Seeking Sacred Sunni Knowledge

The Narration of Al-'Utbi

greybismillah

by Abul Layth

 

Who is Al-’Utbi? 

He is Muhammad ibn Ubaydullah ibn ‘Amru ibn Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Amru ibn Utbah ibn Abi Sufyan Sakhr ibn Harb. He was from the most eloquent of men, a companion of narrations, and a narrator of literature. He reported from his father and from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. Taqiyud-Din As-Subki reports the narration that we are soon to go over in his Shifaa’ As-Siqaam regarding the visiting of the grave of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He reports this narration with his chain. ((See Futuhaat Ar-Rabbaaniyah 5/39 )) 

The narration of Al-’Utbi is probably not known to many English speaking Muslims. Let me state my purpose in producing this article. I am going to share a photocopy as well as further research regarding the narration of Al-’Utbi so that the Muslim masses will be informed of the fact that many great ‘Ulamaa’ of the past maintained that Tawassul by the Nabi Muhammad is permitted in Islam. We hope that this information will lend more credence to the fact that the greatest Jurists to have walked the earth believed in tawassul with the beloved Prophet Muhammad.

The Savant, Jurist, Shaykh-ul-Islam, Virtuous and Pious Wali of Allah ta’alaa, The Ascetic, Defender of the Sunnah, Mountain of Knowledge, Known as the Second Imam Ash-Shafi’i, the Reviver of Islam in his time, The Mujaahid, The Hafidh of Hadith, Abu Zakariya Yahya ibn Sharaf, known best as “Imam An-Nawawi” recorded in his tome, Al-Adhkaar (الاذكار) the following story from Al-’Utbi: ((Apologies for poor scan quality. We kept the dimensions and dpi low so that the pictures would download faster on slower connections and stone-age computers ))

utbi1edited.jpg

 

 utbi2edited.jpg

“As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet, a Bedouin Arab came and said: “Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! I have heard Allah saying: “If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah’s forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful” (4:64), so I have come to you asking forgiveness for my sin, seeking your intercession with my Lord.” Then he began to recite poetry:

O best of those whose bones are buried in the deep earth,

And from whose fragrance the depth

and the height have become sweet,

May I be the ransom for a grave which thou inhabit,

And in which are found purity, bounty and munificence!

Then he left, and I slept and saw the Nabi (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) in my sleep. He said to me: “Yā `Utbi, run after the Bedouin and give him glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him.” [End Quote. To also read the online version click here.]

The scans are taken from the published print from Mu’asasah ‘Ulum Al-Qur’an (Beirut) and Dar Al-Qiblah Lil-Thiqafat Al-Islamiyyah, Jeddah pages 284-285, with the editing of Subay’ Hamzah Hakimi.

Imam An-Nawawi placed this narration below the chapter titled, “Chapter: Regarding Visiting the Grave of Rasulullah (‘alayhis salaam) and its Remembrances (adhkaar)”. The publisher “Dar-Al-Huda” from Riyadh, Saudia Arabia changed “Grave” to “Masjid” so as to make it seem one is not to visit the Prophet Muhammad’s grave. Furthermore, they intentionally changed the text and words of Imam An-Nawawi when he said,

 فصل” في زيارة قبر رسول الله (ص) وأذكارها : اعلم أنه ينبغي لكل من حج أن يتوجه إلى زيارة رسول الله (ص ) سواء كان ذلك طريقه أو لم يكن فإن زيارته (ص ) من  أهم القربات وأربح المساعي وأفضل الطلبات

Dar-Al-Huda changed these words to what is clear tahreef:

 (فصل” في زيارة مسجد رسول الله (ص) اعلم أنه يستحب من أراد زيارة مسجد رسول الله      (ص ) أن يكثر من الصلاة عليه (ص

This is simply one example of their distorting the Adhkar as was pointed out by Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh in his Rafa’ Minaara.

Let us talk further regarding the narration of Al-Utbi. Some groups will say that this narration has no chain, and is thus weak. I have personally not found a chain for this narration, but for the student of knowledge, this is of no major concern. Hundreds, if not thousands, of scholars from all madh-habs have recorded this narration just as Imam An-Nawawi (radhiya Allahu Anhu) did. They used this narration as support that our righteous Muslim Sunni forefathers implemented this action of Al-’Utbi. Some examples of great scholars other than Imam An-Nawawi were:

Ibn Qudaamah Al-Maqdisi in his magnum opus Al-Mughni, the great Hanbali work. He transcribed this narration beneath his chapter, “Chapter on Visiting the Grave of the Prophet.” Click here to see the quotation yourself. Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir, in which he prefaces the narration with:

وَقَدْ ذَكَرَ جَمَاعَة مِنْهُمْ الشَّيْخ أَبُو مَنْصُور الصَّبَّاغ فِي كِتَابه الشَّامِل الْحِكَايَة الْمَشْهُورَة عَنْ الْعُتْبِيّ

“And a group [of scholars], amongst them Ash-Shaykh Abu Mansur As-Sabbaagh in his treatise “Ash-Shaamil” mentioned the well known story from Al-’Utbi…” Click here to read the tafsir yourself.  Imam Al-Baaji reports this narration in his Sunan As-Saaliheen. Imam Ath-Tha’labi narrates it in his Tafsir, as well as others.

It is true that this narration is not a proof in itself. It is a supporting proof, and the ettiqutte displayed therein was used to teach the Muslim masses by the great jurists. This is the reason I have presented it for you all.

May Allah bless our beloved Nabi Muhammad, his family, companions, and those that follow him until their end. Amin!

17 Responses to “The Narration of Al-'Utbi”

  1. NotMyName says:

    Abdul Qadir Arnaut’s response to the alleged tahreef
    http://alarnaut.com/#_Toc70769592

  2. ibn ustun says:

    Coul you provide an english summary of the response?

  3. Mustafa says:

    as-salaamu alaykum,

    SubhanAllah! Akhi abul layth what do you think we are to do when many of us have been brainwashed with Salafi ideals of rejecting Tawassul and the likes. They always seem to try to explain that the Ulama of the past did not make tawasul and that their tawasul was only ‘by right of the nabi salalahu alayhi wa salam’ and that it has no basis.

    It is very difficult its almost as if im learning islam all over again. I have found many of the great ulama of the past took up tasawwuf. Many amongst them followed a shaykh in spirituality. Now, I find what appears to be many ulama engaging in forms of tawassul that salafis have rejected and thrown out.

    Now that the new edition of fiqh al akbar is produced it as if we are seeing lies unfold. Its almost very strange, from what Islam we were taught and what is being found out now.

  4. Ibn Saad says:

    Asalamolakium Mustafa,

    A lot of us have been in your shoes. But personally I think there is a purpose to this salafi movement, in a sense that it provided a stepping stone to Traditional Islam. Without Salafisim many of us would be stuck with the cultural understandings and practices of Islam that we have grown up with. This is just my opinon, others might disagree with me.

  5. Abul Layth says:

    As Shaykh Nuh stated the benefit of the wahhabi da’wah is the revival of the sciences of hadith. For nearly 200+ years the science had weakened, and now, the Sunnis are obligated to respond to the manipulation of a fringe group, the najdi neo-Muqaatiliyyah Wahhabis. Remember that under Pasha, the Sunnis once liberated the Hijaaz and Najd and drove the Najdi-Wahhabi movement nearly to extinction. Peace spread while they were defeated. Only due to the weakening of the Ottomans and the Sultanates did they get the chance to reconquer the Najd and Hijaaz from the Sunnis. Shaykh Nuh mentions that when he went to Yemen, he met some of the old Shuyukh who mentioned that after Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud reconquered the Hijaaz and najd, thousands died just trying to make hajj. They would loot the caravans and kill the Hujjaaj.

    I have no doubt that the wahhabis have revived the need for traditional studies again. Thousands of students are realizing that our forefathers were not upon the creed and manhaj of Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers. The Sunni ‘Ulamaa’ imprisoned Ibn Taymiyyah for a reason; his wrecklessness in creed and manhaj.

    The bottom line is the wahhabis have more financing than the common Sunnis. Just as the Fatimid Dynasty had more financing, so do the najdi wahhabis with their poisonous black gold. Due to the political climate I think you will see the re-emergence of true traditionalism. You are seeing in ‘Iraq as we speak. People are fed up with the manipulation of texts, tyranny, falsehood and propaganda of the Saudi-Wahhabi clique. For now, our obligation is to stick to what our forefathers were upon, not what Ibn Taymiyyah was upon.

    As Qadhi Safadi stated about Ibn Taymiyyah:

    “The Shaykh, Imâm, and erudite scholar Taqî al-Din Ah.mad ibn Taymiyya – Allâh have mercy on him! – was immensely learned but he had defective intelligence (`aqluhu naaqis.) that embroiled him into perils and made him fall into hardships.” [Sharh. Laamiyya al-`Ajam li al-Tughraa'i, in al-Nabahaani, Shawaahid al-Haqq (p. 189). ]

    It is the same reason that shall be the demise of his current day followers.

    So in our times, the wahhabis refuse to allow us to do as the Sahaabah did, touch the grave of our beloved Sayyid Muhammad (‘alayhis salaam). They forbid travelling to be next to our beloved. If we even say anything to him, we are branded Mushrik/Mubtadi’ etc etc.; all because of the sick da’waa of ibn Taymiyyah.

    Ibn Hajr Al-’Asqalaani said about this ruling from him;

    “This is one of the ugliest matters ever reported from him.” [See Fat-hul-Baari]

    Indeed! The majority of this Ummah are still the Sunnis. From the Deobandis to the Malaysians to the Indonesians to the Moroccans and Africans. They are a minority, just as other fringe minority groups gained the upperhand, so did they fall to Islam once again. Their da’wah is dying and will continue to die as more of the works of the scholars of the past become known to the people. As their Imam Abdullah ibn Sa’ud cements his throne by allying with the enemies of Islam, so do we see the Sunnis becoming more enraged by their kufr.

    So may Allah assist you and us in the endeavor to seek truth. Difficult times are we in.

    Oh Allah, bless our beloved master Muhammad, his family, his companions, and those that follow him until their end. Amin!

  6. Abul Layth says:

    We should also note that the Dar-us-Salam print of Tafsir ibn Kathir does not have the story of Al-’Utbi in their “edition” of the tafsir. It is true, however, that their version is “abridged”.

  7. mustafa says:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naqshbandi_network/message/4

    Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem was-salaat was-salaam `ala Sayyidina Muhammad,
    wa `ala alihi wa sahbihi ajma`een

    Al-`Utbi’s account of the Arab’s tawassul for forgiveness at the Prophet’s
    grave mentioned in our last posting (Hadith #28 of “Hadiths About the Great
    Esteem and Honor of The Prophet (s)”) is renowned and is related in many
    books on the subject of ziyara (visiting the Prophet’s grave in Madina) or
    manasik (rites of pilgrimage) by the countless scholars of the Four Schools,
    none of whom have rejected it or declared it weak. See, for example, the
    translations of Ibn al-Jawzi, Nawawi, and Ibn Jama`a. Even Ibn Kathir, a
    student of Ibn Taymiyya accepted this narration and related it in the
    following explanation of the verse (4:64):

    “Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala is instructing the sinners when they
    commit a sin to come to Rasulullah (saws) and ask forgiveness in
    his (saws) presence [yurshidu ta`ala al-usaata wal-mudhnibeena
    idha waqa'a minhum al-khata' wal asyaan ay yaatu il al-Rasuli
    (saws) fa-yastaghfiroollaha 'indah.] and then they ask him to
    make istighfaar for them. [Wa yas'aluhu an yastaghfira lahum]
    And certainly if they did that, Allah would relent towards them
    and have mercy on them and forgive them, [Fa-innahum idha
    fa`alu dhalik taaba-Allahu `alayhim wa rahimahum] and for
    that reason He said “they would have found Allah Oft-Returning,
    Merciful.”

    And Shaykh Mansur as-Sabbagh recollected in his book “the
    Perfections”, [ash-Shama'il] the well-known transmission from
    ‘Utbi:

    “I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet (saws) [kuntu
    jaalisan 'inda qabr an-Nabee (saws)] and a Bedouin
    came and said:
    ‘Peace be upon you O Prophet of Allah. I heard Allah say:
    ‘And if they had come to thee when they had wronged their
    souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and if the Messenger
    had also asked forgiveness for them, they would have
    surely found Allah Oft-Returning with compassion and
    Merciful.’
    and I came to you asking forgiveness for my sin, taking you
    as intercessor to my Lord.”

    ['as-salaam `alayka ya Rasulullah. Sam`ita Allaha yaqul:
    .
    Wa qad ji'tuka mustaghfiran li-dhambee mustashfi`an bika ila
    Rabbee.']

    Then he started reciting verses:
    “Ya khayra man dufinat bil qa’i ‘aadhamahu
    fa-taaba min teebihinna al-qa’a wal-akamu
    nafs al-fida’u li-qabrin anta saakinuh
    fihi al-`afaaf wa fihi al-juda wal-karamu.

    “O You best of those whose bones are buried in al-Qa’a
    from the sweet scents of those bones the whole
    area of al-Qa’a and Akamu became perfumed.
    My self I sacrifice to the grave that you live in
    in it is purity and in it is incredible generosity.”

    “Then the Bedouin departed and sleep overcame me. And I saw the
    Prophet (saws) in my sleep and he said: ‘Ya ‘Utbi, follow the
    Bedouin and give him the glad tidings that Allah has forgiven
    him.’”

    “And Allah’s saying:
    ‘fa laa wa Rabbika laa yu’minoona hatta yuhakimooka
    feemaa shajara baynahum thumma laa yajidu fee anfusihim harajan
    mimma qadayta wa yusalimoona tasleema’
    ‘But no, by thy Lord, they are not believers until they make thee
    judge in all that is in dispute between them and they find not in
    their hearts any demur concerning that which thou decidest and
    submit with full submission.’ [4: 65]

    “And His saying: ‘But no, by thy Lord, they are not believers
    until they make thee judge in all that is in dispute between them”
    in which He makes an oath by His Glorified Holy Essence that no
    one believes until he refers to the Prophet (saws) as the judge
    and decisionmaker in all his affairs and whatever the Prophet
    (saws) decides is the truth which must be followed inwardly and
    outwardly [baatinan wa dhaahiran]. Therefore He said, ‘and they
    find not in their hearts any demur concerning that which thou
    decidest and submit with full submission’ which means ‘if they
    put you as judge in their affairs, they have to obey inwardly
    and they don’t find in themselves difficulty in the decision
    you have made and they have to follow with both its inward
    state and its outward. And they submit to that completely
    unconditionally without any rejection, nor any repulsion and
    no argument. As it said in the hadith: ‘by the One in whose hands
    is my soul, none of you is considered a believer until his desire
    is completely aligned with what I have brought.’”
    ['walladhee nafsih bi-yadih, laa yu'minu ahadukum hatta yakoonu
    hawa'uh tab`an limaa j'itu bihi.']

    [Tafseer of Qur'an al-Adheem, by Ibn Katheer, Volume I, published
    by Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1992/1412. Page 643.]

  8. mustafa says:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/naqshbandi_network/message/8

    Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem was-salaat was-salaam `ala Sayyidina Muhammad,
    wa `ala alihi wa sahbihi ajma`een

    Shaykh Shihabudeen al-`Alusi, in his voluminous Tafsir, Ruh al-Ma`ani
    comments on the verse 4:64:

    “And if they had come to thee when they had wronged their souls,” [wa law
    annahum idh dhalamu anfusahum] and exposed themselves
    to destruction by hypocrisy and turning for judgment to taghut [jaa'ooka
    fastaghfaroollaha wastaghfaralahum ar-rasul] And if they had come to thee
    when they had wronged their souls with no delay, taking you as a means,
    repentant of their wrongdoing, [mutawasileena bika, ta'ibeena 'an
    jinaayatihim], not combining a corrupted oath with a false apology
    [fastaghfirullaha] asking forgiveness of Allah for their sins and left off
    the wrong that they were doing and expressing regret for what they had done
    [wastaghfaralahum ar-Rasulu], and he (s) asked Allah the Almighty to accept
    their repentance and to forgive their sins, where the wording
    “astaghfarah…”, not “astaghfarta” is an expression of reverence to the
    station of Rasulullah (saws), so He did not address him in the first person
    because of his great characteristics, as for instance, “the prince has made
    this judgment” instead of “you have made this judgment” and granting great
    honor to his seeking forgiveness, (saws), by using a word that shows the
    loftiness of his level [wa ta`dheemun li istighfaarahihi... haythu asnadahu
    ila lafdhin munabbi'in `an `uluwi martabatih], “they would have found Allah
    Oft Returning, merciful”, meaning they would have known him [for] accepting
    their repentance [and for] doing them a great favor by covering up the sins
    they had committed. ..And the use of the all-encompassing Name [Allah]
    instead of the possessive “Him”, is purposed to show the great respect of
    the acceptance and the mercy [it entails].”

    [Tafseer Ruh al-Ma'ani, by Shaykh Shihabudeen as-Sayyid Mahmoud
    al-'Alusi al-Baghdadi, Volume 4, 1983, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut. Page 70.]

  9. IrfanIbnIsmail says:

    about the narration of utbi:

    *“A report graded mashhur (established and well-known) and related by
    Nawawi, Adhkar, Mecca ed. p. 253-254, al- Majmu` 8:217, and al-Idah fi manasik al-hajj, chapters on visiting the grave of the Prophet;
    *Ibn Jama`a, Hidayat alsalik 3:1384; *Ibn `Aqil, al-Tadhkira;
    *Ibn Qudaamah Al-Maqdisi in his magnum opus Al-Mughni, the great Hanbali work. He transcribed this narration beneath his chapter, “Chapter on Visiting the Grave of the Prophet.” ;
    * al-Qurtubi, Tafsir of 4:64 in Ahkam al-Qur’an 5:265;
    *Samhudi, Khulasat al-Wafa p. 121 (from Nawawi);
    * Dahlan, Khulasat al-Kalam 2:247;
    *Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir, in which he prefaces the narration with:

    “And a group [of scholars], amongst them Ash-Shaykh Abu Mansur As-Sabbaagh in his treatise “Ash-Shaamil” mentioned the well known story from Al-’Utbi…”,
    and al-Bidayat wa al-nihayat 1:180;

    * Abu al-Faraj ibn Qudama, al-Sharh al-kabir 3:495;
    *al-Bahuti al-Hanbali, Kashshaf al-qina` 5:30;
    *. Taqiyud-Din As-Subki reports the narration in his Shifaa’ As-Siqaam p. 52, regarding the visiting of the grave of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He reports this narration with his chain. ((See Futuhaat Ar-Rabbaaniyah 5/39 ))
    *Ibn al-Jawzi, Muthir al-gharam al-sakin ila ashraf alamakin p. 490; *al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4178; *Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar tarikh Dimashq 2:408;
    * Ibn Hajar al- Haytami, al-Jawhar al-munazzam [commentary on Nawawi's Idah];
    * Imam Al-Baaji reports this narration in his Sunan As-Saaliheen.
    * Imam Ath-Tha’labi narrates it in his Tafsir
    *Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 147. A similar report is cited through Sufyan ibn `Uyayna (Shafi`i’s shaykh), and through Abu Sa`id al-Sam`ani on the authority of `Ali.

  10. IrfanIbnIsmail says:

    some questions:

    1)Is the writer of this article proving that the scholars had no problem with this narration and that they allowed tawassul?

    2)on what all basis do the duplicate salafies oppose this narration?

  11. irfan says:

    i wanted to know the reference which was used to describe who utbi is?

    i have heard some saying that he was a drunkard . pls clarify!

  12. Abul Layth says:

    1) If you reread the article you will see the answer to your first question.

    2) No chain.

    3) The reference was given.

    It should be noted that the A’immah had no problem with this athar, Ibn Kathir calling it “Mash-hur”.

  13. Irfan says:

    you mean this:

    “”"He is Muhammad ibn Ubaydullah ibn ‘Amru ibn Mu’awiyah ibn ‘Amru ibn Utbah ibn Abi Sufyan Sakhr ibn Harb. He was from the most eloquent of men, a companion of narrations, and a narrator of literature. He reported from his father and from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. “”"

    is in

    “”((See Futuhaat Ar-Rabbaaniyah 5/39 ))”"
    ???

  14. tru_Qur'an says:

    As salamu ‘alaykum,

    Was that not a good reference or what?

  15. tru_Qur'an says:

    As salamu ‘alaykum,

    Can someone show me where to purchase the unadulterated arabic text of Imam Nawawi’s Adkhaar? Which print etc?

    Jazak’Allaahu khairan

  16. tru_Qur'an says:

    This is a good one from Dar al Hazm (Beirut)

    http://www.albalagh.net/bookstore/?action=view&item=0782

  17. tru_Qur'an says:

    Mods…can u change ‘al’ to Ibn in the above publishing name.

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