Hadith 17. Excellence

On the authority of Abu Y’alaa Shaddad ibn Aws (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said: “Verily, Allah has prescribed excellence in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill in a good manner. If you slaughter, slaughter in a good manner. Each of you should sharpen his blade and spare suffering to the animal he is slaughtering”.

Reported in Muslim


Brief Commentary:

  • The ihsan (excellence) mentioned here is its meaning from a linguistic perspective, hence it has been translated to excellence. Ihsan from a shari’ah perspective has already been discussed in hadith 2
  • This hadith is a mercy for us, as if everyone fulfils it, then it would make everything easier for everyone
  • The hadith said “in all things”, thus it encompasses excellence in the action itself, and excellence in the person you are doing it to
  • The word “prescribed” means it takes the ruling of whatever the action is, so if the action is obligatory, then it is obligatory to have excellence in it e.g. it is obligatory to have excellence in the basic requirements of Salah. If the action is recommended, then we know excellence is recommended, e.g. it is recommended to have excellence in the extra aspects of Salah which are not obligatory, in recommended fasting, giving charity, patience, etc.
  • Scholars said: “Ihsan is making the benefit reach, removal of the harm and repelling it”
  • We must have excellence in the way we treat our bodies and our souls, which is unfortunately overlooked in many situations
  • In this hadith, excellence was exemplified in a lowly action e.g. killing, so we know that anything higher is more worthy of excellence. This is similar to the example of being disobedient to your parents in which the prohibition mentioned in the Qur’an was just for saying “uff”, so it also encompassed anything larger than it
  • Examples of actions that should be done when slaughtering:
    • The animal must not be used for target practice
    • The blade must be sharp
    • The slaughter must be done quickly
    • The blade must not be shown to the animal
    • The animal must be treated gently
    • The animal must not be slaughtered in front of other animals
  • Another reason why these two examples where mentioned in the hadith: killing and slaughter, is that because in these situations someone may feel a bit of pride/arrogance/authority, so we need to purify our intention and maintain excellence in what we do
  • We may not show compassion to beggars but they are of a higher status than animals and we must show compassion to animals, so humans have more of a right to be treated with compassion
  • The difference between Allah and His creation is far greater than between us and beggars, yet Allah still showers His mercy upon everyone

Benefits and Action points to take from this hadith:

  • Be compassionate with others for compassion is one of the greatest qualities of those who call to Allah
  • Have excellence in the way you treat yourself so look after your body and keep it healthy, and do not neglect the food of the soul
  • Have excellence in the way you treat your friends so call them by their best names, smile at them and be polite and caring
  • Have excellence in the way you treat your elders so give them their due respect
  • Have excellence in the way you interact with everyone, so be on time, fulfil your promises. If you prepare something then prepare it in the best way possible. If someone needs help, then help them out in the best way possible. Advice people in the best way possible.

18 thoughts on “Hadith 17. Excellence

  1. salam aleykun,may allah reward you.please what is difference between killing and slaughtering as regard to hadith 17 of adith nawawil and the type of animal one can kill ar one can slaughter?.

    1. Walaikum assalam
      In this hadith killing is in reference to killing someone I.e in a time of war, so even on the battlefield we need to do it in a manner which does not torture the enemy and shouldn’t mutilate him, whereas slaughter refers to slaughtering animals for sacrifice and for food. The types of animals that should be slaughtered are all the land animals that are halal to eat.
      And Allah knows best

      1. I understood from my sheik that killing also meant like when someone has judgement of death (capital punishment). He then went onto how a guillotine or lethal injection or whatever society deems most humane is best. And that slaughtering of an animal (slitting throat from front to drain blood) is different in how one should be killed.

    1. The Qur’an and the Sunnah/hadith are complimentary. We need both of them to know the religion. If for every hadith we must find a reference that supports it in the Qur’an, then there would be no point of having hadith, which is incorrect.
      Either way, the topic of excellence is mentioned in many verses in the Qur’an e.g. 2:195, 5:93

  2. Salam alaikum I’m Abdul Aziz Ahmad from Nigeria please how do I obtain the Arabic text of these Hadith

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