The isnaad of this report hinges on Abu Ishaaq as-Sabeei, and it was narrated from him by five of his companions, namely Sufyaan ath-Thawri, Zuhayr ibn Muaawiyah, Shubah, Israa'eel ibn Yoonus and Abu Bakr ibn Ayyaash. But they differed concerning the narration of the report from Abu Ishaaq, and there are several versions
It was narrated from Sufyaan ath-Thawri and Zuhayr ibn Muaawiyah, from Abu Ishaaq, from Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Sad who said: Ibn Umar's leg became numb and a man said to him: Mention the dearest of people to you. He said: Muhammad.
Narrated by al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, no. 964; ad-Daaraqutni in al-Ilal, 13/242, from Sufyaan ath-Thawri with the wording mentioned above, but in the version narrated by ad-Daaraqutni it says O Muhammad.
It was narrated by Ali ibn al-Jad in al-Musnad, p. 369; Ibraaheem al-Harbi in Ghareeb al-Hadeeth, 2/674; Ibn Sad in at-Tabaqaat, 4/154; Ibn Asaakir in Tareekh Dimashq, 31/177, from Zuhayr, with the wording: I came to Ibn Umar and his leg had become numb, so I said: What is the matter with your leg? He said: Its nerves are contracting. I said: Call upon the dearest of people to you. He said: O Muhammad, and he was able to stretch it out.
This isnaad cannot be proven to be sound because of Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Sad al-Qurashi al-Adawi al-Kufi, the freed slave of Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). In al-Ilal by ad-Daaraqutni, it says that he was the freed slave of Ibn al-Khattab. His biography is in al-Jarh wa't-Tadeel (5/237) and Tahdheeb al-Kamaal (17/142. We did not find anyone who evaluated the narrator; rather it was said to Yahya ibn Maeen (may Allah have mercy on him): Who is Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Sad? He said: I do not know.
Tareekh Ibn Maeen -- Riwaayat ad-Doori, 2953.
With regard to the view of al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar in at-Tahdheeb, 6/186, I say: An-Nasaa'i said: (He is) thiqah (trustworthy).
Dr. Sad al-Humayd (may Allah preserve him) commented on him by saying:
I think that this (that he is thiqah or trustworthy) is probably what an-Nasaa'i said about the previous narrator, namely Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Sad al-Madani al-Araj. There is a similarity between them (in name), hence al-Mazzi said in Tahdheeb al-Kamaal (17/139-140) that an-Nasaa'i stated that al-Madani al-Araj was trustworthy, but he did not mention his saying that al-Kufi, the freed slave of Ibn Umar, was such.
Note: ad-Daaraqutni stated in al-Ilal (13/242) that Zuhayr ibn Muaawiyah narrated it from Abu Ishaaq, from Abd al-Jabbaar ibn Saeed, from Ibn Umar, but I have not found the origin of this report.
It was narrated by Shubah, from Abu Ishaaq, from someone who heard Ibn Umar say: My leg became numb, and it was said: Mention the most beloved of people. He said: O Muhammad.
Narrated by Ibraaheem al-Harbi in Ghareeb al-Hadeeth, 2/673
There is some weakness in its isnaad because of the unknown character of the narrator from Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).
It was narrated by Israa'eel, from Abu Ishaaq, from al-Haytham ibn Hanash, who said: We were with Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and his leg became numb. A man said to him: Mention the dearest of people to you. He said: O Muhammad. Then he stood up and it was as if he was released from a hobble.
This was narrated by Ibn as-Sunni in Aml al-Yawm wa'l-Layla, no. 169
This isnaad is also daeef (weak) because of al-Haytham ibn Hanash, whose biography appears in at-Tareekh al-Kabeer, 8/213 and al-Jarh wa't-Tadeel, 9/79. None of the scholars said he was trustworthy; no one said he was good or bad. His state is unknown and al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi gave his name in al-Kifaayah (p. 88) as an example of those who are unknown.
Moreover in the isnaad going back to Israa'eel there is a narrator whose name is Muhammad ibn Musab al-Qarqasaani, who was classed as daeef by Ibn Maeen and an-Nasaa'i. Ibn Hibbaan said: His memory became poor; he used to mix up isnaads and attribute mursal reports to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). It is not permissible to quote his reports as evidence, although others regarded him as trustworthy.
Note: ad-Daaraqutni stated in al-Ilal, 13/242, that Israa'eel narrated it from Abu Ishaaq, from Ibn Umar, in a mursal report, but I could not find this report.
It was narrated by Abu Bakr ibn Ayyaash: Abu Ishaaq al-Sabeei told us, from Abu Shubah who said: I was walking with Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and his leg became numb. He sat down and a man said to him: Mention the dearest of people to you. He said: O Muhammad, then he got up and walked.
Also narrated by Ibn as-Sunni in Aml al-Yawm wa'l-Laylah, no. 168
This is also a daeef isnaad, as it is not known who this Abu Shubah is, and there are some reservations about Abu Bakr ibn Ayyaash.
To sum up, these isnaads are not free of three issues:
Each of them includes an unknown narrator at the level of those from whom Abu Ishaaq as-Sabeei narrated it. They are: Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Sad, al-Haytham ibn Hanash and Abu Shubah. And there is a fourth narrator whose name is not known.
Moreover it is not proven in the books that Abu Ishaaq as-Sabeei heard from each of these four. It is known that Abu Ishaaq was well-known for tadlees (ambiguity or giving the wrong impression), to such an extent that al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar mentioned him in the third level of mudalliseen (those who were known for tadlees), in his book Tareef Ahl al-Taqdees bi Maraatib al-Mawsoofoona bi't-Tadlees (p. 42). So there is the fear that he used it in some of these reports too. He narrated the hadeeth saying an (from) in the isnaad, and did not state clearly that he heard it. Although the basic principle is that the hadeeth of Abu Ishaaq in which it says an in the isnaad is acceptable, using it here in conjunction with these unknown shaykhs gives rise to suspicion and doubt.
The fact that those who narrated from Abu Ishaaq as-Sabeei differed may cause us to doubt its soundness because of this lack of harmony, especially since Abu Ishaaq's memory changed and he started to forget towards the end of his life. Even though it is possible to regard the report of Sufyaan ath-Thawri as more likely to be correct, because he had the best memory of those who narrated from Abu Ishaaq, this thinking is nevertheless speculative and may not be correct. Dr. Sad al-Humayd (may Allah preserve him) says: The most sound of these isnaads is the report of Sufyaan ath-Thawri. End quote.
Shaykh Abu Ishaaq al-Huwayni (may Allah preserve him) says: The report of ath-Thawri is the most reliable. End quote from al-Fataawa al-Hadeethiyyah.
Shaykh Saalih Aal ash-Shaykh says: Sufyaan is one of the best in terms of memory and his narrating the report of Abu Ishaaq with this wording proves that this is the correct version and that others are wrong and are to be rejected. End quote from Hadhihi Mafaaheemuna, p. 52
The report of Ibn Umar cannot be strengthened by what Ibn as-Sunni narrated in Aml al-Yawm wa'l-Laylah (no. 169), where he said: Jafar ibn Eesa Abu Ahmad told us, Ahmad ibn Abdullah ibn Rawh told us, Salaam ibn Sulayman told us, Ghiyaath ibn Ibraaheem told us, from Abdullah ibn Uthmaan ibn Khuthaym, from Mujaahid, that Ibn Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: A man's leg became numb in the presence of Ibn Abbaas, and Ibn Abbaas said: Mention the dearest of people to you. He said: Muhammad, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him. And the numbness went away.
That is because this is a very weak report because of Ghiyaath ibn Ibraaheem, of whom Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: People rejected his hadeeth. Al-Bukhaari said: They rejected him. See: Mizaan al-Itidaal, 5/406. Its isnaad also includes other weak narrators.
The report was classed as daeef (weak) by Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him) in Daeef al-Adab al-Mufrad; and by Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd (may Allah have mercy on him) when he said: There is no sound report about dhikr or duaa' when one's leg goes numb; no marfoo hadeeth has been narrated concerning that.
End quote from Tasheeh ad-Duaa', p. 362
The fact that the dearest of people to Ibn Umar, namely our Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), was mentioned - even if we assume the report is sound - does not mean that it was done by way of calling upon him for help. Rather it was merely mentioning him. There is a huge difference between the two matters.
Merely mentioning him is what was meant by some of the scholars who regarded this report as sound in their books, such as Imam an-Nawawi in al-Adhkaar (p. 305), Ibn Taymiyah in al-Kalim at-Tayyib (p. 96) and others. This way of treating numbness was used by the Arabs in the past; they thought that mentioning the beloved could make the blood flow in the veins and help get rid of the numbness. There are dozens of examples of this in Arabic poetry, which indicates that this was a kind of remedy used by the Arabs. For more information please refer to the book Buloogh al-Arab fi Marifat Ahwaal al-Arab by al-Aloosi, 2/320-321
As for calling upon him for help, that would mean that Ibn Umar was asking for immediate healing of the numbness in his leg from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and not from Allah, may He be exalted. It is not permissible to seek healing from anyone except Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, for He is the One in Whose hand is the power to cause harm or bring benefit; He is the Lord Who controls the entire universe. He, may He be glorified and exalted, has commanded us to ask of Him and not of any of His creation with regard to that which only Allah is able to do. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
And the mosques are for Allah (Alone), so invoke not anyone along with Allah.
(It has been revealed to me that) When the slave of Allah (Muhammad ) stood up invoking (his Lord Allah) in prayer to Him they (the jinns) just made round him a dense crowd as if sticking one over the other (in order to listen to the Prophets recitation).
Say (O Muhammad ): I invoke only my Lord (Allah Alone), and I associate none as partners along with Him.
Say: It is not in my power to cause you harm, or to bring you to the Right Path
Shaykh Abu Bateen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
If this report is saheeh, perhaps Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, has caused mentioning the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in this situation to have a special effect. And Allah knows best. He did not say, O Muhammad, take away my numbness, or, I complain to you about the numbness in my leg - as some people (incorrectly) think that this report constitutes evidence that it is permissible to call upon the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and to seek help from him and ask him to fulfil their deeds and relieve distress.
End quote from Rasaa'il wa Fataawa Aba Bateen, p. 199
Whoever wants to use this report as evidence that it is permissible to seek help from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) has gone too far and is claiming something for which there is no proof in the report; he has ignored all the rules and guidelines on understanding reports and reaching conclusions. Think about what the man said; he said Mention and did not say Seek help from or Call upon, except in the report of Zuhayr ibn Muaawiyah from Abu Ishaaq, where it says Call upon the dearest of people to you. But there can be no doubt that the report of Sufyaan ath-Thawri is more appropriate and more authentic, because he had a better memory and narrated more soundly from Abu Ishaaq as-Sabeei. Moreover, Zuhayr ibn Muaawiyah heard from Abu Ishaaq after his memory changed because of old age, and there is the fear that this report is one of those that come under that category.
Even if we assume that it is true that Ibn Umar said O Muhammad - although these words are not to be found in the report of Sufyaan ath-Thawri - that does not necessarily mean that he was seeking help from him. It may be understood as meaning that he was calling to mind the person of the Prophe t(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) so as to send blessings upon him. In that case what it means is: O Muhammad, may Allah send blessings upon you. This is how it was understood by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in ad-Durr al-Mandood, p. 236
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The words O Muhammad, O Prophet of Allah and similar calls are meant to bring to mind the person called, so that one might address the person brought to mind. This is like when the worshipper says in the prayer: As-salaam alayka ayyuha'n-Nabiyyu wa rahmat-Allahi wa barakaatuhu (Peace be upon you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His Blessings). People do that a great deal; a man may address the person he is thinking of even though there is no one in front of him to hear what he says.
End quote from Iqtida' as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem li Mukhaalafat Ashaab al-Jaheem, 2/319
The words Mention the dearest of people to you would not necessarily elicit the same response from everyone whose leg becomes numb. One person may mention the name of his wife, another may mention the name of his father and a third may mention the name of his friend. Moreover, the person mentioned may not be one of the righteous or one of the pious worshippers; rather he may be an evildoer who does not adhere to the rulings of Islam. So how can it be said that calling upon him for help or even mentioning his name may be a direct cause of the numbness going away?
To sum up: there is no saheeh report concerning this matter.
And Allah knows best.
Reproduced from Islam QA