Regarding the Hadith: “Verily, Allah sends for this Ummah at the head of every hundred years the one who renews for it its religion”

Q: I heard a Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) stated: “Verily, Allah sends for this Ummah (nation) at the head of every hundred years the one who reforms for it the matters of its religion.” I have some inquires regarding this Hadith.A- What are the Sanad (chain of narrators) and the correct Matn (text) of this Hadith? Who among the Companions narrated it? (Part No. 2; Page No. 247)  B- What are the characteristics of the meant reformers, if it is possible? C- What is the meaning of (reforming the matters of religion) when the Prophet (peace be upon him) left us on absolute clear guidance? D- How can we know these reformers? E- Is it true that these reformers are raised at the end of the twelfth year of every Hijri (lunar) century?


A: First: The above Hadith is narrated by Abu Dawud in his Sunan on the authority of Sulayman ibn Dawud Al-Mahry who said: `Abdullah ibn Wahb informed me on the authority of Sa`id ibn Ayyub from Sharahil ibn Yazid Al-Mu‘afiry from Abu ‘Alqamah from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah sends for this Ummah (nation) at the head of every hundred years the one who renews for it its religion.” Second: This is a Sahih (authentic) Hadith whose narrators are all Thiqat (reliable and trustworthy). Third and Fourth: The meaning of the Prophet’s statement: renews for it its religion is that whenever many Muslims start to deviate from the straight path of the Din (religion) of Islam perfected and chosen by Allah for His servants to complete His Favor upon them, He will raise among them one or several scholars who have profound knowledge of Islam to teach people the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). (Part No. 2; Page No. 248) These scholars will warn Muslims from falling into acts of Bid‘ah (innovations) and newly-invented practices introduced into the religion and will guide them back to the straight path of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, this is described as a “renewal” as regards the Ummah and not as regards religion itself that was ordained and perfected by Allah. Change, decline and deviation may only happen time after time to the Ummah, whereas Islam shall remain guarded by the divinely guarded Book of Allah (the Qur’an) and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him). Allah (Exalted be He) says (what means): Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’ân) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption). Fifth: There is nothing in the Hadith to indicate that these reformers will be raised at the head of the twelfth year of every century. The Hadith only indicates that they will be raised by the Will and Wisdom of Allah at the head of every hundred years, according to the Hijri (lunar) calendar, as it was the only one Muslims used at that time. It is out of Allah’s Grace and Mercy towards His servants to raise among them these reformers so that no person should have an excuse after conveying and clarifying the message of Islam to them.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

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