Kindly advise on the authenticity of article regarding rainwater shifaa:
The short answer is that this report has no known chain and its contents are forged.
The long answer is that there are two narrations in wordings that approximate the wording given, both of them cited in late texts (by Ibn al-Athir and Ibn `Abd al-Hadi) without chain of transmission, which we discuss below.
I. Majd al-Din Ibn al-Athir’s (d. 606), Jami` al-Usul (Compendium of the Fundamental Hadith Books) states:
5655 – () عبد الله بن عمر – رضي الله عنهما – أن رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال : «إنَّ جبريل علَّمني دواءا يَشْفِي من كل داء ، وقال لي :
نَسَخْتُه في اللوح المحفوظ : تأخذُ من ماءِ مطر لم يَمْشِ في سَقْف ، في إناء نظيف ، فتقرأ عليه فاتحة الكتاب سبعين مرة، وآيةَ الكرسيِّ مثله ، وسورة الإخلاص مثله ، و قل أعُوذُ بربّ الفَلَق مثله ، و قل أعوذ برب الناس مثله ، ولا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له ، له الملك وله الحمد يحيي ويُميت ، وهو حي لا يموت ، بيده الخير ، وهو على كل شيء قدير ، ثم تصُوم سبعة أيام
…وتفطر كل ليلة بذلك الماء».أخرجه
From Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (s) said: “Verily Jibril taught me a cure-all and said, ‘I copied it from the Preserved Tablet. You take some rainwater (ma’ matar) that did not run on any roof, in a clean vessel, then read over it the Fatiha 70 times, likewise Ayatul Kursi, likewise Surat al-Ikhlas, likewise Qul a`udhu bi Rabbi-l-falaq, likewise Qul a`udhu bi-Rabbi-n-nas, and La ilaha illa Allah wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al mulku wa lahu al-hamdu yuhyi wa-yumit, wa-huwa hayyun la yamut, bi-yadihi al-khayr, wa huwa `ala kulli shay’in qadir, then you fast seven days, and you break your fast every night with that water.'” It was narrated…
Note that Ibn al-Athir left out the source of that report.
We know that the basis of Ibn al-Athir’s Jami` al-Usul was actually Razin b. Mu`awiya al-`Abdari al-Andalusi’s (d. 535) book Tajrid al-Sihah wal-Sunan (The Pruning of the Sahih Books and the Sunan), a title by which he refers to the three sahih books — Bukhari, Muslim, and the Muwatta’ — and the three Sunan of Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and al-Nasa’i from which Razin simply anthologized hadiths devoid of their chains of transmission. (Tajrid al-Sihah wal-Sunan is still in manuscript form but is being presently edited and should be published soon in sha Allah.)
It appears that Ibn al-Athir left out the source because Razin himself left out the source, and such blanks are very frequent in their respective books because it is well-known that Razin included many reports in his book that have no basis of authenticity nor any transmission chain at all as is the case here.
Subsequent commentators on Ibn al-Athir’s book, however, made up for every blank passage by inserting a phrase such as “akhrajahu Razin” or “li-Razin” which respectively means “Razin documented it” and “by Razin.” This is a misleading claim and an unfortunate error on their part, as Razin originally did not do takhrij, that is he did not “document” a single hadith but merely gave the source of each of the reports he had selected and copied into his work. He did this meticulously and accurately, so that when he did not give a source it is a signal for us that such a report does NOT meet the criterion of his title, i.e. it is NOT part of the Six Books in question. Indeed, independent istiqra‘ (verification and review of the contents of the hadith compilations generally) so far establishes that not only is this report not in the two Sahihs, nor in the Sunan including Ibn Majah and al-Darimi, nor in the Muwatta‘ in all its various versions, nor in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, but that it is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND IN ALL THE HADITH COMPILATIONS THAT HAVE REACHED THE UMMA. It does not even have a chain to its name, not even a forged one.
Hence the critique of later authorities such as al-Dhahabi that “Razin included many wahyaat (flimsy reports) which would have served him better if he had left them out of his book” is entirely correct, and this particular report is one of them.
Razin himself appears to have been aware of this fact yet he still saw fit to include such reports, either because he never got around to sourcing them, in which case his book was still unfinished in the form that reached subsequent generations of scholars, or because, in his opinion, such reports were still fit to be put into practice even if he had not found a reliable source for them. This particular report would be one of them, as it has no known chain.
Furthermore, the claim by some contemporary blogger that “its chain is to the Sihah Sittah (Six [Mostly] Authentic Books) because Razin narrates it” is also a flimsy statement since we already pointed out that (1) Razin does not “narrate” a single hadith but only SOURCES them to the six books named above for the most part, and (2) in the case of this report, as in dozens of other similarly baseless (la asla lahu) reports, HE DID NOT SOURCE IT.
So this hadith (i) has no chain of transmission and (ii) was unheard-of before the Sixth Hijri century.
For a hadith to have no known chain is enough of a tell-tale sign of forgery. A stronger sign of forgery yet is the “ex-nihilo” status of a hadith, namely the fact that it comes out of nowhere and no one had heard of it before a late time in Islamic history, in this case the Sixth Hijri century! Imam al-Bayhaqi (384-458) said:
The hadiths which have been established as sound or fall between soundness and sickness have been recorded and written down in the comprehensive collections which the hadith experts compiled. It is not conceivable that any of these hadiths escaped the attention of all of these authorities put together — even if it is possible that SOME of these hadiths escaped the attention of SOME of the authorities — because of the guarantee of the Lawgiver that they will be preserved. So, today, when someone brings a hadith unknown to all of these authorities, it may not be accepted from him. (Cited in Ibn al-Salah, `Ulum al-Hadith, Type 23)
Imam al-Fakhr al-Razi in his Mahsul similarly lists as “the fourth kind of narrations known with certainty to be untrue and baseless:” “what is narrated at a time when reports have already become established, and when researched it is nowhere to be found in the books or in the memories of the narrators: such a narration is known to be baseless.”
Similarly Imam al-Suyuti said in Tadrib al-Rawi: “As for now we rely [for hadith documentation] on the books composed on that topic; so whoever comes up with a hadith that is nowhere to be found in them, the latter is rejected.”
II. Hafiz Shams al-Din Muhammad Ibn `Abd al-Hadi (d. 744) mentioned at the very end of his treatise Juz’ Mukhtasar fil-Ahadith al-Da`ifa al-Lati Yatadawaluha al-Fuqaha’ (Brief Monograph on the Weak Hadiths that Circulate among the Jurists), published within Majmu` Rasa’il al-Hafiz Ibn `Abd al-Hadi (p. 112):
And of the fabricated forgeries is what Abu al-Hasan `Ali b. Ahmad al-Qurashi narrated [from] Muhammad b. `Abd Allah al-Balkhi: Abu Nasr `Abd Allah b. `Abbas narrated to us, from Nafi`, from `Abd Allah b. `Umar (r): We were sitting when the Messenger of Allah (s) came in and said, “Shall I not teach you a medicine which Jibril taught me, wherewith no medicine from physicians will be needed anymore?” Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali and Salman said: “And what is that medicine, Messenger of Allah?” He said: “You all take from the rain of April (matar naysan) and recite over it Surat al-Fatiha, Ayat al-Kursi, the two Mu`awwidhatayn [Falaq and Nas], Sabbih, and Surat al-Ikhlas, each of them 70 times, then you drink from that water morning and evening for seven days. By the One Who sent me with truth as a Prophet! if Allah wills, it will repel from the one who drinks from that water every disease in his body, and heal him, and bring it out of his sinews and flesh and bones and all his limbs, and if he has no son and would like to have a son let him drink from that water, and it is beneficial for the childless, the impotent, headaches, eyesores, mouth aches, strokes — he will not need cupping — and all ailments.”
Then Ibn `Abd al-Hadi says: “O Allah! destroy the one who invented it. How ignorant he is! What audacity! What stupidity!
The chain adduced by Ibn `Abd al-Hadi is actually only a fragment missing an untold number of links, and even so it is made of unknowns up to Nafi`. Hence it does not count as an asl or chain of transmission at all, and the report is still very much “la asla lahu” (baseless/chainless).
This brings us to the analysis of content which by itself is enough to establish for any experienced reader that such a report cannot possibly be a prophetic hadith, which is what accounts for Ibn `Abd al-Hadi’s rightful outrage. For the greatest tell-tale signs of forgery are strained contents that contradict the Prophetic idiom through so many facets of meaning, style, etc. such as, in this case:
1. exaggeration (reading each Surah and Ayah 70 times, when it is enough to read Fatiha 1x to heal a scorpion-bite; presence of all four rightly-guided caliphs and Salman, all of them speaking as one);
2. extravagance (the Prophet (s) added “except death” in the few authentic hadiths mentioning a cure-all such as the Black Seed hadith, others not even claiming cure-all status such as Zamzam water, soil from Madina, `ajwa dates, honey, truffles etc.);
3. affectation (“I copied it from the Preserved Tablet”, as if the angel needed to promote it more than the entire Qur’an and Sunna, for which no such phrase was recorded);
4. repetitiveness, long-windedness and hodgepodge that do not resemble in any way the prophetic style but rather the ballyhoo of apothecaries playing doctor or the “tibb ruhani” and panacea literature;
5. poor logic (a person in need of a cure-all may hardly endure doing all that the report requires);
6. The positive words used for rain in the Qur’an and Sunna are usually ghayth, sabab, muzn, rahma, and sama‘, rather than the word matar مطر which is connotative of impediment, danger, or destruction, not healing.
Last but not least, “seeking cure and benefits through April rain” is an old pre-Islamic folklore in the Levant and Iraq that is well known to farmers and still holds credence in non-Muslim communities and even among some Muslim-offshoot sects, oftentimes in connection with astrology, talismanic, shamanic, or sihr pseudo-medicine and other cultural remnants of Jahiliyya culture in the Arab world.
Any one of the above main four aspects — chainlessness, alienness, artificiousness and paganism — would be enough by itself to characterize this report as a forgery in its would-be attribution to the Holy Prophet (s), let alone two of them put together, let alone three, let alone all four!
And Allah knows best.
Hajj Gibril Haddad