All Parts of Kitab Al-Kasb Series by Al-Shaybani

There are 50 parts in Kitab Al-Kasb. Click the Link-chapter below to start reading.

Part 1: The Linguistic Meaning of ‘Earning’

Part 2: The Legal Status and Virtue of Earning a Livelihood

Part 3: Earning a Livelihood is the Way of the Messengers

Part 4: Two Types of Earning and Their Legal Status

Part 5: The Permissibility of Lawful Earning and the Aberrancy of Some of the Sufis in Forbidding It.

Part 6: Mention of the Arguments for the Permissibility and Commendation of Earning.

Part 7: Invalidating the Obfuscations of Some of the Sufis in Regard to Their Prohibition of Earning.

Kitab Al-Kasb (Part 8): Taking Recourse to Cause Does Not Negate Reliance.

Kitab Al-Kasb (Part 9): The Obligatoriness of Earning the Indispensable Amount and the Aberrancy of the Karramites for Denying It.

Part 10: Proof for the Obligatoriness of Earning up to the Indispensable Amount and Rebuttal of the Obfuscations of the Karramites in Denying It.

Part 11: Is Occupation with Earning Better or Devotion to Worship?

Part 12: Is the State of Indigence Better or the State of Affluence?

Part 13: Is Gratitude for Wealth Superior or Patience in the Face of Poverty?

Part 14: The Ranks of Earning and Their Legal Rulings.

Part 15: Permissibility of Earning to Amass Wealth, though Safety Lies in Not Doing So.

Part 16: In Earning There is the Meaning of Cooperation in Acts of Devotion.

Part 17: Permissibility of Lowly Earnings.

Part 18: Types of Earnings.

Part 19: Agriculture is Not At All Reprehensible

Part 20: Is Commerce Superior or Farming?

Part 21: The Obligatoriness of the Quest for Knowledge.

Part 22: The Obligatoriness of Conveying Knowledge and Delivering It to People.

Part 23: The Importance of the Quest for Knowledge and the Manner of Its Need.

Part 24: What is Obligatory to Expound of Knowledge and What Is Not Obligatory

Part 25: Mention of the Individual Obligation and the Communal Obligation, and that Conveying Knowledge to People is a Communal Obligation

Part 26: Conveying the Virtues and Preferences is Also an Obligation

Part 27: Negating the Obligation of Narrating Everything a Jurisprudent Heard, and the Explication of This Position.

Part 28: Matters by Which the Bodies of the Children of Adam are Supported.

Part 29: Wisdom in Allah’s Ordaining the Livelihoods of Servants through Apparent Causes.

Part 30: Permissible Earning is in the Category of Cooperation on Devotion and Obedience

Part 31: The Problems of Provisioning: Eating and Drinking.

Part 32: Covering the Private Parts.

Part 33: The Obligation of Providing Containers to Transport Water to Women.

Part 34: Warning Against Abstaining from Eating, Drinking and Taking Shelter.

Part 35: Impermissibility of Spoiling Food and Squandering It.

Part 36: Types of Squandering in Food.

Part 37: Prohibition of Conceit, Bragging and Vying for More.

Part 38: Extravagance and Temperance in the Matter of Clothing.

Part 39: Abomination of Seeking to Be Perpetually Satiated with Food.

Part 40: Abomination of Starving the Self Except for a Sound Purpose.

Part 41: The Obligation to Feed the Needy and the Mention of Its Elucidation

Part 42: Obligation of Asking in an Exigency if One is not Capable of Earning.

Part 43: Elucidating that the Giver is Superior to the Taker, and Its Elaboration at Length.

Part 44: The Believer is Rewarded for Providing for Himself, and for His Family and Others

Part 45: Reward and Reckoning, and Reprimand and Penalty with Respect to Spending in Its Various Aspects.

Part 46: Types of Activities of the People of Legal Responsibility and Their Discussion at Length.

Part 47: The Abhorrence of Wearing Silk and Its Dispensation in Time of War.

Part 48: Legal Ruling on Plastering Mosques with Gypsum and the Like

Part 49: Permissibility of Beautifying by Wearing the Finest and Best Garment

Part 50 (FINAL PART): Dispensation in Comfortable Living and Enjoyment of Pleasures, together with Safeguarding against Committing the Forbidden, and Heedfulness in Discharging the Obligatory Duties

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 50) (FINAL PART): Dispensation in Comfortable Living and Enjoyment of Pleasures, together with Safeguarding against Committing the Forbidden, and Heedfulness in Discharging the Obligatory Duties

This is my last share 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 50 (The Last Part): Dispensation in Comfortable Living and Enjoyment of Pleasures, together with Safeguarding against Committing the Forbidden, and Heedfulness in Discharging the Obligatory Duties.
The upshot here boils down to the fact that limiting oneself to the minimum that is sufficient is a (legal) stringency; whereas what is in excess of that, such as luxurious living and enjoyment of pleasures, is a (legal)dispensation. The Prophet has said, “Verily, Allah loves that His dispensations are made use of, just as He loves that His stringencies are observed” [Narrated by Ahmad]. He also said, “I was sent with the true, magnanimous religion, and I was not sent with the difficult, monastic religion” [Narrated by al-Khatib].

Thus, we know that if a person avails himself of the dispensation by partaking of comfortable living. no one has the right to consider him sinful for doing that. And if he checks himself and breaks his desires then that is better for him, and he shall become among those who enter the garden without being held to account. This accords with what was narrated that the Prophet said, “Verily, Allah has promised me that He will bring into the garden seventy thousand people of my Community without holding them to account.” It was said to him, “Who are those, O Messenger of Allah?”He said, “Those are people who do not cast spells and do not augur evil, do not cauterize, and they rely on their Lord.” And in a narration (he said further), “Then He added for me to them seventy thousand (more people).” And in yet another narration he said, “Then He added for me to each of the former and latter group (of seventy thousand), another seventy thousand (more people).

In a well know hadith, it is narrated that the Prophet said, “A servant’s two feet shall not move away (from where they stand) on the day of resurrection until he is questioned about four things: about his lifetime, how he spent it; about his youth, how did he exhaust it; about his wealth, how did he earn it, and what did he spend it on” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-Tabarani and al-Mundhiri]. If he had spent his wealth on that in which there was the seeking of the pleasure of Allah, then his reckoning and his questioning would be lighter on him than that would be the case if he had spent it on desires of his body.

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “There are a number of praiseworthy qualities that are incumbent on a person to hold on to, such as: safeguarding oneself from committing iniquities whether openly or secretly; heedfulness in discharging the obligatory duties, and to wrong anyone, whether a Muslim or a covenanted person. As for what is other than these, Allah has indeed made the matter flexible for us, and so we should not be too restrictive on ourselves, or on any one of the believers.”

Concluding Statement

Muhammad ibn Sama’ah says, “Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan said, ‘This which I have elaborated for you are the views of Umar, Uthman, Ali, Ibn Abbas, and others of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger, and may He be pleased with them all. It is the legal position of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf, Zufar, and others after them of the jurisprudents; and we hold on to all of that. And Allah knows best what is correct. All praise is due to Allah, to Himself alone; and may Allah bless our Master, Muhammad, and his Family and His Companions, and greet them with the foremost greetings of peace. And Allah suffices for us, and He is the best guardian.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 49): Permissibility of Beautifying by Wearing the Finest and Best Garment

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 49: Permissibility of Beautifying by Wearing the Finest and Best Garment.
This matter also applies to clothing, for there is no harm for a person to adorn himself by wearing the finest and best garment, as the Messenger of Allah used to own a long outer garment of Fenner cur, with a patterning of silk; and he used to do it during festivals and for receiving delegations. However, it is better to make do with normal clothing which is less (opulent) than that, for it was narrated that the working garment of the Messenger of Allah used to be like the garment of an Oiler.

Likewise, there is no harm in having a beautiful bondswoman, for the Prophet apart from having (as wives) free women also had a bondswoman, Mariyah, with whom he begot a son, Ibrahim. And Ali, apart from having free women (as wives) also had a bondswoman with whom he begot Muhammad Ibn al-Hanafiyyah. Thus we know that there is no harm in that. The basis of this is the statement of Allah, “Say: Who has forbidden the finery of Allah which He has produced for devotees, and wholesome means of subsistence?” [Al-Quran, surah Al-A’raf, verse 32].

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “If people were to be content with what is less opulent than that, and direct their surplus toward preparing for their hereafter, that would be better for them.”

The basis for this is the hadith of Abu Dharr (in which is narrated) that he used to hold on to the curtains of the Ka’bah during the Hajj season, and call out with his loudest voice, “O take heed! As for those who know me, they know me; and as for those who do not know me, then I am Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junahad, the Companion of the Messenger of Allah. Indeed, every one of you – when you want to go on a journey – you prepare for your journey; and so, what is the matter with you that you do not prepare for the journey to the hereafter, even though you are almost certain that journey is something that you cannot avoid? And truly, whosoever desires to go on a journey in the world, if it occurs to him to turn back, he may do so; and if he asks for a loan, he gets it; and if he requests for something, most likely it will be given to him; but none of these (options) will be obtainable on the journey in the hereafter.” 

Yahya ibn Mu’adh was asked, “What is the matter with us who are certain about death but yet do not love it?” He said, “Verily you are in love with the world, hence you abhor leaving it behind you. If you send ahead what you love then you will surely love to meet it.” Therefore we know that it is preferable for a person to make do with what is indispensable of the world, and to send ahead for his hereafter what is in excess of that of what he earned; but if he enjoys anything of that excess in this world after having earned it licitly, then there is no harm in that.

The view that considers as sinful one who spends on himself and on his dependents out of what he earned licitly, and delivers from it what is due to Allah, is a view that is not correct, even though the best path is the path of the Messengers. We have elaborated that they made do only with what was indispensable for themselves of the world, especially our Prophet; for when it was presented to him the keys to the treasuries of the earth, he declined them, and said, “I shall be a serving prophet. I go hungry one day, and I am sated one (other) day. When I am hungry I shall have patience, and when I am sated I shall give thanks.”

However, notwithstanding this, he at times partook of some of the wholesome things, such that it was narrated that one day he said, “I wish we had wheat bread dipped in butter and honey which we could eat.” Whereupon ‘Uthman prepared it and brought it in a large bowl. It was said that he did not partake of it, but the sounder view is that he partook of some of it, and then instructed that the remainder be given away in charity. Also, a roasted young and plump billy goat was gifted to the Prophet and he ate some of it with his Companions. And he also partook of what was served before him, he said to one of his Companions, “Give me a shank.”

Through these reports, it becomes clear to us that he at times partook (of the wholesome things) to make known to us that there is no harm in that for us, though most of the time he made do with what is less than that to make known to us that that is better; as it was narrated that A’ishah used to weep for the Messenger of Allah and say, “O one who wore not silk, nor ate his fill of barley bread.”

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 48): Legal Ruling on Plastering Mosques with Gypsum and the Like

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 48: Legal Ruling on Plastering Mosques with Gypsum and the Like
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “There is no harm in plastering mosques with gypsum, teak, or gold paint.”

Al-Sarakhsi says, “Our teacher, the Imam Shams al-A’immah al-Halwani used to say, ‘It is implicit in the wording the allusion to the fact that a person is not rewarded for doing that, for he said: there is no harm; and this phrase is used for absolving from blame, not for affirming reward”. This means that it suffices for a person that he is merely not held to account for doing this per se, and this is the legal position of the jurisprudents.

But the people of literal understanding abhor that and they consider sinful whoever does that. They say, “Because in this there is contradicting the Messenger of Allah in what he chose as the way; for indeed, when it was said to him, ‘Shall we not take apart your mosque and then we build it (afresh)?’, he said, ‘No; but rather a canopy like Musa’s, or he said, ‘…a canopy like Musa’s canopy’ [Documented by al-Haythami]. Moreover, the roof of the mosques of the Messenger of Allah used to be of dried palm fronds, and it used to leak when rains fell on them, so much so that they used to prostrate (when praying) in water and mud.” [Allusion to the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim].

And it is narrated from Ali that he once passed by an embellished and ornamented mosque, and was brought to say, “For whom is this church?” Now, he only said that due to his abhorrence for this manner of work on mosques [Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah].

When al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik (Umayyad caliph) sent forty thousand dinars for the purpose of adorning the mosque of the Messenger of Allah the money was brought to the attention of Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz whereupon he said, “The poor are more in need of this wealth than columns.” The basis of this is what was narrated from the Messenger of Allah that he said, “Among the signs of the last hour is that mosques are embellished, and the minarets raised high, while their hearts are bereft of faith.” [Hadiths of different wordings but similar import are narrated by Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i ibn Majah, Abu Ya’la and Ibn Khuzaymah].

But we say, “There is no harm in doing that because of what it involves of augmenting the congregation of worshippers, encouraging people to engage in a spiritual retreat in the mosque, and sitting therein in anticipation of the prayer. And in all these there devotion and obedience; and moreover, actions are by intentions.”

Furthermore, the proof that there is no harm in doing that is what was narrated that the first who built the mosque of Jerusalem (Bayt al-Maqdis) was Dawud (David) then Sulayman (Solomon) completed it after him, and he embellished it until he placed a ruby jewel on the top of the dome. It became the most impressive and exquisite thing known during that time, and it used to sparkle over a mile’s distance, and the woman spinners use to spin (cloth) by its light at night from a mile’s distance (away).

Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib was the first who embellished the Sacred Mosque after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab embellished the mosque of the Messenger of Allah and expanded it. Likewise, Uthman after him, who built a mosque with his own money and expanded it, and went to great lengths to adorn it. This shows that there is no harm in doing so.

Now, the interpretation of what (apparently) contradicts this position (of there being no harm) is already alluded to at the end of the hadith (in question), “… while their hearts are bereft of faith,” which means that they adorned the mosques, yet were not constant in performing the congregational prayer therein; or it means that the adornment was no funded from wholesome wealth, or that it was for the objective of eyeservice or ear service. So these apparent contradictions can be interpreted away along some of these lines in order for there to be concord between the different reports on the issue.

All of this (is acceptable) if a person does so by using his own wealth which he earned licitly; but as for when he does so by using the mosque’s wealth, then he is sinning by doing so. For the mosque’s wealth should only be used to fortify its structure, whereas embellishment has nothing to do with fortifying and building at all, so much so that our teachers say, “The mosque trustee should plaster the walls with gypsum with the mosque’s funds, but he should not embellish by engraving the plastered walls with the mosque’s funds; but if he does so, then he is liable (for it), for plastering fortifies the building, but engraving on the plaster is weakening the building not fortifying it, hence the trustee is held accountable for what he expends of the mosque’s funds on it.

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “Do you not see that a person may construct for himself a house, and engrave its roof with gold paint, yet he does not become sinful for doing so?”.

By this, he means that the person spends on embellishing his house with the intention of himself benefitting from it only, whereas in spending for embellishing the mosque he is benefitting himself and others. Hence, if it is permissible for him to spend his wealth for benefitting himself in this manner, then it is even more permissible for him to spend it for benefitting himself and others; and moreover, we have been directed to hold the mosques in high esteem.

There is no doubt that holding the mosques in high esteem means, in the hearts of some people of the lay public, augmenting the mosques by beautifying them; and hence in this manner, a person is rewarded for what he does. (It is narrated) in a hadith that the Prophet says, “The believer is rewarded for spending his wealth in everything except in building,” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and al-Tabarani],  and in some narrations, there is the addition, “…other than mosques” [Documented by al-Suyuti]. If the soundness of this addition is established, then it is proof that a person is rewarded for what he spends on building mosques and embellishing them.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 47): The Abhorrence of Wearing Silk and Its Dispensation in Time of War.

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 47: The Abhorrence of Wearing Silk and Its Dispensation in Time of War.
Then, Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “It is abhorrent for men to wear silk when they are not in a war situation.”

This question is not really among the question of this topic (of earning), but rather it is discussed in many places in the books (of Imam al-Shaybani), yet it is appropriate to what he has discussed of the questions of this book (of earning). Indeed, he has composed this book (of earning) in regard to abstinence, according to what was reported that when he was done with composing his other books, it was said to him, “Should you not compose something on abstinence and prudence,” whereupon he said, “I have composed the book of buying and selling,” and then, he proceeded to compose this book (of earning). But he was afflicted by a sudden illness during which his brain became dehydrated, and he could not realize his intention.

It was reported that it was said to him, “Make for us an index of what you have intended to compose,” and so he made for them an index of a thousand chapters which he had intended to compose on abstinence and prudence; hence some latter-day scholars said, “The passing away of Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani and the occupation of Imam Abu Yusuf with the judiciary are a clemency for the disciples of Imam Abu Hanifah; for indeed if it (the situation) was not so, they would weary those who follow (closely their works)”.

And this book (of earning) is the first of his works on abstinence and prudence, and at its end, he mentions some of the questions that are connected to that (the topic of abstinence and prudence), such as the question of wearing silk. The basis of this question is what was narrated that the Prophet went out one day with gold in his right hand and silk in his left hand, and said, “These two are illicit for the males of my community, but licit for the females.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad].

The wearing of silk in a situation other than war is abhorred, and likewise during a situation of war, according to the view of Abu Hanifah. However, in the view of the two of them, there is no harm in wearing silk during a situation of war if it is of compact texture such that (a fabric of) this kind can be used to ward off weapons. As for the case of its warp being not silken, but its woof is silken, then it is not licit for men to wear it in other than a situation of war; however it is licit by concord during a situation of war. And as for when it warps is silken but its woof not silken, then there is no harm in harm in wearing it in a situation other than war, such as (when one is infested with) lice, and other similar situations. These topics of wearing silk and related issues have already been elaborated in the books (of the Mabsut).

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “There is no blame for a person to have a bed of gold or silver covered over with bedspread of silk brocades as an adornment for the enjoyment of people without sitting or sleeping on it, for such a practice is reported of the predecessors from among the Companions and the Followers.”

It is narrated about al-Hasan and al-Husayn that when either of them – depending on which of the different narrators about the matter is correct – was married to Shah Banu, she adorned his house with furnishings of silk brocades and utensils fabricated from gold and silver, and some of those Companions of the Prophet who were still living visited him and said, “What is this in your house, O son of Allah’s Messenger?,” whereupon he said, “This, is a lady whom I have married, and she brought (with her) things like these, and I did not deem it nice to prevent her from doing so.”

And it is reported from Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah that he adorned his house with something like this, and some of the Companions censured him, whereupon he said, “I am only beautifying for people with this, but I am not using it. I only did this so that no one’s heart will be concerned about me, and that none would look at me in an unseemly manner.”

Thus, we know that in this case, if a person has those things with this objective, then there is no blame in it, though to do without these is preferable. This situation enters into the meaning of the statement of Allah, “Say: Who has forbidden the finery of Allah, which He has produced for devotees, and wholesome means of subsistence?” [Al-Quran, surah Al-A’raf, verse 32].

As for the one who says, “He should neither sit nor sleep on it,” that is also the view of Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani. However, according to the view of Imam Abu Hanifah, there is no blame for sitting and sleeping on it, for only wearing it is abhorred, as what is worn becomes attached to the wearer. As for that which is sat or slept on, it does not become attached to him (the sitter or sleeper), hence there is no blame in that.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 46): Types of Activities of the People of Legal Responsibility and Their Discussion at Length.

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 46: Types of Activities of the People of Legal Responsibility and Their Discussion at Length.
Then he moved the discourse on to another topic the upshot of which became a section of its own, which is that the activities of the people of legal responsibility are of three types, namely: (i) a type which is for a person, like the ritual devotions; (ii) a type which is against him, like the iniquities; and (iii) a type which is in between the two, which is neutral – neither for nor against him – and these are permissible of the words and works of a person, like your saying, “I ate”, or “I drank”, or “I stood”, or “I sat”, and the like. This is the legal position of the jurisprudents, may Allah Most High have mercy on them.

The Karramites said that the activities of the people of responsibility are of two types, namely: for them, or against them; and none of their activities are in the domain of neutrality, because of the statement of Allah, “But what is there after Truth but error?” [Al-Quran, surah Yunus, verse 32]. He has divided all things into two divisions without any separating (division) between them; (so there is) either the truth, which is what is for a person or deviation, which is against a person.

Allah says, “One gets what one has earned and is responsible for what one deserves.” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 286]. The “ma” (“what” in the verse) is for generalizing, and so it is clear by this verse that all that one earns is either for him or against him. Allah says, “If anyone acts with integrity, that is for the benefit of his own soul; and if anyone does evil, that is to its detriment. And your Lord never treats servants unjustly” [Al-Quran, surah al-Fussilat, verse 26]. It is thus clear that a person’s work cannot be disengaged from being either good or evil.

And in the book Allah, there is a statement to the effect that all that a person utters is recorded, for Allah says, “No one utters a word without a ready observer there.” [Al-Quran, surah Qaf, verse 18]. This verse shows that all that a person does is recorded, as Allah says, “Everything they have done is in the scriptures” [Al-Quran, surah al-Qamar, verse 52]. This proves that everything that a person has done is put on the divine balance for the reckoning, for Allah says, “And they will find everything they did before them” [Al-Quran, surah al-Kahf, verse 49]. The “ma” (“everything in the verse_ is for generalization, which shows that not a single action is morally neutral.

The significance of this can be seen from two perspectives. One, that the covenants of Allah with his servants are binding on them in every situation, that is, as indicated in the statement of Allah, “Worship Allah, and do not associate anything with Allah” [Al-Quran, surah, al-Nisa’, verse 36]. And He, says, “And I only created sprites (jinn) and humans for them to serve Me” [Al-Quran, surah al-Dhariyat, verse 56]. Therefore a person is either incertitude of this bond and covenant, thus it (the covenant) shall be for him, or he is in disregard thereof, thus it shall be against him; for any other than these two situations is inconceivable.

The proof of this is that (on the one hand) the permissible thing that he imagines is either something which is for him, such that it is something licit to which he is devoted, and for which he is commanded; or it is something illicit which he is to abhor, and so it is for him (also). But on the other hand, it (i.e, the permissible thing that he imagines) may actually be something illicit to which he is devoted; or something licit and enjoined from which he is keeping away, and this will be against him. Hence we know that all a person’s activities are not exempt from being either for him or against him.

Our argument (Imam al-Shaybani) in this regard is that the Companions and those who came after them from among the Followers and the learned are agreed that some of the actions of servants are commanded, and some recommended, and these are the religiously sanctioned devotions for them, and that of these actions some are proscribed, and these are against them. Of these actions (too) some are permissible, and what is permissible cannot be characterized as being enjoined or recommended or proscribed.

Therefore, we know by community consensus that there is a third division (of activities), which is neither for the person nor against the person. This division is not differentiated from the other two divisions except by a juristic evaluation, which is that it is morally neutral, neither deserving of reward for doing it nor of punishment for forgoing it. This is so because, what is for a person is something for which he is rewarded, as Allah says, “And whoever acted with integrity will make their own bed, so Allah may reward from the bounty divine those who had faith and did well. For Allah does not love the ungrateful” [Al-Quran, surah al-Rum, verse 44-45].

Allah says, “If you did good, you did good for yourselves” [Al-Quran, surah al-Isra’, verse 7], whereas what is against a person is something for which he is penalized, as Allah says, “And if you did wrong, it was to yourselves” [Al-Quran, surah al-Isra’, verse 7], that is, it was against yourselves.

And when there is in his actions and utterances something for which he is neither rewarded nor penalized, then we know that it is morally neutral. and the proof of this is that Allah Most High says, “Allah does not hold you responsible for thoughtlessness in your oaths” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 225]. The scriptural proof here for the negation of censure for oaths of frivolity is itself also scriptural proof for the fact that a person is not penalized for them. Hence, when it is established by scripture that he is neither rewarded nor penalized for them, then we know that they are neutral.

Allah says, “Yet there is no blame on you if you make a mistake in this” [Al-Quran, surah al-Ahzab, verse 5]. And there is no ambiguity concerning the fact that he is not rewarded for something he was mistaken about, and censure was here negated by scripture, hence we know that it is not taken into account. The Prophet says, “My community is excused for mistakes, forgetfulness and what they are coerced to do.” [Narrated by Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, Ibn Hibban, and al-Daruqutni]. The meaning is that the sins of these are removed from them, and there is no doubt that they are also not rewarded for those.

When it is established by these scriptural proofs that for which a person does not attain a reward, he does not get penalized for it either; hence it is something not taken into account and is not described as something for or against a person. This is because that which is for him specifically refers to something that is of benefit to him in the hereafter, and that which is against him specifically refers to something that is harmful to him in the hereafter; and in his actions and utterances there also are things that neither benefit nor harm him in the hereafter, and these are not taken into account.

Thereafter, the jurisprudents are in disagreement over whether the things not taken into account of the actions and utterances are recorded regarding the servant or not. Some of them say, “These are not recorded about him, for the recording cannot be for no avail; and the avail is either the servant’s taking benefit by it in the hereafter, or the servant’s taking blame by it in the hereafter; and whatever that is beside these two considerations, it is recording on the servants is of no avail”.

However most of the jurisprudents are of the legal position that everything is recorded about the servant for Allah says, “And We record what they have sent before and what they have left after them; and We have accounted for everything in an illustrative book of examples,” [Al-Quran, surah Ya Sin, verse 12], except that they say, “After everything is recorded about him, what remains on the record is what is neutral.”

The clarification for this is the statement of Allah, “For We have been transcribing what you have been doing” [Al-Quran, surah al-Jathiyah, verse 29]. In a hadith of A’ishah, it is narrated that the Prophet said, “When the two angels ascend with the record book of the servant, if it’s beginning and ending are good (deeds), then what is in between them of evil deeds shall be erased; and if such is not the case in its beginning and its ending, then all shall remain recorded about him” [Abu Ghuddah says that he has not come across this hadith].

As for those who say, ‘What is of no account is erased from the record,” they differ on the issue. Some of them say, “That is only erased on Mondays and Thursday” [As alluded to in a hadith of Abu Hurayrah narrated by Malik, Ahmad, al-Bukhari and Muslim]. This understanding is widespread among people, namely that deeds are exhibited to Allah on these two days of the week; that us, on these two days, what is neutral with respect to requital thereof is erased from the record. However, most of them are of the view that these are only erased on the day of resurrection.

The basis for this view is a hadith of A’ishah – and Imam Muhammad has mentioned it in his book (Kitab al-Kasb) – that the Prophet said, “The registers with Allah are three: a register which is of no account, and this is in which there is no requital of good or evil; a register of the misdeeds of the servants, and there is no avoiding the giving and demanding of justice in respect thereof; and the third register which contains requital for good or evil” [A hadith of similar wording is narrated by al-Hakim and Ahmad]. This is a sound (sahih) hadith which is accepted by the People of the Sunnah and the Community.

However, they differ with regard to the register which is of no account. It is said (by some), “It is that which is not taken is in it neither reward nor penalty.” It is said by some, “It is that which is between the servant and his Lord, in which there is nothing pertaining to the rights of the servants, for Allah is most forgiving, most generous.” Allah says, “Why would Allah punish you if you are grateful and faithful” [Al-Quran, surah al-Nisa’, verse 147]. And it is said (by some), “This is the (register of the) minor sins, for these are forgiven for those who avoid the major sins, for Allah says, “If you avoid the worst of what you are forbidden, We will efface your evils from you and introduce you to noble behavior” [Al-Quran, surah al-Nisa’, verse 31]. And this is the register which is of no account.

And yet it is said, “What is intended are the works of the unbelievers in which there is the form of obedience, for these indeed are of no account whatsoever due to their not believing; that is their good works are of no benefit for them in the hereafter, for idolatry is not forgiven for them as Allah says, “Allah does not forgive idolatry” [Al-Quran, surah al-Nisa’, verse 48]. There is no value in their works when accompanied by idolatry, for Allah says, “And We will turn to the works they have done, and make them scattered dust” [Al-Quran, surah al-Furqan, verse 23].

The soundest view is the first view, namely: that which is of no account is the third division which we have explained as referring to the permissible, which is neither for nor against a person; and this is that which is of no account. Imam Muhammad al-Shaybani had indeed elaborated on that by saying, “And this is that in which there is neither requital of good nor evil.”

Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybanimentions in the book (Kitab al-Kasb) a narration from Ibn Abbas with regard to the statement of Allah, “Allah abolishes and establishes whatever He will” [Al-Quran, surah al-Ra’d, verse 39], that what is meant is the erasure of some names from the register of the condemned, and the establishment of these names in the register of the blessed; along with the erasure of some names from the register of the blessed, and the establishment of these names in the register of the condemned.

The commentators of the Quran only narrated this from Ibn Mas’ud, who used to say in his supplication, “O my Lord! If you have recorded our names in the register of the condemned, then erase them from the register of the condemned and establish them in the register of the blessed, for You have indeed said in Your book – and your statement is truth – ‘Allah abolishes and establishes whatever He will’; and the source of scripture is with Him.'”[Al-Quran, surah al-Ra’d, verse 39; This report is documented by al-Suyuti]. As for Ibn Abbas, the evident narration from him is that the abolishment and the establishment are in everything, except in regard to blessedness and wretchedness, and life and death.

Among the jurisprudents are those who hold on to the first narration and say, “We see the unbeliever becoming a Muslim, and the Muslim apostate; the sound of health falling ill, and the ill becoming well; hence we say that it is possible for the blessed to become wretched, and the wretched blessed, without there being any change in Allah’s knowledge of anyone. For, ‘the matter is up to Allah, in the past and in the future’ [Al-Quran, surah al-Rum, verse 4], ‘He does what He wills’ [Al-Quran, surah Ali ‘Imran, verse 40]; and ‘He decides what He wants’ [Al-Quran, surah al-Ma’idah, verse 1]. And on this understanding is the interpretation of the statement of Allah, “Some of them will be miserable, and some of them will be happy” [Al-Quran, surah Hud, verse 105].

However most of them are of the view that the sound narration is the second narration, from Ibn Abbas for it is closer in coming into accord with the well-known hadith, “The blessed is one who is blessed in the womb of his mother, and the wretched is one who is wretched in the womb of his mother” [Narrated by al-Tabarani and al-Bazzar].

And the interpretation of the statement of Allah, “Allah abolishes whatever is of no account from the register of the servant, of that in which there is no requital of good or evil, and establishes whatever in which there is requital; as we have explained in regard to the hadith of A’ishah, “The registers are three.” Because of this, Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybanibrought forth this hadith right after that hadith.

And it is said (by some) that what is meant is the effacement of knowledge from the hearts of some people and its establishment in the hearts of some other people. This view is in correspondence with the statement of Allah, “And Allah leaves people astray at will, and guides anyone at will” [Al-Quran, surah Ibrahim, verse 4]. Or that what is meant is the effacement and establishment of the things that are apportioned for every servant, such as sustenance, security, tribulations, illness, and the like.

Now, Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani narrated a hadith of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq in which he asked a question of Allah’s messenger saying, “A meal of meat, barley bread, and olive oil, which we ate with you in the house of Abu al-Haytham ibn al-Tayyihan…” We have already narrated this hadith in full (see previous Part). He added at the end of the hadith (the words), “And as for the believer, his thankfulness when food is served before him is that he says ‘in the name of Allah’; and when he is done, that he says, ‘all praise is due to Allah.'” This addition is not mentioned by the scholars of hadith in their books, whereas Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani is trustworthy with regard to what he narrates, and so it can be surmised that this addition is of the discourse of Imam Muhammad which he expressed after narrating the hadith.

A hadith of similar import was narrated from Allah’ messenger that he said, “When food is served before the believer, and he says, ‘in the name of Allah’, and when done he says, ‘all praise is due to Allah’, his sins are all scoured of him though they may be like the foam of the sea, just as dry leaves drop off from the tree” [Document by al-Haythami]. And he says, “All praise is due to Allah for every blessing.”

And he says, “If the whole world was rendered into a morsel of food, and a believer gulped it down and said, ‘All praise is due to Allah,’ surely what he had brought forth would be better than what was brought forth to him.” And such is the reality of the situation, for Allah has described the world as little and lowly, as Allah says, “Say: the enjoyment of this world is little” [Al-Quran, surah al-Nisa’, verse 77], whereas the mention of Allah is loftier and better. And in his, the believer’s saying, “All praise is due to Allah,” there is the mention of Allah by way of glorification and appreciation, and this is better than the whole world.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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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.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 44): The Believer is Rewarded for Providing for Himself, and for His Family and Others

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 44: The Believer is Rewarded for Providing for Himself, and for His Family and Others
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “Whenever eating becomes obligatory on a person, he will be rewarded for eating, for he is thereby complying with the command, and he is facilitated by it to the discharging of the obligatory devotions such as fasting and prayer; and so eating is on par with proceeding to the performance of the Friday congregational prayer, and with purification for the performance of the prayer.”

The basis of this is the statement of the Prophet, “The believer is rewarded in everything, even in a morsel which he puts into his mouth” [Narrated by al-Mundhiri, Ahmad, al-Bukhari and al-Tabarani]. In another hadith, the Prophet says, “The believer is rewarded in everything, even in sleeping with his wife, and it was said (to him), ‘He is satisfying his desire, (so) is he rewarded for that?’ He said, ‘Do you think that if he was to place it in what is not permitted, he would not be punished for that?'” [Narrated by Muslim and Abu Dawud].

We infer a similar ruling here, and so we say, “If he forsakes eating in a situation in which it is obligatory on him, then he is punished for it; and when he eats, he is rewarded.” The Prophet says, “The best dinar of a person is a dinar which he spends on his family” [Narrated by Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]. Hence, when a person is rewarded for what he spends on others, then more so for what he spends on himself.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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Kitab Al-Kasb Series (Part 43): Elucidating that the Giver is Superior to the Taker, and Its Elaboration at Length.

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 43: Elucidating that the Giver is Superior to the Taker, and Its Elaboration at Length
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani says, “The giver is superior to the taker, even though the giver by giving is fulfilling an obligation on him.” This problem involves three elucidations.

One of them is that the giver is fulfilling an obligation, while the taker is capable of earning except that he is in need. In this case, the giver is superior to the taker by scholarly consensus, for in giving he is discharging an obligation, whereas the taker in taking is only doing a voluntary act, for he may opt not to take but earn instead. The rank of discharging an obligation is higher than the rank of volunteering, as is the case with all other religious observances, for the reward in discharging the mandatory is greater than the reward in discharging the supererogatory.

The proof of this is that the one obliged is working for himself, while the one volunteering is working for other than himself, whereas a person’s work for himself is superior, for the Prophet says, “”Begin with yourself” [Narrated by Muslim, al-Nasa’i, and al-Bayhaqi].

This means that by the very act of discharging of an obligation for himself, a person is discharging a duty to himself (and thereby relieving his self’s conscience), and so he is working for himself by doing so; whereas the taker is not benefitting himself by merely taking, but rather by partaking after having taken, but he does not know whether he will endure until he partakes or not endure. For this reason, there is no largess of the rich on the poor in the taking of charity by the poor; for what the rich attain by giving it is more than what the poor attains (by taking it), such that the poor carries for the rich what he (the poor) does not need at the moment that he may reach for it when he is in need of it, while the rich are in need of giving that he may attain to his objective at the very moment of giving, which is to discharge his duty of charity.

If all the poor were to concord on forgoing the taking (of charity), they would not be sinning in doing so, but rather, they would be commended for doing so; in contrast to (the case) if all the rich were to converge on desisting from discharging the obligatory (alms). Hence we know that the largess is of the poor on the rich.

The second elucidation is that the giver and the taker are each doing a voluntary act, such that the giver is volunteering, while the taker is capable of earning. In this case, the giver is also superior, for by giving what he gives, he is detached from his wealth and is assimilated into poverty, while the taker by taking is assimilated into affluence; and we have explained that the rank of the poor is higher than the rank of the rich, and therefore whoso is assimilated into poverty by his work is higher in rank.

Moreover, the religious observances are ordained by way of trial, for Allah says, “To test which of you is best in conduct” [Al-Quran, surah Hud, verse 7]. The meaning of trial by giving is more manifest than by taking, for the trial is in a deed to which the self is not inclined, whereas in the self of every person there is motivation to take instead of to give; hence the Prophet says, “Truly the Muslim, by his charity of a dirham, is in need of breaking the desires of seventy devils” [Narrated by Ahmad and al-Tabarani].

When the meaning of trial is more apparent in giving, then it is superior, especially in the light if what was narrated that the Prophet was asked about the best of works, whereupon he said, “The most biting,” that is the most difficult on the body. And he was asked about the best charity, he said, “The exertion of a person of small means” [Narrated by Abu Dawud and al-Nasa’i].

Moreover, the one taking produces for his self that by which he attains to the satisfaction of his desires, while the giver releases from his ownership that by which he satisfies his desires; and the highest of ranks is denying the self from the satisfaction of desires.

The third elucidation is (the case) when the giver is volunteering, while the taker is obliged, such that he is incapable of earning and is in need of that by which to keep body and soul together; in which case according to the scholars of jurisprudence the giver is superior also.

However, the scholars of hadith, among them Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ishaq ibn Rahuyah say, “The taker is superior here, for by taking he is discharging an obligation on himself, whereas the giver is only supererogating.” We have explained that discharging the obligatory is higher in rank than performing the supererogatory. Moreover, the taker, if he was to decline to take, in this case, he would be sinning; while the giver, if he was to decline to give he would not be sinning when there is someone else to whom he can give what is obligatory on him (to give).

A reward is commensurate with a penalty. Do you not see that Allah has threatened the wives of the Messenger of Allah with double of that with which He threatened women other than them, and thus He says, “O wives of the Prophet, if any of you were openly indecent, her penalty should be doubled; and that is easy for Allah” [Al-Quran, surah al-Ahzab, verse 30]. Then He gave them as a reward for obedience double of what was due to women other than them, for He Most High, says, “But any of you who is humble to Allah and Allah’s messenger, and acts with integrity, her We will give her reward doubly; and We have prepared a generous provision for her” [Al-Quran, surah al-Ahzab, verse 31]. Hence, since the sinning in this regard applies to the taker rather than the giver, then correspondingly, the reward applies more to the taker than to the giver.

However, all this consideration becomes ambiguous (less than clear-cut and straightforward) with the case of returning salutation of peace, for salutation of peace is legally recommended but returning salutation of peace is obligatory; and yet in spite of this (being the case), to initiate salutation of peace is superior to returning it, in line with what the Prophet has said, “For the initiator of salutation of peace twenty merits, and for the returner ten merits” [Hadith of this meaning are documented by al-Haythami as narrated by al-Bazzaar and al-Tabarani].

And perhaps they may say, “The taker strives to revive the self, whereas the giver strives to protect the self or to augment wealth, and reviving the self is higher in rank than augmenting wealth.”

Our argument in this regard is what was narrated from the Prophet that he said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand, ” [Abu Ghuddah] without differentiating between supererogatory giving and discharging an obligatory giving.

If it is said, “What is meant by the upper hand is the hand of the needy, as it stands for the hand of the Law. Indeed, the charity-giver renders his wealth for Allah in sincerity, by realizing it from his ownership and then giving it away to the needy, that it may be a security for him from (the penalty of ) Allah; while the needy stands for the Law in taking (the charity) from the rich.

The explanation for this is in the statement of Allah, “Do they not know that Allah accepts repentance from servants and takes contributions, and Allah is relenting, most merciful?” [Al-Quran, surah al-Tawbah, verse 104]. And the Prophet says, “Truly charity falls into the hand of the Merciful, and He nurtures it like one of you nurtures his colt (filw) until it (the charity) becomes like (the mountain of) Uhud” [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim]. By this, it is manifest that the upper hand is the hand of the needy in meaning.

We say that this interpretation is a long shot, for Abu Hurayrah has narrated that the Prophet said, “Hands are three: the hand of Allah Most High, then the giving hand, then the taking hand, and it is the lowest until the day of resurrection” [Abu Ghuddah]. And in a narration, “Then the giving hand, then the taking hand, and it is the lowest until the day of resurrection.”

Therefore, by this, it is manifest that the meaning of the higher hand is the giver’s hand, for the giver is purified from squalor by giving, while the taker is tarnished.

The explanation of this is that Allah says, “Take contributions from their wealth, to purify them and justify them thereby” [Al-Quran, surah al-Tawbah, verse 103]. And so we know that in giving the charitable contributions there is the meaning of purification and justification, and in receiving (the meaning of) blemish. The Messenger of Allah has called charitable contribution the refuse of people [documented by al-Suyuti]; and he named it the wash water, thus he said, “O children (or clan) of Hashim, Allah Most High has disapproved for you the wash water of the hands of people” [Narrated by al-Tabarani], meaning charitable contribution.

This is borne out by the fact that the Messenger of Allah, himself used to give, but receiving charity for himself was forbidden for him, as he has said, “Charity is neither permissible for Muhammad nor for the family of Muhammad” [Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, and al-Nasa’i].

The people (i.e., scholars) then discuss this issue with regard to the case of all other prophets, on whom be blessing and peace, and so some of them say, “Receiving charity was also not permissible for all other prophets but it was permitted for their relatives; and then Allah honored our Prophet by forbidding charity for his relatives, to manifest his eminence, such that their rank in this ruling is like the rank of the prophets.”

It is said (by some scholars), “But rather, charity is permissible to all other prophets, and this (ruling of impermissibility) is specifically for our Prophet.” Whatever the case may be, it is (still) feasible to say that in the prohibition of charity there is the raising of ranks in the meaning of bestowing honor and exclusivity on him (our Prophet). If taking was in any way, superior to giving then there would not be (any) meaning of exclusivity and honoring for him in the prohibition of taking.

The proof of this is that the Law recommends that everyone give to charity, and recommends everyone to be on guard against asking. The Prophet said to Thawban, “Do not ask anything of people, whether they give you or deny you” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and al-Tabarani].  And the Prophet said to Hakim ibn Hizam, “Beware, beware, that you should ask anything of anyone, whether he gives you or denies you (what you have asked of him)” [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim].

After this statement, he (Hakim) used not to ask anything of anyone, nor take anything from anyone, even when Umar ibn al-Khattab presented to him his share of what was given, he did not take it. He said, “I do not take anything from anyone after the Messenger of Allah said to me what he said.” And Umar testified with regard to him, saying, “O people, I verily testify to you about him that I offered to him his right, but he declined.”

 With this, it is clear that giving is superior to taking. Allah says, “The ignorant think they have no needs, because of their modesty. You will know them by their mark” [Al-Quran, surah al-Baqarah, verse 283], that is by their modesty of not asking and taking. The Prophet says, “Whoever strives to be modest, Allah will cause him to be modest; and whoever strives to be independent, Allah will cause him to be independent. But whoever opens up on himself a door to asking, Allah will open up on him seventy doors of neediness” [Narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim and al-Tirmidhi].

Now, when modesty lies in abstention from taking, then resorting to taking is prima facie tantamount to forsaking modesty; hence the giver is superior to the taker, but in each there is good.

References:

22 The Book of Earning-700x700


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