Leaving that Which Does Not Concern You
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
"Part of the perfection of one's Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him."
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم
"مِنْ حُسْنِ إسْلَامِ الْمَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لَا يَعْنِيهِ".
حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ [رقم: 2318] ، ابن ماجه [رقم:3976].
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 explains an important but often overlooked aspect of completing and perfecting our practice of Islam. We should not concern ourselves with matters that are none of our business, but should stay focused on the priorities that do concern us. When our practice of Islam becomes more complete and more perfected, the good deeds we perform are multiplied to higher and higher exponents. By instilling this quality of focusing on what is of concern to you and disregarding what is not, deeds may become more weighty and valuable in the sight of Allah swt.
One of the great scholars of the Maliki school of fiqh, Imam Abu Zaid al-Maliki, said that all attributes of goodness stem from four hadiths[a]:
- The hadith in which the Prophet (sas) says to speak well or remain silent.
- The present hadith.
- The hadith in which the Prophet (sas) said to a man asking for advice- “Do not get angry. Do not get angry. Do not get angry.”
- “You will not attain true belief until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
This hadith outlines a valuable approach to life, especially in our age of information overload and constant connection. In order to recognize the situations in which this characteristic can be applied, you must practice a degree of sensitivity and humility. Shaikh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah mentions that even when someone must cancel an appointment or meeting with you, it is inappropriate to ask why since not every person can or wishes to explain the reason. Al-Hasan Al-Basri once said that one of the signs that Allah has turned away from a servant is that the servant finds himself continuously preoccupied and engaged in matters which are none of his concern.
How to Attain this Quality
There are three recommendations that can help someone stay focused on what is of concern to him or her, and not being distracted by superfluous issues.
- Exercise a degree of shyness and modesty, as rare and endangered as these qualities are today. Haya’, the qualities of humility, shyness, and modesty before Allah, is a valuable possession that the Prophet (sas) praised very highly. Allah says in the Quran, “Do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsels? Indeed We do, and Our messengers are by them, to record.”
- Control your speech. Once a man noticed the Prophet Luqman surrounded by his followers and asked him, “Weren’t you the slave of so and so? Didn’t you used to be a shepherd for so and so? How did you get to such a respectful position among people?” Prophet Luqman, peace be upon him, answered, “Truthful speech, and long silence upon what does not concern me.”
- Think about how you spend time. Al-Hasan al-Basri once said, “You are nothing but a compilation of breaths.” Every time you exhale, a piece of your life, a part of you, is lost. How many of our interactions are worthwhile and how many are useless? Allah says, “Most of their discussions do not contain any good, except of the one who enjoins charity or goodness or peace-making among people.” (4:114)
The fiqh of priorities is in itself a large field of study in Islam. It is important that every person grasps enough of this concept to be able to recognize the priorities in their time and concerns. Imam Al-Ghazali said, “Disregarding the prioritization of good deeds in itself is a bad deed.” It is not simply a matter of identifying what concerns us and what not, but also the degrees of relevance and priority. In face of the avalanche of information, talk, social interactions, and distractions around us, an understanding of priorities can help us make choices, stay focused on what concerns us, and behave with beautiful manners and a more complete Islam.