Rafed English

Influence of Messenger’s Speech On Worldly Affairs

The above-mentioned were excerptions of the utterances of the eminent religious leaders, in respect of showing the status of the Messenger’s speech regarding the religious affairs. Concerning his words regarding the worldly affairs, it is said about them to be among mere opinions, that were called by the scholars “guidance ordinance.” That means, his ordinance in any of the world affairs is called guidance (irshad), that stands versus the taklif (imposition) ordinance. According to the jurisprudential laws, to apply the guidance ordinance is not considered obligatory or mandub (recommended), since nearness (to Allah) is not intended by it, nor denotation of devotion is implied in it. It is commonly known that only a relevant special evidence can prove the case of obligation or recommendation.

Whatever the ulama said in this regard is due to the fact that the apostles being not infallible in other than propagation (tabligh). In Sharh al-Aqidah,31 al-Safarini is reported to have said:
In Nihayat al-mubtadi’in, Ibn Hamdan said: “They (apostles) being only infallible in respect of Allah’s ordinances they be delegated to convey to mankind, being non-infallible in other than these, including error, oblivion and venial sins. Ibn Aqil in al-Irshad said: They (apostles) – peace be upon them – were not impeccable in respect of the acts, but rather in the fulfilment itself, with being impermissible for them to tell lies while propagating and conveying Allah’s ordinances. The Shi’ah scholars disapprove this belief, unanimously concurring on the prophets being not liable to err, or subject to inadvertence or forgetfulness. They concur that the apostles being infallible against (perpetrating) major and minor sins, even in the worldly affairs.

It is widely known that the Prophet (S) was believing some of the falsifications of the hypocrites, as in the case of the Battle of Tabuk, and other battles. Besides, he used to believe some of his wives, with hesitating in respect of falsehood hadith, feeling annoyed of it for a long time till the revelation of the verses of Surat al-Bara’ah (Immunity), which unveiled the truth for him.

Al-Qadi ‘Iyad32 said: Concerning his states in regard of the worldly affairs, he might surmise something to be on a certain condition, but would prove to be the opposite. Or might doubt or suspect some things in a way contradicting the Islamic Law. Rafi’ ibn Khudayj33 is reported to have said: As the Messenger of Allah (S) entered the Medina, he found some people pollinating the date-palms, when he said: What are you doing? They replied: We have been making them. He said: It may have been better not doing so. So they left them (date-palms), after which they faded. Thereat they told him about this matter, when he said: “I am just a human being. When commanding you to (do) something relevant to your religion you take and apply it. But when ordering you to do anything according to my opinion, (know that) I am just a human being.”

According to narration of Anas: He [S] said: “You are better aware of your world.” In another hadith, he (S) said: “I have only surmised something, so excuse me for my surmise.” In the episode of conjecture,34 Ibn Abbas is reported to have said: The Messenger of Allah then said: “I am no more than a human being. Whatever I tell you of that revealed by God is verily the truth, and that which I tell you out of my own opinion, I am just a human being, that may err and be right.”

These were our reports regarding the Prophet’s own opinions about the world affairs and his surmise concerning its conditions. When he (S) got down the Pond of Badr, al-Habbab ibn al-Mundhir said to him: Is this a place in which you were commanded by Allah to get down, that we have no right to leave and advance forward, or it is your opinion and war and stratagem? He replied: No, it is verily the opinion and war and stratagem. He said: Then it can never be an abode: Get up, to betake ourselves nearer a pond belonging to some people, where we can settle down, plunging into it, and drinking when others cannot drink. He said: What an excellent idea! Then he applied his advice. In another event, he intended to make compromise with some of his enemies through one third of the Medina dates. When he consulted the Helpers (Ansar), and they told him of their opinion, he retreated his intention.

In this way it was permissible for him what we mentioned before, in respect of the worldly affairs we stated and their likes that have nothing to do with knowledge or religion, or belief or teaching.

He also said:35 Concerning his believing in the mankind affairs and rules run by him, with their issues, and distinguishing between the truthful and falsifier, and recognizing the one seeking reform from that seeking corruption, it was in this way, when he said: “I am just a human being, you may seek my judgement regarding your disputes, and one of you might be more eloquent in presenting his proof than the other litigant, entailing that I give judgement in his favour according to my hearing in the case. So I ask that in whose favour I gave judgement with something, not to take anything from the second one, as it will be verily like allocating him a piece of fire.” (This hadith was reported from Umm Salamah). Al-Zuhri reported from Urwah, that he (S) said: “Someone among you might be more eloquent than the other (litigant), making me to consider him truthful and consequently giving judgement in his favour.” And he (S) gives his judgements according to superficialities and surmise, with the testimony of the witness and oath of the swearer, beside observing analogy …etc.
He further said:36 In regard of the Prophets’ capabilities of knowledge related to the world affairs, no infallibility is stipulated to be possessed by the prophets regarding unawareness of some of them or believing in their opposites, the fact entailing no censure on their part.

The Prophet (S) also said: I know nothing except that what my Lord taught me.” The Prophet Moses (A) said to al-Khidr (A): “…May I follow thee on condition that thou shouldst teach me aright of what thou hast been taught.”37

In al-Rawd al-basim, al-Wazir al-Yamani said: “It is quite evident for those acquainted with the scholars’ rules that the Prophet’s acts can never indicate by themselves any obligation or recommendation, but rather pointing to permissibility. The extent concurred by all being his abstaining from exercising prohibited acts (guilts), and if even one slip done by him it be out of inattention without persistence. Allah, the Exalted, has shown this fact in His Book. The investigators say in this respect: When any deed performed by him, we would scrutinize to see whether he did it for seeking Allah’s pleasure or not. If circumstantial evidences indicating the latter, following his example would be not recommendable, and his act would be considered only permissible that every individual be free to do or leave . An example for this act can be found in his confession to Umar ibn al-Khattab of contradicting his opinion regarding the event of the captives of Battle of Badr.38


31. See Vol. II, p. 291.

32. Al-Shifa', vol. II, pp. 178, 179.

33. These traditions were reported by Muslim in his Sahih with various wordings, the exterior of which being in the decisive precision between what was uttered by the Messenger as an opinion or for preaching, and what he said as legal rules.

34. The story of khars is thus: When they passed by some fruitful trees, intending to conjecture it to put their surmise, to test, the Prophet conjectured it, but it came to be contrary to his conjecture.

35. Al-Shifa', vol. II, p.180.

36. Ibid, vol. II, p. 107.

37. Ibid, vol. II, p. 109.

38. Ibid, vol. I, p. 142.

Adapted from: "Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah" by: "Mahmud Ali Riyyah"

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