Translated by Ahmed Abu Turaab
Questioner: Our Shaikh, I have a question if you would be so kind. It has been reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم prayed the morning prayer one day and mounted the minbar and delivered a sermon up until the mid-day prayer. Then he prayed and [again] mounted the minbar, then he repeated that and so on. So he informed them about what was and what would be up until the Day of Judgement. The Companion says, ‘He who memorized it, did so. And he who forgot it, did so. And I may pass by a matter and remember it just as a man remembers the face of another.’
So when Imaam al-Busiri said, ‘And from your knowledge is the knowledge of the Tablet and the Pen.’ So he said: he informed us of what was and what would be until the Day of Judgement and this corresponds to, ‘He said to it, ‘Write.’ It said, ‘What shall I write.’ He said, ‘Write that which will be until the Day of Judgement?’
Al-Albani: Firstly, alhamdulillaah, this hadith is authentic and is in Sahih Muslim. Secondly, my brother, it is possible that what he spoke about in the phrase, ‘He informed us about what would happen until the Day of Judgement,’ were the momentous matters that would occur, and not the details which no man is able to grasp and comprehend no matter what knowledge or power he has been given by Allaah, the Blessed and Most High–meaning, by way of argument let me say [this] to you: it is possible that Allaah the Mighty and Majestic, chose his Prophet عليه الصلاة السلام with whatever He willed such that He really told him what is apparent in this authentic hadith, i.e., [He told him] what was and what would be until the Day of Judgement. But how can that be when he is talking to people who are not Prophets or Messengers and their capacity is limited and they do not have that characteristic which our Lord the Mighty and Majestic chose for our Prophet عليه الصلاة السلام?
For this reason, may Allaah bless you, it is not permissible for us to understand the hadith … and I say that maybe what was just mentioned while we were eating applies now [too] … and I mention this example because reality will help us understand this authentic hadith.
When interpreting a saying of the Prophet عليه السلام it is not allowed to stop at that hadith alone, but rather we have to extend our scope and look at other hadiths too. And will it help us to understand this authentic hadith with the expansive, general, encompassing meaning that occurs in the Most High’s Saying, “… leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it,” [Kahf 18:49] or is the meaning [of the hadith] more limited than that?
Just now we spoke when we were eating, someone asked a question about a hadith in which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Whoever takes a loan and his intention is to pay it back, and then is unable to do so, Allaah will clear it on his behalf on the Day of Judgement.” I say that this is an authentic hadith, and it explains that other hadith–and herein lies the point–he عليه السلام said, “The martyr is forgiven all sins except debt.” So shall we explain this hadith, “ … except debt …” … [to mean that] the martyr [who] dies and has a debt is not forgiven this sin even if he had intended to pay it back? We say: no, because the first hadith explains and makes specific the [meaning intended in] the second hadith.
This hadith of yours resembles this second hadith [just mentioned in the example of the martyr], by Allaah, this is something very, very dangerous, this person fought in the Way of Allaah and died in the Way of Allaah and his sin is not forgiven because he died owing money to some Muslims? No, this [hadith] is not to be understood as something in [such a] general, encompassing sense but is specified to mean if he did not intend to pay back the right to its owner.
This is the exact example of what we are talking about now: there is no doubt that from the hadith which you mentioned we understand that Allaah taught the Prophet عليه السلام every small or great thing as He said, “… leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it,”–but no, this is not correct.
Rather the meaning of the hadith is that He taught him essential, fundamental things like the major signs of the Hour and [other] things similar to that like the minor signs which it is important for the Muslims to be familiar with, as Allaah the Most High, said in the noble Quraan, “[He is the] Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His [knowledge of the] unseen to anyone, except he whom He has approved of [from the] messengers …” [Jinn 72:26-27].