Eighty Hadiths on
the Prophet's Knowledge of the Unseen

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Sharh (explanation)

Part 1

The Tradition: "I was given the keys of everything except the five"

It is reported that the Prophet said: "Utitu mafatiha kulli shay'in illa al-khams" (I was given the keys to [the knowledge of] everything, except the five). [Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine Volume 3, Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, page 109]. Narrated from Ibn `Umar by Ahmad (2:85); Tabarani in the Kabir (12:361), Haythami in Majma` al-zawa'id (8:263), Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir 6:355, and Suyuti in his Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur (5:169). Haythami said: "The sub-narrators in Ahmad's chain are the men of sound (sahih) narration."

Also on the same page of the Encyclopedia (3:109):

1. Ibn Mas`ud similarly narrates: Utiya mafatihu kulli shay'in ghayr al-khams. "He has received the keys to everything (unseen) except the Five (which Allah alone knows)." Narrated from Ibn Mas`ud by Ahmad and Ibn `Adi. Haythami in Majma` al-zawa'id (8:263) says: "The sub-narrators in both chains are the men of sound (sahih) narration."

2. Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani also cites, without weakening them, two very similar hadiths in Fath al-Bari (Dar al-Fikr ed. 1:124 and 8:514):

Utiya nabiyyukum `ilmu kulli shay'in siwa hadhihi al-khams. Utiytu mafatih al-ghayb.

"Your Prophet has received everything except these Five." "I have received the keys of the Unseen."

And on the next page (3:110):

3. A man from Banu `Amir, after asking the Prophet certain questions, said: "Is there any knowledge left which you do not know?" whereupon the Prophet said: "Allah knows better than that, and there is a kind of Unseen knowledge which Allah alone knows: With Him is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down the rain, He knows what is in the wombs, no soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die (31:34)."

Ahmad narrated it and Ibn Kathir mentions it in his Tafsir for Sura Luqman. Al-Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa'id (#116): "Abu Dawud narrates part of it, and all of the sub-narrators in Ahmad's chain are trustworthy and they are Imams."

And also:

4. It is confirmed by Ibn Mardawayh's narration from `Ali cited in the chapter of Sura Luqman in Kanz al-`ummal, as a commentary for the verse 28:66 in Sura al-Qasas, "On that day tidings will be darkened for them," whereby `Ali said: "Nothing was darkened for your Prophet except five matters from the secrets of the Unseen." (lam yu`ma `ala nabiyyikum shay'un illa khamsun min sara'ir al-ghayb.)

And also:

5. "My Lord came to me in the best form" - the narrator said: "I think he said: `in my sleep'" - "and asked me over what did the Highest Assembly (al-mala'u al-a`la) vie [I.e. "the angels brought near" according to Ibn al-Athir in al-Nihaya and others]; I said I did not know, so He put His hand between my shoulders, and I felt its coolness in my innermost, and knowledge of all things between the East and the West came to me."

I.e. He himself stressed he knows all but the five things and it was confirmed by the major Companions for the benefit of the Umma. This is the Nass, to deny which is impermissible.

In his discussion al-Kattani cites al-Qadi `Iyad's statement in al-Shifa' that to know that the Prophet knew ghayb is part of obligatory knowledge in Islam i.e. the one who ignores it is not excused. Calling the mu`jiza of his knowledge of ghayb - except for the "Five Things" - "a wild claim" is kufr because that mu`jiza is mutawatir as established by al-Hafiz al-Kattani in Nazm al-Mutanathir (#249). Note that demanding scholars' opinions after a hukm is unambiguously established by the Nass is also fisq or kufr. Al-Shafi`i compared the person who insists on enquiring what the scholars think after being told the clear and explicit words of the Messenger of Allah, to a kitabee.

There is also authentic evidence that the Prophet knew some of the Five Things.

For further explanations and evidence on the matter see the relevant sections of `Iyad's al-Shifa and its Shuruh by Khafaji and Qari, al-Bayhaqi's and Abu Nu`aym's Dala'il al-Nubuwwa, al-Suyuti's al-Khasa'is al-Kubra, al-Nabahani's Hujjatullah `ala al-`Alamin, etc. but the most thorough discussion is probably Ahmad Reza Khan's 150-page al-Dawlat al-Makkiyya bil-Maddat al-Ghaybiyya (offset reprint available from Waqf Ihlas) with the author's footnotes.

© copyright 2003, as-Sunnah Foundation of America