Today’s topic starts of with a hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:
Paradise has 8 gates, hellfire has 7 gates.
Dear brothers and sisters, each and every one of us is unique, with our own personalities, our own strengths and our own weaknesses. What one person finds easy, say fasting in the month of Ramadan, another might find challenging to do. This is part of what makes us all individual.
And Allah SWT, who has created each and every one of us, is also merciful in that He has ordained for us, a religion that works to our uniqueness.
The imam mentioned a hadith of the Prophet SAWS in which he is translated to have said:
“He who spends a pair in the way of Allah will be called from the gates of Jannah: ‘O slave of Allah! This gate is better for you’ and one who is constant in Salat (prayer), will be called from the Gate of Salat; and whoever is eager in fighting in the Cause of Allah, will be called from the Gate of Jihad; and who is regular in observing Saum will be called from Ar-Raiyan Gate. The one who is generous in charity will be called from the Gate of Charity.”
Dear brothers and sisters, if we were to contemplate the meaning of this hadith then we can see that Allah SWT is merciful and forgiving of his slaves through the fact that He has allowed many ways in which to do good and through that doing good, enter paradise.
This is further illustrated in the beautiful nature of the best of creation SAWS in that he would offer advice to the people, based on the strengths of the individual.
One example was when the question would be asked “what is the best of actions?”
To one person the answer was given to pray on time, obey the parents and then struggle for the sake of Allah SWT. To another it was to believe in Allah SWT and his Prophet, then to struggle and strive for the religion and then to perform Hajj.
This difference in answer came about due to the person asking the question and so we need to conscious of this important point.
Of course, it goes without saying that we ought to do every good deed to the best of our ability. The question of effort is not what is being discussed here. Instead, the point is about what one is able to achieve based on the strengths they possess, the environment that they are in, the freedoms they have etc.
Allah SWT speaks of this in the Glorious Quran. The imam mentioned the 57th ayat of Sura Al-Hadid which is translated to say:
And why do you not spend in the cause of Allah while to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth? Not equal among you are those who spent before the conquest [of Makkah] and fought [and those who did so after it]. Those are greater in degree than they who spent afterwards and fought. But to all Allah has promised the best [reward]. And Allah, with what you do, is Acquainted.
Dear brothers and sisters, Allah SWT has made us in a variety of different strengths and weaknesses, we must respect that fact and all the while strive to achieve the best we can from the life that we have been given.
Practically, the first point to take from today’s reminder is that we ought not to despair if we are not as strong as another in an aspect of our faith. We are Muslims firstly for the sake of Allah SWT and so we should be aiming to strive for His sake alone. If there is an area of our faith that we are struggling with, then we should aim to try to improve but alongside that, focus on areas of goodness that we do excel in.
Secondly, we should refrain from judging others in their deeds. Just like we need to focus on our strengths, we should also remind ourselves that if others are weak in some areas, they may be stronger in other areas. Therefore, it is not fair for us to judge them and instead focus on their strengths.
Alongside that, we ought to be mindful of the fact that the best deeds are those which are done in secret so as to not show off in front of others. The imam mentioned ayat 105 from Surat Tauba which is translated to say:
And say, “Do [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers. And you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do.”
We ought to show compassion and mercy towards one another instead as we are all members of the same family. The imam mentioned the hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:
“You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it.”
Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are a species of variety and differences in shapes, sizes and ability. Allah SWT did not put us on this earth to live like robots. We all have different ways in which we can express our obedience and worship to Allah SWT and we should focus on the areas that we can excel in so that we can bank the most we can possibly do in the time we have living this test.