"By Allah! If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and you would cry much; you would not taste the pleasures of your women in the beds, and you would go out beseeching Allah." Will you explain this hadith?

The Details of the Question
"By Allah! If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and you would cry much; you would not taste the pleasures of your women in the beds, and you would go out beseeching Allah." Will you explain this hadith?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

4. (1681)- Abu Dharr (radiyallahu anh) narrates:

"The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

"Indeed I see what you do not see, and I hear what you do not hear. The Heavens moan, and they have the right to moan. There is no spot, the size of four fingers in them, except that there is an angel placing his forehead in it, prostrating to Allah. By Allah! If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and you would cry much; you would not taste the pleasures of your women in the beds, and you would go out beseeching Allah.

(Abu Dharr added) "I wish that I was a felled tree." [Tirmidhi, Zuhd 9, (2313); Ibn Majah, Zuhd 19, (4190).]


1. Tibi, the explainer, interprets the moaning of the heavens as the weight of the angels.

"As it is stated in the hadith, there are a lot of angels and the heavens moan caused by the weight and heaviness of the multitude of the angels. This phrase is a simile to express the multitude of the angels. Even if there is not a real moaning there, it is a metaphorical expression stating the greatness of Allah."

Aliyyul-Qari does not want to agree with this interpretation and states the following:

"Why should we express it as a metaphor though the statement of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is true? It is possible in terms of reason and nass that what is stated in the hadith to be true; therefore, there is no need to interpret it as a metaphor.”

"For, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) expresses clearly that the heavens have a moaning sound though people do not hear it by saying, "I hear what you do not hear". Besides, the moaning of the heavens may just as well be its sound heard while glorifying, praising and sanctifying Allah. For, the following is stated in a verse:

"The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory." (al-Isra, 17/44)

Thus, He informs us that they glorify Him."

2. The explainers of the hadith state that the wish "to be a tree" belongs to Abu Dharr, the narrator of the hadith.

The hadith informs man about the graveness and difficulty of the otherworldly reckoning; therefore, Abu Dharr wished to be a tree in order to expressed that he realized the graveness of this information instead of being subjected to a test that is very hard to pass and that will be terrible when it is lost. The additions like that to hadiths by narrators are called idraj.

5. (1682)- Hz. Abu Hurayra (radiyallahu anh) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"If the believer knew the penalty by Allah, he would give up hope of Paradise. If the unbeliever knew the mercy of Allah, He would never give up hope of Paradise."[It is an addition by Razin. Muslim reported the hadith: Tawba 23, (2755); Tirmidhi also reported the hadith: Da'awat 108, (3536).]


It is one of the hadiths that express concisely the good manners a believer has to assume toward Allah:

Neither full hope nor absolute despair, but fear and hope in a balanced and equal form. Scholars regard absolute hope and absolute despair to be among major sins. A believer needs to fear Allah’s penalty no matter how many good deeds he does; he must not give up hope of Allah’s mercy no matter how many and how big sins he commits.  

6. (1638)- Abu Burda Amir Ibn Abi Musa narrates:

Abdullah Ibn Umar said to me,

"Do you know what my father said to your father once?" I said, "No." Thereupon, he said,

"My father said to your father, 'O Abu Musa! Will it please you that we will be rewarded for our conversion to Islam with Allah's Messenger (pbuh) and our migration with him, and our jihad with him and all our good deeds which we did, with him, and that all the deeds we did after his death will be disregarded whether good or bad?' Your father answered as follows:

'No, by Allah, we took part in jihad after Allah's Messenger (pbuh), prayed and did plenty of good deeds, and many people have embraced Islam at our hands, and no doubt, we expect rewards from Allah for these good deeds.' My father said,

'As for myself, by Him in whose hand Umar's soul is, I wish that the deeds done by us at the time of the Prophet remain rewardable while whatsoever we did after the death of the Prophet be enough to save us from Punishment in that the good deeds compensate for the bad ones.'

Thereupon, I said, "By Allah, your father was better than my father!" [Bukhari, Manaqibul-Ansar 45.]


1. This narration shows how the issue of fear and hope settled among the Companions. We see in the hadith that Hz. Umar says that he fears that he might have done bad deeds along with good deeds after the Prophet (pbuh) and that he will be glad if his good deeds are at least equal to bad deeds.

Abu Burda mentions Hz. Umar, who thinks like that, by praising him and states that he is superior to his father, Abu Musa. In fact, the superiority of Hz. Umar is accepted by scholars but Abu Burda mentions the superiority related to the issue of not relying on one’s deeds here. Actually, it is possible for a person to be superior to a person who is absolutely superior regarding a specific issue; in this example, Hz. Umar is superior to Abu Musa, who is in the station of raja (hope) by being in the station of khawf (fear). For, scholars agree that the station of fear is superior to the station of hope. For, man cannot be free of making mistakes in the deeds that he does with the intention of righteous deeds. Besides, it is possible for hope to lead man to conceit and laziness while fear will definitely lead man to repentance and asking for forgiveness.

Man, who is stated to "have been created only to worship" (adh-Dhariyat, 51/56), should say, in the face of entertainment, "We were not created for entertainment" as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said.

Legitimate Boundaries in Entertainment

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) determines the boundaries for entertainment as follows:

"Any act devoid of the remembrance of Allah is void except four:

1. playing with one’s family,

2. walking from target to target (during archery practice),

3. training a horse,

4. learning to swim."

In other hadiths, adults are ordered to entertain children:"He who has children should play with them like a child." There are many examples showing that the Prophet (pbuh) entertained children, made them laugh and joked with them by acting like a child. Thus, “entertainment” while playing with children is a legitimate part of the entertainment. 

It is not permissible to seek entertainment, produce and look for funny things when one has free time. Hz. Prophet (pbuh) advised us to be moderate related to laughing and making others laugh in many hadiths and criticized extreme laughing in many hadiths:

"...Do not laugh a lot; for, laughing a lot kills the heart."

"If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and you would cry much."

"Cry! If you cannot cry, force yourselves to cry."

"Shame on them who tell lies and make up things in order to laugh people. Shame on them! Shame on them!"

"A person utters some words to make his friends laugh and he falls so deep into the fire as the distance between the earth and the pleiades."

["Humor is permissible as long as it does not include words that lead to sins or it does not aim only to make people laugh." (Hindiyya, V/352). "Allah will not call a person who tells funny things but does not tell lies while doing so to account." (Faydul-Qadir, II/279)]

Besides, various narrations indicate that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not laugh but that he smiled.

Nawawi states that all kinds of entertainment that is done extremely and insistently in a way that will cause a person to laugh very much and hence to cause gloom in that heart, keeping him away from mentioning Allah and meditating on the important issue of the religion are forbidden. Imam Shafii says, "Entertainment should not be the work of religious and good people."

1. (659)- Ibnu Abbas (radiyallahu anhuma) narrates:

"Hz. Abu Bakir said,

"O Messenger of Allah! Your hair turned grey; you became old." The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"The chapters of Hud, al-Waqi’a, al-Murselât, Amma yatasaulan and Idhash-Shamsu Kuwwirat made me old."[Tirmidhi, Tafsir, al-Waqi'a, (3293).]


According to the explanation of Aliyyul-Qari, Hz. Abu Bakr did not mean the multitude of grey hair, which is a sign of old age, on the head of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). For, some narrations state that the number of grey hairs on the head and beard of the Messenger of Allah at his deathbed was fourteen. With that statement, Hz. Abu Bakr meant that grey hairs started to appear at an early age, before the period of old age.

By saying "such and such chapters made me old", the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) meant that the contents of those chapters made him meditate a lot and spoiled his enjoyment.

For, the chapters mentioned by the Prophet mention the misfortunes that hit previous nations and especially the scenes of the Day of Judgment and narrates the horrible events that will take place in the real future of man stage by stage. When real believers think about them, they cannot be happy in the world, unlike the people who do not think about the hereafter.

As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says, "If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and you would cry much" and advises us to remember death a lot in order to decrease the bonds to the ephemeral pleasures of life.

(Prof.Dr. İbrahim CANAN, Kütüb-ü Sitte Tercüme ve Şerhi.)

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