Is there a hadith stating that the world is on the ox and fish? If there is, how should we understand it?

Details of the Question
Hadith: "The world is on the fish." I saw it in the explanation of Ibn Kathir Tafsir. Is there a hadith like that? Or, is it fabricated? How will you explain that hadith?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The following can be meant by that expression mentioned in some resources:

Firstly: Allah Almighty appoints an angel for every creature that He creates. They are called "Muakkal Angels". There are two muakkal angels of the world; their names are "Thawr" and "Hut"; that is, "Ox" and "Fish".

Secondly: Fourteen centuries ago, that is, in the age when the Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions lived, the most important means of living were farming and hunting. It is partly like that now. The symbol of agriculture is ox and the symbol of hunting is fish. With the hadith, "The world is on the ox and fish", the Prophet (pbuh) emphasized this fact; thus, he expressed the two most important means of living for man in an eloquent way.

Thirdly: As it is known, in the eras when technology was not developed enough, people used to believe that the world was fixed and that the sun went round. However, in the course of time, it was understood that just the opposite was true. It was not easy to tell the people who believed in the old knowledge this fact directly. If it had been done, many people would probably have been deprived of the light of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave an answer by using a literary art and satisfied the people of that age.

When the world goes round the sun, it passes through twelve imaginary places. We call them "signs of the zodiac". Two of those signs are "ox" and "fish". The Prophet (pbuh) was asked on what the world stood at different times; once, he said it was on “the ox” and another time, he said it was on “the fish”. With those answers, he stated fourteen centuries ago that the world was passing through the zodiac signs of ox and fish when he was asked that question and that the sun was fixed.

The Prophet (pbuh) expressed three great facts in the best way with a metaphorical and allegorical way; thus, he satisfied his addressees both in the century he lived and in the centuries after that. 

Afterwards, the explanations of the narrators and tafsir scholars were thought as hadiths. For instance, the additions like the following are not hadiths: "The world is on the ox; when the ox shakes its head, earthquakes happen."

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"On that Day shall the (Great) Event come to pass. And the sky will be rent asunder, for it will that Day be flimsy, And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that Day, bear the Throne of thy Lord above them." (al-Haaqqa, 69/15-17) It is stated in the verse above that there are angels that carry the Throne.

The narrations related to the issue are as follows:

“Four angels carry the Throne. One of them resembles a human. One of them is in the form of an ox. One of them is in the form of an eagle and the other a lion.”

“Four angels carry the Throne on their shoulders. Each of those angels have four faces. One face is like the face of an ox, another one like a lion, another one like an eagle and the other one like a man.”

“Four angels carry the Throne today but eight angels will carry it on the Day of Judgment.” (see Qurtubi, al-Jami'u fi-Ahkamil-Qur'an, the interpretation of al-Haaqqa, verse 17)

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