What is the meaning of one tenth in this Hadith?
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported, Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,
“Verily, you are in a time in which whoever among you leaves a tenth of what he has been commanded will be ruined. Then there will come a time in which whoever among you practices a tenth of what he has been commanded will be saved.”
Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah) has recorded this narration on the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu).
(Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 2267, under the chapter of Trials and tribulations -Fitan-)
The commentators of Hadith explain that practicing on one tenth is not referring to obligatory actions as one is never excused from carrying these out. Rather one tenth is referring to Mustahab actions, Sunnah actions or the command of enjoining good and forbidding evil.
When Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) made this statement, Islam and Din were extremely strong and so too were the helpers of Din. There was no excuse for becoming lax. However, closer to Qiyamah due to the abundance of oppression and sin, people will be unable to practice all the Mustahab actions/Sunnah actions/the command of enjoining good and forbidding evil due to the difficulties they are facing and not due to laziness.
Therefore in this difficult period a person will be excused for falling short.
(Refer: Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 2542, Mirqat, vol. 1 pg. 387 and Tuhfatul Ahwadhi)
However, one should always aim for the ideal, and not settle for less.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar