Sun's Dwelling Place, Asking Plenty, Solitary Hadiths

Issue 1014 » August 31, 2018 - Dhul-Hijja 20, 1439

Living The Quran

Sun's Dwelling Place
Ya-Sin (Ya Sin) - Chapter 36: Verse 38

"And the sun runs to a dwelling place of its own. That is the decree of the Mighty, the Knowing."

It is reported that a Companion of the Prophet, Abu Dharr, said, "The Prophet asked me at sunset, 'Do you know where the sun goes [when it sets]?' I replied, 'God and His Messenger know best.' He said, 'It travels till it prostrates itself underneath the Throne and asks permission to rise again, and it is permitted. Then it is about to prostrate itself, but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course, but it will not be permitted and will instead be ordered to return whence it has come, and so it will rise in the west'". In light of this account, the verse alludes to the sun's final dwelling place on the Day of Judgment.

Others see the verse as a reference to the sun following its winter and summer orbits until each solstice, when it reaches its northernmost or southernmost extreme before reversing direction. Dwelling place then indicates the solstice. In this interpretation it bears a close resemblance to the word "solstice," which derives from the Latin solstitium, meaning "sun-stopping."

Another reading, "And the sun runs; it has no dwelling place (la mustaqarra laha)," was reportedly preferred by some of the Prophet's Companions, such as the famous Quran scholars Ibn Masud and Ibn Abbas.

Compiled From:
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Asking Plenty

Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet said: "If any of you expresses a wish, he should consider what he is hoping to have. He does not know what he will be granted". [Bayhaqi, Ahmad]

The Prophet's instruction merely alerts us to being careful so that we know for certain what we are requesting God to grant us. It may be that we wish for something and pray for it. Then when we are granted that very thing, we may regret it because it turns out to be disadvantageous. A good practice to make sure that we are only given what is good is to pray to God to grant us our wish if He knows that it will bring us benefit.

Some people, however, think that we should not be praying for too much, so that we do not show ourselves to be greedy. This may be true if we are seeking a gift from a human being like ourselves. But when we pray to God for a favour, we know that we are asking the One who owns the whole universe. He will not be any poorer for granting us whatever we ask Him. It is to this aspect that the Prophet points in the hadith reported by his wife, Aishah: "When anyone expresses his wish, he should ask for plenty. He is only asking his Lord, the Mighty and Exalted". [Tabarani] So if we are seeking riches or benefits from God, we need not feel shy to seek much, because we are asking the Most Generous.

Compiled From:
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi


Solitary Hadiths

Abu Hanifah was accused of violating the Sunnah, although he denied the charge. When Abbasid Caliph Abu Jafar al-Mansur wrote to him saying, "Word has it that you place a higher priority on analogical reasoning (qiyas) than you do on the hadiths!" Abu Hanifah replied:

"It is not as you have heard, O Commander of the Faithful. Rather, I work first on the basis of the Book of God. I then turn to the Sunnah of the Prophet and, after this, to the legal rulings issued by Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. Lastly, I look at the legal rulings issued by the other Companions of the Prophet. Only if there is disagreement among these do I resort to analogical reasoning. And God remains exalted above His creatures."

In the Hanafites' view, a hadith that has not gained wide circulation (and has thus not been classified as mashhur or mustafid) is of only tentative value. As such, it neither specifies what is stated generally in the Quran nor qualifies what the Quran has stated in absolute terms. Abu Hanifah would reject a solitary hadith (ahad) if: (1) its content was in conflict with the overall message or apparent meaning of the Quran; (2) it contradicted other, widely circulating hadiths; (3) the narrator of the hadith was not a jurist or scholar of Islamic jurisprudence; (4) the narrator, after passing on the hadith, acted in a manner contrary to the hadith's content; (5) it dealt with punishments or means of atoning for serious offenses, since such measures lose their validity if they are subject to the slightest doubt, and the narrator may have lied or been mistaken in what he said; (6) some of the pious early Muslims had challenged its reliability; and (7) it had ceased to be employed in argumentation due to disagreement over it among the Companions. (The last condition was sufficient basis for rejection of a solitary hadith by some early Hanifite scholars, and most later ones).

Compiled From:
"Reviving The Balance: The Authority of the Qur'an and the Status of the Sunnah " - Taha Jabir Alalwani, p. 147