Hadith 16

Chapter: The sweetness of eemaan

Muhammad Ibn Al-Muthanna related from ‘Abd Ul-Wahhab Al-Thaqafe from Ayyub from Abu Qilabah from Anas Ibn Malik that the Prophet said, “Whoever possesses these three attributes will experience the sweetness of belief: that Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else; that he loves someone for the sake of Allah alone; and that he hates reverting to disbelief as much as he would hate being thrown into a fire.”

Ibn Hajar’s Explanation

His (Bukhari) saying, “Chapter: The sweetness of eemaan”

The author (Bukhari) intended that the (feeling of) sweetness is from the benefits of eemaan.

His saying, “will experience the sweetness of belief”

He (the Prophet) صلى الله عليه و سلم compared the outcome of the believer’s strive to acquire eemaan with something that is sweet. This comparison is understood in the parable of two people, one being sick while the other is healthy. The sick person finds honey to have a bitter taste, while the healthy person tastes its natural sweetness. The weaker the health of the individual, the less sweetness experienced from the honey. Abu Muhammad Ibn Abi Jamra said, “He used sweetness as a description based upon Allah’s comparison of eemaan to a tree when He says:

Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree

  • The good word is ikhlaas (sincerity)

  • The tree is the source of eemaan

  • The tree’s branches represent the fulfillment of Allah’s commands and avoidance of his prohibitions

  • The leaves on the branches are the virtues that the believer concerns himself with

  • The fruits are the good deeds, once they become ripe the sweetness can be tasted

His saying, “more beloved to him than anything else”

Al-Baydaawi said, “What is meant by ‘more beloved’ is a mental devotion from a sound mind, even when it (the devotion) opposes his desires. This is similar to a sick person who dislikes taking medicine although his mind recognizes the importance of the medicine. The one who contemplates the matters of the Shariah realizes that it doesn’t order or prohibit anything except that the result is immediate benefit or salvation soon after. His mind then leans towards it (the Shariah) and his habit of fulfilling its orders causes his desires to also incline to it, bringing about mental satisfaction in that which is correct and complete.”

The term sweetness was used appealing to the sense of taste, which is the most pleasant of the senses. Al-Baydawi continued (as summarized), “He mentioned these three aspects (in the hadith) for the accomplishment of eemaan. When a person realizes that Allah is the one who gives blessings and has the ability to take them and that his messenger is the one who clarifies the orders he will turn his attention completely towards them. The outcome is loving what Allah loves, and only loving people for his sake. A certainty is established that everything Allah promised or warned about is definite truth. The believer is then able to visualize these promises as realities, and considers the gatherings of thikr (remembrance) as gardens of jannah (paradise), and consequently views a return to disbelief like being thrown into a fire.”

The supporting proof from the quran are the words of Allah;

{قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ} إلى أن قال {أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ}

Say, [O Muhammad], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear its decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.”

The warning comes in Allah’s saying, {فَتَرَبَّصُوا} ‘wait until Allah executes his command’.


Loving Allah is of two types; one that is obligatory and one that is recommended.

Obligatory – The love that causes one to fulfill his (Allah’s) commands, and weakness in this type is observed when a person places his desires prior (to the commands of Allah). At times, the shortcoming may come in the form of persistence in the ‘mubaah’ (the allowed action or an action that is neither forbidden nor recommended) and excessiveness in it (the allowed matters), which eventually leads to a state of heedlessness either causing the person to turn back and repent, (to Allah) or ultimately leads to failure.

Recommended – The love that leads to persistence in performing the voluntary good deeds and avoidance of falling into the doubtful matters. Very few people meet these criteria.

Loving the messenger of Allah can also be divided into the two categories described above with the following additions;

  • Not following a path other than his

  • Being pleased with what he was sent with, and accepting his judgments and rulings with ease and comfort.

  • Taking his character as a model to be followed for its excellence in dealing with generosity, patience, tolerance, humbleness, etc.

Whoever struggles with himself to establish these characteristics will taste the sweetness of eemaan, and the levels of the believers are divided into ranks based upon their level of fulfillment of these qualities. Shaykh Muhyee Ad-Deen said, “This is a tremendous hadith, and it’s a basis from the foundations of the religion. Sweetness of faith is feeling joy in the obedience of Allah, and bearing difficulty for the sake of the religion, while preferring it over the worldly life. However, the love of Allah mentioned only comes about as the result of being obedient to him and abandoning his prohibitions, as is the case with the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم.”

His saying, “more beloved to him than anything else”

Notice the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم didn’t say “more beloved to him than anyone else”, and rather said anything to include both human beings and inanimate objects.

Some said that it is not permissible for someone other than the Prophet to say, “Allah and his messenger are more beloved to him…” because this would indicate making the messenger equal to Allah, and is therefore only permissible for the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم to make such a statement because the pretense (of the Prophet being equal to Allah) would not be erroneously understood from his statement.

However, the love of Allah and his messenger are intertwined, and cannot be separated. One who claims to love Allah without loving Allah’s messenger will not benefit anything from that love. As Allah says,

{قُلْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ}

Say, [O Muhammad], “If you love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you

His saying, “that he loves someone for the sake of Allah alone”

Yahya Ibn Mu’aath said, “The reality of loving someone for the sake of Allah is a love that neither increases when the person does good towards you, (in worldly affairs) nor decreases when the person is averse (towards you).”

His saying, “and he hates reverting to disbelief”

Abu Nu`aym added from the narration of Muhammad Ibn Al-Muthanna “after Allah saved him from it” and being saved (from the fire) is more general than protection (from the fire) as in the case of a person who was born upon Islam and remains upon it, or a person taken out of the oppression of disbelief and brought to the light of eemaan as occurred with many of the sahaba (companions).

So “revert” (to disbelief) in this narration means to “become” (a disbeliever). Whereas in the second narration (with the addition “after Allah rescued him from it”) the meaning is to “revert”, or go back to.


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