The "Salafis" try to prevent the people from treating the night of isra' and mi`raj on 27 Rajab and the night of mid-Sha`ban (laylat al-bara'a) as special. They claim that honoring these nights are innovations that must not be allowed. Yet practically all Muslims hold these two nights in high esteem and consider it good, not blameworthy, to celebrate or commemorate them through gathering, feeding the people, reciting Qur'an and Sira, reading hadith, performing supererogatory prayers etc.


            "Salafi" literature also abounds with condemnations of those who fast in Rajab. Since many pious Muslims are known to fast the three blessed months of Rajab, Sha`ban, and Ramadan in a row as far back as can be remembered, and like to offer voluntary worship and invocation (du`a) on the nights of 27 Rajab and 15 Sha`ban, I wanted to confirm that these are recommended in the fiqh of Ahl al-Sunna, not blameworthy, and what is the evidence for either position?






It is recommended to fast the months of Rajab and Sha`ban as a nafila or supererogatory worship, with the intention of following the Sunna of the Prophet who has established the merit of this fast. As for extra devotions on certain nights of Rajab and Sha`ban there are no grounds for prohibiting them as the "Salafis" try to do, and only those with a deficient understanding or faith would object to increasing remembrance of Allah on such nights as laylat al-isra' or 15 Sha`ban.


            The following paragraph is a translation of `Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri's chapter entitled "Fasting Rajab, Sha`ban, and the Rest of the Holy Months" in his book al-Fiqh `ala al-madhahib al-arba`a (Islamic law according to the Four Schools):


Fasting the months of Rajab and Sha`ban is recommended (mandub) as agreed upon by three of the Imams, while the Hanbalis differed in that they said fasting Rajab singly is disliked, except if one breaks the fast during it then it is not disliked. Regarding the holy months -- Dhul Qi`da, Dhul Hijja, Muharram, and Rajab -- fasting them is recommended according to three of the Imams, while the Hanafis differed in that they said what is recommended in the Holy months is to fast three days from each of them, which are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.[1]



Hadiths on Rajab


1. In Muslim, Abu Dawud, and Ahmad: `Uthman ibn Hakim al-Ansari said: I asked Sa`id ibn Jubayr about fasting in Rajab, and we were then passing through the month of Rajab, whereupon he said:


I heard Ibn `Abbas saying: "The Messenger of Allah used to observe fast so continuously that we thought he would never break it, and at other times he remained without fasting so continuously that we thought he would never fast."[2]


Imam Nawawi commented on this:


It appears that the meaning inferred by Sa`id ibn Jubayr from Ibn `Abbas's report is that fasting in Rajab is neither forbidden nor considered praiseworthy in itself, rather, the ruling concerning it is the same as the rest of the months.


            This is also the commentary of Qastallani in al-Mawahib al-laduniyya.[3] Nawawi continues:


Neither prohibition nor praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, however, the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and in the Sunan of Abu Dawud[4] the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them. And Allah knows best.[5]


            It is established, on the one hand, that Ibn `Umar fasted during the sacred months,[6] and on the other, that he fasted all year as shown by the following hadith.



2. In Muslim, Ibn Majah, and (partly) Ahmad: `Abd Allah, the freed slave of Asma' the daughter of Abu Bakr, the maternal uncle of the son of `Ata', reported:


Asma' sent me to Abdullah ibn `Umar saying: "The news has reached me that you prohibit the use of three things: the striped robe, saddle cloth made of red silk, and fasting the whole month of Rajab." Abdullah said to me: "So far as what you say about fasting in the month of Rajab, how about one who observes continuous fasting? And so far as what you say about the striped garment, I heard `Umar ibn al-Khattab say that he had heard from Allah's Messenger: "He who wears a silk garment, has no share for him (in the Hereafter)." And I am afraid that stripes were part of it. And so far as the red saddle cloth is concerned, here is my saddle cloth and it is red. I went back to Asma' and informed her, so she said: "Here is the cloak (jubba) of Allah's Messenger," and she brought out to me that cloak made of Persian cloth with a hem of (silk) brocade, and its sleeves bordered with (silk) brocade, and said: "This was Allah's Messenger's cloak with `A'isha until she died, then I took possession of it. The Apostle of Allah used to wear that, and we washed it for the sick so that they could seek healing with it."[7]


Nawawi commented on the above:


Ibn `Umar's reply concerning fasting in Rajab is a denial on his part of what Asma' had heard with regard to his forbidding it, and it is an affirmation that he fasted Rajab in its entirety as well as fasting permanently, i.e. except the days of `Id and tashriq.[8] This (perpetual fast) is his way and the way of his father `Umar ibn al-Khattab, `A'isha, Abu Talha, and others of the Salaf as well as Shafi`i and other scholars: their position is that perpetual fasting is not disliked (makruh).


            Ibn Qudama states something similar in al-Mughni concerning perpetual fasting and adds that the same view is related from Ahmad and Malik, and that after the Prophet's death Abu Talha fasted permanently for forty years, among other Companions.[9] Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in al-Khayrat al-hisan similarly relates that Abu Hanifa was never seen eating except at night.[10]


Nawawi adds:


In this hadith is a proof that it is recommended to seek blessings through the relics of the righteous and their clothes (wa fi hadha al-hadith dalil `ala istihbab al-tabarruk bi athar al-salihin wa thiyabihim).[11]



3. Bayhaqi relates in Shu`ab al-iman and Abu Nu`aym in al-Targhib:


        Abu `Abd Allah al-Hafiz and

        Abu Muhammad ibn Abi Hamid al-Muqri said:

        from Abu al-`Abbas al-Asamm,

        from Ibrahim ibn Sulayman al-Barlisi,

        from Abdallah ibn Yusuf,

        from `Amir ibn Shibl who said:


I heard Abu Qilaba say: "There is a palace in Paradise for those who fast the month of Rajab."[12]


Bayhaqi comments:


Even if it is mawquf at Abu Qilaba (i.e. not traced back to the Prophet) who is one of the Successors (d. 104) such as he does not say such a saying except if it were related to him by someone who had heard it from him to whom revelation comes (i.e. the Prophet), and success is from Allah.






Those who object to fasting part or all of Rajab and Sha`ban cite the following:


a) `Umar's punishment of the mutarajjibun -- those who fasted the month of Rajab according to a practice carried over from the Jahiliyya -- by striking their hands until they broke their fast.


            However, this does not constitute a valid objection as `Umar's act was solely due to some  people's emphasis of Rajab -- which used to be fasted during the Jahiliyya -- over Ramadan as the fasting month. This is clearly not feared for present-day Muslims. There was also a sacrifice named rajabiyya performed in that month, a practice carried over from the Jahiliyya. Several hadiths in Abu Dawud and Ahmad show that it became obligatory in Islam until the obligation was abrogated. Certain pre-Islamic remnants were fought even in the time of `Umar, as is shown by the latter's uprooting of a tree for fear of its veneration by some people.


            It must be understood that Umar never said "Don't fast," rather, he said: "Break your fast," i.e. do not complete it as you would be obliged to if it were Ramadan. And no one fasted Rajab and Sha`ban completely, this was reserved for Ramadan. However, if someone makes the intention to fast Rajab and Sha`ban completely, it is permitted in the Shari`a, with the understanding that it is mustahabb to break it shortly before Ramadan begins.


            Ibn Qudama states in al-Mughni:


It is disliked that Rajab be singled out for fasting. Ahmad said: "If a man fasts during that month, let him break the fast for one day in it, or several, just so as not to fast it all."


            The reason for this is what Ahmad has narrated with his chains:


·         from Kharasha ibn al-Hurr: I saw `Umar striking the hands of the mutarajjibin until they helped themselves to the food, and he would say: "Eat! For it is only a month which the Jahiliyya used to magnify";


·         from `Abd Allah ibn `Umar that he would dislike to see the people make preparations for Rajab and would say: "Fast some of it and break fast some of it";


·         from Ibn `Abbas, something similar;


·         from Abu Bakrah: He saw his household preparing new baskets and clay jugs and said: "What is this?" They said: "For Rajab, so that we may fast it." He said: "Did you change Rajab into Ramadan?" Then he took apart the baskets and broke the jugs.


And Imam Ahmad said: "Whoever fasts all year round may fast all of Rajab. Otherwise, let him not fast all of it but only some of it so that he will not liken it to Ramadan."[13]


The above makes it clear that:


- Singling out the month of Rajab for fasting is not forbidden, but is at worst disliked;

- It is not even disliked as long as one's fast is broken to the extent that the similitude with the month of Ramadan is eliminated;

- Even unbroken fast is not disliked if the person fasts all year round.



b) Others cite Sayyid Sabiq's statement in Fiqh as-Sunnah:


Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month. There is no sound report from the sunnah that states that it has a special reward. All that has been related concerning it is not strong enough to be used as a proof. Ibn Hajar says: "There is no authentic hadith related to its virtues, nor fasting during it or on certain days of it, nor concerning exclusively making night prayers during that month."[14]


            The opinion of Sayyid Sabiq whereby "Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month" etc. is certainly incorrect in view of the fact that Rajab is a sacred month, and the Prophet emphasized the merit of fasting in the sacred months and in Sha`ban. This is established by Nawawi's commentary of the hadith of Sa`id ibn Jubayr in Muslim cited above, as well as the following hadiths:


1. In Abu Dawud and Bayhaqi: From Mujiba al-Bahiliyya who reported that her father or uncle was told by the Prophet three times: "Fast some and leave some in the sacred months."[15]


2. In Ahmad: From Usama ibn Zayd: "O Messenger of Allah... I never saw you fast any month (besides Ramadan) as much as you fast during the month of Sha`ban." He said: "The people become inattentive during that month between Rajab and Ramadan (i.e. between two great months), and it is a month in which actions are raised to the Lord of the worlds, therefore I like that my actions be raised while I am fasting."[16]


3. In Bukhari and Muslim from `A'isha: "The Prophet used to fast the whole of Sha`ban but for a little."


4. In Muslim from Abu Hurayra, the Prophet said: "The best month to fast after Ramadan is Muharram."


            As for the hafiz Ibn Hajar's opinion it only applies to the pure singling out of the month of Rajab at the exclusion of Ramadan, or Sha`ban, or the sacred months, or the rest of the entire year, because there is no basis for singling out these cases. His opinion therefore does not provide a basis for the claim of the objectors that fasting during Rajab is forbidden or that it is an innovation: for neither the Imams of the fours schools, nor Bayhaqi, nor Nawawi, nor Ibn Hajar, nor even Sayyid Sabiq have claimed this! Furthermore, there is also no sound hadith from the Prophet forbidding the fast of Rajab or disavowing its merit.



c) As for those who object by quoting the hadith in Bukhari and Muslim whereby the Prophet emphasized that the one who fasts all his life has not fasted, then their understanding of this hadith is diametrically opposed to that of the Companions and the Salaf, Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi`i, and Ahmad, who did not dislike perpetual fasting as long as it did not include the days of `Id and tashriq.



d) As for the narration from Ibn `Abbas whereby the Prophet forbade the fast of Rajab, then only Ibn Majah reports it, with a chain containing Dawud ibn `Ata' al-Muzani concerning whom Buhakri, Ibn Abi Hatim, and Abu Zur`a said: "His hadith is rejected" (munkar al-hadith), and Nisa'i declared him da`if, and Ahmad said: "He is nothing." The chain also contains Abu Ayyub Sulayman ibn `Ali al-Hashimi about whom Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan said: "His case is not known," although Ibn Hibban declared him trustworthy, but Ibn Hibban's leniency in this is known.



e) As for the hadiths in Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and Darimi concerning the Prophet's injunction to refrain from fasting in the second half of Sha`ban, then as Tirmidhi explained it applies to those who would deliberately intend to fast only then: it should not be done in view of the proximity of the month of Ramadan. As for those who were fasting before, then they may fast in the second half of  Sha`ban.



            In conclusion, it is at the very least allowed to fast Rajab and Sha`ban in part or in whole, and we say it is recommended, as the clarity of the intention to follow the Sunna and the knowledge that only the fast of Ramadan is obligatory, preclude the reprehensibility of those who used to honor Rajab in rivalry with Ramadan. Sufficient proof of the month of Rajab's status as a great month lies in the fact that it is the month of the Prophet's rapture and ascension to his Lord (al-isra' wa al-mi`raj), and they are blessed who commemorate this month and that night for the sake of Allah's favor to His Prophet and the Community of His Prophet. And Allah knows best.[17]





(Night of the 27th of Rajab)[18]



The Shaykh of Mecca -- may Allah grant him long life and health -- Sayyid Muhammad `Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani composed an excellent booklet entitled al-Anwar al-bahiyya min isra' wa mi`raj khayr al-bariyya (The resplendent lights of the rapture and ascension of the Best of creation) in which he says:





Praise be to Allah Who has chosen His praiseworthy servant Muhammad for the Message, distinguished him with the sudden rapture on the Buraq (lightning-mount), and caused him to ascend on the ladders of perfection to the high heavens to show him of the greatest signs of his Lord. He raised him until he reached to the Lote-tree of the Farthest Boundary where ends the science of every Messenger-Prophet and every Angel Brought Near, where lies the Garden of Retreat, to the point where he heard the sound of the pens that write what befell and what is to befall.


            There He manifested Himself to him through vision and addressed him intimately in the station of encounter, accompanying him so that he was no longer alone. There He stilled his fear in those lofty worlds and He communicated to him what He wished, and revealed to him what He wished, and taught him what He wished, and explained to him what He wished. He showed him of the signs of sovereignty and the signs of creation and of the unseen that point to the uniqueness and perfection of His immense majesty, and the marvels of His lordly power, and the sublimity of His wisdom without beginning. Glory to Him, the God that knows the heart's secret and its confidence, and knows what is more subtle and more hidden! He hears the patter of the black ant's feet on a massive rock in the dark night.


            I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, Who is sanctified in His essence from all figurative representation and shades, and elevated above having a partner in His attributes and acts. I bear witness that our master Muhammad is His servant and Messenger, whose rank He has raised so that none of the seven skies can reach it, nor any of the Prophets. For how could they reach his stature when they were shown to him in the Sanctified House in Jerusalem where Jibril gave him precedence over them so that he led them in prayer, then apprised him of their places and stations in the heavens, thereby showing that he is their paramount chief and foremost leader since the beginning?


            Allah bore witness that the Prophet was the Guide through his knowledge and the Just Instructor in his actions. He elevated his speaking manner above vanity and disgrace; He freed his innermost being from belying what his eyes saw; and He kept his eyes from falsehood and transgression. Then he saw his Lord in the station of proximity and servanthood. Nor did he fall short of uncovering the reality of the event, but he received all that was communicated to him of both partial and total knowledge.


            May Allah's blessing and peace be upon him and upon his Family, the People of Guidance and Firmness, and upon his excellent and pure Companions, carriers of the burdens of the Prophetic Inheritance, defenders of the precious Religion with every burnished sword, who have triumphed and won the highest dwellings of the Abode of Eternity.


            To begin, the indigent in need of the mercy of his generous Lord, Muhammad ibn `Alawi ibn `Abbas al-Maliki al-Hasani says -- may Allah treat him with His radiant kindness: Allah has granted me the favor of writing a vast treatise covering the substantial research which has been done on the subject of al-isra' wa al-mi`raj. Then He expanded my breast so that I could gather its account into a single text as a separate monograph so as to allow its access to the people at large. In this way they can familiarize themselves with that text and recite it in the public meetings and great celebrations in which Muslims gather to commemorate al-isra' wa al-mi`raj, as is the custom in many countries, especially in the two Holy Sanctuaries.


            I have collated my own work with that of the hafiz al-Shami and Najm al-Din al-Ghayti to make a single comprehensive text with the mention of additions in their appropriate places. This text includes most of the different narrations on this subject. I have provided a concise commentary and brief notes explaining the meaning of rare or difficult words. I have named this treatise: al-Anwar al-bahiyya min isra' wa mi`raj khayr al-bariyya, "The resplendent lights of the rapture and ascension of the Best of creation," asking Allah to grant benefit with it and accept it as purely for His sake. Allah's blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad and his Family and Companions.





The striving of the scholars in organizing the account of

isra' and mi`raj into a single version



The scholars have striven to organize this account and gather its narrations into a single version, at the same time making mention of some separate additions, in order to facilitate its perusal and its benefit. In this way they gathered the narrations in one place for the people at large. This is permitted according to the rules of the experts in the field of hadith as stated by them. Many of them have used this method in many instances in which they would join up together the several narrations of different narrators of a single event as was done with the Farewell Pilgrimage and some of the military raids and campaigns. The hadith master al-Shami did this with the account of the Prophet's Rapture and Ascension as well as the hadith master al-Ghayti[19] and a number of other scholars. This is what al-Shami said on this question in his great book al-Mi`raj for it is useful:


Know -- may Allah have mercy on me and you -- that each of the hadiths of the Companions [on this subject] contains what the other does not. Therefore I consulted Allah Almighty and concatenated them, thus rearranging the account into a single text so that it would be sweeter to attentive ears, and in order for its benefit to suit all occasions.


            If someone says: "Each hadith of the mi`raj differs from the next and the ascensions may number according to the number of their accounts: why then did you make all of them into a single account?" I say: The author of Zad al-ma`ad [Ibn al-Qayyim] said:


This is the path of the feeble-minded among the literalists of the Zahiri school who are authorities in transmitted texts. If they see in the account a wording that differs from the version of one of the narrators they multiply the occurrence of the event accordingly. The correct view is what the Imams of text transmission have said: namely, that the mi`raj took place once, in Mecca, after the beginning of Prophethood. It is a wonder how these have claimed that it took place repeatedly. How can they countenance the conclusion that every time, fifty prayers are prescribed upon him then he goes back and forth between Musa and his Lord until they become five, and his Lord says: "I have decreed what is due Me and have reduced the burden of My slaves," only for him to come a second time with fifty prayers which he decreases again, ten by ten?


            The hadith master `Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir said in his history [al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya], after noting that Malik ibn Sa`sa`a's version did not make mention of Jerusalem:


Some of the narrators would omit part of the report due to its being known, or due to forgetfulness, or because he would mention only what he considered important, or because one time he would feel eager to relate it completely, while another time he would tell his public what is of most use to them.


            He who relates every differing narration to a separate occurrence thereby affirming several ascensions has strayed widely and said something indefensible and has not fulfilled his pursuit. The reason is that all of the versions contain his meeting with the Prophets and the prescription of the prayers upon him: how then could one defend multiplying these occurrences? This understanding is extremely far-fetched nor was it related from any of the Salaf, whereas if this had indeed taken place several times the Prophet would have reported it to his Community and the people would have transmitted it often.



[We hold, as our Master Shaykh Nazim has said, that the night ascensions of the Prophet to his Lord numbered twenty-three thousand, one in every night of his blessed life.


            Some of the evidence for this is in the hadiths whereby he said:


     "My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep."[20]


     "I have a time with my Lord which no Angel-Brought-Near nor Messenger-Prophet shares with me."


      al-Qari commented on this hadith:


It is inferred from it that what he means by the angel brought near is Jibril, while the Messenger-Prophet is his brother the Friend of Allah [Ibrahim]. Reflect upon this. This hadith also points to the station of self-immersion in the meeting expressed in terms of intoxication, self-effacement, and self-annihilation.[21]]





The Collated Hadith of Isra' and Mi`raj


In the name of Allah Most Merciful Most Beneficent

Blessings and Peace upon the Messenger of Allah

and his Family and Companions



As the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, was in al-Hijr at the House (the semi-circular space under the waterspout which is open on both sides on the Northwest side of the Ka`ba), lying down at rest between two men (his uncle Hamza and his cousin Ja`far ibn Abi Talib), Jibril and Mika'il came to him. With them was a third angel (Israfil). They carried him until they brought him to the spring of Zamzam, where they asked him to lie on his back and Jibril took him over from the other two. (Another version says:) "The roof of my house was opened and Jibril descended."


            He split the Prophet's chest from his throat to the bottom of his belly. Then Jibril said to Mika'il: "Bring me a tast (a vessel, usually made of copper) of water from Zamzam so that I will purify his heart and expand his breast." He took out his heart and washed it three times, removing from it what was wrong. Mika'il went back and forth to him with the vessel of water from Zamzam three times.


            Then he brought him a golden vessel filled with wisdom and belief which he emptied into his chest. He filled his chest with hilm (intelligence, patience, good character), knowledge, certainty, and submission, then he closed it up. He sealed it between his shoulders with the seal of Prophethood.


            Then he brought the Buraq, handsome-faced and bridled, a tall, white beast, bigger than the donkey but smaller than the mule. He could place his hooves at the farthest boundary of his gaze. He had long ears. Whenever he faced a mountain his hind legs would extend, and whenever he went downhill his front legs would extend. He had two wings on his thighs which lent strength to his legs.


            He bucked when the Prophet came to mount him. Jibril put his hand on his mane and said: "Are you not ashamed, O Buraq? By Allah, no one has ridden you in all creation more dear to Allah than he is." Hearing this he was so ashamed that he sweated until he became soaked, and he stood still so that the Prophet mounted him.


            The other Prophets used to mount the Buraq before. Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib said: "It is the beast of Ibrahim which he used to mount whenever he travelled to the Sacred House."


            Jibril departed with him. He placed himself on his right while Mika'il was on his left. (In Ibn Sa`d's version:) The one holding his stirrup was Jibril and the one holding the reins of the Buraq was Mika'il.


            They travelled until they reached a land filled with datepalms. Jibril said to the Prophet: "Alight and pray here." He did so and remounted, then Jibril said: "Do you know where you prayed?" He said no. Jibril said: "You prayed in a tayba (land of pastures) and the Migration will take place there.


            The Buraq continued his lightning flight, placing his hooves wherever his gaze could reach. Jibril then said again: "Alight and pray here." He did so and remounted, then Jibril said: "Do you know where you prayed?" He said no. Jibril said: "You prayed in Madyan (a city on the shore of the Red Sea bordering Tabuk near the valley of Shu`ayb) at the tree of Musa" (where Musa rested from fatigue and hunger during his flight from Fir`awn).


            The Buraq continued his lightning flight, then Jibril said again: "Alight and pray here." He did so and remounted, then Jibril said: "Do you know where you prayed?" He said no. Jibril said: "You prayed at the mountain of Sina' (Mount Sinai) where Allah addressed Musa."


            Then he reached a land where the palaces of Syria became visible to him. Jibril said to him: "Alight and pray." He did so and remounted, then the Buraq continued his lightning flight and Jibril said: "Do you know where you prayed?" He said no. Jibril said: "You prayed in Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem), where `Isa ibn Maryam was born."


            As the Prophet was travelling mounted on the Buraq he saw a devil from the jinn who was trying to get near him holding a firebrand. Everywhere the Prophet turned he would see him. Jibril said to him: "Shall I teach you words which, if you say them, his firebrand will go out and he will fall dead?" The Prophet said yes. Jibril said:


Say: a`udhu bi wajhillahi al-karim

wa bi kalimatillahi al-tammat

al-lati la yujawizuhunna barrun wa la fajir

min sharri ma yanzilu min al-sama'

wa min sharri ma ya`ruju fiha

wa min sharri ma dhara'a fi al-ard

wa min sharri ma yakhruju minha

wa min fitani al-layli wa al-nahar

wa min tawariq al-layli wa al-nahar

illa tariqin yatruqu bi khayrin ya rahman


I seek refuge in the Face of Allah the Munificent

and in Allah's perfect words

which neither the righteous nor the disobedient overstep

from the evil of what descends from the heaven

and the evil of what ascends to it

and the evil of what is created in the earth

and the trials of the night and the day

and the visitors of the night and the day

except the visitor that comes with goodness,

O Beneficent One!


            At this the devil fell dead on his face and his firebrand went out.


            They travelled until they reached a people who sowed in a day and reaped in a day. Every time they reaped, their harvest would be replenished as before. The Prophet said: "O Jibril, what is this?" He replied: "These are al-mujahidun -- those who strive -- in the path of Allah the Exalted. Every good deed of theirs is multiplied for them seven hundred times, and whatever they spend returns multiplied."


            The Prophet then noticed a fragrant wind and said: "O Jibril, what is this sweet scent?" He replied: "This is the scent of the lady who combed the hair of Fir`awn's daughter and that of her children. As she combed the hair of Fir`awn's daughter the comb fell and she said: bismillah ta`isa fir`awn -- In the name of Allah, may Fir`awn perish! whereupon Fir`awn's daughter said: Do you have a Lord other than my father? She said yes. Fir`awn's daughter said: Shall I tell my father? She said yes. She told him and he summoned her and said: Do you have a Lord other than me? She replied: Yes, my Lord and your Lord is Allah.


This woman had two sons and a husband. Fir`awn summoned them and he began to entice the woman and her husband to renege on their religion, but they refused. He said: Then I shall kill you. She said: Be so good as to bury us all together in a single grave if you kill us. He replied: Granted, and it is your right to ask us. He then ordered that a huge cow made of copper be filled with boiling liquid (oil and water) and that she and her children be thrown into it. The children were taken and thrown in one after the other. The second and youngest was still an infant at the breast. When they took him he said: Mother! fall and do not tarry for verily you are on the right. Then she was thrown in with her children."


            He (Ibn `Abbas) said: "Four spoke from the cradle as they were still infants: this child, Yusuf's witness (cf. 12:26), Jurayj's companion, and `Isa ibn Maryam."[22]


            Then the Prophet saw people whose heads were being shattered, then every time they would return to their original state and be shattered again without delay. He said: "O Jibril, who are these people?" He replied: "These are the people whose heads were too heavy (on their pillows) to get up and fulfill the prescribed prayers."


            Then he saw a people who wore loincloths on the fronts and on their backs. They were roaming the way camels and sheep roam about. They were eating thistles and zaqqum -- the fruit of a tree that grows in hell and whose fruit resembles the head of devils (37:62-63) -- and white-hot coals and stones of Jahannam. He said: "Who are these, O Jibril?" He replied: "These are the ones who did not meet the obligation of paying sadaqa from what they possessed, whereas Allah never kept anything from them."


            Then he saw a people who had in front of them excellent meats disposed in pots and also putrid, foul meat, and they would eat from the foul meat and not touch the good meat. He said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "These are the men from your Community who had an excellent, lawful wife at home and who would go and see a foul woman and spend the night with her; and the women who would leave her excellent, lawful husband to go and see a foul man and spend the night with him."


            Then he came to a plank in the middle of the road which not even a piece of cloth nor less than that could cross except it would be pierced. He said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is what happens to those of your Community who sit in the middle of the road and cut it" and he recited:


wa la taq`adu bi kulli siratin tu`iduna wa tasudduna `an sabilillah man amana bihi wa tabtaghunaha `iwajan


Lurk not on every road to threaten wayfarers and to turn away from Allah's path him who believes in Him, and to seek to make it crooked (7:86).


            The Prophet saw a man swimming in a river of blood and he was being struck in his mouth with rocks which he then swallowed. The Prophet asked: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is what happens to those who eat usury."


            Then he saw a man who had gathered a stack of wood which he could not carry, yet he was adding more wood to it. He said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is a man from your Community who gets people's trusts when he cannot fulfill them, yet he insists on carrying them.


            He then saw people whose tongues and lips were being sliced with metal knives. Every time they were sliced they would return to their original state to be sliced again without respite. He said: "Who are these, O Jibril?" He replied: "These are the public speakers of division in your Community: they say what they don't do."


            Then he passed by people who had copper nails with which they scratched their own faces and chests. He asked: "Who are these, O Jibril?" He replied: "These are the ones who ate the flesh of people and tarnished their reputations."


            Then he saw a small hole with a huge bull coming out of it. The bull began to try entering the hole again and was unable. The Prophet said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is the one in your Community who tells an enormity, then he feels remorse to have spoken it but is unable to take it back."


            (al-Shami added:) He then came to a valley in which he breathed a sweet, cool breeze fragrant with musk and he heard a voice. He said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is the voice of Paradise saying: O my Lord, bring me what You have promised me for too abundant are my rooms, my gold-laced garments, my silk, my brocades, my carpets, my pearls, my coral, my silver, my gold, my goblets, my bowls, my pitchers, my couches, my honey, my water, my milk, my wine! And He says: You will have every single Muslim and Muslima, every Mu'min and Mu'mina, and everyone who has believed in Me and My Messengers and did excellent deeds without associating a partner to Me nor taking helpers without Me. Anyone who fears Me will be safe, and whoever asks Me I shall give him, and whoever lends Me something I shall repay him, and whoever relies on Me I shall suffice him. I am Allah besides Whom there is no god. I never fail in My promise. Successful indeed are the believers! Blessed is Allah, therefore, the best of Creators! And Paradise answered: I accept."


            Then he came to a valley in which he heard a detestable sound and smelled a stench-carrying wind. He said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is the sound of Jahannam saying: O Lord, give me what You promised me, for abundant are my chains, my yokes, my punishments, my fires, my thistles, my pus, my tortures! My depth is abysmal, my heat is extreme, therefore give me what You promised me! And He replied: You will have every idolater and idolatress, every male and female disbeliever and foul one, and every tyrant who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning."


            The Prophet saw the Dajjal in his actual likeness. He saw him with his own eyes not in a dream. It was said to him: "O Messenger of Allah, how was he when you saw him?" He replied: "Mammoth-sized (faylamaniyyan), extremely pale and white (aqmaru hijan), one of his eyes is protuberant as if it were a twinkling star. His hair is like the branches of a tree. He resembles `Abd al-`Uzza ibn Qatan (who died in Jahiliyya)."


            The Prophet saw a pearl-like white column (`amud) which the angels were carrying. He said: "What is this you are carrying?" They replied: "The Column of Islam. We have been ordered to place it in Syria." (End of al-Shami's addition.)[23]


            As the Prophet was travelling he heard someone calling him from his right: "O Muhammad, look at me, I want to ask you something!" But the Prophet did not respond. Then he said: "Who was this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is the herald of the Jews. If you had answered him your Community would have followed Judaism."


            The Prophet continued travelling and he heard someone calling him from his left: "O Muhammad, look at me, I want to ask you something!" But the Prophet did not respond. Then he said: "Who was this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is the herald of the Christians. If you had answered him your Community would have followed Christianity."


            The Prophet continued travelling and then passed by a woman with bare arms, decked with every female ornament Allah had created. She said: "O Muhammad, look at me, I need to ask you something." But he did not look at her. Then he said: "Who was this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This was the world, (al-dunya). If you had answered her, your Community would have preferred the world to the hereafter."


            As the Prophet travelled on, he passed by an old man who was a distance away from his path saying: "Come hither, O Muhammad!" But Jibril said: "Nay, go on, O Muhammad!" The Prophet went on and then said: "Who was this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This was Allah's enemy, Iblis. He wanted you to incline towards him."


            He went on and passed by an old woman on the roadside who said: "O Muhammad, look at me, I need to ask you something." But he did not look at her. Then he said: "Who was this, O Jibril?" He replied: "The world has as much left to live as the remaining lifetime of this old woman."


            (al-Shami added:) As he went on he was met by some of Allah's creatures who said: "Peace be upon you, O First One! Peace upon you, O Last One! Peace be upon you, O Gatherer!" Jibril said to him: "Return their greeting," and he did. Then he saw them another time and they said the same thing. Then he saw them a third time and again they greeted him. He said: "Who are they, O Jibril?" He replied: "Ibrahim, Musa, and `Isa."


            The Prophet then passed by Musa as he was praying in his grave at a place of red sandhills. He was tall, with long hair and brown complexion, similar to one of the shanu'a -- the (Yemeni) men of pure lineage and manly virtue. He was saying with a loud voice: "You have honored him and preferred him!" Then the Prophet greeted him and he returned his greeting. Musa said: "Who is this with you, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is Ahmad." He said: "Welcome to the Arabian Prophet who acted perfectly with his Community!" and he made an invocation for blessing on his behalf. Then he said: "Ask ease for you Community."


            They continued travelling and the Prophet said: "O Jibril, who was this?" He replied: "This is Musa ibn `Imran." The Prophet asked: "Who was he reprimanding?" He said: "He is reprimanding his Lord." The Prophet said: "He reprimands his Lord and raises his voice against his Lord?!" Jibril said: "Allah the Exalted knows Musa's bluntness."


            He passed by a large tree whose fruit seemed like a thornless berry (of the kind that gives shade to men and cattle). Under it an old man was resting with his dependents. There were lamps and a great light could be seen. The Prophet said: “Who is this, O Jibril?” He replied: “Your father Ibrahim.” The Prophet greeted him and Ibrahim returned his greeting and said: “Who is this with you, O Jibril?” He replied: “This is your son Ahmad.” He said:


Welcome to the unlettered Arabian Prophet who has conveyed the message of his Lord and acted with perfect sincerity with his Community!


O my son, you are going to meet your Lord tonight, and your Community is the last and the weakest of all Communities -- therefore, if you are able to have your need fulfilled concerning your Community, or most of it, be sure to do it!


Then he invoked for goodness on his behalf.


            They continued travelling until they reached the valley that is in the city -- that is: the Hallowed House (Jerusalem) -- when lo and behold! Jahannam was shown to them like a carpet unfolded. They (the Companions) said: "O Messenger of Allah, how was it?" He replied: "Like cinders."


            He continued travelling until he reached the city of the Hallowed House and he entered it by its Southern gate. He dismounted the Buraq and tied it at the gate of the mosque, using the ring by which the Prophets tied it before him. One narration states that Jibril came to the Rock and placed his fingers in it, piercing it, then he tied the Buraq using the spot he had hollowed out.


            The Prophet entered the mosque from a gate through which the sun and the moon could be seen when they set. He prayed two cycles of prayer and did not tarry long before a large throng of people had gathered. The Prophet recognized all the Prophets, some standing in prayer, some bowing, some prostrating. Then a caller called out to the prayer and the final call to prayer was made. They rose and stood in lines, waiting for the one who would lead them. Jibril took the hand of the Prophet and brought him forward. He led them in two cycles of prayer.[24]


The following is related from Ka`b: Jibril raised the call to prayer. The angels descended from the heaven. Allah gathered all the Messengers and Prophets. Then the Prophet prayed as the leader of the angels and Messengers. When he left Jibril asked him: “O Muhammad, do you know who prayed behind you?” He said no. Jibril said: “Every single Prophet whom Allah has ever sent.”


(Al-Shami adds:) Abu Hurayra’s narration related by al-Hakim who declared it sound, and by al-Bayhaqi, states: The Prophet met the spirits of the Prophets. They glorified their Lord, after which Ibrahim said:


Praise to Allah Who has taken me as His intimate friend, Who has given me an immense kingdom, Who has made me a prayerful Community and one by whom prayer is led, Who has rescued me from the fire and made it cool and safe for me!


Then Musa glorified his Lord and said:


Praise be to Allah Who has spoken to me directly, Who has brought to pass the destruction of Fir`awn and the salvation of the Children of Israel at my hands, and Who has made from among my Community a people who guide others through truth and establish justice upon it!


Then Dawud glorified his Lord and said:


Praise be to Allah Who has brought me an immense kingdom, Who has softened iron for my hands, and subjected to me the mountains and the birds which laud Him, and has given me wisdom and unmistakable judgment in my speech!


Then Sulayman glorified his Lord and said:


Praise be to Allah Who has subjected the winds to my command as well as the devils, so that they did as I wished and constructed for me elevated sanctuaries, images, large bowls the size of ponds, and vessels fixed in their spot (due to their size), Who has taught me the language of birds and has brought me a part of every good thing, Who has subjected to me the armies of the devils and the birds and has preferred me over many of His believing servants, Who has brought me an immense kingdom which no one after me may possess, and Who has made my kingdom a goodly one wherein there is no reckoning nor punishment!


Then `Isa ibn Maryam glorified his Lord and said:


Praise be to Allah Who has made me His word, Who has fashioned me after Adam’s likeness whom He created out of earth then said to him: Be, and he was, Who has taught me the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Evangel, Who has caused me to heal the blind and the leper and to raise the dead by Allah’s permission, Who has raised me and cleansed me and granted me and my mother protection against the cursed devil, so that the devil had no path by which to harm us! (End of al-Shami’s addition).


            Every Prophet then glorified his Lord in the best of language, and the Prophet said:


All of you have glorified their Lord and I am going to glorify my Lord also:


al-hamdu lillah al-ladhi arsalani rahmatan li al-`alamin

wa kaffatan li al-nasi bashiran wa nadhira

wa anzala `alayya al-qur’ana fihi tibyanun li kulli shay’

wa ja`ala ummati khayra ummatin ukhrijat li al-nas

wa ja`ala ummati wasatan

wa ja`ala ummati hum al-awwaluna wa al-akhirun

wa sharaha li sadri wa wada`a anni wazri

wa rafa`a li dhikri

wa ja`alani fatihan khatiman!


Praise belongs to Allah Who has sent me, a mercy to the worlds

Sent to all without exception, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner,

Who has caused to descend upon me the Qur’an in which there is a perfect exposition of all things,

Who has made my Community the best Community ever brought out for the benefit of mankind,

Who has made my Community a mean and a middle,

Who has made my Community in truth the first and the last of all Communities,

Who has expanded my breast and has relieved me of my burden,

Who has exalted my name,

And has made me the Opener and the Sealer!


Upon hearing this Ibrahim said: “In this has Muhammad bested you!”


Then they brought up the matter of the Hour and referred it to Ibrahim, but he said: “I have no knowledge of it.” They turned to Musa but he said: “I have no knowledge of it.” They turned to `Isa and he said:


As for the time when it shall befall, no one knows it except Allah. As for what my Lord has assured me (concerning what precedes it), then: the Dajjal or Antichrist will come forth and I will face him with two rods. At my sight he shall melt like lead: Allah shall cause his destruction as soon as he sees me. It will be so that the very stones will say: "O Muslim, behind me hides a disbeliever, therefore come and kill him!" And Allah shall cause them all to die.


People will then return to their countries and nations. At that time Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog) shall come out. They will come from every direction. They will trample all nations underfoot. Whatever they come upon they will destroy. They will drink up every body of water.


At last the people will come to me complaining about them. At that time I will invoke Allah against them so that He will destroy them and cause their death until the whole earth will reek of their stench. Allah will send down rain which shall carry their bodies away and hurl them into the sea.


I have been assured by my Lord that once all this takes place then the Hour will be as the pregnant mother at the last stages of her pregnancy. Her family does not know when she shall suddenly give birth by night or by day. (End of al-Shami’s addition)


The Prophet then felt the greatest thirst that he had ever felt, whereupon Jibril brought him a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. He chose the latter. Jibril said: “You have chosen fitra – natural disposition – and if you had drunken the wine, your Community would have strayed from the right way and none but a few of them would have followed you.”[25]


            Another narration states: There were three vessels and the third contained water. Jibril said: “If you had drunk the water your Community would have perished by drowning.”


            Another narration states that one of the vessels presented to him contained honey instead of water, and that he then saw the wide-eyed maidens of Paradise to the left of the Rock. He greeted them and they returned his greeting. Then he asked them something and they replied with an answer that cools the eyes.


            Then the Prophet was brought the ladder by which the spirits of the children of Adam ascend. Creation never saw a more beautiful object. It had alternate stairs of silver and gold and came down from the Highest and Amplest Garden of Paradise, Jannat al-firdaws. It was incrusted with pearls and surrounded with angels on its right and left.


The Prophet began his ascent with Jibril until they reached one of the gates of the nearest heaven called Bab al-hafazha. There an angel stood guard, named Isma`il, who was the custodian of the nearest heaven. He inhabits the wind. He never ascends to the heaven nor descends to earth except on the day that the Prophet died, blessings and peace upon him. In front of him stood seventy thousand angels, each angel commanding an army of seventy thousand more.


Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what an excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. When they came in they saw Adam, peace be upon him, the father of humanity, as he was on the day Allah created him in his complete form. The spirits of the Prophets and of his believing offspring were being shown to him, whereupon he would say: “A goodly spirit and a goodly soul, put it in the Highest (`illiyyin)!” Then the spirits of his unbelieving offspring would be shown to him and he would say: “A foul spirit and a foul soul, put it in the lowest layer of Hell (sijjin)!”


The Prophet saw to Adam’s right great dark masses and a gate exuding a fragrant smell, and to his left great dark masses and a gate exuding a foul, putrid smell. Whenever Adam looked to his right he would smile and be happy, and whenever he looked to his left he would be sad and weep. The Prophet greeted him and Adam returned his greeting and said: "Welcome to the righteous son and the righteous Prophet!"


The Prophet said: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is your father Adam and the dark throngs are the souls of his children. Those on the right are the people of Paradise and those on the left are the people of the Fire. Whenever he looks to his right he smiles and is glad, and whenever he looks to his left he is sad and weeps. The door to his right is the gate of Paradise. Whenever he sees those of his offspring enter it he smiles happily. The door to his left is the gate of Jahannam. Whenever he sees those of his offspring enter it he weeps sadly.


(al-Shami added:) Then the Prophet continued for a little while. He saw a tablespread in which there were pieces of (good) meat which no one approached, and another tablespread in which were pieces of rotten meat which stank, surrounded by people who were eating it. The Prophet asked: "O Jibril, who are these?" He replied: "These are those of your Community who abandon what is lawful and go to what is unlawful."


(Another version says:) The Prophet saw a great deal of people gathered around a tablespread in which was set grilled meat of the best kind one had ever seen. Near the table there was some carrion decaying. The people were coming to the carrion to eat from it, and they were leaving the grilled meat untouched. The Prophet asked: "Who are they, O Jibril?" He replied: "The adulterers (al-zunat): they make lawful what Allah has made unlawful, and they abandon what Allah has made lawful for them."


Then the Prophet went on for a little while. He saw groups of people who had bellies as large as houses, and there were snakes in them which could be seen through their skins. Every time one of those people stood up he would fall again and he would say: "O Allah, don't make the Hour of Judgment rise yet!" Then they meet the people of Fir`awn on the road and the latter trample them underfoot. (The Prophet said:) "I heard them clamoring to Allah." He asked: "O Jibril, who are these?" He replied: "They are those of your Community who eat up usury. They cannot stand up except in the manner of those whom shaytan touches with possession."


Then the Prophet went on for a little while. He saw groups of people whose lips resembled the lips of camels. Their mouths were being pried open and they would be stoned. One version says: A rock from Jahannam was placed in their mouths and then it would come out again from their posteriors. (The Prophet said:) "I heard them clamoring to Allah." He asked: "O Jibril, who are these?" He replied: "They are those of your Community who eat up the property of orphans and commit injustice. They are eating nothing but a fire for their bellies, and they shall be roasted in it."


Then the Prophet went on for a little while. He saw women suspended by their breasts and others hanging upside down, (and the Prophet said:) "I heard them clamoring to Allah." He asked: "Who are these, O Jibril?" He replied: "These are the women who commit fornication and then kill their children."


Then the Prophet went on for a little while. He saw groups of people whose sides were being cut off for meat and they were being devoured. They were being told: "Eat, just as you used to eat the flesh of your brother." The Prophet said: "O Jibril, who are these?" He replied: "They are the slanderers of your Community who would bring shame to others." (End of al-Shami's addition.)


Then the Prophet continued for a little while, and he found the consumers of usury and of the property of orphans, and the fornicators and adulterers, and others, in various loathsome states as those that have been described, and worse.


Then they ascended to the second heaven. Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. When they came in they saw the sons of the two sisters: `Isa ibn Maryam and Yahya ibn Zakariyya. They resembled each other in clothing and hair. Each had with him a large company of their people. `Isa was curly-haired, of medium build, leaning towards fair complexion, with hair let down as if he were coming out of the bath. He resembles `Urwa ibn Mas`ud al-Thaqafi.[26]


            The Prophet greeted them and they returned his greeting. Then they said: "Welcome to the righteous brother and the righteous Prophet!" Then they invoked for goodness on his behalf.


After this the Prophet and Jibril ascended to the third heaven. Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. When they came in they saw Yusuf, and with him stood a large company of his people. The Prophet greeted him and he returned his greeting and said: "Welcome to the righteous brother and the righteous Prophet!" Then he invoked for goodness on his behalf.


Yusuf had been granted the gift of beauty. (One narration says:) He was the most handsome creation that Allah had ever created and he surpassed people in beauty the way the full moon surpasses all other stars. The Prophet asked: "Who is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "Your brother Yusuf."


Then they ascended to the fourth heaven. Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. When they came in they saw Idris. Allah exalted him to a lofty place. The Prophet greeted him and he returned his greeting and said: "Welcome to the righteous brother and the righteous Prophet!" Then he invoked for goodness on his behalf.


Then they ascended to the fifth heaven. Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. When they came in they saw Harun. Half of his beard was white and the other half was black. It almost reached his navel due to its length. Surrounding him were a company of the children of Israel listening to him as he was telling them a story. The Prophet greeted him and he returned his greeting and said: "Welcome to the righteous brother and the righteous Prophet!" Then he invoked for goodness on his behalf. The Prophet asked: "Who is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "This is the man who is beloved among his people, Harun ibn `Imran."


Then they ascended to the sixth heaven. Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. The Prophet passed by Prophets who had with them less than ten followers in all, while others had a large company, and others had not even one follower.


Then he saw a huge dark mass (sawad `azim) that was covering the firmament. He said: "What is this throng?" He was told: "This is Musa and his people. Now raise your head and look." He raised his head and saw another huge dark mass that was covering the firmament from every direction he looked. He was told: "These are your Community, and besides these there are seventy thousand of them that will enter Paradise without giving account."


As they went in the Prophet saw Musa ibn `Imran (again), a tall man with brown complexion, similar to one of the shanu'a -- the (Yemeni) men of pure lineage and manly virtue -- with abundant hair. If he had two shirts on him, still his hair would exceed them. The Prophet greeted him and he returned his greeting and said: "Welcome to the righteous brother and the righteous Prophet!" Then he invoked for goodness on his behalf and said: "The people claim that among the sons of Adam I am more honored by Allah than this one, but it is he who is more honored by Allah than me!"


When the Prophet reached him Musa wept. He was asked: "What is it that makes you weep?" He replied: "I weep because a child that was sent after me will cause more people to enter Paradise from his Community than will enter from mine. The children of Israel claim that among the children of Adam I am the one most honored by Allah, but here is one man among the children of Adam who has come after me in the world while I am in the next world (and is more honored). If he were only by himself I would not mind, but he has his Community with him!"


Then they ascended to the seventh heaven. Jibril asked for the gate to be opened. Someone said:


“Who is this?”


– “Who is with you?

– “Muhammad.”

– “Has he been sent for?”


– “Welcome to him, from his family! May Allah grant him long life, a brother (of ours) and a deputy (of Allah), and what excellent brother and deputy! What an excellent visit is this!”


The gate was opened. The Prophet saw Ibrahim the Friend sitting at the gate of Paradise on a throne of gold the back of which was leaning against the Inhabited House (al-bayt al-ma`mur). With him were a company of his people. The Prophet greeted him and he returned his greeting and said: "Welcome to the righteous son and the righteous Prophet!"[27]


Then Ibrahim said: "Order your Community to increase their seedlings of Paradise for its soil is excellent and its land is plentiful." The Prophet said: "What are the seedlings of Paradise?" He replied: la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah al-`ali al-`azhim "There is no change nor might except with Allah the High, the Almighty."


(Another version says:)


Convey my greetings to your Community and tell them that Paradise has excellent soil and sweet water, and that its seedlings are:


subhan allah: Glory to Allah

wa al-hamdu lillah: and Praise to Allah

wa la ilaha illallah: and there is no god but Allah

wallahu akbar: and Allah is greatest.


            With Ibrahim were sitting a company of people with pristine faces similar to the whiteness of a blank page, and next to them were people with something in their faces. The latter stood and entered a river in which they bathed. Then they came out having purified some of their hue. Then they entered another river and bathed and came out having purified some more. Then they entered a third river and bathed and purified themselves and their hue became like that of their companions. They came back and sat next to them.


            The Prophet said: "O Jibril, who are those with white faces and those who had something in their hues, and what are these rivers in which they entered and bathed?" He replied: "The ones with white faces are a people who never tarnished their belief with injustice or disobedience; those with something in their hues are a people who would mix good deeds with bad ones, then they repented and Allah relented towards them. As for these rivers, the first is Allah's mercy (rahmatullah), the second his favor (ni`matullah), and the third and their Lord gave them a pure beverage to drink (wa saqahum rabbuhum sharaban tahuran) (76:21)."


Then the Prophet was told: "This is your place and the place of your Community." He saw that his Community were divided into two halves: one half were wearing clothes that seemed as white as a blank page, the other were wearing clothes that seemed the color of ashes or dust. He entered the Inhabited House and those who were wearing the white clothes entered with him. Those that wore ash-colored clothes were no longer able to see him, and yet they were in the best of states. The Prophet prayed in the Inhabited House together with those of the believers that were with him.


Every day seventy thousand angels enter the Inhabited House, who shall never return to it until the Day of Resurrection. The angels who have entered it never see it again. This House is exactly superposed to the Ka`ba. If one stone fell from it, it would fall on top of the Ka`ba.


One version states that the presentation of the three vessels, the Prophet's choice of the vessel of milk, and Jibril's approval took place at this point.


(al-Shami adds:) al-Tabarani cites this hadith with a sound chain: "The night I was enraptured I passed by the heavenly host, and lo and behold! Jibril was like the worn-out saddle-cloth on the camel's back from fear of his Lord." One of al-Bazzar's narrations states: "like a saddle-blanket that clings to the ground."[28]


            Then the Prophet was raised up to the Lote-tree of the Farthest Limit. There ends whatever ascends from the earth before it is seized, and whatever descends from above before it is seized.[29]


            It is a tree from the base of which issue rivers whose water is never brackish (it does not change in taste, or color, or smell, and the sweat of those who drink it in Paradise has the fragrance of musk); and rivers of milk whose taste does not change after it is drunk; and rivers of wine which brings only pleasure to those who drink it; and rivers of purified honey. Someone on his mount could travel under its shade for seventy years and still not come out of it. The lotus fruit that grows on it resembles the jars of Hijar (near Madina). Its leaves are shaped like the ears of the she-elephant, and each leaf could wrap up this Community entirely. One version says: One of its leaves could wrap up all creatures.


On top of each leaf there was an angel who covered it with colors which cannot be described. Whenever he covered it by Allah's order it would change. One version says: It would turn into sapphire and chrysolite the beauty of which it is impossible for anyone to praise according to its merit. On it were moths of gold.


From the base of the tree issued four (more) rivers: two hidden rivers and two visible ones. The Prophet asked: "What are these, O Jibril? He replied: "As for the hidden ones, they are two rivers of Paradise. The visible ones are the Nile and the Euphrates."[30]


            (al-Shami added that one version says): At the base of the tree ran a source called Salsabil. From it issued two rivers: one is the Kawthar. (The Prophet said:) "I saw it flowing impetuously, roaring, at the speed of arrows. Near it were pavilions of pearl (lu'lu'), sapphire (yaqut), and chrysolite (zabarjad) on top of which nested green birds more delicate than any you have ever seen. On its banks were vessels of gold and silver. It ran over pebbles made of sapphire and emerald (zumurrud). Its water was whiter than milk."


            The Prophet took one of the vessels and scooped some water and drank. It was sweeter than honey and more fragrant than musk. Jibril said to him: "This is the river which Allah has given you as a special gift, and the other river is the River of Mercy." The Prophet bathed in it and his past and future sins were forgiven. (End of al-Shami's addition.)


            (One version says:) At the Lote-tree of the Farthest Limit the Prophet saw Jibril (in his angelic form). He had six hundred wings. Every single wing could cover the entire firmament. From his wings embellishments were strewn in all directions, such as rare pearls and sapphires of a kind Allah alone knows.Then the Prophet was taken to the Kawthar and entered Paradise. Lo and behold! It contains what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human mind ever imagined. On its gate he saw written:


al-sadaqatu bi `ashrin amthaliha

wa al-qardu bi thamaniyati `ashara


Charity is repaid tenfold, and loan eighteenfold.


            The Prophet said: "O Jibril, how can the loan be more meritorious than charity?" He replied: "Because one asking for charity may still have some need left, while the borrower does not borrow except his need is fulfilled."


            The Prophet continued to travel until he reached rivers of milk whose taste does not change, and rivers of wine which bring only pleasure to those who drink it, and rivers of honey purified, and overhanging those rivers were domes of hollowed pearl whose circumference is as wide as the Aquarius star.


(Another narration says:) Above the rivers were pommels resembling the hides of the humped camels. Its birds were like the Bactrian camel. Upon hearing this Abu Bakr said: "O Messenger of Allah, they are certainly delicate!" The Prophet replied: "And daintier to eat yet, and certainly I hope that you shall eat from them."[31]


            The Prophet then saw the Kawthar and on its banks were domes of hollowed pearl. The soil of its banks was extremely fragrant musk. Then the Fire was shown to him. In it he saw Allah's wrath and His punishment and sanction. Were rocks and iron to be thrown into it the Fire would consume them completely. In it were a people who were eating carrion. The Prophet said: "Who are these, O Jibril?" He replied: "Those who ate the flesh of people." Then the Prophet saw Malik, the custodian of the Fire. He was a grim figure whose face expressed anger. The Prophet greeted him first. Then the gates of the Fire were closed as he stood outside, and he was raised up beyond the Lote-tree of the Farthest Limit, and a cloud concealed him from everything else, and Jibril stayed back.[32]


            The Prophet was taken up to a point where he heard the scratching of the Pens (writing the divine Decree). He saw a man who had disappeared into the light of the Throne. He said: "Who is this? Is this an angel?" It was said to him, no. He said: "Is it a Prophet?" Again the answer was no. He said: "Who is it then?" The answer was: "This is a man whose tongue was moist with Allah's remembrance in the world, and his heart was attached to the mosques, and he never incurred the curse of his father and mother."


            Then the Prophet saw his Lord, the Glorious, the Exalted, and he fell prostrate, and at that time his Lord spoke to him and said: "O Muhammad!" He replied: "At your service, O Lord!" Allah said: "Ask (sal)!" The Prophet said:


You have taken to Yourself Ibrahim as a friend, and You have given him an immense kingdom. You have spoken to Musa directly, and have given Dawud an immense kingdom and softened iron and subjected the mountains to him. You have given Sulayman an immense kingdom, and subjected the jinn and men and devils to him, as well as the winds, and You have given him a kingdom the like no one may have after him. You have taught `Isa the Torah and the Evangel, and made him heal those born blind and the lepers, and raise up the dead with Your permission, and You have protected him and his mother from the cursed devil so that the devil had no path by which to harm them!


Allah said: "And I have taken you to Myself as My beloved." The narrator said: It is written in the Torah: habibullah "Allah's Beloved." Allah continued:


And I have sent you for all people without exception, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner; and I have expanded your breast for you and relieved you of your burden and exalted your name; and I am not mentioned except you are mentioned with Me; and I have made your Community the best Community ever brought out for the benefit of mankind; and I have made your Community a mean and a middle; and I have made your Community in truth the first and the last of all Communities; and I have made public address (al-khutba) impermissible for your Community unless they first witness that you are My servant and Messenger; and I have placed certain people in your Community with Evangels for hearts (i.e. repositories of Allah's Book); and I have made you the first Prophet created and the last one sent and the first one heard in My court; and I have given you Seven of the Oft-Repeated which I gave to no other Prophet before you (i.e. Surat al-Fatiha); and I have given you the last verses of Surat al-Baqara which constitute a treasure from under My Throne which I gave to no other Prophet before you; and I have given you the Kawthar; and I have given you eight arrows (i.e. shares in good fortune): Islam, Emigration (hijra), Jihad, Charity (sadaqa), Fasting Ramadan, Ordering Good, and Forbidding Evil; and the day I created the heavens and the earth I made obligatory upon you and upon your Community fifty prayers: therefore establish them, you and your Community."


            (al-Shami added:) Abu Hurayra said: Allah's Messenger said:


My Lord has preferred me over everyone else (faddalani rabbi); He has sent me as a mercy to the worlds and to all people without exception, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner; He has thrown terror into the hearts of my enemies at a distance of a month's travel; he has made spoils of war lawful for me while they were not lawful for anyone before me; the entire earth has been made a ritually pure place of prostration for me; I was given the words that open, those that close, and those that are comprehensive in meaning (i.e. I was given the apex of eloquence); my Community was shown to me and there is none of the followers and the followed but he is known to me; I saw that they would come to a people that wear hair-covered sandals; I saw that they would come to a people of large faces and small eyes as if they had been pierced with a needle; nothing of what they would face in the future has been kept hidden from me; and I have been ordered to perform fifty prayers daily.


And he has been given three particular merits: He is the Master of Messengers (sayyid al-mursalin), the Leader of the Godwary (imam al-muttaqin), and the Chief of Those with Signs of Light on Their Faces and Limbs (qa'id al-ghurr al-muhajjalin). (End of al-Shami's addition.)


One narration says: The Prophet was given the five daily prayers and the last verses of Surat al-Baqara, and (for his sake) whoever of his Community does not associate anything with Allah is forgiven even the sins that destroy.


Then the cloud that cloaked him was dispelled and Jibril took him by the hand and sped away with him until he reached Ibrahim, who did not say anything. Then the Prophet reached Musa who asked: "What did you do, O Muhammad? What obligations did your Lord impose on you and your Community?" He replied: "He imposed fifty prayers every day and night on me and my Community." Musa said: "Return to your Lord and ask Him to lighten your burden and that of your Community for in truth your Community will not be able to carry it. Verily I myself have experienced people's natures before you. I tested the Children of Israel and took the greatest pains to hold them to something easier than this, but they were too weak to carry it and they abandoned it. Those of your Community are even weaker in their bodies and constitutions, in their hearts, in their sight, and in their hearing."


The Prophet turned to Jibril to consult him. The latter indicated to him that yes, if he wished, then return. The Prophet sped back until he reached the Tree and the cloud cloaked him and he fell prostrate. Then he said: "Lord, make lighter the burden of my Community for verily they are the weakest of all Communities." He replied: I have removed five prayers from their obligation."


Then the cloud was dispelled and the Prophet returned to Musa and told him: "He has removed five prayers from my obligation." He replied: "Go back to your Lord and ask him to make it less, for in truth your Community will not be able to carry that." The Prophet did not cease to go back and forth between Musa and his Lord, while Allah each time reduced it by five prayers, until Allah said: "O Muhammad!" The Prophet said: "At Your service, O Lord!" He said: "Let them be five prayers every day and night, and let every prayer count as ten. That makes fifty prayers. This word of Mine shall not be changed nor shall My Book be abrogated. Let whoever is about to perform a good deed, even if he does not ultimately do it, receive the reward of doing it, while if he does it, he shall receive it tenfold. Let whoever is about to commit a bad deed, and he does not ultimately do it, let not anything be written against him, while if he does it, let one misdeed be written against him."


Then the cloud was dispelled and the Prophet returned to Musa and told him: "He has removed five prayers from my obligation." He replied: "Go back to your Lord and ask him to make it less, for in truth your Community will not be able to carry that." The Prophet said: "I have gone back again to my Lord until I feel shy from Him. Rather, I accept and submit." At this a herald called out: "I have decreed My obligation and have reduced the burden of My servants." Musa then said to the Prophet: "Go down in the name of Allah."


The Prophet did not pass a throng of angels except they said to him: "You must practice cupping (`alayka bi al-hijama)," and in another version: "Order cupping to your Community."[33]


            As the Prophet was descending he asked Jibril: "Why did I not see any of the people of heaven except they welcomed me and smiled at me except one: I greeted him and he greeted me back and welcomed me, but he did not smile at me?" He replied: "That was Malik the custodian of the Fire. He never smiled once since the day he was created. If he had ever smiled for anyone, it would have been you."


            When the Prophet reached the nearest heaven he looked below it and he saw a dense cloud of smoke filled with clamor. He asked: "What is this, O Jibril?" He replied: "These are the devils that swarm over the eyes of human beings so that they will not think about the dominions of the heavens and the earth, or else they would have seen wonders."


            Then he mounted the Buraq again (which he had tied in Jerusalem) and departed. He passed by a caravan of the Quraysh in such-and-such a place (the narrator forgot the name) and saw a camel upon which were tied two containers, a black one and a white one. When he came face to face with the caravan there was a stampede in which the caravan turned around and that camel was thrown down to the ground and its freight broke.


            Then the Prophet passed by another caravan that had lost one of its camels which the tribe of So-and-so had rounded up. The Prophet greeted them and one of them said: "This is the voice of Muhammad!" after which the Prophet returned to his Companions in Mecca shortly before morning.


            When morning came he remained alone and, knowing that people would belie him, sat despondently. The enemy of Allah Abu Jahl was passing by and he approached and sat down next to him, saying by way of mockery: "Has anything happened?" The Prophet replied: "Yes." Abu Jahl said: "And what is that?" The Prophet replied: "I was enraptured last night." Abu Jahl said: "To where?" The Prophet replied: "To the Hallowed House." Abu Jahl said: "Then you woke up here among us?" He replied: "Yes."


            Abu Jahl decided not to belie the Prophet for fear the Prophet would deny having said this to him if he went and told the people of Mecca, so he said: "What do you think if I called your people here? Will you tell them what you just told me?" The Prophet said yes. Abu Jahl cried out: "O assembly of the Children of Ka`b ibn Lu'ay, come hither!" People left their gatherings and came until they all sat next around the two of them. Abu Jahl said: "Tell your people what you just told me." Allah's Messenger said: "I was enraptured last night." They said: "To where?" The Prophet replied: "To the Hallowed House." They said: "Then you woke up here among us?" He replied: "Yes." There was no one left except he clapped his hands, or held his head in amazement, or clamored and considered it an enormity.


            Al-Mut`im ibn `Adi (who died a disbeliever) said: "All of your affair before today was bearable, until what you said today. I bear witness that you are a liar (ana ashhadu annaka kadhibun). We strike the flanks of the she-camels for one month to reach the Hallowed House, then for another month to come back, and you claim that you went there in one night! By al-Lat, by al-`Uzza! I do not believe you."


            Abu Bakr said: "O Mut`im, what an evil thing you said to the son of your brother when you faced him thus and declared him a liar! As for me I bear witness that he spoke the truth (ana ashhadu annahu sadiqun)."


            The people said: "O Muhammad, describe the Hallowed House for us. How is it built, what does it look like, how near is it to the mountain." There were some among them who had travelled there. He began to describe it for them: "Its structure is like this, its appearance like this, its proximity to the mountain is such-and-such," and he did not stop describing it to them until he began to have doubts about the description. He was seized with an anxiety he had not felt before, whereupon he was immediately brought to the mosque itself (in Jerusalem) and saw it in front of him. He was placed outside the gate of `Aqil or `Iqal. The people said: "How many gates does the mosque have?" He had not counted them before. He looked at the gates and began to count them one by one and to inform them. All the while Abu Bakr was saying: "You have spoken the truth. You have spoken the truth. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah (sadaqta sadaqta ashhadu annaka rasulullah)."


            The people said: "As for the description, then, by Allah, he is correct." They turned to Abu Bakr and said: "But do you believe what he said, that he went last night to the Hallowed House and came back before morning?" He replied: "Yes, and I do believe him regarding what is farther than that. I believe the news of heaven he brings, whether in the space of a morning or in that of an evening journey (na`am inni la usaddiquhu fima huwa ab`adu min dhalika usaddiqu bi khabari al-sama'I fi ghudwatin aw rawhatin)." Because of this Abu Bakr was named al-Siddiq: the Very Truthful, the One Who Never Lies.


            Then they said: "O Muhammad, tell us about our caravans." He replied: "I saw the caravan of the tribe of So-and-so as I was coming back. They had lost one of their camels and were searching for it everywhere. I reached their mounts and there was no one with them. I found a water bottle and I drank from it."[34]


            (The Prophet continued:) "Then I reached the caravan of the tribe of So-and-so in such-and-such a place. I saw a red camel carrying one black container and one white one. When I came face to face with the caravan there was a stampede and that camel fell and its freight broke. Then I reached the caravan (not previously mentioned) of the tribe of So-and-so in al-Tan`im. It was headed by a grayish camel  on which was a black hair-cloth and two blackish containers and here are the (three) caravans about to reach you from the mountain pass." They said: "When will they arrive?" He replied: "On the fourth day of the week." On that day the Quraysh came out, expecting the caravans. The day passed and they did not arrive. The Prophet made an invocation and the day was extended one more hour during which the sun stood still, and the caravans came.


They went to meet the riders and asked them: "Did you lose a camel?" They said yes. They asked the second caravan: "Did one red camel of yours shatter her freight?" They said yes. They asked (the first caravan): "Did anyone lose a water bottle?" One man said: "I did, by Allah, I had prepared it but none of us drank it nor was it spilled on the ground!" At this they accused the Prophet of sorcery and they said: "al-Walid spoke the truth." And Allah revealed the verse:


wa ma ja`alna al-ru'ya al-lati araynaka illa fitnatan li al-nas


We appointed not the vision which We showed you but as a test for mankind. (17:60)[35]


      The account is finished with praise to Allah and by His grace. May Allah send blessings and utmost, abundant greetings upon our Master Muhammad and his Family and Companions, and praise belongs to Allah the Lord of the worlds!


 The Night of Mid-Sha`ban (laylat al-bara'a) and

the First Night and Night of the First Friday of Rajab

(laylat al-ragha'ib)



Allah said:


inna anzalnahu fi laylatin mubarakatin inna kunna mundhirin


Lo! We revealed it on a blessed night -- Lo! We are ever warning --


fiha yufraqu kullu amrin hakim


Whereupon every wise command is made clear


amran min `indina inna kunna mursilin


As a command from Our presence -- Lo! We are ever sending --


rahmatan min rabbika innahu huwa al-sami`u al-`alim


A mercy from thy Lord. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower. (44:3-6)


            The majority of the commentators consider the "blessed night" in the above verses to refer to the Night of Decree (laylat al-qadr) which is considered to be in the month of Ramadan. However, the commentaries also mention that this "blessed night" may be that of mid-Sha`ban (laylat al-bara'a). This view is based on the profusion of hadiths on the great merits of the latter. Consequently the Shari`a has commended observance of that night. Concerning supererogatory worship on the night of mid-Sha`ban Suyuti says in his Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bid`a:


As for the night of mid-Sha`ban, it has great merit and it is desirable (mustahabb) to spend part of it in supererogatory worship.[36]


            Even Ibn Taymiyya -- the putative authority of "Salafis" -- considered the night of mid-Sha`ban "a night of superior merit" in his Iqtida' al-sirat al-mustaqim:


[Some] said: There is no difference between this night (mid-Sha`ban) and other nights of the year. However, the opinion of many of the people of learning, and that of the majority of our companions (i.e. the Hanbali school) and other than them is that it is a night of superior merit, and this is what is indicated by the words of Ahmad (ibn Hanbal), in view of the many ahadith which are transmitted concerning it, and in view of what confirms this from the words and deeds transmitted from the early generations (al-athar al-salafiyya). Some of its merits have been narrated in the books of hadith of the musnad and sunan types. This holds true even if other things have been forged concerning it.[37]



            Among the hadiths stressing the status of laylat al-bara'a are the following:



1. Ibn Hibban narrated from Mu`adh ibn Jabal in his Sahih the following narration which the hadith scholar and editor of the Sahih Shu`ayb Arna'ut confirmed as sound:


The Prophet said : yattali`u Allahu ila khalqihi fi laylati al-nisfi min sha`bana fa-yaghfiru li-jami`i khalqihi illa li mushrikin aw mushahin.


Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Sha`ban and He forgives all His creation except for a mushrik (idolater) or a mushahin (one bent on hatred).[38]


            Haythami said that Tabarani also narrated it in his Kabir and Awsat with chains containing only trustworthy narrators, that is: sound (sahih) chains; Ibn Khuzayma included it in his Sahih, which has the same level of acceptance among the experts as Sahih Muslim; and even Albani included it in his Silsila sahiha!



2. Tirmidhi and Ahmad narrate from `Abd Allah ibn `Amr, and al-Bazzar with a chain he graded as fair (hasan) through the great Tabi`i jurist al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr al-Siddiq:


Allah looks upon His creatures on the night of mid-Sha`ban and He forgives all His servants except two: one intent on hatred, and the homicide.



3. Bayhaqi relates from `A'isha in Shu`ab al-iman with his chain of transmission:


From `A'isha: She said: The Prophet stood up in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought his soul had been taken back. When I saw this I got up and went to move his big toe, whereupon he moved, so I drew back. When he raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he said: "O `A'isha, O fair little one (humayra')! Did you think that the Prophet had broken his agreement with you?" She replied: "No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I thought that your soul had been taken back because your stayed in prostration for so long." He said: "Do you know what night this is?" She said: "Allah and His Prophet know best." He said: "This is the night of mid-Sha`ban! Verily Allah the Glorious and Majestic look at His servants on the night of mid-Sha`ban, and He forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy, and He gives a delay to the people of envy and spite in their state."


al-Azhari said:


Concerning his words: "broken his agreement with you": this is said to a person who betrays his companion and therefore has not given him his due right.


Bayhaqi continues:


I say: This hadith is missing the Companion in its chain, and is a good hadith (hadha mursal jayyid). It is probable that al-`Ala' ibn al-Harith took it from Makhul, and Allah knows best.[39]



4. Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Ibn Majah relate:


From `A'isha: I missed the Prophet one night so I went out to al-Baqi` (and found him). He said: "Were you afraid that Allah would wrong you and that His Prophet would wrong you?" I said: "O Messenger of Allah, I thought that you might have gone to visit one of your wives." He said: "Allah Glorious and Exalted descends to the nearest heaven on the night of mid-Sha`ban and He forgives to more people than the number of hairs on the hides of the sheep of the tribes of Kalb.[40]



5. Ahmad and Ibn Majah relate:


From `Ali ibn Abi Talib: The Prophet said: "The night of mid-Sha`ban let all of you spend in prayer (i.e. partly) and its day (i.e. preceding it) in fasting, for Allah descends to the nearest heaven during that night beginning with sunset and says: Is there no one asking forgiveness that I may forgive them? Is there no one asking sustenance that I may grant them sustenance? Is there no one under trial that I may relieve them? Is there not such-and-such, is there not such-and-such, and so forth until until dawn rises.[41]



            As for the night of the first Friday of the month of Rajab or its first night, both known as the "Night of wishes" (laylat al-ragha'ib) during which is performed the salat al-ragha'ib, its observance was disapproved by Imam Nawawi in his Sharh al-muhadhdhab and Fatawa as based on invalid (batil) evidence, and this is also the position of al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam. However, the hafiz Ibn al-Salah disagreed with al-`Izz and considered praiseworthy the performance of Salat al-ragha'ib, while `Ali al-Qari said in his Asrar al-marfu`a regarding this:


The hadith: salat al-nahar `ajma' (Prayer in the daytime is silent), even if invalid (batil), nevertheless its meaning is true. The same holds about the hadiths of the prayers they have mentioned concerning honored days and exalted nights such as salat al-ragha'ib -- the most famous example being the prayer of mid-Sha`ban -- because the hadiths concerning them (i.e. the prayers) are not forged but merely weak.[42]


            Finally, Ibn `Abd al-Razzaq narrates in his Musannaf (4:317) that Ibn `Umar said:


There are five nights in which invocation (du`a) is not turned back: the night of Jum`a, the first night of Rajab, the night of mid-Sha`ban, and the two nights of `Eid.





Imam Ibn Qudama the shaykh of Ibn Taymiyya and the main fiqh authority in the late Hanbali school in his book entitled "Those who repented" (Kitab al-tawwabin) narrates that when Malik ibn Dinar (d. 127 or 123 or 130) was asked of the circumstances of his repentance he said (1994 ed. p. 223-225):


I was a policeman and I was given to drinking. I bought a beautiful slave who gave me a daughter. I doted over my daughter and when she began to crawl on all fours I grew even more fond of her. Whenever I put a strong drink in front of me she would come to me and pull me away from it, or she would spill it from me. When she completed two years she died. I became consumed with grief over her loss.


            When the night of mid-Sha`ban came -- it was the night before Jum`a -- I stayed home and drank. I did not pray the `Isha prayer. Then I had a dream that the Day of Judgment had begun, the Trumpet was blown, the graves gave up their dead, mankind was gathered up, and I was among them. I heard something behind me. I turned around and saw a dragon of indescribable size, blue-black, rushing for me with wide open jaws. I fled in terror.


            I passed by a shaykh dressed in spotless clothes, exuding a fragrant smell. I greeted him and he greeted me back. I said to him: O shaykh! Protect me from this dragon, and may Allah protect you! The shaykh wept and said: I am weak and it is stronger than me, I cannot overcome it. Go quickly, perhaps Allah will grant you something that will save you from it.


            I turned and resumed my flight. I climbed up on one of the promontories of the Day of Resurrection overlooking the layers of Hellfire. I looked at the horror they contained and almost fell in for fear of the dragon. But a crier cried out to me: Go back! You are not among its inmates. His words stilled my fears and I went back.


            But the dragon again pursued me. I went back to the shaykh and said: O shaykh! I begged you to protect me from this dragon but you didn't protect me. Again he wept and said: I am weak, but proceed to this mountain. In it are kept the deposits (wada'i`) of the Muslims. If there is a deposit (wadi`a) for you, then it will help you.


            I looked and saw a round-shaped mountain of silver topped with domes of hollowed pearl and hanging drapes, and every dome had two large gates of red gold encrusted with emeralds and pearls and overhung with drapes of silk.


            When I saw the mountain I fled to it with the dragon in hot pursuit. As I approached the mountain one of the angels cried: Raise up the veils, open the gates, and look out! Perhaps this wretched one has a deposit with you that will save him from his enemy. At this the veils were lifted, the gates were opened, and out of the palaces came children with faces like full moons. The snake was catching up to me and I was near despair.


            One of the children cried: Woe to you! Come and see, all of you! His enemy is very near him. Whereupon the children came one wave after another, and among them was the dear daughter of mine that had died two years before. When she saw me she wept and said: My father, by Allah! Then she leapt in a carriage of light and came near me with the speed of an arrow. She put her left hand in my right hand and I held on to her. Then she stretched her right hand towards the dragon and it turned around and fled.


            My daughter bade me sit, then she sat in my lap and began to stroke my beard and said: O my father! "Has not the time come for those who believe, that their hearts become humble at the remembrance of Allah?" (57:16) I began to weep and said: O my daughter, you children know the Qur'an? She replied: My father! We know it better than you.


            I said to her: Tell me about the dragon which wanted to destroy me. She said: Those were your evil deeds which you built up and strengthened, and they wanted to take you to Hellfire. I asked: What about the shaykh I passed by? She replied: O my father, those were your righteous deeds, you made them weak until they were no match for your evil deeds.


            I said: O my daughter! What are you all doing in this mountain? She said: We are the children of Muslims, we have been given this dwelling until the Hour rises. We await whatever you send forth to us, and we intercede for you. Malik said: Then I awoke in a start and saw that morning had come. I flung the potion from me and shattered the drinking-cups, and I repented to Allah.



(Welcoming the Month of Ramadan)



Anas said that just before the month of Ramadan came the Prophet said: "Glory to Allah! If you knew what you are facing now! If you knew what is coming ahead!" `Umar ibn al-Khattab said: "My father's life be ransom for you, and my mother's! O Prophet of Allah, what is it? Did you receive revelation, or is an enemy coming?" He replied: "No, but the month of Ramadan has come, in which Allah forgives all the people of this Community."


            The Prophet also said: "If Allah's servants knew what Ramadan was, they would have wished it lasted for the whole year."


            The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an is a time of tremendous blessings and the gate of repentance and return to Allah. The Prophet also said: "The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month for the duration of which Allah has prescribed fasting for you. In it the gates of the heaven are open and the gates of Jahannam are shut."  Another version adds: "And devils are put in chains."


            The Prophet named fasting "the poor-tax of the body" (zakat al-jasad) and he named it "a shield" (junna) from the fire and he named restraint "half of the fast" (al-sabru nisfu al-sawm) and "pure light" (al-sabru diya'). When asked who were the wanderers in the verse:


Those that turn to Allah in repentance;

that serve Him, and praise Him;

that wander in devotion to His cause (al-sa'ihun);

that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer;

that enjoin good and forbid evil;

and observe the limits set by Allah... (9:112)


the Prophet said: "The wanderers in the cause of Allah are those who fast" (hum al-sa'imun). The Prophet also said: "There is no conceit in fasting."


            The month of Ramadan is a tremendous witness on the Day of judgment, and the Prophet said: "I declare myself clear of them whose prosecutor is Ramadan." It brings immense rewards as he said: "Those who fast the month of Ramadan believing (in Allah and his Messenger) and seeking a reward, all their past sins are forgiven." Another version adds: "and pray (the voluntary night-prayer) in it" and in the end: "he comes out of his sins as on the day his mother gave birth to him."


            Every good deed in Ramadan carries more weight that at any other time, particularly giving. Ibn `Abbas said: "The Prophet was the most generous of people, and he was at his most generous in Ramadan," and when Anas asked "What is the best charity (sadaqa)?" the Prophet replied: "A gift in Ramadan (sadaqatun fi ramadan)." Tirmidhi narrated it with a good chain from Imam Bukhari and he said it is gharib (rare).


            According to the Companion `Ubada ibn al-Samit the Prophet used to say upon entering this month:


Allahumma sallimni li ramadana wa sallim ramadana wa sallimhu minni mutaqabbilan


O Allah, greet me and preserve me for Ramadan; greet and preserve Ramadan; and greet and preserve Ramadan on my behalf, and grant me its acceptance.


            The following is a traditional address of welcome recited by our Shaykhs upon entering Ramadan. May Allah accept the intention of those who fast this month, place us in the best company of His creation in this month, reform us, supply us, and forgive us for their sake.




a`udhu billahi min al-shaytan al-rajim

bismillah al-rahman al-rahim


marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahra ramadan

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-qur'an

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-nur

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-ijtima`

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-fuqara'

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-tawbati wa al-ruju`

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-du`a'i wa al-wuquf

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-fuqara'i wa al-du`afa'

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-ihsan

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-`usat

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-fawzi wa al-falah

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-munajati wa al-tasbih

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-da`wati wa al-irshad

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-tarawiha wa al-qiyam

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-masabiha wa al-qanadil

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-khaza'ini wa al-kunuz

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-mala'ikati wa al-salam

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-iftari wa al-suhur

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-mutheerati wa al-asabb

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-du`afa'

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-ajri wa al-jaza'

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-sabri wa al-siyam

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-sa`ada

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-miftah

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-wasli wa al-wisal

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-wadadi wa al-mahabba

marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya sayyid al-shuhur

lam na`rif qadraka wa lam nahfaz hurmataka ya shahr al-ghufran

fa ardi `anna wa la tashku minna ila al-rahman

wa kun shahidan lana bi al-fadli wa al-ihsan




I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed satan

In the name of Allah the Merciful the Beneficent


Greetings and welcome O month of Ramadan

Greetings and welcome O month of the Qur'an

Greetings and welcome O month of light

Greetings and welcome O month of gathering

Greetings and welcome O month of the poor

Greetings and welcome O month of repentance and return

Greetings and welcome O month of invocation and standing in supplication

Greetings and welcome O month of the poor and the weak

Greetings and welcome O month of doing one's best

Greetings and welcome O month of the sinners

Greetings and welcome O month of victory and success

Greetings and welcome O month of intimate discourse and glorification

Greetings and welcome O month of the call and the guidance

Greetings and welcome O month of rest-between-prayers and standing to pray

Greetings and welcome O month of lanterns and lights

Greetings and welcome O month of coffers and treasures

Greetings and welcome O month of angels and safety

Greetings and welcome O month of breaking fast and eating before the fast

Greetings and welcome O month of tilling and of deafness to sin

Greetings and welcome O month of the weak

Greetings and welcome O month of repayment and reward

Greetings and welcome O month of fast and patience

Greetings and welcome O month of felicity

Greetings and welcome O month of the key

Greetings and welcome O month of union and reunion

Greetings and welcome O month of friendship and love

Greetings and welcome O master of all months

We have not treated you according to your immense price

Nor truly sanctified you, O month of forgiveness,

But be pleased with us nevertheless, do not blame us before the Merciful,

And testify for us with grace and goodness!



The great Indian poet Iqbal said about fasting:


Fasting makes an assault upon hunger and thirst.

And breaches the citadel of sensuality...

Almsgiving causes love of riches to pass away

And makes equality familiar;

It fortifies the heart with righteousness,

It increases wealth and diminishes fondness for wealth.

All this is a means of strengthening thee:

Thou art impregnable, if thy Islam be strong.

Draw might from the litany "O Almighty One!"

That thou mayst ride the camel of thy body.











Where did the Sufis originate, when did they first appear, and what was the position of the Imams of the Schools regarding them?




We have already addressed the topic of Tasawwuf at length in the second part of Volume I. In this section we will address specific questions in a more concise way for the sake of brevity. Tasawwuf is linked historically to zuhd (ascetiscism), lexically to suf (wool), and semantically to tazkiya al-nafs (purifying one's soul and manners).


1. Briefly put, sufi is a second-century name applied to a type of Muslim earlier known as zahid (ascetic, one who renounces and does without). The lexical root of sufi is traced, among other roots, to:


        suf      =       wool

        safa'   =       purity


and while the former is more likely, the latter is given preference. The two were nicely combined by Abu `Ali al-Rudhabari (d. 322) who said:


    al-sufi man labisa al-sufa `ala al-safa


    The Sufi is the one who wears wool (suf) on top of purity (safa).


Suyuti cited it in his book on tasawwuf entitled Ta'yid al-haqiqa al-`aliyya.


At any rate these are the likelier etymologies mentioned by al-Qushayri, al-Huwjiri, Ibn Taymiyya, al-Shatibi, and many others.


            It is established that the wearing of wool is a vestmental Sunna of the Prophet:


·         al-Mughira ibn Shu`ba said: "[The Prophet] washed his face and hands while wearing a cloak of wool (jubbatun min al-suf)." Bukhari narrated it in his Sahih.


·         Anas said: "Allah's Messenger wore wool (labisa al-suf)." Ibn Majah narrated it in the Sunan with two weak chains, but the narrations are confirmed by Bukhari's narrations in the three chpaters of wearing wool in his Book of Vestments (Kitab al-libas).


Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said in his book on love of Allah and love of the Prophet entitled Istinshaq nasim al-uns min nafahat riyad al-quds (Inhaling the breeze of intimacy from the whiffs of the gardens of sanctity):


Love for the Prophet is on two levels.... The second level is superior. This type of love requires following his example in an excellent way and fulfilling the following of his Sunna with respect to his behavior, manners, voluntary deeds, superogatory actions, eating, drinking, dressing, excellent behavior with his wives and other aspects of his perfect manners and pure behavior.


In his major work entitled al-I`tisam on the definition of bid`a (innovation), al-Shatibi (d. 790) categorically and meticulously rejected the ascription of sufis and tasawwuf to innovation in Islam according to his criteria.


A third popular etymology for tasawwuf is in the name of the group of the poorer Companions who lived in the mosque of the Prophet and who were called Ashab al-Suffa -- the Companions of the Shelter. Indeed they are the earliest type of the Sufis in Islam, being literally fuqara' or Dependent Ones, a word which like zahid is an early synonym of sufi.


·         Fadala ibn `Ubayd said that when the Prophet used to pray among the people, some of the men would collapse during prayer due to the length of their station and due to their indigence. They were the Companions of the Shelter (ashab al-suffa). It reached the point when the beduins of the Arabs would say: "These are possessed madmen." (One day) after the Prophet prayed he walked over to them and say: "If you knew how much you own in Allah's presence, you would dearly wish to increase in poverty and need." Fadala added: "That day I was with Allah's Messenger."


            Tirmidhi narrates it with a strong chain in his Sunan, book of Zuhd, and he said: "This is a sound (sahih) narration."


Ahl al-Suffa was an appellation applied to a group of over ninety poor refugees and homeless people who were supported by Muslim charity. They were lodged in the suffa of the Prophet's mosque in Madina, a saqifa or roof or covering for shade made of palm-sticks and leaves. Lisan al-`arab defines it as mawdi` muzallal min al-masjid kana ya'wi ilayhi al-masakin, "a shaded spot of the mosque to which the poor sought shelter.[44]


2. As for the term zahid, Imam Ahmad (d. 241) established that it applies first and foremost to the Prophet and his eminent Companions, upon him blessings and peace and may Allah be well pleased with them, and it applies as well to all of the Prophets of Allah, peace upon them.


`Abd al-Qadir al-Baghdadi (d. 429) mentioned the two terms zahid and sufi interchangeably in his classifications of the groups that belong to Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a in his al-Farq bayn al-firaq:


Know that Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a are divided in eight groups of people... the sixth group being the Sufi Ascetics (al-zuhhad al-sufiyya),  who have seen things for what they are and therefore have abstained, who have known by experience and therefore have taken heed truly, who have accepted Allah's allotment and contented themselves with what is within reach.[45]


3. The term sufi has been used in contrast with faqih (jurist) by the great Imams of fiqh and usul to signify respectively inner and outward practice of the Religion. Imam al-Shafi`i said:


        faqihan wa sufiyyan fa kun laysa wahidan

        fa inni wa haqqillahi iyyaka ansahu


        (Be both) a faqih and a sufi: do not be only one of them,

        Verily, by Allah's truth, I am advising you sincerely.


while Imam Malik said:


        man tasawwafa wa lam yatafaqqa fa qad tazandaqa

        wa man tafaqqaha wa lam yatasawwaf fa qad tafassaqa

        wa man jama`a bayn al-ithnayn fa qad tahaqqaqa


        He who practices Tasawwuf without learning Sacred Law

        corrupts his faith, while he who learns Sacred Law without

        practicing Tasawwuf corrupts himself. Only he who combines

        the two proves true.


See also Sufyan al-Thawri's saying on the best of people being the sufi who is versed in fiqh, cited below.[46]


4. The hafiz Ibn al-Jawzi wrote a 100-page book on al-Hasan al-Basri's life and personality entitled Adab al-Shaykh al-Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Basri. In his chapter on al-Hasan in his compendium of the saints entitled Sifat al-safwa -- based on Abu Nu`aym's Hilyat al-awliya' -- Ibn al-Jawzi also mentions a report that al-Hasan left behind a white cloak (jubba) made of wool (suf) which he had worn exclusively of any other for the past twenty years, winter and summer, and that when he died it was in a state of immaculate beauty, cleanness, and quality.


As to when the Sufis formally appeared, the earliest date that can be established is with Hasan al-Basri's student `Abd al-Wahid ibn Zayd (d. 177) who was the first person to build a Sufi khaniqa or guest-house and school at Abadan on the present-day border of Iran with Iraq. This is related by the hafiz Abu Nu`aym (d. 430) and confirmed by Ibn Taymiyya. The hafiz al-Harawi al-Ansari (d. 481), says in his Biographical Layers of the Sufi masters that the first person to be actually named "Sufi" was Abu Hashim al-Sufi (d. 150?), a contemporary of Imam Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 165) who said:


If it were not for Abu Hashim al-Sufi I would have never perceived the presence of the subtlest forms of hypocrisy in the self.... Among the best of people is the Sufi learned in jurisprudence.


Abu Nu`aym narrated in Hilyat al-awliya' and al-Ansari in his Tabaqat, while Ibn al-Jawzi, who dislikes the word "sufi," names him Abu Hashim al-Zahid in his Sifat al-safwa!


Sufyan al-Thawri's remark highlights the need for a master of self-purification. Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani said:


wa liyatahaqqaq bi annallaha `azza wa jall ajra al-`ada bi'an yakuna fi al-ardi shaykhun wa murid sahibun wa mashub tabi` wa matbu` min ladun adam ila an taquma al-sa`a


Let it be fully realized that Allah Almighty has made it the customary practice that there be on the earth the shaykh and the murid, the companion and the one whose company is kept, the follower and the one who is followed. This has held since the time of Adam and will hold until the rising of the Hour.


The famous student of the Khwaja `Ubayd Allah Ahrar, `Abd al-Rahman Jami, said in his book Nafahat al-uns:


All the Prophets have come in order to open people's eyes to see their own faults and Allah's perfection, their own weakness and Allah's power, their own injustice and Allah's justice.... And the shaykh is also there for the purpose of opening the eyes of his disciples. "For Allah the worst of all beasts are the deaf and dumb human beings who understand not" (8:22).


Sayyidina `Ali, Peace be upon him, said: "Thus does Knowledge die: when those who possess it die. By Allah I do swear it: the earth will never be empty of one who establishes the proofs of Allah so that His proofs and signs never cease. They are the fewest in number, but the greatest in rank before Allah. Through them Allah preserves His proofs until they bequeath it to those like them (before passing on) and plant it firmly in their hearts. By them knowledge has taken by assault the reality of things, so that they found easy what those given to comfort found hard, and found intimacy in what the ignorant found desolate. They accompanied the world with bodies whose spirits were attached to the highest regard (al-mahall al-a`la). Ah, ah! how one yearns to see them!" Ibn al-Jawzi mentioned it in his chapter on `Ali in the book Sifat al-safwa.[47]


            It is this dimension of "yearning to see" those who alone possess and bequeath knowledge, which is prevalent in the meaning of the Prophet's many hadiths that pertain to the shaykh and the student, such as the following:


·         Abu Hurayra said that the Prophet said, Peace be upon him: "The earth and everything in it is cursed, except for dhikr and what attends dhikr, and the teacher and the student." Narrated by Tirmidhi who said it is hasan, Ibn Majah who said the same, Bayhaqi, and others. Suyuti cites it in al-Jami` al-saghir from al-Bazzar's similar narration from Ibn Mas`ud and he declared it sahih. Tabarani also narrated it in al-Awsat from Abu al-Darda'.


The above hadith of the Prophet stresses the importance of following a teacher of knowledge, without which one incurs curse instead of blessing. This is what Abu Yazid al-Bistami meant when he said: "Whoever has no shaykh, his shaykh is shaytan." It is confirmed by two other hadiths of the Prophet:


·         Abu Bakrah said: I heard the Prophet say: "Become a learned person (`alim), or a student of knowledge (muta`allim), or an auditor of knowledge (mustami`), or an amateur of knowledge (muhibb), but do not be the fifth one for you will perish." al-Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa'id (1:122): "Tabarani narrated it in al-Mu`jam al-saghir (2:9), al-Mu`jam al-awsat, and al-Mu`jam al-kabir, also al-Bazzar [in his Musnad], and its narrators are considered trustworthy." It is also narrated by Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat al-awliya' (7:237) and al-Khatib in Tarikh Baghdad (12:295). Sakhawi said in al-Maqasid al-hasana (p. 88 #134): "Ibn `Abd al-Barr said: The fifth one is enmity towards the scholars and contempt of them, and whoever does not love them shows contempt for them or is on the brink of having contempt for them, and there lies destruction." See Ibn `Abd al-Barr's Jami` bayan al-`ilm wa fadlih (1:30).


·         The Prophet said: al-baraka ma` akabirikum, "Blessing is with your elders." Narrated by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, al-Hakim who said it is sahih, and Ibn Daqiq al-`Eid confirmed him. Another narration has: "When the young teach the old, then blessing has been lifted." See Sakhawi's al-Maqasid al-hasana (p. 158-159 #290).


·         Most importantly, the Prophet said: "The scholars of knowledge are the inheritors of the Prophets," and Ibn Khaldun has mentioned this as one of the proofs for the necessity of following a shaykh in the sciences of tasawwuf in the sixth chapter of his book Shifa' al-sa'il li tahdhib al-masa'il (Chapter on following a Sufi shaykh) where he says: "To be in no need of the heir amounts to being in no need of the Prophet."



5. The derogatory remarks about tasawwuf attributed to Imam al-Shafi`i which some are heard quoting today must be understood in the context of the Imam's disavowal of certain people who called themselves Muslims or Sufis, when in reality they were nothing more than hypocrites, free-thinkers, and dissolute people. This should be born in mind by anyone who is approached by "Salafis" with narrations culled from Ibn al-Jawzi's Talbis Iblis and attributing sweeping disapproval of tasawwuf to Imam Shafi`i. How can they believe that Imam Shafi`i disapproves of tasawwuf and at the same time advises the fuqaha' to be sufis, as we quoted above? Have they no better opinion of him than one who gives two mutually exclusive advices?


The muhaddith al-`Ajluni also relates in his book Kashf al‑khafa wa muzil al‑albas (1:341 #1089) that Imam Shafi`i said:


Three things in this world have been made lovely to me: avoiding affectation, treating people kindly, and following the way of tasawwuf.


Ibn al-Qayyim in his Madarij al-salikin (3:128) and al-Suyuti in his Ta'yid al-haqiqa al-`aliyya (p. 15) also relate that Imam al-Shafi`i said:


I accompanied the Sufis and received from them but three words: their statement that time is a sword: if you do not cut it, it cuts you; their statement that if you do not keep your ego busy with truth it will keep you busy with falsehood; their statement that deprivation is immunity.


The Maliki shaykh Ahmad al-`Alawi said, as cited in the translation from his work entitled Knowledge of God (p. xxi): "Reflect on the sincerity of this great Imam [Shafi`i] and how he became a witness for the Sufis, and confirmed their seriousness and struggle. Shaykh Sha`rani, may Allah be pleased with him, said: Reflect on how Shafi`i has taken this from the Sufis and not from others. It is by this that you know their superiority over others, the men of knowledge of the outward, the ones from whom he once learned."


            One of the putative authorities of "Salafis" is Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, yet when Ibn Qayyim states something which contravenes what "Salafis" claim, they are at a loss that their own authority refutes them. Ibn Qayyim said in Madarij al-salikin (2:307):


Religion consists entirely of good character (al-dinu kulluhu khuluq). Whoever surpasses you in good character surpasses you in religion, and the same is true of tasawwuf. al-Kattani said: "Tasawwuf is good character (al-tasawwuf khuluq). Whoever surpasses you in good character surpasses you in tasawwuf."


            We should ask also whether the so-called "Salafis" know the position of Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab on tasawwuf. It is evident that their near-totality have not the faintest idea that he accepted the attribution of tasawwuf back to the Prophet himself. Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab said in the third volume of his complete works published by Ibn Sa`ud University, on page 31 of the Fatawa wa rasa'il, Fifth Question:


Know -- may Allah guide you -- that Allah Almighty has sent Muhammad, blessings and peace upon him, with right guidance, consisting in beneficial knowledge, and with true religion consisting in righteous action. The adherents of religion are as follows: among them are those who concern themselves with learning and fiqh, and discourse about it, such as the jurists; and among them are those who concern themselves with worship and the pursuit of the Hereafter, such as the Sufis. Allah has sent His Prophet with this religion which encompasses both kinds, that is: fiqh and tasawwuf.


As for the objections of the slanderers of Sufis invoking Ibn al-Jawzi's exhortative work Talbis iblis in which he attributes to al-Shafi`i sayings detrimental to Sufis, or sayings of Imam Ahmad detrimental to Imam al-Harith al-Muhasibi: as Dhahabi said: "We call Ibn al-Jawzi hafiz (hadith memorizer) in deference to the profusion of his writings, not to his scholarliness." That is: He was not reliable when it came to reporting narrations.


The following remarks are by the late muhaddith of Syria Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda:


Our reliance is on Allah! Ibn al-Jawzi composed a great big book on hadith forgeries so that jurists, preachers, and others may avoid them, then you will see him cite in his exhortative works forged hadiths and rejected stories without head nor tail, without shame or second thought. In the end one feels that "Ibn al-Jawzi" is two people and not one!... For this reason Ibn al-Athir blamed him in his history entitled al-Kamil (10:228), with the words: "Ibn al-Jawzi blamed him [Ghazali] for many things, among them his narration of unsound hadiths in his exhortations. O wonder that Ibn al-Jawzi should criticize him for that! For his own books and exhortative works are crammed full with them (mahshuw bihi wa mamlu' minh)!" And the hadith master al-Sakhawi said in Sharh al-alfiyya (p. 107): "Ibn al-Jawzi cited forgeries and their likes in high abundance in his exhortative works"![48]


Besides the above, we have already quoted Imam Taj al-Din al-Subki's advice for serious students of the Islamic sciences:


Beware of listening to what happened between... Ahmad ibn Hanbal and al-Harith al-Muhasibi. If you become busy with this I fear death for you. These are notable leaders in religion and their utterances have various explanations which some, perhaps, have misunderstood. As for us, we have no other course but to approve of them and keep quiet concerning what took place between them, just as what is done concerning what took place between the Companions, may Allah be well pleased with them... O you who are seeking guidance!... leave aside what took place between them, and busy yourself with what concerns you, and leave what does not concern you![49]


As for Dhahabi's avalanche of insinuations against some of the earlier and later Sufis in his Mizan al-i`tidal (1:430 #1606), where he says after quoting derogatory reports against al-Muhasibi:


Where are the likes of al-Harith al-Muhasibi! How then if Abu Zur`a saw the books of the later [Sufis], such as the Qut al-qulub of Abu Talib [al-Makki], and where are the likes of the Qut? How then if he saw Bahjat al-asrar of Abu Jahdam, and Haqa'iq al-tafsir of al-Sulami, then he would jump to the ceiling! How then if he saw the books of Abu Hamid al-Tusi [Imam Ghazali]....? the Ghunya of shaykh `Abd al-Qadir [Gilani]... Fusus al-hikam and al-Futuhat al-makiyya [of Ibn `Arabi]?


            We treat such assertions according to the instructions of Suyuti who rejected them in his vindication entitled Qam` al-mu`arid bi nusrat Ibn al-Farid (The taming of the naysayer with the vindication of Ibn al-Farid) as quoted by Imam al-Lucknawi in al-Raf` wa al-takmil fi al-jarh wa al-ta`dil (p. 319-320):


Don't let Dhahabi's mumbling deceive you, for he went so far as to mumble against Imam Fakhr al-Din ibn al-Khatib [al-Razi], and against one who is greater than the Imam, namely: Abu Talib al-Makki the author of Qut al-qulub, and against one who is greater than Abu Talib, namely: Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, whose fame has filled the firmaments! And Dhahabi's books are filled with that: al-Mizan, al-Tarikh, and Siyar al-nubala'. Are you going to accept his words against such as these? Never, by Allah! His word is not accepted concerning them; rather, we fulfill their right over us, and we render it to them in full.






Q. What about those who decry al-Junayd's statement that the true murid stays away from the scholars of knowledge?


A. This is not what Imam al-Junayd said. Ibn al-Qayyim relates in his Madarij al-salikin (2:366):


Abu `Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami said [in his Tabaqat al-sufiyya]: I heard Muhammad ibn Mukhlid say: I heard Ja`far say: I heard al-Junayd say:


al-murid al-sadiq ghaniyyun `an al-`ulama'


The truthful seeker has no need for the scholars of knowledge.


and he also said: I heard al-Junayd say:


idha arada allahu bi al-muridi khayran awqa`ahu ila al-sufiyya wa mana`ahu suhbat al-qurra'


When Allah desires goodness for the seeker, He makes him flock to the Sufis and prevents him from accompanying those who read books.


            Allah said: "Only he will prosper who comes to Allah with a sound heart" (26:89) and therefore ordered us to keep company not merely with the scholars, but with the truthful ones: "O Believers! Be wary of Allah and keep company with the truthful ones!" (9:119). In his two-volume Qawa`id al-ahkam fi masalih al-anam on usul al-fiqh al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam mentions that the Sufis are those meant by Allah's saying: "Allah's party" (5:56, 58:22), precisely because, in his definition, tasawwuf is "the betterment of hearts, through whose health bodies are healthy, and through whose disease bodies are diseased." He considers the knowledge of external legal rulings a knowledge of the Law in its generalities, while the knowledge of internal matters is a knowledge of the Law in its subtle details.[50]  In a celebrated fatwa he gives priority to the gnostics or Knowers of Allah (`arifin) over the jurists and says:


A sign of the superiority of the gnostics over the jurists is that Allah effects miracles at the hands of the former, but never at the hands of the latter, except when they enter the path of the gnostics and acquire their characteristics.[51]


This is the reality to which al-Junayd is referring. Those who object to the above statements have forgotten or have blinded themselves to the fact that the goal of creation is worship of Allah and knowing Him, not merely accumulation of knowledge, even if it is the knowledge of the books of shari`a! Therefore, these words of al-Junayd will not be understood by those Westernized students of Islam who have embraced the pursuit of knowledge while abandoning the goal of knowledge. In fact, it is a form of shirk characteristic of  Iblis -- we seek protection in Allah from misguidance -- whose superficial knowledge of Allah's revelations was so vast, yet it did not give him an iota of wisdom.


There are abundant illustrations of al-Junayd's golden words, of which we will cite two: the example of Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi and that of Bishr al-Hafi.


Ibn al-Jawzi in his Sifat al-safwa (2/2:200 #763) relates that Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi said:


I entered Damascus to see the transcribers of hadith. I passed by Qasim al-Ju`i's circle and saw a large crowd sitting around him as he spoke. I approached and heard him say:


Do without others in your life in five matters:


- If you are present among people, don't be known;

- If you are absent, don't be missed;

- If you know something, your advice is unsought;

- If you say something, your words are rejected;

- If you do something, you receive no credit for it.


I advise you five other things as well:


- If you are wronged, do not reciprocate it;

- If you are praised, don't be glad;

- If you are blamed, don't be distraught;

- If you are called liar, don't be angry;

- If you are betrayed, don't betray in return.


Ibn Abi Hatim said: "I made these words all the benefit I got from visiting Damascus."


Note Ibn Abi Hatim's use of the term "the transcribers of hadith" to denote those whose company he abandoned for the benefit of sitting with a Sufi. Another example of the superiority of the company of Sufis over that of the scholars of book-knowledge is given by Bishr al-Hafi. Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat and others relate that Abu Nasr Bishr al-Hafi (d. 227) considered the study of hadith a conjectural science in comparison to the certitude in belief imparted by frequenting Fudayl ibn `Iyad (d. 187).[52]


Are Qasim al-Ju`i and Fudayl ibn `Iyad not scholars of knowledge? Rather, they are the teachers of the greatest scholars of knowledge and the Imams of righteousness and godwariness among the Salaf. In his al-Risala al-safadiyya, Ibn Taymiyya lists Fudayl ibn `Iyad as one of the early Sufi shaykhs and authorities of Ahl al-Sunna:


The great shaykhs mentioned by Abu `Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami in Tabaqat al-sufiyya and Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri in al-Risala, were adherents of the school of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a and the school of Ahl al-hadith, such as Fudayl ibn `Iyad, al-Junayd ibn Muhammad, Sahl ibn `Abd Allah al-Tustari, `Amr ibn `Uthman al-Makki, Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Khafif al-Shirazi, and others, and their speech is found in the Sunna, and they composed books about the Sunna.[53]


These are Dhahabi's words in praise of al-Ju`i from his Siyar a`lam al-nubala':


[#506] al-`Abdi, known as Qasim al-Ju`i (d. 248): the Imam, the exemplar, the saint, the Muhaddith... the Shaykh of the Sufis and the friend of Ahmad ibn al-Hawari. He is known as al-Ju`i.... I say: the ascetics (zuhhad) of that time were al-Ju`i in Damascus, al-Sari al-Saqati in Baghdad, Ahmad ibn Harb in Naysabur, Dhu al-Nun in Egypt, and Muhammad ibn Aslam in Tus. Where are the likes of such masters? Only the dust will fill my eyes, or what is under the dust!


Therefore, what is meant by al-Junayd's statement is not to leave scholars such as those, on the contrary, he advised to prefer such great teachers to the book-scholars whose main concern is the transcription and the collection of books of hadith. For the memorizers are many, but few are those who embody in practice what they have memorized. This is even truer for the Qur'an than it is for hadith, as Imam Ibn Sallam (d. 224) related from al-Hasan al-Basri in Fada'il al-qur'an (p. 60 #4):


The reciters of Qur'an are three types: the first type take the Qur'an as a merchandise by which to earn their bread; the second type uphold its letters and lose its laws, aggrandizing themselves over the people of their country, and seeking gain through it from the rulers. There are many memorizers of Qur'an that belong to that type. May Allah not increase them. Finally, the third type have sought the healing of the Qur'an and placed it on the sickness of their hearts, fleeing with it to their places of prayer, wrapping themselves in it. Those have felt fear and put on the garment of sadness. Those are the ones for whose sake Allah sends rain and victory over the enemies. By Allah! That kind of memorizer of Qur'an is more rare than the red sulphur.


It is symptomatic of the corrupt times in which we live when young men who should be busy acquiring a saving knowledge at the feet of practicing scholars, instead waste their time babbling about the great shaykhs of old and in the process commit all sorts of sins against their own souls. The hafiz and historian of Damascus, Ibn `Asakir, cautioned against letting our tongues loose against the scholars. He said: "Know, brother, that the flesh of scholars is poisonous (i.e. whoever backbites them is liable to poisoning, for the Qur'an likens backbiting to eating the flesh of one's dead brother), and the Way of Allah concerning those who insult them is well-known. So, whoever insults the scholars of this Umma by his tongue, Allah will afflict him in this very world by death of the heart."


This is unfortunately the state of affairs with many nowadays, because today Islam is taught with words and books by people who do not care to practice it purely or purify themselves in practice, being eager instead to censure and condemn others, and that is also the path followed by those who are misguided by them. This was described in the many hadiths that state: "They will order people and not heed their own warning, and they are the worst of people."[54]


            Such was not the way of the Companions such as Ahl al-Suffa concerning whom the following verse was revealed:


And restrain thyself with those who call upon their Lord at morning and evening, desiring His countenance, and let not thine eyes turn away from them, desiring the adornment of the present life; and obey not him whose heart We have made neglectful of Our remembrance so that he follows his own lust, and his affair has become all excess. (18:28)


            Nor was this the way of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, concerning whom Bakr ibn `Abd Allah said: "Abu Bakr does not precede you for praying much or fasting much, but because of a secret that has taken root in his heart."[55] Nor was this the way of the Tabi`in such as Hasan al-Basri, Sufyan al-Thawri, and others of the later generations of Sufis who looked back to  them for models. Al-Qushayri relates that al-Junayd said: "Tasawwuf is not the profusion of prayer and fasting, but wholeness of the breast and selflessness."[56] Nor was superficial knowledge the way of the Four Imams who emphasized doing-without (zuhd) and the acquisition of true godfear (wara`) and truthfulness above the mere practice of obligations.


            Imam Nawawi said in his Bustan al-`arifin fi al-zuhd wa al-tasawwuf (The garden of the gnostics in asceticism and self-purification p. 53):


al-Shafi`i said, may Allah have mercy on him: "Only the sincere one (mukhlis) knows hypocrisy (riya')." This means that it is impossible to know the reality of hypocrisy and see its hidden shades except for one who resolutely seeks (arada) sincerity. That one strives for a long time searching and meditating and examining at length within himself until he knows or knows something of what hypocrisy is. This does not happen for everyone. Indeed, this happens only with the special ones (al-khawass). But for a given individual to claim that he knows what hypocrisy is, this is real ignorance on his part.


Imam Ahmad composed two books with zuhd and wara` as respective titles. In the latter he places the knowledge of saints above the knowledge of scholars, as is shown by the following report by his student Abu  Bakr al-Marwazi:


I heard Fath ibn Abi al-Fath saying to Abu `Abd Allah (Imam Ahmad) during his last illness: "Invoke Allah for us that he will give us a good khalifa (successor) to succeed you." He continued: "Who shall we ask for knowledge after you?" Ahmad replied: "Ask `Abd al-Wahhab." Someone who was present there related to me that he said: "But he does not have much learning--" Abu `Abd Allah replied: "He is a saintly man (innahu rajulun salih), and such as he is granted success in speaking the truth."[57]


            The same emphasis is placed on inner perfection by Imam Malik in his saying: "Religion does not consist in the knowledge of many narrations, but in a light which Allah places in the breast." And Ibn `Ata' Allah quoted Shaykh Muhyiddin ibn `Arabi as saying: "Certainty (al-yaqin) does not derive from the evidences of the mind but pours out from the depths of the heart."


            This is why many of the imams of religion cautioned against the mere thirst for knowledge at the expense of the training of the ego. Imam Ghazali left the halls of learning in the midst of a prestigious career in order to devote himself to self-purification out of concern for his own soul, at the outset of which he wrote his magisterial Ihya' `Ulum al-din which begins with a warning to those who consider religion to consist merely in fiqh or jurisprudence.


            The same warning was sounded by the greatest of the huffaz or hadith masters of his time and one of the early Sufis, Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 161), to all those who take the narration of hadith for the purpose of religion, when he said: "If hadith was a good it would have vanished just as goodness has vanished... Pursuing the study of hadith is not part of the preparation for death, but a disease that preoccupies people." Dhahabi comments:


By Allah he has spoken the truth... Today, in our time, the quest for knowledge and hadith no longer means for the hadith scholar the obligation of living up to it, which is the goal of hadith. He is right in what he said because pursuing the study of hadith is other than the hadith itself.[58]


It is for the purpose of "the hadith itself", for the purpose of living up to the Sunna of the Prophet which is the same as living up to the manners of the Holy Qur'an -- according to the well-known hadith of `A'isha concerning the disposition of the Prophet -- that the great masters of self-purification gave up the mere pursuit of science as a worldly allurement, and placed above it the acquisition of ihsan or perfect character. That is the meaning of the statements of Imam al-Junayd about the sufficiency of the truthful seeker from the scholars of knowledge, and Allah Almighty knows best.


The great scholars of the age split hairs in all the sciences. They have gained total knowledge and complete mastery of things that have nothing to do with them. But that which is important and closer to him than anything else, namely his own self, this your great scholar does not know.[59]


That iniquitous man knows hundreds of superfluous matters in the sciences, but he does not know his own spirit.


He knows the properties of every substance, but in explaining his own substance he is like an ass.


"I know everything permitted and not permitted by the Divine Law." How is it you do not know if you yourself are permitted or an old crone?


You know that this is lawful and that is unlawful, but look carefully: Are you lawful or unlawful?


You know the value of every merchandise, but you do not know your own value -- that is stupidity.


Yet you know every auspicious and inauspicious star, but you do not look to see if you yourself are auspicious or dirty-faced.


The spirit of all the sciences is only this: to know who you will be on the Day of Resurrection.[60]


Two ways lead to knowledge of Allah. There is no third way. The person who declares Allah's Unity in some other way follows his own authority in his declaration.


The first way is the way of unveiling. It is an incontrovertible knowledge which is actualized through unveiling and which man finds in himself. He receives no obfuscations along with it and is not able to repel it. He knows no proof for it by which it is supported except what he finds in himself.... This kind of knowledge may also be actualized through a divine self‑disclosure given to its possessors, who are the Messengers, the Prophets, and some of the Friends.


The second way is the way of reflection and reasoning (istidlal) through rational demonstration (burhan `aqli). This way is lower than the first way, since he who bases his consideration on it can be visited by obfuscations which detract from his proof, and only with difficulty can he remove them.[61]


Q. What about the stories related by `Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha`rani and the books of Ibn `Arabi which apparently contain contraventions of the shari`a?


A. It is a wise phrasing of such a question, to use the modifier "apparently." Appearances can be very misleading, and the reality of the matter can be vastly different from the illusory belief which motivates careless or unscrupulous objectors to these great scholars, such as those responsible for the recent anti-Sufi books that came forth from the inkwells of Wahhabi learning. Three of these books are: al-Kashf `an haqiqat al-sufiyya (Unveiling the reality of Sufis), [62] Ila al-tasawwuf ya `ibad Allah (Run to tasawwuf, O servants of Allah),[63] and the despicable attack on Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi entitled Hiwar ma` al-Maliki fi radd munkaratihi wa dalalatihi (Debate with al-Maliki for refuting his denounced and misguided stances).[64] Such books thrive on strange or distorted interpretations without any attention to context and verification. They are examples of how to write without intellectual honesty. The antidotes to such books are, respectively: Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir `Isa's 700-page book Haqa'iq `an al-tasawwuf (Realities from tasawwuf);[65]  Shaykh Ahmad al-Qat`ani's 300-page refutation entitled al-Hujja al-mu'tah fi al-radd `ala sahib kitab ila al-tasawwuf ya `ibad Allah (The practical demonstration in refuting the author of the book "Run to tasawwuf");[66] and the 160-page refutation of the attack on Shaykh al-Maliki, entitled al-Tahdhir min al-ightirar bi ma ja'a fi kitab al-hiwar (Warning against the delusions fostered by the book "Debate with al-Maliki") by the two shaykhs of al-Qarawiyyin `Abd al-Hayy al-`Amruni and `Abd al-Karim Murad.[67] The latter book complements other authoritative refutations such as Shaykh Yusuf al-Sayyid Hashim al-Rufa`i's excellent 150-page book Adilla ahl al-sunna wa al-jama`a al-musamma al-radd al-muhkam al-mani` `ala shubuhat Ibn Mani` (The proofs of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a entitled: The decisive and categorical refutation of the dubious issues raised by Ibn Mani`);[68] the book of Shaykh Rashid ibn Ibrahim al-Marikhi of Bahrayn entitled Raf` al-astar `an shubuhat wa dalalat sahib al-hiwar (Exposing the dubious and misguided positions of the author of the "Debate with al-Maliki"); and the book of the savant, Shaykh al-Sayyid `Abd Allah ibn Mahfuz al-Haddad Ba `Alawi al-Husayni al-Hadrami entitled al-Sunna wa al-bid`a. May Allah be pleased with those of His Party, who stand for truth and fear not the blame of naysayers!


The fact is that `Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha`rani (d. 973) is a major scholar of the tenth Islamic century who possessed unequalled knowledge of the Four Schools in his time, and his books on tasawwuf are in the line of the great classics of earlier times, such as al-Qushayri's, al-Harawi al-Ansari's, and al-Sulami's. However, it is established that the original text of Sha`rani's books was mutilated and corrupted by some enemies of the Shaykh even in his own time, in the same way that enemies of the Shaykh al-akbar corrupted his books after his time.


            The great historian `Abd al-Hayy ibn al-`Imad al-Hanbali said in his book Shadharat al-dhahab (8:374):


Certain groups bore envy towards al-Sha`rani, so they falsely attributed words to him that evidently contravened the Law, as well as certain deviant beliefs and questions that violated consensus. Because of this, Allah brought disgrace to those enviers and gave the Shaykh victory over them. He was a strict adherent to the Sunna and truly Godwary.


            Imam `Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha`rani himself wrote in his book Lata'if al-minan wa al-akhlaq (The kind gifts and refined manners 2:190):


Of the favors bestowed on me by Allah Almighty is fortitude in the face of the envious enemies who falsified my books with words that plainly contradict the shari`a after the success of my book al-Bahr al-mawrud fi al-mawathiq wa al-`uhud. When the latter came out, the scholars of the Four Schools in Egypt wrote approvingly of it and the people rushed to make copies of it until about forty copies were in circulation. Envious people tricked some of my unwitting associates by borrowing their copies and interpolating into them scores of leaves reflecting false beliefs, matters that contravene the consensus of Muslims, tales, and jokes from Juha [a folktale character] and [Ahmad ibn Yahya] Ibn al-Rawandi [a Shi`i author]. So they poured into this new mould the creases of my book in so many places that they became its new authors. Then they brought out these books for sale on the book market, on the day in which students come. They looked into those leaves and saw my name on them, and those who had no fear of Allah bought them and began to take them around to the scholars of al-Azhar, producing thereby a great fitna.


The people continued on their round of the mosques, the markets, and the houses of princes for about a year, during which the Shaykh Nasr al-Din al-Luqani, with the Hanbali Shaykh al-Islam and Shaykh Shaykh Shihab al-Din ibn al-Halabi, would always come to my defense. All this was happening without my knowledge. One of our beloved friends at al-Azhar finally sent word to me about it. I then sent my personal copy which contained the written appraisal of the scholars. They examined it and found nothing of what the enviers had interpolated.


            Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir `Isa said in his book Haqa'iq `an al-tasawwuf (p. 508):


Similarly they falsified what was in the books of Shaykh Muhyiddin ibn `Arabi. al-Sha`rani said in al-Yawaqit wa al-jawahir (1:9): "Ibn `Arabi was a strict adherent of the Book and the Sunna and he used to say: Whoever lets fall the balance of the Law from his hand for one instant perishes.... All that contradicts the letter of the Law and the doctrine of the assembly of the scholars in his books has been falsely interpolated in them. This was told to me verbatim by Sayyidi Abu Tahir al-Maghribi, who produced for me his copy of al-Futuhat al-makkiyya which he had compared to the Shaykh's hand-written copy in the city of Qunya. I saw in that copy none of the spurious passages which I had detected and suppressed before, at the time I prepared an abridgment of the Futuhat!"


            The great scholar of the late Hanafi school Ibn `Abidin said in his commentary on al-Durr al-mukhtar (3:303):


What I have ascertained beyond doubt is that some of the Jews have attributed fabrications to the Shaykh, may Allah sanctify his secret.


            A circumstancial proof of the above is that the copy of the Futuhat that was in the hands of Ibn Taymiyya contained nothing which would raise any objection on his part, despite his excessive strictness, since he said in the second volume of his Majmu`a al-Fatawa al-kubra entitled Tawhid al-rububiyya:


I was one of those who, previously, used to hold the best opinion of Ibn `Arabi and extol his praise, because of the benefits I saw in his books, such as what he said in many of his books, for example: al-Futuhat, al-Kanh, al-Muhkam al-marbut, al-Durra al-fakhira, Matali` al-nujum, and other such works.[69]


            Ibn Taymiyya goes on to say he changed his opinions, not because of anything in these books, but only after he read the tiny Fusus al-hikam, which the contemporary scholar Mahmud Mahmud Ghurab has shown contained at least eighty-six passages that he believes are spurious! Ghurab adduces that they contradict the Futuhat, which must be given precedence since we possess a manuscript copy of this massive work in the author's own handwriting, while there are no such copy of the Fusus.[70] And Allah Almighty suffices as Witness.

                [1]al-Jaziri, al-Fiqh `ala al-madhahib al-arba`a (Beirut: Dar al-fikr) 1:557.

                [2]Muslim and Abu Dawud relate it in Kitab al-sawm, respectively in the chapter on fasting at times other than Ramadan, and in the chapter of fasting during Rajab, also Ahmad in his Musnad.

                [3]Qastallani in al-Mawahib al-laduniyya (Beirut, 1996) 3:301.

                [4]Kitab al-siyam, Chapter: "Fasting During the Sacred Months." Also in Ibn Majah and Ahmad, hadith of the man who repeats: "I can bear more," and to whom the Prophet finally says: "Fast during the sacred months."

                [5]Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, Kitab 13 Bab 34 #179.

                [6]Musannaf `Abd al-Razzaq 4:293, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 1:125.

                [7]Muslim relates it in the first chapter of Kitab al-libas, and Ibn Majah in the book of Fasting.

                [8]Ayyam al-tashriq are the Days of drying the meat after the sacrifice of `Id al-Adha = 11, 12, and 13 of Dhu al-hijja.

                [9]Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni (Beirut, 1414/1994 ed.) 3:119.

                [10]al-Haytami, al-Khayrat al-hisan fi manaqib Abi Hanifa al-Nu`man (Cairo: al-Halabi, 1326) p. 40.

                [11]Sharh sahih Muslim Kitab 37 Bab 2 #10.

                [12]Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman 3:368 #3802; Abu Nu`aym, al-Targhib #1821.

                [13]Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni 3:118-119.

                [14]Sayyid Sabiq, Fiqh as-sunnah, Alms tax and Fasting, trans. Muhammad Sa`eed Dabas and Jamal al-Din M. Zarabozo (ATP, 1989) p. 127-128.

                [15]Abu Dawud, Siyam Chapter 54; Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-kubra 4:291; Suyuti, al-Durr al-manthur 3:235.

                [16]Ahmad, Musnad 5:201.

                [17]There is also a Shi`i scholar by the name of Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn Babawayh al-Qummi (d. 380) who wrote Fadai'l al-ashhur al-thalatha: 1. Shahr Rajab, 2. Shahr Sha`ban, 3. Shahr Ramadan (Najaf: Matba`at al-adab, 1396/1976). Neither this volume nor hafiz al-Kattani's book on the merits of Rajab were available to us.

                [18]Sayyid Muhammad `Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani, al-Anwar al-bahiyya min isra' wa mi`raj khayr al-bariyya (Mecca: s.n., 1414/1993).

                [19]Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Ghayti (d. 984), Mawsu`at al-isra' wa al-mi`raj al-musamma Tatriz al-dibaj bi haqa'iq al-isra' wa al-mi`raj (Beirut: Dar wa-maktaba al-Hilal, 1994).

                [20]Bukhari and Muslim.

                [21]al-`Ajluni in Kashf al-khafa (2:244) and al-Qari in al-Asrar al-marfu`a (p. 199) said that the hadith master al-Damyati said that al-Khatib narrated it with a chain that meets the criteria of soundness.

                [22]Ibn Hajar mentions that the account of the lady who combed the hair of Pharaoh's daughter is narrated from Ibn `Abbas by Ahmad, al-Hakim, Ibn Hibban, and al-Bazzar, while Muslim in Kitab al-zuhd wa al-raqa'iq (#3005) mentions the part of the infant speaking to his mother before they are both thrown into the fire, and the mention of Yusuf's witness in verse 12:26 as being an infant is narrated from Ibn `Abbas by Ibn Abi Hatim with a weak chain, and it is held by al-Hasan al-Basri and Sa`id ibn Jubayr. [It is also the explanation retained by Suyuti in Tafsir al-jalalayn.] This brings the number of speaking infants alluded to in the hadith "Those who spoke from the cradle are three" (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad) up to five, and there are reports that increase it to seven or more. Allah knows best. Fath al-Bari (1989 ed.) 6:593-594.

[23] The Prophet called Syria the purest of Allah's lands, the place where Religion, belief and safety are found in the time of dissension, and the home of the saints for whose sake Allah sends sustenance to the people and victory to Muslims over their enemies:


1. Ibn `Asakir in Tahdhib tarikh Dimashq al-kabir relates from Ibn Mas`ud that the Prophet compared the world to a little rain water on a mountain plateau of which the safw had already been drunk and from which only the kadar or dregs remained. al-Huwjiri and al-Qushayri mention it in their chapters on tasawwuf, respectively in Kashf al-mahjub and al-Risala al-qushayriyya. Ibn al-Athir defines safw and safwa in his dictionary al-Nihaya as "the best of any matter, its quintessence, and purest part." The quintessence spoken of by the Prophet is Syria, because he called Syria "the quintessence of Allah's lands" (safwat Allah min biladih). Tabarani related it from `Irbad ibn Sariya and Haythami authenticated the chain of transmission in his book Majma` al-zawa'id, chapter entitled Bab fada'il al-sham.


2. Abu al-Darda' narrated that the Prophet said:


As I was sleeping I saw the Column of the Book being carried away from under my head. I feared lest it would be taken away, so I followed it with my eyes and saw that it was being planted in Syria. Verily, belief in the time of dissensions will be in Syria.


                al-Haythami said that Ahmad narrated it with a chain whose narrators are all the men of the sahih -- sound narrations -- and that al-Bazzar narrated it with a chain whose narrators are the men of sound hadith except for Muhammad ibn `Amir al-Antaki, and he is thiqa -- trustworthy.


                In the version Tabarani narrated from Ibn `Amr in al-Mu`jam al kabir and al-Mu`jam al-awsat the Prophet repeats three times: "When the dissensions take place, belief will be in Syria." One manuscript bears: "Safety will be in Syria." al-Haythami said the men in its chain are those of sound hadith except for Ibn Lahi`a, and he is fair (hasan).


3. al-Tabarani relates from `Abd Allah ibn Hawala that the Prophet said:


"I saw on the night that I was enraptured a white column resembling a pearl, which the angels were carrying. I said to them: What are you carrying? They replied: The Column of the Book. We have been ordered to place it in Syria. Later, in my sleep, I saw that the Column of the Book was snatched away from under my headrest (wisadati). I began to fear lest Allah the Almighty had abandoned the people of the earth. My eyes followed where it went. It was a brilliant light in front of me. Then I saw it was placed in Syria." `Abd Allah ibn Hawala said: "O Messenger of Allah, choose for me (where I should go)." The Prophet said: alayka bi al-sham -- "You must go to Syria."


                al-hafiz al-Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa'id: "The narrators in its chain of transmission are all those of sound hadith, except Salih ibn Rustum, and he is thiqa -- trustworthy."


4. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal relates in his Musnad (1:112):


The people of Syria were mentioned in front of `Ali ibn Abi Talib while he was in Iraq, and they said to him: Curse them, O Commander of the Believers. He replied: No, I heard the Messenger of Allah say: "The Substitutes (al-abdal) are in Syria and they are forty men, every time one of them dies, Allah substitutes another in his place. By means of them Allah brings down the rain, gives (Muslims) victory over their enemies, and averts punishment from the people of Syria."


                al-Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa'id: "The men in its chains are all those of sound hadith except for Sharih ibn `Ubayd, and he is trustworthy (thiqa)." There are more hadiths on the abdal which we cite elsewhere in the present work.

[24]Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi said: This took place before his ascension according to the highest probability; Najm al-Din al-Ghiti said: "The narrations agree to the fact that the Prophet prayed among the other Prophets in Jerusalem before his ascension." This is one of the two possibilities mentioned by Qadi `Iyad. Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: "This is apparently the case. The second possibility is that he prayed among them after he came down from the heaven, and they came down also." Ibn Kathir also declared the former scenario as the sound one. Some said: "What is the objection to the possibility that the Prophet prayed among them twice, since some of the hadiths mention that he led them in prayer after his ascent?"

[25]The Prophet said, "Every child is born with a natural disposition (kullu mawludin yuladu `ala al-fitra); then his parents convert him to Judaism, or Christianity, or Zoroastrianism. It is the same with the animal which delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it missing anything?" Bukhari narrates it. Muslim omits the mention of the animal. Tirmidhi’s narration (hasan sahih) also omits it, but adds: “O Messenger of Allah, what if the child dies before that?” He replied: “Allah knows best what they would have done.”

The hadith master al-Zabidi said in his commentary on Ghazali’s Ihya’ entitled Ithaf al-sadat al-muttaqin bi sharh ihya’ `ulum al-din (The gift of the godwary masters: commentary on Ghazali’s “Giving life to the sciences of the Religion”): “Born with a natural disposition: the definite case indicates that it is commonly known, and it consists in Allah’s disposition with which He endows all people, that is, the innate character with which He creates them and which predisposes them to accept Religion and to differentiate between the wrong and the right.” al-Zabidi, Ithaf al-Sadat al-muttaqin (7:233).

[26] `Urwa ibn Mas`ud al-Thaqafi was one of the dignitaries of the town of Ta'if. Ibn Hajar in his Isaba relates that he alone responded to the Prophet's invitation to that city by following him and declaring his acceptance of Islam. Then he asked for permission to return to his people and speak to them. The Prophet said: "I fear lest they harm you." He said: "They would not even wake me up if they saw me sleeping." Then he returned. When he began to invite them to Islam, they rejected him. One morning as he stood outside his house making adhan, a man shot him with an arrow. As he lay dying he was asked: "What do you think about your death now?" He replied: "It is a gift given me out of Allah's generosity." When news of this reached the Prophet he said: "He is like the man of Ya Sin when he came to his people," a reference to 36:20-27.

Ibn Hajar also mentions that it is from `Urwa that Abu Nu`aym narrated (with a weak chain) that the Prophet took the women's pledge of allegiance at Hudaybiyya by touching the water of a pail in which they had dipped their hands.

[27]Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi said: "ma`mur means inhabited with the remembrance of Allah and the great number of angels."

[28]Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi said: "Of the same meaning is the hadith: kun hilsan min ahlasi baytik Be one of the saddle blankets of your house, that is: keep to it in times of dissension.

[29]al-Dardir said: "This is the eighth ascension, meaning that it is the ascension to what is higher than the Lote-tree by means of the eighth step, so that the Prophet reached the top height of its branches in the eighth firmament which is called al-Kursi -- the Chair, or Footstool -- which is made of a white pearl. This is found in al-Qalyubi, and it is the apparent sense of the account. However, it is contradicted by what is mentioned later: "Then he came to the Kawthar," because the Kawthar, like the remainder of the rivers, flows from the base of the Tree, not from its top, and the account goes on to say after this: "Then he was raised up to the Lote-tree of the Farthest Limit." It follows that the raising up to the Lote-tree took place more than once, but undoubtedly this is dubious for whoever ponders it. I saw in al-Ajhuri's account at this point: "Then he came to the Lote-tree of the farthest boundary, there ends etc." and this is correct as it does not signify being raised up. This makes it clear that he came to the Tree and saw at its base the rivers -- which are soon to be mentioned -- and he travelled towards the Kawthar. What the narrator said later: "Then he was raised to the Lote-tree of the Farthest Limit etc." indicates that the eighth ascension took place at that later point and that the present stage is only an exposition of his coming to the base of the Tree which is in the seventh heaven. Another narration states that it is in the sixth heaven. What harmonizes the two is that its base is in the sixth heaven while its branches and trunk are in the seventh."

[30]Ibn Kathir said: "What is meant by this, and Allah knows best, is that these two rivers (the Nile and the Euphrates) resemble the rivers of Paradise in their purity and sweetness and fluidity and such of their qualities, as the Prophet said in the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra: al-`ajwa min al-janna "Date pastry is from paradise," that is: it resembles the fruit of Paradise, not that it itself originates in Paradise. If that were the meaning then the senses would testify to the contrary. Therefore the meaning which imposes itself is other than that. Similarly the source of origin of these rivers is on earth."

[31]This is an indication of the rank of Abu Bakr in Paradise, as the Prophet's hope, like his petition, is granted. Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi also said: "From all this it can be known that Paradise and the Fire exist already, and that the Lote-tree of the Farthest Boundary is outside Paradise.

[32]Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi said: The Prophet's greeting of Malik before Malik greeted him first agrees with the subsequent wording of more than one narrator whereby the Prophet said: "I greeted him and he returned my greeting and welcomed me, but he did not smile at me" etc. and this is found in some of the narrations. However, the correct narration, as the compiler and others have said, is that it is Malik who greeted the Prophet first in order to dispel the harshness of his sight since his face showed severity and anger. It is possible to harmonize the two versions with the fact that the Prophet saw Malik more than once, so that Malik was first to greet the Prophet the first time, as we said, while the Prophet was first to greet Malik the second time, in order to dispel estrangement and to inspire familiarity. Know also that the Prophet's sight of Malik was not in the same form that those who are being punished see him.

[33]Cupping: The process of drawing blood from the body by scarification (scratches or superficial incisions in the skin) and the application of a cupping glass (in which a partial vacuum is created, as by heat) without scarification, as for relieving internal congestion.

[34]Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi said: "Doubt has been raised about this report on the basis of the question how could he allow himself to drink the water without permission from its owner? The answer is that he acted according to the custom of the Arabs whereby they never refuse milk to whomever passes by and takes it, a fortiori water, and they used to instruct the herdsmen not to prevent wayfarers from taking milk from the herd (i.e. without asking the owner), and this applies even more to water. Furthermore, the Prophet comes before the Believers' own selves and properties, and this applies even more to the unbelievers."

[35]Ibn Hisham narrates: When the fair was due, a number of the Quraysh came to al-Walid ibn al-Mughira, who was a man of some standing, and he addressed them in those words: "The time of the fair has come round again and representatives of the Arabs will come to you and they will have heard about this fellow of yours, so agree upon one opinion without dispute so that none will give the lie to the other." They replied: "You give us your opinion about him." He said: "No, you speak and I will listen." They said: "He is a kahin (seer or giver of oracles)." He said: "By Allah, he is not that, for he has not the unintelligent murmuring and rhymed speech of the kahin." "Then he is possessed," they said. "No, he is not that," he said, "we have seen possessed ones, and here is no choking, spasmodic movements and whispering." "Then he is a poet," they said. "No, he is no poet, for we know poetry in all its forms and meters." "Then he is a sorcerer." "No, we have seen sorcerers and their sorcery, and here is no blowing and no knots." "Then what are we to say, O Abu `Abd al-Shams?" they asked. He replied: "By Allah, his speech is sweet, his root is a palm-tree whose branches are fruitful, and everything you have said would be known to be false. The nearest thing to the truth is your saying that he is a sorcerer, who has brought a message by which he separates a man from his father, or from his brother, or from his wife, or from his family."

                At this point they left him, and began to sit on the paths which men take when they come to the fair. They warned everyone who passed them about the Prophet's doings. Allah revealed concerning al-Walid:

Leave Me to deal with him whom I created lonely,

and then bestowed upon him ample means,

and sons abiding in his presence

and made life smooth for him.

Yet he desires that I should give more.

Nay, for lo! He has been stubborn to Our revelations.

On him I shall impose a fearful doom.

For lo! He did consider; then he planned --

Self-destroyed is he, how he planned!

Again, self-destroyed is he, how he planned! --

Then looked he,

Then frowned he and showed displeasure.

Then turned he away in pride

and said: This is naught else than magic from of old;

This is naught else than speech of mortal man.

Him shall I fling unto the burning. (74:11-26)

                [36]Suyuti, Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bid`a aw al-amr bi al-ittiba` wa al-nahi `an al-ibtida` (1405/1985 ed.) p. 58. He adds: "However, this must be done alone, not in congregation."

                [37]Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida' al-sirat al-mustaqim (1369/1950 ed.) p. 302.

                [38]Ibn Hibban, Sahih, ed. Shu`ayb Arna'ut 12:481 #5665.

                [39]Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman, ed. Zaghlul 3:382 #3835.

                [40]Tirmidhi, Ahmad, and Ibn Majah. Tirmidhi said that he had heard that Bukhari had graded this hadith weak because some of the sub-narrators did not narrate directly from each other.

                [41]Ahmad and Ibn Majah. Its chain contains Ibn Abi Sabra who is weak (da`if).

                [42]`Ali al-Qari, al-Asrar al-marfu`a p. 234-235.

[43] All the hadiths narrated in this chapter can be found in the chapter on Ramadan in Bayhaqi's Shu`ab al-iman.

[44]Suyuti, Ta'yid al-haqiqa al-`aliyya (Cairo: al-matba`a al-islamiyya, 1352/1934) p. 15; Qushayri, al-Risala, introduction and chapter on tasawwuf and their commentary by Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari, also Qushayri's short treatise Tartib al-suluk fi tariq Allah; Huwjiri, Kashf al-mahjub, Introduction; Ibn Taymiyya, see reference below; al-Shatibi, al-I`tisam (Beirut: dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, 1415/1995) p. 150-159; Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-`arab 3:451.

[45]Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Zuhd, 2nd. ed. (Beirut: dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, 1414/1994); `Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi, al-Farq bayn al-firaq (Beirut: dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, n.d.) 242-243.

[46]al-Shafi`i, Diwan, (Beirut and Damascus: Dar al-fikr) p. 47; Imam Malik: see `Ali al-Qari, Sharh `ayn al-`ilm wa-zayn al-hilm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqafa al-Diniyya, 1989) 1:33 and Mirqat al-mafatih sharh mishkat al-masabih 1:256; Ahmad Zarruq, Qawa`id al-tasawwuf (Cairo, 1310); `Ali al-`Adawi, Hashiyat al-`Adawi `ala sharh Abi al-Hasan li-risalat Ibn Abi Zayd al-musammat kifayat al-talib al-rabbani li-risalat Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani fi madhhab Malik (Beirut?: Dar Ihya' al-Kutub al-`Arabiyah, <n.d.>) 2:195; Ibn `Ajiba, Iqaz al-himam fi sharh al-hikam (Cairo: Halabi, 1392/1972) p. 5-6.

[47]Ibn al-Jawzi, Sifat al-safwa 2(4):10 (#570) and 1(2):203 (#254); Abu Nu`aym, Hilyat al-awliya' 6:155 and s.v. "Abu Hashim"; Ibn Taymiyya, al-Sufiyya wa al-fuqara', beginning of volume 11 of his Majmu`a al-fatawa al-kubra entitled al-Tasawwuf; al-Harawi al-Ansari, Tabaqat al-Sufiyya, Mawlayi ed. (1983) p. 1, p. 159; Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani, al-Ghunya li talibi tariq al-haqq (p. 840); `Abd al-Rahman Jami, Nafahat al-uns, ed. M. Tauhidipur, 1336/1957 (p. 441).

[48] `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda, notes to al-Lucknawi's Raf` wa al-takmil p. 420-421.

                [49]Subki, Qa`ida p. 53.

                [50]al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam, Qawa`id al-ahkam (Dar al-sharq li al-tiba`a, 1388/1968) 1:29, 2:212.

                [51]al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam, Fatawa, ed. `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Abd al-Fattah (Beirut: dar al-ma`rifa, 1406/1986) p. 138-142.

                [52]See Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat (ed. Sachau) 7(2):83; al-`Arusi, Nata'ij al-afkar al-qudsiyya (Bulaq, 1920/1873); and `Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha`rawi, al-Tabaqat al-kubra 1:57.

                [53]Ibn Taymiyya, al-Safadiyya (Riyad: matabi` hanifa, 1396/1976) 1:267.

                [54]Reported on the authority of `Umar, `Ali, Ibn `Abbas, and others. These were collected by Abu Talib al-Makki in the chapter entitled "The Difference between the scholars of the world and those of the hereafter" in his Qut al-qulub fi mu`amalat al-mahbub (Cairo: Matba`at al-maymuniyya, 1310/1893) 1:140-141.

                [55]Related by Ahmad with a sound chain in Kitab fada'il al-Sahaba, ed. Wasi Allah ibn Muhammad `Abbas (Mecca: Mu'assasat al-risala, 1983) 1:141 (#118).

                [56]al-Qushayri, Risalat kitab al-sama` in al-Rasa'il al-qushayriyya (Sidon and Beirut: al-maktaba al-`asriyya, 1970) p. 60.

                [57]Ahmad, Kitab al-wara` (Beirut: Dar al-kitab al-`arabi, 1409/ 1988) p. 10.

                [58] Dhahabi as cited in Sakhawi, al-Jawahir wa al-durar fi tarjamat shaykh al-islam Ibn Hajar (al-`Asqalani), ed. Hamid `Abd al-Majid and Taha al-Zayni (Cairo: wizarat al-awqaf, al-majlis al-a`la li al-shu'un al-islamiyya, lajnah ihya' al-turath al-islami, 1986) p. 21-22.

[59]From the Fihi ma fihi of Jalaluddin Rumi, quoted from The Sufi Path of Love: the Spiritual Teachings of Rumi by W. C. Chittick, p. 148.

[60]From the Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi, Book 23, vv. 2648-54, quoted from The Sufi Path of Love: the Spiritual Teachings of Rumi by W. C. Chittick, p. 128.

[61]Adapted from William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge, p. 169, from Ibn al‑Arabi's al-Futuhat al‑makkiyya (I 319.27).

[62]Mahmud `Abd al-Ra'uf al-Qasim al-Kashf `an haqiqat al-sufiyya (Amman: al-maktaba al-islamiyya, 2nd edition, 1413).

[63]Abu Bakr ibn Jabir al-Jaza'iri, Ila al-tasawwuf ya `ibad Allah (Cairo: matba`at al-madani, 1408/1987).

[64]By `Abd Allah ibn Mani`. Published in Riyadh by al-Ri'asa al-`amma li idarat al-buhuth al-`ilmiyya wa al-ifta' wa al-da`wa wa al-irshad!

[65]`Abd al-Qadir `Isa, Haqa'iq `an al-tasawwuf (Dimashq : warathat al-mu'allif, 1993).

[66]Ahmad al-Qat`ani, al-Hujja al-mu'tah fi al-radd `ala sahib kitab ila al-tasawwuf ya `ibad Allah (Cairo: maktabat jumhuriyyat Misr, 1992).

[67]`Abd al-Hayy al-`Amruni and `Abd al-Karim Murad, al-Tahdhir min al-ightirar bi ma ja'a fi kitab al-hiwar (Fes: s.n., 1404/1984).

[68]Yusuf al-Sayyid Hashim al-Rifa`i, Adilla ahl al-sunna wa al-jama`a al-musamma al-radd al-muhkam al-mani` `ala shubuhat Ibn Mani` 7th ed. (Kuwait: Matabi` dar al-siyasa, 1410/1990).

                [69]Ibn Taymiyya, Tawhid al-rububiyya in Majmu`a al-Fatawa al-kubra (Riyad, 1381) 2:464-465.

[70]Ibn `Arabi, Sharh Fusus al-hikam, ed. M.M. Ghurab (Damascus: matba`at Zayd ibn Thabit, 1405/1985).