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18 June 2019 CE | 15 Shawwal 1440 AH
Explanation below

Hadith Explanation

The Prayer of Dawud

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "The most beloved fasting to Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, is the fast of Dawud (alaihis salam). He used to fast one day and not the next. And the most beloved prayer to Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, is the prayer of Dawud (alaihis salam). He used to sleep half the night, stand for one third of it (in prayer), and sleep for one-sixth of it." [Jami at-Tirmidhi - sahih hadith]

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) likes moderation in prayer and fasting. He wants us to pray and fast in such a manner that we do not go to extremes in it. In Islam one’s body has rights on oneself, relatives and society have rights on a person, and family life is highly valued. What Christian monks enforced on themselves in the third century and what was adopted a century later by the Christian clergy as piety, was not at all what Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) had asked them to do nor was He pleased with it.

Saint Macarius, for instance, would always carry 80 pounds of iron on his back, slept in marsh for two months and kept his body naked to be bitten by poisonous bees. His disciple Saint Eusebius kept a weight of 150 pounds on his back and slept for three years in a dry well. Saint Sabinus would only eat that corn that had rotted after having been soaked in water for thirty days. Saint Besarion didn’t allow his back to touch the ground for forty years. Saint John stood in worship for three years without sitting or lieing down, only allowing himself to lean against a rock for rest. Saint Simeon Stylites had a 20 feet high pillar with a 3 feet wide bowl on top built for himself, to which he confined himself for thirty years. His disciples would take food to him and remove his filth. Then he tied himself with rope till the rope got buried in his flesh and his flesh rotted. When worms would come out of his wounds he would put them back in and tell them to partake of what God had provided them with.

Similar were the extremes that the Christian monks and clergy went to in cutting themselves off from their families. Marriage was looked down upon and spouses and children abandoned when one turned to a religious life. Later marriage was banned altogether and even relations with one’s mother, father, sisters and brothers, not to mention other relatives, had to be brutally severed.

Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) does not consider any of this piety. He clearly defined it for us in Islam and made Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) set the highest example of a noble and God-fearing life for us.

This hadith also gives us a glimpse into the miracle of Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). If you add a half and a third and a sixth, the total comes out to one whole. Most educated people won't think of this instinctively, yet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), who was illiterate and had never been through any schooling, gave this exact mathematical division in this hadith. This is another small proof that ahadith were revealed to Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala).

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