Following my An Nawawi series, this is hadith #2 : the very well known hadith of Jibreel/Gabriel. This hadith is very heavy in content and will take a long time to cover inshaAllah, so for anyone following… sabrun jameel, as my hubby says 🙂
This particular post was, for the most part, taken directly out of the book just because it was pretty concise and I couldn’t really summarize much.
The Arabic for the hadith, for those of you it would benefit:
On the authority of ‘Umar also who said: One day, while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), there came before us a man with extremely white clothing and extremely black hair. There were no signs of travel on him and none of us knew him. He [came and] sat next to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He supported his knees up against the knees of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and put his hands on his thighs.
He said, “O Muhammad, tell me aout Islam.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Islam is to testify that there is none worhty of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish the prayers, to pay zakat, to fast [the month of] Ramadhaan, and to make pilgrimage to the House if you have the means to do so.” He said, “You have spoken truthfully [or correctly].” We were amazed that he asks the question and then he says that he had spoken truthfully.
He said, “Tell me about Imaan (faith).” He [the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)] responded, “It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, the Last Day and to believe in divine decree, [both] the good and the evil thereof.” He said, “You have spoken truthfully.”
He said, “Tell me about al-Ihsaan (goodness).” He [the Prophet] answered, “It is that you worship Allah as if you see Him. And even though you do not see Him, [you know] He sees you.”
He said, “Tell me about [the time of] the Hour.” He [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] answered, “The one being asked does not know more than the one asking.” He said, “Tell me about its signs.” He answered, “The slave-girl shall give birth to her master, and you will see the barefooted, scantily-clothed, destitute shepherds competing in constructing lofty buildings.”
Then he went away. I stayed for a long time. Then he [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] said, “O Umar, do you know who the questioner was?” I said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “It was [the Angel] Gabriel who came to teach you your religion.”
Recorded by Muslim.
This hadith from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab was recorded by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, al-Nasaai, ibn Maajah, Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Baihaqi, ibn Hibbaan, ibn Khuzaima, al-Bazzaar, Abu Yala, al-Daaraqootni and a number of others.
The scholars of hadith differentiate hadith by their texts as well as by the Companions who narrated the hadith. This particular hadith has also been narrated through acceptable chains from the Companions Abu Huraira, ibn Umar, ibn Masood and al-Haarith al-Ashari. The narration from Abu Huraira has been recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim, ibn Maajah, ibn Abu Shaiba, ibn Hibbaan and others.
You can see the version of Abu Hurayrah here. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 2, Number 47]
Why are there Different Narrations of the Same Hadith?
The scholars have pinpointed some major causes for different narrations or wordings of what is apparently one hadith or incident.
- The incident narrated may seem like one even or statement, while they are are actually different events or statements.
- sometimes the hadith is narratied according to its meaning only, and the exact wording was not preserved. (The scholars of hadith have differed over whether or not one may do this). Other narrators ay narrate the same hadith while preserving the exact wording.
- Narrators have different retentive strengths – particularly if the hadith is long.
- Narrators sometimes intentionally abridge the text of a hadith. This is considered permissible as long as the meaning is not distorted.
- Sometimes a narrator is present for only a portion of the statement or discussion while another person may have heard the entire statement or discussion.
- The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would sometimes put questions to the companions and their responses in one setting would differ. When a narrator relates that particular event, he may relate the response that he heard while others may relate the response that they heard.
- Narrators do commit mistakes, even very proficient ones. The scholars of hadith spent a great deal of time and effort weeding out such mistakes.
- Finally, there is the problem of intentional fabrication and distortion. This obviously didn’t occur from trustworthy narrators, but it’s existence led to different narrations of the same hadith.
Looking at the different narrations of this hadith, it seems that a number of these factors at work here.
This hadith is one of the most comprehensive. It is known as the hadith of Jibreel [Gabriel].
It is also called Umm al-Sunnah (or “the foundation of the sunnah”) in the same way the Soorah al-Fatiha is called Umm al-Kitaab (or “the foundation of the book”). In the same way that Al Fatiha encompasses the meaning of the Qur’an as a whole, this hadith encompasses the meaning of the sunnah as a whole.
According to ibn Hajr, this incident took place close to the Prophet’s death. Some say that it was just before the Farewell Pilgrimage. Hence, it was as if the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, through the questioning of the angel Gabriel, was summarizing his mission and message. He summarized the essential concepts of imaanhen, at the end, he stated that the person was the Angel Gabriel who had come to to teach them their religion.
The Circumstances Behind the Hadith
In one of the narrations in Sahih Muslim, this hadith of Gabriel begins in the following manner:
Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Ask me [about matters related to the religion].” However, the people abstained from doing so because they were overawed out of profound respect for him. In the meanwhile a man came there and sat near his knees and said, “Messenger of Allah, what is Islam?” …
According to al-Ubayy, the reason the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Ask me,” is because they were asking many questions and the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam realized that some were asking obstinately (in a stubborn manner). Therefore, he became angry and said, “Ask me, ask me, for, by Allah, you will not ask me about anything except that I shall tell you about it as long as I am standing in this place.” After hearing and seeing this, the people became fearful and refrained from asking questions. When the people refrained from asking questions, Allah sent the angel Gabriel to put these important questions to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Questions of useless nature or of purely theoretical nature with no benefit to them are to be avoided. Hence, Allah sent the angel Gabriel to the Prophet to ask him and to demonstrate that important questions like these are to be asked of people of knowledge.