Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Jamadiul-Akhir / Rajab 1423 H
September 2002
Volume 15-09 No:189

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Hadith


Friendship of Souls
Attribute all things to Allah's Will


Friendship of Souls

A Hadith which gives us a glimpse of the nature of the soul is reported by Aishah, the Prophet’s wife, who quotes him as saying: “Souls are like soldiers grouped in ranks: those of them which are familiar with each other will be friends, and those which are unfamiliar will be in conflict.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

Commentary by
Adil Salahi

Sometimes the Prophet (Pbuh) gives us a glimpse of insight into the realm of the soul, which we know very little about. The important thing to remember in this connection is that Allah has chosen not to give us a detailed knowledge of the soul. We should also remember that whatever He has chosen to withhold from us would not affect our role on earth and the fulfillment of the task assigned to us in this life. Therefore, we limit ourselves to what is outlined in the Qur’an and what the Prophet has given us in authentic Hadith. However, people continue to try to explore the realm of the soul and come up with all sorts of ideas to show that they have special knowledge that is denied to others. All such claims are false, because they do not rely on any confirmed knowledge imparted to us by Allah through His messenger.

A Hadith which gives us a glimpse of the nature of the soul is reported by Aishah, the Prophet’s wife, who quotes him as saying: “Souls are like soldiers grouped in ranks: those of them which are familiar with each other will be friends, and those which are unfamiliar will be in conflict.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others). This Hadith has several versions with different chains of transmission, all of which are authentic. This makes it highly authentic. One version which throws some light on its meaning mentions that a Makkan woman was known to have a sense of humour and to play a trick travelled to Madinah where she was a guest of a woman of similar qualities. When Aishah heard of that, she said: “My beloved husband always told the truth... (and she quoted the Hadith).”

What this Hadith means is that Allah created souls and gave them their qualities. Those of similar qualities will easily be friends when they meet in this life, while those who have different natures are likely to be in conflict. This in fact accounts for endless cases of people getting along together when their apparent circumstances should have kept them well apart. Moreover, it tells us something about what brings good people together and what allows evil ones to flock together and even trust each other, when they know that they are evil at heart.

If this sounds difficult to understand, it is because we know very little about the nature of the soul. But some Hadiths tell us of things that may sound extremely strange, such as this very authentic Hadith: “A shepherd was tending his sheep, when a wolf attacked and took away one sheep. The shepherd pursued him, but the wolf turned round and said: ‘Who will protect her on the day of the lion, when I will be its only shepherd.’ The people attending the Prophet said: ‘Glory be to God, or subhan Allah.’ The Prophet rejoined, ‘I do believe in this, and so do Abu Bakr and Umar.’” (Related by Al-Bukhari).

The first thing that attracts our attention in this Hadith is the wolf speaking to the shepherd in human language. To start with, this is not difficult for Allah to bring about. He made infants talk in adult language, such as Jesus Christ, and the child witness testifying to Joseph’s innocence when he was falsely accused by the Egyptian minister’s wife that he tried to seduce her. Allah is able to do whatever He wishes, and He accomplishes His purpose, no matter how impossible it may appear to human eyes. For the wolf to talk in human language is, to Allah, as easy as making human beings speak. If we look into how human children learn to speak we are bound to conclude that they would have never done so of their own accord, unless Allah instills in them the ability to learn to speak.

When the Prophet’s audience expressed their amazement, he confirmed his belief in the truth of the story, and he also asserted that Abu Bakr and Umar also believe in it. He mentions his closest companions who showed the most profound insight into the Islamic faith. They would not hesitate to believe in the story, amazing as it may sound to us. In fact, we should have no difficulty in accepting the story, because it merely tells us about one aspect demonstrating Allah’s power. When we assert our belief in Allah, we also make it clear that we believe that Allah is able to do everything. Making a wolf speak in human language is very simple to Him, and He can make this happen at any time.

Apparently, this Hadith speaks about an incident that took place long before the Prophet. In fact, Al-Bukhari mentions it in the chapter he devotes for the Hadiths concerning the Children of Israel. But the same thing happened to one of the Prophet’s companions called Ahban ibn Aws.

The relevant Hadith is related in connection with his acceptance of Islam. The report says: “A wolf attacked his flock of sheep and pursued one of them. Ahban shouted at the wolf, trying to drive him away. The wolf turned to him and said: ‘Who will protect her when you are preoccupied with other things? Do you prevent me provisions that Allah has given me?’ Ahban clapped with his hands in amazement and said, ‘By Allah, I have never seen a more amazing thing!’ The wolf said, ‘But there is a more amazing thing. Here is Allah’s messenger sitting under these date trees, calling on people to believe in Allah.’ Ahban went to the Prophet and told him the story and declared that he believed in Islam.” (Related by Ibn Hajar in his commentary on Al-Bukhari’s Sahih).

I do not find it amazing that a wolf speaks to a man in his language. Allah is able to accomplish that at any time. What I find amazing is that the same story should happen twice, the first time with a person from the Children of Israel, and then at the Prophet’s own time, with the addition that the wolf directs the man to the place where Allah’s messenger was speaking to people calling on them to believe in Allah.

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Attribute all things to Allah's Will

A Hadith reported by Zaid ibn Khalid Al-Juhani mentions: "God's messenger led the congregational dawn prayer one day at Al-Hudaibiyah after it had been raining at night. When he finished his prayers, he turned to people and said: 'Do you know what your Lord has said?' They replied: 'God and His messenger know best.' He said: 'God says: Some of My servants are good believers this morning and some are unbelievers. A person who says, 'We have been sent rain by God's grace and mercy,' believes in Me and disbelieves in the planet. On the other hand, the one who says, 'We have had rain because this planet is on the ascendance,' disbelieves in Me and believes in the planet'." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, as well as others).

This Hadith refers to 28 planets which are paired in the sense that when one of them goes down in the West, the other rises in the East. They are well-known and complete their turn of rising and descent once a year. People often associate rain with the going down of the wintry ones. This is the custom to which the Prophet refers in this Hadith in which he quotes God's word. When the text of a Hadith attributes a statement to God, it becomes a sacred, or Qudsi Hadith.

When we look at the text of the Hadith, we realize that the way people look at things and how they happen makes a fundamental difference to their status as believers or unbelievers. Here the Prophet refers to a particular habit, in which people attribute a rainfall to the rise or descent of a certain planet. Thus they make the movement of the planet, or the planet itself, the cause of the rainfall. If so, then the planet has a will of its own which determines the movement of clouds and the fall of rain. Since a believer attributes all that happens in the universe to God alone, attributing something like a rainfall to a planet, or to any cause, is an act of associating partners with God.

We have to make a fine distinction here. The Hadith speaks of a person saying the rain took place "because this planet is on the ascendance." If a person says instead, "we had a rainfall when this planet was on the ascendance," there is nothing wrong with that. He is simply referring to the time of the rainfall, not attributing its cause to the planet and its movement.

What all this means is to stress the Islamic principle of attributing every thing that takes place in the universe to God and His will. When we have a rainfall, we say that it takes place by God's will and grace. When rain is scarce, we pray to God to send us rain. We do not look to any cause or factor, because we know that they all operate by God's will.

When we speak of God's will, we should always remember that it is free, unrestricted by anything. God may will whatever He determines at any time, and He brings it about as He wishes. The laws of nature are all subject to His will. He operates them as He pleases.

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