About Eating Iguana
1. It is narrated from Sulayman ibn Yasar that the Prophet (sws) came to the house of Maymunah bint Harith where he found iguanas with their eggs. 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (rta) and Khalid ibn Walid (rta) were with him. He asked where these had come from and was informed by Maymunah that her sister, Hudhaylah bint Harith had sent them as a gift. He asked 'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (rta) and Khalid ibn Walid (rta) to eat them upon which they inquired whether he would not eat them. He answered that he received beings from Allah, ie. Gabriel. Maymunah said that she also had milk: "Would he like to drink it?" He answered in the affirmative. When he had drunk the milk, he asked where it had come from. Maymunah answered that it was also a gift from her sister Hudhaylah. The Prophet (sws) said that she should give the maid she had asked him about freeing to her sister. This would be a return for her gifts and she would take care of her goats. This would be best for her.
Explanation: The Prophet (sws)'s saying that he receives beings coming from Allah shows that because he received revelations and Gabriel came to him often, he took special care for purity, to the extent that he would avoid things such as garlic and onions which leave a smell in the mouth after eating. This is why he refrained from eating iguanas.
A question arises from this narrative about freeing of slaves. Islam had emphasized this from its early stages. In the Makkan Surahs, freeing of slaves is counted amongst one of the good deeds. According to this narrative, the Prophet (sws) had given preference to maintenance of ties with relatives over freeing of the maid. It cannot be said that freeing of slaves was not given so much importance at that time. It is possible that Hudhaylah bint Harith found it difficult to graze her goats, which is why the Prophet (sws) may have given the advice of giving the maid to her by postponing her freedom. This shows that kindness to relatives is also a good deed with a high status. It must be remembered that this narrative is mursal. Explanation about eating the meat of iguanas will come in the next narrative.
2. Khalid ibn Walid (rta) narrated that he entered the Prophet's wife Maymunah's house with the Prophet (sws) when roasted iguana meat was brought in front of him. As the Prophet (sws) extended his hand towards it, a woman who was present said that he must be warned about what he was about to eat. When the Prophet (sws) was informed that it was iguana meat, he retracted his hand. Khalid ibn Walid asked him if it was haram. He said: "No, but because it is not found in my region, so I find some revulsion within myself." Khalid ibn Walid took the piece and ate it while the Prophet (sws) looked on.
Explanation: The meat of some animals is completely haram and some are completely halal. In between, there are some that are doubtful. The instructions about these are that if one finds them undesirable, one should not eat them, but at the same time, one should not accuse others who do eat them of eating anything haram. The case of iguana meat falls into this category. It is undoubtedly true that people living in areas where it is not found feel revulsion towards it whereas for others, its meat could be delicious and desirable. The faith of Shafiites has spread considerably along coastal areas and it has been observed that there is hardly any marine life that is forbidden in their sect. There can be no doubt about Imam Shafi'i being a great Imam and his beliefs have been held over a vast region. Therefore, in my view, for things about which there is doubt, it is better to say that although we may not prefer to eat them but if others do, we have no objections.
3. It is narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) that a man called out to the Prophet (sws) and asked him what his orders were about iguana meat. He answered that he did not eat it but also did not declare it to be haram.
Explanation: This narrative clarifies finally that it is not haram to eat iguana meat. If one did not find it inviting, but others ate it, one should not find fault with them. Animals similar to iguana are also found in deserts. People living there take benefit from them and do not find them repulsive, so the Prophet (sws) also did not ban it.
Narratives about Dogs
1. Sufyan ibn Abi Zuhayr, who was the Prophet's companion from the tribe of Azdshanu'h was talking to some people outside the Masjid e Nabawi that he heard the Prophet (sws) say that if anyone kept a dog which was of no use in either his agricultural work or to herd his sheep, would have the reward of his good deeds reduced by one carat every day. Sa'ib ibn Yazid asked him whether he had heard this from the Prophet (sws) himself and he answered: "By the Lord of this mosque, yes."
Explanation: This means that dogs should be kept for a beneficial purpose. This could be guarding a farm or orchard, herd or a house for which a dog could be kept. If there is no such purpose, keeping a dog would reduce the reward of a person's good deeds by one carat a day. The reality of one carat is known only to God: we cannot understand this.
A gentleman listening to this narrative asked if he had heard this from the Prophet (sws) and the answer was: "By the Lord of this mosque." He took an oath on a mosque which is one of the most sacred of mosques.
It should be clear that Arabs, whether settlers or nomads, were very fond of keeping dogs for hunting purposes. They were trained to hunt. The Qur'an has declared the meat of animals hunted by these dogs as halal. In these days, much progress has been made in the training of dogs that are used now for detection. They are able to detect drugs by smelling luggage and people at airports. These needs are also legitimate for which dogs can be kept.
This narrative includes another point: that a man stopped the narrator to confirm whether he had heard this directly from the Prophet (sws). If any narrative includes a mention of decrease or increase in reward for deeds, it is natural to make a demand for authentication of the narrative. Ahl-e Hadith and Shafiites believe in a narrative even if the narrator is one person and if they do not believe, they are considered deniers of Hadith. Nature demands that if a narration is such that it is not significant, even if it is narrated by a kafir, there would be no harm in accepting it. But if someone says something which is significant in religion, then it becomes important to question the person and the matter at hand and research into it will be necessary. Without research, not everything should be accepted.
2. It is narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that whoever kept a dog, other than for the purpose of hunting or guarding, will have the rewards for his good deeds reduced by two carats daily.
Explanation: In my view, there is a difference between this and the previous narrative. The previous one says that the reduction in reward will be one carat and this one says it will be two. The narrator of this one is 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) who is from a long chain of successive scholars. Those who have tried to explain these narratives have given some ways and means to collect both but I am not satisfied with any of these. And it is of no use to state anything which does not satisfy oneself. The first narrative is given in both Bukhari and Muslim. Please decide yourself which narrative possesses the higher status.
3. It is narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sws) ordered dogs to be killed.
Explanation: People explain this by saying that since Madinah was the place where revelations were received, the Prophet (sws) ordered them to be killed. Later he took his order back because, after all, dogs are also living species in this world. Our municipalities also run campaign to kill dogs and they have valid reasons. When dogs become pests and their numbers increase, urban life becomes difficult with their fighting. Their instinct to bite humans also tends to increase and sometimes they attack people when in hordes. I think this may have happened in Madinah and the Prophet (sws) may have given instructions to kill them to a certain limit but the purpose was not to make them extinct. Thus, the nature of this order is that whether or not a city is sacred, dogs may be killed if the purpose is to prevent soiling and safeguarding the elderly and children. This excludes the dogs of the elite today. Their case is totally different. The Hadith indicates that dogs should not be kept for the lowly purpose of hugging them.
Narratives about Goats
1. It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that the epicenter of kufr is towards the east. Pride and arrogance reside within those possessing horses and camels and living in tents and refinement and seriousness lies within those who keep goats and sheep.
Explanation: This is not a religious issue which has been explained by the Prophet (sws). He has stated something based on routine experiences of life. The main point here is that whatever animals humans keep company with, they develop similar attributes in their behaviour. Obviously, people who ride horses and camels develop arrogance and pride. Grandeur affects attitude. People who graze cows and other livestock and run after them develop harshness and are tough in their behaviour. Those who guard herds of livestock become humble, kind, grave and earnest. Hence it is better either not to be in contact with animals, or, if necessary, to be very careful, protecting one's habits and behaviour. The Prophet (sws) also said that the centre of kufr was the east. The closest region towards the east was Iraq and Iran and the Prophet's statement was correct according to the prevalent conditions. The reason was that Khusru Pervaiz had torn the Prophet (sws)'s epistle. Even when Iran was captured, it remained the centre of chaos and tumult. Iraq too has been and still is the centre of all religious sects. All problems have arisen from there. The Prophet (sws) had made this statement according to the situation and this could change with time.
2. It is narrated from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that the time is near when the best property for a Muslim would be his herd of goats which he would take for grazing in the valleys or in places where it rained and his purpose would be to protect his faith from trials.
Explanation: The Prophet (sws) had informed his nation about the trials which could be expected in future. This Hadith relates to these trials. He said that the time was near when a Muslim would be concerned about his faith and he would try and be satisfied with his small herd of goats and take it to the mountains where he would survive by drinking their milk and wearing a dress made of their skin so as to protect himself from the evils of urban life. The worship of the world that would be rampant in those times would give rise to new and unforeseen trials. Therefore, a pious person would be forced to rely on his herd of animals and stay away from the world in order to save his faith. The time of which the Prophet (sws) had warned was relatively better in the sense that one could spend one's life with goats on a mountain, but in the times of today it is not even possible to keep a herd. Thieves and bandits will not let them be. It has become difficult to lead one's life in cities and to take responsibility for anyone's protection.
While, on the one hand, this narrative explains that if one's faith is dear to one, one should withdraw oneself, at the same time, the instruction also becomes clear that withdrawal from the world is only necessary when the purpose is to protect one's faith. Otherwise, one should stay in this world as long as it remains possible for a person to communicate the word of God to others and fulfill the basic tenets of one's faith while retaining it. This point has been related in Ahadith and is also proven from the Qur'an that if a person cannot save his faith, he should emulate the People of the Cave and give himself up to God: God will provide for him from His bounty.
3. It is narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that no one should milk someone else's goat without the owner's permission. He said: "Would any of you like another to enter your room, break your cupboard and transfer your food? Remember that the udders of livestock are treasures of food for people, hence it is not permitted that any one should milk the livestock belonging to someone else without his permission."
Explanation: The meaning of the Hadith is clear. Such a deed should not be done even informally, except after permission is taken. Every civilized person should take care in this. But if one is in the orchard of a trusted friend and if one is hungry and certain that if a couple of apples were broken off and eaten and the friend would not mind, instead be happy, one could do so. But where there may be a concern that the owner would not like it, one should refrain from this. There is a separate law for situations of helplessness. If one has no other option, one can take benefit as per one's need, but if there is no such difficulty, it is not legitimate to uproot carrots from someone's garden to make sweet-crush (halwa) for oneself.
4. The information reached Imam Malik (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that there had been no prophet who had not grazed goats. When he was asked if he had done so, he replied in the affirmative.
Explanation: In the known history of prophets, Moses (sws) had grazed goats for Jethro (asm). Among the rich prophets were David (sws) and Solomon (sws). It is written in the Torah about David (sws) that he grazed goats during his early days. When the prophet in those times did not allow him to fight the leader Jalut of the enemy forces because of his tender age, he answered that he should not worry. He breaks the teeth of any beast that attacked his sheep with his catapult. At this, he was given permission to fight. When he threw a stone with his catapult, it struck the head of the commander of the enemy's army and he fell down.
It is also not beyond possibility that Solomon (sws) did this. The great man of our history, 'Umar (rta) had also carried out this work. There is considerable similarity between; 'Umar (rta) and Solomon (sws). Both spent their entire life in poverty, although both were leaders of a large Sultanate. God trains His servants through the ups and downs of life; so, to lead herds of humans, if leaders were trained how to lead herds of goats, this would be the correct thing to do. I think that if the leaders of today are also trained first on how to graze cattle, they might gain some wisdom. But one suspects that they might slaughter their herd and consume the meat while selling off their skins.
About a Mouse falling into Cooking Oil and Eating before Prayer
1. Nafi' (rta) narrates that the evening meal would be brought to 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) while he was listening to the Qur'an recitation from the Imam in his house, but he would not start his meal until the recitation was complete.
Explanation: There was no one who was more serious about matters of religion than 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta). Therefore it seems an exaggeration that he would listen to the Qur'an recitation and continue to eat comfortably. Perhaps his view might be that if a meal was brought, one should eat it first and then perform prayer.
My teacher, Mawlana Hamid al-Din Farahi was also very careful in matters of religion. Once, many people were gathered and someone suggested that prayers should be offered first so that the meal could be taken in comfort. He said that the meal should be eaten first so that the prayer could be offered with ease. I had agreed, saying that a comfortable condition was necessary for praying, not for eating.
2. It is narrated from Maymunah (rta) that the Prophet (sws) was asked what was to be done in case a mouse fell in cooking oil. He answered that the mouse and the oil around it should be thrown away.
Explanation: If the oil is frozen, this would solve the problem, but if it is melted, the whole amount should be thrown away.
About Measures to be taken for Protection against Misfortune
1. It is narrated from Sahal ibn Sa'd Sa'adi that the Prophet (sws) said that misfortune can exist within a horse, a woman or a house.
2. It is narrated from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said that misfortune is found in the house, the woman and in the horse.
3. It is narrated from Yahya ibn Sa'id that a woman came to the Prophet (sws) and said to him that when they had come to the house in which they lived, they had a large family and much wealth. But now their numbers had dwindled and so had their wealth. The Prophet (sws) asked her to leave the ominous house.
Explanation: These are three narratives. In the first one, there is a potential possibility which shows that it is an incomplete narrative. A piece either from the beginning or at the end has been left out. The second one indicates that the prophet (sws) had said with certainty that misfortuneexists within all three: horse, woman and house. The third narrative indicates says that a woman complained to the Prophet (sws) that when she and her family had come to their house in the beginning, they were a large family and had plenty of resources. But now they had lost their family members as well as their wealth. The Prophet (sws) told her to leave the house about which she thought of in this manner.
If the narrative had said that some houses, some horses and some women were ominous, it might have been acceptable. But this is not so. On the other hand, horses are presented as exemplar in the Qur'an. Surah 'Adiyat asks people to look at their horses who were so loyal and they, themselves, were so ungrateful. One cannot even imagine how Arabs feel about their horses. One Hadith says that horses are the best of wealth. The inauspiciousness of some horses could be accepted, but to give such a label to the entire species, as stated in this narrative, is not correct. Thinkabout women who include Mary (sws) and the wife of the Pharaoh, who are presented by the Qur'an as examples for the faithful. Similarly, there are Khadijah (rta),'A'ishah (rta) and other wives of the Prophet (sws) whose piety is an example to be followed by the Muslim nation. Thus, it is not correct to declare women bringing misfortune as a collective group and selective application is not clear by the selection of the words. People who have tried to explain this have given such weird explanations that my head has become giddy and not a single point has been made logically. However, one clarification made by 'A'ishah (rta) does resolve the issue to some extent: that when the Prophet (sws) made this statement, he had referred to a belief held by the Jews, but narrators have repeated it without giving the context. In my view, it is only with this background that this narrative could be sustained.
1. It is narrated from Yahya ibn Sa'id that the Prophet (sws) asked about who would milk a camel and a man stood up. The Prophet (sws) asked him his name and he answered that it was Murrah at which the Prophet (sws) asked him to sit down. He again asked who would milk the camel and a second man stood up. The Prophet (sws) asked him his name and he said it was Harb. The Prophet (sws) asked him to be seated. When he again asked who would milk the camel and a third man stood and was asked his name. He said it was Ya'ish. The Prophet (sws) asked him to carry out the action.
Explanation: Murrah means bitter and acrid. Harb means war. Ya'ish means one who gains life. The first two names are ominous but the third has a good meaning. The Prophet (sws) ordered the third man to milk the camel. In my view, the undesirability of a name brings about bad deeds and sometimes it also creates serious problems. Assume that the name of a village is very bad and a pious man is born in it and the name sharif (pious) is attached with the name of the village as an appendage. It is a fact that the word "pious" would be seriously offended. Therefore, bad names have an inherent inauspiciousness which should be prevented. Names should be good and blessed. This narrative is mursal but has become muttas@ilin other books.
2. Imam Malik narrates from Yahya ibn Sa'id that 'Umar ibn Khattab (rta) asked a man his name. He answered that it was Jamrah. He asked him his father's name. He answered that it was Shihab. He asked him which tribe he belonged to and was told that it was al-Huraqah. 'Umar (rta) asked him where he resided. He said that he lived in Harrah al-Nar. He asked him in which part and was told that it was in Dhat Laza. Then 'Umar (rta) asked him to go to his house because his family and property had been burned. It is said that this was exactly what happened.
Explanation: Jamrah means an ember; Shihab is flame, Huraqah is used in the meaning of burning. Harrah al-Nar would be a burning fire and Dhat Laza means the house of flames. Thus, the names of the man, his father, tribe and residence all mention fire.
Although it is not impossible for all these coincidences to gather at one place, some people have played around with this narrative. If anything was missing, people have filled in the blanks.
When this narrative contains all the indications, why did the narrators not search for this place and family? No such research is found in the works of researchers. In my view, this dialogue has no value other than a joke. But the joke is good. According to it, 'Umar (rta) predicted the death of a man's family through fire, which came to be true. 'Umar (rta) is known to be a great scholar of Ahadith. This is a great quality. This means that God explained events of huge portent to him. If this joke has been created to demonstrate this quality, then it is very good. However, in my view, the story is not needed to prove his being a great scholar of Ahadith. He was an intelligent and insightful man. He would deliberate upon situations and could assess what was likely to happen with accuracy. In this way, there are many incidents related to moral and spiritual matters that are made evident to people a priori, and they prove to come true later. There are many similar stories about 'Umar (rta). He was a profound thinker. He possessed great insight over circumstances and was able to take far reaching decisions. The fact is that at the time it would seem as if he had made a grave mistake, but the consequences would show that the decision was correct. Removing Khalid (rta) from commandership was no ordinary decision, but he did so at the time when the war was at its peak.
Narratives about Cupping and Remuneration for Cupping
1. It is narrated from Anas ibn Malik (rta) that the Prophet (sws) had cupping done. Abu Tayabah did the cupping. The Prophet (sws) gave him a remuneration of 3 kg of dates and ordered his masters to reduce their tax on this earning.
Explanation: Cupping is done to let out blood. In some hot countries, the blood becomes so hot that there is danger of headaches and other serious health issues. It has been known that the Prophet (sws) suffered from migraine. If one side of his head pained, he would get cupping done. Narratives indicate that this was a common method of treatment in Arabia in those days. It is no longer considered important. As far as its remuneration is concerned, the Prophet (sws) gave it which shows that it is legitimate to take fees for cupping.
People who had slaves levied a tax upon their earnings so the Prophet (sws) asked Abu Taybah's masters to reduce this in this case.
2. It is stated in Imam Malik's explanations that the Prophet (sws) said that if medicine reaches the disease, treatment by cupping is also a treatment that reaches the disease.
Explanation: Although the statement is conditional and it cannot be said that the Prophet (sws) had praised cupping, but the situation is one of praise. It is possible that the discussion was round whether this method was beneficial or not and the Prophet (sws) had said that if any medicine could reach its disease, in his view, cupping was also one such treatment that could reach its disease. This is because the Prophet (sws) had himself cupped and it was beneficial for him.
3. Ibn Shihab narrates from Ibn Muhayyisah al-Ansariwho was from the tribe of Bani Harith that he asked for permission to fix an amount for remuneration for his slaves who carried out cupping and the Prophet (sws) refused. He kept asking for permission until the Prophet (sws) told him to feed the boys who brought water on his camels (i.e., his slaves).
Explanation: The reason for Ibn Muhayyisah al-Ansarito insist upon asking this was that he has some slaves who did this work and upon whom he had levied some taxes. The Prophet (sws), too had had his cupping done from someone who was Ibn Muhayyisah's slave. If the Prophet (sws) had prohibited remuneration for cupping, this source of income for the slaves would have dried up. Therefore he asked his slaves to be fed. This means that this income is not desirable, instead it is something which is repulsive. In my view, the reason for this could be that there are some chores which should not be made a source of earning. It is an indication of being vile. But if anyone offers remuneration, there is no harm in accepting it. It happens often in rural areas that a child may be slightly ill and someone gives advice on what can be done. This addresses many problems faced by the poor and there is no fees fixed for such advice. This is given for the sake of God. However, it is all right to give something in return just as the Prophet (sws) did to Abu Tayabah and he took it. Thus, fixing an amount is not correct but if someone gives something, there is no harm in accepting it. In this way, both narratives can be combined.
About the East
1. It is narrated from 'Abdullah bin 'Umar (rta) that he saw the Prophet (sws) pointing towards the east and saying that trials would come from here. The source of evil would be where the horn of the devils arises.
Explanation: "The rise of the horn of the devil" is the interpretation of the place from where the sun rises. The Prophet (sws) pointed towards the east, so he must have meant the countries of Iraq and Iran and there is no doubt that these countries have given birth to many evils, whether they are of belief or morals, Shiism, Sufism, esotericism or philosophy: they have all come from there. And the misguidance that has spread within us has also come from there.
2. Imam Malik received the information that when 'Umar ibn Khattab (rta) decided to leave for Iraq, Ka'b ibn Ahbar advised him not to go there as there was magic in 9 out of 10 places; powerful jinn and untreatable diseases.
Explanation: This is a statement of Ka'b ibn Ahbar. He was a scholar of the ancient history of Jews and he has gifted to us knowledge about these things. The Jews were made captive in Babul and magic and the fame of the knowledge of Harut and Marut spread there. This region was a major centre of magic. On the basis of this knowledge, Ka'b ibn Ahbar (rta) would have tried to stop 'Umar (rta) from going to Iraq.
(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)