`Abd al-Husayn Objects to the Hadith of Nabi Musa `alayh al-Salam Slapping the Eye of the Angel of Death

`Abd al-Husayn Rejects the Hadith of the Stone Fleeing with the Clothes of Musa `alayh al-Salam
December 4, 2015
`Abd al-Husayn Expresses Surprise Regarding the Hadith of Sulayman’s `alayh al-Salam Visiting a Hundred Wives in a Single Night
December 4, 2015

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‘Abdul Hussain Objects to the Hadith of Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam Slapping the Angel of Death

 

On page 76, ‘Abdul Hussain quotes the hadith under the title, “Musa ‘alayh al Salam slaps the eye of the Angel of Death”:

 

أخرج الشيخان في صحيحيهما بالاسناد إلى أبي هريرة قال: جاء ملك الموت إلى موسى(ع) فقال له: أجب ربك . قال: فلطم موسى عين ملك الموت ففقأها ، قال: فرجع الملك إلى الله تعالى فقال: إنك  أرسلتني إلى عبد لا يريد الموت ففقأ عيني قال فرد الله إليه عينه وقال ارجع إليه فقل له  الحياة تريد فإن كنت تريد الحياة فضع يدك على متن ثور فما توارت بيدك من شعرة فإنك تعيش بها سنة  الحديث

Al Bukhari and Muslim have narrated in their Sahih’s with asanid reaching up to Abu Hurairah who said, “The Angel of Death appeared before Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam and said to him, ‘Answer the call of your Rabb.’ Thereupon Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam slapped the eye of the Angel of Death causing it to fall out. The angel returned to Allah and complained, ‘Thou sent me to a slave who does not desire death, so he gouged my eye.’ Thus, Allah restored his eye and said to him, ‘Go back to him and ask him, ‘is it your desire to live? If you wish to live, then place your hand on the back of a bull. You will be granted one year for every strand of hair that your hand covers.’”[1]

 

As usual, he then starts his attempt to create doubts regarding the hadith. We will present a summary of his comments. He says:

 

وأنت ترى ما فيه مما لا يجوز على الله تعالى ولا على أنبيائه ولا على ملائكته ، أيليق بالحق تبارك وتعالى أن يصطفي من عباده من يبطش عند الغضب بطش الجبارين ؟؟…. .ويكره الموت كراهة الجاهلين …

You have seen in it that which is not ascribable to Allah, His Ambiyaʼ, and His angels. Is it conceivable that Allah will select (as a Prophet) from his slaves one who slaps in the same manner as the oppressors, during moments of anger… and he dislikes death like the ignorant ones…?   

 

Our comment: The scholars have explained this hadith centuries ago. Hence, this brilliant author did not raise any new question. Ibn Hajar said:

 

أن الله لم يبعث ملك الموت لموسى وهو يريد قبض روحه حينئذ ،وإنما بعثه إليه اختيارا وإنما لطم موسى ملك الموت لأنه رأى آدمياً دخل داره بغير إذنه ولم يعلم أنه ملك الموت ، ….وقد جاءت الملائكة إلى ابراهيم وإلى لوط في صورة آدميين فلم يعرفاهم ابتداء ، ولو عرفهم ابراهيم لما قدم لهم المأكول ولوعرفهم لوط لما خاف عليهم من قومه

When Allah sent the Angel of Death to Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam, it was not with the purpose of removing his soul. The reason why Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam slapped the angel of death is that he was under the impression that it was an ordinary person who entered his home without his permission. He was not aware that it was the Angel of Death… The angels visited Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam and Prophet Lut ‘alayh al Salam in the form of humans. They also did not recognise them at first. If Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam recognised them, he would not have offered them meals, and if Lut ‘alayh al Salam recognised them, he would not have feared for their safety from his people.[2]

 

Some of the scholars have stated that it is established from the Qur’an and Sunnah that the angels at times adopt the form of humans. They were seen in this form by some of the Prophets, who mistook them to be humans. This is clearly seen in the incidents of their interaction with Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam and Prophet Lut ‘alayh al Salam. Refer to Surah Hud, verses 69-80. Allah also states regarding Maryam radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

فَـأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوْحَنَا فَـَتمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا قَالَتْ إِنِّيْ أَعُوْذُ بِالرَّحْمٰـنِ مِنْكَ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَـقِـيًّا

When We sent our angel to her, who assumed the appearance of a perfect man before her, she said, “‘I seek al Rahman’s protection from you if you fear.[3]

 

There are many ahadith which corroborate with the above. The most famous of them is the hadith regarding the questions of iman, Islam, and Ihsan. If anyone denies or doubts this, then our speech is not directed towards him. As for the one who accepts it, he will understand that there is no reason not to believe that the Angel of Death assumed the form of a human and came to Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam in this form due to which Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam did not recognise him.[4]

We will also present to you a few narrations from the Ahlul Bayt which prove that the Angel of Death, specifically, and the angels in general would appear before the Ambiyaʼ in the form of humans and not in their original forms. This is because humans, even though they were Ambiyaʼ, they could not cope with the sight of the angels in their true form. Al La’ali reports from al Sadiq:

 

إن ملك الموت أتى موسى بن عمران فسلّم عليه فقال: من أنت ؟ قال: أنا ملك الموت، قال: ما حاجتك ؟ قال له: جئت أقبض روحك من لسانك، قال كيف وقد تكلمت به ربي ؟ قال فمن يدك فقال له موسى: كيف وقد حملت بهما التورية ؟ فقال: من رجليك، فقال له وكيف وقد وطأت بهما طور سيناء ! قال: وعدّ أشياء غير هذا ، قال: فقال له ملك الموت : فإني أمرت أن أتركك حتى تكون أنت الذي تريد ذلك، فمكث موسى ما شاء الله، ثم مرّ برجل وهو يحفر قبراً فقال له موسى: ألا أعينك على حفر هذا القبر؟ فقال له الرجل: بلى. قال: فأعانه حتى حفر القبر ولحد اللحد وأراد الرجل أن يضطجع في اللحد لينظر كيف هو؟ فقال موسى عليه السلام: أنا اضطجع فيه، فاضطجع موسىفرأى مكانه من الجنة، فقال: يا رب اقبضني إليك فقبض ملك الموت روحه ودفته في القبر واستوى عليه التراب قال: وكان الذي يحفر القبر ملك بصورة آدمي ، فلذلك لا يعرف قبر موسى  .

The Angel of Death came to Prophet Musa ibn ‘Imran ‘alayh al Salam and greeted him. Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam asked, “Who are you?”

He replied, “I am the Angel of Death.”

Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam asked, “How can I help you?”

He replied, “I have come to remove your soul from your tongue.”

Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam asked, “How can you do that when I have used it to speak to my Rabb?”

He replied, “Okay, so from your hand.”

“How can you do that when I used them to hold the Torah?” asked Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam.

“From your legs?” asked the angel.

He replied, “How can you do that when I used them to climb the Mount Sinai?”

Thereafter, he listed a few more limbs, after which he said, “I have been commanded to leave you until you desire it.”

Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam then continued for the duration that Allah desired.

Later, he passed by a man who was digging a grave so he asked him, “Should I not help you to dig this grave?”

The man replied, “Yes please!”

He then helped him until the grave was dug with an insertion. The man then wished to lay in the insertion to test it out, so Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam said to him, “I will lay in it.” He then laid down in it and saw his place in Jannat. Thereupon he said, “O my Rabb, take me to you.” Thus, the Angel of Death removed his soul, buried him in that grave and straightened the sand above it. The one who was digging the grave was an angel in the form of a human. It is for this reason that the location of the grave of Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam is unknown.[5]

 

Al La’ali states:

 

وقد روى أنه سئل الله أن لا يميته إلاّ إذا سأل فلما استكمل أيامه التي قدرت له خرج فرأى ملكاً على صورة شيخ فان كبير قد أعجزه الضعف، وظهر عليه الخوف لعابه يجري على لحيته، وطعامه وشرابه يجران من سبيله على غير اختياره ، فقال له يا شيخ كم عمرك؟ فأخبره بعمر يزيد على عمر ابراهيم بسنة فاسترجع فقال: أنا أصير بعد سنة إلى هذا الحال، فسئل الموت

It is reported that he requested from Allah that he should not grant him death until he asks for it. When his pre-destined lifespan drew close to its end, he went out and saw an angel in the form on old frail man who was overpowered by weakness and fear was written all over him. His saliva was drooling down his beard and his food and drink were emerging from their sources without him having ability to control them.

Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam asked him, “O old man, what is your age?”

He informed Musa of his age, which was a year more than that of Ibrahim. He reacted by saying, “To Allah we belong and to Him is our return.”

Then he said, “This will be my condition after a year!”, and he asked for death.[6]

 

It is reported from al Rida who narrates from his father:

 

إن سليمان بن داود (ع) قال ذات يوم لأصحابه: إن الله تعالى وهب ملكاً لا ينبغي لأحد من بعدي سخر لي الريح والانس والجن والطير والوحوش وعلمني منطق الطير، .. إذا نظر إلى الشاب حسن والوجه واللباس قدخرج عليه من بعض زوايا قصره ، فلما بصر به سليمان قال له : من أدخل إلى هذا القصر ؟

وقد أردت أن أخلو فيه اليوم فباذن من دخلت ؟ قال الشاب أدخلني هذا القصر ربه وباذنه دخلت فقال: ربه أحق به مني فمن أنت ؟ قال: أنا ملك الموت قال: وفيما جئت ؟ قال: جئت لأقبض روحك قال: امض لما أمرت به فهذا يوم سروري”

One day Prophet Sulaiman ibn Dawood ‘alayh al Salam said to his companions, “Allah granted me a kingdom that is beyond the reach of anyone after me. He subjugated for me the wind, humans, jinn, birds, wild animals, and he taught me the language of birds…”

Suddenly he saw a young handsome man, who emerged from one of the corners of his palace. When Prophet Sulaiman ‘alayh al Salam saw him, he asked, “Who granted you entry into this palace where I am, when I chose to be in solitude. Who gave you permission to enter?”

The youngster replied, “The Rabb of this palace granted me entry and I entered with his permission.”

Prophet Sulaiman ‘alayh al Salam replied, “The Rabb of the palace has a greater right over it than me. Who are you?”

He replied, “I am the Angel of Death.”

Prophet Sulaiman ‘alayh al Salam asked, “What is the purpose of your coming?”

He replied, “I came to remove your soul.”

Prophet Sulaiman ‘alayh al Salam replied, “Do as you have been commanded. This is a day of happiness for me.”[7]

 

It is reported from al Sadiq that the weight of the ring which was given in charity by Amir al Mu’minin was four mithqals[8], and the stone thereof was five mithqals. It was a ruby, the value of which was, according to the kharaj[9] of Sham, six hundred himl[10] of silver or four himl of gold. It belonged to Tawq ibn Habran. Amir al Mu’minin killed him and took the ring from his finger. He then brought it to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as part of the booty. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave it to him. He then wore it on his finger.

Al La’ali also reports:

 

وروى في بعض الأخبار أن ذلك السائل كان ملكا أرسله الله في صورة رجل سائل إلى مسجد النبي

Some of the narrations state that the beggar was an angel in the form of a human. Allah sent him in the form of a human to beg at al Masjid al Nabawi.[11]

 

وعن ابن شهاب أن رسول الله سئل جبرئيل أن يترأى له في صورته، فقال جبريل إنك لم تطق ذلك ، قال: إني أحب أن تفعل ، فخرج رسول الله المصلّى في ليلة مقمرة فأتاه جبرئيل في صورته ، فغشى على رسول الله حين رآه ثم أفاق وجبرائيل سنده واضع احدى يديه على صدره والأخرى بين كتفيه فقال رسول الله كنت أرى شيئاً ممن خلق الله هكذا فقال جبرئيل: لو رأيت اسرافيل الحديث وقال بعض ما رآه أحد من الأنبياء في صورته غير محمد  مرة في السماء ومرة في الأرض

Ibn Shihab narrates that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked Jibril to show him his true form. Jibril replied, “You will not be able to bear that.”

Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responded, “I really desire that you do it.”

After a while, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went out on a moon-lit night and Jibril ‘alayh al Salam appeared before him in his true form. When the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw him, he fainted. When he regained consciousness Jibril ‘alayh al Salam helped him up, placing one hand on his chest and the other between his shoulders. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “‘I have never imagined that Allah created a creation like this.”

Jibril replied, “If you had seen Israfil…”

Some have said that none of the Ambiyaʼ has seen him besides Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, once on the earth and once in the sky.[12]

 

He reports with his chain from Zaid al Shahham who narrates from Abu ‘Abdullah:

 

إن ابراهيم كان أبا أضياف فكان إذا لم يكونوا عنده خرج يطلبهم وأغلق بابه وأخذ المفاتيح يطلب الأضياف وإنه رجع إلى داره فإذا هو برجل أو شبه رجل في الدار فقال: يا عبدالله بإذن من دخلت هذه الدار؟ قال: دخلتها بإذن ربها – يردد ذلك ثلاث مرات – فعرف ابراهيم إنه جبريل فحمد الله ثم قال: أرسلني ربك .. الحديث

Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam was one who very often took care of guests. If they did not come to him, he would go out and look for them. Once he locked his house and took his keys with him in search of some guests. When he returned home, there was a person, or one who resembled a person sitting in the house. He asked, “With whose permission did you enter this house?”

He replied, “I entered it with the permission of its Rabb.”

He repeated himself thrice due to which Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam realised that he was Jibril. He praised Allah and then said, “Your Rabb has sent me…”

 

Another narration of this nature has been reported by the Muhsin al Kashani in his book al Mahajjah:

 

ورآى رسول الله صورة جبريل بالأبطح فصعق

The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw Jibril at Abtah and as a result he fainted.[13]

 

In the book Nafas al Rahman by al Nuri:

 

أن ملكاً من الملائكة كان على صورة ثعبان

One of the angels adopted the appearance of Tha’ban.[14]

 

The Hadith of Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam Slapping the Angel of Death in the Books of the Shia

This hadith was narrated by their great scholars in their books. Ni’mat Allah al Jaza’iri narrated it in his book and Muhammad Nabi al Tuwaysirkani narrated it in his book. The exact words are as follows:

 

في سلوك موسى في دار الدنيا وزهدها فيها، وفي قصة لطمه ملك الموت حين أراد قبض روحه، واحتياله له في قبضها ….

وقد كان موسى أشدّ الأنبياء كراهة للموت ، قد روى إنه لم جاء ملك الموت، ليقبض روحه، فلطمه فأعور، فقال يارب إنك أرسلتني إلى عبد لا يحب الموت، فأوحى الله إليه أن ضع يدك على متن ثور ولك بكل شعرة دارتها يدك سنة ، فقال: ثم ماذا ؟ فقال الموت، فقال الموتة ، فقال أنته إلى أمر ربك

With regards to the behaviour of Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam in the worldly abode and his disinclination from it, and the story of when he slapped the Angel of Death when he tried to remove his soul and the planning of the Angel of Death regarding removing his soul.

Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam was the one who hated death the most from all the Ambiyaʼ. It has been narrated that when the Angel of Death approached to remove his soul, he slapped him and left him one eyed. The Angel then said, “O my Rabb, you have sent me to a slave who does not like death.” Thereupon Allah revealed to him, “Place your hand on the back of a bull, you will be granted a year of life for every strand of hair that your hand covers.” He asked, “What will happen after that?” Allah replied, “Death.” Thus, he told the angel, “Carry out the command of your Rabb.”[15]

 

Their great Muhaddith, Muhsin al Kashani, quotes from the writings of ‘Ali ibn ‘Isa al Irbili:

 

أن الطباع البشرية مجبولة على كراهة الموت مطبوعة عن النفور منه، محبة للحياة ومائلة إليها حتّى أن الأنبياء عليهم السلام على شرف مقاديرهم وعظم أخطارهم ومكانتهم من الله ومنازلهم من محال قدسه وعلمهم بما تؤول إليه أحوالهم وتنتهي إليه أمورهم أحبّوا الحياة وما لوا إليها وكرهوا الموت  ونفروا منه ،وقصة آدم مع طول عمره وامداد أيام حياته مع داود  مشهورة ، وكذلك حكاية موسى مع ملك الموت!! وكذلك ابراهيم

The temperament of humans is that they are naturally disinclined from death. It is totally normal for them to dislike it. They love to live and are more inclined towards life. This is to the extent that the Ambiyaʼ, despite their honourable positions, lofty status’s and standings in the Court of Allah, their stations in His blessed domain, their knowledge of their eternal abodes and their success in all matters preferred life and were more inclined towards it. They disliked death and were disinclined from it. The story of Adam, notwithstanding his lengthy lifespan, with Dawood is quite famous. The story of Musa the Angel of Death, and similarly Ibrahim.[16]

 

What is your position, in comparison to all these scholars? In fact, a famous and lengthy narration is reported by al Majlisi in his Bihar from Muhammad ibn Sinan from Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar from Jafar al Sadiq. The exact words of al Majlisi in his commentary is:

 

أقول لعله أشارة إلى ما ذكره جماعة من المؤرخين أن ملكاً من الملائكة بخت نصر لطمة ومسخه وصار في الوحش في صورة أسد وهو مع ذلك يعقل ما يفعله الانسان ثم رده الله تعالى صورة الانس  …

I say: This is probably referring to that which a group of historians have narrated, that one of the angels slapped Nebuchadnezzar and turned him into a wild animal in the form of a lion. He was left in this condition, and he would understand all that which humans would do. Thereafter, Allah transformed him back into a human.[17]

 

Jibril Slaps the Buraq

Before I conclude this discussion, I wish to raise a question. A person could ask, ‘We have understood the story of him slapping the Angel of Death, when he tried to remove his soul, and the planning that the angel had to do in order to remove his soul. We also understand that he hated death the most from all the Ambiyaʼ, but we cannot understand the wisdom behind hitting the Buraq?’ We present to you their narrations in this regard:

Hisham ibn Salim narrates from Abu ‘Abdullah who says:

 

جاء جيريل وميكائيل واسرافيل بالبراق إلى رسول الله فأخذ واحد بالجام وواحد بالركاب وسوي الآخر عليه ثيابه فتضعضعت البراق فلطمها قال لها اسكني يا براق فما ركبك نبي قبله ولا يركبك بعده مثله قال فرقت به ورفعته ارتفاعاً ليس الكثير ومعه جبريل يريه الآيات .

Jibril, Mika’il, and Israfil brought the Buraq to the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. One took hold of the bridle, one took hold of the saddle, and the third straightened his clothes upon it. The Buraq began shivering, so he slapped it saying, “Stand still, O Buraq, as a Prophet has never ridden you before and you will not be ridden by anyone as great as him again.” Thereupon, it became submissive to him and raised him slightly. Jibril was with him, pointing out to him the signs.[18]

 

‘Abdur Rahman ibn Ghanam narrates:

 

جاء جبريل الى رسول الله بدابة دون البغل وفوق الحمار رجلاها أطول من يديها خطوها مد البصر فلما أراد أن يركب أمتنعت ، فقال جبريل انه محمد فتواضعت حتى لصقت بالارض قال فركب ..

Jibril brought an animal that was smaller than a mule and larger than a donkey. Its legs were longer than its hands. Its steps were as far as the eyes could see. When he wished to mount it, it rebelled. Hence, Jibril said, “It is Muhammad.” Thereupon, it humbled itself to the extent that it stuck its body to the ground. Thereafter the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mounted it.[19]

 

Furthermore, I do not know how many times, according to them, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam fell of the Buraq. We ask Allah to protect our intelligence and keep us away from being irrational and ignorant. ‘Abdul Hussain seems satisfied with the narrations of the Imams of the Ahlul Bayt, even though he finds problems with the narrations of Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

 

NEXT⇒ ‘Abdul Hussain Rejects the Hadith of the Stone Fleeing with the Clothes of Musa ‘alayh al Salam


[1]Sahih al Bukhari, al Jana’iz, and the ahadith of the Ambiyaʼ, Sahih Muslim, al Fada’il.

[2]Fath al Bari, 6/510.

[3]  Surah Maryam: 17.

[4]Al Anwar al Kashifah, pg. 214.

[5] Al La’ali, 1/91, chapter the behaviour of Prophet Musa ‘alayh al Salam.

[6] Al La’ali, 1/96, the behaviour of Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam.

[7]Al La’ali, 1/105, the chapter of the behavior of Sulaiman; 5/11, the description of the Angel of Death when he takes the soul of a disbeliever and a sinner; 4/227, the form of the Angel of Death and the signs of death approaching; 5/11; 1/94-95, the behaviour of Idris ‘alayh al Salam.

[8]  A unit of measurement equal to approximately 4.6 grams.

[9]  Kharaj: Tax on produce.

[10]  A unit of measurement equivalent to approximately 191 grams.

[11] Al La’ali, 3/26.

[12]Al La’ali, 5/302; Mahajjat al Bayda’, 8/146.

[13] Al Mahajjah, 7/305.

[14] Nafas al Rahman, pg. 454.

[15]La’ali al Akhbar, 1/91, the chapter of the behaviour of Musa; al Anwar al No’maniyyah, 4/205, the illumination of the appointed time and death

[16]Al Mahajjat al Bayda’, 4/209.

[17]Bihar al Anwar, 3/145, Kitab al Tawhid, the chapter of the famous narration of the Tawhid of Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar.

[18]Al Burhan, 2/390-400; Bihar al Anwar, 18/319.

[19]Al Burhan, 2/397, 2/403.

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