Question:

A Shia person showed me the following Hadith:

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 111

Narrated Aisha:

The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good righteous (true) dreams in his sleep. He never had a dream but that it came true like bright day light. He used to go in seclusion (the cave of) Hira where he used to worship (Allah Alone) continuously for many (days) nights. He used to take with him the journey food for that (stay) and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food like-wise again for another period to stay, till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him in it and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” (The Prophet added), “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and again asked me to read, and I replied, “I do not know how to read,” whereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and asked me again to read, but again I replied, “I do not know how to read (or, what shall I read?).” Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me and then released me and said, “Read: In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). Has created man from a clot. Read and Your Lord is Most Generous…up to….. ..that which he knew not.” (96.15)

Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration, his neck muscles twitching with terror till he entered upon Khadija and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and then he said, “O Khadija, what is wrong with me?” Then he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija said, “Never! But have the glad tidings, for by Allah, Allah will never disgrace you as you keep good reactions with your Kith and kin, speak the truth, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guest generously and assist the deserving, calamity-afflicted ones.” Khadija then accompanied him to (her cousin) Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin Qusai. Waraqa was the son of her paternal uncle, i.e., her father’s brother, who during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the Arabic writing and used to write of the Gospels in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to him, “O my cousin! Listen to the story of your nephew.” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” The Prophet described whatever he had seen.

Waraqa said, “This is the same Namus (i.e., Gabriel, the Angel who keeps the secrets) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they turn me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said: “Never did a man come with something similar to what you have brought but was treated with hostility. If I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while and the Prophet became so sad as we have heard that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Apostle in truth” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and would return home. And whenever the period of the coming of the inspiration used to become long, he would do as before, but when he used to reach the top of a mountain, Gabriel would appear before him and say to him what he had said before.

Rayat says

“ [This Hadith is] shocking. According to this narration, the Prophet Mohammed was suicidal, and we seek refuge in Allah (عز و جل) from such blasphemy

How do we respond to this?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

To the Sunnis, there are six books of Hadith which are referred to as the “as-Sihah as-Sittah” which translates to the “six authentic books.” However, this does not mean that each and every single one of these books is 100% accurate to the Sunnis. For example, Sunan al-Tirmidhi is part of as-Sihah as-Sittah, but it is not considered 100% Sahih. In other words, yes Sunan al-Tirmidhi is referred to as part of as-Sihah as-Sittah but this is merely Islamic parlance. Likewise, with the Sahihayn (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim), then it should be known that not every single letter in them is Sahih. Yes, they are referred to as “100% Sahih” in Islamic parlance, but by this the scholars do not mean that every single letter is authentic.

To give another example of how Islamic parlance can get a bit confusing: we hear many Sunni scholars saying that the Prophet was “infallible.” However, when a Sunni says that the Prophet was “infallible”, he does not mean this in the same manner that a Shia does. A Sunni means that the Prophet was infallible when it comes to delivering the message, not that the Prophet was infallible when it comes to agriculture, or to mathematics, or other things! So we see that in Islamic parlance, a Sunni will say that the Prophet was “100% infallible”, but in reality this does not mean that the Prophet was 100% infallible in all aspects. Likewise, when a Sunni scholar says that Sahih Bukhari is 100% Sahih, then this does not mean that it is 100% Sahih in all aspects.

For a non-scholar, this ambiguity in terminology is a bit confusing, but this is something that is well-known amongst the scholars and there is no doubt in it. Shaykh GF Haddad said:

This conclusion [that Bukhari is 100% Sahih] excludes the chainless, broken-chained reports, or unattributed reports sometimes adduced by al-Bukhari in his chapter-titles or appended to certain narrations. An example of the latter is the so-called “suicide hadith” — one of al-Zuhri’s unattributive narrations (balaghat) which is actually broken-chained and therefore weak. It does not meet the criteria of hadith authenticity used by the lesser and greater hadith Masters, much less that of al-Bukhari who mentioned it only to show its discrepancy with two other chains whose versions omit the attempted suicide story, and Allah knows best.

The above conclusion is proof that the position that everything that is found in the two Sahihs is rigorously sound refers only to full-chained reports positively attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.

(source: Shaykh GF Haddad, http://www.livingislam.org/k/whb_e.html)

If we look at the Hadith in question, it says:

…the Prophet became so sad as we have heard (fi ma balaghana) that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains…

The narrator says “fi ma balaghana” which translates to “as we have heard”; a better translation is actually “from what has reached us.”

Dr. SHM Jaffri, the renowned Shia author and lecturer, said:

The phrase “fi ma balaghani” was used by the Seerah authors to denote a degree of doubt. To denote an even higher degree of doubt, they would use the term “za’ama” (he alleged).

(Dr. SHM Jaffri, Islamic Pakistan Studies, Lecture 2)

Alfred Guillaume, the translator of Ibn Ishaq’s “Seerah Rasool-Allah”, writes:

A word that very frequently precedes a statement is za’ama or za’amu, ‘he (they) alleged’. It carries with it more than a hint that the statement may not be true, though on the other hand it may be sound…Another indication of reserve if not skepticism underlies the expression fi ma dhukira li, as in the story of the jinn who listened to Muhammad as he prayed…An expression of similar import is fi ma balaghani.

(source: The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Seerah Rasool-Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. xix)

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari that because this phrase “fi ma balaghana” was used in the Hadith, that we do not take that part to be authentic. This phrase “fi ma balaghana” (from what has reached us) is well-known amongst scholars of Hadith and Seerah: a narrator would use this phrase when there was some doubt in what he was narrating; it is classified as hearsay only. In other words, the narrator simply heard it and he himself does not say whether it is true or not. For example, we can say: “From what has reached us, Iceland is cold.” We ourselves have never been to Iceland but others have told us that it is cold; this may or may not be true, and it depends on the truthfulness of he who narrated it to us. The phrase “fi ma balaghana” is used as a disclaimer by the narrator, whereby he seeks to distance himself from the statement and take no responsibility as to its authenticity.

The narration is Sahih in the sense that it is true that the narrator did in fact hear that from others; but it might not be Sahih from the angle that despite him hearing it, we don’t know if who he heard it from was saying something accurate or not. As such, Imam Bukhari made no mistake when he included this addition, because this is really what the narrator did hear. But because it is hearsay, we do not necessarily accept the actual content. What is Sahih is that this information reached the narrator (fi ma balaghana); wether what reached was Sahih or not, that is a differen story.

The inclusion of “fi ma balaghana”–and the addition of the Prophet attempting to throw himself off the mountain–are from the mouth of Zuhri, not Aisha. Zuhri was one of the narrators of the Hadith. If we look at the Isnad of the Hadith, it reads as follows:

Az-Zuhri said: “Urwah told me on the authority of Aisha…”

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar explained in Fath al-Bari that this means that the addition of “fi ma balaghana” was an addition to the narration and it would be referred to as “Balaghaat az-Zuhri” only; Zuhri added it to Aisha’s narration based on what he had heard from other sources. Such an addition is considered Dhaeef (weak) because of the large gap between Zuhri and Aisha. Furthermore, this story is found in other sources but without Zuhri’s addition. Zuhri’s narration is graded as Mursal; Mursal means that the chain is “hurried” and incomplete, so we are in doubt of its authenticity. Everything Mursal by az-Zuhri is considered Dhaeef (weak) by the scholars of Hadith. Imam Yahya ibn Saeed al-Qattaan said: “Mursal az-Zuhri is worse than the Mursal of any other!”

It should be noted that if we read the entire Hadith from beginning to end, we will not find any other place where the phrase “fi ma balaghana” (from what has reached us)–or a similar wording of doubt–is used. These are the words of the narrator, not of Aisha. They denote a level of skepticism at that part of the narration. Az-Zuhri heard it but did not affirm its authenticity or lack thereof; he merely reported it as hearsay. The fact that Zuhri specifically mentioned it at this particular place shows that this addition was of a different value than the rest of the narration.

What is most likely is that this is one of the legends attributed to the Prophet. The masses attributed these legends to great events in history. To give an example dear to the Shia, we refer the reader to the event of Karbala which took on legendary attributes in the Shia mind. Ibn Katheer said:

“Al-Tabarani mentioned in this chapter very strange reports indeed and the Shia went overboard concerning the day of Ashoora, forging many hadiths that are gross lies such as the sun being eclipsed on that day until the stars appeared, no stone was lifted except blood was seen under it, the celestial region became red, the sun and its rays seemed like blood, the sky seemed like a blood clot, the stars were hurling against one another, the sky rained red blood, there was never redness in the sky before that day, and the like… among other lies and forgeries of which not one report is sound.”

(source: al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, 8:201-202)

These types of phrases–such as the “sun being eclipsed”, “no stone was lifted except blood was seen”, and the “stars were hurling against one another”–are all examples of a real event taking on a legendary aspect. Likewise, the Prophet was indeed worried at the start of his mission, but the phrase “throw himself from the tops of high mountains” is part of the legendary lore. The commoners adored Imam Husayn and so they attributed these legends to him; likewise, the people adored the Prophet and so they too attributed legends to him. The Shia professor Dr. SHM Jaffri said:

It became difficult to differentiate between Muhammad the man and Muhammad the legend. But even the legends have importance insomuch as they give us insight as to what was going on in the minds of the people at that time. Therefore, modern historians do not doubt the historicity of such legends in determining the popular culture and folklore at the time if not the actual veracity of said event…

(Dr. SHM Jaffri, Islamic Pakistan Studies, Lecture 2)

Today, many Muslims tell their children stories about the Prophet before putting them to bed. Likewise, back then the people used to tell stories about the Prophet and unfortunately the commoners are not careful about accuracy and are known to exaggerate. This can be seen even today: many people from the Indian subcontinent, for example, are known to narrate stories without care for authenticity. This problem is prevalent on the internet as well, and we all have seen the email about the legend of how some janitor in Mecca had a dream, etc etc.

In other words, what Zuhri narrated was simply what had reached him and he indicated that there was doubt about its authenticity, indicated by the words “fi ma balaghana”. The Hadith is Sahih in the sense that Zuhri did in fact hear it from the people (and so–as Dr. SHM Jaffir says–it gives us insight in the thinking of the people), but it is not Sahih in the sense that what the people were saying may simply have been a thing of legends.

Shia says

“ Even if you say it is a legend, then why did Sunnis narrate a legend which is offensive to the Prophet?! How can you narrate a legend that says the Prophet tried to commit suicide which is a grave sin????

We disregard the addition of Zuhri because of the weakness of its narration; the usage of “fi ma balaghana”, the grading of Mursal, and the reliability of Mursal narrations via az-Zuhri–these are all factors which force us to grade this addition as being Dhaeef (weak). This addition is graded as Dhaeef based on its Isnad (chain of transmission), not its Matn (content). In fact, the Matn (content) is not “blasphemous” as the Shia claim. If it is, then we ask: how is it blasphemous?

Rayat says

“ suicide is a terrible deed [i.e. sin]

This event took place at the very beginning of the Prophet’s mission, right when he was appointed as a Prophet. As such, the Shariah had not yet been expounded. The legend says that the Prophet tried to throw himself off mountains, but this was before suicide was declared as a sin. It was only much later that the Quranic verse (4:29) and the Command from Allah condemning suicide was revealed.

The Shariah was expounded gradually and progressively over the course of many years. In fact, at the start of the Prophetic mission, there were Sahabah who used to drink alcohol. This was not a sin because the legislation prohibiting it had not yet been revealed. It would be totally inappropriate to accuse these Sahabah of sinning when the legislation forbidding it had not been passed as of yet. Another example is that of Purdah; it was not ordained on women in the beginning and so we cannot say that Muslim women were sinning for not observing Purdah. It was only at a later point in time that this was ordained. There was no sin before the action was declared Haram. Likewise, even if we say that the Prophet was attempting suicide, then this was before suicide had been declared Haram and so there is no sin in that.

Shia says

“ Even if suicide had not been declared Haram yet, it is still a deplorable act. Even the Westerners think of suicide as a despicable act and they are not Muslim! It is like murdering children: yes that might not have been definitively declared Haram till much later, but still, would you find it appropriate if we claimed that the Prophet did that in the beginning of his mission before it was declared Haram? Nauzobillah! Suicide is intrinsically evil and the Prophet would have known that. Suicide is very wrong. I don’t think it was ever right in any culture on Earth. It feels wrong at every level.

In fact, this Shia’s analogy (i.e. of murdering a child) is not appropriate at all. This is a matter of impinging on someone else’s rights (i.e. of the child) and therefore all people–regardless of their religion–would admit that it is a wrong thing. However, suicide does not harm anyone else; it does not take away anyone else’s rights. Therefore, it is like comparing apples with oranges.

Having said that, it should interest these Shia to know that there were in fact Sahabah who used to–before the Islamic injunctions forbidding it–engage in female infanticide. And yet today we respect these Sahabah immensely. The point is that no blame can be put on a person before the Shariah declared it Haram. Burying a baby is worse than suicide, and yet we Sunnis do not have much problem with the fact that some upright Sahabah used to engage in that before Islam forbade it.

Furthermore, this Shia polemicist has mentioned that “even Westerners” look down on suicide despite not being Muslim. In fact, the Westerners come from the Judeo-Christian culture; they are descendants of an Abrahamic faith. Allah had declared suicide Haram to the people of Moosa and the people of Eesa. The proof of this is that we can find this prohibition in their religious books. So Westerners look down on suicide because it was something that permeated their culture from their religious beliefs which are originated from the same source as our own.

Suicide is evil because Allah said so, and it is not intrinsically evil, in the sense that if a man were left all to himself on an island since birth, then there is no way he would himself figure out that it was an immoral thing to do. As proof of this, we give the example of many Eastern cultures in which suicide is not looked down upon. In fact, suicide is looked at as an honorable act in Japanese culture. When Samurais were defeated by their enemies, they would often take their own lives as opposed to become prisoners. When Japanese people failed in certain tasks, they then took their own lives to compensate for that; this was an act of devotion and not of desperation. In the Indian culture, a woman is supposed to commit suicide after her husband dies and if she does not do it then she is looked down upon! This is proof that the assertion that “suicide is wrong in every culture” is patently false. Because suicide is one of those sins that does not directly harm others, there is no way that humans could figure out on their own that it is wrong. Allah had to tell us that it was.

Before he was declared a Prophet, Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to engage in Tahannuth atop Mount Hira. Then one day out of nowhere the Arch-Angel Jibraeel descended on him and declared him to be a Prophet. But after this initial revelation, there was then a pause in the revelation. This was a period in which no message was sent to the Prophet by Allah. This interruption or pause in revelation is known in Arabic as “Fatrah”. This is mentioned in the Shia Tafseer of the Quran available on Al-Islam.org:

In the beginning of the ministry of the Holy Prophet there was a short interval during which he received no revelation. The pagans jeered at him as one forsaken by Allah, and slandered and persecuted him as well as those who believed in him

(Pooya/Ali Commentary 93:3, http://www.al-islam.org/quran/)

We read:

Subsiding of the Revelations

Muhammad expected the revelations to guide his path from day to day, but they subsided. Gabriel did not appear for some time, and all around him there was nothing but silence. Muhammad fell into solitude, separated from himself as well as from the people. His old fears recurred. It is told that even Khadijah said to him, “Does it not seem that your Lord is displeased with you?” Dismayed and frightened, he returned to the mountain and the cave of Hira’. There, he prayed for God fervently, seeking assiduously to reach Him. Particularly, he wanted to ask God about the cause of this divine displeasure. Khadijah did not dread these days any less than Muhammad, nor was she any less fearful. Often Muhammad wished to die, but he would again feel the call and the command of his Lord which dispelled such ideas. It was also told that he once thought of throwing himself down from the top of Mount Hira’ or Mount Abu Qubays, thinking what good was this life if his greatest hope therein was to be frustrated and destroyed? Torn between these fears on one hand and despair on the other, revelation came to him after a long interval. The word of God was as clear as it was reassuring:

“By the forenoon, and by the night as it spreads its wings over the world in peace, your Lord has not forsaken you; nor is He displeased with you. Surely, the end shall be better for you than the beginning. Your Lord will soon give you of His bounty and you will be well pleased. Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? Did He not find you erring and guide you to the truth? Did He not find you in want and provide for you? …And as for the favor of your Lord, rehearse and proclaim!” -Quran, 93:1-11

The Call to Truth Alone

Oh, what divine majesty, what peace of mind, what joy of heart and exaltation to the soul! Muhammad’s fears dissolved and his dread was dissipated. He was overjoyed with this fresh evidence of his Lord’s blessing and fell down in worship to God and praise of Him. There was no more reason to fear, as Khadijah had done, that God was displeased with him, and there was no cause for his dread. God had now taken him under His protection and removed from him every doubt and fear. Henceforth there was to be no thought of suicide but only of a life dedicated to calling men unto God and unto God alone.

(source: Hayat Muhammad, Chapter “From the Beginning of Revelation to the Conversion of `Umar”)

The Prophet had become depressed because he thought that he had earned the displeasure of Allah. The Prophet thought that Allah had forsaken him due to some failure on his own part and as such he wished to end his life. So we see that even if we accept the addition that the Prophet wished to commit suicide, then we find that this does not disparage the character of the Prophet, but rather it shows the Prophet could not live with the fact that he had displeased and failed his Lord.

The proof that the Prophet’s worries were due to his fear that he had angered Allah can be found in the Quran itself:

“By the forenoon, and by the night as it spreads its wings over the world in peace, your Lord has not forsaken you; nor is He displeased with you. Surely, the end shall be better for you than the beginning. Your Lord will soon give you of His bounty and you will be well pleased. Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? Did He not find you erring and guide you to the truth? Did He not find you in want and provide for you? …And as for the favor of your Lord, rehearse and proclaim!”

(Quran, 93:1-11)

We have already discussed how suicide was not a sin at that time, and that the suicide legend was not one that disgraces the nature of the Prophet because it was only due to the Prophet’s noble devotion and worry that he had displeased His Lord. But let us now play along with the Shia and forget the fact that suicide had not been declared Haram yet. We find that even if we pretend that suicide was a sin back then, even so the Prophet did not at all commit a sin if the legend was true.

Simply inclining towards a sin is not a sin; in fact, if one inclines towards a sin but refrains from it, then this is counted as one thawab (reward in Paradise). In his book “Minhaj as-Sunnah”, Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah brings up the example of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph). He was being seduced by a very attractive woman named Zulaykha and this story is narrated in the Quran. Allah says in verse 12:24 of the Quran:

wa laqad hammat bihi (and she did desire…)

wa hamma bihā (and he also desired…)

lawlā ‘an ra’á burhāna rabbihi (…had it not been for him seeing the burhan of his Lord)

kadhālika linaşrifa `anhu as-sū’a wa al-faĥshā’a ‘innahu min `ibādinā al-mukhlaşīna (Thus it was, that We might ward off from him evil and lewdness. Lo! he was of Our chosen slaves.)

In the Tafseer of Shafi Uthmani, we read:

In this verse, the word “hamm” (thought, desire, etc.) has been attributed to both Zulaykha and Sayyiduna Yusuf both, as in: wa laqad hammat bihi (and she did desire…) wa hamma bihā (and he also desired…)

Prophet Yusuf’s hamm to commit zinnah (adultery) is similar to any hamm Prophet Muhammad may have supposedly had about committing suicide. As Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah makes clear: we do not say that Prophet Yusuf committed sin when he had that hamm, so why would we attribute sin to the Prophet when he had similar hamm? And we think that zinnah is a worse sin than suicide or at least of a similar nature. So if the hamm of Prophet Yusuf as mentioned in the Quran does not negate the nobility of his Prophethood, then similarly we say that the nobility of the Prophethood of Muhammad ibn Abdullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is not affected even if he did have any hamm to commit suicide.

The Prophet said:

“Allah has forgiven the scruple and thought of sin for my Ummah if not put into practice.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

Therefore, neither Prophet Yusuf nor Prophet Muhammad were given any sin for having the thought because neither of them put it into practice. Allah says:

“…if a servant (of Mine) intends to do a sin, but then does not do it due to the fear of Allah, then write one good deed in his or her book of deeds in lieu of that sin.”

The Quran says: wa hamma bihā (and he also desired…) lawlā ‘an ra’á burhāna rabbihi (…had it not been for him seeing the burhan of his Lord). What does burhan mean? It translates to “miraculous evidence.” The scholars–both Sunni and Shia–are agreed that this is not the same as “daleel” (evidence) but rather this is a miracle from Allah. The burhan that Prophet Yusuf saw at that moment was some miraculous vision. Some say that this burhan was Arch-Angel Jibraeel while others say that it was a vision of Prophet Yaqoob. Ibn Katheer says:

“As for the evidence as to (exactly) what Yusuf saw at that moment, there are conflicting opinions to what it was. Ibn Jarir At-Tabari said: The correct opinion is that we should say that he saw an Ayah from among Allah’s Ayat that repelled the thought that crossed his mind. This evidence might have been the image of Yaqoob (Jacob), or the image of an angel (i.e. Gabriel), or a divine statement that forbade him from doing that evil sin, etc. There are no clear proofs to support any of these statements in specific, so it should be left vague, as Allah left it.

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer)

We read in Tafsir al-Jalalayn provided by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought:

Ibn Abbas said: Yaqoob was made to appear before him (Yusuf), and he struck his (Yusuf’s) breast, whereupon his [sexual] desire withdrew [from his body] through his fingernails…

(Tafseer al-Jalayn)

We read in Tafseer Ibn Abbas:

(She) the woman (verily desired him, and he) Joseph (would have desired her if it had not been that he saw the argument of his lord) if he had not seen that the chastisement of his Lord would befall him; it is also said that this means: if he had not seen the figure of his father; and it is also said that this means: if he had not seen the proof of his Lord. (Thus it was, that We might ward off from him evil and lewdness) adultery. (Lo! he was of Our chosen slaves) who are protected from adultery.

(Tafseer Ibn Abbas)

We have come to the conclusion that Prophet Yusuf had hamm and that hamm was removed by the burhan, which was either the image of Yaqoob, the appearance of the Arch-Angel Jibraeel, or something similar. Is this not the same case as the hamm of Prophet Muhammad which was removed by the appearance of the Arch-Angel Jibraeel? The Hadith reads:

…every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Jibraeel would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Apostle in truth” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and would return home.

(Sahih Bukhari)

The Shia say that we take away the Ismah (infallibility) of the Prophets by accusing him of having this hamm. They say: Allah would prevent the Prophet from such thoughts as committing suicide. We say: did Allah not show His burhan and thereby do exactly that? So yes, Allah would protect his Prophet from such sin and that is why the Prophet’s thought was removed when he saw the burhan. And this is the very definition of the Ismah of the Prophets, and this is keeping in line with that.

The Prophets could have hamm but Allah removed that hamm and in this way the Prophets are protected from such major sins. Prophet Yusuf and Prophet Muhammad both had hamm, but Allah removed any such hamm through His burhan. The Shia and the groups like them claim that the Prophets are intrinsically infallible, but we say that it is only through the Grace of Allah that they are made infallible.

The Shia would say that the Prophets do not have hamm and they say that this does not befit their nobility, but we say that it only increases them in their nobility. If, for example, one were to argue that Prophet Yusuf had no desire at all, then in that case what would be the big deal in him avoiding that woman? If, for example, a man is being seduced by a very ugly woman for which he has no desire for, then it is no big accomplishment on his part that he refrained from her. But if this were a very beautiful woman whom he had a great desire for and yet even still he refrained from her due to his fear of Allah, then this shows the strength of his faith. It is overcoming the desire–not the absence of desire–that is what exalts the human being over the angels.

The angels cannot have hamm: they lack desire and free-will. As such, they are incapable of committing sin. And yet Allah exalted Prophet Adam over and above the angels, and the reason for that is that Allah gave him desire and free-will and even so he stayed away from sin. Prophet Yusuf stayed away from sin even when there was desire; Prophet Muhammad refrained from ending his life even when the weight of the world was placed on his shoulders. From this we find that the one who cannot have hamm is at a lower position and rank than the one who can have hamm but turns away from it out of fear of Allah.

It should be further noted that there are different types of hamm. We do not say that Prophet Yusuf and Zulaykha had the same type of hamm; rather, the hamm of Zulaykha was of one of evil intent, whereas Prophet Yusuf’s hamm was that of the uncontrollable urges that come with being human. Likewise, if the Prophet had any hamm about ending his life, then this was not of an evil intent but rather an uncontrollable urge that comes with being human.

Rayat the Shia says

“The Sunnis claim the Prophet was terrified and did not know what happened to him when he received revelation.

There is a Hadith in which the Prophet says: “No prophet has suffered as much as I have suffered.” And this is known to mean that no human being has ever been put to the test as much as the Prophet. As such, any feelings of anxiety, sadness, or even suicide, are understandable. But the fact that the Prophet pushed through these feelings and rose above them is indicative of the steadfastness of his character. The fact that the Prophet had feelings of distress and foreboding at the start of his mission in fact tells us of the greatness of the task that he accomplished.

Shia says

“Allah would protect the Prophet from having such thoughts, because the Prophets are infallible!

Exactly! And this is exactly why Allah showed His burhan to Prophet Muhammad just as He had showed His burhan to Prophet Yusuf. We believe that Allah does indeed protect his Prophets from such thoughts, and this is why Allah showed His burhan and took away those thoughts of suicide (and of temptation in the case of Prophet Yusuf). Every single time Prophet Muhammad had any such thoughts, then Allah sent His burhan (i.e. Arch-Angel Jibraeel) and thereby prevented the Prophet and maintained his infallibility. The Shia are actually arguing over a non-issue; the Hadith conforms to the idea that Allah protected His Prophets from such thoughts, because it shows that Allah removed them from their minds.

Rayat the Shia says

“Sahih Bukhari Hadith Claims The Holy Prophet (ص) was Suicidal, Naudhobillah

That is just one spin on it. A more accurate statement would be: Sahih Bukhari Hadith shows that the Holy Prophet was protected from any suicidal thoughts by Allah and His burhan, Al-Hamdu Lillah!

We recall the story of the Prophet during his youth: the Prophet had gone to a wedding party in which there was music playing. But Allah protected him from that by putting him into a deep slumber. The Prophet said:

“I wanted to go down to Mecca and entertain myself as the young men did. I went down to the first house in Mecca where I heard music. I entered and asked: ‘What is this?’ Someone answered: ‘It is a wedding party.’ I sat down and listened but soon went into a deep sleep. I was awakened by the heat of the sun. I went to my fellow shepherd and told him what happened to me. I never tried it again.”

(narrated by Ibn al-Atheer, classed as Sahih by Hakeem)

In other words, the Prophet could have the normal instincts and thoughts, but Allah then prevented him from indulging in that, and in fact, Allah removed all avenues and ways to that.

If we take out the Shia book of Hadith, al-Kafi, we find that they ascribe many qualities of Allah to their Imams. This is similar to what the Christians did with Prophet Eesa. Prophet Eesa did many miracles but in actuality these miracles were not done by him, but rather they were from Allah. However, soon the Christians thought that the source of the power was from Prophet Eesa, but the Islamic belief is that human beings have no power and the source of all power is Allah Almighty alone. Likewise, the Shia have exalted the status of the Prophet and their Imams. All of Prophet Muhammad’s greatness came from Allah the Almighty.

Prophet Muhammad himself could not read, but Allah gave him the power to read when Arch-Angel Jibraeel embraced him. The Prophet had told Jibraeel multiple times that he could not recite, but then Allah gave him the power to do that. The Prophet was also a human being so he could forget things, but Allah then protected the Prophet from forgetting any of the verses of the Quran. The Prophet could feel fear, but then Allah sent His Sakeenah (divine tranquility) down on him which would remove any fear he felt. The point is that the Prophet was a human being but then Allah bolstered him with His Power. Likewise, the Prophet could feel hamm but then Allah removed it.

Rayat the Shia says

“1) The Sunnis claim the Prophet was terrified and did not know what happened to him when he received revelation. He supposedly said, “What is wrong with me”? It is completely wrong to claim the Prophet was in that confused and poor state of mind regarding his Prophethood, and it is a borderline attack on his holiness and nobility.

How is it in any way an attack on the Prophet’s holiness and nobility to claim that he was in a state of shock when he was first announced a Messenger of Allah? This was a monumental announcement and the Prophet would not have been a human being if he were not shocked by this news. It should be noted that the Prophet went through various stages, and this event happened at the start of his mission when he had just begun his ascent.

Ibn al-Qaiyim mentioned the stages that the Prophet went through:

The First (stage): The period of true vision. It was the starting point of the Revelation to Allah’s Messenger.

The Second: When the angel invisibly cast in the Prophet’s mind and heart, (but) without being seen…

The Third: The angel used to visit Allah’s Messenger in the form of a human being..

The Fourth: The angel came to him like the toll of a bell and this was the most difficult form because the angel used to seize him firmly and sweat would stream from his (the Prophet’s) forehead…

The Fifth: The Prophet saw the angel in his actual form…

The Sixth: What Allah Himself revealed to him in heaven, i.e. when he ascended to heaven and received Allah’s order for Salah.

The Seventh: Allah’s Words to His Messenger at first hand without the mediation of an angel…

Some religious scholars added a controversial eighth stage in which they state that Allah spoke to the Prophet directly without a curtain in between.

(source: Zadul-Ma’ad, 1/18)

The Prophet was elevated in status throughout his mission. When Arch-Angel Jibraeel first informed the Prophet of his mission–and when the suicide legend occurred–this was only at the beginning when the Prophet was on the lowest of the stages above. But then Allah slowly elevated him to higher and higher levels. At the start of his mission, the Prophet was a normal human being who had all the feelings and thoughts associated with our species; but then Allah raised him to the rank of Messenger, bolstered him, and elevated him to higher and higher levels of Prophethood. It should be noted that the Shia also believe in “stages of Prophethood”, as they describe how Prophet Ibrahim went through various stages and ranks. The point is that the confidence with which Prophet Muhammad strode into Mecca as a conquerer at the end of his mission would differ from the feelings of apprehension he had at the start of his mission when he was first announced as a Messenger of Allah.

Rayat the Shia says

“Narrated ‘Aisha:

Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration, his neck muscles twitching with terror till he entered upon Khadija and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and then he said, “O Khadija, what is wrong with me?”…

1) The Sunnis claim the Prophet was terrified and did not know what happened to him when he received revelation. He supposedly said, “What is wrong with me”? It is completely wrong to claim the Prophet was in that confused and poor state of mind regarding his Prophethood, and it is a borderline attack on his holiness and nobility.

After Arch-Angel Jibraeel declared him a Prophet, Prophet Muhammad was so shaken up by this that he went to his wife who covered him up with a cloak to stop his shivering. How can the Shia deny this when Allah revealed about this:

“O you wrapped up in the cloak! Arise and warn!”

(Quran, 74:1-2)

This is when Allah commanded the Prophet–who was shivering beneath the cloak–to embrace his noble task of Prophethood. “This mighty command” took the Prophet “from his sleep and his comfort, to struggle and continue under hardship.” (Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtum, p.92) Once again, this does not at all call to question the Prophet’s nobility, but rather it raises the status of the Prophet as it shows that he rose above any fears in order to serve His Lord Most High.

Conclusion

The story of the Prophet contemplating throwing himself off a mountain is a legend which is classed as Dhaeef (weak). Shaykh Uthman al-Khamees, in his refutation of the Shia, stated that the issue need not be discussed since it was a Dhaeef addition by Zuhri to the Sahih narration by Aisha. Additionally, the legend is not offensive to the Prophet because it proves that the Prophet was protected from suicidal thoughts by none other than Allah.