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In the Name of Allaah, the All-Merciful, may His Salaah and Salaam be upon His final Messenger, to proceed:
The Hadeeth of the Strong Believer
On the authority of Aboo Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said:
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, while there is good in both. Guard over that which benefits you, seek Allaah’s Assistance, wa laa ta’jiz (don’t lend yourself to things devoid of benefit, and this could carry many meanings), and if something befalls you, then don’t say ‘If I only would have done such and such,’ rather say, ‘Qaddarallaahu wa maa shaa’ fa’al’ (Allaah ordained (this) and He does what He wills), for verily the phrase ‘If I would have’ makes way for the work of Shaytaan.”
The Takhreej of the Hadeeth (where it can be found)
As-Suyootee gathered it in Al-Jaami’us-Sagheer, and Al-Albaanee numbered it #6650 and called it ‘hasan’. He traced it to Saheeh Muslim, Ibn Maajah, and Ahmad. He brought it in his summarized Saheeh Muslim #1840 but did not mention why it is hasan, but he mentions in his takhreej of As-Sunnah of Ibn Abee ‘Aasim that As-Suyootee found a problem with Rabee’ah bin ‘Uthmaan (one of the narrators).
Statements of the Scholars About the Strong Believer
Shaykh Al-Islaam referred to the hadeeth when discussing the prayer of a sick person standing up, saying: “As for the prayer of those who can not properly perform it, then their prayer is acceptable in any way that it is possible for them to perform it, according to their abilities, as this is what they have been ordered with in this circumstance, while the one who is capable of performing his prayers properly is more sound and more virtuous, as the Prophet (sallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) said, ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, while there is good in both.’” 
So here we see that Ibn Taymiyyah understood that physical strength is something found in the strong believer.
Shaykh Al-Islaam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (may Allaah have Mercy on him)
“The one who has insight into the Truth and an awareness of it, but he is weak and has no strength to implement it or to call to it, then this is the situation of the weak believer. The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than him.” 
We can see that Ibn Al-Qayyim understood that courage is from the strength of the believer.
Imaam An-Nawawee (may Allaah have Mercy on him)
“The intended meaning of strength here is a firm will and a desire to work for the Hereafter. So the one being described as a strong believer is more bold and stern against the enemy in Jihaad, quicker to go out (to fight) and searching for it (Jihaad), more firm in the way he enjoins the good and forbids the evil, (more firm) in his patience with the harms he faces throughout all of that, and stronger in the way he carries out difficult tasks for Allaah’s Sake. He loves to pray, fast, make thikr, and perform the rest of the acts of worship, and he is more active in seeking after these affairs, and he keeps a closer watch over his performance of them.” 
“‘The strong believer’ is regarding his eemaan (faith), as the intended meaning is not physical strength.  This is because physical strength is harmful to a person who uses it to disobey Allaah. So physical strength is neither praiseworthy nor blameworthy in itself. If he uses this strength for what benefits him in this life and the Next, then it is praiseworthy. But if he uses it to disobey Allaah, it becomes blameworthy.
So the meaning of strength in his statement (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), ‘The strong believer…’ is strength in eemaan, since the word ‘strong’ refers to the word ‘believer‘, someone who has eemaan. Similarly, one would say ‘a strong man’ if he was referring to his manhood and masculinity. So the strong believer is strong in his eemaan, because the strong believer has the strength to carry out what Allaah ordered him to do, and to increase upon that by doing extra good deeds however Allaah likes. As for the weak believer, his eemaan is weak, and that hinders him from performing his duties and avoiding what is prohibited, so he is always falling short.” 
Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him)
“The believer who is strong in his eemaan, body, and actions, is better than the weak believer, the one who has weak eemaan, or a weak body or weak actions. That is because the strong believer is productive and accomplishes things for the Muslims, and thus they benefit from his physical strength, actions, and his strong eemaan. They benefit greatly from that in Jihaad in Allaah’s Way, in other affairs that benefit the Muslims, and in defending Islaam and the Muslims.
He also humiliates the enemies, and can stand up to their challenges. This is something the weak believer can not do. So from this angle the strong believer is better than the weak one, while there is good in both, since eemaan in its entirity is good, so there is good in the weak believer. But the strong believer has more goodness for himself, his Religion, and his brother Muslims.
So this hadeeth is an encouragement to have strength, as Islaam is the Religion on strength, the Religion of honor, the Religion of prestige! The Muslims are always to be possessors of strength, as Allaah, the Glorified and Exalted, says :
( And prepare for them all the might you can gather, including riding beasts, to threaten Allaah’s and your enemies with )
And Allaah, Most High, says :
( And to Allaah belongs all Honor, and to His Messenger, and to the Muslims )
And He, Most High, says :
( And you will be the superior ones, if you are indeed believers )
So the strength that is sought from us in Islaam is strength in eemaan and ‘aqeedah, as well as strength in our actions and bodies, because all of this brings forth good things for the Muslims. 
An Important Point
If one looks at the text of the hadeeth itself, he will find something very interesting. Notice that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) started by saying, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer, while there is good in both…” and then it may seem like the subject of the hadeeth shifts to something else.
Yes, after informing us about the superiority of the strong believer, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) detailed some ways to become a strong believer, giving us four pieces of advice, all of them related to eemaan:
1 – Guard over what benefits you
2 – Seek Allaah’s Assistance
3 – Don’t lend yourself to things devoid of benefit
4 – Say “Qaddarallaahu wa maa shaa’ fa’al” through calamities
All these things are matters that will increase you in eemaan, thus making you a stronger believer. So the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was not wandering into another topic here, rather he was giving us some actual steps to take that will help us become strong believers.
So the first source of explanation of this hadeeth, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) himself, already answered these natural questions that arise: “What is a strong believer?” and “How do I become one?” It’s all here in this short and concise hadeeth!
The strong believer is the one who guards over that which benefits him, seeks Allaah’s Aid, doesn’t lend himself to affairs devoid of benefit, and understands firmly that what happens is from Allaah’s Qadr (Divine Will), saying, “Qaddarallaahu wa maa shaa’ fa’al”, among the other things that his eemaan would necessitate.
The believer who has strong eemaan is more likely to be fit and in shape. This is because he understands the importance of Jihaad and staying in shape in preparation for it, while the weak believer may easily get fat and out of shape, from his overeating and laziness. So physical strength is a direct result of strength in eemaan.
Conversely, a person could be a topnotch bodybuilder and superb athlete, but he can’t even wake up for Fajr, and Allaah is the One whose Help is sought! So clearly his strength is not making him better nor more beloved to Allaah, so how could he be considered a strong believer?! 
And Allaah knows best.
This article was taken from BAKKAHnet (www.bakkah.net)
 written by Abul-‘Abbaas, revised and updated (1423/5/23), revised and updated (1423/1/11)
 Majmoo’ah Al-Fataawaa (12/479)
 Ad-Daa’ Wad-Dawaa’ (p.145, Daar Ibn Al-Jowzee printing)
 Sharh Muslim (9/341, Daar Al-Ma’rifah printing)
 It is not understood from the words of our shaykh that the strong believer should be physically weak or devoid of physical strength. Rather, he only clarified that the real strength being referred to in this hadeeth is strength in eemaan. In fact, strength in eemaan will not allow a person to become out of shape or incapable if he has the ability to be physically strong. This point is dealt with later in the article.
 Sharh Riyaadhis-Saaliheen (3/91-92)
 the meaning of Soorah Al-Anfaal (8):60
 the meaning of Soorah Al-Munaafiqoon (63):8
 the meaning of Soorah Aali ‘Imraan (3):139
 Al-Muntaqaa min Fataawaa Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan (5/380-381)
 This is the point that Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen had made, that physical strength is blameworthy if it is not used to obey Allaah.
TEST YOUR UNDERSTANDING
What are the four pieces of advice found in the hadeeth of the strong believer?
When can a Muslim’s physical strength be considered blameworthy?
How does Islaam benefit from the physical strength of the Muslims?