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can you please explain this hadith and weather it is sahih, hasan or daif "Keep Your Tongue Moist With Remembrance of Allah"

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On sources of this hadith and its qualification

The hadith is quoted in Jami' at-Tirmidhi (here), Sunan ibn Majah (here) and also in Musnad Ahmad all of them on the authority of 'abdullah ibn Busr () here the version from Jami' at-Tirmidhi

A man said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), indeed, the legislated acts of Islam have become too much for me, so inform me of a thing that I should stick to.” He (ﷺ) said: “Let not your tongue cease to be moist with the remembrance of Allah.”

The hadith is qualified as Hassan. Ibn Hebban has quoted a similar hadith on the authority of Mu'ad ibn Jabal ().

The importance of dhikr (remembrance of Allah)

Both in the sunnah and the Qur'an dhikr (remembrance) of Allah is quoted see for example:

  • Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured." (13:28)

  • O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance (41)
    And exalt Him morning and afternoon. (33:41-42)

  • Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was travelling along the path leading to Mecca that he happened to pass by a mountain called Jumdan. He said:
    Proceed on, it is Jumdan, Mufarradun have gone ahead. They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet) said: Allah's Messenger, who are Mufarradun? He said: They are those males and females who remember Allah much. (Sahih Muslim)

  • The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "There are two expressions which are very easy for the tongue to say, but they are very heavy in the balance and are very dear to The Beneficent (Allah), and they are, 'Subhan Allah Al- `Azim and 'Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi.'" (Sahih al-Bukhari)

  • Yahya related to me from Malik that Ziyad ibn Abi Ziyad said that Abu'd-Darda had said, "Shall I not tell you the best of your deeds, and those that give you the highest rank, and those that are the purest with your King, and are better for you than giving gold and silver, and better for you than meeting your enemy and striking their necks?" They said, "Of course." He said, "Remembrance (dhikr) of Allah ta ala." (See in Al-Muwatta', Sunan ibn Majah and Jami' at-Tirmidhi)

On the meaning of the hadith

The hadith shows that some of the sahaba () wanted to know about some deed (or part of the shari'a) that might make some ease in the shari'a rulings as they became too much/hard for them (many things are ordered, others are prohibited, many are recommended or frowned upon). The prophet gave them a solution which is remembrance of Allah, as doing dhikr and du'a (supplication) is easy, can be done at any time as it requires no taharah etc. so it can be performed anytime anywhere in any state.
Some scholars said that the "legislated acts of Islam" that became too much for them refers especially to the sunnah and nafl acts.

Now maybe you ask yourself what means "Let not your tongue cease to be moist" or "keep your tongue moist" with dhikr Allah?
A tongue that doesn't do dhikr might be used or not, if it is not used it is rather "rigid" or "stiff" if it is used one may speak in order to say something that is permissible (greeting, say the truth, teach/explain about some halal knowledge, remembrance of Allah, reciting the Qur'an etc.) or for something which is not permissible (backbiting, lying, expose oneself or others etc.) in all these cases the tongue is not literally "dry", but "moist" here refers to activity some scholars like al-Mubarakpuri in his tohfat al-Ahwadhi تحفة الأحوذي (commentary on Jami' at-Tirmidhi) and also Mulla 'Ali al-Qarri in his Mirqaat al-Mafateeh sharh (commentary on) Mishkat al-Massabih مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح have explained it:
In the following I will translate from Arabic, these are my own translation take them with the necessary care

  • قال المباركفوري رحمه الله : " أَيْ طَرِيًّا مُشْتَغِلًا قَرِيبَ الْعَهْدِ مِنْهُ ، وَهُوَ كِنَايَةٌ عَنِ الْمُدَاوَمَةِ عَلَى الذِّكْرِ" انتهى من "تحفة الأحوذي" .(Source islamqa #191379)
    Al-Mubarakpuri may Allah have mercy on him said: This means fresh and lately active (busy) on performing it, and it refers to the persistence on remembrance of Allah. End quote from Tohfat al-Ahwadhi.

  • ( رطبا ) : أي : طريا مشتغلا قريب العهد ( من ذكر الله ) (Source مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح)
    (moist) means fresh busy (late) till recently with the remembrance of Allah.

So the hadith is an invitation to persist on dhikr as it helps avoiding bad deeds!

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