Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 1034 [Read full issue]
Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet said: 'The people who will be close to me on the Day of Resurrection are the God-fearing, even though a certain lineage may be nearer of kin than another. Let not other people come to me with their good deeds and you come carrying stuff of this world on your necks. You will appeal to me, saying: "O, Muhammad!" and I will say: "No, this way and that way", (turning away both left and right)'. [Bukhari]
Islam emphasizes that all human beings are equal. They are equal at the point of birth and equal on the Day of Judgement. They are given the same duties and promised the same reward. Thus, their equality in God's sight is complete. People, however, create all sorts of standards to raise some people high and keep others down. Islam does not recognize any such standards. The only criterion that raises some people above others is their being pious and God-fearing, provided always that they maintain this throughout their lives. This is stated clearly in the Quran. The Prophet (peace be upon him) further emphasized it in a number of statements and traditions.
This hadith describes the Prophet's attitude to people's situations on the Day of Judgement. Those whose life is characterized by fearing God and piety will be the ones who bring forward their deeds hoping for a rich reward from God. They are certain to have the Prophet's support and God's reward. They are the ones to be given a position close to the Prophet, because their actions in this life confirm what they profess of accepting the Islamic faith and implementing it.
The Prophet acknowledges that kin relationships may bring some people closer to others. Thus some people might be closer to the Prophet by virtue of blood relations, but he warns here that it is actions that count on the Day of Judgement. He further paints a very vivid picture of those who rely on being related to him for their salvation on the Day of Judgement while not doing enough to save themselves. They come carrying stuff of this world on their shoulders. This is a reference to anything, material or not, that people gain unfairly in this life. As they have to account for it, they carry it on their necks.
The Prophet further warns that those who profess to follow him will appeal to him for help, but he will not be in a position to help them. He will simply turn away because he cannot help anyone except those who, in this present life, truly follow him. They might commit some sins, but they always seek God's forgiveness and try to rectify their deeds. It is such people that hope to benefit by his intercession on their behalf. As for those who deliberately wronged others and got away with things to which they had no rightful claim, persisting in their misdeeds and showing no sign of repentance, they will carry their heavy burdens and they will have no one to support them as they face God's reckoning.
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi