‘Faith of old women’


It is said that the Prophet commended the faith of old women (iman/din al-aja’eez). Could you please quote this hadith?



The saying “Cling to the faith of old women” (`alaykum bi-din al-`aja’iz) is positively attributed to the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) by the great mujtahid jurist Imam Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Shaybani (132-189) in his book “Kitab al-Siyar al-Kabir” (1:36) and by Imam al-Ghazali in “Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din”; Hafiz Murtada al-Zabidi in his book “Ithaf al-Sadat al-Muttaqin” leans to the opinion that it is not a forgery. Most of the hadith scholars, however, said it is not actually a saying of the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) but is commonly attributed to later figures such as Imam al-Haramayn Ibn al-Juwayni, the hadith master al-Sam`ani, and Abu Bakr al-Khwarizmi. Abu Sa`id al-Shahham dreamt that the great Shafi`i Sufi master, Abu Sahl al-Su`luki said after his death: “Allah forgave me for answering questions old women used to ask me.”

Yes, al-Daylami narrates from Ibn `Umar (Allah be well-pleased with him and his father) his saying: “When time is about to end and lusts run amok, cling to the faith of bedouins and women!” but the scholars also concurred that the latter was a forgery even as a Companion-saying. (Ibn al-Jawzi, “Mawdu`at”; al-Suyuti, “Takhrij Ahadith Sharh al-Mawaqif“, “Durar al-Muntathira“, and “La’ali’ al-Masnu`a“; Ibn `Arraq, “Tanzih al-Shari`ah“).

What the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) did say to that effect is:

– “Paradise says: None enters me except the weak and wretched among the people and their simple-minded (ghirratuhum)” (“Sahih Muslim“);

– “Most of the people of Paradise are the naïve (al-bulh)” (“Musnad al-Bazzar“; al-Qurtubi declared it sahih in his Tafsir under verses 26:83-89 and in his Tadhkira);

– “The believer is easy and lenient (hayyinun layyinun) to the point you will think him an idiot (ahmaq) in his leniency” (Bayhaqi, “Shu`ab al-Iman“); and

– “The believer is guileless and noble (ghirrun karim) while the wicked man (al-fajir) is perfidious and miserly (khibbun la’im)” (“al-Tirmidhi“, “Abu Dawud“, “Musnad Ahmad“, “Mustadrak al-Hakim“, and “Mishkat“, a fair hadith according to Ibn Hajar). Al-Qari said in “al-Asrar al-Marfu`a“: “It means the believer is not a scheming person but may be duped because of his credulity and good nature.”

Al-Qari also said:

<<Some interpreted “bulh” to mean those who do not care about their material concerns but are perspicuous in the Religion of their Lord, unlike those who worship life and its pleasures. {They know only some appearance of the life of the world and are heedless of the Hereafter} (30:7). … Some of them said, and this is the most likely interpretation, that the naïve are the old women, the nomads, and the like, who remain staunch in their Religion, steadfast, and never confused in their certitude. One of the accomplished Sufis said: “It concerns those who are satisfied with Paradise and its pleasures such as
the virgins and palaces and all the kinds of joys and distractions, instead of the beatific Meeting and the station of Vision and Presence.”
In “al-Nihaya“: “Bulh is the plural of ablah which means the one that is unaware of wickedness and whose innate nature is goodness. It is said they are those who are overwhelmingly good-hearted and think well of all people, because they care little about their worldly life, hence, they lack shrewdness in worldly affairs. However, they turned to the hereafter and busied themselves with it. Hence, they deserve to be the majority of the people of Paradise. The hadith does not mean ablah in the sense of the mindless fool.”>>

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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