The use of Majaz in the Sunnah by Shaykh Juma Mazrui

“So We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his people to articulate for them, and Allah sends astray [thereby] whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Qur’an 14:4)

Shaykh Juma Mazrui (hafidullah) began his topic about the use of Majaz in the sunnah by giving us a recap of the previous lesson.  

He mentioned some more examples from the Qur’an which I will now proceed to quote here:

“So do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.” (Qur’an 17:29 Sahih international translation)

“And do not set up your hand shackled to your neck, (i.e., Do not be niggardly) nor outspread it widespread altogether, (Literally: outspread it all outspreading, i.e., do not be a spendthrift) for then you will sit blamed and regretfully rejected.” (Qur’an 17:29 Dr. Ghali translation)

This is another beautiful example of majaz, of metaphor in the Qur’an.  In fact if one was to take the literal interpretation of this verse, where exactly would this half-way point between tying one’s hand to one’s neck and extending it fully?   Would that look like?

So what the verse is saying, it using hand as a metaphor for that which gives, or distributes.  That one should not be stingy, nor should one be a spendthrift.  That we should be balanced in our approach to spending.

“Of them some seem to give heed to you; will you, then, make the deaf hear even though they understand nothing? And of them some look towards you; will you, then, guide the blind, even though they can see nothing?” (Qur’an 10:41-42)

Obviously it means those who are spiritually blind. The eyes are used as a metaphor for the ability to perceive, understand and be open to something.

“Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason.” (Qur’an 8:22)

Yet Allah (swt) who created people in such a condition and than blames them for this? So it cannot mean what the apparent text says.

“They will say, “Indeed, you used to come at us from the right hand.” (Qur’an 37:28)

Look at how various translators have tried to deal with the above text!

https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/37/28/

Here the right hand is used as a metaphor, majaz which means to approach, admonish strongly.

So than moving to the ahadith, contrary to what people today tell us that the Salaaf, the Blessed Messenger (saw) and his companions took everything from their outward meaning on the contrary they understood the use of majaz in their language.

The use of Majaz in the Sunnah.

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

“Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Pride is my cloak (upper garment) and greatness My robe (waist wrapper), and he who competes with Me in respect of either of them I shall cast into Hell-fire. It was related by Abu Dawud (also by Ibn Majah and Ahmad) with sound chains of authority. This Hadith also appears in Muslim in another version.”

Source: (Hadith 19, 40 Hadith Qudsi)

Are we to believe that Allah (swt) has an upper garment and a waist wrapper?

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

“Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Whoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his ears with which he hears, his eyes with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.”

Source: (Hadith 25, 40 Hadith Qudsi)

Are we to believe that Allah (swt) becomes the ear of the person? The eyes of the person? The hand and the foot of the person?

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

Allah (swt) will say on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: My servant So-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would have surely found that with Me.”

Source: (Hadith 18, 40 Hadith Qudsi)

It is clear that Allah (swt) ascribes acts to himself which he does not actually do, such as falling ill, and asking for that which is apparent that he does not need such as food and drink.

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar reported:

The Messenger of Allah, (saw), said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand. The upper hand is one that gives and the lower hand is one that takes.

Source: (Sahih al-Bukhārī 1429, Sahih Muslim 1033)

The hadith itself while using hand as a metaphor explains the meaning.  Thus the word hand is not used as an apparent real attribute of a person.

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who said that the Prophet (saw) said:

“Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a cubit, and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him trotting.”

Source: ( Hadith 15, 40 Hadith Qudsi)

Our Shaykh Juma Mazrui reminded us that unfortunately there are among those who take such statements upon their literal important and thus their teacher, Shaykh Al Uthaymeen has advocated for the ‘jogging of Allah’ as a real action and quality that Allah (swt) does. ‘Jogging but unlike our jogging’.

This hadith also poses other problems if taken upon face value.

If a person draws to Allah (swt) be an arms length, than Allah (swt) draws to that person by a cubit.  

If that person draws near by a cubit than Allah (swt) will draw near to them by a fathom.

It gives the impression that the opposite can be true in that a person can eventually go so far away from Allah (swt), that Allah (swt) would be out of reach, so to speak.

“When My slaves ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about Me: I am truly near. I respond to one’s prayer when they call upon Me. So let them respond ˹with obedience˺ to Me and believe in Me, perhaps they will be guided ˹to the Right Way˺. (Qur’an 2:186)

Insh’Allah, the third lesson will be this week.   Hopefully what has passed from our respected teacher is more than sufficient to dispel the myth that the Blessed Messenger (saw), his companions, the Salaaf did not understand the Arabic language nor did they employ the use of majaz.

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