Ever since I started studying the Ahadith, I came around some of the narrations that I could not fully comprehend but somehow intuitively felt that they have something great and deeper in them.
One such narration goes as;
حبب إلي من دنياكم : النساء و الطيب و جعلت قرة عيني في الصلاة
“Three things from your world have been made beloved to me; women, perfume and the coolness of my eyes is in the prayers.” (Jami’ al-Saghir, Hadith 5435. Classified as Sahih by Albani)
Just recently I feel like its true meanings and significance has opened up unto me. I am neither a Muhaddith, nor a jurist so my thoughts ought to be taken only as a student’s attempt to unveil, what he feels like, the symbolic significance of these great words.
1. “Your world”: The phrase infact provides a key to understand the true significance of the saying. By saying, ‘your world’ the prophet, may Allah bless him, reminds of the fact that he is not the one to have drowned in this world and speaks from the ‘other world’s’ perspective. That is to say, the words are most definitely speaking to us of the spiritual realm. As Iqbal, may Allah have mercy on him, beautifully put it as;
گفت با امت ز دنیای شما
دوست دارم طاعت و طیب و نسا
گر ترا ذوق معانی رھنماست
نکتہ ئی پوشیدہ در حرف ’’شما‘‘ست
یعنی آن شمع شبستان وجود
بود در دنیا و از دنیا نبود
And so he spoke to his community,
“Of all this world of yours, I love alone
Obedient hearts, sweet perfumes, women chaste.”
If the perception of realities
Guideth thy steps, the subtlety confined
In that word ‘yours’ will not be hid from thee.
Indeed, that lantern of all beings’ night
Dwelt in the world, but was not of the world;
(Ramuz Be Khudi, Mysteries of the Selflessness, 13)
2. “Women”: Coming to things made beloved, he first speaks of “women.” I think even the order in which he put the things is important. The fact that “women” come first relates to the fact that for every human, the subject of all the Islamic teachings and ideas, the way to this world is a woman. As a mother she is everything for us in this new strange world that we enter into. The Qur’an says;
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.” (Qur’an 46: 15)
It is the mother who, brings us up, shapes our mind and gives a direction even to our predilections. She shapes the destiny of men and therefore of the nations. Her role is a shadow of that of the Creator and of the prophets. Iqbal, at another place, aptly makes the following observations;
آنکہ نازد بر وجودش کائنات
ذکر او فرمود با طیب و صلوة
مسلمی کو را پرستاری شمرد
بہرہ ئی از حکمت قرآن نبرد
نیک اگر بینی امومت رحمت است
زانکہ او را با نبوت نسبت است
شفقت او شفقت پیغمبر است
سیرت اقوام را صورتگر است
از امومت پختہ تر تعمیر ما
در خط سیمای او تقدیر ما
And he in whom all beings make their boast
Declared he loved three things – sweet
And womankind. What Muslim reckons her
A servant, nothing more, no part has won
Of the Book’s wisdom. If thou lookest well,
Motherhood is a mercy, being linked
By close affinity to prophethood,
And her compassion is the prophet’s own.
For mothers shape the way that men shall go
Maturer, by the grace of Motherhood,
The character of nations is, the lines
That score that brow determine our estate.
And he continues;
ملت ار گیرد ز آغوشش بدست
یک مسلمان غیور و حق پرست
ہستی ما محکم از آلام اوست
صبح ما عالم فروز از شام اوست
If from her bosom the community
Receive one Muslim zealous for the Faith,
God’s faithful servant, all the pains she bore
Have fortified our being, and our dawn
Glows radiant in the lustre of her dusk.
(Ramuz Be Khudi, Mysteries of the Selflessness, 24)
Especially from man’s perspective even in other roles of her, woman is ones greatest companion seeking the best of the ‘other, more real, world.’
The relationship of marriage, as Islamic takes it, is the beautiful relation making one fortified against the evils prevalent around and helps him concentrate on what truly is required without even putting himself under extra burden of killing his instincts. A consideration of Islamic marriage will make this further clear. Relate it to the fact that in the Khutbah of Nikah, sermon at the time of marital contract, the verses recited are neither about the man and woman being companions, not those directly related to marriage but all of them read, “Fear Allah.”
It also asks from men, the respect and purest love the tender gender deserves. Please note, Imam Nasai who narrated it in his Sunan put it in the book, “Kindness to women” and the chapter, “Love for women.”
As a daughter, she is a not just a responsibility but a ‘ticket to paradise.’
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: “Whoever had three daughters and showed patience in their keeping, their pleasure and displeasure, Allah admits him to Paradise for his mercy over them. A man asked, `And what about two daughters, O Messenger of Allah? He said, `And two daughters as well.” Another asked, `O Messenger of Allah, what about one daughter?” He said, `And one daughter as well”. (Mustadrak al-Hakim, Hadith 7346 Hakim graded it Sahih, al-Dhahbi agreed with him)
As a matter of fact, similar term cannot be used for a son for there is no direct Hadith about it though every child can be a cause of deliverance for his parents.
“Perfume”: It seems to me the most difficult thing to explain in this context. But did you ever consider the importance it finds in Qur’an and Sunnah? It is mentioned among the blessings of Jannah. It was a continuous Sunnah of the Prophet, may Allah bless him, to apply it even though his sweat was a scent for itself. One Hadith says, ‘The Prophet used not to reject the gifts of perfume.’ (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 2394)
Perhaps the Prophet, may Allah bless him, never returned any gift but still we find a special mention of perfumes. This evidently relates to one’s sense of purification and may be, even the taste among perfumes. The more sober and nice a person is, the better is his choice among perfumes. If we reflect in this context we get to know why the perfume is mention here. Another interesting fact one might observe; every exclusively Islamic bookstore will have some great perfumes. Perfumes and taste for them shows ones desire to look purer and cleaner, hence their importance in Islam.
“Prayers”: The prayers is said to be the coolness of Prophet’s eyes, may Allah bless him. Therefore it ought to be the cause of extreme bliss for every true follower of him too. Instead of dwelling on the importance of prayers here which is established in Islam, I would like it to take it as an anchor and a footing to look at other things mentioned along with it. It attaches to them the extreme sense of purity more than just a way to seek pleasure or just fun. Just as the words ‘your world’ in beginning attaches the necessary spiritual connotation to the whole saying, in the end the mention of prayers emphasizes the innocence and beauty of the words.
Even an orientalist, John Bagot Glubb noted this pure link. He writes; “The connection of his love of women with prayer seems to prove that it never occurred to him that his fondness for female company could be anything but innocent.” (The Life and Times of Muhammad, Stein And Day, New York, 1971 p.238)
With all this I beg for Allah’s mercy if I made some mistake herein and will like to emphasize once more that it was not an attempt at making a commentary to hadith but just some thoughts of what seemed to me the significance of the profound words of the Greatest of all Mankind, may Allah bless him.
Indeed Allah knows the best!