Chapter 30: That Which Has Been Narrated about Seeking Rain by the Stars (and the Four Traits of Jāhiliyyah that Muslims will not give up). Kitāb Al-Tawheed of Imām Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhāb

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In the name of Allāh, Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.

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Table of Contents

    All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may Allah extol the mention of our noble Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels, bless him and give him peace and security―and his family, his Companions and all those who follow him correctly until the establishment of the Hour.

    That Which Has Been Narrated about Seeking Rain by the Stars

    Shaykh al-Islām Muhammad ibn ʿAbdul-Wahhāb (rahimahullāh) said:

    Allah (the Most High) stated:

    وَتَجْعَلُونَ رِزْقَكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ تُكَذِّبُونَ

    “And instead (of thanking Allah) for the provision He gives you, you deny Him with your disbelief.” (Sūrah al-Wāqiʿah 56:82)

    On the authority of Abu Mālik al-Ashʿarī (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “There are four things from my ummah from the affairs of Jāhiliyyah that they will not give up:

    • taking pride in one’s status,
    • to attack the lineage of others,
    • to seek rain by the stars
    • and wailing over the dead.”

    In another wording, he (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, then she will be raised on the Day of Resurrection dressed in a garment of pitch (with the highest extremity of heat), and she will wear a cloak of scabies (that causes severe painful itchiness).” (Reported by Imām Muslim, no. 934).

    Both al-Bukhāri (no. 846) and Muslim (no. 71) narrated from Zayd bin Khālid (radiyallāhu ʿanhu) who said: “Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) led us in the morning prayer at Hudaybiyah after a rainy night. After finishing the prayer he turned to the people and said, ‘Do you know what your Lord has said?’ So they responded, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’

    So the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said, ‘Allah said, ‘Some of my slaves woke up this morning believing in me and others woke up disbelieving in me. As for the one who said, ‘It rained upon us due to the bounty of Allah and His Mercy,’ then such a one has believed in me and disbelieved in the stars. As for the one who said, ‘It rained upon us due to such and such a star’, then he is a disbeliever in me and a believer in the stars.”

    Al-Bukhāri and Muslim (no. 73) also narrated the hadeeth of Ibn ʿAbbās with a similar meaning where the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “Some of those who imagine that rain descends due to the stars say, ‘Such and such a star was truthful.’ So Allah revealed the verses of Surah al-Wāqiʿah (56: 75-82): 

    فَلَآ أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَٰقِعِ ٱلنُّجُومِ ٧٥
    وَإِنَّهُۥ لَقَسَمٌۭ لَّوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ ٧٦
    إِنَّهُۥ لَقُرْءَانٌۭ كَرِيمٌۭ ٧٧
    فِى كِتَـٰبٍۢ مَّكْنُونٍۢ ٧٨
    لَّا يَمَسُّهُۥٓ إِلَّا ٱلْمُطَهَّرُونَ ٧٩
    تَنزِيلٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٨٠
    أَفَبِهَـٰذَا ٱلْحَدِيثِ أَنتُم مُّدْهِنُونَ ٨١
    وَتَجْعَلُونَ رِزْقَكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ تُكَذِّبُونَ ٨٢

    “Then I swear by the setting of the stars.
    And verily that is indeed a great oath if you but know.
    That this is indeed an honourable recitation (the Noble Qur’ān).
    Inside a Book well-guarded (i.e., al-Lawh al-Mahfūẓ).
    Which none can touch but the purified (angels),
    A revelation from the Lord of all creation.
    Is it such speech (this Qur’ān) that you (the disbelievers) deny?
    And (instead of thanking Allah) for the provision He gives you, you deny Him (by disbelief)?”

    Explanation

    The chapter states: “That Which Has Been Narrated about Seeking Rain from the Stars (al-anwā).” So Anwā (أنواء) is the plural of Nau’ (نوء), and this refers to the constellations and stars.

    The constellations are known by the disappearance or the setting of the stars, and their rising and appearing. If a star is rising, it is said about it, ‘It has risen/appeared (nau’an).’ The people would believe that rain falls and goodness takes place due to the rising of the stars, and some people claimed that the star movement was responsible for a particular event. It was due to this that Allah revealed the āyah in Sūrah al-Wāqiʿah (56:82) mentioned above, that instead of thanking Allah for the provision that He gave, they would deny Him. All provision is from Allah and rainfall is a cause for provision to come about, and Allah is the One who sends down the rain, and due to it, He brings out the fruit and crops. The rain comes down and nourishes the land for cultivation; thereafter the fruits emerge and Allah is the One who bestows this by His sending down of the rain.

    Good, healthy fruit emerges because Allah is al-Razzāq, the Provider of sustenance. He gives nutrition to cattle by bringing the seedlings and plants out of the ground, and also the shrubbery that they feed upon. He gives nourishment to the people by bringing out the fruit and crops from the ground which the people eat ― and the bounty, all of it, belongs to Allah, and He is the Bestower.

    The stars, or their positions, are merely times wherein the rain falls, or the well-being of the crops occurs, nothing more, and it is Allah who sends down the rain, just as He the, Most High, has stated:

    وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا قَنَطُوا وَيَنشُرُ رَحْمَتَهُ ۚ وَهُوَ الْوَلِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ

    “And He it is Who sends down the rain after they (the people) have despaired, and He spreads His Mercy. And He is the Supporter and Protector, worthy of all praise.” (Surah ash-Shura 42:28).

    He the, Most High, also mentions in Surah Ghāfir:

    هُوَ الَّذِي يُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُنَزِّلُ لَكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ رِزْقًا ۚ وَمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ إِلَّا مَن يُنِيبُ

    “It is He who shows you His Ayāt and sends down rain with which grows provision for you from the sky. And none remembers but those who turn to Allah in repentance (by begging His pardon, worshipping and obeying Him).” (Surah Ghāfir 40:13).

    Therefore, making a connection between the descent of the rain and the goodness of produce that results from that to a star that arises at a particular time, or to an event that occurs at a particular time, such that the people say, ‘that star was truthful,’ or, ‘that star made the crop good,’ then this is all a form of shirk (polytheism) because it is Allah who sends down all the blessings and bounties.

    This is what was revealed in the hadeeth of Zayd bin Khālid al-Juhanī (radiyallāhu ʿanhu), where at the end, the Messenger of Allah (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) recited: “And instead (of thanking Allah) for the provision He gives you, you deny Him by your disbelief.” (Surah al-Wāqiʿah, 56:82).

    Regarding the first hadeeth of Abu Mālik al-Ashʿarī (radiyallāhu ʿanhu), where Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “There are four things from my ummah from the affairs of Jāhiliyyah that they will not give up: taking pride in one’s status, attacking the lineage of others, seeking rain from the stars and wailing over the dead.” In another wording, he (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, then she will be raised on the Day of Resurrection dressed in a garment of pitch, and she will wear a cloak of scabies.” (Reported by Imām Muslim).

    And these traits still remain among the Muslims regardless of their Islām, and Allah’s refuge is sought. This remains regardless of their ʿaqeedah that is taught to them in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah.

    Pride in One’s Status

    His (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) saying, ‘Pride in one’s status.’ This refers to a person having pride in his status and nobility. Nobility can refer to worldly affairs such as wealth or status, or it could refer to the affairs of the hereafter such as showing off knowledge and actions. It is from the nature of people that they show pride in their status, such that a person says, ‘My father did such and such,’ or ‘My grandfather did such and such,’ in a proud way, showing off. So what is obligatory upon a person is that he should not show off due to his status.

    Indeed the bounty is Allah’s which He bestows upon the servants, so a person should not be boastful. However, he can mention something of what he has in order to recall and acknowledge Allah’s bounties upon him ― that is allowed, but one should take care to protect himself from boastful conduct.

    Criticizing the Lineage of Others

    As for criticizing the lineage of others, this is when some people fall into dispute with each other, they then criticize the lineage of the other person. All of this is blameworthy and it is a call to tribalism and nationalism, and the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated that it should be said to the one that boasts with haughty pride about his race or tribe: “Bite upon the head of your father’s penis.” (A sahīh hadeeth). And the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Indeed Allah does not look at your outward forms, nor does He look at your wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and your deeds.” (A sahīh hadeeth)

    Seeking Rain by the Stars

    The third aspect of Jāhiliyyah mentioned in the hadeeth is seeking rain by the stars, and it is this part of the hadeeth that is relevant to the chapter. It refers to the person who makes statements such as, ‘That star was generous and that other star was not generous,’ and other similar statements. This type of saying is not permitted for a Muslim, rather the Muslim has a firm belief that Allah is the Doer, He is the One who sends down the rain, not the stars.

    Wailing over the Dead

    As for the last of the four affairs mentioned in the Hadeeth, then it is wailing over the dead (an-niyāḥah). Niyāḥah is to lament and wail over the deceased, striking the cheeks, and ripping the garments while extolling and praising the dead person. This is all harām and goes against the Shari’ah which has legislated a mourning period of three days for women on the death of a family member, or four months and ten days if the deceased was her husband. The men do not have a mourning period, it is just for the specific women.

    The Sahābah (radiyallāhu ʿanhum) used to regard gathering at a place after someone’s death to receive guests for the purpose of mourning (and eating, etc.) as a type of wailing. The wailing of the people causes harm and punishment to the deceased in his grave ― it is an act of Jāhiliyyah and imitation of the kuffār.

    The Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, then she will be raised on the Day of Resurrection dressed in a garment of pitch, and she will wear a cloak of scabies.” (Reported by Imām Muslim, no. 934). So this is a form of punishment with a hot garment with the highest extremity of heat, and a cloak that causes a severe and painful rash and itchiness. This is a strong warning against wailing because of the punishment and anger that one exposes himself to on the Day of Resurrection.

    Kufr less than the Kufr that does not exit from Islam (Kufr dūn Kufr)

    None of these four traits of Jāhiliyyah necessitates major unbelief that would exit a person from Islam. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said, “There two things found in people that are unbelief (kufr): reviling the ancestry (of people) and wailing over the dead.” (Muslim, no. 67) The intent of kufr here is ‘kufr dūna kufr’ and it is not the kufr (unbelief) that expels one from Islam, so it is al-kufr al-aṣghar (lesser unbelief) and not al-kufr al-akbar (major unbelief).

    Some of my slaves woke up this morning believing in me and others woke up disbelieving in me

    The Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said, ‘Allah said, ‘Some of my slaves woke up this morning believing in me and others woke up disbelieving in me. As for the one who said, ‘It rained upon us due to the bounty of Allah and His Mercy,’ then such a one has believed in me and disbelieved in the stars. As for the one who said, ‘It rained upon us due to such and such a star,’ then he is a disbeliever in me and a believer in the stars.”

    So, again the intent here is not major unbelief that expels from the Religion, rather it is the lesser unbelief (or kufr dūna kufr). And this applies to the one who ascribes the descent of the rain to a star ― and by doing so, this sentiment of his is considered the unbelief of actions (i.e., al-kufr al-ʿamalī) which is lesser kufr ― and a person must not fall into this, as there is a clear prohibition. Rather, it is a must that the descent of the rain or its withholding is ascribed only to Allah, and not to a star. All of these narrations make mention of kufr which is lesser kufr (or kufr of action) that does not expel a person from Islam.

    Shaikh al-Islam Ibn ʿAbdul-Wahhāb said, “Al-Bukhāri and Muslim (no. 73) also narrated the hadeeth of Ibn ʿAbbās with a similar meaning,” i.e., similar in meaning to hadeeth of Zayd ibn Khālid. Ibn ʿAbbās’s hadeeth states, ‘Such and such a star was truthful.’ So Allah revealed in response:

    “Then I swear by the setting of the stars.
    And verily that is indeed a great oath if you but know.
    That (this) is indeed an honourable recitation (the Noble Qur’ān).
    In a Book well-guarded (i.e., al-Lawh al-Mahfūẓ).
    Which none can touch but the purified (angels).
    A revelation from the Lord of all that exists.
    Is it such speech (this Qur’ān) that you (disbelievers) deny?
    And (instead of thanking Allah) for the provision He gives you, you deny Him by your disbelief?"

    From this, we understand that the stars are nothing more than a time within which the rain descends or the fruits ripen, and it is Allah who does everything, He sends the rain (or withholds it), and He causes the fruits to ripen and the crops to grow.

    Taken mostly from Shaikh Ahmad Ibn Yahyā An-Najmi’s (rahimahullāh) explanation with additions from other scholars and notes from Abu Khadeejah.

    الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم

    End.

    Some of this article was transcribed by Umm Maryam (may Allah reward her) from the classes of Abu Khadeejah (SalafiSounds.com). Please share it with others.


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