I have heard few times of an incident in which Allah Ta’ala commanded the angels to destroy a town of disobedient people. However the angels commented that there was one pious worshipper within the town to which Allah Ta’ala said, start with him first.
Does this incident have a legitimate source?
Imams Tabarani, Bayhaqi and Daylami (rahimahumullah) have recorded on the authority of Sayyiduna Jabir (radiyallahu’anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said:
‘Allah Ta’ala instructed an angel to destroy a particular city. The angel said: ‘Indeed therein is a certain slave of your’s who has not disobeyed you even for the blink of an eye.’
Allah Ta’ala replied: ‘Destroy him and them, for he didn’t frown [at their disobedience] for my sake ever.’
(Al-Mu’jamul Awsat, Hadith: 7661, Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 7189 & Al-Firdaws, Hadith: 519. Also see Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.7 pg.270)
Imam Bayhaqi (rahimahullah) has stated that this is more correctly reported as a statement of Malik ibn Dinar, and not a Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam).
(Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 7188 & Takhrijul ihya)
It should therefore be attributed to Malik ibn Dinar (rahimahullah).
Also see Al-Amr bil Ma’ruf of Ibn Abid Dunya, hadith: 69-70; Mawsu’ah Ibn Abid Dunya, hadith: 1638-1639 for other non-marfu’ versions.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar