The Station of Firasah

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (r)  is considered to be the one with the greatest firasah in the Ummah and `Umar (r) was the second. The incidents that prove `Umar (r)’s firasah are numerous, familiar and well-known. He never said with regards to anything, “I think this is so,” but it was what he thought. The fact that the Quran approved of his opinion sin many incidents is sufficient evidence of his sharp firasah. One of which was his opinion regarding the redemption of the captives from the Battle of Badr.

Once a man named Sawad Bin Qarib passed by and `Umar (r) did not know him. `Umar (r) said, “This is either a soothsayer or he was so in the days of jahiliyyah.” Upon sitting before `Umar (r), Sawad said, “O commander of the faithful! You never received any of your guests the way you did me.” `Umar (r) said, “What we used to do in the days of jahiliyyah is worse than this. But tell me about what I have asked you.” Sawad said, “You were true, O commander of the faithful! I was a soothsayer in the days of jahiliyyah, then he told him the story.”

The sahabah, in general, had the most accurate and sharpest firasah. The true firasah is obtained from life and from the light Allah grants to whom He wishes from amongst His true servants. The heart receives life and light and then its firasah will almost never be wrong. Allah says, “Is he who was dead and We gave him life and set for him a light whereby he can walk amongst men, like him who is in the darkness from which he can never come out?” [6:122]

The verse describes the person as “dead” because of the disbelief in his heart and the life of jahiliyyah or ignorance he was leading, but then Allah gave him life through iman or faith of knowledge. Upon his acceptance of these gifts, the Qur’an and faith become the light by which he sees his way out of the darkness (of disbelief and ignorance) and onto the straight path.

Firasah is linked to three human organs: the eye, ear and heart. His eye examines the look and the signs, his ear examines the speech, the over expressions, oblique inferences and hints, content, logic and tone of voice. And his heart analyzes both what is seen and hear to perceive hidden thoughts of others. His analysis and examination of the interior compared to the exterior is like one who examines currency to see if it is counterfeit after examining the outside. It is also similar to Ahlul-Hadith (scholars who specialize in the knowledge of the hadith), who will read a hadith that has a sound isnad (chain of narrators) but upon examination of the matn (text of the hadith), it is found that it is a fabricated hadith.

There are two factors in firasah. One is the quality of one’s mind, the sharpness of the heart and the intelligence. The second is the appearance of the signs and indications on others. When both factors are present than one’s firasah may not be wrong. Iyaas bin Mu`awiyah had great firasah and he was well-known because of it , as was Imam Shafiee who was also reported to have written about it.


None knows the rank of a person in knowledge except he who is his peer and has known him personally, and he only knows him to the extent of what he himself was granted to know.

None of his companions knew al-Shafi`i like al-Muzani knew him, and al-Muzani knew al-Shafi`i only to the extent of al-Muzani’s strength.

Nor can anyone estimate the Prophet (Allah bless and greet him) as he deserves except Allah (may He be exalted), and each knows him (Allah bless and greet him) only to the extent of what he himself possesses.

Thus the most knowledgeable in the Community about the Prophet’s (Allah bless and greet him) rank is Abu Bakr (Allah be well-pleased with him) because he was the best of the Ummah, and Abu Bakr (r) knows the Prophet (Allah bless and greet him) only according to Abu Bakr (r)’s strength.

[Shaykh al-Islam Taqi al-Din Abu al-Hasan al-Subki as recorded by his son Ibn al-Subki, Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra ( 6:191-389 #694)trans.GF.Haddad.]


Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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