VIRTUES OF THE HOLY QUR'AAN
HADITH - 3
Hadhrat 'Uqbah ibn Aamir (Radhiyallaho anho) has said:
"Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) came to us while
we were sitting on the Suffah and asked if any one of us would
like to go to the market of But-haan or Aqeeq and fetch from there
two she-camels of the finest breed without committing any sin
or severing a tie of kinship. We replied that everyone of us would
love to do so. Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) then said
that going to the musjid and reciting or teaching two ayaat of
the Qur'an is more precious than two she-camels, three ayaat are
most precious than three she-camels, and that similarly reciting
or teaching of four ayaat is better than four she-camels and an
equal number of camels.
"Suffah" is the name of a particular raised platform
in the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) in
Medina. It used to be occupied by the poor Muslim muhajirin (Plural
of muhajir-emigrant from Mecca to Medina) who are known as "Ashab-us-Suffah"
(Men of Suffah). The number of these men varied from time to time:
'Allamah Suyuti (Rahmatullah alaih) has listed one hundred and one
names and also written an independent booklet about their names.
But-han and Aqeeq were the two market-places for camels near Medina.
The camel, more particularly a she-camel having a fat hump, was
a favourite of the Arabs.
The expression "without sin" is significant. A thing
can be acquired without labour either by extortion, through illegal
inheritance (by forcefully taking over the property of some relative)
or by theft. Rasullullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) thus ruled
out all such acquisitions. Acquiring a thing without any sin is
certainly preferred by all, but much more valuable is the learning
of a few ayaat.
It is a clear fact that let alone one or two camels, even if one
acquires the kingdom of all the seven continents one will be forced
to leave it, if not today surely tomorrow (at the time of death),
but the reward of one ayat will be everlasting. We see even in this
life that a man feels happier when he is given only one rupee (without
the condition of returning it), rather than if he is given one thousand
rupees for keeping in his safe custody for a while only. In the
latter case, he is merely burdened with a trust without getting
any benefit out of it.
In fact, this Hadith implies an admonition not to compare something
temporary with something eternal. Whether in action or at rest,
a man should consider if his efforts are being wasted on acquiring
the temporary gains of this world, or, are directed towards achieving
the everlasting ones. Woe be to the waste of effort for which we
earn eternal misery.
The last phrase of the Hadith "superior to an equal number
of camels" contains three meanings. First, up to the number
four, the reward has been mentioned in detail. Beyond this, it is
briefly mentioned that the more ayaat a person acquires, the greater
will be their superiority over the number of camels. In this case,
the word "camels" at the end refers to the species—either
he-camels or she-camels—and the number implied is more than
four because, up to the number four, the reward has been mentioned
The second meaning is that the numbers mentioned are the same as
referred to earlier, the significance being that inclinations are
always different; some are fond of she-camels, others prefer a he-camel.
Therefore Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has used this
expression to signify that every ayat is superior to a she-camel,
and if one prefers a he-camel, an ayat is also superior to a he-camel.
The third meaning is that the numbers mentioned are the same as
referred to before and not more than four.
According to the second meaning, the explanation that an ayat is
superior to a she-camel or he-camel does not hold good, but it implies
a collection, i.e., one ayat is superior to a he-camel and a she-camel
considered together, and likewise every ayat is superior to the
combination of an equal number of he-camels or she-camels. Thus
a single ayat has been compared to a pair or couple (of camels).
My late father (May Allah bless his grave with Divine light) has
preferred the latter interpretation because it points to a superior
This however, does not mean that the reward of an ayat can be equaled
to a camel or two camels. All this is for inducement and illustration.
It has been clearly written before that an ayat whose reward is
permanent and enduring is superior and preferable even to a kingdom
over the seven continents, which is bound to disintegrate.
Mulla 'Alt Qari has written an account of a pious Shaikh who went
to Mecca for Haj] on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah—the 12th month
of the Islamic calendar. When he landed at Jiddah, some of his friends
in business requested him to prolong his stay in Jiddah, so that
they could earn more profit for their merchandise by virtue of his
blessed presence. In fact they wanted that some of the servants
of the Shaikh be benefited by the profits of their business.
At first the Shaikh expressed his inability to prolong his stay,
but when they insisted the Shaikh asked them as to the maximum profit
that they would earn for their goods. They explained that the profit
was not the same in all cases; but the maximum that they could expect
was hundred per cent.
The Shaikh said, "You have taken all this trouble for such
a petty gain; for such an insignificant gain. I cannot miss the
salaat in the respected Haram (the most Sacred Mosque), where the
reward of salaat gets multiplied one hundred thousand times.*' In
fact, we Muslims should consider how, for petty worldly gains, we
sometimes sacrifice great spiritual benefits.
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