I would like to know the reference and grading for the following Hadith:
وتستغفر لهم الحيتان حتى يفطروا
‘The fish seek forgiveness on their behalf until they break their fast’
This is part of a longer Hadith reported on the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) regarding five favours which Allah has granted this Ummah in Ramadan. No other nation was granted these favours. ‘Allamah Mundhiri and Haythami (rahimahumallah) have referenced this narration with these words to Musnad Ahmad and Musnad Bazzar.
(Targhib, vol. 2 pg. 91 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 3 pg. 140)
However, in the current editions of Musnad Ahmad, Musnad Bazzar and Shu’abul Iman the words are ‘ وتستغفر لهم الملائكة حتى يفطروا’ [Translation: The angels seek forgiveness on their behalf until they break their fast]
(Musnad Ahmad, vol. 2 pg. 292, editions of Shaykh Ahmad Shakir, Ar Risalah and Darul Minhaj, Musnad Bazzar; Al Bahruz Zakkhar, Hadith: 8571, Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3330)
The chain consists of a narrator who has been declared weak according to some Muhaddithun and very weak according to others. ‘Allamah Haythami (rahimahullah) has declared him weak.
(Refer: Tahdhibul Kamal, vol. 30 pg. 200-204, Mizanul I’tidal, vol. 5 pg. 55, number: 8709, Taqribut Tahdhib: 7292 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 3 pg. 140)
However, ‘Allamah Mundhiri (rahimahullah) has cited a corroborating narration recorded in Shu’abul Iman (Hadith: 3331) on the authority of Sayyiduna Jabir (radiyallahu ‘anhu).
The Hadith is suitable to quote.
1) It is possible that ‘Allamah Mundhiri’s edition of Musnad Ahmad had the word ‘حيتان’ (fish) as he also referenced this narration to Kitabuth Thawab of Abush Shaykh and has pointed out the difference in wording of this version. He states that this version has the word ‘ملائكة’ instead of ‘حيتان’.
(رواه أحمد والبزار والبيهقي ورواه أبو الشيخ ابن حيان في كتاب الثواب إلا أن عنده وتستغفر لهم الملائكة بدل الحيتان)
(Refer: Targhib, vol. 2 pg. 91)
2) However, since the primary sources available to us today have the word ‘ملائكة’ [i.e. the angels seek forgiveness on their behalf until they break their fast’], this version would be the ideal to quote, although to quote the wordings cited in the question [as cited by ‘Allamah Mundhiri] may also be correct.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar