What makes an outstanding business person? Or a super successful investor? It’s that they can spot an opportunity, and more importantly that they then grab that opportunity with both hands. Apple, Google, Facebook et al, all having one thing in common, and that is that they saw an opportunity and took it. That mindset isn’t necessarily easy to have or something which all of us are endowed with. It requires training and a certain way of looking at things.
The believer is the same when it comes to opportunities of reward. Each and every day, Allah gives us amazing opportunities to seek reward. This month of Ramadan is full of them. But how many of us take those opportunities?
When we look at the companions , we see that they were people who when they saw such chances they took them. From Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī all the way to the lesser known names from amongst them; all of them took advantage of the opportunities that were presented before them. For example:
Rabī’ah ibn Ka’b was a poor Companion. He was homeless and didn’t possess much. Yet he would spend his days and nights serving the Prophet . In recognition of this service, the Prophet asked Rabī’ah what he wanted. Rabī’ah could have asked for anything. For a person who has nothing, everything is valuable. He could have asked for a home, money or a spouse. However, Rabī’ah realised that anything worldly he asked for would be temporary and finite. Here, he has a unique opportunity to ask anything from the Prophet , so he says, “O Messenger of Allah, I want your companionship in Paradise.” Rabī’ah saw an opportunity and didn’t hesitate.
On another occasion, the Prophet was sitting with his Companions and said to them, “From my nation, a group of 70,000 will enter Paradise without accounting or punishment.” Who from us wouldn’t hope to achieve that honour? Who wouldn’t want to be in that group? When ‘Ukāshah ibn Miḥṣan heard this, he said, “O Messenger of Allah, ask Allah to make me from them.” The Prophet did so. ‘Ukāshah had the foresight and presence of mind to spot an opportunity and take it. Another man then stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah, ask Allah to make me from them too.” The Prophet replied, “‘Ukāshah beat you to it.”
In another example, a poor man once came to the Prophet and said that he had a wall which is leaning on his neighbour’s date palm tree. The poor man wanted his neighbour to gift him the date palm tree so he could continue benefitting from his wall. The Prophet asked his neighbour to donate the tree and in return, he would be given one in Paradise. However, the neighbour refused. Abu al-Daḥdāḥ heard this exchange. He then went to the neighbour and offered his whole garden in exchange for that one tree. Not because the one tree was equal to the garden, but because here’s an opportunity to gain Paradise, and for that, the whole world is a bargain. The man accepted. Abu al-Daḥdāḥ then came to the Prophet and gave it to him to gift to the poor man. The Prophet said, “Abu al-Daḥdāḥ will have many heavy fruitful trees in Paradise.”
The companions would never let these precious and rare opportunities pass them by. ‘Aṭā’, the student of Ibn ‘Abbās said that Ibn ‘Abbās once said to him, “Shall I not show you a woman from the people of Paradise? ‘Aṭā’ said, ‘’Yes’. Ibn ‘Abbās said, ‘This Abyssinian woman came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I am overcome by convulsions and fits and then become exposed, so ask Allah to cure me.’ The Prophet replied, ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have Paradise and if you wish I will supplicate for you and you will be cured.’ She said, ‘I will be patient but ask Allah that I am not exposed.’ So the Prophet did so.’” This is a woman who’s struggling and finding it difficult to cope with a serious condition, yet in return for Paradise, she was willing to be patient for the limited time she had on earth in exchange for eternal bliss.
It was this ability to see opportunities and take them that made the Companions unique and amazing. They would look for any chance to increase in reward and come closer to Allah .
As we enter into the last ten nights of Ramadan, let us be like the Companions and seek Allah’s reward and bounty. Let us spend what remains of these last few days exploring opportunities for rewards and seeking Laylat al-Qadr during these coming nights. It may just be that just as one opportunity for du’ā’ was enough for those Companions, a single act of worship may be the means for our salvation.
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