March 22nd, 2008

The Blessings of Yemen

Allah Most High has blessed and honoured the lands of Yemen and given it a unique status that no other place (besides the two sacred cities of Makkah and Madina) enjoys. There are many virtues mentioned in the various narrations (ahadeeth) regarding Yemen and the people residing there. This land has also been the abode of many Prophets (peace be upon them all), Companions (sahaba), scholars and pious servants of Allah (Allah be pleased with them all). Of the many narrations wherein the virtues of Yemen and its inhabitants have been mentioned, some are reproduced below:

1) Imam al-Bukharee relates from Abu Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gestured with his hands towards Yemen and said: “Belief (iman) is there….” (Sahih al-Bukharee, no: 4126 & Sahih Muslim, no: 81)

2) Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The people of Yemen have come to you and they are extremely gentle and soft-hearted. Belief (iman) is that of the Yemenis and wisdom (hikma) is that of the Yemenis. Pride and haughtiness are the characters of the owners of camels, and calmness and solemnity are the qualities of the owners of sheep.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 4127)

3) Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “The people of Yemen have come to you. They are tender-hearted and more delicate of soul. The capacity to understand (fiqh) is of the Yemenis and wisdom is that of the Yemenis.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 4129 & Sahih Muslim, no: 84)

Imam an-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentions in his commentary of Sahih Muslim that there is no bar in attributing these narrations literally to the people of Yemen. They (the people of Yemen) had strong faith in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) sensed this from the people of Yemen such as; Abu Muslim al-Khawlani*, Uways al-Qarni and the delegations that came to him from Yemen. Hence, attributing faith (iman) to Yemen meant that the people of Yemen had strong and complete faith, but this did not negate that others also had strong faith.

As far as Fiqh and Hikma are concerned, the former (fiqh) means to have a deep understanding of religion, whilst the latter (hikma) refers to having conscious acknowledgment of Allah Most High (ma’rifa), coupled with self-reformation, good character and abstaining from following one’s desires and falsehood.

The meaning of “they are extremely gentle and soft-hearted” is that they are the people of timidity (khashya) and have an attitude of humble acceptance (istikana). They are extremely quick in accepting genuine advice and Nasiha, and are easily affected by it. They are immune from harshness, hard-heartedness and ruggedness. (See: Nawawi, al-Minhaj Sharh Sahih Muslim, P: 158-159)

The above few narrations related from the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) single out Yemen and its inhabitants with great qualities. Strong faith, complete belief and true conviction is said to exist in Yemen, with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) gesturing and pointing his hands in the direction of Yemen and saying “Iman is there”. Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) cites wisdom and deep understanding of religion to exist in Yemen. Moreover, when a delegation comes to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), he mentions the qualities and characteristics of the people of Yemen saying that they are extremely soft-hearted people and very humble.

The few narrations above have been taken directly from the two most authentic books of Hadith, namely Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. However, these narrations are not the only ones recorded in the praise of Yemen and its inhabitants; rather, there are many other Ahadith. Let us look at some more narrations in this regard:

5) Zayd ibn Thabit (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) looked towards Yemen and said: “O Allah! Turn their hearts (towards Iman)…” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 3934)

6) Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “…..And trustworthiness (amana) is in (the tribe of) Azd, meaning in Yemen.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 3936)

7) Jubayr ibn Mut’im (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that once the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) looked up towards the heavens and said: “The people of Yemen have come to you like the pieces of clouds. They are the best of people on the face of the earth.” A Companion asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Are they even better than us?” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) replied: “Except you.” (Musnad of Imam Ahamd, Musnad Bazzar and Musnad Abu Ya’la. See: Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 10/54)

Any Muslim who has knowledge of these sayings of the beloved of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) would naturally long to visit Yemen and its people. Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) made these remarks according to his time, but when Allah Most High places certain qualities in a people, the effect of these qualities remain even after centuries have elapsed. Moreover, Yemen was also the abode of many of the Messenger of Allah’s Companions. He (Allah bless him & give him peace) sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal (Allah be please with him) to Yemen. There are also other Companions who lived and taught in Yemen.

* Disclaimer: The sahabi [RH] has nothing to do with my kunya and the fact hes from Yemen and all that. Just qadr.

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