Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1/2 (1965): 27-32
"God will Never Disgrace thee":The Interpretation of an Early Ḥadīth
God will never disgrace thee.pdf GOD WILL NEVER DISGRACE THEE (THE INTERPRETATION OF AN EARLY h a d i t h By M. J. KISTER THE WELL KNOWN TRADITION in al-bukhari, told on the authority of a l z u h r i u r w a a aisha , aisha the conversation between the Prophet and Khadija after he received his first revelation1 contains at the end a phrase variously interpreted by Muslim scholars and translated in modern times in various manners. The contents of the hadith are as follows: After the Prophet had heard the call to prophecy, he came to Khadija with a trembling heart, asking her to cover him. He informed her about his experience and told her of his anxiety for himself. Khadlja encouraged him and assured him, that God would not disgrace him because of his good qualities. N a y by G o d she said, G o d will never disgrace you; you do good unto the kindred, bear the burden of the infirm, bestow alms on the poor, entertain the g u e s t The last phrase of this hadith is: wtuinua l a nananawaibi-haqqin attempt is here made to elucidate the meaning of this obscure phrase, and the problem of the originality of the hadith is briefly discussed. I To start with, there are two interesting variants of this phrase. Al-Maqrizi's version is: wa tuinu a , 2 tuinu hala agnawaibi the l dahrirtunes of time, whereas Ibn Kathir quotes a version nawaibul khairi and interprets it: I f a misfortune befalls some body in a righteous case (idha waqaatnaibatun li ahadin fi khairin), you extend your help and aid him till he finds means of living or sustenance." a l - q a s t a l l a n i i does not quote the version tuinu ala nawaibi l-khairi but interprets the saying in a corresponding manner by giving to the word haqq a meaning similar to that of khair: n n a w a i b means vicissitudes h a w a d i t h she (i.e. Khadija) sainawaibuu l-haqqi because vicissitudes affect the righteous and unrighteous (/i-annahd takimu fi l-haqqi w a l - b a t i l i Labld said: nawaibu min khairin wa-sharrin kilkilahumaa l a '1-khairu mmamdudunn al-qastallanithus contrasts haqq with bdtil; the phrase according to him would mean: you help in vicissitudes. of a righteous case (as opposed to batil an unrighteous one). The verse of Labld, quoted as shahid, does not, however, confirm this interpretation. Labid wanted to say: Vicissitudes of good and evil both (exist), the good is not prolonged, nor the evil lasting-and not vicissitudes in a good or an evil c a u s e La bid's verse can be compared with the one by al-Niibigha al-dhubyani. 5 Wa-ld yabsabiina '1-khaira la sharra badahu: Wa-/d yahsabuna'lÂ·sharra darbata lazibi wa la '1-sharru l a z i b u u 1 Al-Bukhilri: sahih Bab kaifa kana bad'u 1-wabyi, I, 3 (ed. Cairo, A.H. 1286); Muslim: sahih I, 97 (ed. Cairo, A.H. 1334); comp.: Ibn s a d tabaqat I, 195 (ed. Beirut, 1960); al-bakadhuri: ansabbal-ashraf I, 106 (ed. M. h a m i b u l l a h Abil nuaim: d a l a i l al-nubuwwa, p. 68 (ed. Hyderabad A.H. 1320); ai-Slra al-halabiyya, I, 277 (ed. Cairo, A.H. 1351). i m i aal-asma I, 13, inf. (ed. Cairo, 1941). â¢ al-bidaya wa l nihaya III, 7 (ed. Cairo, 1932); and see W. sakakini ummahat al-mmuminin p. 16 (Cairo, n.d.). ' /rshad al-sarl, I, 65 (ed. bulaq A.H. 1323). Dlwiin, p. 12 (ed. m u h Jamal, Beirut, 1929). 28 "GOD WILL NEVER DISGRACE THEE" which conveys the same idea of changes in the conditions of the tribe. The idea of haqq and batil cannot be traced in the verses of either Labid or al-NAbigha. Al- qastallani's interpretation was copied by al-zurqani1 ; al-sira al halabiyya only comments on the word nawaib rendering it hawadith A quite different interpretation of the phrase is given by al kashmiriin his f a i d a l b a r i r i a r i r i i Tu'tuinu alanawaibii-bl haqqi a comprehensive expression for (qualities) mentioned (in this hadith and not mentioned. The banubHhasimgained fame by these features of character. aswaf a n u II Let us turn to the translators: h o u d a s m a r c a i s translate ... "et tu secours les victimes des vicissitues du droit": the words victims of the vicissitudes of right are not, however, found in the text: nawd'ibu '1-baqqi. Sprenger translates 5 : u n d unterstiitzest Leute in unverdientem ungluck," which again can hardly be deduced from the text. Mirza Bashir al-Oin mahmud ahmad's translation reads': a n d you. help those who are in distress," which corresponds to the version of al maqrizi mentioned above. 7 a n unusual rendering is given by W. M. Watt 8 : y o u succour the agents of the t r u t h This translation (although followed by a question mark) is erroneous and was probably caused by confusing nuwwdb with nawd'ib. R. V. C. Bodley's translation': "Hast thou not been loving to thy kinsfolk ... faithful to thy word and ever a defender of the truth" ... merely glosses over the difficulty. III For the elucidation of the phrase under discussion early poetry and prose have to be consulted. A remarkable verse of u r w a b. at-Ward runs as f o l l o w s atahazau minnii an saminta wa-qad tara Bi-jismiya massa11 l-haqqi wa l haqqujahidu The verse is rendered by n o l d e k e "Spottest Du iiber mich dass Du fett geworden. Wlihrend Du an meinen Leibe den Eindruck der pflicht (welche Andern zuerst Nahrung giebt und mir nichts llisst) siehst? Denn die Pfticht greift an." noldeke's rendering is based on the commentary on the words: "Duty is exhausting"; "this means that duties (obligations) come upon him (yatruquhu) and he prefers the fulfilment of duties to his own interest yuthiruh a l a naftihi) and to the interest of his family; he is enduring hunger and drinks cold water. The haqq mentioned means doing good to kindred, bestowing upon the beggar and the kinsman; everybody who practices it is exhausted by it." This meaning of haqq as a social obligation of the noble member of a tribe towards 1 1 sharh al mawahib I, 212-13 (ed. Cairo, A.B. 1325). Op. cit., ib. I, 28-29 (ed. Cairo, 1938). e l b o k h a r i l e straditions islamiques, 3 Die uhn desmohammad I, 333 (Berltn, 1869). Introduction to the Study of the Holy Quran, p. 144 (London, 1949). ' Vide above;; n. 2, p. 27. muhammad at M e c c a (Oxford, 1953). The Messenger, p. 52 (Lahore, 1954). Th. n o l d e k e Die Ge,dichte des 'Urwa b. ai-Ward, p. 41 (Gottingcn, 1863). In h a m a s a shuhuba l haqqi (Freytag, p. 723). Op. cit., p. 78. "GOD WILL NEVER DISGRACE THEE" 29 the poor, the needy and e ~ kinsfolk in the Jdhiliyya is further elucidated by the response of Qays b. Zuhayr, quoted by al-bakri l a tashtumanni ya bna wardinfa-ininnan it a u d ala malil huququ '1-'awd'idu Fa-man yuthiri l haqqa l n n a u b a a takun bihi k h u s a s a t u ujismin wa-hwa tayyanumajidu d o not revile me, o son of Ward for o b l i g a t i o n s which come up again and again are turning upon my property; and whoever prefers to fulfil the recurring obligation, his body will turn hollow shaped; he is hungry b u t n o b l e We have here the expression al haqqual naubu t h e recurring obligation" which explains the phrase of the hadith The same expression is found in a verse of muawiya b. m a l i k the m u a w w i d u l h u k a m a he gained his sobriquet by this verse3 : U'awwidu mithlahd l hukamaaa ba'di: Idhd md '1-baqqufl '1-ashyd'i naba accustom the wise men after me to do the like Whenever obligations come upon the tribal groups" a l a n b a r i gives a pertinent explanation of the word haqq as understood by the Beduins, in which obligations like paying the bloodwit for men, who have no means to pay it, and entertaining guests are included. The translation of haqqby Lyall as "just claims" seems not to be justified. A similar explanation of haqq by al-Anbiiri is found in this commentary on the verse mufaddaliyyat IV, 9, where a herd is described which has been diminished by changes of time and fulfilment of social obligations. muawiya b. malik mentions the idea of recurring obligations in another verse': qala qalatybatu qad ghawaita /i-an r a a t /faqqan yundwibu mdlana wa mufudu "Zunayba said: you err, as she saw that obligations keep recurring upon our property, and deputations (asking our help)" An anonymous verse 5 conveys the same idea of the obligations of a noble man: Wa-ld arbau '1-md/a min bubbihi, wa-ld li-1-fikhdri wa-ld li-1bakhal Wa-ldkin li haqqin idhd nabani, wa-ikramidayfin idhd m a nazal i do not care for property for the love of it or for the sake of boasting, or because of avarice; but only for fulfilling obligations when they come upon me, and to honour a guest should he alight." simt a l l a a l i p. 822 (ed. ai-Maimani). a l q a l i a m a l i II, 204: al naduba (ed. a l m a i m a n i mufaddaliyyat CV, IS (ed. Lyall); ai-Bakri: s i m t 190 (ldhiJ mudilu l hadathani n a b a Ibn h a b i b alqabu '1-shu'arlJ, NawlJdlr al-makhtutlJt, VII, 313 (ed. 'Abd al salam h a r u n a b u Zaid: NawlJdlr, p. 148 (ed. al shartuni Beirut, 1894). 1 I, 68-T. 'A. "GOD WILL NEVER DISGRACE THEE" An Umayyad poet, Shabib b. al barsa uses the expression in a reverse order1 : wa ahbisu fi l haqqi '1-karimata, innama yaqumu bihaqqi'1-nd'ibdti saburuha "And I reserve for obligations the valuable (property); for it is only he who endures that can fulfil the duty of recurring obligations" The same poet mentions this idea in another v e r s e wa li l haqqi min mtili idhd huwa dafani nasibun wa-li-1-nafsi '1-sha'd'i nasibu wa la khayra fiman lti yuwattinu naftahu a l a naibati'1-dahri hina tamibu "A share of my property is for an obligation should it come to me; and a share for the unsettled soul. And no good is in a man who cannot train himself to bear the misfortunes of time when they come (upon him)" The word haqq is joined by another verb (alamma) in a verse the mukhadram poet 'Amr b. al-Ahtam8 : Wa-1-badhlu min. mu'dimiha in alamma bihd haqqun wa-ld yashtakinaman yanadiha "And its poor (of the tribe) give freely when an obligation draws near, and he who calls on them (for help) does not complain of them." In another poem by 'Amr' obligations are mentioned together with misfortunes6 : Wa-inni karimun dhu 'iydlin tuhimmuni Nawa'ibu yaghshti ruz'uhd wa haququ "I am a noble man, with a: household to look after; I take care of misfortunes (entailing) losses, and of obligations." The translation by Lyall of huquq as: "calls for brotherly help" seems to be inaccurate. Poets sometimes boast that the noble men of their tribe fulfil their social obligations towards the poor and the needy, holding lightly their property in their generosity. Rabl'a b. Maqriim, one of the warriors and poets of Qabba, saysâ¢: Yuhiniina fi l haqqi amwalahum idha '1-lazibdtu iltahayna '1-musima "They hold lightly their property in fulfilment of their obligations; when barren years wear away the (herds) of the owner of the cattle." Lyall translates: "claims on them." The commentary of al-Anbiiri repeats the explanation of h a q q quoted above as including 1 â¢ mufaddaliyyat Comp. op. cit., aghani (3rd ed.), 12, 275. AI-Amidi: al-Mu'ta/1/, p. 68 (ed. Krenkow). Ibn al-Shajarl, hamasa p. SO (ed. Krenkow). 9, mentioned above. 6. mufaddaliyyat 26; T. 'A., I, comp. the verse of Miskin a l d a r i m i wa in haqqun araniahantuha al-'Askarf: DlwiJn al maani I, 29 (ed. A.H. 1352). "GOD WILL NEVER DISGRACE THEE" 31 the expenditure in order to help in cases of bloodwit, bestowing camels, and entertaining guests. The Umayyad Ibn Rumma says1 : Wa-innd lakhushnrm fi '1-liqd'i a'izzatun wa fi l haqqi waddahuna bidun qalamisu "We are harsh and mighty in battle, and in fulfilling obligations bright, shining and generous." In all these cases haqq means obligation, duty. The verbs attached s u c has 'ard, alamma, taraqa, a d a d a f a n a z a l a denote the appearing of the obligation, and are synonymous with n a b a mentioned in the hadith of 'A'isha. It is clear, then, that the phrase Nawd'ibu l haqq like 'awdi'du l haqq means cases of obligations coming upon the tribe, or the community. The expression t u i n u a l a nawd'ibi l h a q q i is a Jdhiliyya term used in praise of tribe and its leaders and was adopted in Islam. It can now be seen that the commentators and translators did not grasp its correct meaning. It may beÂ· remarked, that the qualities enumerated by Khadija in the tradition discussed here are not attributed to the Prophet alone; we find a similar tradition also about Abu Bakr. When the leader of the a h a b i s h Ibn al-Dughunna met Abii Bakr, who was intending to leave Mecca, he laid stress on his behaviour in his clan and mentioned his qualities. He said3 : "You are tlie splendour of your people, you help them (to overcome) the misfortunes (tu'Inu a l a '1-nawii'ibi), you act righteously, you bestow upon the poor. Return ... etc." There is however another version of this story; and it is striking to find that the text is almost identical to the hadith of 'A'isha discussed here. This version is recorded by al bukhari on the authority of alzuhrii-'urwa-'Aaisha Ibn al-Dughunna says addressing Abu Bakr: ."A man like you should not be driven out. You bestow on the poor, you do good to your kindred, you bear the burden (of the poor, forlorn or needy), you entertain the guest, you help in the fulfilment of obligations (tu'lnu a l a nawii'ibi l h a q q i I am your protector. Return etc The similarity of the hadith about the conversation between Khadija and the Prophet, and the story of the conversation between Ibn al-Dughunna and Abii Bakr in the version of al-Bukhari, suggests that this kind of address was a coined formula of praise, current at that period. We find for instance a description of h a s h i m written in a similar style. Many other descriptions of noble men of the Jdhiliyya emphasize exactly these qualities. In later times, even a mawla could be addressed in the same way. When Jarir came with a group of yarbuites asking the help of Fayriiz h u s a y n (a mawla of Tamim) because the people were driven away by drought, he said: "you are the splendour of the people, you help (to overcome) the misfortune (tu'inu 'aid '1-nd'ibati), you bear the burden (of the Ibn ai-Shajari: h a m a s a p. S4. Comp. al baladhuri a n s a b MS. 102Sa: wa./iJ yadfa'u l haqqa idhiJ nazala bihi. Ibn h i s h a m s i r a II, 12; and see Suhaili: al raud ai-Unuf. I, 231 (ed. Cairo, 1917). $ablb, II, 268; and see: Al-Dhahabi: Ta'rlkh, I, 190; Ibn Kathir: ai-BidiJya, III, 173. It is obvious, that the mention of these qualities is more relevant in the case of Abil Bakr; here his social activity is rightly stressed. 1 wa kana yahmilubna '1-sablll wa-yuaddl'l-haqaiqa . .. al zurqani sharh ai-Mmawahib l, 73. 1 32 "GOD WILL NBVE& DISGRACE THBB" needy and the poor)." 1 fayruz handed over 1,000 dirhems to Jarir. Here the praise used in honour of the Prophet and Abu Bakr is applied to a mawla In conclusion it may be said, that the phrase tu'inu a l a nawaibi l h a q q i is closely connected with the jahiliyya social ideal about the fulfilment of duties towards the poor and the needy and it tallies well in the hadith about the Prophet with the other qualities mentioned in it. The phrase has to be translated: "and thou helpest in cases of recurring obligations." The hadith on the conversation between the Prophet and Khadija shows a striking similarity to the tradition about the conversation between AbU Bakr and Ibn ai-Dughunna; this seems to suggest that weÂ· have here a current panegyrical formula. Al-Baliidhurl: a n s a b MS. 1012b.