Rasulallah ﷺ said:
الْمُؤْمِنُ الْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah
than the weak believer, although both are good…”
When I first read this hadith, I thought that the physically stronger believers are better than the physically weak believers because they could help the Deen more, and achieve more. I’m physically not as strong as the average person, so I actually felt bummed about it. But alhamdulillah, when revisiting this hadith, the ustadh pointed out that Rasulallah ﷺ said “The strong MU’MIN is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak mu’min.” Meaning, the believer with a stronger iman is better and more beloved to Allah than the believer with a weaker iman. This is something that we can all strive regardless of our physical condition, insya Allah. Nonetheless it is praiseworthy to gain strength and vitality in order to worship Allah SWT for a longer period of life.
How can we have a strong iman? Rasulallah ﷺ said:
“Iman has over seventy branches – or over sixty branches,
the uppermost of which is the declaration: لا إله إلا الله
(None has the right to be worshipped but Allah);
and the least of which is the removal of harmful object from the road,
and modesty is a branch of Iman.”
[Bukhari & Muslim]
Iman increases when we obey Allah SWT, His commandments and prohibitions; and it decreases when one disobeys Him, when we sin. The more branches of iman that a person commits in his heart, on his tongue, and in his actions, the stronger his iman becomes. So for example, a believer who fulfills all fard (wajib) commandments of Allah SWT, and on top of that has haya’ as the hadith states, has a stronger iman than another believer who also fulfills all fard commandments but lack in modesty. How much iman increases and decreases are dependant on our good deeds as well as our knowledge of the Deen.
It is amazing that Rasulallah ﷺ said, “The stronger mu’min is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak mu’min, although BOTH are good.” Whether we have strong iman, or weak iman, have hope and have good thoughts of Allah SWT for there is still khayr in us. Subhanallah, such is the mercy of Allah towards the believers. And just as important – have good thoughts of your fellow Muslims too! It’s really disheartening to see people claiming to love the Sunnah, but bicker and belittle among each other, especially on non-principal matters in the Deen. We need to constantly remind ourselves to instil the fear of Allah SWT – because while we may think we’re a ‘better’ mu’min than others, we can actually be small in the Sight of Allah due to our ego and bad character towards others.
At the same time, the hadith also teaches us that not all mu’min are equally the same in their good deeds and in istiqamah, therefore not all mu’min are equally loved by Allah SWT. So it teaches us that in order to become a more beloved slave to Allah, we need to exert ourselves to become a stronger mu’min. This is as Allah SWT says:
“And for all, there will be degrees according to that which they did…”
[Surah Al-Ahqaaf 46:19]
In another surah, Allah SWT says:
“Then We gave the Book (the Qur’an) as inheritance
to such of Our slaves whom We chose.
Then of them are some who wrong their selves,
and of them are some who follow a middle course,
and of them are some who are, by Allah’s Leave, foremost in good deeds.
That, that is indeed a great grace.”
[Surah Fatir 35:32]
Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas commented: “This (ayah) refers to the Ummah of Muhammad (ﷺ). Allah caused it to inherit every Book that He had revealed; those who wrong themselves will be forgiven, those who follow a middle course will have an easy accounting, and those who are foremost in good deeds will enter Paradise without being brought to account.”
Based on this ayah, scholars say that the ummah of Rasulallah ﷺ are divided into three:
The first group of believers who wrong themselves. They do not do shirk, but they are careless in doing some fard (wajib) actions, and also commit some haram (forbidden) actions.
The second group of believers who follow a middle course. They fulfill all fard actions and avoid things that are haram, but they do not go further than that, meaning they may neglect some supererogatory good deeds (extra deeds beyond fard), and do some things which are makrooh (disliked).
سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَتِ بِإِذُنِ اللَّهِ
The third group of believers are those who, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds. They rush to do all types of khayr. They fulfill all fard obligations AND supererogatory good deeds. They also avoid all things that are haram AND makrooh. This is as the hadith Qudsi where Allah SWT says:
“…And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me,
is what I have enjoined upon him [i.e. fard obligations];
and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil
(doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him…”
On top of that, the third group ALSO leaves all doubtful matters (syubhat). This is as Rasulallah ﷺ said:
“Both legal and illegal things are obvious,
and in between them are doubtful matters.
So whoever forsakes those doubtful things lest he may commit a sin,
will definitely avoid what is clearly illegal;
and whoever indulges in these doubtful things bravely,
is likely to commit what is clearly illegal…”
Subhanallah indeed, the believer who falls in the third group is the stronger mu’min compared to the other two groups!
Now ask ourselves, which group am I in right now, and which group do I aim to be? Am I happy with my current state, or can I actually do better? The wise believer will consistently exert in improving himself. This is as Allah SWT says:
“…But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else)…”
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:165]
May Allah SWT instil the love of iman inside us and help us exert to become a stronger mu’min. May we be amongst the third group who are believers that are more beloved to Him – Allahumma ameen.
Ke Arah Memahami Al-Qur’an dan Al-Hadis, by Ustadh Dr Abdullah Yasin
Tafsir Ibn Kathir