Debatable debates, and questionable quotes

After seeing a post this morning that was quoted to be from Hadith Qudsi, I doubted its authenticity which led to me browsing through the collection of Hadith Qudsi to see if it may have been a variation in translation or not. I couldn’t find it. The ‘offending’ quote was:

I wonder at a person who preaches to people but not to his own soul

If anyone has knowledge of the origins of this hadith, or if in fact it is a hadith, please let me know, but so far, it doesn’t appear to be hadith at all. It has a strong under tone of rhetoric, and in my limited knowledge (may Allah forgive me if I’m wrong) I’ve never known Rasulullah (SAW) to speak with rhetoric, so immediately this quote raised alarm bells. 

However, the good that came out of this for me was being reminded about the following hadith:

Book 1. Hadith Qudsi. Hadith 006.

The Authority Of Al-Numan bin Basheer : I heared the messenger of Allah say : “That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be whole, all the body is whole and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart.”


Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim.

I’ve italicised those words that I found most inspiring. What strikes me most about this is that it is a reflection of the numerous debates I witness on a daily basis, on Tumblr and in real life, regarding matters that are based on opinions or interpretations, rather than matters that are clearly halaal or haraam. Like this hadith states, “the lawful and the unlawful is plain”, so the extended debates we get into regarding who is more correct about interpretations is usually centred around issues that relate to preferred ways of doing things rather than what is outright forbidden or allowed. 

This was highlighted to me in another hadith that I came across in the same collection, which reads:

Book 1. Hadith Qudsi. Hadith 009.

The Authority Of Abu Hurairah : I heared the messenger of Allah say : “What I have forbidden to you, avoid; what I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can. It was only their excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their prophets that destroyed those who were before you.”


Related bu Bukhari and Muslim.

Again, the italics are mine for emphasis. This excessive questioning is what leads to 99% of the debates we have on Tumblr and in real life. Every single occasion that I have personally witnessed where such debates rage, the underlying tone and manner of such debates was always driven by the egos of those involved in the discussion. I keep reminding myself that halaal and haraam is clear. So in that, there is no doubt. Therefore it makes sense that if there is doubt about something, the doubt would be regarding its interpretation or preferred method of implementation, but not about its validity as being halaal or haraam. So when someone insists that we are compelled to seek a deeper understanding of the inferences and meanings and interpretations behind what is plain, this hadith answers such endeavours clearly:

Book 1. Hadith Qudsi. Hadith 030.

The Authority Of Jurthum bin Nashir : The messenger of Allah said : “Allah the Almighty has laid down religious duties, so do not neglect them. He has set boundaries, so do not over step them. He has prohibited some things, so do not violate them; about some things He was silent-out of compassion for you, not forgetfulness, so seek not after them.”


A fine hadith related by Al-Daraqutni and others.

But the most poignant of the ahadith that I came across in my search for the hadith that I found to be suspicious is this:

Book 1. Hadith Qudsi. Hadith 035.

The Authority Of Abu Hurairah : The messenger of Allah said : “Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices one to another; do not hate one another; do not turn away from one another; and do not undercut one another, but be you, O servants of Allah, brothers. A muslim is the brother of a muslim: he neither oppresses him nor does he fail him, he neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt. Piety is right here-and he pointed to his breast three times. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother muslim in contempt. The whole of a muslim for another muslim is inviolable: his blood, his property, and his honor.”


Related by Muslim.

Once more, italics are my own emphasis. The thought that this hadith left me with is that if we apply the principles of what is clearly stated here, by holding another Muslim in contempt because of their beliefs or actions, we’re doing either one of two things. We’re either deliberately violating the injunction of this hadith, or; we’re suggesting that in our view, the person we’re holding in contempt is in fact not Muslim. Isn’t this tantamount to declaring takfir on another? 

I have been taught that debates should be had not to determine who is right and who is wrong, but rather to arrive at the truth. It’s rare these days to find anyone debating for the correct purpose, but instead we expend precious resources in time and energy focused on satisfying nothing more than our nafs under the guise of seeking to establish the truth with others. 

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