‘The strong believer is better…’
عن أبي هريرة: المؤمن القوي خير و أحب إلى الله من المؤمن الضعيف و في كل خير احرص على ما ينفعك و استعن بالله و لا تعجز و إن أصابك شيء فلا تقل : لو أني فعلت كان كذا و كذا و لكن قل : قدر الله و ما شاء فعل فإن لو تفتح عمل الشيطان
Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu ‘anh) reports that the Prophet (salalahu ‘alayhi wasalam) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, while there is good in both. Guard over that which benefits you, seek Allah’s Assistance, and don’t lend yourself to things devoid of benefit, and if something befalls you, then don’t say ‘If I only would have done such and such,’ rather say ‘Allâh ordained this and He does what He wills’ [Qaddarallaahu wa maa shaa’ fa’al] for verily the phrase ‘If I would have’ makes way for the work of the Devil.”
The takhreej of the hadeeth (where it can be found):
As-Suyuti gathered it in ‘al-Jaami’us-Sagheer, and al-Albaani numbered it #6650 and called it ‘hasan’. He traced it to Saheeh Muslim, Ibn Maajah, and Ahmad. He brought it in his summarized Saheeh Muslim #1840 but did not mention why it is hasan, but he mentions in his takhreej of As-Sunnah of Ibn Abi ‘Asim that as-Suyuti found a problem with Rabi’ah bin ‘Uthmaan (one of the narrators).
Statements of the Scholars about the strong believer:
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah):
Shaykh Al-Islam referred to the hadeeth when discussing the prayer of a sick person standing up, saying: “As for the prayer of those who can not properly perform it, then their prayer is acceptable in any way that it is possible for them to perform it, according to their abilities, as this is what they have been ordered with in this circumstance, while the one who is capable of performing his prayers properly is more sound and more virtuous, as the Prophet (salalahu ‘alyhi wasalam) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allâh than the weak believer, while there is good in both.” (Majmu’ al-Fataawa (12/479)
So here we see that Ibn Taymiyyah understood that physical strength is something found in the strong believer.
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn ul-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullah):
“The one who has insight into the Truth and an awareness of it, but he is weak and has no strength to implement it or to call to it, then this is the situation of the weak believer. The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than him.” [Ad-Daa’ Wad-Dawaa’ (p.145)]
We can see that Ibn ul-Qayyim understood that courage is from the strength of the believer.
Imaam an-Nawawi (rahimahullah):
“The intended meaning of strength here is a firm will and a desire to work for the Hereafter. So the one being described as a strong believer is more bold and stern against the enemy in Jihaad, quicker to go out (to fight) and searching for it Jihaad, more firm in the way he enjoins the good and forbids the evil, (more firm) in his patience with the harms he faces throughout all of that, and stronger in the way he carries out difficult tasks for Allâh’s Sake. He loves to pray, fast, make dhikr, and perform the rest of the acts of worship, and he is more active in seeking after these affairs, and he keeps a closer watch over his performance of them.” (Sharh Muslim (9/341))
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-’Uthaymeen (rahimahullah):
“The strong believer is regarding his imaan (faith), as the intended meaning is not physical strength. This is because physical strength is harmful to a person who uses it to disobey Allah. So physical strength is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy in and of itself. If he uses this strength for what benefits him in this life and the Next, then it is praiseworthy. But if he uses it to disobey Allah, it becomes blameworthy.
So the meaning of strength in his statement (salalahu ‘alayhi wasalam): “The strong believer…” is strength in imaan, since the word ’strong’ refers to the word ‘believer,’ i.e., someone who has imaan. Similarly, one would say ‘a strong man’ if he was referring to his manhood and masculinity. So the strong believer is strong in his imaan, because the strong believer has the strength to carry out what Allah ordered him to do, and to increase upon that by doing extra good deeds however Allah likes. As for the weak believer, his imaan is weak, and that hinders him from performing his duties and avoiding what is prohibited, so he is always falling short.” [Sharh Riyaadhus-Saalihin (3/91-92)]
Shaykh Muhammad bin Jamil Zino:
“We learn from this hadith that the believer whom Allah loves (most) is the one who has strong belief and works hard for that which is beneficial and seeks help from Allah and he will do what all he can with the help of worldly means. If thereafter he does not achieve the desired effect, he has no regrets, but is satisfied with that which Allah has decreed for him. He says:
‘….though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad you. Allah knows but you do not know.'”
Taken from the book ‘Islamic Creed based on Qu’ran & Sunnah’