved to Ka‘b.
Being compassionate and sympathising with people captivates their hearts. If one was in the midst of his exams and received a text message saying:“Give me some good news about your exams. By Allah, I am concerned about you and praying for you.Your friend, Ibrahim.” - Would this not increase his admiration for the friend? No doubt, it would.
If one’s father was ill in hospital, and he was to remain with him in his room, distressed and preoccupied with concern, and his friend were to phone him, asking after the father, saying: “Do you need any help? I am always there if you need me,” he would certainly thank him.Then, if he were to call in the evening again, saying:“Does your family need anything that I can buy for them? Please let me know,” he would have thanked him and prayed for him. Do you not think that his heart would be endeared towards him further? Compare that to a friend who calls, saying:‘Hello! We are going off to the beach to have fun.What do you say? Do you want to come with us?” he would reply:‘Well, my father is ill, so I cannot.’ Then, instead of praying for the father and apologising for not asking about his condition, if the friend were to say, “I know that, but he is in the hospital and he has nurses to look after him. He won’t beneﬁt much from your presence, anyway. Come with us, enjoy yourself and swim, etc.” If he said this while laughing and joking, as if he is unconcerned about the father’s illness, what would one’s view of the friend be then? No doubt, his status in his heart would decrease as he simply did not display any concern whatsoever about his worries.
One of the most upsetting things ever to happen to me was when I was once in Jeddah for a few days. I was extremely busy at the time and meanwhile, I received a text message from my brother Su’ud which read:“May Allah grant you beﬁtting patience. Your cousin has passed away in Germany.”
I called my brother who told me that this cousin of ours, who was elderly, had travelled just two days before that to Germany for heart treatment and had died during the operation. His body was soon to arrive at Riyadh airport. I prayed for him and sought Allah’s mercy for him, and ended the call with my brother. A couple of days later, my work in Jeddah was complete, and so I went to the airport, waiting for my ﬂight to depart for Riyadh.
There, a group of young men passed by me.When they saw me, they recognised me and greeted me. Some of them were adolescents with outlandish hairstyles, but I nevertheless joked with them and affectionately teased them.
I became busy with a telephone call and after I ﬁnished, I saw a young man wearing trousers and a shirt.When he saw me, he greeted me and shook my hand. I welcomed him and said, jokingly:“What is this fashion? It is as if today is your wedding day!” or words to that effect.
The young man remained silent for a while and then said: “I think you haven’t it recognised me. I am so-and-so. I have just arrived from Germany with my father’s body and I am ﬂying off to Riyadh on the next available ﬂight.”
I felt as if someone had poured a barrel of cold water over me. I was extremely embarrassed. His father had passed away, whose body happened to be with him in the plane, and yet here I was, joking with him and laughing.This was extremely awkward, indeed!
I remained silent for a second,before replying:“I am so sorry! By Allah, I did not realise it was you! I’ve been here for a few days, you see. May Allah grant you beﬁtting patience and may he forgive your father.”
This was despite the fact that I had an excuse in not realising who he was, as I used to see him very infrequently and on those occasions he would be in his traditional dress and headscarf.
Therefore, because he wore trousers and surprised me, amongst a crowd of young men in Jeddah, I did not think that he was the person in question.
Part of having concern for others is to share in their feelings and to show them that their worries are your worries, and that you love good for them.
For this reason, one would ﬁnd that professional companies always have a Public Relations department,whose role is to send seasonal greetings, gifts, and so on.Whenever one shows people that they are valued and cared for, he captures their hearts and they then love him.
Here is a real-life example of this: If a person were to enter a place full of people and could not ﬁnd a place to sit, and one was to move a little and offer him some space saying: “Please come here and have a seat”, he would recognise his concern for him and this would endear him to him. Or, if one was at a dinner party and you noticed him holding his plate, looking for a table with empty space, and he therefore vacated a seat for him, saying:“Welcome! Please have a seat here,” he would have noticed the concern for him.Therefore, if one shows people that he values them, they would love him.
The Prophet peace be upon himwould give utmost importance to this. Look at when he was delivering a sermon once on his pulpit one Friday,and suddenly a Bedouin entered the mosque,walked through the rows, looked at the Messenger of Allah peace be upon himand said in a loud voice:“O Messenger of Allah, I am a person who does not know what his religion is.Teach me what my religion is!”
The Prophet peace be upon himdescended from his pulpit and turned to the man. He asked for a chair, then sat on it, and then began to speak to the man and explain to him his religion until he understood. He then returned to the pulpit.
This is a demonstration of having the utmost care for people. Who knows, if he had ignored him, the man may have remained ignorant with regards to his religion until he died.
If we were to learn about his character, we would ﬁnd that when he would shake someone’s hand, he wouldn’t withdraw his hand until the other person withdrew his hand ﬁrst. If a person were to speak to him, he would completely turn towards him, meaning that he would turn his face and body towards him, in order to listen with full attention.
…tells us that whenever you show people that you value and care for them, you capture their hearts and are thus endeared to them.