Hadith 6: The Lawful & Unlawful are Clear

“On the authority of Abu Abdullah al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say, ‘That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and honour. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like a shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all of the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)

The Narrator

Abu Abdullah al-Nu’maan ibn Basjeer al-Ansaari al-Khazraji was one of the first Muslims born to the Ansar of Madinah. He was around 10 years of age when the Prophet (s) passed away. Although the scholars of hadith agree that hadith cannot be taken from a child, if someone memorised the hadith when they were a child and narrated it when they were an adult, then it is acceptable, as is the case with this hadith. Al-Nu’maan narrated more than 120 hadith, 6 of which are in Sahih al-Bukhari.

“That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful is clear…”

There are innumerable acts which are clearly permissible and sanctioned in the Shareeah. In some cases these are explicitly mentioned as being permissible, whilst in other cases, it is clear that they fall under the general guidelines laid out in the Qur’an and Sunnah. For example, Allah says in the Qur’an:

“This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them.” (Surah al-Maaidah:5)

In other cases expressions like “there is no sin upon you…” appear in the Qur’an, making it clear to us that something is permissible.  In the same way, acts that are forbidden are very clearly stated. For example, Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Forbidden for you are only carrion and blood and swine-flesh and that which has been slaughtered in the name of other than Allah and that which has been killed by strangling, or by violent blow or by a headlong fall or by the goring of horns and that which has been [partly] eaten by a wild animal, unless you are able to slaughter it [before its death] and that which is sacrificed on altars. [Forbidden] also is to use arrows for seeking luck. All that is disobedience to Allah and sin.” (Surah al-Maaidah:3)

Also included in this category of clearly unlawful acts, is every act for which Allah (swt) and His Messenger (s) have prescribed a punishment, including adultery, fornication and murder. It is from the grace and mercy of Allah (swt) that He sent this religion and message in a way that is clear and easy to understand. There can be no doubt about matters which are either lawful or unlawful. A minority of acts fall into the category of ‘doubtful matters’, and these will be discussed in detail in the next post InshaAllah.

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