Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:
“Verily Allah the Exalted is pure. He does not accept but that which is pure. Allah commands the believers with what He commanded the Messengers. Allah the Almighty has said: “O you Messengers! Eat of the good things and act righteously” [23:51-53]. And Allah the Almighty also said: “O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with” [2:167-172].
Then he (the Prophet) mentioned (the case of) the man who, having journeyed far, is dishevelled and dusty and who stretches out his hands to the sky (saying): “O Lord! O Lord!” (while) his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he is nourished with unlawful things, so how can he be answered?”
The word “at-tayyib” is used in the Qur’an and Sunnah to describe actions, good deeds, people, things, speech, etc. This term is used as adjectives. Literally it means something good. Ibn Rajab interpreted the word as “at-tahir”, or pure.
The term “Verily Allah the Exalted is pure” means Allah has all the attributes of perfection and completeness, free from any kind of shortcomings, weaknesses or needs.
As for “He does not accept but that which is pure”, the hadith refers to all good deeds. Allah does not accept any deeds that are spoilt by any aspects that may ruin it. For example, the deed must be free from showing-off to others and in the case that involves wealth then the wealth must come from legal sources.
Allah commanded the Believers (Mu’minin) in the same manner as He commanded the Messengers:
“O Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibat” [Surah Al-Mu’minun (23): ayat 51]
“O you who believe! Eat of the Tayyibat that We have provided you with, ..” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2): ayat 172]
The verses above and this hadith imply the following beneficial and useful rulings:
- The money that the Muslims earn must be pure and legal.
- The food that is consumed must be lawful (halal).
- The money with which a person buys food must be lawful, coming from lawful sources.
- These are the keys for acceptance of our deeds by Allah.
- Whether something is permissible or prohibited is by the will of Allah. He explains, guides and tells us what are permissible and what are not. It is mentioned in the Qur’an that some people have wrongfully made something unlawful when actually Allah has made it lawful, and vice versa. It is actually Allah’s right to make things lawful and unlawful.
- Earning and consuming lawful things are important conditions for acceptance of our supplications (du’a) by Allah.
Adab (manners) of du’a mentioned by this hadith:
- Earning and consuming lawful things.
- Travelling is one of the occasions when du’a is accepted by Allah. Other occasions mentioned by other hadiths are as follows: during travelling, sickness, prostration, rainfall and during the last third of the night. These chances need to be observed so as not to be missed by the people going through these occasions.
- Being humble in the du’a.
- To raise the hands towards the sky.
- Eagerness in performing the du’a, such as asking Allah many times like saying “ Ya rabb, ya rabb”. Du’a is an important form of worship (ibadah) that must be eagerly practised by the Muslims. It is a high form of ibadah as it shows our need of Allah in helping us. We are in need of Allah’s mercy more than we need the air for breathing. We need His help, guidance and mercy in every second and our every single movement.
If these adab are not observed, then our du’a may not be responded by Allah. If we want Allah to respond to our du’a, then we need to respond to his commandments such as eating only that which are lawful to us.
Another ruling from the hadith is that charity (sadaqah) is only accepted by Allah if it is from lawful sources. This is based on “Allah is pure and only accepts what is pure”. Wealth that is obtained from unlawful sources should not be given as sadaqah or used in performing any form of worship like performing the Haj. An example is when a person steals money and uses it to perform the Haj. In this context, Ibn Abbas said: “Filth does not expiate filth”.
Another ruling given by the scholars is that if somebody stole money, then it must be returned and not be given away as charity. This is particularly applicable in the case of a person wanting to repent (taubah) after stealing the money. The person needs to return the money to the owner. If this is not possible, like if the owner is not known or cannot be found, then according to some scholars it can be used for public benefit like roads.
An explanation of the hadith given by Jamaluddin Zarabozo is that this hadith alludes to the importance of supporting oneself through permissible means. How one supports oneself is how one lives. If it is through legal means, then it will be blessed by Allah.
Another explanation given by the scholars is about the issue of ‘public belongings’, like the property of a company, organization or an institution. This is an important issue and must be observed because public belongings that are wrongfully taken are considered ghalul (a kind of stealing or taking something illegally), a practice which are is expiated even by Jihad in the way of Allah until one pays them back. This is related in a hadith about a martyr who took a small portion of the booty of the war.
Today, many Muslims take this issue of ghalul for granted. For example, taking paper and pen from the office for personal use. Another example is the personal use of the photocopy machine, company car, telephone, company money or any other instrument without getting the permission from the authority. We will also be held responsible if we damage or vandalise public property/belongings.
A good example of protecting oneself from ghalul is one set by Khalifah Umar bin Abdulaziz when he used one candle for his administration duties and put it out upon completion of his duties. He would then use his personal candle.
We need to learn from this example of how we should use things in the way they are allocated for. For example, we need to turn off the lights and the air-conditioner when we leave the office and save the electricity bill of the company/organization. By doing this, we will be rewarded by Allah and Allah will respond to our du’a.
We need to create awareness among the Muslims to be more responsible and not to indulge in ghalul.
A contemporary issue related to this hadith is about caring what we eat, in terms of two things:
- To be aware of the ingredients of the food in the restaurant or packed/canned foods, especially if they are imported. We need to ensure that they are lawful.
- Many of the things that people eat may cause health problems. We need to be more aware about the healthy aspects of the food, that they are ‘pure’. Universities may need to introduce health education so that people can know what the good foods are. They need to be aware of preservatives, colouring and chemical used in the food. Harmful contents are not ‘tayyiban’ (pure).
Scholars mentioned that whatever we eat affects our attitude and behaviour. We need to eat the right food (at-Tayyib) and in the right manners (adab) as prescribed by Islam – e.g. not to eat excessively. By observing these issues, if Allah wills, it will lead us to be better Muslims with a better level of Iman and purer heart devoting to Allah. Then everything that we do can be described as ‘at-tayyib’. This condition is attained by those who observe the manners, earning, drinking, eating the ‘tayyib’ and giving charity from the ‘tayyib’. We will then be the ‘tayyibun’, pure and blessed by Allah.
Dr. Jamal Ahmed Badi