Postponing a deed with the intention to perform it: Imam al-Nawawi

Abu Hurayrah narrates in Saheeh Muslim that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

مَنْ مَاتَ وَلَمْ يَغْزُ وَلَمْ يُحَدِّثْ بِهِ نَفْسَهُ مَاتَ عَلَى شُعْبَةٍ مِنْ نِفَاقٍ

Whoever died but did not fight in the way of Allah and without saying to his soul that he intends to do so, dies upon one of the branches of hypocrisy.

قَالَ ابْنُ سَهْمٍ قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ فَنُرَى أَنَّ ذَلِكَ كَانَ عَلَى عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم

Ibn Sahm said that ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak said, “So we consider that this was the case during the era of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).

[Saheeh Muslim #1910]

Imam al-Nawawi, in his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, mentions the following about this hadeeth:

قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( من مات ، ولم يغز ولم يحدث به نفسه مات على شعبة من نفاق ، قال عبد الله بن المبارك : فنرى أن ذلك كان على عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ) قوله : ( نرى ) بضم النون ، أي : نظن ، وهذا الذي قاله ابن المبارك محتمل ،  .

His statement (ﷺ), “Whoever died but did not fight in the way of Allah and without saying to his soul that he intends to do so, dies upon one of the branches of hypocrisy.‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak said, “So we consider that this was the case during the era of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).“. His [i.e. ibn al-Mubaarak] statement, “we consider” – meaning: ‘we think’, and this is that which ibn al-Mubaarak said was likely.

وقد قال غيره : إنه عام ، والمراد أن من فعل هذا فقد أشبه المنافقين المتخلفين عن الجهاد في هذا الوصف ، فإن ترك الجهاد أحد شعب النفاق .

But others have said: Verily this is general, and the intended meaning is that whoever does this, then he resembles the munaafiqoon who were averse to jihaad in this characteristic of his. For verily abandoning jihaad is one of the branches of nifaaq.

وفي هذا الحديث : أن من نوى فعل عبادة فمات قبل فعلها لا يتوجه عليه من الذم ما يتوجه على من مات ولم ينوها

And from this hadeeth is that whoever intends to perform an act of ‘ibaadah but then dies before performing it, then nothing of disgrace is due to him which is due to the one who dies without ever intending to do that.

وقد اختلف أصحابنا فيمن تمكن من الصلاة في أول وقتها فأخرها بنية أن يفعلها في أثنائه فمات قبل فعلها ، أو أخر الحج بعد التمكن إلى سنة أخرى فمات قبل فعله هل يأثم أم لا ؟ والأصح عندهم أنه يأثم في الحج دون الصلاة ؛ لأن مدة الصلاة قريبة ، فلا تنسب إلى تفريط بالتأخير ، بخلاف الحج ، وقيل : يأثم فيهما ، وقيل : لا يأثم فيهما ، وقيل يأثم في الحج الشيخ دون الشاب . والله أعلم

And there has been disagreement among our companions [i.e. in the Shaafi’i madhhab] concerning the one who is able to make [the obligatory] salaah in the early part of its time but postpones it with the intention to do it in the latter part of its time, and then dies before performing it, or concerning the one who postpones the Hajj – after he is able to do it – until another year, and then dies before performing it – are they committing a sin, or not? And the most correct position with them [i.e. in the Shaafi’i madhhab] is that he is sinning concerning the Hajj but not concerning the salaah, because the period for the salaah is close at hand, so delaying it is not attributed to negligence, in contrast to the Hajj. And it is said: he is sinning in both cases. And it is said: he is not sinning in either case. And it is said: The old man in sinning in the case of [postponing] the Hajj, but this is not the case for the young person. And Allah knows best.

[Sharh al-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim #1910]

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