The Rights of Oneself Hadhrat Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA)

Man's life is the property' of Allah Ta'ala and He has imposed on us rights in respect to our own lives. Life has been bestowed to us as an Amaanat. (Trust). It is therefore incumbent to utilize and guard this Amaanat according to the Divine Command. Among the rights incumbent on us in respect of our lives are:
· The protection of its health and strength.
· The guarding of its peace. This means to refrain from any such activity, which unnecessarily imposes strain and frustration. Neglect in these rights results in interference with one's Deen. Peace of mind and courage are destroyed and in consequence one will fail to render service to others. At times, due to the frustration and weakness, one's condition aggravates to the degree where one's very Imaan is in danger of elimination. This grave state results because of impatience and ingratitude fostered by the frustration and depression which overtakes man who has failed in fulfilling the rights of his own body and soul.
Some aayaat and ahadith will now be mentioned in this regard.
1. Allah Ta'ala mentions in Surah Shu'raa, Nabi Ibraheem's (alayhis salaam) statements in which he enumerates the bounties of Allah Ta'ala on him. Among these bounties, He states: "When I become sick, only He cures me."
The desirability of health is obvious from this aayat.
2. Allah Ta'ala says: "Prepare to the best of your ability power for them (the enemies)." (Surah Anfaal)
This aayat categorically commands the protection of strength and power. The hadith of Uqban Bin Aamir (RA) narrated in Muslim, mentions that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) explained the above aayat as a reference to martial training since this strengthens both the heart and the Deen. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) mentions specifically training with the bow and arrow in the Tafseer of the above aayat because the bow and the arrow were the weapons of that age. This Aayat and its Tafseer will be applicable to whatever weapons in vogue during any age.
3. Allah Ta'ala states in the Qur'aan Shareef: "Do not be wasteful."
Waste leads to destitution, which in turn produces hardship, worry and frustration. Thus, this Aayat in actual fact commands abstention from frustration and despondency which one invites upon oneself by extravagance. Peace of mind is thus commanded by the Qur'aan.
4. Regarding excessive fasting and remaining awake at night in ibaadat. Hadhrt (Abdullah Ibn Amr A's (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Your body too has a right over you; your eyes too have a right over you." (Bukhari, Muslim)
Excessive striving and staying awake at night have a detrimental effect on the health and this is negatory of the rights which the body of man has.
5. Hadhrat Ibn Abaas (RA) narrates: "In regard to two bounties, most people remain in loss (deprived of their benefits). One is health and the other is peace of mind."
Health and peace of mind are two bounties which are strong aids in the development of one's spiritual and Deeni life. Peace of mind will exist when one has sufficient material possession. The worry of poverty and want will thus not overtake one. From this narration we realize that the two favours mentioned above are to be cultivated.
6. Hadhrat Amr Bin Maimoon Udi (RA) narrates that while admonishing a man, Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: "Consider (certain) five things as a treasure before (another) five things overtake you. (1) Youth before old age; (2) Health before sickness; (3) wealth before poverty; (4) peace of mind before worry; and, (5) Life before the event of death. (Tirmizi)
The five treasures mentioned should be valued and advantage be taken of them while they endure. These five treasure or bounties should expended in the interests of the Deen and one's spiritual reformation and development. Once these treasures have ended, the great opportunity of rendering perfect ibaadat will have passed, hence Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) exhorted that maximum benefit be derived while these conditions last.
7. Hadhrat Ubaidullah Ibn Muhsin (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "He among you who arises in the morning with Imaan, health and sufficient food for that day, should consider himself as being in possession of the whole world."(Tirmizi)
8. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Whoever seeks lawful earnings so as to refrain from begging and to fulfill the rights of his family and neighbour, he will meet Allah Ta'ala on the Day of Qiyaamah with his face glittering like the moon of the fourteenth night." (Baihaqi and Nuaim)
This establishes that the seeking of wealth for a valid reasons is exhorted and is full of significance. Lawful wealth too plays its part in the acquisition of peace of mind, which is an end desired by the Deen.
9. Hadhrat Abu Zarr (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Abstention from the world (which is ordered by the Deen) does not mean making unlawful what is lawful nor the destruction of wealth." (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
Destruction of the material bounties and means which Allah Ta'ala has created is not advocated by Islam since possession of material wealth is conducive for the attainment of peace of mind which is a desirable end. The over whelming majority of people on earth cannot enjoy peace of mind without material prosperity.
10. Hadhrat Abu Darda (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Allah has created both medicine and sickness. For every sickness there is a medicine. Resort to medicine and refrain from using haraam substances as medicine." (Abu Dawood)
This hadith clearly commands the protection of health.
11. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "The stomach is the fountain of the body. If it is maintained in a healthy state, one remains healthy. If it is despoiled, the health deteriorates." (Shu'bul Imaan, Baihaqi)
This hadith too refers to the guarding of one's physical health.
12. Hadhrat Umm Munthir (RA) narrates that once Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to Hadhrat Ali (RA): "Do not eat of these dates, for you are sickly."
Umm Munthir (RA) then prepared some beet and barley. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to Hadhrat Ali (RA): "This suits you." (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah)
This hadith also pertains to the protection of one's health.
13. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would make the following dua:
"O Allah! I seek your protection from starvation ....." Abu Dawood, Nisaai, Ibn Majah)
In Teebi it is said that the reason for asking protection against starvation is that starvation produces physical weakness and mental anguish. Again this hadith too implies the desirability of health and peace of mind.
Another hadith mentions the significance of hunger while the hadith cited above mentions the seeking of protection against hunger. Although there seems to be an apparent contradiction here, in reality there is no contradiction. The significance of hunger mentioned in the hadith is similar to the significance of sickness also stated in the ahadith. Like sickness, hunger is not an end to be acquired. The significance in this regard refers to the thawaab one will receive by adopting patience when overtaken by the calamity of sickness or hunger. When this has been imposed on one, there is nothing but patience to adopt. Thus, the significance stated, is from that direction.
13. Hadhrat Uqbah Bin Amir (RA) narrates that he hear Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) say: "Practise arrow-shooting and horse-riding ..." (Tirmizi, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood, Daarami)
This hadith points to the maintenance of physical health and strength.
14. Hadhrat Uqbah Bin Aamir (RA) also narrates that he heard Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) say: "Whoever gives up arrow-shooting after having learnt it, is not of us ..." (Muslims)
The emphasis on physical strength and power is indeed great in this hadith.
15. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "A strong Believer is better than a weak Believer."
This hadith speaks of physical strength as is clear from the explanation of the hadith by the authorities of the Deen. Physical power and strength are abilities which Allah Ta'ala loves in his servants. Physical strength has to be developed by Believers. Since this is desirable, it follows that it is a duty upon one to preserve one's health and develop one's strength while at the same time it will be un-Islamic to resort to such practices which are harmful and injurious to ones health. Excessive eating excessive sleeping, excessive indulgence in sexual relations are destructive to one's health. In the same way excessive reduction in food and sleep produces physical weakness.
Physical training, martial arts and ways of defense are all included within the scope of this hadith. (This should not be misunderstood. The inference should not be drawn that the sports of the kuffaar also come within the purview of this hadith. Kuffaar sport is prohibited by the Shariah. - Translator)
Physical training and methods of defense should be practiced within the bounds of the Shariah and the law.
16. Hadhrat Amr Bin Shuaib narrates on the authority of his father the following hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam): "One traveler is a shaitaan; two travelers are two shaitans while three travelers consitute a caravan. (Maalik, Tirmizi, Abu Dawood, Nisaai)
This criticism of one or two persons undertaking a journey applies to times of danger. Three being a fair group, obtained the description of ‘caravan' from Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). By labeling one or two travelers as ‘devils', Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) discouraged traveling by single persons and even two people since they may not be able to adequately protect themselves along the journey during times of danger. Thus, we realize from this hadith that it is essential to make preparations for our protection and defense.
17. In one hadith narrated by Hadhrat Abu Tha'labah (RA), Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) forbade a traveling group breaking up and scattering at a place where the group halts on the journey. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) attributed such scattering and wandering about to the shaitaan. Travelling companions should remain together so that they may aid one another if some difficulty, calamity or emergency overtakes them. (Abu Dawood)
This hadith too stresses the need for arranging one's protection and taking precaution against sudden calamities.
18. Hadhrat Abu Saeed Khurdi (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to one man. "Take along your weapons. I fear the Bani Kuraizah (who were Jews and the enemies of the Muslims) ..."
This man went home and brought along his weapons ..." (Muslims)
In times of danger, arming oneself in a lawful manner is stated in this hadith.
19. Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood (RA) narrates: "On the Day of Badr, three persons sat on a camel (i.e. due to the poorly equipped army of Muslims, each camel had three persons to carry). Abu Lubaabah and Hadhrat Ali were Rasulullah's (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) partners on a camel. When it was Rasulullah's (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) turn to walk, both these companions insisted that they would walk on behalf of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and that he the should remain on the back of the camel.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to them:"You are not stronger than me; I depend on thawaab as you do." (Sharhus Sunnah)
From this hadith we realize that one should not be accustomed to too much comfort. One has to be prepared for all exigencies and emergencies.
20. Hadhrat Fudhaalah Ibn Ubaidah (RA) narrates: "R asulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) forbade us from becoming accustomed to much comfort and he would order us sometimes to walk barefooted."
(Abu Dawood)
Again, too much comfort has been depreciated. Muslim have to be alert and prepared at all times.
21. Hadhrat Huzaifah (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "It is not proper for a Believer to disgrace himself."
It was asked: "O Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)! What is meant by this?" Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "To undertake something which you cannot bear." (Tirmizi)
To assume a task beyond one's capability is not proper for a Mu'min. The consequence will be failure, disgrace, worry, and shame. Frustration will then overtake one. This hadith covers all such acts and tasks which are beyond one's power. In all cases of difficulties and hardships adopt sabr (patience) and supplicate unto Allah Ta'ala for aid.
The aforegoing discussion establishes clearly that health, strength and peace of mind are desireable ends to be pursued. All such acts which interfere with the attainment of these ends are detestable. Such impediments are at times totally prohibited and sometimes they are reprehensible.
Sometimes these laudable aims (health, strength and peace) are wrecked, not by any voluntary action by man himself, but by an Act of Allah Ta'ala. In such cases of hardship sabr has to be adopted. Thawaab accrues in the wake of these divinely imposed hardships while at the same time divine aid is granted to enable one to withstand the difficulties and hardships. In this way frustration and despondency do not settle over one. Such divinely imposed hardships occurred to all Ambiyaa (alayhi sallam) and Auliyaa Kiraam. The Qur'aan and Hadith are replete with such episodes.