The Prophet’s Lack of Authority to Prohibit what God has kept Lawful

The Prophet’s Lack of Authority to Prohibit what God has kept Lawful


Hadīth

روي أنه قال أبو سعيد: لم نعد أن فتحت خيبر فوقعنا أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في تلك البقلة الثوم والناس جياع فأكلنا منها أكلا شديدا ثم رحنا إلى المسجد فوجد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الريج فقال: من أكل من هذه الشجرة الخبيثة شيئا فلا يقربنا في المسجد فقال الناس: حرمت حرمت. فبلغ ذاك النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال: أيها الناس إنه ليس بي تحريم ما أحل الله لي ولكنها شجرة أكره ريحها.

It is narrated that Abū Sa'īd al-Khudrī said: "We had not made any preparations when Khaybar was conquered. So we – the companions of the Prophet (sws) – came upon this plantation – i.e. garlic. People were extremely hungry. So we had our fill [from it] and came to the mosque. The Prophet (sws) sensed its odour and said: 'Whoever eats anything of this vicious tree must not come near us in the mosque.' Hearing this, people started telling each other: It is prohibited, it is prohibited. When this reached the Prophet (sws), he said: 'O People, I do not have authority to prohibit anything that God has kept lawful for me.1 [It is not prohibited,] but, in fact, it is only a tree, the odour of which I detest.'"

General Notes

1. This narrative provides a very good example of how a simple statement of the Prophet (sws) can be misinterpreted by the listeners as a directive of the sharī'ah and, subsequently, can potentially be narrated as such. The statement: "I do not have authority to prohibit anything that God has kept lawful for me," is a basic principle in the interpretation of all such narratives.

Notes on the Text of the Narrative

This narrative or a part of it with some variations has been reported in Muslim No. 565, Abū Dā'ūd No. 3823, Ahmad ibn HanbalNos. 11099, 11600, 11822 and 23572), Ibn Khuzaymah No. 1667, BayhaqīNos. 4838 and 4839, Ibn HibbānNo. 2085, Abū Ya'lāNo. 1195. The preferred text is taken from Muslim No. 565.

In some narratives, as in Bayhaqī's No. 4839, the words فوقعنا في تلك البقلة (we came upon this plantation) have been reported as وقمنا في تلك البقلة (we stood in this plantation).

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's No. 11600, the demonstrative pronoun تلك in the words في تلك البقلة (in this plantation) have been reported synonymously as تيك.

In some narratives, as in Abū Ya'lā's No. 1195, the words في تلك البقلة الثوم (in this plantation – that is, garlic) have been reported as في تلك البقلة الثوم والبصل (in this plantation – that is garlic and onion).

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's No. 11099, the words والناس جياع (and the people were very hungry) have synonymously been reported as وناس جياع.

In some narratives, as in Ibn Khuzaymah's No. 1667, the words ثم رحنا إلى المسجد (then we came to this mosque) have been narrated as ثم قمنا إلى المسجد (then we prepared for the mosque); while in some narratives, as in Abū Ya'lā's No. 1195, these words have been reported as فرجعنا إلى المسجد (then we returned to the mosque).

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's No. 11600, the words فقال الناس(then the people said) have synonymously been reported as فقال ناس.

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's No. 11099, the words إنه ليس بي تحريم ما أحل الله (I do not have authority to prohibit anything that God has allowed) have been reported as إنه ليس لي تحريم ما أحل الله (It is not for me to disallow anything that God has allowed).

In some narratives, as in Ibn Khuzaymah's No. 1667, the following words have been added to the saying of the Prophet (sws) وإنه يأتيني من الملائكة فأكره أن يشموا ريحها (Angels come to be and I do not want them to smell this odour).

Some narratives, as for instance, Abū Dā'ūd's No. 3823 have given the same subject matter in a slightly different manner, as follows:

روي أنه ذكر عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الثوم البصل. قيل يا رسول الله وأشد ذلك كله الثوم أفتحرمه؟ فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: كلوه. ومن أكله منكم فلا يقرب هذا المسجد حتى يذهب ريحه منه.

It is narrated that garlic and onion were mentioned in front of the Prophet (sws). It was said: "O Prophet, garlic is the stronger among these in its odour. Do you prohibit eating it?" The Prophet (sws) said: "Eat it. However, whoever among you eats of it should not come near us in the mosque, till the time that its odour subsides."

In some narratives, as in Bayhaqī's No. 4838, the words حتى يذهب ريحه منه (till the time its odour subsides) have been reported as حتى يذهب عنه ريحه منه (till the time that its odour subsides from him).

In some other narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's No. 11822, it is reported:

روي أن أبا سعيد الخدري قال: إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى الكراث والبصل والثوم فقلنا: أحرام هو؟ قال: لا. ولكن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى عنه.

It is narrated that Abū Sa'īd al-Khudrī said: "The Prophet (sws) stopped us from [eating] leek, onion and garlic. People asked: "Is it prohibited?" Abū Sa'īd replied: "No, but the Prophet (sws) stopped us from [eating] it."

While in another narrative, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative No. 23572, the same subject matter has been reported in a different context, as follows:

روي أن أبا أيوب الأنصاري قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا أتي بطعام أكل منه وبعث بفضله إلي. وأنه بعث يوما بقصعة لم يأكل منها شيئا. فيها ثوم. فسألته أحرام هو؟ قال: لا ولكني أكرهه من أجل ريحه. فقال: إني أكره ما كرهت.

It is narrated that Abū Ayyūb Al-Ansārī said: "When any food would be brought to the Prophet, he would eat from it and sent anything that was left to me. One day, he sent me a basin from which he had not eaten anything. There was garlic in it. I asked him: Is it prohibited? He replied: "No, but I don't like it due to its odour." Abū Ayyub said: "I too dislike what you do not like."




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