Meanings and Significance of the Hadith about Creation on Weekdays

๐Œ๐ž๐š๐ง๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐’๐ข๐ ๐ง๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐‡๐š๐๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐‚๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐ง ๐–๐ž๐ž๐ค๐๐š๐ฒ๐ฌ

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


 Detailed discussion on the meanings and significance of the hadith about creation on weekdays reported in Sahih Muslim. The paper concludes that the hadith neither contradicts Qur’an nor explains the Six-yawm creation account. Moreover, it does not clash with any of the established modern scientific findings. And that the purpose of the hadith is simply to give a lesson in beliefs about the Almighty.

1. Introduction

In view of Muslim criticism on the Creation narrative given in the first chapter of Genesis and solid explanation of โ€œyawmโ€ meaning an unspecified period of time (possibly even an epoch)[1] in Qurโ€™anic account of the same, the missionary critics of Islam have felt the pressure somehow to find new ways to attack the Islamic sources on similar lines. 

What they tend to exploit is the wording of the following hadith:

ุนู† ุฃุจูŠ ู‡ุฑูŠุฑุฉุŒ ู‚ุงู„: ุฃุฎุฐ ุฑุณูˆู„ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… ุจูŠุฏูŠ ูู‚ุงู„: ยซุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนุฒ ูˆุฌู„ ุงู„ุชุฑุจุฉ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุณุจุชุŒ ูˆุฎู„ู‚ ููŠู‡ุง ุงู„ุฌุจุงู„ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฃุญุฏุŒ ูˆุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุดุฌุฑ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุงุซู†ูŠู†ุŒ ูˆุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ู…ูƒุฑูˆู‡ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุซู„ุงุซุงุกุŒ ูˆุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ู†ูˆุฑ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฃุฑุจุนุงุกุŒ ูˆุจุซ ููŠู‡ุง ุงู„ุฏูˆุงุจ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฎู…ูŠุณุŒ ูˆุฎู„ู‚ ุขุฏู… ุนู„ูŠู‡ ุงู„ุณู„ุงู… ุจุนุฏ ุงู„ุนุตุฑ ู…ู† ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฌู…ุนุฉุŒ ููŠ ุขุฎุฑ ุงู„ุฎู„ู‚ุŒ ููŠ ุขุฎุฑ ุณุงุนุฉ ู…ู† ุณุงุนุงุช ุงู„ุฌู…ุนุฉุŒ ููŠู…ุง ุจูŠู† ุงู„ุนุตุฑ ุฅู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ูŠู„

Usually it is translated as:

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah took my hand and said: ‘Allah, (Glorified and Exalted is He,) created the earth on Saturday, and over it He created the mountains on Sunday. He created the trees on Monday, He created things entailing labor on Tuesday, He created light on Wednesday, He scattered the animals in it on Thursday, and He created Adam, peace be upon him, after  ‘Asr  on Friday, the last of creation in the last hour of Friday, between  ‘Asr and nightfall.”[2]

It is argued by the missionaries that this hadith defines the โ€œyawmโ€ in the Islamic accounts of Creation as a week day and therefore puts to question the explanation offered by Muslim apologists. Moreover, they say, it raises scientific question of the nature Muslims raise regarding the Biblical account given in the Book of Genesis i.e. how the trees existed before the creation of light since photosynthesis is imperative for all life in the botanic kingdom. 

Another important aspect of this hadith is that even though it is included in Sahih Muslim some scholars have put its authenticity to question. Besides the objections on its narrative authority, it is held that it contradicts the Qurโ€™anic declaration that the heavens and the earth were created in six days and that earth itself was created in four days.

This is important because the general educated presumption is that the hadith narrations in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are all reliable. Hadith rejecters (of both the blunt and the minced kind) and modernists tend to use this report as an inductive argument against the reliability of reports based on the study of chain of authorities (isnad).

Though in principle, questioning this hadith has to have no real fallout on the generally agreed notion of the authenticity of Muslimโ€™s narrations there is danger of the ignorant making a rant with this. In this paper, however, we shall dwell on the understanding of the actual content (matn) of the hadith, and shall suffice with merely the overview of the criticism on its chain of narrators (isnad). 

2. Discussion on chain of narrators (isnad)

Some scholars have raised questions about its chain of narrators (isnad) and argued that the hadith involves some mistake or inadvertence on the part of some narrator. Those who have raised such questions include al-Bukhari[3], โ€˜Ali bin al-Madini[4], Ibn Kathir[5], Ibn Taymiyyah[6], Ibn al-Qayyim[7] and others. At the same time there are scholars who have accepted the hadith as authentic. They are Muslim bin Hajjaj[8], Ibn Hibban[9], Ibn al-Anbari[10], Ibn al-Jawzi[11], Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi[12], ash-Shawkani[13], al-Muallimi[14], Ahmad Shakir[15], al-Albani[16] and al-Heveni.[17]

Those who said its chain of narrators has problems said it is a narration of Kaโ€™b al-Ahbar. The first to say this was al-Bukhari who said:

ูˆู‚ุงู„ ุจุนุถู‡ู…: ุนู† ุฃุจูŠ ู‡ุฑูŠุฑุฉ ุนู† ูƒุนุจุŒ ูˆู‡ูˆ ุฃุตุญ

โ€œAnd some have said: โ€˜(It is reported from) Abu Huraira (who) related from Kaโ€™b.โ€™ And this is more authentic.โ€[18]

However, al-Albani rejected this saying it is a claim without evidence and the โ€œsomeโ€ who said this are not known.[19]

Nevertheless, it is evident that scholars who questioned this hadith did so not merely on the account of its contents. In fact they had reservations on its chain of authorities (isnad) as well. While a critical review of the discussion on its isnad is out of the scope of the present study, in the following lines we shall dwell on its subject matter (matn). 

3. Why the hadith cannot be from Israeliyat (Judeo-Christian traditions)? 

It is, however, highly improbable to dub this narration as one of Israeliyat because it counts Saturday among the days of creation which plainly contradicts the Jewish idea of Sabbath. 

For this reason it is difficult to ascribe this to Kaโ€™b al-Ahbar because his reports do take into consideration the Sabbath. At-Tabari narrates:

ุนู† ูƒุนุจุŒ ู‚ุงู„: ุจุฏุฃ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุณู…ูˆุงุช ูˆุงู„ุฃุฑุถ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฃุญุฏ ูˆุงู„ุงุซู†ูŠู†

Kaโ€™b said: โ€œAllah started the creation with the heavens and the Earth on Sunday and Monday.โ€[20]

Moreover, another Jewish convert Abdullah bin Salam has reported the same.[21] Their accounts mention the beginning of creation on Sunday and ending on Friday. This is because they came from Jewish background and related things from their knowledge of that tradition. 

This is important to observe since the chain of the narrators is not such that the hadith may be overlooked and understood as fabrication or altogether baseless. Even the scholars who criticized it said it involves some mistake or inadvertence and therefore it was suggested that it perhaps originally came from Kaโ€™b. But here we see that the subject matter is such that we cannot count it as one of Israeliyat reported by Kaโ€™b.[22]

4. The weekdays mentioned in the hadith vis-ร -vis Six-Day Creation Qurโ€™anic account

This creation of different objects on weekdays mentioned in this hadith does not explain the Qurโ€™anic account of creation of the heavens and the Earth in Six Days (al-ayyam as-sitta). This is established plainly through a version of the hadith with an-Nasaโ€™i that first mentions the creation of the heavens and the Earth in six โ€œayyamโ€ (unspecified spans of time) before the mention of creation of different things on weekdays.

ุนู† ุฃุจูŠ ู‡ุฑูŠุฑุฉุŒ ุฃู† ุงู„ู†ุจูŠ ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… ุฃุฎุฐ ุจูŠุฏูŠ ู‚ุงู„: ยซูŠุง ุฃุจุง ู‡ุฑูŠุฑุฉุŒ ุฅู† ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุณู…ูˆุงุช ูˆุงู„ุฃุฑุถูŠู† ูˆู…ุง ุจูŠู†ู‡ู…ุง ููŠ ุณุชุฉ ุฃูŠุงู…ุŒ ุซู… ุงุณุชูˆู‰ ุนู„ู‰ ุงู„ุนุฑุด ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุณุงุจุนุŒ ูˆุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุชุฑุจุฉ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุณุจุชุŒ ูˆุงู„ุฌุจุงู„ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฃุญุฏ …

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, held my hand and said, โ€œO Abu Huraira! Verily Allah created heavens and the earths and whatever is between them in six days. Then he ascended to the Throne on the seventh day. He created earth on Saturday, and mountains on Sunday โ€ฆ[23]

This shows the hadith neither contradicts the Qurโ€™an nor explains the โ€œdayโ€ (yawm) in the six-day creation account. 

al-Albani writes:

ุฃู† ู‡ุฐู‡ ุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ุงู„ุณุชุฉ ุบูŠุฑ ุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ุงู„ุณุจุนุฉ ุงู„ู…ุฐูƒูˆุฑุฉ ููŠ ุงู„ุญุฏูŠุซุŒ ูˆุฃู†ู‡ – ุฃุนู†ูŠ ุงู„ุญุฏูŠุซ – ุชุญุฏุซ ุนู† ู…ุฑุญู„ุฉ ู…ู† ู…ุฑุงุญู„ ุชุทูˆุฑ ุงู„ุฎู„ู‚ ุนู„ู‰ ูˆุฌู‡ ุงู„ุฃุฑุถ ุญุชู‰ ุตุงุฑุช ุตุงู„ุญุฉ ู„ู„ุณูƒู†ู‰ุŒ ูˆูŠุคูŠุฏู‡ ุฃู† ุงู„ู‚ุฑุขู† ูŠุฐูƒุฑ ุฃู† ุจุนุถ ุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ุนู†ุฏ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุชุนุงู„ู‰ ูƒุฃู„ู ุณู†ุฉุŒ ูˆุจุนุถู‡ุง ู…ู‚ุฏุงุฑู‡ ุฎู…ุณูˆู† ุฃู„ู ุณู†ุฉุŒ ูู…ุง ุงู„ู…ุงู†ุน ุฃู† ุชูƒูˆู† ุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ุงู„ุณุชุฉ ู…ู† ู‡ุฐุง ุงู„ู‚ุจูŠู„ุŸ ูˆุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ุงู„ุณุจุนุฉ ู…ู† ุฃูŠุงู…ู†ุง ู‡ุฐู‡ุŸ ูƒู…ุง ู‡ูˆ ุตุฑูŠุญ ุงู„ุญุฏูŠุซุŒ

The six days mentioned in the Qurโ€™an are different than the seven days mentioned in this hadith. The hadith talks about a stage from the stages of creation on the surface of the Earth until it became suitable for life. This is supported by the fact that Qurโ€™an says some of days (ayyam) with Allah are equal to a thousand years and some are fifty-thousand years. What forbids six days to be from this kind and the seven days (of hadith) to be like our days, as it is explicit in the hadith[24]

5. Week days- Days of completion of creation of various things

As to the creation of things on respective week days, the hadith only tells us what object was completed on what day of the week without having to say anything about the total span of time consumed in the process. This is clear from the accounts of the creation of man which according to this hadith happened on Friday.

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qurโ€™an:

ู‡ูŽู„ู’ ุฃูŽุชูŽู‰ ุนูŽู„ูŽู‰ ุงู„ู’ุฅูู†ู’ุณูŽุงู†ู ุญููŠู†ูŒ ู…ูู†ูŽ ุงู„ุฏูŽู‘ู‡ู’ุฑู ู„ูŽู…ู’ ูŠูŽูƒูู†ู’ ุดูŽูŠู’ุฆู‹ุง ู…ูŽุฐู’ูƒููˆุฑู‹ุง

โ€œHas there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned?โ€[25]

Explaining the verse Ibn al-Jawzi writes:

ุฃู†ู‡ ุขุฏู… ุนู„ูŠู‡ ุงู„ุณู„ุงู…. ูˆุงู„ุญูŠู† ุงู„ุฐูŠ ุฃุชู‰ ุนู„ูŠู‡: ุฃุฑุจุนูˆู† ุณู†ุฉุŒ ูˆูƒุงู† ู…ุตูˆูŽู‘ุฑุงู‹ ู…ู† ุทูŠู† ู„ู… ูŠูู†ูููŽุฎ ููŠู‡ ุงู„ุฑูˆุญุŒ ู‡ุฐุง ู‚ูˆู„ ุงู„ุฌู…ู‡ูˆุฑ

โ€œHe is Adam and the time that came upon him was forty years when was shaped out from clay yet the spirit was not breathed into him. This is the opinion of the majority.โ€[26]

In a narration it is stated:

ุนู† ุฃุจูŠ ู‡ุฑูŠุฑุฉุŒ ู‚ุงู„: ู‚ุงู„ูˆุง ูŠุง ุฑุณูˆู„ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ู…ุชู‰ ูˆุฌุจุช ู„ูƒ ุงู„ู†ุจูˆุฉุŸ ู‚ุงู„: ยซูˆุขุฏู… ุจูŠู† ุงู„ุฑูˆุญ ูˆุงู„ุฌุณุฏยป

Abu Huraira narrated: โ€œThey said: โ€˜O Messenger of Allah! When was the Prophethood established for you?โ€™ He said: โ€˜While Adam was between (being) soul and body.โ€™โ€[27]

This hadith actually explains the โ€œperiod of time when Adam,โ€ the father of mankind, โ€œwas not a thing mentioned.โ€[28]

And like the hadith under discussion there are other reports about creation of Adam on Friday narrated by Abu Huraira,[29] Aws bin Aws[30] and Saโ€™d bin โ€˜Ubadah.[31]

These hadith reports suggest the creation of Adam was a process that continued for a certain period of time exceeding forty years. Therefore, narrations about creation of Adam on Friday can be understood to mean perfection and completion of the said process.[32]

The same may be said of creation of rest of the things on other days mentioned in the hadith of Abu Huraira. Regardless of the time it took for the creation of any of the objects each was completed and perfected on the respective day of the week.

5. Trees created before the creation of light?

The foregoing also entails the sequence is not implied. The purpose of the hadith, it appears, is only to tell that all the days of the week the process of creation continued. This is to reject the idea of God resting on Saturday and the Jewish belief of Sabbath.

Moreover, the order of mention does not necessarily imply sequence of creation except for the creation of Adam which is categorically mentioned to be the last of all. Use of the conjunction โ€œwaโ€ (and) does not imply relative order. Fakhr ad-Deen ar-Razi (d. 606 AH) reiterated this point over and over again in his commentary. For instance, at one point he stated:

ุงู„ูˆุงูˆ ู„ู„ุฌู…ุน ุงู„ู…ุทู„ู‚ ู„ุง ู„ู„ุชุฑุชูŠุจ

โ€œThe letter โ€˜wawโ€™ denotes unrestricted conjunction and not relative order.โ€[33]

The significance of this point along with earlier observations is that the hadith does not imply the creation of trees before the creation of light. It only means in the overall Creation Plan when the creation of trees was completed it was Monday and the same in case of light happened on a Wednesday. And as we know, every Wednesday is followed by a Monday of the subsequent week.

The purpose of the hadith is not to describe the sequential plan of creation but only to tell us that something was created and perfected on every day of the week regardless of the order and intervening period between the (perfection of the) creation of those different things.

Moreover, the word โ€œnoorโ€ does not necessarily mean โ€œlight.โ€ Explaining โ€œmakroohโ€ and โ€œnoorโ€ Ibn al-Athir al-Jazri said:

(ุงู„ู…ูƒุฑูˆู‡) : ุถุฏ ุงู„ู…ุญุจูˆุจุŒ ูƒุฃู† ุงู„ู…ุฑุงุฏ ุจู‡ ู‡ุงู‡ู†ุง: ุงู„ุดุฑุŒ ู„ู‚ูˆู„ู‡ ููŠ ุงู„ุญุฏูŠุซ: ยซูˆุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ู†ูˆุฑ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฃุฑุจุนุงุกยป ูˆุงู„ู†ูˆุฑ ุฎูŠุฑ.

โ€œal-Makruhโ€: Opposite of the liked. Here it means evil as the hadith further says, โ€œAnd He created al-noor on Wednesday.โ€ Nur is goodness.[34]

As per this interpretation the hadith would mean, โ€œHe created the trees on Monday, He created the evil on Tuesday, He created the goodness on Wednesday,โ€

This understanding makes the question of trees coming to existence before light totally irrelevant.

6. Intended purpose of the hadith

It is imperative to understand that the sayings of the Prophet always have some point to make on the beliefs and ethics. The mention of different facts about physical phenomenon is only for the purpose of bringing out such a point.

Shah Wali Ullah (d. 1176 AH) states;

ูˆูŽู…ู† ุณูŠุฑุชู‡ู… ุฃูŽู„ุง ูŠุดุชุบู„ูˆุง ุจูู…ูŽุง ู„ูŽุง ูŠุชูŽุนูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‚ ุจุชู‡ุฐูŠุจ ุงู„ู†ูŽู‘ูุณ ูˆุณูŠุงุณุฉ ุงู„ู’ุฃู…ุฉ ูƒุจูŠุงู† ุฃูŽุณุจูŽุงุจ ุญูˆุงุฏุซ ุงู„ุฌูˆ ู…ู† ุงู„ู’ู…ูŽุทูŽุฑ ูˆุงู„ูƒุณูˆู ูˆุงู„ู‡ุงู„ุฉ ูˆุนุฌุงุฆุจ ุงู„ู†ูŽู‘ุจูŽุงุช ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ุญูŽูŠูŽูˆูŽุงู† ูˆู…ู‚ุงุฏูŠุฑ ุณูŠุฑ ุงู„ุดูŽู‘ู…ู’ุณ ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ู‚ูŽู…ูŽุฑ ูˆูŽุฃูŽุณู’ุจูŽุงุจ ุงู„ู’ุญูŽูˆูŽุงุฏูุซ ุงู„ูŠูˆู…ูŠุฉ ูˆู‚ุตุต ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽู†ู’ุจููŠูŽุงุก ูˆุงู„ู…ู„ูˆูƒ ูˆุงู„ุจู„ุฏุงู† ูˆูŽู†ูŽุญู’ูˆู‡ูŽุง ุงู„ู„ูŽู‘ู‡ูู…ูŽู‘ ุฅูู„ูŽู‘ุง ูƒูŽู„ูู…ูŽุงุช ูŠุณูŠุฑูŽุฉ ุฃู„ูู‡ุง ุฃุณู…ุงุนู‡ู…ุŒ ูˆูŽู‚ุจู„ู‡ูŽุง ุนูู‚ููˆู„ู‡ู…ู’ ูŠูุคู’ุชู‰ ุจู‡ูŽุง ูููŠ ุงู„ุชูŽู‘ุฐู’ูƒููŠุฑ ุจุขู„ุงุก ุงู„ู„ู‡ ูˆุงู„ุชุฐูƒูŠุฑ ุจุฃูŠุงู… ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ู‰ ุณูŽุจููŠู„ ุงู„ุงุณุชุทุฑุงุฏ ุจููƒูŽู„ูŽุงู… ุฅุฌู…ุงู„ูŠ ูŠุณุงู…ุญ ูููŠ ู…ุซู„ู‡ ุจุฅูŠุฑุงุฏ ุงู„ุงุณุชุนุงุฑุงุช ูˆุจุงู„ู…ุฌุงุฒุงุชุŒ ูˆูŽู„ูู‡ูŽุฐูŽุง ุงู„ุฃูŽุตู’ู„ ู„ู…ุง ุณูŽุฃูŽู„ููˆุง ุงู„ู†ูŽู‘ุจููŠ ุตูŽู„ูŽู‘ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ู ุนูŽู„ูŽูŠู’ู‡ู ูˆูŽุณูŽู„ูŽู‘ู…ูŽ ุนูŽู† ู„ู…ูŠุฉ ู†ูู‚ู’ุตูŽุงู† ุงู„ู’ู‚ูŽู…ูŽุฑ ูˆุฒูŠุงุฏุชู‡ ุฃุนุฑุถ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุชูŽุนูŽุงู„ูŽู‰ ุนูŽู† ุฐูŽู„ููƒ ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ ุจูŽูŠูŽุงู† ููŽูˆูŽุงุฆูุฏ ุงู„ุดูู‘ู‡ููˆุฑ ููŽู‚ูŽุงู„ูŽ: {ูŠูŽุณู’ุฃูŽู„ููˆู†ูŽูƒ ุนูŽู† ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽู‡ูู„ู‘ุฉ ู‚ู„ ู‡ููŠูŽ ู…ูŽูˆูŽุงู‚ููŠุช ู„ู„ู†ูŽู‘ุงุณ ูˆูŽุงู„ู’ุญุฌ} ูˆูŽุชุฑู‰ ูƒุซูŠุฑุง ู…ู† ุงู„ู†ูŽู‘ุงุณ ูุณุฏ ุฐูˆู‚ู‡ู… ุจูุณูŽุจูŽุจ ุงู„ุฃู„ูุฉ ุจูู‡ูŽุฐูู‡ู ุงู„ู’ููู†ููˆู† ุฃูŽูˆ ุบูŽูŠุฑู‡ูŽุง ู…ู† ุงู„ู’ุฃูŽุณู’ุจูŽุงุจุŒ ูุญู…ู„ูˆุง ูƒูŽู„ูŽุงู… ุงู„ุฑูู‘ุณูู„ ุนู„ู‰ ุบูŠุฑ ู…ุญู…ู„ู‡ุŒ ูˆูŽุงู„ู„ู‡ ุงุนู’ู„ูŽู…

โ€œIn their conduct (the prophets) did not occupy themselves with what had no relevance for refining the soul and the governing of the community. They did not explain the events of the atmosphere like rain, eclipses, rings around the sun or moon, the wonders of plants and animals, the measurement of the paths of the sun and moon, the causes of daily events, and the stories of the prophets, kings, countries and so on, unless they used simple words with which their audience was familiar,

and that their minds would accept if these were used to remind them of the blessings of God and the requital of God, unless this was by way of digression into a general discussion which is permitted in cases like this, through introducing metaphors and similes. 

This was basically the case when they asked the Prophet about the reasons for the waxing and waning of the moon, and God the Exalted turned from that to the explanation of the benefits of that waning and waxing, and said, “They ask you about the new moons, say they are times appointed for the people and the pilgrimages.” (Qur’an 2:189)

You may see many people whose taste is corrupted because of familiarity with these (technical) fields, or due to other causes, so that they apply the words of the prophets to things to which they did not refer, and God knows better.โ€[34-a]

Scholars have explained the intended purpose of the hadith. Abu al-Qasim as-Suhayli (d. 581 AH) in his commentary to Ibn Hishamโ€™s edition of Ibn Ishaqโ€™s work stated:

ูˆูƒุงู† ุงู„ูŠู‡ูˆุฏ ุฅู†ู…ุง ุงุฎุชุงุฑูˆุง ุงู„ุณุจุช ู„ุฃู†ู‡ู… ุงุนุชู‚ุฏูˆู‡ ุงู„ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุณุงุจุน ุซู… ุฒุงุฏูˆุง ู„ูƒูุฑู‡ู… ุฃู† ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุงุณุชุฑุงุญ ููŠู‡ ุชุนุงู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู† ู‚ูˆู„ู‡ู… ู„ุฃู† ุจุฏุก ุงู„ุฎู„ู‚ ุนู†ุฏู‡ู… ุงู„ุฃุญุฏ ูˆุขุฎุฑ ุงู„ุณุชุฉ ุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ุงู„ุชูŠ ุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ููŠู‡ุง ุงู„ุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุฌู…ุนุฉ ูˆู‡ูˆ ุฃูŠุถุง ู…ุฐู‡ุจ ุงู„ู†ุตุงุฑู‰ุŒ ูุงุฎุชุงุฑูˆุง ุงู„ุฃุญุฏ ู„ุฃู†ู‡ ุฃูˆู„ ุงู„ุฃูŠุงู… ููŠ ุฒุนู…ู‡ู… ูˆู‚ุฏ ุดู‡ุฏ ุงู„ุฑุณูˆู„ – ุตู„ู‰ ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุนู„ูŠู‡ ูˆุณู„ู… – ู„ู„ูุฑูŠู‚ูŠู† ุจุฅุถู„ุงู„ ุงู„ูŠูˆู… ูˆู‚ุงู„ ููŠ ุตุญูŠุญ ู…ุณู„ู…: “ุฅู† ุงู„ู„ู‡ ุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุชุฑุจุฉ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุณุจุช”

The Jews specified Saturday for they believed it is the seventh day. Moreover, they increased in their blasphemy by saying that Allah rested on this day -Allah is exalted above what they say! This is because to them creation stated on Sunday and the last of the six days on which Allah created things was Friday. Same is the stance of the Christians.

They specified Sunday because to them it was the first of the days. And the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, testified that both Jews and Christians have missed the day (originally decreed to be specified in the True Revealed Religion). He, as in Sahih Muslim, said: โ€œAllah created Earth on Saturday.โ€[35]

Ahmad โ€˜Abdur-Rahman al-Banna as-Saโ€™ati (d. 1378 AH) commented:

ูˆู‚ูˆู„ู‡ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุณุจุช ููŠู‡ ุฑุฏ ุฒุนู… ุงู„ูŠู‡ูˆุฏ ุฃู†ู‡ ุงุจุชุฏุฃ ููŠ ุฎู„ู‚ ุงู„ุนุงู„ู… ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฃุญุฏ ูˆูุฑุบ ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฌู…ุนุฉุŒ ูˆุงุณุชุฑุงุญ ุงู„ุณุจุชุŒ ู‚ุงู„ูˆุง: ูˆู†ุญู† ู†ุณุชุฑูŠุญ ููŠู‡ ูƒู…ุง ุงุณุชุฑุงุญ ุงู„ุฑุจ. ูˆู‡ุฐุง ู…ู† ุฌู…ู„ุฉ ุบุจุงูˆุชู‡ู…ุŒ ูˆุฌู‡ู„ู‡ู…ุŒ ุฅุฐ ุงู„ุชุนุจ ู„ุง ูŠุชุตูˆุฑ ุฅู„ุง ุนู„ู‰ ุญุงุฏุซ.

โ€œIn the mention of creation of Earth on Saturday is the rejection of the Jewish belief that Allah started the creation of the universe on Sunday, finished it on Friday and rested on Saturday (Sabbath). They say, โ€˜We take rest on this day as God rested.โ€™ This from their ignorance for fatigue can affect only the non-Eternal (i.e. it cannot affect God).โ€[36]

7. Answer to further objections and queries

Having positively described the meanings of the hadith letโ€™s now turn to answering the objections and queries about the hadith.

7.1 Objection that the hadith contradicts Qurโ€™an

Some have raised an objection that the hadith contradicts Qurโ€™an for it counts seven days of creation whereas Qurโ€™an mentions it happened in six โ€˜ayyam.’

It has already been stated that the hadith neither explains the Qurโ€™anic โ€˜daysโ€™ nor contradicts that account. This is an independent narrative aimed for a separate purpose. All this has been deliberated upon in the foregoing.

7.2 It contradicts other hadith reports

It is also said that it contradicts another hadith report recorded by at-Tabari which says the Creation of Earth took place on Sunday and Monday and in which in total counts six days of creation i.e. Sunday to Friday. Al-Tabari writes:

Now then, this being so, there is (also) a sound tradition from the Messenger of God told us by Hannad b. al-Sari, who also said that he read all of the hadith (to Abu Bakr)- Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash- Abu Sa’d al-Baqqal- ‘Ikrimah- Ibn Abbas: The Jews came to the Prophet and asked him about the creation of the heavens and the earth. He said: God created the earth on Sunday and Monday. He created the mountains and the uses they possess on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, He created trees, water, cities and the cultivated barren land. These are four (days). He continued (citing the Qur’an): ‘Say: Do you really not believe in the One Who created the earth in two days, and set up others like Him? That is the Lord of the worlds. He made it firmly anchored (mountains) above it and blessed it and decreed that it contain the amount of food it provides, (all) in four days, equally for those asking’- for those who ask.

On Thursday, He created heaven. On Friday, He created the stars, the sun, the moon, and the angels, until three hours remained. In the first of these three hours He created the terms (of human life), who would live and who would die. In the second, He cast harm upon everything that is useful for mankind. And in the third, (He created) Adam and had him dwell in Paradise. He commanded Iblis to prostrate himself before Adam, and He drove Adam out of Paradise at the end of the hour.

When the Jews asked: What then, Muhammad? He said: ‘Then He sat straight upon the Throne.’ The Jews said: You are right, if you had finished, they said, with: Then He rested. Whereupon the Prophet got very angry, and it was revealed: ‘We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us. Thus be patient with what you say.'”[37]

Even though at-Tabari suggests that this narration is sound it is actually not. A number of scholars have graded it as dubious. 

The same report is given by al-Hakim in his al-Mustadrak and Abu Shaykh in his al-Azmah. Adh-Dhahabi in his annotations to al-Mustadrak point out the problem with its chain of narrators, โ€œAbu Sa’d al-Baqqal: Ibn Maโ€™in said, โ€˜his narrations are not to be written.โ€™โ€[38]

The researcher of al-Asbahaniโ€™s al-โ€˜Azmah also graded it as daโ€™if (weak) for the same reason.[39]

Likewise, in the critical edition of Tarikh at-Tabari it has been counted as weak report.[40]

As-Suhayli taking evidence with the subject hadith of Abu Huraira contends against at-Tabariโ€™s position:

ูˆู…ุง ุงุญุชุฌ ุจู‡ ุงู„ุทุจุฑูŠ ู…ู† ุญุฏูŠุซ ุขุฎุฑ ูู„ูŠุณ ููŠ ุงู„ุตุญุฉ ูƒุงู„ุฐูŠ ู‚ุฏู…ู†ุงู‡

โ€œThe hadith with which at-Tabari sought evidence is not like the hadith we have brought forwardโ€[41]

This highlight of the weakness of at-Tabariโ€™s report also frustrates the attempts of missionary critics of Islam who use it in an attempt to superimpose the 24 hours day interpretation of โ€œyawmโ€ (lit. day) to the Qurโ€™anic accounts of creation of heavens and the earth in six โ€˜daysโ€™ (ayyam). 

7.3 Objection that the hadith goes against consensus

The alleged consensus, as stated by at-Tabari, is that the creation started on Sunday while this hadith begins with the mention of the earth on Saturday. Firstly, as mentioned earlier at least for this hadith no sequence is established. Therefore, the point is actually irrelevant for the purpose of this hadith. 

Moreover, the said claim of consensus (ijmaโ€™) is very much questionable even. Not only that Ibn Ishaq (d. 151 AH) contended otherwise Abu Bakr Ibn al-Anbari (d. 328 AH) actually claimed consensus (ijmaโ€˜) on creation starting on Saturday.[42] True that Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728 AH) questioned Ibn al-Anbariโ€™s claim but it nevertheless refutes the consensus suggestion of at-Tabari.

7.4 The hadith does not mention the creation of Heavens

It is also argued that while Qurโ€™an mentions the creation of heavens within the six days but this hadith makes no mention of the creation of heavens. This objection again misses the point that hadith under consideration is not expounding upon the six day creation account of the Qurโ€™an. Also, it no way gives an elaborate and detailed description of creation that it must mention creation of heavens.

7.5 Creation of Earth happened in two days according to Qurโ€™an

Another objection can be about the creation of earth that while Qurโ€™an says it happened in two days[43] this hadith says it happened on Saturday.  This is, once again, answered by recounting to two primary positions taken in the explanation above 1) the hadith is no way explaining the Qurโ€™anic accounts of creation, and 2) it only tells when on what weekdays the span of creation of each of the objects mentioned was completed.

8. Conclusion

– The authenticity of this hadith of Abu Hurairah though questioned by some has been affirmed by a number of scholars. 

– The hadith does not contradict Qurโ€™an nor does it define โ€˜yawmโ€™ in the Qurโ€™anic accounts of the creation.

– The hadith neither gives an elaborate plan nor the sequence of creation of different things.  Likewise, it does not give the span of creation of any of the things mentioned. It only tells us as to what day of the week creation of different things was completed and perfected as clear from collective understanding of hadith reports about the creation of Adam. The same shall apply to the creation of other things mentioned in the hadith.

– The purpose of the hadith, as it appears, is only to reject and refute the Judeo-Christian belief of Sabbath. 

— by Waqar Akbar Cheema

References and Notes:

[1] That โ€œyawmโ€ can mean a very long span of time is established. E.W. Lane writes: โ€œtime absolutely, whether night or not, little or not: this is the proper signification;โ€(Arabic-English Lexicon, 3064) Hans Wher says; โ€œalso: age, era, time โ€ฆโ€ (A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1110) Raghib al-Asbahani said the same (al-Mufradat fi Gharib al-Qurโ€™an, 894)

[2] Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, Hadith 7054 (27-2789)

[3] al-Bukhari, Muhammad bin Ismaโ€™il, Tarikh al-Kabir, Vol.1, 413

[4] al-Bayhaqi, Abu Bakr, al-Asmaโ€˜ wa as-Sifat, Vol.2, 256

[5] Ibn Kathir, โ€˜Imad ad-Deen, Tafsir al-Qurโ€™an al-โ€˜Azim, Vol.1,123

[6] Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi ad-Deen Ahmad, Majmuโ€˜a al-Fatawa, Vol.17, 235

[7] Ibn al-Qayyim, Shams ad-Deen, al-Minar al-Manif fi as-Sahih wa Daโ€™if, 84-85

[8] As he included it in his โ€œsahihโ€ work

[9] al-Andalusi, Ibn Hibban, as-Sahih, Hadith 6161 All the narrations in his collection were โ€œsahihโ€ to him.

[10] Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Maysar fi โ€˜Ilm at-Tafsir, Vol.2, 127

[11] Ibn al-Jawzi, Kashaf al-Mushkil, Vol.3, 580

[12] Al-Andalusi, Abu Hayyan, al-Bahr al-Muhit fi at-Tafsir, Vol.5, 64-65

[13] ash-Shawkani, Muhammad bin โ€˜Ali, Fath al-Qadir, Vol.1, 73

[14] al-Muallimi, Abdul Rahman bin Yahya, al-Anwar al-Kashifa, Vol.1, 188-193

[15] Ahmad Shakir (ed.), Musnad Ahmad, Vol.8, 282 Hadith 8323

[16] al-Albani, Nasir ad-Deen, Silsala Ahadith as-Sahiha, Vol.4, 449 No. 1833, Vol.2, 725-727

Tahqiq al-Mishkat, No.

[17] al-Heveni, Abu Ishaq (ed.), Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol.2, 230-233

[18] al-Bukhari, Muhammad bin Ismaโ€™il, Tarikh al-Kabir, Vol.1, 413

[19] al-Albani, Nasir ad-Deen, Silsala Ahadith as-Sahiha, Vol.4, 449

[20] al-Tabari, Abu Jaโ€™far, Tarikh ar-Rusul wal Muluk, Vol.1, 44, Translated in Rosenthal, Franz, The History of alTabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood, 211

As-Suyuti tells us Ibn Abi Shaybah related the same from Kaโ€™b al-Ahbar (al-Durr al-Manthur, Vol.3, 473)

[21] Al-Dhahabi, Shams ad-Din, al-โ€˜Uluw li-โ€˜Aliy al-Ghaffar, Hadith 312; the report is sahih

[22] Twakkal, Abd Alfatah, Kaโ€™b al-Ahbar and the Israโ€™iliyyat in the Tafsir Literature (Masterโ€™s thesis at McGill University 2007), 52-53

[23] an-Nasaโ€˜i, Ahmad bin โ€˜Abdur-Rahman, Sunan al-Kubra, Hadith 11328;  al-Albani graded it as jayyid (good). See, Mushtasar al-โ€˜Uluw, 112

[24] al-Albani, Nasir ad-Din, Tahqiq al-Mishkat, Vol.3, 1597-1598 Hadith 5734

Lest one say it involves Fallacy of Equivocation, it should be noted that the meaning of the word โ€œyawmโ€ is unrestricted (see note 1 above) as such but once specific weekdays (e.g. yawm al-ahad = Sunday) are mentioned it is taken in its evident restricted sense. So the variance follows the restricted/specific and unrestricted/unspecific usage.

[25] Qurโ€™an 76:1

[26] Ibn al-Jawzi, Abu al-Faraj, Zad al-Maysar fi โ€˜ilm at-Tafsir, Vol.4, 374

[27] At-Tirmidhi, Abu โ€˜Eisa, al-Jamiโ€˜, Hadith 3609 Classified as sahih by al-Albani

[28] Ibn Taymiyyah, Taqi ad-Deen Ahmad,  Majmuโ€˜a Rasaโ€™il wa Masaโ€™il, Vol.4, 8-9, see also;

at-Tahawi, Abu Jaโ€™far, Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, Vol.15, 233-234

[29] Muslim bin Hajjaj, as-Sahih, Hadith 1976 (854-17)

[30] as-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, as-Sunan, Hadith 1047 Classified as sahih by al-Albani

[31] Ahmad bin Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 22457 Authenticated by Shuโ€™ayb al-Arnaโ€˜ut

[32] I say it is about completion/perfection of the creation because some reports about creation of Adam say on Friday the spirit was infused into him which obviously marked the completion of his creation. (cf. Qurโ€™an 15:28-29) Al-โ€˜Ayni commenting to a hadith on the virtues of Friday reported from Abu Huraira, said:

ู‚ูˆู„ู‡:” ููŠู‡ ุฎู„ู‚ ุงูŽุฏู…ู” ุงู„ู…ุฑุงุฏ ู…ู†ู‡: ู†ูุฎ ุงู„ุฑูˆุญ ููŠู‡. ู‚ุงู„ ุงู„ุนุฒูŠุฒูŠ: ุชู„ุฌ ููŠ ุขุฏู… ุงู„ุฑูˆุญู ูŠูˆู… ุงู„ุฌู…ุนุฉ

โ€œThe words โ€˜Adam was created on this dayโ€™ mean โ€˜the Spirit was infused into him [on this day]โ€™. Al-โ€˜Azizi said, โ€˜The spirit was infused into Adam on Fridayโ€™โ€ (Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol.4, 362)

Use of the word โ€œkhalaqโ€ does not preclude this interpretation for it has been used for all the various stages of human creation. See, for instance, Qurโ€™an 4:1, 23:12-14 and 39:6

[33] Ar-Razi, Fakhr ad-Deen, Mafatih al-Ghayb, Vol.8, 319, also see Vol.2, 438; Vol.6, 516; Vol.8, 206, 218, 238 et al.

[34] al-Jazri, Ibn al-Athir, Jamiโ€˜ al-Usul fi Ahadith ar-Rasul, Vol.4, 25

[34-a] Wali Ullah, Shah, Hujjat Allah al-Baligha- The Conclusive Argument from God, Translated by Marcia K. Hermansen, 256

[35] as-Suhayli, Abu al-Qasim, Rawd al-Unuf, Vol.4, 57

[36] As-Saโ€™ati, Ahmad Abdur-Rahman, al-Fath ar-Rabbani maโ€˜ Bulugh al-Amani, Vol.3, 3620

[37] al-Tabari, Abu Jaโ€™far, Tarikh ar-Rusul wal Muluk, Vol.1, 22, Translated in Rosenthal, Franz, The History of alTabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood, 187-188

[38] Adh-DhahabiShams ad-Deen (annotator), al-Mustadrak lil-Hakim, Hadith 3997

[39] al-Mubarakpuri, Ridaullah (ed.), al-Azmah li-Abi ash-Shaykh, Vol.4, 1362-163

[40] al-Barzinji and Hallaq, Daโ€™if Tarikh at-Tabari, Vol.1, 9 No.12

[41] as-Suhayli, Abu al-Qasim, Rawd al-Unuf, Vol.4, 60

[42] Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Maysar, Vol.2, 127; and al-Andalusi, Abu Hayyan, al-Bahr al-Muhit, Vol.5, 64

[43] Qurโ€™an, 41:9