v. Reading the Life-Histories of the Salaf of this Ummah
The Salaf of this ummah: the Companions of the Prophet – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – and their students and successors in righteousness, people of the first period of Islaam, are the best of all generations. They are the defenders of Islaam, guides for humankind and lions of combat. They are the participants of the great and momentous incidents and events and the bearers and transmitters of this religion to all who came after them. They have the strongest eemaan amongst the people, they are the most well grounded in knowledge, have the most pious of hearts and the purest of souls. The specifically chosen amongst them are the Companions of the Prophet – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam -, whom Allaah favored with the sight of His Prophet – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam -. He gratified them by granting them sight of his guise and honored them by allowing them to hear his voice and listen to his speech. They received the religion from him in a fresh and new manner, it took root in their hearts, their souls found tranquility with it and they remained firm on it on par with the stability of the mountains. It suffices as a representation of their excellence that Allaah addressed them with His saying:
“You are the best people ever raised up for mankind…” [Soorah Aal-‘Imraan (3): 110]
The meaning of which is, you are the best of all peoples and the most beneficial for the people.
In Saheeh Muslim, Aboo Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reports that the Messenger of Allaah – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – said: “The best of my ummah, is the generation that I have been sent in, then those who proceed after them …”[Muslim, 4/1964. It is also related in both Saheehs by ‘Imraan ibn Husayn with the following wording: ‘The best of my ummah is my generation, then those who proceed them…’ al-Bukhaaree, (7/3 Fath) and Muslim, 4/1964]
One who studies the condition of these righteous people, reads their biographies, perceives their sublime qualities and virtues and reflects on what they were upon, such as the tremendous character and mannerisms they had; their adherence to the noble Messenger – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam -; their preservation over eemaan, fear of sins and disobedience; wariness of riyaa’ and hypocrisy; their responsiveness to obedience; vying in performance of good deeds; their aversion to this transitory world and dedication to the everlasting Hereafter.
One who does this, will come across during this contemplation and study, a number of fine qualities and numerous characteristics and attributes that attract him towards a truthful impersonation of them and a desire to adorn oneself with their qualities. Mention of them, reminds of Allaah and contemplation over their condition, strengthens eemaan and cleanses the heart. Fine indeed, is the verse of poetry:
Relate again their tale to me, 0 caravan leader for their tale polishes the very thirsty heart.
The areas for the study and refection on the biographies of these righteous people are the books of Taareekh (History), as-Siyar (Biographies), az-Zuhd (asceticism), or-Raqaa’iq (heart-softening narratives), al-War’ (piety) and others. One benefits from those of the reports that have been authenticated.
This contemplation and study produces fine imitation of them as Shaykh al-Islaam writes: “Whoever resembles them more, it will be a greater perfection in himself.” Furthermore, whoever resembles a people, becomes one of them.
All of these aforementioned issues increase eemaan and strengthen it. They are issues that are classified under the beneficial knowledge derived from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger – sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam – and that which the Salaf of this ummah were upon.
Posted from the Book: Causes Behind the Increase and Decrease of Eemaan, by Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaak al-‘Abbaad. Al-Hidaayah Publications