Shaykh Faraz Rabbani presents five lessons we can take from the hadith, “The believer is the mirror of the believer,” and how to realize this in our lives.
It is a great blessing of Allah Most High that He has granted us the means of turning to Him on a daily basis with our obligatory prayers. On a weekly basis through the Friday prayer. To serve for us as reminders of our purpose and duty in life to turn to Allah, to submit to Him, to worship Him, and to express our gratitude and thankfulness to Him.
The worship that we engage in, what is the prophetic impulse – the impulse of our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, in our worship? The impulse is thankfulness. It is gratitude. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “ Should I not be a thankful servant?
So we serve, Allah Most High, we submit, we worship out of gratitude and thankfulness, recognizing all the blessings that we have from Allah. And from the great blessings of Allah upon us is that He has sent to us a Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, who granted us clear guidance that is easy to bring into one’s life. That transforms one’s life from the merely mundane, from the merely worldly into something that enables us to turn to Allah, to seek Allah, to take the steps to attain closeness to Allah Most High and contentment.
The Speech of the Prophet
Allah describes the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, as a mercy for all creation. “We have not sent you except as mercy to all creation.” And from that gift of mercy that the Prophet is, blessings and peace be upon him, is the way he gave us guidance. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said in the hadith related in the sahih: “I was granted encompassing speech.”
The words of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, are few. You will hardly ever find a hadith in which the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, spoke for paragraphs. He spoke in phrases and sentences and he said very little. What he said, blessings and peace be upon him, was full of impact. It was full of meaning. One of the countless marvelous hadith of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is a hadith that we’re going to touch upon, which are the words of the beloved Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him: “The believer is the mirror of the believer.”
One of the reasons the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, spoke in words that are statements of wisdom, that he didn’t spell out everything, is to empower us as believers, so that we reflect on his example. And so that we can derive from it meanings that are not just specific to a particular context, but that are generalizable to any circumstance. It will speak to you wherever you may be. Whatever you may be facing.
The Reflection and What Reflects
“The believer is the mirror of the believer.” This is very intriguing because there’s two believers mentioned, and there’s a mirror. Which one are you? Are you the reflect the one who’s reflecting or the one who is reflected? Both are possible. I’m just going to touch on five lessons that one can derive from this hadith.
The first lesson has to do with the company that one keeps. A believer is a mirror of the believer. If you want to know your standing as a believer, your state as a believer, what do you need to do? You need to become someone who keeps good company. The company that you keep will transform who you are.
They say that when it comes to learning you’re affected as much by socialization, even at a high level of academic achievement, as you are by simply your intelligence and what you study. If someone wants to go into a field of research, for example, you’re affected as much by the company that you keep in terms of your achievement, as you are by your own levels of intelligence and your own study. There are many reasons for this, but it is very true in your state as a believer.
The Company You Keep
The company that you truly keep is not just the physical company that you keep, but what do you do on your on your time on, says, Facebook, because that’s virtual company. And what extent of that real and virtual company that you keep is a company of believers that you want to become like? The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, told us in another hadith that: “A person will be with those they love. A person is on the way of their close companions. So let each of you look carefully as to whose close company you keep.” Because that’s where you’re at in your din.
That’s both a warning to consider what company that you keep, both real and virtual, and also, what do you keep the company of people for? So you might become keeping company with the best of believers, with people that are really impressive, but you can just hang out with them because they’re cool or they’re fun to be with. In those kinds of situations it can just be hanging out and that’s good. But there’s a higher aspiration that you want to benefit from them as a believer, as one who believes in Allah and turns to Allah Most High.
You want to see the reflection of good qualities. Someone is generous. So don’t just freeload of them. Learn generosity from them. You have another friend you like being around her, because she’s always smiling. Try to take that as a mirror from which you benefit in your own standing with Allah Most High. Having a cheerful, positive countenance is beloved to Allah Most High. It’s from the wing of the beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him.
The Sunna Is Balance
The second lesson has to do with being a mirror for others. What is a mirror? It shows you things as they are. Why do you look in the mirror in the morning? When you do look in the mirror intend to follow the Sunna of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, used to look at the mirror in the morning before he’d go out in public.
When he’d be out for an extended period of time, the beloved Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, used to have certain things that he’d keep with him. Amongst them was a small mirror, because Allah is beautiful and He loves Beauty. And Allah means the Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, beautiful, but he took care of his appearance for the sake of Allah. And also because how you dress and how you look affects relationships.
The sunna is balance. You take the benefit now you can derive from a mirror, but it is against us to not to look excessively. So you keep a mirror with you and you look and you fix yourself up without looking excessively. That’s what a mirror does. It reflects. It shows you what you need to correct. So you should be a mirror for others.
The Good Companion
Firstly, you should be reflecting virtue, so that you are the good companion. When people keep company with you, they benefit from the way you are. They benefit from your attitude. They benefit from your company. And it’s not a question of saying religious things. It’s not about talking din. It’s about living din. That you smile. That you have concern for others. That you’re caring. That you’re respectful. They’ll benefit from that company even if you don’t say a thing about religion.
The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, used to be silent most of the time in his gatherings with the Companions, may Allah be well pleased with them. They learned more from his silence than we learn from his speech, blessings and peace be upon him. Because the way he was in his relationship with Allah, taught them as much as his words, blessings and peace be upon him.
Be a mirror for others: 1) in the way you conduct yourself, 2) that you’re true to them. The mirror, if it is as it should be, shows you things as they are. They come to you looking for advice and you’re honest with them. You have sincere concern for them.
Sincere Concern for Others
If someone comes and says for instance: “You know I want to marry Zubayr. What do you think?” And you know that Zubayr is just a bag of problems, but he’s your first cousin. If they find out that you said that Zubayda shouldn’t really marry Zubayr, it’s going to cause problems. So you say: “Oh, you know, he’s a good guy.” And he’s not. That is not being a true mirror for Zubayda.
It entails being true in your relationships. Of course, with wisdom, with the intention of sincere concern and benefit. Not just out of harshness. The mirror doesn’t hit you. The mirror shows things as they are so that you’re able to improve. Reflect on that. Being a mirror for others is to inspire them to the good.
The third is to instill in them thankfulness. One of the sunnas of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, when you look in the mirror is that, if you find anything good you praise Allah Most High. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, had a dua that he recited. “O Allah, just as you have made my form beautiful, make my character beautiful.” It’s an expression of thankfulness, not an expression of conceit.
You spend a lot of money getting that haircut. You look at in the mirror, you don’t go into self-praise. You go into praise of Allah. It’s a blessing from Allah. Or you always wanted you know some effect of your martial arts, and finally you have a swollen nose. Finally you bloodied. Instead of feeling all that, you thank Allah Most High.
You try to reflect good for others by being true to them, by inspiring them by your own example, and thirdly by instilling in them a positive perspective. A lot of people are down. A lot of people feel sadness and sorrow. By reflecting in them, the good; by reminding them of Allah, about His blessings, you inspire them to be thankful, which is one of the purposes of a mirror.
Who Is the Believer?
The fourth lesson that we can learn from from the words of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is to consider the believer here not to refer to an individual, but the believers at the whole. That in relation to the things that happen around us, what is the first response that we have as a believer? The MSA lost it lost its mind, let’s say, and they started protesting the film and the cartoons and this and that. What do you do?
Are you responsible for what’s going on in Islamabad or Cairo or Tunisia? No, you’re not. – If you are, go and fix what you did. – But you’re not responsible. The first thing that you do is to see what goes on around you as a mirror for yourself. When you see others exhibiting rage, anger, and ugly conduct, you’re responsible, first, for yourself. Are you out of control?
Maybe not all the time, but sometimes when provoked, when your dad starts talking Pakistani politics or putting down Punjabis or you know dissing Sudanese or Lubnanis or whoever they put down. How do you respond? It’s very easy to say those people over there, how come they do this? But very often we are, ourselves, the Firaun, on occasions. Then when you see things happening around you, you take a lesson. That’s true in the Qur’an as well.
Look to Yourself
When you read the stories in the Qur’an, you don’t say: “O, what a bunch of losers, Firaun and his people. It’s an address to you. You’ve see in it a mirror for yourself. “Do I have Firaunic tendencies?” If you do, then rectify yourself. You take what’s happening around you as a mirror.
Then you look at what public response you should have. If nothing else, you pray that Allah changes things for the good. You see what you can do about it, but the first thing begins with an inward response. Then what is going on.
The believer is a mirror of the believer: al mu’min. The al prefix in Arabic has very different usages. One of them is we say: “Hadha huwa al-rajul.” It can also refer to the one who had the complete qualities of rujula. Like the saying: “He’s the man.” Or they used to say. I don’t know if you guys say it anymore.
You say, “He’s the man,” meaning, he’s all that. He has what we respect in terms of manliness. So, the believer it is a mirror of the believer. Who is the believer? He is the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him. Your relationship with the Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, it is not just: “O, that’s so beautiful. He was such a kind person, masha Allah.” That’s supposed to be a mirror for you. That you see in that what the good is and you consider what you need to be changing.
Truly Reflect Prophetic Virtue
The true believer is the one who most truly reflects prophetic virtue. You always turn to the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, so that you can learn what virtue is. What good is. With what intention? One, to be inspired and that itself increases you in faith, but more importantly to look at what you need to be improving on. The mirror teaches you. That mirror is the act of reflecting on that image that is implanted.
It also tells you that you should have such clear knowledge of the Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, you should be able to see that image of the Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, so that you can reflect on it and be transformed by it, which entails learning about his example, his conduct, his character, his worship, his way in life. The way he was with others. The way he was with his Lord. These are some of the lessons that we can take of the many many lessons of the hadith.
The fifth lesson, and it’s subtle but many of the great scholars have mentioned it in their commentaries on the hadith. It’s metaphorical as mentioned by Shaykh And al-Qadir Jilani and by by others as well of the hadith commentators. The believer is the mirror as it were of the Believer, al-Mu’min, and that is Allah Most High.
Polishing the Heart
The believers’ heart is meant to be a mirror for the light of divine guidance. We know from the hadith of the Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, that the heart is what Allah Most High looks at. Allah does not look at your bodies and forms, rather He looks at your hearts. The heart trusts so that it can no longer shine light. The heart darkens through one’s sins. The polish of the heart is seeking forgiveness and remembrance of Allah.
It’s not that you can see Allah in your heart in some physical way. No, your heart should be reflecting the light of divine guidance, the light of faith. And if you don’t find that, if you find that faith is a distant glimmer, it’s a flicker that you recognize once in a while, then know that you have a heart that requires polishing.
How do we polish that heart? The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “The polishing of the heart is the remembrance of Allah.” He said, “The polishing of the heart is seeking forgiveness. The polishing of the heart is to say, ‘la ilaha illa Allah,’ and keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” So that the light of faith is shining in your heart. So that you find contentment and clarity and you can see things as they truly are.
May Allah Most High make us of those who recognize and reflect on and are realized in the meanings of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, saying: “The believer is the mirror of the believer.”