The Fourty Nawawi Ahaadeeth, The Forth Hadeeth

On the authority of Abū ʽAbdur-Raḥmān, ʽAbdullāh bin Masʽūd, who said:  TheMessenger of Allah , and he is the truthful, the believed, narrated to us:”Indeed, the creation of one of you is brought together in his mother’s belly for

forty days in the form of a zygote, then he is a clinging clot for a like period, then a morsel of flesh for a like period, then there is sent to him the angel who blows the [human] soul into him and is commanded about four matters:  to write  down  his  provision,  his  life  span,  his  actions,  and  [whether  he  will  be] unhappy or happy.  And by Allah, other than whom there is no deity, indeed, one of you does the deeds of the people of Paradise  until there is not between him and it xcept an arm’s length, but the decree overtakes him so he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it.  And  indeed, one of you does the deeds of the people of the Fire until there is not between him and it except an arm’s length, but the decree overtakes him so he does the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters it.” (Narrated by al-Bukhāri and Muslim)

    This ḥadīth deals with the condition of man from beginning to end and his states from before his entrance into the world to after his departure from it.  It also confirms the concept of qadar  (decree or predestination).  The  first  stages  of  development  mentioned  correspond  to  those  given  in  the Qur’ān.  The bringing together or gathering of one’creation in his mother’s belly may refer to the combining of the male and female substance within the womb or to the formation  of  the  embryo;  however,  most  scholars  prefer  the  view  that  although  its beginnings  may  be  observed  in  the  second  stage,  the   actual  formation  takes  place during the third stage of development when the fetus resembles a “chewed lump of flesh.”  At the end of the three 40 day periods, i.e., after about four months, a human soul  is  bestowed  upon  the  fetus  through  an  angel  who  has  the  additional  duty  of recording what Allah (subḥānahu wa taʽālā) has predestined for that individual.

Specifically, four aspects are recorded concerning his destiny:

1)His provision (rizq), i.e., the extent of his share or allotted portion of sustenance and other blessings from Allah, both material and other wise.

 2)His life span (ajal), i.e., the extent of his appointed term upon the earth or the time of his death.

 3)His  deeds  (`amal),  or  more  literally,  work,  or  those  deliberate  actions  in  which intention is involved.

 4)The result or outcome of his life – whether he will  ultimately be prosperous, blessed and in a state of well-being or unprosperous, distressed and in a state of adversity .    The  ḥadīth  states  that  the  final  and  permanent  condition  of  every  person  is predestined and that it is the consequence of his deeds.  `Ali bin Abī Ṭālib reported that the Prophet  said, “There is no soul given life but that Allah has decreed its place in Paradise  or  Hellfire  and  decreed  that  it  will  be  unhappy  or  happy .”    A  man  said,  “O Messenger of Allah, should we not then leave it to our decree and cease working?”  He  replied, “Work, for everyone is disposed toward that for which he was created.  As for the people of happiness, they are disposed toward the deeds of the people of happiness, but as for the people of unhappiness, they are disposed toward the deeds of the people of unhappiness.”  Then he recited verses 5 through 10 of Sūrah al-Layl.

    Therefore, one should not submit passively to what  he supposes to be his fate, for he  has  no  knowledge  of  that.    Nor  should  he  surrender  to  adverse  situations,  for numerous ḥadīths prohibit such behavior.  Rather, every effort is obligatory upon the believer to make the best of each situation and avoid harm to the best of his ability, whether in this world or the Hereafter, and Allah (subḥānahu wa taʽālā) will hold him responsible on the Day of Judgement for negligence

to do so.  The  latter  part  of  the  ḥadīth  emphasizes  the  importance  of  one’s  final  deeds. Several other traditions state that deeds are judged according to how they are sealed, i.e., concluded.  An important precept derived from

 this is that one cannot judge by outer appearance whether any person is among those destined for Paradise or those destined for Hell, as in the Prophet’s saying, “You  must  not  be  impressed  by  anyone  until  you

observe that by which his life is sealed…”

  This is so because the destiny decreed by Allah  is  concealed  from  the  knowledge  of  mankind,  whereas  a  person’s  deeds  and actions are often visible.  So although one might possibly be deceived by the deeds of ahypocrite,  for ample,  his  final  deed  will  often  expose  the  reality  of  his  intention. Another ḥadīth illustrates:   During  a  particular  ncounter  with  the  polytheists ,  a  man  among  the  Prophet’s companions showed great enthusiasm in pursuing and striking the enemy soldiers – somuch so that they remarked, “No one fulfilled his duty today as much as he did.”  But the Messenger of Allah  observed, “He is among the people of Hellfire .”  Someone among them said, “I am his friend, so I will follow

 [i.e., observe] him.”  Then the man in question  was  severely  injured,  and  he  became  impatient  for  death.    He  braced  the handle of his sword against the ground with the point between his breasts and threw himself upon it, killing himself.  The man [who had  seen him] returned to the Prophet  and said, “I bear witness that you are the messen

ger of Allah” and related what had occurred.  The Prophet () said, “Indeed, a man may do the work of the inhabitants of

Paradise – as it appears to the people – while he is from the inhabitants of the Fire; and a man may do the work of the inhabitants of the Fire – as it appears to the people – while he is from the inhabitants of Paradise.”

    Perhaps the key to this issue is in the words “as it appears to the people,” for only Allah knows the true motivations.  The words are explicit in indicating that those deeds referred to in the ḥadīth are in reality not as the y are presumed to be.  What appears to be righteousness and piety could possibly be a great amount of deeds invalidated in the sight of Allah by the person’s seeking of world ly recognition and praise instead of  His acceptance.  And what appears as sinful may not  be so in particular circumstances, as illustrated by the story of Prophet Mūsā and al-Khidhr.   If, on the other hand, it is assumed that the deeds mentioned in this particular ḥadīth are  actually  as  described,  then  further conclusions  can  be  drawn.    Since  it  is  most unusual for a person to change abruptly at the end of his life, the ḥadīth states a mere possibility and not a general rule.  Further, it has been repeatedly observed that among these  few  cases,  those  who  repent  and  correct  themselves  in  their  last  days  faroutnumber those who suddenly turn to evil, indicati

ng Allah’s great generosity in His acceptance and forgiveness of such individuals even  after a lifetime of ingratitude and

wrongdoing.  Since ending a good life with an evil deed remains  a possibility, however remote, the believer is warned against complacency and the temptation to rely on past deeds for salvation.  He is advised to continually check his intentions and continue his efforts toward righteousness up until his last breath as long as his mental facilities are intact in

order to seal his lifetime of work with goodness and earn the approval of his Lord, who will assist him in what he intends.

    Allah, the Just and Merciful, has provided mankind  with guidance and has willed to give him a free choice within certain capabilities.  He (subḥānahu wa taʽālā ) will not take man to account except for that within his control and only to the extent of his ability. The decision, by Allah’s will, belongs to every individual who will eventually reap the fruits  of  his  choice.    And  thus,  by  Allah’s  will,  every  man  is  responsible  for  his  own ultimate destiny.

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