A punishment for highway robbery which Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) witnessed on Mi’raj

Question

What is the authenticity of the following:

“There was a stick that was in the middle of the path. It would tear up whoever passed by it. When Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked Jibril about this, he replied that this is the example of those who hide on the side of the roads and loot people passing by (highway robbers).”

 

Answer

This is part of a lengthy narration regarding Mi’raj and the different punishments Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) witnessed. The words in question are recorded in Tafsir Tabari and Dalailun Nubuwwah of Imam Bayhaqi (rahimahullah), with slight variation in the wording on the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu):

“…Then he came to a stick on the path. It would tear up any piece of cloth/garment that passed by it. When Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked Jibril about this, he replied, ‘This is the example of those who [wait in ambush] on the side of the roads to rob people passing by [highway robbers]. He then recited the Verse, ‘Do not sit in ambush on every road to threaten people (Surah Al A’araf, Verse: 86)…'”

(Tafsir Tabari; Jami’u Bayan, Surah Isra, Verse: 1, vol. 14 pg. 425, Dalailun Nubuwwah, vol. 2 pg. 398)

 

However, ‘Allamah Dhahabi (rahimahullah) has declared the text unreliable (والحديث منكر يشبه كلام القصاص). Before citing this Hadith, Hafiz Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) has stated that this narration has oddness/strangeness (وفيها غرابة). After citing the Hadith and the criticism of one of the narrators, Hafiz Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) states that certain parts of this Hadith are extremely unreliable. He further states that it seems that this lengthy narration seems to be a composite and a combination of Hadiths regarding Mi’raj, dreams and other narrations besides Mi’raj. (وهذا الحديث في بعض ألفاظه غرابة ونكارة شديدة، وفيه شيء من حديث المنام من رواية سمرة بن جندب في المنام الطويل عند البخاري، ويشبه أن يكون مجموعا من أحاديث شتى أو منام أو قصة أخرى غير الإسراء).

(Tarikhul Islam, vol. 2 pg. 641-642, Siyaru A’alamin Nubala, vol. 26 pg. 226-227 and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Isra, Verse: 1, vol. 5 pg. 36-37)

 

Note: Imam Bazzar (rahimahullah) has also recorded this lengthy narration. However, his version does not have the part in question.

(Musnad Bazzar; Al Bahruz Zakkhar, Hadith: 9518. Also see: Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 1 pg. 67-72)

 

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.

 

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar