Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
What is the Evidence for saying, “Allah knows best”?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.
The saying “And God knows best” by the mufti after his fatwa, the shaykh in his lesson or the narrator after his narration is a form of etiquette with Allah Most High, The All-Knowing of the seen and unseen.
The mufti may give fatwas correctly, the teacher may provide a sound explanation, and the narrator may narrate accurately. Still, there is no harm in saying: “Allah knows best” because the mufti may overlook something, so his fatwa, though correct, is not perfect. There may be some explanation that could have been clearer, or the explanation may not be completed in the manner that resolves the doubt or question for the questioner, even though the explanation is correct.
The narrator may forget a word from the hadith, narrate the hadith with the meaning, rely on another narration with an alternative chain of narrators or wording, or transmit the hadith omitting some words but without changing the meaning, and to make up for the possible error – he says: “Allah knows best.”
Imam Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) mentions several etiquettes relating to fatwa (issuing rulings) in the introduction to Al-Majmu’: “Al-Saymari [He is Abu Al-Qasim, one of the great Shafi‘i scholars, died in 405 AH] said: ‘He does not omit the seal of his answers by saying: (wa bi Allah al-tawfiq – And God grants success), or: (wa Allah a‘lam – And God knows best), or: (wa Allah al-Muwaffiq-And God grants success).’”
Saying “Allah knows best” does not inspire or entail doubt about the hadith or the ruling mentioned; instead, even if the scholar was correct in his ruling and his narration of the hadith, there is no scholar except that Allah, Most High, is more knowledgeable than him.
Allah says: “…But above those ranking in knowledge is the One All-Knowing.” [Quran, 12:76]
Allah knows best.
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[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.