To the best of your capacity

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله وسلم على رسول الله وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن اهتدى بهديه إلى يوم الدين أما بعد

 

Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ كَثْرَةُ
مَسَائِلِهِمْ وَاخْتِلاَفُهُمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ

“Avoid that which I forbid you to do and do that which I command you to do to the best of your capacity. Verily the people before you were destroyed only because of their excessive questioning and their disagreement with their Prophets.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

 

1. Sabab al-Wurood (reasons and background of a hadeeth) is very important to enable us to understand its meaning. This hadeeth was related during an incident where the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Allaah has commanded you to perform Hajj. So perform Hajj, O servants of Allaah.”

Then a man stood up and said: “O Prophet of Allaah, do we have to do it every year?” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم replied: “Whatever I forbid you to do, avoid it and whatever I command you to do, perform it as much as you can.”

2. This incident occurred during the time of revelation. Asking too many questions about an obligation can lead to complication or confusion. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was not happy with the question raised by the man – If he صلى الله عليه وسلم answered in the affirmative (to the question), it would have caused Hajj to become an annual obligation for Muslims.

3. Allaah says: “O you who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about things when the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allaah will forgive those for Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.” [translation of Al-Maa’idah, 101]

4. Allaah mentions the excessive questioning of Bani Isra’eel of Musa عليه السلام in matters pertaining to the sacrifice of the heifer – at the end of the incident, Allaah Says: “…So they slaughtered it though they were near to not doing it.” [translation of Al-Baqarah, 71]

5. Asking questions in the right way is encouraged and the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم used questions and answers to educate his Companions. Questions that lead to beneficial knowledge and goodness are encouraged. What is discouraged are questions that will lead to confusion, doubt and chaos; like asking hypothetical questions or about unnecessary details that have no bearing on Emaan or Deen.

6. One application of the statement in the hadeeth “perform it as much as you can” is what Imam al-Shatibi said about a Muslim not attaching hardship to any good deed or act even if it is an obligation. If there is an easier option, one should not use the difficult option.

7. The same principle applies to mandubaat (good actions that are not compulsory but encouraged). They should be performed as much as possible and Imam al-Shatibi explained one shouldn’t make any commitment that he must do a certain mandubaat (following strictly to a certain schedule) but instead, he should do it with ease at own capacity. [see the monumental work ‘Al-I’tisaam’ of Imam Shatibi]

8. On this matter, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “O people, perform such acts as you are capable of doing, for Allaah does not grow weary but you will get tired.” [Saheeh Muslim]

9. One’s capacity is taken into account in fulfilling obligations. A Muslim is encouraged to do good actions based on his/her ability. If he tries to commit himself in these matters, they may burden him and he may finally get fed up and abandon them.

Acts most pleasing to Allaah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small… And Allaah is the source of guidance and strength.

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