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Comprehension of the Religion

Mu’awiyah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: I heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) saying, “If Allah wishes good for a person, He makes him comprehend the religion. I am just a distributor, but the grant is from Allah. (And remember) that this nation will keep on following Allah’s teachings strictly and they will not be harmed by any one going on a different path till Allah’s order is established.”[1]

This noble hadith, rich in meaning and proper guidance, revolves around three distinct issues: the virtue of learning matters of the religion and attaining a substantial level of understanding (tafaqquh), that the true giver of things and regulator of affairs is Allah (may He be praised and glorified), and that a partof the ummah will always remain upon the truth regardless of the treacherous schemes of the enemies of Allah.

Hafidh Ibn Hajr asserted that the first part of the hadith is suited to be mentioned in chapters related to knowledge whereas the second is rather more suited for those chapters related to the distribution of charity (Imam Muslim mentioned the hadith in the book of zakah). The third part of the hadith is suited to be mentioned in the chapter of the signs of the Hour.

So is the entire hadith related to taffaqquh or only a part of it? Ibn Hajr opined that all three matters are related to knowledge, in that the first part is self evident, the second part alludes to knowledge not simply being ‘gained’ but that a person must also receive divine support from Allah in attaining it. The third part alludes to the fact that there will always be a group of people upon this path of knowledge and acting by it.

Another profound point that may also be derived from the hadith is that a time (or epoch) shall never pass except that there will be a mujtahid existent in the ummah. This was the apparent view of Imam al Bukhari.

Imam an-Nawawi said: “It is possible that this band of people (ta’ifah) could consist of different groups of believers who establish the command of Allah whether they be mujahidin, jurists, scholars of hadith, ascetics, those who enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and the like. It is not necessary that they are all gathered together in one place, it is possible for them to be dispersed across the land.”

The term fiqh has slightly different meanings depending on the way it is pronounced: faquha is used when fiqh becomes second nature to someone; faqaha is used when someone precedes others in understanding matters, and faqiha is used to mean to understand. Ibn Hajr asserts that all three meanings are applicable here.

Hafidh Ibn Hajr also opined that the word used for good: ‘khayran’ has been mentioned in the indefinite form (nakirah) to make it inclusive of all forms of good whether little or many. Mentioning it in the indefinite also venerates the status of ‘good’. Thus the implied understanding (mafhum) of the hadith shows that the one who does not learn the fiqh of the religion, that is to say the fundamentals (usul) and branches (furu’) of the religion, has been denied khayr. “He who does not know the affairs of his religion, neither is a faqih, nor a student of fiqh,can be described as being someone for whom good was not intended.”[2]

The hadithalso shows how scholars have a greater status over the rest of mankind and that fiqh of the religion is more virtuous over all other sciences. Allah states:

“Only those who have knowledge truly fear Allah.”[3]

“Allah will raise in ranks those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge. Allah is aware of what you do.”[4]


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[1] Sahih al Bukhari
[2] Ibn Hajr. Fat’h al-Bari
[3] Surah Fatir, verse 28.
[4] Surah Mujadalah, verse 11.



About Sheikh Alomgir Ali

Ustdah Alomgir has a BA in Arabic & English language and has studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Cairo. He is currently pursuing a degree in Shariah at al Azhar University in Cairo. He has translated a number of books and holds weekly Tafseer classes in London and is a regular Khateeb in a number of mosques in London. He also taught Arabic and Islamic studies at the Tayyibun Institute in London and is currently an instructor for the Sabeel retreats and seminars.

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