Translated by Zameelur Rahman
[Translator’s note: The treatise Zajr al-Nas ‘ala Inkar Athar Ibn Abbas by ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lacknawi was written three years after Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi’s Tahdhir al-Nas min Inkar Athar Ibn ‘Abbas. In it, he talks at length about the authenticity of the athar (narration) of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) in question, its status as a marfu’ hadith, its corroboration by other evidence, its preferred meaning, and answers to objections. It was written in Arabic after two other treatises he wrote on the topic in Urdu.
Since al-Lakhnawi was one of those who endorsed Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi’s Tahdhir al-Nas, I felt it would serve as a useful and comprehensive introduction to the subject from a recognised muhaddith and faqih.
The complex and rigorous nature of the analysis should also serve as a warning and example to those who make hasty conclusions in the science of hadith based on little knowledge and without a grounding in the principles of hadith.]
Praise to the One Who created earths and heavens and divided them into seven strata, and thanks to the One Who made them inhabitable by jinn, men and Angels and others of the creatures. I bear testimony that there is no deity but He, Him Alone having no partner, transcendent beyond genus and directions, and I bear testimony that our master Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger, the chief of the sons of Adam, the best of creatures, Allah bless him, the most excellent of blessings and the purest of greetings, and his family and his companions.
The one whose only manual work is the acquisition of sins, and only profession is the perpetuation of misdeeds, the one hopeful of the pardon of his Lord, Possessor of Grace and Bestowals, Abu ‘l-Hasanat Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hayy, the Lakhnawi by homeland, the Hanafi by madhhab, the Ansari and Ayyubi by lineage, the son of the ocean, full of treasures, and the rain, pouring forth, Mawlana Hafiz Muhammad ‘Abd al-Halim (Allah admit him into the Abode of Bliss), says:
This is a beneficial treatise and a comprehensive work on the verification of the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and obviate from him every objection), which was cited in the explanation of His (Exalted is He) statement, “Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof” (65:12) as “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa”. [The treatise] is called Zajr al-Nas ‘ala Inkari Athar ibn ‘Abbas (Reprimanding Men for Denying the Athar of Ibn ‘Abbas).
I adopted a moderate path in this [verification], avoiding the rejectionist position (ifrat) of one group and the excess (tafrit) of another group, since one group strove to negate the cited athar and ruled it to be weak and forged and similar [terms] which invalidate assertions, and another group inclined to strengthening it from the perspective of isnad and explained it with explanations leading to corruption. I was not satisfied, neither with this [group] nor with that [group]. Rather, I preferred a middle-path between them. Before this, I had written a treatise on this subject, which I called Al-Ayat al-Bayyinat ‘ala Wujud al-Anbiya’ fi l-Tabaqat (Clear Evidences on the Existence of Prophets in the Strata), and another which I called Dafi’ al-Waswas fi Athar ibn ‘Abbas (Repelling Whispers about the Athar of Ibn ‘Abbas) and both of them are in the Urdu language. This is a third treatise in Arabic, the language of the inhabitants of the Garden, arranged into two chapters in order to verify the objectives as two principles.1 I ask Allah to make it purely for His Noble Countenance. Verily, He is the Possessor of an All-Encompassing Grace.
Chapter One: On the citation of those who spoke against the cited athar along with what is against them
Know that the sons of the time have gone into excess in the rejection of the cited athar, and justified this in many ways, all of which are like scattered dust.
[Authentication of the Isnad]
Thus, some said: the sanad of this athar is defective (majruh) and those that are objectionable (maqduh) are amongst its narrators.
I say: its narrators are trustworthy in the correct view, and its sanad was authenticated (sahhaha) by a group of the scholars of authentication (arbab al-tashih), while a group of the scholars of assessment (arbab al-tarjih) remained silent about it. Thus, its rejection is not a sound opinion.
Hence, [it is mentioned] in the Mustadrak of Hafiz Abu ‘Abdullah al-Hakim:
Ahmad ibn Ya’qub al-Thaqafi narrated to us: ‘Ubayd ibn Ghannam narrated to us: ‘Ali ibn Hakim narrated to us: Sharik narrated to us: from ‘Ata: from Abu l-Duha: from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement “and of the earth the like thereof”: “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa.” This is a hadith with a sahih isnad.
‘Ubaydullah narrated to us: Ibrahim ibn al-Husayn narrated to us: Adam narrated to us: from Shu’bah: from ‘Amr ibn Murrah: from Abu l-Duha: from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said: “In every earth is the like of Ibrahim.” This hadith is [sahih] according to the criteria of Al-Bukhari and Muslim. End
[It is mentioned] in al-Durr al-Manthur of Al-Suyuti:
Ibn Abi Hatim, Al-Hakim who authenticated it (sahhahahu), Al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman and in Kitab al-Asma wa l-Sifat, transmitted through the route of Abu-Duha from Ibn ‘Abbas [that he said]: “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa.” Al-Bayhaqi said: its isnad is sahih, but at the same time it is shadh (isolated), as I do not know of one who followed up Abu l-Duha on this. End
[It is mentioned] in Ajwiba li ‘l-As’ilah by Al-Zurqani:
Questions 45 and 46: Does the earth have seven strata like the heaven, and are there creations of Allah therein? Answer: Allah said, “and of the earth the like thereof” and He said in another verse, “Do you not see how Allah created seven heavens in strata?” (71:15), so it is understood that it is the strata that are meant in the first verse, even if they are not mentioned [explicitly], so the likeness of the earth is in this [manner]. Ibn Hajr said: this is proven by what Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas who said in regards to “and of the earth the like thereof”, “in every earth is the like of Ibrahim and the like of whatever is on earth.” This is how he transmitted it in summary-form (mukhtasaran), and its isnad is sahih. Al-Hakim and Al-Bayhaqi transmitted it in extended-form (mutawwalan) and its wording is “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa.” Al-Bayhaqi said: Its isnad is sahih, although it is at the same time shadh. End
[It is mentioned] in the 16th chapter of Akam al-Marjan fi Ahkam al-Jann by Qadi Badr al-Din al-Shibli al-Hanafi, the student of Al-Dhahabi and Al-Mizzi:
The majority of the ‘ulama, successors and predecessors, believed that there was never a messenger from the jinn. Ibn Jarir said: Ibn Humayd narrated to us: Yahya ibn Wadih narrated to us: ‘Ubayd ibn Sulayman narrated to us: he said: Al-Dahhak was asked about the jinn, whether [or not] there was a prophet amongst them before the mission of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)? He replied: Have you not heard the statement of Allah, “O ye assembly of jinn and humankind! Came there not unto you messengers of your own who recounted unto you My signs and warned you of the meeting of this day of yours?” (6:130), meaning by that messengers from mankind and messengers from the jinn. Ibn Hazm said: A prophet from mankind was never sent to the jinn before our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and [before him] prophets would be sent to their people. He said: we know with certainty that they would warn [each other], so [the view] that prophets from themselves came to them is a sound [opinion].
I say: that which al-Dahhak said is proven by what Al-Hakim narrated, where he said: Ahmad ibn Ya’qub al-Thaqafi narrated to us: ‘Ubayd ibn Ghannam narrated to us: ‘Ali ibn Hakim narrated to us: Sharik narrated to us: from ‘Ata: from Abu l-Duha: from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement “and of the earth the like thereof”: “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa.” Our teacher Al-Dhahabi said its isnad is hasan. I say: it has a corroborative report (shahid). Al-Hakim said: ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan narrated to us: Ibrahim ibn al-Husayn narrated to us: Adam narrated to us: Shu’bah narrated to us: from ‘Amr ibn Murrah: from Abu l-Duha: from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement, “He created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof”: “in every earth is the like of Ibrahim”. Our teacher, Al-Dhahabi said: this hadith is [sahih] according to the criteria of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, and its narrators are imams. End
[It is mentioned] in the tafsir of Al-‘Imad ibn Kathir of His statement, “and of the earth the like thereof”:
I.e. seven also, as established in the two Sahihs, “Whoever usurps even one span of the land of somebody, his neck will be encircled with it down the seven earths.” Whoever interprets [it to mean] seven regions has missed the point, fallen into disputation and contradicted the Qur’an and hadith without support. Mention of the seven earths, and the distance between them and the density of each of them being five hundred years, has passed in Surah al-Hadid upon His statement, “He is the First and the Last”. This was what Ibn Mas’ud and others said.
Likewise, another hadith [mentions]: “The seven heavens: all that is therein and all that is between them, in respect to the footstool (kursi), is not but like a ring lying in the wilderness.” Ibn Jarir said: ‘Amr ibn ‘Ali narrated to us: Waki’ narrated to us: from Al-A’mash: from Ibrahim ibn Muhajir: from Mujahid: from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement, “and of the earth the like thereof”, “Had I narrated to you its explanation, you would have disbelieved, and your disbelief is your denial of it.” Ibn Humayd narrated to us: Ya’qub ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d al-Qummi al-Ash’ari narrated to us: from Ja’far ibn Abi l-Mughirah al-Khuza’i: from Sa’id ibn Jubayr: he said: A man asked Ibn ‘Abbas [about the verse], “and of the earth the like thereof” and he said, “what will save you from disbelieving if I inform you?” Ibn Jarir said: ‘Amr ibn ‘Ali and Muhammad ibn al-Muthanna narrated to us: Muhammad ibn Ja’far narrated to us: Shu’bah narrated to us: from ‘Amr ibn Murrah: from Abu l-Duha: from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to this verse, “in every earth is the like of Ibrahim and the like of whatever is on the earth from creation.” Al-Bayhaqi narrated this athar from Ibn ‘Abbas in Kitab al-Asma wa l-Sifat in more detail than this narration; he said: Abu ‘Abdullah al-Hafiz narrated to us: Ahmad ibn Ya’qub narrated to us: ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ghannam al-Nakha’i narrated to us: ‘Ali ibn Hakim narrated to us: Sharik narrated to us: from ‘Ata ibn al-Sa’ib: from Abu l-Duha: from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said, “‘and of the earth the like thereof’: seven earths, in every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa.” Moreover, Al-Bayhaqi narrated it from the hadith of Shu’bah ibn ‘Amr ibn Murrah from Abu l-Duha from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said, “In every earth is the like of Ibrahim.” Then al-Bayhaqi said, “the isnad of this from ibn ‘Abbas is sahih, though it is at the same time shadh, I do not know of one who followed up Abu l-Duha on this, and Allah knows best.” End
[It is mentioned] in the tafsir of Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Shawkani called Fath al-Qadir:
“Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof” i.e. He created of the earth the like of them i.e. seven. The modality of the strata of the earth has been disputed. Al-Qurtubi said in his tafsir: they were differed over, according to two views: first, and this is the view of the majority, they are seven strata each above the other, and between each earth and the next earth is the distance that is between the heaven and the earth, and in every earth are inhabitants from Allah’s creation. Al-Dahhak said that they are layered one on top of the other without separation unlike the heavens. The first is sounder because the reports in Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nasa’i and others indicate this.
“The command descends between them” (65:12), the command is revelation. Mujahid said: the command descends from the seven heavens to the seven earths. Al-Hasan [al-Basri] said: between every heaven and earth.
‘Abd ibn Humayd and ibn al-Mundhir transmitted through the route of Sa’id ibn Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas that a man asked him [about the verse], “Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof” and Ibn ‘Abbas said, “what will save you from disbelieving if I inform you?” Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Hatim, Al-Hakim and Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Shu’ab transmitted through the route of Abu l-Duha from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement “and of the earth the like thereof”: “Seven earths: in every earth is a prophet like your prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa.” Al-Bayhaqi said: this isnad is sahih and it is shadh at the same time, I do not know of one who followed up Abu l-Duha on this. End
[It is mentioned] in Takhrij Ahadith Sharh al-Mawaqif by Al-Suyuti:
Al-Hakim narrated in Al-Mustadrak from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement, “Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof”: “Seven earths: In every earth is a prophet like your Prophet, an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim and an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa” and he said “sahih“. End
[It is mentioned] in Fath al-Bari by Hafiz ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani:
Al-Dawudi said in regards to His (Exalted is He) statement, “and of the earth the like thereof”: “In it is an indication that the earths are one on top of the other, and it was transmitted from some scholastic theologians (mutakallimin) that the likeness is specifically in regards to number, and that the seven are juxtaposed [i.e. not separated by a large distance]; Ibn al-Tin related from some of them that the earth is one. He said: this is rejected by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
I say: probably this [the view that the earth is one] is the view of juxtaposition, for otherwise it will be in clear opposition [to the Qur’an and Sunnah]. The apparent view is proven by that which Ibn Jarir narrated through the route of Shu’bah from ‘Amr ibn Murrah from Abu l-Duha from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said with regards to His (Exalted is He) statement “and of the earth the like thereof”: “in every earth is the like of Ibrahim, and the like of whatever is on the earth of creation.” This is how he transmitted it in summary-form and its isnad is sahih. Al-Bayhaqi transmitted it through the route of ‘Ata from Abu l-Duha in extended-form and its wording is: “Seven earths: in every earth is an Adam like your Adam, a Nuh like your Nuh, an Ibrahim like your Ibrahim, an ‘Isa like your ‘Isa and a prophet like your Prophet.” Al-Bayhaqi said its isnad is sahih, although it is shadh. The apparent [meaning] of His (Exalted is He) statement, “and of the earth the like thereof,” refutes the view of the astronomers that there is no distance between one earth and another earth. Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi narrated from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in marfu’ form: “between one heaven and the [next] heaven is five hundred years and between one earth and the [next] earth is five hundred years.” Ishaq ibn Rahwayh and Al-Bazzar transmitted it from the hadith of Abu Dharr in like manner. End, in summary-form.
Ponder over the speech of these luminaries, and the strength of the cited athar will become clear to you. It has been narrated in summary-form and in extended-form and one corroborates the other and strongly supports it. As for the summary-form, Al-Hakim said about it, “this hadith is [sahih] according to the criteria of Al-Bukhari and Muslim,” and Al-Dhahabi agreed with him. Al-‘Asqalani ruled that its isnad is sahih. Al-Zurqani and Al-Shibli remained silent about it. As for the extended-form, Al-Hakim ruled it to be sahih and Al-Dhahabi agreed with him, although he faulted it with being shadh, but you will soon learn that here this [i.e. being shadh] is not a faulty defect (‘illa); Al-Suyuti remained silent about it and Al-Dhahabi ruled it to be hasan, and Al-Shibli remained silent about as did Al-Suyuti in Laqat al-Marjan fi Akhbar al-Jann. Of that which attests to it being acceptable as proof is that Al-‘Asqalani, Al-Shibli and Al-Suyuti mentioned it in the context of proof, so let that be understood.
[The Laxity of Al-Hakim]
If you say: a group of muhaddithin have clarified that the authentication (tashih) of Al-Hakim by himself is invalid because he is from the mutasahilin (those lax in authentication), since there are many da’if hadiths that he authenticated and many mawdu’ hadiths that he transmitted. I say: granted, but Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Dhahabi agreed with him in its authentication and they are sufficient for you as an example [to follow] and to have confidence [in its authenticity].
[The Difference between Sahih and Hasan]
If somebody argues: Al-Dhahabi did not authenticate it, he declared it hasan, and there is a difference between hasan and sahih. We say to him: this is a difference the late-scholars (muta’akhkhirin) were infatuated by. As for the early-scholars (mutaqaddimin), many of them did not distinguish between them as different grades, rather they generalised authentication (tashih), and this is the apparent practice of Al-Hakim in his books, as mentioned by Al-Suyuti in Tadrib al-Rawi Sharh Taqrib al-Nawawi and [as mentioned by] others in other [books]. Therefore, there is no contradiction between the authentication (tashih) of Al-Hakim and Al-Bayhaqi, and Al-Dhahabi declaring [it to be] hasan. In sum, Al-Hakim is not alone in ruling it to be sahih, such that this ruling upon it is dependent [solely] on him, rather others agreed with him and walked his path.
[The Confusion (ikhtilat) of ‘Ata ibn al-Sa’ib]
If you say: how is the extended-form of the athar sahih when one of its narrators is ‘Ata ibn al-Sa’ib, and it is mentioned that he became confused (mukhtalitan) and, according to a transmission from Al-Nawawi in Sharh Sahih Muslim, Yahya ibn Ma’in mentioned that all who narrated from ‘Ata narrated from him in his state of confusion, except Shu’bah and Sufyan, and it is known to the experts of this field that whoever narrates from a confused [narrator] after his confusion, his narration is not proof, so how can the narration of Sharik from him be from that which is depended upon? I say: that which Al-Nawawi quoted from Yahya is only in accordance to what he [i.e. Yahya ibn Ma’in] discovered, for otherwise a group of the muhaddithin have mentioned in their books that [those] other than Shu’bah and Sufyan narrated from him before [his] confusion.
Hafiz ‘Abd al-Azim al-Mundhiri said in Kitab al-Targhib wa l-Tarhib:
‘Ata ibn al-Sa’ib al-Thaqafi: Ahmad said, “trustworthy and a pious man; those who heard from him in the early-period, [his narration] is authentic, and those who heard from him in the late-period, [his narration] is nothing, and the narrations of Shu’bah, Al-Thawri and Hammad ibn Zayd from him are good”. End
Hafiz ibn Hajr mentioned in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib and in the introduction to Fath al-Bari that amongst those who narrated from him before [his] confusion were Zuhayr, Za’idah, Shu’bah, Hammad ibn Zayd, Ayyub and others. Some of them transmitted from Tahdhib al-Kamal by Al-Mizzi [that] those who heard from him in the early period before he changed were Shu’bah, Sharik and Hammad. It is clear, therefore, that the confusion of Al-Sa’ib does not violate [the athar‘s] use as proof and, hereof, none of the muhaddithin faulted it, even Al-Dhahabi, who authored a book censuring the lax [authentications] of Al-Hakim; rather, all of them mentioned it in the context of proof, [based] on [the belief that] even if it is accepted [that] Sharik is not from the early narrators, there is still no defect according to these compilers, because the narration of Ibn Jarir in summary-form is a sahih corroborative report (shahid), and this hadith with the existence of a corroborative report becomes strong.
[Is it a Forgery by Al-Waqidi?]
If you say some of them mentioned from Hashiyat al-Madarik by Mulla Ilah Dad: “As for what is transmitted from Ibn ‘Abbas that ‘in every earth…,’ it is from the narration of Al-Waqidi, the liar, and the forger of hadith.” End. What is the response to this? I say: the paths which Ibn Hajar, Al-Shibli and Al-Suyuti transmitted and Al-Hakim, Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Dhahabi ruled to be sahih or hasan do not contain Al-Waqidi, so if he was in one path from amongst its paths, it does not harm what we were just discussing, because the weakness of one path from amongst its paths does not entail the unsoundness of its origin. Furthermore, in regards to Al-Waqidi, although a group of muhaddithin criticised him, he was declared trustworthy (thiqah) by a group of the verifiers like Ya’qub ibn Abi Shaybah, Abu Bakr al-Sana’i, Mus’ab al-Zubayri, Yazid ibn Harun and others, as elaborated by Fath al-Din Muhammad ibn Sayyid al-Nas in his book ‘Uyun al-Athar fi Funun al-Maghazi al-Siyar in a lengthy discussion.
[Acceptable and Unacceptable Types of Shadh Narrations]
If you say: how can the cited athar be sahih, despite being shadh, and shudhudh (isolation) negates its sihhah (authenticity) because [sihhah] has the condition of being free from shudhudh as the eminent [muhaddithin] explicated? I say: although many of the children of the time have been misled by this, it is invalid (ghayr mu’tabar) according to the scholars of the field, as it has been stipulated by them that not every shadh and munkar are unacceptable, rather from them are those that are acceptable. There are two types of shudhudh: unacceptable shududh which is the one whose absence is a condition for sihhah; and an acceptable shudhudh which does not negate sihhah. This is clear in what Zayn al-‘Iraqi said in Sharh Alfiyat al-Hadith:
The people of knowledge have differed over the hadith which has the quality of shudhudh. Al-Shafi’i said, “Shadh is not that a trustworthy [narrator] narrates that which others did not narrate; shadh is that which a trustworthy [narrator] narrates in opposition to the people.” Abu Ya’la al-Khalili related a similar [statement] from a group of the people of Hijaz. Al-Hakim said, “it is a hadith in which a trustworthy [narrator] amongst trustworthy [narrators] is alone [in narrating] it (yatafarradu bihi).” Hence, al-Hakim did not make opposition of the people a condition.
Abu Ya’la al-Khalili said, “that which the huffaz (memorisers of hadith) are [agreed] upon is that shadh is that [narration] which does not have but one isnad in which one or two trustworthy [narrators] are isolated; so that which is not [narrated by a] trustworthy [narrator] is abandoned and unacceptable and that which is from a trustworthy [narrator], [judgement] about it is withheld and it is not used as proof.” Hence, Al-Khalili did not make the aloneness of a trustworthy [narrator] a condition in shadh, rather [he considered shadh to be] aloneness in general.
Ibn al-Salah refuted what Al-Hakim and Al-Khalili said about the sahih [narration in which] trustworthy [narrators] are alone [in narrating it]. Thus, Ibn al-Salah said, “As for that which Al-Shafi’i ruled to be shadh, there is no doubt that it is unacceptable shadh and as for that which we related from others, it is problematic in regards to what [was narrated] by a righteous and precise hafiz, like the hadith ‘actions are by intentions.’ Clearer than this on this [subject] is the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade selling and making a gift of the right of inheritance of a slave. ‘Abdullah ibn Dinar was alone in [narrating] it. [Similarly,] the hadith of Malik from Al-Zuhri from Anas that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) entered Makkah with a helmet on his head. Malik was alone in [narrating] it from Al-Zuhri. All of these were transmitted in the two Sahihs despite having only one isnad, in which a trustworthy [narrator] was alone in [narrating]. Muslim said ‘Al-Zuhri has seventy unique [narrations] which he narrated from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), none shared with him in [narrating] it with good chains'”. He [i.e. Ibn al-Salah] continued, “So this and other [statements] we mentioned from the imams of hadith make clear to you that the issue here is not absolute, as Al-Khalili and Al-Hakim professed, rather the issue here is according to an elaboration we will explain. Thus, we say: when a narrator narrates something it is to be examined. If it opposes that which another, whose memory of that is better and [who is] more accurate, narrated, that which he was alone in [narrating] is shadh and rejected; and if it does not oppose that which others narrated, but it is a matter that he narrated that others did not narrate, and his proficiency (itqan) and accuracy (dabt) was certain apart from his aloneness in [narrating] it, and his aloneness in [narrating] it is not defective, [then it is sahih]; and if he is not from those whose memory and proficiency is certain for that which he was alone in [narrating], his aloneness in [narrating] it is a cause for its exclusion from the boundary of sahih; moreover, after that, it moves between varying levels, so if the one who is alone in [narrating] it is not far from the level of an acceptable and precise hafiz, his aloneness would be [a cause for it to be] deemed a hasan hadith, and if far from that, we reject that which he was alone in [narrating], and it is from the rejected [type of] shadh.” End
Al-Qadi Badr ibn Jama’ah mentioned in his Mukhtasar after transmitting the statement of Ibn al-Salah, “This is a brilliant elaboration.” End. [It is mentioned] in Im’an al-Nazr Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikar by Akram ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman, “Examining the sources for their use of [the terms] munkar and shadh reveals that [the terms] munkar and shadh do not imply that the hadith transmission is rejected.” End
Once this has been established for you, we say: that which we are [discussing] here does not have shudhudh, but because of Abu l-Duha Muslim ibn Sabih being alone in narrating it. He is trustworthy himself and his narration does not conflict with the narration of one stronger than him. Hence, the shudhudh here is not the rejected [type of] shudhudh that negates the authenticity [of the narration], rather it is acceptable. Hereof, Al-Dhahabi declared it hasan and Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Hakim authenticated it (sahhahahu). Why not, when had the shudhudh therein negated the authenticity, there would be a clear contradiction in Al-Bayhaqi ruling it to be sahih and shadh?
In sum, there is no doubt that the sanad of this cited athar is sahih or hasan, even if it is shadh. Whoever doubts this is ignorant of what the imams explicated and has opposed what many luminaries treaded upon. Why not, when the shudhudh that negates authenticity is not absolute, rather one category thereof, and that is the unacceptable shudhudh, not the acceptable [one], as Al-Suyuti said in Tadrib al-Rawi under the statement of Al-Nawawi in the definition of “sahih“, “without shudhudh or ‘illah (defect)”:
It was said: his intention behind shudhudh here is not clear. Three views were mentioned in regards to its categorisation: the opposition of a trustworthy [narrator] of one who is weightier [in narration]; generally, a trustworthy [narrator] being alone [in narrating a hadith]; generally, a narrator [trustworthy or not] being alone [in narrating a hadith]. Apparently he [i.e. Al-Nawawi] meant the first. End
Al-Sakhawi said in Fath al-Mughith bi Sharh Alfiyat al-Hadith in the discussion about sahih, that “they explained shudhudh whose absence is a condition here as the opposition of a narrator in his narration of one weightier than him, when explaining how to reconcile two narrations.” End
Thereby it is clear, [as] the clarity of the sun in the middle of the sky, that those who dispute the athar we are [discussing] here because of its shudhudh, have confused the unacceptable with the acceptable. Hence, his opinion is rejected and unacceptable, whoever he may be, because he opposes the testimony of clear evidence. Thus, one should look to what he said, not look to the one who said it.
[The Authenticity or Unauthenticity of Ibn ‘Abbas’s tafsir]
Hereof, the feeble-mindedness of what some of them say that the cited athar was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas in the tafsir of the verse, and they mention that the tafsir transmitted from Ibn ‘Abbas is unreliable because the tafsir of Ibn ‘Abbas narrated through the route of Abu Salih and Al-Kalbi and similar paths are certainly defective, should be clear to you; because all that was transmitted from him about the tafsir [of the Qur’an, was transmitted] through sahih and non-sahih paths, and you are aware that the paths of the athar we are [discussing] here are safe from defect and criticism, so must be acceptable and [sound for] use as proof.
[Its Absence from the Six Widely Circulating Books of Hadith]
Likewise the weakness of the one who says that the cited athar is not mentioned in the six circulating books so cannot be relied upon strongly at all, is clear. That is because the six books do not contain all sahih hadiths and authentication is not dependent on the clarification of the authors of the six [books]. Have you not seen the statement of Ibn Jama’ah in his Mukhtasar:
Al-Bukhari and Muslim did not exhaust all sahih [narrations] in their books. Moreover, it was said: ‘only a little escaped them’, and it was said: ‘rather, many of them escaped them, and only in the five sources did little escape [them]’ and this [opinion] is more accurate. The meaning of ‘the five sources’ is: the books of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Nasa’i. Additions to them are known to be sahih by the authentication of a reliable imam in reliable books of Sunnah, not by the mere existence of it therein, unless its compiler makes sahih [narrations] a condition [for his compilation] like the book of Ibn Khuzaymah and Abu Bakr al-Barqani. End
[There are] many similar [statements] in the books of the famous imams.
[Summary Regarding the Objections to the Authenticity of the Hadith]
It may be summarised from all of this that the sanad of the athar is sahih or hasan and is not harmed by: Al-Hakim being from the mutasahilin; the confusion of one of its narrators; the criticism of some of its paths and its shudhudh; the weakness of some of the paths of the tafsir of Ibn ‘Abbas; and the absence of it transmission in the six books.
These are the six reasons which misled many of the ‘ulama in our time, and they believed them to be decisive proofs for the rejection of the disputed athar, and that which every one of them has [of fallacies] is clear to you. None of them should be paid any attention to, let alone any of them being a decisive proof or clear evidence.
[Objections to the Athar being Suitable for Proof]
There remain other reasons they substantiate for it being unsuitable for use as proof, and for those who know the paths of the hadith and have excelled [in their knowledge] of the books of Usul al-Fiqh and Hadith, [know that] all of these [reasons] are contested.
[Solitary Reports (akhbar al-ahad) in Creed (‘aqidah)]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that it [i.e. the athar] is from the solitary reports (akhbar al-ahad), and this kind [of report] is not acceptable in beliefs (bab al-i’tiqad). You know what this has [of fallacies]: if he means by the unacceptability of khabar al-ahad in matters of belief that it does not impart certainty and decisiveness, he is correct, but there is no need for certainty here, since those who use this athar as proof and use it to establish the existence of prophets in the strata of the earths, do not rule it to be decisive and certain such that its denier is a kafir, and its rejecter is an obstinate. How so, when a general belief is sufficient for belief in the Prophets, and there is no need for a detailed belief? This is for the highest stratum, so what is your opinion about those lower than it?
If he means that it has absolutely no consideration in matters of belief, and it is not used as proof, neither decisively nor speculatively, this is incorrect according to the scholars of assessment. How so, when the ‘ulama argued over the prophethood of Dhul Qarnayn, Khidar, Tubba’, Asiyah, Maryam and others, and every side substantiated probabilistic proofs and solitary reports in support of their claim? Rather, most of what Muslims believe with regards to the conditions of the Afterlife, of the details of the resurrection, the judgement, the scales, the bridge and other well-known points [of belief], they are not established but by solitary reports. Hence, if solitary reports were disregarded completely, belief in the aforementioned matters would be incorrect.
[Its Conflict with a Hadith]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that the cited athar conflicts with what Abu Ya’la transmitted from Jabir that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked about what is below the earth, and he said “water”; it was said “then, what is below water?” He said “darkness”; it was said “what is below the darkness?” He said “wind”; it was said “what is below the wind?” He said “soil”; it was said “what is below soil?” He said “knowledge of creatures discontinues at the knowledge of the Creator.” Thus, this marfu’ hadith confirms that the knowledge of what is below the soil is withheld from people, so how can the report of Ibn ‘Abbas be reliable? The invalidity of this [argument] is not hidden to you, since this marfu’ hadith, after [accepting] the authenticity of its sanad and its safety from defects, does not supply but [the information] that the knowledge of creation stops at what is beneath the soil, which is an expression about what is below the earths. This was explicated by the imams of Tafsir. Muhyi al-Sunnah al-Baghawi said in Ma’alim al-Tanzil:
Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Indeed the earths are on the back of a fish, and the fish is in the sea, and the sea is on a green rock, which is on the horn of a bull, and the bull is upon soil and what is below the soil is not known but to Allah.” End
In Jawahir al-Qur’an by Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr al-Razi:
The soil is wet earth which is below the dry earth, and from it [derives] His (Exalted is He) statement “and whatever is beneath the soil” (20:6), and the intent is: whatever is beneath the seventh earth. End
[It is mentioned] in Al-Durr al-Manthur under His (Exalted is He) statement, “and from the earth the like thereof”:
Ibn al-Mundhir transmitted from Ibn Jurayh [that] he said, “It reached me that the width of every earth is the distance of five hundred years, and I was told that the seventh earth is above the soil.” End
[It is mentioned] in Al-Tuhfat al-Saniyyah fi Ajwibat al-As’ilat al-Mardiyya by Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Latif al-Bashishi:
Ibn Abi Hatim transmitted from Ka’b that he was asked what is below this earth and he said “water” and [it was asked] “what is below water?” He said “earth” until he counted seven earths. It was said “what is below the seventh earth?” He said “a rock” and it was said “what is below the rock?” He said “an angel” and it was said “what is below the angel?” He said “a fish whose two sides are hanging from the throne” and it was said “what is below the fish?” and he said “wind and darkness and then knowledge stops.” End
Thus, these kinds of statements prove by the clearest indication that only knowledge below the seventh earth, rather what is below those things mentioned [above], is withheld from people, not the knowledge of what is between the earths, and the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas only gives information about what is between them, not about what is under them. Thus, the [apparent] contradiction is negated with certainty.
[Its Conflict with another Hadith]
From these [reasons] is their statement that it conflicts with the marfu’ hadith in the two Sahihs and other [books]: “Whoever usurps even one span of the land of somebody, his neck will be encircled with it down the seven earths,” because this shows that the lower earths follow this earth in [its] laws, and don’t have their own laws, while the athar which we are [discussing] here indicates that every earth has its own law and creation, and there is no doubt that this athar is lesser in status than that hadith, so the athar is rejected and the hadith is accepted. Its answer is that there is no manner of contradiction between them, because the cited hadith only shows what Allah prepared for one who usurps land on the Day of Recompense, and there is no manner of indication that there is no creation in the strata of the earths, or that all of them are connected, so where is the contradiction?
[Its Conflict with another Hadith]
From these [reasons] is their statement that it contradicts the marfu’ hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr which is narrated in al-Mustadrak and other [books that] he said: Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Verily [in regards to] the earths, between each earth and the one which follows it is the distance of five hundred years; the second is the prison of wind; the third of them is a stone of Jahannam; the fourth of them is the sulphur of Jahannam; by the One in Whose hand is my soul, therein are valleys of sulphur [and] had mountains been sent [there], they would melt; the fifth of them are the snakes of Jahannam, indeed their mouths are like valleys; and the sixth of them are the scorpions of Jahannam, indeed the least of the scorpions [in size] is like a mule; and the seventh of them is the fire of Jahnannam, and therein is Iblis, chained with iron; so when Allah wants to free him for whatever He wills, He frees him,” since this report informs [us] that in the strata of the earth are snakes, scorpions, winds etc. and the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas informs [us] that therein are accountable creatures and prophets, and there is a difference between them, and when they conflict, the marfu’ [narration] is adopted, and the non-marfu’ [narration] is abandoned.
It is rejected for two reasons: firstly, because contradiction between two hadiths is only realised when they are equal from the perspective of the sanads, and here [they are] not [equal], so there is no [actual conflict]. That is because the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas is sahih or hasan in sanad, and never will a defect be found therein if Allah wills, and those who ruled it be weak, like Al-Nur al-Halabi in Insan al-Hayawan, Al-Qastallani in Irshad al-Sari and Al-Zurqani in Sharh al-Muwatta’ were only misled because of the shudhudh, as is not hidden to one who has studied their statements and immersed himself in their words; and you already know that the shudhudh here is acceptable not rejected, so the ruling of weakness is premised on it not being free of shudhudh; nonetheless they [i.e. Al-Nur al-Halabi, Al-Qastallani and Al-Zurqani] are not from the scholars of authentication, such that they are relied upon in weakening and authentication, while those who authenticated it or declared it hasan like Al-Dhahabi, Al-Hakim, Al-Bayhaqi, etc, are from the scholars of authentication, so can any sane person prefer the statement of that group over this group? Of course not, by Allah. Rather, we bring them down to their levels and we fulfil their due. [This is] in contrast to the hadith of Ibn ‘Amr, since Abu l-Samh Darraj is in its [chain of] narration and he is disputed according to the scholars specialised in proof, as [mentioned] in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib by Hafiz ibn Hajr:
‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad said from his father, “his hadith is munkar“, Al-Darimi said [relating] from Ibn Ma’in, “[he is] trustworthy”, Al-Nasa’i said, “[he is] not strong”, Abu Hatim said, “[there is] weakness in his hadith” and Al-Daraqutni said, “[he is] abandoned”. End, in summary-form.
Hereof, they differed over its ruling, so Al-Hakim ruled it to be sahih, Al-Suyuti said in Takhrij Ahadith Sharh al-Mawaqif, “its sanad is hasan“, Al-Dhahabi ruled it to be munkar, as Al-Suyuti said in al-Durr al-Manthur: “Ibn Abi Hatim and Al-Hakim, who authenticated it, transmitted it and Al-Dhahabi disagreed with him, saying, ‘[it is] munkar.'”
Let not [the comment], “the cited athar is mawquf and the hadith of Ibn ‘Amr is marfu’ and in such a [situation], the marfu’ is given preference” deceive you, as you will come to know that the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas also has the ruling of marfu’.
Secondly, even if we accept that the hadith of Ibn ‘Amr is the same in strength as the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas or stronger than it, there is, nonetheless, no conflict in their meanings, since there is no negation of the existence of accountable individuals in the strata of the earths in the hadith of Ibn ‘Amr, such that it comes into conflict with what is established, rather, it is silent about it, so it is possible that there is a habitation of animals also in the strata below, and for accountable individuals and prophets too, and this is proven by the narration of Ibn Jarir in summary-form as has passed more than once.
[The Objection that it is Ambiguous]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas is ambiguous because it does not explain the manner in which Adam is compared with Adam, Nuh with Nuh etc. and whatever has that status is not accepted. The dimwittedness of this does not escape you because ambiguity (ijmal) is an expression about the hiddenness of meaning, whereby the objective is not realised except by the speaker [himself], as is stated in the mukhtasar [abbreviated] works of the science, and the existence of this meaning in what we are [discussing] here is rejected, because the meaning here is at the peak of clarity, as you will learn. Had only the absence of clarification from the Lawgiver necessitated ambiguity, most of the texts of the Qur’an and hadith would fall within the boundary of problematic passages (mu’dal).
[The Objection that the Phrase “Your Prophet” is Disbelief]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that it is mentioned in the cited athar “a prophet like your Prophet” and the phrase “your Prophet” in respect to our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is a word of disbelief because it implies he is not the prophet to the speaker, so how can an eminent Companion say this, rather none says this but a humiliated opponent. You can see its weakness and invalidity. My hair stood on end and my chest became perplexed when transmitting it in order to refute it, and were it not for fear of the time-wasting of the ignorant, silence about it would be lighter than refuting it. As for the clear knowledge of this ignorant needy-one, [it is] that this phrase was narrated in many of the books of hadith and the Companions did not see any problem in it, nor those less than them from the ‘ulama of the past and present. Thus, [it is narrated] in Sahih Muslim from Ibn Mas’ud [that] he said, “He who likes to meet Allah tomorrow as a Muslim, he should persevere in observing these prayers, when a call is announced for them, for Allah has laid down for your Prophet the paths of right guidance, and these [prayers] are among the paths of right guidance. If you were to pray in your houses as this man who stays away [from the mosque] and prays in his house, you would abandon the practice of your Prophet, and would go astray.” Hereof, [it was narrated] from ‘Umar [that] he said, “Know that your Prophet has said: Indeed Allah raises by this Book peoples and lowers others.” Hereof, [it was narrated] from Abu Hassan [that] he said, “It was said to Ibn ‘Abbas ‘this matter has spread amongst the people: one who circumambulates the Ka’bah, his circumambulation unties the umrah’; he said ‘[it is] the practice of your Prophet, even if you claim it.'” [It was narrated] in Hilyat al-Awliya’ from Mu’adh [that] he said, “Say not that I have a prayer-place in my house where I pray therein, for indeed if you do that you would have left the practice of your Prophet, and if you leave the practice of your Prophet, you would go astray.” There are many similar [pronouncements], which are famous in the books of reports, so to Allah we complain of the statements of the ignorant, talking of what the sky is ready to burst from and the earth split asunder and the mountains to fall down in ruins, and they think they are from the perfect ones, so upon them is their misfortune and the misfortune of those destroyed by them.
[Its Conflict with the Statement that the Strata are Connected]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that the cited athar is contrary to what some of the perfect ones mention that the strata of the earth are connected not separate, so how is the existence of prophets imaginable therein? You can see that this statement is like the previous one in its invalidity. Does not the ignorant, foolish one know that the separation of the strata and there being between one and the other that which is between one sky and [the next] sky is the position that the majority of the imams of Islam have preferred and great scholars have ruled it to be sahih, and is what the Prophetic reports (upon their speaker the best of prayers and greetings) attest to? As for the statement of the one who says [the earths are] connected, it is rejected, and is not heeded, and the best excuse in his defence is that the reports did not reach him, for otherwise he would not have contradicted them.
If you say: when the strata of the earth are separate, through which path do the rays [of sunlight] reach the inhabitants of the lower strata? I say: there are two views about this: first, that they see the sky from every side of their earth and they gain light therefrom, and this is the statement of those who believe the earth to be flat; second, that Allah created for them a light that they see, and this is the statement of those who believe it to be spherical. Sulayman al-Jamal said this in Hawashi al-Jalalayn as did others. [It is mentioned] in Hawashi Tafsir al-Baydawi by Al-Shihab al-Khafaji:
His statement, “and of the earth the like thereof” in number, is an indication that the earth, like the heaven, has seven separate strata, and this is well-known in the sahih hadiths. It was said they are seven regions. This is not a matter from the immediate necessities of the religion (dururiyat al-din), such that the one who denies it or hesitates about it is anathematised (yukaffaru). That which we believe is that they are seven strata and they have inhabitants from His creation that Allah knows. End
That which would convey [this information] in this context from the statements of the great scholars has passed from us, so one should examine [them].
[The Statement of a Companion in which Ijtihad is not Possible is Equivalent to a Marfu’ Hadith]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that the cited athar is not marfu’ to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the statement of a Companion is not proof in such matters with resolve. This is clear sophistry and clear error, since the statement of a Companion in what cannot be deciphered by reason has the ruling of marfu’ and is a proof just like a marfu’ [narration] according to the experts of the science, as Hafiz ibn Hajar said in Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikar:
Whatever a Companion says in which there is no scope for ijtihad, nor does it pertain to a linguistic explanation, nor an uncommon exegesis, like giving information about the events of the past, like the start of creation and information about the Prophets, or the future, like the wars and tribulations before the Day of Resurrection, it is a statement that is equivalent in ruling to a marfu’ [narration]. It has the ruling of marfu’ because his relaying of that entails he was informed of it [himself] since there is no scope of ijtihad therein, and a Companion depends on none but the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). End
He also said in Kitab al-Nukat ‘ala ibn Salah:
Whatever a Companions says in which there is no scope for ijtihad, like giving information of past events, like the beginning of creation and the stories of Prophets, and about future events, like wars and tribulations, and the description of the Garden and the Fire, and giving information about an action by which a specific reward or a specific punishment is acquired, it has the ruling of marfu’. End
Al-Zayn al-‘Iraqi in Sharh Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi in his Sharh, al-Fakhr al-Razi in al-Mahsul, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in his Sharh al-Muwatta’ and other [scholars] in their works expressed a similar [view]. Al-Suyuti discussed this at length in Tulu’ al-Thurayya bi Izhari ma kana Khafiyyan. Based on this [principle], the athar which we are [discussing] here, because it pertains to information about the Prophets and the beginning of creation and the like of that of which there is no scope for ijtihad therein, it is regarded as marfu’ not mawquf, so it is a proof without doubt.
Hereof, the statement of those who say that the tafsir of a Companion pertaining to the reason for revelation (sabab al-nuzul) is acceptable and it has the ruling of marfu’ without doubt, but [if] other than that, it is not so according to the scholars of the transmitted sciences, is false, and that is because it conflicts with what the reliable scholars explicated and the trustworthy scholars explained.
[The Difference between Hadith and Athar]
Likewise, the statement of those who say that the disputed athar is not a hadith is clearly invalid. This is because if he means by his statement “it is not a hadith” that it is not marfu’, then you know its invalidity and that it has the ruling of marfu’, and if he means that it is not called hadith in the usage of the scholars of the science, then besides it not being a substantive [objection] in opposition [to the athar], it is not [correct] according to the books of the science. Al-Suyuti said in Tadrib al-Rawi:
Al-Tibi said “Hadith is more inclusive than it being the statement of the Messenger (upon him blessings and peace), [as it includes the statements of] the companion and the successors, their actions and their approvals.” End
[Is it an Israelite Report?]
If you say: all that you have mentioned of the statement of a Companion in what cannot be deciphered by reason having the ruling of marfu’, it is not absolute, rather this is in regards to the statement of a Companion who does not take from the reports of the Israelites and their books; as for the statement of those whose habit this was, then this is not so, as explicated by Al-Zayn al-‘Iraqi and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani. I say: although this is famous in the books of the latter-day scholars, it is not accepted decisively by the verifiers. Consider the discussion of Al-Shams al-Sakhawi in Fath al-Mughith bi Sharh Alfiyat al-Hadith:
Ibn al-‘Arabi said in Al-Qabs: “When a Companion uttered a statement, not necessitated by logic, then it is understood to be connected to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and the position of Malik and Abu Hanifah is that it is like the connected (musnad) [report].” End
This is apparent from Al-Shafi’i using the statement of ‘A’ishah, “prayer was prescribed in two cycles, two cycles (rak’atyn rak’atyn)” as proof in the jadid [late school], since he gave it the ruling of marfu’ as there is no scope for personal opinion therein. The clearest evidence is that Abu Hurayrah narrated to Ka’b al-Ahbar the hadith, “A group of Israelites were lost while none knew what they did.” So Ka’b said to him, “You heard this from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace)?” He said “Yes.” He repeated that [i.e. the question] several times, and Abu Hurayrah said to him, “Do I read the Torah?” Al-Bukhari transmitted in Bad’ al-Khalq in his Sahih.
Our shaykh, Ibn Hajar, said, “In it is [an indication] that Abu Hurayrah did not take from the Ahl al-Kitab and, when a Companion like this gives information of that which there is no scope for personal opinion therein, the hadith has the ruling of marfu’.” End
This demands the restriction of the ruling of marfu’ to its issuance from those who did not take from the Ahl al-Kitab, and our shaykh clarified this in his discussion about the tafsir of a Companion, and his shaykh preceded him in this restriction.
I say: this [view] is questionable. It is farfetched that a Companion characterised by taking from the Ahl al-Kitab would allow relating something from the rulings of Shari’ah in which there is no scope for personal opinion, relying upon that [i.e. the previous scriptures] without citation, despite his knowledge of what has occurred therein [i.e. the previous scriptures] of change and distortion. Hence, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As called his manuscript Al-Nabawiyya al-Sadiqah to caution [people] from Al-Sahifah al-Yarmukiyyah which was [written] in order to confuse [people] about the Muhammadan Shari’ah. So, how farfetched it would be for them to [do] that. End
Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari said in Fath al-Baqi Sharh Alfiya al-‘Iraqi:
Whatever is transmitted from a Companion and is mawquf upon him, the ruling of that which is not said from personal opinion is marfu’, since there is no place for ijtihad therein, even if taking from Ahl al-Kitab is possible, in good opinion of him. End
Even if we accept that the statement of a Companion does not always have the ruling of marfu’, rather only the statements of those who do not take from the Ahl al-Kitab; and as far as those who take from them are concerned, his speech does not have the ruling of marfu’ even if it is from that which is not deciphered through reason, then it still does not harm us, because Ibn ‘Abbas who narrated the disputed athar, was one of those who repudiated those who took from the Ahl al-Kitab, and would himself avoid the reports of the Ahl al-Kitab, as [mentioned] in Sahih al-Bukhari with his sanad from ‘Ikrimah from him, that he said, “How can you ask the Ahl al-Kitab about their books while you have Allah’s Book which is the most recent of the Books revealed by Allah, and you read it in its pure and unadulterated form?” He transmitted with his sanad from ‘Ubayd Allah that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said, “O group of Muslims! How can you ask the Ahl al-Kitab about anything while your Book which Allah has revealed to your Beloved contains the most recent news from Allah and is pure and unadulterated? Allah has told you that the Ahl al-Kitab have changed some of Allah’s Books, distorted it, and wrote the scripture with their hands and then say, “This is from Allah,” that they may purchase a small gain therewith [in reference to Qur’an 2:79]. Won’t the knowledge that has come to you stop you from asking them? No, by Allah, we have never seen a man from them asking you about that which has been revealed to you.”
[It is mentioned] in Fath al-Mughith by Al-Sakhawi:
‘Umar forbade Ka’b from narrating from that which is [mentioned] in the previous books, saying: “you will certainly leave it, or I will place you in a land of monkeys.” Clearer than this is Ibn ‘Abbas’s prohibition of it even if it agrees with our Book; he said “we have no need for that.” Similarly Ibn Ma’sud and other Companions prohibited such [an act]. End
Hafiz ibn Hajar transmitted in Nata’ij al-Afkar bi Takhriji Ahadith al-Adhkar with his sanad from Ibn ‘Abbas [that] he said, “The talbiya of Musa was ‘I am here, I am here, your slave, and the son of you slave’ and the talbiya of ‘Isa was ‘I am here, I am here, your slave, the son of your slave-girl.'” Then he said:
This is mawquf with a hasan isnad. Al-Bazzar transmitted it in his Musnad and it appears that according to him it has the ruling of marfu’ because Ibn ‘Abbas did not speak from personal opinion and would denounce those who took from the Ahl al-Kitab, as Al-Bukhari transmitted from him. End
So it is clear that there is no doubt about the disputed athar being a proof with the ruling of marfu’, and the dissent of those who disagree, is removed and rejected. Thereby, the invalidity of the reliance of those who rely in this context on the statement of Ibn Kathir in Al-Bidayah in regard to this athar that “it is understood to have been taken from the Israelites if its transmission from Ibn ‘Abbas is sahih, and when this and similar [narrations] are not narrated from an infallible, and its sanad up to him is sahih, it is rejected upon its narrator” is clear.
It was transmitted from him by Al-Sakhawi in Al-Maqasid al-Hasanah and Al-Qastallani in Irshad al-Sari and others in other [works]. That [i.e. its clear invalidity] is because the supposition that the athar we are [discussing] here was taken from the Israelites did not come to the mind of any, as far as we know, besides Ibn Kathir, and he was imitated by those who imitated him, and it is only his supposition without relying on what is verified, and it is refuted by clear texts and shining proofs. Will a sane person reject the text of Al-Bukhari and accept the supposition of Ibn Kathir? From that which refutes him, also, is the statement of Al-Suyuti in Al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an:
The Companions transmitted less from the Ahl al-Kitab than the Successors transmitted [from them]. When a Companion has resolve about what he said, how can it be claimed that he took it from the Ahl al-Kitab, when they forbade assenting to them? End
[Is the Matn Weak?]
From these [reasons] is the statement of some of them that even if the cited athar‘s sanad is sahih, the authenticity of the sanad does not entail the authenticity of the matn, since the isnad is often authentic while there is shudhudh and defects in the matn that infringe on its authenticity and reliability, as Al-Qastallani mentioned in Irshad al-Sari and others in other [works]. Its response is that Ibn al-Salah said in his Muqaddimah after mentioning something similar to what is mentioned [above]:
However, when a reliable compiler from amongst them [i.e. the muhaddithin] restricts his comments to “the isnad is sahih” and does not mention any defect in it and does not object to it, the apparent ruling is it is sahih in itself, because the absence of a defect and an objection is the default. End
Al-‘Iraqi said in Sharh al-Alfiyah after quoting this:
I say: similarly, if he restricts his comments to “the isnad is hasan“, and does not follow it up with a weakness, it too is ruled to be hasan. End
It is known that Al-Hakim restricted his comments in respect to the athar which we are [discussing] here to “sahih in isnad” and did not clarify any objectionable defect in it; and the reliance of the critics, Al-Dhahabi, restricted his comments to “hasan in isnad” and did not mention a critical defect; although Al-Bayhaqi mentioned a defect in regards to it, but it is from that which does not impinge on its soundness and authenticity as you know. It is clear, therefore, that the ruling, without uncertainty, is that both the matn and the sanad are authentic.
These are their [i.e. the objectors] statements in regards to rejecting the cited athar, and you know that not one of them is suitable for acceptance, and not one of them is a victorious statement. There are other statements which are more adequately called “superstitions” (khurafat); they are different to those mentioned. We will not waste time mentioning them, and refuting them.
Chapter Two: on the verification of the meaning in accordance to what the context indicates
Know that there is no doubt that earth has seven strata like the seven heavens and that between each of them and the next is the distance of five hundred years just as [the distance] between one heaven and [another] heaven. This is established in sahih hadiths, narrated in the reliable books, and is the outward [meaning] of His (Exalted is He) statement, “Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof”. This is the position of the generality of the fuqaha‘ and muhaddithun, and whoever opposes this or comes short [of accepting] all that is [mentioned] here, he is excused because the sahih reports did not reach him, or it reached him but he believed them to be inauthentic. In sum, his statement in this subject is unacceptable by reason and transmission.
[The Varying Opinions about the Creatures on the other Earths]
There is also no doubt that in every earth of these earths is a creation and a world. [This] was clarified by a group of verifiers, but of them were those who consigned its details to the knowledge of Allah (Exalted is He), like Al-Shihab al-Khufaji in Hawashi Tafsir al-Baydawi and Sayyid al-Jurjani in Sharh al-Mawaqif and Ibn Abi Jumrah in Sharh Mukhtasar Sahih al-Bukhari.
And of them are those who ruled that the strata below are abodes of the jinn according to what is mentioned in some reports, like Al-Shibli, Al-Zurqani, Al-Halabi and Al-Qastallani.
And of them are those who mentioned that every stratum has a different [intelligent] species, as in Bada’i al-Duhur and others. Wahb ibn Munabbih said:
When Allah created the earth, it was one stratum and He split it and transformed it into seven, as He did with the heavens, and made between one stratum and the [next] stratum the distance of five hundred years. The name of the highest stratum is Adim, the second Basit, the third Thaqil, the fourth Batikh, the fifth Janb, the sixth Masikah, the seventh Al-Thura. The inhabitants of the second earth are peoples called Al-Tamas and their food is from their flesh and their drink is from their blood. The inhabitants of the third are peoples whose faces are like the faces of the children of Adam, their mouths are like the mouths of dogs, their hands are like the hands of the children of Adam, their legs are like the legs of cows, and hair like the wool of sheep cover their bodies which [function] as clothing for them. The inhabitants of the fourth are peoples called Al-Hulham; they have no eyes or feet, but they have wings. The fifth of them are people like mules and they have tails, each tail is around three hundred cubits. The sixth of them are peoples called Al-Huthum and they have black bodies and have claws like the claws of predatory animals. The seventh contains the abode of Iblis and his armies. End, in summary form.
The verifiable truth in this subject that is closest to the truth, is to say: there is no doubt about the existence of creatures in all the strata as proven by the narrations, and as for its particular [type], which species they have and in which form and shape, that is consigned to the knowledge of Allah (Exalted is He), and the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas proves that there are Adams like our Adam and Prophets like our Prophet therein.
[Three Paths in the Explanation of the Athar of Ibn ‘Abbas]
The ‘ulama differed in the explanation of this according to three paths:
[The Path of the Sufis]
First, it is understood as the World of Examples (‘alam al-mithal) which is an isthmus between the two worlds of the Unseen (ghayb) and the Seen (shahadah). This is the path of the purified Sufis and the people of perfection. Husayn al-Diyarbakri said in Kitab al-Khamis fi Ahwal Anfus Nafis
In al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah [it is mentioned] that when Allah created Adam who was the first human body, and made him the basis of the existence of all human bodies, an excess amount remained from the ripe part of his clay from which was created the palm tree, which is the sister of Adam and our paternal aunt, and the Law [i.e. the Qur’an and hadith] designated it as our aunt and compared it to a believer, since it has wonderful secrets unlike all other vegetation. After the creation of the palm, the amount of a sesame seed remained from the clay, so Allah created from that excess part an earth with expansive space. Allah created from the totality of its worlds, a world in our image. When a Gnostic perceives it, he sees himself therein. This was alluded to by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas in what was narrated from him in the hadith, “This ka’bah is one house from fourteen houses and indeed in every earth from the seven earths is a creation like us, so verily therein is an Ibn ‘Abbas like me.” This narration has been confirmed by the people of unveiling (kashf). End
An equivalent [passage] is found in [several] places of Al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah. [It is mentioned] in Misbah al-Zalam fi Dhikri Mazal al-Hukama al-A’lam:
Know that the hadiths proving the [World of] Examples are abundant. From them is what was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas in the hadith, “the Ka’bah is one house from fourteen houses and indeed in every earth of the seven earths is a creation like us, so there is an Ibn ‘Abbas like me.” End
[The Path of Interpretation]
The second path is the path of interpretation (ta’wil), which is that it [i.e. the athar] is understood as every stratum from the earthly strata having a guide designated by the name of a Prophet in this stratum. Hence, in them is an Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim and Muhammad, and they are not prophets in reality, rather they take the laws from the Prophets in this stratum and they convey it to their people in their stratum, as Nur al-Halabi said in Insan al-‘Uyun. Al-Suyuti said:
It is possible to interpret it so the meaning of these [prophets] is “warners” who would convey to the jinn [the message] from the prophets of man, and it is not farfetched to call each of them by the name of the Prophet from whom this speech he conveyed, i.e. then our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would have a messenger from the jinn whose name is the same as his name, and perhaps the intent is his famous name, which is “Muhammad”, so consider. End
Al-Qastallani, Al-Zurqani and others mentioned something similar.
[The Weakness of the Second Path]
It is not hidden to the bright and intelligent person what this contains [of fallacies]:
Firstly, interpretation is only resorted to when understanding the speech in its apparent [meaning] will lead to a corrupt [meaning], and when it is not so, then the interpretation of the interpreter is rejected, and here the speech, understood on its apparent [meaning], does not lead to a corrupt [meaning], so the interpretation of the interpreter is not accepted.
Secondly, it is understood from this interpretation that the comparison mentioned in the athar, of Adam [being] like Adam and Nuh like Nuh is [only] in the name, and it is known that such a statement is empty of any substantial benefit.
Thirdly, the phrase “prophet like your Prophet” announces in the loudest voice that in every stratum is a prophet resembling the Chief of Prophets, and according to this path, his being a prophet is negated. Hence, this interpretation is absolutely rejected, and the view that the use of “prophet” here is by way of exaggeration and lenience [in the use of words] is a view rejected by rational and transmitted proofs.
[The Path of Verification]
The third path is the path of verification, which is that in every stratum of these strata was sent prophets to the creatures and they were prophets from the Real [i.e. Allah] to the creation in reality, not that they would warn and guide from the Prophets of this stratum. From these [prophets] are those that resemble Adam and from them are those that resemble Nuh and from them are those that resemble the Chief of the World, and this is the view that Al-Shibli and those who followed him preferred.
[Analysis of the Three Paths]
It is not hidden to one who has a grasp of the transmitted sciences that the path of interpretation from these three paths is rejected by reason and transmission because of what you know of what it contains of the three fallacies, although a group of the late-scholars (muta’khkhirin) were fond of it, and a group of muhaddithin considered it good. As for the first path, it is the purest of the three paths, but it is that which moderate minds cannot accept. Therefore, it is best to prefer the third path, for indeed it is the best and brightest [opinion].
This [path] is supported by the apparent [meaning] of the speech of Al-Jalal al-Mahalli, where he said in the explanation of Surah al-Talaq:
“And of the earth the like thereof” in number; “the command” the revelation “descends between them” between the heavens and the earth: Jibril descends with it from the seventh heaven. End
And likewise Al-Baghawi said in Ma’alim al-Tanzil:
“Allah is He who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof” in number, the command descends between them by revelation from the seventh sky to the lowest earth. End
Hence, this exegesis proves that revelation is brought down by Jibril to the lower strata also and the apparent [meaning] of revelation (wahy) is the revelation of laws, particularly when it is connected to Jibril, although it [i.e. “revelation”] is used for other [meanings].
[The Comparison does not entail Exact Likeness]
If you say: when the existence of Prophets in the lower strata is the preferred [view], what then is the manner of the comparison of one of them with the Chief of the Prophets? I say: the first of them is like Adam in first-ness and the last of them is like the Seal of the Prophets in seal-ness.
If one replies that this necessitates the existence of one like our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and it has been stipulated in the books of the Ahl al-Sunnah that his likeness in his special qualities is impossible for others with certainty. We say to him: No, it does not necessitate that, and it only necessitates that if the comparison is in all the qualities of perfection, or all the special qualities. His [exact] likeness is not necessary from the comparison, for it is enough to share even a single attribute, as is established in the science of similes (fann al-tashbih). Hence, the comparison here is only in the seal and in last-ness, not in other than that of the qualities of perfection.
[The Seal of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is Absolute]
If it is said: this necessitates that our Prophet is not the Seal of the Prophets with complete encompassment (istighraq), according to what is learnt from His (Exalted is He) statement “the Seal of the Prophets” (33:40), since the lam [i.e. the definite particle al] prefixed to it implies istighraq, and that is because “seal” is an expression about a prophet being after all the Prophets and, thereby, completing the incompleteness of prophethood and elevating the building [of prophethood]; so, if the seals are multiple, where is the seal? We say: the apparent [meaning] of the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas proves that Allah sent Prophets to the inhabitants of every earth and extended the series of prophethood in all of them just as in the highest stratum. It is acknowledged that every series must have a first and a last, since it is necessary that in every stratum there is a prophet who is the first of the prophets in that stratum and a prophet who is the last of the prophets in that stratum, and the rest are between them, just as in the highest stratum the first of them is Adam and the last of them is Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and the rest are between them. So the first of every stratum resembles the first of this stratum and the last of every stratum the last of this stratum and this comparison is only in first-ness and last-ness, not in anything else, so from this perspective, multiple seals result. However, the seal of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is actual in relation to all Prophets in all levels, in the sense that none will be given prophethood after him in any of the strata and the seal-ship of the seals from the other strata is limited to his stratum, so the multiplicity of seals does not harm the seal-ship of our Prophet by way of istighraq.
[The Inclusiveness of the Message of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)]
If you say: it is established that our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Seal of the Prophets in reality and that his message is general and inclusive of all accountable people and not restricted to time, place, or group of accountable people. According to this, it is not possible for there to be multiples seals, since the only possibilities are: either, the existence of the remainder of the seals was in his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) time or after him or before him. There is no means of [accepting] the first, because the only possibilities then are: either the remainder of the seals follow the Shari’ah of our Prophet or do not follow [it], and if they do not follow it, it entails that the Shari’ah of our Prophet is not inclusive, and if they follow [it], they are included in the group of the ummah, and prophethood does not remain for them. There is no means [of accepting] the second, because it entails our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is not the Seal of the Prophets. There is no means [of accepting] the third, because they are then included amongst individual Prophets not individuals seals.
I say: there is no doubt of the invalidity of the second possibility, which is that the existence of the seals in those strata is after him, since it was narrated that there is no prophet after him, and it is established in its place that he is the Seal of the Prophets absolutely and totally. As for the first and third possibilities there is no proof indicating their invalidity, and that is because it is possible that the time of the last prophet of every stratum is not the same as the time of our seal (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and that it is before him. If it is before him there is no harm in our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) being the seal for all of them and for other than them and their seal being limited to their stratum. If it is same there is also no restriction to the generality of the message of our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) because they will then be prophets in relation to their people, seals in relation to the prophets of their stratum, and despite this, they will follow the inclusive Shari’ah of our Prophet. So their being prophets and seals does not affect the inclusiveness of the message of the master of the two worlds. Have you not seen what Al-Suyuti and others transmitted from Al-Subki that he said:
There is no a prophet but Allah took from him a covenant that if Muhammad were sent in his time, he would believe in him and help him and counsel his people to [do] that, and in [doing] that is a loftiness and greatness that is not hidden. In this [is an indication] that because of this, supposing they were existent in his time, he would be sent to them, and his prophethood and messengership would be inclusive of all the creation from the time of Adam to the Day of Resurrection, and all the Prophets and their nations would be from his ummah, and his statement, “I was sent to all the people” would not be restricted to the people from his time till the Day of Resurrection, rather it will include [all those before]. Hence, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Prophet of the Prophets (nabiyy al-anbiya), and if his time coincided with the time of Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa or ‘Isa, it would be necessary for them and their peoples to believe in him and help him, and on that Allah took from them a covenant. His command was dependent on meeting with him, so if he existed in their time, it would be necessary for them to follow him. For this [reason], ‘Isa will come at the end time with his Shari’ah, while he is a noble prophet himself, and nothing will be diminished from him. Similarly, had the the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) been sent in his time, or in the time of Musa, Ibrahim or Nuh, they would remain as Prophets and Messengers to their peoples and the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would be the Prophet over them and the Messenger to all of them. Hence, his prophethood and messengership are the most inclusive and greatest. End
If you wish for more clarification on what we mentioned whereby all traces of doubt will be removed, and all objections will be repelled, then listen: when Allah (Exalted is He) made a series of prophethood in every stratum for the guidance of their inhabitants, it is necessary that each of them had a first and a last [prophet], since an infinite series is absurd by rational and transmitted proofs. Hence, in the highest stratum, He made the first [Prophet] therein our master Adam and the last therein our master Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and He made him the Seal of Messengers and Prophets and He made his message general and inclusive. In the lower strata He also made for them a first and a last, so the first of every stratum resembles Adam, and this is the meaning of the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas “an Adam like your Adam”. The last prophet in every stratum, from the perspective that no prophet will come into existence after him, resembles the Seal of the Prophets (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and this is the meaning of his statement “a prophet like your Prophet”, meaning just as Allah made your Prophet a seal in this stratum, in the same way in every stratum is a prophet who is the seal of its prophets, so in being a seal, he resembles your Prophet. Hence, this comparison is only in being the seal, not in being the actual seal, since the plurality of actual seals is impossible, so the seal of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is actual and the seal of all seals besides him is relative. If the remainder of the seals passed away before the Seal of the Prophets there is no debate in principle. If their time was one with his time, it would be necessary for them [to follow him], since his messengership is general and his message is inclusive. And it is not possible they will come into existence after the Seal of the Prophets.
It is, therefore, clear that the athar of Ibn ‘Abbas is one that has no fault, neither in sanad nor in matn, and neither in form nor in meaning, and Allah is the Guardian of Success and from Him is guidance to the straight path. This is the last sentence in this place. It was completed on Wednesday 29th Dhu l-Qa’dah from the months of the year 1292 after Hijrah (January, 1876 CE) in Makkah, the glorious (Allah increase it in glory and honour). All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings be upon His Messenger, Muhammad, and his family and all his companions.
A copy of what the respected Mawlana Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Mujaddidi al-Dahlawi, an inhabitant of Madinah, wrote, at the end of this treatise in verification and confirmation:
All praise to Allah, First and Last, and prayers and peace upon His Messenger, always and forever.
The emergence of comparable images in various places is something established rationally and by transmission. The law and reason do no reject it. It is decisive, and the unveiling (kashf) of the two imams of tariqah and shari’ah, of the wujudi (existential) and shuhudi (perceptive) [schools], Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-‘Arabi al-Andalusi al-Ta’i and Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ahad al-Sirhindi, concur with them, as [mentioned] in Al-Futuhat and Al-Maktubat.
That which the learned and great scholar Mawlana Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hayy wrote is most adequate of acceptance.
Written by ‘Abd al-Ghani Abu Sa’id al-Mujaddidi al-Dahlawi (Allah pardon him by His subtle grace).
Majmu’ah Rasa’il al-Lakhnawi, Edited by Na’im Ashraf Nur Ahmad (publishers: Intisharat Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad Jam), vol. 1, pp. 395-423
- ’Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi wrote about this controversy in his refutation of Sayyid Siddiq Hasan Khan as follows: “The ‘ulama of our time have taken various opinions and views on this issue, and the dispute has led to takfir (declaration of disbelief) and tadlil (declaration of deviance), though this issue is not one in which either of the two opinions is ruled to be kufr (disbelief) and an evil path. I have compiled three treatises on this [issue]: two are in the Urdu language, the first Al-Ayat al-Bayyinat ‘ala Wujud al-Anbiya’ fi l-Tabaqat and the second Dafi’ al-Waswas fi Athar ibn ‘Abbas in which I verified the matter in a beautiful manner and I repelled the doubts of many skeptics using the method of verification; and the third is in Arabic, called Zajr al-Nas ‘ala Inkari Athar ibn ‘Abbas in which I included the conclusions of the previous two treatises, and I added therein many [quotes] from the books which Allah graced me to read in the two Noble Harams. I finished writing it in Makkah, the glorious, on 29th Dhu l-Qa’dah of the year 1292 after Hijrah (January, 1876 CE). The ‘ulama of the two Harams came across it and they commended it and praised its contents.” (Ibraz al-Ghayy al-Waqi’ fi Shifa’ al-’Ayy, p. 82) [↩]