What is the explanation of the Hadith which states A strong believer [Mu’min] is better than a weak Mu’min?
Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) has recorded the narration in question on the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu). The full narration is as follows:
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“A strong believer is better and more beloved in the sight of Allah than a weak believer, [however], there is good in [both types]. Be eager to carry out [such deeds] that will benefit you, and seek Allah’s assistance and do not become lax. If something afflicts you, do not say ‘If only I had done such and such’, you should say instead, Allah has decreed and he does as he wishes, for the word ‘law (لو)’ [meaning: ‘if’] opens the way for Shaytan”
(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2664)
‘Allamah Nawawi (rahimahullah) explains:
“A strong believer refers to a believer who has a firm determination and is inclined to the affairs of the Hereafter. A person with a strong determination will approach the enemy in jihad and search for the enemy with vigour. He will also be extremely determined to enjoin good, forbid evil and endure all types of difficulties while carrying out the above, [the strength of his Iman spurring him on].
Similarly, he will show more inclination towards Salah, fasting, remembering Allah and all other acts of worship.
(Sahih Muslim with Al Minhaj, Hadith: 6716)
From the above, we understand that strength is referring to the strength of Iman and not physical strength.
However some Commentators have explained that strength is referring to physical strength, as such a person will be able to perform longer rak’ahs of Salah, he will be able to fast, perform Haj and fight the enemy in jihad.
(Refer: Ikmalul Mu’lim, Hadith: 2664 and Al Mufhim, Hadith: 2591. Also see Mirqat, Hadith: 5298)
Ubbi (rahimahullah) adds, The criterion for a strong believer to be more beloved in the sight of Allah Ta’ala is that he carries out abundant ‘ibadah. If he is physically strong but weak in ‘ibadah then a believer who is physically weak but strong in ‘ibadah will be more beloved in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.
(Refer: Takmilah Fathul Mulhim, Hadith: 6730)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar