How should we understand the Prophet’s advice to Abu Dharr about not asking anything from people?

Details of the Question

(...) Abu Dharr says, "...he advised me not to ask anything from people." (Tabarani)

- Is this statement including the advice of the Prophet (pbuh) sound?
- How should we understand this advice?
- What is meant by "anything" in the hadith?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hafiz Haythami states that the narrators in the chain of narrators of this hadith, which Tabarani reports in (al-Kabir, as-Saghir), are reliable, indicating that the narration is sound. (see Haythami; Majmauz-Zawaid, h. no: 4507; 12126)

What is probably meant by not asking anything from anybody is “not to be a burden to anybody, to try to earn one’s living by working and especially not to be a beggar”. Otherwise, as it is mentioned in the saying “No man is an island”, we cannot think that this hadith means people must not ask anything from one another for example not to borrow money.  

The commands of the Quran encouraging to lend money without any material interest and to give charity to the poor are clear; hadiths cannot command anything that is contrary to those verses of the Quran. Besides, it is known that the Prophet (pbuh) accepted the gifts given to him.

We think the ascetic and contented characteristic of Abu Dharr was a reason for the advice he took from the Prophet. That is, the Prophet (pbuh) gave him some advice that strengthened his characteristic and that is in compliance with his general lifestyle.

For example, the following advice in the hadith is very harmonious with his characteristic: “Not to fear the censure of the critics in the way of truth”, “to look to those who are less fortunate than him in terms of wealth and not to those who are above him”.

The full text of the narration in question is as follows:

"The Prophet advised me seven things:

To love the poor and to be close to them,
To look to those who are less fortunate than me in terms of wealth and not to those who are above me,
To maintain the ties of kinship even if they break them off,
To increase in saying: ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah’ (There is no might nor power except with Allah),
To tell the truth even if it is unpleasant,
Not to fear the censure of the critics about inviting people to Allah,
Not to ask anything from anyone."

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