The Hadith of Rabi‘ah ibn Ka‘b al-Aslami does not Support the False Belief of Mukhtar Kull or the Practice of Istighathah


Barelwīs (including Aḥmad Riḍā Khān in Barakāt al-Imdād and other works) point to a ḥadīth of Rabī‘ah ibn Ka‘b al-Aslamī from Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim to prove that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has full and complete authority (mukhtār kull) within creation (to grant whatever he wants or to refuse whatever he wants), and he can be asked for anything (istighāthah). The ḥadīth is as follows:

قال: كنت أبيت مع رسول الله صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فأتيته بوَضوئه وحاجته، فقال لي: “سل”، فقلت: أسألك مرافقتك في الجنة. قال: “أو غير ذلك؟ ” قلت: هو ذاك. قال: “فأعني على نفسك بكثرة السجود”.

Rabī‘ah ibn Ka‘b al-Aslamī said: “I used to spend the night with the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and bring him his wuḍū water and his needs, so he said to me: ‘Ask’, I said: ‘I ask for your company in Jannah.’ He said: ‘Or [perhaps] something else?’ I said: ‘It is [only] that.’ He said: ‘Then assist me in [fulfilling this need of] yours by making plenty of sujūd.”

The final part of the ḥadīth where the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) asks for assistance in achieving this objective in fact disproves the contention that he had free discretion in the matter. Ibn al-Malak, a well-known early commentator on Maṣabīḥ, comments: “There is an indication in this that this high status will not be acquired just by asking for it, but by this along with the Prophet’s (upon him peace) supplication for it from Allāh.” (Quoted in Dil Kā Surūr, p. 180)

More importantly, other wordings of this ḥadīth show that what is meant by this request is to make du‘ā to Allāh for his entry into Jannah; not that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has the power to grant this request of his own. In ḥadīth no. 16579 of Musnad Aḥmad, a lengthy version/explanation of the entire incident is found:

حَدَّثَنَا يَعْقُوبُ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، عَنِ ابْنِ إِسْحَاقَ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنِي مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ عَطَاءٍ، عَنْ نُعَيْمِ بْنِ مُجْمِرٍ، عَنْ رَبِيعَةَ بْنِ كَعْبٍ قَالَ: كُنْتُ أَخْدُمُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَأَقُومُ لَهُ فِي حَوَائِجِهِ نَهَارِي أَجْمَعَ حَتَّى يُصَلِّيَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْعِشَاءَ الْآخِرَةَ فَأَجْلِسَ بِبَابِهِ، إِذَا دَخَلَ بَيْتَهُ أَقُولُ: لَعَلَّهَا أَنْ تَحْدُثَ لِرَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ حَاجَةٌ فَمَا أَزَالُ أَسْمَعُهُ يَقُولُ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” سُبْحَانَ اللهِ، سُبْحَانَ اللهِ، سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ “، حَتَّى أَمَلَّ فَأَرْجِعَ، أَوْ تَغْلِبَنِي عَيْنِي فَأَرْقُدَ، قَالَ: فَقَالَ لِي يَوْمًا لِمَا يَرَى مِنْ خِفَّتِي لَهُ، وَخِدْمَتِي إِيَّاهُ: ” سَلْنِي يَا رَبِيعَةُ أُعْطِكَ “، قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ: أَنْظُرُ فِي أَمْرِي يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ ثُمَّ أُعْلِمُكَ ذَلِكَ، قَالَ: فَفَكَّرْتُ فِي نَفْسِي فَعَرَفْتُ أَنَّ الدُّنْيَا مُنْقَطِعَةٌ زَائِلَةٌ، وَأَنَّ لِي فِيهَا رِزْقًا سَيَكْفِينِي وَيَأْتِينِي، قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ: أَسْأَلُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِآخِرَتِي فَإِنَّهُ مِنَ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ بِالْمَنْزِلِ الَّذِي هُوَ بِهِ، قَالَ: فَجِئْتُ فَقَالَ: ” مَا فَعَلْتَ يَا رَبِيعَةُ؟ “، قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ: نَعَمْ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، أَسْأَلُكَ أَنْ تَشْفَعَ لِي إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَيُعْتِقَنِي مِنَ النَّارِ، قَالَ: فَقَالَ: ” مَنْ أَمَرَكَ بِهَذَا يَا رَبِيعَةُ؟ “، قَالَ: فَقُلْتُ: لَا وَاللهِ الَّذِي بَعَثَكِ بِالْحَقِّ مَا أَمَرَنِي بِهِ أَحَدٌ، وَلَكِنَّكَ لَمَّا قُلْتَ سَلْنِي أُعْطِكَ وَكُنْتَ مِنَ اللهِ بِالْمَنْزِلِ الَّذِي أَنْتَ بِهِ نَظَرْتُ فِي أَمْرِي، وَعَرَفْتُ أَنَّ الدُّنْيَا مُنْقَطِعَةٌ وَزَائِلَةٌ وَأَنَّ لِي فِيهَا رِزْقًا سَيَأْتِينِي فَقُلْتُ: أَسْأَلُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِآخِرَتِي، قَالَ: فَصَمَتَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ طَوِيلًا ثُمَّ قَالَ لِي: ” إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ فَأَعِنِّي عَلَى نَفْسِكَ بِكَثْرَةِ السُّجُودِ “

This version clarifies that Rabīah’s request was: “I ask you O Messenger of Allāh to intercede for me to your Lord to free me from the Fire.” The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) after enquiring how he came to decide upon this request, remained quiet for a long time and then said: “I will do so, so assist me in [fulfilling this need of] yours by making plenty of sujūd.”

The editors of Musnad Aḥmad describe this chain as ḥasan as all the narrators are reliable, and although Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq is a mudallis, he has stated explicitly that he heard the ḥadīth from his teacher.

In another version from Musnad Aḥmad (no.  16076), it states:

حَدَّثَنَا عَفَّانُ، حَدَّثَنَا خَالِدٌ يَعْنِي الْوَاسِطِيَّ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرُو بْنُ يَحْيَى الْأَنْصَارِيُّ، عَنْ زِيَادِ بْنِ أَبِي زِيَادٍ، مَوْلَى بَنِي مَخْزُومٍ، عَنْ خَادِمٍ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، رَجُلٍ أَوْ امْرَأَةٍ، قَالَ: كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مِمَّا يَقُولُ لِلْخَادِمِ: ” أَلَكَ حَاجَةٌ؟ ” قَالَ: حَتَّى كَانَ ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، حَاجَتِي قَالَ: ” وَمَا حَاجَتُكَ؟ ” قَالَ: حَاجَتِي أَنْ تَشْفَعَ لِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، قَالَ: ” وَمَنْ دَلَّكَ عَلَى هَذَا؟ ” قَالَ: رَبِّي قَالَ: ” إِمَّا لَا، فَأَعِنِّي بِكَثْرَةِ السُّجُودِ “

This version clarifies that he asked: “My need is that you intercede for me on the Day of Judgement.” The chain of this narration is ṣaḥīḥ as stated by the editors of the Musnad.

These versions clearly show that what is meant by Rabī‘ah saying “I ask you your companionship in Jannah” is: “I ask you to supplicate to Allāh to grant me entry into Jannah and safety from Jahannam.”

There is thus no evidence in this ḥadīth that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has full control and authority over all things.

For further discussion on this ḥadīth (including the apparently problematic commentary of Mullā ‘Alī Qārī and Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq), see pages 179 – 190 of Dil Kā Surūr, where ‘Allāmāh Sarfraz Khān Ṣafdar concludes after a lengthy discussion: “This ḥadīth establishes the Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) as a teacher, preacher, intercessor, one whose supplication is accepted and as Allāh’s Messenger, not that he has complete authority, which is the false and baseless claim of the opposition.” (Dil Kā Surūr, p. 189-90)

 

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