Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
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Hadith


Situations of Amazement


Situations of Amazement

Abu Hurayrah makes it clear that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) taught his companions
even things that are of little significance. Even a situation where one's shoe gets torn,
is given guidance by the Prophet. Here he tells his companions not to walk with only one shoe on.
This is to avoid an unsightly situation, where a person walks in a lame way.
He should repair his shoe first. Needless to say, this is recommended, not a duty.

Commentary by Adil Salahi

Every statement by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has its value, because the Prophet taught only what is good and beneficial to mankind. Some Hadiths tackle private matters, while others are concerned with social or community affairs. Some relate to concerns of this world, while others speak of religious aspects. Whatever the Prophet says should be taken as a pointer to what is best in its particular area.

Let us consider this Hadith which speaks of the Prophet visiting his daughter Fatimah and her husband Ali one night when they were asleep. He said to them: “Would you not pray?” Ali said: “Messenger of God! Our souls are in God’s hand. When he wills us to be awake we will be.” The Prophet departed without saying anything. Ali adds: “I then heard him as he went away, striking his thigh and saying, ‘man is, above all else, always given to contention.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Nassaie and Ahmad).

The first thing to note about this Hadith is that the Prophet went to wake up his daughter and son-in-law, who was also his cousin, so that they would do some night worship, which is voluntary. By so doing, the Prophet was keen that these two people, whom he loved particularly well, should avail themselves of the great benefit that is certain to attend those who offer voluntary night worship. Scholars of Hadith take the Prophet’s words as he woke them up as an expression of encouragement that carries an element of love. This is only to be expected when the Prophet addressed his young daughter and her husband.

Ali’s response only mentions a fact made clear by Islam. In the Qur’an we read: “God takes away people’s souls upon their death, and the souls of those who are not dead during their sleep.” (39: 42) It is clear that the Prophet did not like Ali’s response, but Ali only wanted to apologize for his sleep. It should be remembered that he had just been awoken, and at such a time a person may not be very attentive. Had Ali been fully awake, then most probably his reply would have been different, because he would have immediately realized that the Prophet was only encouraging him to do something that was certain to bring him immense reward.

The Prophet was, nevertheless, amazed at Ali’s rejoinder, and his amazement is reflected in his gesture and quotation from the Qur’an as he went away. Had he been offended, he would not have hesitated to tell Ali that his reply was not acceptable. But the Prophet did not do that. He merely went away, feeling amazed. His statement about man being given to argumentation is a quotation from the Qur’an.

Another point about this Hadith is seen in its chain of transmission. It is reported by Ali’s grandson who was named after him and given the title Zain Al-Abideen, or the jewel of worshippers. Ali Zain Al-Abideen learnt it from his father, Al-Hussain, the Prophet’s grandson, who heard it from his father, Ali ibn Abu Talib. It is one of the most authentic and reliable chains of transmission. It also speaks volumes of the honesty and integrity of all these people who did not wish to suppress this incident which carries an element of the Prophet’s disapproval of Ali’s words. Ali himself related the story, and his son and grandson also reported it so that other Muslims would benefit by it. We do not find any of them trying to suppress this Hadith which tells of the Prophet’s disapproval.

We note in this Hadith how the Prophet expressed his amazement by hitting his own thigh. An even more expressive gesture is that done by Abu Hurayrah, a companion of the Prophet who reported a large number of Hadiths. He once addressed people while hitting his own forehead, and said: “People of Iraq! You have been saying that I fabricate lies and attribute them to the Prophet, and thus you would be guided aright while I go astray. I testify that I heard God’s messenger when he said: ‘If the strap of your shoe is cut, do not walk with one shoe unless you repair the other one.’ (Related by Muslim and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Al-Nassaie and Ibn Majah).

Abu Hurayrah’s gesture of hitting his own forehead is meant to express not only his extreme amazement at the way those people thought, but also signifies his extreme irritation at their accusation. Since Abu Hurayrah was only teaching people what would benefit them in the hereafter, as they would learn from him how to follow the Prophet’s guidance, they would be in the right. Thus they would have all the guidance. But if he was inventing something which the Prophet did not say and attributing it to the Prophet, then he would be in manifest error. Furthermore, he would be liable to God’s punishment as the Prophet warns: “Whoever knowingly attributes to me something I have not said will have his place in hell.”

Abu Hurayrah heard this Hadith from the Prophet and he knows exactly what it would mean to him if he attributes to the Prophet something that he did not say. Hence, he said to the people that they would be well off if they followed his admonition, but he would end up with God’s punishment. That is not something to look forward to.

Abu Hurayrah then mentions a Hadith to confirm that he heard directly from the Prophet. A person who had that privilege does not need to invent things and fabricate statements. He would only report what he heard.

This Hadith, which Abu Hurayrah reports, tackles something simple, and by reporting it, Abu Hurayrah makes it clear that the Prophet taught his companions even things that are of little significance. Even a situation where one’s shoe gets torn, is given guidance by the Prophet. Here he tells his companions not to walk with only one shoe on. This is to avoid an unsightly situation, where a person walks in a lame way. He should repair his shoe first. Needless to say, this is recommended, not a duty.

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