8. From A Man's Perfecting His Religion is Leaving Alone That Which Does Not Concern Him
It is imperative for us to build the levels of knowledge and action upon a firm, strong foundation, and that is the saying of the Messenger of Allah (saw), "From a man's perfecting his religion is his leaving alone that which does not concern him". (Ahmad in his Musnad, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and others, Sharh Aqeedah at-Tahawiyah, no.268)
In Fayd ul Qadeer, the author writes, "It is understood from this that from a man's deficiency in his religion is his indulging in that which does not concern him. This includes everything of secondary importance, whichever form it may take. What should concern him is all that relates to the essentials of his livelihood, that which fulfills his need for sustenance, clothing, keeping himself chaste thereby, and the like thereof from the necessities of life, excluding those things relating to his own personal pleasures. He should be concerned with all that relates to his salvation in the Hereafter, that being Islaam, imaan, and ihsaan. In this way he stays safe from ruin, all forms of evil and from argumentation. This is part of perfecting his religion, firm establishment of his piety and keeping away from following his desirs. Whereas striving to accomplish other than this is loss of irreplaceable valuable time, in doing what he was not created for. So whoever worships his Lord, with realisation of his closeness to his Lord, and of his Lord's closeness to him, has perfected his religion, as has proceeded".
It is further stated in Fayd ul Qadeer, "Part of that which does not concern the worshipper is his learning fields of knowledge of lesser importance whilst leaving knowledge of greater importance, like the person who abandons knowledge which causes benefit to himself and engages himself in learning that which he could correct others with, like, for exmaple, the knowledge of how to debate, excusing himself for that saying, "My intention is to benefit the people." Yet if he was truthful, he would have busied himself with correcting himself and his heart, by removing bad characterisitcs, like jealousy, showing off, pride, haughtiness towards others and other destructive attributes. They say, "debating is equivalent to a quarter of Islam and other say: half of it, and some say: all of it".
Islam consists of acting as well as abstaining. By relinquishing all that does not concern him and leaving that which is of no importance to him and that which doesn't benefit him, a person perfects his religion. The only way this abandonment is accomplished is by having a full realization that, "From a man's perfecting his religion is his busying himself with that which concerns him", and what is of concern and importance to him is based upon levels and grades of importance, in beliefs, faith in the unseen and in hurrying to do good deeds mentioned in the Qur'an and Sunnah. By that he would have striven to act upon everything that he has been ordered with and would have abandoned everything prohibited. This is Islam and depending on how well these things are accomplished, determines the position of the worshipper with Allah (swt) and Allah knows best.
If we understand these two important principles, we are able to derive many other principles from them, and we would come to know that there is no way of recognising what "concerns us and what doesn't concern us", except through knowledge, which necessitates properly understanding the principle: "The more important takes precedence over that which is less important". From here we would move on to acting upon the principle of "determining the most important." In this way knowledge, speech and studies are purified so that the unimportant, the prohibited and the corrupted are removed, so all that is left being the beneficial pure things like remembrance of Allah, sunnah, fiqh...
In the same way had actions, characteristics and mannerisms are sifted out so that every attribute denounced in the Book and the Sunnah is removed and what remain are the beneficial worthy actions like reciting the Book of Allah, studying together the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) enjoining the good, forbidding the evil...
This is the way the Muslim arranges and plans his affairs, portraying them in the form of everything good and beneficial whether it be intention, speech or action, avoiding everything detestable, hating that for himself as mentioned in the hadith, "Verily Allah the Mighty and Majestic, is Generous, He loves generosity and noble character and hates the despicable character". (1)
(1) From as-Silsilah as-Sahihah, no.1378. al Manawee says in Fayd al Qadeer: "This noble character is the manners and attributes ordained in the Religion, not those deemed noble in wordly affairs, for the elevated in them are in actual fact despised."
From amongst the unfortunate things one hears is some people using this hadith as a proof to oppose those who encourage engaging in recommended actions. The reason being is that they understand the "despicable" things to include the recommended actions or the "superficialities" - as they claim. What I previously mentioned disproves them on the one hand. On the other hand we request these people to explain to us how something could be made recommended or made part of the Sunnah and be detestable and hated to Allah swt at the same time?! The wording of the hadith is "and He hates the despicable manners", so is it possible that what has been considered recommended be of those things hated?!