Imam Al-Nawawi's Riyad-us-Saliheen
Chapter 247
The Excellence of Gathering in which Allah is Remembered

Allah, the Exalted, says:

"And keep yourself (O Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam)) patiently with those who call on their Rubb (i.e., your companions who remember their Rubb with glorification, praising in prayers, and other righteous deeds) morning and afternoon, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes overlook them.'' (18:28)

 

1447. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allah, the Exalted, has teams of angels who go about on the roads seeking those who remember Allah. When they find some people remembering Allah they call to one another and say, `Come to what you are looking for;' and they surround them with their wings till the space between them and the lowest sky is fully covered. Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, asks them (although He is best informed about every thing): `What are my slave saying?' They say: `They are glorifying Your Tasbih, Tahmid, Takbir, Tamjid, (i.e., they were declaring Your Perfectness, praising, remembering the Greatness and Majesty of Allah).' He asks: `Have they seen Me?' They reply, `No, indeed, they have not seen You.' He asks: `How would they act if they were to see Me?' Thereupon they reply: `If they were to see You, they would engage more earnestly in worshipping and glorifying You and would extol You more.' He would say: `What do they beg of Me?' They say, `They beg You for Your Jannah.' Allah says, `Have they seen My Jannah?' They say, `No, our Rubb.' He says: `How would they act if they were to see My Jannah?' They reply, `Were they to see it, they would more intensely eager for it.' They (the angels) say, `They seek Your Protection.' He asks, `Against what do they seek My Protection?' They (the angels) say, `Our Rubb, from the fire of Hell.' (He, the Rubb) says, `Have they seen the fire of Hell?' They say, `No. By Your Honour, they have not seen it.' He says: `How would they act if they were to see My Fire?' They say: `If they were to see it, they would more earnest in being away from it and fearing it. They beg of Your forgiveness.' He says: `I call you to witness that I hereby grant pardon to them and confer upon them what they ask for; and grant them protection against what they seek protection from.' One of the angels says: `Our Rubb, there is amongst them such and such slave who does not belong to the assembly of those who are participating in Your remembrance. He passed by them and sat down with them.' He says: `I also grant him pardon because they are the people by virtue of whom their associates will not be unfortunate'.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

(The narration in Muslim is also the same with minor changes in wordings).

Commentary: What kind of circles and gatherings of remembrance of Allah are referred to here? Obviously not those in which Allah is remembered in the ways invented by the participants themselves, i.e., repetition of the slogans "Allah-Hu'', "Haq-Allah'',  etc.,which have not been mentioned in any Hadith. The repetition of any specific word, in a specific manner and in a peculiar surrounding (such as by putting the lights off) - this manner of conducting the remembrance of Allah is also not evident from the practice of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions. The circles and gatherings mentioned in this Hadith are those in which, the Prophet's Sunnah is fully observed. The words such as Subhan-Allah, Al-hamdu lillah, La ilaha illallah, Allahu Akbar etc., are recited and Praise and Glorification of Allah are done after Salat. The groups are quietly engaged in the remembrance of Allah, and those who attend the sermons and speeches delivered in mosques on Friday also come in this category of meetings and gatherings as these are ordained in Islam. This Hadith also highlights the distinction of Muslims who are engaged in the remembrance of Allah and the Du`a they recite on the suggested times and occasions.

 

1448. Abu Hurairah and Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "When a group of people assemble for the remembrance of Allah, the angels surround them (with their wings), (Allah's) mercy envelops them, Sakinah, or tranquillity descends upon them and Allah makes a mention of them before those who are near Him.''
[Muslim].

Commentary:  This Hadith also highlights the merits of remembrance of Allah and the high grades of the people indulging in it.

 

1449. Abu Waqid Al-Harith bin `Auf (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) was sitting in the mosque with his Companions when three people came to him. Two of them stepped forward to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and the third went away. Those two men stood by the side of Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). One of them found a space in the circle and he filled it, while the other one sat behind him. When the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) finished, he said, "Shall I not inform you about these three people? One of them sought refuge with Allah and Allah gave him refuge; the second one felt shy and Allah showed kindness to his shyness (and so he was accommodated in that meeting), and the last one averted, and so Allah turned away His Attention from him.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith highlights the following three points:

1. The inducement for participation in the meetings held for the remembrance of Allah.

2. The merit of avoiding anything that causes inconvenience to people and distinction of those who are bashful.

3. The condemnation and evil consequences of avoiding, without any genuine reason, the meetings or gatherings which are held to remember Allah or to disseminate religious knowledge.

 

1450. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Mu`awiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) came to an assembly in the mosque and asked them: "What has made you sit together?'' They replied, "We are sitting here to remember Allah.'' He said, "I adjure you by Allah to tell me whether nothing else has made you to sit together.'' They replied: "By Allah! We are sitting only to remember Allah.'' Then he said, "I did not adjure you because I suspected you. No one of my rank in the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) is the narrator of so few traditions as I am. The fact is that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) went out to a circle of his Companions and said, `What has made you sit there?' When they replied that they are sitting together to remember Allah and to praise Him for guiding them to Islam and bestowing favours on them, he (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, `I adjure you by Allah to tell me that nothing else has made you sit together.' On their reply that there was certainly no other purpose, he (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, `I did not adjure you because I suspected you, but Jibril (Gabriel) came to me and told me that Allah was talking proudly of you to the angels.'''

[Muslim].

Commentary:  This Hadith, like those preceding it, mentions the merits of the meetings which are held for the remembrance of Allah as well as the distinction of those who participate in them.