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Scrupulousness (Wara`)

By Imam Al-Bayhaqi (RA)

In the Sahih of Muslim, and certain other works, the following hadith is recorded on the authority of Abu- Hurayra (r): "O mankind! God is good, and accepts only that which is good. He has given the believers the command He gave to the Messengers: 0 Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do good also, Truly, I am All-Aware of what you do, [23:51] and: 0 mankind! Eat of what is lawful and goodly in the earth, [2: 168] and: 0 mankind! Eat of the good things with which We have provided you." [2:168] Then he spoke of "a man On a long journey, wild-haired and dusty, who raises his hands up to heaven, saying, 'Lord! Lord!' and yet his food is unlawful, his clothes unlawful, and his drink unlawful, and his sustenance unlawful: how, then, shall his prayer be answered?"

Bukhari and Muslim relate on the authority of Ibn Bashir (r) that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "The lawful is clear, and the unlawful is clear. But between the two are ambiguous matters not known to many people. Whosoever avoids these matters, has preserved his honour and his religion intact. But whosoever falls into them shall fall into the unlawful, in the fashion of a shepherd who grazes his flock around a sanctuary, so that he is near to violating it. Assuredly, every king has a sanctuary, and God's sanctuary on this earth is composed of his prohibitions."

They also relate on the authority of Aba Hurayra that the Prophet said: "Sometimes when I return to my family, I find a date on my bed or elsewhere in my house, and raise it to my mouth, but then fear that it might be from someone's charity, so I put it aside." [Despite his absolute poverty, the Blessed Prophet was not permitted to accept charity.]

Bukhari relates that 'A’isha (r) once said, "Abu Bakr (r) once said, "Abu Bakr (r) used to have a servant-boy who would collect the kharaj [a tax paid by non-Muslims on landed property in return for protection of the Islamic stage] for him, and Abu Bakr would buy food for himself out of this money. One day, however, the boy brought something, and Abu Bakr ate it. 'Do you know what that was?' the boy asked him, and Abu Bakr said, 'What?' 'In the jahiliyya," he said, 'I was a soothsayer; something which, in fact, I.did 1 not know how to do, but I deceived a man, who met me just now and gave me what you ate.' And Abu Bakr put his finger into his throat, and vomited all that was in his stomach."

According to Zayd ibn Aslam, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (r) once drank some milk, which he liked. "Where did you get this milk?" he asked the man who had given it to him, and he replied that he had been on his way to a well, when he passed some animals which had been given in charity, and some people who were milking them; he had taken some of it in his water-skin, and gone away. Hearing this, 'Umar put his finger in his throat, and vomited it up.

It is related that 'All (r) had his bread brought in containers from Medina.

Yusuf ibn Asbat said, "When a young man worships, the devil says [to his minions], 'Look at his food.' If they find his food to be from an impure source, he says, 'Leave him alone; let him worship long and hard, for he himself has ensured that your efforts are not needed.’"

Hudhayfa al-Mar'ashi once watched people hurrying to join the first row in a mosque, and said, "They should hurry likewise to eat lawful bread.

When Sufyan al-Thawri was asked about the merit which attaches to praying in the first row, he replied, "Inspect the crust of bread which you eat, and find out where it comes from, even if this means praying in the last row." He also said, "Look to see where your money comes from, even if you have to pray in the last row."

Sari al-Saqati used to eat neither the vegetables nor the fruit of southern Iraq, nor anything else which he knew to come from that region. [at the time, the region contained many heretics of the Khariji and Qarmati sects]. He was very strict in this, by virtue of his great scrupulousness in matters of religion. Nevertheless, he, said, "Once, when I was at Tarsus, I was in the company of some young men who were much given to worship. The house contained an oven which they used for baking. When this oven broke, I bought a replacement with my own money, but so great was their scrupulousness that they refused to bake in it."

He once said, "Abu Yusuf al-Ghasali used to spend all his time at the war-front, and participate in sorties. When he did so, and he and his companions entered Byzantine territory, the others ate the meat which the Byzantines had slaughtered, while he refrained. "Abu Yusuf!" he was told, "Do you suspect that it is unlawful?" and he said, "No." "Then eat," they told him, "for it is lawful!" But he remarked, "Renunciation is only of lawful things."

Sari also said, "Returning once from a sortie, I saw by the road some clear water surrounded by some reeds. 'Sari!'. I said to myself 'If you ever eat or drink anything lawful in your life, then now is the time.' So I dismounted, and ate and drank, but heard a voice coming from someone I could not see, which said, 'O Sari ibn al-Mughallis! What about the money which enabled you to come here? Where did that come from?' And so I was disappointed."

'Abdallah ibn al-Jalla said, "I know a man who lived for thirty years in Mecca, who drank the water of Zamzam only when he could use his own bucket and rope, and who never ate any food which had been brought from another town.

Al-Mustafa ibn 'Imran said, "In times gone by, there were ten scholars who were particularly careful to ensure that they ate only lawful food: These were: Ibrahim ibn Adham, Sulayman al-Khawwas, 'Ali ibn Fudayl, Abu Mu'awiya al-Aswad, Yusuf ibn Asbat, Wuhayb ibn al-Ward, Hudhayfa of Harran, Daud al-Tai, and two others."

The great Hadith scholar Yahya ibn Ma'in recited this verse:

Lawful and unlawful wealth, both must pass away, and the sins thereof await the Final Day.

Sufyan al-Thawri was once asked about scrupulousness and he replied:

I have found, and you must not believe otherwise that scrupulousness applies to every small coin.
If you find a coin, but leave it alone, then know that you are a Muslim of piety.

When Yahya ibn Aktham was appointed judge, his ascetic brother 'Abdallah of Merv wrote to him the following lines:

Many a mouthful with coarse salt which you eat,
is more delicious than a stuffed date.
One bite which destroys a man is like
One seed in a trap, which breaks a bird's neck.

lbrahim ibn Hushaim was advised as follows by a friend of his before he left on a journey: "I advise you to act with righteousness, and to eat what is wholesome.

A Godfearing man does not fear his God
until his food and drink are wholesome;
and until what he earns and owns are wholesome too
and his speech is goodly and pleasant.
This is God's law, as told by His Prophet
So may He bless him and grant him His peace!"' 

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