This Ḥadīth consists of a few words, as is characteristic of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) sayings, but it has much meaning and blessings. The Prophet (ﷺ) used few words in his statements so it would be easy for his Companions to memorise what he said.
This Ḥadīth clarifies the blessing of Allāh upon some of His worshippers in that He blesses them with fiqh in the religion—and that is, they understand it as it was intended to be understood. The affair of understanding is greater than just memorizing.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah puts illumination in the face of the one who hears my statement and understands it and then memorises it so he can teach it to others because it is possible that the one who hears it is not the best to understand it.” Having fiqh of the religion revolves around being able to reflect and understand the Qurʾān and Sunnah.
Allah mentions, “Would they not reflect upon the Qurʾān or are there seals upon their hearts.” There are many reasons why one’s heart may be sealed from understanding the Book and the Sunnah, such as bigotry, heedlessness, etc.
The first thing that one should have the correct understanding of is manhaj. The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the Ummah will split into seventy-two sects and the one that is saved is the jamaʿah. If a Muslim has understanding of the dīn, then he knows with true clarity what is the jamaʿah that the Prophet (ﷺ) was talking about; if he doesn’t have understanding, then he will become confused and will succumb to deviation, such as that of the Rafiḍah, etc.
Having the correct manhaj allows a person to understand the religion the correct way: the way that the Prophet (ﷺ) taught it and the way that the Ṣaḥabah and the Salaf passed it down to us. The one who is a faqīh follows the Sunnah one hundred percent and does not deviate.
If one does not have fiqh of the religion one can fall into ghulū and go beyond bounds. The Prophet (ﷺ) advised us to “be cautious against going beyond bounds, and “those who go beyond bounds are destroyed” — he said the latter three times.
Those who go beyond bounds, as the Prophet (ﷺ) described, are those people who are plentiful in acts of worship but they have no understanding. These types of people will go in and out of the religion because they do not truly understand it. The Muslim who understands his religion constantly checks himself—are his actions in accordance with the guidance of the Messenger (ﷺ)?
Having fiqh of the religion ensures that the Muslim understands a number of issues that affects him—marriage, business transactions, divorce etc. The true Muslim is one who stops at the boundary of these affairs. He doesn’t go beyond bounds but stops where he is supposed to stop.
The one who has good understanding of the religion will possess good character and that is a completion of his understanding as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The one who has completed īmān is the one with the best character.” May Allāh grant us success.