All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful, Owner of the Day of Resurrection. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh Alone without partners. His is the kingdom and He is Worthy of all praise, and He is Able to do all things. I testify that our Prophet, Imām and exarnple, Muḥarnrnad, is Allāhs slave and Messenger. Allāh has sent Muḥarnrnad with the guidance and the religion of truth to be a Warner for mankind and the jinn. May Allāhs peace and blessings be on the Prophet and on his progeny, Companions and those who followed hirn with excellence.
Dear Brothers and sisters in Islām! Our khuṭbah today shall be to examine the Ḥadīth, which says:
مِنْ حُسْنِ إِسْلاَمِ الْمَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لاَ يَعْنِيهِ
Part of someone’s being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.
It is a sound Ḥadīth transmitted by Tirmidhī and others. This Ḥadīth explains an important but often overlooked aspect of completing and perfecting our practice of Islām. Actually, the excellence of a person’s Islām is its perfection, such that one remains steadfast in the submission to the commands and prohibitions of Allāh, and leaves that which is not important or befitting of him, whether in thought speech, or action.
This simple, yet powerful principle was mentioned by Prophet Muḥammad (SAW) over fourteen hundred years ago. The Prophet was describing a quality that helps people not only improve their faith but also their way of life. How much more energy, focus, and time would we enjoy as a result of applying this principle in our lives?
Islām consists of acting as well as abstaining. The only way a person abandons all that does not concern him is by busying himself with that which does concern him, in matters of faith and in competing with one another to do as many good deeds as possible.
وَلِكُلٍّ وِجْهَةٌ هُوَ مُوَلِّيهَا فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ
Everyone has a direction toward which he turns. So compete with one another in good deeds. (Q. 2:148)
But there is no way of recognizing what concerns us and what doesn’t concern us, except through knowledge, which helps us to recognize and sift out any action, characteristic or mannerism that is condemned in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. Depending on how well these things are accomplished, determines the position of the believer with Allāh (SWT).
This Ḥadīth tells us that we should not concern ourselves with matters that are none of our business. A good Muslim avoids doing something or saying something that does not concern him. He does and says only that which concerns him, i.e., he has something to do with it. Refraining from that which does not concern him also has to do with guarding one’s tongue against idle talk.
‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz (RA) is reported to have said that the one who regards his words as being among his deeds speaks little except about that which concerns him. Many people do not regard their words as being among their deeds, so they are careless and do not watch what they say.
There is a story that once a man noticed the wise sage Luqmān surrounded by his followers, and asked him, “Weren’t you the slave of so and so? Weren’t you the shepherd of so and so? How did you get to such a respectful position among people?” Ḥakīm Luqmān replied: “Truthful speech, and long silence upon what does not concern me.”
In a Ḥadīth, the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day let him say what is good or remain silent.”
The challenge of leading a life that engages with things that only concern us is that we need to define what does and what doesn’t concern us in life, which means that we have to think about our purpose in life, our goals, our vision and mission. But that’s hard, and it takes time, and so we just dive into what does not concern us.
Unfortunately, this comes with a price: stress, wasted energy, and wasted time.
Brothers and sisters! The reality of time allotted to each one of us is that each heart beat taken draws us nearer to our graves. Imām Ḥasan al-Baṣrī used to say, “O Man, your life comprises of a few breaths that can be counted. With every breath that you draw, a part of your existence has diminished!” He also said that one of the signs that Allāh has turned away from a servant is that the servant finds himself continuously preoccupied and engaged in matters which are none of his concern.
How many of our interactions are worthwhile and how many are useless? We need to stay focused on the priorities that concern us. We have to understand our different priorities of work, family, social activities, etc. These priorities fight for our energy, focus and time that are all finite resources. It is important that every person recognizes and grasps his or her priorities within these resources.
Imām Al-Ghazālī said, “Disregarding the prioritization of good deeds in itself is a bad deed.” It is not simply a matter of identifying what concerns us and what does not, but also the degrees of relevance and priority. In face of the information explosion, social interactions, and distractions around us, an understanding of priorities can help us make choices, and stay focused on what actually concerns us.
Let’s imagine a scenario. When we switch on our TV and watch the 24/7 news cycle for a couple of hours, more often than not, we will see scenes from around the world of disasters, death, and destruction. We switch off the TV, but often our emotions run high or even worse, we gradually become desensitized and don’t seem to feel anything. If we only engage with the news that concerns us, and has an impact on our wellbeing and daily life, how much would this extra time help us think of broader, more critical issues in life? The same goes with spending time on social media networks on topics and issues that do not concern us. By being selective, we can save hours of our time for a more productive pursuit. Think about how you spend time.
Brothers and sisters! Keeping away from needless talk and meaningless activity is a necessary requirement of good faith and an adornment of personality which lends beauty to the faith of the person concerned. One of the attributes of the true righteous believers mentioned in Sūratu’l-Mu’minūn is:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِضُونَ
Those who turn away from Laghw (vulgar talks). (Q. 23:3)
Laghw is anything nonsensical, meaningless, vain, which is in no way conducive to achieving one’s goal and purpose in life. The believers pay no heed to such useless things and they show no inclination or interest for them. If by chance they happen to come across such things, they keep away and avoid them, or treat them with utmost indifference. This attitude has been described in Sūratu’l-Furqān, which says,
وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا
If they have to pass by what is useless, they pass by like dignified people. (Q. 25:72)
This is one of the outstanding characteristics of the believer. He is a person who feels the burden of responsibility at all times. He regards the world as a place of test, and the life as the limited time allowed for the test. This feeling makes him behave seriously and responsibly throughout life just like the student who is taking an exam with his whole mind and body and soul absorbed in it. Just as the student knows and feels that each moment of the limited time at his disposal is important and decisive for his future life, and is not inclined to waste it, so the believer also spends each moment of his life on works which are useful and productive in their ultimate results.
May Allāh (SWT) bless us with a deep understanding of His dīn; Amīn.
أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say this and ask Allāh for forgiveness for me and you, so invoke Him for forgiveness, for He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
الحَمْدُ لله رَبِّ العَالَمِينَ وَالصَّلاَةُ وَالسَّلاَمُ عَلَى أَشْرَفِ الخَلْقِ أَجْمَعِينَ وَخَاتَمِ الأَنْبِياءِ وَالمُرْسَلِينَ سَيِّدِنا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ
All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds. May the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon our Master Muḥammad, his pure family, companions, and all those who follow them in righteousness till the Day of Judgment.
Brothers and sisters in Islām! Some of the lessons we get from the Ḥadīth under discussion is that a believer should avoid things that are of no concern to him or they are of no benefit to him in this life or in the hereafter, in terms of belief, speech or actions. The Prophet (SAW) recommended through this Ḥadīth a way to avoid societal problems. Islām protects society as a whole from any kind of harm. Much of the harm inflicted on the society are due to people indulging in unnecessary matters like meddling into the affairs of others when one has no right or responsibility over the particular issue.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا
O believers! Avoid many suspicions, for indeed, some suspicions are sinful. And do not spy, nor backbite one another. (Q. 49:12)
These types of practices normally lead to great evil in the society. A true believer trains himself to be involved in beneficial matters so that this in itself becomes his attitude. He does not waste time, money and effort in things that are of no benefit in this life or in the hereafter.
Muslims have enough matters of concern, to the extent that one may not have enough time to deal with all of them. We need to be involved with matters that are of concern to us. One of the things that are of concern is to fulfill the obligations, to perform as much as we can of the recommended acts, to avoid the forbidden, and to avoid as much as we can those actions that are disliked.
Individual obligations are matters of concern to every one of us. Examples are matters like worship and supplication. Collective obligations must also not be neglected and should be matters of concern to us. An example is to work for the betterment of the community. Everyone with their own profession and expertise has a role to contribute towards the community.
Other matters of concern to true righteous believers are to enjoin good and discourage evil, and to vie with one another in doing good works.
يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُولَٰئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
They believe in Allāh and the Last Day, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and compete with one another in doing good works. They are among the righteous. (Q. 3:144)
Another matter of concern to all Muslims, and that which is widely lacking among us is to think about the affairs of the ummah or the whole Muslim community. We need to think of how to further improve our situation and not just be content with the current situation. We need to create awareness among each other in facing the issues and challenges of the ummah. May Allāh (SWT) bless us with the tawfīq to do so.
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأمُرُ بِٱلعَدلِ وَٱلإِحسَٰنِ وَإِيتَايِٕ ذِي ٱلقُربَىٰ وَيَنهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلفَحشَاءِ وَٱلمُنكَرِ وَٱلبَغيِ يَعِظُكُم لَعَلَّكُم تَذَكَّرُونَ
Surely Allāh enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good (to others) and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful. (Q. 16:90)
O Allāh, please confer Your blessings and grant peace upon our Prophet Muḥammad (SAW), his family and all of the companions. May Allāh have mercy on the honourable martyrs of our country and gather them with the righteous. May Allāh make their dwelling with the ones upon whom Allāh has bestowed favour of the prophets and the steadfast affirmers of truth, O the Most Gracious the Most Forgiving.
© Mubin Olatoye Raji