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Tahannuth.pdf AL-TAHANNUTH AN INQUIRY INTO THE MEANING KISTER OF A TERM By M. J. The expression tahannuth mentioned in some traditions in connexion with the first revelation of the Prophet was variously interpreted by Muslim philologists and commentators of hadith. Several meanings have been attached to it by modern scholars. A re-examination of the material seems to give us a clue for elucidation of the meaning of talj,annuth and the ideas connected with it. This may also be helpful towards understanding the circumstances of the , Call to Prophecy' of Mul}.ammad. I The word al-tahannuth occurs in the famous tradition recorded in the Sira of Ibn Isl}.aqconcerning the ' Beginning of the Prophethood '.1 The tradition is quoted on the authority of 'Ubayd b. 'Umayr b. Qatiida al-Laythi 2 and reported by Wahb b. Kaysan.3 'Ubayd b. 'Umayr related the tradition in the presence of 'Abdullah b. al-Zubayr and other people; among them was Wahb b. Kaysan. 'The Prophet-says the tradition-used to sojourn (yujawiru) on Mt. I.Iira' 4 for a month every year. That was the talj,annutk which Quraysh used to practise in the period of the Jahiliyya (wa-kiina dhalika mimma tahannatha bihi Qurayshunfi 'l-Jahiliyyati). The Prophet used to sojourn during that month every year, feeding 5 the poor who called on him. After the conclusion of that month of sojourn, before entering his house, he would go to the Ka'ba and circumambulate it seven times or as many times as it pleased God. Then he would go back to his home. When the month came in which God wished to grant him His grace (karama), in the year when God sent him and it was the month of RamaQ.iin 6 the Prophet went out to I.Iira' as was his custom for his sojourn (li-jiwarihi). With him was his family.' 1 Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-nahawiyya, ed. al-Saqqa, al-Abyari, Shalabi, Cairo, 1936, I, 251 ; see A. Guillaume (tr.), The life of Muhammad, London, 1955, 105. • See Ibn l;Iajar, Tahdhib al-tahdhib, VII, 71 (died A.H. 67; he was the Qa~~of the people of Mecca); al-Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al-Q,uffii~,I, 50 (records that he died A.H. 74); idem, Ta'rikh al-/sliim, Cairo, 1368/1948-9, III, 190. The date of his death given by F. Buhl, Das Leben Muhammeds, second ed., trans!. H. H. Schaeder, Heidelberg, 1955, p. 134, n. 24, as A.H. 98 seems to be an error; see A. Sprenger, Das Leben und die Lehre des Mol,1,ammad, weite Auflage, Berlin, z 1869, I, 339. 3 See Ibn l;Iajar, Tahdhib al-tahdhib, XI, 166 (died A.H. 126 or 129); al-Suyii~i, Uiif atmuliatta, Cairo, n.d., 41 (gives the date of his death as A.H. 127). , For the location of the place see Muhammad l;Iamidullah, Le Prophete de l'/slam, Paris, 1959, I, 64: 'situe a. un kilometre a peine de I'emplacement de de Muhammad Ie Mount Nur presente ... '; and see 'Arram b. al-A~bagh, Asmii' jibiil Tihiima, ed. 'Abd ai-Salam Hariin, Cairo, 1956, (Nawiidir al-makhtutat, VIII, 419); al-Fasi, Skifii' al-ghariim, Cairo, 1956, 1,280-1. 6 III the translation of Guillaume: ' ... the apostle would pray in seclusion and give food to the poor ... '. e See al-l;Ialabi, /nsiin al-'uyun, I, 272 (the discussion as to whether it happened in Rama4an, or in the month of Rabi' al-awwal or in the month of Rajab). And see Ibn al-Jauzi, $ifatal-~afwa, VOL. XXXI. PART 2. 16 224 M. J". KISTER The tradition giving an account of the same events in al-Bukharl's $ahih 7 is told on the authority of 'A'isha. The chain of the isnad includes Yal;tya b. Bukayr 8-al-Layth 9-'UqayllO-lbn Shihab (i.e. al-Zuhri)-'Urwa b. alZubayr-'.A'isha. The tradition 11 contains the expression tahamsuuha, but differs in many respects from the tradition of Ibn Ishaq. The passage we are concerned with runs in the $ahih as follows: , ... Then he was made to cherish solitude and he sojourned alone in the cave of I.Iirii' and practised tahannuth a number of nights before he returned to his family; and he used to take provisions for it (i.e. the sojourn). Then he would go back to Khadija and take provisions for a similar (period of sojourn). So things went on till the Truth came upon him (ja'ahu 'l-haqqu) 12 when he was in the cave of I.Iirii' '.13 Hydersbad, 1355/1936-7, I, 27, and al-Majlisi, BiQ,iir, XVIII, 189 info (stating that it happened in Rajab); J. Flick, 'Sechs Erganzungen zu Sachaus Ausgabe von al-Birfmis "Chronologie orientalischer Volker" " in J. Flick (ed.), Documenia Islamica inedita, Berlin, 1952, 97 (Rabi' al-awwal or Rajab). 7 Al-Bukhari, $aQ,il,1"Cairo, n.d., I, 5-Biib kayfa kana bad'u 'l-wal,1,yi ilii rasuli 'lliihi. 8 In fact Yahya b. 'Abdullah b. Bukayr: see Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, XI, 237; al-Dhahabl, Tadhkirat al-l,1,uffa~, II, 420; al-'Ayni, 'Umdat al-qiiri', Cairo, 1308/1890-1, I, 56. • See al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ta'rikh Baghdad, XIII, 3-14; al-Dhahabl, Mizan al-i'iid/il, ed. 'Ali Muh. al-Bajawi, Cairo, 1963, III, 423, no. 6998; Ibn l;Iajar, Tahdhib, VIII, 459; al-'Ayni, op. cit., I, 56. 10 See al-Sam'anl, al-Ansiib, ed. 'Abd al-Rahman al-Mu'allami, Hyderabad, 1962, I, 410; Ibn l;Iajar, Tahdhib, VII, 255. 11 See the rendering of the tradition in Richard Bell, 'Mohammed's Call', Moslem World, XXIV, 1, 1934, 13. 12 In the tradition of Ibn Sa'd, 'fabaqat, Beirut, 1960, I, 194, I. 16, l,1,attafaji'ahu 'l-haqqu. 'till Truth came upon him suddenly'. Likewise, Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, 'Uyun al-aihar, Cairo, 1356/1937-8, 1,84, I. 4 from bottom; al-Baladhurl, Ansiib al-ashrii], ed. Muhammad Hamidullah, Cairo, 1959, I, 105, I. 6; al-'Ayni, op. cit., I, 63, I. 4 from bottom; al-Majlisi, Bibd» al-anwiir, Tehran, 1380/1960--1, XVIII, p. 227, n. 6; al-Zurqanl, Sharl,1" I, 211, I. 4; Ibn al-Athir, ol-Kiimil, Cairo, 1357/1938-9, II, 31; etc. The importance of this expression may be stressed as it is opposed by the expressionfa-~annantuhiifaj'ata 'l-jinni. See Abu Nu'aym, Dalii'il al-nubuunoa, Hyderabad, 1950, 171, I. 5; al-Suyuti, al-Kha~a'i~ al-kubrii, Hyderabad, 1319/1901-2, I, 96, I. 6 from bottom; idem, al-Durr al-manthur, Cairo, 1314/1896-7, VI, 369, I. 6. 13 According to the tradition of al-Bukhari the Prophet returned to his wife Khadija, his heart fluttering, asked her to wrap him up, told her about the revelation, and found comfort in her words. She took him to Waraqa b. Naufal, her cousin, and he assured the Prophet that the revelation had been a true one and that it had been the Namus sent down upon Moses. According to a tradition reported on the authority of Musa b. 'Uqba and Sulayman al-Taymi (al-Suytrti, al-Kha~a'i~ al-kubrii, I, 93; al-Zurqani, Sharl,1,al-mawiihib al-ladunniya, I, 213; and cf. al-Majlisl, BiQ,iir al-anwiir, XVIII, 228) Khadija went with the Prophet to 'Addas, a servant (ghuliim) of 'Utba b. Rabi'a. He was a Christian from the people of Niniveh and she asked him about Jibril. He shouted Quddiis, quddus, quddt;«. He asked her: '0, Lady of the women of Quraysh, how is Jibril mentioned in this country of the worshippers of idols?' She urged him to tell her about Jibril and he stated that Jibril was the trustee (amin) of Allah over the Prophets. He is the angel-guardian (~aQ,ib) of Musa and 'lsa. And cf. al-Baladhuri, Ansiib, I, 111. According to a version recorded by al-Baladhurl, Ansab, I, 105-6, Khadija asked Abu Bakr to go with the Prophet to Waraqa. (The tradition is reported on the authority of Ibn IshaqAbu Maysara ['Amr b. Shurahbil al-Hamdani al-Kiifi-c-see Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, VIII, 47].) This tradition is reported also by: al-Suhayli, al-Raud. al-unuf, Cairo, 1914, I, 157 (on the authority of Yfinus b. Bukayr-Ibn Ishaq); al-Diyarbakrl, Ta'rikh al-Khamis, I, 282; alHalabl, Insiin al-'uyun, Cairo, 1354/1935-6, I, 275; Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, 'Uyun al-aihar, 1,83. It is evident that this tradition is of importance : it states that the first believer was Abu Bakr. AL-TAlJANNUTH: AN INQUIRY INTO THE MEANING OF A TERM 225 The differences between the two traditions are crucial: according to the tradition of Ibn Isl}.aqthe sojourn of Muhammad on Mt. I.Iirii' was in accordance with the custom of Quraysh to practise tahannuth for a month every year; according to the tradition of al-Bukhiiri the Prophet was made to like solitude.tWhereas the tradition of Ibn Ishaq states that he went out with his family,15 i.e. Khadija-the tradition of al-Bukhari maintains that the Prophet went out alone and used to come back at certain intervals 16in order to get provisions.!? (There is even a tradition stating that the Prophet reported his apprehensions in connexion with the summons he heard to Abu Bakr, who was his companion-s-al-Suyutl, al-Kha~a'i~ al-kubra, I, 95.) This tradition stands in opposition to the Shi'i version that the first believer was 'Ali b. Abi Talib. 'The first who prayed with the Prophet was 'Ali b. Abi Talib ' (al-Majlisi, op. cit., XXXVIII, 202, 203-the chapter ' ... annahu eabaqa 'l-niisa fi 'l-isliimi wa 'l-imiini', pp. 201-88; Ibn Shahraehiib, Maniiqib ill Abi 'I'iilib, Najaf, 1956, I, 288-303; al-Ya'qubi, Ta'rikh, Najaf, 1964, II, 18-19; al-Karajakl, Kanz al-fawii'id, lithograph, 1322/1904-5, 117-28; al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Amiili, Najaf, 1964, I, 265, 267; and see al-Suyirti, al-La'iili al-ma~nu'a, Cairo, al-Maktaba al-Trjariyya, n.d., I, 322--4). '1 am al-$iddiq al-akbar,' states 'Ali, 'whoever says it after me is merely a liar or forger; I prayed with the Prophet seven years' (al-Majlisi, op. cit., XXXVIII, 204). 'When the revelation was sent down on the Prophet he came to the masjid and stood up praying; 'Ali passed by the Prophet-and he was nine years old-and the Prophet summoned him: "0, 'Ali, come to me (aqbil) " ... ' (ibid., 207). 'I was the first of people who embraced Islam: the Prophet received his call on Monday and I prayed with him on Tuesday; I remained with him praying for seven years till a group embraced Islam " says 'Ali (ibid., 209-cf. Ibn Sayyid al-Naa, op. cit., I, 92; see al-Nasa'I, Kha~a'i~ Amir al-Mu'minina, Cairo, 1308/1890--1, 2-3; see the discussion about the first to embrace Islam in al-Tirmidhi's $aQ,il,1"Cairo, 1934, XIII, 177; and see Ibn al-Athir, Jami' al-u~ul min aQ,iidith al-rasul, Cairo, 1952, IX, 440, no. 6412; Ibn Abi "l-Hadid, Sharl,1,nahj al-baliigha, ed. Muhammad Abu 'l-Fadl Ibrahim, Cairo, 1959, IV, 116 et seq.); 'Ali states plainly on the min bar of al-Basra that he is al-$iddiq al-akbar, that he believed before Abu Bakr and embraced Islam before Abu Bakr did (al-Mufid, 1rshiid, Najaf, 1962, 21). The tradition in favour of Abu Bakr maintains that he was the first one to embrace Islam (al.Suyii~i, Ta'rikh al-khulafa', ed. Muhammad Muhyi al-Din 'Abd al-Hamid, Cairo, 1952, 33). He even believed in the mission ofthe Prophet in the time of Bahira, the monk (ibid.). There is, in fact, a tendency towards harmonization: the first man who embraced Islam was Abu Bakr; the first boy was 'Ali (ibid., 34). The tradition of al-Jahi'? that Abu Bakr was the first to embrace Islam (al-Jahi'?, al-'Uthmiiniyya, ed. 'Abd al-Salam Harim, Cairo, 1955,3; and see there other versions about the first who embraced Islam: Zayd b. l;Iaritha, Khabbab b. Aratt; 'Ali is not mentioned) is fiercely denied by al-Iskafi (ibid., 286 et seq.). Of interest is the tradition recorded by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Muq,il,1,auhiim al-jam' wa 'l-tafriq, Hyderabad, 1960, II, 321, on the authority of Maymun b. Mihrdn : 'Abu Bakr believed in the Prophet in the time of Bahira, the monk; Abu Bakr was the match-maker who arranged the Prophet's marriage with Khadija, and all that before 'Ali was born '. And see the chapter' Awwalu 'l-niisi imiinan bi-'lliiki warasulihi' in Ibn Sayyid al-Nas, 'Uyun al-tuhar, I, 91 et seq.; and 'Abd al-Raezaq, al-Mu~annaf, MS Murad Molla, 604, f. 67b inf.; the traditions that 'Ali was the first who embraced Islam are opposed by the tradition of al-Zuhri that the first was Zayd b. l;Iaritha. 14 The expression l,1,ubbibailayhi al-khalii' etc. is explained by Ibn Hazm, Jawiimi' al-Sira, ed. Ihsan 'Abbas, Na~ir al-Din al-Asad, A. M. Shakir, Cairo, n.d., 44, that nobody did order him to do it, nor did he see anybody do it whom he could imitate; it was merely Allah who wanted him to do it and he remained there (i.e. in the cave) for days and nights. 15 See the combined tradition in al-Maqrizi, Lmiii: al-asmii', ed. Mahmud Muhammad Shakir, Cairo, 1941, I, 12, I. 10: ua-hubbiba ilayhi 'l-khalii'u fa-kana yakhlu bi-ghiiri IJira'a kamii kiina yaf'alu dhiilika muta'abbidu dhiilika 'l-zamiini fa-yuqimu fihi 'l-layiiliya dhawiiti 'l-'adad thumma yarji'u ilii ahlihi fa-yatazawwadu li-mithlihii yatal,1,annathu bi-IJira'a wa-ma'ahu Khadijatu. But see the discussion of the contradictory traditions in al-Halabl's 1nsan al- 'uyun, I, 274. 18 On these periods see e.g. al-Zurqani, Sharl,1,al-mawiihib, I, 211. 17 On the kinds of provisions see al-Halabi, op. cit., I, 271; and see Mutahhar b. Tahir 226 M. J". KISTER Furthermore, the cave where he retired for solitude, according to the tradition of al-Bukhiiri, is not mentioned in the tradition recorded by Ibn Ishaq. The information about the feeding of the poor is missing in the tradition of alBukhiiri. Consequently other differences occur stemming from the fundamental divergences between the two traditions: according to the tradition of Ibn Ishaq, Khadija sent messengers to look for the Prophet: they went out and reached the upper part of Mecca in their search for the Prophet. They were, of course, sent by Khadija from the mountain of J.Iirii' where they both sojourned. After the talk of Khadlja with the Prophet she descended from the mountain, went to Waraqa, and told him the story of the Call to Prophecy. According to the tradition recorded by al-Bukhari, the Prophet sojourned in solitude in the cave and went to Khadija at Mecca after receiving the Call, and she went with him to Waraqa. II The explanation of the word talj,annuth is differently given in the two traditions. In the tradition of Ibn Ishaq it is glossed by tabarrur; in the tradition of al-Bukhari it is glossed by ta'abbud.1S Ibn Hishiim replaces it by talj,annuf, i.e. professing the I.Ianifiyya, performing the actions of a IJanif.l1I There are other traditions in which the expression tanassaka is mentioned instead of tahannatha.2o Al-Baladhurl in his report about the revelation, recorded on the authority of '.A'isha,21glosses talj,annuth as al-ta'abbud wa 'ltabarrur. It is evident that al-Baladhuri referred to the glosses of the two different traditiona." al-Maqdisi, al-Bad' wa'l-ta'rikh, ed. Huart, IV, 141 : he sojourned at l;Iira' with provisions of dates and milk feeding people. 18 According to Ibn l;Iajar, Fatl,1, t-bari, Cairo, 1348/1929-30, I, 18, the word tal,1,annuth a wall glossed ta'abbud by al-Zuhri. 19 Abu Dharr considers this explanation as unnecessary. See his commentary, Bronnle, Cairo, 1911, 75. so Al-Dhahabi, Ta'rikh at-Isliim, I, 74: ua-kdna yakhruju ilii IJirii'a fi kuUi 'amin shaMan Ibn Kathir, al-Sira al-nahawiyya, ed. Mu~tafi 'Abd al-Wahid, Cairo, min al-8anati yansukufihi; 1964,1,390: wa-kana yakhruju ilii IJirii'a fi kulli 'amin shahran min al-sanati yatanassaku fiki, wa-kana min nusuk Qurayshinji 'l-jahiliyyati, yut'imu manja'ahu min al-masiikin. This expression is used as well in the MS of the Sira in the Qarawiyiin library at Fez, no. 727, as mentioned by A. Guillaume, New light on the life of Muhammad (Journal of Semitic Studies. MonographNo.1), [1960], p. 29, II. 5-7: 'The word used of Muhammad's devotions, is nasak, and it is said that members of Quraysh who practised such devotions in the pagan era used to feed any of the poor who came to them'. And see al-Suyiit.i, al-Kha~a'i~ al-kubra, I, 94, kana rasulu 'lliiki ~allii 'lliihu 'alayki wa-sallama yakhruju ilii IJira'afi kulli 'amin shahran min al-sanati yatanassaku fihi ... (but feeding the poor is not mentioned here). 21 Ansab al-ashraf, ed. Muhammad Hamidullah, Cairo, 1959,1,105, no. 191: " .fa-yatal,1,annathu fiki wa-yamkuthu al-layiiliya qabla an ... ; in the $aQ,il,1, Muslim, Cairo, 1334/1915-16, of 1,97, ., . al-layaliya uliit al-'adad; the Tafsir of al-Tabari, Bulaq, 1329/1911, xxx, 161, and the Mu~annaf of 'Abd al-Razzaq, MS Murad Molla, 604, f. 6711., inf., have (like al-Bukharl] dhawiit al-'adad. A version recorded by 'Abd al-Razzaq deserves mention: the Prophet started to practise ta7J,annuthand he was made to like solitude after some of his daughters were born (wa-tajiqa rasulu 'lliihi ~allii 'llahu 'alayhi wa-sallama ba'da mii wulidat lahu ba'q,u baniitihi yatal,1,annathu wa-l,1,ubbiba ilayhi 'l-khalii'u-op. cit., f. 6711., 6 from bottom) . I. •• Ibn Sa'd, 'fabaqat, Beirut, 1960, I, 194, records a tradition on the authority of 'A'isha, but does not, however, gloss the term tal,1,annuth. AL-TA1.JANNUTH: AN INQUIRY INTO THE MEANING OF A TERM 227 The obscure expression tahannuth caused some difficulties to the philologists, lexicographers, and commentators of hadith. The famous scholars Ibn alA'rabi and Ibn 'Amr al-Shaybani stated that they did not know the expression tahannuth.23 The explanation commonly given was that tahannuth means' to remove sin (hinth) from oneself'; some other examples of similar verbs having the form tafa"ala with a cognate are quoted (ta'aththama, taharraja, tahasowaba).24 In the tradition of al-Bukhiiri tahannuth is glossed by ta'abbud. Ta'abbud has a wide range of meanings and commentators are at pains to define the ta'abbud of the Prophet. Al-Qasi;alliini states that the Prophet performed three devotional practices ('ibadiit): seclusion (khalwa), tahannuth, and the watching of the Ka'ba (al-na?ar ila 'l-Ka'ba). Comparing the expression in the tradition of Ibn Isbaq, ya'takifu shahra RamaiJiina, in which there is no clear definition of the kind of ta'abbud, with the expression of the tradition of '.A'isha, al-Qastallan! remarks that '.A'isha assigned the idea of ta'abbud exclusively (bi-mujarradiha) to seclusion because withdrawal from people, and especially people living in falsehood (man kiina 'ala batilin), is a kind of'ibada. Finally al-Qastallani quotes an anonymous opinion that the ta'abbud of the Prophet was meditation (tafakkur}.25 The discussion of the term in al-Qastallani's [rshad does not add much to our understanding of the meaning of the expression. Tahannuth is identified with ta'abbud; ta'abbud is identified with khalwa, which was, however, the cause or means of ta'abbud. Further, tahannuth is stated to be one of the three 'ibiidiit, and lastly ta'abbud is stated to be contemplation. The mention of the word i'takafa in connexion with talj,annuth does not, by itself, lend more definition to the obscure expression tahannuth. It is noteworthy that the expression i'takafa is used for tahannatha in the traditions recorded by Abu Nu'aym 26 and al-Suyiiti,27 stating that the Prophet vowed to sojourn with Khadlja for a month at I.Iira'. The identification of ta'abbud with tahannuth raised consequently the question of the religious basis of this devotion, the ta'abbud of the Prophet. 23 AI-Kirmani, Shorb $aQ,il,1,al-Bukhiiri, Cairo, 1932, I, 32; Abu 'Amr read the word yatal,1,annafu (ibid.); al-'Ayni, 'Umdat al-qiiri', 1,58. Ie Raghib al-Isfahani, al-Mufradat, Cairo, 1324/1906-7, 132, s.v. l,1,nth; Ibn l;Iajar, Fatl!, al-bari, I, 18; al-Kirmani, op. cit., I, 32; al-Zarkashi, Bharb $aQ,il,1, al-Bukhiiri, I, 6; al-Zamakhshari, al-Fij'iq, ed. al-Bajawi and Abu 'I-Fa41 Ibrahim, Cairo, 1945, I, 250; Ibn al-Athir, al.Nihiiya, s.v. l,1,nth; L'A and T'A, s.v. l,1,nth. lt is noteworthy that beside the definition • removing sin from oneself, keeping away from sin' there is also a definition' acting so (yaf'alu fi'lan) as to cause sin to be removed' (al-Nihiiya, T'A, L'A, etc.). And see al-'Ayni, 'Umdat al-qiiri', I, 58. (Tal,1,annatha means as well' to commit a sin' and belongs to the a4diid. See Ibn al-Dahhan al-Nahwi, 'al-A