Pit Of Grief
“Allah’s Messenger (سيدنا محمد ﺻﻠﯽ الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ ﻋﻠﯿﮧ ﻭﺍٓﻟﮧ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ) said: ‘Seek refuge in Allah against the pit of grief.’ The Companions asked, ‘Allah’s Messenger, what is the pit of grief?’ He replied, ‘It is a river in Hell against which even Hell seeks refuge four hundred times a day.’ They again asked, ‘Allah’s Messenger, who will enter it?’ He remarked, ‘It has been prepared for reciters of the Quran desiring to show off their deeds. The most detestable of the reciters in the sight of Allah are those who frequently visit the rulers (for worldly ends).’” [Ibn Majah – Sahih]
This hadith tells us the punishment prepared for the one who sells religion to secure worldly benefit. There are two acts that reciters of the Quran (i.e. scholars of Islam) are specifically warned against, but that also apply to all other Muslims:
1. Showing off knowledge of Islam or one’s good deeds.
2. Visiting rulers.
The responsibility on the shoulders of one who visits the people in power is great. They must enjoin them to do good, i.e. implement Islam. They must also warn them to refrain from evil, i.e. un-Islamic practices and policies. The reason for being warned against visiting the rulers and political leadership is that in one’s desire to please them many will not be honest in assessing their deeds.
Muslims, especially scholars, who compromise the teachings of Islam, to make it more palatable, lose their religion. Therefore, whatever ‘benefit’ comes at the cost of making well known the true teachings of Islam, is no benefit at all. It will cause the person to burn painfully in Hell for an extremely long time. We must purify our intentions and seek Islam for a better Hereafter and not to show off with it. And we must never use it to gain power, contacts, wealth, or recognition. We must flee from such sins with the speed of one who has mad dogs chasing him/her.
At the time of the Abbasid Khalifa Al-Mansur, Imam Abu Hanifa was offered the position of “Qadhi-ul-Qudaat” (Chief Justice/Judge of the Islamic State). This was a most honoured position at the side of the Khalifa, along with a handsome salary. Imam Abu Hanifa declined to accept the post, fearing to be influenced by the ruler and used as a rubber stamp to endorse his actions whatever they may be. Imam Abu Hanifa preferred to continue selling cloth to earn his living than compromise his Islam.
Al-Mansur was so enraged that he had the Imam thrown into prison. Time and again Imam Abu Hanifa was dragged before Al-Mansur and asked to accept the post of Qadhi-ul-Qudaat. But Imam Abu Hanifa refused every time even though he was starved, flogged and paraded in the market for his defiance. The great Imam eventually died in prison in 150 A.H. (767 CE) rather than serve the ends of the ruler of the day.
Similar was the stance and persecution that our other great Imams such as Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, Malik Ibn Anas and many others faced, because true understanding of Islam does not allow a person to lie about Allah’s religion. Such was the example of our pious predecessors and is the example of a few pious people that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has also blessed our times with. Unfortunately, the majority of scholars today, especially those promoted in the media, have sold their services to the highest bidder, to issue fatwas (religious rulings) and recommendations that serve the purposes of their paymasters.