Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn’s رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ Explanation of the Ḥadīth: Rights of Allāh & the rights of His slaves

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ (d. 1421 AH/2001 CE), commonly known as simply Shaykh al-‘Uthaymīn, was one of the most impactful scholars to emerge from the Ummah within recent times. Born & raised in ʿUnayzah, Saudi Arabia, he grew up to become one of the leading scholars within multiple fields of the religion. In my personal opinion, I declare him to be the ibn Taymīyyah of our time due to his profound proficiency, understanding of the religion, & writing ability on topics of the main sciences within the religion.

Herein, we’ll be looking into Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn’s رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ very precise & Lughawī (lexical) explanation of the Ḥadīth regarding the rights of Allāh & the rights of His slaves. This Ḥadīth has been narrated in collections such as:

  • Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, Ḥadīth #2856
  • Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Ḥadīth #30
  • Jāmiʿ at-Tirmidhī, Ḥadīth #2643
  • Sunan ibn Mājah, Ḥadīth #4296

ḤADĪTH:

Mu’ādh ibn Jabal رضي الله عنه narrated:

I was a companion rider of The Prophet ﷺ on a donkey called ‘Ufayr. The Prophet ﷺ asked, “O Mu`ādh! Do you know what Allāh’s right on His slaves is, and what the right of His slaves on Him is?” I replied, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.” He said, “Allāh’s right on His slaves is that they should worship Him (Alone) and should not worship any besides Him. And the slave’s right on Allāh is that He should not punish him who worships none besides Him.” I said, “O Allāh’s Messenger ﷺ! Should I not inform the people of this good news?” He said, “Do not inform them of it, lest they should depend on it (entirely).

COMMENTARY:

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ commentated: “His saying: ‘Do you know what Allāh’s right on His slaves is,’ – That is, what He (Allāh) obligated them and how they must relate with Him. He (The Prophet ﷺ) conveyed it to Mu’ādh رضي الله عنه in the form of a question so that it is better registered in his mind and so he would understand what he would say.

His saying: ‘and what the right of His slaves on Him is?’ – Meaning, how he will relate towards them. They did not ordain anything, but it is Allāh Who ordained that upon Himself as favor from Him over His slaves. He The Exalted says:

وَإِذَا جَآءَكَ ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا فَقُلۡ سَلَٰمٌ عَلَيۡكُمۡۖ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمۡ عَلَىٰ نَفۡسِهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَةَ أَنَّهُۥ مَنۡ عَمِلَ مِنكُمۡ سُوٓءَۢا بِجَهَٰلَةٖ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦ وَأَصۡلَحَ فَأَنَّهُۥ غَفُورٞ رَّحِيمٞ
And when those come to you who believe in Our ʾĀyāt, say, “Peace be upon you. Your Rabb has decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does wrong out of ignorance and then repents after that and corrects himself – indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.”
– Sūrah al-ʾAnʿām, ʾĀyah 54

Allāh, Glorious is He, and Most High made it obligatory upon Himself to be merciful with the one who commits evil unknowingly, devoid of good sense of judgement and good disposition, but thereafter repents and acts righteously.

His saying: ‘I replied, “Allāh and His Messenger know best.”‘ – The Exalted word (Allāh), is the subject and ‘His Messenger’ is attached to it. The word ‘aʿlam’ (know best) is the predicate of the subject. The predicate is singular here even though it refers to two since the particle ‘min’ is ommitted. And when the comparative noun is used with the omission of the particle ‘min’, it is followed with a singular masculine predicate. Thus, it would mean, ‘they know better than any other than them both and better than me too.’

His saying: ‘they should worship Him (Alone)’ – That is, they should humble themselves by obeying Him.

His saying: ‘and should not worship any besides Him.’ – As in His worship and whatever is exclusive for Him. The word ‘shay’an’ (nothing) is an indefinite particle in the context of negation; thus, it encompasses all things: Not a Messenger, angel, saint, nor any other (should be associated with Him in worship).

His saying: ‘And the slave’s right on Allāh is that He should not punish him who worships none besides Him.’ – Allāh has favored His servants with this right; no one has made it obligatory on Him. Do not think therefore that his saying, ‘him who worships none besides Him’ is devoid of worship because the full expression is, ‘whoever worships Him and does not join anything in worship with Him.’ He did not mention the phrase, ‘whoever worships Him’ because that has been already understood from his saying, ‘And the slave’s right’ for whoever is described with servitude is bound to be a worshipper.

The one who does not worship Allāh and does not associate any partner with Him; will such be punished? Answer is yes, he will be punished because the statement has an omission; and it will occur in full as, ‘he who worships Him and does not associate anything with Him.’ Two things evince this:

  1. His statement: ‘And the slave’s right’, the one who is described with servitude should be a worshipper.
  2. That will contradict his earlier statement, ‘and should not worship any besides Him.’ Thus, it becomes known that his saying, ‘they will not associate any partner with Him’ means in worship.

His saying: ‘Should I not inform the people of this good news?’ – Meaning, ‘should I remain silent and not tell the people?’ As for this form of syntax, the letter hamzah (ء) followed by a particle of conjunction and then the sentence, the scholars of Arabic Grammar have two views on it:

  1. If there is an omission between the hamzah (ء) and the particle of conjunction; its full reading will be based on what suits the context. Thus, it’s full meaning here is: ‘should I keep silent and not give the gladtiding to the people?’
  2. That nothing was omitted but there is rather bringing forward and backwards (of letters or words) such that its full reading will be: ‘should I not give the gladtiding?’ The sentence is connected with the preceding one, and the place of the letter ‘fa’ (ف) precedes hamzah (ء). So it basically reads as: ‘so, I should not give the gladtidings to the people?’ However, because this form of structure is clumsy and the interrogative letter hamzah (ء) has the basic role of an infinitive, it was made to precede the particle of conjunction.

An example of this is His saying, The Exalted:

أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلۡإِبِلِ كَيۡفَ خُلِقَتۡ
Then do they not look at the camels – how they are created?
– Sūrah al-Ghāshiyah, ʾĀyah 17

and His saying:

أَفَلَا يُبۡصِرُونَ
Then do they not see?
– Sūrah as-Sajdah, ʾĀyah 27

and Allāh’s saying:

أَفَلَمۡ يَسِيرُواْ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ
So have they not traveled through the earth?
– Sūrah al-ajj, ʾĀyah 46

al-Bishārah is informing about pleasant things although it may be employed about giving sad news such as in His saying:

فَبَشِّرۡهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
So give them tidings of a painful punishment
– Sūrah al-Inshiqāq, ʾĀyah 24

although it is predominantly employed as in the first case.

His saying: ‘Do not inform them of it’ – That is, do not let them know. The particle ‘lā’ (لا) as it appears in the Arabic text expresses negation.

The meaning of this Ḥadīth is that Allāh will not punish whoever does not associate any partner with Him, and that sins are forgiven if (a person’s) Tawḥīd is well established. He forbade that they should be told so that they do not rely (solely) on this good news and leave out its obligations. This is because to truly establish Tawḥīd necessitates abstinence from sins since sins ensue from following the self-desire which is from the aspects of joining partners with Allāh. Allāh The Exalted said:

أَفَرَءَيۡتَ مَنِ ٱتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُۥ هَوَىٰهُ
Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire?
– Sūrah al-Jāthīyah, ʾĀyah 23

The relevance of the Ḥadīth to the title: ‘The importance of Tawḥīd and that it saves from the punishment of Allāh.’

May Allāh have mercy upon Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn & grant him the highest rank of Jannah for his efforts & contributions to the religion of Islām.

All praise is due to Allāh, may His peace & blessings be upon our final Prophet Muḥammad, his family, his companions, & all those who follow him in guidance.

Source:
al-Qawl al-Mufīd Sharḥ Kitāb at-Tawḥīd (القول المفيد شرح كتاب التوحيد) by Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-‘Uthaymīn | Volume 1, Pages 48-51

Ṣafīullāh Labīb ibn Salīm ʿAbd al-Malik
21st of Dhū al-Hijjah 1443 – 20th of July 2022

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