Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Verily Allah the Exalted is pure (tayyib). He does not accept but that which is pure. Allah commands the believers with what He commanded the Messengers. Allah the Almighty has said: “O you Messengers! Eat of the good things and act righteously”. And Allah the Almighty also said: “O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with. Then he (the Prophet) mentioned (the case of) the man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who stretches out his hands to the sky (saying): “O Lord! O Lord!” (while) his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he is nourished with unlawful things, so how can he be answered?” [Muslim]
Importance of this hadith
In this hadith, our Prophet ﷺ has highlighted one of the most important concepts of acceptance of deeds by Allah. Here, our Prophet ﷺ tells us whether a good deed you do would be accepted and whether or not it would be pleasing to Allah. You also learn when and how your dua would be accepted.
The meaning of “Tayyib”
The word “at-tayyib” comes many times in the Qur’an and Sunnah. It could be used to describe people, good deeds, actions, things or speech among others. Its literal meaning is “something good”. Ibn Rajab on the other hand, interpreted this word to mean “pure” or “at-tahir”.
Therefore, “tayyib” can be linguistically translated as:
- Free from defects
“Verily Allah the Exalted is pure (tayyib) …”
This phrase emphasizes the attributes of ultimate perfection and completeness of Allah. He (swt) is free from any kind of shortcomings, defects, weaknesses or flaws.
“…He does not accept but that which is pure…”
This hadith refers to all good deeds that a man can do. Allah does not accept any deeds that are spoilt or done for showing off to others, those that contain an element of ostentation or show. Therefore, the deed must not have any aspect that may ruin it. Any deed that involves wealth must come from legal sources and should not have any element of haram in them in any shape or form.
What does acceptance of a deed mean?
Ibn Rajab points out that it could imply any of the following:
- Allah is pleased with it, praises the one who performs it, tells it to the angels about the deed performed and so forth,
- Allah rewards us for it in the hereafter
- The person has performed his legal obligation of enacting such a deed
- We are not required to do this action thereafter i.e. it has been fulfilled
This hadith goes to show that it’s not sufficient for you to just perform a good deed and assume that it’ll be accepted. Rather, you must fear Allah with respect to your deed and perform it in a way that’s pleasing to Him. This hadith also points out on the importance of earning and living through halal sources.
Importance of halal sustenance
This hadith makes it very clear that one of the most damaging aspects for a person’s deed is when he relies or lives off of money that is not pure or legal, making it haram in the process. The sources of money you use to eat, live and provide for your family members has to be from permissible means.
“…Allah commands the believers with what He commanded the Messengers. Allah the Almighty has said: “O you Messengers! Eat of the good things and act righteously”. And Allah the Almighty also said: “O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with…”
Allah has commanded us, the Mu’minin, in the same manner as He commanded the Messengers when He said:
- “O Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibat” [Surah Al-Mu’minun 23:51]
- “O you who believe! Eat of the Tayyibat that We have provided you with, ..” [Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 172]
Did you notice how Allah compares us to the prophets (peace be upon them) and says we and the prophets have both been ordered to eat from that which is “tayyib”? This comparison is nothing short of an amazing privilege and reading this hadith should make us strive to achieve that which we are commanded to perform.
- The money that Muslims earn must be pure and legal.
- The food that is consumed must be lawful (halal).
- The money with which a person buys food must be lawful, coming from lawful sources.
What about charity?
From this hadith, the scholars have also concluded that for your charity to be accepted, it needs to be given from halal sources because “Allah is pure and only accepts what is pure”. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what your intention is and how noble your act of charity is, if you are going to be negligent or lax when it comes to where and how you’ve obtained your wealth, it will not be accepted if it’s from haram means.
“…Then he (the Prophet) mentioned (the case of) the man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who stretches out his hands to the sky (saying): “O Lord! O Lord!” (while) his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he is nourished with unlawful things, so how can he be answered.”
Acceptance of your dua and Halal sustenance
This is usually overlooked by us, but your rizq and how you obtain it has a direct effect on your dua being accepted or rejected. Earning and consuming lawful things are important conditions for acceptance of your dua by Allah. Therefore, if you want Allah to respond to your dua, it’s time to check the sources of your income!
Here, the Prophet (peace be upon him) speaks about a man with specific descriptions. These descriptions were mentioned for a reason. All these descriptions are factors that can speed up your process of dua being answered. So he was:
- Travelling – When you travel and make dua, it’s one of the best times for your dua to be accepted
- Disheveled and dust-colored/covered – This is a sign of humility, which acts as a contributor to acceptance of your dua
- Raised hands to the sky – You are in complete helplessness and are begging by raising your hands up to the sky. This shows your recognition of the blessings of Allah and His ultimate power and might, in turn acting as a contributor in acceptance of your dua
- Beginning dua with “Ya Rabb” – This signified his weakness and complete dependency/need for Allah, which is a contributor in acceptance of dua
However, despite this man fulfilling all the requirements for increasing his chances of dua being accepted, it was not accepted by Allah, because his food, drink and clothing was from unlawful means!
Important points of this hadith
- Whenever you perform a deed, make sure to have sincere intentions and do it for the sake of Allah and not for showing off.
- Make sure your wealth and income is from halal sources only
- Make sure you eat, drink and clothe yourself and your family with halal income sources
- Spend in charity from halal means
- Purify your actions and ask Allah to accept it
- Observe the etiquettes of making dua that have higher chances of acceptance: Beg in front of Allah, show you complete dependence on Him, feel your utter helplessness, raise your hands up to the sky, call out to Him by beginning your dua with “ya Rabb”, humble yourself in front of Him, acknowledge His blessings on you, be persistent in asking for what you want, be repetitive and don’t ever stop making dua for anything you need because only He alone can give it to you.