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The ninth hadith from Al-Arbaeen Al-Nawawi’s collection that we studied in today’s class states on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) 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 their excessive questioning and disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you’’. [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

The hadith teaches us to do what we have been asked to and refrain from what’s forbidden. The second part tells us that one of the causes of destruction of previous nations was excessive questioning. Does that mean being inquisitive is a sign of danger to our Iman? Not at all my friends as it comes in another hadith that questioning is half of Ilm. The above Hadith does not prohibit one from asking questions or even discussing and debating when genuinely required, it stresses on discouraging excessive questioning.

It happens sometimes that when a new concept is introduced to us, and somehow we can’t relate to it a series of questions start popping in our head. We get so much involved in the understanding of the concept that we forget that its implication will automatically give us a better understanding. The hadith that urges us to ask questions are questions that will increase the quality of our deed and will benefit ourselves as well as others. A simple example is of how Prophet (PBUH) companions asked questions which they seldom did. They looked for appropriate timings to ask questions. They did not trouble the Prophet (PBUH) by pounding him with doubts and questions all the time.

Hazrat Asma (RA) once came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, ‘A group of women has sent me as their representative and they all have the same opinion, including me, about which I wanted to enquire. Allah has sent you as a Prophet for both men and women, therefore we believed you and followed your footsteps. But we are women who remain behind the veil and inside our homes. Men fulfil their desires with us and we take care of their off-springs. Men have excelled in prayers and Jihad, and every other act of piety. Will we be rewarded with them too?’ After listening to her speech, Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked his companions, ‘Have you ever listened to such a fine speech by a woman before who had enquired about religion?’ All the companions answered in the negative. Then the Holy Prophet  (PBUH) said to Asma (RA), ‘O Asma help me in conveying my message to the women who have made you their representative, that their taking care of the household and keeping their husbands happy is equivalent to all those deeds of men you have just mentioned.’ SUBHANALLAH! Even the Prophet (PBUH) praised the question asked!

On the contrary, one should refrain from asking questions that will lead to painful situations. Questions that will be a source of mocking or disrespecting the one who’s questioned, like the Jews who persisted in asking the Prophet (PBUH) about the soul. As it comes in the Holy Quran about the unbelievers of Makkah, “And they ask you about the soul. Say, “The soul is something from the command of my Lord, and you are not given from the knowledge but a little.” [17:84]

Questioning someone in order to show that you are more knowledgeable. Similarly, questions must not be asked with a lot of persistence. Also one should avoid asking meaningless questions or questions whose answers may seem to create an uncomfortable zone between the one who is questioned and the one questioning. As Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH), was delivering a sermon and he said, “O people, the pilgrimage has been made an obligation, so perform the pilgrimage.” A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, is it prescribed every year?” The Prophet remained silent until the man repeated his question three times. He said, “Had I said yes, it would have become an obligation upon you and you would have been unable to fulfill it.” [Sahih Muslim]. Therefore specially at the time of Prophet (PBUH), Muslims were commanded not to ask questions that were against the status of the Prophet or questions that might prohibit what was not prohibited as comes in this hadith by Sa’ad Ibn Abi Waqas (RA) in which he related that the Prophet (PBUH) said “Verily, among Muslims the one who committed the greatest crime is the one who asked about something that was not prohibited but then it became prohibited because of his questioning”.

May Allah (SWT) help us to refrain from indulging in vain talk, questioning and excessive arguments. Ameen!

By Farhat Aziz

Student, Darasaat-e-Deenia, 1st year


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