Restricting Oneself to the Permissible
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Allah the Almighty is good and accepts only that which is good. And verily Allah has commanded the believers to do that which He has commanded the Messengers. So the Almighty has said: "O (you) Messengers! Eat of the tayyibat (good things), and perform righteous deeds" [23:51] and the Almighty has said: "O you who believe! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you" [2:172]. Then he (peace be upon him) mentioned a man who, having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying, "O Lord! O Lord!" while his food is haram, his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how can [his supplication] be answered?"
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال:
قال رسول الله : إن الله تعالى طيب لا يقبل إلا طيباً، وإن الله أمر المؤمنين بما أمر به المرسلين فقال تعالى: يَا أَيُّهَا الرُّسُلُ كُلُوا مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَاعْمَلُوا صَالِحاً [المؤمنون:51]، وقال تعالى: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُلُواْ مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ [البقرة:172]، ثم ذكر الرجل يطيل السفر أشعث أغبر يمد يده إلى السماء: يا رب ! يا رب ! ومطعمه حرام ومشربه حرام وملبسه حرام وغذي بالحرام فأنّى يستجاب له؟.
Written commentary compiled by volunteers utilizing Sh. Jamaal Diwan's audio commentary above and English translation of Ibn Daqiq Al-Id's commentary on The Forty Hadith of Imam al-Nawawi.
This hadith introduces the importance of al-tayyeb, that which is good or pure. The concept of purity and goodness applies to numerous aspects in our lives. As Muslims, we must be careful to enjoy only food and clothing that are halal, use pure speech, and hold pure intentions.
In popular cultures today, there are so many impure things around us. Indeed, such impurities have become so common and widespread that we may actually think they are beneficial. Nevertheless, if something is impure, then it cannot be good for us regardless of how many people like it or practice it. Our standards should not be set according to what most people say or do. Rather, they should be defined according to the revelation of Allah (swt).
The Concept of Al-Tayyeb
Another thing that we derive from this hadith is the importance of eating food that is tayyeb. This word does not simply mean that the food is halal or that it comes from a pure source, but it also means that the food is good for you. This hadith can be applied to eating out at a fast food restaurant. Even if the food is “halal” or “zabiha,” it may not necessarily be tayyeb. The reason it may not be tayyeb is that many of these foods are unhealthy, full of added chemicals and preservatives that may be harmful to our health.
The concept of acceptance is also discussed in this hadith. Allah only accepts from those who are good and pure. What is this acceptance referring to? What if a person’s food and clothing are impure, will his or her actions be accepted? The answer to that question is a bit tricky. This person still has to do the action (i.e. praying, making duaa, etc.) in order to fulfill his or her responsibility towards that action, but Allah will not reward the person for doing such tasks. Thus, even though the person will not be rewarded for such action, he or she still needs to do it to avoid punishment.
The scholars mention five conditions that must be fulfilled in order for actions to be accepted:
- The belief that Allah (swt) is knowing of all things
- To know the truth and have a sense of what is right
- To have a pure intention in what you are doing
- To do the action in accordance with the sunnah
- To eat that which is halal
Acceptance of Duaa
There are several conditions that help our duaa be accepted by Allah (swt):
- To be traveling. The prophet (sas) said there are three duaas that are answered without doubt: the prayer of the oppressed, the prayer of a traveler, and the prayer of the parent for their child.
- To be wearing clothes that are simple and humble. One should not be wearing arrogant or showy attire.
- To raise one’s hands towards the sky while making duaa. The prophet (sas) says that Allah is shy and if someone raises his or her hands to Him with a prayer, He will be shy to not respond to that prayer.
- To be consistent and persistent in the duaa. Do not expect a duaa to be answered immediately and be persistent in your asking of Allah. The prophet (sas) says that a person’s duaa will be accepted as long as they do not rush. Thus, duaa should be done with patience, consistency, and the knowledge that Allah (swt) will accept.
Duaa that is not accepted
Similarly, there are some circumstances that prevent our duaa from being answered:
- Income that is not halal. In order to obtain halal income, one must be doing a type of work that is halal.
- The person must be fulfilling responsibilities on the job. If a person is not completely fulfilling all their work duties and still gets paid a full salary, then part of that salary becomes questionable or haram. Thus, food, clothing, and drink coming from that portion of the income becomes haram.