What does “to burn mushriks (polytheists) mean”?

Details of the Question

- Will you explain the hadith? - What is the meaning of the Prophet’s speaking as if he apparently rejects this order? How sound is the hadith? - The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "Behold, my Lord commanded me that I should teach you which you do not know and which He has taught me today. (He has instructed thus): The property which I have conferred upon them is lawful for them. I have created My servants as one having a natural inclination to the worship of Allah but it is Satan who turns them away from the right religion and he makes unlawful what has been declared lawful for them and he commands them to ascribe partnership with Me, although he has no justification for that. - And verily, Allah looked towards the people of the world and He showed hatred for the Arabs and the non-Arabs, but with the exception of some remnants from the People of the Book: And He (further) said: "I have sent thee (the Holy Prophet) in order to put you to test and put (those to test) through you. And I sent the Book to you which cannot be washed away by water, so that you may recite it while in the state of wakefulness or sleep!" And He (further) said: “Verily, Allah commanded me to burn (kill) the Quraysh. I said: My Lord, they would break my head (like the tearing) of bread, and Allah said: You turn them out as they turned you out, you fight against them and We shall help you in this, you should spend and you would be conferred upon. You send an army and I would send an army five times greater than that. Fight against those who disobey you along with those who obey you. The inmates of Paradise are three: 1- One who wields authority and is just and fair, one who Is truthful and has been endowed with power to do good deeds. 2-. One who is merciful and kind hearted towards his relatives and to every pious Muslim. 3- One who does not stretch his hand in spite of having a large family to support. - The Messenger of Allah added: "The inmates of Hell are five: 1- The weak who lack power to (avoid evil), the (carefree) who pursue (everything irrespective of the fact that it is good or evil) and who do not have any care for their family or for their wealth. 2- Those dishonest whose greed cannot be concealed even in the case of minor things. 3- Those who betray you. morning and evening, in regard to your family and your property. 4- He also made a mention of the miser and the liar. 5- And those who are in the habit of abusing people and using obscene and foul language." Resource: Muslim, Jannah 63, (2865)

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- Since this hadith is included in Muslim’s Sahih (Muslim, Jannah 63/2865), we cannot “correct” this hadith.

- It can be useful to explain the following points regarding the hadith:

a) "The property which I have conferred upon them is lawful for them.” This statement aims to make the following correction: The polytheists rendered some camels (like saiba, bahira, wasila) haram for them. This part of the hadiths states that it is wrong and nobody but Allah has the right to render something halal or haram.

b) “I have created My servants as one having a natural inclination to the worship of Allah but it is Satan who turns them away from the right religion…” This part of the hadith indicates that human beings were created in an ability that is appropriate for acting in accordance with the orders and prohibitions of Islam, which is a religion of human nature, and that Satan made them go astray by deviating them from the true path.

This expression has the same meaning as the following hadith: “Every child is born with a true faith of Islam (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) but his parents convert him to Judaism, Christianity or Magianism.”

However, it is especially emphasized here that the polytheists did not have the right to make decrees on “halal-haram”, which they thought they did, and that this thought was contrary to their nature and conscience.   

c) “Satan commands them to ascribe partnership with Me, although he has no justification for that.”

A better translation of this part of the hadith is as follows: “Although I did not sent any evidence about his deity, he ordered them to ascribe partnership with Me.”

The phrase translated as “sending authority (sultan)” means sending evidence not power. If we leave aside the difference between “giving” and “sending”, when the badness of polytheism is attributed to the weakness of idols, idolization of strong figures like Pharaoh will be regarded permissible, which is completely wrong.

- That expression in the verse is a kind of explanation for the following verse:

“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!” (Aal-i Imran, 3/151)

In a few translations, the word “sultan” is translated as power but it is not appropriate. It is translated as “evidence, document, proof” in most of the translations.

- For instance, in tafsir resources, the following verse is explained as follows: “Yet they worship, besides Allah, things for which no authority has been sent down to them, and of which they have (really) no knowledge: for those that do wrong there is no helper.” (al-Hajj, 22/71):

That is, the polytheists worship such things that there is no evidence showing that they are real deities; there is no celestial evidence in terms of revelation and otherworldly affairs, no basis in terms of necessary knowledge, and no evidence that will convince minds. Nobody can defend that this baseless, groundless and non-proven thought is right. (see Zamakhshari, Razi,  Baydawi, Qurtubi, Maraghi,  the interpretation of the relevant verse) 

d) “Allah looked towards the people of the world and He showed hatred for the Arabs and the non-Arabs, but with the exception of some remnants from the People of the Book.” The meaning of this statement is as follows:

There were no people – except some people from the People of the Book - following the true religion left in the period between Hz. Isa and Hz. Muhammad. A period of interregnum started. There was a need for a new prophet and a new religion. Therefore, “I have sent thee (the Holy Prophet) in order to put you to test and put (those to test) through you.”

e) “And I sent the Book to you which cannot be washed away by water.” That is, no book and no prophet will be sent after you.

Therefore, your religion will continue until the Day of Judgment. The Quran, which is the source of your religion, is under the protection of Allah; no power can eliminate it.

f) “You may recite it while in the state of wakefulness or sleep." That is, the Quran will not leave your heart (memory) while you are awake or asleep; you will never forget it.

It is also indicated with this statement that the Quran is not a book that is written only in lines but also kept in hearts/memories (in the hearts of people, especially hafizes). (cf Nawawi, Sharhu Muslim,17/197-98; Mirqatul-Mafatih, 8/ 3366-67; Suyuti, Sharhu Muslim, 6/202)

g) The phrase “burn them” about Qurayshis means “destroy the unbelievers among them; eliminate them”. As a matter of fact, in some narrations, instead of “Allah commanded me to burn (kill) the Quraysh”, the phrase “He ordered me to fight them” is used. (see Mirqatul-Mafatih)

h) It is understood from the statement “You turn them out as they turned you out” that this hadith was uttered in Madinah. It is indicated by this statement that there will be material jihad, that the believers must not fear and that Allah will help them; they are encouraged about war.

Some characteristics of the people who go to Paradise or Hell are also mentioned. They are already known.

Questions on Islam

In order to make a comment, please login or register