Carrying An Umbrella
The following is a transcription of Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar’s August 18, 2006 talk titled Carrying an Umbrella:
If you observed people this morning as they went to work, you would have noticed that, eventhough the sky was relatively clear, people were carrying umbrellas. This morning, at about 7-8 o’clock, or even at the time of Fajr, the sky was relatively clear; and, as people went to work this morning, so many people in their hands, were actually carrying umbrellas.
Then, throughout the day, the sky became more cloudy, the signs of rain began to appear and as people began to head home from work, people were using their umbrellas that they had brought in the morning in order to protect themselves against the rain.
Now, the people that actually had the umbrellas with them, the reason that they knew to bring their umbrella was because they were following the weather. Maybe the night before, maybe on their favourite website, maybe listening to the radio in the morning as they were getting ready for work… whatever it was, they were warned beforehand that today it was going to rain.
So, what did they do? They heeded that warning, they took notice of that warning, they had some degree of faith in that warning and so, as they left in the morning, they packed with them an umbrella. And then, when the rain came, they were prepared.
Now, some people packed with them an umbrella and other people actually changed their schedule completely. For example, I bumped into a person who said that they came into work early this morning. “Why did you come to work early this morning?” “Don’t you know, its going to rain.” “So what, its going to rain. What does it have to do with coming into work early?” “Well, if it rains, then traffic slows down. So, if I come into work early, then I can hopefully leave early; and, if I leave early, I can hopefully avoid some of the traffic problems that will arise when the rain falls.”
So, not only did people bring in umbrellas but they actually, some of them changed their entire schedule. They changed their entire routine. They changed their entire way of thinking based on some conjecture that a human being came up with.
Now, it shocks me that people would go through so much effort based on conjecture because we all know that the weather is 50/50. It is a type of educated guess. They say it’s going to rain and it doesn’t rain. Some day they say its going to be clear, it rains cats-and-dogs. Some day they say there is going to be this enormous snow storm and not a flake falls from the sky. So, we know that much of what goes into this science is actually based on educated “guessing;” and, based on those guesses, people are ready to change their routine – people are ready to change what they carry with them in the morning, people will alter their schedule based on a bunch of ideas. They have that much faith in the conjecture of a human being.
In the same way, just as the weather-man warns of potential difficulty outlying 24 hours away, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) came to us as a warner in order to remind us of the difficulties that lie within this life and of the potential difficulties that can arise for a human being on the Day of Judgment and the potential punishment that awaits the person who disobeys Allah Ta’aala in the hereafter.
Now, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) is very different than a weather-man. The weather-man comes up with ideas on their own – comes up with conjecture, comes up with guesses on what may happen; and, based on that ‘what may happen’ concept, so many people change the pattern of their life – they change their thinking, they change their acting, etc. But the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) is very different because what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) brought is definite – that is our imaan, that is our faith.
Now, if people can put so much faith in a weather-man that based on what the weather-man says they will change their routine, then don’t you think that based on what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) warned us about, we should be changing our routine? Have we thought about that?
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) gave us some very clear-cut warnings about avoiding certain things in this life because they bring difficulty upon an individual. Similarly, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) warned us about things to avoid because they would bring difficulty in the grave. And, furthermore, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) commanded us to avoid certain things so that we can avoid the difficulty of the Day of Judgement.
Now, if based on a simple weather report, people will change their lives and alter the way they do things, then bilawla, its just more obvious that people of our nature – who have faith in the Messenger – would change their lives based on the message that he brought. That’s something to ask ourselves.
Now, people warn us all the time, they say: “ah man, watch out, you’re going to take organic chemistry this semester – its going to be tough and you’re going to have to work hard!” So, what happens? We start changing our schedule 2 months in advance. We start thinking “okay, I am not going to do this during these 2 months. I’m not going to go out on Friday nights> I’m going to go to the library and study. I’m going to wake up early and I’m going to get to the library and study. I’m going to stay late in school. I’m going to review every-day. I have to do well in this course!” Why? Because you were warned. Actually, its a warning.
Now if somebody else tells you “that class is a joke! Don’t even worry about it.” You relax. If the warner is someone you can trust, you relax. Why? Because when someone warns or someone gives glad tidings, we respond to it when we have faith in the person bringing the message. It’s a close friend of yours… it’s somebody that has experience having taken the class… a group of people had difficulty – they themselves failed that class. We begin to worry because they bring us a message of difficulty. And so, we change the way we act, based on what we are brought.
So, in the same way, it’s obvious for us – when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) tells us to do certain things and to avoid other things – that we live according to those commandments for our own good.
Now, what’s really interesting is: if there is somebody who doesn’t have an umbrella, and they bumped into another person who has an umbrella, then the person sometimes will give back a comment. For example, I was in the elevator and I was wet because I didn’t have an umbrella. And another person was in the elevator and they were totally dry because they had an umbrella. So, they turned to me and they said: “looks like you didn’t hear the weather this morning.” Meaning, “looks like obviously you didn’t receive the message that was being delivered this morning that there was going to be rain.”
The same thing will happen on the Day of Judgement. There will be a group of people that recognize the message that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem brought) – they will have acted according to it and they will have had faith in it and they will take the benefit of it on the Day of Judgement. Now, for them it was so obvious – for the people of imaan, of belief – it was so obvious and so important that they act according to the tenants of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) that they will see another group of people who did not act according to those tenants. And so, what will they say?
Actually, the Qur’an quotes their statement. They will say:
“alam yatikum natheerun?”
أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَذِيرٌ
Did not a messenger come to you?
In the same way that person turns to me and says “did you not hear the weather? Where’s your umbrella, weren’t you thinking?” Well, in the same way, a group of people will say to the people who did not follow the message of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem):
“alam yatikum natheerun?”
أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَذِيرٌ
Did there not come to you a messenger?
Yes, of course, there was definitely a messenger that came to us but we didn’t follow.
That will be the mistake of those people on that day.
So, for us, when we have such a great warner – we know the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) has two aspects to his message:
(1) he warns; and
(2) he gives glad tidings.
So, when we have this Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) warning us and warning us from the most definite source – which is obviously Allah Ta’aala’s revelation – doesn’t it behoove us that we take advantage of his warnings?
We know the problems that arise in a person’s life when they leave salah. Yet, look how quick we are to leave salah.
We know the benefits of coming to the masjid. Yet, look how often we turn away from the warning that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) gave to those people who didn’t regularly attend the masjid.
We know the importance of giving sadaqah, we know the importance of good relations with our neighbours, etc.
All of these things were laid out by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) as a forecast. The weather-man gives a forecast, this is the forecast of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) but it is definite – it is based on a solid/firm foundation as opposed to the conjecture upon which the weather service is based.
Steps to Take:
So, take advantage of the warnings of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem). Read them and make changes in our lives according to them.
(1) we should read them and we should begin to act according to them; and
(2) we should read them and we should begin to warn one another according to them.
May Allah Ta’aala give us the tawfeeq to be among those who encourage people to do good and to be among those who encourage people to avoid evil. Ameen.