Imām Bukhārī rahimahullāh has narrated a hadīth on the authority of Sayyidunā Abū Hurayrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, "A person, whilst on a journey, experienced extreme thirst. [Along the way, he came across a well so] he climbed down this well and drank from it. He then climbed out of the well and saw a dog panting and licking the moist soil due to [extreme] thirst. This person said [to himself], 'Indeed this dog has faced the same dilemma [of thirst] that I faced.' [So he climbed down the well again and] filled his leather sock with water. He then climbed out whilst holding his sock with his teeth and quenched the thirst of the dog. Allāh ta'ālā appreciated his deed and forgave his sins. The Sahābah radhiyallāhu 'anhum asked, 'Is there reward for us in [being kind to] animals?' Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied, 'There is reward in [being kind to] every living creature'."
Many lessons can be derived from this hadīth, but I wish to draw your attention to a specific lesson, that of providing water for the creation of Allāh ta'ālā. It is evident that the deed that attracted the Mercy of Allāh ta'ālā was quenching the thirst of a dog.
Water – A Gift from Allāh
Water is an essential need of a human; a person can survive weeks without food, but only days without water. The body's function is dependent on water and all its essential organs need a constant supply. As the body cannot make its own water, a person needs to supply the body with water. This important need of humans is provided by Allāh ta'ālā himself in the form of rain, streams, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. Allāh ta'ālā states:
...and We have sent down pure water from the sky. (25:48)
And We caused the earth to burst with springs... (54:12)
Water – A Medium to Gain Great Reward
Due to its importance and necessity, Allāh ta'ālā has also promised great reward for those who provide water to the creation of Allāh ta'ālā. In the above ḥadīth, we already learnt that it attracts the forgiveness of Allāh ta'ālā. Many other ahādīth also mention further benefits:
- Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has stated, "There is no sadaqah more rewarding than [providing] water." (Al-Bayhaqī)
- Upon being asked regarding the most virtuous form of sadaqah, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied, "[Providing] water." (Abū Dāwūd)
- Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam stated, "Whichever Muslim quenches the thirst of another Muslim, Allāh will grant him drink from Ar-Rahīq Al-Makhtūm." (Abū Dāwūd)
Ar-Rahīq Al-Makhtūm is a special wine of Jannah which has been promised for the special servants – the Abrār (the righteous). Allāh ta'ālā says,
Verily the Abrār will be in bounties, upon couches looking on. You will recognise the radiance of bounties in their faces. They will be given pure sealed wine to drink, the seal of which is musk. It is for this that the competitors should compete. (83:22-26)
Water – A Means of Continuous Reward
Sadaqah is of two types:
- Sadaqah: where the reward is confined to the action and the reward is a single entry. For example, when someone feeds another person, a one-off reward is written for him; and
- As-Sadaqah Al-Jāriyah: when the reward is continuous. In fact, it also continues after one's demise. For example, authoring a book from which people benefit; for as long as people benefit from this knowledge, the author will continue to reap its reward.
After one's demise, the avenues to gain further reward by any action inevitably cease. A person finding himself in a bad state in the afterlife cannot carry out any deed to change his situation. Similarly, if he finds himself in a good state and he wishes to enhance his condition further, he is unable to carry out any deed to achieve this. At this juncture, a deceased person has two possibilities of earning reward:
- Īsāl-uth-Thawāb: someone performing a good deed and sending him its reward; and
- As-Sadaqah Al-Jāriyah: as explained above, a deed he carried out during his lifetime which is still generating reward for him.
Nabī sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said,
When a person dies, [reward for] his deeds are cut off from him except three [types]: [reward for] As-Sadaqah Al-Jāriyah, knowledge from which benefit is derived [by others]; and righteous children who pray for him. (Muslim)
There are many forms of As-Sadaqah Al-Jāriyah a person can carry out. In one narration Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam listed seven and from amongst them he mentioned, ".…a stream which he causes to flow...." (Ibn Mājah)
In another narration we find that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam also advised providing water as a form of Īsāl-uth-Thawāb. After the demise of his mother, Sayyidunā Sa'd Ibn 'Ubādah radhiyallāhu 'anhu asked Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam which sadaqah would be most meritorious and rewarding. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied, "Providing water." Sayyidunā Sa'd radhiyallāhu 'anhu then got a well dug and dedicated its reward for his mother. (Abū Dāwūd)
'Allāmah Al-'Aynī rahimahullāh has mentioned a hadīth wherein Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam visited a person who was in his last moments. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam asked him what he was observing [of the next world]. He explained, "I see two angels distancing themselves from me and two snakes coming closer; and I see evil increasing and goodness weakening." The person sought help from Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam by requesting him to make du'ā. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam supplicated, "O Allāh! Accept little [he has done] and forgive the large quantity [of evil deeds he has committed]." Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam then asked him what he was seeing now. He replied, "The two angels are coming closer and the two snakes are going away; and I see goodness increasing and evil weakening." Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam asked him which of his actions he found most rewarding. He said, "Providing water." ('Umdah-al-Qārī)
Sayyidunā Anas radhiyallāhu 'anhu narrates that Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said, "On the Day of Judgement, the people going to Jannah will be lined up in rows. A person destined for Jahannam [whilst passing by these rows] will come across a person [to whom he had provided water in this worldly life]. He will say to him, 'Do you remember that day when you asked for water and I gave you water to drink.' The person will [remember this favour and] intercede for him." (Ibn Mājah)
Warning on Not Sharing Water
It is the sheer Grace of Allāh ta'ālā that he has provided this necessity for survival in much abundance and in principle, it is for all people. Therefore, it would be extremely inhuman to deprive someone of water at the time of his need, especially when one has the means to provide it. Consequently, a grave warning has been cited for such wretched people whose hearts do not soften upon seeing others suffering thirst. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam has stated:
There are three types of people; Allāh will neither talk to them, nor look towards them, nor purify them, and for them will be a painful punishment: One who has excess water in the path [along a route] and he prevents a traveller [passing by] from [using] it.... (Al-Bukhārī)
Benefit in this World
Providing water not only benefits a person in the hereafter, but it also has worldly benefits. A person once came to 'Abdullāh ibn Al-Mubārak rahimahullāh complaining about a wound in a knee which was not healing for the past seven years, despite referring to doctors and treating it with various methods of treatment. 'Abdullāh ibn Al-Mubārak rahimahullāh advised him to find a place where people are in need of water and provide water by digging a well. The person located a place and dug a well and Allāh ta'ālā cured him. (Al-Bayhaqī)
Imām Al-Bayhaqī rahimahullāh narrates that my teacher Imām Al-Hākim had a wound on his face. Despite many types of treatment, it could not be cured for a period of one year. He requested Abū 'Uthmān Sābūnī rahimahullāh to make du'ā for him in his weekly majlis on Friday. Abū 'Uthmān rahimahullāh made du'ā for him. The people who attended earnestly beseeched Allāh ta'ālā saying āmīn to the du'ā of the shaykh.
The following Friday, a woman who had attended the previous week, sent a note to Imām Abū 'Uthmān rahimahullāh. In the note she narrated that, after the previous majlis, she went home and earnestly prayed for Imām Al-Hākim rahimahullāh that night. She mentioned that she saw Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam in her dream as if he was advising her to tell Imām Al-Hākim rahimahullāh that he should provide water for the Muslims in abundance. When this note reached Imām Al-Hākim rahimahullāh, he ordered a siqāyah [a place where water is provided] to be constructed outside his home. When the construction was completed, it was filled with sweet water. Ice was also placed in it and people began drinking. Not even a week passed and he was cured and his face turned beautiful again. (Al-Bayhaqī)
Providing Water to Others
It is a great Mercy of Allāh ta'ālā that we in England do not experience a shortage of water. Clean and abundant water is available at all times. We should be thankful to Allāh ta'ālā for this great gift. There are so many people throughout the world who have to travel far distances to bring clean water for their homes. The short supply obliges them to get every family member to walk the long distance in order to obtain as much water as possible, including young children.
Those of us who are fortunate to have water in abundance and sufficient wealth, should resolve to provide water to the less fortunate ones according to our means. This could be through:
- arranging for wells to be dug;
- providing water pumps;
- providing water coolers; and
- setting up drinking fountains.
In whatever way possible, we should seek to quench the thirst of people and animals. Providing water to the general public on a hot summer day in this country or elsewhere, will also be a deed that will be greatly recompensed by Allāh ta'ālā. Along with that, the wider community will be able to appreciate the beautiful teachings of the saviour of humanity, our beloved Nabī sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam, who was sent as mercy for the world.
May Allāh ta'ālā grant us the ability to engage in this meritorious act as much as possible, in order to secure His Mercy in this life and in the hereafter. Āmīn.
© Riyādul Jannah (Vol. 26 No. 3, March 2017)