Regarding the Shadow of the Messenger
By Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ ‘Uthmani
Translated by Shaykh Tameem Ahmadi
Did the Master of Both Worlds (Allah bless him and give him peace) have a shadow or not? Some lecturers say that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not have a shadow. Is there any evidence for this?
If it is established with an authentic [and reliable] chain of transmission that, as a miracle, the Blessed Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not have a shadow, no Muslim will hesitate in accepting this fact. However, there are no reports with a reliable chain of transmission on this issue. There is no mention of such a hadith regarding this issue in the well-known hadith compilations such as the Sihah Sittah, etc.
However, there is a single narration mentioned by Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (may Allah have mercy on him) in his book Al-Khasa’is al-Kubra, in the chapter regarding the miracle in the Prophet’s excreta (Allah bless him and give him peace)… Hakim al-Tirmidhi narrates from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Qays al-Za’farani from ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Walid from Zukran that no shadow could be seen for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in sunlight nor [could it be seen] in moonlight and his excreta did not leave behind any effect or remains. Imam al-Suyuti then comments: “Ibn Saba’ says ‘From his specialties (khasa’is) [and distinguishing characteristics] is that his shadow would not fall upon the earth and that he (Allah bless him and give him peace) was light (nur). When he would walk in sunlight or moonlight, no shadow would be visible.’” (Khasa’is; 1/71)
Some scholars have brought, in support of this view, the hadith in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) supplicated: “Oh Allah, make me light.” Similar to this has been mentioned in al-Mawahib as related from Al-Fakhr al-Razi. (2/398)
However, these narrations are not reliable because of the following:
Firstly, instances of moving about1 in sunlight and moonlight obviously occurred many times in front of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), in journey and while being resident, throughout the Prophet’s blessed life. This was witnessed by thousands of Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and it was their habit that they would relate the smallest and minutest of details of the Prophet’s conditions and actions (Allah bless him and give him peace); and they were extremely particular in preserving such matters. Thus, if the miracle of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) not having a shadow was an established fact, this would necessitate that a large group of companions would have absolutely narrated this fact and narrations regarding it would have definitely been massively transmitted. But when we turn to the hadith treasuries, all we find is one narration in this regard and even that is a mursal hadith (an expedient report) with a weak chain of transmission, which in this matter is a strong indication that this did not occur.
Secondly, a mursal hadith (expedient report) according to an overwhelming majority of hadith scholars is unsuitable as evidence.
Thirdly, the first narrator of this hadith, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Qays al-Za’farani, is an unreliable and discredited narrator. He has also been considered a liar and an un-trustworthy person. It has even been said that he openly fabricated hadiths.
Consider the following references:
Imam Dhahabi (may Allah have mercy on him) relates in al-Mizan: “Ibn Mahdi and Abu Zur’ah have considered him a liar. Imam Bukhari says: ‘His reports are not reliable.’ Imam Ahmad says: ‘He was not acceptable.’ Hakim narrates a munkar (disclaimed hadith) from him and said that it is sahih.” … [Similar has been written in Al-Taqrib of Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani (may Allah have mercy on him) and he adds:] “Nasa’i says: ‘His reports are to be discarded …’ Zakariyya al-Saji says: ‘Weak.’ Saleh ibn Muhammad says: ‘He used to forge hadith.’ Ibn ‘Adi says: ‘Most of his reports cannot be corroborated with reliable narrators.’ …”
The second narrator of the hadith, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Walid, is unknown. His biography has not been mentioned in the biographical accounts of hadith reporters.
Finally, [from the above-mentioned arguments] we can conclude that:
For the illustrious companions to observe silence or for there to be only one expedient report about such a common occurrence is a strong indication that the narrations regarding this issue are not established. Secondly, the narration is a weak, mursal report. Thirdly, the narrator of the report has been documented to be a liar and fabricator of hadith. Thus if we were to say this hadith is a fabricated one, this would not be an over-exaggeration.
Some have tried to prove that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not have a shadow because Allah Most High has referred to him as light (nur) in the Qur’an and that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) himself has supplicated to Allah to make him light. These arguments are completely undeserving of any attention. It is obviously apparent from the verse and the hadith that the Prophet being light does not mean that he was excluded from having the effects of the realm of the five essential elements, nor was the purpose of his du’a to separate from the realm of the five elements and become some invisible entity (Allah forbid). Rather, by consensus of scholars and those endowed with intelligence, the meaning of this is that just as light is a means of guidance and discernment, similarly, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is a means of guidance [for mankind].
Since the greatest perfection (kamal) for a prophet is the state of Prophethood and guidance, they should be existent within him to the fullest extent. For this reason, the Noble Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) supplicated that he be granted perfection in it. It is [also] for this very reason that Allah Most High has referred to the divine scriptures, the Qur’an and the Torah, to be light. For the same reason, the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) were referred to as stars of guidance. Moreover, the entire Ummah has been instructed to make this supplication, it is not specific to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
Some individuals have explained the fact that the Prophet did not have a shadow by arguing that in whichever direction he would walk, angels would make shade for him or that he would be shaded by clouds of mercy. If this is even established, then there are authentic and explicit narrations which contradict this.
For example, in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari there is one hadith narrated by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) regarding the hijrah, wherein it is mentioned that Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) stood up to tend to the needs of the people and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) sat down quietly. So those amongst the Ansar who had not seen the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as of yet, began to give greetings to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) until the sun began to beam down upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) then turned to him to shade him with his scarf. So from this action, the people then recognized the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) … Zurqani writes in the commentary of al-Mawahib: It is narrated from Ibn ‘Uqbah who narrates from Zuhri that the Ansar began to take Abu Bakr to be the Messenger, until the sun began to shine down upon the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) due to which Abu Bakr went to him with something to shade him with. (Sharh al-Mawahib li ‘l-Zurqani: 1/350)
It has also been mentioned from similar references that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was shaded by the Companions (my Allah be pleased with them) in the farewell Hajj (pilgrimage). This incident is famous and has been narrated in the major works of hadith. For this reason, we can either say that in the presence of these hadiths, the narration of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) not having a shadow is regarded as unreliable or it could be said that it occurred [as a miracle] in the beginning but later this condition did not remain. Imam al-Qastallani has opted for this view in al-Mawahib. After mentioning the hadith of the farewell Hajj he writes: “What becomes apparent from this hadith is that the sun would affect the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). That which was previously mentioned about the clouds and angels shading him was a miracle that occurred before his Prophethood was evident in its place.”
Risalah: Hope of Acceptance Regarding the Shadow of the Messenger, Fatawa Dar al-’Ulum Deoband, Imdad al-Muftin; (2/257-260)
Literal translation would be “walking, strolling, standing up and sitting down”. ↩
Tags: fatawa deoband, hadith on the shadow of the prophet, prophet's shadow, shadow of the messenger, shafi usmani, shafi uthmani
This entry was posted by Hamood on Saturday, August 1st, 2009 at 1:53 pm
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