The Hadith: 'Shall I teach you words by which Allah will benefit you...'

Q: I have read at the end of the book of Tafsir (explanation of the meanings of the Qur’an) by Ibn Kathir a reported supplication for memorizing Qur’an and driving away forgetfulness - briefing the Sanad (chain of narrators) - on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas, who narrated that `Aly ibn Abu Talib said, “O Messenger of Allah! The Qur’an is slipping from my heart (i.e. My memory).” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Shall I teach you words by which Allah will benefit you and benefit anyone whom you teach them to.” He said, “Yes, let my father and mother be sacrificed for you.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Pray on the eve of Friday four Rak‘ahs (units of prayer). Recite Al-Fatihah and Ya-Sin in the first Rak‘ah; Al-Fatihah and (Ha -Mim) Al-Dukhan in the second Rak‘ah; Al-Fatihah and (Alif, Lam, Mim, Tanzil) Al-Sajdah in the third; and Al-Fatihah and Tabarak Al-Mufassal in the fourth. When you finish the Tashahhud (a recitation in the sitting position in the second/last unit of Prayer), praise and extol Allah and then invoke Allah’s Blessings upon the prophets, then seek forgiveness for the believers, and after that say: (Part No. 4; Page No. 446) (O Allah have mercy upon me by helping me abandon sins as long as You keep me alive, and relieve me from engaging in what does not concern me. Bestow on me the blessing of seeking all that makes me gain Your Contentment. O Allah! Originator of the heavens and the earth, Possessor of Majesty, Honor and Glory that can never be attained. I ask You, O Allah, O Most Merciful One, in the Name of Your Majesty and the Light of Your Face to oblige my heart to memorize Your Book in the way You have taught me, and bless me with reciting it in the way that makes You pleased with me. I ask You to enlighten with this Book my sight and make my tongue flow with it; relieve by it my heart, expand by it my chest, employ my body in serving it, and give me strength and support to do that as only You can help me do good and no one can grant success but You). The Prophet (peace be upon him) continued, “Do this three, five or seven Fridays and you will memorize it by Allah’s Leave. This (supplication) never failed a believer.” After seven Fridays, ‘Aly came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and told him that he had memorized the Qur’an and the Hadith. Upon that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A believer, by the Lord of the Ka‘bah (the Sacred house)! Teach (this to others) Abu Al-Hassan, teach Abu Al-Hassan.” That was the text mentioned by Al-Tabarany, I hope that your Eminence will answer my following questions: 1- Is this Hadith Sahih (authentic) or Da‘if (weak)? (Part No. 4; Page No. 447) 2- Is it permissible to act according to a Da‘if, Mursal (a Hadith with no Companion of the Prophet in the chain of narration), Mu‘allaq (a Hadith missing a link in the chain of narration, reported directly from the Prophet) or other kinds of Hadith in acts of worship, as is the case with this Hadith, which is Da‘if; especially when related to the worship of Salah (prayer) and its great virtue? 3- Will this not affect ‘Aqidah (creed)?

A: First, Ibn Kathir said regarding this Hadith: It is obvious that this Hadith is strange, or even rejected. End of quote. None of the narrations that we have for this Hadith proves it to be authentic. Second, Hadith that cannot be taken as evidence are not relied on in Tashri‘ (Islamic Legislation), and we recommend you to refer to Mustalah Al-Hadith (Hadith Terminology) specially, [Muqadimah Ibn Salah], [Nukhbat Al-Fikr] by Ibn Hajar and his explanation [Nuzhah Al-Nazhar] as well, so that you can learn in detail the Hadith which can or cannot be quoted as evidence. Third, there is no objection to saying this supplication, for it is a good one and does not include any words violative of Shari‘ah (Islamic law). However, you should not perform the mentioned Salah (prayer) to say this supplication because there is no evidence of its validity. As for supplication, there is no harm if a person says whatever supplication they like as long as it does not contain any unlawful words; even it is not authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is authentically reported in the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his Companions the Tashahhud, then he said: “Then choose whatever supplication you love best and supplicate with it.” In other narration, he (peace be upon him) said: “Then he may choose any invocation that he likes.” (Part No. 4; Page No. 448) It is also reported in the Sahih (Authentic book of Hadith) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The nearest a servant can be to his Lord is when he is prostrating, so supplicate to Allah much (while in that posture).” However, he (peace be upon him) has not specified a certain supplication. There are many Hadith narrated in this regard. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.