Hadith: The Black Dog is a Devil

salam alaykum:

Omar Farouq wrote in message <7fsnf6$si8$1@waltz.rahul.net>...

>Assalaamu &alaykum, > >This one is for Dien Rice. He challenged Zaharuddin to bring forth a >mutawaatir hadith that is disputed. Here is one: > >The English is copied MSA-USC's collection, and can be verified by anyone, >except perhaps Abujamal, as we've seen before. > >Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Number 1032:

The translation given is practically unreadable, so I am translating it again:

Abd Allah ibn al-Samit said: Abu Dharr said: Allah's Messenger -- Allah bless and salute him! -- said:

"When one of you stands in prayer, what definitely constitutes a barrier for him is an object placed in front of him of the same height as the back of a camel-saddle. If it is not in front of him and of the same height as the back of a camel-saddle, then some [stray] donkey, or some woman passing, or some black dog will cut off his prayer." I said: "O Abu Dharr! What is it that makes a black dog different from a red or yellow dog?" He replied: "O dear cousin! I asked Allah's Messenger -- Allah bless and salute him! -- the exact same question. He said that the black dog is a devil."

Notes on the legal rulings based on this hadith and its meaning:

The passing of the above-mentioned in front of the person at prayer does not invalidate his prayer according to the vast majority of the Imams of Law, Salaf and Khalaf (early and late authorities) who concur that the meaning of "will cut off his prayer" is not literal but means: "will make his prayer imperfect" due to the distraction they will cause in people's hearts, while Imam Ahmad considered that only the passing of a black dog actually invalidates it. This was mentioned by Imam al-Nawawi in Sharh Sahih Muslim and al-Mubarakfuri in Tuhfa al-Ahwadhi.

Some of the narrations mention "the dog that bites indiscriminately" (al-kalb al-`aqur). Others: "The jet-black dog" (al-kalb al-aswad al-bahim). The gist of the reference seems to be that a wild-looking dog, or one known to be dangerous, has the greatest potential for distracting attention, and Allah knows best.

Notes on the classification of this hadith:

It is a sahih but lone-narrator (ahad), not mass-transmitted (mutawatir) hadith. The least number of Companion-narrators required to make a sahih hadith mutawatir is ten according to al-Suyuti in his book al-Azhar al-Mutanathira fi al-Ahadith al-Mutawatira, whereas this hadith has less than five: Abu Dharr, Abd Allah ibn Mughaffal, Ibn Abbas, and A'isha. Therefore it is not included in al-Kattani's definitive collection of mutawatir-only hadiths entitled Nazm al-Mutanathir.

>So now, Dien Rice, this hadith is both Marfuu&, Muttasil, contains one or more >of the sahaaba in the chain of narration, which renders it what? According to >you and your anonymous *majority of scholars* this type of hadith cannot be >disputed. Rejecting it would be kufr.

Rejecting this sahih hadith would not be kufr because, as we just said, it is not mass-transmitted; but it would constitute a sin.

Ahl al-Sunna concur, unlike the Mu'tazila, that authentic lone-narrator reports are obligatory to believe and put into practice. Al-Qari relates, on this point, the consensus of the Companions and the Successors. Where scholars differ is whether the same hadiths convey certainty of knowledge (al-'ilm al-yaqînî) or only the compelling assumption of truth (al-zann al-ghâlib). These two categories differ insofar as obligatory practice and belief based on certainty of knowledge cannot be denied except on pains of apostasy, while the denial of obligatory practice and belief based on reports compellingly assumed to be true do not constitute apostasy but constitute sin. The scholars do concur that if one disbelieves in a sound lone-narrator report one commits a grave transgression (fisq) and is even considered misguided (dâll), but does not leave the fold of Islam. Al-Shafi'i, al-Risala (p. 460-461): "If one disbelieves in them [lone-narrated reports], we do not say to him: 'Repent!'" This is clearly unlike disbelief in a mass-transmitted report or in a verse of the Qur'an.

>Well Dien, guess who disputed that hadith? It was the prophet's own wife >Ayesha, Ummu -l mu'mineen: > >Volume 1, Book 9, Number 493: > >Narrated 'Aisha:

Again, the translation is inaccurate, so I will translate myself from al-Bukhari's version (Book of Sala, Ar. # 478):

`A'isha said: "Are you [the narrator of that hadith] equating us [women] with dogs and donkeys? It happened to me more than once that I was lying down in bed, and the Prophet -- Allah bless and salute him! -- would come in, the bed being between us, and pray. Disliking to stand up in his face, I would slink down towards the bottom of the bed until I cleared my bedcover."

Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari mentioned that al-Bukhari adduced this hadith to show that the fact that a man at prayer faces a woman does not necessaily distract him.

Among the benefits of `A'isha's narration of the Prophet's behavior -- Allah bless and salute him -- are the following:

1. An important elaboration on the general legal rulings inferred from the previous hadith, specifying that distraction is not an inevitable fact for all people. This is confirmed by another narration from `A'isha in Bukhari states that at other times she would continue to sleep, and that the Prophet -- Allah bless and salute him -- would touch her lightly upon prostrating so that she would withdraw her legs to make way for him, then she would stretch them again when he got up.

2. The clarification that women are less likely to cause distraction because they can take care to avoid whatever causes it, especially a spouse, as this situation is the likeliest to occur frequently in the life of Muslims.

3. The teaching that one should not mindlessly equate women with animals in the course of relating this authentic hadith.

But Allah Almighty knows best. Blessings and peace on the best of creation, our Prophet Muhammad, and upon his Family and all his Companions.