What is the authenticity of this narration?
Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Every Nabi had half the lifespan of the Nabi before him. ‘Isa ibn Maryam lived for one hundred and twenty (120) years so I will pass away aged sixty (60)”
This Hadith has been reported through several chains, with varied degrees of weakness.
Imam Hakim (rahimahullah) has also recorded the words ‘Every Nabi had half the lifespan of the Nabi before him’ and has declared his chain authentic. Hafiz Dhahabi concurs.
However, Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir, ‘Allamah ibn Kathir and Hafiz Sakhawi (rahimahumullah) have expressed reservation regarding the authenticity[especially of the second part of the Hadith]. Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir (rahimahullah) states that the correct view is that ‘Isa (‘alayhis salam) was much younger before being lifted into the Heavens [and not 120 years old]. Hafiz Ibn Kathir has declared the Hadith in question ‘strange’ (gharib). Some editions of Al Bidayah Wan Nihayah have the words ‘very strange’ (gharibun jiddan).
The part that is ‘strange’ is the second sentence: ‘Nabi ‘Isa ibn Maryam lived for one hundred and twenty (120) years so I will pass away aged sixty (60).’ This seems to be a mistake of a narrator which could have been caused by the apparent meaning of the first part: ‘Every Nabi had half the lifespan of the Nabi before him.’
This first part of the Hadith is declared authentic as stated above, but the proper explanation is not as cited in the narration in question.
The correct meaning of the Hadith
Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir (rahimahullah) states, what is actually meant is the time the Nabi spent with his Ummah after Nubuwwah.
The following version of the Hadith should be quoted instead.
Yahya ibn Ja’dah says, “Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) called Sayyidah Fatimah in his final illness and said, ‘Allah did not send a Nabi but that he was granted half the lifespan [after receiving Nubuwwah] than the Nabi before him. ‘Isa (‘alayhis salam) stayed for forty years and twenty years have passed upon me”
References for all of the above
Musnad Bazzar; Kashful Astar, Hadith: 2341, Hilyatul Awliya, vol. 5 pg. 68, Mustadrak Hakim, vol. 3 pg. 533, Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 9 pg. 23, Al Bidayah Wan Nihayah, vol. 2 pg. 292 and Al Ajwibatul Mardiyyah, vol. 2 pg. 847-850
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar