Questions on the Prophet and Awliya’s Knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen)

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

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Some people cite the verses of the Holy Qur’an which they translate to mean that Allah commands the Prophet to tell the companions that he has no knowledge of the Unseen. I was surprised at hearing this and decided to write to you for your view. The stand of the real Ahl al-Sunna with respect to Rasulullah’s knowledge of the Unseen will be appreciated. Also, what is the belief of Ahl al-Sunna regarding the awliya’s knowledge of the Unseen?

Al-hamdu lillah wa al-salat wa al-salam `ala rasulillah: Knowledge of the Unseen is one of Allah’s prerogatives, exclusive to Him except insofar as He discloses it to His elect servants:

He discloses not His unseen (ghayb) to anyone, except only to such a Messenger as He is well-pleased with.” (72:26)

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani explained this verse thus:

It follows from this verse that Prophets can see some of the Unseen, and so do the saints (wali, pl. awliya’) that follow each particular Prophet also, as each takes from his Prophet and is gifted (yukram) with his knowledge. The difference between the two is that the Prophet looks at this knowledge through all kinds of revelation, while the saint does not look upon it except in dreams or through inspiration, and Allah knows best.1

Ibn Hajar quotes al-Qurtubi’s words confirming this:

The truthful, righteous Muslim (al-muslim al-sadiq al-salih) is he whose state matches that of Prophets and thereby is bestowed (ukrima) some of the same kind of gift they were, and that is to behold the unseen (wa huwa al-ittila` `ala al-ghayb). As for the disbeliever (al-kafir), the corrupt person (al-fasiq), and the contentious one who confuses matters for the listeners (al-mikhlat)— then no.2

It is incorrect and improper, therefore, to say that the Prophet did not know the Unseen except if such a statement is qualified, such as saying: “He did not know that of the Unseen which only Allah knows.” Otherwise it is untrue that the Prophet did not know the Unseen. How could such a claim be true of any truthful Prophet who brings news from His Lord, especially one who ascended above the seven heavens and the eight Paradises to His Lord’s presence, one who told of the events that attended creation, one who saw the events after resurrection, and one to whom was revealed the inimitable Qur’an? And Allah said to him:

And We granted you knowledge of what you knew not, and the bounty of Allah for you has been infinite. (4:113)

This is of the tidings of the Unseen which we reveal to you. You did not know it before this, nor your people. (11:49)

Say: … Allah has already informed us of the true state of matters concerning you: It is your actions that Allah and His Apostle will observe… (9:94)

And some of them hurt the Prophet and say, “He is all ear!” (i.e. gullible). Say: An ear of good for you: he believes in Allah, and believes the Believers, and is a Mercy to those of you who believe… (9:61)

Imam al-Baydawi commented: “This verse is a warning that It is not due to his ignorance of your true position that the Prophet accepts what you say but out of leniency and mercy for you.3

However, the Prophet did not like to boast and he always stressed that certain matters of the Unseen were Allah’s exclusive domain, especially knowledge of the Last Hour, and “the five things” mentioned at the end of Surat Luqman (31:34). This is confirmed by the hadiths:

1. Utiytu mafatihu kulli shay’in illa al-khams. “I have received the keys to everything (unseen) except the Five (which Allah alone knows).”4

Ibn Mas`ud similarly narrates: Utiya mafatihu kulli shay’in ghayr al-khams. “He has received the keys to everything (unseen) except the Five (which Allah alone knows).”5

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani also cites, without weakening them, two very similar hadiths in Fath al-Bari:

Utiya nabiyyukum `ilmu kulli shay’in siwa hadhihi al-khams.

Utiytu mafatih al-ghayb.

“Your Prophet has received everything except these Five.”

“I have received the keys of the Unseen.”6

These five things are:

  • Knowledge of what is in the wombs
  • Knowledge of when the Hour will rise
  • Knowledge of what one will gain tomorrow
  • Knowledge of the land in which one will die
  • Knowledge of the time Allah will send rain

(Hadith of Ibn `Umar in Ahmad and Bukhari.)

2. A man from Banu `Amir, after asking the Prophet certain questions, said: “Is there any knowledge left which you do not know?” whereupon the Prophet said: “Allah has taught me a great good, and there is a kind of Unseen knowledge which Allah alone knows: He has knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, He knows what lies in the womb, no one (but He) knows what one will gain tomorrow, and no one (but He) knows in what land one shall die.”7

3. It is confirmed by Ibn Mardawayh’s narration from `Ali cited in the chapter of Surat Luqman in Kanz al-`ummal, as a commentary for the verse 28:66 in Surat al-Qasas, “On that day tidings will be darkened for them,” whereby `Ali said: “Nothing was darkened for your Prophet except five matters from the secrets of the Unseen.” (lam yu`ma `ala nabiyyikum shay’un illa khamsun min sara’ir al-ghayb.)

4. In Tirmidhi (hasan sahih) and Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunna on the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal:

The Prophet said: “My Lord came to me in the best image and asked me over what did the angels of the higher heaven vie, and I said I did not know, so He put His hand between my shoulders, and I felt its coolness in my innermost, and the knowledge of all things between the East and the West came to me.”

`Ali al-Qari wrote about this hadith in the chapter on the Prophet’s turban in his book Jam` al-wasa’il fi sharh al-shama’il, a commentary on Tirmidhi’s Shama’il or Characteristics of the Prophet:

Whether the Prophet saw his Lord during his sleep or whether Allah the Glorious and Exalted manifested Himself to him with a form (bi al-tajalli al-suwari), this type of manifestation is known among the masters of spiritual states and stations (arbab al-hal wa al-maqam), and it consists in being reminded of His qualities (hay’atihi) and reflecting upon His vision (ru’yatihi), which is the outcome of the perfection of one’s inner detachment (takhliyatihi) and self-adornment (tahliyatihi).

And Allah knows best about the states of His Prophets and Intimate Friends whom He has raised with His most excellent upbringing, and the mirrors of whose hearts He has polished with His most excellent polish, until they witnessed the Station of Divine Presence and Abiding (maqam al-hudur wa al-baqa’), and they rid themselves of the rust of screens and extinction (sada’ al-huzur wa al-fana’).

May Allah bestow on us their yearnings, may He make us taste their states and manners, and may He make us die in the condition of loving them and raise us in their group.8

al-Qari also said in al-Asrar al-marfu`a:

Ibn Sadaqa said that Ibn Zar`a said: “The hadith of Ibn `Abbas [about the Prophet seeing His Lord] is sound (sahih), and no-one denies it except a Mu`tazili” [!]… Ibn al-Humam answered that “this (representation) is the veil of form(hijab al-sura).” It seems that he meant by this that the entire goal can be visualized if it is interpreted as a formal manifestation (tajalli suwari), as it is incontrovertibly absurd to interpret it as a real or literal manifestation (tajalli haqiqi)… for Allah is exalted from possessing a body, a form (sura), and directions with regard to His essence… And if the hadith is shown to have something in its chain that indicates forgery, then fine; otherwise: the door of figurative interpretation is wide and imposes itself (bab al-ta’wil wasi`un muhattam).9

5. The Prophet’s “knowledge of all things between the East and the West” is confirmed by the famous narration with a grade of hasan (fair) from al-Bara’ ibn `Azib whereby:

At the time of the Battle of Ahzab or the battle of the Trench, the Prophet went down to hit a rock with his pick, whereupon he said: “Bismillah” and shattered one third of the rock. Then he exclaimed: “Allahu akbar! I have been given the keys of Syria. By Allah, verily I can see her red palaces right from where I stand.” Then he said: “Bismillah,” and shattered another third and exclaimed: “Allahu akbar! I have been given the keys of Persia. By Allah, I can see her cities and her white palace right from where I stand.” Then he said: “Bismillah” and shattered the remainder of the rock and exclaimed: “Allahu akbar! I have been given the keys of Yemen. By Allah, I can see the gates of San`a’ right from where I stand.”10

6. Another version of the above is related from Salman al-Farisi. Ibn Hisham relates it in his Sira through Ibn Ishaq thus:

Salman al-Farisi said: “I was digging in one corner of the trench at which time one rock gave me difficulty. Allah’s Messenger came near me and saw my difficulty as I was digging. He came down and took the pick from my hands. Then he struck and a great spark flashed under the pick. He struck again and another spark flashed. He struck a third time and a third spark flashed. I said to him: My father and mother (be ransomed) for you, O Messenger of Allah! What is that I saw flashing under the pick as you were striking? He said: Did you see this, O Salman? I said: Yes! He said: The first time, Allah opened Yemen [in the South] for me; the second time, He opened the North (al-Sham) and the West(al-Maghrib) for me; and the third time, he opened the East (al-Mashriq).”11

7. The above two narrations are confirmed by Abu Hurayra’s words related by Ibn Hisham in his Sira directly after the above narration:

Ibn Ishaq said: A reliable source narrated to me that Abu Hurayra used to say, when these countries were conquered in the time of `Umar and in the time of `Uthman and after `Uthman: “Conquer what comes within your sight. By the One in Whose hand lies Abu Hurayra’s soul, you do not conquer any city nor will you conquer any city until the Day of resurrection except that Allah the Exalted gave Muhammad its keys beforehand.”12

8. A further confirmation of the above is the hadith in Muslim:

The earth was collected together for me so that I was shown its Easts and Wests. And the kingdom of my Community will reach to the extent that it was brought together for me.

9. A further confirmation is the hadith in Bukhari:

Narrated Asma’ bint Abu Bakr: I came to ‘Aisha during the solar eclipse. The people were standing (offering prayer) and she too, was standing and offering prayer. I asked, “What is wrong with the people?” She pointed towards the sky with her hand and said, Subhan Allah!” I asked her, “Is there a sign?” She nodded with her head meaning, yes. When Allah’s Apostle finished (the prayer), he glorified and praised Allah and said, “There is not anything that I have not seen before but I have seen now at this place of mine, even Paradise and Hell. It has been revealed to me that you people will be put to trial nearly like the trial of Ad-Dajjal, in your graves. As for the true believer or a Muslim (the sub-narrator is not sure as to which of the two (words Asma’ had said) he will say, ‘Muhammad came with clear signs from Allah, and we responded to him (accepted his teachings) and believed (what he said)’ It will be said (to him) ‘Sleep in peace; we have known that you were a true believer who believed with certainty.’ As for a hypocrite or a doubtful person, (the sub-narrator is not sure as to which word Asma’ said) he will say, ‘I do not know, but I heard the people saying something and so I said the same.'” (Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 390)

10. A further confirmation of the above is the hadith of Hudhayfa in Bukhari and Muslim:

The Messenger of Allah gave us an address in which he did not leave out anything that would happen until the Last Hour came. Whoever remembered it remembered it and whoever forgot it forgot it. Many companions of mine have known it. When any of it came to pass, I would recognize it and remember it as a man remembers the face of a man who has gone away and which he recognizes when he sees him again.” Then Hudhayfa said: “I do not know whether my companions may have forgotten or pretended to forget [i.e. to prevent fitna], but Allah’s Messenger did not leave out the instigator of a single disaster that was going to happen until the end of the world. There were more than three hundred of them. He named them for us, each with his own name, the name of this father and his tribe.

11. A further confirmation is the hadith in Bukhari:

…Then Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, Paradise and Hell were displayed before me across this wall while I was praying, and I never saw such good and evil as I have seen today.” (Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 397)

12. A further confirmation is the hadith of Abu al-Darda’ in Tabarani and Ahmad, which is sound (sahih) according to Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id:

When the Messenger of Allah left us there was not a bird that flies in the sky but that he had given us some knowledge about it.

And all this profusion of knowledge of the Unseen on the part of the Prophet has been characterized by Allah as perspicuity and ability to reveal knowledge of the Unseen in the two verses:

His sight swerved not, nor swept astray. (53:17)

He is not stingy of (his knowledge of) the Unseen. (81:24)

13. Nor is the Prophet’s knowledge after his life in dunya in any way lessened. Rather, the contrary is true, as established in the following hadith:

My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be presented to me (in my grave) and if I see goodness I will praise Allah, and if see other than that I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.13

Qadi` Iyad in his al-Shifa’ fi ma`rifat huquq al-mustafa (The Healing Concerning the Knowledge of the Rights of the Elect One), al-Qastallani in his al-Mawahib al-laduniyya bi al-minah al-muhammadiyya (The Gifts from Allah: the Muhammadan Dispensations), and other scholars of Ahl al-Sunna included in their excellent books on the Prophet extensive chapters establishing his knowledge of the unseen and future events.

In the light of the above evidence, such statements as that of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab at the end of his leaflet paradoxically entitled “The Three Principles of Oneness” are false whereby:

One who claims to know something from knowledge of the Unseen is a taghut or false deity (Ibn `Abd al-Wahhab, Three Principles of Oneness)!

This is utterly rejected as false and gross falsehood spoken against the Prophet by those who would deny his status and the prerogatives of his rank established by Allah in His speech and by the sound hadith of the Prophet. We seek refuge in Allah from such statements as signify extreme ignorance, indeed enmity to the Prophet and to Allah’s Pure Religion. And Allah knows best.






Qadi `Iyad says:

The hadiths on this subject are like a vast ocean whose depths cannot be plumbed and which does not cease to overflow. This is one aspect of his miracles which is definitely known. We have many hadiths which have reached us by multiple paths of transmission (tawatur) regarding his familiarity with (ittila`) the Unseen.

Hudahyfa said: “The Messenger of Allah gave us an address in which he did not leave out anything that would happen until the Last Hour came. Whoever remembered it remembered it and whoever forgot it forgot it. Many companions of mine have known it. When any of it came to pass, I would recognize it and remember it as a man remembers the face of a man who has gone away and which he recognizes when he sees him again.” Then Hudhayfa said: “I do not know whether my companions may have forgotten or pretended to forget [i.e. to prevent fitna; Qari said: to turn to what is more important], but Allah’s Messenger did not leave out the instigator of a single disaster that was going to happen until the end of the world. There were more than three hundred of them. He named them for us, each with his name, the name of this father and his tribe.”15

Abu Dharr said [from Abu al-Darda’]: “When the Messenger of Allah left us there was not a bird that flies in the sky but that he had given us some knowledge about it.”16

The compilers of the Sahih17 and the Imams18 have related what he taught his Companions and family about regarding his promises to them of victory over his enemies, the conquest of Mecca, Jerusalem, the Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and the establishment of security so that a woman could go from Hira in Iraq to Mecca fearing none but Allah.

He said that Madina would be raided and Khaybar would be conquered by `Ali the next day. He foretold those parts of the world that Allah was going to open up to his community and what they would be given of its flowers and fruits, such as the treasures of Chosroes and Caesar. He told about what would happen among them with regard to sedition, disputes and sectarianism., acting as those before them had done, their splitting into seventy-three sects, only one of which would be saved, that they would spread out in the earth, that people would come would would wear one garment in the morning and another in the evening, and dish after dish would be placed before them. They would embellish their houses as the ka`ba is embellished. Then he said at the end of the hadith: “Today you are better than you will be on that day.”

He said that they would strut about on the earth and that the girls of Persia and Byzantium would serve them. Allah would would withdraw their strength from them and the evil ones would overcome the good. They would fight the Turks and the Khazars and Byzantium. Chosroes and Persia would be obliterated so that there would be no Chosroes or Persia afterwards. Caesar would pass away and there would be no Caesar after him. He mentioned that Byzantium would continue generation after generation until the end of time. The noblest and best people would be taken away. When the time grew near, knowledge would be taken away, and sedition and bloodshed would appear. He said: “Alas for the Arabs for an evil that draws near!”

The earth was rolled up for him so that he could see its eastern and western extremities and the dominion of his community was to reach what was rolled up for him. That is why it has extended from the east to the west, from the Indies in the east to the sea of Tangier, beyond which is no civilization. That was not given to any of the nations. Islam did not extend to the north and south in the same way.

He said: “The people of the west (ahl al-gharb) will know the truth until the Hour comes.” Ibn al-Madini19 believed that his refers to the Arabs because they are distinguished by drinking from a certain kind of leather bucket (al-gharb). Another believed that it refers to the people of the Maghrib.

In a hadith from Abu Umama, the Prophet said: “A group of my Community will remain constant to the truth, conquering their enemy until the command of Allah comes to them while they are still in that condition.” He was asked, “Messenger of Allah, where are they?” He replied: “In Jerusalem.”20

He foretold the kingdom of the Umayyads and the rule of Mu`awiya and counselled him and said that the Umayyads would make the kingdom of Allah a dynasty. He said that the descendents of al-`Abbas would emerge with black banners and would rule a far larger area than they now ruled.

He said that the Mahdi would appear and told about what the Ahl al-Bayt, the People of his house, would experience and about their slaughter and exile.

He foretold the murder of `Ali and said that the most wretched of people would be his killer [this is `Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljam] and that `Ali would be the apportioner of the Fire — his friends would enter the Garden and his enemies the Fire. Among those who would oppose him would be the Kharijis and the Nasibiyya and a sgroup who claimed to follow him among the Rafidis would reject him.

He said: “`Uthman will be killed while reciting the Qur’an. Perhaps Allah will have him wearing a shirt [i.e. the Caliphate]. They will want to remove it and his blood will fall on his utterance of Allah’s words: “Allah is enough for you against them.” (2:137).

He said that sedition would not appear as long as `Umar was alive, al-Zubayr would fight against `Ali, the dogs of al-Haw’ab21 would bark at one of his wives and many would be killed around her and she would barely escape. They barked at `A’isha when she went to Basra.

He said that `Ammar would be killed by an unjust group and the companions of Mu`awiya killed him [at Siffin].

He said to `Abdullah ibn Zubayr [after he drank the blood which had been cupped from the Prophet (s)]: “Woe to the people from you [i.e. they will be punished for killing him unjustly] and woe to you from the people [i.e. al-Hajjaj will attack you]!”

He said about Quzman [one of the worst hypocrites]: “He will be tested together with the Muslims although he is one of the people of the Fire,” and later Quzman committed suicide.

He said that a group which included Abu Hurayra, Samura ibn Jundub and Hudhayfa: “The last of you will die in a fire [in this world, not the next].” They kept asking about each other, and Samura was the last of them to die when he was old and senile. He tried to warm himself over a fire and burned himself in it.

He said about Hanzala al-Ghasil (Washed-by-the-Angels): “Ask his wife about him. I saw the angels washing him.” They asked her and she said: “He left (for jihad) in janaba (state of major ritual defilement after sexual intercourse) and died before he could do ghusl (major ablution).” Abu Sa`id said: “We found his head dripping with water.”

He said: “The khalifate is with Quraysh. This business will remain with Quryash as long as they establish the Religion.”

He said: “There will be one liar and one destroyer (kadhdhab wa mubir) from Thaqif.” It was thought that this referred to al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf and al-Mukhtar ibn `Ubayd.22

He said that Musaylima would be destroyed by Allah and that Fatima would be the first of his family to follow him to the grave (she died six months later).

He warned about the Great Apostasy (al-ridda) and said that the khalifate after him would last for thirty years and that it would then become a kingdom. This happened in the period of al-Hasan ibn `Ali.

He said: “This business began as prophethood and mercy, then mercy and a khalifate, then a voracious kingdom and then arrogance and tyranny and corruption will enter the community.”

He told of the existence of Uways al-Qarani and that there would be Amirs who would delay the prayer beyond its time.

In one hadith he says that there would be thirty liars in his community and four of them would be women. Another hadith says thirty liars, one of whom would be the Dajjal or Antichrist. They would all deny Allah and his Messenger.

He said: “The time is near when there will be a lot of non-Arabs among you who will consume your property and strike your necks. The Last Hour will not come until a man from Qahtan drives the people with his staff.”

He also said: “The best of you are my generation, then those after them, and then those after them. After that, people will come who give testimony without being asked to do so, who will be treacherous and are not trustworthy, who promise and do not fulfill. There will be corpulence among them.”

He said: “A time is only followed by one worse than it.”

He also said: “My community will be destroyed at the hands of young men from Quraysh.” One version from Abu Hurayra says: “If I had wanted to, I would have named them for you — the Banu so-and-so and the Banu so-and-so.”

He told about the appearance of the Qadariyya and the Rafidis (those who curse the Companions and declare Ahl al-Sunna to be disbelievers), and said that the last of this community would curse the first of it. The Ansar would diminish until they became like the salt in food (i.e. rare). Their position would continue to dissipate until not a group of them remained. He said that they would meet with despotism after him.

He told about the Kharijites, describing them down to the malformed one among them, and said that their mark would be tahliq or shaved heads.23

He said that shepherds would become the leaders of the people and the naked barefoot ones would vie in building high buildings. Mothers would give birth to their mistresses.

He said that Quraysh and their confederates would not conquer him, but that he would conquer them.

He foretold “the Death” — a plague which occurred in the time of `Umar and in which seventy thousand people perished — which would come after the conquest of Jerusalem and described what the houses of Basra would be like.

He said that they would raid in the sea like kings on thrones. He said that if the Religion had been hung in the Pleiades, men from Persia would have obtained it.

A wind blew up during one of his raids and he said: “It blows for the death of a hypocrite.” When they returned to Madina, they discovered it was true.

He told some people sitting with him: “The tooth of one of you in the Fire will be greater in size than the mountain of Uhud.” Abu Hurayra said: “The people eventually were all dead except for me and one other man. Then he was killed as an apostate during the Ridda in the battle of Yamama.”

He told about the man who stole some pearls from a Jew and the jewels were found in that man’s saddle-bag, and about the man who stole a cloak and it was found where he said it would be. He told about his she-cmael when she had strayed and how she was tied to a tree with her halter. He told about the letter of Hatib (Ibn Abi Balta`a) to the people of Mecca.

He told about the case where Safwan ibn Umayya persuaded `Umayr ibn Wahb to go to the Prophet and kill him. When `Umayr arrived where the Prophet was, intending to kill him, the Messenger of Allah told him about his business and secret, and `Umayr became Muslim.

He informed them about the money which his uncle, al-`Abbas, had left concealed with Umm al-Fadl. al-`Abbas said: “No one except she and I knew where it was.” So he became Muslim.

He informed them that he would kill Ubayy ibn Khalaf and that `Utba ibn Abi Lahab would be eaten by one of Allah’s beasts of prey. He knew about the deaths of the people of Badr and it happened as he said it would.

He said about al-Hasan: “This son of mine is a master (sayyid) and Allah will make peace between two groups through him.”

He said to Sa`d (Ibn Abi Waqqas): “Perhaps you will survive until some people profit by you and others seek to harm you.”

He told about the killing of the people of Mu’ta on the very day they were slain, even though there was more than a month’s distance between he and them.

The Negus died and he told them about it the very day he died although he was in his own land.

He informed Fayruz (the Persian minister) of the death of Chosroes on the very day that a messenger came to him bearing the news of his death. When Fayruz verified the story, he became Muslim.

One time when the Prophet found Abu Dharr sleeping in the mosque in Madina he told him how he would be exiled. The Prophet said to him: “How will it be when you are driven from it?” He said: “I will dwell in the Masjid al-Haram.” He asked: “And when you are driven from there?” The Prophet told him of his life alone and of his death alone.24

He said that the first of his wives to join him would be the one with the longest hand. It was Zaynab bint Jahsh because of the length of her hand in giving sadaqa.

He foretold the killing of al-Husayn at Taff [Karbala’]. He took some earth [which Jibril had shown him] from his hand and said: “His grave is in it.”

He said about Zayd ibn Suhan: “One of his limbs will precede him to the garden.” His hand was cut off in Jihad.

He said about those who were with him on Mount Hira: “Be firm. On you is a Prophet, a true man, and a martyr.” `Ali, `Umar, `Uthman, Talha and al-Zubayr were killed and Sa`d was attacked.

He said to Suraqa: “How will it be when you wear the trousers of Chosroes?” When they were brought to `Umar, Suraqa put them on and said: “Praise be to Allah who stripped Chosroes of them and put them on Suraqa.”

The Prophet said: “A city will be built between the Tigris and Dujayl and Qutrubull and al-Sara. The treasures of the earth will be brought to it which the earth will swallow up,” clearly indicating Baghdad.

He said: “There will be a man called al-Walid in this Community and he will be worse for this Community than Pharaoh was for his.” [This is al-Walid ibn Yazid ibn `Abd al-Malik.]

He also said: “The Hour will not come until two parties fight each other with the same claim.” [This was the battle of Siffin which took place around the khilafa. The people of Syria were 60,000 and 20,000 died; while the people of Iraq were 120,000 and 40,000 died.]

He said to `Umar about Suhayl ibn `Amr: “Perhaprs he will be in a position which will delight you, `Umar.” That happened. He stood up in Mecca in a similar way to Abi Bakr on the day when they heard about the Prophet’s death. He addressed them with a similar speech [i.e. similar to Abu Bakr’s speech in Madina that day] and strengthened their insight.

When he sent Khalid to Ukaydir, he said: “You will send him hunting for wild cows,” and he did.25

All these matters took place during his lifetime, and after his death, just as he had said they would.

He also told his Companions about their secrets and inward thoughts. He told them about the secrets of the hypocrites and their rejection and what they said about him and the believers, so that one of the hypocrites would say to his friend: “Be quiet!By Allah, if he does not have someone to inform him, the very stones of the plain would inform him.” [These were `Itab ibn Usayd and al-Harith ibn Hisham, both of whom became Muslims when the Prophet subsequently told them that they had said this.]

He described the magic which Labid ibn al-`Asim used against him and how it was in the comb, the combings and the spathe of the male palm and that he had thrown them into the well of Dharwan. It was found to be just as he had described it.

He told Quryash that the termites would eat what was in the paper which they issued against the Banu Hashim by which they cut off relations with them. He said that every mention of Allah would remain. It was found to be as he had said.

He described Jerusalem to the unbelievers when they did not believe what he had said as is related in the hadith of the Night Journey, describing it to them as someone who really knows it. He told them about their caravan which he had passed on his way and told them when it would arrive.

All of these things happpened as he had said, including all that he told them regarding events which would take place and things whose beginnings had not yet even appeared, such as his words: “The flourishing of Jerusalem will prove the ruin of Yathrib. The ruin of Yathrib will result in the emergence of fierce fighting. The emergence of fierce fighting will encompass the conquest of Constantinople.”

He mentioned the preconditions of the Hour, the signs of its arrival, the Rising and the Gathering, and told about what would happen to the good and those who deviated, the Garden and the Fire and the events of the Rising.

A whole volume could be devoted to this subject, but there is enough for you in what we have indicated. Most of the hadiths are in the Sahih volumes and have been mentioned by the Imams.



The eyes of the Holy Prophet were matchless in their outward beauty as well as in their vision and sight. Ibn Abbas in describing his beauteous eyesight states:

The Holy Prophet could see equally well during the darkness of the night and the brightness of the day. (Bukhari)

Anas narrates: The Holy Prophet himself said:

O people! I am your Imam. Do not precede me in ruku` and sajda because in addition to seeing what is in front of me I also see what is behind me. (Muslim)

Abu Huraira similarly narrates the Prophet’s words:

I swear on Allah Almighty, neither your ruku` is hidden from me nor your sajda because I can see you behind my back as well. (Muslim and Bukhari)

The gist of the commentary which the great scholar Sheikh `Abd al- Haqq Muhaddith Dehlvi has written on these traditions is as follows:”Only Allah Almighty exactly knows the truth [i.e. the extent] of his vision. In addition, every blessed limb too falls in this category [of piercing sight], because no one can fully understand what they were.” They are without doubt beyond one’s imagination and intellect. Any assumption falls short of their virtuosity. Allah Almighty has full Power to bestow vision to every part of the body, or grant this unique sight as His Favour and Grace on His beloved Messenger.

If by this sight is meant vision of the heart, then it is that knowledge which was bestowed upon him by Allah Almighty.

Some people tend to incorrectly rely on the inauthentic tradition whereby the Holy Prophet said: “I do not know what is behind the wall.” No origin is known (la asl) for such a hadith. Even if such an improbable saying were attributable to the Prophet, then its purpose would to show personal humility and not to negate such knowledge. The meaning would then be: “I do not know that on my own, nor do I have such knowledge on my own,” but as far as Bestowed Knowledge is concerned, i.e knowledge given by Allah Almighty, the Holy Prophet was fully equipped with it by his Creator.

The Holy Qur’an bears the testimony to this:

And We granted you knowledge of what you knew not, and the bounty of Allah for you has been infinite. (4:113)



The “Salafis” are often seen adducing the following verses in support of their view that the Prophet is no more than an ordinary individual:

Say [O the Prophet]: I have no power to benefit myself nor to harm it, except that which Allah wills. Had I knowledge of the Unseen, I would have acquired much good, and adversity would not have touched me… (7:188)

Say: I am but a man (or: a mortal) like yourselves (18:110, 41:6)

And they say: We will not put faith in thee till thou cause a spring to gush forth… Or thou have a garden… and cause rivers to gush forth… Or thou cause the heaven to fall… or bring God and the angels… have a house of gold; ascend up into heaven… bring down for us a book… Say: My Lord be glorified! Am I naught save a mortal messenger?” (17:90-93) etc.

You will see them quoting such verses continually to try to prove that the Prophet was an ordinary person. They never remember the last part of the verse that states:

Say: I am but a mortal like yourselves, but I receive revelation.

Of course, they also try to extend this Communist-like doctrine of perfect ordinariness and equality to the awliya as being even more ordinary. Such behavior is typical of certain groups standing in the way of the propagation of true Islam to whom Nuh Keller refers in his notice on Yusuf al-Rifa`i in his Reliance of the Traveller (p. 1112):

He (Yusuf al-Rifa`i) takes a keen interest in the problems of Muslims today, and at a recent symposium in Amman with Sheikh Abdullah Muhammad Ghimari and Sheikh Hassan Saqqaf, he voiced his concern for the obstacles to the current Islamic revival and world propagation of Islam that are being put in its way by “fundamentalists” whose view of Allah is anthropomorphic, view of the Prophet is that he is over-venerated and loved by Muslims, and view of Muslims is that they are unbelievers or immersed in unlawful innovations.

To go back to the above verses, the scholars’ explanation for them is not that the Prophets declare their mortality as an expression of their ordinariness, but rather of their dignity and humbleness on the one hand, and on the other hand to destroy any claim of a nature other than human — e.g. god or angel — that might be attributed to them.

These verses also came in answer to some people who asked the Prophet for signs in a spirit of disbelief and mockery, such as a group who claimed that they would attest to his prophethood only if he performed for them certain miracles, while it is established by the scholars of asbab an-nuzul (Context for Revelation) that the Prophet disliked being asked for miracles by unbelievers. To quote these verses in an attempt to prove the supposed ordinariness of the Prophet is an aberrant practice and a true under-estimation of his rights and of Allah’s generosity towards Him. The Prophet certainly was not limited in the reductive sense that disbelievers claimed about prophets in the verse: “They said: Ye are but mortals like unto us” (36:15).

Finally another reason for the disclaimers concerning the Prophet was his humbleness. The explanation of Ibn `Abbas quoted by Qadi `Iyad in al-Shifa’ and al-Khazin in his Commentary (18:110) suffices for anyone who looks at the Prophet with the eyes of belief rather than those of skepticism: “Allah has taught modesty to His Prophet Muhammad, lest he boast before His creation. He has therefore ordered him to be dignified and say: I am but a mortal man like you, except that I was chosen for Revelation.”

We close this section with an excerpt from Qadi `Iyad’s al-Shifa’ on the angelic nature of Prophets:

Allah says: “Muhammad is only a Messenger, and Messengers have passed away before him. Why, if he should die or be killed…” (3:144) and “The Masih (Christ), son of Maryam, is only a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him and his mother was a truthful woman. They used to eat food” (5:75) and “We only sent Messengers before that are food and walked in the markets” (25:20) and “Say: I am a mortal like you to whom revelation has been given” (18:10).

Muhammad and all the Prophets of mankind were sent to men. If it had not been for that, people would not have been able to meet them face-to-face, to have accepted from them and spoken with them.

Allah says, “If We had made him an angel, We would have made him a man” (6:9). That is to say, the angel would have taken the form of a man to whom they could speak since they would not be able to face an angel and speak with it if they saw it in its true form.

Allah says, “Say: if there had been angels on the earth walking at peace, We would have sent down upon them an angel as a Messenger from heaven” (17:95). That is to say, it is not possible in the Sunna of Allah to send an angel except to one who is the same as it or one to whom Allah gives a special gift, choses and makes strong enough to be able to face it, such as the Prophets and Messengers.

Prophets and Messengers are intermediaries between Allah and His creation. They convey His commands and prohibitions, His warning and threat to His creatures and they acquaint them with things they did not know regarding His command, creation, majesty, power and His MalakutTheir outward form, bodies and structure are characterised by the qualities of men as far as non-essential matters such as illnesses, death and passing away are concerned and they have human traits.

But their souls and inward parts have the highest possible human qualities, associated with the Highest Assembly, which are similar to angelic attributes, free of any possibility of alteration or evil. Generally speaking the incapacity and weakness connected with being human cannot be associated with them. If their inward parts had been human in the same way as their outward, they would not have been able to receive revelation from the angels, see them, mix and sit with them in the way other mortals are unable to do.

If their bodies and outward parts had been marked by angelic attributes as opposed to human attributes, the mortals to whom they were sent would not have been able to speak with them as Allah has already said. Thus they have the aspect of men as far as their bodies and outward parts are concerned, and that of angels in respect of their souls and inward parts.

It is in this way that the Prophet said, “If I had taken a close friend from my Community, I would have taken Abu Bakr as a friend, but it is the brotherhood of Islam. Rather your companion is the close friend of the Merciful.”26

He said, “My eyes sleep and my heart does not sleep.”27

He said, “I am not made the same as you but my Lord gives me food and drink.”28

Their inward parts are disconnected from evil and free from imperfection and weakness.

This summary will certainly not benough for all those who are concerned with this subject…29

And Allah knows best.

© As-Sunna Foundation of America


1 Fath al-Bari, Tafsir Surat Luqman, ayat: “Allah has knowledge of the Hour.” (1989 ed. 8:660).
2 al-Qurtubi as quoted by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1989 ed.) 12:449.
3 al-Baydawi, Anwar al-tanzil in Majma` al-tafasir 3:149.
4 Narrated from Ibn `Umar by Ahmad (2:85); Tabarani in the Kabir (12:361), Hatythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (8:263), Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir 6:355, and Suyuti in his Tafsir al-Durr al-manthur (5:169). Haythami said: “The sub-narrators in Ahmad’s chain are the men of sound (sahih) narration.”
5 Narrated from Ibn Mas`ud by Ahmad and Ibn `Adi. Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (8:263) says: “The sub-narrators in both chains are the men of sound (sahih) narration.”
6 Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (Dar al-fikr ed. 1:124 and 8:514).
7 Ahmad narrated it and Ibn Kathir mentions it in his Tafsir for Surat Luqman. al-Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa’id (#116): “Abu Dawud narrates part of it, and all of the sub-narrators in Ahmad’s chain are trustworthy and they are Imams.”
8 al-Qari, Jam` al-wasa’il (Cairo, 1317 H) p. 209
9 al-Qari, al-Asrar al-marfu`a (#478, p. 126).
10 al-Haythami said: “Ahmad (4:303 #18718) narrated it and its chain contain Maymun Abu `Abd Allah. Ibn Hibban declared him trustworthy while a group of others declared him weak. The remainder of its sub-narrators are trustworthy.”
11 Ibn Hisham relates it in his Sira (Beirut, dar al-wifaq ed. 3-4: 219) and also Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya (4:99).
12 Ibn Hisham, Sira 3-4:219.
13 Haythami says in Majma` al-zawa’id (9:24 #91): “al-Bazzar relates it and its sub-narrators are all sound (rijaluhu rijal al-sahih).” Qadi `Iyad cites it in al-Shifa (1:56 of the Amman edition). Suyuti said in his Manahil al-safa fi takhrij ahadith al-shifa (Beirut 1988/1408) p. 31 (#8): “Ibn Abi Usama cites it in his Musnad from the hadith of Bakr ibn `Abd Allah al-Muzani, and al-Bazzar from the hadith of Ibn Mas`ud with a sound (sahih) chain.” Ibn al-Jawzi mentions it through Bakr and then again through Anas ibn Malik in the penultimate chapter of the penultimate section of al-Wafa, and also mentions the version through Aws ibn Aws with a sound chain: “The actions of human beings are shown to me every Thursday on the night of (i.e. preceding) Friday.” See also Fath al-Bari 10:415, al-Mundhiri’s al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib 3:343, and Musnad Ahmad 4:484.
14 The translation from Qadi `Iyad is by `A’isha Bint `Abdurrahman Bewley with slight modifications, from the Madinah Press edition entitled Muhammad Messenger of Allah: ash-Shifa’ of Qadi `Iyad, 2nd ed. (Granada: Madinah Press, 1992) p. 186-193.
15 Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud.
16 Narrated in Tabarani and Ahmad with a sound (sahih) chain according to Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id. Also narrated by Abu Ya`la and Ibn Mani`.
17 Those who strictly bound themselves to the criteria of soundness in narrating hadith, such as Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Hibban, Ibn Khuzayma, and al-Hakim in their well-known books.
18 Such as Malik, Ahmad, and the rest of the authors of the Six Books and others, i.e. those who did not strictly bind themselves to to the criteria of soundness in narrating hadith.
19 al-Imam al-hafiz Abu al-hasan `Ali ibn `Abd Allah al-Madini (pr. ma-dEE-ni). He narrated hadith from his father and from Hammad ibn Zayd and a large number of hadith masters. From him narrated Bukhari, Abu Dawud, al-Baghawi, Abu Ya`la. His shaykh `Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi said: “`Ali ibn al-Madini is the most knowledgeable of all human beings in the hadith of Allah’s Messenger, especially concerning what Ibn `Uyayna narrates. Do you blame me for loving `Ali ibn al-Madini too much? By Allah, I learn more from him than he does from me.” Yahya al-Qattan (al-Madini’s shaykh and that of Ahmad ibn Hanbal) said the same about him. Bukhari said: “I did not think little of myself except in front of `Ali (ibn al-Madini).” al-Nasa’i said: “It is as if Allah created him only for this science (hadith).” He died in Samarra. The name of Madini is related to the city of the Prophet. This was said by Ibn al-Athir. As for al-Jawhari, he said that the latter would be “Madani” (pr. ma-da-nEE) and that “Madini” was related to the city built by the caliph al-Mansur.
20 Ahmad and Tabarani from Abu Umama.
21 A place between Basra and mecca where `A’isha stayed when she was trying to intercede between `Ali and Mu`awiya.
22 al-Hajjaj was a tyrant while al-Mukhtar was a Khariji.
23 I.e. exaggeration in shaving the head. This was one of the marks of the Wahhabis as pointed out by al-`Alawi al-Haddad and others. It is known that Ibn `Abidin called the Wahhabis Kharijis in his Hashiyat al-durr al-mukhtar. It is also said that tahliq here means: sitting in circles.
24 From Asma’ Bint Yazid: Abu Dharr (al-Ghifari) used to serve the Prophet and when he finished he would go to the masjid and sleep, and the masjid was his house. One time the Prophet came in and found Abu Dharr lying on the ground. He nudged him with his foot and Abu Dharr sat up. The Prophet said: “Sleeping?” He replied: “O Messenger of Allah, where else can I sleep? I have no house other than this.” The Prophet said: “What will you do if they expel you from it?” He said: “I will repair to Syria, for verily Syria is the land of migration, the land of the Gathering (on the Day of Judgment), and the land of Prophets. I shall be one of its dwellers.” The Prophet said: “What will you do if they expel you from Syria?” He said: “I will come back here and make it my house and my dwelling.” The Prophet said: “What if they expel you from it a second time?” He replied: “Then I will take up my sword and fight them off until I die.” The Prophet looked displeased and he held him firmly and said: “Shall I tell you of a better way?” He said: “Yes, may my father and mother be ransomed for you, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet said: “Let them lead you whither they lead you, and let yourself be taken whither they take you, until you meet me again in that very state.” Ahmad narrated it with one weak sub-narrator (Shahr ibn Hawshab), however, some have declared him reliable, e.g. Ibn Hajar in “Fath al-Bari” 3:65 and al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi. The hadiths of Abu Dharr’s death and the prediction of its circumstances are narrated by Ibn Rahawyh, Ibn Abi Usama, and al-Bayhaqi: Umm Dharr (his wife) wept as he lay on his deathbed and upon his questioning she replied: “Why should I not weep seeing you die in a desert land and I have not even enough in my possession for my own shroud, nor yours?” He said: “Good tidings to you, and don’t weep! for I heard the Prophet say to a large group as I was among them: One of you will die in a deserted land, with a handful of Muslims for witnesses. None of that large group remains and all of them died in a town surrounded by many. Therefore I am that one…” From Ibn Mas`ud: When the Prophet went out on the campaign of Tabuk Abu Dharr lagged behind due to his old camel. They complained of it to the Prophet who said: “Leave him be, for perhaps there is good in it, and Allah will make him catch up with you.” When Abu Dharr saw that his camel was too slow, he carried his own gear and continued on foot, following the traces of Allah’s Messenger alone in the heat. When the Prophet saw him his eyes filled with tears and he said: “May Allah have mercy on Abu Dharr! He walks alone, and he shall die alone, and he shall be resurrected alone. Ibn Hajar mentions in al-Isaba that Ibn Ishaq narrated it with a weak chain.

It was so when he died in al-Rabdha, for there was no one with him except his wife and his young boy. After they washed him and shrouded him they waited by the side of the road for someone to help bury him. `Abd Allah ibn Mas`ud came with a following of the people of Iraq. When the boy saw them he jumped up to them and said: “This is Abu Dharr, the Companion of Allah’s Messenger! Therefore, help us to bury him.” Ibn Mas`ud came down and wept saying: “Allah’s Messenger told the truth.”

Abu Dharr had heard from the Prophet that one must not hoard up provision for more than a certain time. During the caliphate of

Sayiddina `Uthman, people became quite well-off. Abu Dharr used to come out and preach against this and say they were wrong to store up and save. The people complained to Sayyidina `Uthman. Whenever Abu Dharr met sayyidina `Uthman, may Allah be well pleased with both of them, Abu Dharr would recite to him the verse:

9:35 On the day when it will (all) be heated in the Fire, and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith (and it will be said unto them): Here is that which ye hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what ye used to hoard. Finally he called Abu Dharr and told him to stop. When Abu Dharr refused, saying he must convey what was told to him, `Uthman exiled him from Madina. al-Qari says: `Uthman exiled him to Syria, then he brought him back to Madina, then exiled him again to al-Rabdha, a village in ruins, where he stayed until his death.

Abu Dharr was evidently the strictest and most austere of the Companions in light of the ahadith related from and about him. He was a Sufi-like Companion and is known as “al-zahid” or the ascetic in the biographical dictionaries. He was extremely scrupulous and direct. The author of Hayat al-Sahaba mentions Sufyan al-Thawri’s relation that Abu Dharr used to stand by the Ka`ba and shout at the people: “Greed has killed you! You can never fulfill your greed!”

The following is illustrative of Abu Dharr’s manner:

Ahmad (1:63) relates on the authority of Abu Dharr that the latter came to ask something from `Uthman ibn `Affan and he had his staff in his hand. `Uthman then asked, “O Ka`b, `Abd al-Rahman [ibn `Awf] has died and has left money behind. What is your opinion on it?” He replied, “If he paid Allah’s dues with his money [i.e. his debts], then we may use it.” Abu Dharr raised his staff and hit Ka`b with it. Then he said: “I heard the Prophet say: If this entire mountain of gold were mine to spend and it were accepted, I would not like to leave behind even six ounces of it.” I adjure you by Allah, `Uthman, did you hear it? Did you hear it? Did you hear it?” `Uthman said: na`am (Yes)!

This is the account of Abu Dharr’s conversion in Sahih Bukhari:

[English by Khan with slight modifications. Volume 5, Book 58, Number 201:]

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

When Abu Dharr received the news of the Advent of the Prophet he said to his brother, “Ride to this valley (of Mecca) and try to find out the truth of the person who claims to be a prophet who is informed of the news of Heaven. Listen to what he says and come back to me.” So his brother set out and came to the Prophet and listened to some of his talks, and returned to Abu Dharr and said to him. “I have seen him enjoining virtuous behavior and saying something that is not poetry.” Abu Dharr said, “You have not satisfied me as to what I wanted.” He then took his journey-food and carried a water-skin of his, containing some water till be reached Mecca. He went to the Mosque and searched for the Prophet and though he did not know him, he hated to ask anybody about him. When a part of the night had passed away, `Ali saw him and knew that he was a stranger. So when Abu Dharr saw `Ali, he followed him, and none of them asked his companion about anything, and when it was dawn, Abu Dharr took his journey food and his water-skin to the Mosque and stayed there all the day long without being perceived by the Prophet, and when it was evening, he came back to his retiring place. `Ali passed by him and said, “Has the man not known his dwelling place yet?” So `Ali awakened him and took him with him and none of them spoke to the other about anything. When it was the third day. `Ali did the same and Abu Dharr stayed with him. Then `Ali said “Will you tell me what has brought you here?” Abu Dharr said, “If you give me a firm promise that you will guide me, then I will tell you.” `Ali promised him, and he informed `Ali about the matter. `Ali said, “It is true, and he is the Apostle of Allah. Next morning when you get up, accompany me, and if I see any danger for you, I will stop as if to pass water, but if I go on, follow me and enter the place which I will enter.” Abu Dharr did so, and followed `Ali till he entered the place of the Prophet, and Abu Dharr went in with him, Abu Dharr listened to some of the Prophet’s talks and embraced Islam on the spot. The Prophet said to him, “Go back to your people and inform them (about it) till you receive my order.” Abu Dharr said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, I will proclaim my conversion loudly amongst them (i.e. the pagans).” So he went out, and when he reached the Mosque, he said as loudly as possible, “I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.” The People got up and beat him painfully. Then al-`Abbas came and knelt over him (to protect him) and said (to the people), “Woe to you! Don’t you know that this man belongs to the tribe of Ghifar and your trade to Sha’m is through their way?” So he rescued him from them. Abu Dharr again did the same the next day. They beat him and took vengeance on him and again al-`Abbas knelt over him.

Ibn Hajar says about him in al-Isaba fi tamyiz al-sahaba:

“The famous ascetic who spoke frankly… His full name was Jundub ibn Janada ibn Sakan; it was also said he was called Ibn `Abd Allah, or Barir, or Burayr, or al-Sakan ibn Janada… He was tall, of dark complexion, and thin… al-Tabarani cited the hadith from Abu al-Darda’ whereby the Prophet always looked for Abu Dharr when he was present, and missed him when he was absent. Ahmad mentioned the hadith whereby the Prophet said: “The one of you sitting closest to me on the Day of rising is he who leaves this world in the same condition as on the day I left him;” Abu Dharr added: and, by Allah there is none among you except he has lusted for something in the world except I.” Its sub-narrators are trustworthy except that the link [of the Tabi`i] is missing, as I don’t think `Arrak ibn Malik narrated from Abu al-Darda’…

Abu Dawud cited with a good chain `Ali’s saying: “Abu Dharr is a large vessel full of knowledge, and he became helpless about it.” Abu Dawud and Ahmad narrated from `Abd Allah ibn `Umar that the Prophet said: “Neither dust has carried nor green has shaded one more frank of speech than Abu Dharr.”… After he met the Prophet, Abu Dharr went to the Ka`ba and began shouting at the top of his lungs: I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger! whereupon the people pounced on him and beat him until he could not get up. al-`Abbas rescued him and said to the people: Woe to you! He is from Ghifar, on the trade route to Damascus. Then Abu Dharr came back the next day and did the same, whereupon they beat him again and al-`Abbas rescued him again…
He died in al-Rabdha in the year 31 or 32. The majority think the latter. It is said in a story related with a passable chain that Ibn Mas`ud led the funeral prayer over him. al-Mada’ini (i.e. al-hafiz `Ali al-Madini) says the same and adds that Ibn Mas`ud then returned to Madina and died shortly afterwards.” End of Ibn hajar’s words in al-Isaba.
25 al-Bayhaqi narrates it. `Ali al-Qari in his commentary on Qadi `Iyad said: al-Khatib said: He became Muslim. Others said: He died as a Christian. The contradiction is resolved by the fact that he became Muslim and then apostatized. Ibn Mindah and Abu Nu`aym in their books entitled “Ma`rifat al-sahaba” (Knowledge of who the Companions were) said He became Muslim and gifted the Prophet a mantle of brocade [hillatun siyara‘ — note that the latter adjective also denotes, as a noun, the veil over the heart] which the Prophet gave to `Umar. Ibn al-Athir said [in his own dictionary of the Companions entitled Usd al-ghaba]: Concerning the approach and the gift they are right, but concerning his Islam they were mistaken, for there is no disagreement among the authors of biographies that he was not a Muslim [i.e. when he died]. He was a Christian when the Prophet approached him, then he went back to his stronghold and remained there until Khalid surrounded him in the time of Abu Bakr, and killed him as a Christian idolater for breaching his trust. Ibn al-Athir continues: al-Baladuri mentioned that Ukaydar came to the Prophet and then went back to Duma, also called Duma al-Jundul, a place between Hijaz and Syria, then, when the Prophet died, he apostatized. When Khalid marched from Iraq to Syria he killed him.
26 Narrated by Bukhari.
27 Narrated by Bukhari.
28 Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim.
29 From the translation of Qadi `Iyad al-Maliki’s al-Shifa’ by `A’isha Bewley, Madinah Press, p. 277-278.