Friday, 24 July 2015

The Hadīth of the Mountain-Goats by GF Haddad

The Hadīth of the Mountain-Goats
by GF Haddad – Qasyoun@ziplip.com – Rajab 1423

There is variance between the versions of this h.adīth [1]. Opinions vary about its grading but the correct position is that it is weak, since all its chains revolve around Simāk ibn H.arb, who is not strong, and ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umayra or ‘Amīra, whose status is unknown. [2]

1. Al-Tirmidhī’s version

‘Abd ibn H.umayd narrated to us: ‘Abd al-Rah.mān ibn Sa‘d narrated to us: From ‘Amd ibn Abī Qays: From Simāk ibn H.arb: From ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Umayra: From al-Ah.naf ibn Qays: From al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Mut.t.alib t who said that he was sitting in al-Bat.h.ā’ with a group of people together with the Prophet e when a cloud passed over them. They looked at it and the Prophet e said:
“Do you know what is the name of this?”
They said: “Yes, these are clouds.” (hādha al-sah.āb)
The Prophet e said: “And the rain-bearing clouds.” (al-muzn)
“And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the highest clouds.” (al-‘anāna)
“And the highest clouds.”
“Do you know what distance lies between the heaven and the earth?”
They said: “No, by Allāh! We do not know.”
The Prophet e said: “Verily, there is between the two a distance of one, or two, or three and seventy years. And the heaven above that heaven lies at an identical distance.” He went on to count seven heavens in this fashion.
Then he said: “Above the seventh heaven there is an ocean. Between its surface and its bottom lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Above that ocean there are eight mountain-goats (aw‘āl). Between their hooves and their knees lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Above their shoulders (fawqa z.uhūrihinna) rests the Throne. From its bottom to its top lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. And Allāh I is above that (wAllāhu fawqa dhālik).”

‘Abd ibn H.umayd said: “I heard Yah.yā ibn Ma‘īn say: ‘Does ‘Abd al-Rah.mān ibn Sa‘d not want to go on pilgrimage so that we can hear this h.adīth [directly] from him?’”

Abū ‘Īsā [al-Tirmidhī] said: “This h.adīth is h.asan gharīb. Al-Walīd ibn Abī Thawr narrated something similar from Simāk and linked it back to the Prophet e. Sharīk also narrated part of it from Simāk, but halted it [at the Companion-link] without linking it back to the Prophet e. ‘Abd al-Rah.mān is identified as ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sa‘d al-Rāzī.”


2. Abū Dāwūd’s Versions

a. Muh.ammad ibn al-S.abbāh. al-Bazzāz narrated to us: al-Walīd ibn Abī Thawr narrated to us: From Simāk: From ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amīra: From al-Ah.naf ibn Qays: From al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Mut.t.alib t: “I was in al-Bat.h.ā’ with a group of people together with the Prophet e when a cloud passed over them. The Prophet e looked at it and said:
‘What do you call this?’
They replied: ‘Clouds.’
He said: ‘And the rain-bearing clouds.’
‘And the rain-bearing clouds.’
‘And the highest clouds.’ (al-‘anān)
They replied: ‘And the highest clouds.’
– Abū Dāwūd noted: “I am not sure of the word al-‘anān.” –
The Prophet e said: ‘Do you know what distance lies between the heaven and the earth?’
They replied: ‘We do not know.’
He said: ‘Verily, there is between the two a distance of one, or two, or three and seventy years. And the heaven above that heaven lies at an identical distance.’ He went on to count seven heavens in this fashion.
Then he said: ‘Above the seventh heaven there is an ocean. Between its surface and its bottom lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Above that ocean there are eight mountain-goats. Between their hooves and their knees lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. On top of their shoulders (‘alā z.uhūrihim) rests the Throne. From its bottom to its top lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Then Allāh I is above that (thumma Allāhu fawqa dhālik).’”

b. Ah.mad ibn Abī Surayj narrated to us: ‘Abd al-Rah.mān ibn ‘Abī ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sa‘d and Muh.ammad ibn Sa‘īd both said: ‘Amr ibn Abī Qays told us: From Simāk: the same chain and meaning as the above.

c. Ah.mad ibn H.afs. said: My father [H.afs. ibn ‘Abd Allāh] narrated to me: Ibrāhīm ibn T.ahman narrated to us: From Simāk: the same chain and meaning as the above h.adīth.


3. Ibn Mājah’s Version


Muh.ammad ibn Yah.yā narrated to us: Muh.ammad ibn al-S.abbāh. narrated to us: al-Walīd ibn Abī Thawr al-Hamdānī narrated to us: From Simāk: From ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amīra: From al-Ah.naf ibn Qays: From al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Mut.t.alib t who said: “I was in al-Bat.h.ā’ with a group of people together with the Prophet e when a cloud passed over him. He looked at it and said:
‘What do you call this?’
They replied: ‘Clouds.’
He said: “And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the highest clouds.”
Abū Bakr stated that they replied: “And the highest clouds.”
The Prophet e said: ‘What do you suppose is the distance that lies between the heaven and the earth?’
They replied: ‘We do not know.’
He said: ‘Verily, there is between the two a distance of one, or two, or three and seventy years. And the heaven above that heaven lies at an identical distance.’ He went on to count seven heavens in this fashion.
Then he said: ‘Above the seventh heaven there is an ocean. Between its surface and its bottom lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Above that ocean there are eight mountain-goats. Between their hooves and their knees lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. On top of their shoulders (‘alā z.uhūrihinna) rests the Throne. From its bottom to its top lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. And Allāh I is above that (wAllāhu fawqa dhālik).’”


4. Ah.mad’s Versions

a. ‘Abd al-Razzāq narrated to us: Yah.yā ibn al-‘Alā’ said to us: From his paternal uncle Shu‘ayb ibn Khālid: Simāk ibn H.arb narrated to me: From ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amīra: From al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Mut.t.alib t: “We were sitting in al-Bat.h.ā’ with the Prophet e when a cloud passed over. The Prophet e said:
‘Do you know what this is?’
We said: ‘Clouds.”
The Prophet e said: “And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the highest clouds.”
“And the highest clouds.”
Then we were silent. The Prophet e said:
“Do you know what distance lies between the heaven and the earth?”
We said: “Allāh and His Prophet know best.”
The Prophet e said: “There is, between the two, a distance of five hundred years, and between one heaven and the next lies a distance of five hundred years’ travel, and the breadth of each heaven is five hundred years. Above the seventh heaven there is an ocean. Between its surface and its bottom lies the same distance as between the heaven and the earth. Above that, there are eight mountain-goats. Between their knees and their hooves lies the same distance as between the heaven and the earth. Above that, is the Throne. From its bottom to its top lies the same distance as between the heaven and the earth. And Allāh I is above that (wAllāhu fawqa dhālik). And nothing is hidden from Him of all the deeds of human beings.”

b. Muh.ammad ibn al-S.abbāh. al-Bazzār and Muh.ammad ibn Bakkār narrated to us: al-Walīd ibn Abī Thawr narrated to us: From Simāk ibn H.arb: From ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amīra: From al-Ah.naf ibn Qays: From al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Mut.t.alib t: From the Prophet e: a similar account.


5. Abū Ya‘lā’s Version


Ish.āq ibn Abī Isrā’īl narrated to us: ‘Abd al-Razzāq narrated to us: From Yah.yā ibn al-‘Alā’: From his maternal uncle Shu‘ayb ibn Khālid: From Simāk ibn H.arb: From ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amīra: From al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Mut.t.alib t who said: “We were sitting in al-Bat.h.ā’ with the Prophet e when a cloud passed over. The Prophet e said:
‘Do you know what this is?’
We said: ‘Clouds.”
The Prophet e said: “And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the rain-bearing clouds.”
“And the highest clouds.”
“And the highest clouds.”
Then we were silent. The Prophet e said:
“Do you know what distance lies between the heaven and the earth?”
We said: “Allāh and His Prophet know best.”
The Prophet e said: “There is, between the two, a distance of five hundred years, and between one heaven and the next lies a distance of five hundred years’ travel, and the breadth of each heaven is five hundred years. Between the bottom of the seventh heaven and its top lies the same distance as between the heaven and the earth. Above that, there are eight mountain-goats. Between their knees and their hooves lies the same distance as between the heaven and the earth. Above that, is the Throne. From its bottom to its top lies the same distance as between the heaven and the earth. And nothing is hidden from Him of all the deeds of human beings.”


6. Al-Bayhaqī’s Versions


a. Abū ‘Alī al-Rudhbārī narrated to us: Abū Bakr Muh.ammad ibn Bakr ibn Dāsa narrated to us: Abū Dāwūd narrated to us: Muh.ammad ibn al-S.abbāh. al-Bazzāz narrated to us… [same continuation as 2a. above].

b. Abū al-H.asan Muh.ammad ibn al-H.usayn ibn Dāwūd al-‘Alawī narrated to us: Abū H.āmid Ah.mad ibn Muh.ammad ibn Yah.yā ibn Bilāl al-Bazzār narrated to us: Ah.mad ibn H.afs. ibn ‘Abd Allāh narrated to us… [same continuation as 2c. above].


7. Other Versions

There are few or no significant differences between the above and the versions and transmission chains – of al-H.ākim, Ibn Abī ‘Ās.im, and Ibn Khuzayma. One of the three versions of al-Ājurrī , alone in all the versions of this h.adīth, includes the terms “And Allāh is above the Throne” (wallāhu fawqa al-‘arsh):

Above the seventh heaven there is an ocean. Between its surface and its bottom lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Above it are eight mountain-goats. Between their hooves and their knees lies the same distance as between one heaven and the next. Then the Throne is above that. And Allāh is above the Throne.


8. Al-Suyūt.ī ’s Commentary on Ibn Mājah

Al-T.ībī (d. 743) said: “What is meant by ‘seventy’ here is to express great quantity, not an exact number (al-takthīr lā al-tah.dīd), in the light of what came to us to the effect that between the heaven and the earth and between each heaven lies a distance of five hundred years’ travel.” The h.adīth Master Ibn H.ajar reconciled [the two counts] in that “five hundred” is in the perspective of slowness, while this is in the perspective of swiftness.[3]

His statement: “Eight mountain-goats.”[4] They are angels in the image of moutain-goats, as Allāh said: (And the angels will be on the sides thereof, and eight will uphold the Throne of their Lord that day, above them) (69:17).

His statement: “And Allāh Almighty is above that.” Al-T.ībī said: “The Prophet e meant to direct them away from lower-worldly matters to higherworldly ones (min al-sufliyyāt ilā al-‘uluwiyyāt), and make them reflect on the dominion of the heavens and the Throne. Then they rise up to the knowledge of their Creator, and they reject idolworship with loathing, ceasing to associate anything with Allāh in worship. Therefore, he rose with them from the clouds, then the heavens, then the ocean, then the aw‘āl, then the Throne, up to the Owner of the Throne. This rising is in the sense of magnificence (al-‘az.ama), not location (al-makān). For, verily, Allāh is beyond taking the Throne as His dwelling (manzil) and settlement (mustaqarr). Rather, Allāh is its Creator, and He is Transcendent beyond direction and place.” [5]


9. Ibn H.ajar’s Commentary

Al-Kirmānī (d. 668) said: “Allāh is Transcendent beyond indwelling a place. However, since the direction of elevation is nobler than any other direction, Allāh predicated it to Himself to indicate the loftiness of His Essence and Attributes.” Others than al-Kirmānī addressed in similar terms the expressions that came down concerning aboveness (al-fawqiyya). Al-Rāghib said:

The word “above” (fawq) can be used for place, time, body, number, rank (al-makāna), and dominance (al-qahr). If used for place, it is in terms of height (‘uluw) and its counterpart is “under” (tah.t). For example: (Say: He is able to send punishment upon you from above you or from beneath (tah.t) your feet) (6:65); or it is in terms of ascent (al-s.u‘ūd) and descent (al-inh.idār). For example: (When they came upon you from above you and from below (asfal) you) (33:10). If used for number: (If there be women more (fawq) than two) (4:11). If used for largeness and smallness, for example: (even of a gnat or whatever is bigger) (2:26). If used for rank, it can be either in terms of worldly precedence: (and We raised some of them above others in rank that some of them may take labor from others) (43:32). Or it can be in terms of other-worldly precedence: (But those who keep their duty to Allāh will be above them on the Day of Resurrection.) (2:212) If used for dominance: (He is the Omnipotent over (fawq) His slaves) (6:18, 6:61), (They fear their Lord above them) (16:50). [6]

What is meant by the mention of the Throne [in the h.adīth of the mountain-goats is to establish that the Throne is created, for it is established that it has a top and a bottom, and they are attributes of creatures.” [7]


10. Al-Sindī’s Commentary on Ibn Mājah

The “aboveness” (fawqiyya) of Allāh over the Throne is in exaltation (al-‘uluw), magnificence (al-‘az.ama), and judgment (al-h.ukm), not indwelling (al-h.ulūl) nor place (al-makān). [8]

Allāh knows best.





NOTES:

[1] Different versions are narrated by al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd, and Ibn Mājah in their Sunan, Ah.mad (Shākir 2:375-376 #1770-1771; al-Arna’ūt. 3:292-293 #1770-1771) and Abū Ya‘lā (12:75 #6713) in their Musnads, al-H.ākim in al-Mustadrak (2:288, 2:378, 2:501). Ibn Abī ‘Ās.im in al-Sunna (p. 253 #577), al-Ājurrī in al-Sharī‘a (p. 297-298 #674-676), al-Bayhaqī in al-Asmā’ wal-S.ifāt (2:285 #847, 2:316 #882), Ibn Khuzayma in al-Tawh.īd (p. 102), and Ibn al-Jawzī in al-‘Ilal al-Mutanāhya (1:23-25 #5-6).
[2] Al-Tirmidhī stated the h.adīth was h.asan. Al-Mubārakfūrī agreed with him in Tuh.fat al-Ah.wadhī, and Ibn al-Qayyim defended its authenticity petulantly in his commentary on Abū Dāwūd. However, al-Dhahabī in his comments on al-H.ākim and in al-‘Uluw (p. 109) quoting from Ibn Mandah, as well as Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Mays in al-‘Ilal, Ah.mad Shākir and Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ūt. in Ah.mad’s Musnad, al-Albānī in Ibn Abī ‘Ās.im’s Sunna, al-H.āshidī in al-Asmā’ wal-S.ifāt, and ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Mahdī in al-Ājurrī’s Sharī‘a all declare it weak or very weak.
[3] In Fath. al-Bārī (1959 ed. 13:414).
[4] Cf. Ibn al-Athīr in al-Nihāya fī Gharīb al-H.adīth. The aw‘āl are also the nobility. Cf. Lisān al-‘Arab and Fayruzābādī’s Qāmūs, entry w-‘-l.
[5] Al-Suyūt.ī et al., Sharh. Sunan Ibn Mājah (p. 18).
[6] Ibn H.ajar, Fath. al-Bārī (1959 ed. 13:412 #6986).
[7] Ibn H.ajar, Fath. al-Bārī (1959 ed. 13:414 #6987).
[8] Al-Suyūt.ī et al., Sharh. Sunan Ibn Mājah (p. 18).





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