Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
What is the correct understanding of the hadiths wherein the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) describes those who will enter paradise without accountability as “Those who do not cauterize and do not practice ruqya”? Al-Nawawi seems to indicate in Sharh Sahih Muslim that “cauterize” encompasses all forms of medical treatment.
Did he disagree with the relied-upon position that medical treatment is recommended and possibly obligatory? And does ruqya here even refer to reading the three Quls for oneself, or is it referring to something else?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.
May Allah increase us in Faith and grant us all to be among the first to enter Jannah, Amin.
The Hadith in question refers to a type of high-level tawakkul (reliance upon God) significantly higher than the general form of tawakkul that Islam prescribes for most people and is reserved for the most pious servants of Allah.
Those special servants of Allah who adopt this higher form of tawakkul barely ever resort to worldly means and never place actual reliance except upon Allah. The higher form of tawakkul is advised against by most traditional scholars for most people who may likely be harmed by it.
Imam Nawawi’s view agrees with most traditional scholars and considers it Sunna (generally). [Nawawi, Al-Minhaj] This does not contradict Nawawi’s explanation in Sharh Sahih Muslim, as the hadith in question refers to the higher form of tawakkul above.
Different Forms of Tawakkul
Hadith commentators have referred to two levels of tawakkul;
The tawakkul is prescribed for everyone – One adopts the means but relies on Allah [Most High] alone and not worldly means. Although, at times, such a person’s reliance may momentarily shift toward the means, upon examination or being reminded, the person’s reliance is upon Allah.
The Higher-Level of Tawakkul-One relies solely on Allah [Most High] and barely resorts to even the permissible worldly means. If they utilize the means, their reliance never diverts from Allah [Most High]. (The former group may experience momentary lapses).
Taking The Means
The general Islamic approach is to resort to worldly means while relying on Allah as the only actual cause. It is incorrect to abandon worldly means and assume that this is tawakkul.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us to have the tawakkul of the birds; who go out [in search of their sustenance and do not remain in their nests] during the day and then return with filled bellies. This proves that one should do what is within one’s capability (take the means) and then rely upon Allah by leaving the outcome to Allah and not obsessing about it. [Tirmidhi]
The general level of tawakkul does not preclude using medicine and practising Ruqya, both of which were practiced by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the Companions (Allah be pleased with them). [Nawawi, Al-Minhaj; Qurtubi, Al-Mufhim; Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari]
Higher-Levels of Tawakkul
The Hadith in question refers to the second type of tawakkul above. This higher level of tawakkul is only for those pious and special servants of Allah who do not treat themselves with medication despite being ill. They choose to be content with Allah Most High’s decision on their behalf.
This is the preferred explanation of this Hadith according to Imam Khattabi, Qadi ‘Iyad and Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on them) [Nawawi, Al-Minhaj]
Traditional scholars caution that this higher level of tawakkul isn’t achievable by most. One’s (Faith) Iman level must be of the highest category to implement this. Most people would be endangering themselves, possibly others, and even their Faith by abandoning worldly means such as medication, and Allah knows best. [Usmani, Fath al-Mulhim]
I pray this is of benefit.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.