Abu Darda (RA) narrated that Rasool Allah (SAW) said, “Should I not tell you of such a thinga which are the best and purest deeds in the court of your Lord, high in ranks (darajat), better for you then spending gold and silver (in Allah’s path), and better than slaying the neck of the enemy during war? The Sahaba said, “Yes, Oh Rasool Allah! (SAW) .” He (SAW) said, “It is Zikr of Allah.” (Tirmizi)
الصلاة و السلام عليك يا رسول الله
Wednesday 26th April 2017 - 29 Rajab 1438 AH
Home Aqeeda Hadhir and Nadhir

Hadhir and Nadhir

Dr Gibrael Haddad

“They encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will”(2:255)

“(He is) the Knower of the Unseen and He reveals unto none His secret, save unto every Messenger whom He has chosen” (72:26-27)

“Nor does he withhold grudgingly a knowledge of the Unseen” (81:24)

Ibn Khafif al-Shirazi said in his al-‘Aqida al-Sahiha (pg 48):

[The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam] is knower of what is and what shall be and he gave news of the Unseen (wa [ya‘taqidu] annahu al-‘âlimu bimâ kâna wa mâ yakûnu wa akhbara ‘an ‘ilmi al-ghayb).

Meaning, in the sense of being imparted by Allah whatever He imparted to him. Our teacher the Faqîh Shaykh Adib Kallas said: “Note that Ibn Khafif did not say ‘He knows all that is and all that shall be.’”

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hadi Kharsa told us:

The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, possesses knowledge of all that is and knows the created universes in the same way that one knows a room in which one sits. Nothing is hidden from him. There are two verses of the Holy Qur’an that affirm this, [But how (will it be with them) when we bring of every people a witness, and We bring you (O Muhammad) a witness against these] (4:41) and [Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that you may be witnesses against man­kind and that the messenger may be a witness against you] (2:143) nor can the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, be called to witness over what he does not know nor see.

The above evidence is confirmed by the authentic Prophetic narration from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri in the Sahih, Sunan, and Masanid:

The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:

“Nuh and his Community shall come and Allah Most High shall say: ‘Did you convey [My Mes­sage]?’ He shall say, ‘Yes, indeed! my Lord.’ Then He shall ask his Com­munity, ‘Did he convey [My Message] to you?’ and they shall say, ‘No, no Prophet came to us.’ Then Allah shall ask Nuh, ‘Who is your witness?’ and he shall reply, ‘Muhammad, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, and his Community.’ Then we shall bear witness that he conveyed [the Message] indeed, and this is [the meaning of] His saying, [Thus We have ap­pointed you a middle nation (ummatan wasatan), that you may be witnesses against man­kind] (2:143), al-wasat meaning ‘the upright’ (al-‘adl).”[2]

Ibn Hajar in his commentary of the above narration in Fath al-Bari said that another same-chained, similar narration in Ahmad and Ibn Majah shows that such witnessing applies to all the Communities and not just that of Nuh,`alayhis salaam:

The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:

“One Prophet shall come on the Day of Resurrection with a single man [as his Community]; another Prophet shall come with two men; others, with more. The nation of each Prophet shall be summoned and asked, ‘Did this Prophet convey [the Message] to you?’ They shall reply, no. Then he shall be asked, ‘Did you convey [the Message] to your people?’ and he shall reply, yes. Then he shall be asked, ‘Who is your witness?’ and he shall reply, ‘Muhammad and his Com­munity.’ Whereupon Muhammad and his Community shall be sum­moned and asked, ‘Did this man convey [the Message] to his people?’ They shall reply, yes. They shall be asked, ‘How do you know?’ They shall reply, ‘Our Prophet came to us and told us that the Messengers have indeed conveyed [the Message].’ This is [the meaning of] His say­ing, [Thus We have appointed you a middle nation] – He means upright (yaqûlu ‘adlan) – [that you may be witnesses against man­kind and that the messenger may be a witness against you] (2:143).”

Al-Qari said in commentary of the narration of Nuh, `alayhis salaam, cited in Mishkat al-Masabih:

“And he shall reply, ‘Muhammad and his Community’” means that his Community are witnesses while he vouches for them, but his men­tion came first out of reverence (li-t-ta‘zîm). It is possible that he, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, too witnesses for Nuh, since it is a context of help and Allah Most High said [When Allah made (His) convenant with the Prophets] until He said [you shall believe in him and you shall help him] (3:81). In this there is a remarkable warning that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present and witnessing in that Greatest Inspection (wafîhi tanbîhun nabîhun annahu sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallama hâdirun nâzirun fî dhâlika al-‘ardi al-akbar), when the Prophets are brought, Nuh being the first, and the latter’s witnesses are brought, namely, this Community.[3]

There are other verses that affirm that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, hears and sees the deeds of human beings. Allah Most High said: [And know that the Mes­senger of Allah is among you] (49:7). In the verses [Allah and His Messenger will see your conduct] (9:94) and [Act! Allah will behold your actions, and (so will) His Messenger and the believers] (9:105), the Prophet’s, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, perception is put on a par with that of the Lord of the worlds Who sees and encompasses all on the one hand and, on the other, that of all the living believers.

Shaykh ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Ghumari said:

“The saying of Allah Most High [O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah, and give up what remains (due to you) from usury, if you are (in truth) believers. And if you do not, them be war­ned of war (against you) from Allah and His Messenger] (2:278-279) indicates that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is alive in his noble grave, fighting the usurers with his supplication against them or with whatever suits his isthmus-life. I do not know anyone that inferred this from the verse before me”. [4]

The above is further confirmed in the Sunna by the following evidence:

(1) Ibn Mas‘ud’s authentic narration of the Prophet’s, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, witnessing of all the deeds of the Umma from his Barzakh:

The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be exhibited to me, and if I see good­ness I will praise Allah, and if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.” (Hayâtî khayrun lakum tuhaddithûna wa yuhad­dathu lakum wa wafâtî khayrun lakum tu‘radu a‘malukum ‘alayya famâ ra’aytu min khayrin hamidtu Allâha wa mâ ra’aytu min shar­rin istagh­fartu Allâha lakum.)[5]

(2) The authentic narration of “the Supernal Company” (al-mala’u al-a‘lâ) from Mu‘adh ibn Jabal (RA) and others

The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “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 Higher Assembly (al-mala’ al-a‘lâ)[6] vie; 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.”[7]

(3) The staying back of Sayyidina Gibril, `alayhis salaam, at the point the Pro­phet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, went beyond the Lote-Tree of the Farthermost Boundary (sidrat al-muntaha) and heard the screeching of the pens writing the Foreor­dained Decree then saw his Lord,[8] although Gibril is the closest of all crea­tures to Allah U and the angels do see Him according to Ahl-al-Sunna.[9]

Al-Qadi ‘Iyad in al-Shifa, in the section titled “Concerning the places where it is desirable to in­voke blessings and peace upon him” cited from ‘Amr ibn Dinar al-Athram (d. 126) the explanation of the verse [when you enter houses salute one another] (24:61): “If there is no-one in the house then say: ‘as-salâmu ‘alâ al-Nabiyyi wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh.’”[10]

Al-Qari said in his commentary on al-Shifa’:

“Meaning, because his soul, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present in the house of the Muslims (ay li’anna rûhahu ‘alayhi al-salâmu hâdirun fî buyûti al-muslimîn).”[11]

What ‘Iyad cited from al-Athram is only narrated by al-Tabari in his Tafsir from Ibn Jurayj, from ‘Ata’ al-Khurasani (d. 135):

“Hajjaj narrated to me from Ibn Jurayj: I said to ‘Ata’: “What if there is no-one in the house?” He said: “Give salâm! Say, al-salâmu ‘alâ al-Nabiyyi wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh, al-salâmu ‘alaynâ wa ‘alâ ‘ibâdillah al-sâlihîn, al-salâmu ‘alâ ahli al-bayti wa rahmatullâh.” I said: “This statement you just said about my entering the house in which there is no-one, from whom did you receive it?” He replied: “I heard it without receiving it from anyone in particular.”[12]

‘Ata’ was a pious muhaddith, mufti, and wâ‘iz from whom Yazid ibn Samura heard the statement: “The gatherings of dhikr are the gatherings of [teaching] the halâl and the harâm.”[13] His trustworthiness and/or memory were contested by al-Bukhari, Abu Zur‘a, Ibn Hibban, Shu‘ba, al-Bayhaqi, al-‘Uqayli, and Ibn Hajar, but he was nevertheless declared thiqa by Ibn Ma‘in, Abu Hatim, al-Daraqutni, al-Thawri, Malik, al-Awza‘i, Ahmad, Ibn al-Madini, Ya‘qub ibn Shayba, Ibn Sa‘d, al-‘Ijli, al-Tabarani, and al-Tirmidhi, while Ibn Rajab concludes he is “thiqa thiqa.”[14]

A False Assertion against Mullah Ali al-Qari

Recently, someone forwarded the strange claim that al-Qari’s text in Sharh al-Shifa’ actually stated, “NOT THAT his soul, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present in the houses of the Muslims” (lâ anna rûhahu hâdiratun fî buyûti al-muslimîn) that is, the diametrical opposite of what al-Qari actually said:

He [al-Qari] discussed the issue in the Sharh of Shifa, that <lâ anna=”” rûhahu=”” hâdiratun=”” fî=”” buyûti=”” al-muslimîn=””> i.e. this notion is incorrect that the soul of our Master Hazrat Mohammed, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present in the homes of the Muslims. In some copies the word lâ has been dropped and has with­out any reason created confusion for some individuals, including Mufti Ahmed Yar Khan sahib (see Jaa al-Haqq p. 142). … In all his explicit quotes Hazrat Mulla Ali al-Qari himself negates the belief of hâdir wa nâzir. Those who have relied on his brief, indistinct quotes (out of context) are absolutely and definitely wrong. [15]

That one can actually dare to make the above claim is only because of ignorance of the Arabic language since al-Qari prefaces the statement with the word “meaning (ay),” which would be grammatically incorrect if it were followed by a disclaimer such as “not that his soul is present in the houses of the Muslims.” The truth is that no such word as lâ has been dropped because there was no such word there in the first place, and the claim that there was is nothing short of tampering (tahrîf). Furthermore, the word al-Qari used for “present” is hâdir in the masculine, not hâdiratun in the feminine, as rûh can have either gender but the masculine is more appropriate here to refer to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam.

A Denial of Prophetic Attributes

Another one of those of the same School considered by some to be knowledgeable objected to attributing the characteristics of hâdir nâzir to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, because, he claimed, these attributes belong to Allah U. Even if the latter premise were true, the reasoning is spurious and is like saying that because al-Ra’ûf and al-Rahîm are Divine Attributes, they cannot be also Prophetic Attributes. This sophistry was refuted by al-Qadi ‘Iyad in al-Shifa where he said:

“Know that Allah has bestowed a mark of honor on many of the Prophets by investing them with some of His names: for example He calls Ishaq and Isma‘il “knowing” (‘alîm) and “forbearing” (halîm), Ibrahim “for­bearing” (halîm), Nuh “thankful” (shakûr), Musa “noble” (karîm) and “strong” (qawî), Yusuf “a knowing guardian” (hafîz, ‘alîm), Ayyub “patient” (sabûr), ‘Isa and Yahya “devoted” (barr), and Isma‘il “truthful to the promise” (sâdiq al-wa‘d)… Yet He has preferred our Prophet Muhammad, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, since He has adorned him with a wealth of His names in His Mighty Book and on the tongue of His Prophets”. [16]

The above evidence establishes beyond doubt that there is no impediment to the possibility of hâdir nâzir to be Attributes shared by Allah Most High with some of His servants if such two Names should be established to be His. In fact, it is known that the two angel-scribes, the qarîn, the angel of death, and Shaytan, are also present, seeing, hearing, and fully wit­nessing the deeds of human beings at any given time.

Furthermore, are Hâdir and Nâzir among the Divine Names and Attributes? Imam Ahmad al-Sirhindi was quoted to say: “Allah Most High is aware of each and every minor and major condition and is Hâdir and Nâzir. One should feel shame before Him.”[17]

However, the Divine Attributes are ordained and non-inferable. [18] Logic, reasoning, analogy, and other forms of interpretation are not used to infer an attribute but only Divine disclosure through the primary two sources of the Shari‘a i.e. Qur’an and Sunna. This is an elementary point of doctrine that is present in most if not all books of ‘aqîda, including the Maturidi classics. So we cannot speak of al-Hâdir, while al-Nâzir is the same as al-Shahîd where the divine Sight means His Knowledge.

Imam al-Bayhaqi said:

“The meaning of “The Witness” (al-Shahîd) is He Who is well aware of all that creatures can know only by way of witnessing while being present…because a human being who is far away is subject to the limitation and shortcomings of his sensory organs, while Allah Most High is not endowed with sensory organs nor subject to the limita­tions of those who possess them.[19] (Shâhid is also a Prophetic Name in the Qur’an.)

As for al-Hâdir it is precluded, because Hâdir in Arabic has the sense of a being physically present at a location, i.e. attributes of the created that are abso­lutely precluded from the Creator. Therefore Hâdir in relation to Allah Most High, like the attribute of omnipresence, may only be applied figura­tively to mean that He is All-Knowledgeable, but neither “Omnipresent” nor Hâdir have actually been reported or mentioned among the Divine Attributes in the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the texts of the early Imams. Allah knows best.

When some of these rebuttals were presented to the above-mentioned objector, he replied verbatim, that “By Haazir and Naazir, we mean Allah’s knowledge is complete and comprehensive. Nothing is hidden from the abso­lute knowledge of Allah. In other words, he is Aleem and this quality of Allah is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’aan.” By thus replying he has acknowledged that:

1. He used the Attributes Hâdir and Nâzir figuratively, to mean ‘Alîm.

2. He has done so on the basis of his own interpretation of the former two terms as meaning the latter term, neither (a) on linguistic bases nor (b) according to a law-based stipulation (nass shar‘î).

To return to the statement of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi – Allah sanctify his soul – that “[He] is Hâdir and Nâzir,” there are also caveats:

1. Isolated statements cannot be used to invalidate a basic rule of Ahl al-Sunna in the Divine Names and Attributes, namely that spelled above as found in the doctrine of the Salaf and Khalaf on al-Asmâ’ wa al-Sifât.

2. In practical terms, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was careful to frame his statement within an affirmation of the sincere murîd’s consciousness of the all-encompassing nature of Divine Knowledge within the ladder of spiritual process in the Naqshbandi Tarîqa, just as the Shuyukh of the Shadhili Tarîqa teach their murîds to say, “Allâhu hâdirî, Allâhu nâziri, Allâhu ma‘î.” These expressions are meant to induce scrupulous Godwariness and in fact all refer to the attributes of Divine Knowledge without any resemblance whatsoever to the hudûr or nazâr of created beings other than in name.

3. In doctrinal terms, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi means something other than what those who use hâdir in the Arabic language and in relation to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, mean. Namely, he means hâdir not in the normal creatural sense of “present” but in the non-creatural sense of “Divine Knowledge of Things in their Essence” (al-‘ilm al-hudûrî). This is explained by him at length in his epistle 48 of Volume Three to the Prince, Zadah Khwaja Muhammad Sa‘id, titled “The Secret of His Nearness and the Self-Disclosure of His Essence.” This is a highly peculiar, specialized sense that should be treated thus unless one is interested in making Shaykh Sirhindi say other than what he means.

4. Some of our contemporaries – who are known by the title of Mufti – inno­vatively use the same phrase in terms of a stipulation of ‘Aqîda, giving rise to le­gitimate doubt as to what they mean by their use of the phrase, a doubt for­tified by their adding made-up provisions or conditions such as “Hâdir and Nâzir cannot be applied to anyone besides Allah.” By saying this they have invalidated the sine qua non pre-requisites of the judge for receiving wit­nesses to any and all cases that require witnesses. Rather, they mean to say, “cannot be applied to anyone besides Allah in the sense they are applied to Allah” while they can be applied to others besides Allah in the sense that applies to creatures.

5. Those who use Hâdir and Nâzir in relation to the Best of Creatures, our Master Muhammad, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, , mean it in the creatural sense of his noble soul or noble essence being physically and spiritually present wherever Allah Most High wishes. One who denies that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, can be present in that sense, has left Islam.

6. None of what the opponents bring up as supposed proofs actually invali­dates the use of Hâdir and Nâzir for the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, among other shared Names as we have already demonstrated. For example, Allah Most High is Ra’ûf and Rahîm, and He is Nûr, and He is al-Shâhid – the Witness – and al-Shahîd – the Giver of testimony – all five attributes being also given by Him in His Own Pre-Eternal Speech – the Qur’an – to the Prophet himself, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam.

7. If it comes to scholarly quotations, they should accept that the attributes of Hâdir and Nâzir are applied to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, by the Ulema of Ahl al-Sunna such as Mulla Ali al-Qari as cited above, and countless others such as the Friends of Allah known to keep company with the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, day and night, among them Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbas al-Mursi, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, and Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh, probably also Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi himself – may Allah sanctify their secrets.

Ibn al-Qayyim said in al-Ruh:

This is a subject about which men are troubled. There are those who say, “The sciences, all of them, are latent in the soul, and only its occupation with the world of sensation prevents its examination of them; so, if it is detached in sleep, it see some of them in accordance with its preparation; and when its detachment by death is more perfect, its sciences and its experiential knowledges there are more perfect.” This statement has in it both what is right and what is groundless; not all of it is to be rejected and not all of it is to be accepted. For the detachment of the soul informs it of the sciences and experiential knowledges which are not received without detachment. But if it should be detached altogether, it would not be informed of the knowledge of Allah with which His Messenger was sent, and of the details of what He told by past messengers and peoples that are gone; and details of the Return and regulations of the Hour and details of command and prohibition, and Divine Names and Attributes and Acts, etc., that are not known except by Revelation; although the detachment of the soul is an aid to it for knowledge of that, and the drawing of it from its source is easier and nearer and greater than what is given to the soul engaged in the labors of the body.[20]

Another objection was raised and disseminated on a website titled, “The Belief that the Prophet comes to the Milad Meeting” with the following text:

Some people also believe that Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, comes to this function and due to this belief, they stand up in respect and veneration. This is absolutely untrue. Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, does not arrive at any “Eid-e-Milad-un Nabee,” function. He is in his Rawdha-e-Mubarak (grave) at Madinah Munawwarah and will emerge from it at the onset of Yawmul-Qiyaamah, or the Day of Judgement. … The following Ayat and Hadith testify to this fact: The Qur’an, addressing Rasulullah, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, announces explicitly: [Lo! Thou wilt die, and Lo! They will die. Then Lo! On the day of resurrection, before your sustainer, you will dispute]. [Az-Zumar 39:30-31] At another place, Rasulullah, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is addressed together with the rest of mankind: – [Then Lo! After that you surely die, then Lo! On the day of resurrection you are raised (again)] [Al-Muminun 23:16] Rasulullah, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, himself has said in a Hadith: – “My grave will be the first to be opened on the day of Qiyamah and I shall be the first person to intercede and the first person whose intercession shall be accepted.” These Ayat and Hadith as well (and there are others) prove that all of mankind will be raised from their graves on the day of Qiyamah, with Rasulullah, sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, being no exception. On this, there is consensus of the entire Ummah. [21]

The Reply of Ahl as-Sunna wal-Jama`at

The reply is: Does this Mufti have knowledge of the unseen and the gift of ubiquity? For he positively affirms that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam;

(1) Is not present at a given Mawlid function and (2) Is not possibly present at any place other than in Madina, in his grave! So then, he allows that the other Prophets can be in Bayt al-Maqdis praying, and in Makka making tawâf, and in the Seven Heavens, but he insists that our Prophet – upon him and them blessings and peace – is confined to his Noble Grave?

Yet testimonies from the great Awliyâ’ and Sâlihîn of this Umma have flown uninterruptedly for a thousand years to the effect that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, was and continues to be seen by countless pure eyes in countless different locations.

Read the fatwa to that effect in Shaykh al-Islam al-Haytami’s Fatawa Hadithiyya (p. 297), entitled:

“Ques­tion: Can the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, be seen in a wakeful state?”

“Answer: Yes, and if he is seen, then he is present. There is no need to ask “how”.

Sayyid Ahmad Zayni Dahlan said in his book al-Usul li al-Wusul ila Ma‘rifat Allah wa al-Rasul, that when the walî is said to see the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, “in a waking state” (yaqazatan), “it means that he sees only the spiritual form (rûhaniyya) of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, , not his physical form.” But our Shaykh, Sidi Mustafa al-Basir commented on this: “Is there any impediment to seeing him in his physical form, or to his coming to a place in his physical form?” and Shah Waliyyullah al-Dihlawi said in his book Fuyud al-Rahman (p. 116-118) that the presence of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, in the office of imam at every prayer “is a fact” and that “the noble Rûh of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is similar to a physical body.” Many valuable pages were recorded from the disclosures of Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh on this issue by his student ‘Ali ibn al-Mubarak in al-Ibriz.

Yes, we do know with positive knowledge that he is in al-Madina al-Munawwara – but in the state of Barzakh. That state, by the decree of Allah Most High, is governed by laws other than phenomenal laws of time and place.

Imam Malik said in the Muwatta’: “It has reached me [i.e. from the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, with an authentic chain as is well-known concerning Malik’s balâghât] that the souls [of the dead] are free to come and go as they please.” Further readings about this can be found in Sayyid Mu­ham­mad ‘Alawi al-Maliki’s Manhaj al-Salaf, [22] Kitab al-Ruh by Ibn al-Qayyim, or al-Tadhkira by al-Qurtubi.

Furthermore, there is an Islamic rule of law (qâ‘ida) that says, al-ithbâtu muqaddamun ‘ala al-nafy meaning: “Affirmation takes precedence over denial”; and another one that states, man ‘alima hujjatun ‘alâ man lam ya‘lam, meaning: “The one who knows is a conclusive proof against the one who does not know.”

Even in the matter of a simple hadith narration there are things we know and things we do not know, as that Mufti is eminently aware.

As for the verses and hadith quoted by the objector to the effect that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, will die and be raised, the quoter himself concludes, “These Ayat and Hadith as well (and there are others) prove that all of mankind will be raised from their graves on the day of Qiyamah, with Rasulullah,sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, being no exception. On this, there is consensus of the entire Ummah.” This is like the Arabic saying, “I spoke to him in the East and he answered me in the West.” There is no question about the fundamental tenet of Resurrection in Islam, and such evidence is irrelevant to the specific matters of (1) seeing the Pro­phet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, present in a wakeful state or (2) his presence in the gatherings of the Sâlihîn in Dunyâ and Âkhira nor should it have been brought up in this fatwa. So this purported evidence is true, and so is the rest of the evidence that we have adduced in affirmation of the Prophet’s, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, presence with the Umma and full awareness of their states, including the saying of Allah Most High: [And know that the Messenger of Allah is among you] (49:7). Meaning, according to the majority of the commentaries: Do not lie.

Standing for the Prophet sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam

The following are quoted from Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki’s commentary on this issue from his book on Mawlid titled Hawl al-Ihtifal bi Dhikra al-Mawlid al-Nabawi al-Sharif (“Regarding the Celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday”) which was translated and cited in Shaykh Hisham Kabbani’s Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine (3:45-48):

Some of those who forbid standing for the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, do so because of what they imagine people to believe when standing and invoking blessings on him: namely, that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is actually present in person at that time. However, this is not the reason why the people stand and no one claims this except those who actually object to standing. Rather, those who stand are only expressing happiness and love, and they are overflowing with respect and dedication at the mention of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, in the august assembly of those who remember him. They stand to attention because of their awe before the light that dawns upon creation for the one whose fame Allah Most High has exalted high.

They stand as a sign of thankfulness for the immense mercy bestowed on creation in the person of the Prophet Muhammad, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam.

At the same time it is impermissible to object to the freedom of the soul in Barzakh to travel wherever it pleases by Divine permission, according to the sayings reported by Ibn al-Qayyim in his book Kitab al-Ruh (p. 144) whereby Salman al-Farisi said: “The souls of the believers are in an isthmus of land from where they go wherever they wish,” and Imam Malik said: “I have heard (balaghanî) that the soul is set free and goes wherever it wishes.”[23]

Standing or dancing out of joy for the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, or for what is connected to him or proceeds from him, has clear proofs in the Sunna.

Here the Shaykh lists a long list of the well-known authentic proof-texts to that effect. Then he concludes:

“There is no doubt that such singing, dancing, reciting of poetry, and banging the drum was for joy at being with the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, nor did he con­demn or frown upon such displays in any way whatsoever. These are com­mon displays of happiness and lawful merriment, and similarly to stand up at the mention of the birth of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is an ordinary act that shows love and gladness symbolizing the joy of creation: it does not constitute worship, nor law, nor Sunna! That is why the savant al-Barzanji (d.1103) said in his famous poem of Mawlid” (transliteration of the Arabic text):

wa qad sanna ahlu al-‘ilmi wa al-fadli wa al-tuqâ

qiyâman ‘alâ al-aqdâmi ma‘a husni im‘âni

bi tashkhîsi dhâti al-mustafâ wa huwa hâdirun

bi ay maqâmin fîhi yudhkaru bal dânî

Meaning: “It is the usage of the excellent people of knowledge and piety to stand on their feet in the best demeanor // acting as if the Prophet, sall-Allahu`alayhi wa sallam, were actually present every time they mention him and even visualizing him coming to them.”

Observe that he spoke well when he said, “acting as if he were present and visualizing him,” that is, strongly calling to mind his gra­cious form and qualities so as to increase and perfect the motions of their hearts and bodies towards respecting and loving him, as the nar­rations show. This is a delicate matter from which are shut out those in whose hearts Allah did not place mercy. And Allah knows best.”[24]

Among those who wrote poetry mentioning standing at the mention of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, are the hadith master Abu Musa al-Asbahani (d. 581) who recited (transliteration of the Arabic):

qiyâmî wa al-‘azîzi ilayka haqqun

wa tarku al-haqqi mâ lâ yastaqîmu

fa hal ahadun lahu ‘aqlun wa lubbun wa ma‘rifa

yarâka fa lâ yaqûmu?

Meaning: “I swear by the All-Powerful that my standing for you [O Prophet] is right and true and to leave truth and right is to embrace error. // I ask: can anyone possessed of a mind and a heart and knowledge, upon seeing you, not stand up?”

Imam al-Nawawi mentioned it in his famous fatwa titled al-Tarkhis fi al-Ikram bi al-Qiyam li Dhawi al-Fadl wa al-Maziyya min Ahl al-Islam ‘ala Jihat al-Birr wa al-Tawqir wa al-Ihtiram la ‘ala Jihat al-Riya’ wa al-I‘zam (“The Permissibility of Honoring, by Standing up, Those Who Possess Ex­cellence and Distinction among the People of Islam: in the Spirit of Piety, Reverence, and Respect, not in the Spirit of Display and Aggrandize­ment”). [25]

Another poet to recommend standing for the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, was Yahya ibn Yusuf ibn Yahya al-Sarsari (588-656).

Al-Dhahabi described him in glowing terms in Tarikh al-Islam:

“The erudite Shaykh, the ascetic, Jamal al-Din Abu Zakari­yya al-Sarsari al-Baghdadi al-Hanbali al-Darir, the philologist, man of letters, poet, and author of the Prophetic panegyrics that are known East and West…. He kept company with Shaykh ‘Ali ibn Idris, the companion of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir [al-Gilani]. He heard from a num­ber of narrators and narrated hadith…. We heard that when the Tatars came to him – and he was blind – he stabbed one of them with his walking-stick and killed him then was killed as a shahîd”.

Al-Dhahabi goes on to quote a panegyric of thirty-five verses in each of which al-Sarsari used all of the Arabic alphabet. [26]

Al-Dhahabi’s student, Ibn al-Subki, narrated in his Tabaqat al-Shafi‘iyya al-Kubra about his father, Shaykh al-Islam al-Taqi al-Subki:

“One time he attended a khatma in the Umawi Mosque, the judges and eminent people of the region before him as he sat in the mihrâb of the Sahaba. The reciter declaimed al-Sarsari’s Prophetic pa­ne­gyric be­ginning, qalîlun li-mad-hil-Mustafâ-l-khattu bidh-dhahabi (“Too slight for the praise of the Elect One is gold calligraphy”). When he reached the line wa’an yanhada-l-ashrâfu ‘inda samâ‘ihi (“And that the elite stand when they hear of him”), emotion overcame the Shaykh and Imam [my father] so that he sprang to his feet and stood due to that state. The people considered they all had to stand also, which they did, and an ex­cellent moment ensued”. [27]

The conclusion of those endowed with sense is that the presence of the Noble Rûhâniyya of the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, at pious gatherings and with whatever select individuals of the Umma Allah Most High wishes, is a ghaybî matter which is outside the province of anyone other than the Lawgiver to declare po­si­tively impossible. In actuality, mass-transmitted (mutawâtir) testimony proves beyond doubt that such presence is a re­ality. Its modality is unknown while its description is a matter of spiritual experience (dhawq) we pray to be granted. If not, we ask to receive that share of adab that will ensure proper custody of the tongue lest we slip and fall into error that will cause us shame tomorrow, in his venerable presence, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam. And Allah knows best.


[1] This Appendix complements the material adduced in the section titled “The Prophet’s Knowledge of the Unseen” in the third volume of Shaykh Hisham Kabbani’s Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine.

[2] Narrated by al-Bukhari with three chains, al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahîh), and Ahmad.

[3] Al-Qari, al-Mirqat (Dar al-Fikr 1994 ed. 9:493=Imdadiyya Maltan (Pakistan) ed. 10:263-264=Cairo 1892 ed. 5:245).

[4] ‘Abd Allah al-Ghumari, Khawatir Diniyya (1:19).

[5] Narrated from Ibn Mas‘ud by al-Bazzar in his Musnad (1:397) with a sound chain as stated by al-Suyuti in Manahil al-Safa (p. 31 #8) and al-Khasa’is al-Kubra (2:281), al-Haythami (9:24 #91), and al-‘Iraqi in Tarh al-Tathrib (3:297) – his last book, as opposed to al-Mughni‘an Haml al-Asfar (4:148) where he questions the trustworthy rank of one of the narrators in al-Bazzar’s chain. Shaykh ‘Abd Allah al-Talidi said in his Tahdhib al-Khasa’is al-Kubra (p. 458-459 #694) that this chain is sound according to Muslim’s criterion, and Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh in Raf‘al-Minara (p. 156-169) discusses it at length and declares it sound. Their shaykh, al-Sayyid ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari (d. 1413/1993) declared it sound in his monograph Nihaya al-Amal fi Sharh wa Tashih Hadith ‘Ard al-A‘mal. Opposing these six or more judgments al-Albani declares it weak in his notes on al-Qadi Isma‘il’s Fadl al-Salat (p. 37 n. 1). It is also nar­rated with weak chains from Anas and – with two sound mursal chains missing the Companion-link – from the Succes­sor Bakr ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Muzani by Isma‘il al-Qadi (d. 282) in his Fadl al-Salat ‘ala al-Nabi () (p. 36-39 #25-26). The latter chain was declared sound by al-Qari in Sharh al-Shifa’ (1:102), Shaykh al-Islam al-Taqi al-Subki in Shifa’ al-Siqam, his critic Ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi in al-Sarim al-Munki (p. 217), and al-Albani in his Silsila Da‘ifa (2:405). A third, weak chain is related from Bakr al-Muzani by al-Harith ibn Abi Usama (d. 282) in his Musnad (2:884) as per Ibn Hajar in al-Matalib al-‘Aliya (4:23) and Ibn Sa‘d in his Tabaqat as per al-Munawi in Fayd al-Qadir (3:401 #3771). Al-Qadi ‘Iyad cites it in al-Shifa (p. 58 #6) and al-Sakhawi in al-Qawl al-Badi‘. Al-Albani declared the hadith weak on the grounds that some authorities questioned the memo­rization of the Murji’ hadith master ‘Abd al-Majid ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Abi Rawwad. However, he was retained by Muslim in his Sahih and declared thiqa by Yahya ibn Ma‘in, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Shahin, al-Khalili, and al-Daraqutni, while al-Dhahabi listed him in Man Tukullima Fihi Wa Huwa Mu­waththaq (p. 124) as stated by Mamduh in Raf‘ al-Minara (p. 163, 167).

Al-Arna’ut and Ma‘ruf declare him thiqa in Tahrir al-Taqrib (2:379 #4160) as well as Dr. Nur al-Din ‘Itr in his edition of al-Dhahabi’s Mughni (1:571 #3793) and Dr. Khaldun al-Ahdab in Zawa’id Tarikh Baghdad (10:464). Even if al-Albani’s grad­ing were hypo­thetically accepted, then the weak musnad narra­tion in conjunction with the sound mursal one – graded sahîh by al-Albani – would yield a final grading of hasan or sahîh, not da‘îf. In addition to this, Mamduh quoted al-Albani’s own words in the latter’s attempted refu­tation of Shaykh Isma‘il al-Ansari entitled Kitab al-Shaybani (1:134-135) whereby “The sound mursal hadith is a proof in all Four Schools and other than them among the Imams of the principles of hadith and fiqh, therefore it is apparent to every fair-minded person that the position whereby such a hadith does not form a proof only because it is mursal, is untenable.” This is one of many examples in which al-Albani not only contradicts, but soundly refutes himself.

Shaykh Hasanayn Muhammad Makhluf wrote in his Fatawa Shar‘iyya (1:91-92): “The hadith means that the Prophet () is a great good for his Community during his life, because Allah the Exalted has preserved the Community, through the secret of the Prophet’s () presence, from misguidance, confusion, and disagreement, and He has guided the people through the Prophet () to the manifest truth; and that after Allah took back the Prophet (), our connection to the latter’s goodness continues uncut and the ex­tension of his goodness endures, overshadowing us. The deeds of the Community are shown to him every day, and he glorifies Allah for the goodness that he finds, while he asks for His forgiveness for the small sins, and the alleviation of His punishment for the grave ones: and this is a tremendous good for us. There is therefore ‘goodness for the Community in his life, and in his death, goodness for the Community.’ Moreover, as has been established in the hadith, the Prophet () is alive in his grave with a special ‘isthmus-life’ stronger than the lives of the martyrs which the Qur’an spoke of in more than one verse. The nature of these two kinds of life can­not be known except by their Bestower, the Glorious, the Exalted. He is able to do all things. His showing the Community’s deeds to the Prophet () as an honorific gift for him and his Community is entirely possible rationally and documented in the reports. There is no leeway for its denial; and Allah guides to His light whomever He pleases; and Allah knows best.”

[6] I.e. “the angels brought near” according to Ibn al-Athir in al-Nihaya and others.

[7] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi with three chains: two from Ibn ‘Abbas – in the first of which he said “the knowledge of all things in the heaven and the earth” while he graded the second hasan gharîb – and one chain from Mu‘adh (hasan sahîh) which explicitly mentions that this took place in the Prophet’s sleep.

Al-Bukhari declared the latter chain hasan sahîh as reported by al-Tirmidhi in both his Sunan and ‘Ilal, and it towers over all other chains, according to Ibn Hajar in al-Isaba (2:397), in the facts that there is no discrepancy over it among the hadith scholars and its text is undis­puted (cf. Asma’ Hashidi ed. 2:78). Also narrated by Ahmad with four sound chains according to the typically lax grading of Shakir and al-Zayn: one from Ibn ‘Abbas with the words “I think he said: ‘in my sleep’” (Shakir ed. 3:458 #3484=al-Arna’ut ed. 5:437-442 #3483 isnâduhu da‘îf); one from Mu‘adh which Ahmad explicitly declared sahîh as narrated by Ibn ‘Adi in al-Kamil (6:2244), with the words: “I woke up and lo! I was with my Lord” (al-Zayn ed. 16:200 #22008); and two from unnamed Compan­ions in which no mention is made of the Prophet’s () sleep or wakefulness (al-Zayn ed. 13:93-94 #16574=al-Arna’ut ed. 27:171-174 #16621 isnâduhu da‘îf mudtarib; al-Zayn ed. 16:556 #23103). Al-Haythami declared the latter sound as well as other chains cited by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (20:109 #216, 20:141 #290) and al-Bazzar in his Musnad, and he declared fair the chain narrated from Abu Umama by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (8:290 #8117). See Majma‘ al-Zawa’id (7:176-179). Shaykhs ‘Abd al-Qadir and Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut both declared sahîh the seven narrations of al-Tirmidhi and Ahmad in their edition of Ibn al-Qayyim’s Zad al-Ma‘ad (3:33-34 n. 4). Also narrated from Jabir ibn Samura by Ibn Abi ‘Asim in al-Sunna (p. 203 #465) with a fair chain according to al-Albani. Also narrated from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘A’ish by al-Darimi in his Musnad (2:170 #2149) and al-Tabarani through two chains in al-Ahad wa al-Mathani (5:48-50 #2585-2586) and another in Musnad al-Shamiyyin (1:339 #597), and from Umm al-Tufayl by al-Tabarani in al-Ahad (6:158 #3385). The latter chain actually states: “I saw my Lord in the best form of a beardless young man” and was rejected by al-Dhahabi in Tahdhib al-Mawdu‘at (p. 22 #22). Also narrated from the Companion Abu Rafi‘ [al-Isaba 7:134 #9875] by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (1:317 #938). Also narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas by Abu Ya‘la in his Musnad (4:475 #2608). Some fair narrations of this hadith – such as al-Tabarani’s from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Ayyash and al-Khatib’s from Abu ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah in Tarikh Baghdad (8:151) – have the words: “I saw my Lord” instead of “My Lord came to me,” hence Ibn Kathir’s conclusion previously cited. Al-Ahdab in Zawa’id Tarikh Baghdad (6:251-253) and al-Haytami also cited Abu ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Hurayra, Anas, Thawban, and Abu Umama which brings to at least eleven (without Umm al-Tufayl) the number of Companions who narrated this hadith. The various chains and narrations of this hadith were collated and discussed by Ibn Rajab in his monograph Ikhtiyar al-Awla fi Sharh Hadith Ikhtisam al-Mala’ al-A‘la, ed. Jasim al-Dawsari (Kuwait: Dar al-Aqsa, 1406). See also: Ibn Athir, Jami‘ al-Usul (9:548-550). Among those that considered this hadith as falling below the grade of sahîh are al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (Kawthari ed. p. 300, Hashidi ed. 2:72-79), Ibn al-Jawzi in al-‘Ilal al-Mutanahiya :34), Ibn Khuzayma in al-Tawhid (p. 214-221) and al-Daraqutni in his ‘Ilal (6:56). Al-Saqqaf went so far as to suggest that it was forged in Aqwal al-Huffaz al-Manthura li Bayan Wad‘ Hadith Ra’aytu Rabbi fi Ahsani Sura, appended to his edition of Ibn al-Jawzi’s Daf‘ Shubah al-Tashbih.

[8] “Farafadanî Gibrîl” in Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Kathir’s Tafsirs, while al-Salihi in Subul al-Huda (3:129) has “Fata’akhkhara Gibrîl” – both meaning “he left me and stayed back.” Cf. al-Maliki, Wa Huwa bil-Ufuqi al-A‘la (p. 73, 279) and al-Anwar al-Bahiyya (p. 75-77).

[9] See Abu al-Shaykh, al-‘Azama and al-Suyuti, al-Haba’ik. This leads to the issue of the precedence and preferability of the Prophet () over all creation and his title Afdalu al-Khalq which is documented elsewhere.

[10] Al-Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa (p. 555-556=Ithaf Ahl al-Wafa p. 369).

[11] Al-Qari, Sharh al-Shifa’ (2:117).

[12] Al-Tabari, Tafsir (18:173 #19894).

[13] Narrated by al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (6:360).

[14] Ibn Rajab, Sharh ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhi (2:780-781). Cf. al-Dhahabi’s Mizan (3:73) and al-Mughni (1:614-615 #4122) with the notes of Dr. Nur al-Din ‘Itr, and al-Arna’ut and Ma‘ruf’s Tahrir Taqrib al-Tahdhib (3:16-17 #4600) although the latter misat­tri­bute tawthîq to al-Bukhari while ‘Itr misattributes tad‘îf to Ahmad!

[15] Sarfaraz Safdar, Aakho(n) Ki T(d)andak (p. 167-168).

[16] Al-Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa’ as translated by ‘A’isha A. Bewley, Muhammad Messen­ger of Allah: al-Shifa’ of Qadi ‘Iyad (Granada: Madinah Press, 1992) p. 126.

[17] Maktubat-e-Imam Rabbani, Volume 1, Letter 78 addressed to Jabbari Khan.

[18] See Appendix titled “The Divine Names and Attributes are Tawqîfiyya: Ordained and Non-Inferable” in our translation of Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam’s The Belief of the People of Truth.

[19] Al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (Kawthari ed. p. 46-47; Hashidi ed. 1:126-127).

[20] Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Ruh (1975 ed. p. 30).

[21] Mufti Ebrahim Desai FATWA DEPT. Jamiat Ulema Islam. South Africa

[22] See our translated volume titled The Prophets in Barzakh available at As-Sunna Foundation of America Publications.

[23] Here the Shaykh acknowledges that although the Noble Presence is not the reason why people stand up, yet there is no impediment to its possibility anyway.

[24] Al-Maliki, Manhaj al-Salaf, as translated in the Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine (3:45-48) with slight changes.

[25] Al-Nawawi, al-Tarkhis (p. 94).

[26] Al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-Islam (Yrs 651-660:303-306 #339).

[27] Ibn al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Shafi‘iyya al-Kubra (10:208)