The Heirs of the Prophets
Grazing the Gardens
Reluctance in giving religious verdicts
Written by : Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali
Translated by: Imam Zaid Shakir
The early imams were cautious about speaking about [the lawful and unlawful], because one who speaks about these matters is relating information from Allah, enunciating His commandments and prohibitions, and passing on His sacred law. It was said about Ibn Sirin, "If he was asked about something regarding the lawful or unlawful, his color would change. He would be transformed until he no longer seemed the same person." Ata ibn al-Saib said, "I met people who, when asked for a religious verdict, would tremble as they spoke." It is related that when Imam Malik was asked about a legal matter, it was as if he were suspended between Heaven and Hell.
Imam Ahmed was extremely hesitant to speak on the lawful and unlawful, to claim that something was abrogated, or related matters which others would too readily expound. He frequently prefaced his answers with phrases such as, "I hope that...," "I fear...," or "It is more beloved to me..." Imam Malik and others used to say, "I do not know." Imam Ahmed would often say on an issue about which the righteous forbears had various opinions, "The most likely answer is, 'I do not know.'"