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The Curious Story of Moses and the Angel: Did the Messenger Musa عليه السلام Really Punch an Angel?

Dr Shadee Elmasry

Published

It is narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari that when the angel of death came to Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) he punched him and popped his eye out. The angel then complained to Allah, “You sent me to a servant who does not want to die.” The hadith continues, but for our purposes, we can stop here. Doubters say: “Could a prophet really punch an angel? This can’t be a hadith. Therefore, Sahih al-Bukhari itself should be doubted if it narrates such hadiths.”

The answer: Actually, the person who finds this surprising, has clearly not pondered the life and characteristics of the Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him).

Tell me: what do you say about someone who throws a holy book? Did not Musa “throw the tablets in which there was guidance and light”? The questioner should be more concerned with this than with the angel.

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Tell me: what do you say about someone who grabs the beard of a respected scholar? Well, didn’t Musa “grabbed the beard of his brother (a prophet) and dragged him to himself” to the point that Harun had to plead with him, “Do not embarrass me in front of the enemy.” Didn’t all this happen in Surat al-Araf? Isn’t this all more critical than punching an angel?

And way before this, did not Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in Surat al-Qasas see a man arguing with a fellow Hebrew then “punched him and killed him”? Do prophets punch people? Does a prophet punch someone before hearing both sides of the story (later Musa would come to realize that in fact his compatriot the Hebrew was the argumentative one, not the Egyptian). Even before receiving their revelation, prophets are exemplars of upright character. So the doubter who wishes to shed doubt on Sahih al-Bukhari should actually be questioning the Quran first.

The reality is that Musa was so passionate for the truth that sometimes, actually quite a number of times, the unfiltered expressions that came out of him were technically incorrect actions by outward. But Allah looks at motives and intentions as well. Did Musa purposely do sinful actions? Did he do them because of base desires? Or rather, did they overflowed from a heart filled with passion for Haqq. And for this reason, Allah did not blame him for any of these actions because his heart was so pure. Allah knew Musa was angry for the right reasons. Some people are angry for the right reasons, and others are calmly polite for the wrong reasons. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) threw the tablets and grabbed the beard of his brother out of anger when seeing his people worshipping the golden calf. Musa killed the man when he had had enough of the Egyptian humiliation of the Hebrews.

And there’s more…

What do you say of someone who answers back to Allah and becomes angered with His actions? Surat al-Araf continues to speak about Musa’s “ghadab” or anger: After the incident with the golden calf, “He (Musa) chose seventy of his men for Our meeting” (to make taubah and draw near to Allah). They climbed the mountain with him and watched him pray. They saw a cloud come upon him and saw lights flickering within it. But they weren’t satisfied. They said show us Allah Himself. “Then a loud quake overtook them (and killed them). He (Musa) said, ‘Lord! If You wanted You could have just killed me and them before this!” Is this how someone talks to the Lord of the worlds? He talked like this to Allah because of how much he had wanted these men to come near to Allah and know Him with certainty. He wanted to see good results in the da’wa. And also because he would be held responsible for the lives of these men; they died under his watch. What would he tell the people when he went back? They might all make kufr after this catastrophic result. (Allah resurrected them and they returned safely to their families, having made taubah.)

And yet Allah overlooked this because his motive was sound. In fact, it is said that when Allah gazed upon the earth for someone who would overthrow Pharaoh, He found no heart more humble and pure than the heart of Moses.

Look closely, and you will find that every time Musa’s “anger subsided” he brings forth the most beautiful of prayers. After killing them Egyptian: “’My Lord, indeed I’ve wronged myself, so forgive me,’ and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. ‘My Lord, for the favor You bestowed upon me, I will never be an assistant to wrong doers’” (28:15-16 al-Qasas). After throwing the tablets and scolding his brother the Prophet Harun 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him): “My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy, for You are the most merciful of the merciful.” (7:151 al-Araf).

And yet there’s still more…

Did not Allah inform Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) about a man whom, “We granted ‘Laddunni’ knowledge”—knowledge directly from Allah in Surat al-Kahf. And what happened? Every single time Khidr took an action, Musa rejected it and questioned it. Was it because he felt he knew better? Did he have doubts? Did he disrespect his teacher? No. It was his zeal for the Sacred Law. If it was bad manners, Khidr would not have given him all the answers after parting with him.

 

Now we get to the angel. Finally, after forty years wandering in the desert, and a total of eighty years presiding over the Bani Israel with the sole mission of delivering them from bondage to the Promised Land, Musa passed over a hill and finally laid eyes on the holy territory that would be the first home to God’s true religion. And then at that very moment the angel came to take his life. Now, after all that you have seen from the fiery zeal of this great messenger, how do you expect him to react?? He punched that angel so hard, his eye popped out. And he continues marching to his destination with determination. Did he punch him out of love of dunya? Or out of hatred of death? Never. It was a reaction that emanated from his devotion to finish the mission Allah gave him. To finally deliver the Believers from bondage and wandering to freedom and the establishment of the deen of Allah on the earth.

* * *

You might be wondering about the rest of the story. Allah put the eye back into the socket of the angel and said, “Tell My servant to rub the back of a calf. For every hair he touches I will give him a year more of life.” The angel gave Musa the good news. Musa replied, “Then what?” “Death” said the angel. Musa said, “In that case, just take me now.” And this is how Prophet Musa alayhi salam died one day’s journey away from the Promised Land. He never saw it. It wasn’t destined to be. But his loyal assistant—that same boy who traveled with him to meet Khidr—took the mantle after him and led the believers into the Holy Land, and there they resided in a land where Allah’s Word ruled.

 

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Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey and studied in the Muslim world in Fez, Hadramawt, Cairo, Makka, and Madina. He completed a Masters from The George Washington University in comparative religion, then a PhD from the University of London, SOAS on “Da’wa in the Works of Imam al-Haddad.”

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Avatar

    zainab

    August 12, 2016 at 6:44 PM

    An excellent write up!

  2. Avatar

    Badr

    August 13, 2016 at 4:07 AM

    SubhanAllah, so many lessons can be drawn from Prophet Musa peace be upon him. Allah knows best why he mentions him extensively in the Quran.

  3. Avatar

    Anwar khan

    August 13, 2016 at 6:56 PM

    The so called Hadith is as ludicrous as the one in which Prophet Musa is supposed to have come out of the river after bathing and found his clothes gone.The stone on which he had left his clothes had moved away. As Musa ran naked to pick up his clothes the stone ran too ; during this race people were watching hiding behind some cover to confirm whether Musa had the manly attributes or not, because many believed he was not a man.

    • Avatar

      Ayesha

      August 17, 2016 at 11:07 PM

      SubhanAllah! May Allah reward Shaykh Shadi for explaining this Hadith! I heard it somewhere long time ago and was earnestly wanting to know the truth if this was true and the explanation behind it. Alhamdulillah

      May Allah send peace and blessings upon our messenger Muhammad SallalahuAlaihiwasallam and Musa AlaihiSalam.

  4. Avatar

    Anwar khan

    August 13, 2016 at 7:03 PM

    The so called Hadith is as ludicrous as the one in which Prophet Musa is supposed to have come out of the river after bathing and found his clothes gone.The stone on which he had left his clothes had moved away. As Musa ran naked to pick up his clothes the stone ran too ; during this race people were watching hiding behind some cover to confirm whether Musa had the manly attributes or not, because many believed he was not a man.
    Mullahs do their best always to defend Sahih Bokhari.Many eminent scholars have established that many fabricated shading exist in all Collections named Sahih.
    They defend every narration in all the collections because if the accept one Hadith as weak or fabricated, then all ahadith will become dubious and the structure of Mullah’ Islam will start crumbling.

    • Avatar

      ASA

      August 13, 2016 at 9:38 PM

      You ignoramus!
      Name your ‘many eminent scholars’. Also don’t conflate issues – ‘Mullaism’ and the rigorous science of Hadith.

      • Avatar

        Anwar Khan

        August 17, 2016 at 11:01 PM

        Decorum should be maintained during intellectual debates and we should repect other’s right to their point of view.We should abstain from lowering ourselves by hurling indecent titles against those with whom we disagree.
        Let me start with the “conflate” between Mullahism and Hadith. Both are linked because the orthodox obscurantist mullahs build their structure of Islam on weak and dubious ahadith. Islam is based on Shariah and Shariah has two components: the holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet. Hadith is not part of Shariah but mullahs have misled people to believe that Hadith is a component of Shariah.
        Regarding “science of Hadith” we should understand that Hadith is not a science. Science is based on irrefutable facts and evidence.
        Many of the eminent ulema such as Darqutni,Ibn Hazam and others have criticized the Sahiain and have acknowledged that they contain a number of weak and unconfirmed ahadith.Once Abu Huraira (r.a.) narrated a hadith in front of Abdullah bin Abbas (r.a.) that “Wudu becomes void after eating anything cooked on fire” Ibn Abbas (r.a.) replied that if this is correct then wudu would become void also after drinking water heated on fire.Quoted from Sahih Tirmidhi,”Bab al Wudu” by by Shibli Naumani and Syed Suleman Nadvi in “SEERAT AL NABI” vol.1 page 39.Ibn Abbas considered that the hadith did not stand the test of scrutiny and did not accept it. When someone narrated a hadith in front of Hazrat Ayesha(r.a.) that “when someone does Noha (wailing) over the deceased person,the deceased suffers punishment”. She refused to accept it as true because she considered it contrary to The Quran which says” Nobody will carry the burden of another person.” (Bani Isarael surah 15).She said “neither you are liars nor your sources,but ears can make mistake.”Similarly,when the following hadith was narrated in front of Hazrat Ayesha (r.a.) by Abdullah Ibn Umar in relation to the martyrs of Badr,that the Prophet (pbuh) had said” whatever I say they hear it”.,she did not accept it because it was contrary to the Quran.( Seerat Al Nabi,voli1,page 50).
        An eminent sunni scholar,Mullah Qari (lived in10th/11th century A.H.) laid down some principles against which ahadith are to be judged :
        1. Those in which trivial things are mentioned which cannot possible be uttered by the Prophet (saw)
        2.Those which are against general observation e.g. “eating egg plant is a cure for all ailments”
        3. Those which are opposed to reality e.g. “Don’t take a bath with the water which has been placed in the sun,because it causes leprosy”
        4.Those which are not in keeping with the utterances of the Prophet(saw) e.g. three things improve vision,greenry,flowing water,and watching a beautiful face.
        5.Those in which there is a prophecy about the future occurrences with a set date.
        6.Those against which there are valid arguments e.g. Auj bin Anaq was 3000 yards tall
        7. Those ahadith which mention the merits of different surahs of the Quran
        The Hadith quoted by Abu Huraira(r.a.) regarding Prophet Musa running naked after the stone to get his clothes appears in Sahih Bukhari.Similarly,the hadith regarding Prophet Musa punching the angel of death is also narrated by Abu Huraira and recorded in Sahih Sahih Bukhari.Both these ahadith are demeaning for the status of a Prophet.
        Ibn AL-Hadid writes in his commentary on Nahjul Balagha ,vol 1,page 360,”Abu Jafar Asqalani has said,” the ahidth narrated by Abu Huraira (r.a) were not acceptable to Hazrat Umar (r.a.);he had told Abu Huraira (r.a.) that he had changed hadith and had attributed false sayings to to the Prophet(saw). It is reported by Ibn Asakarin his Tarikh Kabir and Muttaqi in his Kanzul Umma that Caliph Umar (r.a.) lashed him ,rebuked him and forbade him to narrate ahadith from the Prophet(saw) Hazrat Umar (r.a) said to Abu Huraira (r.a.) because you narrate ahadith in large numbers from the Prophet(saw) so you must stop narrating ahadith from the Prophet(pbuh),otherwise I will send you to the land of Dus( a clan in Yemen ,from where Abu HUraira (r.a.) had come.

  5. Avatar

    hashir

    August 14, 2016 at 12:33 PM

    Masha Allah. How different the prophets and older generations are from us. Today, we are eager to die to get to paradise. But here is moosa a.s. punching the Angel so that he can serve his people more. There is a great lesson in this for us.

  6. Avatar

    Abubakar

    August 15, 2016 at 9:04 AM

    Some matters are very confusing. just when you think youve understood Islam another contradicting issue comes around. I just hope Allah guides us.

    • Avatar

      Haroon

      September 1, 2016 at 5:13 AM

      I agree with you brother Abubakar. But let me start by thanking sheikh Shadee Elmasry for a rather elaborate discussion on this Hadith. In particular the Quotation and attempt to explain the character of Musa S.A.W.It is very enlightening! However i would like to caution my brothers and sisters on one thing let us try as much as possible to use the Holy Quran to lead lives that please Allah. ”This is the Book that makes all things clear” Surat AL-Naml 27:1. Every thing that is necessary for success is made clear in this Book. The sunna of the prophet S.W.W was only meant as the best example for those who lived with him to understand how best a person can follow the Quran!If we are in doubt about what a particular verse encourages us to do in a certain special situation, then only in this case should we turn to the Prophets example and the stories of other prophets peace be upon them all.
      Apart from this specific purpose, it may be spiritually better for us to abstain from having an academic discussion of a Hadith and even trying to prove it is ”authentic” or right by Quoting the Quran. This may be dangerous to our spiritual development! Like i proposed above ,use the Quran to lead a good life it is clear enough. When in doubt consult a relevant sunna, or even Hadith and those who know better.When you are sure put all your trust in Allah and you will succeed.

      Indeed while the advise i have to give may stock a lot of emotions, many narrated Sunna, Hadith and opinions of learned scholars may be wrong! Only Allah is the one who is always absolutely right. And the Quran is the only source of light today in which there is no doubt-Allah protected it Himself knowingly! Try to keep away from discussing stories about His prophets outside the Quran which Allah in His Wisdom chose to leave out of the Holy Quran!
      So finally my point is that while the verses in Quran about Musa are very enlightening and the explanation for them interesting. The objective of trying to prove if this curious story was right or wrong is not useful nor important.
      1. The story is not recorded in the holy Quran-it is not important for us 2. The story does not explain any particular verse in the Holy Quran-so it is not useful for your guidance and mine 3. There are very many critical lesssons Allah wants you and I to remember every Day especially in the Life of Prophet Musa and they are narrated in the Quran,wasting time on those stories left out of The Quran will rob you of the precious but limited time you have to contemplate on the seriuos matters Allah presents to us!
      Allah reminds us in the Holy Quran” O ye who believe! Ask not questions which if explained to you will cause you trouble! Some people before you did ask search questions and on this acount lost their faith” Surat AL-Maida 5:101-102

    • Avatar

      Haya

      June 18, 2020 at 9:46 PM

      So does ths article wish to teach that its ok n right to be angry if its for zeal of dawa or law of allah ? I dont think so.plz dont teach things that justify anger to people for gud cause. Tell me do u see this anger style in our prophet muhammad sallalahu alaihiwassallam ?
      The truth is everytime anger is expressed there are consequences n there were spiritual consequences for prophet musa. U want to learn from his example in quran or u want to cover up n idolize.?

  7. Avatar

    AYEINA

    August 15, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    Never heard the hadith so searched it on sunnah.com (which labels ahadith in a detailed manner – wAllahu a’lam) and found one here:
    http://sunnah.com/nasai/21/273

    May Allah guide us all.

  8. Avatar

    Muslim

    August 24, 2016 at 5:11 AM

    It appears that some people will do anything to defend the sanctity of their tribe/madhab/worldview and bring a Prophet of God (AS) down just not to belittle the status of their tribe/madhab.

    Prophets of God (AS) are bearers of a perfect message from a perfect source, that’s why they have to be perfect humans. Part of their that perfection is that they recognize no matter how much they worship Allah it is inadequate, so they ask Allah for forgiveness for that inadequacy, not because they were wrong or have sinned, Astagfulilah.

    The whole notion that there can be a book except the book of Allah (SWT) that is Sahih is majorly flawed, hadith books have been compiled and written by fallible humans, so they will have mistakes in them, its natural. People are quick to label those who attribute infallibility to the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but in return attribute infallibility to the compilers of hadith. Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy by Jonathan Brown and the works of late Mahmud Shaltut should be read by all Muslims in order not to exaggerate and at the same time not diminish the role of hadith and the books of hadith.

    Just because there are hadith in Sahih Bukhari or Muslim , it does not mean they are 100 percent correct, there are some hadith narrated from questionable chains of narration and some with what many would consider questionable content.

    • Avatar

      N.S.

      August 25, 2016 at 6:57 AM

      The presence of hadith being Sahih does not in any way take away from the authenticity of the Quran. This is not an appropriate comparison to make. The great scholars back in those times obviously knew more and had a deeper understanding of what’s contained in our collections of Sahih hadith. Who are we, the followers who come a thousand and more years later to refute? Muslims today have been bickering over these small things without having the backing of knowledge *and* WISDOM necessary to make such claims. It’s this constant disunity over small matters that continues to divide us and in turn prevents us from collectively helping each other. May Allah guide us all. Aameen

    • Avatar

      Haroon

      September 1, 2016 at 5:25 AM

      You make a very strong point Muslim. While talking with disbelievers, the Prophet always stressed his being a normal human being honoured with a divine message”I tell you not that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden, nor do I tell you I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me… Will ye then consider not?’’ Al –An’am 6:50

      We must focus on this Message…rather than spend time on trying to prove whether this or that ”hadith” is right or wrong. for the answer to this question may not be useful to us, may be divisive and even misleading. May Allah bless, forgive and guide us all to His straight path!

  9. Avatar

    Tahir Hussain

    December 27, 2016 at 10:57 PM

    So when the Qur’ān says, “…At length, when death approaches one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.” (6:61), but what it really means is except that one time with Musa (AS) when the Angel failed in his duty? Also, Angels can have their eye socket knocked out by a human? That too with a slap? The hadīth is ahad, should it therefore have the authority to be able to form part of aqīda? No; it lacks certainty, it’s not mutawatir. Did Allah ﷻ not say, “But to no soul will Allah grant respite when the time appointed (for it) has come…” (63:11) Did He ﷻ mean except if you punch the Angel then you will be granted respite? “To every people is a term appointed: when their term is reached, not an hour can they cause delay, nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation)”, again, did the Qur’ān forget to mention that it can be delayed if the Angel is slapped? Did Imām Abū Hanifah (RA) not say that if a narration conflicts with the Qur’ān then it is not from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and is rejected? But let me guess, the narration doesn’t conflict with the Qur’an in your opinion? Mūsa (AS) didn’t know it was an Angel even though the Angel said, “Respond to the call of God” and he instead decided to punch the Angel for saying such a thing? This narration is problematic and the only reason it’s accepted is to protect the sanctity of Sahih Bukhari but what about the sanctity of Mūsa (AS)? What about the Qur’ān opposing this narration?

  10. Avatar

    Millata

    July 13, 2018 at 5:08 AM

    I challenge the Author to prove to me that Musa as and Haroun as were also condemned to the 40 years of wilderness. Come with proof..and I will prove they were not sentenced to it.

  11. Avatar

    Omar A Mirza

    October 28, 2018 at 10:31 AM

    Thanks for the article! May I just comment briefly on this?
    “And this is how Prophet Musa alayhi salam died one day’s journey away from the Promised Land. He never saw it”
    I don’t think this can be right, since a sound hadith tells us that Sayyiduna Musa, peace be upon him, asked to die within a stone’s throw of the Sacred Land. Since, as we know from the prophetic biography, a prophet is always buried where he dies, we know he was buried a stone’s throw away from the Sacred Land (the well-known place near Jericho can’t be his grave, therefore, since it is right in the Sacred Land.)

  12. Avatar

    Omar A Mirza

    October 28, 2018 at 10:37 AM

    I also wanted to comment on this, inshaAllah:
    “And way before this, did not Musa ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) in Surat al-Qasas see a man arguing with a fellow Hebrew then “punched him and killed him”? Do prophets punch people? Does a prophet punch someone before hearing both sides of the story”

    I don’t think it made sense for Sayyiduna Musa, peace be upon him, to hear both sides of the story, since there was a man facing physical harm and crying out to him for help, and it was already clear who was the oppressor and who was the oppressed.
    The strike was meant to stop the wrongdoer, not to kill him, though we know Sayyiduna Musa, peace be upon him, was gifted with supernatural strength: it is enough to point this out as an explanation, and to mention that the next time the same man appealed to him for help, he grabbed, rather than striking, the wrongdoer.

  13. Avatar

    Sahil

    May 3, 2019 at 4:08 PM

    How can a fellow muslim, who seems very intellectual, berate one of our Holy Prophets, Musa (AS)?

    The tone of this is not only disrespectful, but when you say that one should question the Quran of Musa’s attitude is borderline-offensive.

    I am not saying that we shouldn’t question our religion, but it seems to me that you think Musa was a bad man from the start, even so his prophethood was only after he killed that innocent man. Be more respectful to a Prophet who is never to be tarnished in a way you wrote in this article, brother.

    I hope to Allah that you’ve realised your mistake, otherwise why would this article still be up?

  14. Avatar

    Jeffkl

    November 8, 2020 at 2:48 AM

    Sounds like an Israelite story…..its a Hadith, not the Quran, and Hadiths are fallible.

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#Islam

Podcast: Prayer is a Work in Progress | Shaykh Abdullah Ayaaz Mullanee

Zeba Khan

Published

Many of us have been Muslim for our entire lives, and despite praying regularly for years, can still never feel like we’re never doing it right. Why is it so hard to focus in salah? And what should someone do if they feel like they are AWFUL at it?

Join Zeba Khan as she asks Shaykh Abdullah Ayaz Mullanee, who not only struggles with his prayers too, but is also the dean of Mishkah Institute, and author of the books “A Ramadan With the Prophet ” and “The Poetic Words of Sayyiduna Ali رضي الله عنه.” To take a free short course on the meaning of Salah, visit this link.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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#Islam

Undisputed And Undefeated: 13 Ways Khabib Nurmagomedov Inspired Us To Win With Faith

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Published

Many fans anxiously watched UFC 254 with bated breath as Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov went head-to-head with Justin “The human highlight reel” Gaethje. The latter had just come off a spectacular TKO win against a formidable and feared fighter in the form of Tony Ferguson, beating him over 5 nerve-wracking rounds by outstriking him with a combination damaging head shots and crippling low kicks.

We all knew what both would do – Khabib would go for the takedown, and Gaethje would try to keep the fight on the feet and opt for stand-up striking – which fighter’s strategy would prevail? Alhamdulillah, it was Khabib, in a mere 2 rounds.  We weren’t in the fight, but we are all nervous and supplicating, making du’a to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to give him another victory.

And so it was that after the win, he collapsed in the middle of the ring to cry, as this was his first fight after the loss of his father due to complications with Covid-19. He cried, and many a man cried with him, feeling his pain. Gaethje revived from his triangle choked slumber and consoled his former foe, telling Khabib his father was proud of him.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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We were all sure when “The Eagle” got on the mic, he would say he wanted to fight GSP, George St Pierre, and then retire 30-0, as he had said in previous press conferences leading up to the fight.  Instead, he surprised us all by announcing his retirement at 29-0, and I couldn’t help but marvel that not only was he turning away from a lucrative final fight, but the way in which he announced his retirement reminded us of our faith, our deen, our religion, Islam.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”

Throughout his MMA career, Khabib has proudly worn his faith on his sleeve. As he has risen to become the current pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world and arguably the GOAT, the greatest of all time, his unwavering example as a practicing Muslim transformed him into a global phenomenon and role model for many of us by reminding us to be better worshippers, to be closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Let’s look at a few of the ways he did this:

1. Beginning with Alhamdulillah

The announcer at UFC 254 began by congratulating Khabib on a job well-done yet again by praising him, stating, “The world is in awe of your greatness once again…your thoughts on an epic championship performance, congratulations.” Khabib didn’t immediately begin talking about himself. Instead, he said:

“Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, God give me everything…”

After stating this, he went on to announce his retirement, his reasons for retiring, and thanked everyone who supported his professional MMA journey.

The Reminder

Alhamdulillah is literally translated into “All Praise Belongs to God”. Khabib begins by thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), pointing out that his talents and abilities are a gift, a blessing from the Most High. When we have any blessing from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), we must remember that whatever our own effort, our abilities, our support, and our achieved outcomes ultimately tie back to support from our Rabb, our Lord, who controls all.

Khabib pointing to Allah

It’s not from me, it’s from Him

If you’ve ever seen Khabib point at himself, shake his finger back and forth as if to say, “No” and then point up to the sky, this is a nonverbal way of him saying, don’t think all these great things you see are from me – they’re from Allah above.

2. The Prostration of Thankfulness – Sajdat al-Shukr

You may have noticed at the end of Khabib’s victory, when the announcer states that he’s the winner of the bout, he falls into a prostration known as Sajdat al-Shukr – the Prostration of Thankfulness (to Allah).

Khabib and his sons prostrating

The Reminder

Performing this is recommended when someone receives something beneficial (eg good news, wealth, etc) or if they avoided something potentially harmful (e.g. job loss, healing from a disease, etc). The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would do this when he received good news. The believer should remember to be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) as much as they can.

See also:

3. Establishing the 5 Daily Prayers

Khabib and me, don’t be jelly

Years ago (early 2018), Khabib visited my local masjid in Santa Clara, California (not far from where he was training in San Jose at the AKA gym). Many at the masjid didn’t know who he was, but we heard he was the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight championship belt, at that time held by Tony Ferguson.

He did a Q & A with the community, and someone asked him a general question about what he would recommend for the youth.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing:

Take care of your prayers, if you come to Day of Judgment not take care of your prayers, on that day you will be smashed.

The Reminder

The second pillar of Islam that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has commanded us to follow is to pray to Him 5 times daily. Khabib was no doubt referencing the following statement of the Prophet (saw):

“The first action for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, he will have prospered and succeeded. If they are lacking, he will have failed and lost…”

 

 

Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda notes that when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) first began his mission of da’wah and faced devastating rejection from family and community, Allah told the Prophet to stand and pray. The reason for this is because when we are weak and suffering, the place to turn to for strength is back to Allah in prayer. There is no doubt Khabib’s strength came from his connection to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) which in turn came from his 5 daily prayers.

Praying multiple times daily, consistently, can be challenging; when it was legislated by Allah to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) kept telling him to go back and ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a reduction, saying, “Your people will not be able to handle it.”

Khabib is a great reminder that no matter how high you climb in life and career, no matter how busy you think you are, worshipping Allah is the most important deed one can do, and this discipline is the most important habit to build.

4. Strong Wrestling Game

Some say Khabib is already 30-0 for wrestling a bear

In a sport that sees far more striking and kicking than it does wrestling, Khabib came to dominate the lightweight division of the UFC with a strong grappling style that is a combination of sambo (a Soviet martial art), judo, and wrestling. Famously, he outwrestled a bear when he was much younger.

During his fights, he doesn’t close out his bouts by pummeling his opponents and causing them damage as most strikers would. Most of his hits open up his opponents to being forced to tap out via submission. Even his last opponent, Justin Gaethje, noted that he was much happier to be choked out in a submission, as all he would get is a pleasant nap, as opposed to striking, which could have long-term health consequences.

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was not only able to wrestle, he took down the strongest wrestler in Makkah. Rukanah, the famed Makkan wrestler, challenged RasulAllah because of his hatred for the da’wah. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) accepted his challenge and took him down multiple times, body slamming him again and again. It was said that after the conquest of Makkah, Rukanah accepted Islam.

5. Fighting / Training through Sickness and Injury

During the post-fight press conference with UFC President Dana White, it was revealed that Khabib had broken one of his toes 3 weeks before the fight. Prior to that, he had taken two weeks off upon arriving at Fight Island having contracted mumps, according to AKA trainer and coach Javier Mendez. Khabib is quoted as having told Mendez, “My toe may be broken, but my mind is not.” In addition to this, his father had just passed away months earlier, and this would be his first fight without his father present.

Mumps, broken toes, and the emotional turmoil of family tragedy

The Reminder

In addition, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has told us, “A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…” This strength includes strength of body, mind, and spirit; not just when conditions are perfect, but when trials surround you from every conceivable direction.

6. Relationship With His Father

After defeating Justin Gaethje, Khabib went to the center of the ring and cried, and everyone cried with him. We all knew his father’s death weighed heavily on his mind and his heart, and this was his first fight without him. His father was his mentor and trainer, whom everyone could obviously see he both loved and greatly respected.

In the post-fight question and answer with Dustin Poirier, Khabib was asked, “What’s your message for your young fans out there who look up to you so much?” he responded:

“Respect your parents, be close with your parents, this is very important. Parents everything, you know, your mother, your father, and that’s it, and everything in your life is going to be good, if you’re going to listen to your parents, mother, father, be very close with them, and other things come because your parents gonna teach what to do.”

The Reminder

There isn’t enough space in this article to go over how much emphasis our faith places on respecting our parents. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully. [17:23]

7. Relationship With His Mother

Our parents ultimately want us to succeed, but also want us to maintain our well-being. Without his father’s presence, it was clear that Khabib’s mother didn’t want him continuing in the Octagon (the UFC ring). After 3 days of discussion, Khabib gave his word to her that this would be his final fight. After beating Justin Gaethje in UFC 254, Nurmagomedov announced he was retiring because he promised his mother that he would retire and that he’s a man of his word.

The Reminder

This hearkens back to a statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about how much respect mothers deserve. A man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, “Who is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who?” He (saw) said “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet again said, “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet finally said, “Your father.”

Khabib easily had millions more to make on a journey to hit 30-0 in his professional fighting career and decided to hang it all up to make his mother happy. This is true respect and obedience, and for that matter, the love of a mother for her son and his well-being over monetary gains.

8. Respect for Muhammad Ali

When asked about the comparisons between himself and Muhammad Ali, Khabib stated that it was an inappropriate comparison. He noted that Muhammad Ali didn’t just face challenges in the ring, but challenges outside of it due to racism, and that he was an agent of change with respect to bringing about greater civil rights for African Americans.

The Reminder

In his final sermon, Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness.”

From the 7th century until today, our faith recognizes that people are not judged by their race, but by their actions and the intentions behind those actions. In the video above, Khabib recognized both the wrongness of racism, and the challenge it posed along the way of Muhammad Ali’s own journey, and that his contributions to social justice transcended his involvement in sport.

9. His Conduct with Other Fighters

With the exception of the fight with Conor McGregor, Khabib always dealt with his opponents with respect. He hugs them, shakes their hand, and says good things about their accomplishments and strengths both before and after fights. In a sport known for heavy trash talking and showboating to build hype, Khabib kept his cool and his manners.

Champion vs Champion, the respect is mutual

The Reminder

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners.”

Maintaining good character and conduct during press-conferences was Khabib’s calling card; even when trash talkers like Tony Ferguson tried to go after him, he would still recount Ferguson’s formidable stature as a fighter.

When reporters tried throwing him a softball opening to insult Ferguson’s mental health, Khabib responded that he didn’t want to talk about Tony Ferguson’s problems if he they were real; if Ferguson truly has a problem, then we should help him, as we all have problems.

10. Fighting Those Who Dishonor Faith and Family

As mentioned above, Khabib is known for being very respectful of his opponents during press conferences. He speaks well of their strengths, shakes their hands, hugs them; he even runs up to his opponent after a fight and hugs them, consoling them and wishing them well. After his win against Poirier, he traded shirts with him and donated $100k to Poirier’s charity.

Khabib vs Dana’s boy, the chicken

The exception was the infamous UFC 229 which Muslim fans watched holding years, maybe decades of pent up anger at the type of crass secular arrogance represented by Conor. We desperately wanted Khabib to maul the mouthy McGregor. The latter had gone after his family, his faith, his nationality, anything and everything to hype up the fight and try to get under the champ’s skin. Some people lose their calm, and others, well, they eat you alive.

Khabib made it clear he wasn’t having any of that. He took the fight to Conor and choked him out with a neck crank. We then learned why he was called “The Eagle” as he hopped the cage and jumped into the audience to go after other members of Conor’s team who had spoken ill of him, giving birth to “Air Khabib”.

The Reminder

When our faith and family is spoken of in an ill fashion, it’s not appropriate that we sit there and take it. Khabib never cared when it was criticism against him, but once it went to others around him, he took flight. We as Muslims should never give anybody who tries to attack and dehumanize us a chance to rest on their laurels. We should strive ourselves to take the fight back to them by whatever legal means necessary, as Khabib did, whether it is cartoons of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) or political pundits and satirists who monetize hatred against Muslims.

11. Shaking Hands and Training with Women

In numerous public instances, Khabib reminded us that our faith demands we don’t shake with the opposite gender. As one of my teachers taught us, the Qur’an instructs us to “lower our gaze” when dealing with women. If we shouldn’t even look at them out of respect for Allah’s command, how can we take it to the next level and touch them?

Extended to this is even more serious physical contact like training at the gym. Cynthia Calvillo, one of Khabib’s teammates at AKA gym, said the following about Khabib and his unit:

“It’s a little bit weird because of their religion and stuff…They don’t talk to women you know. I mean we say ‘hi’ to each other but we can’t train with them. They won’t train with women…I don’t think any other woman does.

The Reminder

Our faith places stricter physical and social interaction boundaries between men and women. Keeping matters professional and respectful with the opposite gender need not include physical contact. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was said to have never touched non-mahram women. It was narrated that he said,

“It is better for you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle than to touch the hand of a woman who is impermissible to you.”

For this reason, the majority of scholars prohibited physical contact between men and women with some exceptions (e.g. old age). Watching Khabib maintain this practice, even in public where it could potentially embarrass him and cause undue negative attention, gives us all inspiration to deal with this issue in the workplace better. He encourages us to strive for better tolerance and awareness of our faith rather than forcing us to conform.

12. Not Making a Display of The “Trophy” Wife

If you follow Khabib’s Instagram, you won’t find lewd pics of him and a significant other. In fact, you won’t find any pictures at all of him and his wife. Who she is is a mystery to all. In an age and a sport where many post photos with their romantic partners, Khabib again is a standout with his gheerah, his honorable protectiveness for his significant other.

Khabib and his wife

The Reminder

We are again reminded that a part of manhood is to have protective ghayrah, jealousy over one’s spouse. Ibn al-Qayyim also said, bringing in the concept of chivalry,

“The dayyuth / cuckold is the vilest of Allah’s creation, and Paradise is forbidden for him [because of his lack of ghayrah]. A man should be ‘jealous’ with regards to his wife’s honor and standing. He should defend her whenever she is slandered or spoken ill of behind her back. Actually, this is a right of every Muslim in general, but a right of the spouse specifically. He should also be jealous in not allowing other men to look at his wife or speak with her in a manner which is not appropriate.”

13. Owning His Mistakes, Looking to Be Forgiven

Finally, it should be noted there is no real scholarly disagreement on prohibiting striking the face. Recognizing this, Khabib stated when asked if “he thinks the AlMighty will be satisfied with him for taking part in haram fights for money,” he replied, “I don’t think so.”

In an interview with the LA Times, he said:

“You go to mosque because nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes, and we have to ask Allah to forgive us. This is very important mentally, to be clear with Allah. This is not about the UFC. There is nothing else more important to me than being clear with Allah. And being clear with Allah is the No. 1 most hard thing in life.”

The Reminder

We as human beings aren’t perfect – perfection is only for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We all make mistakes, sometimes small, sometimes large, but in the end, He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is ready to forgive us if we’re willing to recognize our failings and ask to be forgiven.  Allah says in the Qur’an in 2:222:

“Allah loves those who always turn to Him in repentance and those who purify themselves.”

There are no sins so great that redemption is beyond any of us. Whatever Khabib’s flaws, his value as a positive change maker and faith-based role model globally outweighs his negatives.

Part of seeking forgiveness is the process, and the first part of that process is acknowledging the mistake. This means not being in denial about it or not justifying it, just owning it. As Khabib has owned his mistake publicly, there is no need for us to try and justify it either.

We can own that there are problems with MMA and the industry, in participating as well as watching and supporting. At the same time, we can do as Dr Hatem al-Hajj said about Muhammad Ali:

Concluding Thoughts

While UFC pundits will forever debate over the greatest of all time, there is in doubt that Khabib Nurmogomedov, the first Muslim UFC champion, will always be our GOAT.

I ask that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepts the good from what Khabib has done, rewards him tremendously for the inspiration he’s given us all to better focused on the akhirah, the next life, and continues to make him a powerful sports icon who uses his platform as Muhammad Ali did to teach Islam and exemplify it in the best way for all of us to benefit and follow.

Ameen.

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#Islam

Does A Muslim Have To Wish Well For An Oppressor Who Is Struck With Disease?

Imam Imran Salha

Published

First, we should differentiate between those who want to curse at the oppressor because it’s a fad, and those who do so because they either experienced oppression directly from said oppressor, or they genuinely empathize with those who have been directly oppressed.

To those who are doing it as a fad, I say what my teachers always said to me:

“Islam is not for blowing off steam.”

You cannot use Islam as an outlet for immaturity. Imam Shafi’i said if you are stuck between two options, choose the one that goes against your desires for there is a higher likelihood that the truth lies in that option.

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Second, we also have to be careful not to restrict the Islamic position on something just because it sounds like the moral high road. This may be personal preference for some to hold back from cursing the oppressor, but that doesn’t mean Islam specifically asks this of us.

What is the standard?

The Qur’an – “Tell my servants to say the best word.”

“I was not sent as one who always curses.” -Hadith

“The Muslim is not one who always curses.” -Hadith

Scholars noticed that the Prophet ﷺ used the word اللعّان (la’aan) instead of لاعن (laa’in). The former is صيغة المبالغة which means that one is always cursing, where the latter is a description for one who curses once. If the Prophet ﷺ meant to say that the Muslim NEVER curses he would have said “A Muslim is not one who curses even once.”

Instead, what He ﷺ actually said is it is not part of the character of a Muslim that they frequently curse, which is why he used the word لعّان.

Also, the Prophet ﷺ could not have meant that he never cursed, because he himself cursed at an entire tribe. In an authentic hadith in Saheeh Muslim, Khifaaf ibn Imaa’ al-Ghifaari narrates that the Prophet ﷺ made the following dua during salah:

اللَّهُمَّ العَنْ بَنِي لِحْيَانَ، وَالْعَنْ رِعْلًا، وَذَكْوَانَ، ثُمَّ وَقَعَ سَاجِدًا.

“Oh Allah, send your curse upon Bani Lihyaan, and curse Ri’l, and Thakwaan – and then the Prophet ﷺ fell in prostration.”

There is no way that the Prophet ﷺ would command us never to curse and then in certain instances invoke the curse of Allah on others. This proves that cursing is in fact necessary sometimes.

Abu Bakr [ramhu] told Urwah bin Masood to lick the genitalia of Al-laat, which was an idol that was worshipped at the time. This was after Urwah disrespected the Prophet ﷺ. This is a hadith in Bukhari and the Prophet ﷺ did not scold AbuBakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) for his reaction and all the narrations that say the Prophet ﷺ scolded him are weakened if not fabricated. We know the rulings on the Prophet ﷺ’s silence. His silence is legislation. If there was something wrong with Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)‘ s words the Prophet ﷺ would have HAD to say something about it. His ﷺ silence means he agreed with what Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) did.

Even if you do not want to curse, why should you wish well on any oppressor when Allah cursed all oppressors in the Qur’an? You can be clever. Look at the following example.

When Jamal Abdel-Nasser died, Imam Mohammed al-Ghazzali (ra) said: “Oh Allah have mercy on him in the same way he had mercy on your Ummah.”

لما مات جمال عبد الناصر قال الشيخ الغزالي: اللهم ارحمه بقدر ما رحم الامة

So I can say, (and again this is in the case of wanting to avoid cursing): Oh Allah! Have mercy on Trump to the same degree that Trump had mercy on the immigrant mothers who had to be separated from their children as a result of his ruthless policies.

For Tarbiyah purposes, it is beneficial to teach your children and students of knowledge never to curse. This was the methodology of Imam AbdelQadir Jilani (ra) who would force his students never to curse even against oppressors. However, this is in the context of Tarbiyah and preparing students for scholarship and leadership, not the context of Fiqh. This is so that the students lean more towards the Prophetic reality and is also more in line with the hadith we mentioned in the beginning! A student of knowledge and future leader should not be in the habit of constantly cursing.

Many spiritual paths force their students into a certain “extreme” to discipline them and make their default setting leaning towards what is more spiritually beneficial, so that only when it is absolutely necessary will they use these “licenses” that allow them to express their anger. When it comes to the general masses though, we should not make it seem like this is absolutely not allowed, or that it is even spiritually superior to wish well on an oppressor.

We should not be in the business of telling people that Islam forces you to wish well on forces of evil.

The Prophet ﷺ passed by a janazah and said: “Relieved and one who others are relieved from.” Upon being asked, the Prophet ﷺ explained: “The Believer is relieved at the moment of their death from the toil of life. As for the wicked, the people, land, trees and animals are relieved from their presence as soon as they die.”

May the eyes of the oppressors never find rest. Ameen.

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