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Chapter 3. The Meaning of "Saddidu wa Qaribu"

His (saw) saying in the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah and Aishah, "Be firm, steadfast, and balanced." [Saddidu wa Qaribu]

Saddidu means to act with firmness and fortitude. It means to take a balanced path in worship, not being deficient by leaving off what one has been commanded with, or by taking on more than one can bear. Naqr ibn Shumayl said, 'al-sadad means to take the path of balance in the religion.'

Similarly, Qaribu means the same thing: taking to a path between deficiency and excessiveness. As such they are two words carrying the same or similar meanings. This is the meaning of his (saw) words in the other narration, "Stick to a middle path."

His (saw) saying, "...upon which have glad tidings," means that whoever obeys Allah upon firmness and balance, for him are glad tidings because he will reach the goal and outstrip the one who expends a great deal of effort in performing deeds. The path of balance and firmness is better than all other paths; being balanced in following the Sunnah is better than striving hard in other than it, "The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (saw)." [Muslim]

Whoever traverses his path will find it closer to Allah than any other path. Virtue is not attained by doing a great deal of outward deeds, rather it is attained by deeds being sincere for Allah and being correct in that they are done in accordance to the Sunnah, and through gnosis of the heart and its actions.

Whoever has more knowledge of Allah, His religion, and His ordinances, and has more fear, hope, and love for him is better than one who has not attained his level, even if the latter do more outward deeds. This understanding is derived from the hadith of Aishah, "Be firm, steadfast, and balanced upon which have glad tidings for indeed actions alone will not cause one to enter Paradise. The most beloved deeds to Allah are those that are done continuously and persistently, even if they be few."

Therefore he ordered us to take a middle path in deeds and to add to this knowledge of the most beloved deeds to Allah, and he informed us that deeds alone will not cause one entry into Paradise.

It is for this reason that some of the Salaf said, 'Abu Bakr did not outstrip you by virtue of much fasting or prayer, but rather because of something that had taken root in his heart.' [Hakim & Tirmidhi] Some of them said, 'What was in the heart of Abu Bakr was the love of Allah and sincerity to His servants.'

Some of the Gnostics said, 'None who reached the heights did so through a great deal of fasting and prayer, rather through generosity of soul, soundness of heart, and sincerity to the nation,' some added, 'and censure of their own souls.' One of them said, 'The difference in their ranking lay in their objectives and intent, not in a great deal of fasting and prayer.'

The long life of the children of Israel and their great efforts in worship was mentioned to Abu Sulayman to which he said, 'Allah wants from you only a truthful intention for what lies with Him,' or words to that effect.

Ibn Masud said to his companions, 'You fast and pray more than the Companions of Muhammad (saw) but they were better than you.' They asked, 'How so?' He replied, 'They were more abstinent of this world than you and more desirous of the Hereafter. ' Hence he indicated that the superiority of the Companions lay in the attachment of their hearts to the Hereafter, their desire for it, their turning away from this world, and their thinking little of it even if it be readily available to them. Their hearts were empty of the world and filled with the Hereafter. This is what they inherited from their Prophet (saw). He (saw) was one whose heart was most devoid of the world and most attached to Allah and the Abode of the Hereafter, this despite his outwardly interacting with the creation, fulfilling the duties of Prophethood, and implementing the politics of the religion and world.

This was the state of the Khulafah who came after him and those who followed them in goodness such as al-Hasan and Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. There were, in their times, those who fasted more than them and prayed more than them, but their hearts had not attained the levels of theirs in terms of leaving the world and turning to the Hereafter, and settling there.