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True Ubūdiyyah - Choice of our Prophet sallalaahu alayhi wa sallam by al-Ḥāfiẓ ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī

Taken from

 This is an excerpt from the last chapter of Ibn Rajab's [1] famous book: al-Khushūʿ fī-al-Ṣalāt. Here, he deals with the status of a slave-messenger which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) actually selected for himself when given the choice. The chapter expounds upon the nobility of such a choice and the reasons behind it. 

Do not over-praise me as the Christians over-praised ʿĪsá, son of Maryam. Indeed, I am only a slave. So call me the Slave of Allāh and His Messenger.
Related in al-Bukhārī 6/345

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) chose the station of al-’ubūdīyyah (slavery and servitude) over and above the station of kingship. Once - on the day of the conquest of Makkah - a man stood-up (out of reverence) for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), who, being shocked, said to him, “Do not trouble yourself! Indeed, I am not a king. Rather, I am merely the son of a Qurayshee woman who eats dry meat.” [2]

It has also been authentically reported from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said, “Do not over praise me as the Christians over-praised ’ʿĪsá, son of Maryam. Indeed, I am only a slave. So call me the Slave of Allāh and His Messenger.” [3]

Imām Aḥmad (d.241H) - raḥimahullāhu ta’aʿalá - reports from Muḥammad Ibn Fuḍayl, from ’Ammaarah, from Abū Zur’ah who said: I do not know this except from Abū Hurayrah - raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu - who said: Jibrīl was sitting with the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) looking towards the sky, when he saw an angel. So Jibrīl - ʿalayhi al-Salām - said to him: Indeed, this angel has never descended before today. So when the angel had descended, he said: O Muḥammad! I have been sent by your Lord (to inquire) whether He should make you a Prophet-King or a Slave-Messenger. [4]

And in a mursal narration from Yahyá Ibn Kathīr - raḥimahullāh that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, “I eat as a slave eats, and I sit as a slave sits. Since indeed I am a slave.” [5] This has been related by Ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqaat.

There is also a narration related by Abū Ma’dhr from al-Maqburee from ’Aa‘ishah - raḍī Allāhu ’anhaa - that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, “An angel came to me and said: Allāh sends blessings upon you and says: If you wish you may be a Prophet-King or a Slave-Messenger. So Jibreel - ʿalayhi al-Salām - indicated to me that I should humble myself: So I said: A Prophet-Slave.” So ’Aa‘ishah said: So after that day, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) never ate whilst reclining, saying, “I eat like a slave eats and I sit like a slave sits.” [6]

And from the mursal narrations of az-Zuhree - raḥimahullāhu ta’aʿalá - who said: we were informed that an angel came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), who had never come to him before. Accompanying him was Jibrīl - ʿalayhi al-Salām. So the angel spoke, and Jibrīl - ʿalayhi al-Salām - remained silent, so he said: Your Lord inquires whether you wish to be a king or a Prophet-Slave. So the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) looked towards Jibrīl - ʿalayhi al-Salām - as if he was seeking his advice. So Jibrīl indicated that he should be humble. So Allāh’s Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said, “A Prophet-Slave.” Al-Zuhrī said: So it is said that from that day onwards, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) never ate whilst reclining, until he departed from this world. [7]

Some of the knowledgeable people have said: Whoever claims al-ʿubūdiyyah (slavery and servitude to Allāh), but desires still remain with him, then he is lying in his claim. Indeed, al-ʿubūdiyyah will only be true for the one who annihilates his desires and establishes the will of his Master, where his name is what He called him (i.e. ’ibaadur-Raḥmān: the Slaves of the Most Merciful).


[1] He is the Imām, the ḥāfiẓ, the zāhid (abstainer from this world), the admonisher Abū al-Faraj ’Abdur-Raḥmān Ibn Aḥmad Rajab as-Salamee better known as Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalee. Ibn Fahd said about him, “The Imām, the ḥāfiẓ, the hujjah (proof), the knowledgeable Scholar, the dependable one. He was one of the Scholars who shunned the world, and one of the Imāms and worshippers. He was an instructive Scholar from the Scholars of Ḥadīth - and an admonisher of the Muslims.”

For a complete biography, refer to: Inbaa‘ul-Ghamr bi Anbaa‘il-ʿUmar (3/175-176) and al-Durarul-Kaaminah (2/321-322) of Ibn Hajr, Dhayl Tabaqaatul-Huffaadh (p.532) of as-Suyootee and Luhdhul-Labaadh (p.180-182) of Ibn Fahd al-Makkee. This article has been taken from the last chapter of his book: al-Khushoo’ fis-al-Ṣalāh (p. 57-62).

[2] Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqaat (1/23) in mursal form. However, it has been related in connected form by Ibn Mājah (no. 3312) and al-Ḥākim (3/47) from Abū Masʿūd raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhu. Shaykh al-Albānī authenticated it in al-Ṣaḥihah (no. 1876).

[3] Related by al-Bukhārī (6/345), al-Dārimī (2/320) and others, from ʿUmar Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu.

[4] Related by Aḥmad (2/321), al-Bazzaar (no. 4262) and al-Haythamī in al-Majma’ (9/18-19) where he said, “It has been narrated by Aḥmad, al-Bazzaar and Abū Ya’lā, and its initial narrators are all the narrators of as-Ṣaḥīḥ.”

[5] Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqaat (1/371) and Shaykh al-Albānī authenticated it in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ (no. 8). Refer also to Takhreejul-Iḥyā‘ (2/4) of al-Ḥāfiẓ al-’ʿIrāqee.

[6] Ḥasan: Related by al-Baghawī in Sharḥ al-Sunnah (no. 4683) and Abūsh-Shaykh in Akhlāqun-Nabī (no. 213), and al-Haythamī authenticated it in al-Majma’ (9/19).

[7] Although this is a mursal narration, it does however, have support from those narrations that have already preceded, and it has a further witness from the narration of Ibn ʿAbbās - which is related by al-Baghawī (no. 3684) and Abūsh-Shaykh (no. 213-214).

Last modified onSaturday, 15 July 2017 17:30
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