Shirk in Qasida Burda


As’salamu alikum ,
A critic of the poem says that there is shirk in in couplet:

I take an oath (of truth) by the moon that was split, it bears.
A connection with his heart (which shows) the truth of my oath. (Chapter 5/7-8)

Here the author gives an oath by the moon. As we know, giving an oath by other than Allah is minor shirk. The Prophet (sallah allahu alieh wasalam) said, “Whomever gives an oath by other than Allah has committed Shirk or kufur.”

Ibn Abdel Albar said, “It is not permissible to give an oath by other than Allah in any manner or form, and it is united upon by scholars.”


`Alaykum Salam,

In his Khasa’is al-Kubra (2:346-347) as well as the Sughra (see below), Imam al-Suyuti follows Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s inference, from the formula of tawassul in the blind man’s hadith, of the permissibility of swearing an oath upon Allah by the person of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, exclusively of any other creature.

Al-Suyuti cites both the blind man’s hadith and the athar of the man in need under the subheading:

باب اختصاصه بجواز أن يقسم على الله به

“Chapter of his exclusive attribute in that it is permissible to swear upon Allah by him.”

After the two reports he then cites Imam Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s caveat:

قال الشيخ عز الدين ابن عبد السلام: ينبغي أن يكون هذا مقصورا على النبي لأنه سيد ولد آدم, وأن لا يُقْسَمَ على الله تعالى بغيره من الأنبياء والملائكة والأولياء, لأنهم ليسوا في درجته, وأن يكون هذا مما خُصَّ به تنبيهاً على علو درجته ومرتبته, انتهى.

Shaykh `Izz al-Din Ibn `Abd al-Salam said:

This must be strictly restricted to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, because he is the liege-lord of all human beings, and there must be no oath sworn upon Allah by other than him among Prophets, angels, and friends of Allah, because they do not share his rank. This aspect must be among his exclusive prerogatives as a proclamation of his exalted rank and station.

Originally, Imam Ibn `Abd al-Salam was not discussing the wording of the hadith of the blind man but a different wording as can be gleaned from the very first of his Fatawa in the Muhammad Jumu`a Kurdi edition at Mu’assasat al-Risala (p. 194-199):


…success, about the supplicant who swears an oath upon Allah Most High by one held in the highest esteem (mu`azzam) among His creatures in his supplication, such as a Prophet, or a wali, or an angel? Is this offensive or not?


There are three problems here:

(1) There is no such hadith as “O Allah, I verily swear upon You by Your Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy.”

(2) The position of the Shafi`i School, along with the Jumhur, is that it is impermissible to swear by other than Allah Most High due to the hadith (in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad): “Whoever swears by other than Allah Most High has committed shirk” among other identical interdictions. How could al-`Izz build on a non-existent hadith a ruling which is impermissible in the first place?

(3) On what basis did al-`Izz limit the permissibility of such an oath to the Prophet alone?

In reply to these objections, and Allah knows best:

(1) The muhaqqiq of Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s Fatawa said the Shafi`is do consider the formula “I ask you by Allah” identical with an oath if one means an oath, as if the words used were actually “I swear upon you by Allah” cf. Mughni al-Muhtaj (2:324) quoting Imam al-Nawawi. Hence, the hadith of the blind man, “O Allah, I am asking You and turning to You by Your Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy” can be construed as an oath and the resemblance in wording confirms this is the very hadith Ibn `Abd al-Salam had in mind, and phrased as an oath “ad sensum” (bil-ma`na) to fit the orientation of the question. This explains why al-Suyuti would include that hadith under the subheading “Chapter of his [the Prophet’s] exclusive attribute in that it is permissible to swear upon Allah by him” and follow it up with Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s fatwa which is, historically, the real reason for such a subheading.

(2) Al-`Izz leaves the position of the Shafi`i School over many issues. Here he forwarded an asl for swearing an oath by the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, and left the position of his own School accordingly, as he said, “on condition of its authenticity” (which has been ascertained). Hence, al-Suyuti attributes the view of the permissibility of swearing by the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, squarely to him in Unmudhaj al-Labib fi Khasa’is al-Habib (p. 27) – also known as his Khasa’is al-Sughra – where he says: “It is permissible to swear upon Allah Most High by him [the Prophet] and no one else has that right. Ibn `Abd al-Salam stated this.”

A slightly similar view of permissibility is reported from Imams Ahmad and Malik (according to variant positions recorded from each of them), which is followed by a group of Hanbalis and Malikis, as illustrated respectively by Ibn Qudama in the Mughni (8:705): “Ahmad said: ‘If he swore by the right of the Messenger (bi-haqq al-Rasul) and broke his
word, he must pay the expiation.’ Our [Hanbali] colleagues said this is because it is one of the two halves of the testimony of faith, and so to swear by him is like swearing by Allah Most High”;(*) and Ibn Rushd in Bidayat al-Mujtahid (1:298): “Some [Malikis] said it is permissible to swear by any being held in high esteem in the Law.” As the verse says at
the end of Qasidat al-Burda:

بِجَاهِ مَنْ بَيْتُهُ فِي طَيبَةٍ حَرَمٌ
وَاسْمُهُ قَسَمٌ مِنْ أَعْظَمِ القَسَمِ

“By the honor of him whose house in Tayba [=Madina] is a sanctuary, and
whose name is an oath among the greatest oaths.”

Even the Hanafi Mufassir Shaykh Mahmud al-Alusi in Ruh al-Ma`ani (6:139) said: “I see no harm in swearing upon Allah by the honor (jah) of Muhammad, upon him blessings and peace, in that sense … that is, ‘by Your love for Your Prophet, answer my supplication.'”

(*) Al-Suyuti said in al-Iklil fi Istinbat al-Tanzil in commentary of the verse {By your life (O Muhammad)! They move blindly in the frenzy of approaching death} (15:72): “Ahmad ibn Hanbal inferred from it that whoever swears by the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, is obligated to pay expiation.”

(3) Al-Shawkani in one of his Rasa’il al-Salafiyya (al-Durr al-Nadid fi Ikhlas Kalimat al-Tawhid) and Ibn Taymiyya in his Ziyarat al-Qubur wal-Istinjad bil-Maqbur took Ibn `Abd al-Salam to task for purportedly limiting the permissibility of tawassul through the Prophet alone, upon him blessings and peace, since the silent Consensus of the Companions, al-Shawkani said, formed over their tawassul through his uncle also, al-`Abbas, Allah be well-pleased with him and have mercy on them.

It is strange they argued as if he did not know that. Yes, tawassul is not restricted but this is not what Ibn `Abd al-Salam was discussing even if he originally based himself on the hadith of tawassul. Rather, he was discussing quite precisely “the supplicant who swears an oath upon Allah Most High by a mu`azzam among His creatures” for which, in his reasoning, there is no proof other than the hadith of tawassul exclusively, which he therefore took as a specifier or exception (mukhassis) for the general impermissibility of swearing by other than Allah Most High, and He knows best.

Benefit: Imam al-Munawi in his entry for the hadith of the blind man in Fayd al-Qadir mentioned that Imam al-Qushayri narrated in his Risala the saying of Ma`ruf al-Karkhi to his students: “If any of you has any need from Allah Most High, swear upon him by me, for I am the intermediary between you all and Him in this time *by virtue of inheritance from the Prophet,* upon him blessings and peace.”

In his third and by far most remarkable book on the hadith of the blind man and the man in need, entitled Ghayat al-Tahrir fi Bayan Sihhati Hadithi Tawassul al-Darir, but printed by `Alam al-Kutub (1985) under the title Misbah al-Zujaja fi Fawa’idi Salat al-Haja, Shaykh `Abd Allah al-Ghumari mentions some of the above benefits then states (p. 59):

“The interdiction [of swearing by other than Allah subhan wa-ta`ala] among most of the Ulema is one of dislike, not categorical prohibition, because of the saying of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace: ‘He has obtained success – by his father! – if he tells the truth’ and other similar hadiths, although the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, is excepted from this interdiction…. Ibn al-Qayyim said [in al-Tibyan fi Aqsaam al-Qur’an]: ‘There is no contest we know of that the oath in the verse {By your life} (15:72) refers to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, [and his life is the greatest sign and blessing,] and he is eminently worthy of being the subject of an oath, and swearing an oath by him is more appropriate than swearing by any other creature!’ Also, because he is one of the two parts of the Shahada without which one’s
Islam remains incomplete. This was the awareness of Ibn `Abd al-Salam in declaring that swearing by him sallAllahu `alayhi wa-Sallam was among his exclusive attributes, which Ibn Taymiyya, and others who assimilated it to tawassul, did not realize.”

Hajj Gibril Fouad Haddad

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