Hadith: “He would provide for you as He provides for the birds”

By Sh. Ibn ‘Uthyameen

‘Umar said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out early in the morning hungry and return in the evening full.’” – Narrated by at-Tirmidhi and he said, “Hadith Hassan.”

((If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on)) meaning: [with a] true/genuine reliance on Allah, the Great and Almighty, [and with] a complete trust [in Him] with regards to seeking your sustenance and other things.  ((He would provide for you as He provides for the birds)) The sustenance of the birds is on Allah because the birds do not have an owner, hence, they fly [wherever they please] in the air.  They leave early in the morning from their nests to obtain the sustenance of Allah.  ((They go out early in the morning hungry)) There is nothing in their stomachs when they go out during the early part of the day but they depend on their Lord Almighty ((and return)) meaning they return in the later part of the day ((full)) meaning with filled stomachs from the sustenance of Allah.

And in this are evident a number of issues:

Firstly, a person should depend on Allah, may He be Exalted, with a true reliance.

Secondly, there is no creature on the face of the earth except that upon Allah is its sustenance even the birds in the sky.  There is nothing that holds them up in the air except Allah and nothing sustains them except Allah Almighty.  Every creature on the earth from the smallest, like a small ant, to the biggest, like an elephant, upon Allah is their sustenance.  As Allah Says [in the Qur’an 11:6]: And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage.  And he has clearly gone astray who thinks ill of his Lord.  Hence, [you find such a person] saying, “Do not increase the number of your children [else the] provisions [will] constrict upon you!”  They lie and I swear by the Lord of the Throne, if they increase the number of their children, Allah will increase their provisions because there is no creature on the earth except that upon Allah is its sustenance.  The provision of your children and babies is upon Allah who opens for you the doors of sustenance in order that you may spend on them.  But many people think ill of Allah and rely on visibly materialistic means and they do not look towards the wide-range [of things] and to the Power of Allah Almighty and the [fact] that He is the One who provides even if the number of children increase.  Increase in children [leads to] an increase in your sustenance and this is [what is] correct.

And in this [hadith] is also evidence that when a person relies on Allah in a true sense, he takes on the means [that lead to the result].  The one who says, “I do not take the means because I am depending on Allah,” has gone astray and this is not correct.   The one truly dependant on Allah is he who takes the means necessary [while] relying on Allah Almighty [simultaneously].  And for this reason the Prophet (pbuh) said ((He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out early in the morning hungry)) because they go out to seek the provision of Allah and do not remain in their nests.  Hence, you must take the necessary means which Allah has legislated for you to seek sustenance from a permissible source, such as, agriculture or business or any other profession [provided it is halal] that provides a means of sustenance.  Seek the sustenance [while] depending on Allah [and] He will make it easy for you.

And from the benefits of this hadith is [it shows] that the birds and other creations of Allah know Him.  As Allah Says [in the Qur’an 17:44]: The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting.  And in [Qur’an 22:18]: Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates – for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills.  So, the birds know their Creator Almighty and they fly to seek the sustenance by what Allah fashioned in them of fitrah [natural disposition] which guides them to their benefit.  They go out early in the morning from their nests [and return] end of the day with their stomachs full.  They do this every single day and Allah Almighty provides them and makes the provision easy for them.  And look towards the Wisdom of Allah [by noting that] how these birds go out early in the morning to far away places and [then] are guided to return to their [proper] places without erring.  [This is] because Allah Almighty gave everything its creation [and] then guided it.

Loss of a Child: Hadiths on Losing Children Provide Some Comfort

A few days ago, one of my cousin’s youngest daughter, 6 years old, was killed in a tragic accident in Pakistan. A water tanker accidentally ran over her small precious body while playing with her friends in the street right in front of her house. Her parents are, quite understandably, in a complete state of shock, especially her mother who carried her lifeless, fragile, flattened body to the hospital in her own arms. I cannot even imagine what her parents are going through right now and the pain they must be feeling.

I pray she continues her play with new friends in paradise in the verdant garden as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said about children who die before puberty:

We set off, and we came to a verdant garden, in which were all the colors of spring, where there was a man who was so tall that I could hardly see his head in the sky. Around the man was the largest number of children I had ever seen…As for the tall man who was in the garden, that was Abraham. As for the children who were around him, these are all the children who died in a state of fitrah.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (7047)

I also hope Allah accepts her as a martyr as the hadith says:

الشُّهَدَاءُ خَمْسٌ الْمَطْعُونُ وَالْمَبْطُونُ وَالْغَرِقُ وَصَاحِبُ الْهَدْمِ وَالشَّهِيدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

The martyrs are five: Those who die of the plague, stomach illness, drowning, being crushed, and the martyr in the cause of Allah.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1063)

Death is not the end but a doorway to transfer from one form of existence to another. Eventually, we all must go through it.

We don’t deserve our children, they are gifts and favors from Him and can be taken back anytime from any parent no matter their station. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) buried all his children in his own lifetime, which included at least two infants, except for Fatima. So we should cherish the time we have with them and fill it with love, care, and play while we still can, because we don’t really know how long we have with them.

Many years ago, I came across a hadith which has never left my mind on this topic from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari:

Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “When a person’s child dies, Allah says to His angels, ‘You have taken the child of My slave.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘You have taken the apple of his eye.’ They say, ‘Yes.’ He says, ‘What did My slave say?’ They say, ‘He praised you and said “Innaa lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return).’ Allah says, ‘Build for My slave a house in Paradise and call it the house of praise.’” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (942)

Finally, such tragedies could be seen as a form of mercy for the parents because there are some hadiths which speak of children, who died before puberty, interceding on behalf of their parents.

It was narrated that Abu Hassaan said: I said to Abu Hurayrah, “Two sons of mine have died. Will you not narrate to us a hadith from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that will comfort us in our loss?”

He said: “Yes, their children are the little ones of Paradise, and one of them will meet his father – or his parents – and take hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking hold of the edge of this garment of yours, and he will not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise.” Narrated by Muslim (2635).