A Narrative regarding Man’s Potential of Goodness after Accepting Islam

A Narrative regarding Man’s Potential of Goodness after Accepting Islam


Hadīth

(This write-up is prepared by the Hadith Cell of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi)

روي أنه قيل لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: يا رسول الله، من أكرم الناس؟ قال: أكرمهم عند الله أتقاهم لله. فقالوا: ليس عن هذا نسألك. فقال: فأكرم الناس يوسف نبي الله بن نبي الله بن نبي الله بن خليل الله. قالوا: ليس هذا نسألك. قال: فعن معادن العرب تسألون. الناس معادن في الخير والشر، كمعادن الفضة والذهب، خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام إذا فقهوا في الدين.

It is narrated that the Prophet (sws) was once asked: "Prophet of God! who is the most honored person?" The Prophet replied: "The most honorable among them in the eyes of God is the one who is the most fearful towards God."[1] They said: "This is not what we were asking you." The Prophet (sws) said: "Then the most honorable of people is Joseph[2] – a prophet of God son of a prophet of God son of a prophet of God son of the friend of God."[3] They said: "This is not what we were asking you." The Prophet said: "Then you are asking about the minerals of Arabia.[4] People are like minerals in the case of good and evil – just like the minerals gold and silver.[5] Those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be the best among them after Islam,[6] if they develop a thorough understanding in God's religion.[7]

Notes on the Text of the Narrative

The narrative has been reported with some variations in Bukhārī Nos. 3175, 3194, 3203, 3301, 3304, 3305, 3394 and 4412, Muslim's Nos. 2378, 2526a, 2526b and 2638, Ibn H@ibban Hibbān Nos. 92, 648 and 5757, Nasā'ī al-Sunan al-Kubrā's No. 11249, Dārimī No. 223, Ahmad ibn Hanbal Nos. 7487, 7534, 9068, 9402, 9564, 9651, 10300, 10301, 10302, 10475, 10801, 10969, 14988 and 15152, Abū Ya'lā Nos. 6070, 6471 and 6562, Humaydī No. 1045, 'Abd al-Razzaq's No. 20641 and Ibn Abī Shaybāh's No. 31919. Except where otherwise specified, the selected words have been reported in BukhārīNo. 3175.

The words أكرمهم (the most honorable of them) have been reported in Bukhārī No. 3194.

The words عند الله (in the eyes of God) have been reported in Bukhārī No. 4412.

The word لله (towards God) have been reported in Bukhārī No. 3203.

The words فأكرم الناس (then the most honorable of people) have been reported in Bukhārī No. 3194.

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhārī No. 3194, the word تسألون (you are asking) have been reported as تسألونني (you are asking me).

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhārī No. 3194, there is an addition of the words قالوا: نعم (They said: Yes) after the words فعن معادن العرب تسألونني (Then you are asking about the minerals of Arabia).

The words الناس معادن، كمعادن الفضة والذهب (People are like minerals – like minerals of gold and silver) have been reported in Muslim's No. 2638b.

The phrase في الخير والشر after the words الناس معادن have been reported in Ibn Hibbān No. 92.

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhārī No. 3203, the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said الناس معادن، خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام (People are [like] minerals: those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Hibbān No. 92,الناس معادن في الخير والشر، خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام (People are like minerals in good and evil. those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam).

In some narratives, as for instance in Nasā'ī Sunan al-KubrāNo. 11249, there is an addition of the word فإن(therefore) before خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام (those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam).

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhārī No. 3194, the words خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام (those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam) have been reported as خياركم في الجاهلية خياركم في الإسلام (those who were best among you before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among you after Islam); in some narratives, as for instance in Ibn Hibbān No. 648, these words have been reported as خياركم خياركم في الإسلام (the best among you shall remain the best after accepting Islam).

The words في الدين(in God's religion) have been reported in Ahmad ibn Hanbal No. 9068.

In some narratives, as for instance in Muslim's No. 2526a, there is no reference to any question being asked to the Prophet (sws). The Prophet (sws) is simply reported to have said:

تجدون الناس معادن: فخيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام إذا فقهوا. تجدون من خير الناس في هذا الأمر أكرههم له قبل أن يقع فيه وتجدون من شرار الناس ذا الوجهين الذي يأتي هؤلاء بوجه وهؤلاء بوجه.

"You will find people to be like minerals: Thus, those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam, if they develop a thorough understanding in God's religion. You will find the best of people to be most averse towards this matter [of rule] till he falls into it; and you will find the worst of people to be those who are double faceted: they would approach some with one face and some with the other face."

In some narratives, as for instance in Bukhārī No. 3394, it seems that the narrators have erroneously combined two or more different sayings of the Prophet (sws) as one. The narrative reads as under:

لا تقوم الساعة حتى تقاتلوا قوما نعالهم الشعر وحتى تقاتلوا الترك صغار الأعين حمر الوجوه ذلف الأنوف كأن وجوههم المجان المطرقة. وتجدون من خير الناس أشدهم كراهية لهذا الأمر حتى يقع فيه. والناس معادن: خيارهم في الجاهلية، خيارهم في الإسلام وليأتين على أحدكم زمان لأن يراني أحب إليه من أن يكون له مثل أهله وماله.

The Prophet said: "The Hour will not be established till you fight a nation wearing shoes made of fur, and till you fight the Turks, who will have small eyes, red faces and flat noses; and their faces will be like flat shields. And you will find that the best people are those who are averse to the responsibility of ruling most of all till they fall into this position. And people are like minerals: those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam. A time will come when any of you will love to see me rather than to have his family and property doubled."

Similarly, in some other narratives, as for instance in Muslim's No. 2638b, the narrators seem to have erroneously combined another saying of the Prophet (sws). The narrative reads as under:

الناس معادن كمعادن الفضة والذهب. خيارهم في الجاهلية خيارهم في الإسلام إذا فقهوا. والأرواح جنود مجندة، فما تعارف منها ائتلف وما تناكر منها اختلف.

People are like minerals – just like minerals of gold and silver. Those who were best among them before the advent of Islam would continue to be best among them after Islam, if they develop a thorough understanding; and [before coming into this world] the souls were like enlisted troops, those that were well acquainted with each other [before coming into this world] are harmonious with each other [in this world also] and those that were at variance with each other [before coming into this world] would have differences among them [in this world too].




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