05 July 2019 CE | 03 Dhul-Qadah 1440 AH

Hadith Explanation

Hanging onto the Tails of Cows

It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar (radi Allahu anhu) that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “If you deal in usury (riba) and hang onto the tails of cows, being satisfied with cultivation and ceasing to take part in Jihad, Allah will inflict a humiliation upon you which will not be removed until you return to your religion.” [Reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud and graded as authentic by Al-Qattan. Al-Hafiz states in Al-Bulugh that the chain of narrators is trustworthy and reliable.]

This hadith lists three practices of the Muslim community that will result in their being humiliated in the world. The first one mentioned is dealing in riba. Taking or paying interest, witnessing it or writing up a contract involving it are all major sins condemned in the Quran. When dealing in riba becomes a common malaise, Muslims should expect to be disgraced in this world and the next.

Hanging ono the tails of cows imples not only agriculture but involvement in all trades and transactions which occupy the Muslims to such an extent that they abandon Jihad as a result of this involvement. Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) is warning us against abandoning the commands of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Keeping clear of riba and participating in Jihad has been described in this hadith as “returning to your religion”.

Jihad is “Fardh-ul-Kifayah” (collective duty) in normal conditions, while it becomes “Fardh-ul-Ain” (individual obligation) in some special circumstances. When something becomes Fardh-ul-Ain, each man and woman has to do it, and no-one is required to take permission from anyone else to perform the duty, e.g. the five daily prayers, or fasting in Ramadhan. According to the Fuqaha (Islamic Jurists) Jihad becomes Fardh-ul-Ain when any one of the following conditions exists:

1. The occupation of any “hand span” of Muslim territory by the Kuffar. Should this happen, Jihad becomes Fardh-ul-Ain.

2. All the Fuqaha have mentioned in their compilations that if a single Muslim man or woman is imprisoned by the Kuffar, Jihad becomes Fardh-ul-Ain until the captive is delivered.

3. If the ruler of the Muslims apostasizes from Islam (becomes a murtad), Qitaal (fighting) to remove him becomes Fardh-ul-Ain. The fuqaha state that a ruler becomes a murtad (apostate) if (i) he implements the systems of kufr in place of the Islamic systems (Shariah law) in the state or, (ii) in the battle of the Kuffar against Muslims he sides with the Kuffar.

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