Issue 61 [@1:04:35]: Slide projected with voice – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 7, Bk. 67, Hadith 427 – The Prophet said “By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else that is better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.”
Rebuttal 61: Even though the above is a non-contextual excerpt of a Hadith, still it carries the sensibilities of an intelligent and honest mind, which is open to improvement of self and seeking better solutions with passage of time and availability of resources. A prophet is not a programmed robot with no human side to improve. There is no element of deceit in above words, unless it is forcibly skewed for a jaded and out of context “gold diggers” of this documentary.
The full Hadith is as follows:
Volume 7, Book 67, Number 427: Narrated Zahdam:
We were in the company of Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari and there were friendly relations between us and this tribe of Jarm. Abu Musa was presented with a dish containing chicken. Among the people there was sitting a red-faced man who did not come near the food. Abu Musa said (to him), “Come on (and eat), for I have seen Allah’s Apostle eating of it (i.e. chicken).” He said, “I have seen it eating something (dirty) and since then I have disliked it, and have taken an oath that I shall not eat it ‘ …
[Note: this was an apparent oath of the gentleman not to eat chicken based upon a fickle experience. He is thus corrected by Abu Musa by the following narrative]
…Abu Musa said, “Come on, I will tell you (or narrate to you). Once I went to Allah s Apostle with a group of Al-Ash’ariyin, and met him while he was angry, distributing some camels of Rakat. We asked for mounts but he took an oath that he would not give us any mounts, and added, ‘I have nothing to mount you on’ In the meantime some camels of booty were brought to Allah’s Apostle and he asked twice, ‘Where are Al-Ash’ariyin?” So he gave us five white camels with big humps. We stayed for a short while (after we had covered a little distance), and then I said to my companions, “Allah’s Apostle has forgotten his oath. By Allah, if we do not remind Allah’s Apostle of his oath, we will never be successful.” So we returned to the Prophet and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! We asked you for mounts, but you took an oath that you would not give us any mounts; we think that you have forgotten your oath.’ He said, ‘It is Allah Who has given you mounts. By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.’ ”
The context of above Hadith is fully explained by Muhammad Ali in his book on Hadiths – Fazl-ul-Bari under Hadith number 3133 [in urdu, p. 1238 – pdf link], where he contextualizes the events at the time of preparations for Ghazwa-e-Tabuk when the Prophet was asked but could not provide a ride for the volunteers who wanted to join the expedition that was destined for Tabuk about 800 miles north of Medina during sweltering summer heat. Initially the Prophet refused because of non-availability of beasts (camels or horses), but when they were available, he provided them to the volunteers who were seeking them. Thus the Hadith is true to its letter and spirit – “By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else better than that. then I do what is better and expiate my oath.’ Muhammad Ali draws attention to the following verses of Quran, 9:92 in particular to the context of the above Hadith:
9:90. And the defaulters [-hypocrites] from among the dwellers of the desert came that permission might be given to them, and they sat (at home) who lied to Allah and His Messenger. A painful punishment will afflict those of them who disbelieve.
9:91. No blame lies on the weak, nor on the sick, nor on those who can find nothing to spend, if they are sincere to Allah and His Messenger. There is no way (to blame) against the doers of good. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful —
9:92. nor on those to whom, when they came to you that you should carry them, you said: I cannot find anything on which to carry you.
[Footnote] What they wanted in order to join the expedition, and what the Holy Prophet could not find for them, were beasts on which they should be carried, along with their provisions and necessaries. See also 19:27 footnote 1[appended below].
19:27 Then she came to her people with him, carrying him [-Jesus].
The conversation in v. 27–33 is alone sufficient to make it clear that this incident relates to a time when Jesus had grown up sufficiently to have been appointed a prophet and to have received Divine revelation. The Quran does not relate stories in all their details, and often omits a number of incidents which are not needed for its purpose. For instance, v. 11 relates only Zacharias’ receiving the joyful news of a son, while v. 12 asks that son to take hold of the Book with strength. Jesus could only say that he was made a prophet when he was actually entrusted with the mission of a prophet, and not before. Moreover, it is unreasonable to suppose that, as soon as Mary gave birth to the child, she took it to her people to make a show of it. The word carrying does not show that she was carrying him in her arms; it means that he was being carried on an animal. Compare 9:92, where some of the companions are spoken of as coming to the Prophet that he might carry them, and he is related as replying that he did not have that on which to carry them, i.e. animals. Compare Matthew 21:1–7 where the story is related of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding an ass, or an ass and a colt [Emphasis added].
They said: Mary, you have indeed brought a strange thing!
The reference in Mary’s bringing a strange thing may be to her having given birth to a son who claimed greater authority than the elders of Israel, with a deeper hint to the calumny against her, for which see 4:156. In his reply Jesus does not make a single reference to the circumstances of his birth. Hence the inference is quite reasonable that the question was directed against the mission of Jesus and not against the circumstances of his birth.
They [–Abu Musa and Al-Ash’ariyin mentioned in Hadith above] went back, their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they could not find anything to spend.
9:93. The way (to blame) is only against those who ask permission of you, though they are rich. They have chosen to be with those who remained behind; and Allah has sealed their hearts, so they do not know.
The discussion so far tells us is that nothing vain should prevent an act of goodness. For example:
2:224. And do not make Allah by your oaths a hindrance to your doing good and keeping your duty and making peace between people.
[Footnote] This verse refers to the pre-Islamic Arab custom of ila’, a way of temporarily putting off the wife which was effected by an oath in Allah’s name not to have sexual relations with her. The result of this was that the husband considered himself free from all marital obligations. The first step to bring about a reform in the relations of husband and wife was that this practice was abolished. It is in reference to this that the taking of oaths against the doing of good to others is prohibited. The fulfilment of marital obligations is thus referred to as the doing of good and observance of duty and making peace between people. But the subject is generalized and the taking of all oaths to forbid oneself the doing of good or fulfilment of obligations is prohibited. See also 66:2 footnote.
And Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
2:225. Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned.
[Footnote] By vain oaths are meant unintentional or thoughtless oaths in ordinary conversation, and by what the hearts have earned is meant an oath intentionally taken.
And Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing.
2:226. Those who swear that they will not have sexual relations with their wives should wait four months;
[Footnote] Ila’ signifies an oath by a man that he shall not approach his wife. In pre-Islamic times the Arabs used to take such oaths frequently, and as the period of suspension was not limited, the wife was compelled sometimes to pass her whole life having neither the position of a wife nor that of a divorced woman free to marry elsewhere. The Quran declares that if the husband does not reassert conjugal relations within four months, the wife shall be divorced. Cases in which husbands desert wives, having neither conjugal relations with them nor divorcing them, must be dealt with practically as amounting to Ila’, so that after four months the wife should be free if she wants a divorce.
then if they go back, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
In another place, Quran challenges one’s vain oaths:
5:87. O you who believe, do not forbid the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, nor exceed the limits. Surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.
Muslims are told on the one hand not to follow the self-imposed restrictions of Christian monks and priests, and at the same time they are warned against depriving themselves of Divine blessings by falling into evil habits.
5:88. And eat of the lawful and good (things) that Allah has given you, and keep your duty to Allah, in Whom you believe.
5:89. Allah will not call you to account for what is vain in your oaths, but He will call you to account for the making of deliberate oaths; so its expiation
The oaths referred to are in relation to vows, etc., by which one forbids oneself what is otherwise lawful. The injunction at the end of this verse, keep your oaths, also shows that oaths cannot be violated generally, and therefore expiation is only allowed in the case of oaths by which a person deprives himself of some lawful thing or of an occasion of virtue, as in 2:226.
is the feeding of ten poor persons with the average (food) you feed your families with, or their clothing, or the freeing of a slave. But whoever does not find (means) should fast for three days. This is the expiation of your oaths when you swear. And keep your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His messages that you may give thanks.
Now that the full context of Hadith has come to light which is far removed from the malice of insinuated deceit by the documentary, will the experts of the documentary have the moral courage to accept their wrong and correct themselves by stating – “By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else that is better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath”?
Note: [text enclosed in square brackets above is not part of the original quoted sources]
Translation of Sahih Bukhari – Muhsin Khan
Fazlul Bari – Urdu Translation of Sahih Bukhari – Muhammad Ali,
Holy Quran – Muhammad Ali, edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz.