What is the status of the following Hadith and is the translation correct? In particular the word “Mother”
‘Take care of the earth for she is your mother. No one does good or evil on her except that she will speak of it (on the Last Day).’
The Arabic for this narration is as follows:
تحفظوا من الأرض فإنها أمكم وإنه ليس أحد عامل عليها خيرا أو شرا إلا وهي مخبرة به
The word ‘umm’ in Arabic generally translates as: Mother,
Some Commentators have explained that the word ‘umm’ was used since mankind was created from earth, like one is born from one’s mother.
(Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 3260, As-Sirajul Munir, vol. 2 pg. 158)
The writer’s preference
In the opinion of this writer, the word ‘Umm’ that appears in this narration should be translated as: your home or unavoidable abode, [as is one legitimate meaning of the word ‘umm. Refer: Surah Qari’ah].
Although, translating it as ‘Mother’ is not incorrect, but in this case it it seems to be in the meaning of home or unavoidable abode, just like is the case in Surah Qari’ah, verse: 9.
Therefore, a better translation would be:
‘Beware of the earth for it is your unavoidable abode/Home. No one does good or evil on her except that she will speak of it (on the Day of Qiyamah).’
This Hadith highlights the fact that the earth will testify of the deeds that one commits on it, just as Allah Ta’ala has warned in Surah Zilzal.
Since all of mankind reside on earth, one can never escape it. It is ‘unavoidable’.
This Hadith is recorded with a weak chain in Al-Mu’jamul Kabir of Imam Tabarani (rahimahullah). However, it is well supported by verses in the Quran and other Hadiths.
Refer: Al-Mu’jamul Kabir, Hadith: 4596, Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.1 pg.241. Also see Targhib, Hadith: 312
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar