Hadith 27

Chapter: When (A person’s) Islam is not genuine, but rather on account of submission (to other than Allah) or out of fear of being killed, as in the words of Allah, “The desert Arabs say, ‘We believe.’ Say: ‘You do not believe. Rather say, “We have become Muslim.”‘” (49:14) When (a person’s) Islam is genuine, it is based on His (Allah’s) words, “Verily, the only deen (religion) with Allah is Islam.” (3:19)

Abu Al-Yaman said that Shu’aib informed us from Al-Zuhri who said Aamir Ibn Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, said that he was once sitting while the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was distributing things to a group of people. “The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم left out one man whom I admired most (out of the group). I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, what about that person? By Allah, I see him to be a believer (mu’min).’

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, ‘Or just a Muslim?’ I was silent for a while and then what I knew about him became too much for me and I repeated what I had said. ‘What about that person? By Allah, I see him to be a believer.’ He said, ‘Or just a Muslim?’

I was silent for a while. Then what I knew about him became too much for me again and I repeated what I had said and the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم repeated what he had said. Then he said, ‘Sa’d, I give to one man [and leave out] another I love more than him out of fear that Allah might throw him on his face into the Fire.’ “

Yunus, Salih, Ma’mar and Ibn Akhi az-Zuhri related it from az-Zuhri.

Ibn Hajar’s Explanation

His saying: “When (A person’s) Islam is not genuine…”

If the acceptance of Islam is established this way (without sincerity) it will be of no benefit in the hereafter. The result of this is that ‘Islam’ may be used to mean different things;

  1. Valid belief which is equivalent to ‘eemaan’ and benefits (the Muslim) in front of Allah as Allah says, “Verily, the only deen (religion) with Allah is Islam.” (3:19)

  2. The linguistic meaning of ‘Islam’ which means obedience and submission.

The author (Al-Bukhari) used ‘Islam’ here referring to the valid belief. The relevance of this narration here (in this chapter) is that the label ‘Muslim’ can be used to describe a person who expresses Islam even if his inner-intention is unknown. He cannot however be proclaimed a ‘Mu’min’ because although the linguistic meaning (of eemaan) is fulfilled, the technical meaning is not certain.

His saying, “To a group of people.”

The word (رهط) used in the narration indicates a group of people between three and ten.

His saying: “By Allah, I see him to be a believer (mu’min).’ The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, ‘Or just a Muslim?’

 Ibn Al-A’rabe recorded (the Prophet’s response) as “Don’t say Mu’min rather say Muslim. The term ‘Muslim’ is better used to describe a person whose inner-intention is not known, because Islam is known by what is made apparent, as shaykh Muhyee Ad-Deen said.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم routinely gave more to those who had recently entered Islam as a method of drawing their hearts closer (to Islam). When Sa’d realized that the Prophet had left out one of the muhajiroon (immigrants) whom he saw to be more rightful to receive the offering, he came to ask the Prophet concerning this matter. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم advised him about two matters;

  1. He gave those who were in need of having their hearts drawn closer (to Islam), fearful that they may leave the religion and therefore enter the fire.

  2. He taught him not to make a statement regarding the inner-intention (by declaring someone a mu’min), while it is acceptable to make a statement about that which is apparent (by declaring someone a muslim).

-If it asked why the testimony of Sa’d is not sufficient to declare a person a mu’min, although had Sa’d testified as to the man’s integrity and straightforwardness his declaration would have been accepted, even as these characteristics require eemaan?

The answer is that his statement did not reach the level of a declaration; rather he was praising the man and interceding on his behalf. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم then advised him not to use a statement that indicates a declaration (of eemaan).

 Benefits from the narration;

  1. The wisdom behind not giving one man while giving the others was to draw their hearts closer to Islam.

  2. A differentiation was made between eemaan and Islam, whereas an outright declaration of eemaan should be avoided unless clear proof can be established to do so.

  3. This narration is not the evidence prohibiting declaring people to be from the inhabitants of jannah (paradise), although some scholars used it as such. It is true however, that a person cannot be considered from the people of jannah without specific proof.

  4. The narration is a refutation of the murji’a, who claim that eemaan can be established by the utterance of the tongue alone.

  5. The narration establishes permissibility for the Imam (leader of the Muslims) to make decisions and disperse wealth of the state, while being cautious to use the wealth for matters of higher precedence first.

  6. The permissibility of interceding with the imam in matters where intercession is acceptable.

  7. The permissibility of a younger person reminding an older person something that the latter may have forgotten.

  8. Advising in secrecy is better than advising publicly, and may be obligatory if doing so publically may lead to harm.  This matter will be further discussed in the ‘book of zakat’. Also, if the person receiving advise finds it necessary to correct the advisor, the correction should be made without denouncing the advisor altogether.

In the narration of ‘Abd Ar-Razzaq from Ma’mar, Al-Zuhri said, “We see that Islam is (known) through utterance, while Eemaan is (known) through action. This is a vague statement when considering the hadith of Jibriel, which apparently opposes this. It may have been that Al-Zuhri meant that a person is judged according to his Islam and is called a Muslim according to his utterance of the shahada, while he is not known to be a mu’min except through his actions which include the actions of the heart and the limbs. While the Islam referred to in the hadith of Jibriel is Islam in its complete legislated form, as indicated by Allah’s words,

وَمَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْأِسْلامِ دِيناً فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ

And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him


One Response to “Hadith 27”

  1. while the actions of the limbs are visible to others the actions of the heart are visible to its creator only Allah know what our intentions are.

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