Kindly advise on the authenticity of the hadith of not travelling by sea except for Haj or ‘Umrah.
Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said : “None except a person going for Haj, Umrah or going out in the path of Allah Ta’ala should travel by sea, for verily there is fire under the ocean and there is an ocean under the fire.”
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 2481 and Sunanul Kubra of Imam Bayhaqi, vol. 4 pg. 334)
The above narration has been declared weak by many Muhaddithun viz. Imam Bukhari, Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Dawud, ‘Allamah ibn Abdil Barr and ‘Allamah Khattabi (rahimahumullah)
(See At Tarikhul Kabir, vol. 2 pg. 104, At Tamhid, vol. 10 pg. 167, Al Badrul Munir, vol. 6 pg. 30 and Talkhisul Habir, vol. 2 pg. 485)
Imam Bazzar (rahimahulah) has recorded this narration on the authority of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma). This narration has also been declared weak.
(See Talkhisul Habir, vol. 2 pg. 485 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 5 pg. 282)
Note 1: Besides the fact that the hadith is weak, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) would stop the people from unnecessarily travelling by sea. This was also the view of the Tabi’i; Mujahid (rahimahullah).
(See Fathul Bari, Hadith: 2894/2895,Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, hadith: 19755 and Ithafus Sadah Al Muttaqin, vol. 5 pg. 513)
Note 2: Some people justify embarking on sea cruises by arguing that the hadith in question has been declared weak and we are therefore allowed to travel by sea for purposes other than Haj, ‘Umrah & Striving in Allah’s way, like leisure. This is incorrect as the ‘Ulama have discouraged ship cruises etc. for various other factors and malpractices that usually occur on board such cruises. A wrong is wrong, whether on land or sea. Clarity on this issue should be acquired from a legitimate Darul ifta.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar