Fruits for the Week

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Abu Abdullah Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari (ra) reported that a man questioned the Messenger of Allah (saw), saying: “Do you see, if I pray the prescribed (prayers), fast during Ramadhan, treat the lawful as permissible and treat the forbidden as prohibited, but do nothing more than that, shall I enter Paradise?” He (the Prophet) answered: “Yes.” (Muslim)

This hadith indicates that the one who fulfills the obligations and avoids the prohibitions will enter Paradise. This meaning has been emphasized in a number of other hadiths.

This hadith emphasizes surrendering to the will of Allah (swt) – to accept as permissible what Allah has permitted and to accept as forbidden what Allah has prohibited. This also emphasizes Islam itself because Islam means to ‘fully surrender to the will of Allah and to accept everything that has been commanded by Allah.’

In our contemporary times, there arises the issue of Muslims not fully adhering to the Shari’ah, i.e. Allah’s commandments. If this is because they are new Muslims or they live in areas where there is a lack of knowledge or poor dissemination of information (i.e. there are no scholars to advise them), then this lack of adherence is excusable. However, if a Muslim chooses to intentionally ignore or reject the obligations and prohibitions set by Allah without good reasons, then he may be in danger of losing his Islamic entity or identity.

These obligatory acts mentioned in the hadith will lead a person to Paradise and require strong belief in Allah, commitment, and continuous efforts. Only then will it be an easy task to achieve.

This hadith implies that the mustahabb (sunnah or preferable deeds) are not necessary for one to be able to enter Paradise. What counts or what matters is fulfilling the obligatory acts. However, we are encouraged to perform preferable deeds according to our capacity and whenever possible.

The significance of performing preferable acts is that it will lead us in getting closer to Allah (swt). In addition, preferable deeds compensate for our shortcomings in performing obligatory acts.

Some scholars have made the assumption that the person asking the question in the hadith was new to Islam. This gives insights to educators and preachers to observe the following lessons when dealing with new converts to Islam:

1. The murabbi or scholar should take into account the background or status of the questioner before attending to and answering his or her questions. Different people with different backgrounds may require different answers or different approaches to conveying the answers. This is because a person who comes from a different culture or lives in a different environment from the murabbis or scholars may not fully understand the scholar’s explanation if it cannot be related to his/her situation.

If the murabbi or scholar does not know the background of the questioner (e.g. if questions are being asked through the mail, through the telephone, on the radio, etc.), then he needs to find out as much as possible about the questioner before answering. Some scholars try to speculate what could be the status of the person asking the question by, for example, trying to read between the lines of the text of the question. The end result is that the scholars do not provide one fixed answer – there will be a few answers, each applicable to a different situation.

2. The murabbi or scholar should not overburden new Muslims by asking them or encouraging them to perform preferable acts. The murabbi should just get them to start with the obligatory acts. If they are given too much to do, it may become too much for them to cope and they may lose interest in Islam altogether. The murabbi or scholar should start slowly and when the new Muslims are settled and are performing the obligatory deeds, only then should they be introduced to the preferable acts.

Similarly, new Muslims should not be subjected to conflicting issues or views in Islam. For example, they should be told about the four different schools of thought (madhab) and be asked to choose which madhab to follow. This will only confuse the new Muslims. The murabbi or preacher should make it easy and simple for converts to start their new lives in Islam. Only later on can such issues be discussed.

The same thing can be said about the awam (general public). Scholars should not overburden them or bombard them with too many obligations or concepts. This is also a lesson we can learn from this hadith: murabbi or scholar should observe the background of the questioner as well as the audience in general if there is no questioner.

by Dr. Jamal Ahmed Badi

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