Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân relates that Allah’s
Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Do not drink from gold and silver
vessels and do not eat from gold and silver dishes, because indeed they are
for them in this world and for you in the Hereafter.”
The meaning of the hadîth:
This is an authentic hadîth related in Sahîh al-Bukhârî
and Sahîh Muslim among other books.
This hadîth has a story behind it. During `Umars reign, Hudhayfah al-Yamân
had been appointed to the administration of Madâ’in, a major city
that had been the residence of the Persian kings and where they had their palatial
Hudhayfah was traveling thorough Madâ’in and asked for something
to drink A man named Dahjân, who was the Persian chief of the town, brought
him something to drink in a silver cup. Hudhayfah cast it aside and told those
who were with him: “I have informed you that I had ordered him not to
serve me drink in that, because Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)
said: ‘Do not drink from gold and silver vessels and do not eat from gold
and silver plates, because indeed they are for them in this world and for you
in the Hereafter’.”
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…they are for them in
this world…” he was referring to the unbelievers. He was merely
pointing out the way things actually were and was not implying that it was lawful
for them to dine from gold and silver dishes.
Its legal implications:
This hadîth raises a number of legal questions, the most important of
which are as follows:
The first question:
The hadîth is proof that it is unlawful to eat and drink from gold and
silver dishes. Al-Nawawî claims that this is a matter of juristic consensus,
save for an opinion to the contrary that al-Shâfî`î used to
hold but later recanted.
The opinion that to eating and drinking from gold and silver dishes is merely
disliked had been attributed to Ahmad b. Hanbal, but this attribution is highly
doubtful. Nonetheless, the argument advanced for this opinion is that the only
reason eating from gold and silver is prohibited is because it resembles the
behavior of foreigners. However, it can hardly be agreed that this is the only
possible reason for the prohibition.
There have been other opinions. Mu`âwiyah b. Qurrah who was from the generation
that came after the Companions, was asked about drinking from a silver cup and
said that there was nothing wrong with doing so. However, he probably said this
because he had not heard the hadîth under discussion.
Dâwûd al-Zâhirî was of the opinion that it is prohibited
to drink from gold and silver dishes but not to eat from them. It is quite possible
that Dâwûd al-Zâhirî never heard the hadith narrated
by Hudhayfah, but heard instead a certain version of a hadîth related
by Umm Salamah that only mentions the prohibition of drinking.
There is no doubt that the hadîth evidence on the matter is clear unambiguous
about the prohibition of eating and drinking from gold and silver dishes.. Some
of this evidence indicates that doing so is a major sin.
Umm Salamah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A person
who drinks or eats from a silver or golden dish merely swallows into his stomach
the fire of Hell.” [Sahîh Muslim]
Al-Bukhârî relates this hadîth without mention being made
of eating or of gold, and this, as we have already mentioned, is probably what
Dawûd al-Zâhirî relied upon in formulating his opinion.
The second question:
Is it merely prohibited to eat and drink from gold and silver dishes, or is
it forbidden to use them for all practical purposes?
Al-Nawawî writes: “Our colleagues claim there is unanimous agreement
that it is forbidden to eat or drink from gold and silver dishes or to use them
in any way. The only exception to this is the opinion attributed to Dâwûd
al-Zâhirî and an early opinion of al-Shâfi`î, both of
which are spurious because they are contrary to the texts and to juristic consensus.
Al-Nawawî also writes: “There is juristic consensus about the prohibition
of using gold and silver vessels for eating, drinking, purification, cooking,
defecating, or for any other practical purpose. This would also include using
them for cosmetics or as expensive containers, or for any other reason.”
However, the claim that there is juristic consensus on this matter is a doubtful
claim. It is reported that some of the earlier scholars considered these other
uses to be permissible, though it is a peculiar disagreement that runs contrary
to a number of authentic hadîth on the matter.
The majority of scholars agree that eating and drinking are mentioned only as
examples of how these items are generally used and that the prohibition is general.
It is the same as when Allah says: “Those who consume
the wealth of orphans wrongly merely swallow fire into their bellies and they
will be scorched by a blaze.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 105]
“O you who believe! Do not cosume interest doubled and redoubled. Fear
Allah that perhaps you will be successful.” [Sûrah Al `Imrân:
In both of these verses, the prohibition is far broader and more comprehensive
than the personal consumption of the unlawfully acquired wealth. The same can
be said for the hadîth under discussion.
This opinion is supported by the reason given in the hadîth for the prohibition.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “…because indeed they are
for them in this world and for you in the Hereafter.”
The unbelievers enjoy in this world the use of gold and silver not only for
dining, but to but for all sorts of things, like cosmetics and decoration. Some
people of excess have gone so far as to secure for themselves gold or silver
The same can be said for the people of Paradise in the Hereafter. Their use
of gold and silver will not be restricted to dining. It will cover a whole host
We know from the Sunnah that in Paradise there are two gardens, the utensils
and contents of which are made of silver; and two other gardens, the utensils
and contents of which are made of gold, and nothing will prevent their inhabitants
from seeing their Lord except the curtain of Majesty over His face. [Sahîh
al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
This hadîth is clear proof that Paradise contains all sorts of things
made of silver and gold. Therefore, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“…because indeed they are for them in this world and for you in
the Hereafter”, he was not just talking about using gold and silver for
There are many possible reasons that can be deduced for the prohibition of using
gold and silver for dining. Such reasons might include imitating the unbelievers,
imitating the denizens of Paradise while on Earth, excessiveness in luxury,
unnecessarily taking currency out of circulation, aggravating the pain of the
poor, or simply acting in a way that is contrary to proper Islamic humility
and abstinence. In all of these cases, however, the reason exists whether the
gold and silver utensil is being used for dining or for some other practical
Some scholars believe that the prohibition is only for dining with gold and
silver. Among them is al-San`ânî, who writes in Subul al-Salâm:
Those who say that it is only unlawful to use gold and silver
for dining are correct in their opinion. This is what is stated in the text.
The claim that there is juristic consensus on anything else is incorrect.
This is a bad example of substituting some other meaning for the words of
the Prophet (peace be upon him) that mention only the prohibition of eating
and drinking. They have deviated from his words and replaced them with the
idea or “general usage”. On their own, they have abandoned the
words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and come with something more general
Al-Shawkâni says basically the same thing. In Nayl
al-Awtâr, he argues that the principle in Islamic Law is that things
are to be considered permissible unless proven otherwise. This principle supports
the view that gold and silver utensils are lawful for everything that is not
expressly prohibited by the texts.
However, these two scholars are focusing too strictly to the literal wording
of the hadîth, whereas it is far better to understanding the overall meaning
that the hadîth is clearly conveying. Whether we approach the matter with
analogous reasoning or by understanding that eating and drinking are mentioned
as examples, we must come to the conclusion that we are not supposed to use
gold and silver utensils.
Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Zâd al-Ma`âd:
The correct reason for this prohibition is that using such
things causes the heart to feel haughty and puts it into a state that clearly
negates the feeling of humble devotion we are supposed to have for Allah.
This is the reason why the Prophet (peace be upon him) described these things
as being for the unbelievers in this world, since they do not have a share
in this humble devotion by which the pleasures of the Hereafter are attained.
Therefore, it is not appropriate for Allah’s devotees to use such things
in this world. They are only people who have abandoned this devotion and are
pleased with the world and prefer its immediate delights to those of the Hereafter.
The third question:
Can we possess gold and silver dishes as long as we do not use them?
The majority of scholars consider it unlawful for Muslims to own gold and silver
dishes. This is the opinion of the Mâlikî, Hanbalî, and Shâfi`î
schools of law. That which is unlawful to use, like wine for instance, is equally
unlawful to own. Owning something is a means to using it and means take the
same ruling as the ends to which they lead.
Moreover, the rationale for prohibiting the use of such utensils is even stronger
when we think of keeping them without using them. Keeping them without using
them is much more frivolous and wasteful of wealth than having them and using
The Hanafî school of thought rules that the possession of gold and silver
utensils is permissible. This opinion is also to be found among the adherents
of the other three schools of thought.
They argue that the hadîth clearly mentions the prohibition of eating
and drinking, and these are both examples of using the utensils. This is not
proof that ownership of these things is unlawful.
Of course, those scholars who consider it permissible to use things made of
gold for practical reasons other than dining see nothing wrong with owning such
However, the strongest opinion is that it is prohibited to use such things or
even to own them. This opinion is in harmony with the objectives of Islamic
Law, since it makes no sense that the law would permit a person to own such
things and then prevent him from being able to use them or benefit from them.
Either he should be able to own them and derive benefit from them or he should
be prohibited from owning them altogether.
And Allah knows best
The fourth question:
If someone performs his ablutions for prayer from a basin of gold or silver,
are his ablutions valid?
Most scholars say that his ablutions are valid, though he is sinning for using
the gold or silver basin. Al-Nawawî claims that there is consensus on
this matter among jurists, with the exception of Dâwûd al-Zâhirî,
who is reported to have said that such ablutions are invalid.
However, it is not possible for Dâwûd al-Zâhirî to have
held such an opinion, since he believed that nothing is prohibited besides drinking
from gold and silver vessels.
The ruling that such ablutions are invalid has been attributed to Ibn Taymiyah
and al-Zarkashî, but there is other evidence that indicates this is not
the case. However, it is possible that there are two opinions on this matter.
And Allah knows best.
Some benefits of this hadîth:
1. This hadîth shows that Islam approves of asceticism in the world and
eschewing excessive pleasures. True asceticism is not achieved by forbidding
what is lawful. It is achieved by abstaining from permissible things that are
superfluous and unnecessary that neither benefit the person in this world nor
the next. It is praiseworthy for a person to show humility in his dress and
his home for the sake of Allah. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him)
said: “Simplicity of life is a part of faith.” [Sunan Abî
Dâwûd, Sunan Ibn Mâjah, and Mustadrak al-Hâkim, among
others, with an authentic chain of transmission]
It is also praiseworthy for a person to wear beautiful clothes and to ride a
beautiful steed, however without ostentation or pride. The Prophet (peace be
upon him) said: “If Allah gives you wealth, then let the signs of Allah’s
grace and generosity be seen upon you.” [Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Abî
Dâwûd, and Sunan al-Nasâ’î, among others, with
an authentic chain of transmission]
2. The hadîth also indicates that it is not permissible for us to emulate
the unbelievers and imitate them in their ways. The Prophet (peace be upon him)
gave as the reason for prohibiting dining from gold and silver dishes that such
things are for the unbelievers during the life of this world.
3. We also get a glimpse of the delights that await the denizens of Paradise,
because the hadîth promises that they will enjoy the use of gold and silver.
Indeed, they will dine from gold and silver dishes and recline upon golden couches.