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Islam, Iman & Ihsan


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The Jibril Hadith Explained – Essentials of Islam, Iman & Ihsan

Answered by Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali


Jami’ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali Commentary on the Second Hadith of Imam Nawawi’s “Forty”

http://www.sunnah.org/ibadaat/Rajab_commentary40hadith.htm

Also from ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, there is that he said, “While we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless with him and grant him peace, one day a man came up to us whose clothes were extremely white, whose hair was extremely black, upon whom traces of travelling could not be seen, and whom none of us knew, until he sat down close to the Prophet, may Allah bless with him and grant him peace, so that he rested his knees upon his knees and placed his two hands upon his thighs and said, ‘Muhammad, tell me about Islam.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless with him and grant him peace, said, ‘Islam is that you witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and you establish the prayer, and you give the Zakat, and you fast Ramadan, and you perform the hajj of the House if you are able to take a way to it.’ He said, ‘You have told the truth,’ and we were amazed at him asking him and [then] telling him that he told the truth. He said, ‘Tell me about iman.’ He said, ‘That you affirm Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you affirm the Decree, the good of it and the bad of it.’ He said, ‘You have told the truth.’ He said, ‘Tell me about ihsan.’ He said, ‘That you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don’t see Him then truly He sees you.’ He said, ‘Tell me about the Hour.’ He said, ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the one asking.’ He said, ‘Then tell me about its tokens.’ He said, ‘That the female slave should give birth to her mistress, and you see poor, naked, barefoot shepherds of sheep and goats competing in making tall buildings.’ He went away, and I remained some time. Then he asked, ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘He was Jibril who came to you to teach you your deen’.” Muslim (8) narrated it.

Muslim alone narrated this hadith apart from al-Bukhari. He narrated it by way of Kahmas from ‘Abdullah ibn Buraydah from Yahya ibn Ya’mar who said, “The first to speak about the Decree in Basrah was Ma’bad al-Juhani. I and Humayd ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Humayri went on hajj or ‘umrah saying [to ourselves], ‘If we meet anyone of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, we will ask him about what these people say about the Decree.’ We were fortunate to meet ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with both of them, as he entered the mosque. We went in shoulder to shoulder with him, I and my companion, one on his right and the other on his left. I thought my companion would delegate the talking to me and so I said, ‘Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman, people have appeared among us who recite the Qur’an and seek out and follow knowledge…'” and he told some of their story and that they claimed that there is no Decree and that the matter is happening for the first time without any prior decree. “He [Ibn ‘Umar] said, ‘When you meet those people tell them that I have nothing to do with them and that they are free of me. By the One whom ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar swears by, if one of them has the like of Uhud in gold and spends it, Allah will not accept it until he has iman in the Decree!’ Then he said, ‘My father, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, told me, “While we were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless with him and grant him peace…”‘” and he mentioned the rest of the hadith completely. Then he [Muslim] narrated it by other paths some of which return to ‘Abdullah ibn Buraydah and some to Yahya ibn Ya’mar, and mentioned that in some of their narrations there were things added in and things left out.

Ibn Hibban narrated it in his Sahih from Sulayman at-Taymi from Yahya ibn Ya’mar, and Muslim had already narrated [that he had] it from this same path but he didn’t mention their wording of it. In it there is some extra about Islam. He said, “That you perform the hajj and the ‘umrah, and that you do ghusl for purification from sexual intercourse, and that you perfect wudu [and fast Ramadan].” He asked, “Then if I do that, am I a Muslim?” He said, “Yes.” He said about iman, “and that you have iman in the Garden and the Fire and the Scales.” He asked about it, “Then if I do that, am I a mumin?” He said, “Yes.” He said at the end of it, “This was Jibril who came to you to teach you your deen. Take it from him. By the One in Whose hand is my self, he was disguised to me since he [first] came to me before this occasion, and [so] I did not recognise him until he turned away.”

The two of them narrated in the two sahih books the hadith of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to people and a man came to him and asked, ‘What is iman?’ He said, ‘Iman is that you believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, the meeting with Him, His Messengers and that you believe in the last rising [from the grave].’ He asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, what is Islam?’ He said, ‘Islam is that you worship Allah without associating anything with Him as a partner, establish the obligatory prayer, pay the obligatory zakat and fast Ramadan.’ He asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, what is ihsan?’ He said, ‘That you worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not see Him then He sees you.’ He asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, when is the Hour?’ He said, ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the questioner, but I will tell you about its signs: when the female slave gives birth to her lord that is one of its signs. When you see naked barefoot ones becoming the leaders of men, that is one of its signs. When the shepherds of lambs compete in constructing tall buildings that is one of its signs [and it, the Hour, is] among five [things] which none know but Allah,’ and then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, recited, ‘Truly Allah has knowledge of the Hour and sends down abundant rain and knows what is in the womb. And no self knows what it will earn tomorrow and no self knows in what land it will die. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.’ (Surah Luqman: 33). Then the man went away and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ‘Bring the man back to me,’ and so they went to try and bring him back but saw nothing. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘This was Jibril who came to teach people their deen.'”

Muslim narrated it in a more complete form in which there is in the description of iman, “That you believe in all of the Decree,” and he said about ihsan, “That you fear Allah as if you see Him.”
Imam Ahmad narrated in his Musnad the hadith of Shahr ibn Hushab from Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them [Ibn ‘Abbas and al-‘Abbas], and also the hadith of Shahr ibn Hushab from Ibn ‘Amir or Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and in this version of the hadith there is that he said, “And we heard the replies of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, but we could not see the one who was talking to him nor hear his words,” but this is refuted by the hadith of ‘Umar which Muslim narrated which is more sound. The [sense of the] hadith of ‘Umar from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has also been narrated by Anas ibn Malik, Jarir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Bajli and others.
It is a hadith of tremendous importance which comprises an explanation of the whole deen. For this reason, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said at the end of it, “This was Jibril who came to you to teach you your deen,” after explaining the degree of Islam, the degree of iman and the degree of ihsan, all of which he called ‘deen’.

The narrations differ on whether Islam comes first before iman or vice-versa. In the hadith of ‘Umar which Muslim narrated, he began by asking about Islam. In the hadith of at-Tirmidhi and others, he began by asking about iman, as for example in the hadith of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him. In some of the narrations of the hadith of ‘Umar which Muslim narrated there is that he asked about ihsan between Islam and iman.

As for Islam, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, explained it as the outward actions of the limbs such as words and deeds, the first of which is witnessing [shahadah] that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, which is an action of the tongue. Then there is establishing the prayer, paying zakat, fasting Ramadan and hajj of the House for whoever is able to take a way to it.

They divide into physical actions such as prayer and fasting, actions involving wealth, which is the production of the zakat, and one compounded of both of them such as the hajj with respect to those who are far away from Makkah [since it involves spending a great deal of money and physical worship]. In the narration of Ibn Hibban he added to that the performance of ‘umrah, ghusl from sexual intercourse or emission, and completing wudu, which draws our attention to the fact that all of the outward duties comprise that which is named Islam. But we only mention here the principles of the actions of Islam on which it is based, as the commentary of that will come in the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar,”Islam is built on five” in its place, if Allah wills, exalted is He.
His words in one of the narrations, “‘Then if I do that will I be a Muslim?’ He said, ‘Yes.'” These show that whoever completes his performance of the five pillars of Islam has really become a Muslim, along with the fact that whoever affirms the two shahadahs has legally become a Muslim. If someone enters Islam by that means, he is bound to undertake the establishment of the rest of the characteristics of Islam. Whoever leaves out the two shahadahs has gone out of Islam. There is a well-known disagreement among people of knowledge as to whether someone’s abandoning the prayer means that he has gone out of Islam, and similarly with respect to all the rest of the five pillars of Islam, which we will mention in its appropriate place, if Allah wills, exalted is He.
One of the things which show that all outward actions are comprised under the name Islam are his words, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe.” In the two sahih books there is from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that a man asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Which part of Islam is the best?” He said, “That you feed [people] food and greet with the greeting of peace whomever you recognise and whomever you do not recognise.”

In the Sahih of al-Hakim there is from Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that he said, “Islam has signs and waymarks of guidance like those of the roads, of which there is that you should worship Allah without associating anything with Him, establish the prayer, produce zakat, fast Ramadan, command the well-recognised virtues and forbid the repudiated vices, and that you greet the descendants of Adam when you meet them, and greet your family when you enter where they are. Whoever is deficient in anyone of them in any way, then it is a portion of Islam which he has left out. Whoever leaves out [all of] them has cast Islam behind his back.”

Ibn Mardawiyah narrated the hadith of Abu’d-Darda’, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Islam has radiance, light and marks like the waymarks on the road. The head of them and the one which encompasses them is the witnessing that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, [then there is] the establishment of prayer, the production of zakat, completion of wudu, judging by the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, obeying those charged with governance, greeting each other and greeting your families when you enter your houses, and greeting the descendants of Adam whenever you meet them.” There is weakness in its chain of transmission, and perhaps it is mawquf [and thus a saying of Abu’d-Darda’ which he did not explicitly attribute to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.]

There is a sound hadith from Abu Ishaq from Silah ibn Zufar from Hudhayfah, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “Islam has eight portions: Islam is a portion, prayer is a portion, zakat is a portion, hajj of the House is a portion, jihad is a portion, fasting Ramadan is a portion, commanding the well-recognised virtues is a portion, and forbidding the repudiated vices is a portion, and whoever has no portion has failed.” Al-Bazzar narrated it as a marfu’ hadith [attributed by Hudhayfah to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace] but it is more authentic to say that it is mawquf [something Hudhayfah himself said without explicitly attributing it to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace].

Someone narrated it from Abu Ishaq from al-Harith from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and that was narrated by Abu Ya’la al-Mawsili and others. However, it is more authentic that it is a saying of Hudhayfah’s, and that was the position ad-Daraqutni and others took.

When he said, “Islam is a portion” he meant the two shahadahs because they are the sign of Islam by which a person becomes a Muslim. Similarly, leaving those things which are forbidden is also comprised under the name ‘Islam’, as it has been narrated of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that he said, “A part of the excellence of a man’s deen is his leaving what does not concern him.” That will come in its proper place, if Allah wills, exalted is He.
What also demonstrates that is that which Imam Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi and an-Nasa’i narrated from the hadith of an-Nawaws ibn Sam’an, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah strikes a similitude: a straight path and on its two sides are two walls in which there are open doors and over the doors are loose curtains. Over the door of the path there is a crier saying, ‘People! Enter the path, all of you! And do not deviate.’ There is a crier calling out above the path. Whenever anyone intends to open any of those doors, he says, ‘Woe to you! Do not open it, for if you open it you will enter it.’ The path is Islam, the two walls are the limits of Allah, mighty is He and majestic, the open doors are what Allah has forbidden, that crier at the beginning of the path is the Book of Allah, and the crier above the path is the admonisher of Allah in the heart of every Muslim.” At-Tirmidhi added to it, “Allah calls to the Abode of Peace and He guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (Surah Yunus: 25)
In this metaphor which the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, struck, there is that Islam is the straight path upon which Allah, exalted is He, has ordered us to go straight, and has forbidden that we exceed its limits, and that whoever commits any of the things which are forbidden has crossed over its limits.