Do not ask about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble

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Allah says in Surah Al-Mai’dah (interpretation):

“O you who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about them while the Quran is being revealed, they will be made plain to you. Allah has forgiven that, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.” — Quran 5:101

This verse forbade the believers to ask the Prophet about matters concerning which Allah had not said anything in His Book and had not said anything concerning them; splitting hairs and asking too many details about them might lead to them being prohibited, which would cause them hardship. It also forbade them to ask about things that were hidden from them and if they came to know about them it would upset them, such as how sound their attribution to their fathers was. And that indeed happened.

Al-Bukhaari (540) and Muslim (2359) narrated from Anas ibn Maalik that the Messenger of Allah came out when the sun had passed its zenith and led them in praying Dhuhr. Then he stood on the minbar and spoke of the Hour, and said that momentous events would occur during it. Then he said: “Whoever would like to ask about anything, let him ask; you will not ask me about anything but I will tell you about it, so long as I am standing here.” The people wept a great deal, and he kept saying: “Ask me.”

‘Abdullah ibn Hudhaafah as-Sahmi stood up and said: “Who is my father?” He said: “Your father is Hudhaafah.” Then he kept saying, “Ask me.” Then ‘Umar knelt up and said: “We are pleased with Allah as our Lord, Islam as our religion, and Muhammad as our Messenger.” [The Messenger of Allah] fell silent, then he said: “Paradise and Hell were shown to me just now, on this wall, and I have never seen anything as good (as what I saw in Paradise) or anything as evil (as what I saw in Hell).”

A number of things are known from this:

Firstly, the prohibition mentioned in the verse applies specifically to the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), which was the time when Revelation was still coming down, unlike times that came after that. Hence this does not mean that we should not seek Islamic knowledge and learn that which will benefit us or that we need to know with regard to matters of this life and the hereafter.

Secondly, the things that they were forbidden to ask about were:

  1. Things that had no bearing on their actions and were of no benefit in religious terms
  2. Things that Islam said nothing about, out of mercy to people, not out of forgetfulness, because asking too many questions about that could lead to them being forbidden, which would cause hardship for people.
    • Al-Bukhaari (6745) and Muslim (4349) narrated that Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “One of the worst sins a Muslim could commit is asking about something that was not prohibited to the Muslims, but it became prohibited to them because of his asking.”
  3. Things that were unknown to those who asked about them, which if they were made plain to them would cause them trouble, as we have seen above in the hadeeth of ‘Abdullah ibn Hudhaafah.

Thirdly, with regard to matters that are connected to the explanation of a shariah ruling, Allah has instructed us to ask about them, as He says (interpretation): “So ask those who possess knowledge if you do not know.” — Quran 16:43

Greater reward awaits those who memorize the Quran and act upon it

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At-Tirmidhi (2914) and Abu Dawood (1464) narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “It will be said to the companion of the Qur’an: ‘Read, and ascend, and recite as you used to recite in the [previous] world, for your status will be according to the last verse that you recite.’”

Shaykh Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-‘Azeemabaadi (may Allah have mercy on him) said [1]:

“It will be said”: i.e., when people are admitted to Paradise

“to the companion of the Qur’an” i.e., the one who consistently recites it and acts upon it, not the one who reads it and does not act upon it.

“Read and ascend” i.e., to the higher levels of Paradise or of closeness to Allah.””and recite” i.e., do not be hasty in your recitation in Paradise

“as you used to recite” that is, in your reading

“in the [previous] world”.

From this hadith, it may be understood that this greater reward will not be attained except by one who memorized the Qur’an and learned how to recite it properly and in a precise manner, as it should be done.

[1] ‘Awn al-Ma‘bood fi Sharh Sunan Abi Dawood (4/237).

Teach your families the religion and good behavior

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O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. — Quran 66:6

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas: “Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell).” He said, “Work in the obedience of Allah, avoid disobedience of Allah and order your families to remember Allah, then Allah will save you from the Fire.”

Mujahid also commented on: “Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell)” saying, “Have Taqwa of Allah and order your family to have Taqwa of Him.”

Qatadah said, “He commands obedience to Allah, to not disobey Allah, he orders his family to obey His orders and helps them to act upon His orders. When one sees disobedience, he stops them and forbids them from doing it.”

Similar was said by Ad-Dahhak and Muqatil: “It is an obligation for the Muslim to teach his near family members and his male and female slaves what Allah has made obligatory for them and what Allah has forbidden for them.” There is a Hadith that confirms the meaning of this Ayah. Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ar-Rabi` bin Sabrah said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said,

There is a Hadith that confirms the meaning of this Ayah. Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ar-Rabi` bin Sabrah said that his father said that the Messenger of Allah said, “Protect yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell),” saying, “Have Taqwa of Allah and order your family to have Taqwa of Him.”

 

There is a Difference between a Believer and a Muslim

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Allah chastises the bedouins who, when they embraced Islam, claimed for themselves the grade of faithful believers. However, Faith had not yet firmly entered their hearts,

قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا ۖ قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ

The bedouins say: “We believe.” Say: “You do not believe, but say, ‘We have submitted,’ for Faith has not yet entered your hearts…”

This honorable Ayah provides proof that Faith is a higher grade than Islam, according to the scholars of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. This is also demonstrated in the Hadith of Jibril, peace be upon him, when he questioned the Prophet about Islam, then Iman then Ihsan. Thus moving the general matter to one more specific, then even more specific. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Amir bin Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas said, “The Messenger of Allah gave (something to) some men and did not give one of them. Sa`d said, `O Allah’s Messenger, you gave to so-and-so and so-and-so. However, you gave nothing to so-and-so, even though he is a believer.’ The Prophet said,

Imam Ahmad recorded that `Amir bin Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas said, “The Messenger of Allah gave (something to) some men and did not give one of them. Sa`d said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger, you gave to so-and-so and so-and-so. However, you gave nothing to so-and-so, even though he is a believer.’ The Prophet said, ‘Or say, a Muslim.’ Sa`d repeated his statement thrice each time the Prophet answered, ‘Or say, a Muslim.’ The Prophet then said, ‘I might give some men and give nothing to others, even though the latter are dearer to me than the former. I do not give them things for fear that they might be thrown on their faces in the Fire.'” This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs.

Therefore, the Prophet made a distinction between the grade of a believer and the grade of a Muslim, indicating that Iman is a more exclusive grade than Islam.

So this proves that the bedouins whom the Ayah mentioned were not hypocrites, rather they were Muslims in whose hearts Faith was not yet firmly established. They claimed a higher grade for themselves than the grade that they earned, and they were taught a lesson as a consequence. This meaning agrees with the meaning given by Ibn `Abbas, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Qatadah and that preferred by Ibn Jarir. These bedouins were taught a lesson:

قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ

Say: “You do not believe, but say ‘We are Muslims,’ for Faith has not yet entered your hearts…”

This means, ‘you have not yet achieved the reality of Faith.’

Allah the Exalted said,

وَإِن تُطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لاَ يَلِتْكُمْ مِّنْ أَعْمَـلِكُمْ شَيْئاً

But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not decrease anything in reward for your deeds…

This means, ‘He will not decrease any of your rewards,’ as Allah said; “We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything.” (52:21)

Allah said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

…for those who repent and return to Him.

Allah’s statement,

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ

The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah . It is those who are the truthful.

The believers did not have doubts and their Faith was not shaken. Rather, their Faith remained on conviction. They gladly gave away their life and the most precious of their wealth in obedience to Allah as a means of seeking His pleasure.

The prohibition of baseless suspicion

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Allah the Exalted forbids His faithful servants from being suspicious, which includes having doubts and suspicions about the conduct of one’s family, relatives and other people in general. Therefore, Muslims are to avoid suspicion without foundation.

The Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, “Never think ill of the word that comes out of your believing brother’s mouth, as long as you can find a good excuse for it.”

Malik recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that Allah’s Messenger said: “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; do not spy on one another; do not look for other’s faults; do not be jealous of one another; do not envy one another; do not hate one another, and do not desert (shun) one another. And O Allah’s servants! Be brothers!” The Two Sahihs and Abu Dawud recorded this Hadith.

Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said, “Do not shun each other; do not ignore one another; do not hate one another, and do not envy one another, and be brothers, O servants of Allah. No Muslim is allowed to shun his brother for more than three days.” Muslim and At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith, who considered it Sahih.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicion is sin. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. And have Taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.

Quran 49:12

Allah said, “And spy not”, on each other. Tajassus, usually harbors ill intentions, and the spy is called a Jasus. As for Tahassus (inquiring), it is usually done for a good reason. Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said that Prophet Ya`qub said, “O my sons! Go you and inquire (Tahassasu) about Yusuf and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s mercy.” (12:87)

Both of these terms, Tajassus and Tahassus could have evil connotations. In the Sahih it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said, “Neither commit Tajassus nor Tahassus nor hate each other nor commit Tadabur. And be brothers, O servants of Allah.”

Al-Awza`i said, “Tajassus means, to search for something, while Tahassus means, listening to people when they are talking without their permission, or eavesdropping at their doors. Tadabur refers to shunning each other.” Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement.

Allah the Exalted said about backbiting; “neither backbite one another”, thus prohibiting it, which was explained in a Hadith collected by Abu Dawud that Abu Hurayrah said, “It was asked, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! What is backbiting?’ He said, ‘Mentioning about your brother in a manner that he dislikes.’ He was asked, ‘What if my brother was as I mentioned?’ He said, ‘If he was as you mentioned, you will have committed backbiting. But if he was not as you say about him, you will have falsely accused him’.” At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said Hasan Sahih.

Backbiting was sternly warned against, and this is why Allah the Exalted and Most Blessed compared it to eating the flesh of a dead human being:

“Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it.”

Just as you hate eating the flesh of a dead person, on account of your nature; so hate backbiting, on account of your religion. The latter carries a punishment that is worse than the former. This Ayah seeks to discourage people from backbiting and warns against it. The Prophet used these words to discourage taking back a gift that one gives to someone, “He is just like the dog that eats its vomit.” after saying, “Ours is not an evil parable.”

Using various chains of narration, the Sahihs and Musnads record that the Prophet said during the Farewell Hajj: “Verily, your blood, wealth and honor are as sacred among you as the sanctity of this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this town of yours.” Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
“All of the Muslim is sacred to the Muslim, his wealth, honor and his blood. It is evil enough for someone to belittle his Muslim brother.” At-Tirmidhi collected this Hadith and said Hasan Gharib.

Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la recorded that a cousin of Abu Hurayrah said, “Maiz came to the Messenger of Allah and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I have committed adultery,’ and the Messenger turned away from him until Maiz repeated his statement four times. The fifth time, the Prophet asked him, ‘Have you committed adultery?’ Maiz said, ‘Yes.’

The Prophet asked, ‘Do you know what adultery means’ Ma`iz said, ‘Yes. I have illegally done with her what a husband legally does with his wife.’ The Prophet said, ‘What do you seek to accomplish by this statement?’ Maiz said, ‘I intend that you purify me.’

The Prophet asked, ‘Have you gone into her just as the stick goes into the kohl container and the rope goes into the well)?’ Ma`iz said, ‘Yes, O Allah’s Messenger!’ The Prophet commanded that Maiz be stoned to death and his order was carried out. The Prophet heard two men saying to one another, ‘Have you not seen the man who had Allah cover his secret, but his heart could not let him rest until he was stoned to death, just as the dog is stoned?’

The Prophet continued on and when he passed by the corpse of a donkey, he asked, ‘Where are so-and-so? Dismount and eat from this donkey.’ They said, ‘May Allah forgive you, O Allah’s Messenger! Would anyone eat this meat?’ The Prophet said; ‘The backbiting you committed against your brother is worse as a meal than this meal. By He in Whose Hand is my soul! He is now swimming in the rivers of Paradise.'” This Hadith has an authentic chain of narration.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah said, “We were with the Messenger of Allah when a rotten odor was carried by the wind. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Do you know what this odor is? It is the odor of those who backbite people.'”

The Jews hope they will only remain in the Fire for a few days

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And they (Jews) say, “The Fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days.” Say (O Muhammad to them): “Have you taken a covenant from Allah, so that Allah will not break His covenant Or is it that you say of Allah what you know not?”

Allah mentioned the claim of the Jews, that the Fire will only touch them for a few days, and then they will be saved from it. Allah refuted this claim by saying:

قُلْ أَتَّخَذْتُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ عَهْدًا

Say (O Muhammad to them): “Have you taken a covenant from Allah?”

Hence, the Ayah proclaims, “if you had a promise from Allah for that, then Allah will never break His promise. However, such promise never existed. Rather, what you say, about Allah, you have no knowledge of and you thus utter a lie about Him.”

Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said about the Ayah,

وَقَالُواْ لَن تَمَسَّنَا النَّارُ إِلاَّ أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَةً

And they (Jews) say, “The Fire shall not touch us but for a few numbered days.”

“The Jews said, ‘The Fire will only touch us for forty days’.” Others added that this was the period during which the Jews worshiped the calf.

Also, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr bin Marduwyah reported Abu Hurayrah saying:

When Khaybar was conquered, a roasted poisoned sheep was presented to the Prophet as a gift (by the Jews). The Messenger of Allah ordered, “Assemble before me all the Jews who were here.” The Jews were summoned and the Prophet said (to them), “Who is your father?” They replied, “So-and-so.” He said, “You have lied; your father is so-and-so.” They said, “You have uttered the truth.” He said, “Will you now tell me the truth, if I ask you about something?” They replied, “Yes, O Abul-Qasim; and if we should tell a lie, you will know our lie as you have about our fathers.”

On that he asked, “Who are the people of the (Hell) Fire?” They said, “We shall remain in the (Hell) Fire for a short period, and after that you will replace us in it.” The Prophet said, “May you be cursed and humiliated in it! By Allah, we shall never replace you in it.”

Then he asked, “Will you tell me the truth if I ask you a question?” They said, “Yes, O Abul-Qasim.” He asked, “Have you poisoned this sheep?” They said, “Yes.” He asked, “What made you do so?” They said, “We wanted to know if you were a liar, in which case we would get rid of you, and if you were a Prophet then the poison would not harm you.”

Imam Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa’i recorded similarly.

Subhanallah.

EVIL is the name of wickedness after having faith

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Allah the Exalted forbids scoffing at people, which implies humiliating and belittling them. In the Sahih, it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said, “Arrogance is refusing the truth and belittling people.” And in another version, “And despising people.”

It is forbidden to scoff at and belittle people, for the injured party could be more honored and dearer to Allah the Exalted than those who ridicule and belittle them. This is why Allah the Exalted said,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ

O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at (i.e. ridicule) another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former.

The above statements from the verse states the prohibition for men and then women.

The statement of Allah the Exalted,

ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ

Nor defame yourselves

This statement of Allah forbids defaming each other. He among men who is a slanderer, and a backbiter, is cursed and condemned as Allah states: { Woe to every Humazah, Lumazah } (104:1)

Hamz is defamation by action, while Lamz is [defamation] by words.

Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said, { Hammaz (defaming), going about with slander. } (68:11) meaning, he belittles and defames people, transgressing and spreading slander among them, which is the Lamz that uses words as its tool.

Allah’s statement here, { Nor defame yourselves, } just as He said in another Ayah, { Nor kill yourselves } (4:29), meaning, nor kill one another.

`Abdullah bin `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah and Muqatil bin Hayyan said that the Ayah, { Nor defame yourselves, } means, none of you should defame each other, while,

وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ

Nor insult one another by nicknames

means, ‘you should not address people by nicknames that people dislike.’

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Jabirah bin Ad-Dahhak said, “This Ayah was revealed about us, Banu Salamah; When the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, every man among us had two or three nicknames. When the Prophet called a man by one of these nicknames, people would say, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! He hates that nickname.’ Then this Ayah, { nor insult one another by nicknames. } was revealed.” Abu Dawud also collected this Hadith.

The statement of Allah the Exalted and Most Honored,

بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ

  Evil is the name of wickedness after faith

This means the names and descriptions of wickedness are evil; meaning, ‘to use the nicknames that were used by the people of Jahiliyyah, after you embraced Islam and understood it.’

وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And whosoever does not repent (from this sin), then such are indeed wrongdoers.

Reference: Tafsir ibn Kathir: Surah Al-Hujurat 49:11

 

Investigating the reliability of the news conveyed by wicked people

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Allah the Exalted ordered investigating the news that sinners and the wicked bring, to make sure of its authenticity. Otherwise, if the sinner’s word is taken for granted and a decision is based on it, regardless of whether the information is true or not, the authorities will be taking the lead of the sinners.

Allah the Exalted and Most Honored forbade taking the path of the corrupted and sinners. This is why groups of the scholars of Hadith refuse to accept narrations from narrators whose reliability is unknown, for they might be from among the wicked people, in reality.

 

Reference: Tafsir ibn Kathir: Surah Al-Hujurat 49:6