Sheikh Muhammad al-Qannâs
This phrase comes in some narrations of the story regarding cross-pollinating the date palms. Muslim narrates this story from different Companion. These are the three narrations:
1. Hadîth #2361 – narrated from Talhah b. `Ubayd Allah:
I was with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) when we passed by some people who were tending the tops of their date palms.
He asked: “What are these people doing?”
(Some people) replied: “They are pollinating the trees by bringing the male parts into contact with the female parts.”
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “I do not think that this brings any benefit.”
They were informed of this and abandoned the practice. Then Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was informed of their abandoning it and said: “If that will benefit them, then they should practice it. Indeed I only ventured a thought. Do not hold me account to what I think. However, when I speak to you about anything regarding Allah, then accept it, for indeed I never speak falsely about Allah the Almighty.”
2. Hadîth #2362 – narrated from Râfi` b. Khurayj:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had come to Madînah while they were cross-pollinating their date palms. He asked: “What are these people doing?”
They replied: “This is something that has been our practice.”
He said: “Maybe if you were not to do so, it would be good.”
So they abandoned it and the crop that resulted was impoverished. They mentioned this to him and he said: “I am only a human being. When I command you with something regarding your religion, accept it. When I command you with something from my own opinion, then I am only a human being.”
`Ikrimah (one of the hadîth’s narrators) said: “He said that or something to that effect.”
3. Hadîth #2363 – narrated from Anas:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by some people who were busy with pollination and said: “If they would not do this, then it would still come out right.”
The date crop that resulted was of a very poor quality.
Then he passed by them and asked: “What is with your date palms?”
They said: “You had told us such-and-such…”
He said: “You know best the affairs of your worldly life.”
This story is clear in that the Prophet (peace be upon him), when he saw his Companions cross-pollinating the date palms, thought that what they were doing was of no benefit and expressed to them what he thought. The Companions understood from him that he was prohibiting them from the practice of cross-pollination, so they abandoned it. However, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not prohibited them from doing so. It was only a misunderstanding on their part.
The Prophet (peace be upon him), when it comes to his personal thoughts about worldly matters, is like anyone else.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I do not think that this brings any benefit” referring to the practice of cross-pollination. The Prophet (peace be upon him) only said this because he did not have knowledge that this was a long-enduring customary practice, since he had never been concerned with either agriculture or farming and had never engaged in it. Therefore, he was unaware of the circumstances. [al-Mufhim (6/186)]
Scholars have said that this statement was not informative, but was only an expression of what he had thought, as he himself made clear in these narrations. They have said that his opinions regarding the practical questions of life and his thoughts on such matters are the same as those of others. Therefore, situations like this one are not impossible. There is no deficiency in this; it is because of their concern for the Hereafter and knowledge thereof.” [Sharh Sahîh Muslim (15/116)]
We need to keep in mind that this event happened only once, though it is narrated to us in numerous ways. This leads us to suspect that some of these narrations are given by meaning and are not verbatim.
We can further observe that Muslim puts the narration of Talhah first. This may be because its wording is superior to that of the others. He places second, `Ikrimah’s narration from Râfi` from Khurayj that comes with: “When I command you with something from my own opinion, then I am only a human being.”
Al-Nawawî states the following about this second narration:
The phrase “from my own opinion” is only brought by `Ikrimah as a narration by meaning. This is because `Ikrimah says at the end of the hadith: “…or something to that effect.” [Sharh Sahîh Muslim (15/116)]
Muslim mentions the narration of Anas last. This narration comes to us by way of a chain of transmission that includes the narrator Hammâd b. Salamah, and Hammâd was prone to make mistakes. This is the only narration of the story that contains the statement: “You know best the affairs of your worldly life.”
Some people have taken this phrase: “You know best the affairs of your worldly life” as a pretext to free themselves of the Islamic rulings that pertain to worldly matters; for instance, those that deal with commercial transactions. It is well-known that the legislations and rulings of Islamic Law came to govern the lives of humanity in all of their affairs, from acts of worship, to commercial concerns, to domestic matters and all other aspects of life.
Allah states this clearly and repeatedly in the Qur’ân. He says:
“Nay! By your Lord! They will not believe until they make you the judge in their disputes among themselves and then find within themselves no difficulty in what you decide, and submit to it in full submission.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 65]
“Indeed We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which Allah has shown you and not be an advocate for the deceitful.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 105]
“Say: Truly, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 162]
Source: Islam Today