In the Qur’aan-e-Kareem Allah Ta’laa praises a certain Sahaabi and his wife for their self-abnegation. Self-abnegation is the attribute of forsaking one’s own right or preference for the right or preference of another. In the Shari’ah this is termed as Iethaar. The relevant Aayat in this regard states:

“And they give preference [to others] over themselves in spite of them being needy.” (Surah Hashr, 9)

Some visitors came to meet Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) asked the Sahabaah, who among them will host the visitors? Several Sahaabah were keen to host them. Each visitor was by one Sahaabi to his home. Hazrat Abu Talha (Radhiyallahu anhu) was also among those who offered to share the duty of hosting the visitors. He took along to his home the visitor entrusted to him. However, at home there was not sufficient food for him, his wife and the visitor. He told his wife to prepare the food and to blow off the lamp when the food was laid down. In the dark, without additional oil for the lamp, he would pretend to be eating with the visitor.

The wife was also a waliyyah who did not complain. She understood. When Hazrat Abu Talha and the guest started eating the light was extinguished. Hazrat Abu Talha (Radhiyallahu Anhu) bade the guest to continue eating as they did not have oil for reigniting the lamp. The guest ate to his fill whilst Hazrat Abu Talha pretended to be eating. All the food was eaten up. That night Hazrat Abu Talha and his wife, Umme Sulaim (Radhiyallahu anhum) went to sleep without supper and hungry. But they were contented as they had seen to the needs of the guest of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) whom they loved dearer than themselves and dearer than anyone else in the world.

The next morning when Hazrat Abu Talha came to Rasoolullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam he found Rasoolullah Sallalahu Alaihi Wa Sallam beaming. Wahi had come down in the form of Gracious Verses of the Qur’aan extolling the virtue of the action of Hazrat Abu Talha and his wife (Radhiyallahu Anhuma). They had given preference to the right of the guest over themselves. Their attribute of Iethaar or self-abnegation was praised with glowing terms in the Qur’aan-e-Kareem.

Iethaar is part of the Akhlaaq (Character) of a Mu-min.

Extracted from The Road To Allah Ta’laa- Selected Discourses of Hazrat Hakeemul Ummat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (May Allah Ta’laa illuminate his resting place)

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