Alleged Origin of Tashahhud

Alleged Origin of Tashahhud

Question:

Did Tashahhud really originate on the night of Miʿrāj during a conversation between Allāh , the Prophet  and Jibrīl?

Answer:

The alleged incident in the question has been written in many books. The shortest version is that of ʿAbd al-Laṭīf b. al-Malak ؒ, also known as Ibn Firishtah, in his Mabāriq al-Azhār. This is the same text quoted by Mullā ʿAlī al-Qārī ؒ in his Mirqāt al-Mafātīḥ.

روي: أنه لما عرج به أثنى على الله تعالى بهذه الكلمات، فقال الله تعالى: «السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته»، فقال : «السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين»، فقال جبريل: أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله، وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله

“It has been narrated that when he  was raised above [for the Miʿrāj], he praised Allāh Most High with these words [i.e. al-Taḥiyyāt], whereupon Allāh Most High remarked: ‘Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and Allāh’s Mercy and His Blessings.’ He [i.e. the Prophet] n responded: ‘Peace be upon us and Allāh’s righteous servants.’ Thereafter, Jibrīl said: ‘I testify that there is no deity but Allāh, and I testify that Muḥammad is His slave and messenger.’”[1]

This has also been quoted by Imām al-Qurṭubī ؒ in his Tafsīr from Ibn ʿAbbās ؓ with only a partial chain. Preceding the incident is a short academic discussion regarding whether the incident is related to the relevant verses or not. He states:

روي عن الحسن ومجاهد والضحاك: أن هذه الآية كانت في قصة المعراج، وهكذا روي في بعض الروايات عن ابن عباس، وقال بعضهم: جميع القرآن نزل به جبريل على محمد  إلا هذه الآية فإن النبي : هو الذي سمع ليلة المعراج، وقال بعضهم: لم يكن ذلك في قصة المعراج، لأن ليلة المعراج كانت بمكة وهذه السورة كلها مدنية، فأما من قال: إنها كانت ليلة المعراج قال: لما صعد النبي وبلغ في السموات في مكان مرتفع ومعه جبريل حتى جاوز سدرة المنتهى فقال له جبريل: «إني لم أجاوز هذا الموضع ولم يؤمر بالمجاوزة أحد هذا الموضع غيرك»، فجاوز النبي حتى بلغ الموضع الذي شاء الله، فأشار إليه جبريل بأن «سلم على ربك»، فقال النبي : «التحيات لله والصلوات والطيبات». قال الله تعالى: «السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته»، فأراد النبي أن يكون لأمته حظ في السلام فقال: «السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين»، فقال جبريل وأهل السموات كلهم: أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله

“It is narrated from al-Ḥasan, Mujāhid and al-Ḍaḥḥāk that this āyah was in the story of Miʿrāj. Likewise has been said in some narrations from Ibn ʿAbbās. Some maintain that Jibrīl descended with the whole Qur’ān upon Muḥammad  except for this āyah, because the Prophet  was the one who heard on the night of Miʿrāj. Others maintain it did not occur in the incident of Miʿrāj because the night of Miʿrāj had occurred in [the era of] Makkah; and this Sūrah, in its totality, was revealed in Madīnah. Consequently, those who say it was in the night of Miʿrāj also say when the Prophet  ascended and reached the heavens in a lofty place, Jibrīl was with him until he [i.e. the Prophet ] had gone beyond the Sidrat al-Muntahā. Jibrīl said to him: ‘I cannot go beyond this juncture; none have been permitted to pass this point other than you.’ The Prophet  passed through until he reached the place which Allāh had willed. Jibrīl indicated to him [i.e. the Prophet ] to convey Salām to his Lord, so the Prophet  said: ‘All verbal, physical and monetary deeds are for Allāh […]’” The rest is as mentioned above.[2]

Imām al-Qurṭubī ؒ seems to have taken it almost verbatim from Abū ’l-Layth al-Samarqandī ؒ, who mentioned it in his Baḥr al-ʿUlūm.[3] It has also been mentioned in a later work known as Rūḥ al-Bayān of Abū ’l-Fidā al-Khalwatī ؒ.[4] The text is as follows:

وروى- أنه  عرج من السماء السابعة إلى السدرة على جناح جبريل، ثم منها على الرفرف، وهو بساط عظيم. قال الشيخ عبد الوهاب الشعراني: هو نظير المحفة عندنا. ونادى جبريل من خلفه: يا محمد، إن الله يثنى عليك فاسمع وأطع ولا يهولنك كلامه، فبدأ  بالثناء، وهو قوله: «التحيات لله والصلوات والطيبات»، أي: العبادات القولية والبدنية والمالية، فقال تعالى: «السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته». فعمم  سلام الحق، فقال: «السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين»، فقال جبريل: أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله

Aside from a few details, the incident is the same as translated above.

Although this story has been written by a few scholars and is still told by many in public lectures, it holds no academic basis in Sharīʿah. This is for three reasons:

  • There is no chain of transmission recorded for the incident – neither authentic nor weak.
  • The ḥadīth of Miʿrāj has been authentically narrated with overwhelming details, and in no narration is the above incident related.
  • The origin of Tashahhud has explicitly been mentioned in authentic narrations.

One ought to not be deceived by names of great scholars when the story is circulated on social media or related in a lecture. Although the likes of al-Qurṭubī ؒ, Ibn al-Malak (Ibn Firishtah) ؒ, ʿAlī al-Qārī ؒ and others have written it, and later scholars like Mawlānā Yūsuf al-Ludhyānwī al-Shahīd ؒ went to the extent of using it as his argument (ḥujjah) in a certain controversial discussion,[5] none have provided a chain of transmission in their works.

Imām Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī ؒ, in his al-ʿArf al-Shadhī, made an interesting observation. He mentions:

وذكر بعض الأحناف قال رسول الله  في ليلة الإسراء: «التحيات لله» إلخ، قال الله تعالى: السلام عليك أيها النبي» إلخ، قال رسول الله : «السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله» إلخ، ولكني لم أجد سند هذه الرواية، وذكره في الروض الأنف

“And some anafīs mentioned…” then quoted the report; he continues: “However, I did not find a chain to this narration, and [Imām al-Suhaylī ؒ] mentioned it in al-Raw al-Unuf.”[6]

Al-Suhaylī’s ؒ text[7] is as follows:

وينضاف إليها في هذا الحديث ذكر الأذان الذي تضمنه حديث البزار مع ما روي أيضا أنه مر وهو على البراق بملائكة قيام وملائكة ركوع وملائكة سجود وملائكة جلوس، والكل يصلون لله، فجمعت له هذه الأحوال في صلاته وحين مثل بالمقام الأعلى ودنا فتدلى، ألهم أن يقول: «التحيات لله» إلى قوله: «الصلوات لله»، فقالت الملائكة: «السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته»، فقال: «السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين»، فقالت الملائكة: «أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله، وأشهد أن محمدا رسول الله»، فجمع ذلك له في تشهده

Secondly, the details of Miʿrāj are recorded in numerous authentic narrations of a very lengthy ḥadīth, which would take up several pages should it be typed in a contemporary style. These narrations entail nuanced intricacies with regard to exactly what happened in the Night Journey and illustrate quite a picture. However, two things are not mentioned therein: the date of its occurrence and the incident in question. The narrations can be read in the Ṣaḥīḥayn and other works of adīth.([8])

Also, the Tashahhud itself has been authentically narrated in the books ofadīth. The great companion, ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd ؓ is on record as saying:

كنا إذا صلينا خلف النبي ، قلنا: السلام على جبريل وميكائيل؛ السلام على فلان وفلان،  فالتفت إلينا رسول الله ، فقال: إن الله هو السلام، فإذا صلى أحدكم، فليقل: التحيات لله والصلوات والطيبات، السلام عليك أيها النبي ورحمة الله وبركاته؛ السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين، فإنكم إذا قلتموها أصابت كل عبد لله صالح في السماء والأرض، أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله

“When we used to pray behind the Prophet , we used to say: ‘Peace be upon Jibrīl and Mīkāʾīl; peace be upon so-and-so.’ Allāh’s Messenger  looked towards us and said:

“Indeed, Allāh is the Peace. Whenever one of you prays, let him say: ‘All verbal, physical and monetary deeds are for Allāh. Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and Allāh’s Mercy and His Blessings. Peace be upon us and Allāh’s righteous servants.’ When you say this, it will reach every righteous servant of Allāh. [Then, continue:] ‘I testify that there is no deity but Allāh, and that Muḥammad is His slave and messenger.’”[9]

To conclude, the dialogue in question must not be quoted in lectures, nor written in books or articles, nor circulated on social media. If one quotes it in order to critique and/or expose the matter, this is an exception to the rule. Since there is no basis to this story, one must exercise full precaution. The Prophet is on record as saying:

«من حدّث عنّي بحديث يُرى أنه كذِبٌ فهو أحد الكاذبين»

“Whosoever relays a ḥadīth from me, thinking it to be false, then he is one of the liars.”[10]

The Prophet has also cursed those who fabricate lies upon him:

«من كذب عليّ متعمّدًّا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار»

“Whosoever deliberately lies upon me, let him reserve his seat in the Fire.”[11]

Instead, one ought to strictly adhere to the guidelines to which Allāh draws the readers’ attention in the Qurʾān:

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ إِن جَآءَكُمۡ فَاسِقُۢ بِنَبَإٖ فَتَبَيَّنُوٓاْ أَن تُصِيبُواْ قَوۡمَۢا بِجَهَٰلَةٖ فَتُصۡبِحُواْ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلۡتُمۡ نَٰدِمِينَ ٦

“O you who believe, if a sinner brings some news to you, then verify it; lest you unknowingly convey (it) to some people, thereby regretting what you have done.”[12]

Answered by Shahin-ur Rahman, Northampton, UK.

Tuesday 6th Ramadan 1436 AH / 23rd June 2015 CE

Checked and approved by Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed, London, UK.


[1] Mabāriq al-Azhār 1/244 and Mirqāt al-Mafātīḥ under ḥadīth (909).

[2] Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī under [al-Baqarah: 2/285-286].

[3] 1/189 (d. 373 AH).

[4] 5/21 (d. 1127 AH).

[5] Ludhyanwi, Muhammad Yusuf, Ikhtilāf-e-Ummat Awr Sirāṭ-e-Mustaqīm (Urdu), Maktabah Ludhyanwiyyah, Pakistan (2009); p. 61. Also in English: Differences in the Ummat, Zam Zam Publishers, Pakistan (2003), p. 57.

[6] Al-ʿArf al-Shadhī under ḥadīth (289). Note: Some of the scholars named in the previous passages were not of a Ḥanafī background.

[7] 4/186.

[8] Al-Bukhārī (3207) and Muslim (162).

[9] Al-Bukhārī (3207) and Muslim (162).

[10] Muslim in the Preface to his Ṣaḥīḥ [1], al-Tirmidhī: (2662) and Ibn Mājah: (41).

Note: This ḥadīth has not been numbered by Shaykh Muḥammad Fuʾād ‘Abd al-Bāqī ؒ in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.

[11] Al-Bukhārī (110), Muslim in Preface [4] (3) and al-Tirmidhī (2659).

[12] [Al-Ḥujurāt: 49/6].

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