What is the full form of the hadith ‘O Allah! I take refuge in You from incapacity, indolence, cowardice…’?

The Details of the Question

- Will you write the original form of the hadith starting with ‘O Allah! I take refuge in You from incapacity, indolence, cowardice’?
- Will you also explain it briefly?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The hadith in question is as follows:

عَنْ أَنَسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّه عَنْهُ ، قَالَ : كَانَ رسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وسَلَّم : يَقُولُ : اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّـي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعجْزِ والكَسَلِ وَالجُبْنِ وَالهَرَمِ ، وَالْبُخْلِ ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ القبْرِ ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ فِتْنَةِ المَحْيا وَالمَمَاتِ  وفي رِوايةٍ : « وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ »

According to what was reported from Anas, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would pray as follows:  

“Allahumma inni audhu bika minal-ajzi wal-kasali wal-jubni wal-harami wal-bukhl, wa audhu bika min adhabil-qabr, wa audhu bika min fitnatil-mahya wal-mamat."

"O Allah! I seek refuge in You from incapacity, indolence, cowardice, senility, and miserliness. And I seek refuge in You from the torment of the grave and from trial of the life and death.” (Muslim, Dhikr 50; bk. Abu Dawud, Witr 32; Nasai, Istiadha 7)

According to another narration, “...wa dalaid-dayni wa ghalabatir-rijal: heavy debt and being overpowered by men”. (Nasai, Istiadha 8; see Bukhari, Daawat 36)

There are various supplications of istiadha, that is, taking refuge in Allah, of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). As a matter of fact,

- the Prophet (pbuh) took refuge in Allah from cowardice, miserliness, senility and trial of the life and death after performing prayers (see Bukhari, Jihad 25, Daawat 37, 41, 44)
- He advised us to take refuge from the torment of the grave and Hell, and the trial of life, death and blind Dajjal (anti-Christ) after finishing at-tahiyyat in prayer. (see Muslim, Masajid 128),
- He also took refuge in God Almighty from indolence, senility and the torment of the grave and Hell. (see Muslim, Dhikr 74-76)

We see that he took refuge in Allah in this hadith from incapacity in addition to some of the things mentioned above.

Incapacity is used, especially in this hadith, in the sense of not being able to do charity and good deeds, and not being able to fulfill the religious and worldly duties that one has to fulfill. There have been many people who have always neglected their duties toward Allah, such as prayer, fasting, and zakah, claiming that they will perform them later. The word incapacity (weakness) expresses this wrong attitude better than neglect.

Indolence (laziness) expresses not doing charity despite being strong enough and not worshipping Allah properly.

Cowardice is the state of not being able to resist one’s soul and Satan due to laxity and self-indulgence, and hence the inability to obey some divine commands. Allah commands jihad in His way but a cowardly person cannot do it. Allah commands the defending of the truth against the oppressor, but a coward cannot obey this command.

Old age is when a person loses his mental faculties to some extent, becoming a child and forgetting what he knows., This state is called ardhal al-umur in the Quran and hadiths. It is not so disadvantageous for a person to age without becoming senile. However, what is meant by old age here is to need other people all the time, to become senile, inconsiderate and unbearable.

Miserliness means not being able to spend one’s wealth on what Allah wants though one is well-off. The evil of miserliness is mentioned in the Quran and it is stated that the things that people need to spend but cannot spend will be wrapped around their necks on the Day of Judgment. (see Aal-i Imran, 3/180)

Another name for the torment in the grave is trial in the grave. It is possible for man to get rid of this torture, which he encounters in that narrow, dark and eerie place, and to transform his grave into a garden from the gardens of Paradise as the Prophet (pbuh) said. We should state here in the light of the hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that talebearing and splashing urine on one’s clothes are just two of the things that cause torment in the grave.

The trial of life is the suffering of a person throughout his life or at some stage of his life in person or because of one of his family members. Undoubtedly, they are means of testing. The trial of life, on the other hand, means not tolerating them, and – God forbid - trying to rebel against God Almighty. Not using the trust called life in the way Allah wants and wasting one’s life in vain in the swamp of sin are also a trial of life.

The trial of death is being caught in the trap set by Satan to make one lose his belief before he dies. The test of munkar and nakir angels in the grave is also accepted as a trial of death. The people who overcome those tests with the help of Allah will be out of the woods. Those who lose will start a bad adventure that starts with the torment of the grave.

Being crushed by debt means a person’s being in heavy debt and not having the financial means to pay his debt. Not being able to respond positively to the demand of the creditor is a difficult problem to endure. The Prophet (pbuh) teaches us that it is necessary to take refuge in Allah from the heavy debt burden.

Being overpowered by men means bad administrators’ persecuting and oppressing people. The Prophet (pbuh) defines it as “ghalabatur-rijal”. People need to take refuge in Allah from being persecuted and oppressed but those who rule people should avoid being oppressing administrators and seek refuge in Allah from falling into such a state.

Accordingly:

- The states listed in the hadith are evils that destroy the spiritual world of man.

- Everybody should take refuge in Allah from those evils.

- An important condition of taking refuge in Allah is to avoid all kinds of sins, primarily harams, and to perform all kinds of deeds of worship, primarily fards.

That is to say, we should take refuge in Allah with our hearts, tongues, moods and deeds, in short, in all aspects.

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