Praise be to Allaah.
Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali said:
In al-Musnad, al-Saheehayn and elsewhere it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: âNo haamah and no Safar.â Muslim and others add the words, âNo nawâ and no ghoul.â
Haamah (pl. Haam) owl: the people of the jaahiliyyah used to think that when someone died and was buried, an owl haamah would come out of his grave. The Arabs used to think that the bones of the deceased turned into owls which flew, and they said that if someone was murdered, an owl would come out of his head, and it would keep saying, âGive me to drink, give me to drink,â until the slain person was avenged and his killer was killed.
Safar: it was said that they used to have superstitions concerning the month of Safar, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: âNo Safarâ. And it was said that the Arabs used to believe that there was a snake in the stomach which would harm a person when he had intercourse, and that this was contagious, so the Lawgiver denied that. Maalik said: the people of the Jaahiliyyah would regard Safar as not being sacred one year and as sacred the next year.
Nawâ: (pl. al-Anwaaâ) (a star which sets at the rising of another): this refers to twenty eight lunar mansions or phases, as in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
âAnd the moon, We have measured for it mansionsâ¦â
Every thirteen nights, one of these stars sets in the west at dawn, and another rises in the east, so that at the end of the year they will all have come and gone. The Arabs used to believe that when one set and the next one rose, there would be rain, which they attributed to them (these stars), so they would say, âWe have rain because of such and such nawâ (star which sets at the rising of another).â
It is called nawâ because when the star which is setting sets in the west, the one which is rising appears (naaâa) in the east, i.e., it rises and emerges. And it was said that nawâ means setting, which is the opposite.
But in the case of those who believe that rain came by the will of Allaah and say, âWe have rain at the time of such and such nawââ meaning that Allaah usually causes rain to come at this time â there is some dispute as to whether saying this is haraam or makrooh.
Ghoul (pl. gheelaan) means a kind of jinn or devil. The Arabs used to think that the ghoul lived in the wilderness and would appear to people, and that it could take on different shapes and colours, and that it would make them lose their way, seeking to kill them. The Lawgiver rejected and denied this idea altogether.
And it was said that this was not denying that ghouls exist, rather it was a denial of the Arabsâ belief that they could change shape and colour and make people lose their way, hence the meaning of âno ghoulâ is that they cannot make people lose their way. This is borne out by another hadeeth, âThere is no ghoul but there is saâaaliâ This is in Muslim and elsewhere. Saâaali is a magician among the jinn, but among them there are magicians who base their magic on confusion and illusionsâ¦ al-Khallaal narrated from Taawoos that a man accompanied him, then a crow cawed and the man said, âGood, good.â Taawoos said to him, âWhat good is there in this, and what evil? Do not come with me!â
(al-Aadaab al-Sharâiyyah, 3/369, 370)
Ibn al-Qayyim said:
Some scholars said that the words âno healthy person should be exposed to a sick personâ were abrogated by the words âThere is no âadwa (contagion).â This is not correct. This is an example where what is negated is different than what is affirmed. What the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) denied when he said âThere is no contagion and no Safarâ was the belief of the mushrikeen which was based on their beliefs of shirk. With regard to the Prophetâs prohibition of exposing healthy people to sick people, there are two interpretations:
(1) The fear that people may attribute what Allaah has decreed to âadwa (contagion), which may confuse those who hear of this and make them believe in âadwa. There is no contradiction between the two reports.
(2) That this refers to exposing the sick person to the healthy person, which may be the means by which Allaah creates disease, so the exposure is the cause, but Allaah may divert its effects by means of other causes which oppose it or prevent the effect of the sickness. This is pure Tawheed, unlike that which the people of shirk believe in.
This is similar to the denial of intercession on the Day of Resurrection mentioned in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
âwhen there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercessionâ
This does not contradict the unambiguous mutawaatir ahaadeeth which say that there will be intercession on the Day of Resurrection, because what Allaah is denying here is the kind of intercession that was known among the mushrikeen, where an intercessor would come forward and intercede without being given permission. The intercession which is affirmed by Allaah and His Messenger is that which comes after His permission is given, as in the aayahs (interpretation of the meaning):
ââ¦Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission?â¦â
âand they cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleasedâ
âIntercession with Him profits not except for him whom He permitsâ
Haashiyat Tahdheeb Sunan Abi Dawood, 10/289-291)
And Allaah is the One Who grants strength to do what is right.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid