عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ صَخْرٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: سَمِعْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم يَقُولُ: “مَا نَ عَنْه فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ كَثْرَةُ مَسَائِلِهِمْ وَاخْتِلَافُهُمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ “.
[رَوَاهُ الْبُخَارِيُّ] ، [وَمُسْلِمٌ].
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: What I have forbidden for you, avoid. What I have ordered you [to do], do as much of it as you can. For verily, it was only their excessive questioning and disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you.
[Imam Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
- Staying away from what is prohibited- ‘What I have forbidden for you, avoid.’ We have to follow this command all the time in all situations. This has to be followed except under circumstances, such as when one is starving and there is no food available except for some meat that was not properly slaughtered. In conditions other than that of necessity, all Muslims have to avoid that which has been forbidden.
- Obligations are according to ability- ‘What I have ordered for you to do, do as much of it as you can.’ the Prophet has indicated that we won’t be able to do all that is required, but we have to do as much of it as we can. This is an important principle of Islam. Based on this principle, there are countless other rulings. Solah(prayer), for example. Prophet Muhammad(SAW) said: ‘pray standing, if you are not able to, pray sitting, and if you’re still not able to, pray while lying on your side.’ Islam does not put burdens on anyone that is why they are several alternatives to perform ibadah.
- Asking too many questions: The sohabas(companions) of the Prophet rarely asked question. In fact, there were only thirteen questions answered in the Quran.
Anas bn Malik said ‘We are prohibited to ask the Prophet too many questions. So we were happy when an intelligent bedouin came to the Prophet and asked him questions so we could listen.’ Asking too many questions and disagreeing with the Messenger can cause destruction.
- What takes precedence. Doing obligatory actions or staying away from what is prohibited: According to scholars, avoiding bad deeds takes precedence over doing good deeds because the bad deeds are clearly prohibited and good deeds are recommended. But if a good deed is obligatory, doing it is greater because it involves doing something that Allah specifically wants from us.