Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine


RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
MAY 2004
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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Hadith


Prophet's (Pbuh) Guidance on Safety

Prophet’s (Pbuh) Guidance on Safety

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Refrain from staying up late after the night has become quiet,
for you do not know what creatures God sends around. Secure your doors,
tighten your drinking water containers, cover your saucepans and put out your lights.”
(Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Ahmad).

Commentary by Adil Salahi

The Prophet (peace be upon him) provided us with guidance for all situations. Although his message is primarily about faith, it is a complete way of life. Therefore, we find in the Prophet’s guidance instructions concerning certain aspects of human life, including health, safety and other useful tips. For example, Ibn Abbas quotes the Prophet as saying: “If one goes to sleep after having touched some fat, without washing it off, and he comes to some harm, he has only himself to blame.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Nassaie and Al-Tirmidhi).

The action the Prophet is encouraging us to do is to wash our hands after handling any sort of fat, including edible meat, before going to sleep. The smell of fat lingers on, even if no visible trace is left on one’s hand. And the smell may attract different sorts of animals or insects, some of which may be harmful. Rather than giving a direct order to wash our hands, the Prophet highlights the adverse effect that may result in certain situations if this is not done. A small animal may bite one’s hand, thinking that it is a piece of meat or food. Although the possibility may be rare in towns and cities where people live in secure houses and apartments, but there are numerous situations where the possibility is much greater. Anyway, washing one’s hands after handling any type of fat is a good practice, and it is recommended by the Prophet (Pbuh).

Another Hadith gives further instructions, making clear that one should take all precautions against harm that may result from negligence. Jabir ibn Abdullah quotes the Prophet as saying: “Secure your doors, tighten your drinking water containers, cover your saucepans, and put off your lights. Satan does not open a secured door, loosen a knot, or uncover a saucepan. However, a mouse could set a house on fire.” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Al-Tirmidhi). Similar instructions are given in another Hadith also narrated by Jabir quoting the Prophet as saying: “Refrain from staying up late after the night has become quiet, for you do not know what creatures God sends around. Secure your doors, tighten your drinking water containers, cover your saucepans and put out your lights.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Ahmad).

Taking the two Hadiths together, we see that they contain very useful instructions which remain valid for most people. The first instruction is to secure our doors before going to sleep. Today, in most places, this goes without saying because burglary is very common. But it need not be so.

There are places in many parts of the world where people are safe from burglars, either because they live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else, or where social conditions provide enough security. Yet one may not be safe from other creatures finding their way into homes to cause people some harm when they are asleep. Hence, securing our doors provides the necessary standard of safety.

Today, people have water supplied into their homes by pipes and tanks, where it is safe from ordinary contamination. However, in old days, people had to make sure that they had sufficient water for their drinking and home use. Hence, they had it in containers, some types of which are made of hide or some other material. It is such containers, and indeed any other type, that the Prophet wants us to make sure that they are tightened so as to prevent any harmful object or insect from falling into them. The same applies to any pot or saucepan where food is kept. While today we leave much of our food in fridges, there remains around the house much food that may be left exposed. The important thing in this Hadith is not to leave food exposed overnight. Some insect might get into it or dust and harmful particles might drop on it, making it a cause of harm instead of a source of nourishment.

Putting off the light is the next injunction in the two Hadiths, particularly when we talk about oil lamps and similar lights. Such a lamp may be blown over by wind, or by a cat, and it could then cause a fire. This is what the Prophet warns against when he mentions that a mouse could set a house on fire. What attracts a mouse is the wick of a lamp, and it could pull it and cause the lamp to fall over, spilling its oil and causing a fire. Hence, the Prophet warned repeatedly against leaving lamps on at night, or in a position where a mouse could drag it away. Here are some of the Hadiths pointing to this risk.

Ibn Abbas reports: “A mouse once began to drag the wick of a lamp, and a maid tried to frighten it away. The Prophet told her to leave it alone. The mouse pulled the lamp until it dropped it on the mat he was sitting on, burning an area as small as a coin. The Prophet said: ‘When you go to bed, put off your lamps. Satan points them to such mice and they would burn you.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Abu Dawood).

Abu Saeed Al-Khudri reports: “The Prophet woke up one night to find that a mouse had dragged the lamp by its wick up to the roof, and was about to set fire to the house. The Prophet cursed it and made it permissible to kill, even by a person in the state of consecration, or ihraam.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad). It should be pointed out here that when one is in the state of consecration he may not kill any animal except one that poses serious danger to man, such as snakes, scorpions and very aggressive dogs.

The Prophet said: “Do not leave a fire burning at home when you go to sleep.” (Related by Al-Bukahri and Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah).”

Abdullah ibn Umar quotes the Prophet as saying: “Do not leave open fire in your homes; for it is an enemy to you.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad).

Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari reports that a house in Madinah was set on fire one night while people were asleep. This was reported to the Prophet who said: “Fire is an enemy to you. When you go to sleep, put it out.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Muslim and Ibn Majah).

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