Categories of Acting Upon Knowledge – Shaykh Saalih ‘Aal ash-Shaykh

Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez ‘Aal ash-Shaykh (hafidhahullaah) mentions in his explanation of Thalaathat-ul-Usool on page 8:

العمل بالعلم, والعمل بالعلم منه ما تركه كفر،

ومنه ما تركه معصية،

ومنه ما تركه مكروه،

ومنه ما تركه مباح، كيف يكون ذلك؟

And acting upon knowledge – from it is that which, (if a person) leaves it, then it is kufr.

And from it is that which (if a person) leaves it, then it is an act of disobedience.

And from it is that which (if a person) leaves it, then it is something disliked.

And from it is that which (if a person) leaves it, then it is something permissible.

So how can this be?

العلم ينقسم، فالعلم بالتوحيد؛ بأن الله جل وعلا هو المستحق للعبادة وحده، إذا علمه العبد ولم يعمل بهذا العلم بأن أشرك بالله جل وعلا لم ينفعه علمه، فكان ترك العمل في حقه كفرا،

Knowledge is divided into categories.

So knowledge of tawheed  – that Allaah the Majestic and Most High is the One who alone is deserving of worship – if the servant knows this and does not act upon this knowledge in that he (then) makes shirk with Allaah the Majestic and Most High, then this knowledge will not benefit him. And leaving off action with regards to this is kufr (disbelief).

وقد يكون معصية بأن علم مثلا أن الخمر حرام شُرْبها، حرام بيعها، حرام شراؤها، حرام سقيها، حرام استسقاؤها, ونحو ذلك, وخالف العلم الذي عنده، عَلِمَ أنه حرام فخالف، فتكون مخالفته معصية، يعني ارتكب كبيرة من كبائر الذنوب في هذه المسألة،

And (not acting upon knowledge) may sometimes be an act of disobedience in that he knows, for example, that drinking intoxicants is forbidden, selling them is forbidden, buying them is forbidden, giving them as a drink is forbidden, asking for them to have them as a drink is forbidden, and the like of that. And he (then) goes against the knowledge that he has – he knows that it is forbidden but he goes against that (knowledge).

So his going against it (his knowledge) is an act of disobedience – meaning he has performed one of the major sins with regards to this issue.

منه ما هو مكروه؛ إذا علم أن النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام، كان يصلي على هيئة, وصِفة معينة، فخالفه في سنة من السنن بعد عِلمه بها، ترك العمل بالعلم الذي عنده هذا مكروه؛ لأنه ترك العمل بسنة ليس بواجب، فيكون تركه مكروه، ويكون العمل بذلك مستحبا،

And from that (not acting upon knowledge) is that which is makrooh (disliked). So if he knows that the Prophet (‘alaihis salaatu was-salaam) used to offer prayer with a (certain) appearance, and with a specific description, then his going against it with regards to one of the sunnah acts after he has come to know of that – leaving off acting upon the knowledge which he has is makrooh (disliked).

This is because he has left off acting upon a sunnah and not something obligatory. So his leaving it off is something disliked.  And acting upon that (knowledge) would be something recommended.

وقد يكون العمل بالعلم مباحا، وتركه مباح أيضا، بمثل المباحات، والعادات ونحو ذلك، كأن بلغنا من العلم أن النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام كان من هيئته في لباسه كذا وكذا، كانت مشيته على نحو ما، هذه الأمور الجبلية الطبيعية، فيما نتعلمه، مما لم نخاطب فيها بالإقتداء، إذا ترك العمل بها, كان تركه مباحا له لأنه لم يخاطب المسلم أن يقتدي بمثل هذه الأمور بنحو سير النبي عليه الصلاة والسلام, بصوته, بالأمور الجبلية التي كان عليها عليه الصلاة والسلام،

And sometimes acting upon knowledge may be something mubaah (permissible) and leaving it off is also something permissible. For example, the permissible actions and customs, and the like of that. Just as if knowledge had reached us that the Prophet’s (‘alaihis salaatu was-salaam) appearance with regards to his clothing was such and such, and his manner of walking was like this – these affairs relating to his natural disposition, as far as we know, are not from those matters which we have been told to copy (him in).

If one leaves acting upon them, then his leaving it off is Mubah (permissible) for him because the Muslim is not asked to follow (the example of the Prophet in) such issues, like the manner of Prophet’s walk, his voice – issues of his natural disposition.

فيكون العمل بذلك مباح، وقد يُؤجر عليه إذا نوى الإقتداء, بنية الإقتداء, فيكون ترك العمل أيضا مباحا. العمل هذا أخذه من قوله جل وعلا (إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ) [العصر:3] كما سيأتي.

So acting upon this is something permissible, and it may be that he is rewarded for (doing) so if he intends (by that) al-iqtidaa (imitating the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alaihi wasallam)). And leaving to act on it is also permissible. This acting upon has been taken from His (Allaah’s) saying, the Majestic and Most High: “Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds.” [1] [Qur’an Surah al-‘Asr 103: 3] as we will see.

Source: “Sharh Thalaathat-ul-Usool” by Shaykh Saalih ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez ‘Aal ash-Shaykh (hafidhahullaah), page 8.


[1] This phrase is also present in the following Surah – ash-Shura’ (42):22, 23,26, al-Inshiqaq (84):25 at-Tin (95):6

Author: Islamic Treasure

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