I have come across this statement in a few Hadiths wherein Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) mentions that the virtue of a certain action is like emancipating a slave from the children of Nabi Isma’il (‘alayhis salam).
For example, Imam Muslim narrates:
من قال: لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك وله الحمد وهو على كل شيء قدير، عشر مرار كان كمن أعتق أربعة أنفس من ولد إسماعيل
1. What exactly is the virtue or status of the children of Nabi Isma’il (‘alayhis salam) that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) has made specific mention of them?
2. The virtue of freeing a slave is that Allah Ta’ala will free every limb of a person from Jahannam. Nowadays, achieving this reward is somewhat impossible as slavery does not really exist, hence if a person were to act upon the above Hadith and similar ones, would he be getting the same virtue as physically freeing a slave?
Whoever recites ten times
لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ المُلكُ وَلَهُ الحَمدُ وَهُوَ عَلى كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَدِير
la illaha illallahu wah dahu la sharika lahu lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa ‘ala kulli shayin qadir
is like one who freed forty people from the children of Nabi Isma’il (‘alayhis salam)
1. The Children of Nabi Isma’il (‘alayhis Salam) refer to Arabs. Arab slaves are considered more valuable for several obvious reasons, some of them are mentioned below. They also probably fetched a higher price.
‘Allamah ‘Ayni (rahimahullah) writes:
‘[The reason for the specific mention of the children on Isma’il (‘alayhis salam) is that] they are descendants of great Ambiya like: Nabi Ibrahim and Isma’il (‘alaihimas Salam), in addition to them being related to our Nabi Muhammad (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam).
(‘Umdatul Qari, Hadith: 6404)
Mulla ‘Ali Qari (rahimahullah) states:
‘This refers to Arab slaves, who are the best type [of slaves] as they are related to our Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam).’
(Mirqat, Hadith: 2312)
Therefore, freeing an Arab slave is considered most virtuous.
(Fathul Bari, Hadith: 2543 and ‘Umdatul Qari, Hadith: 2543)
2. Yes, insha Allah.
(Ikmalul Mu’lim and Sharhun Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 6783)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar