Can the above-mentioned Hadith be explained in its correct context, due to many people misusing this Hadith.
The full narration of this Hadith has been recorded by Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) and others.
(Musnad Ahmad, vol. 4 pg.228)
Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) has declared this Hadith as sound (hasan). It would also be understood to have been classified as sound (hasan) by Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah), as per the principle in his book, Hidayatur Ruwah.
(Al-Arba’in An-Nawawiyyah, Hadith: 27, Hidayatur Ruwah, Hadith: 2705; Also see: Ithafus Sadatil Muttaqin vol. 1 pg. 160)
Sayyiduna Wabisah ibn Ma’bad (radiyallahu ‘anhu) has reported:
“I headed for [the gathering of] Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) intending to not leave out a single thing regarding [both acts of] righteousness [obedience] and vice [sin] except that I’d ask him. [When I reached him, I found] There was a group of Muslims around him asking him questions thus, I began to step over them [in an attempt to reach the front, where Rasulullah -sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam- was]. [As I was doing this] The people then said [rebukingly, in response to my action]: ‘O Wabisah! Get away from Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam)! [i.e Step aside!]’
I replied [in response]: Leave me be so that I can come nearer to him [referring to Rasulullah -sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam-] for indeed he is the most beloved of mankind that I would draw nearer to! [i.e. Leave me be and allow me to meet the one I love most amongst all of mankind!] [Upon seeing what was transpiring,] Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said [about] two or three times: ‘Leave Wabisah! Come closer O Wabisah!’
I [i.e. Wabisah] then came closer until I sat right in front of him. Thereafter he said: ‘O Wabisah! Should I tell you or are you going to ask me? [i.e. should I reveal and inform you regarding what you came to ask me about or would you yourself like to ask me?]
I replied: Nay, rather you inform me!
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: ‘You came to inquire me about [both acts of] righteousness/obedience and sin.[Amazed, as this was a miracle] I concurred saying: ‘Yes!’
He [i.e. Rasulullah -sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam-] then combined his fingers and began tracing [i.e. lightly scratching, circling, drawing, etc.] my chest with them [all the while] repeating three times: ‘O Wabisah! Consult [and seek the ruling from] your heart; Ask [and check] your [inner] conscious.
Righteousness is that about which the soul [inner conscious] feels tranquil [i.e. that about which your mind and heart feel at ease] whilst vice is that which creates restlessness in the soul and wavers in the chest [i.e that which a person feels hesitant and troubled about] even though the people have given you [their] verdict [of permissibility] on it.’”
All actions are split into three main categories:
- Those that are clearly permissible
- Those that are clearly impermissible
- Those, the permissibility or impermissibility of which are unclear
(See Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 52, and Sahih Muslim Hadith: 1599)
Contained within the purport of the Hadith in question, there is proof to show that Allah Ta’ala has created each individual with the natural disposition of detecting and differentiating right from wrong. Not only has Allah Ta’ala created mankind with this natural characteristic, but He has also made it such that their natural design is to settle for and be inclined towards that which is right [as in doing so they are more comfortable and unperturbed]. It is through the influence of Shaytan and the succumbing-to of one’s own desires that this natural disposition becomes weaker and at times completely covered up, or even – May Allah Ta’ala protect us all – altered. There are many verses from the Quran and Hadiths that support this concept and reality.
Nonetheless, there are certain times when a person, [despite having strong Iman, but] due to a lack of knowledge, will be unable to make the clear distinction between right and wrong. It is during such an occasion [i.e. in times of confusion], as understood from the Hadith in question, that the heart and soul are to be consulted. It is not a general principle that one can apply across the board for all deeds. For example, a person cannot simply commit a sin, such as drinking alcohol, and then argue that it is not sinful since his soul is at ease with it.
It is also incumbent to note, that the Muhaddithun and Commentators of Hadith have mentioned further specifications attached to this principle [of seeking council from one’s heart and soul].
Ibn Rajab Al-Hambali (rahimahullah) has mentioned that this principle only applies in two specific scenarios where there is confusion:
- When a person whose heart has been filled with Iman finds himself at a standstill due to uneasiness and confusion regarding a certain issue and then hears a verdict [of permissibility] from someone else. Furthermore, the one who issued the verdict, despite seeming apparently qualified to do so, clearly gave it through mere conjecture or whilst being influenced by his desires [ultimately, the one who issued the verdict didn’t base his verdict on any valid shari’ proof]. In such a scenario, if a person still feels perturbed and uneasy, then he can, out of taking his own precautionary measures and due to his taqwa [piety], avoid indulging in that act [by acting on this Hadith and consulting his heart].
As for that scenario where the verdict passed was based on a valid Shari’ proof, then it will be incumbent to follow the verdict regardless of one’s feelings or inner conscious. For example, if one is informed on the concessions of Shari’ah like performing Qasar Salah whilst traveling, then even if he finds himself doubting or initially feeling uneasy about performing two rak’ahs instead of four, he will still have to do two. It will be incumbent upon him and no regard will be given to his inner conscious or feelings at that time.
- When a person whose heart has been filled with Iman finds himself at a standstill due to uneasiness and confusion regarding a certain issue where nothing has been explicitly recorded from Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), the Sahabah, nor any ‘Alim of the past; furthermore, the person was unable to find a reputable ‘Alim [scholar] that he could refer to; rather there is no one to assist him, or perhaps the only ones available to assist him are people who merely answer through guesswork and assumptions [and at times are even known to be far too laxed in their Din, following their whims and desires], then at such a time he can consult his heart and soul to decide whether to proceed and indulge in that action or not.
(Jamiu’l Ulumi Wal-Hikam, Hadith: 27)
Hafiz ibn Hajar Al-Haytami (rahimahullah) has echoed similar sentiments as well in his commentary on Imam Nawawi’s Al-Arba’in (rahimahullah).
(Al-Fathul Mubin, Hadith: 27)
Other ‘Ulama and Muhaddithun such as Qadhi ‘Iyadh, Ibnul ‘Attar and Mulla ‘Ali Qari (rahimahumallah) have mentioned more or less that this principle applies to a person’s wara’ [high level of piety]. This means that when a person feels perturbed and uncomfortable about indulging in a certain action, due to being uncertain whether that action will result in sin or not, then they should retract from that action [by practising on the Hadith]; even if others [i.e. reliable ‘Ulama] have passed a verdict [in favor of it].
The difference between this and the first explanation given is that the one giving the verdict didn’t necessarily do so based on conjecture or in following his desires.
An example of this would be when an issue of permissibility has been passed on a certain issue, like the consumption of previously presumed doubtful meat, or the permissibility of a particular seemingly doubtful transaction, etc. After a verdict of permissibility has been passed, one can indulge in the action; but if he still feels uneasy and doubtful, he can personally exercise precaution and leave it out.
There is one condition however, and that is that the uneasiness present in the heart [at that time] is correct [and valid in its place]. On the contrary, if it is from the deceitful whispers [wasawis] of the soul, then no consideration will be given to it at all. This is similar to what has passed above, i.e if a person has a doubt or uneasiness about something already proven and well established in din, then he will not be allowed to abuse this principle and use it out of context.
(Sharhul Arba’in An-Nawawiyyah of Ibnul ‘Attar, Hadith: 27, Mirqat, Hadith: 2774; Also see Mirqat, Hadith: 2773)
To truly understand and sum up this explanation [pertaining to wara’], one should ponder well over the profound statement of ‘Allamah Qabbari (rahimahullah) where he said:
المكروه عقبة بين العبد و الحرام، فمن استكثر من المكروه تطرق إلى الحرام، و المباح عقبة بينه و بين المكروه، فمن استكثر منه تطرق إلى المكروه
“[That which is] Makruh [disliked in Din] is a pathway between a person and [that which is] Haram. Whoever then excessively indulges in [those things which are] Makruh will eventually seek his way into [those things that are] Haram.”
And [that which is] Mubah [permissible, but not necessarily preferable] is a pathway between him and Makruh. Whoever then overindulges in [those things that are] Mubah will eventually seek his way into [those things which are] Makruh.
(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 52)
Note: This is merely an explanation regarding the authenticity and text of the aforementioned Hadith. Kindly refer to a Mufti/Darul Ifta for any queries regarding specific matters mentioned as examples within the explanation.
And Allah Ta’ala knows best
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar,
There are two types of people who usually abuse the meaning of this Hadith;
a) People who are habitual with a particular sin, and thereby justify their sin with the fact that their [twisted] conscience is clear about it!
b) People who are over cautious in righteous deeds to the extent that they begin to harm themselves due to the waswasah (whisperings of Shaytan or their souls)
Both should desist from using the blessed Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) as justification for their inabilities!