The story of copying the Book of Daniel

Q 1: The Prophet (peace be upon him) entered the Masjid (mosque) and saw a group of people gathered around a man. He (peace be upon him) asked, “Who is this?” The people said, “O Messenger of Allah! He is a knowledgeable man.” (Part No. 4; Page No. 408) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “What do you mean by knowledgeable?” They said, “He is the most knowledgeable person about Arabic lineages, Arabic language, poetry, and the matters over which the Arabs differ.” He (peace be upon him) said, “This is knowledge that will bring no benefit and ignorance of it will bring no harm.” Or however the Prophet (peace be upon him) actually said it. My question is: Does this Hadith mean that it is objectionable that people study such things as Arabic, poetry, and the like, just for their own sake or is there another meaning to it? Can the apparent meaning of this Hadith lead to a misunderstanding and are there other Hadith that contradict this one?


A: There are many Hadith that vilify poetry, some of which are Sahih (Hadith transmitted by people known for their uprightness and exactitude; free from eccentricity and blemish) and others that are not. An example of one Sahih Hadith is related by Imam Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Ahl-ul-Sunan (authors of Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, It is better that the inside of a person be filled with pus until it is consumed, than it be filled with poetry. Nevertheless, some of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them) were poets, the most famous of which was Hassan (may Allah be pleased with him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) approved of his poetry, and in fact even ordered him to defend him through it. Thus, Hassan used to lash the Mushriks (those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) with his poetry. Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud related on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, In some of eloquence is magic and some of poetry has wisdom. From this it is clear that not all poetry is vilified, in fact it is only regarded so if it is dissolute, refutes the truth, supports falsehood, includes lies, and the like and is to be regarded as good if it is otherwise. Poetry is a type of speech and the basic ruling on speech is that it is Mubah (permissible), (Part No. 4; Page No. 409) unless it includes something that makes it not so. You can refer to the introduction of: "Dala’il Al-I‘jaz" by ‘Abdul-Qahir Al-Jirjany. Regarding lineage, there are many Hadith encouraging learning about lineage, some of which are Sahih and others that are not. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was knowledgeable about Arabic lineage, as were his Sahabah. Studying lineage is a requisite to maintaining the ties of kinship, fulfilling inheritance rights, paying Diyah (blood money), etc. However, it is objectionable to study lineage just to boast of descent, practice partisanship, or support falsehood. The Hadith that was mentioned in the question is quoted in: "Al-Bayan wal-Ta‘rif fy Ma‘rifat Asbab Wurud Al-Hadith" by Ibn Hamzah Al-Hasany, who said: [This is knowledge that will bring no benefit and ignorance of it will bring no harm] Related by Al-Daylamy on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with them). As for the occasion related to this Hadith, it is reported in: "Al-Jami‘" on the authority of Baqiyyah, on the authority of Ibn Jurayj, on the authority of `Ata', on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Hurayrah that: The Prophet (peace be upon him) entered the Masjid (mosque) and saw a group of people gathered around a man. He (peace be upon him) asked, 'Who is this?' The people said, 'O Messenger of Allah! He is a knowledgeable man.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'What do you mean by knowledgeable?' They said, 'He is the most knowledgeable person about Arabic lineages, Arabic language, poetry, and the matters over which the Arabs differ.' He (peace be upon him) said, 'This is knowledge that will bring no benefit, and ignorance of it will bring no harm.' The Sanad (chain of narrators) of this Hadith is Da‘if (weak), because one of the narrators: Baqiyyah ibn Al-Walid was a Mudallis (a Hadith narrator who provides misleading information about his shaykh or the chain of narration) and used "on the authority of..." often when relating Hadith, and the Matn (text of the Hadith) is Munkar (conflicts with an authentic Hadith).

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