Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 45): Reward and Reckoning, and Reprimand and Penalty with Respect to Spending in Its Various Aspects.

Every Wednesday, I will share a part of the translation of the book Kitab Al-Kasb (the book of Earning a Livelihood) written by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani.

Part 45: Reward and Reckoning, and Reprimand and Penalty with Respect to Spending in Its Various Aspects.
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “A person is not held to account for spending, nor reprimanded nor penalized, for he is rewarded for doing so, just as he is rewarded for observing the religious devotions; so how can he be reprimanded or taken to account for doing so?”

The legal basis for this (ruling) is two hadiths. One of them is the hadith of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq when he asked the Messenger of Allah and said, “A meal of meat, barley bread, and olive oil, which we ate with you in the house of Aby al-Haytham ibn al-Tayyihan, is it among the enjoyment concerning which we shall be questioned on the day of resurrection?” Then he recited the statement of Allah Most High, “Then you will, that day, be questioned about felicity” [Al-Quran, surah al-Takathur, verse 8]. Whereupon the Prophet said, “No, O Abu Bakr. That is only for the disbelievers. Do you not know that the believer is not questioned about three things?” He said, “And what are those, O Messenger of Allah?” He says, “That by which he hides his nakedness, that by which he fortifies his spine, and that which shelters him from the heat and the cold; (and) thereafter he is questioned about every enjoyment” [Abu Ghuddah says he has not come across this hadith but its meaning is contained in the subsequent hadith].

The second is the hadith of Umar for he was with the Messenger of Allah in the reception of a man when a bunch of dried dates, unripe date and fresh ripe dates were brought, whereupon the Messenger of Allah said,” This will be most surely questioned about on the day of resurrection.” Umar then took hold of the bunch, and proceeded to shake it until it was scattered on the ground, and said, “Shall we be questioned about this?” He said, “Yes indeed, by Allah! You will surely be questioned about every enjoyment, even a drink of cold water, except for three things, namely a small piece of bread by which you fortify your spine or a piece of cloth by which you conceal your nakedness or shelter which shelters you from the heat and the cold.” [Narrated by Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Adi, Al-Bughawi, Ibn Mundah, Ibn Asakir, Ibn Mardawayh, al-Bayhaqi, and al-Mundhiri].

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says in the book, “This is the view of Umar, Uthman, Ali, and ibn Abbas that a person is not taken to account over this amount (of comfort), and their concord suffices as proof.”

Hence, a person who passes his lifetime with this amount, and is content and please, he enters the garden without being taken to account, because of the hadith of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said, “Whoso is guided to Islam, and is content with what Allah has given him, enters the garden without reckoning” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi], And it is said with regard to the interpretation of the statement of Allah, “Truly the patient will be rewarded their recompense beyond account” [Al-Quran, surah al-Zumar, verse 10].-that he is a Muslim who shows patience over this amount, which is indispensable.

After that, partaking up to the degree of satiation is allowed absolutely, because of the statement of Allah, “Say, ‘Who has forbidden the finery of Allah, which Allah has produced for His servants, and wholesome means of subsistence?'” [Al-Quran, surah al-A’raf, verse 32]. Hence we know that that amount is not prohibited, and when it is not prohibited then it is allowed without any qualification. Likewise, the eating of al-khabis (a jellylike sweet concocted from dates and butter), fruits, and various types of sweets made from sugar, and others, are (also) allowed, but to a lesser extent than in the previous case, so much so that abstention from it and sufficing with what is less (sumptuous) than it is better for him. For the partaking of these pleasures is a dispensation, and abstention from it is astringency, and hence it is better, because of two hadith that were narrated concerning this issue.

One of them is the hadith of Umar al-Khattab that one day he was brought a drinking bowl smeared with honey and cooled. He brought it near his mouth and then rebuffed it, and ordered that it be given out in charity to the poor, and he said, “I hope that I shall not be among those to whom it is said, ‘You wasted your good things in your life in the world, even as you relished them.'[Al-Quran, surah al-Ahqaf, verse 20]” [Documented by al-Suyuti and ibn al-Jawzi]. In this proof that partaking of that is allowed, for he brought it near to his mouth and in this too is proof that abstention from it is better.

Second, the hadith of Umar that he bought a slave-girl, and he asked for her, and she was beautified for him and brought in to him, but when he beheld her he cried, and said, “I hope that I shall not be among those who go after all their desires in the world.” Then he called for a youth from among the Helpers, who did not have a woman of his own, and he gifted her to him, and recited the statement of Allah, “They preferred them to themselves, even if it means hardship for them; and those who are preserved from their own avarice are the ones who succeed.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Hashr, verse 9].

Moreover, the best of the practices of religion is the path of the Messengers and their path was contentedness through forgoing this level of enjoyment on most occasions. Thus likewise was the path of our Prophet though on some occasions he did partake of such enjoyment, according to what was narrated that he one day said to his Companions, “I wish we had buttered bread that we could eat.” Whereupon Uthman brought it out in a large bowl, and it was said that he partook of it be given away in charity. [Narrated by Aby Dawud and Ibn  Majah].

Then, in the foregoing discussion regarding the partaking of bread until satiety, there is no calling to account for it except exposition, according to what was narrated from Aishah, “I asked the Messenger of Allah about the statement of Allah, ‘He will be called to account for an easy reckoning'[Al-Quran, surah al-Inshiqaq, verse 8]; whereupon he, said, “That is the exposition of deeds, O daughter of Abu Bakr. Don’t you know that whoever whose account is examined is punished?” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim and al-Tirmidhi].

The meaning of exposition is the making manifest of favors, and the reminding of blessings, and the questioning of whether a person has shown gratitude for them. It is said regarding the interpretation of the statement of Allah, “Then the one who is given his record in his right hand will be called to account for an easy reckoning” [Al-Quran, surah al-Inshiqaq, verse 7-8], that it refers to the exposition of this nature.

As for the satisfaction of the licit desires, and the partaking of pleasures, then a person is called to account for those, without being penalized for it; and this is the meaning of the statement of the Prophet regarding the nature of the world, “Its licit things are reckoning, while its illicit things are punishment.” [Al-Iraqi says it was narrated by Ibn Abi al-Dunya and al-Bayhaqi].

The proof that making do with what is less than opulent is better, is the hadith of al-Dahhak that he came to the Messenger of Allah as an envoy from his people-and he used to live opulently among them-(and) he said to him, “What is your food O Dahhak?” He said, “Meat, honey, olive oil, and kernels of wheat.” He said, “What does it then turn into?” He said, “Then it turns into that which the Messenger of Allah knows.” Whereupon the Messenger of Allah said, “Indeed Allah has coined a similitude for what goes out from the children of Adam,” and then, he said further, “Stay away from eating beyond satiety.”

Thus, the Prophet clarified for him that his food, though delectable and wholesome in the beginning, will surely turn into excretion and stench in the end, and such is the case with the world. Hence in this, there is a clarification that making do with what is less than opulent is better.

And in the hadith of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, it is narrated that he was with Umar and it was brought to him a large bowl containing barley bread and olive oil; whereupon Umar began to eat from it, but then, he called out to al-Ahnaf to eat it, for he (Umar) could not swallow it. Al-Ahnaf mentioned that incident to Hafsah, and said, “Verily Allah Most High has been generous to the Commander of the Faithful, and if only he would (also) be generous to himself and render his food wholesome.”

She mentioned that to Umar whereupon he cried and said, “Why don’t you imagine that three people became companions, and one of them paved the way on the road, and the second followed after him, but then the third tarried behind them on the road; would he then be able to catch up with them?”. She said, “No.”

He said, “The Messenger of Allah has indeed paved the way, and he did not partake of anything of the desires of the world; and likewise Abu Bakr after him. If Umar were to be occupied with satisfying his desires in the world, when would he ever catch up with them?” [Reported by Ibn al-Jawzi in Akhbar Umar].

This shows that making do with what is less than opulent is better. The upshot is that this question can be considered from four angles. One, with respect to that amount by which to keep body and soul together, and to enable one to observe religious acts of obedience, (in which case) a person is rewarded without being penalized. Two, with respect to what exceeds that amount until the level of satiation, such is allowed for him, (though) he is called to account for that through light reckoning by way of exposition (of his deeds). Three, with respect to satisfying the desires and partaking of the licit pleasures, such is a dispensation for him, though he will be called to account for that, and he will be required to show gratitude for these favors and discharge the rights of the starving poor. Four, with respect to what exceeds satiation, a person is penalized, since eating beyond satiation, a person is penalized, since eating beyond satiation is illicit (haram); and we have expounded on that. Check Part 35 and Part 36.

In Kitab al-Kasb, Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “I deem it abominable,” (by which ) it meant deeming it illicit, in line with what was narrated that Abu Hanifah, when it was said to him, “When you say about something, ‘I deem it abominable,’ way is actually your view on it?,” he said, “It is closer to illicitness”.

The proof for this is what we have narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “If one of you belches, then he should say, “O my Lord! Do not torment us'”. Belching is a result of eating beyond satiation. In this hadith, there is a clarification that eating beyond satiation is among the causes of divine wrath, and the cause of divine wrath is committing illicit acts. All this pertains to what a person has earned of the licit.

But as for what he has earned of the illicit, he is penalized for partaking of it (if he does so) in other than situations of exigency, regardless of whether it is little or much, because of the hadith of Abu Bakr that the Messenger of Allah said, “Every piece of flesh that is nurtured out of the ill-gotten is more deserving of the fire” [Narrated by Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilyah]. He says, “Never does a person earn a dirham by illicit means, spending it on his family, and they invoke blessing on him for it, or he give it away in charity, and it is accepted from him, or he leaves it behind for his offspring, except that that will become his provision to the fire” [Narrated by Ahmad].

The prophet says, “Whoever earns his livelihood in any way he likes without caring, Allah enter him into the fire through whichever gate and He will not care” [Narrated by Abu Mansur al-Daylami in Musnaf al-Firdaws]. He said to Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, “Render wholesome your food,” or he said, “your meal, then your supplication will be answered” [Traces to al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Saghir].

In a hadith of Abu Hurayrah, it is narrated that the Prophet said in elucidating the state of people after him, “One of them will enter upon morning disheveled and dust-covered, imploring, ‘O my Lord, O my Lord,’ while his food is illicit, and his drink illicit, and his clothing illicit, and he is nourished by the illicit; how then will it be answered for him?” [Narrated by Muslim and Ahmad]. He says, “Among the signs of the last hour (is that) a licit dirham among them is dearer than a brother for Allah’s sake; and a brother for Allah’s sake is dearer among them than a licit dirham” [Narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat].

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “And likewise the case with clothing.”

This means that a person is rewarded in that by which he covers his nakedness, and wards off the discomfort of the heat and the from himself, and is enabled to perform the prayers; while what exceeds that is allowed for him. It is better to forgo the finest of clothing, and to make do with what is less than that, just as the case with food; due to what was narrated from the Prophet that one day he wore a patterned garment, then he took it off, and said, “Its pattern distracted me from my prayer each time my sight fell on it” [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim].

It was reported of Umar that he gave a garment to his worker so that he would patch it up, whereupon he measured for him another garment, and returned to him with two garments; Umar took back his own garment and returned the other, and said, “you garment is finer and softer, but mine is more absorbent of perspiration” [Narrated by Ahmad]. And it was reported of Ali that he used to dislike being attired in fine attire, and would say, “I wear of clothing only what is sufficient for me to worship my Lord in.”

Therefore, we know that making do with what is less than opulent is better for a person, even if that is a dispensation for him.


22 The Book of Earning-700x700

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Author: Abu Tariq Abu Tariq Muhsin is a zakat officer for Zakat Centre of Federal Territory of Malaysia. A writer, researcher and publisher of various writing focusing on Zakat & Islamic studies.

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