The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said (which means): “He who relieves a hardship of this Dunya (this earthly life) for a believer, Allah will relieve a hardship of the Day of Resurrection for him;He who makes it easy for an indebted person, Allah will make it easy for him in the Dunya and the Hereafter; He who covers a Muslim (his mistakes and shortcomings), Allah will cover him in the Dunya and the Hereafter Allah will be in the slave ‘s need, as long as the slave is in his (believing) brother’s need…” [Saheeh Muslim]
The Virtue of Relieving Hardships For Other Muslims
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “He who relieves a hardship of this Dunya for a believer, Allah will relieve a hardship of the Day of Resurrection for him.”
Relieving a hardship involves removing it or lessening its impact. The Kurbah (meaning the hardship or the disaster) is the severe difficulty that causes sadness and depression for those whom the Kurbah befalls, “Verily, We have created man in toil.” [Soorah al-Balad (90): 4] Ibn Jarir said that the “toil” mentioned in this Ayah, entails suffering the various difficult matters and hardships.
In this life, mankind suffers various types and forms of hardships, that which will cause sorrow and depression, especially when such hardships and trials befall and touch people’s bodies, property, offspring or religion. When such difficulties befall a certain Muslim, his Muslim brethren are obliged to rush to his aid and to defuse this hardship, so that his pain will subside, as much as can be.
Furthermore, a Muslim may fall victim to injustice, as Al-Mutanabbi (a famous Arab poet) has said, “Injustice is a human trait. Hence, if you can find an honorable person, there is a hope he will not commit injustice”. In this case, the Muslim brethren are obliged to remove this injustice that has befallen their brother (or sister) in Islam, as much as they can. The Messenger of Allah said: “Aid your (Muslim) brother when he is unjust, or when suffering from injustice.” He was asked, “What about when he is unjust, how can I aid him?” He said, “You prevent or forbid him from committing injustice, for this constitutes giving aid to him.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
A Muslim may fall victim to injustice because of his being firm in the religion. In this situation, the Muslim may feel sadness and oppression that which the firm mountains cannot bare, by the hands of the unjust people and the tyrant. This is when other Muslims are obliged to rush to the aid of such Muslims, so that they will defuse and remove these hardships and injustice, using everything in their power: themselves, their wealth, their tongues and pens, etc. Allah said, “But if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them.” [Soorah Al-Anfal (8): 72]
When Muslims fulfill the obligation of aiding their believing brothers when they are in distress, then the reward will be of the type of the deed. Allah will then protect the Muslims and will remove some of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection for them, in which, “The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but severe will be the Torment of Allah.” [Soorah al-Hajj (22): 2]
Further, Umm Al-Muminin, Aa’isha narrated that she heard the Messenger of Allah say, “On the Day of Resurrection, people will be gathered while barefooted, naked and uncircumcised.” She said, “O Messenger of Allah! Women and men, both looking at each other?” He replied, “O Aa’isha! The matter is more serious than some of them thinking of looking at each other.” [Sharah Muslim]
This indicates the severe hardships and difficulties the people will face on the Day of Judgment.
Providing Relief For the Needy
The Prophet then said, “He who makes it easy for an indebted person, Allah will make it easy for him in the Dunya and the Hereafter.” The indebted person is a person who has incurred large debts which he is incapable of repaying.
Making it easy for such a person entails either rescheduling his payments until a time when he is capable and can afford to repay them, “And if the debtor is in a hard time (has no money), then grant him time till it is easy for him to repay.” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 280]
Or, making it easy for him entails reducing his debts, or granting him some money so that his need ends. Al-Bukharee and Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah related that the Messenger of Allah said: “There was a merchant who used to loan people. So when he knows of a debtor who is in need, he would say to his boys (servants or workers who collect his debts), Tajawazu (erase, or reduce, etc.) on him (meaning his debts), that Allah may Yatajawazu (forgive, or erase our sins for) us,’ and He (Allah) Tajawaza (forgave) him.”
Also, Allah said, “But if you remit it by way of charity, that is better for you if you did but know.” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 280]. The Messenger of Allah also said, “He who waits on a debtor or reduces his debts, Allah will shade him under His Shade.” [Sharah Muslim]
There is no doubt that mankind are moving closer to a Day, hard and distressful for those who deviate from Allah’s Straight Path, “The sovereignty on that Day will be the true (sovereignty), belonging to the Most Beneficent (Allah), and it will be a hard Day for the disbelievers (those who disbelieve in the Oneness of Allah in Islamic Monotheism).” [Soorah al-Furqan (25): 26] and, “Then, when the Trumpet is sounded (its second blowing); Truly, that Day will be a Hard Day. Far from easy for the disbelievers.” [Soorah al-Mudhaththir(74): 8-10]
As for those who believe in Allah and fulfill His Rights, and also fulfill His slave’s rights, helping and aiding them when they are in distress, then Allah will make their matters easy for them in turn. Allah will surely make the hardships of this life and the Last Life easy for such people, and will make them firm on His religion, as a reward from Him for those who aid their Muslim brethren in this life.
The Prophet then said, “He who covers a Muslim, Allah will cover him in the Dunya and the Hereafter.” Muslims love for their believing brothers what they love for themselves of good. Therefore, when a Muslim witnesses a shortcoming or a mistake by his Muslim brother, he asks Allah to grant his brother firmness on His Path, and advises him in secret.
Imam Ash-Shafi’i once said, “Advise me when I am alone, and avoid giving advice in public, for advising in public is a type of criticizing that I will not be pleased to hear.”
Muslims neither rejoice when they see or hear their Muslim brothers commit mistakes, nor do they make such mistakes the subject of their conversations. They avoid exposing their brethren, thus obeying Allah’s and His Messenger’s commands in this regard. Abdullah Ibn Umar related, “The Messenger of Allah once rose above the podium and then heralded with a loud voice, ‘O those who have embraced Islam only with their tongue, while Eeman has not yet entered theirhearts, neither harm Muslims, nor mock them, nor try to expose their mistakes, for he who follows (or searches for) the errors of his brother (so that he exposes him), Allah will follow his errors, and he whom Allah follows his errors, He will expose him even if he was in the middle of his home.'” [Saheeh Al-Jamee]
This Hadeeth indicates that following and then exposing people’s mistakes only occurs by the hypocrites and those whose Eeman is so weak, that it did not yet fill their hearts. We must note here that there are two types of people with regards to this subject:
1 – A person who is known to be righteous. When such a person commits an error or a mistake, then those who uncover or know of these mistakes must not expose him. If a person exposes this righteous person, it will be an act of backbiting that Allah has prohibited. Also, this act will constitute spreading sin among Muslims, “Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse (or sins in general) should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.” [Soorah an-Nur (24):19]. The scholars said that spreading sin, involves exposing the believer’s mistakes and spreading false accusations about him.
2 – If a person is known to commit mistakes and errors and then announcing such errors while belittling them, then exposing him is not an act of backbiting. In fact, it is necessary to expose such people so that other Muslims are aware of their evil behavior. If this evil person still does not stop committing evil, he will have to be exposed to the authorities, so that they punish him and reform his conduct, whether by applying a warranted punishment under the Islamic penal code, or by directing firm warnings and words of criticism and blame at him.
The Muslim Should Cover and Hide His Own Mistakes
If a Muslim falls into sin, then he is obliged to cover his sin and to refrain from announcing it. He is also obliged to repent to Allah. Zayd Ibn Aslam narrated, “At the time of the Messenger of Allah, a man admitted that he had committed fornication, so the Messenger of Allah asked for a whip. He was brought a broken whip, so he said, ‘Better than this.’ Then, he was brought a new whip…, he then said, ‘Lesser than this.’ So he was brought a whip that was used and had thus become soft, and the Messenger ordered that he be whipped with it (a hundred times).
He then said, ‘O People! It is time for you to refrain from transgressing Allah ‘s limits. He who commits some of these filthy acts (such as fornication), let him hide under Allah ‘s cover for whoever admits what he has committed, we will establish Allah ‘s Book as regards him (by applying the warranted punishment for this sin).” [Musnad Ahmad]
Further, Abdullah Ibn Masoud related, “A man came to the Prophet and then said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I have mingled with a woman in the far side of al-Medina, and I fulfilled my desire short of actually having sexual intercourse with her. So, here I am, judge me according to what you decide.’ Umar Ibn Al-Khattab then said, ‘Allah has kept your secret, why did you not keep your secret?” [Sharah Muslim]
Helping One Another In Righteousness
The Prophet then said, “Allah will be in the slave’s need, as long as the slave is in his (believing) brother’s need.” Helping one another in goodness and righteousness enhances the unity of the Muslim community and disallows its enemies from defeating such solid unity.
This is why the Qur’aan has encouraged Muslims to help one another, “Help you one another in al-Birr and at-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” [Soorah al-Maidah (5): 2]
Islam also prohibits helping one another in evil, transgression and in what will bring about Allah’s anger. Helping one another in Al-Birr is also an act of charity, “And your helping a man to get up on his means of transportation, or helping him carry his things on it, is a Sadaqah (charity).” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]
In addition, helping one another in righteousness brings about Allah’s reward, just as the prayer and fasting bring about Allah’s reward. Anas related, “We were traveling with the Messenger of Allah, when some of us fasted while others did not fast. So those who did not fast set up the camp, gave water to the animals, while those who fasted were weak, so they were unable to do much work. Then, the Prophet said, ‘Those who did not fast have acquired the reward today.” [Sharah Muslim] This indicates that those companions who did not fast, have acquired a similar reward as those who had fasted, along with acquiring the reward for performing more work during that trip.
Interceding for a Good Cause
Allah said, “Whosoever intercedes for a good cause will have the reward thereof.” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 85]
Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) said, “Whoever intercedes to fulfill a matter that produces Khayr (all that which is good and righteous), he (or she) will gain a reward for it.” Also, Mujahid said, “This Ayah was revealed with regards people’s interceding on behalf of each other. When one intercedes on behalf of his brother, and when his intercession is accepted, he will gain two rewards, one for the Khayr that his brother has received, for which he was the reason, and one reward similar to the reward of those in authority, or the reward of the person who has received, accepted and then fulfilled the intercession.
Abu Baradah Ibn Abi Baradah said, “Abu Baradah, my grandfather, informed me that his father, Abu Musa, said that the Prophet said, “The believer to the believer is like the building which parts support each other,” he then joined between his fingers.
Further, the Prophet was once sitting down, when a man came asking for his need to be fulfilled. The Prophet then turned his face towards us, saying, ‘Intercede, and you will gain the reward, and Allah will then decide what He will by the tongue of his Messenger.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
This Hadeeth means, “If someone asks me for a certain need, intercede with me on his behalf, for you will gain a reward for this. Then, Allah wills what His Messenger will decide (and then do) with regards to fulfilling this need, for this is entirely tied to Allah’s will.”
Also, Ibn Hajar commented, “This Hadeeth encourages working the good deeds and bringing about the Khayr any way one can. It also encourages interceding with the authorities to relieve hardships, and encourages helping the weak. This is because not everyone is able to reach the authorities, or is able to meet those in authority, or is able to express his need, so that those in authority understand his need. This is why the Messenger of Allah did not hide (inside his home or a palace, so that ordinary Muslims can approach him at any time for their needs).”
The Impermissible Type Of Interceding On Behalf of Others
The impermissible type involves transgressing the set limits of Allah and being unjust with His slaves. Allah has forbidden intervening in an evil cause, and those who do, will acquire evil deeds if such matters are successful, “And whosoever intercedes for an evil cause, will have a share in its burden.”
This type includes interceding on behalf of those who deserve punishment according to Islamic Law, so that they would escape punishment. Once, Usamah Ibn Zayd interceded on behalf of a woman from the famous tribe of Makhzoom. The Messenger of Allah said to him, “Do you intercede to prevent a punishment which Allah has prescribed?” [Saheeh al-Bukharee] But, when such cases have not reached the authorities yet, it is allowed to intervene in this case, as Ibn Abdil-Barr has stated, such as advising the sinner to hide his mistake and repent from it.
The Effect of this Hadeeth On the Companions
Whoever reads the life-stories of the Sahaba (Companions of Rasoolillah(SAW)), will find the strong effect of the noble Islamic legislation on their conduct and speech. They were and still are a good example for all those who came after them. They acted upon their knowledge and thus many people embraced Islam because of their righteous conduct. In the present time, it is a cause for sorrow to see that the bulk of the Muslim Ummah have ignored Allah’s religion, which has been reduced to some words that are recorded on paper or audio cassettes, or is propagated through lectures and empty speeches that do not produce sufficient change in our situation. All power and strength only comes from Allah, the Exalted, and Ever High.
Ibn Saad related that Anisah said, ‘The neighborhood girls used to bring their sheep to Abu Bakr as-Sideeq and he would say to them, ‘Would you like that I milk (your sheep) like Ibn Afraa (who was very proficient in milking sheep)?’ Abu Bakr was a merchant then and he used to go to the market every day selling and buying. He also owned some sheep that he sometimes takes them for Rai (to graze and drink) himself, while sometimes someone else takes care of Rai for him. He also used to milk the sheep for the neighborhood. When he was given the pledge of Khilafah a girl from the neighborhood said, ‘Now our sheep will not be milked for us.’ Abu Bakr heard her and replied, ‘Rather I will still milk them for you, and I hope that what I was entrusted with, does not change a righteous conduct that I used to practice.’ So, he used to milk for them.” [Hayat as-Sahabah] Further Mujahid said, “I went on a journey with Ibn Umar so that I would serve him. Yet he used to serve me!” [Manaqib Umar]