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Hadith Commentary

Slavery in Islam

It behooves us, before commencing on the commentary of the hadiths on the emancipation of slaves, to produce here a short essay in which we discuss the reality of slavery and its place in Islam, because a lot of commotion has been caused amongst the Muslims by the westerners and their devotees for allowing slavery, and the people of this age claim it is a blemish on the forehead of religion and a reason to doubt Islam. And there is no power, nor might, except with Allah, the Mighty, the Great.
The cause of the error in this respect is that the westerners and their devotees analogise the slaves of Islam to the slaves of Greece, Rome and Europe who would live in the utmost debasement, difficulty and desolation. Their humanity was not recognised and no rights were afforded them and they hadn’t the slightest share in social intercourse.
The truth is that the slave in Islam differs from these slaves completely, and we ought to begin this study with the testimony of a well-known European Orientalist, Professor Gustave Le Bon, who wrote in his famous book known as The Civilisation of the Arabs:

Deviant Beliefs

The Prohibition of Prostrating to Other than Allah

I say: The hadiths of the chapter explicitly prove the impermissibility of prostrating to other than Allah, and they prove that it has been specified for the Everlasting God and it is not suitable for a mortal, whether a prophet or a saint, whether living or dead. The distinction between [the prostrations of] worship (ta‘abbud), reverence (ta‘zim) and greeting (tahiyyah) is a baseless distinction invented by extremists, because Mu‘adh did not prostrate to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) due to his belief regarding him that he is divine, rather because he is a Prophet and Messenger, and despite this the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not make a concession for him in this, rather he told him that prostration is an act of reverence (ta‘zim) that is exclusive to Allah, and is not suitable for a mortal. Likewise, if the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) were to instruct a woman to prostrate to her husband, he would not give this instruction because he is a god, but because he is deserving of reverence, and despite this, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not make a concession therein, and he explained that this act of reverence has been specified for Allah Almighty. Hence, since prostration is an act of reverence specified for Allah Almighty, whoever establishes it for other than Him, he has made him a partner with Allah in this act of reverence specified for Him, so he becomes a polytheist (mushrik).

Hadith Commentary

Sports and Entertainment in Islam

As regards to the ruling of entertainment and sports in general, my teacher and my father ‘Allamah Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (may Allah have mercy on him) compiled an independent treatise on it, published in his book Ahkam al-Qur’an. I will summarise in what follows the conclusions that he reached after enumerating the texts narrated on the subject, by quoting certain of his different statements:
Know that the pure and magnanimous Shari’ah of the Chosen One does not prohibit gains and benefits which the human nature is disposed to, and it does not approve of monasticism (rahbaniyyah) and absolute asceticism (tabattul), rather it demands civilisation and proper social intercourse. Yes, it prohibits extremism in entertainment and total immersion in it whereby one is distracted from the necessities of religion and livelihood. From what is acknowledged is that one of the needs man is disposed to is [the need to] exercise the body and relax the heart and give it enjoyment from hour to hour. Hereof, he (upon him be blessing and peace) said, “relax the hearts from hour to hour.” Abu Dawud transmitted it in his Marasil from Ibn Shihab in mursal form, and Abu Bakr al-Muqri’ in his Fawa’id and al-Quda’i from him from Anas (al-Jami’ al-Saghir). And hereof the practice of joking occurred in his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) sayings and actions.


The Hijab of Women and its Boundaries

Writings on the topic of the veiling and unveiling of women have proliferated in our time. The best that I have seen on this subject is a treatise by my late father Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (Allah have mercy on him) which he called Tafsil al-Khitab fi Tafsir Ayat al-Hijab, which is a section from his Ahkam al-Qur’an (3:393-483), in which he examined the verses and hadiths cited on the subject and exhausted the positions of the fuqaha (jurists) and the statements of the exegetes regarding the limits of hijab and its description. The sum of what he concluded after an extensive study is that the hijab that is legislated and commanded in the Book and the Sunnah has three levels, each above the other in hiddenness and concealment. All of them are mentioned in the Book and the Sunnah and none of them have been abrogated, but they have been prescribed for different circumstances.

Hadith Commentary

Wahdat al-Wujud, Wahdat al-Shuhud and the Safest Position

Some people adduce the poem of Labid (Allah be pleased with him) as proof that the doctrine of the Oneness of Being (Wahdat al-Wujud) is correct. This doctrine along with its corresponding doctrine of the Oneness of Perception (Wahdat al-Shuhud) is not among the doctrines that are necessary in the religion to know or to believe in their validity or invalidity. Rather it is best not to be preoccupied with it and not to discuss it, because it is a dangerous subject, discussion of which may lead to heresy (zandaqah) and apostasy (ilhad).

Hadith Commentary

The Issue of Tawassul in Du’a

The hadith … proves the permissibility of tawassul in du’a through good deeds. As far as tawassul through essences and persons is concerned, there has been much discussion on this among the ‘ulama, and many debates on it have taken place, at times one of the debaters being led to accuse the other of deviance. If people were to look at the issue with the eye of judiciousness, free from sectarian bias, it will become clear that this dispute amongst the ‘ulama and the People of Truth does not derive from any great purpose, rather more probably the debates were generated due to a poor understanding, and not specifying the intended meaning, of tawassul through essences. The reality is that the word tawassul is ambiguous and one cannot rush to make judgement on it except after specifying its intent.

Hadith Commentary

On the Permissibility of Writing Ta‘widhat

The starting point in the issue of ruqyah is that it is done by reciting the Noble Qur’an or some of the names of Allah Most High or His attributes, and thereupon to blow on the sick. This has been established from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in a number of hadiths. As regards to writing the ruqyahs, hanging them on the neck of children and the sick, or writing them and giving its ink to the sick to drink, this has been established from a number of Companions and Successors.
Ibn Abi Shaybah transmitted in his Musannaf (8:39) from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father: from his grandfather: he said: Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “When one of you becomes fearful in his sleep he should say: In Allah’s name, I seek refuge with the complete words of Allah from His anger and His punishment and the evil of His slaves, and from the evil suggestions of the shaytans and from their being present at death.'”

Hadith Commentary

On the Permissibility of Ruqyah

Al-Hafiz said in al-Fath (10:195): “The ‘ulama are agreed on the permissibility of ruqyahs when three conditions are met: that it is [done] using Allah’s speech or using His names and attributes; it is in the Arabic language, or in a manner that its meaning is understood if another language [is used]; and to believe that the ruqyah itself does not have efficacy, rather [its efficacy] is through Allah’s Essence (Most High).”
It is probable he meant by the first condition that it does not contain istimdad (seeking help) from other than Allah, for otherwise it appears that the mention of Allah’s name should not be a condition. The hadith of ‘Awf ibn Malik is to come from the compiler [Imam Muslim] in which he said: “We used to perform ruqyahs in Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic times), so we said ‘O Messenger of Allah! What do you think of this?’ And he said: ‘Present your ruqyahs to me. There is no harm in ruqyahs so long as they do not contain any shirk (polytheism).” And this is the basic principle in this subject.

Hadith Commentary

Knowledge of the Five

Al-Qurtubi said: “No one can expect to know one of these five matters because of this hadith. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) explained the statement of Allah Most High: “With Him are the keys of the ghayb (unseen), that none knoweth but He” (6:59) as these five. And this [hadith] is from the authentic [narrations].” Al-Qutubi said: “So whoever claims knowledge of one of these without a chain back to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), he is a liar in his claim.” He said: “As for conjecture about the ghayb this is possible for the astrologer and other than him when it is [extrapolated] from a general law, and this is not knowledge. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr transmitted ijma’ (consensus) on the prohibition of accepting fees and wages and offering it for such speculative knowledge. It has been transmitted from Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) that he said: ‘Your Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was granted knowledge of all things besides these five.’ The like of it [was narrated] from Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with them both) in marfu’ form. Ahmad transmitted both of them. Humayd ibn Zanjawayh transmitted from one of the Companions that he mentioned the knowledge of the time of the eclipse before its occurrence, and the Prophet repudiated him saying, ‘Verily the ghayb is five’ and he recited the verse [31:34], ‘and what is unseen besides these, are known to some and unknown to some.'”

Hadith Commentary

Seeking Blessing through the Relics of the Prophets and the Pious

Some ‘ulama adduce from this narration of Ibn Sa’d proof that tabarruk through the relics of the pious is prohibited. However, this inference is not strong, because it is possible ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) cut down the tree because he was aware that the tree at which the pledge was taken is not known to anyone; and because the tree that people claimed was the Tree of Ridwan and prayed near, should not be identified as the tree at which the pledge was taken. This is proven by what al-Bukhari transmitted in al-Maghazi with the complete [wording] of the hadith of this chapter whose phrasing is:

“From Tariq ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman: he said: ‘I went as a pilgrim and I passed by a group of people praying, so I said: ‘What mosque is this?’ They said: ‘This is the tree at which Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) pledged the allegiance of Ridwan.’ I then went to Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab and related this to him, and Sa’id said: ‘My father narrated to me that he was one of those who pledged [allegiance] to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) beneath the tree. Al-Musayyab said: “When we went out the following year we forgot its location so we did not take possession of it.”‘ Then Sa’id said: ‘Verily the Companions of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not know and you know [where it is], so you are more knowledgeable than them!'”

Hence, it is clear that the tree which the people would pray near was not the tree beneath which the pledge of Ridwan occurred, and for this reason Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab did not repudiate them for their tabarruk in praying near it; he only repudiated their tenacity in specifying the location of that tree. So it is possible ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) cut down the tree from this standpoint, not because he did not believe in tabarruk through relics. As regards to what has passed from [the narration of] Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) in which he said: “If I could see I would show you the place of the tree”, this does not prove anything besides that he (Allah be pleased with him) was confident in his knowledge of the location of the tree and that he could guide to it to the best of his belief. This does not entail that it corresponds to the same thing.

The permissibility of tabarruk through the relics of the Prophets and the pious has been established from a number of hadiths.

Hadith Commentary

A Query about Mujaddids and their Signs

The beginning [of something] is referred to as ra’s therefore a mujaddid would be at the beginning of a century although the beginning of a century is also the end of the century that preceded it because it is possible someone may refer to it as the end [of that preceding century]. Anyway, in whichever century he comes he will be there at the beginning of that [particular] century so that the effect of his tajdid remains until the end.
The signs of a mujaddid are that through his speeches and writings and through his endeavors and efforts innovations (bid’ahs) are abolished, the Sunnah is spread [far and wide] and those sunnahs which were [considered] dead are revived. It is not necessary for his name to include “Ahmad” of “Muhammad” in it nor is this known from any [authentic] hadith.


On the Life of the Prophets in their Blessed Graves

Indeed the starting point of this issue is Allah’s statement “And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, though ye perceive [it] not” (2:154).

Since the life of the martyrs is established, the life of the Prophets (peace be upon them) is established by indication of this text, because the rank of the Prophets is higher than the rank of the martyrs without doubt. Al-Shawkani said in Nayl al-Awtar (Adab al-Jumu’ah 3:211): “A textual proof in Allah’s Book is revealed with regards to martyrs, that they are living and sustained, and that the life in them pertains to the body, so what of the Prophets and Messengers?”

In this topic, a hadith with unequivocal import has been reported which Abu Ya’la transmitted in his Musnad (6:147, no. 3425) from Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) that he said: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘The Prophets are alive in their graves, praying'”. Al-Haythami mentioned it in Majma’ al-Zawa’id (8:211) and said: “Abu Ya’la and al-Bazzar narrated it and the narrators of Abu Ya’la are trustworthy”. Al-Dhahabi weakened it in al-Mizan because of al-Hajjaj ibn al-Aswad but al-Hafiz ibn Hajar contested with him in al-Lisan and said: “He is al-Hajjaj ibn Abi Ziyad al-Aswad, known as Ziqq al-‘Asal and he was Basran … Ahmad said: ‘trustworthy and a pious man’; ibn Ma’in said: ‘trustworthy’; Abu Hatim said: ‘passable in narration’; and ibn Hibban mentioned him in al-Thuqat.” The hadith was also transmitted by al-Bayhaqi in his volume on the life of the Prophets (p. 3) and he authenticated it. Likewise, al-Munawi authenticated it in Fayd al-Qadir.

Hadith Commentary

Hadith on the Hearing (Sima’) of the Dead

His statement “he hears the noise”: this hadith is a proof for those who affirm the hearing of the dead and this is the position of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him). Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that it is the preferred view of ibn Jarir al-Tabari, ibn Qutaybah and most of the ‘ulama.
It was narrated from ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) that she took [the position] of the negation of hearing of the dead and interpreted the hadith of the people of Badr [in this way], and a group of ‘ulama agreed with her on this. Al-Qadi Abu Ya’la from the great Hanbalis preferred this view. Ibn al-Humam (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that most Hanafi scholars take the view that the dead do not hear, using as proof His statement (Most High) “Truly thou canst not cause the dead to listen” (27:80) and “Thou canst not make those to hear who are (buried) in graves” (35:22) and for this [reason, the Hanafis] say: if one swears he will not speak to someone and he speaks to him when [he is] dead, he has not broken his oath.

Hadith Commentary

Proofs That Deeds Are Presented To The Prophet

The article below was published in Roshni, a religious supplement published each Friday with the Saudi-based Urdu News newspaper, in clarification of a column published a few weeks earlier, discussing a story about a man who was told on his death bed that he had been forgiven due to his devotion to sending Blessings and Peace (Salat wa Salam) to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) each morning.