The next hadîth is narrated by Jâbir ibn ’Abdullâh:

  The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam passed by the market place coming from the direction of ‘آliyah and people were around him. He passed by a dead kid goat (i.e. a baby goat) which had very short ears. He held it by its ears and said: “Who amongst you would like to have this for a dirham?” They (the Companions) said: We would not want it even for less than that! What can we do with it? He said: “Do you wish to have it (for any price)?” They said: By Allâh, even if it were alive it (we would not want it), as it has very short ears, let alone now when it is also dead! The Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “By Allâh, this world is more insignificant to Allâh than this (goat) is to you all.” Related by Muslim and Ahmad

Let us return to the hadîth. He passed by the market place “ and the people were around him.” Here I would like to pause a little in order to remind people about some of the guidance of the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam that most of the Shaykhs of today have neglected.

The Shaykhs of today walk with their students behind them. This was not the way of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam. The ahâdîth describing this are many and the following is from them:

  “He used to walk side by side with Abû Bakr and side by side with Abû Hurayrah; and they all walked with each other.”

Moreover, it is authentically proven that the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam used to say to his Companions radiallâhu ’anhum, when he used to walk with them:

  “Walk in front of me and leave my back for the angels.” Sahîh: Related by Abû Nu’aym in Hilyatul-Awliyâ (7/117) from Jâbir radiallâhu ’anhu. It was authenticated in as-Sahîhah (no.1557).

Here he highlights two matters from one saying. People do not see angels, they see only people. Therefore, if anyone saw the Messenger sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam walking, they would only see people walking in front of him. The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said in the authentic hadîth:

  “He who humbles himself for the sake of Allâh, Allâh will raise him.” Related by Muslim (16/141), ad-Dârimî (l/396) and others – from Abû Hurayrah radiallâhu ’anhu.

His humbleness raised him to a degree whereby the angels walked behind him. Therefore, is a noble person one behind whom people – good or bad – walk; or is he the one who is followed by those described by Allâh in the following verse:

  “They do not disobey what Allâh ordered them to do and do precisely what they are commanded.”  

The nobility of the Prophet manifested itself in a visible and an invisible side. The visible side is that the Companions used to walk in front of the Prophet and not behind him. The invisible side is that the angels walked behind him.

Of course, the first phenomenon is the one in which we are ordered not to act proudly with our companions and our brothers in faith, even those who may be less than us in knowledge, morals, worship and righteousness. This is enough for us, because Allâh says:

  “Do not sanctify yourself. He knows best the ones who are pious.” explanation of Sûratun-Najm 53:32.  

It is sufficient for us at least, to walk with people side by side. Whosoever intentionally goes against this Sunnah, without doubt, does not truly love the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam. This is because one’s degree of love from him, is based upon following him. This is established in the Qur’ân by the statement of Allâh:

  “Say (O Muhammad): If you do love Allâh then follow me; Allâh will love you and forgive you your sins.” explanation of Sûrah آl-Imrân 3:31.  

So, if this was the case with the Prophet who was infallible and protected from the whispering of the Shaytân and this was an indication of the level with his Companions, then what can we say about ourselves? We are not infallible and are not protected from the Shaytân. We must adhere to this Sunnah as if it were obligatory. It is better for us to walk with people around us than to walk looking with our eyes at the backs of their shoulders. The statement of the Prophet, at the end of the hadîth: “By Allâh, this world is more insignificant to Allâh than this (goat) is to you all,” is to be reflected upon by people of intellect!

 We ask Allâh not to put love of this world in our hearts, but to guide us to earn in this life what helps us to worship and obey Him. And all praise is for Allâh, Lord of the Worlds [Ameen]

Excerpt from “The Righteous Action,” by Muhammad Nasir ad-Din al-Albani rahimahul-Lah, as posted at  The article is long, but worth the read in my opinion, waAllahu ta’aala a’alem.