Faith has more than seventy branches. The most excellent of these is to declare “There is no god but Allah”, and the humblest of the ranks is to remove a harmful thing from the road. The teaching of the Holy Prophet pbuh is to remove injurious and harmful things from people’s passage. These may be thoms, garbage, and so on. This is the lowest of the branches of faith and the last symbol of civility. This is the story of the man who earned Paradise on this simple task.
[1. Bukhari and Muslim have transmitted in their respective Sahih that Sayyidina Abu Humyrah , has said that the Messenger of Allah said , “While a man was going
on a way, he saw a thomy branch and removed it from the way and Allah became pleased with his action and forgave him for that.”]
[2. The version in Muslim is that Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “A man while walking along the path saw the branches of a tree lying there. He thought, ‘By Allah, I shall remove these from this road, so that they may not harm the Muslims, and he was admitted to Paradise.”]
[3. Yet another version is that Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah quoted the Holy Prophet as saying, “I saw a man enjoying himself in Paradise because of the tree that he cut from the path which was a source of inconvenience to the people.”] (Bukhari Hadith # 652, 2476. Muslim # 6340, 6341)
To remove anything that causes inconvenience to the passersby is the lowest form of faith. This means that if anyone finds an obstacle on the road and does not remove it then he deprives himself of even the lowest kind of faith.
The Hadith teaches us that Allah forgives even those who practice the lovvest form of faith. The man mentioned in the Hadith was forgiven for that.
There is an important lesson in this narrative for the Muslims and religious-minded people of the current era for they regard such a practice as very ordinary and commonplace.
Today, the non-Muslim people hold it as against civil behaviour to leave obstacles on common thoroughfares and inconvenience the passersby. It is worth thinking over that this teaching was first imparted by Islam which made it instrumental in getting forgiveness. Alas, today, the people of Islam, instead of removing obstacles from
the road, have identified themselves with those who hurd hindrances on the roads. The position on our roads in areas where ninety percent of the residents are Muslims is that they are blocked and obstructed in different manners which cause inconvenience to the passersby. The many ways in which road-users are put to trouble include people spitting here and there. ejecting beetle—nut after chewing it. parking motor cars before door-steps of homes and mosques. throwing rubbish on roads, draining house-hold waste on streets. and so on. This is a very common observation in our Muslim societies although it is clearly against teachings of Islam. The overflowing sewers, stinking drains, broken roads and such scenes reflect our conduct and show how we default in abiding by the teachings of Islam. It is something all of us must ponder.
Must we not think that if Allah forgives a man for removing obstacles from the road and admitting him to Paradise then will He not punish those who act against that and throw rubbish and obstacles on the road and inconvenience passersby in other ways? Surely, He will call to account these people and will punish them. The Believers must correct their behaviour for Islam does not merely teach Salat and fasting but it also requires its adherents to adopt excellent maners and social conduct conducive to a better civil society.
Lessons and Messages
1. The first lesson we learn is that the teachings of Islam are not limited to worship alone. Islam is not the name of a few customary forms of worship but it is a method of spending one’s life in an instinctive way, being pure, having high moral character and clear thinking. It develops a proper civic sense and grows a highly civilised society.
2. It is the right of the road that pedestrians and road-users are not inconvenienced. It is not even proper to stop on the road and converse if that causes inconvenience to other people.
3. To try to protect a Muslim from inconvenience and wish well for him is a conduct that entitles one to enter into Paradise. Obviously, to remove an obstacle from the road is trying to protect a Muslim from inconvenience; it earned for that man enjoyment in Paradise. A Muslim is a well-wisher of another Muslim and he tries his best to save another Muslim from difficulty and hardship. This is what Islam teaches and this is the name of Islam.
This is an excrept from the book Stories from the hadith: http://www.darul-ishaat.co.uk/store/Stories-From-The-Hadith.html