Hadith of Adam’s tawassul through the Prophet
by GF Haddad—Rabi al-Awwal 1427—April 2006
– The hadith of Adam’s tawassul through the Prophet is related from three Companions – Maysara, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Ibn ‘Umar – with chains varying in strength from strong to very weak:
- Ibn al-Jawzi narrated in al-Wafawith his chain through al-Bayhaqi’s and al-Khatib’s shaykh, the trustworthy hafizAbu al-Husayn ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah, known as Ibn Bishran al-‘Adl al-Umawi al-Baghdadi al-Mu‘addal (d. 411 or 415) in his Fawa’id, from the trustworthy hafiz and Musnid of Baghdad Abu Ja‘far Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Bakhtari al-Razzaz, from Ahmad ibn Ishaq ibn Salihi al-Wazzan al-Jurjani (d. 281 “la ba’sa bihi” according to al-Daraqutni), from Muhammad ibn Sinin al-‘Awqi (d. 223, al-Bukhari’s shaykh in the sahih), from Ibrahim ibn Rahman (one of the narrators of the Sahihayn), from Budayl ibn Maysara (one of the narrators in Sahih Muslim), from ‘Abd Allah ibn Shaqiq (one of the narrators in Sahih Muslim), from the Companion Maysarat al-Fajr:
I said: “Messenger of Allah, when were you made a Prophet?” He replied: “When Allah created the earth and turned to the heavens, arranging them into seven heavens, and He created the Throne, He wrote on the leg of the Throne: MUHAMMAD IS THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH AND THE SEAL OF PROPHETS. And Allah created Paradise in which He made Adam and Hawwa’ dwell, then He wrote my name [there] on the gates, the tree-leaves, the houses and tents, while Adam was still between the spirit and the body. When Allah Most High brought him to life, he looked at the Throne and saw my name, whereupon Allah Most High informed him: ‘He is the liege-lord of your offspring.’ When shaytan deceived them, they repented and sought intercession with my name from Him.”
The hadith master al-Salihi cited it in Subul al-Huda wal-Rashad (Beirut ed. 1:86=Cairo ed. 1:104) and said “Its chain is good and there is no harm in it.”1 Al-Halabi also cited it in his Sira (1:355).
Al-Bayhaqi narrates with the above chain only the reply “While Adam was still between the spirit and the body” in his Dala’il al-Nubuwwa (1:84) while Ibn Taymiyya cites the entire wording with the full chain in Majmu’ al-Fatawa (2:150-151) but he adds “from Muhammad ibn Salihi between Ahmad ibn Ishaq al-Wazzan and Ibn Sinin al-‘Awqi. If correct, this additional link could be either the trustworthy hafiz Muhammad ibn Salihi ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Anmal al-Sufi known as Kaylaja (d. 271) or Muhammad ibn Salihi al-Wasiti Ka‘b al-Dhira who is also trustworthy, so the chain remains a strong chain, and Allah knows best.
- Al-Khallil narrated in al-Sunna (1:261): Al-Fa\l ibn Muslim al-Muwaribi narrated to us: Muhammad ibn ‘Isma narrated to us: Jundul [ibn Waliq, thiqaper al-Haythami] narrated to us: ‘Amr ibn Aws al-Anari [masturper al-Dhahabi] narrated to us: from Sa’id ibn Abi ;Aruba: from Qatada: from Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyab: from Ibn Abbas: “Allah Most High revealed to ‘Isa: ‘O ‘Isa, Believe in Muhammad and command whosoever reaches his time among your Community that they believe in him. Were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created Adam, and were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created Paradise or Hellfire. Indeed, I created the Throne on top of the water and it shook, so I inscribed upon it LA ILAHA ILLA ALLAH MUAAMMADUN RASULULLAH, whereupon it stood still.’” Al-Khallal said: “I read it to Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Bishr ibn Sharik and he concurred with it,” i.e. with its being authentic.
Al-Hakim similarly narrated in the Mustadrak (2:614-615=2:271): ‘Ali ibn Hamshadh al-‘Adl (258-338) [Abu al- Hasan al-Naysaburi, a major trustworthy hafiz] narrated to us by dictation: Harun ibn al-‘Abbas al-Hashimi (208-275) [thiqa per al-Khatib] narrated to us: Jundul ibn Waliq narrated to us, to the end of the above chain and text. Al-Hakim said: “This is a sound-chained hadith but al-Bukhari and Muslim did not narrate it.”2
Al-Dhahabi in his Talkhi al-Mustadrak and Mizan al-Itidal (s.v. ‘Amr ibn Aws) conjectures that Ibn ‘Abbas’s narration is forged (“azunnuhu mawdu’an”) but brings no proof, as its chain contains neither a liar nor a forger and is a fair chain by the Salaf’s criteria for fada’il hadiths.
III. Al-Albani narrated in al-Mu‘jam al-Saghir (2:82 §992) and al-Mu‘jam al-Awsat (6:313-614 §6502) : Muhammad ibn Dawud ibn Aslam al-Safadi narrated to us: Ahmad ibn Sa‘id al-Madani al-Fihri narrated to us:
‘Abd Allah ibn Ismail al-Madani narrated to us: from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam, from his father, from his grandfather, from ‘Umar ibn al-Khatab:
The Prophet œ said: “When Adam committed the sin he made, he raised his head toward the Throne and said: ‘I am asking You by the right of Muhammad to forgive me.’ Allah Most High revealed to him: ‘What is Muhammad? Who is Muhammad?’ He replied: ‘Glorified be Your Name! When You created me I raised my head toward Your Throne and [saw] there was written on it: LA ILAHA ILLA ALLAH MUHAMMADUN RASULULLAH. I knew that there was no one more magnificent in Your sight than him whose name You placed next to Your Name.’ Allah Most High revealed to him: ‘O Adam, truly He is the last of the Prophets from your seed and his Community are the last of all Communities from your seed. Were it not for him, O Adam, I would not have created you.’”
The above is also narrated by al-Hakim (2:615) and al-Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa (5:488-489) thus: Abu Sa‘id ‘Amr ibn Muhammad ibn Mansur al-‘Adl narrated to us: Abu al-Hasan Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Hanbali narrated to us: Abu al-Harith ‘Abd Allah ibn Muslim al-Fihri narrated to us in Egypt: Isma‘il ibn Maslama narrated to us: ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam informed us: from his father: from his grandfather: from ‘Umar ibn al-Khatab:
The Prophet said: “When Adam committed his mistake he said: ‘O my Lord, I am asking you to forgive me for the sake of Muhammad.’ Allah Most High said: ‘O Adam, and how do you know about Muhammad whom I have not yet created?’ Adam replied: ‘O my Lord, after You created me with your hand and breathed into me of Your spirit, I raised my head and saw written on the heights of the Throne: LA ILAHA ILLA ALLAH MUHAMMADUN RASULULLAH. I knew that You would not place next to Your Name but the most beloved one of Your creation.’ Allah Most High said: ‘O Adam, I have forgiven you, and were it not for Muhammad I would not have created you.’”3
So the pivot of this narration is ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam whom al-Bayhaqi declared weak although Ibn ‘Adi in his Kamil considered that his narrations were overall fair. Al-Dhahabi went to excess in declaring the hadith forged.
The hadith is also narrated from our liege-lord ‘Umar in mawquf form by the Shafi’i hadith master Abu Bakr al- Ajurri al-Makki – he was the shaykh of Ibn Bishran’s brother Abi al-Qasim ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Bishran – in al-Shari’a (p. 432) with his chain.
Al-Ajurri also narrates it (p. 430 §963) from the Tabi’i Abi al-Zinad with an extremely weak chain.
A similar wording is also narrated from Muhammad al-Baqir by Ibn al-Mundhir in his Tafsir according to al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur (1:60).4
The exchange “How do you know of Muhammad” and our liege-lord Adam’s reply is also narrated from Ibn Masud by Ibn Abi al-Dunya with his chain in al-Ishraf fi Manazil al-Ashraf (p. 113-114 §24).
Al-Daylami in al-Firdaws bi-Ma’thur al-Khitab (5:227 §8031) cited without chain from Ibn ‘Abbas: “Allah Most High says: ‘I swear it by My Power and My Glory! Were it not for you [O Muhammad], I would not have created the world.’”5
Al-Albani rejected it in his Silsila Da’ifa (§282). Al-Khallil in al-Sunna (1:237) narrated it from the Hanbali Harun ibn al-‘Abbas al-Hisni who added that whoever rejects this hadith is a zindiq. This ruling is reminiscent of the expression of the Shafi Imam Taqi al-Din al-i|n in the book he wrote against Ibn Taymiyya entitled Daf Shubahi man Shabbaha wa-Tamarrad in which he said:
Whoever denies the use of the Prophet œ as intermediary (al-tawassul bihi) and the use of him as intercessor (al-tashaffu bihi) after his death, or claims that his sanctity ended with his death, has announced to the people and proclaimed against himself that his state is worse than that of the Jews, who used him as intermediary before he appeared into existence, and that there is in his heart a Al-Salihi in Subul al-Huda (‘Ilmiyya ed. 1:75) cites it as narrated from our liege-lord ‘Ali by al-Azafi in his Mawlid and Ibn Sabi in Shifa’ al-Sudur in the wording: “O Muhammad! I swear it by My Power and My Glory! Were it not for you, I would not have created my earth, or my heaven, nor would I have raised up this sky or flattened this land.”
He also mentions that Ibn Asakir (3:517-518) narrated with a very weak chain from Salman: “Since I took Ibrahim as my intimate friend (khallil), I took you as my beloved friend (habibi), and I did not create anything dearer to Me than you, and I have created the world and its people to make your honor and rank known to them, and were it not for you I would not have created the world.” This is part of a much longer narration which Ibn al-Jawzi declared “forged beyond doubt” in his Mawduat (1:288-289).
Al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur (3:117) and al-Salihi (1:85=Cairo ed. 1:104) mentioned that Ibn Abi Hat’im in his Musnad (= al-Sunna p. 306) and Abu Nu’aym narrated from Anas that Allah Most High said to Musa: “O Musa, whoever meets Me disbelieving in Muhammad, I shall cause him to enter the Fire.” Musa said: “Who is Muhammad?” He replied: “O Musa, I swear it by My Power and My Glory! I never created anything dearer to Me than him. I have written his name together with My Name on the Throne before I created the heavens and the earth and the sun and moon by two thousand years.” Its chain is so weak that al-Dhahabi in his Mizan declared it among the forgeries of Sa’id ibn Musa al-Umawi. This is also cited from Ibn ‘Abbas6 and the “two thousand year” period is also related from the Tabi’ ‘Ata.7
Ibn Abi al-Dunya in his Manazil al-Ashraf (p. 113 §23) narrated with his chain that Sa’id ibn Jubayr said: “The children of Adam differed over who was the dearest of creatures to Allah Most High, some of them saying it was the angels who never disobey Allah. They went to Adam who replied: ‘Truly, I am the dearest of all creatures except that when the spirit was breathed into me, it had hardly reached my feet before I sat up fully and the Throne glimmered before me and I gazed at it; lo and behold! there was [written] on it MUHAMMADUN RASULULLAH. In reality, he is the dearest of all creatures to Allah.’”
The Ulema generally agreed that creation was for the sake of the Prophet. Hence, when they mentioned the narration that were it not for him Allah would not have created anything, they said its meaning was true.8 Ibn Taymiyya gave the most eloquent expression of this verification of the meaning:
Muhammad is the Chief of the Children of Adam, the Best of Creation, the noblest of them in the sight of Allah Most High. This is why some have said that “Allah created the Universe due to him,” or that “Were it not for him, He would have neither created a Throne, nor a Footstool, nor a heaven, earth, sun or moon.” However, this is not a hadith on the authority of the Prophet… but it may be explained from a correct aspect…
Since the best of the righteous of the children of Adam is Muhammad œ, creating him was a desirable end of deep-seated purposeful wisdom, more than for anyone else, and hence the completion of creation and the fulfillment of perfection was attained with Muhammad… The Chief of the Children of Adam is Muhammad, may Allah Exalted bless him and grant him peace, Adam and his children being under his banner. He, may Allah Exalted bless him and grant him peace, said: “Truly, I was written as the Seal of the Prophets with Allah Most High, when Adam was going to-and-fro in his clay,” i.e. that my prophethood was decreed and manifested when Adam was created but before the breathing of the Spirit into him, just as Allah decrees the livelihood, lifespan, deeds and misery or happiness of the slave when He creates the embryo but before the breathing of the Spirit into it.
Since man is the seal and last of all creation, and its microcosm, and since the best of man is thus the best of all creation absolutely, then Muhammad œ, being the Pupil of the Eye, the Axis of the Mill, and the Distributor to the Collective, is as it were the Ultimate Purpose from amongst all the purposes of creation. Thus it cannot be denied to say that “Due to him all of this was created,” or that “Were it not for him, all this would not have been created,” so if statements like this are thus explained according to what the Book and the Sunna indicate, it is acceptable.9
And Allah knows best.
1 A grading confirmed by ‘Abd Allah al-Ghumari in Murshid al-Ha’ir (p. 37) and al-Radd al-Muhkam (p. 138-139) as well as his student Mahmud Mamduh in Raf‘ al-Minara (p. 247-249).
2 Also Abu al-Shaykh in Tabaqat al-Asfahaniyyin according to al-Lacknawi in al-Athar al-Marfu‘a (p. 44), and Abu Sa‘d al-Naysaburi in Sharaf al-Mustafa (1:163-165 §15).
3 Cited also by Abu Sa‘d al-Naysaburi in Sharaf al-Mustafa (1:165-166 §16) and Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya (1:81=1:91 and 2:322=2:393), al-Sira al-Nabawiyya (1:320), and Qisas al-Anbiya’ (1:29)
4 Reproduced in full by Mamduh in Raf al-Minsra (p. 246-247).
5 Cf. Kanz al-‘Ummal (§32025).
6 By Abu Sa‘d al-Naysaburi in Sharaf al-Mudafa (1:166-167 §17) and al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur (6:418-419) after Ibn Marduyah.
7 With a very weak chain by al-Ajurri in al-Shari‘a (p. 429-430 §962).
8 Cf. al-Khallal in al-Sunna and those he cites, Abu Muhammad Makki and Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi as cited by al-Hisni in Daf Shubah man Shabbaha wa-Tamarrad, al-Qastallani in the Mawahib and al-Zurqani in its Sharh, al-Salihi in Subul al-Huda, al-‘Ajluni in Kashf al-Khafa, al-Qari in the Asrar, al-Lacknawi in al-Athar al-Marfu’a….
9 Ibn Taymiyya, Majmua al-Fatawa (11:95-97).