Hadith 6 : Avoidance of doubtful matter and Purification of the heart

On the authority of Abu ‘Abdullah al-Nu’man bin Bashir, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, say:
“Truly, what is lawful is evident, and what is unlawful is evident, and in between the two are matters which are doubtful which many people do not know. He who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and honour blameless, and he who indulges in doubtful things indulges in fact in unlawful things, just as a shepherd who pastures his flock round a preserve will soon pasture them in it. Beware, every king has a preserve, and the things Allah has declared unlawful are His preserves. Beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.”

For more reading read THIS.

This hadith is a great principle of shareeah.

In things that we do everyday, we must learn that there are things

1. Permissible for you to do.

Like getting married for example.

Or eating Al Maidah 5:5

And drinking

2. But within it there are things that you are not allowed to do. It is called haram

Like you cannot marry your sister An Nisaa 4 :23

You cannot marry the same gender

You cannot eat things that are not allowed like meat that are not slaughtered in the name of Allah. eating pork. 2:173, 5:3, 6:145 and 16:114-115

You cannot drink alcohol.

Our main manual to determine the halal and haram which are clear are from the Quran and also sunnah

However there are things which are doubtful to you that makes you not sure whether this is haram or halal. The scholars divide these doubtful things into three.

1) That affair which a person knows to be Haraam, but which he then doubts as to whether its forbiddance still continues or not.

For example, a person cannot eat from an animal until he is sure that is has been slaughtered Islaamically, and so if he has doubts about this then the forbiddance to eat continues until certainty of the correct slaughtering is achieved. And the origin of this is in the hadeeth of ‘Adiyy.

And in the hadeeth from ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim that he said to the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa salaam:

“O Messenger of Allaah! [Sometimes] I send my hunting dog after game, after pronouncing ‘bismillaah’ upon it, but when I reach the catch I find another dog there too (upon which I had not pronounced the name of Allaah).” So the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam replied: “Do not eat from it (the catch), for verily you pronounced the name of Allaah upon your dog, but not upon the other dog.”

So the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam gave a verdict based upon a doubt, fearing that the dog which killed the game was the other dog upon which the name of Allaah had not been pronounced, hence making the kill slaughtered for other than Allaah. And Allaah has said about this:

“Eat not of that (meat) on which Allaah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering), for surely it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience of Allaah).” [al-An’aam 6:121]

So this verdict contains evidence for taking care regarding those actions or events that involve some judgement regarding what is Halaal or Haraam, due to the similarity between the different situations. And this is encompassed in the meaning of the statement of the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam: “Leave that which causes you doubt, for that which does not cause you doubt.” [narrated by an-Nasaa’ee]

2) The opposite of this, where the affair is originally Halaal, and the person has doubts regarding whether it has become Haraam. And whatever is of this type then it is considered permissible until its forbiddence is clearly established.

And the origin of this is the hadeeth of Abdullaah bin Zayd, regarding the doubt in ones wudoo’ if one is sure that previously he had made wudoo’. [i.e. one continues upon the assumption of being with wudoo’ until it becomes clear that the wudoo’ has broken]

3) The third type is where one has doubts about a matter and one does not know whether it is Halaal or Haraam, and the matter could be of either of the two, and there is no clear evidence to establish either ruling. Then in this situation the best course of action is restraint.

For example, once the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam found a date in his house, but did not eat it for he feared that it may have been from that given as sadaqah (as the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam was forbidden from taking of sadaqah).

Thus taking the examples of the above,

1. it is best to refrain from doing the things that we have doubt in it. It is a sign of piety.

2. Ask those who are knowledgable and known to follow the quraan and sunnah. Alhamdulillah to these time we can find fatwa at good sites like Islam Q&A or we can read up up books like fatawa Islamiah.

3. However when we refrain or decide (with knowledge) to proceed or not proceed on an action, be aware of shaytan’s trick and was was. For example someone wants to pray but not sure whether the place or clean or dirty or whether his clothes has najis. And thus decide not to pray at all.

Leaving things because we are doubtful should not mean we leave things that are wajib.

4. If you are uncertain, due to doubtful evidence or confusion, have taqwa. Practice caution and fear Allah.  Always ask yourself will Allah be please with us.  And it is preferable to avoid the doubtful matters.


In this hadith, again Prophet Muhammad used metaphors to convey a point. Can you give other examples of metaphors that we have learned before.

We fist talked about the tool that Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wasalam used to teach using metaphor in the third hadith : Islam is built upon five things. We shall repeat about metaphor again to strengthen our knowledge, Insya Allah.

Using metaphors to convey the Message is a very important ‘tool’ and it is the methodology used in the Quran and by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. There are many modes of expression used in the Quran and Hadith and they are used for different purposes. E.g. Dealing with the misconceptions and false assumptions of the disbelievers, the Quran and Hadith use rational thinking. When describing Jannah and the Hellfire, the style used by the Quran and Hadith is the visual mode of expression – they are described in such detail that it is like we can actually visualize Jannah or the Hellfire in front of us.

In the third hadith, the metaphor used was comparing Islam to the structures of buildings. And thus the pillars of Islam is like the importance of pillars in a building.

It makes it easier to visualise the concept and Insya Allah brings one to understand.

You can also try using metaphor in the lessons you learnt! 😉

In this hadith 6, Prophet Muhammad salllahu alaihi wasalam used the metaphor of a sheep that a shepherd herds were allowed to graze near a forbidden area.  How can a shepherd controls his flock of sheep from grazing the grass at the forbidden area especially the forbidden area is usually more luscious and greener,

Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wasalam is making a comparison to the issues of doubtful matter. Some doubtful matter may be more attractive. However it may make one gets nearer to something that is forbidden.

And thus the crux is to stay away from things that will lead you to haram things as it is better for you. The principle of a danger zone is thus established to protect the Muslim against the whisperings of shaytan and of his own soul.

Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wassalam again made an analogy. if one is careful not to thread onto a private property of an owner or a king, similarly and even more, one must be careful to stay away from the prohibited areas that are lined by the Creator, the Rabbul Alamin.


At the end of the hadith, prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wasalam finish the important issue that one needs to take care. Which is taqwa. Taqwa, the fear of Allah, will take one to do things that are pleasing to Allah, and will refrain one from doing what is not allowed.

Relating to the hadith on doubtful matter, taqwa and iman, Insya Allah, will guide one to what Allah pleases. In another hadith (hadith no 35), Prophet Muhammad sallalhu alaihi wasalam mentioned, “Taqwa is here – pointing to the chest.”

This hadith  6, indicates that behaviour is dependent on the heart. So when the heart is sound, the body will do good deeds, avoid prohibited ones and even avoid the doubtful subject. But when the heart is corrupted and ruled by worldly desires, the body will not resist temptation and will be led to disobedience, easily convinced by numerous excuses.

One way to take care of the heart is to stay away from sins, big or small.

Sins causes heart to darken

Narrated by Abu Hurairah r.a. ,Prophet Muhammad sallalhu alaihi wasalam said, “When the servant performs a sin a black spot appears on his heart, and if he seeks forgiveness this black spot is removed, and if he returns to sin the black spot grows until his heart becomes black, and this is the ‘Raan’ about which Allaah spoke,”

‘Nay! But on their hearts is the covering of sins (raan) which they used to earn.'” Sooraah al-Mutaffifeen (83):14

Reported by an-Nasaa’ee and at-Tirmidhee who said it was hasan saheeh.

Exercise :

1. To list known sins

2. To make black spots on the heart with a stronger black for bigger sins.

Next activity is to brainstorm for Heart are workout.

examples :

  1. Always seeking knowledge concerning Allah and Islam.
  2. Quran in our heart : reading it everyday. Memorizing. Understanding. Applying. May Allah make it easy for us.
  3. Remembrance of Allah: Dzikir. Attending majlees where people talk about Allah.
  4. When there is a need to listen to something, make it something beneficial and that will increase your eeman rather than empty music. Listen to lectures and Quran.
  5. Avoiding sins big or small.
  6. Quickly make repentance for any sins. (This will wipe out the black dots)

Can you think of anything else?

Lessons from this hadith:

  1. Things which are haram are clear and has evidence.
  2. The one who does doubtful thigs may well be doing what is Haram.
  3. There are metaphors used in this hadith. Metaphors are used as tools to help explain a concept better.
  4. The metaphor – just as a shepherd who pastures his flock round a preserve will soon pasture in it – means that doubtful things are closer to unlawful things.
  5. Doing what is forbidden affects the heart
  6. Important to keep heart pure.
  7. Heart will affect our actions.


Filed under hadith

3 responses to “Hadith 6 : Avoidance of doubtful matter and Purification of the heart

  1. Pingback: Hadith 9 : Obligations are According to Ability | Lollies Place


  3. Pingback: Hadith 11 – Adherence to What is Certain | Lollies Place

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