This lesson is a corollary to the last one, and there is no contradiction between them. The last one was about how we should look at ourselves, and today’s is about how we should look at others.
At the same time that we are humble with ourselves and understand our own weaknesses, we should also acknowledge that good people are special and hard to replace. It can take years of time and effort to develop someone to the point that they are solid on their deen (religion), losing such people can be very difficult. We should always make du`a’ (supplications) for them and thank Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), for having them in our lives.
In one of the homes of Madinah, Umar ibn al-Khattab, radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him), was sitting with a group of his companions. He asked them, “Make a wish. What is your greatest wish in this world?”
One of them replied, “I wish to have as much gold as would fill this whole house, so that I could spend it all for the sake of Allah.”
Umar (ra) did not give much attention to this response and then again asked, “Make a wish. What is your dearest wish in this world?”
Another companion said, “I wish that this house was full of jewels and pearls so that I could spend it all for the sake of Allah.”
Yet again, Umar (ra) did not give much attention to this reply and asked for the third time, “Make a wish! What is your greatest wish?”
Frustrated, his companions said, “We don’t know what to say (what you mean), O leader of the believers.”
Thereupon Umar (ra) replied:
“I wish that this house was full of men, like Abu ‘Ubaydah Ibn Al-Jarraah, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal and Saalim who worked for Abu Hudhayfah (names of some of the companions who died in the service of Islam) in order to use them to spread the word of Allah.”
Umar (ra) understood the value of people with a sense of mission and purpose. Men and women who will carry the banner of Islam, be bearers of the message, and be unwavering in their dedication and commitment to moving Islam forward. Because no amount of gold or silver can replace people. No amount of money can replace “among the believers (those who) are true to what they have promised (to) Allah [...]” (Qur’an, 33:23).
He also made the same point when he sent Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (ra) to the people of Kufa to teach them. He said to them, “I have given preference to you over myself in sending Abdullah to you.”
This is love. This is appreciation. And this is a recognition that good people are hard to replace.