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The ruling of Israely (historical) narrations

Question

In some of your answers, you have referenced some stories as Israely narrations; such as the story of Nabi Musa (‘alayhis salam) having a stomach ache and Nabi Sulayman (‘alayhis salam) wanting to feed the entire creation, so it is not wrong to quotes these stories?

I have come across the following Hadith also. Please comment on it also:

بَلِّغُوا عَنِّي وَلَوْ آيَةً، وَحَدِّثُوا عَنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلاَ حَرَجَ، وَمَنْ كَذَبَ عَلَىَّ مُتَعَمِّدًا فَلْيَتَبَوَّأْ مَقْعَدَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ

‘Convey [my teachings] to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel [which have been taught to you] for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the Jahannam.’

 

Answer

The Hadith in question clearly allows quoting historical (israely) narrations in general.

However, it is important to understand which of these narrations one is allowed to quote.

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) mentioned that those historical reports that are known to be false (by contradicting  our texts for example) are not included in this Hadith.

(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 3461)

 

The famous Hadith Master and Quran commentator; Hafiz Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) explains this issue sufficiently.

A summary of his discussion follows below:

There are basically three types of israely narrations;

1. Those which harmoniously discuss topics that are already found in sources of our Shari’ah. Since there is no contradiction, and these israeliyyat may perhaps provide further details to the topic, we are allowed to quote them.

 

2. Those israeliyyat that actually contradict our Shari’ah. Undoubtedly such quotations are to be avoided, as advised by Imam Malik (rahimahullah).

 

3. Certain Israely narrations contain topics that are not really discussed in our sources.

These are also allowed, especially since they do not pertain to rulings of Shari’ah. Usually such reports discuss incidents of history.

(Introduction to Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Introduction to Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah and Muqaddimatun fi Usululit Tafsir of Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah, pg.32)

 

Note: All of these references have clearly stated that Israely reports should only be quoted as secondary narrations, for the purpose of adding to an established discussion.

 

Additional caution

However, it is also important to note that many of the narrations that fall under the third category carry in them far fetched claims that are illogical. These too should be avoided, even though they technically fit in the category that one is allowed to quote.

In the opinion of this writer, that is exactly what the famous Khatib Baghdadi (rahimahullah) meant when he discouraged the scholars from sharing israeliyyat with the general masses.

(Tadribur Rawi, vol.4 pg.531)

He was probably referring to these far fetched fairy tails.

Also see: ‘Ulumul Quran of Shaykh Nuruddin ‘Itr (hafizahullah), pg.76.

 

The incident of Nabi Musa (‘alaihis salam) you refer to, actually contradicts our Shari’ah, and therefore it cannot be quoted. See here.

The one of Nabi Sulayman (‘alayhis salam) is considered far fetched by this writer. See here for details.

 

After understanding the above, one should bear in mind the directive of Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) whenever one encounters israely narrations that may have been deemed as suitable to quote;

‘Do not testify or deny the [narrations of] the People of the book. Rather say: we believe in whatever Allah has revealed.’

(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 4485)

Therefore, one should not develop conviction (yaqin) on these reports.

 

 

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,

 

Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

 

Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar