“Consult your heart”: Clarification from Ibn Rajab

In his famous collection of 40 comprehensive ahaadeeth, Imam al-Nawawi brings the following two connected hadeeth in the same section:

عَنْ النَّوَّاسِ بْنِ سَمْعَانَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: “الْبِرُّ حُسْنُ الْخُلُقِ، وَالْإِثْمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي صَدْرِك، وَكَرِهْت أَنْ يَطَّلِعَ عَلَيْهِ النَّاسُ” رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ . رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ

On the authority of an-Nawwaas bin Sam’aan (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Righteousness is in good character, and ithm (wrongdoing) is that which wavers in your soul, and which you dislike people finding out about.” [Muslim]

وَعَنْ وَابِصَةَ بْنِ مَعْبَدٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: أَتَيْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم فَقَالَ: “جِئْتَ تَسْأَلُ عَنْ الْبِرِّ؟ قُلْت: نَعَمْ. فقَالَ: استفت قلبك، الْبِرُّ مَا اطْمَأَنَّتْ إلَيْهِ النَّفْسُ، وَاطْمَأَنَّ إلَيْهِ الْقَلْبُ، وَالْإِثْمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي النَّفْسِ وَتَرَدَّدَ فِي الصَّدْرِ، وَإِنْ أَفْتَاك النَّاسُ وَأَفْتَوْك” .
حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، رَوَيْنَاهُ في مُسْنَدَي الْإِمَامَيْنِ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ حَنْبَلٍ ، وَالدَّارِمِيّ بِإِسْنَادٍ حَسَنٍ.

And on the authority of Waabisah bin Ma’bad (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and he said, “You have come to ask about righteousness.” I said, “Yes.” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels at ease and the heart feels tranquil. And ithm is that which wavers in the soul and causes uneasiness in the breast, even though people have repeatedly given their legal opinion.”

A good hadeeth transmitted from the musnads of the two imams, Ahmed bin Hanbal and Al- Daarimi, with a good chain of authorities.

[al-Arba’een #27]

The haadidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brings the following point of clarification in his expansive commentary:

وقوله في حديث النواس بن سمعان الإثم ما حاك في الصدر وكرهت أن يطلع عليه الناس إشارة إلى أن الإثم ما أثر في الصدر حرجًا وضيقًا وقلقًا واضطرابًا فلم ينشرح له الصدر ومع هذا فهو عند الناس مستنكر بحيث ينكرونه عند اطلاعهم عليه وهذا أعلى مراتب معرفة الإثم عند الاشتباه وهو ما استنكر الناس فاعله وغير فاعله‏.‏

And his statement in the hadeeth of Nawwaas bin Sam’aan, “and ithm is that which wavers in your soul, and which you dislike people finding out about” indicates that wrongdoing is which has the effect of creating difficulty, constriction, unease, and disturbance so that the breast does not become opened to it. And along with that, people regard it as wrong since they reject it as wrong since they reject it whenever they discover it. And this is the highest degree of recognition of ithm when it is ambiguous – that is that the people reject it in the doer and other than the doer.

ومن هذا المعنى قول ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه ما رآه المؤمنون حسنًا فهو عند الله حسن وما رآه المومنون قبيحًا فهو عند الله قبيح

And from this same meaning is the statement of ibn Mas’ood (raadi Allaahu ‘anhu), “That which the mu’minoon see as good, then it is good with Allah. And that which the mu’minoon see as despicable, then it is despicable to Allah.”

وقوله في حديث وابصة وأبي ثعلبة وإن أفتاك المفتون يعني أن ما حاك في صدر الإنسان فهو إثم وإن أفتاه غيره بأنه ليس بإثم فهذه مرتبة ثانية وهو أن يكون الشيء مستنكرا عند فاعله دون غيره وقد جعله أيضًا إثما وهذا إنما يكون إذا كان صاحبه ممن شرح صدره للإيمان، وكان المتفتي يفتي له بمجرد ظن أو ميل إلى هوى من غير دليل شرعي فأما ما كان مع المفتي به دليل شرعي فالواجب على المفتى الرجوع إليه وإن لم ينشرح له صدره وهذا كالرخصة الشرعية مثل الفطر في السفر والمرض وقصر الصلاة في السفر ونحو ذلك مما لا ينشرح به صدور كثير من الجهال فهذا لا عبرة به

And His saying in the hadeeth of Waasibah and Abu Tha’labah, “Even if those who give judgement do so“, meaning that whatever wavers in a person’s breast is ithm even if others give him a judgement that it is not ithm. So this is the second degree, and it is that something is reprehensible to the person himself even though it is not to others, so he has made that ithm also. And this is only the case when the person is someone whose breast has been opened to al-eemaan, and the one who gives judgement does so purely from his own thought or his inclining towards his desire without a shar’ee (Divinely legislated) proof. So as for the case when the one who gives judgement does so with a shar’ee proof, then it is obligatory for the one who sought the ruling to return to that ruling, even if his breast has not been opened to that. And this is like the shar’ee rukhsah (allowance) for such things as breaking the fast on a journey or while ill, shortening the prayers while on a journey, and so on of those things  for which many ignorant people feel ill at ease, and so no regard is due to it.

وقد كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أحيانا يأمر أصحابه بما لا تنشرح به صدور بعضهم فيمتنعون من قوله فيغضب من ذلك كما أمرهم بفسخ الحج إلى العمرة فكرهه من كرهه منهم وكما أمرهم بنحر هديهم والتحلل من عمرة الحديبية فكرهوه وكرهوا مفاوضته لقريش على أن يرجع من عامه وعلى أن من أتاه منهم يرده إليهم

And sometimes the Prophet (ﷺ) commanded his companions with things with which some of their hearts were not at ease and which they would feel like refusing to do and he would become angry at that. Such as when he ordered them to cancel their hajj and and convert it into an ‘umrah, so those who disliked it among them disliked it. And such as when he commanded them to slaughter their sacrificial animals and to undo the ‘umrah of al-Hudaybiyyah, and they disliked that. They disliked his agreeing to the stipulations of the Quraish [in the treaty of al-Hudaybiyyah] that he should return [from attempting to make the ‘umrah] that year and that he should return to them whoever came to them [of Muslims from the Quraish]

وفي الجملة فما ورد النص به فليس للمؤمن إلا طاعة الله ورسوله كما قال تعالى : ‏‏وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ‏

So in summary, concerning that for which there is narrated a definitive text, then there is no option for the mu’min except for obedying Allah and His messenger, just as He said, “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair.” [33:36]

‏ وينبغي أن يتلقى ذلك بانشراح الصدر والرضا فإن ما شرعه الله ورسوله يجب الإيمان والرضا به والتسليم له كما قال تعالى ‏{‏فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىَ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُواْ فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيمًا‏}‏ النساء وأما

One must meet that [i.e. the definite text and ruling] with an open heart and contentment, for verily it is obligatory to have eemaan in what Allah and His messenger have legislated, and to be contented with it, and to submit to it, and He said, “But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.” [4:65]

ما ليس فيه نص من الله ولا رسوله ولا عمن يقتدي بقوله من الصحابة وسلف الأمة فإذا وقع في نفس المؤمن المطمئن قلبه بالإيمان المنشرح صدره بنور المعرفة واليقين منه شيء وحك في صدره بشبهة موجودة ولم يجد من يفتي فيه بالرخصة إلا من يخبر عن رأيه وهو ممن لا يوثق بعلمه وبدينه بل هو معروف باتباع الهوى فهنا يرجع المؤمن إلى ما حاك في صدره وإن أفتاه هؤلاء المفتون

As for that for which there is no definitive text from Allah or His messenger, nor anything to follow of the statements of the sahaabah or the salaf of the ummah, then if something occurs in the inner-self of the mu’min whose heart is at rest with eemaan and whose breast is opened with the noor of knowledge and yaqeen (certainty), and it makes an impression and causes his breast to waver because of some doubts, and he cannot find someone to offer a judgement with a rukhsah except that they inform him from their own opinion, someone who is not firm in their knowledge nor in their deen, rather he is someone who is know for following his desires, then the mu’min should return from that which causes his breast to waver, even though those who give him judgements allow it.

[Jaami’a al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam 2/101-103]

See also: The meaning of al-Ma’roof and al-Munkar: Ibn Rajab
See also: Whoever wills, let him believe; and whoever wills, let him disbelieve – Tafsir al-Sa’di & Tafsir al-Shinqeeti
See also: “All of you are astray except whomever I guide”: Explanation of Ibn Rajab
See also: Imam al-Nawawi on the Fitrah
See also: “When supper is brought and the prayer begins, one should first take food”: Sharh al-Nawawi

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5 thoughts on ““Consult your heart”: Clarification from Ibn Rajab

  1. Pingback: “When supper is brought and the prayer begins, one should first take food”: Sharh al-Nawawi | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The meaning of al-Ma’roof and al-Munkar: Ibn Rajab | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Imam an-Nawawi on the Fitrah | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: “All of you are astray except whomever I guide”: Explanation of Ibn Rajab | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Whoever wills, let him believe; and whoever wills, let him disbelieve – Tafsir al-Sa’di & Tafsir al-Shinqeeti | Tulayhah

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