Imam Al-Nawawi's Riyad-us-Saliheen
Chapter 68
Leading an Abstemious Life and refraining from the Doubtful

Allah, the Exalted, says:

"...you counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.'' (24:15)

"Verily, your Rubb is Ever Watchful (over them).'' (89:14)

588. An-Nu`man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "What is lawful is clear and what is unlawful is clear, but between them are certain doubtful things which many people do not know. So he who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and his honour blameless. But he who falls into doubtful things falls into that which is unlawful, just as a shepherd who grazes his cattle in the vicinity of a pasture declared prohibited (by the king); he is likely to stray into the pasture. Mind you, every king has a protected pasture and Allah's involved limits is that which He has declared unlawful. Verily, there is a piece of flesh in the body, if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy,  and if it  is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Verily, it is the heart.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:  There are such meeting-points between what is permissible and what is not permissible in the matter of religion of which the majority of people are ignorant. If man abstains from them, it means that he is keeping his duty to Allah. Yet, if he is involved in them without caring for what is allowable or unallowable, he may be supposed to have outstepped the Divine limits. Businessmen and traders are particularly warned here to avoid things of dubious nature and are urged to adopt only that pattern which is lawful. Another important point underlying this Hadith concerns the heart. Its purity or impurity directly affects the human conduct in a good or bad way. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to cleanse the heart of all wiles and impurities, and this is not possible without sound Faith and consciousness of Allah.

589. Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) found a dry date-fruit lying in the way and said, "Had it not been for fear of being from charity I would have eaten it.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary:  As Sadaqah and Zakat were forbidden to Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and the members of his family, he avoided to eat the date-fruit he had found in the way because he was not sure about the allowability of its nature. It is a lesson for a Muslim that he should stay away from a thing when he doubts its lawful aspect. The previous Hadith also confirms this view. Moreover, we come to know that the use of an insignificant thing found in the way is not forbidden. Similarly, one is permitted to pick up an eatable thing - provided it is not dubious - and eat it because it involves both humility and regard for a blessing.

590. An-Nawwas bin Sam`an (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Piety is good manner, and sin is that which creates doubt and you do not like people to know of it.''
[Muslim].

Commentary: Islam lays much importance on courteous behaviour and also explains and stresses its different aspects. To meet people cheerfully, to avoid causing trouble to them, rather to try to make things convenient and comfortable to them, to do social service, to extend co-operation to others in good things and to be generous, and to like for others also that you like for yourself, are all forms of moral behaviour that are counted as virtues in Islam. All that is bad and vicious is considered by Islam as sinful. This Hadith describes two signs of a sin. First, man should feel scruples in committing it. Second, one does not like others being informed about it. The Hadith further tells us that human nature leads man to correct conclusions and keeps him away from evils, provided it has not been deformed by the environment and bad company.

591. Wabisah bin Ma`bad (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I went to Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and he asked me, "Have you come to inquire about piety?'' I replied in the affirmative. Then he said, "Ask your heart regarding it. Piety is that which contents the soul and comforts the heart, and sin is that which causes doubts and perturbs the heart, even if people pronounce it lawful and give you verdicts on such matters again and again.''
[Ahmad and Ad-Darmi].

Commentary:  There are two points about this Hadith. First, it is one of the miracles of Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) who discovered the nature of the question before it was put to him. Second, man's heart is the biggest guide to him and he, therefore, should keep his heart illuminated with the light of Faith so as to continue receiving guidance from it.

592. `Uqbah bin Al-Harith (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that he had married a daughter of Abu Ihab bin `Aziz and a woman came to him and said she had suckled both `Uqbah and the woman whom he had married, to which he replied: "I am not aware that you suckled me, and you did not inform me.'' So he (`Uqbah) rode to Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) in Al-Madinah and put the matter before him. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "How can you continue (to be her husband) after what you have been told?'' `Uqbah (May Allah be pleased with him) therefore divorced her and she married another man.
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary:  Opinions differ about the evidence of a woman. But it is so about financial matters and Hudud (punishments) and Qisas (retaliation in punishment). For example, regarding the first, the Qur'an says that the evidence of two women is equal to that of one man. Similarly, the `Ulama' have not trusted the evidence of a woman about matters concerning Hudud and Qisas, rather they have considered in this connection, the evidence of man indispensable. However, they are all unanimous in accepting the evidence of even a single woman in matters of which men are uninformed. These, for instance, include the problems of a child's birth and its legitimacy and the weak points of women. And the argument is supported by this Hadith. When the woman gave evidence that she had suckled both the husband and the wife and was the foster-mother of the two, they separated from each other. Also, Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) declared their wedlock untenable. The Hadith urges us to dispense with what is doubtful in order to be on the safe side in matters of religion.

593. Hasan bin `Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I have retained these words of Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), "Leave what causes you doubt and turn to what does not cause you doubt.''
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary: This Hadith, as also mentioned previously, urges a believer to give up what appears to him doubtful.

594. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) had a slave who brought him his earnings and Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) would eat from it. One day he brought him something and when Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) had eaten some of it, the slave asked him whether he knew where he had got that (food) from, Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) asked what it was, and he replied: I acted as a soothsayer for a man in the pre-Islamic period, and not being good at it, I deceived him; today he met me and he rewarded me for that soothsaying what you have eaten. Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) put his hand in his mouth and vomited up all that he had eaten.
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary: Soothsaying was prevalent in the pre-Islamic Arab society. Islam brought an end to it and declared its income unlawful. That was the reason when Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) came to know that what he had eaten had been accrued to the slave from soothsaying, he vomited it up. The incident reflected his extreme continence and aversion to pagan customs and propensities.

595. Nafi` (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) fixed the payment amounting to four thousand dirhams for each of the early Emigrants, but for his son, he fixed only three thousand five hundred. He was asked: "He is also an (early) Emigrant, why have you fixed a lesser sum for him?'' He said: "It was his father who took him along with him. He is not like one who emigrated by himself.''
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary:  This Hadith throws light on `Umar's fairness, fear of Allah, uprightness and sense of custodianship. The annual allowance which he got fixed from the treasury for his son was five hundred dirhams less than that given to other Muhajirun. His plea was that since the recipient had migrated to Al-Madinah accompanied by his parents, his grade should have been less as compared to those Muhajirun who had emigrated voluntarily.

596. `Atiyyah bin `Urwah As-Sa`di (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "No one will attain complete righteousness until he abandons (certain) unobjectionable (but doubtful) things so as to remain on his guard against something objectionable.''
[At-Tirmidhi].