Narrated by Abū ʿAbdullah al-Nuʿmān ibn Bashīr [may Allāh be pleased with him] who said: I heard the messenger of Allāh (رضي الله عنه) say:
Verily, [that which is] ḥalāl is clear and that which is ḥarām is also clear. But between the two of them exist matters that are unclear to most people. So whosoever avoids these matters, he has declared himself innocent from them in terms of his dīn and his honour. Whoever falls into these matters has fallen in ḥarām…1
Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab [d. 795] said:
“The words of the Prophet (ﷺ) prove that there are from among mankind those who have knowledge regarding the unclear [religious] matters], but that there are many who are ignorant of it. Among the ones who are ignorant, there are two types.
The first are the ones who [hastily] seize any action concerning those matters because of its unclear nature.
The second type are those who misinterpret it. His (the Prophet’s (ﷺ)] words prove there exists another party who understands these matters in terms of what they represent from ḥalāl and ḥarām [rulings]. This [ḥadīth] is from among the most apparent pieces of evidence that prove that there is but one correct opinion according to Allāh (the Most Exalted in Might) in the unclear issues where there is a difference of scholarly opinion between ḥalāl and ḥarām. [The scholars] other than the one with the correct opinion are considered not knowledgeable concerning this issue. This means that they have missed the ruling of Allāh in this matter even if they justify it with unclear [evidence] they wrongly think applies to the issue [of jurisprudence]. They are still rewarded for their strife and their mistake is forgiven as they did not intentionally [veer from what is correct].”
1. Narrated by Bukhārī and Muslim
Source: Jāmiʿ al-ʿUmūm wa-al-Ḥikam: 212
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī