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The Black and White Threads (Ahadith 1634 – 1636)


أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ ۗ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ ۖ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ

“It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah , so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous.” [2: 187]

Ibn Kathir says in his tafsir:

These Ayat contain a relief from Allah for the Muslims by ending the practice that was observed in the early years of Islam. At that time, Muslims were allowed to eat, drink and have sexual intercourse only until the `Isha’ (Night) prayer, unless one sleeps before the `Isha’ prayer. Those who slept before `Isha’ or offered the `Isha’ prayer, were not allowed to drink, eat or sexual intercourse sex until the next night. The Muslims found that to be difficult for them.

Volume 3, Book 31, Number 139:

Narrated Al-Bara:

It was the custom among the companions of Muhammad (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) that if any of them was fasting and the food was presented (for breaking his fast), but he slept before eating, he would not eat that night and the following day till sunset.

Qais bin Sirma-al-Ansari (radiallaahu `anhu) was fasting and came to his wife at the time of Iftar (breaking one’s fast) and asked her whether she had anything to eat. She replied, “No, but I would go and bring some for you.” He used to do hard work during the day, so he was overwhelmed by sleep and slept. When his wife came and saw him, she said, “Disappointment for you.” When it was midday on the following day, he fainted and the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) was informed about the whole matter and the following verses were revealed: “You are permitted To go to your wives (for sexual relation) At the night of fasting.” So, they were overjoyed by it. And then Allah also revealed: “And eat and drink Until the white thread Of dawn appears to you Distinct from the black thread (of the night).” (2.187)

Volume 3, Book 31, Number 140:

Narrated ‘Adi bin Hatim (radiallaahu `anhu):

When the above verses were revealed: ‘Until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread,’ I took two (hair) strings, one black and the other white, and kept them under my pillow and went on looking at them throughout the night but could not make anything out of it. So, the next morning I went to Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) and told him the whole story. He explained to me, “That verse means the darkness of the night and the whiteness of the dawn.”

Volume 3, Book 31, Number 141:

Narrated Sahl bin Saud (radiallaahu `anhu):

When the following verses were revealed: ‘Eat and drink until the white thread appears to you, distinct from the black thread’ and of dawn was not revealed, some people who intended to fast, tied black and white threads to their legs and went on eating till they differentiated between the two. Allah then revealed the words, ‘of dawn’, and it became clear that meant night and day.

I’ve always found this incident regarding `Adi bin Hatim (radiallaahu `anhu) very cute! It goes to say how some of us are quite literal in understanding things. Not that we’re to be blamed. :P
On the other hand, there’s an important lesson in it for us: the companions weren’t always correct in their interpretation of Quranic ayaat or Ahadith. We’ll always find differences of opinions among companions, and when we do, we should go for the most correct and favored opinion. And just because a companion reached an incorrect conclusion doesn’t mean he was less intelligent or had weak imaan, na`oodhu billah! It only proves that they were human beings like us, but far better than us. If we were there, we would’ve made fun of `Adi (radiallaahu `anhu). But we don’t find any reports of companions or the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) laughing at him or making him feel bad about what he did. Such were the chosen people. <3


As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the Symbols of Allah (Hadith No. 1406)


Hadith no. 1405 (below) is a repeat. Read a similar Hadith here.

Volume 2, Book 26, Number 705:

Narrated Muhammad bin ‘AbdurRahman bin Nawfal Al-Qurashi:

I asked ‘Urwa bin Az-Zubair (regarding the Hajj of the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam)). ‘Urwa replied, “Aisha (radiallaahu `anhaa) narrated, ‘When the Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) reached Mecca, the first thing he started with was the ablution, then he performed Tawaf of the Ka’ba and his intention was not ‘Umra alone (but Hajj and ‘Umra together).’ ” Later Abu Bakr (radiallaahu `anhu) I performed the Hajj and the first thing he started with was Tawaf of the Ka’ba and it was not ‘Umra alone (but Hajj and ‘Umra together). And then ‘Umar (radiallaahu `anhu) did the same. Then ‘Uthman (radiallaahu `anhu) performed the Hajj and the first thing he started with was Tawaf of the Ka’ba and it was not ‘Umra alone. And then Muawiya (radiallaahu `anhu) and ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radiallaahu `anhu) did the same. I performed Hajj with Ibn Az-Zubair and the first thing he started with was Tawaf of the Ka’ba and it was not ‘Umra alone, (but Hajj and ‘Umra together). Then I saw the Muhajirin (Emigrants) and Ansar doing the same and it was not ‘Umra alone. And the last person I saw doing the same was Ibn ‘Umar (radiallaahu `anhu), and he did not do another ‘Umra after finishing the first. Now here is Ibn ‘Umar (radiallaahu `anhu) present amongst the people! They neither ask him nor anyone of the previous ones. And all these people, on entering Mecca, would not start with anything unless they had performed Tawaf of the Ka’ba, and would not finish their Ihram. And no doubt, I saw my mother and my aunt, on entering Mecca doing nothing before performing Tawaf of the Ka’ba, and they would not finish their lhram. And my mother informed me that she, her sister, Az-Zubair (radiallaahu `anhu) and such and such persons had assumed lhram for ‘Umra and after passing their hands over the Corner (the Black Stone) (i.e. finishing their Umra) they finished their Ihram.”

Today’s Hadith:

Volume 2, Book 26, Number 706:

Narrated ‘Urwa:

I asked ‘Aisha (radiallaahu `anhaa): “How do you interpret the statement of Allah,: Verily! (the mountains) As-Safa and Al-Marwa are among the symbols of Allah, and whoever performs the Hajj to the Ka’ba or performs ‘Umra, it is not harmful for him to perform Tawaf between them (Safa and Marwa.) (2.158). By Allah! (it is evident from this revelation) there is no harm if one does not perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.” ‘Aisha (radiallaahu `anhaa) said, “O, my nephew! Your interpretation is not true. Had this interpretation of yours been correct, the statement of Allah should have been, ‘It is not harmful for him if he does not perform Tawaf between them.’ But in fact, this divine inspiration was revealed concerning the Ansar who used to assume lhram for worship ping an idol called “Manat” which they used to worship at a place called Al-Mushallal before they embraced Islam, and whoever assumed Ihram (for the idol), would consider it not right to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.

When they embraced Islam, they asked Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) regarding it, saying, “O Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam)! We used to refrain from Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.” So Allah revealed: ‘Verily; (the mountains) As-Safa and Al-Marwa are among the symbols of Allah.’ ” Aisha (radiallaahu `anhaa) added, “Surely, Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) set the tradition of Tawaf between Safa and Marwa, so nobody is allowed to omit the Tawaf between them.” Later on I (‘Urwa) told Abu Bakr bin ‘Abdur-Rahman (of ‘Aisha (radiallaahu `anhaa)’s narration) and he said, ‘i have not heard of such information, but I heard learned men saying that all the people, except those whom ‘Aisha mentioned and who used to assume lhram for the sake of Manat, used to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.

When Allah referred to the Tawaf of the Ka’ba and did not mention Safa and Marwa in the Quran, the people asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam)! We used to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa and Allah has revealed (the verses concerning) Tawaf of the Ka’ba and has not mentioned Safa and Marwa. Is there any harm if we perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa?’ So Allah revealed: “Verily As-Safa and Al-Marwa are among the symbols of Allah.” Abu Bakr said, “It seems that this verse was revealed concerning the two groups, those who used to refrain from Tawaf between Safa and Marwa in the Pre-lslamic Period of ignorance and those who used to perform the Tawaf then, and after embracing Islam they refrained from the Tawaf between them as Allah had enjoined Tawaf of the Ka’ba and did not mention Tawaf (of Safa and Marwa) till later after mentioning the Tawaf of the Ka’ba.’

﴿إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللَّهِ فَمَنْ حَجَّ الْبَيْتَ أَوِ اعْتَمَرَ فَلاَ جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَطَّوَّفَ بِهِمَا وَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴾

(158. Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or `Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House to perform Tawaf between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is All-Recognizer, All-Knower).

Empty Mas`aa <3 [Umrah '11]

Empty Mas`aa <3 [`Umrah ’11]

The Hadith above is mentioned by Imam Ibn Kathir in his tafsir of this ayah. He further says:

Ash-Sha`bi said, “Isaf (an idol) was on As-Safa while Na’ilah (an idol) was on Al-Marwah, and they used to touch (or kiss) them. After Islam came, they were hesitant about performing Tawaf between them. Thereafter, the Ayah (2:158 above) was revealed.”

Muslim recorded a long Hadith in his Sahih from Jabir, in which Allah’s Messenger finished the Tawaf around the House, and then went back to the Rukn (pillar, i.e., the Black Stone) and kissed it. He then went out from the door near As-Safa while reciting:

﴿إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَآئِرِ اللَّهِ﴾

(Verily, As-Safa and Al-Marwah are of the symbols of Allah.) The Prophet then said, (I start with what Allah has commanded me to start with ﴿meaning start the Sa`i (i.e., fast walking) from the As-Safa﴾). In another narration of An-Nasa’i, the Prophet said, (Start with what Allah has started with (i.e., As-Safa).)

Imam Ahmad reported that Habibah bint Abu Tajrah said, “I saw Allah’s Messenger performing Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah, while the people were in front of him and he was behind them walking in Sa`i. I saw his garment twisted around his knees because of the fast walking in Sa`i (he was performing) and he was reciting:

«اسْعَوْا فَإِنَّ اللهَ كَتَبَ عَلَيْكُمُ السَّعْي».

(Perform Sa`i, for Allah has prescribed Sa`i on you.)”’

This Hadith was used as a proof for the fact that Sa`i is a Rukn of Hajj. It was also said that Sa`i is Wajib, and not a Rukn of Hajj and that if one does not perform it by mistake or by intention, he could expiate the shortcoming with Damm. Allah has stated that Tawaf between As-Safa and Al-Marwah is among the symbols of Allah, meaning, among the acts that Allah legislated during the Hajj for Prophet Ibrahim.

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