Mishkat #1.1: Hadith Jibril

Hadith Jibril is a narration which outlines the interaction between the final Prophet and Hadrat Jibril. In their discussion, they summarise the dīn and outline the meaning of Iman, Islam and Ihsan as well as matters relating to the hereafter. Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Nawab explains.

By Shaykh al-Hadith Muhammad Saleem Nawab
From the notes of the Mishkat class (1438) at Madani College – 16 Ramaḍan 1438 | 11 June 2017

Hadrat Shaykh al-Hadith Ml. Muhammad Saleem Nawab Falahī (may Allah Almighty preserve him) while teaching Mishkāt (20 – 23 Sept 2016) said:

عن عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه قال : بينا نحن عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ذات يوم إذ طلع علينا رجل شديد بياض الثياب شديد سواد الشعر لا يرى عليه أثر السفر ولا يعرفه منا أحد حتى جلس إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فأسند ركبتيه إلى ركبتيه ووضع كفيه على فخذية وقال : يا محمد أخبرني عن الإسلام قال : الإسلام : أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله وتقيم الصلاة وتؤتي الزكاة وتصوم رمضان وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيلا. قال: صدقت. فعجبنا له يسأله ويصدقه. قال: فأخبرني عن الإيمان. قال: أن تؤمن بالله وملائكته وكتبه ورسله واليوم الآخر وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره. قال صدقت. قال: فأخبرني عن الإحسان. قال: أن تعبد الله كأنك تراه فإن لم تكن تراه فإنه يراك. قال: فأخبرني عن الساعة. قال: ما المسؤول عنها بأعلم من السائل. قال: فأخبرني عن أماراتها. قال: أن تلد الأمة ربتها وأن ترى الحفاة العراة العالة رعاء الشاء يتطاولون في البنيان. قال: ثم انطلق فلبثت مليا ثم قال لي: يا عمر أتدري من السائل؟ قلت: الله ورسوله أعلم. قال: فإنه جبريل أتاكم يعلمكم دينكم. رواه مسلم

Translation

Umar ibn Khattab (RA) said: one day when we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ; there appeared before us a man dressed in extreme white clothes, whose hair was jet black. There were no signs of a journey on him, and none amongst us recognised him. He sat with the messenger of Allah ﷺ; he sat with his knees in front of his knees, and placed his hands on his thighs and said: ‘Oh Muhammad, tell me about Islam?’ The Messenger of Allah ﷺ replied, ‘Islam is to testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, to establish prayer, pay zakāt, observe fasting in Ramadhan and perform pilgrimage if you are able’. He said: ‘you have spoken the truth’. So we were surprised that he asks and affirms. Then he said: ‘tell me about imān?’ He replied: ‘It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His messengers, and the last day, to believe in destiny – good and bad’, he said: ‘you have spoken the truth’, he said: ‘tell me about ihsān?’ He replied: ‘It is to worship Allah as though you can see Him and if you feel you cannot see Him, Allah sees you’. He said: ‘Then tell me about the hour?’ He replied: ‘The answerer does not know more than the questioner’. He said: ‘Then tell me about its signs?’ He replied: ‘that the slave girl will give birth to her mistress and that you will see the barefooted, naked, poor men and shepherds competing in building tall buildings.’ Then he went away, but I stayed for some time. Then he ﷺ said: ‘Oh Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I replied: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said: ‘It was Jibrīl, who came to teach you your religion.’

Titles of this Hadith

This Ḥadith is very comprehensive – Jāmi’

It is commonly known as Hadith Jibrīl as it reports that Jibrīl (AS) came down to relay the fundamentals of the dīn to the Prophet of Allah ﷺ.

Qadi ‘Iyād Maliki1 said that due to this Ḥadith addressing the outer and inner acts of worship,2 it can be termed Ulum al-Shari’ah as everything refers back to it.

Thus, Imam Qurtubi (R) calls this Hadith, Umm al-Sunnah.

Some even call this Hadith, Umm al-Jawāmi.’

Accordingly, the author of Mishkat, Allāmah Baghawi (R), mentioned this Ḥadith straight after the very first hadith which is Hadith al-Niyyah.

When did it occur

There is no definitive date as to when Jibrīl (AS) came to Rasulullah ﷺ with this Ḥadith. Allah knows best.

However, Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) mentions in Mirqāt that this Ḥadith was most likely revealed near the end part of the life of the Prophet of Allah ﷺ. Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani (R) also says the same in Fath al-Bari.

Allāmah Turpushti in his commentary of Mishkāt says that this took place in 10 AH (before Hajjatul Wadā’).

Question: Why would this Ḥadith not be revealed at the beginning of nabuwwat; would this not have been better and easier?

Answer: Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) says that throughout the period of nabuwwat, Jibrīl (AS) came with different ahkām; so towards the end, this Ḥadith came as a summary (ijmāl) – to mention everything in one majlis (gathering). It made it even easier to remember the gist (khulasah). The timing ensured that these ahkām are not considered abrogated later on.

This Ḥadith covers three key points: ‘Aqāid (Imān), Ahkam (‘Ibādah) and Tasawwuf (Ihsan).

Historical context (Shan wurŪd)

People used to come and ask Rasulullah ﷺ questions: the sahaba and hypocrites both. While the sahabah used to ask for Islāh (self-rectification); the hypocrites used to ask only to waste time.

Hence, Allah Almighty revealed verse 101 in Surah Māida; wherein Allah warned the people regarding their questionings.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَسْأَلُوا عَنْ أَشْيَاءَ إِن تُبْدَ لَكُمْ تَسُؤْكُمْ وَإِن تَسْأَلُوا عَنْهَا حِينَ يُنَزَّلُ الْقُرْآنُ تُبْدَ لَكُمْ عَفَا اللَّهُ عَنْهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ

After that, the Sahabas become extremely careful with their questions, to the extent where there is a narration in Muslim in which Rasulullah ﷺ said, ‘Ask me!’. Still, out of fear and respect for the Quran they did not.

Due to this, Allah sent Jibrīl (AS) to ask these important questions instead to teach the people.

Explanation

بَيْنَماBayn (بين) is ẓarf zamān, and (ما) is zā’idah (زائدة)

ذات – is zā’idah (زائدة)

يَوْم – day

It refers to daytime but can also mean day or night in general

بَارِزا – Clear

In a narration in Bukhari, it says bārizan. Rasulullah ﷺ used to sit intermingled among the people such that people had to ask who was the Prophet of Allah. So, the Sahabah decided he should be given a clear position and made for him a clay place. Bārizan is referring to this stepping.

اِذْا طلَعَ عَلَيْنَا رجُل – Suddenly, a man appeared to us.

Here, the narrator uses the word tala’a (طلَع) to allude to a celestial object (from the sky). This is because the being who came was from above viz. the angel Jibrīl (peace be upon him) as they found out later.

In this narration, there is no further use of word man (رجل). However, in a narration of this Ḥadith in Nasai, it adds:

رجل احسن الناس وجها، و اطيب الناس ريحا، كان ثيابه لم يمسه دنس

Adāb (etiquettes) of a student: The narrator then describes Jibrīl (AS). From these descriptions of you should understand how a student should look and be:

  • A genuine time of seeking knowledge is in young age (شديد سواد الشعر)
  • One seeking knowledge should be clean as mentioned in the narration of Nasai – your apparel has an impact on one’s spirituality. (شديد البياض)
  • Listen attentively from one’s teacher (فاسند ركبتيه الي ركبتيه)
شديد بياض الثياب – He had clean white clothing.

Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) says, ideally a student should wear white clothing because as soon as you have a mark, you would see it and clean it.

A Ḥadith narrated by Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas states, البسوا ثيابكم البياض

Hāfiz bin Hajar Asqalani (R) also says,

Jibrīl (AS) is an angel made from light- and light is white; this is also why he came down dressed as such.

شديد سواد الشعر  – He had jet black hair.

This is an indication of youth and strength which are qualities found in angels who are a strong creation of Allah.3

لا يُرى عليه أثرُ السفر

Trans: there was no sign of journey apparent upon him.

This indicated has not travelled far and so must be local to Madinah. Hence, at least one person should have recognised him. However:

ولا يعرفه منا احد- No one recognised him.

This negates the assumption that this ‘man’ was from the local area.

Question: How is Umar (RA) saying that ‘No One recognised him’? Should he not only speak for himself?

Answer: Hāfiz ibn Hajar al Asqalani says that Umar (RA) said, ‘No one knew him’ as an educated guess. As Umar (RA) was amongst the most well-known and if he didn’t know of someone, usually no one would know of them.

Also, it can be said, due to the reaction of the people such as nudging and speculation, it was evident that no one knew him.

It is stated in Fathul Bari that the exchanged ‘looks’ were that of when a stranger appears.

Initially, it seems even Rasulullah ﷺ did not recognise the ‘man’ as Jibrīl (AS). He must not have come in his usual form of Dihya ibn Khalifa Farwa Qalbi.

Jibrīl (AS) used to usually assume the form of the Sahabi, Dihya al Qalbi. Allāmah Badruddin ‘Ayni mentions, he was so handsome that the women of Madina used to peep out of their windows just to get a glimpse of him. Hence, he used to wear a covering on his face when he used to leave his house to avoid fitnah.

فاسند ركبتيه الي ركبتيه

Trans: He placed his knees on the knees of Rasulullah ﷺ.

(1) Allāmah Rashīd Ahmed Gangohi (R) says: this does not refer to when one touches one kneecap with the other person’s kneecap. Rather it is an indication to his closeness in sitting.

(2) Mulla ‘Ali Qari (R) says: he sat in a manner in which a man would sit in prayer in tashahhud as it is more humbling.

This closeness in sitting shows the man’s need, and eagerness in seeking knowledge.

On this point of sitting with good manners, Hāfiz bin Hajar Asqalani points out how on one side the ‘man’ behaves ill-mannered much like the Bedouins – He called the Prophet by his name by saying, ‘O Muhammad!’ instead of ‘Rasulullah’. On another, he seemed to be full of etiquettes. There are many subtle points to be learnt here.

و وضع كفيه علي فَخِذَيهِ

Trans: He placed his palms on his thighs.

The ه in فَخِذَيهِ refers to either putting his hands on the thigh of Rasulullah ﷺ or putting his hands on his own thighs.

(1) Imam Nawawi (R) says it is more preferred to say that he put it on his own thighs and this is more humble.

(2) Imam al Baghawi (R) says, in Sharh al-Sunnah, that the ه refers to the thigh of Rasulullah ﷺ. This is supported by some narrations.

Question: Is it not against manners to place hands on another’s thigh.

Answer: some say that it was only done to gain Rasulullah’s attention, to show the importance of what is about to be discussed, or to hide his Angel status.

(3) Some say that for a short time his hands were on his own thighs, and for some time they were on Rasulullah’s thighs, or vice versa.

قال يا محمد – He said, ‘O Muhammad!’

To call Rasulullah ﷺ by his name is considered against manners. This is discouraged in verse 63 of Surah Nur,

لَا تَجْعَلُوا دُعَاءَ الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَاءِ بَعْضِكُمْ بَعْضًا ۚ قَدْ يَعْلَمُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ يَتَسَلَّلُونَ مِنْكُمْ لِوَاذًا ۚ فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَنْ تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

(1) This was the way of the Bedouins and as Jibrīl (AS) was speaking as a human, he was addressing Rasulullah ﷺ in that manner as well.

(2) Some narrations do have ‘Ya Rasulullah’ instead. So it is said that there is a possibility that Jibrīl (AS) used both terms.

(3) The name Muhammad is a proper noun (معنى العلمي) but is also an adjective (معني وصفي) which means ‘the praised one.’ He may have said it with the intention of adjective meaning.

Question: Why did  Jibrīl (AS) not give salām first?

Answer: he wanted to conceal his identity, and adequately portray the Bedouin mannerism.

Also, he did not do salām to show the masalāh that it is not wājib to do so.

Some merely say that he did say salām, it is just not mentioned here. This is because حتي سلم is stated in other narrations such as Nasai, Abu Dawud et al. (upon the authority of Abdullah bin Mas’ud) and the Musnad of Ahmad bin Hanbal (upon the authority of Abdullah bin ‘Umar).

اخبرني عن الاسلام – tell me about Islam

Some narrations state, ما الإسلام instead.

For this Ḥadith, you will find different sequences in the questioning of Jibrīl (AS); this is considered to be changes made by the narrators themselves.

For instance, in Bukhari and Muslim, one of the order is as follows: Imān then Islam, and Ihsan. While another narration of Muslim also has: Islam then Imān and Ihsan (as it is in Mishkāt). There are also narrations with the order: Islam, Ihsan and Imān as mentioned in Fathul Bari.

Those that kept it to Imān, Islam and then Ihsan, can be understood to have done so to place the asl (core) first, the presentation of Islam second and the combination of both (Ihsan) last.

The order of Mishkāt is perfectly fine which is Islam, then Imān and Ihsan. Allāmah Tībī mentions that Islam is connected to the zāhir (outer) while Imān is with the bātin (inner). The bātin is more important, but we have to give a detailed account of the zāhir.

الاسلام ان تشهد ان لا اله الا الله الخ

Trans: Islam is to testify that there is none worthy of worship but Allah.

In Bukhari the wordings are different but to a similar effect:

ان تعبد الله و لا تشرك به

Here, the belief in Rasulullah ﷺ, establishing salāh, giving zakah, fasting in Ramaḍan, and performing Hajj (if one can) is also mentioned.4

Islam is to obey the dictates of Allah and follow Rasulullah ﷺ in your overt action - to submit to whatever is the hukm of Allah.

Imam Tahawi (R) said:  ولا تثبت قدم الإسلام إلا على ظهر التسليم والاستسلام

Islam requires iqrar bil lisan (إقرار بالسان) which is verbally admitting one’s faith for the validity of ahkām dunyawiyyah (any actions which is done in this world).

Shah Waliullah (R) says in Hujjatullah al-Bāligha, ‘All actions come under six actions: salāh, zakāt, fasting, hajj, jihād and qurbani.’

Man is created from the four elements; fire, water, earth and air. Fire demands elevation resulting in qualities such as pride. To combat that Allah gave us salah. Hence, Iblis said, ‘I am better than Adam’. Water lacks contentment – to combat that Allah Almighty gave us Hajj. Earth is miserly and whatever goes into it destroyed. To combat that Allah has given us zakat to destroy stinginess. Air wants fame; it wants to be heard. To combat that Allah has given us sawm.

Salāh and zakāt are always mentioned together as they are mentioned together in the Quran after salāh and zakāh after which comes sawm, and then Hajj.

(1) Salāh is a physical (بدني) form of worship. Here salāh refers to the farāidh of salāh. Hence, one remains Muslim if they refuse nawāfil.

Nevertheless, one should endeavour to pray salāh properly:

  • (a) Allah says, ‘Establish salāh’; nowhere in the Quran does it say ‘صلوا’. Hence, the reward is contingent on one’s consistency and true establishment of salāh.
  • (b) Sayyidina Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (RA) said, salāh is the completion of ruku’, sajdah, tilawah, concentration etcetera.
  • (c) Imam Qatadah (a student of Anas bin Malik) added that it is [also] to preserve it’s time (meaning to pray salāh in its time).

(2) Zakāt is a financial (مالي) form of worship. It compulsory on those who meet the criteria which would have already studied in the books of fiqh.

(3) Sawm in Ramadan is a passive (تركى ) form of worship. Some narrations mention sawm first, but the order in Mishkāt go by the order of the acts which became fardh first historically.

Some narrations also mention salāh, zakāt and hajj first, then sawm as the former three are active actions (فعلي) actions whereas Sawm is passive (تركى).

The order in Mishkāt, however, is more so in the order of forming relationships. Salāh helps one form a relationship with our creator, zakāt is with the creation and sawm is with the poor of the creation.

The story of Bishr al-Hāfi (RA): One day he was shivering severely with cold, while there laid a coat beside him. Instead of wearing the coat, he said, ‘I do not have enough money to buy coats for all those who are feeling the cold like me, so the least I can do is feel the pain with them’.

(4) Hajj is mentioned last as it had become compulsory at the end.

In the narration of Bukhari via Abu Huraira (RA), he does not say Hajj. This is an omission by one of the narrator. It seems improbable that Hajj was not compulsory as the event is said to have occurred after Hajjatul Wadā. If one assumes it to have occurred before the journey, then was slightly before the Hajj by which time the command had already come. Furthermore, other narrations include Hajj in the narration.

قال صدقت فعجبنا له يساله و يصدقه

Trans: He said, ‘You said the truth’. So we were surprised that he asks and affirms.

The people were shocked that the ‘man’ asked a question (which suggests that he does not know) and then confirms the answer.

This was essential because Jibrīl (AS) came as a teacher.

Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (R) says that the affirmation is no big deal, but it is the way in which Jibrīl (AS) was affirming that confused and amazed the sahabah.

Mullā ‘Ali Qāri (R) defines ta’ajjub (تعجب) as: حالة للقلب تعرض عند الجهل بسبب الشئ

فاخبرني عن الايمان – Inform me about Imān

The levels of Imān are of three types:

  1. Imān of the general masses.5
  2. Imān of the people who are close to Allah – their hearts are always attached to their Lord (those who are distant from the dunya)
  3. Imān of the elite – their outer and inner are engrossed in the obedience of Allah, (a person who is engrossed in the zāt (ذات) of Allah)

In this question about Imān, Jibrīl (AS) is not asking for the literal definition of Imān. Rather he is asking about that which is associated to Imān (متعلقات الإيمان) – what a person must do once he has accepted Islam. The narration goes on to explain this and states that Imān is to believe in:

(1) الله that He is our creator and sustainer. Evidence of tawhīd can be found in Ilm al-Kalām by Allāmah Idris Kandhalwi.

(2) ملائكته – plural of Malak

هم اجسام علوية لطيفة تتشكل بأشكال مختلفة. Angels are:

  • created from light
  • They never disobey Allah (they fulfil all tasks)
  • We must believe they exist
  • We do not know how many angels exist
  • Those angels that we have been told of in detail, we believe in them in all their details and likewise for those whom we know of without details

There are several types of angels with separate roles; the ones we know of are:

  1. Those angels who carry the throne of Allah: Jibrīl, Israīl, Israfīl and Mikaīl. However, on the Day of Judgement, there will be eight angels carrying Allah’s throne.
  2. Those who stay around the throne of Allah
  3. The greatest of the angels, they are the same as the ones who carry the Throne of Allah
  4. The angels that oversee Jannah
  5. Those angels that oversee Jahannam
  6. Those angels that protect humans and always stay with humans. There are approximately 10. Shah Abdul Aziz in Tafsir Fathul Aziz mentions 160.
  7. Kirāman Kātibīn (the respected writers, the one on the right has authority over the left; when one does a sin, the one on the left asks the one on the right if he may write the sin)
  8. Those angels that question in the grave – Munkar and Nakīr

(3) كتبه – the Books that Allah has sent.

A big book is called kitāb, and a small one is known as a sahīfa.

We know of four with certainty (ثبوت القطعي) are four: Tawrah, Injīl, Zabūr and the Quran. They are all abrogated except for the Quran.

It is said that the Torah was revealed on the 6th of Ramadan, Zabūr on the 12thof Ramadan, Injīl on the 18th of Ramadan and the Quran was revealed in 24 AH. There was no known date in Ramadan when the Quran was revealed, though it is said to have been on Laylatul Qadr. Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud adds that Laylatul Qadr falls in the last ten days of Ramadan.

In Hilyatul Awliya, Ibn Hibbān mentioned that Rasulullah ﷺ was asked how many kutub there were, and he answered 104. 50 to Shīth6 (AS), 30 to Idris (AS), 10 to Ibrahīm (AS), 10 to Musa (AS) before the Tawrah and the four main mentioned Books. However, a narrator in this narration, Ibrahīm ibn Hishām, is weak.

(4) رسله – His messengers. This is to believe in Allah’s messengers – the known and unknown ones.

Hāfiz Ibn Kathīr mentions that there are 124000 prophets and 315 from them are Rasūls. Another narration mentions that it is 313.

Allāmah Nasafi (R) says that it is better to not restrict the number to a specific number as Allah says there are some ‘we’ mentioned and some we did not. For instance, only 25 are mentioned in the Quran.

To believe in the Ambiya (AS) means:

  • To acknowledge that all are sent by Allah
  • Believe that they are all infallible (معصوم)
  • Believe that they all conveyed the message and fulfilled all of their responsibilities.
  • To follow the prophet sent to them

(5) اليوم الاخر – the last day – The wordings of Bukhari say that it is to believe in the meeting with Allah and the day of Resurrection.

One is to believe in all that will happen on the Day of Judgement (hereafter). This includes the life in Barzakh, the peace and punishment of the grave, resurrection, giving account (hisāb), Jannah and Jahannam.

(6) تؤمن بالقدر خيره و شره – To believe that good and bad comes from Allah.

The repetition of ‘belief’ emphasises the importance of belief in Qadr (fate). One should not try to understand taqdīr based on intellect alone. Just believe there is Qadr irrespective if you understand it or not – We are only required to have Imān.

Instead of khayrihi wa sharrihi, some narrations have huluwwihi wa murrihi (حلوه و مره).

Literally, Taqdīr means to measure. There are two aspects of taqdīr which are used together: qadr (قدر) and qaḍā’ (قضاء) – Qadr is like the blueprint and Qaḍā’ is the manifestation of the blueprint).

Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Mas’ud used to say: ‘understand that you will never reach the reality of Imān until you understand that whatever is to reach you will never miss you and whatever is to miss you will never reach you.’

Qari Muhammad Tayyib (R) has written a whole book on qadr, and at the end, he wrote: ‘Never has anyone understood this and they will not until the Day of Judgement.’

At the end of the Sahabah era, a group that rejected qadr arose. They were known as the Qadariyya. The three most prominent promoters of this group were Ma’bad al-Juhani (Leader of Qadariyyas in Basra), Ghaylān (in Damascus) and Ja’ad bin Dirham.

This group believed that they were the creators of their own actions, and so Allah only becomes aware of these actions as they are doing them. Na’udhubillah.

The Sahabah that challenged them include Abdullah bin Umar, Jabir ibn Abdullah, Anas bin Malik, Uqbah bin ‘Āmir, and Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with them all). The Sahabah even stated that this group should not be given salām, not be visited when sick nor should their janazah be performed or attended.

The Qadariyya, if they only believed that humans created their own actions, then these individuals will be classified as Fāsiq and Mubtadi. However, if they also deny Allah’s knowledge, they will be classified as a Kāfir.

Hasan al-Bisri who was a tabi’ī (21 AH – 110 AH aged 89 years) said, ‘I asked Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Tālib regarding qadr.’ He replied in writing, ‘A person who rejects qaḍā’ and qadr in that good and bad being from Allah has done kufr. A person who puts his sin on Allah, that person is a transgressor. Allah is not obeyed out of force nor is He disobeyed by empowerment.’

Belief in qadr is an amazing thing, because when you believe in qadr, it will never leave you in depression or pain. You will remember that this is what my Lord wanted for me.

Also, such a person will never have arrogance, because all the good that they do is all from the qadr of Allah.

فأخبرني عن الإحسان الخ – Tell me about ihsān

It is to worship Allah as if you see him, and if you feel like you cannot see him, [remember,] He sees you.

The author of Mishkāt mentioned ihsān right at the end because ihsān is connected to both Islam and Imān.

Ihsān (means to have Ikhlas). It is used in two ways:

  1. If used without harf jarr (متعدي بنفسه), it means to beautify or solidify
  2. If used with harf jarr, it means to reach the benefit of something

Ihsān in worship is of two types:

(1) Ihsān Zāhiri (احسان الظاهري) is when you do worship by fulfilling either farḍ and wajib or sunnah and mustahab.

(2) Ihsān Ma’nawī (احسان المعنوي) is when you do worship with full concentration.

The narration is used in the latter type (Ihsān Ma’nawī); either you worship as if you can see Him (Allah)7 or if you cannot see him, [remember] He sees you.

Allāmah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R) says that between Islam and Imān the connection comes and goes. Imān starts from the heart and ends on the physical body, whereas Islam starts on the physical body and ends up in the heart.

Worshipping Allah

Imam Ahmed saw Allah multiple times in his dreams, so one day he asked Allah, ‘O Allah! What is the best of deeds?’ Allah replied, ‘To read the Quran, whether you understand it or not.’

In the narration when it says ‘To worship Allah…’, it refers to acknowledging the oneness of Allah.

Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) said that to worship Allah also means to obey Allah in his orders and to stop what He has prevented us from doing.

Definition of Ibādah:

  • Qāri Muhammad Tayyib said: it is obeying the hukm.
  • Imam Rāghib al-Asfahani (R) said: it is an action with your choice (even if it) goes against your desires and bodily wants.

There are three stages of ibādah

  1. a person only worships Allah for the reward – this is the lowest stage of ibādah.
  2. One worships Allah as he wants the nobility of becoming connected with Allah.
  3. To worship Allah because he thinks I am a slave and Allah is my Lord, and the connection between slave and master is ibādah. He prays to gain the pleasure of Allah.

Imam Fakhruddin Razi (R) said: Grammatically this sentence should have been na’budu iyyaka, but the word iyyaka is first to show that the objective is to reach Allah.

Hāfiz bin Hajar Asqalani (R) says there are two parts to Ihsān: Mushāhadah (مشاهدة) and Murāqabah (مراقبة).

Question: Mushāhadah (مشاهدة) we have previously mentioned, so the question arises how do we attain the latter?

Answer: This is through excessive remembering Allah on the tongue which will lead to Allah’s remembrance in our hearts. This will also lead to Mushāhadah (مشاهدة) which is the peak of Imān.

In Ma’ariful Ḥadith, Allāmah Nu’mani (R) says the Ihsan is needed in our entire life, not just in salāh.

Example:

The entire madrasah who have been called by the King of the time to his court. But there happens to be one student who has lost her sight. Will that blind student play around by herself while she is in the court yard of the king or will she maintain her adab? She will maintain it. She cannot see the king but the king can see her, and this is why she maintains her adab.

It is also said that in the phrase in the hadith, fa-in lam takun, the kāna (كان) here is the kāna of completion. So, to see Allah, you have to completely become nothing (because we are nothing compared to Him).

Question: Why did Jibrīl (AS) not say sadaqta (صَدَقْتَ) after the third answer.

Answer: Some hadith do have this wording (sadaqta), so the narrator may have omitted it.

Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) says that the reason why it’s been omitted here is because status of Ihsān is between the servant and his Lord, so no one will know of this – it is a secret.

الإخلاص سر من أسراري أستودعه قلب من أحب من عبادي

Like in this Hadith, you will find in the Quran that it mentions Islam, Imān and Ihsān together.

فاخبرني عن الساعة الخ

Trans: Then he said tell me about the hour. [The Prophet] replied the answerer does not know more than the questioner.

In Bukhari, it states matas sa’a (متي الساعة) – ‘When is the last hour?’

The first three previous questions fully peaked when it reached Ihsān so after ascending to the highest note; the only way is down. This is similar to how the world is completely built and peaked, so now the only thing left is its destruction, to go down – The Hour.

Example: The is a story in a Ḥadith in Bukhari. Rasulullah ﷺ had a horse which had never been beaten in a race. One day a Bedouin came with a very nice horse, and he wanted to race the horse of Rasulullah ﷺ. The Bedouin’s horse ended up winning. The Sahabah were very upset at the turn of events, but Rasulullah ﷺ explained to them that when something reaches its peak, the only means left is to come down.

The hour (الساعة) or the moment, when the end will come is not known to the people. Qiyāmah will happen in a sudden. Allah says in Surah A’rāf (ayah 187) the people do not know when Qiyamah will take place, but it will take place suddenly.

سْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ رَبِّي ۖ لَا يُجَلِّيهَا لِوَقْتِهَا إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ ثَقُلَتْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ لَا تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلَّا بَغْتَةً ۗ يَسْأَلُونَكَ كَأَنَّكَ حَفِيٌّ عَنْهَا ۖ قُلْ إِنَّمَا عِلْمُهَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

This is an indication of it happening very fast. It’s called ‘the hour’ as for Allah and the believers, the time will go by like a moment and with ease.

According to Allāmah Qurtubi (R), there are three types of Qiyamah:

  1. الساعة الصغرى – when one person passes away their personal Qiyāmah has started
  2. الساعة الوسطى – when a whole generation has passed away
  3. الساعة الكبرى – reference to the perishing of all

Question: Like it has been mentioned, when you reach maqam ihsān, you have reached the peak. The peak of Imān and Ihsan has already been reached with Rasulullah ﷺ, and now it is only decreasing. So why hasn’t Allah caused Qiyāmah to come?

Answer: Ibādah is of two types:

(1) كم  – Quantity: in the sight of Allah, a greater number remains

(2) كيف – Quality: this reached has its peak at the time of Rasulullah ﷺ

Question: Why did Rasulullah ﷺ not say لا ادري or لا اعلم(I do not know)?

Answer: if Rasulullah ﷺ had said this, it would have left the door open for people to say that modern technology can now find a cure to death, which can also tell them about Life after death and so on. Hence, he closed this door so no one else can say they know about the last day either.

Instead, he said that the answerer does not know more than the questioner.

Here the use of the ب in باعلم is for  تأكيد النفي

From a narration in Bukhari, we simply know that it may take place on a Friday.

Imam Humaydi (R) mentions the same narration in Kitāb al-Nawadir; However, this dialogue takes place between Jibrīl (AS) and Isa (AS).

فاخبرني عن اماراتها الخ

Trans: Then tell me about its signs…

In different narrations, the wordings vary in this part also. This is fine as they are to the same effect in meaning.

Signs of Qiyāmah are two types:

  1. Minor: the slave girl will give birth to her master and that you will see the barefooted, naked, poor men and shepherds competing in building tall buildings).
  2. Major: the Sun rising from the East to the West, the coming of Ya’jūj, Ma’jūj and Isa (AS) and so on so forth.

This narration only mentions the minor signs and not the major ones.

Every single minor sign has occurred expect for one: that the river Euphrates (between Iraq and Syria) will vomit out heaps of gold; in trying to attain that gold, every 100 that will go after it, 99 of them will die. Some say this has already happened, as by ‘gold’ it meant black gold (oil).

ربتها أن تَلِدَ الأَمَةُ – Muhaddithīn have explained

(1) It indicates to a change in time when Qiyāmah becomes so close that the slave will become the master and the master will become the slave. (unworthy people will take leadership).

Hāfiz bin Hajar al Asqalani says that if we take it to mean a change of states, then the Rabb will become a Murabba from the Murabbi. [Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) gives preference to this meaning].

(2) Allāmah Khattābi (R) says: this is an indication that the Muslims will gain victory after several victories (in different countries); so the Muslim slave girls who were Umm Walad – their children will then become owners of them. [Imam Nawawi gives preference to this explanation].

(3) Hāfiz bin Hajar Asqalani (R) says this is an reference to a child being disobedient to their parents – mothers treated like slaves.

(4) This may also be an indication towards transactions of slave girls. That there will come a time that a person will buy a slave girl and he will not realise that it is his mother.

Imam Sha’bi used to say, Qiyāmah will not come until knowledge will become ignorance and ignorance will become knowledge.

Question: No one is supposed to call their master Rabb so why is this word used in the narration? A hadith on the authority of Abu Huraira (RA) states, ‘None of you should call your slaves abdi nor your masters rabb (call them sayyid).

Answer: It is based on adab and makrūh tanzihi as in although it is disliked, it is can be used sometimes.

وأن ترى الحفاة العراة العالة رعاء الشّاء يتطاولون في البنيان

Trans: You will see the barefooted, naked, poor men and shepherds competing in building tall buildings.

الحفاة – plural of حافي; someone who walks barefoot. Rasulullah ﷺ is indicating to how they have forgotten their past, and how now they have nothing left to even cover their feet.

العراة – plural of عاري; someone who had no clothes (left naked or barely clothed).

العالة from عائل; someone who has a family and due to increased expenses they are poor.

رعاء – plural of رَاعِي; Shepherd. Those people who were once a Bedouin and they used to herd sheep (الشاء). Shā’ (الشاء) is a plural of shāt (شاة) which means sheep and goat. They had nothing, and as soon as they got wealth, they became boastful and competitive with buildings.

Additionally, this last sign refers to their change of state – instead of living in villages, they will live in the city.

يَتَطاولون – They will build tall buildings

This also shows that their love for the Dunyā will increase, as people will be so engrossed in their tall buildings there.

There is nothing wrong with building yourself a mansion, but you should not be boastful or prideful.

In the adhān, Allahu Akbar (اللهُ اكبَر) outlines that only Allah is worthy of having pride.

Also, this links to the creation which are made from the four elements: fire, water, air and soil. It illustrates that Allah is more powerful than all. No matter how strong the fire is or the water, wind or soil, Allah is greater than them. He is greater than the fire and whatever is created from fire (jinnāt); water and whatever is created from water (ocean creatures), and air and what is created from air and soil (humans).

What is the connection between this set of signs and the previous sign (about slave girls)?

There will come a time a lady will give birth to her master. This narration is unclear (خفي) regarding the meaning, and as birth is a concealed, it is not observable.

In contrast, this set of signs are very clear (جَلي). It says that you will be able to see (ان تري)  only in the people and buildings.

ثم انطلق فلبثت مليا

Trans: Then he Jibrīl (AS) went away, but I stayed for some time.

مَلِيَّا comes from ملاوة: stayed for a long time. It can also mean, being rich, but this meaning is not taken here

The narration in Abu Dawud, Nasai and Tirmidhi say that: I (Umar) stayed for three days. So he found out as to who the speaker was: on the third day.

Ibn Hibbān (R) states, he found out after the third day

In Sahih Muslim, it that after the ‘man’ had left, Rasulullah ﷺ said to the sahabah, bring that man back to me. So they left trying to call him back. But they came back and said, ‘Oh Rasulullah, we could not find him’. So Rasulullah ﷺ went on to mention that this was Jibrīl (AS) in that Majlis.

Reconciling between all the above narrations, in Mirqāt, Mullā ‘Ali Qari (R) states that at the time that Rasulullah ﷺ announced who the man was, Umar (RA) was not there. He was preoccupied with other work, and so he found out after three days.

ثم قال لي: يا عمر اتدري من السائل؟ قلت: الله و رسوله اعلم

Trans: Then he ﷺ said: ‘O Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I said: ‘Allah and His Rasūl know best.’

This does not mean that Allah and His Messenger know the same amount; they do not have equal knowledge. It means that Allah and His Messenger know the best, Allah knows everything, and Rasulullah ﷺ knows best from the whole creation.

قال: فانه جبرئيل اتاكم يعلمكم دينكم

Trans: He said: it is Jibrīl who came to you to teach you your religion.

There are four ways you can say the angel’s name: Jibrīl, Gabrīl, Jibrīl, Jibrāīl.

Question: Rasulullah ﷺ was the teacher at that time so why is the attributes of the educator going to Jibrīl (AS)?

Answer: This is because questioning is the half of knowledge (السؤال نصف العلم) and this becomes the means of attaining it.

——

[1] The author of Kitāb al-Shifa

[2] عبادة الظاهرية و الباطنية

[3] It is never too late to learn. However, one should especially learn when they are young and strong. Also people should send their brightest and strongest to learn the din.

[4] Shaykh Saleem Nawab mentioned an interesting mnemonic to illustrate what the din demands of us. (1) ISLAM = I Submit to the Laws of Allah and Muhammad. (2) MUSLIM = My Ultimate Success Lies In following Muhammad

[5] It is formed of the essential component; Tasdiq bil Qalb, Iqrar bil Lisan and A’mal Salihah

[6] The son of Adam (AS)

[7] this would be with نور بصيرة (visualizing with the inner self); when this is so strong, you can feel a presence this becomes:  مقام مشاهدة.