about Wearing a Ring
1. It is
narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sws)
used to wear a gold ring. Then he got up and threw it away,
saying that he will never wear it again. At this, all those
present also threw away their rings.
Explanation: Throwing away does
not mean that it was thrown in a ditch, but that it was
removed from the finger. Perhaps he gave it away to one of his
wives or someone else. Similarly other people too removed
their gold rings. They gave them away to their women or had
them melted for some other use.
2. Sadaqah ibn
Yasar says that when he asked Sa‘id ibn Musayyab about wearing
a ring, he asked him to wear it and to tell people that he had
given him a decree about it.
Explanation: This gives an
indication of the situation. When the Prophet (sws) removed
his gold ring, people went a step forward and claimed that
wearing a ring was haram. Whereas, wearing a ring of gold was
haram for men, not wearing a silver ring Sa‘id ibn Musayyab
must have known this, so he gave a decree about a metal ring
other than gold. Obviously, he could not have given a decree
in favour of a gold ring. The narrator has not mentioned the
particular context. Without determining the context,
explanation of Ahadith has become very difficult and huge
problems have been created in religion.
Collars and Bells to get Rid of Magic Spells
1. ‘Abbad ibn
Tamim says that Abu Bashir Ansari told him that once he was
with the Prophet (sws) on a journey. The Prophet (sws) sent a
man (and ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr says that he thought that
‘Abbad said that people were resting after a meal), and told
him not to leave any camel without having his collar cut.
Yahya says that he heard from Imam Malik that he thought this
instruction was related to the collars which people placed to
protect their animals from the evil eye.
Explanation: It is customary to
hang collars and bells around the necks of animals in every
country. When farmers come out with their livestock in the
early morning, nothing is visible. It is likely that unaware
people may bang into the animals. Bells caution people who are
around. Thus, this arrangement is done under a necessity. Some
people do this to decorate their animals and others to
demonstrate their pride and glory. Another group is one which
is superstitious and which believes that someone may cast an
evil spell upon their animals and they hang these collars or
ta’awidh around their necks. Imam Malik thinks that the
Prophet (sws) was referring to the latter type of animals.
This was his perception and it seems to be correct.
for Ablution to Protect Oneself from the Evil Eye
1. It is
narrated from Abu Uthamah that his father, Sahal ibn Hunayf
was taking a bath in Kharar. He was wearing a gown which he
took off. ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah was watching him. Sahal ibn Hunayf
was a very fair and handsome man. ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah said that
he had never seen such a body, not even that of a virgin.
Sahal immediately developed high fever. A man came to the
Prophet (sws) and told him that Sahal was very feverish and
unable to travel with him. When the Prophet (sws) came to see
Sahal, the latter told him about what ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah had
said, at which the Prophet (sws) said: “Why does any of you
kill your brother without any reason? Why did you not bless
him? An evil eye will produce similar results. Now, carry out
ablutions.” ‘Amir then did ablutions and Sahal recovered
immediately, leaving with the Prophet (sws) as if he had never
2. Abu Uthamah
ibn Sahal says that when ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah saw his father,
Sahal ibn Hunayf taking a bath, he said that he had never seen
as beautiful a body as this, even that of one who keeps
herself veiled. At this, Sahal fell down. Someone came to the
Prophet (sws) and said to him: “O’ Prophet of God, do you know
of Sahal’s condition? He is not even lifting his head.” The
Prophet (sws) asked him if he blamed anyone for this and the
man replied that he blamed ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah. The Prophet (sws)
was angry with ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah and said: “Why does any of
you kill your brother without any reason? Why did you not
bless him? Now, take a bath for him.” Then Amir washed his
face, both arms, elbows, both knees, around his feet and the
inside of his sarong in a basin. Then he poured this water
over Sahal who became well and went out with people as if he
had never been ill.
Explanation: Both narrations
relate to the same event. When ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah saw Sahal ibn
Hunayf bathing, he cast such an eye over his fair skin that,
under the influence of evil, he fell down and developed high
fever. Casting an evil eye is an act of Satan. The Satan
inside a human being is the source for this and it influences
others. An evil eye is similar to satanic acts and has the
same power as that of black magic. Magic affects the mind but
not to the extent that the person may die or become insane.
Its effect is temporary.
The question that arises here is whether
what the Prophet (sws) said about anyone killing his brother
without a reason can cause someone to be killed? This is why,
based on deduction from this narration, questions have been
raised on whether, if as a consequence of an evil eye, someone
dies, would the one who cast the evil eye be killed as qisas?
One group of jurists believes that such a person should be
killed, while another believes that there is a given procedure
in the shari‘ah about investigations for a murder. Evidence is
taken from people, the murder weapon is analyzed, the killer
is assessed and then the judge delivers his verdict. In cases
of spells caused by an evil eye, it is not possible to
implement these procedures. According to the point of view of
Imam Nawawi, no one shall be killed as qisas in such a case.
On the other hand, the Qur’an tells us
that Satan has not been given full control of any evil action
to the extent that he could take the life of a human being. At
the most, he can create doubts and misgivings within a
person’s mind, entice him towards sin and get him into trouble
temporarily. In the light of this, the killing to which the
Prophet (sws) referred to above cannot mean actual killing.
Although both narrations present the same
event, the main difference between them in my view is that the
first has been narrated by Muhammad ibn Uthamah, whereas the
second is attributed to the narration of Muhammad ibn Shihab
al-Zuhri. According to the first one, the Prophet (sws)
ordered ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘ah to do ablutions and to place
blessings upon Sahal, at which the latter recovered. This is
reasonable and matches the spirit of the shari‘ah. The second
one has been presented by Ibn Shihab as a magical spell.
According to him, if the person who has cast an evil eye is
bathed fully, including his private parts, the water in which
he washes is collected in a basin and this water is poured
over the person who has become ill due to the evil eye, the
effect of the evil eye shall disappear and the ill person
shall recover. All of this is superstition and there is no
connection to reality. Al-Zuhri’s objectives included the
inclusion of satanic acts from Judaism into Islam and faith in
superstition and satanic acts has been a characteristic of
Jews. Magic spells are all part of satanic superstitions.
Shah Waliullah has also written about the
manner of bathing in the narration that this was Ibn Shihab’s
own addition and that this is not related to rational thought.
Spells are to be believed through the heart. In my opinion,
this is against the Qur’an and is a left over from Jewish
beliefs. They have been propagated through Sufis.
Incantation to Expel the Evil Eye
1. Hmayd ibn
Qays al-Makki says that two sons of Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib were
brought to the presence of the Prophet (sws). He asked the
women who nursed them as to why they there looking so weak, at
which they answered: “O Prophet of God, they are easily
susceptible to the evil eye and we do not exorcise them for
fear that you may not approve.” The Prophet (sws) answered
that incantations be conducted because if there was anything
more powerful than destiny, it would be an evil eye.
Explanation: Dari‘ means weak and
the word istirqa’ is used for incantation to drive away evil
spirits. The Hadith is clear in its meaning. Women of our
times too are not ready to accept any responsibility in
bringing up their children. If anyone queries about a weak
child, they say that an evil eye has cast its spell on it.
In this narration, we do not understand
why the Prophet (sws) asked the children to be exorcised. He
could have prayed for the health of the children himself and
whose prayer could be more pure than his? Whose children other
than the nephews of ‘Ali (rta) could be more beloved? He could
have said that he would pray for the children. Instead, he
asked for them to be exorcised. This was a recipe for getting
rid of the influence of the evil eye. I cannot understand
this. Did he believe in the influence of traditional
incantation? This is absolutely impossible. His meaning would
have been prayer, which is a legitimate thing. The word
istirqa’ in the narration should be taken to mean prayer.
2. ‘Urwah ibn
Zubayr (rta) narrated that when the Prophet (sws) entered the
house of his wife, Umm Salamah (rta), he found a child crying.
He was told that the child had been affected by an evil eye.
‘Urwah (rta) said that the Prophet (sws) asked why the child
was not exorcised.
Explanation: This narration has
the same issue as the previous one. Both in the Qur’an and in
the practice of the Prophet (sw), we find prayer, not
exorcism. Pure words are essential for prayer and no
idolatrous words should be present. If pure words are spoken
and blown upon the affected person, this action would be good.
If it has been called istirqa’, there is no problem.
for the Sick
1. It is
narrated from ‘Ata’ ibn Yasar that the Prophet (sws) said that
when anyone falls sick, God sends two angels to him and asks
them to see what he says to those who have come to ask after
his health. If he is grateful to God, gives Him praise, both
angels take this news back to God, although He knows it well.
Then God says that it is His responsibility now, that if He
gives him death, He will give him entry to Paradise and if He
gives him recovery, He will replace his flesh with better
flesh and his blood with better blood and also forgive his
Explanation: God is very gracious
towards His servants who are patient. If they are afflicted
even by the prick of a thorn, He converts it into penance for
their sins. If this were not so, how could the sins we commit
at every step be forgiven?
2. It is
narrated from Yazid ibn Khusayfah that ‘Urwah ibn Zubayr
narrated that he heard from ‘A’ishah (rta), wife of the
Prophet (sws) that he said that the believer does not suffer
even if pricked by a thorn, but that he is given compensation
or it becomes a payment for his sins. Yazid did not know which
of these two points were stated by ‘Urwah.
Explanation: This narrative is
also given by Imam Muslim. The same has been stated in the
previous narrative through another source.
3. It is
narrated from Abu Hurayrah (rta) that the Prophet (sws) said
that when God wishes the betterment of any of His servants, He
sends trials to him.
Explanation: It is the law of God
and has also been clarified in the Qur’an that God tests human
beings through blessings or troubles. Blessings test his
gratitude and trials test his perseverance. This process
continues throughout his life. If God places someone in trial,
it is for his own good. The reason is that God can hold no
enmity towards any of us. It is possible that he wants to
awaken us from a state of complacence. If we are not awake,
and if He shakes us up and focuses our attention by putting us
into some trial, this is a great blessing.
4. It is
narrated from Yahya ibn Sa‘id that the time for death of a man
came in front of the Prophet (sws) and a person commented that
he was very blessed that he had died and not been afflicted by
any illness. The Prophet (sws) said: “May you be ruined! What
do you know that if God had given him sickness, this could
have dusted off his sins?”
Explanation: This means that we
should not desire never to fall ill, but to pray that when God
gives us death, it should be an easy one. I always make this
prayer. Sickness is a trial and God’s wisdom is behind it. One
should not be worried by sickness.
Praying for Deliverance from Sickness and Exorcising
1. It is
narrated from ‘Uthman ibn al-‘As that he came to the Prophet (sws).
He was in such great pain that he thought he would die. The
Prophet (sws) asked him to rub the place lightly with his
right hand seven times and pray that he wished for God’s glory
and His protection from the evil and illness which had
befallen him. He said that when he did this, God Almighty took
away his pain. After this, he always advised his family and
friends to offer this prayer in such circumstances.
Explanation: This prayer has been
taught by the Prophet (sws). These are his words. It is very
simple and short and everyone should learn it. This is the way
of the Prophet (sws) for istirqa’. Using this procedure and
then offering a prayer and giving water to drink or blowing
upon the affected area also have a psychological effect. There
is no harm in using these methods. Harm is caused when the
uttered words are impure. One should adopt all the known and
well used prayers stated by the Prophet (sws). The number
seven has come up in several narrations and it is known that
numbers hold some significance in religion. There are many
things which have a given number. Prayers are five; some
rak‘at are two, three or four. All of this is not without any
wisdom. They are important in religion. If any matter has been
proven through the Qur’an or Hadith, even if its wisdom is not
understood, it should be obeyed. It cannot be said that it has
no wisdom. However, if anything has been stated by any Tom,
Dick or Harry, it should be ignored.
2. ‘Urwah ibn
Zubayr narrates that ‘A’ishah (rta) used to say that whenever
the Prophet (sws) fell sick, he would recite the last two
surahs of the Qur’an and blow upon himself. She said that if
his pain increased, she herself would recite the surahs and
blow upon him and rub his arm.
Explanation: Mu‘awwidhat mean the
last two surahs: al-Falaq and al-Nas. These surahs are prayers
for deliverance from all sorts of evil, troubles and attacks
by Satan and protection of God. Reciting these thrice in any
pain is the same as calling upon God’s support. Blowing on the
patient or rubbing his hand is neither against wisdom nor
religion. This also has a psychological effect.
3. It is
narrated from ‘Amrah bint ‘Abd al-Rahman that Abu Bakr Siddiq
(rta) came to ‘A’ishah (rta). She was ill and a Jewish woman
was reciting incantations. Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) asked her to
use the Book of God for the incantation.
Explanation: It is likely that
this happened during the early days after hijrah, not after
‘A’ishah’s (rta). marriage. After marriage, there was no one
who could pray more effectively than the Prophet (sws)
himself. At that time, there may not have been Muslims who
would treat the sick and it may have been an old tradition of
using exorcists who were considered mystics or had the
reputation of being people whose prayers were heard by God.
This woman must have been such a person. Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta)
asked her to use the Book of God to recite her incantations.
It seems that the Book of God meant the Torah because the
Jewish woman could not have been familiar with the Qur’an. We
infer, therefore, that Islam brought revision in the knowledge
related to exorcism: that it should not be done using any
words, but only the word of God, even if they were from the
1. Zayd ibn
Aslam narrates that a person was wounded during the times of
the Prophet (sws) and blood gathered in his wound. The Prophet
(sws) called two men from the tribe of Banu Anmar to look at
him. Zayd said that he thinks that the Prophet (sws) asked the
two men as to which one among them was the better in curing.
They said: “O’ Prophet, is there any comparison in cures?”
Zayd thinks that the Prophet (sws) said that He Who has sent
down illnesses has also sent down their remedies.
Explanation: This narrative is
mursal and it seems that the narrator has not narrated it with
confidence. The matter was related to the collection of blood
in a person’s wound. When two people were called to treat him,
the Prophet (sws) inquired about the better of the two in
treatment. It seems that they were taken aback that he has
asked their opinion about treatment, at which the Prophet (sws)
explained that He who has given illnesses has also given their
Treatment is legitimate. This is not a
matter of any doubt. Some people believe that treatment for
illness is against perseverance and trust in God and that if
God has given illness, it should be borne with patience. But
the Prophet (sws) has taught us that if God has given
sickness, He has also given their cures. Thus, a sick person
should be treated. However, it must be clear that recovery is
in God’s hands. This clarification was necessary; otherwise
people would become superstitious in matters of medicinal
2. Yayha ibn
Sa‘id said that he had heard that during the times of the
Prophet (sws), Sa‘d ibn Zurarah (rta) had his throat
cauterized due to a disease of the throat and died.
Explanation: Dhabhah is a disease
of the throat which causes a pustule inside the throat. The
throat becomes constricted and problems are created that
become extremely painful, with the affected person finding it
difficult even to breathe. In those days, the treatment for
this disease was to cauterize the throat with some hot thing.
Even in our times, some wounds are burned through this method.
There is disagreement on whether the Prophet (sws) had this
method used. But the fact remains that this method was common
in those days and such cures too, were commonly used in the
nomadic life of the Bedouins. It seems that Sa‘d ibn Zurarah
(rta) did not recover from this illness and passed away.
3. It is
narrated by Nafi ‘ that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) was affected
by lockjaw and he was cauterized and when a scorpion bit him,
he was treated through incantation.
Explanation: It seems that when
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (rta) fell ill due to lockjaw, he treated
it by using the method of cauterization. Also, when he was bit
by a scorpion, he used incantation. Thus, he did not think
that these methods were against the shari‘ah.
when Ill with Fever
1. Hisham ibn
‘Urwah narrates from Fatimah bint Mundhir that whenever a
woman suffering from fever as brought to Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (rta)
for her to pray for, she would drink water and sprinkle it
over the women and her neck. She would say that the Prophet (sws)
taught them to cool fever with water.
Explanation: Hakims have ridiculed
this action because they believe that the patient might die.
But this is not so. The fact is that when hot winds blow, and
they often do in Arabia, people reduce its effect through
water. Even in these times, in case of high fever, doctors use
ice to bring it down. Hence, this is not something which is
extra ordinary. However, some misunderstandings about such
narratives should be clarified. For example, if the Prophet (sws)
gave such instructions, it is not necessary that they would be
based on wahi, or be a part of the shari‘ah. He might have
given this advice based on his experience. It was common for
people to be affected by heat strokes in hot countries and
such a treatment is beneficial. People make the mistake that
they generalize a situation meant for a specific situation.
The Prophet (sws) proposed a cure for a particular type of
fever, and people thought that whatever the type of fever, the
patient should be bathed. Then, the narrative mentions merely
sprinkling water; however, people do not confine themselves to
this, but go and bathe in the river! Obviously, the patient
would die because some fevers are such that water is lethal
The surprising thing is that people do
not understand the simple point that all that the comments
which Prophet (sws) made were not based on wahi. For example,
he inquired as to why people sprinkled the blossoms of the
tree of ta’bir over the date tree and commented that if they
did not, it may cause no harm. When people stopped doing this,
the trees gave less fruit then before. Then people complained
to the Prophet (sws) that they had acted upon his advice and
the result was that the fruit production had dropped. The he
answered: “You know better about matters of the world. You are
more knowledgeable about matters of agriculture. I only saw
this as a matter of taste and mentioned it. It was not an
instruction of the shari‘ah.” For as many diseases as
possible, people have gathered narratives about their
treatment and compiled these as “medicine of the Prophet (sws).”
Obviously, in presence of such material, why should a pious
person seek other treatment? He would view this as opposed to
piety. But it must be remembered that these narratives should
also be considered on the same lines as the case of the above
mentioned tree. The Prophet (sws) came not to cure physical
ailments, but to cure only spiritual illness. There should be
no possibility of connecting him to any medicine other than
that related to medicine for the soul. Therefore,
consideration should be given to context in such matters. It
is true that water is very beneficial in certain types of
fever, but it is also a fact that in some, it is very harmful.
Hence, the type of fever needs to be considered always.
In my view, the same point must be taken
into account when considering the verse of the Qur’an which
says that there is cure in honey. It would be unfair to the
Qur’an if one were to assume that this means that honey is the
cure for all illnesses. Certainly, it is beneficial for many
illnesses, but it is not the remedy for every sickness, that
one would try to give honey to every patient for every
ailment. The Qur’an itself does not say that it is suggesting
honey as the cure. It has mentioned honey as a blessing in the
same manner in which other blessings are used by humans for
2. Hisham ibn
‘Urwah narrates from his father that the Prophet (sws) said
that fever is from the winds of Hell; cool it with water. He
narrates from Nafi‘ who reports from Ibn ‘Umar (rta) that the
Prophet (sws) said that fever is from the winds of hell;
extinguish it with water.
Explanation: it is true that
whatever is beneficial is sourced from Paradise and whatever
is harmful has Hell as its source. These are the stocks of
good and evil. The Hadith has stated the origin of fever:
which family it is associated with. In other words, this
illness has harm as its source, so cool it with water. The
narrative does not clarify the context in which the Prophet (sws)
gave this advice. It is possible that it was a specific type
of fever or someone’s fever was mentioned and he found that
the man was suffering from a heatstroke and gave this
suggestion. People have found it difficult to understand
several narratives because the narrators have not assessed the
context to which it was related. The result is that so many
problems are created.
About Inquiring after the Sick and Omens
narration reached Imam Malik (rta) from Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (rta)
that the Prophet (sws) said that when anyone goes to inquire
about someone’s health, he is immersed in God’s mercy, and
when he sits down with the sick person, the mercy stays with
him, and other similar words.
Explanation: Asking about the
health of a sick person is an honour. Sympathy creates
kindness and goodness in a society and mutual love increases.
It is one Muslim’s right over another to be inquired after.
Even if one just goes and asks after someone without staying
there, this is also a pious act. And if one sits down, puts
one’s hand over the head of the ill person, looks at his body
and says a few words of reassurance, nothing can be better.
God’s mercy surrounds such a person.
2. It is
narrated from Ibn Attiyah that the Prophet (sws) said that
there is no concept of ‘adwa, ham and safar in Islam. It is
also not right that someone should take his sick animals to
where the healthy ones are. However, the healthy ones can be
taken anywhere. People asked him: “O Prophet! What does this
mean?” He replied: “It would cause pain to do this.”
Explanation: The Hadith includes
three words: ‘adwa, ham and safar. There were many
superstitions among the Arabs about these concepts. The
Prophet (sws) said that Islam has no place for such
superstitions. The word ‘adwa means that the illness is
contagious. Arabs thought that a sick camel causes other
camels to fall sick too; they would, therefore separate the
one from the herd.
There were different traditions about ham
among them. For example, if a man was killed and no revenge
was taken, his spirit took the form of a bird which called
out: “isquni isquni” (give me water, I am thirsty), until he
was avenged. Or, if a certain type of bird sat on the roof of
a house, a dead body would emerge from it. Superstitious
societies are ripe with such omens.
There is much
controversy about superstitions about the month of safar. Some
people considered it to be the home of illnesses. Similarly,
they would consider it a bad omen for marriages to take place
during this month. According to the rule of nasi, they would
declare the month of Muharram to be halal and that of safar to
be haram. Even in our society, it is considered a bad omen to
conduct marriages during Muharram. In those days, safar was
disreputable; now safar has fallen into disrepute. In my view,
there is no problem in this. It is the same type of
superstition which Islam had eliminated.
Islam does not
consider that anything has an effect in and of itself.
Everything happens by the will of God and happens in the way
that has been ordained. In contagion too, the decisive factor
is not the consequence of the disease being contagious but the
order of God that is supreme. This is the reason why people
nursing the sick who are affected by contagious diseases may
remain healthy, but the infection may spread in areas where
there were no signs of the disease. In one narrative, it is
stated that once when mention was made in front of the Prophet
(sws) about an itch becoming contagious among camels, he asked
about whom the first affected camel got it from.
In these days propaganda about Aids will
make it difficult for people to understand this concept. In
any case, Islam also does not say that one should jump into a
place which has been affected by an epidemic without any
reason. It is best to avoid these places. But if it is a
requirement of one’s responsibilities, then just a
superstition that one could become infected should not be a
reason for not going to the affected places.
When the Prophet (sws) gave the
instruction that one should not take sick animals among the
healthy ones, people were surprised: what was the cause for
this prohibition when there was no concept of contagion? The
Prophet (sws) explained that the owner of the healthy animals
would take offence. This is the same as the situation of a
leper who is not allowed to go inside a mosque, not because of
the contagious disease, but because if people avoid such a
person, he would get depressed.
by Nikhat Sattar)