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Is the Rise of Thurayya Star a Sign of the End of an Pandemic ?

Hadith Other Knowledge Topical and Current Affairs

15 April 2020

Dr. Zulkifli bin Mohamad Al-Bakri

Federal Territory Mufti, Malaysia

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. I heard in a video that a speaker spoke about a hadith of the Prophet PBUH which is narrated in Musnad Ahmad that the Prophet PBUH said if a star rises, then calamity will end. In Arabic, it is said as إذا طلع النجم رفعت العاهة. The star mentioned is the Thurayya in which it will rise at the beginning of summer. Is there a hadith like that and is it true? Hope for an explanation.

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam w.b.t,

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

One of the characters of a true Muslim is to always be cautious when narrating any sayings especially when it is related to the Prophet PBUH. It is a manifestation of Allah SWT’s saying in the Quran. Allah SWT says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful

Surah al-Hujurat (6)

Apart from making sure that what is narrated from the Prophet PBUH is authentic, a Muslim is also commanded to strive in understanding it. Not just narrating it without any understanding of what it means. Sheikh Mustafa bin Ahmad al-Zarqa said that in understanding a hadith, a person needs three main faculties:

  • Arabic language
  • Intellect
  • Have a good understanding of Fiqh. (Refer Al-‘Aql Wa Al-Fiqh Fi Fahmi Al-Hadith, pg 8).

Coming back to the question asked, the hadith is narrated in several accredited books of hadith. Among them is Musnad Imam Ahmad. Imam Ahmad said:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو سَعِيدٍ حَدَّثَنَا وُهَيْبٌ حَدَّثَنَا عِسْلُ بْنُ سُفْيَانَ عَنْ عَطَاءٍ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا طَلَعَ النَّجْمُ ذَا صَبَاحٍ رُفِعَتْ الْعَاهَةُ

“Abu Sa’id told us that Wuhaib told us that ‘Islu bin Sufian told us from ‘Atha’ from Abu Hurairah, he said: The Prophet PBUH said: “When a star appears in the morning, then the illness will be lifted.”

Musnad Ahmad (8495)

Wuhaib bin Khalid bin ‘Ajlan is a thiqah (trustworthy) narrator. Abdurrahman bin Mahdi said that he is an expert in hadith and the narrators. Abu Hatim al-Razi mentioned that there is none who is more expert than Syu’bah except Wuhaib. (Refer Siyar ‘Alam Al-Nubala, 8/224).

‘Islu bin Sufian is a weak narrator according to Imam Ahmad. Ibn Adiyy cited the opinion of Abdullah bin Ahmad on ‘Islu. He said:

حدثنا ابن حماد حدثنا عبد الله قال سمعت أبي يقول عن عسل بن سفيان ليس هو عندي بقوي الحديث

Ibn Hammad told us that Abdullah told us, he said: He (‘Islu) for me is one whose memorization is not strong on hadith.” (Refer Al-Kamil Fi Al-Dhu’afa, 7/91). However, his hadiths can still be narrated.

Atha’ bin Abu Rabah is a thiqah tabi’in. He narrated many hadith from the Companions especially Abu Hurairah. Imam al-Zahabi stated that he narrated hadith from 200 Companions. He is a thiqah and an expert. (Refer Siyar ‘Alam Al-Nubala, 5/79).

In short, the sanad of the hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad above is a hassan sanad because there is a weak narrator in it which is ‘Islu bin Sufian. Sheikh Shu’aib al-Arnaut evaluated this hadith as hassan. [1]

This hadith is also narrated by Imam al-Tahawi in Syarh Musykil al-Athar. He put this hadith under the chapter of explaining the Prophet PBUH’s hadith on the appearance of a star in which calamity will be lifted through it. (باب بيان مشكل ما روي عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في طلوع النجم الذي ترتفع بطلوعه العاهة أو تخف أي النجوم هو) no 1895. He said:

حدثنا أَحْمَدُ بن دَاوُد قال ثنا إسْمَاعِيلُ بن سَالِمٍ قال ثنا محمد بن الْحَسَنِ قال أخبرنا أبو حَنِيفَةَ قال حدثنا عَطَاءُ بن أبي رَبَاحٍ عن أبي هُرَيْرَةَ رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إذَا طَلَعَ النَّجْمُ رُفِعَتْ الْعَاهَةُ عن أَهْلِ كل بَلَدٍ

Ahmad bin Daud told us. He said: Ismail bin Salim told us that he said: Muhammad bin Hassan told us that he said: Abu Hanifah told us that he said: Atha’ bin Abi Rabah told us that Abu Hurairah RA said that the Prophet PBUH said: When a star appears, then a disease will be lifted from all people of the country.”

In the narration of Imam Ahmad and Abu Jaafar al-Tahawi, the name of the star is not stated. It is explained by the scholars through their analyzation on the narrations.

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani explained on the name of the star. He said:

والنجم هو الثريا، وطلوعها صباحا يقع في أول فصل الصيف وذلك عند اشتداد الحر في بلاد الحجاز وابتداء نضج الثمار

The star is thurayya (Pleiades). It appears in the morning of the start of summer when it is extremely hot in Hijaz.” (Refer Fath Al-Bari Syarh Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8/32).

In short, in the context of riwayah, the hadith is authentically narrated from the Prophet PBUH.

What’s left is how should we understand it through dirayah. Basically, the rise or appearance of the star mentioned in the hadith has no relation with the lift of contagious disease. العاهة mentioned is not referred to the pandemic like plague and etc. However, it refers to disease that infects plants which damages crops. This can be understood through the details mentioned in other narrations. Among them is what is also narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad. Uthman bin Abdullah bin Suraqah once asked Ibn Umar. He said:

وَسَأَلْتُ ابْنَ عُمَرَ عَنْ بَيْعِ الثِّمَارِ فَقَالَ نَهَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَنْ بَيْعِ الثِّمَارِ حَتَّى تَذْهَبَ الْعَاهَةُ قُلْتُ أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ وَمَا تَذْهَبُ الْعَاهَةُ مَا الْعَاهَةُ قَالَ طُلُوعُ الثُّرَيَّا

“And I asked Ibn Umar on selling and buying plants. He said that the Prophet PBUH forbade selling and buying plants until the disease subsides. I said: O Abu Abdurrahman, what will be the cause of the disease to end? Ibn Umar said: The appearance of the star of Thurayya.”

Narrated by Imam Ahmad (5012) in al-Musnad

In al-Muwatta’ through the narration of Muhammad Hassan, it is also stated on the hadith. Muhammad bin Hassan said:

أخبرنا مالك أخبرنا أبو الزناد  عن خارجة بن زيد بن ثابت عن زيد بن ثابت : أنه كان لا يبيع ثماره حتى يطلع الثريا يعني بيع  النخل

“Malik told us, Abu al-Zinad (Abdullah bin Zakwan) told us from Kharijah bin Zaid bin Thabit that he will not sell and buy plants until the rise of Thurayya star. What is meant by selling and buying here is the dates.”

Refer Al-Muwatta (750)

Abu al-Walid Sulaiman bin Khalaf al-Baji al-Andalusi stated that the rise of Thurayya star is one of the signs that the date plants in Hijaz will normally become ripe and free from the disease. Only at that time, selling and buying dates is allowed because the dates are no longer affected by the disease. (Refer Al-Muntaqa’ Syarh Al-Muwatta , 3/374).

So, it can be understood from the action of Zaid bin Thabit and the answer of Ibn Umar that before the rise of thurayya star, the crops are ruined due to the disease and others. The rise of the star is a sign that normally it rises at the start of summer and normally, the plants will be free from the disease.

In fact, Imam al-Tahawi also explained on this matter that it has no relation with contagious disease like the plague and the like by bringing the narration which carries the answer of Ibn Umar as narrated by Imam Ahmad. He states:

وَعَقَلْنَا بِهِ أَيْضًا أَنَّ الْمَقْصُودَ بِرَفْعِ الْعَاهَةِ عنه هو ثِمَارُ النَّخْلِ

And it can be understood that what is meant by the lifting of the disease is the disease which infected plants and the dates subside.

He also said:

فَعَقَلْنَا بِذَلِكَ أَنَّهُ على طُلُوعِهَا صَبَاحًا طُلُوعًا يَكُونُ الْفَجْرُ بِهِ

So, it can be understood that it rises in the morning of the early dawn.” (Refer Syarh Musykil Al-Athar, 6/56-57).

Imam al-Bukhari put this hadith as muallaq [2] in the book al-Buyu’ under the chapter of selling and buying the plants before it perfectly ripens (باب بيع الثمارقبل أن يبدو صلاحها) number 2193. He also cited in the chapter the narration from Kharijah bin Zaid bin Thabir from Zaid bin Thabit with some addition:

فيَتَبَيَّن الأَصفَر من الأَحمَرِ

“Until it is the yellow is clear from the red colour.”

If we look at the following hadiths, they are as though an explanation on the hadith on the rise of Thurayya star. Among the hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Umar:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَهَى عَنْ بَيْعِ الثِّمَارِ حَتَّى يَبْدُوَ صَلاَحُهَا، نَهَى الْبَائِعَ وَالْمُبْتَاعَ

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) forbade the sale of fruits till their benefit is evident. He forbade both the seller and the buyer (such sale).

Sahih al-Bukhari (2194)

It seems like the hadith is explaining the muallaq hadith brought by him at the start of the chapter on the rise of Thurayya star. And indeed, Thurayya star is the sign that the crops will ripen and become free from a disease which infected it.

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said:

وطلوعها صباحا يقع في أول فصل الصيف وذلك عند اشتداد الحر في بلاد الحجاز وابتداء نضج الثمار؛ فالمعتبر في الحقيقة النضج وطلوع النجم علامة له

And the rise of the star (the Thurayya star or the Pleiades) early in the morning which happens at the start of summer and during that time, it was extremely hot in Hijaz. The rise of that star is also the start of the fruits to ripen. So, the lesson on this hadith is on the ripening of the fruits and the rise of the star is the sign for it.” (Refer Fath Al-Bari Syarh Sahih Al-Bukhari, 4/395).

Al-Zarqani said that the Prophet PBUH forbade the sale of dates until the disease subsides which is after the rise of Thurayya star is the sign of the dates will ripen. (Refer Syarh Al-Zarqani ‘Ala Al-Muwatta’, 3/337)

In conclusion, the hadith is authentically narrated from the Prophet PBUH. According to what we presented through the narrations and the explanations of the scholars we can understand that the context of the hadith is different from what is said by the speaker. العاهة in the hadith means a disease that infects plants and damages crops. The context intended by the Prophet PBUH in the hadith is the rise of the Thurayya star as the sign of diseases which infect plants like the dates will subside and resulted in the good production of fruits. It has no relation whatsoever with the pandemic or virus affecting humans.

May Allah give us all true understanding. Wallahua’lam.

[1] Ahmad Bin Hanbal,Musnad Ahmad, Tahqiq Sheikh Syu’aib Al-Arnaut, Muassasah Al-Risalah (1997-1418 H), 14/192

[2] A hadith which sand is removed from the start to the end. In Sahih al-Bukhari, there are 341 muallaq hadith in which Imam al-Bukhari did not put the hadith with its sanad as usual. It was done for several reasons like it does not fulfill his requirements, but he still wants to use the hadith in istidlal. (Refer Al-Wadhih Fi Manahij Al-Muhaddithin, pg 127)

 

source : muftiwp.gov.m