The Hadith: 'If a Muslim builds a building that is higher than seven cubits...'

Q 8: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “If a Muslim builds a building that is higher than seven cubits ...” or as said by the Prophet (peace be upon him). What is the degree of authenticity of this Hadith?

A: This Hadith was narrated by Al-Tabarany in his book entitled Al-Kabir on the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) with the wording, “Anyone who builds a building that is higher than ten cubits, a caller from heaven will call upon them, saying, ‘O enemy of Allah! Where do you want (to reach)?’” and with the wording, “If a Muslim man builds a building that reaches seven or nine cubits high, a caller from heaven will call upon him (saying): ‘Where (higher) are you going, O you most wicked person!’” Its Sanad (chain of narrators) includes Al-Rabi‘ ibn Sulayman Al-Himyary. Moreover, it was mentioned by Al-Dhahaby in his book entitled Dhayl Al-Du‘afa’ (a book written specifically about weak narrators). These Hadith can not stand as evidence for banning high buildings. However, in his Sahih (Authentic Hadith book), Muslim narrated on the authority of `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in an answer to Jibril (Gabriel, peace be upon him) when he asked him about the signs of the Last Hour, ...When you see the barefooted, naked, destitute shepherds vying with one another in constructing lofty buildings. This Hadith is ranked as Sahih (a Hadith that has been transmitted by people known for their uprightness and exactitude; free from eccentricity and blemish); it dispraises vying in the construction of towering buildings. Scholars held that it means the buildings that are built for the sake of showing off, pomposity and lavishness. Their view is supported by the connotations of "affectation" and "contention" which the word "vying" conveys (in the Hadith).However, constructing many high buildings to serve as public facilities or housing units (Part No. 4; Page No. 484) to provide housing for the needy and governmental employees, or for rent is allowed.