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The collection of Forty Hadith by al-Imam alNawawi (or Imam Nawawi) has been known, accepted and appreciated by Muslim scholars for the last seven centuries. Its significance lay in the fact that these selected forty hadiths comprise the main essential and fundamental concepts of Islam which, in turn, construct the minimum level of required revealed knowledge for every single Muslim.Since having good knowledge of the various fundamental aspects of the religion is key to a Muslim's practice and application of Islam, this publication provides simple and practical commentaries to the collection of Imam Nawawi's Forty Hadith. Various principles are contained in these hadiths, such as belief, Muslim ethics and fiqh. As such, it is important to have a good understanding of these hadiths based on scholarly interpretations.
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Commentaries on Imam Nawawi's Forty Hadith
The collection of Forty Hadith by al-Imam al- Nawawi (or Imam Nawawi)
It is narrated on the authority of Amirul Mu'minin, Abu Hafs 'Umar bin al-Khattab, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, say:
"Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what heintended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he mightmarry, his migration is to that for which he migrated."
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
This hadith was said by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, at the time when a man emigrated from Makkah to Madinah during the Hijrah for the sake of marrying someone and not for the sake of Islam.
It is considered to be one of the greatest hadiths in Islam.
Al-Imam al-Shafie said: This Hadith is one third of the knowledge of Islam; related to about 70 topics of Fiqh.
Al-Imam Ahmad (with reference to al-Imam al-Shafie's statement) said: Islam is based on three fundamentals (all are among the 40 hadiths ):
Hadith 1: which is stated above.
Hadith 5: "Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours (i.e. Islam) something that does not belong to it, it is to be rejected."
Hadith 6: "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…”
These three hadiths are agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
These hadiths can be seen as three criteria to help Muslims evaluate and judge what they do and say "as an ibadah" in their daily life:
To evaluate and judge our internal actions (actions of the heart).
To evaluate and judge our external actions (actions of the limbs).
To evaluate and judge our dealings "mu'amalat" (interaction between people).
Niyyah (intention) has two meanings:
The intention before an ibadah (e.g. prayer)
The willingness (what is meant in this hadith.)
The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, starts the hadith with the principle ("Actions are judged by intentions") and then gives three examples. This is the methodology of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam. The examples help illustrate the principle so that it is easier for people to understand and they can apply the principle to other similar situations.
The three examples consist of one of good intention (migration for the sake of Allah and His Messenger) and two of bad intentions (migration for the sake of worldly gains or for marriage).
This hadith emphasises ikhlas (sincerity - to be truthful and honest to Allah alone, performing an act solely for Allah's sake whereby no other witness except Allah is sought). Ikhlas is one of the conditions of accepting good deeds. The other condition is that the actions must be done in accordance with the Shariah as it will be explained in the fifth hadith.
This can be seen in the shahadah :
"I bear witness that there is no god but Allah" is the ikhlas - ensuring that we do things for the sake of Allah and Allah alone.
"I bear witness that Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah" - the Sunnah is the manifestation of the Quran - the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, is our example, our best model to follow. Following his Sunnah in our ibadah, Akhlaq (ethics), and Muamalat (dealings) ensures that we are acting in accordance with the Shariah.
Thus, the shahadah shows us the conditions for accepting a deed or performing an action: (a) it should be for the sake of Allah because He is the only One we worship, and (b) it should be in accordance with the Shariah.
To achieve ikhlas, we have to avoid shirk (associating others with Allah, which causes insincerity). Al-Imam al-Harawi said the root cause for insincerity (or shirk) is self-desire (al-hawa). Therefore no action should be done because of self-desire.
Imam al-Harawi states that there are 7 types of self-desires:-
To make oneself appear good in the hearts of others
To seek the praises of others
To avoid being blamed by others
To seek the glorification of others
To seek the wealth/money of others
To seek the services or love of others
To seek the help of others for oneself
Ways to obtain ikhlas:
Do righteous deeds - the more good deeds we do and hence get closer to Allah, the more sincere we will be.
Before we do any deed we should firstly seek knowledge (ilm) - our actions/deeds should be guided by knowledge so that we do them in accordance to the Shariah.
Do not give false impressions - do not make others believe that an action we did was good when it was not.
Al-Imam Ahmad said: Before you do anything, check your intention (niyyah) - ask yourself before performing an action: "Is it for the sake of Allah?"
Ibnu al-Qayyim says: Any action we do is subject to three defects:
Being conscious that others are observing our actions
Seeking a return (benefit/reward) for the action
Being satisfied with the action
If we go to the masjid for the salah and we are early, arriving before the Imam and finding a place in the first saff, we should not be proud of ourselves and think of ourselves being better than others. We should
praise Allah for enabling us to go to the masjid and for being able to perform the salah without any difficulties.
After every salah, we should tell ourselves that we could have performed it better and try to improve in our next salah.
What happens if we were to change our niyyah while performing an action? Ibn Rajab says according to the ulama' if the niyyah at the end of the action matches the beginning (i.e. doing the action for the sake of Allah), then any changes in the middle of the action will be forgiven or does not matter, insha Allah. However, if the niyyah at the end does not match the beginning, i.e.
we do the action for other than the sake of Allah, then we must repent (taubah).
There are four things that contradict ikhlas:
Ma'siat - committing sins - this will weaken our ikhlas
Shirk - associating others with Allah
Riya' - performing an ibadah with the intention of showing off to others iv.
Nifaq - hypocrisy
Even though we must always make sure that our actions do not deviate from ikhlas, there are actions, which are automatically considered that of good intentions. For example, seeking knowledge in Islam, helping the community, doing da'wah, etc.
Some rulings (ahkam) which scholars derived from this hadith:
When people 'swear by Allah' by saying "Wallahi" every now and then, their intention is not that they actually swear by Allah. They say it simply out of habit - it readily rolls off their tongue. Hence, it is harmless. However a Muslim should do his/her best to minimize it.
When someone is asked to give an oath, what is judged is his intention when he gives the oath.
There can be a combination of intentions between performing an ibadah and teaching others - we perform an ibadah for the sake of Allah, but we also do it with the intention of teaching others. e.g. when the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, performed the Hajj, he did it for the sake of Allah as well as for teaching the Sahabah (his companions, may Allah be pleased with them all).
A man may go through the process of divorcing his wife, verbally or in court, but it is his intention which counts.
What could be seen as ghibah (backbiting - talking bad, but true, things about a person behind his back) could simply be a joke or a dua. If someone talks bad about someone else, it is his intentions, which determines whether it is ghibah or not.
Our actions are undermined by our intentions - whether they are good intentions or bad intentions. Therefore we should always check our intentions before we do or say anything. We must make sure that the action is for the sake of Allah so that it is accepted by Allah and that we will be rewarded for it, insha Allah.
Also on the authority of 'Umar, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said:
"While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visibleon him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, rested hisknee against his thighs, and said, O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam." Said the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, "Islam isthat you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah (ritual prayer), pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka'bah at Makkah), if you can find a way toit (or find the means for making the journey to it)." Said he (the man), "You have spoken truly." We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, "Inform me about iman (faith)." He (theMessenger of Allah) answered, "It is that you believe in Allah and Hisangels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects." He said, "You havespoken truly."
Then he (the man) said, "Inform me about Ihsan." He (the Messenger ofAllah) answered, " It is that you should serve Allah as though you couldsee Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you." He said, "Inform me about the Hour." He (the Messenger of Allah) said, "Aboutthat the one questioned knows no more than the questioner." So he said, "Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming)." Said he, "They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will seethe barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep(competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings." Thereupon theman went off.
I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah) said, "O 'Umar, doyou know who that questioner was?" I replied, "Allah and His Messengerknow better." He said, "That was Jibril. He came to teach you yourreligion.""
Al-Imam Muslim says: Towards the end of his life, Abdullah bin 'Umar (the son of 'Umar bin al-Khattab) was told by two people that a new Islamic sect had emerged from Iraq. They were called Al-Qadariah and they denied al-qadar (fate). Thus Abdullah bin 'Umar narrated this hadith which mentions qadar as one of the pillars of Iman to refute the misconception of this sect.
This hadith teaches the adab (ethics) of seeking knowledge:
We should be clean and wear clean clothes.
We should sit properly and closer to the speaker.
Asking questions for better understanding.
Seek knowledge from the right source/authority.
The method of seeking knowledge is through asking questions:
The type of questions we ask should be meaningful - questions that will lead to valuable knowledge and good action.
Asking good questions will result in better learning as well as teaching. Those who are present when the questions are asked will also learn from the answers - thus, the questioner is teaching the others.
When Ibn Abbas, one of the greatest Scholars among the Sahabahs, was asked how he obtained all his knowledge, he replied: "with an inquisitive tongue (i.e. he always asked questions) and a contemplating heart".
In many hadiths the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, himself will start by asking questions before he imparts with knowledge. Asking questions will prepare the mind/heart so that it will be ready for the answers/knowledge - ready to absorb and learn. In this hadith he calls Jibril "the questioner" which implies full appreciation and encouragement of asking questions specially the ones that will lead to gaining more knowledge.
In the Quran itself there are more than 1,200 questions - to serve different purposes - to provoke the mind of the reader and force it to indulge in thinking about what he/she reads.
Scholars say that qadar can be seen at two levels:
We believe that Allah knew, with His ultimate knowledge, what all His creations will do, even before the creations took place. Allah recorded all this knowledge in Al-Lauhulmahfudz - the preserved tablet.
We believe that it is the will of Allah that these things will take place, whether they are good or bad.
Allah created our willingness and our ability of doing things - we can only do something if we are willing and able to do it. However, we are responsible for the choices we make.
Misconceptions about Qadar
Many Muslims believe that what they are going to do is caused by what has already been written in Al-Lauhulmahfudz - they confuse 'causation' with 'association'. In truth what we have is association, not causation. What we do is not caused by what is written by Allah. Allah with His ultimate knowledge knew what we are going to do. He could easily have put the good-doers into Jannah and the evil-doers into the Hellfire. But Allah is Adil (Just) so He created us in this life as to test us which way to go. What we are going to do will match what has already been written but it's not a matter of causation - what we do is out of our own willingness and ability and we do have full responsibility on whatever choice we make.
Looking at guidance and misguidance, guidance (hidayah) is a gift (rahmah) from Allah. It is Allah who created us and gave us the mind so we can distinguish between right and wrong to a certain capacity. It is Allah who equipped us with fitrah to like the truth and good and to dislike the wrong and evil It is Allah who gave us the ability and power to do things and it is Allah who sent the Messenger with the Message to guide us in things, which are beyond the reach of our conception. So when it comes to guidance it is a bounty from Allah.
But when it comes to misguidance, it has to do with us. When we do bad deeds, it is from our own willingness and ability.
Those who turn away from guidance do so because they want to turn away, i.e. they choose not to be guided. They have been misguided because they are arrogant - they refuse to listen.
And so when they swerved from the right way, Allah let their hearts swerve from the truth.
[Surah As-Saff (61): ayat 5]
Nevertheless there are people who have not received the Message of Islam/guidance at all or the Message has not reached them in the clearest form, i.e. it is incomplete or distorted. These people are called Ahlul Fatrah and will be excused and not be punished, even though there are misguided.
There are certain situations where we can do something about our qadar. For example:
Illness/sickness is qadar - but we have been commanded by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhiwasallam, to look for a cure should we become ill. Finding a cure is also qadar. Thus, a qadar could be dealt with through another qadar.
If something unfortunate happens to us, e.g. if we lost our job, we don't just say that it's qadar and do nothing about it. We look for another job, the consequence of which is another qadar.
'Umar bin al-Khattab was traveling with a group of Sahabahs during his Khilafah (leadership).
They were coming to a town when they heard that it had a contagious/infectious disease, i.e.
cholera. 'Umar asked his group whether they should proceed or go back (to Madinah). The majority of the Sahabahs said they should go back but some said they should proceed. Then one Sahabi said he knew a hadith where the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said, "If you hear that this disease exists in a country, don't travel to that country." So 'Umar decided that they should go back. Another Sahabi (it seems from the second group) asked him whether he was running away from a qadar. 'Umar replied that they were moving away from one qadar to another qadar.
Thus, whenever there is a problem, a challenge or any hardship which we can remove, overcome, solve or minimize, it is a must that we do so. Some scholars like al-Imam al-Jilani use the term: "overcoming qadar" in this regard.
In one hadith, the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said, "Be keen for whatever is beneficial for you. Seek the help of Allah. And don't be reckless." This hadith implies we must make the effort.
The right concept of qadar is: we are responsible for whatever we do.
For example: If we were to drive recklessly and caused an accident where someone died or was injured, we cannot simply say that it is qadar, abusing the concept to justify our mistakes. It is qadar that the incident took place because it is by the permission of Allah. But we are responsible for the death because it is through our willingness and ability that it happened. That's why in the courts we will be found guilty. If qadar can be used as an excuse, then many crimes will go unpunished - a thief can simply claim that his stealing was qadar!
Those who abuse the concept of qadar are those who fail to be responsible. They abuse it to justify their failure. The correct way of using qadar as an excuse is: if someone exerts himself to do his best to fulfil an obligation but due to an unavoidable circumstance, which was out of his control, he could not achieve that obligation - then he might be excused. For example, a student has studied hard for an exam but on the day of the exam he falls sick and does poorly or cannot even attend the exam, then he can say that it is qadar and that it is the will of Allah.
When it comes to religious obligations, the matter is the same. We cannot blame qadar for committing sins or failing to do a wajib as some Muslims might do. We have to know that we are responsible. We might get into a weak status of Iman in doing a sin or delaying a wajib. Islam is such a practical religion that it gives us room for repentance and getting back to the right path.
In the above hadith the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, defines Al-Islam, i.e. the five pillars, as the outward actions of the limbs, Al-Iman as being associated with belief - the inner actions of the heart, and Al-Ihsan as the highest level to attain. But the first two definitions can be interchanged with each other - sometimes Islam can be used to describe internal actions and Iman can mean external actions. There are a few hadiths which The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhiwasallam, mentions that there are more than seventy actions which are considered as Iman.
If the term Islam is used on its own, it means the whole thing - Al-Islam, Al-Iman and Al-Ihsan.
Similarly, when Iman is used on its own it means Al-Iman, Al-Islam and Al-Ihsan. The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, mentions at the end of this hadith that the deen consists of these three things.
If the Iman is weak it will affect Al-Islam (good deeds/actions). According to al-Imam Abu Hanifa: Even though Al-Iman and Al-Islam are different, Al-Iman necessitates the actions (Al-Islam).
Some Scholars say the Muslims are considered strangers among the Disbelievers; and the Mua'minin are considered strangers among the Muslims; and the Muhsinin are considered strangers among the Mua'minin.
Al-Ihsan (the highest level of Iman where we worship Allah as if we see Him or if we don't see Him we know He sees us) is about fearing Allah and glorifying Him. This will lead us to strive for our best in performing our ibadah - we will be more sincere in our ibadah. Thus Al-Ihsan is also about the best actions of the heart. The actions that will lead to Al-Ihsan: to love Allah the most, to fear Allah the most, to seek the help of Allah, to have hope in Allah that He will give us mercy and guide us, to trust Allah wholly.
When Jibril, aliyyhi as-Salam, asks the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, about the Hour (the Day of Judgement), the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, replies that neither he nor Jibril knows the answer. This is an example set by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, where even someone with vast knowledge like himself does not know everything and admits so.
Al-Imam Malik was asked forty questions by someone and to most of them he answered "I don't know - Allah knows better". The man was surprised that the great Imam Malik didn't know the answers. Seeing the man surprised, Imam Malik told him that when he goes back to his town, to tell the people that he met and asked al-Imam Malik questions and Imam Malik said he didn't know the answers. Al-Imam Malik didn't want to be accountable for giving wrong answers. Thus, if we are to become an educator or a scholar, we should have the courage to admit what we do not know. We should not give an answer which may contain incorrect information.
The signs of Akhirah mentioned in this hadith are minor signs, as opposed to major ones. We believe in these signs but we should not worry about them too much - we should not worry about when these signs will occur. We should actually be careful as some of these signs are bad deeds and we must steer away from these bad deeds.
This hadith contains everything about Islam: the five pillars of Islam, the beliefs that make up Iman (including the belief of fate or qadar), the attainment of the highest level of Iman which is Ihsan, the adab of seeking knowledge and of teaching.
On the authority of Abu 'Abd al-Rahman 'Abdullah bin 'Umar bin al-Khattab, radiyallahu
'anhuma, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, say:
"Islam has been built upon five things - on testifying that there is no godsave Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger; on performing salah; on giving the zakah; on Hajj to the House; and on fasting during Ramadhan."
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
This hadith is part of the previous Hadith (2). Most Scholars say that the reason why al-Imam al-Nawawi included this hadith in his collection, even though it seems that it repeats some portions of Hadith 2, is because of the importance of the 5 pillars of Islam.
This Hadith stresses the fundamental aspects of the outward submission to Allah. This submission is based on some pillars, similar to a structure. If a person fulfills these aspects, he has laid a solid foundation for his deen as a 'home'.
The other acts of Islam, which are not mentioned in this hadith, can be taken as fine touches to complete this structure.
If a person fails to fulfill these obligations (building the pillars), then the entire structure of his deen/iman may be threatened. This depends on how much is being violated - e.g. violation of the shahadah is the most dangerous.
The use of metaphors and similes
This hadith uses a metaphor (i.e. the image of the structure of a building) to affirm certain important meanings. This use of metaphors and similes can be found in many Surahs in the Quran and in many other hadiths. For example:
In Surah At-Taubah (9): ayat 109, a similar metaphor is used - the structure of the Mua'min's deen/iman is based on a sound foundation, whereas the structure of the deen of the Munafiq is based on weak ground which may lead to the collapse of the structure, resulting in the Munafik entering the Hellfire.
Surah An-Nur (24): ayat 35, uses the metaphor of light as the light of guidance in the heart of the Mua'min.
A metaphor used to condemn those who fail to fulfill the amanah (i.e. religious obligations) can be found in Surah Al-Jumu'ah (62): ayat 5. The Bani Israel, having failed to obey Allah's commandments in the Taurah, are described as a donkey which is burdened with heavy books on its back but doesn't understand anything from them.
Scholars have said that this metaphor also applies to other nations, which fail to fulfill their amanah.
In one hadith the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, divided the status of his ummah into three categories: those who benefit from the Message, those who benefit partially and those who fail to benefit at all. He, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, used the metaphor of rain (as the Message) falling down on different types of land, producing different results.
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.
One of the Sahabahs said that he had already seen Jannah and the Hellfire. The other Sahabahs were puzzled and asked him how this could be so as nobody is able to see them until the Hereafter. He replied, "I saw them through the eyes of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam. If I were to be given the chance to see Jannah and the Hellfire with my own eyes, I would not trust my sight. I trust the eyes of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, more than I trust my own eyes." Here we can conclude that if we read and understand the Quran and the Hadiths we too can visualize the paradise and the Hellfire.
These modes of expression (thinking styles) used by the Quran and Hadith should be well understood and used by Muslims today to convey the Message of Islam when doing da'wah as it is the most effective way. Different styles should be used to reach/convince different people -
some people are more emotional, some are more rational, etc.
First Pillar: The Shahadah
The first part of the Shahadah is testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allah.
There are seven conditions of the Shahadah:
Knowledge - to understand what it means
Certainty - to have no doubt about anything confirmed in the Quran or Sunnah
Acceptance - by the tongue and the heart of whatever the Shahadah implies
Submission/compliance - the actual physical enactment by deeds
Truthfulness - to say the Shahadah sincerely, with honesty, to actually mean it
Sincerity - to do it solely for the sake of Allah
Love - to love the Shahadah and to love its implications and requirements and what it stands for
The Shahadah is not simply saying it with our tongue. We need to adhere to these conditions. If we say the Shahadah sincerely and with honesty, we will not do anything which contradicts with or violates the Shahadah.
The second part of the Shahadah carries the following conditions:
To believe in the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, and in whatever he told us and conveyed to us
To obey him in whatever he commanded us to do
To stay away from or avoid whatever he commanded us not to do
To follow or emulate him in our ibadah, akhlaq and way of life
To love him more than we love ourselves, our family and anything else in this world
To understand, practice and promote his Sunnah in the best way possible, without creating any chaos, enmity or harm
Second Pillar: Establishing the Prayers (Salah)
Some interpretations of this hadith translate "iqamatus salah" as 'performing' the salah. "Iqamatussalah" is a broader concept than what the term 'performing' means. The Scholars say "iqamatussalah" implies:
Doing the wudu in the proper way
To do the salah in its time
To do it in congregation (jama'ah) - where the reward is 27 times than praying alone
To fulfill the six conditions of salah
To observe the proper manners (adab) of doing it such as submission and humility
To follow preferable actions (sunnan) in our salah
It is important that we follow these conditions and not violate them if we want to truly fulfill the second pillar of Islam i.e. "iqamatus salah" . We should remember that Allah initially commanded us to pray fifty times a day and it was eventually reduced to five times (with the reward of fifty) -
the prayer times are very reasonably spread out throughout the day - it can even help us to manage our time - it can help us to manage our affairs, allowing the Muslim community to meet during congregation and care for and help each other which will lead in turn to solidarity. Thus, the prayers should not be seen as a burden as some Muslims might regard them today.
Third Pillar: Zakat
The giving of Zakat has been pointed out by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, for certain things and in certain ways or percentages and under certain conditions. The Scholars say that knowing the details of Zakat only becomes an obligation when a person owns the type of property or thing which requires him to give Zakat for. E.g. Farmers or traders or property owners need to know the conditions and percentages of Zakat that they are obligated to give.
Fourth Pillar: Hajj
Pilgrimage (Hajj) to the House (Kaabah) is an obligation that we need to do only once in our lifetime - only if we meet certain conditions, e.g. if we have the financial means, a way of travelling peacefully, etc. If we meet these conditions then we should perform the Hajj as soon as possible and not to delay it.
Some Scholars say that if we have the means to perform the Hajj several times, then it is better to use this money to help others to fulfill their obligations - we will be rewarded for their pilgrimage or to use the money for the betterment of the community.
For each of these Pillars there are conditions, sunnan, ethics (adab), etc., which should be observed when we perform these ibadahs. Why do we always hear that every year hundreds of Muslims lose their lives or get injured during Hajj? Most of these incidents are due to the negligence of the adab or violation of the sunnan. For example, the throwing of stones at the Jamrat:
Even though we are supposed to use small stones, people tend to use big ones and throw recklessly from a far distance, causing injuries to others.
People do not follow the specified directions when they move, causing many to get crushed by the 'human waves' moving in different directions.
People insist on going to throw at the peak times, i.e. the busiest part of the day. The elderly, women and handicapped should be reminded to go when it is less crowded.
Thus, it is important that we observe the adab.
Fifth Pillar: Fasting
Ramadhan is a training program for all Muslims to go through, performing good deeds to become better Muslims. However, we should continue with these good deeds outside of Ramadhan - praying in the mosque, Tahajjud, Qiamu alil, reciting the Qur'an, helping and caring for others etc.
The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, when asked what the best way is to finish reading the whole Qur'an, said to do it in one month, i.e. one Juzuk per day. This is something we should practice all the time and not have to wait for Ramadhan to do it. If we cannot achieve this, at least try to read one or two pages a day (a quarter of a hizb).
Similarly we should try to do the night prayers ( tahajjud), be it only two raka'at and not everyday, outside of Ramadhan.
We should not make personal commitments in performing these preferable actions where the Shariah has not made this itself. This might lead us to giving up on our commitment and hence, the good deed. The best way is to do it on ease and convenience aiming at the continuity of these good deeds.
All the Pillars of Islam have rulings, conditions and mannerisms (ahkam wa adab) applied to them. It is important that we know these ahkam and adab and regularly remind ourselves, especially before Ramadan or before performing the Hajj, so that we perform the Pillars properly and according to the Shariah.
- 20 -
Abu 'Abd al-Rahman 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, radiyallahu 'anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, the most truthful, the most trusted, told us:
"Verily the creation of any one of you takes place when he is assembled inhis mother's womb; for forty days he is as a drop of fluid, then it becomesa clot for a similar period. Thereafter, it is a lump looking like it has beenchewed for a similar period. Then an angel is sent to him, who breathes the ruh (spirit) into him. This Angel is commanded to write Four decrees:that he writes down his provision (rizq), his life span, his deeds, and whether he will be among the wretched or the blessed.
I swear by Allah - there is no God but He - one of you may perform the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is naught but an arm's lengthbetween him and it, when that which has been written will outstrip him sothat he performs the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire; one of you mayperform the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire, till there is naught but anarm's length between him and it, when that which has been written will overtake him so that he performs the deeds of the people of Paradise andenters therein."
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
This hadith was not only recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim but by other Scholars as well.
Apart from 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, this hadith was also narrated by many other companions (Sahabahs).
This narration by 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud was recorded with different versions where some words/terms conflicted with each other, resulting in different versions having different meanings regarding Creation. The conflicts are as follows:
1. The addition of the word "nutfah" (the drop of a fluid)
This word is not mentioned in Bukhari neither Muslim's narration. However it was added to other narrations including the one chosen by al-Imam al-Nawawi to provide a better interpretation or explanation but instead it gave two conflicting views of the creation of mankind in terms of stages of the fetus:
The three stages of the fetus consist of forty days each, equaling to a total of 120 days for the stages to complete. It is only after this 120 days that the ruh (spirit) is breathed into the fetus, as well as the recording of the fetus' provision life span, deeds and destiny.
This view, the inclusion of the word "nuftah" , is the view held by the majority of the Scholars.
One problem with this view is that the stages of the fetus as interpreted in this hadith contradict the facts proven by science today.
Another problem concerns the Fatwa on abortion. Scholars say that abortion is allowed (provided there is a very good reason - e.g. the woman's life is in danger) only before the ruh is breathed into the fetus, i.e. before 120 days - as opposed to 40 days if the second view is to be taken (see below).
The word "nutfah" does not belong to the text of the hadith. This changes the meaning of the hadith which interprets the three stages of the fetus as taking place in the first forty days. This view correlates with scientific facts. And this means that the ruh is breathed into the fetus after forty days, and not 120 days. Consequently the Fatwa on abortion states that abortion is allowed only before forty days.
2. The authenticity of the last section of the Hadith
Some Scholars say that the last section of the hadith (i.e. "By Allah…) is not part of the text of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, but the words of 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud. But since the issue in this hadith is related to matters which we cannot perceive with our limited human perception, this last section is accepted and included here because
'Abdullah bin Mas'ud may have derived the meaning from another hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, to explain this hadith better.
There are other hadiths collected by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, which touch on the same issue. But there are some differences between the texts of those hadiths and this one.
Those hadiths narrate the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, as saying: One of you will perform the acts of the people of the Paradise (Ahlul Jannah) as it appears in the eyesof the people.
This is like the Munafiqin or hypocrites - they do the acts of the Mua'minin. They appear, in our eyes, to be doing the acts of the Ahlul Jannah but Allah knows best. Their end will be a disaster - by being Munafiqin they are actually denying the message of God in their deep hearts as Allah mentioned in the Qur'an and their end will be in the Hellfire since they do not submit to Allah in their hearts. This explanation of the other hadiths is important in the understanding of this hadith.
The Scholars say when we do a research on a concept or an issue mentioned in hadiths, we shouldn't depend on only one hadith - we need to search for other similar hadiths, which deal with the same issue/matter. We must remember that some narrators will narrate a hadith by its meaning, and not exactly as it was said by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam. This is because being human, some of them may forget some of the exact words/terms used by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam - but they still understand the actual meaning of what was said.
Then we need to compare the different texts of hadiths on the same issue with each other in order to have a more complete interpretation and better understanding of the issue/matter at hand.
Some people, on hearing this hadith as it is and without further explanation, might feel despair, fearing that they fall into the bad group of people mentioned. This will lead to determination (jabriah) - they may think that no matter what they do, if their end has already been written, then why should they bother to do good deeds. This is the wrong attitude to have as it is based on a wrong perception. Allah is Just. We should trust Allah. If we are good to Allah and trust Him,
He will be good to us. We should be optimistic and not pessimistic. We follow Allah's commands and make the effort to be good Muslims and we should not despair.
During one of the battles, a companion (Sahabi) said to the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, that he was following him, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, to fight in the hope that an arrow will be shot through his (the Sahabi's) neck, coming in from the front and going out the back. The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said, "If you are honest with Allah, Allah will be honest with you." The Sahabi died exactly as he hoped to.
The Prophet's, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, words here are generic and can be used for all situations.
If we are honest with Allah, Allah will not leave us - He will help us - He will guide us, etc. The closer we are to Allah, the more He will help us and guide us. Thus, the last section of this hadith is an exception and applies only to few people such as the Munafiqin.
But this, on the other hand, does not mean that we live in hope alone. The Scholars say that we must combine hope with fear - when we worship Allah, we should have hope as well as fear of Him. Fearing Allah is a positive thing. The more we fear Allah, the closer we get to Him. The more we fear Allah, the more calm and at peace we will be. This is unlike the natural 'fear' where if we fear something, e.g. a fire or a dangerous animal, we will try to get away from it.
Scholars say that we should have an equal amount of hope to the amount of fear. This is so we will have a better status of Iman (faith) - there is no despair and at the same time there is no excessive hope (over-confidence) which could lead to laziness and the non-fulfillment of our obligations. This is why we need to combine hope and fear, as well as love Allah the most and have trust in Him.
This above hadith is about Allah's Creation and Qadar. The statement: "that which has been written will overtake him" should be understood in the positive sense and not negatively. Allah with His ultimate knowledge knows what will happen as it has been explained in the previous hadith.
Al-Qadar can be categorized as:
1. Al-Qadar al-Kulli - the general qadar which has been recorded by Allah in Al-Lauhulmahfudz or the Preserved Tablet.
2. Al-Qadar al-Sanawi - the annual qadar which takes place once a year (Lailatul qadar) -
where it matchs what has been written in Al-Lauhulmahfudz.
What has been written in Al-Lauhulmahfudz is only known to Allah. It is not revealed to us - we don't know about our destiny, what our rizq is, where we'll end up, etc. To us it is ghaib and unknown. The translation of this hadith using the word "overtake" may not give the true meaning if it were to be understood that whatever has been recorded by the angels will be "imposed" on a person's life. We are simply being told about Ilmu Allah or the ultimate knowledge of Allah. What has been written does not cause us to do what we do. It is not a cause and affect situation, as believed by many Muslims. Many Muslims believe that as it has already been written, therefore this will cause us to do whatever has been written. The truth is even though it has been written and even though we will do it, we will not do it because it has been written. It is actually an association, or a matching. What we are going to do matches the knowledge of Allah, because Allah's knowledge is ultimate. In other words, what we are going to do matches what has been written. This shows the glory of Allah, the ultimate knowledge of Allah. So we should not have the understanding that things are imposed on us. Otherwise this will nullify the whole concept of iman (faith) and the whole concept of Creation and all other related concepts.
We are responsible for what we choose and for what we do. Referring to the last section of this hadith where a person's final destiny changes at the last minute and he ends up not as expected, there are examples in the Sirahs where some people embrace Islam in the last minute - e.g. they embrace Islam and go into battle and die, some of them not having done a single good deed.
There are also many examples today where non-practicing Muslims or those doing bad deeds, having reached the last stages of their lives (at the age of 50 or 60), will repent and turn into a good Muslim. The same applies for thousands of new converts every year.These people, according to the will of Allah, will be forgiven and enter Paradise.
For the other scenario where a person performs good deeds most of his/her life and at the end of his/her life perform bad deeds deserving to enter the Hellfire (as mentioned in the hadith), this situation affects only a limited number of people compared to the first one. And it is because of the person himself, such as in the case of hypocrites.
To have the correct understanding of the concept of qadar, we need to know more about the creation of the human being. What is mentioned in this Hadith is actually a miracle. It describes the stages of the fetus and the creation of man 1,400 years before science and technology confirm it as fact. (This description of the stages of the fetus can also be found in the Quran but without the mention of the periods of times.) In other words, scientists were only able to observe this phenomenon in the last few decades whereas it was already mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith hundreds of years ago.
A conference regarding the Creation was held in Europe several years ago and some Muslim Scholars were invited to attend. When these Scholars gave the Islamic perspective regarding the stages of the fetus, showing that this was documented in the Quran and the Hadith, some of the people who attended the conference embraced Islam - they were convinced that it is a Divine revelation.
We also need to understand the components of the human being in order to help us understand qadar in the positive way. The human being consists of the following components: -
The intellect (Al-Aql) - this allows us, to a certain extent, to distinguish between good and evil. The intellect is part of us, part of the creation of Allah. Based on this, a person is regarded as mukallaf, responsible to understand and accept the massage of Allah if he is sane. If someone is mentally disturbed or insane, then he is not mukallaf.
The natural disposition or innate (Al-Fitrah) - we are created with this innate which enables us to love what is good and what is right and to hate what is evil and what is wrong. It consists of love and hate. Even though we are created with this fitrah, it is subject to change due to the environment, to our parents, upbringing, etc. Therefore there are people who might love what is bad due to a spoiled or a corrupted fitrah. The Scholars say the original fitrah is still there within these people - if we try to 'awaken' the fitrah, these people will come back to loving good and hating bad.
The commitment that we make, at the time of our pre-creation, to worship only Allah.
This is related to the fitrah - it causes us to have this natural disposition or innate towards loving what is good and hating what is bad.
The willingness (Al-Iradah) and Power (Qudrah): Allah provided us with willingness and power/ability. An action cannot take place without this willingness and power - we do something only if we are willing and we have the power to do it. But this willingness and power are neutral and can be manipulated and used in either good or bad ways.
We have also been created with desires (shahawat) and the existence of these desires within us can manipulate our willingness or power towards good or bad.
Desires are part of what is known as the internal challenges - things which influence our willingness and ability. The internal challenges consist of:
Shahawat/Hawa (self desires)
Nafs, of which there are three different aspects:
The nafs which encourages us to do bad deeds
The nafs which blames us for our bad deeds or thoughts of bad deeds (if we have iman and knowledge) - e.g. our nafs says "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for thinking about drinking alcohol?"
The peaceful nafs (al-Mutma'inah)
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