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The Grey Area (Hadith No. 1762)


Volume 3, Book 34, Number 267:

Narrated An-Nu’man bin Bashir (radiallaahu `anhu):

The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) said “Both legal and illegal things are obvious, and in between them are (suspicious) doubtful matters. So who-ever forsakes those doubtful things lest he may commit a sin, will definitely avoid what is clearly illegal; and who-ever indulges in these (suspicious) doubtful things bravely, is likely to commit what is clearly illegal. Sins are Allah’s Hima (i.e. private pasture) and whoever pastures (his sheep) near it, is likely to get in it at any moment.”

This Hadith has been mentioned before but Imaam Bukhari brings it again under the Book of Sales and Trade to make a point of the fact that our sharee`ah defines the halal and haram of business and trade very clearly. But then there are some things which are doubtful – whoever indulges in them knowingly, feeling sure of himself, will fall into sin. So it’s better to avoid the grey area and save yourself from sin.

Hadith No. 49 – Sahih al-Bukhari


Hadith no. 48 is a repeat. Read here.

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 49:

Narrated An-Nu’man bin Bashir:

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.

What I take from this Hadith is: Islam has its teaching described clearly in black and white. But some lie in the grey area in between. This is the suspicious territory. It may be legal or it may not be. We don’t know for sure. A person going into that territory can assure himself that he isn’t necessarily doing wrong. But! Look at what the Prophet (SAW) said:

Whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and honor.

One might still argue that it’s not possible to save yourself from these things, especially in ‘this time and age’. Well, here’s the answer to that: if you knowingly enter the grey area, you can save yourself. Because you knew! And if you did it unknowingly and unwillingly, then there shall be no blame on you, inshaAllah.

Coming back to my point, we should try to stay away from suspicious things, things that we don’t know are legal or not. Because stepping into the grey area will be like opening a window to illegal stuff. It might become the stepping stone to something you can’t imagine yourself doing.

So I take my lesson. There are a lot of things, I feel, that clear guidance hasn’t been given in Islam about. For example, to exactly which extent can we indulge with our male cousins. We know they’re non-mahrams, but they’re family as well. Hence, I never get to know where the boundary is. Avoiding suspicion would mean I should avoid spending a lot of time with them. Talk only when necessary. It’s doable!

May Allah make us realize our boundaries and keep us from going even near them. Ameen.


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