Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Firm Word

Assalamu alaikum, I am posting the first part of my notes from Lesson 182 of the Commentary of al Tajrid al Sarih (Book of Funerals, The Abridged Saheeh al-Bukhari) which was delivered by our respected teacher Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 1st February 2008. In this lesson, we studied ahadeeth 688-693. The notes below are for hadeeth 688.


CHAPTER 43. What has been narrated about punishment of the grave

688. عَنِ الْبَرَاءِ بْنِ عازِبٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا, عَنِ النّبِيّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: (إِذَا أُقْعِدَ المُؤْمِنُ في قَبْرِهِ أُتِيَ, ثُمّ شَهَدَ أَنْ لاَ إِلهَ إِلاّ اللهُ, وَأَنّ مُحمّدًا رَسُولُ اللهِ, فَذلِكَ قَوْلُهُ: (يُثَبّتُ اللهُ الّذِينَ اَمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثّابِتِ)). رواه البخاري: 1369

688. Narrated AlBarâ’ bin ‘Azib (رضى الله عنه): The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, When a faithful believer is made to sit in his grave, then (the angels) come to him and he testifies that Lâ ilâha ill Allâh wa anna Muhammadar Rasul Allâh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh and Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is Allâh’s Messenger). And that corresponds to Allâh’s Statement: Allâh will keep firm those who believe with the word that stands firm…. (V.14:27). (2:450O.B.)

This hadeeth mentions what happens when a person is made to sit up in his grave and has been discussed in other ahadeeth e.g. hadeeth 674. The two angels, Munkar and Nakir, question the person in the grave. Hypocrites and disbelievers will not be able to reply to them. The hypocrites will say that I used to hear people say something and I used to repeat that which they said.

This hadeeth refers to a verse of the Holy Qur'an:

يُثَبِّتُ اللّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ وَيُضِلُّ اللّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ وَيَفْعَلُ اللّهُ مَا يَشَاء

Allah keepeth firm those who believe by the firm Word in
the life of the world and in the Hereafter, and Allah sendeth astray the
wrong-doers. And Allah doth that which He willeth. [Surah Ibrahim (14), Verse 27].

- Allah grants the believers streadfastness and bestows upon them strength with the firm word. Allah inspires and fortifies the believers and grants them strength and steadfastness in this left and in the hereafter. This firm word is the kalimah, Laa ilaaha illa-llaahu Muhammadur-Rasullullah.In the worldly life, the believer is granted strength through faith and good deeds and in the hereafter, the believer is strengthened in the grave when visited by the angels.

Those who believed and did good deeds in the worldly life will be able to respond to the two angels with the kalimah. When the two angels visit the grave, it will be a frightening moment when even the hypocrites will have to reveal their hypocrisy. They will not be able to deceive the angels.

Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) narrates a very long hadeeth which is recorded by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his musnad. One night Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) was with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was with no other companion. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stopped at one place and told Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) not to move from the stop. He then drew a line around Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) and he told him to stay within the circle. All of a sudden Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) saw jinns. The jinns surrounded the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) began reciting Qur'an to them. The jinns then crowded around Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) but they couldn't come within the circle. Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) says that 'By Allah I was so frightened that in my entire life I had not experienced such terror and fright'. These jinns were all around him. In the morning, the jinns disappeared and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) fell asleep with his noble head on the lap of Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه). Then all of a sudden other figures came. Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) described the jinns as being scantily clad, skinny, wily, small with very little flesh on their body. However, these other figures had beautiful white clothes on, and were tall and handsome. When they came, Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) said they came close to him and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and they begin speaking Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) says 'By Allah I was filled with more terror and fright on this second occasion then on the first'. These figures were speaking positively about the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) awoke, he told speaking Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) they were angels. They came to protect and praise Rasul and meant no harm.

If that is the terror someone of the calibre of Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) felt at seeing these angels, how will a normal person feel in the grave when seeing Munkar and Nakir? On that occasion, Allah will grant strength and fortification to the believers with the firm word, Laa ilaaha illa-llaahu Muhammadur-Rasullullah. The hypocrites will be deprived of the kalimah in the grave and will not be able to answer the angels.

How is this hadeeth related to the chapter heading? In the original saheeh of Imam Bukhari, Imam Bukhari narrates some ahadeeth but with slightly different wording which refers to the punishment of the grave.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

There is no sanctity for a corrupt person

Assalamu alaikum, below are the final part of my notes for Lesson 181. You can read the first part here. Lesson 181 of the Commentary of al Tajrid al Sarih (Book of Funerals, The Abridged Saheeh al-Bukhari) which was delivered by our respected teacher Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on Friday 25th January 2008 and covered hadeeth 686 ad 687.


Speaking ill of the dead is backbiting. As we know from the ahadeeth that the definition of backbiting is mentioning something of a fellow Muslim in his absence which if he or she came to hear would be hurt by. If it is untrue, then it is slander. It does not matter whether a person is willing to repeat it in front of the one that they have spoken about. It is still backbiting. It is impermissible to backbite anyone who has honour and dignity, and every Muslim has honour and dignity. However, there is a famous saying amongst the fuqahah – ‘There is no sanctity for a corrupt person’. The meaning of this saying is explained as follows; we are all sinful. However, if someone unashamedly reveals their sinful nature and brazenly sins, then a person has relinquished their right to dignity. If a person is an open sinner, then it would be permissible to backbite them. There is no sanctity of a faasiq. One reason for this is so other people can be warned of their vices e.g. if someone is warns a father that the man that wishes to marry their daughter is corrupt. The prohibition of backbiting only applies to the pious and upright believers not those that are open sinners as they have no consideration of their own honour and dignity. This ruling can also be extended to the dead if it serves a practical purpose. For example, if they led a life of sin and evil and they cared not for the laws of Allah and if they failed to honour the teachings of Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم), then Allah and His Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would deem their honour and dignity to have no sanctity. Thus, in such a circumstance it would be permissible to speak ill of such a deceased. It is of such deceased that the sahabah spoke ill of as we have covered in the hadeeth and also the people at the time of Sayidina Umar (رضى الله عنه).

Having said this, the Shaykh explained further that although it may be permissible to speak ill of those deceased that had no honour and dignity by openly sinning, it is not befitting a Muslim to talk and engage in that kind of gossip all the time. A Muslim should be engaged in the remembrance of Allah rather than always engaged in such talk. However, if someone is a faasiq and others are speaking highly of him and holding him in esteem, then an upright, pious Muslim should establish justice. He should give his testimony and demonstrate that the person should not be praised in this manner. Once, the pious Muslim has done his duty he doesn’t need to keep speaking ill of the sinner. He leaves it at this. Similarly, if a deceased person led a life of corruption and sin, one should not speak about this all the time. But if everyone is calling the person a saint, we can correct the balance and simply make it clear that this person was not an angel.

It is stated in the hadeeth that when someone good dies, then everything mourns his passing including the inanimate creation of Allah as well as the birds and beasts. When a corrupt person dies, then no one mourns the person’s passing and souls are glad and the non-human world is also glad.

In one hadeeth it is stated that when a good person dies, he is relieved of the dunya but when an evil person dies, the dunya is relieved of him.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said that if four people praise the deceased and even if two people praise the deceased then Allah will grant the deceased Jannah. This is not absolute and a condition we learn from the hadeeth is that people should know the person. In one hadeeth, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said that if a person dies and four of his closest neighbours testify to his goodness, then Allah will grant him jannah. This shows that the people who praise the deceased should know him.

The Shaykh mentioned the relationship that people had people had with the neighbours at the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). People would know everything about their neighbours and the neighbours about them. For example, a person would know whether their neighbour frequented the masjid, what company they kept, and what the family was like and so on. To a certain extent a person even today people will know such things about their neighbours.

Thus, testimonies about the deceased have to be based on some knowledge.

What category and calibre of person is required to provide the testimony? The person giving the testimony should be upright, pious believers themselves. It cannot be the corrupt simply praising the corrupt.

You are Allah’s witness upon the earth primarily applies to the sahabah and after this those that follow in the footsteps of the sahabah.

Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) says in a hadeeth that when Allah loves a servant, he summons Jibril and says ‘Oh Jibril! I love this servant of Mine and therefore you love him’. Jibril then announces to the angels in heaven that ‘Allah loves this servant of His and has instructed me to love him also. Allah loves him, I love him so oh assembly of angels you also love him’. Then Rasul (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said that when those who are in the heavens (i.e. the angels) begin to love a servant of Allah, Allah naturally instills the love of that person in the hearts of His pious servants. Conversely, when Allah despises a person, Allah summons Jibril who informs the angels and then the hatred of that person is instilled in the hearts of the pious servants on earth.

This does not mean that those that are loved by the masses in the dunya are those that are loved by Allah and the angels. The hadeeth refers to ‘His pious servants’ not to everyone in the creation.

May Allah allow us all to leave the dunya in such a way that we are relieved of the dunya rather than the dunya being relieved of us. Ameen!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Advice of Imam Bukhari

The post below is not from one of Shaykh's lessons but is an article based on extracts from ‘The Differences of the Imams’ by Shaykh ul Hadeeth Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya. It is an amazing incident attributed to lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him). It enlightens one on the diligence required to become a seeker of hadeeth let alone a Muhaddith or Shaykh.

This is an amazing incident attributed to lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him). It will enlighten the reader on the diligence required to become a seeker of hadeeth let alone a Muhaddith or Shaykh.

Muhammad bin Ahmad says: “When Waleed bin lbraheem was deposed as the chief justice of Ray (the name of a particular area) and he came to Bukhara, my teacher, Abu lbraheem al Khatakli took me with him to see Waleed. My teacher requested him to narrate those ahadeeth to me which he had heard from his Mashaa’ikh. He replied: “I have heard nothing from them.” My teacher was quite shocked and remarked: “How can you say that you have heard nothing from them when you are a deeply-read scholar?” He then related his story saying: “When I became a sane, mature adult and I developed fervour towards the science of hadeeth, I went to lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) and explained my intentions to him. He advised me thus:

“Son! before you set out to pursue any field make sure you are well grounded with its prerequisites and demands, and remember that a person cannot become a perfect Muhaddith in the science of hadeeth until and unless he does not write four things alongside four things like four things resembling four things in four times with four conditions in four places upon four things from four types of people for four objectives. These aims (each numbering four) can only be achieved with another four things coupled with another four. Once all these things are achieved, four things will become insignificant before him and he will be inflicted with four things. Once he exercises patience upon these four things, Allah ta‘ala will honour him with four things in this world and award him four things in the hereafter.”

I said: “May Allah have mercy upon you! Please explain these aims (each numbering four) to me.”
He said: “Surely, the four things he has to write are:

(1) The statements and commands of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم
(2) The sayings of the Sahabah رضى الله عنهم and their relative ranks,
(3) The sayings of the Tabi’een and their ranks, (in other words who is reliable and who is not),
(4) The conditions of all the narrators who narrate ahadeeth.

Alongside the above are the following four:
(1) The actual names of the narrators,
(2) Their appellations or titles,
(3) Their domiciles,
(4) Their dates of birth and death (to determine whether the narrator met those he is narrating from.)

These are indispensable like four things are necessary with four:
(1) Like hamd and thanaa (praise of Allah) are with the Khutbah,
(2) Like salutations are with name of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
(3) Like the recitation of Bismillah is with a surah,
(4) Like the performance of salaah with the takbeer.

Resembling four things as follows:
(1) Musnadaat,
(2) Mursalaat,
(3) Mawqoofaat and
(4) Maqtoo’aat.
(These are names of the four categories of hadeeth).

In four times is as follows:
(1) In his childhood,
(2) In his age of understanding, (i.e. close to maturity)
(3) In his youth and
(4) In his old age.
(In other words he continues acquiring hadeeth throughout his life).

In the four conditions is as follows:
(1) Whilst he is occupied,
(2) Whilst he is free,
(3) In his poverty and
(4) In his affluence.
(In other words he is always endeavouring to acquire the knowledge of hadeeth).

At four places as follows:
(1) In mountainous terrain,
(2) On the seas,
(3) In cities and
(4) In rural areas.
(In other words he endeavours to acquire this science from a teacher no matter where he is).

Upon four things (he writes the knowledge of hadeeth):
(1) Upon stones,
(2) Upon shells,
(3) Upon skins and
(4) Upon bones.
(In other words, until he does not find paper he will continue recording this knowledge somewhere so that he does not forget it).

From four types of people are as follows:
(1) From his seniors,
(2) From his juniors,
(3) From his counterparts and
(4) From the books of his father, provided he has firm conviction that these are his books.
(In other words, he endeavours to acquire this science one way or the other, so much so that he does not feel ashamed to acquire it from his juniors).

For four objectives as follows:
(1) He acquires this knowledge solely for the pleasure of Allah.
(2) To practice upon those ahadeeth which conform to the verses of the Holy Qur’an.
(3) To propagate it to those who have desire for it.
(4) To write it out so that it can be a source of guidance to those who will come after him.

The aforementioned four things cannot be acquired except with four things which are of human acquisition:
(1) To know how to read and write,
(2) Lexicography and vocabulary,
(3) Morphology and
(4) Syntax.

Together with these are another four that are not of human acquisition but gifts from Allah:
(1) Sound health,
(2) Ability,
(3) An ardent desire for learning and
(4) A good memory.

Once all the aforementioned aims are attained, four things will become insignificant before him:
(1) His family,
(2) His children,
(3) His wealth and
(4) His motherland.

Thereafter, he is afflicted with four things:
(1) His enemies will rejoice at his distress,
(2) His friends will reproach him,
(3) The ignorant will taunt him and
(4) The scholars will be jealous of him.

Once he exercises patience on these calamities, Allah will honour him four things in this world and four things in the hereafter.
The four in this world are:
(1) The honour of contentment,
(2) Dignity and awe coupled with conviction,
(3) The pleasure of knowledge and
(4) A life of eternity.

The four in the hereafter are:
(1) The honour of intercession on behalf of whomsoever he pleases.
(2) The shade of the throne of Allah on the day when there shall be no shade available except the shade of His throne,
(3) He will provide water to whomsoever he pleases from the well of Kauthar of the Prophet e and
(4) The close proximity with the Prophets (upon whom be peace) in the A ‘ala Illiyeen.

So now my son! I have told you whatever I have heard from my Mashaa’ikh, now you have the choice either to pursue this field or to refrain from it.

These are the rules and regulations lmam Bukhari has laid out for every individual who wishes to become a Muhaddith or a student of hadeeth. We should take heed of lmam Bukhari’s advice and hold firmly onto it. In actual fact, the science of hadeeth is even more difficult than what lmam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) describes. In our present time of extreme negligence and laziness where the maximum extent of this science is the Saheeh-Sittah (the six most authentic books of hadeeth), for one to call himself a Muhaddith can be likened to a monkey who has a bit of turmeric powder and wishes to be called a grocer. The extent this group of half-baked ‘Maulvies’ have made a mockery of Deen cannot be found in our predecessors even if we have to search for it. The main cause for this current degeneration amongst the Ulama stems from our confidence upon our virtues and our reliance upon our defective and unsound knowledge. In fact the latter Ulama have prohibited us from issuing any Fatwas (religious verdicts) based on our own opinions. Instead, they have advised us to transcribe the verdicts from similar Fatwas of the past. But alas! In these times, let alone ordinary propositions, even the most intricate of scholastic issues have become subjected to the people’s whims and fancies. To Allah alone do we seek refuge and He alone is the Helper.