Hadith 6

Protecting The Heart


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم       


In the Name of Allah The most Gracious The Most Merciful


On the authority of Abu `Abdillaah an-Nu`maan Ibn Basheer (رضي الله عنه), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) say: That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd Who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allaah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart. [Related by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.]


My Notes:

Brief biography of Abu Abdillah an-Nu’maan ibn Bashir. He was the first child born from the Ansaar after Hijrah just as Abdullah ibn Zubair was the first child from the Muhajiroon. It is said they were both born in the same year. He is a young sahabi and has narrated around 100 ahadith. He died in 64 AH.

This is an important hadith and points to all three matters, the halaal, the haraam and the doubtful matters. The Messenger said the halaal is clear the ruling of it is very clear to everyone so is the haraam which is very clear to everyone. Things that are in between these two are the doubtful matters and lots of people do not know if they should be halaal or haraam.

When  it is said that many people do not know it actually means some people do know whether the doubtful matters are halaal or haraam. Halaal is the opposite of haraam (how do we know something? we know it by its opposite. Like if you want to explain light then you tell the person it is the opposite of darkness. Tawheed is the opposite of shirk etc). Halaal is something that is permissible, allowed for a Muslim. In the Shariah it means what you are not punished for doing and you do not get rewarded for it. If you leave it you are not rewarded or punished either. e.g Trading, Marrying a second wife. This can be converted to a Mustahab. Like a person who sleeps in the day to pray tahajjud at night. So you get rewarded for that sleep.

Things that are not mentioned specifically to be halaal but the ruling is its halaal unless you have aan evidence to prove that it is haraam. All plants are halaal unless the ones that contain poison. Same with all animals are halaal except with evidence.

Haraam is what you are not permitted or prohibited from doing.  The Shariah meaning of Haraam is that you are punished for doing it and you are rewarded for leaving it. If you leave stealing are you rewarded? You get rewarded for something that you  stop yourself from not for every sin that exists in the world. The opinion of the scholars is that you get rewarded for it when you stop yourself by preventing from doing Haraam. Things that are haraam are shirk, fornication, stealing. There are some things that not everyone knows is halaal or haraam but the Scholars know them.

Now we come to the third category that falls into doubtful matters. Some sides of it appears to be halaal and from other side it appears haraam so it confuses you. This happens because of reasons:
1) Conflict between the differ amongst the scholars
2) You have two evidences one says halaal the other haraam and you cannot discern between the two. So it becomes doubtful for you.

What are the rulings of the doubtful matters?

A) Some scholars say it is haraam because the Messenger said,”Whoever avoids these matters remains clears himself with regard to his religion and honour”.
So this is something he should do. Then the Messenger said,”he who falls into doubtful matters falls into haraam.”
B) Other scholars did not agree and said if a person does these doubtful matters he does halaal. They said because this person is letting his shepherds into the sanctuary but he did not get in. so he did not enter the sanctuary. Usually this is done by kings and rulers and whoever enter his sanctuary gets punished for it. So the scholars said it is allowed for him as he is around his sanctuary.
C) Other scholars said we will not say it is halaal or haraam and we will be silent on this. This is not the correct approach as the Messenger said doubtful matters of which many do not know, Which means some do know whether it is haraam or halaal.
D) There are a few who say that it is makrooh. As what is between haraam and halaal is disliked.

There are  four types of rulings in what you eat, what you wear and where you go. The first ruling is that it is halaal like eating the meat of a camel or chicken. The second is that you have evidence it is haraam or impermissible like alcohol or pig. Third is that you do not know whether it is halaal or haraam. This is a doubtful matter for you. Fourth is you don’t have evidence for it whether it is halaal or haraam. Now, in the first two situations it is clear to you what you are allowed to do or not to. In the third situation where you are in doubt, this hadith shows you what to do in such a situation, they should leave it and ask until the ruling is clear to them. As for the fourth situation you go with the normal. You consider it halaal unless you have a ruling for it that says it is haraam.

In Islam it is important for Muslims to have a good character. It is incumbent upon them to guard their honour. Like in the hadith of the Messenger when he was walking with a woman and passed by some people, they were walking away, the Prophet stopped them and said this is my wife.

So the haraam is clear and the halaal is clear and in between them are the doubtful things. Shaykh Saleh said you must wait and find out if the matter is halaal or haraam (from the doubtful mattters).

In the hadith the Messenger said that a shepherd allows his sheep to graze around the sanctuary and it is not easy to control the sheep. So the example is of the shepherd who allows his sheep to graze around the sanctuary but at anytime the sheep can cross the boundaries so this man who indulges in doubtful matters is like the shepherd, at any time he can fall into haraam. Your desires are like these sheep either you control them and not enter the boundary or they will all trespass and go into places that are prohibited. The heart of a person is between the two fingers of Allah. It can change anytime. The name qalb means something that keeps changing that is why the heart is called qalb because it keeps changing. A man can sleep a believer and wake up a disbeliever or vice versa. He will sell his deen for very little profit.   This protected areas mentioned in the hadith are the prohibitions of Allah. A doubtful matter is that in which the ruling is unclear. The uncaring attitude is not right and he is sinful.

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said “Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.”, so one should keep away from the doubtful matters. If your heart is good you will not fall into doubtful matters. The lay man’s obligation is too ask the scholars who is trustworthy and follow him. This is when a thing is not clear for him. A layman should not open the book of Malikiyyah or shafa’eeya, what is obligatory on him is to ask a scholar. We should not be too quick in giving opinions to people because there are great scholars who have been reluctant to give fatwas because this is speaking on behalf of Allah when they give a fatwa.

This hadith that says if your heart is good you will not fall into doubtful matters is a proof and a bad heart will fall into doubtful matters. If the heart is good the rest of the soldiers are good. The place where you understand is your heart not your brain. Like Allah said do they have hearts that they don’t understand with it. The brain has something. Some scholars said what the brain does is information and the heart is the processor. It tell you what you do or don’t do. What you hate or don’t hate. If your heart is good your actions will be good. The heart has diseases they are two types Desire and Doubt. What would make a person fall into doubts?  His desires are better than doubts. Desire will take you into fornication and you can repent from it but you do not realise where the doubts will lead you. We should work on our heart. When you know something is a desire you may repent from it and the one who is in doubt will lead a person to major disbelief or shirkh.

This hadith is very important and it keeps you away from doubtful manners. If you visit a person and his entire earning is of Riba can you eat from that? Some scholars said yes you can some said no. Like in the hadith of the Messenger where it said that the sadaqah that was given to someone.

A father keeps his money in a bank earns riba on it is it halaal for the child or haraam. The ruling is it is haraam for the father but halaal for the child.

A thing is haraam because it has something in it that is bad or corrupted or harmful in it . The harm is sometimes very clear like drugs and alcohol. Somethings are not clear for everyone like why can’t you eat a dead animal. This hadith is used for Fiqh purposes and many other things.

The Scholars said that there are types of earnings. There are things like inheritance which is forced on you whether you like it or not. Then there are somethings that you can take forcibly like the war booty. There are things that you take without any force like Trade, gift and these sort of things that are permissible for you. There are things that have an owner and there are things that don’t have an owner. You find a sheep and it is just roaming around you are allowed to take it.

The reasons why things would be doubtful to a person are four: Little knowledge, little understanding, little pondering and bad intentions.

Notes From Sharh (Explanation):

This hadeeth is a great Principle from the Principles of the Sharee’ah, such that the well known Muhaddith Aboo Dawood as-Sijistaanee said, “al-Islaam revolves around four ahaadeeth” , and he then mentioned this hadeeth amongst them. And there is consensus amongst the People of Knowledge upon the great status of this hadeeth and its immense benefits.

The statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters” implies that matters are of three types. Whatever Allaah has established to be permissible in a text, then it is the ‘clear’ Halaal, such as the statement of Allaah ta’aalaa:
“Made lawful to you this day are At-­Tayyibaat [all kinds of lawful foods, such as meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk, vegetables and fruits, etc.] The food of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them.” [al-Maa’idah 5:5]

And whatever Allaah has established to be forbidden in a text, then that is the ‘clear’ Haraam, such as the statement of Allaah ta’aalaa:
“Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters …” [an-Nisaa 4:23]

And also such as the forbidance of fawaahish (evil lusts and desires), that which is apparent of it and also that which is hidden of it. And every matter concerning which Allaah has established upon it a limit or associated with it a punishment or a threat, then that matter is also included amongst the ‘clear’ haraam.

As for the the ‘doubtful matters’ then they are those issues in which there appears (to the layman) to be opposing evidences from the Book and the Sunnah, and so in this case restraint from them is from piety.

And the scholars have differed regarding the ruling upon the doubtful matters mentioned by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in this hadeeth.

So one opinion is that they are all Haraam, due the saying of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “[he] clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour”, as whoever does safeguard his religion and his honour has definitely fallen into the Haraam.

Another opinion is that they are Halaal, due the statement of the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam “like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary”, so this indicates that these actions are permissible, but leaving them is from piety.

And a third opinion is that we make no ruling regarding the doubtful matters, and do not say that they are Halaal nor that they are Haraam, as the Prophet sallAllaahu alayi wa salaam placed them between the clear Halaal and the clear Haraam. Hence it is required that we refrain from passing judgement and this too is from piety.

And in the hadeeth from ‘Adiyy ibn Haatim that he said to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم):
“O Messenger of Allaah! [Sometimes] I send my hunting dog after game, after pronouncing ‘bismillaah’ upon it, but when I reach the catch I find another dog there too (upon which I had not pronounced the name of Allaah).” So the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) replied: “Do not eat from it (the catch), for verily you pronounced the name of Allaah upon your dog, but not upon the other dog.”

So the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) gave a verdict based upon a doubt, fearing that the dog which killed the game was the other dog upon which the name of Allaah had not been pronounced, hence making the kill slaughtered for other than Allaah. And Allaah has said about this:
“Eat not of that (meat) on which Allaah’s Name has not been pronounced (at the time of the slaughtering), for surely it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience of Allaah).” (al-An’aam 6:121)

So this verdict contains evidence for taking care regarding those actions or events that involve some judgement regarding what is Halaal or Haraam, due to the similarity between the different situations. And this is encompassed in the meaning of the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “Leave that which causes you doubt, for that which does not cause you doubt.” [narrated by an-Nasaa’ee]

And some of the scholars have said the doubtful matters can be divided into three types:

1) That affair which a person knows to be Haraam, but which he then doubts as to whether its forbiddance still continues or not. For example, a person cannot eat from an animal until he is sure that is has been slaughtered Islaamically, and so if he has doubts about this then the forbiddance to eat continues until certainty of the correct slaughtering is achieved. And the origin of this is in the hadeeth of ‘Adiyy mentioned above. [Note: this is referring to a situation similar to when ‘Adiyy came upon the dogs next to the kill – and not when your butcher says the meat is Halaal and you doubt it!]

2) The opposite of this, where the affair is originally Halaal, and the person has doubts regarding whether it has become Haraam. And whatever is of this type then it is considered permissible until its forbiddance is clearly established. And the origin of this is the hadeeth of Abdullaah bin Zayd, regarding the doubt in ones wudoo’ if one is sure that previously he had made wudoo’. [i.e. one continues upon the assumption of being with wudoo’ until it becomes clear that the wudoo’ has broken]

3) The third type is where one has doubts about a matter and one does not know whether it is Halaal or Haraam, and the matter could be of either of the two, and there is no clear evidence to establish either ruling. Then in this situation the best course of action is restraint. For example, once the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) found a date in his house, but did not eat it for he feared that it may have been from that given as sadaqah (as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ) was forbidden from taking of sadaqah).

However, if a person chooses the opposite of what is clearly apparent due to an imaginary doubt which has no evidence, then restraint in such a situation is foolishness, and is from the whisperings of shaytaan. For example, a person may restrain from praying in a place which has no visible traces of filth, simply out of a fear that maybe some urine had fallen there and since dried. Or a person may wash a dress simply out of a fear that some filth (najaasah) came upon it but which he did not actually see upon it. So in all such situations where there is no ‘real’ doubt then it is required that one does not leave the action.

And the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “about which many people do not know” means that many people do not know the shar’ee ruling upon these matters. However, the People of Knowledge may be able to associate such matters with other principles that they must follow, and thus achieve a ruling upon them as to whether they are Halaal or Haraam, and thus they cease to be doubtful matters.

As for the statement “but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] falls into that which is unlawful” then this is from two angles:

1) The one who does not fear Allaah and indulges in doubtful matters, eventually begins to practise the Forbidden actions too, and becomes lenient in these affairs. And this is as some of the ‘ulemaa have said that minor sins lead to major sins and major sins lead to kufr.

2) The one who often indulges in doubtful matters oppresses himself as his heart is deprived of the Light of Knowledge and the Light of Piety, so he ends up falling into the Haraam and does not realise it.

And just as a King has a sanctuary, which the shepherds must keep their sheep away from, so too has Allaah specified certain things as Forbidden for his slaves, which they must refrain from – such as murder, interest (ribaa), theft, drinking alcohol, backbiting and tale-carrying, and other such things, all of which we should keep well away from for fear of falling into them.

As for the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole …”
Allaah ta’aalaa has blessed only man and the animals with this special organ – the heart – and through it we find that even the animals recognize that which benefits them and that which harms them. Then, Allaah has singled out al-Insaan from amongst all the animals with the faculty of the intellect, and additional faculties within the heart. Allah says:
“Have they not travelled through the land, and have they hearts where with to understand and ears wherewith to hear?” [al-Hajj 22:46]

And the various limbs of the body are subservient to the heart, so whatever the heart decides upon, that action appears upon the limbs. So if the heart is good then the actions of the limbs are good, and if the heart is corrupt then the actions of the limbs are also corrupt. And if this fact is understood then the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “if it be whole, all the body is whole, and if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased” becomes clear.

We ask Allaah the Majestic to cleanse the corruption of our hearts. O Changer of Hearts, establish our hearts upon Your Deen! O Controller of Hearts, turn our hearts towards Your obedience!



That those things which are Haraam are clear and need clear evidence.
That one who does doubtful things may well be doing what is Haraam.
That it is difficult to live honorably when doing the doubtful.
That Allaah is the King; The King of kings.
That it is understandable that Allaah should have things prohibited for us.
That the sanctuary of Allaah which we must not enter is all those things which He has made Haraam for us. Thus we must know what is Haraam and definitely avoid them.
That doing the doubtful or what is forbidden adversely affects the heart.
That it is important to make and keep the heart pure, since it affects the rest of us. Thus we should look for ways to purify and preserve our hearts from being stained.


Allahu A’lam – Allah knows Best

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