Nawawi, the Forty Hadith, Hadith 6: Halal (حلال), Haram (حرام), and the Heart
One of the things I am coming away with in my study of the ahadith is a renewed appreciation for the biblical doctrine of inspiration (The Doctrine of Inspiration). Muslims don’t believe something is “God’s Word” unless is was directly spoken by Him (see comments on the 24th hadith). Christians believe God the Holy Spirit inspires men to speak His Word. Therefore, it is relevant to compare the words of Muhammad in the ahadith with the Christian Scriptures. If the Christian Scriptures are superior to some ahadith, it should follow that Muhammad is not the greatest of the prophets.
The importance of the ahadith in Islam are highlighted by Ali Gomaa’s comment, “For he who seeks guidance away from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s sunnah will go astray.”
The sixth Hadith compiled by Nawawi, first in Arabic and then in English,
عن أبي عبد الله النعـمان بن بشير رضي الله عـنهما ، قـال : سمعـت رسـول الله صلي الله عـليه وسلم يقول: ( إن الحلال بين ، وإن الحـرام بين ، وبينهما أمـور مشتبهات لا يعـلمهن كثير من الناس ، فمن اتقى الشبهات فـقـد استبرأ لديـنه وعـرضه ، ومن وقع في الشبهات وقـع في الحرام ، كـالراعي يـرعى حول الحمى يوشك أن يرتع فيه،ألا وإن لكل ملك حمى ، ألا وإن حمى الله محارمه ، ألا وإن في الجـسد مضغة إذا صلحـت صلح الجسد كله ، وإذا فـسـدت فـسـد الجسـد كـلـه ، ألا وهي الـقـلب) رواه البخاري [ رقم : 52 ] ومسلم [ رقم : 1599 ]
On the authority of Aboo `Abdillaah an-Nu`maan the son of Basheer (radiAllaahu ‘anhumaa), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) say:
That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] 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 Allaah’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 is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.
[Related by al-Bukhaari (البخاري) and Muslim(صحيح مسلم).]
Ali Gomaa’s Teaching About Hadith 6
Listen to the Ali Gomaa teach about this hadith and those things which are permitted and prohibited. Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt; he is a scholar and jurist who studied and taught for many years at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.
“And any hadith reported by both Al-Bukhary and Muslim is called agreed upon.”
“This hadith is among the pillars of Islam, and a pillar of the Muslim mind”
“Examples of evidently permitted things are prayers, fasting, Zakat, honesty and mercy. Of the evidently prohibited are usury, adultery, fornication, verbal abuse, false testimony, and the like.”
At 2:23 Ali Goma’a begins discussing grey areas or “suspicious things” – things that aren’t as evidently prohibited or permitted. Not everything is black and white.
“There are three forms of suspicion: Suspicion with respect to the doer, the situation and the madh’ab (school of thought).”
Ali Gomaa gives examples of each form of suspicion:
1. Accidentally eating unclean food
2. If you find yourself in a situation in which unclean food might be present then it is best to ask or not eat. Ali Gomaa also gives the example of a girl who was breastfed by one’s mother (5:00-5:29).
3. Different schools of thought and Imams have different interpretations. In these cases, caution is recommended but not obligatory as in #2 (5:30-7:18).
“Suspicion with respect to situation or madh’ab may be unknown to many.” Ali Gomma quotes this hadith, “So whoever saves himself from the suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things falls in the forbidden.”
Ali Gomaa says, “The reason is when one indulges in these suspicious things, one is approaching the realm of the forbidden. For he things it is suspicious and he should have stayed away from it, but he didn’t. Surely, he will fall in the suspicious things which is within the suspicion of the situation. This is forbidden for him. The difference then is only one step. The Prophet (SAWS) commands you to save your religion and honor and to avoid suspicious things, in order to be aloof of the forbidden.”
Christianity and Hadith 6
The concerns of this hadith are what Christians call scruples or matters of conscience. The Apostle Paul discusses these at length in 1 Corinthians 8-10.
An obvious difference between this hadith and Christianity is that Jesus declared all foods to be clean (Mark 7:18-23; see also Acts 10).
The other thing to note about this hadith is the conclusion about the heart being diseased. Muhammad used to pray, “Oh God who makes hearts turn away, make my heart firm in Your religion.”
- Introduction to Nawawi’s Forty Hadith
- Hadith 1 compiled by Imam Nawawi: Actions and Intentions
- Hadith 2 compiled by Imam Nawawi: Gabriel questions Muhammad about the Principles of Islam
- Hadith 3 compiled by Imam Nawawi: The Five Pillars of Islam
- Hadith 4 compiled by Imam Nawawi: Abortion and When Does Life Begin?
- Hadith 5 compiled by Imam Nawawi: Innovation and Islam
- Hadith 7 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Advice and Guidance
- Six Reasons I’m Studying Hadith