The Importance of Quality over Quantity
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on October 10, 1997)
Islam emphasized the importance of good quality and treasured it more than the quantity, because the good quality-from peoples and from deeds-even if it is small in quantity, its effect will be great. Also, the large quantity without good quality has very little effect if any.
If we look into the Qur’an, we will find many verses in which Allah scolds the large majority of people, because this majority was from those who do not think, or do not know, or do not believe, or do not give thanks. Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Al-Ankabut, (verse 63), what can be translated as, "But most of them (mankind) have no sense."
Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Al-Araf, (verse 187), what can be translated as, "But most of the mankind don’t know."
Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Huod, (verse 17), what can be translated as, "But most of the mankind don’t believe."
Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 243), what can be translated as, "But most men don’t give thanks."
Allah (S.W.T.) also said to his prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and to every believers till the Day of Judgment in surat Al-Ana’am, (verse 116), what can be translated as, "And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s Path."
So, the majority of people are not with the truth, and this is an important fact which confirmed by the Qur’an.
Also, the Qur’an complemented the few among the people if the few are the believer, actively working in the path of Allah, and grateful. Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Sad, (verse 24), what can be translated as, "Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and they are few."
Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Saba, (verse 13), what can be translated as, "But few of my slaves are grateful."
Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Huod, (verse 116), what can be translated as, "If only there had been among the generations before you, persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others) from "Al-Fasad (corruption) in the earth, except a few of those whom We saved from among of them."
Allah (S.W.T.) also said reminding the companions of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and blessing them in surat Al-Anfal, (verse 26), what can be translated as, "And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land."
So, it is not the majority of people who are the useful, and it is not the few who are not productive. Allah (S.W.T) said in surat AL-Baqarah, (verse 249), what can be translated as, "How often a small group overcome a mighty host by Allah’s Leave? This is an established fact throughout the human history, the followers of the messengers were among the few in numbers, and they were the prevalent and the dominant when they were of good quality.
For this reason, the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) emphasized on the importance of making his companions of high quality with teaching and purification. These few good believing people overcame the majority of people who were on the side of falsehood. One of these few used to be equal or more effective than hundreds of people... and so on.
This was the understanding of Omar Bin Al-khat-tab (R.A.A.) when he sent Amru Bin Alaas to conquer Egypt with 4000 soldiers only. Amru Bin Alaas asked Omar for more soldiers, Omar then sent him 4000 more soldiers among them 4 companions whom Omar said about, "Each and every one of them equal 1000 and Omar considered that the army is 12000 soldiers, and 12000 soldiers will never be defeated, because of less in number.
If we take a look at the reality of Muslims today, we find that they are over a billion and a quarter of a billion people, but unfortunately, they are not of good quality, like the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) described them when he said in an authentic hadith reported by Imam Ahmad, and Abu-Daud, "It is almost time that nations will call each other against you (Muslims) like the eaters call each other to their food." The companions said, "Are we few in number at that time oh prophet of Allah (S.W.T.)?! The prophet replied, "No, but you are then numerous but you are of no value like the foam of the water stream, and Allah will take the fear out of your enemies’ heart from you and He will throw in your heart the Wahan" They said, "what is the Wahan oh messenger of Allah?! He said, "The love of this worldly life and hatred of death."
So, the large number of Muslims alone is not effective, and there has to be a great effort made toward finding the people with good quality.
Islam also has the same view toward the deeds. The importance is in the righteous deeds with the good quality, and not with its quantity only. For this reason, we should be conscious about improving our good deeds. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said in an authentic Hadith reported by Imam Muslim, "Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters."
The word "prescribed" means it is an obligation and a must. So the Muslim is obliged to do good quality deeds in all of his actions even if it is a killing or slaughtering an animal. Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat An-Nahl, (verse 90), what can be translated as, "Verily, Allah enjoins "Al-Adl (justice) and Al-Ihsan (proficiency)."
He (S.W.T.) also said in surat Al-Maidah, (verse 93), what can be translated as, "And did good deeds with Ihsan (Perfection). And Allah loves the good-doers."
And the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) says in a good hadith, "Allah For loves his servant when he initiates some deed, he does it well"
Allah (S.W.T.) commanded us to establish prayer, and not only performing the various prescribed movements, but by praying the prayer well. Allah (S.W.T.) said in many places in the Qur’an like (verse 110) in surat Al-Baqarah, what can be translated as, "And offer prayers perfectly."
Allah (S.W.T.) described his believing successful servants, and from their description in surat Al-Muminun (verses 1 & 2), what can be translated as, "Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness."
The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) confirms the importance of having solemnity and full submissiveness in the prayer. Also in keeping the heart concentrated during prayer. The Muslim will be rewarded for his prayer as much as he accomplishes this. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "You will be rewarded for your prayer as much as you concentrated and focused in it."
The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) also says in another authentic hadith reported by Imam Ibn-Majah, An-Nisa’, and Ibn-Khuzaymah, "There may be a fasting person who has nothing from his fasting except hunger, and there may be night-praying person who has nothing from his night-praying except staying up."
In another authentic hadith reported by Bukhari and others that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said about fasting, "Anyone who does not leave the wrong sayings and the wrong actions then, Allah has no need for that person to leave his food and drink."
Above all, Islam made a sincere intention in all righteous deeds a condition for their acceptance by Allah. prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said in an authentic qudsi hadith reported by Imam Muslim, "Allah has proclaimed: I am the most self-respecting and self-sufficient of all; therefore whoever brings forth a partner to Me in any action, I entrust him to that same partner, I reject him and his act of associating anything with Me."