Narrative regarding The Prophet's Lack of Authority to Prohibit what God has kept Lawful


روي أنه قال أبو سعيد: لم نعد أن فتحت خيبر فوقعنا أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في تلك البقلة الثوم والناس جياع فأكلنا منها أكلا شديدا ثم رحنا إلى المسجد فوجد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الريج فقال: من أكل من هذه الشجرة الخبيثة شيئا فلا يقربنا في المسجد فقال الناس: حرمت حرمت. فبلغ ذاك النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال: أيها الناس إنه ليس بي تحريم ما أحل الله لي ولكنها شجرة أكره ريحها.

It is narrated that Abu Sa`eed al-Khudriy said: We had not made any preparations when Khyber was conquered. So we - the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) - came upon this plantation - i.e., garlic. People were extremely hungry. So we had our fill [from it] and came to the mosque. The Prophet (pbuh) sensed its odor and said: Whoever eats anything of this vicious tree must not come near us in the mosque. Hearing this, people started telling each other: It is prohibited, it is prohibited. When this reached the Prophet (pbuh), he said: O People, I do not have authority to prohibit anything that God has kept lawful for me1. [It is not prohibited,] but, in fact, it is only a tree, the odor of which I detest.

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General Notes:

  1. This narrative provides a very good example of how a simple statement of the Prophet (pbuh) can be misinterpreted by the listeners as a directive of the Shari`ah and, subsequently, can potentially be narrated as such. The statement 'I do not have authority to prohibit anything that God has kept lawful for me' is a basic principle in the interpretation of all such narratives.

Notes on the Text of the Narrative

This narrative or a part of it with some variations has been reported in Muslim (narrative no. 565), Abu Dawood (narrative no. 3823), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (narrative no. 11099, 11600, 11822 and 23572), Ibn Khuzaymah (narrative no. 1667), Bayhaqiy (narrative no. 4838 and 4839), Ibn Hibban (narrative no. 2085), Abu Ya`laa (narrative no. 1195). The preferred text is taken from Muslim's narrative no. 565.

In some narratives, as in Bayhaqiy's narrative no. 4839, the words "فوقعنا في تلك البقلة" (i.e., 'we came upon this plantation') have been reported as "وقمنا في تلك البقلة" (i.e., 'we stood in this plantation').

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative no. 11600, the demonstrative pronoun "تلك" in the words "في تلك البقلة" (i.e., 'in this plantation') have been reported synonymously as "تيك".

In some narratives, as in Abu Ya`laa's narrative no. 1195, the words "في تلك البقلة الثوم" (i.e., 'in this plantation - that is, garlic') have been reported as "في تلك البقلة الثوم والبصل" (i.e., 'in this plantation - that is garlic and onion').

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative no. 11099, the words "والناس جياع" (i.e., 'and the people were very hungry') have synonymously been reported as "وناس جياع".

In some narratives, as in Ibn Khuzaymah's narrative no. 1667, the words "ثم رحنا إلى المسجد" (i.e., 'then we came to this mosque') have been narrated as "ثم قمنا إلى المسجد" (i.e., 'then we prepared for the mosque'); while in some narratives, as in Abu Ya`laa's narrative no. 1195, these words have been reported as "فرجعنا إلى المسجد" (i.e., 'then we returned to the mosque').

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative no. 11600, the words "فقال الناس" (i.e., 'then the people said') have synonymously been reported as "فقال ناس".

In some narratives, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative no. 11099, the words "إنه ليس بي تحريم ما أحل الله" (i.e., 'I do not have authority to prohibit anything that God has allowed') have been reported as "إنه ليس لي تحريم ما أحل الله" (i.e., 'It is not for me to disallow anything that God has allowed').

In some narratives, as in Ibn Khuzaymah's narrative no. 1667, the following words have been added to the saying of the Prophet (pbuh) "وإنه يأتيني من الملائكة فأكره أن يشموا ريحها" (i.e., 'Angels come to me and I do not want them to smell this odor').

Some narratives, as for instance, Abu Dawood's narrative no. 3823 have given the same subject matter in a slightly different manner, as follows:

 Ø±ÙˆÙŠ أنه ذكر عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الثوم البصل. قيل يا رسول الله وأشد ذلك كله الثوم أفتحرمه؟ فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: كلوه. ومن أكله منكم فلا يقرب هذا المسجد حتى يذهب ريحه منه.

It is narrated that garlic and onion were mentioned in front of the Prophet (pbuh). It was said: O Prophet, garlic is the strongest among these in its odor. Do you prohibit eating it? The Prophet (pbuh) said: Eat it. However, whoever among you eats of it should not come near us in the mosque, till the time that its odor subsides.

In some narratives, as in Bayhaqiy's narrative no. 4838, the words "حتى يذهب ريحه منه" (i.e., 'till the time its odor subsides') have been reported as "حتى يذهب عنه ريحه منه" (i.e., 'till the time that its odor subsides from him').

In some other narratives, as for instance in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative no. 11822, it is reported:

 Ø±ÙˆÙŠ أن أبا سعيد الخدري قال: إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى الكراث والبصل والثوم فقلنا: أحرام هو؟ قال: لا. ولكن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى عنه.

'It is narrated that Abu Sa`eed Al-Khudriy said: The Prophet (pbuh) stopped us from [eating] leek, onion and garlic. People asked: Is it prohibited? Abu Sa`eed replied: 'No, but the Prophet (pbuh) stopped us from [eating] it.'

While in another narrative, as in Ahmad ibn Hanbal's narrative no. 23572, the same subject matter has been reported in a different context, as follows:

روي أن أبا أيوب الأنصاري قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا أتي بطعام أكل منه وبعث بفضله إلي. وأنه بعث يوما بقصعة لم يأكل منها شيئا. فيها ثوم. فسألته أحرام هو؟ قال: لا ولكني أكرهه من أجل ريحه. فقال: إني أكره ما كرهت.

 'It is narrated that Abu Ayyub Al-Ansariy said: When any food was brought to the Prophet, he ate from it and sent anything that was left to me. One day, he sent me a basin from which he had not eaten anything. There was garlic in it. I asked him: Is it prohibited? He replied: No, but I don't like it due to its odor. Abu Ayyub said: I too dislike what you do not like.'

(This write-up is prepared by the Hadith Cell of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi)

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Last Updated on Sunday, 12 December 2010 23:04