The Qudsi (Sacred) Hadith

[Ahadith from a forthcoming book “Miftahul Ma`ani” by Syed Iqbal Zaheer]

Said Allah (swt): “Of all those who are independent of associates, I am the most independent of associates.1 Whosoever carried out a deed in which he associated others with Me, I relinquish both him and his associate.2 (Sahih Muslim)


1. The allusion by the original word ‘al-shirk’ is actually, ‘deed.’ (Nawawi)

2. Accordingly, Anas b. Malik’s report in Hannad’s Zuhd says in words, “Adam’s son will be brought by the Scale and Allah will say: ‘I am the best of associates. Whatever you intended for Me, I shall reward you herewith. As for what you worked to please other than Me, you may seek its reward from him.’” (Al-Safeeri)

Ibn Hibban and Hakim have reported that the Prophet said, “Shirk (association with Allah) in this Ummah is more imperceptible than the creeping of an ant.”

In another hadith, he said, “There would be people during the Last Hour who will adulterate their worldly endeavours with religion. They would be wearing for the people the mask of sheep. Their tongues would be sweeter than honey but their hearts would be hearts of wolves. Allah says about them, ‘Are they trying to deceive Me? Or they are too courageous with Me? I swear by Myself that I shall send upon them a tribulation that will leave the most tolerant of them astonished.” (Nayl al-Awtar)

Islam’s most prominent defender and exponent, Imam Ghazzali, has the following to say about this report and others of its kind:

“He who aimed at nothing but this worldly benefit from his knowledge, then, it is the second kind of Riyaa’ (dissimulation). As for the first, it needs some detailing. What appears to me – while Allah knows best – is that we need to look into the strength of the prompt. If the religious prompt is equal to the self-service-prompt, then the deed is neither ‘for’ him nor ‘against’ him. But if the dissimulation is dominant and stronger, then it is not beneficial but rather harmful, entailing punishment. Surely though, the punishment in this instance could be lighter than if the deed was entirely devoted to dissimulation, when no amount of ‘nearness’ was sought at all. On the other hand, if the intention to get ‘closer’ was stronger, in addition to other corrupting intentions, then he will be rewarded in proportion to his religious intentions. This is in keeping with Allah’s words: ‘Then, whosoever did an atom’s weight of good shall see it,’ (99: 8) and His words, ‘Allah does not do wrong even by an atom’s weight.’ (4: 40)” – (Al-Safeeri)

Now that we (this author) are dealing with this topic, we may mention the following:

Fudayl has said: ‘To give up a deed because of the people is Riyaa’; to do something for the sake of the people is Shirk; and sincerity (Ikhlas) is contained in that (deed in which) Allah saves you from both.’

Abu Sulayman al Darani has said: ‘It is fortunate enough for a man that he should take a single step by which Allah’s approval was sought.’

Dhunnun Masri said: ‘Signs of sincerity (Ikhlas) is that praise and condemnation (of the people should) become equal.’

It is reported of one of them that he said: ‘I did my Prayers in the first row of the congregation for 30 years. One day, I was late, so offered it in the second row. I was shamefaced that the people were seeing me in the second row. This led me to realize that the people seeing me in the first row used to please me.’

It is reported that a Bedouin entered a mosque and offered a short Prayer. `Ali ibn Abi Talib raised his whip towards him and said, ‘Repeat your Prayer.’ The man repeated the Prayer (making it longer). `Ali said to him, ‘Was this not better than the earlier one?’ The Bedouin replied, ‘The earlier one was better because I did it for Allah Most High, while the second one was out of fear of your whip.’ (Al-Safeeri, Mirqat)

The word ‘ghayri’ (‘others’ of the translation) draws the following comment from Mulla `Ali Qari: “That is, others of the creations. But no harm is done if the intention is to gain Paradise and what goes of that nature, for, seeking Paradise is of those things that have Allah’s approval, although a better situation would be not to worship seeking Paradise or avoiding Hellfire, even though some of the gnostics have counted it Kufr. And the explanation in this connection is that if someone would not have worshipped Allah, if the Fire and Paradise had not been created, then he would be a Kafir. Allah deserves to be worshipped for His own sake. This is why Suhayb Rumi (ra) would not have been praised, in view of what is reported about him in Prophetic words, ‘A good slave Suhayb happens to be. If he did not fear Allah, he would not disobey Him.’” (Mirqat)

With reference to the words, ‘I relinquish both him and his associate,’ the meaning is: ‘I do not look at him in Mercy and cast down his deed and the one he associated, from the level of acceptance.’

Muhammad Saleh al-`Uthaymeen attends to a problem faced by many: “Some people are apprehensive about Riya’ in his devotional acts. Satan comes and says, ‘When you prayed you were making a show-off, when you searched for knowledge, you were making a show-off, when you spent in charity, you were making a show-off … and so on. This happens quite often. So, what’s the solution? The solution is that you ignore this and forget about it. If you pay attention, you will not be left with any devotional act but Satan would have corrupted it. But rather, seek Allah’s shelter and remain on your (good intention at the start). Ultimately, this Satanic suggestion will go away from you.” (Fath Dhi al-Jalal wa al Ikram bi Sharh Bulughul Maraam).

The issue of how people ‘not so pure’ in their intentions will be treated in the Hereafter, is far from simple. Munawi for instance, writes that the predominance of what impels a man to do things is of little concern, as Imam Ghazzali has explained. Rather, the hadith in question is unambiguous in yielding the meaning that a deed is not acceptable unless it is completely free of Association. (Fayd al Qadeer) For instance, a widely quoted hadith says that a man came to the Prophet (saws) and asked, “What have you to say about a man who waged Jihad seeking reward as well as seeking to be known (as a Mujahid)? Will he be rewarded?” The Prophet said, “He gets nothing.” Then he added, “Allah does not accept a deed unless it was completely sincere, in which Allah’s Face was sought.” Of those who have adopted this meaning are, of the Salaf: `Ubadah b. Samit, Abu Darda,’ Hasan, Sa`eed ibn al Musayyib, and others. In fact, we do not know of any difference in opinion over this issue among the Salaf, although the later opinion is different. However, it might also be noted that if someone adulterated his intention in Jihad, e.g., with an intention apart from Riyaa,’ such as accepting wages for his services, or accepting some booty, or, did some trading (during it), then, it might lead to reduction in his rewards and not destroy the deed altogether. (Al Arna’ut in Jami` al-`Ulum wa al-Hikam)

Prominent scholars have expressed the opinion that (in case of Jihad) if the first intention was to render Allah’s Word predominant, then, whatever happens to be latterly added, has no bearing. This is strengthened by the hadith in Abu Da’ud (of Hasan status) which reports `Abdullah b. Hawaalah as having said, “The Prophet sent us on foot (to attack an enemy party) so that we might snatch up some booty. But we returned without any booty. He remarked, ‘O Allah, do not leave them dependent on me.” (`Abdul Muhsin b. Hamad in `Ishruna Hadithan min Sahih al-Bukhari …)

Along with the great majority of scholars, Ibn Jarir Tabari has also opinioned that if at the start the intention was only to please Allah, then what comes later will not destroy a deed. (Ibn Hajr in Fath al Baari)