Abu Hanifa’s Advice to His Son to Practice 5 Hadiths
In his Bustan al-Muhaddithin, `Abd al-`Aziz al-Dihlawi relates, “Abu Dawud said, ‘In our view, four traditions (hadith) of that [= the 4800 that he collected in his Sunan] are enough for a person’s religion: his word’s (Allah bless him and give him peace): ‘Actions are according to intentions;’ second, ‘Part of the good of a person’s Islam is to abandon what does not concern him;’ third are his words (Allah bless him and give him peace), ‘A believer is not a believer until he is pleased for his brother with what he is pleased for himself;’ and fourth is, ‘The lawful is clear and the forbidden is clear, but between the two are ambiguous matters. Whoever guards himself against ambivalent matters has gone to the utmost limit in seeking to be clear in his religion and honour.’’” [Dihlawi, Bustan al-Muhaddithin]
Then in Jami` al-Usul fi al-Awliya is the bequest of Imam Abu Hanifa to his son Hammad in which he says that he chose five traditions from five hundred thousand— the four previously mentioned [and chosen by Abu Dawud], and a fifth: “The Muslim is one whom others are safe from their tongue and hands.”
(1) Actions & Intentions
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Actions are only by intentions, and each man has only that which he intends. Whoever’s emigration is for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration is for Allah and His Messenger. Whoever’s emigration is for some worldly gain which he can acquire or a woman he will marry, then his emigration is for that for which he emigrates.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
We are rewarded to the extent of our intentions, not actions. Thus, each person shall only get the reward and benefit of what they intended.
The greatest thing that you can intend is Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). It is possible to have this intention in everything, and this is why the scholars say, “Through intentions habits become worship.”
Allah is always the primary intention. And secondary intentions show how you are seeking Allah in that particular action.
`Abdullah ibn Mubarak (Allah be pleased with him), said, “How often it is that a small action becomes great by its intention. And how often it is that a great action becomes small by its intention.”
The upshot is that if there is nothing in it for Allah, there is no benefit in it.
(2) Minding your own Business
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “From a person’s Islam being good is his leaving what does not concern him.” [Tirmidhi]
From the excellence of a person’s Islam and the perfection of his faith is to leave anything which doesn’t concern nor befit him, whether in word, speech, looking, thought, or anything else.
The excellence of a person’s Islam is an indication of his perfection in his faith.
And the scholars also explain “that which concerns him” as being anything in which there is a real worldly or next-worldly benefit.
(3) True Belief: Loving for Others
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
The phrase “loves for his brother” refers to loving of the good (khair), which includes worship, the religiously and worldly permissible, and excludes forbidden matters. And likewise he hates for his brother of the evil what he hates for himself.
Moreover, the generality of the word “brother” also encompasses the non-believer, thus he should love for him to be guided and attain unto ultimate salvation just as he loves for his Muslim brother to remain on guidance.
(4) The Lawful is Clear and the Unlawful is Clear
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be whole, all the body is whole and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Taqwa is at the root of the relationship between the servant and His Creator. It is literally akin to putting a barrier between oneself and the Hell Fire.
The upshot is that the heart is the king and the limbs are the flock. Allah is looking for sound hearts, and sins darken and dirty the heart. There are consequences for those who make contraventions, yet we have a Merciful Lord. Whoever turns to Him in repentance will never regret it.
(5) True Islam: Not Harming Others
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The Muslim is one whom others are safe from their tongue and hands.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
The true believer is one from whom others are safe from his tongue; so he doesn’t swear, curse, backbite, slander, or do anything that will hurt them. And likewise, they are safe from his hand in that he won’t physically harm them nor oppress them in any way.
Harming a fellow believer is from a deficiency in faith. The Noble Shari`ah has called us to have restraint in regards to harming others, whether outwardly or inwardly. Believers are brothers and sisters, and trueness entails that you never cause harm to another believer.
[Qari’, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih; Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir Sharh Jami` al-Saghir; Ibn `Allan, Dalil al-Falihin li Turuq Riyad al-Salihin]
And Allah alone gives success.