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The Prophet’s Special Privilege: With Qualities Which Are Not Given To Anyone Else

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7 September2009

By Adil Salahi

An important principle of the Islamic faith is that we must not try to make things hard for ourselves. If God has given us a particular duty and the Prophet (peace be upon him) outlined how it is done, then we must keep to what has been laid down and not to add to it, claiming that it will be better, or more complete. We must always remember that the Prophet has given us the perfect model of a believer who earns God’s pleasure and is certain to be admitted into heaven on the Day of Judgment. Thus, we keep to what the Prophet has taught us, knowing that it is more than enough to achieve the ultimate goal of success in the life to come. When we try to add to what the Prophet has taught us, we are in effect saying that we can improve on him. This is totally unacceptable because the Prophet delivered God’s message complete and outlined what God wants of us in full. Therefore, to suggest that we can improve on what the Prophet has taught us is to claim that we can improve on what God wants of us. This cannot be claimed by any believer.

The Prophet has outlined what is obligatory of different acts of worship, and he also made clear how much is recommended in addition. He explained where we can volunteer and what sort of voluntary worship is acceptable. He has shown us, for example, how to conduct voluntary night prayer, and which days are recommended to fast in addition to the month of Ramadan. He has also given us complete freedom of choice of how much we give in voluntary charity.

The Prophet’s actions provide a practical example of what we may do in voluntary worship. He, however, has pointed out certain things he did, making clear that these were special for him. Take, for example, the following Hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah concerning continuing fasting for a second day without a break: “The Prophet ordered that we must not continue our fast for a second day. A man from among the Muslim community said to him, ‘But you, messenger of God, do continue fasting.’ He said: ‘Who of you is like me. I go through the night when my Lord gives me food and drink.’ When they disregarded his order and continued fasting without a break, he led them in a fast that continued for a second day and a third one. Then they sighted the new moon. He said: ‘Had it been delayed, I would have continued.’ This was a rebuke for them because they refused to comply.” (Related by Al-Bukhari). In another version the Prophet is said to have added: “Do not exceed what you can comfortably undertake.”

It is important to realize that Islamic worship maintains a middle way. It does not require too much effort. Thus, zakat is set at a rate of 2.5 percent of what is over and above one’s needs. If one gives more, it is voluntary charity. Fasting is from dawn to dusk. It is hard enough as it is. If one wants to do more, one is advised to fast on other days, for the same length of time. It is wrong to fast two days together, in Ramadan or at any other time, because it means going without food and drink for 40 hours or more. This is too hard. The Prophet did that because he had special qualities which are not given to anyone else. Hence, the Prophet made clear that we must not try to emulate him in this. He in fact punished those who wanted to do like him by making them fast for two days without a break, practically showing them how doing too much in worship is counterproductive.

EsinIslam.Com

 

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