Was the sacred hadith ‘I was ill; you did not visit Me’ taken from Matthew Bible?

Details of the Question

How can the similarities between the sacred hadith in Muslim, Birr, 13-40 and Matthew Bible 25/34-46 be explained? The statements meaning "I was ill; you did not visit Me..." exist in both places. Is that sacred hadith sound? If it is sound - since it exists in Muslim, it must be sound - , can we say Matthew 25/34-46 parts have not been distorted?
Will you write the whole hadith and explain it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- There are different interpretations about the distortion of the Torah and the Gospel but there is no sound interpretation in the Islamic literature stating that all of them were distorted. For instance, many issues related to the stories of prophets in the Torah/Old Testament are harmonious with the ones in the Quran.

Similarly, some nice advice in the Gospel does not contradict with the verses of the Quran and hadiths.

They might not be directly a product of revelation but they are the manifestation of the lessons given by Hz. Musa (Moses) and Hz. Isa (Jesus). They consist of the information taken from the prophets even if it is verbal. The information in the question is something like that.

It is not true to explain that information as one of them having taken it from the other. Allah informed both prophets and also other prophets about it separately. The source of both of them is the same.  

Abu Hurayra states the following regarding the issue (Musnad, 5/ 98; Bukhari, I’tisam, 25):

"The People of the Book read the Torah in Hebrew and would translate it into Arabic for Muslims. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told his Companions the following regarding the issue:

"Do not confirm or deny the words of the People of the Book:

"Say ye: ‘We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma´il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).’" (al-Baqara, 2/136).

The translation of the hadith mentioned in the question is as follows:

According to what is reported from Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

“Allah will state the following on the Day of Resurrection:

- “O son of Adam! I was ill but you did not visit Me”. Son of Adam will say,

- How could I visit You since You were the Lord of the realms? Allah Almighty will say,

- “Such and such servant of Mine got ill but you did not visit him. If you had visited him, you would have found Me by him. Did you not know this? O son of Adam! I asked food from you but you did not feed Me.” Son of Adam will say,

- How could I feed You since You were the Lord of the realms? Allah Almighty will say,

- “Such and such servant of Mine asked food from you but you did not feed him Were you not aware that if you had fed him you would have found what you gave him by My side? O son of Adam! I asked water from you but you did not provide Me.” Son of Adam will say,

- O Lord! How could I give You water since You were the Lord of the realms? Allah Almighty will say,

- “Such and such of servant of Mine asked you for water but you did not provide him. If you had provided him water you would have found its reward near Me. Did you not know this?” (Muslim, Birr 43)

It is not possible to explain that visiting ill people means attaining Allah’s consent better than the explanation in the hadith above.

Allah Almighty regards visiting any patient as visiting Allah Himself because He represents and honors His ill slave with Himself. He states in the first sentence of the hadith that His consent awaits those who will visit the patient near the patient. It means Allah’s grace, grant, mercy and consent are with those who are ill, weak and who need help. It is understood that it will be possible to attain divine mercy and consent in accordance with the care given to them.

As it is known, it is unthinkable that our Lord will get ill, eat, drink and need the help of others for them. Nevertheless, when Allah says, “I got ill, I asked food, I asked water”, the slave justifiably gets astonished and says, “How could I visit You, feed You and give You water since You are free and away from them and You are the Lord of the realms?”

However, the astonishment of the slave is eliminated by the answers that he who visits an ill person will find Allah’s consent near the ill person and that a person who feeds the needy people and gives them drink will find their reward in the presence of Allah.   

Besides, it is possible to conclude that the good deeds mentioned in the hadiths are among the deeds that make a slave approach Allah and that visiting an ill person is more virtuous than feeding a hungry person and giving water to a thirsty person due to the statement “You would have found Me near him”.

It was said only due to that statement that “no reward greater than visiting an ill person has been mentioned”.

Taking into consideration the difference of one letter in the Arabic spelling of those two words, some scholars reached the following conclusion: “Al-iyadah afdalu minal-ibadah (Visiting an ill person is more virtuous than worshipping)”. (see Aliyyul-Qari, Mirqat, 4/10-11)

Keeping the society alive, healthy and safe constantly is possible through taking care of the ill, weak and disabled people. It is a great honor and incentive that the favors of those who are healthy and able to help to the needy people at times of illness, poverty and need, when the order in the society, and the emotions and behaviors in people are disturbed the most, are regarded as favors presented to Allah.

Naturally, missing such opportunities is great heedlessness and irreparable harm. The servant must think about whose order he fulfils, not whom he visits. The addressee of his visit or treat might be Ahmad or Muhammad. However, what matters is the owner of the will that wants this visit. Allah's consent lies in the fulfillment of His will.

It is stated in the hadith that visiting an ill person is a means of pleasing Allah, and it is pointed out that such an opportunity should not be missed.

To sum up

- Allah becomes pleased when ill people are visited.

- Meeting the needs of the needy is extremely acceptable in the sight of Allah and its reward will never be lost.

- It is necessary to be sensitive toward ill, weak and poor people.

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