Imam Al-Nawawi's Riyad-us-Saliheen
Chapter 11
The Struggle (in the Cause of Allah)

Allah, the Exalted, says:

"As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely, guide them to Our paths (i.e., Allah's religion - Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (gooddoers)". (29:69)

"And worship your Rubb until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e., death)". (15:99)

"And remember the Name of your Rubb and devote yourself to Him with a complete devotion.'' (73:8)

"So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it". (99:7)

"And whatever good you send before you for yourselves (i.e., Nawafil - non-obligatory acts of worship: prayers, charity, fasting, Hajj and Umrah, etc.), you will certainly find it with Allah, better and greater in reward.'' (73:20)

"And whatever you spend in good, surely, Allah knows it well.'' (2:273)

95. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allah the Exalted has said: 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (prayer or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him. When I love him I become his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks (something) from Me, I give him, and if he asks My Protection (refuge), I protect him".
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary:
1. Those who make innovations in religion and associate partners with Allah (such as Hululi - who believe in the indwelling light in the soul of man, Wujudi - who believe in the physical form of Allah, and pagans who worship other than Allah) interpret this Hadith in support of their beliefs and thus seek support of one wrong from another although the meaning and interpretation of the Hadith is not at all what they describe. The Hadith means that when a person adds voluntary prayers to the obligatory ones, he becomes a favourite slave of Allah and on account of it, he receives special help from Allah. Then he is protected by Allah to the extent that He supervises every organ of his body. Thus, he is saved from disobedience of Allah. He bears what is liked by Allah, sees what is liked by Him, handles what pleases Him. When he attains that lofty position of love and obedience of Allah, then Allah in return also grants prayers of His obedient and loyal slaves.

2.  A saint is not one who has a peculiar attire and appearance, or who occupies the seat of a righteous as his successor, or a person who is lost in meditation, or a half-mad, or one who has invented his own style of remembrance and worship of Allah, but it is one who strictly fulfills the obligations imposed by Islam, is fond of voluntary prayers and adheres to Divine injunctions in every walk of life.

3.  The love of such righteous is a means to attain the Pleasure of Allah, and enmity (hatred and repulsion) with them is a cause of His serious displeasure and wrath.

4.  Voluntary prayer is certainly a means of attaining the Pleasure of Allah, but it must be preceded by the fulfillment of obligatory prayers. The former is of no value if the latter is neglected. The desire to attain nearness of Allah without strict observance of the obligatory prayers is fallacious and meaningless.

96.   Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allah says: ' When a slave of Mine draws near to Me a span, I draw near to him a cubit; and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.'''.
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary:  This Hadith mentions infinite benevolence, generosity, kindness and regard of Allah for His slaves, which is evident from the reward that He gives to His slaves even on their minor good deeds.

97.  Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "There are two blessings in which many people incur loss. (They are) health and free time (for doing good)".
[Al-Bukhari]

Commentary:
1.  Al-Ghabn in Arabic means loss. What it really signifies is to sell something of one's own on less than its due price, or to buy something on its double or triple price. In both cases one is a loser. When a person comes to know about such a loss, he repents and feels sorry for it. This loss coupled with regret is called Al-Ghabn. In Ahadith, man has been compared with trader, and health and leisure enjoyed by him with merchandise. One who uses his merchandise with care, gains profit while he who wastes it, that is to say, uses it carelessly, will be a loser on the Day of Resurrection.

2.  The majority of people do not take proper care of both these things, with the result that one wastes the time in useless activities and spends the physical strength and energy in the disobedience of Allah. One will have to face severe consequences of it on the Day of Resurrection when he will be brought into account for everything.

98.  `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) would stand (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him, "Why do you do this while your past and future sins have been forgiven?'' He said, "Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:
1. All the Prophets were free from major sins. However, some religious scholars justify some of their minor sins with plausible reasons but the majority of them maintain that they are free from all sins because of their innocence. In this situation, it does not make any sense to speak of their sins. But the fact of the matter is quite different. Anything short of excellent done by them is counted as a sin.

2.  The more one is rewarded by Allah, the greater the proportion of one's gratitude of Allah for His Benevolence should be. The best form of doing so is that one should not only be highly obedient and dutiful in the performance of the obligations but also add maximum voluntary prayers to them.

99.  `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) would pray all the night, and would keep his family awake for the prayers. He tied his lower garment (i.e., avoided sleeping with his wives) and devoted himself entirely to prayer and supplication.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:  One should try to do more good deeds in the blessed hours and times, as was the practice of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan every year.

100.  Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one, and both are good. Adhere to that which is beneficial for you. Keep asking Allah for help and do not refrain from it. If you are afflicted in any way, do not say: `If I had taken this or that step, it would have resulted into such and such,' but say only: `Allah so determined and did as He willed.' The word `if' opens the gates of satanic thoughts".
[Muslim].

Commentary:
1. In this Hadith, goodness is acknowledged in weak as well as strong because the real Faith is a common feature of both. The one who is stronger is, however, better with Allah for the reason that he is more active and energetic in the matter of noble deeds and performance of ritual prayers, obligatory as well as voluntary.

2.  This Hadith ordains that in case of trouble, one should exercise patience and show submission and obedience rather than saying `ifs' and `buts' about it, because it provides Satan with a chance to mislead the sufferer.

101.  Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said. "The (Hell) Fire is surrounded with all kinds of desires and passions, while Jannah is surrounded with adversities.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: The way to Hell is littered with these evils. When a person crosses them, it is an indication that he has entered into Hell. On the other side exists a series of griefs and calamities, Islamic injunctions and obligations (the compliance with which is often irksome for man) impede his way to Jannah. When a person endures them with patience he, in fact, overcomes those obstacles and becomes eligible for Jannah.

102.  Hudhaifah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I offered Salat (Tahajjud - optional night prayer) with the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) one night, and he started reciting (Surat) Al-Baqarah. I thought that he would bow at the end of one hundred Verses, but he continued reciting; I, then, thought that he would perhaps recite the whole (Surah) in a Rak`ah, but he proceeded on, and I thought he would perhaps bow on completing (this Surah); he then started (reciting Surat) An-Nisa'; he then started (Surat) Al-`Imran and his recitation was unhurried. And when he recited the Verses which referred to the Glory of Allah, he glorified Him (by saying Subhan Allah - My Rubb, the Supreme is far removed from every imperfection), the Great, and when he recited the Verses that mention supplication, he supplicated, and when he recited the Verses that mention seeking Refuge of the Rubb, he sought (His) Refuge. Then he bowed and said: "My Rubb, the Supreme is far removed from every imperfection (Subhana Rabbiyal-Azim);'' his bowing lasted about the same length of  time as his standing (and then on returning to the standing posture after Ruku`) he said: "Allah listened to him who praised Him (Sami` Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana wa lakal hamd).'' Then he stood about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He then prostrated himself and said: "My Rubb, the Supreme is far removed from every imperfection (Subhana Rabbiyal-A`la),'' and his prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing.
[Muslim].

Commentary:   This Hadith makes the following three points clear:

Firstly, optional Salat can also be performed in congregation.

Secondly,  as is commonly believed, it is not essential that in Salat, the Ayat of Qur'an are recited according to their sequence in the Book. It is permissible to recite them regardless of their sequence in the Qur'an.

Thirdly,  it is commendable to relatively prolong the optional prayers.

103.  Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) said: One night I joined the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) in his (optional) Salat. He prolonged the standing so much that I thought of doing something evil. He was asked: "What did you intend to do?'' He replied: "To sit down and leave him".
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:
1. This Hadith makes it evident that opposition of Imam  (
one who leads the prayer) is an evil act because one is ordered to follow him in the prayers.

2.  It is permissible to ask clarification of something which is ambiguous or abstruse.

104.  Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Three follow a dead body: members of his family, his possessions and his deeds. Two of them return and one remains with him. His family and his possessions return; his deeds remain with him".
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:  This Hadith induces one to perform such deeds which always remain with him in the grave, where every being and thing leaves one and he is all alone in the grave. What is left is his good deeds which become the means of refuge and salvation.

105.  Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Jannah is nearer to anyone of you than your shoe-lace, and so is the (Hell) Fire".
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary: Going to Jannah or Hell is the result of one's own actions, both are close to everyone. One will be admitted into Jannah if he does good deeds, and will be consigned to Hell if he does evil. After death, one's entitlement for Jannah or Hell will be decided.

106.  Rabi`ah bin Ka`b Al-Aslami (May Allah be pleased with him (a servant of the Messenger of Allah and also one of the people of As-Suffah) said: I used to spend my night in the company of Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and used to put up water for his ablutions. One day he said to me, "Ask something of me.'' I said: "I request for your companionship in Jannah". He inquired, "Is there anything else?'' I said, "That is all.'' He said, "Then help me in your request by multiplying your prostrations".
[Muslim].

Commentary:  There was a terrace at the end of the Prophet's Mosque which is called As-Suffah in Arabic.  People of poor means who were taught by him used to live there. This Hadith evidently shows the importance of good actions and faithful following of the practice of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Leave others alone, in the absence of these two, even such people will not be close to the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) who used to be all the time with him. It is not difficult to visualize the fate of those who neither perform good deeds nor follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam).

107. Thauban  (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) saying, "Perform Salah more often. For every prostration that you perform before Allah will raise your position one degree and will remit one of your sins".
[Muslim].

Commentary:  Abundance of prostrations means strict observance of Salat and performance of obligatory and optional and voluntary prayers, it is a means for atonement of sins and the elevation of one's status in this life and the Hereafter.

108. `Abdullah bin Busr Al-Aslami (May Allah be pleased with him) said: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "The best of people is one whose life is long and his conduct is good".
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary:
1. Longevity of life is a blessing, provided it is accompanied by Faith and good deeds; otherwise, the longer life one has, the greater will be the number of sins. Such a long life is disastrous.

2. Those who do not realize the blessings of longevity of life will be losers.

109. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: My uncle Anas bin An-Nadr (May Allah be pleased with him) was absent from the battle of Badr and he said: "O Messenger of Allah! I was absent from the first battle you fought against the pagans, and if Allah let me participate in a battle against the pagans, Allah will see what I do.'' So he encountered the day of  Uhud Battle. The Muslims left the positions (the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) told them to keep) and were defeated, he said: "O Allah! excuse these people (i.e., the Muslims) for what they have done, and I am clear from what the pagans have done". Then he went forward with his sword and met Sa`d bin Mu`adh (fleeing) and said to him: "By the Rubb of the Ka`bah! I can smell the fragrance of Jannah from a place closer than Uhud Mount". Sa`d said: "O Messenger of Allah, what he did was beyond my power". Anas said: "We saw over eighty wounds on his body caused by stabbing, striking and shooting of arrows and spears. We found that he was killed, and mutilated by the polytheists. Nobody was able to recognize him except his sister who recognized him by the tips of his fingers.'' Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: "We believe that the Ayah `Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah [i.e., they have gone out for Jihad (holy fighting), and showed not their backs to the disbelievers]...' (33:23), refers to him and his like".
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:
1. This Hadith brings into prominence the exemplary life of the Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) for martyrdom and Jannah.

2.  It also shows the enthusiasm of the believers for dedicating their lives to good deeds and their fervent supplication for their acceptance by Allah.

110. Abu Mas`ud `Uqbah bin `Amr Al-Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him) said: When the Ayah enjoining Sadaqah (charity) was revealed,* we used to carry loads on our backs to earn something that we could give away in charity. One person presented a considerable amount for charity and the hypocrites said: "He has done it to show off.'' Another one gave away a few Sa` of dates and they said: "Allah does not stand in need of this person's dates". Thereupon, it was revealed:

"Those who defame such of the believers who give charity (in Allah's Cause) voluntarily, and such who could not find to give charity (in Allah's Cause) except what is available to them...'' (9:79)
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

* This is the A°yah in which Allah says! "Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and suppliate Allah for them...'' (9:103)

Commentary:  This Hadith shows that everyone can give charitable donation according to one's means. It can be more or less as one likes. To regard those as showy and criticize those who pay less to withhold them from alms amounts to hypocrisy. Believers must ignore such criticism of the hypocrites and refrain from such things in their dealings.

111. Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allah, the Exalted, and Glorious, said; 'O My slaves, I have prohibited Myself injustice; and have made oppression unlawful for you, so do not oppress one another. O My slaves, all of you are liable to err except the one whom I guide on the Right Path, so seek guidance from Me so that I will guide you to the Right Path. O My slaves, all of you are hungry except the one whom I feed, so ask food from Me, I will feed you. O My slaves, all of you are naked except those whom I clothe, so ask clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My slaves, you commit sins night and day and I forgive all sins, so seek My forgiveness and I shall forgive you. O My slaves, you can neither do Me any harm nor can you do Me any good. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and jinn of you to be as pious as the most pious heart of any man of you, that would not increase My domain a thing. O My slaves, were the first of you, and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any man of you, that would not decrease My domain in a thing. O My slaves, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to stand in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more than a needle decrease the sea if put into it. O My slaves, it is but your deeds that I reckon for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good (i.e., in the Hereafter) praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.'''.
[Muslim].

Commentary:  This Hadith mentions the Power and Majesty of Allah and stresses that one should supplicate Allah for everything that one needs. From guidance to sustenance, the treasures of everything are with Him - the treasures which are unlimited and any withdrawal from them does not make any reduction in them. Similar is the case of His Sovereignty; it is not affected even if the whole universe supports or opposes them. Thus, it is in the interest of man that he should dedicate himself entirely to Allah and beg all his needs from Him and Him Alone.