Hadith 9 : Obligations are According to Ability

عن أبي هريرة عبد الرحمن بن صخر رضي الله عنه ، قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ( ما نهيتكم عنه فاجتنبوه ، وما أمرتكم به فأتوا منه ما استطعتم ، فإنما أهلك الذين من قبلكم كثرة مسائلهم واختلافهم على انبيائهم ). رواه البخاري [ رقم : 7288 ] ، ومسلم [ رقم : 1337]

On the authority of Abu Hurairah ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan ibn Sakhr (radiAllaahu ‘anhu) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayi wa sallam) say:

“What I have forbidden for you, avoid. What I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can. For verily, it was only the excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you”. [Related by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

The wording of this hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim, from Abu Hurairah radiAllaah ‘anhu, states: The Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu alayi wa sallam addressed us and said:

“O People! Hajj has been made obligatory upon you, so perform the Hajj.” So a man asked: “Is that every year, O Messenger of Allaah?” So the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam remained silent until the man repeated his question three times. Then he said: “If I had said ‘yes’ then it would have become obligatory upon you [i.e. every year], and you would not have been able to do so. Do not ask me about that which I have left [unspecified], for verily the nations before you were destroyed by their excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets. So if I order you with something then do as much of it as you are able, and if I forbid you from something then keep away from it.”

What are the arabic word (in this hadith) for
– prohibit
– avoid
– command
– ability

The avoidance of all that is prohibited (haram) is without exception. The prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam had forbidden to his ummah all that is forbidden by Allah, and his order to avoid it is absolute. Prohibitions are tests and trials to see who among us are the obedient.

Allah says in Al Hashr 59: 7

Whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad Sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe Wa Sallam) gives you, take it, and whatsoever He forbids you, abstain (from it) , and fear Allâh. Verily, Allâh is Severe In punishment.

Do you agree that anything that Allah has prohibited has no inherent goodness in it?

Let’s look at some of the things that Allah prohibits
i. Alcohol
ii. Gambling
iii. Fornication

Allah disallowed evil things on us as a means of elevating us from it. It is from his mercy to honour the human being from things that are harmful. Purifying and elevating the human.
____________________________

The main principles of the religion is defined in these concise word of Allah’s Messenger sallallahu alaihi wasalam. Upon them are based many fiqh rulings concerning different aspects of worship and obedience in general.

For example
– Taking wudhu
o One needs to make complete wudhu’ unless he has difficulty such as bandages, burn, lack of water and so on.
– There are many affairs like this and are widely discuss in the Books of Fiqh.

Can you name some of them?

And in Al Baqarah 2: 286

Allâh burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which He has earned, and He is punished for that (evil) which He has earned.

This is not an escape clause to do anything you want under the name, “inability”. We must have fear of Allah at all times.

Allah says in At Taghabuun 64: 16

So keep Your duty to Allâh and fear Him as much as You can; listen and obey; and spend In charity, that is better for yourselves. and Whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, Then they are the successful ones.

Remember the sixth hadith : Avoidance in doubtful matter? Read : HERE.

These two hadith go hand in hand to ensure that we obey Allah at all times and fear Him in all the things that we do.

And that is why, we must seek ilm. Only through correct ilm, that we can learn to worship Allah the correct way. And always the correct way is the easiest way, Insya Allah.

Let’s look again at this hadith. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam told us to totally avoid the haram matters but the order to obey was limited to the extent of one’s ability.

Many scholars are of the opinion that there is no exception to avoidance of the prohibited; it is therefore more important and more virtuous than performing some supplementary act of worship.

The saying of some sahabahs and their students, “To return a dirham taken unlawfully is better than giving away a hundred thousand in sadaqah.” Generally avoidance of haram takes precedence over supplementary worship.

Thus, one who does a lot of night prayer and supplementary acts should revisit their act of worship if he cannot resist cheating, lying, backbiting and disobedient to parents.

Having said that, this does not cover the scope that some haram things are permitted out of dire necessity. Such as the case of being forced to eat non halal food because there is just no other food except that.

_____________________________

Let us reflect on the story of Prophet Musa alaihi salam with Bani Israel concerning the yellow cow in Suratul Baqarah 2: 67-71

67. and (remember) when Mûsa (Moses) said to his people: “Verily, Allâh commands You that You slaughter a cow.” they said, “Do You make fun of us?” He said, “I take Allâh’s Refuge from being among Al-Jâhilûn (the ignorants or the foolish).”
68. they said, “Call upon Your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!” He said, “He says, ‘Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but (it is) between the two conditions’, so do what You are commanded.”
69. they said, “Call upon Your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour.” He said, “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow, bright In its colour, pleasing to the beholders.’ ”
70. they said, “Call upon Your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily to us All cows are alike, and surely, if Allâh wills, we will be guided.”
71. He [Mûsa (Moses)] said, “He says, ‘It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields, sound, having no other colour except bright yellow.’ ” they said, “Now You have brought the truth.” so they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.

If they had obeyed the Prophet from the very beginning, they would have saved themselves from a lot of hardship. They insisted on questioning which was an indication of disobedience to the Prophet.

This incident, which is told by Allah to our Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam, is an example on excessive questionings and contradiction of the prophet that does benefit the questioner.

The types of questionings forbidden by the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam on various occasions are
i. Personal queries whose answer, if given by the Prophet sallallahu laihi wasalam, would have been distressing to the questioner.
ii. That whose aim is nothing more than argument, ridicule, showing off, or passing time
iii. That about purely theoretical situations which have not yet occurred
iv. The concerned information which Allah has not revealed

Not all questions are prohibited of course. When one does not know, one must ask otherwise one will remain ignorant. The sahabiyat also asked the Prophet sallahu alaihi wasalam concerning issues that can be embarrassing to ask a man.

They had a keen desire for knowledge, and they never felt too shy to ask questions about the ahkam of Islam, because they were asking the truth.

Muslim reports that, Umm Sulaim binti Milhaan, the mother of Anas bin Malik, came to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam and said:, “O Allah’s Messenger! (sallallahu alaihi wasalam) Allah is not ashamed of the truth (Al Ahzab 33: 53). Is a Ghusl (bath) compulsory for a woman when she has a sexual dream.” He (sallallahu alaihi wasalam) replied, “Yes! When she sees signs of liquid.” When Umm Sulaim asked this question, ‘Aisyah said, “O Umm Sulaim, you have exposed women’s secret, may your right hand be rubbed with dust!” The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam said to Aisyah, “Rather your hand should be wiped with dust; O Umm Sulaim, let a woman perform ghusl if she saw such a dream.”

________________________________

Asking Questions

We have discussed concerning asking question when we discussed hadith Jibreel. Read it HERE But it is no harm to say it again

One of the methods of seeking knowledge is by asking questions. The type of questions should be MEANINGFUL. Questions that will lead the questioner, the listener and the one answering to valuable knowledge and good action are the best.
We should ask good questions that will result in others to learn also and to share knowledge. Don’t ask questions that are only meant to boast one’s knowledge or belittle the answerer.
Ibn Abbas, one of the great scholars among the sahabahs, when asked how he obtained all his knowledge, he replied, with an inquisitive tongue and a contemplating heart.
Let us do some case studies.

i. A new boy just came in the class. The teacher decided to make a get-to-know session in the class. Many students ask questions like his name, where he come from, his hobbies, what games does he like. Anas decided to ask him this question instead. What is the exact value of pi up to 5 decimal numbers. The new boy didn’t know. But Anas knew the answer and proudly tell the class the answer. Do you think this kind of question is appropriate? Discuss.

ii. In the physics class, the teacher was introducing a new subject on Force and momentum. Many could not understand the subject. Alhamdulillah Zayd felt that he could comprehend the subject matter. Zayd asked the teacher some question in the hope that teacher would explain the subject in a different approach, perhaps the students can understand it after.
Zayd already know the matter but he still asked questions. Is this considered boasting? Discuss.

iii. Today, Mu’alim is teaching a new subject on Fiqh. Ahmad is finding it hard to understand it. Everyone else seems to understand it making Ahmad feeling shy to ask worried that he’d be ridiculed. Is this a correct attitude? Discuss.

As for any students of knowledge, one must continuously seek knowledge in the Quran and sunnah. One should seek ruling in them, putting much effort in understanding them by understanding how the sahabah and the three generations understood it. There will be different opinions between the scholars. There should be useful discussion based on real desire to reach the truth and please Allah. May Allah help us.

Lessons
1. What is Haram must be avoided.
2. When we come to something that is commanded we must try to do it as much as we can.
3. Whatever Prophet commands or prohibits it is considered a shareeah whether or not it is found in quran or not.
4. Questions must be asked thoughtfully.
5. Asking too many questions and disagreeing with the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihi wasalam can cause our destruction.
6. When we start making too many issues in religion and too many nit picking in religion will only bring destruction.
7. Previous nation were destroyed because they ask too many questions and they opposed their prophet excessively.

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