Virtues of Yemen

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from the writings of Habib Ahmad Mashhur ibn Thaha al-Haddad (r.a.).

Allah (s.w.t.) has Blessed and Honoured the lands of Yemen and given this country a status that no other place aside from the two sacred cities of Makkah and Madina enjoys.  There are many virtues mentioned in the various ahadits regarding Yemen and the people residing there.  This land has also been the abode of many prophets, companions, scholars and pious servants of Allah (s.w.t.).  Of the many ahadits wherein the virtues of Yemen and its inhabitants have been mentioned, some are reproduced below.

Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) relates from Abu Mas’ud (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.w.t.) gestured with his hands towards Yemen and said, “Iman is there….”  This is also recorded in Swahih Muslim.

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “The people of Yemen have come to you and they are extremely gentle and soft-hearted.  Iman is that of the Yemenis and hikmah is that of the Yemenis.  Pride and haughtiness are the characters of the owners of camels, and calmness and solemnity are the qualities of the owners of sheep.”

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “The people of Yemen have come to you.  They are tender-hearted and more delicate of soul.  The capacity to understand is of the Yemenis and wisdom is that of the Yemenis.”  This is found in tha Swahihayn.

Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) mentions in his commentary of Swahih Muslim, al-Minhaj Sharh Swahih Muslim, that there is no bar in attributing these narrations literally to the people of Yemen.  They had strong faith in the time of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) sensed this from the people of Yemen such as; Abu Muslim al-Khawlani (r.a.), Uways al-Qarni (r.a.) and the delegations that came to him from Yemen.  Hence, attributing iman to Yemen meant that the people of Yemen had strong and complete faith, but this did not negate that others also had strong faith.

As far as fiqh and hikmah are concerned, the former means to have a deep understanding of religion, whilst the latter refers to having conscious acknowledgment of Allah (s.w.t.), ma’rifah, coupled with self-reformation, good character and abstaining from following one’s desires and falsehood.

The meaning of “they are extremely gentle and soft-hearted” is that they are the people of timidity, khashya, and have an attitude of humble acceptance, istikana.  They are extremely quick in accepting genuine advice, naswiha, and are easily affected by it.  They are immune from harshness, hard-heartedness and ruggedness.

The above few narrations related from the Beloved of Allah (s.a.w.) single out Yemen and its inhabitants with great qualities.  Strong faith, complete belief and true conviction is said to exist in Yemen, with the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) gesturing and pointing his hands in the direction of Yemen and saying, “Iman is there”.  Similarly, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) cites wisdom and deep understanding of religion to exist in Yemen.  Moreover, when a delegation comes to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), he mentions the qualities and characteristics of the people of Yemen saying that they are extremely soft-hearted people and very humble.

The few narrations above have been taken directly from the two most authentic books of ahadits, Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim.  However, these narrations are not the only ones recorded in the praise of Yemen and its inhabitants; rather, there are many other ahadits.

As recorded in Sunan atTirmidzi, Sayyiduna Zayd ibn Thabit (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) looked towards Yemen and said, “O Allah!  Turn their hearts (towards iman)…”

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said: “… and amanah is in (the tribe of) Azd.”  This tribe is from Yemen.  This is also found in Sunan at-Tirmidzi.

Sayyiduna Jubayr ibn Muth’im (r.a.) narrates that once the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) looked up towards the heavens and said, “The people of Yemen have come to you like the pieces of clouds.  They are the best of people on the face of the earth.”

A companion asked, “O Messenger of Allah!  Are they even better than us?”

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) replied, “Except you.”

This is recorded in Musnad Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Abu Bakr al-Bazaar and Musnad Abu Ya’la al-Mawswili.  Ahadits from these three collections are also compiled in Majma' al-Zawa'id wa Manba' al-Fawa'id.

Sayyiduna ‘Amr ibn ‘Abasa (r.a.) related that ‘Uyayna ibn Hisn al-Fazari once remarked in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) that the best of men are the people of Najd.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) replied, “You have lied!  Rather, the best of men are the people of Yemen.  Iman is Yemeni and I am also a Yemeni.”  This is found in Sunan ath-Thabarani and Musnad Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, with all the narrators in the chain authentic, tsiqa.  Also found in also compiled in Majma' al-Zawa'id wa Manba' al-Fawa'id.

In this last hadits, it was mentioned in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) that the people of Najd were the best of people, but the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was quick to reject this notion saying that this was wrong; rather, the people of Yemen were the best amongst people.  This hadits is related to another narration recorded by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) and others wherein the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “O Allah!  Give us Barakah in our Sham.  O Allah!  Give us Barakah in our Yemen.”

They said, “And in our Najd?”

And he continued, “O Allah!  Give us Barakah in our Sham.  O Allah!  Give us Barakah in our Yemen.”

They said, “And in our Najd?”

On the third time, he said, “In that place (Najd) is earthquakes and sedition, and in that place shall rise the devil’s horn.”

In the final part of the last hadits, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) referred himself as a Yemeni.  The reason could be. and Allah (s.w.t.) Knows best, is that ‘Yaman’ was in fact the name of Qahtan’s son, and Qahtan was a forefather of the Arabs and was from the children of Sayyiduna Isma’il (a.s.).  Hence, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) had a relationship of ancestry with the Yemenis.  It could also mean that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was implying that he liked the character and manners of the Yemenis; hence he referred himself to be ‘as’ a Yemeni in a metaphorical sense, for having something in common with them.  Whatever the reason may be, the fact that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) called himself a Yemeni is such a virtue for the people of Yemen that it cannot be underestimated.

In another narration, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “Iman is of the Yemenis, and they (the people of Yemen) are from me and their direction is towards me, even if they are far from me in distance.  It will be very soon that they come to you as answar; hence I command you to be good with them.”  This was recorded by Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) with a hasan chain.

There are also other ahadits in which the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) praised the tribes of Yemen such as the Himyar and Azd.  He said that a time will come when a man will wish that his father and mother were from the tribe of Azd.  This is recorded in Sunan at-Tirmidzi.  He (s.a.w.) also said that the people of Himyar are the people of trustworthiness and faith.

The ahadits and narrations praising the lands of Yemen and its people are numerous to the extent that if one was to gather all of them with commentary, an entire book may be compiled.  Any Muslim who has knowledge of these sayings of the Beloved of Allah (s.a.w.) would naturally long to visit Yemen and its people.  Indeed, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) made these remarks according to his time, but when Allah (s.w.t.) Places certain qualities in a people, the effect of these qualities remain even after centuries have elapsed.  Moreover, Yemen was also the abode of many of the Messenger of Allah’s (s.a.w.) swahabah.  He (Al s.a.w.) sent Sayyiduna Mu’adz ibn Jabal (r.a.) to Yemen.  There are also other swahabah who lived and taught in Yemen.  All of this in addition to the fact that Yemen has produced, and continues to produce, some of the greatest ‘ulama, mujtahidun, a’immah and awliya’ of this ummah.


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