“On the authority of Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abu Taalib, the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his beloved (may Allah be pleased with both of them), who said: I memorized from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.” (Recorded in al-Tirmidhi)
Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Abu Taalib (r) was the grandson of the Prophet (s) through his daughter Fatima (r). Both he and his brother al-Hussain were very beloved to the Prophet (s), and it was said that in appearance, he (r) resembled the grandfather (s).
Al-Hasan was born in the year 3 A.H. and his brother was born a year after him. They grew up together around the Prophet (s) and his mosque. Al-Hasan (r) was a very pious man, who sought to avoid any of the political strife of his time. After the death of his father Ali (r), he became the caliph, but renounced the position to avoid discord. He came to an agreement in 41 A.H., with Muawiya (r) who became leader. In this way, he achieved the Prophecy that way made by the Messenger of Allah (s) when he said his grandson al-Hassan was a leader and that Allah would bring back together two great groups of Muslims through him (r).
Al-Hasan was quite young when the Prophet (s) died, but he narrated thirteen hadith from him. He died in the year 50 A.H.
“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.”
This hadith illustrates a very important general principle that can be applied in all aspects of one’s life – avoid doubtful matters. If we only carry out acts that we are certain are permissible then our hearts will be free from doubt. The one who gets involved in doubtful matters on the other hand, will never find their heart to be completely at ease. If the true believer finds that something troubles their heart and makes it doubt, then they should avoid that matter.
This hadith is especially important in these times when people highlights differences amongst the scholars, and espouse different opinions. There are many new and complex things such as business practices, that may have some good and some bad in them. Even if they have not been discussed by the scholars yet, people will still voice an opinion about them. How can we save ourselves from all this confusion? How can we know which path to follow that will lead us away from confusion towards Allah’s pleasure? For this, we need to turn to this hadith of the Prophet (s).
The key to true piety and peace of mind, is to avoid all doubtful matters. If a person truly applies this hadith they should, Allah willing, find psychological well-being and inner peace.
Extracted from Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi (Vol 1) by Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo Pages 563-577