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16 June 2019 CE | 13 Shawwal 1440 AH
Explanation below

Hadith Explanation

Ridiculing Allah’s Commands

Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “It was said to the children of Israel, ‘Enter the gate (of the town), prostrate (in humility) and say: Hittatun (repentance) i.e., O Allah! Forgive our sins.’ But they entered by dragging themselves on their buttocks, so they did something different (from what they had been ordered to do) and said, ‘Hittatun,’ but added, ‘A grain in a hair.’” [Sahih Bukhari]

The Bani Israil have distinguished themselves in history as the most disobedient and rebellious of people. They have, however, already met with the consequences of their behaviour. So then why are their stories narrated to us in the Quran and hadith in such a large number? This is because Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) knew that we, the last nation, would insist on following in their footsteps. Thus, He made clear to us with their examples which actions earn Allah’s wrath and punishment and which actions are worth emulating.

This incident is also mentioned in Surah Baqarah of the Quran. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) told the Bani Israil to enter the town showing humility and asking Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) for forgiveness. Had they obeyed Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) their sins would have been forgiven and they would have been blessed with more of Allah’s favours. But except for a very few pious people the majority insisted on making fun of Allah’s commands. They did not make sujood to Allah nor ask for forgiveness, instead dragged themselves into the city on their bottoms and changed the words Allah asked them to utter. Thus Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) sent on these evil people a scourge from heaven.

Nothing is revealed to us in the Quran or Sunnah without their being in it a lesson for us. We should take warning from this hadith against playing around with the words of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). In present times too people behave as the Bani Israil did and try to change the clear and unambiguous commands of the Quran and Sunnah. Sometimes meanings are interpreted from the text that are not there and sometimes the commands are read out of context or distorted. Attempts are made to change the understanding of and commands related to hijab, riba (interest), bribery, drinking wine, jihad, etc. It is a great crime to attempt to change the commands of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and calls upon oneself the torment of Allah’s punishment.

The other important lesson from this hadith is that when Muslims enter a town as victors, they should do so with humility, thanking Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and praising Him for His blessings. There are several examples in Islamic history of Muslims who entered the cities conquered by them with humility and submission. The behaviour of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) is an example. [Stories From The Hadith by Mohammad Zakariya Iqbal]

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