Some Sufis use a hadeeth in Musnad Ahmad to justify their dancing and whirling around to their Sufi music as an act of worship.
The hadeeth is in Musnad Ahmad, no. 860. and it was narrated by Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: “I visited the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), along with Ja‘far and Zayd ibn Haarithah.
The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to Zayd, “You are my friend (mawla),” and Zayd began to jump and hop on one foot around the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).
Then he said to Ja‘far, “As for you, you resemble me physically and in character.” And Ja‘far began to do likewise.
Then he said to me (Ali), “You are of me and I am of you.” And he started to jump behind Ja‘far.”
The Sufis claim that Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (the one they wrongly rebuke, lie upon and unjustly attack) and others stated that this hadeeth is saheeh (authentic).
So from their claim two issues arise, the first issue is does the previously mentioned hadeeth (if authentic) justify the Sufi dancing and whirling as an act of worship?
The second issue is, is this hadeeth really saheeh (authentic)?
Regarding the first issue:
Imam Al-Bayhaqi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “If it is saheeh (it) – indicates that it is permissible to hop, which means lifting up one foot and jumping on the other, out of joy. Dancing that is similar in nature is similarly permissible. And Allah knows best
” Ref: As-Sunan al-Kubra, by al-Bayhaqi, 10/226
Imam Ibn Hajar said, “…Even if we assume that they (the previously mentioned hadeeth and other similar narrations) are saheeh, they cannot be regarded as evidence (for Sufi dancing and whirling), because what is forbidden is dancing in which there is swaying and twisting, and this is not like that (because these narrations indicate hoping on one leg is permissible and not whirling or dancing).” Ref: Kaff ar-Ra‘aa‘ ‘an Muharramaat al-Lahw wa’s-Samaa‘, 75.
In regards to the second issue:
One of its narrators is unknown, namely Haani’ ibn Haani’.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “He was mentioned by Ibn Sa‘d in the first generation of the people of Kufah. He said: He was a Shi‘i.
Ibn al-Madeeni said: He is unknown.
Harmalah said, narrating from ash-Shaafa‘i: Haani’ ibn Haani’ is not known, and the hadeeth scholars do not regard his hadeeth as sound because his status is unknown.” Ref: Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, 11/22
Additionally in the chain of narration appears Abu Ishaaq as-Subay‘i who deliberately use to use ambiguous words in his narrations, in order to mislead (tadlees).
Abu Sa‘eed al-‘Alaa’i (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “‘Amr ibn ‘Abdullah as-Subay‘i, Abu Ishaaq, is well known by his kunyah; we have stated previously that he often deliberately used ambiguous words in order to mislead (tadlees).” Ref: Jaami‘ at-Tahseel fi Ahkaam al-Maraseel, p. 245
The hadeeth was classed as da‘eef (weak) by the commentators on Musnad al-Imam Ahmad, 2/213, 214. They said, “Its isnaad (chain of narration) is da‘eef; we have stated previously that Haani’ ibn Haani’ and others like him cannot be accepted when they narrate hadeeths tha are not narrated by others. The word “hop” in the hadeeth is objectionable and odd.”
Conculsion: The hadeeth if saheeh only proves it is halaal to hop on one leg out of joy and happiness. It in no way indicates it is halaal to dance or whirl around as an act of worship like Sufis do.
However as the hadeeth is weak due to the presence of two weak narrators in the issnad (chain of narration), this hadeeth can’t be used as proof for an act of worship especially not Sufi dancing and whirling.
Also the term ‘hop’ in the hadeeth is questionable as it is odd.
The scholars of the Standing Committee have spoken about remembering Allah whilst swaying right and left in a trance, reciting in unison and out loud.
They said, “That is not permissible, because it is done in an innovated fashion. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said “Whoever introduces into this matter of ours anything that is not part of it will have it rejected.” Ref: Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah, 2/529
Posted and put together, with some wording by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie
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