Sheikh El-Islam, Al-Laith Ibn Saad, a great scholar and a Tabe’ie of Al-Tabe’ien welcomed the ship carrying honey in barrels for his business. An old woman came holding a small pot and asked for some but Al-Laith refused to give her any. When the old women left, Al-Laith asked his servant to follow her with a whole barrel of honey to her house. The servant was surprised and said: “She asked for a small amount and you refused but now you are sending her this whole barrel!” Al-Laith replied: “She asked for (an amount) of her need (of honey) but I gave her an amount of my need (of rewards.)

Many people like to use the interpretation of the verse in the Quran: {God does not task a soul beyond its capacity -2:286} as an excuse for never acting on something which is the most honorable, preferring to survive always on exemptions and minimum effort! In reality, the verse is bringing two important points- one is that people should have trust in their Lord for all that He ordained being fair, just, realistic and practical –(Say [to them]: My Lord has commanded [only] justice [in the conduct of your affairs]} 7:29. And second is that a true essence of the interpretation of the verse is to raise your capacity to its best performance exactly how Al-Laith did!

When the Quran spoke of the two offers that the sons of Adam presented, Habeel presented the best offering and Qabeel presented the worst! The outcome was that God accepted from one and did not accept from the other. {And recite to them in truth, [O Muhammad,] the tidings of the two sons of Adam, [as well]. For they both offered a [freewill] offering. So it was accepted [by God] from one of them. And it was not accepted from the other} 5:27

Sahabah left for us many examples of sacrifices that exceeded the concept of excellence in effort, as well as giving up many necessities of life that their survival depended on. When Suhaib the Roman (Abu Yahya) was migrating to Medinah he was confronted with pagans who wanted to harm him. This is what he told them: “O people of Quraish! You know that I am the best arrow thrower! By Allah, by the time you reach me I would have used all my arrows and defended myself with my sword. So approach me if you wish, or I can tell you about what you really came for- my money that I left in Makkah.” They agreed, and he told them the place where he hid his money! Normally anyone would have lied and took the exemption for being under harm but Suhaib wanted the reward and kept honesty in his word even to the pagans. When he (RAA) reached Madinah the Prophet (SAAW) welcomed him with these words: “You have won the best trade, O Abu Yahya.”

Sharia is based on ease, and Islam introduced the concept of exemptions to accommodate people’s needs on all levels and circumstances. But in our time and place if we need our community to rise, we cannot survive on the bits and bytes of effort, investments, donations and time! We need to push harder to strive for excellence.

Beginning on a family level, have we invested enough time and effort as spouses seeking all options before acting on divorce thus leaving our children to deal with bitterness one year after another? Have we invested enough time as parents to sit with our children to help them excel in school academics? Have we taken real responsibility as youth to help our family raise younger siblings, bring extra income or even in the very least cause our family no worry because of ill actions?

On a community level, where are the efforts reflecting on all aspects of life, meeting community’s needs financially, socially and in relief and development? Many educational and Da’wah projects are bringing great benefits, and our community is doing its best to assist needy people overseas who are victims of war or natural disasters, but it is time to expand our scope to include real issues locally and support it with many barrels of “honey” here in our own backyard.

We are entrusted in our capabilities in life. And yet even if challenges are many we need to seek the best outcome for a fine life on earth and an honorable settlement in Heaven. The verse in the Holy Quran was clear in the type of effort invested: {Rather, with all that God has given you seek [the glory of] the abode of the Hereafter. Do not forget your portion of [the good life] in this world, but do good [to God’s servants] as God has been good to you. Yet do not seek to sow corruption in the land. For, indeed, God does not love the sowers of corruption} 28:77.

By Sh. Kifah Mustapha