The forty ḥadīth of al-Imām an-Nawawi , The Seventh Hadith ( Topic )

On the authority of Abū Ruqayyah, Tameem bin Aus ad-Dāri, that the Prophet(صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:”Religion is sincerity.” 41 We said, “To whom?” He said, “To Allah and to His Book, to His Messenger, and to the leaders of Muslims and their common people.”(Narrated by Muslim)”Religion is sincerity” has been interpreted by some to mean that they are one in the same, i.e., that sincerity, as described in this ḥadīth, may be called religion. But the consensus among scholars is that it is like the Prophet’s statement, “The ḥajj is `Arafah,”meaning that the latter is the larger or most important part of the former. The following examples have been given for the various forms of sincerity mentioned by Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم):1) To Allah (subḥānahu wa taʽālā): Belief in Him, rejection of shirk42 and of distortions concerning His attributes, describing Him with all the attributes of perfection and majesty and disassociating Him from any imperfection or similarity to His creation,obedience to Him and avoidance of disobedience, striving against those who oppose belief in Him or advocate shirk, loving because of Him and hating because
of Him, recognition of and gratitude for His favors, purity of intention in every matter, inviting others to all of the aforementioned and encouraging it while being courteous to all people.43


2) To His Book: Belief that the revealed words of Allah have no resemblance to the words of men and that none of creation can produce anything similar, belief in all that the Qur’ān contains, holding it in esteem, reciting it with true recitation, beautifully and with reverence, pronouncing each letter correctly, defending it against deviant interpretations and the abuse of attackers, understanding its information and examples, learning from its perspectives, contemplating its wonders, acting according to what is specific therein and accepting what is unspecific, being occupied in the study of its laws – its general rulings and its particular ones and what abrogates and is abrogated thereof, spreading knowledge of its sciences and inviting others to it and to all of the aforementioned.3) To His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم): Belief in his message (the Qur’ān) and in all he brought (the sunnah), obedience in what he ordered and prohibited, love and respect for him,animosity toward his enemies and support of his supporters, recognition of his right, adherence to his morals and manners, love for his family and companions,perpetuation of his sunnah and opposition to those who introduce innovations into 41 Sincerity in advice, counsel and conduct; desiring the best for the other party. 42 The association in worship or obedience of anything with Allah.43 In reality, the benefit of all this is to the person himself, since Allah is not in need of his sincerity, but He rewards for every good deed.18 the religion, propagation of his message and of his sunnah while refuting false allegations about it – respect for its scholars, pursuit of its sciences and comprehension of its meanings while refraining from speaking without knowledge,
inviting others to it and teaching it in a gentle manner.4) To the leaders of Muslims: Aiding them in what is right and obedience to them therein, cautioning them and reminding them politely, informing them about that of which they are unaware concerning the rights of the people while encouraging the latter to obey their rulers,44 joining them in jihad, praying behind them, preventing them from being deluded by false praise, not taking up arms against them if they show prejudice, injustice or bad conduct but practicing patience and advising them when possible and supplicating for their righteousness and reform.5) To the Muslim people: Guiding them toward their best interests in this world and the Hereafter and helping them to achieve them, covering up their faults and shortcomings, defending them from harm and procuring for them benefit, enjoining upon them what is right and forbidding what is wrong – gently and with pure intention, compassion for them, respect for their elderly and mercy towards their young, giving good advice, refraining from cheating or envying them, liking for them what one would like for himself, defending their properties and honor by word and deed, and encouraging them to practice all of the aforementioned. Sincere advice is among the collective duties of Islam (fardh kifāyah). If a sufficient number of qualified people perform this duty, the others are absolved. However, if an insufficient number do so, the entire community is held accountable. Conditions cited
by scholars for capability are full knowledge of the matter in question, a degree of influence over those advised, discretion as to the method of advice, and reasonable security from negative repercussions, i.e., reactions that would cause the situation to worsen, not merely hostility toward the advisor. So when a Muslim knows that his counsel will be accepted and his advice heeded and he will not harm or be harmed, then that is obligatory upon him; otherwise, Allah is most knowing of his capability and will judge him accordingly.

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