Nawawi, Hadith 9: Avoid what is forbidden; Do what is commanded; Don’t ask too many questions
Al-Nawawi (631 – 676 A.H / 1234 – 1278 A.D.), was a brilliant Muslim scholar with a high reputation among Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, to this day. He had an exceptional knowledge of the ahadith which is why we have been studying his “Forty Hadiths” – a collection of forty-two important traditions of Muhammad.
Muhammad’s life, as recounted by his followers, is a source of “revelation” for Muslims. This is why it is important for Christians to study the ahadith which were compiled hundreds of years after Muhammad’s death.
Here is the Ninth Hadith compiled by al-Nawawi, first in Arabic and then the English translation of the Arabic,
عن أبي هريرة عبد الرحمن بن صخر رضي الله عنه ، قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول : ( ما نهيتكم عنه فاجتنبوه ، وما أمرتكم به فأتوا منه ما استطعتم ، فإنما أهلك الذين من قبلكم كثرة مسائلهم واختلافهم على انبيائهم ). رواه البخاري [ رقم : 7288 ] ، ومسلم [ رقم : 1337]
[Related by al-Bukhari (صحيح البخاري) and Muslim (صحيح مسلم)]
On the authority of Abu Hurairah ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan ibn Sakhr (radi allahu ‘anhu 1English to Aratic translation , May Allah be pleased with him.) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayi wa sallam) 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 the excessive questioning and their disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you”.
Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa’s Teaching About Imam Nawawi’s Hadith 9
Listen to the Islamic scholar, Ali Gomaa (على جمعة), teach about avoiding what is forbidden and doing what is commanded. Ali Gomaa is the second highest Sunni authority in Egypt after Dr. Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al Tayeb. My notes follow,
“You should know that religion is based on minimal questioning, not on excessive questioning. And built on understanding it as a whole. It was not based on discord and exaggerative questioning. To many questions and the exaggeration in religion is disliked and forbidden by the Prophet (SAWS) who said, “This religion is strong, so go into is moderately for the traveler who whips his animal to death, neither reaches his destination, nor keeps his animal.” He forbade us to ask too many questions.”
My Christian comments: There are similarities between Ali Gomaa’s teaching about this hadith and the Christian emphasis upon mystery. Christians believe they are to speak about what God has addressed in the Bible. It is our wisdom to remain silent where God, in His infinite wisdom, has remained silent (Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 11:33-36). In fact, I often think that Muslim questioning of Christian doctrine of God and the Incarnation is excessive and exaggerated.
Ali Gomaa discusses the Qur’an; specifically why a particular chapter of the Qur’an is entitled “Al-Baqarah” (trans. “The Cow”). He says that it is a reference to Israel’s many questions to God which kept them from obeying. This is to serve as an example for Muslims not to ask too many questions.
My Christian comments: The motives of some questions are sometimes rooted in unbelief. We exaggerate with excessive questions about what we do not understand so that we can avoid obeying what can easily be understood. Philosophers sometimes call this a red herring.
I suppose that hundreds of questions could be asked about the sun, its source of energy, light, wavelengths, etc. In the meantime, one could miss the beauty and goodness of the sun. Or one could miss the dangers of the sun by being overexposed to it or looking at it for too long.
Ali Gomaa then proceeds to comment about this hadith as it teaches that “abstinence is easier than doing.”
“leave all forbidden deeds. And also abide by the orders to the best of your capacity” (8:30-8:40).
“The ordinances are, Al-hamdullilah, limited and few. The most important of which is praying. “Surely prayer forbids obscenity and malfeasance; and indeed the Rembrance of Allah is greater.” And most important is to preserve it. “Preserve (constantly) the prayers, and the middle prayer, and rise up devoutly to Allah.” It is incumbant as praying is a pillar of faith and the top peak. Without it, no other acts of worship is right. And there is no blessing except in it. That is why we have to adhere to praying.”
Christianity and the hadith
There is similarity in the Muslim view of the Law, “abstinence is easier than doing.” Christians explain a violation of God’s Law in two ways:
Sins of Omission: not being or doing what God requires
Sins of Comission: doing what God forbids.
Jesus taught that the summary of the Law is love. We must actively love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We must love our neighbor as ourselves. To violate these is to break the greatest of the commandments. None of us can say that we have kept the Law in all its fulness. The Law therefore points out our unrighteousness and need for a Savior. I have an entire chapter on this in my book, Is the Quran the Word of God?
Ali Gomaa’s teaching about the priority of prayer, if I have understood it correctly, is contrary to what Jesus taught (Matthew 5:23-24).
Next Post in This Series:
Previous Post in This Series:
- Six Reasons I’m Studying Hadith
- Introduction to Nawawi’s Forty Hadith
- Hadith 1 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Actions and Intentions
- Hadith 2 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Gabriel Questions Muhammad about the Principles of Islam
- Hadith 3 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: The Five Pillars of Islam
- Hadith 4 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Abortion and When Does Life Begin?
- Hadith 5 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Nawawi: Innovation and Islam
- Hadith 6 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Halal, Haram, and the Heart (Things Permitted and Prohibited)
- Hadith 7 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Advice and Guidance
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|1.||↥||English to Aratic translation , May Allah be pleased with him.|