One day Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), asked a delegation who came to him in Madinah representing a tribe how they defined themselves. They said: “We are indeed believers.”
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Everything has a substance, so what do you define as the substance of your belief?”
They said to him: “We have fifteen characteristics. Five we have been told by your representative to believe in, and five you have ordered us to do and five are among our traditions. We will maintain (them) unless you instruct us to the contrary.”
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) asked them about these. They told him that they believed in God, His angels, His revealed books, and His messengers and in resurrection after death. Those were the five beliefs taught to them by the Prophet’s representatives. The ones he instructed them to do were the declaration that there is no except Allah, Prayers, Zakat, Fasting in Ramadhan and Hajj. The five among their traditions were: To be grateful in time of plenty, to be patient in adversity, to accept God’s will whatever it may be, to remain steadfast in battle and not to show pleasure when calamity befalls an enemy.
The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) commended them on these and added five more to make their total twenty. He said to them: “If you are truly as you say, then do not amass what you cannot eat, or build what you do not reside in, nor compete in what you will soon abandon. Fear God to whom you shall return and work for what you will soon be facing.”
[Attributed to Alqamah ibn Yazid]
[from “Our Dialogue” – Arab News, Jeddah]