On the Sense of Accountability that Taqwa Generates

(1) It is related by Abdullah bin Masud that the Apostle of God said: “On the Last Day (when people will be brought together for the Final Requital), no one’s feet will move until he has been questioned about five things: about his life, and how he lived it; about his youth, and wherein he wasted it; about his wealth, and wherefrom he acquired it… and on what he spent it; and about what he did in what he was given the knowledge of.”

– Tirmizi


Stressing the importance of monetary affairs, this hadith shows us how everyone will have to render a full account of his conduct in that field on the Day of Judgement, as to how he earned or acquired wealth in his life and in what manner did lie spend it.

(2) It is related by Abdullah bin Masud that the Apostle of God said: “If a person earns or acquires anything (through dishonest means), and, then, gives away a part of it in charity, the act of charity will not be accepted, and if he will spend from it on his needs, there will be no auspiciousness in it; and if he will leave it behind to his descendants, it will serve for him as a provision for Hell. Believe it! God does not remove evil with evil, but evil with good. One impurity does not annul another. (It can not make it clean).”

– Musnad-i-Ahmad



It emphasizes that charity given from ill gotten wealth is not acceptable to God, and there is no real propitiousness in impure earnings. In the same way, should a person leave behind wealth obtained in an illegitimate way, it will recoil on him on the Day of Final Reckoning. He will be guilty both of making money dishonestly and leaving it to his heirs and successors to eat of the impure while to leave behind wealth acquired cleanly and honestly is a kind of charity, and will fetch a reward in the Hereafter.

The concluding part of the narrative explains why charity from unclean wealth will not find acceptance with the Lord and prove harmful for the giver on the Day of Last Judgement. Charity serves as an atonement for sins and acts as a means to forgiveness provided that it is given out of goods acquired through lawful means, but if it is given from wealth earned by corrupt and fraudulent practices, there will be no such property in it in the same way as dirty water can not be expected to make dirty clothes clean.

(3) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Oh people! God is pure Himself, and accepts only what is pure, and He has given the same command, concerning it, to all Believers as He has to His Apostles. For the Apostles, the commandment is: ‘O ye Messengers! Eat of the good (and lawful) things, and do right, (XXIII: 51); and for the Believers: ‘O Mankind! Eat of what is lawful and wholesome in the earth, (and avoid what is Impure).’” (II: 168)

“After it,” relates Abu Hurairah, “the Apostle of God narrated the story of a man who undertakes a long journey (to a holy place) and arrives (there) in such a condition that his hair is dishevelled and his body covered with dust. He raises his hands towards the heavens and cries: ‘O Lord! O my Preserver!’ But his food is of the impure, his dress is of the impure, and he has been brought upon what is impure: how his prayer can, then, be granted?”

–          Muslim


The substance of the above Tradition is that God is pure and accepts only offerings that are pure, i.e., from goods acquired through legitimate means. It, further, denotes that the commandment to eat of the good and lawful things was given to all the Prophets, in the same way as to all the Believers. A true Believer should, therefore, realize the significance of the Divine commandment and observe it scrupulously. The holy Prophet has, also, emphasised in it that ill-gotten wealth is so hateful to God that even if a man went to a sacred place, like a miserable beggar, to supplicate to the Almighty, but his food and clothes were of the impure, his prayers would not be accepted.

(4) It is related by Abdullah bin Omar that the Apostle of God said: “If a person buys a cloth for 10 Dirhams, and, among them, one is tainted, i.e., it has been earned through dishonest means; none of his Namaz will be accepted by God as long as he wears it”. After relating it, Abdullah bin Omar put his fingers in his ears and said: “May both the ears of mine become deaf if I have not heard the Apostle of God say so.”

Musnad-i-Ahmad and Baihaqi

(5) It is related by Jabir that the Apostle of God said: “The flesh and body shall not go to Heaven that are raised on unlawful sustenance. Hell is more deserving of the flesh that has grown on one’s body out of what is unlawful.”

Musnad-i-Ahmad, Daarmi and Baihaqi


Apparently, it shows that a person whose sustenance is of the impure will go to Hell. But the commentators have expressed the view, in the light of other Traditions as well as verses of the Qur’an, that such a man will not be able to enter Heaven without undergoing punishment for living on unclean income. He may, however, be forgiven without punishment if he has repented sincerely before death or some high-souled bondsman has prayed for forgiveness, on his behalf, and the prayer has been granted, or the Gracious One, the All-merciful, Himself, decides to absolve him of the consequences of his sin.

(6) Abu Hurairah relates, saying that the Apostle of God said: “A time will come when people will not care whether what they are acquiring is lawful or unlawful, legitimate or illegitimate.”

–          Bukhari


The time, indicated in it, has come, to be sure. How many are there, today, even among those supposed to be religious-minded, who care to think or enquire about goods coming in their possession whether they are lawful or not. Maybe, even worse days are ahead. In another version of the same report, quoted in Musnad-i-Razeen, it is added that prayers will not be accepted at such a time. Inability to distinguish between the pure and the impure, and the lawful and the unlawful is, in fact, the spiritual death of a Muslim.

We will be giving below two incidents to illustrate what a profound effect the teachings of the holy Prophet had produced in the lives of the Companions. It is related, in Sahih Bukhari, about Hazrat Abu Bakr that, once, an attendant placed something to eat before him of which he partook a little. After it, the attendant told him that, before the advent of Islam, he had, once, posed as a sorcerer and read out the future for someone as sorcerers did. That man had met him, by chance, on that day, and given him the food, on that account, which he had offered to Hazrat Abu Bakr. As the latter heard of it, he made himself vomit by thrusting his fingers into the throat, and, thus, threw up the contents of his stomach.

Similarly, Imam Baihaqi has mentioned the following incident regarding Hazrat Omar. It is stated that, once, a person offered some milk to him which he drank. Afterwards, he asked the man how he had got it, and he replied that he was passing by such and such a Ghat (i.e., a landing place; a bathing place on a river-side) where some animals, including goats and she-camels that had been given away in Zakat were grazing and people were drawing milk from such of them as could be used for that purpose. They had given some of the milk to him as well which he had offered to Hazrat Omar. On hearing it, Hazrat Omar, too, vomited the milk, like Hazrat Abu Bakr.

Piety demands shunning, also, of what is doubtful

(7) It is related by Noman bin Bashir that the Apostle of God said: “What is allowed is clear and what is forbidden, also, is clear. But, between them, there are a few things that are doubtful, and many people do not know about them. (They are ignorant of their true position in the Shariat). Thus, whoever keeps away from doubtful things as well will protect his faith and honour and (his record will) remain unblemished, and whoever will indulge in doubtful things will land himself within the borders of the forbidden like the herdsman who grazes his cattle very close to the reserved area and there is every danger of the cattle straying into it and starting to graze there (which is prohibited). Know that every king has a pasture, (entry into which is forbidden without permission). The reserved area of the Almighty are the forbidden acts. (One must not go near them, i.e., avoid even the doubtful things). And beware, there is a lump of flesh in the human body, (the characteristic of which is that) if it is right, i.e., the radiance of Faith and the awareness of God and His fear are present in it, the whole body stays right, (its deeds and states are correct), and if it is in a bad condition, the condition of the whole body, too, is bad. Remember, that lump of flesh is the heart.”

– Bukhari and Muslim


It is one of the Traditions that are regarded by the authorities as most important and expressing a fundamental ethical principle of Islam. First of all, it tells that the position of what is lawful or forbidden in the Shariat is clear and free from doubt, but there are many other things or acts whose legitimacy or other- wise is uncertain, that is, they can be held lawful on the basis of one principle of the Shariat and unlawful on the basis of another principle. What becomes a faithful Believer in respect of doubtful things is that he avoided them out of piety and prudence. In it, lies the safety of his faith and honour.

Proceeding from it, the above Tradition emphasizes that anyone who is not careful enough to abstain from doubtful things runs the risk of being led into committing the forbidden acts as well like the shepherd who asks for trouble by grazing his cattle in the vicinity of a reserved ground. Hence, as it is advisable for the herdsman to keep his cattle well away from a reserved forest or grazing ground, so, also, should a true Believer avoid doubtful things, in the interests of his faith and good name.

Lastly, it shows that the goodness or badness of a person depends on the state of his heart. If the heart of a man is sound and the light of Faith and Divine fear are present in it, his whole existence will be of piety and good-doing, and, conversely, if it is governed by sinful and carnal desires, his entire conduct will bear the imprint.

Some commentators have concluded from the arrangement of this Tradition that for the purification of the heart, it is essential for a man to abstain from doubtful things, along with the forbidden ones, in rood and drink.

(8) It is related by Atiya S’adi that the Apostle of God said: “No one can attain the state of being included among the righteous until he forgoes the lawful pleasures in order to avoid the sinful.”

–          Tirmizi and Ibn-i-Maja


There are many things which though lawful in themselves, are capable of exposing a man to sin. Prudence, therefore, demands that one kept away from them as well.

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