Our understanding of religious texts and rules of Islamic Law (Shari’ah) sometimes causes us to seek to free ourselves from necessary duties and responsibilities and lean toward neglect, abandonment, and seeking excuses for ourselves. When we read the words of the Most High: Allah burdens not any soul (person) beyond its scope [Soorah Al-Baqarah 286], we attempt to interpret the aayah as a licence to refrain from being burdened with obligations so we use it when we are asked to perform any particular task.
We make the excuse that it is not within our ability or power while we forget that the aayah actually obligates us to the utmost of our human capacity. It is a proof upon the slave (al-’abd) for the necessity of expending maximum effort and capacity to perform all moral obligations. All who seek excuse from performing legal and moral obligations look at the relief in the aayah for those who are incapable, but they are blind to what it obligates up to one’s capacity.
Most remarkable is the (mis)understanding of al-war’a. This (al-war’a) has a precise meaning applicable in particular to those who are the most persevering, and forbearing in eemaan (faith) among the imaams and scholars who never fell short in the performance of obligatory duties or even recommended ones, nor did they neglect abandonment of that which is disliked or forbidden. They did so to the point that they left every superfluous deed that had neither benefit for the Hereafter or was unnecessary for this life.
The unfortunate result
This thin definition is applied by some to the degree that you will find those who apply abandonment of doing something for fear that it may possibly be detestable (makrooh) in Allah’s sight, harmful, or even leading to either. However they do not abandon not doing something for a particular reason! Meaning, that a person may be inclined to abandon things that may seem similar to what is detestable or forbidden but they will not lean toward acting upon something that may be similar to what is commendable (mustahabb) or obligatory (waajib).
There are many who avoid particular foods, drinks, clothing or deeds fearing that within them may be that which would detract from or mar their righteousness. This is well and good. However, you will not find anything which mars or detracts in doing da’wah or jihaad, correction or ordering good and forbidding evil, giving charity in the way of Allah or rushing to perform acts of good and righteousness. One may associate this as a particular obligatory duty upon a person. You may find actions that are not actually commendable however they may associate them as such. Yet you don’t find anyone inclined toward doing what may be associated with an obligation or that which may be commendable. Why?
It is because we have come to prefer sitting and neglect and lightening burdens and responsibilities! It has become easier for us to not do something out of precaution of harming our deen but not easy to act as a means of al-war’a or precaution.
A true definition
The true definition of al-war’a is doing that which is similar to and associated with the obligatory or the commendable, and abandoning what is similar to or associated with the forbidden or the detestable. In the hadeeth related by An-Nu’maan Ibn Basheer that is mutafaqun ‘alaihi (agreed upon as authentic by Al-Bukhari and Muslim), the Prophet Of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Verily the halaal is clear and the haraam is clear, and between the two are doubtful matters about which not many people know.
Therefore, whoever fears and avoids doubtful matters clears his deen of fault and whoever falls into the doubtful matters falls into the haraam as the shepherd who herds his flock near a sanctuary is feared to possibly stray into it... Therefore, whoever does what could be considered or associated with the detestable will indeed fall into it in actuality and consequently possibly into the forbidden. Whoever abandons doing what is similar to the commendable will also fall into that and will possibly not do what is truly commendable and as a consequence end up neglecting necessary obligations.
The true believer must hold strongly to the Qur’an and possess the readiness to act just as much as possessing the readiness to abandon. Yes, a part of giving obedience to Allah involves the slave of Allah (al-’abd) relinquishing his relaxation and comfort with the resulting effect of then exerting efforts in work seeking the pleasure and acceptance of Allah ta’alaa and getting closer to Him, even if this involves some hardship and toil.
Action and abandonment are a part of deen (Islam), and for this reason, ordering good (al-amr bil-ma’roof) and forbidding evil (an-nahy ‘anil-munkar) are at its root. Ordering the good is a call to action, while forbidding evil is a call to cessation and abandonment, and the former (ordering and forbidding) is the root of the latter (action and cessation). And Allah knows best.
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