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The Prophet's parents & unbelief

Published: 23/08/2011 07:18:00 PM GMT
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How come the father of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is in Hell, even though he never heard the Message? For the same reason, why was the Prophet (peace be upon him) not allowed to pray for his mother's forgiveness? I also heard that the parents of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were brought back to life so that they could believe in him. Is this true?


Answered by

Sheikh Muhammad al-Qannâs

Regarding the parents of the Prophet (peace be upon him) we say: It is well known that Allah will not punish someone except after the call to Islam reaches him. This would include the people who lived before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It also applies to the children of the unbelievers, people who are insane, and those who are born deaf and blind. All such people will be tested on the Day of Judgment.

There are some hadîth related about the parents of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I had sought Allah permission to allow me to beseech forgiveness for my mother, but He did not allow me to do so, and I sought Him permission to allow me to visit her grave and he allowed me to do so.” [Sahîh Muslim (976)]

Anas relates that a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah, where is my father?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “In the Fire.” When the man left, the Prophet (peace be upon him) called to him and said: “My father and your father are in the Fire.” [Sahîh Muslim (203)]

It is related by way of Ibn Mas`ûd that the two sons of Mulaykah came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “Our mother used to show respect to her husband and affection to her children…” and they mentioned something about the guest “…but she buried alive an infant daughter in the times of ignorance.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Your mother is in the Fire.”

They turned away with expressions of pain clearly visible in their faces. The Prophet (peace be upon him) called for them. They returned with expressions of pleasure on their faces, in hope that something had changed.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “My mother is with your mother.” [Musnad Ahmad (3598)]

These hadîth are used as evidence by some scholars that the parents of the Prophet (peace be upon him) had been acquainted with the message of truth. The Arabs to whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent were familiar with the religion of Abraham (peace be upon him), and that is why there were among them some true believers who did not commit polytheism, such as Zayd b. `Amr and Qiss b. Sâ`idah.

Al-Nawawî in his commentary on hadîth 203 of Sahîh Muslim speaks about the hadîth of Anas, saying [Commentary on Sahîh Muslim (3/79)]:

This shows that those whoever dies upon unbelief will be in the Fire and will not get any benefit on account of his relatives. It also shows that those (people in Arabia) who had died during the era in which the Arabs used to worship idols are also among the denizens of the Fire. This is not a case of holding them to account before they received the Message, because they had already received the Message of of Abraham and other Prophets (peace be upon them all).

The Prophet’s saying: “My father and your father are in the Fire” is an act of good will, to help ease the pain by sharing in the affliction.

Imam al-Nawawî also comments on the hadîth in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not permitted to beseech forgiveness for his mother. He writes [Commentary on Sahîh Muslim (7/45)]:

This shows us that it is permissible to visit polytheists while they are alive and to visit their graves after they die. It follows from the permissibility of visiting them after death that it is permissible to do so when they are alive. Allah says: “Yet bear them company in this life in a good manner.” [Sûrah Luqmân: 15] It also shows that it is prohibited to beseech forgiveness for the unbelievers.

It is possible that these hadîth intend only that people who die on other than monotheism and faith must be treated as disbelievers in this life; so it will not be allowed for anyone to pray for them or beseech forgiveness for them. This is because they appear to us as unbelievers. However, their true fate rests with Allah.

And Allah knows best.

It is related in some weak and false hadîth that Allah brought the Prophet’s parents back to life so that they could believe in him. Then they were made to die again. A good number of scholars have declared these hadîth to be fabricated. Refer to: Tafsîr Ibn Kathîr (3/462), al-Hâwî fi al-Fatâwî by al-Suyûtî (2/352) and al-Rawd (2/185).

Ibn Taymiyah writes [Majmû` al-Fatâwa (4/324)]:

There is no disagreement among those acquainted with the field that this is among the most obvious of fabricated lies, as has been clearly stated by the scholars. It is not found in any of the accepted hadîth works, not in any Sahîh or Sunan or Musnad, or any other recognized hadîth work.

It has never even been mentioned by the authors of the books of campaign and the books of Qur’ân commentary, even though they narrate weak hadîth together with authentic ones, since recognition of what is false is not hard to ascertain.

Had it been true, great attention and care would have been paid to its transmission, since contains two miraculous acts; the first being that of bringing the dead back to life and the second being that of believing after death.

The narration of such an event would take priority over anything else. It follows that since no trustworthy narrators ever mentioned it, it must be declared as false.

Moreover, it goes against the Qur’ân, the authentic Sunnah, and consensus.

Allah says: “Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil, until death faces one of them, and he says: ‘Now have I repented indeed’; nor of those who die rejecting faith.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 18]

Allah shows us that there is no accepted repentance for the one who died as an unbeliever.

A man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah, where is my father?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “In the Fire.” When the man left, the Prophet (peace be upon him) called to him and said: “My father and your father are in the Fire.” [Sahîh Muslim (203)]

Then there is the hadîth about preventing the Prophet (peace be upon him) from beseeching forgiveness. If beseeching their forgiveness had been something permissible in its own right, he would not have been forbidden from doing so. Deeds are according to how the person concludes his life, so whoever dies on faith, Allah will forgives him and consequently beseeching his forgiveness will not be prohibited.

As for the Prophet (peace be upon him) visiting his mother’s grave, it was on his way to al-Hujûn near Mecca. As for his father, he was buried in Syria, so how could he have been brought to life for him?

Had the parents of the Prophet (peace be upon him) been believers, they would be more renowned than Hamzah and al-`Abbâs, the uncles of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today




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