In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Abu Hurairah [may Allaah be pleased with him] reported that the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: “The consultee is in a position of trust”. (1)
The consultee is the one whose opinion is sought regarding an affair of Maslahah (i.e. an affair that will bring about benefit and repel harm). He is in a position of trust with regards to what he is asked and it is not permissible for him to deceive the one who consults him, by concealing the affair that would bring about benefit. (2) This hadeeth is an evidence, showing that the consultee has to (advise) with the course of action and opinion -in relation to the consultation – that which he would do for himself. And it is not permissible that he directs his Muslim brother to something he would not be pleased with for himself.(3)
The Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil and Hunayn Ibn Ishaaq [The Christian Doctor]
The Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawaakil heard about Hunayn Ibn Ishaq’s medical knowledge but did not accept his statements regarding the medication he prescribed until he consulted others. He wanted to test Hunayn because of the suspicion that the Roman king maybe hatching a plot through him. So, he summoned Hunayn and said to him, “I want you to describe to me a medicine that can kill an enemy of ours”. Hunayn said, “I do not prescribe except beneficial medicine and I did not know that the chief of the believers would seek other than that from me; but if you want me to go and learn, I will do so”. Al-Mutawakkil said, “This will take a long time”. However, Hunayn did not add anything to what he said until Al-Mutawakkil gave orders that he should be imprisoned, and someone was given the task to inform Al-Mutawakkil about him from time to time. So, Hunayn was imprisoned for a year and during this period he used to transmit, explain, and write, and he never went beyond what he held (with regards to his knowledge of medicine).
Then after a year, Al-Mutawaakil ordered that Hunayn is brought to his presence together with a sword, various instruments of punishment as well as wealth that one would desire to have (i.e. to entice Hunayn). When he came, Al-Mutawakkil said to him, “This affair has been going on for a long time, so what I tell you has to be. If you are blessed, you will have this money and twice the value; but if not, I will punish and kill you”. Hunayn said, “Indeed, I did say to the chief of the believers that neither do I know how to produce other than beneficial medicine nor have I learnt other than it”. Al-Mutawakkil said, “Then indeed I am going to kill you”. Hunayn said, “I will take my rights from you in the presence of my Lord on the day of that great standing (i.e. day of judgment) if the chief of the believers chooses to oppress himself”. Al-Mutawaakil smiled and said, “O Hunayn! Our heart is at ease and we trust you. This deed of ours was a test because we were being cautious of the plots of the Kings, so we wished that our hearts are at ease regarding your affair, trust you and benefit from your occupation”. Hunayn kissed the ground (i.e. because he was a Christian) and thanked the Caliph.
Then the Caliph said to him, “What prevented you from answering on both occasions (i.e. the answer he was being forced to give)?” He said, “O chief of the believers! Two affairs prevented me”. He said, “What are they?” He said, “The Religion and the occupation”. He said, “How is that the case?” He said, “The religion commands us to do what is good and beautiful when dealing with our enemies, so how about when dealing with our friends? The occupation forbids us from causing harm to our fellow human beings because it is designed to benefit them, and with this it has laid down a covenant for the doctors by way of a solemn oath that they will not give medicine that causes death; therefore, I could not oppose these two noble affairs and then commit murder, because indeed Allaah [The Exalted] will not cause my affair to be lost when I embark upon obedience to Him”. The Caliph said to him, “These are two lofty divine legislated deeds”. Hunayn was released and he took the wealth with him, and he became one of those with the loftiest social status. (4)
[Ref 1: Reported by Abu Dawud (rahimahullaah)’ Number 5128’ & declared Saheeh by Imaam Albaani (rahimahullaah) in his checking of Sunan Abee Dawud]
[Ref 2: Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh. Hadeeth number 5062. Vol 4 page 259]
[Ref 3: Source: Awnul Ahadis Samadi, Sharhu Al-Adab Al-Mufrad’ Vol 1′ Hadeeth Number 256′ page 283]
[Ref 4: An Excerpt from Akhbaarul Ulamaa Bi-Akhbaaril Hukamaa. page 121. By Ibnul Qiftee. slightly paraphrased]