Hadith 9 :Obligations Are According to Ability
On the authority of Abu Hurairah, ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan ibn Sakhr (رضي الله عنه) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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]
Brief biography. He was called Abu Hurairah because he grazed sheep and had a little cat he used to play with. So the people gave him this kunyah father of the cat. Abu Hurairah was an adept memorizer and he came to Islam in the year they fought at Khaybar. He had accompanied the Messenger in Khaibar. He cared a lot about acquiring knowledge and memorizing of hadith. The Messenger said Abu Hurairah was the biggest hadith memorizer of his time. Abu hurairah has himself said that,”I don’t know anyone from amongst the Companions of the Messenger who has memorized more hadith than I”. More than 800 Companions narrated from him like Jabir Ibn Abdillah, Ibn Umar, Anas and others. Sa’eed Ibn Musayyib from the Tabi’een and others. He has narrated more than 5300 hadith.
One day, Abu Huraira went to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) crying and said:”
O Messenger of Allah! I have been calling on my mother to embrace Islam but she refuses, and I did so today but she insulted you, so ask Allah to guide her to Islam!”, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:” O Allah! Guide Abu Huraira’s mother to Islam!) Abu Huraira hurried to tell his mother that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prayed to Allah to guide her to Islam, but when he arrived at the door, he heard a sound of water and her mother said:” stay where you are Abu Huraira!”, then she put on her garment and went out saying:” I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger”. Abu Huraira went to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) crying of joy and said:” O Messenger of Allah! Allah has listened to your supplication and guided my mother to Islam”. Then, he said ” O Messenger of Allah! Ask Allah to make all believers, men and women, love me and my mother!”, The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:” O Allah! Make the believers, men and women, love Abu Huraira and his mother!”.
Narrated Abu Huraira: By Allah except Whom none has the right to- be worshipped, (sometimes) I used to lay (sleep) on the ground on my liver (abdomen) because of hunger, and (sometimes) I used to bind a stone over my belly because of hunger. One day I sat by the way from where they (the Prophet and his companions) used to come out. When Abu Bakr passed by, I asked him about a Verse from Allah’s Book and I asked him only that he might satisfy my hunger, but he passed by and did not do so. Then Umar passed by me and I asked him about a Verse from Allah’s Book, and I asked him only that he might satisfy my hunger, but he passed by without doing so. Finally Abul – Qasim (the Prophet) passed by me and he smiled when he saw me, for he knew what was in my heart and on my face. He said, “O Aba Hirr (Abu Huraira)!” I replied, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said to me, “Follow me.” He left and I followed him. Then he entered the house and I asked permission to enter and was admitted. He found milk in a bowl and said, “From where is this milk?” They said, “It has been presented to you by such-and-such man (or by such and such woman).” He said, “O Aba Hirr!” I said, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Go and call the people of Suffa to me.” These people of Suffa were the guests of Islam who had no families, nor money, nor anybody to depend upon, and whenever an object of charity was brought to the Prophet , he would send it to them and would not take anything from it, and whenever any present was given to him, he used to send some for them and take some of it for himself. The order off the Prophet upset me, and I said to myself, “How will this little milk be enough for the people of As-Suffa?” I thought I was more entitled to drink from that milk in order to strengthen myself, but behold! The Prophet came to order me to give that milk to them. I wondered what will remain of that milk for me, but anyway, I could not but obey Allah and His Apostle so I went to the people of As-Suffa and called them, and they came and asked the Prophet’s permission to enter. They were admitted and took their seats in the house. The Prophet said, “O Aba-Hirr!” I said, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Take it and give it to them.” So I took the bowl (of Milk) and started giving it to one man who would drink his fill and return it to me, whereupon I would give it to another man who, in his turn, would drink his fill and return it to me, and I would then offer it to another man who would drink his fill and return it to me. Finally, after the whole group had drunk their fill, I reached the Prophet who took the bowl and put it on his hand, looked at me and smiled and said. “O Aba Hirr!” I replied, “Labbaik, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “There remain you and I.” I said, “You have said the truth, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Sit down and drink.” I sat down and drank. He said, “Drink,” and I drank. He kept on telling me repeatedly to drink, till I said, “No. by Allah Who sent you with the Truth, I have no space for it (in my stomach).” He said, “Hand it over to me.” When I gave him the bowl, he praised Allah and pronounced Allah’s Name on it and drank the remaining milk.
Abu Hurairah had a thirst for knowledge for which he used to remain close to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Most times he was so hungry and needy that he would swoon between the minbar and the grave, that the people used to call him majnoon.
Narrated Al-A’raj: Abu Huraira said, “You people claim that Abu Huraira narrates many narrations of Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم). (Anyhow) with Allah will be our appointment. I was a poor man, and used to stick to Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) contented with what will fill my stomach, and the Muhajirin (emigrants) used to be busy trading in the markets, and the Ansar used to be busy looking after their properties. One-day I heard Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying, ‘Who will spread his Rida’ (a garment covering the upper part of the body) till I finished my speech and then fold it, (i.e. wrap it over your body), in which case he will never forget anything he had heard from me.” So I spread my garment which I was wearing; and by Him Who sent Muhammad with the Truth, ever since, I have never forgotten whatever I heard from him (the Prophet)” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
He died in the year 57 or 58.
This hadith is from the foundations of Islam.
1) The obligation of avoiding everything the Messenger prohibited from, big or small. He prohibited us from drinking alcohol so we don’t drink a drop or more.
2) The general state is that it is haraam that there is evidence that shows us it is makrooh or disliked.
So we see that there are two kinds of prohibitions, one is where something is completely prohibited and another is when it is disliked. So it is better that you stay away but if you do it you are not sinful. There are many examples that are given by the Scholars. In arabic the word is “ijtanibu” meaning be on one side and let the prohibited thing be on the other side. Which means you should be far away from the prohibited things. When you are told to keep away from something it does not sound as serious as when you are told don’t even come close to that thing. So here the Messenger says don’t even come close to the prohibitions, which means stay away completely from them, let the thing be on the east and you be in the west. As in the ayah it does not say don’t do zina it says don’t even go close to it:
And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a Fâhishah [i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allâh forgives him). (Surah Al-Isra 17:32)
Rulings change with necessity. If someone were to be stranded for example and only had pork to eat, then it is permissible to eat enough to survive and not to get his fill from it.
This hadith is very important, it is from the foundations of the Deen and is used a lot in fiqh issues.
According to the Scholars these are the rulings:
1) Haraam or Prohibited, is anything that if you do it you are sinful, and if you abstain from it you are rewarded.
2) The definition of Makrooh or disliked is if you do it then you are not sinful but if you stay away from it you are rewarded.
3) The ruling for Wajib or Obligatory, if you do it you are rewarded if you don’t do it you are sinful.
4) The ruling for Mustahab or Recomended, if you do it you are rewarded and if you don’t do it you are not sinful.
5) The ruling for Mubah or permissible, if you do or you dont it is the same. Both sides are equal.
Every ruling differs according to the intention that you have. For example if you buy a knife to slaughter for Allah then it is obligatory but if you buy a knife to kill someone
with it then it is haraam. If you want to teach someone english so that they find ease in their dawaah then you are rewarded for it but if you teach someone english to promote evil then that is not allowed.
The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,” What I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can…”. This is the second part of the hadith, here the Messenger tells us to do as much as we are able. And this part is an order.
Order is of two types: 1) Order of Obligation and 2) Order of Recommendation.
In the order of obligation the Messenger ordered, then you do as much as you according to your ability.
In the order of recommendation, as in the night salaah, you do as much as you are able.
If this thing is obligatory like salaah, a person cannot stand for salaah, so he does it to the best of his ability. Same for fasting, it is recommended that you fast Mondays and Thursdays, so you fast to the best of your ability. Another example is, if a person has a small quantity of water and he needs to do wudu and he knows it is not sufficient for his wudu then what should he do. Some Scholars have used this hadith and have said he uses this water to wash the parts he is able to and later he makes Tayammum. If you can just wash your hands and face then do that much. Some scholars have said you don’t combine between the actions. As in you do not do wudu and Tayammum both. As Allah has said if you don’t find water then do Tayammum. So if the water is not sufficient then do Tayammum. You don’t combine the substitute of the wudu with wudu. This is the strong opinion.
Ibn Mas’ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Ruined are those who insist on hardship in matters of the Faith.” He repeated this three times. (Sahih Muslim)
Zakaat al fitr is one sa’ so if a person has half a sa’ can he give it? The Scholars said yes you can. Because you are giving as much as you are able. And you are not substituting it with anything, you are applying this hadith that says do (give) as much as you are able.
Another thing is you see a lot of Munkar happening in front of you, so what do you do. Do you ignore it all and move away or do you stop as much as you can? You change as much as you can and changing the munkar is obligatory on you. If you are not able to change everything but a little then you change as much as you are able.
Order of Obligation is a must upon you but the order of recommendation is that you do as much as you are able. How come when it comes to the prohibition the Messenger says stay away from it completely but when it comes to the order of doing something good we are told to do as much as we can. Staying away from something everybody is able to stay away and not do it. It does not need much effort but doing something entails work. Like if you ask a person to stand and perform the salaah and he does not have feet. He can’t do that as he is not able, but if you ask a person not to steal then he has to just prevent his nafs, he does not have to make an effort to stop aka there is no physical action involved by him to stop himself.
What is more in the Deen Obligations or Prohibitions? There are very few prohibition, when it comes to things that are permissible. See how many things you can and how many you can’t, this is from the Mercy of Allah. What is more dangerous leaving an obligation or staying away from a prohibition? The Scholars have said staying away from a prohibition because the Messenger said that the fire is surrounded by desires. Which means it is very difficult to fight your desires, so if he was able to fight his desires then he has done something great. This is one opinion, another opinion is that obligation is more important than prohibitions. And they quoted an evidence, was it Adam who did a prohibition or Iblis who disobeyed the order. So this is the correct opinion. The first thing you are asked about is the salaah. One must know the orders and prohibitions like riba. You stay away from it completely.
Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope… (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:286)
We tax not any person beyond his scope… (Surah Al-A’raf 7:42)
This hadith is a reply to the Jabariyyah. As the Jabariyyah say that you are not able to do anything, the movements of your hands are actually not your movements but you are forced. So this hadith says “Do as much as you are able”.
There are three opinions people have 1) they say we are forced to do our actions, like the Jabariyyah 2) one side says Allah will not know what we will do, like the Qadariyyah or 3) They say we create our own actions and Allah has no ability to guide our hearts and guide us to Islam. And Allah has no ability to misguide the kaafir. He does not do that even if He is able to because then that is Oppression. They neglect and reject the attributes of Allah like the Asha’ira who say Allah does not do anything with Wisdom but it is just mere action. The Scholars have replied to this allegation, Allah wants to do something He does it without a doubt. He just says ‘Koon’ and it happens ‘Fayakoon’ with His Wisdom. They say we don’t know anyone in this world who is wise except that he wants to benefit himself.
The Asharis confirm the names but they neglect the attributes. They make ta`weel of the attributes inside the names, they negate the siffat. The Asharis attribute just seven attributes to Allah. They confirms Power, Will, Knowledge, Life, Hearing, Seeing, and Speech. Yazid ibn Haroon the Shaykh of Imam Bukhari was asked who is the Jahmi? He replied the one who tries to change the heart of a layman about “thumma `istawa ‘alal ‘Arshi” is a Jahmi.
Then the Messenger says, For verily, it was only the excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you”. This shows that questioning can be a reason for punishment or destruction, What kind of questioning? The Scholars said those things that you have no need for and are not beneficial, these can be a reason for destruction. Questions that mock, there isn’t a need for such questions or questions about things that the Shariah has not imposed on you. Like in this hadith:
Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) delivered a Khutbah and said, “O people! Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of Allah) has been made incumbent upon you, so perform Hajj.” A man inquired: “O Messenger of Allah, is it prescribed every year?” He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) remained silent till the man repeated it thrice. Then he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Had I replied in the affirmative, it would have surely become obligatory, and you would not have been able to fulfill it.” Afterwards he said, “Do not ask me so long as I do not impose anything upon you, because those who were before you were destroyed on account of their frequent questioning and their disagreement with their Prophets. So when I order you to do something, do it as far as you can; and when I forbid you from doing anything, eschew it.” (Sahih Muslim).
Also like the Jews in Surah Baqarah, where they kept asking about the cow they were asked to slaughter:
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.” 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.’” 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.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:68-70)
The questions the innovators ask about nuzool (descend in the last part of the night) of Allah. They have many questions regarding this. Differing is not good and Ahlul Sunnah do not like or want to differ. We need to stick to the Sunnah of teh Messenger the Ahlul sunnah do not like to differ they like to remain on one Aqeedah.
And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqûn” (pious – see V.2:2).” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:74). The Scholars explained this ayah saying they are all like one Imam one Man, on one Deen, they have one heart, they all call to one Allah therefore they are one Imam.
We must therefore stay away from the Prohibitions and do what we have been ordered to do and refrain from excessive questioning.
Notes From Sharh (Explanation):
The wording of this hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim, from Abu Hurairah radiAllaah ‘anhu, states:
The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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.”
And the Scholars of Usool (i.e. in Fiqh) have differed over the issue of the Command to perform an action – does it imply repetition? That is, if we are ordered to do something then does that automatically imply that we must do it repeatedly? Or does it mean that doing it once is sufficient unless otherwise specified? For example, we are commanded with Hajj but that is just once in a lifetime, but we are also commanded with Salaah and that is every day. So most of the Fuqahaa (jurists) have decided that a command does not automatically imply repetition. Others have said that we do not rule that it implies repetition nor do we rule that it does not imply repetition, except with a further evidence that indicates one or the other. And this hadeeth is a proof for those who have the latter opinion. For if there were an automatically implied ruling of either repetition or no repetition then the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would not have replied “If I had said yes then it would have become obligatory, and you would not have been able to do that.” Rather, if there had been an automatic implication of repetition or otherwise, then the man would not have asked the question in the first place.
And as for his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) statement “Do not ask me about that which I have left [unspecified]” then this apparently indicates that a command does not imply repetition, and also that the origin of all affairs is that they are not waajib, until the Sharee’ah specifies them as being waajib. And this is the correct position according to the majority of the Scholars of Usool.
And his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) statement: “If I had said yes it would have become obligaotory upon you” is an evidence that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would make ijtihaad in rulings, and that it was not binding upon him that all rulings be made by Revelation.
And his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) statement: “What I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can” is an important Principle of Islaam, and is from his Concise speech. And based upon this principle are countless other rulings – such as the Prayer of one who is unable to complete some of its pillars or conditions, then he performs what he is able to from that which remains. And the one who cannot wash all the necessary limbs of wudoo’, washes that which he is able to. And in the case of removing evil, then if one is not able to remove it entirely then one removes what one is able to. And many other affairs like these, as are well known from the Books of Fiqh. And this hadeeth is similar to the statement of Allaah ta’aalaa:
“And have taqwaa of Allaah, as much as you are able” [at-Taghaabun, 16]
And as for His statement:
“O you who believe! Fear Allaah as He should be feared” [aal ‘Imraan, 102]
then it has been said that this is abrogated by the Ayah “And have taqwaa of Allaah, as much as you are able”. However, what is correct is that it is not abrogated, but rather the first aayah is an explanation of this aayah, and makes clear what is intended by it. And it has been said that “fearing Allaah as He should be feared” means obeying Him all in that He has commanded, and staying away from all that He has forbidden, and Allaah subhaanahu does not order us except with that which we are able to do, as verily Allaah has said: “Allaah does not burden a soul more than it can bear” [al-Baqarah, 286]
“and [Allaah] has not laid upon you in religion any hardship” [al-Hajj, 78]
And as for his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) statement: “and what I have forbidden you from then avoid it” then this is to be taken to apply generally in all situations, except if one has a necessity, such as eating meat from an animal which has not been correctly slaughtered if one’s life is in danger or what is similar to that, then that is not considered to be forbidden. However, in all conditions other than that of necessity the individual is not considered to have fulfilled this forbiddance of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) until he leaves all those things which the Sharee’ah forbids. So he does not fulfill the forbiddance if he continues to practise even one of the forbidden things. This is in opposition to what has been commanded to do, for in terms of the commands we must do whatever we are able.
And in his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) statement: “verily the nations before you were destroyed due to their excessive questioning and disagreeing with their Prophets”, then this was mentioned after his saying “Do not ask me about that which I have left [unspecified]”. And this implies that we should not be excessive in questioning, as then we would be similar to the Banoo Israa’eel when it was said to them: “Sacrifice a cow”. So if they had taken these words upon their apparent meaning and sacrificed any cow they would have fulfilled the command. But because they insisted on asking many questions regarding its colour, its appearance, its work etc, the matter became difficult for them, until they were able to find a suitable cow only after a great search and paying a large sum of money. So they were blameworthy for this, and our Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) feared the same for his Ummah.
That what is Haraam must be avoided.
That one must make sure that one has a satisfactory plea to present to Allaah for not doing what the Messenger sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam has ordered.
That one must not ask too many questions. Ideally, one only wants to know what Islaam says [about a thing] and do that.
That asking too many questions and disagreeing with the Messenger sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam can cause our destruction. If it happened to the people before us it can happen
to us too.
Haraam/Prohibited: the act if one does he is sinful and if abstained from you are reward.
Waajib/Obligatory: the act if one does you are rewarded and if abandoned you are sinful.
Mub`ah/Permissible: neither sinful if left off or rewarded if done
Makrooh/Disliked; rewarded if left off and disliked if done
Mustahab/Recommended; rewarded if done and not sinful if left off
And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqûn” (pious – see V.2:2
and the footnote of V.3:164).” (Al-Furqan 25:74)