These Five Things Can Change Your Life

Okay, this was a clickbaity title. I know, we all hate them. I hate them. They’re promises that never live up to expectations.

But what if it was true? What if I could tell you five things that would change your life?

There’s a hadith, and not a very famous one, collected by Tirmidhi, that I think is amazing. And I’m sharing it because at the beginning of the hadith, the Prophet Muhammad asks me to share it.

Allah’s Messenger  said, “Who will accept those words from me and act upon them, or teach people who will act upon them?”

The person to respond was Abu Hurayrah, who goes on to narrate that the Prophet took him by the hand, and counted out five characteristics – one for each finger and the thumb (sidenote: witness the pedagogy and kindness of the Prophet!). The first piece of advice: –

1) “If you guard against the things which are forbidden, you will be the most devout of men;

Devotion and piety isn’t always about the way we dress, our abundance of prayers, or having a Quran out. Sometimes it is about the things we’re not doing.

2) if you are pleased with what Allah has allotted, you will be the richest of men;

Really take a minute and think about this. Everyone in life wants to be happy, and people pursue so many things in search of it. Studies, jobs, career, husband, wife(s) and so on. But the Prophet constantly reminded us, happiness is contentment with what you have. Sometimes just taking a moment, looking at what you have instead of what you don’t have, and saying “alhamdulillah” from the bottom of your heart, can make such a big difference. Richness is wanting less, not having more.

3) if you are kind to your neighbour, you will be a believer;

If you’re reading this, you’re an English speaking computer-literate Muslim. Being literate is great, learning is great, having books is great. Lots of good things come from knowledge. But sometimes, we get lost in it. We reduce belief down to abstract theologies or creeds. The Prophet reminds us here that there’s not point about knowing the difference between the Ma’turidis and the Asharis if you’re neighbour feel and know your generosity – that’s what belief is about.

4) if you like others to have what you like for yourself, you will be a Muslim;

Some people talk about the Golden Rule, a basic principle of human goodness found in all religions. Do unto others as you would have done to yourself. Love for another what you love for yourself. In Islam, we sometimes call this ithaar – preferring the other over yourself. The Prophet makes it clear, this is a basic prerequisite to being a Muslim.

5) and do not laugh immoderately, for immoderate laughter causes the heart to die.”

Moderation in all things, including our laughter. This doesn’t of course mean we should be sullen. It’s worthwhile remembering that if the Prophet’s companions were without humour, there would be no reason to advise them to avoid “immoderate laughter”. Rather, the companions were mild tempered, quick to smile, and easy-going. They were content in life, and trusted God entirely. Indeed, some of the them were the type of people who could do with a reminder about keeping our laughter contained, and so should we.

There you go, five pieces of advice that could change your life.

For those who are interested, the hadith is number 5171 from Tirmidhi’s collection.

If you feel it worthwhile, perhaps share this article with others too.

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