The Hadith which states the sins of Muslims will be put on Jews and Christians is not meant to be taken literally according to Imam Nawawi.
I know Christian missionaries are using a literal understanding of the Hadith in order to build arguments for their polemical purposes.
Really, for the lay Muslim on the net, the major take home point is that it's not taken literally. That should be sufficient to rebuff the Christian polemics around such a narration.
For those who are interested, Sheikh Atabek Shukurov wrote a few points concerning this on his Facebook which has been presented below.
I've also added an excerpt from an article by Bassam Zawadi in which he touches on this too:
Its meaning is that Allah forgives the sins of the Muslims and removes it from them and places it on the Jews and Christians its same amount due to their disbelief and sins, so He places him in the hellfire due to their deeds and not the sins of the Muslims, and there cannot be any other explanation for this due to God’s statement: “None shall carry the burden of another’ (Surah 17:15)
And its possible that the sins being referred to (the ones that Allah will forgive from the Muslims) is because of the cause of the disbelievers, for if they caused it then it will be removed from the burden of Muslims by the mercy of Allah, and is placed on the disbelievers, for they instigated it, and whoever instigates a sin then he would receive a sin on his account for anyone that ever gets affected by it, and God knows best.
Let me give an example to clarify that. Lets say a non Muslim distributes drugs throughout the community. One Muslim happens to get his hands on these drugs and uses it. The Muslim gets a sin. However, the non Muslim gets a sin as well because it was his fault the Muslim is doing it. So if Allah on the day of judgment decides to forgive the Muslim for his sin, he would place it on the non Muslim.
This does not guarantee that a Muslim who commits a sin because of a non Muslim will automatically get forgiven. No, it is only if Allah decides to forgive that Muslim. This also applies to Muslims who happen to be the cause of Muslims committing sins as well and does not only apply to the non Muslims.
Narrations that are conflicting with Quran.
Abu Musa narrated from the Prophet;
There will be a people from my nation who will have a mountains of Sins, and God will forgive them, and put that sins on Jews and Christians...
narrated by Muslim
- Imam Nawawi gave two interpretations to this hadeeth;
1. God forgives Muslims, but He puts on Jews and Christian similar sins that he has forgiven for Muslims. But not the exact sins of Muslims but similar ones.
2. God forgives Muslims, but doesn't forgive Jews and Christians who started off committing these sins. And Muslims only imitated them.
- And Imam Nawawi said that we cannot take the hadeeth literally because it's conflicting with Quran.
- Ibn Hajar added one more interpretation;
3. It means that Muslims will inherit the places of Jews and Christian in
Jews and Christians will inherit the places of Muslims in the Hell.
- Interpretation of Ibn Hajar doesn't fit with the hadeeth, as hadeeth say; God will put the sins of Muslims on them.
- Also in different narrations it says; Muslims will be given Jews and Christians and will be told; O Muslim here is your freedom from the Hell.
- Means pay him and free your self.
- Accordingly to Hanafi Mustalah hadeeth is rejecting for two reasons;
1. Conflicting with Quran
2. Attributing an oppression to God.
- More than that Hadeeth has few more defects;
1. In some of the narrations it says; I think the sins of the Muslims will be put on Jews and Christians.
Q. Who is saying this word? Whose thought is it?
A. Hirami bin Umarah said; I don't know who is the one who said this!!!
2. It's chain narrated in several way;
- Once it says; Abu Burdah is from his father
- Once it says; Abu Burdah from Abdullah bin Yazeeda
- Once it says; Abu Burda is from some of the Ansaris from his father
- Once it says; Abu Burdah from some of the Sahaba...
- Hadeeth been in Saheeh Muslim cannot save it is conflicting with the Word of God!
- Hakim, Dhahabi, and Albani said Authentic
- Baihaqi, ibn Hajar and Albani in his different opinion said; Weak!!!
- This hadeeth is talking about aqeedah issue!- It would be better to not to narrate this type of narrations!
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Abu Musa' reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: When it will be the Day of Resurrection Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: That is your RESCUE from Hell-Fire. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6665)
Abu Burda reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: No Muslim would die but Allah would admit IN HIS STEAD a Jew or a Christian in Hell-Fire. 'Umar b. Abd al-'Aziz took an oath: By One besides Whom there is no god but He, thrice that his father had narrated that to him from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6666)
Abu Burda reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There would come people amongst the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection with AS HEAVY SINS AS A MOUNTAIN, and Allah would FORGIVE THEM and He would PLACE IN THEIR STEAD the Jews and the Christians. (As far as I think), Abu Raub said: I do not know as to who is in doubt. Abu Burda said: I narrated it to 'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz, whereupon he said: Was it your father who narrated it to you from Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him)? I said: Yes. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6668)