Ramadan reflections: Stay away from doubtful things

In turn, this will help us protect our religion and honour

By Aftab H. Kola

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 8:47 AM

Last updated: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 8:54 AM

Islam has laid down clear laws on halal (permissible) and haram (non-permissible), and we should be beholden to Allah as He has made it easy for us. But certain matters always make us feel doubtful.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has stressed the need to stay away from things that are doubtful. In turn, this will help us protect our religion and honour. There is a consensus among scholars that a vast majority of deeds fall into one of the first two categories, either they are evidently lawful or evidently unlawful. Only a tiny number of acts fall into the third category, which can be termed ‘doubtful’. There are a few doubtful matters that a Muslim might face in his/her everyday dealings and activities. The following hadith helps the Muslim deal with such matters.

Nu’man bin Bashir (may Allah be pleased with him) reports: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as having said this (and Nu’man pointed towards his ears with his fingers): ‘What is lawful is evident and what is unlawful is evident, and what is in between them are things that are doubtful, which many people do not know. So he who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and honour blameless, and he who indulges in doubtful things indulges, in fact, in unlawful things, just as a shepherd who pastures his animals round a preserve will soon pasture them in it. Beware, every king has a preserve, and the things God has declared unlawful are His preserves. Beware, in the body, there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and it is the heart.” (Sahih Muslim and Bukhari).

The general rule is that everything that Allah and His Messenger declared lawful and everything that they declared unlawful is clear and evident. In certain cases, some of us may not be able to decide whether a particular matter is permissible or forbidden, such confusion may be due to doubtful evidence or doubt concerning the applicability of the text to the particular circumstances or matter in question. In such cases, it is better to avoid such things if doubt persists or discuss it with your local ulema (scholars) who will show you the correct path.

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