Aspects Of The Islamic Faith - 119: Actions To Avoid

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

Sometimes the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) listed a number of things that have the same verdict in Islam, providing a short statement of requirements or prohibitions. He always preferred a direct and short statement so that it could be quickly learnt and easily reported and transmitted. Given his superior ability of expressing broad meanings in a concise form, he was able to give us an explanation of Islamic teachings that remain easy to learn and memorize. An example is provided in the following Hadith which Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu'bah attributes to the Prophet: "God has forbidden you to be undutiful to your mothers, bury your daughters alive, deny others' rights and demand what is undue. He does not like you to engage in idle talk, ask too many questions and waste money." (Related by Al-Bukhari).

This short statement includes four prohibitions and three unacceptable actions. The first prohibition is to be unkind and undutiful to one's mother. Being undutiful to parents is viewed very seriously in Islam. In fact, it is often mentioned in the Qur'an as a most serious offense, next only to associating partners with God. Here undutifulness to mothers is singled out, but this is only to highlight the fact that it is mothers that are more vulnerable to ill treatment by their children, because they are the weaker of the two parents. Indeed, undutifulness to fathers is not any less serious as an offense. It is because mothers are normally the weaker party that they are given a special mention by the Prophet.

The birth of a daughter was often received with gloom in Arabia in pre-Islamic days. People feared that daughters could be a financial burden, or that they could bring shame on their families if they misbehave. Therefore, it was traditionally acceptable for a girl's father to bury her alive, in her early years of life. In its very early days, Islam spoke out very strongly against this practice and declared it strictly forbidden. Indeed, infanticide, which continues to be practised in all communities, is considered by Islam as a ghastly crime that incurs the capital punishment. This applies to any offence of infanticide, whether the victim is a boy or a girl.

The next prohibition outlined in the Hadith is expressed in Arabic in just two words: Denying and demanding. What the Prophet means is that a person may deny others what is due to them, or claim what he has no right to claim. Both are forbidden. They are totally unbecoming of a Muslim. The Prophet then adds three habits describing them as ones which displease God. The first is idle talk. This includes chatting about things of which we are uncertain, as also backbiting. Muslims must always watch what they say. They should say what is good and beneficial, or keep quiet.

Asking too many questions is also shunned by Islam. Scholars have explained this in different ways, such as being very nosy, begging, asking questions on a particular subject in order to show that the questioner has mastered it, asking about what is of no concern to oneself, and asking the Prophet theoretical questions. All these do not fit the serious approach that is characteristic of Islam.

Finally, the Prophet mentions wasting money as something that Islam frowns upon. In this connection, wasting money means spending it for the wrong purpose. A person who has plenty of money may wish to spend at leisure. Scholars mention three situations: the first is to spend it in ways that Islam forbids, such as gambling. This is forbidden, regardless of whether the spender is very rich or poor. The second is to spend it in good and beneficial ways. This is commendable, provided that it does not lead to neglecting something more important. The third situation is to spend it on what is permissible, such as matters of enjoyment. This is acceptable, provided it remains within what is becoming of the person concerned and within his means.



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