Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam in Life | Al-Risala July, 1987
In the year 9 A.H., the Prophet of Islam led an expedition to Tabuk. Some Muslims had valid excuses precluding their participation in this expedition. With regard to them, this verse of the Quran was revealed:
“…but no blame shall attach to the weak, the sick, and those who have no means to spend, provided they are sincere to God and His Messenger. There is no reason to reproach those who do good deeds; God is most forgiving and merciful. Nor [does any blame] attach to those who came to you to be provided with mounts, and when you said, ‘I can find no mounts for you,’ they went back, and tears welled up in their eyes with sadness, since they could not find any way to contribute.” (9:91-92).
According to the Prophet’s seventh century biographer, Ibn Ishaq, these were seven individuals belonging to the Ansar. After the Prophet had set out on the expedition, the Prophet referred to them in the presence of his companions. “Do you know,” he said to them, “you have left some people behind in Medina who will share with you the reward of everything you have spent, every valley you have crossed and every victory you have gained over the enemy.” “Even though they remain in Medina?” asked the companions. “Yes,” replied the Prophet. “They had valid excuses for staying behind.” (Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith No. 4423)
This goes to show that a person, without doing anything, can gain a share in the reward of those who have actively participated in some deed. While appearing to have achieved nothing, he can join the ranks of those who have achieved much. How can this be possible? The way to accomplish this is for us to participate in spirit in those actions in which we are unable to take an active, physical part. For example, if we behold another person greater than ourselves, rather than being jealous of him, we should acknowledge his superiority; that way we shall have a share in the reward for anything that he does, which it is beyond us to accomplish. If someone is wealthier than us, it should be our heart’s wish that God grants him the grace to be truly thankful for his wealth, and spend it rightly; then, when he does so, we shall have a share in his reward. And if we see someone in an influential position, while we remain among the anonymous masses, we can pray for him: “Lord, may he use his influence in service of truth, not in service of falsehood”; thus, we may gain a share of his reward.