Sunday, 1 February 2015

Explanation: Sun Sets in Murky Water Hadith (Sunan Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad)

Waqar Akbar Cheema has an analysis of the narrations and related narrations.

What we see from Waqar Cheema's analysis is that the Hadiths in which the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” appear are not believed to be attributed to Prophet Muhammad (p). Thus, Muslims do not consider them to be reliable.

Now somebody may well be thinking, how it can be dismissed as not being from Prophet Muhammad p? It's simple, if you look at the analysis you will see there are numerous Hadiths with different chains of narrators (after the first three links) which all report the SAME saying of Abu Darr but they do not include the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water.”

So clearly both versions cannot be right.

The versions containing “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” are based on the SAME chain of narration (see the fourth person in the chain) while the versions not containing “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” are of 5 different chains (5 different people at the 4th link) - thus overwhelming numerical evidence shows that the Hadith containing “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” cannot be attributed to Prophet Muhammad p. Basically it's a case of 1 person reported it with the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” compared to 5 who did not report those words.

Not only this, the chain in which the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” are included contains Sufyan bin Husain who was considered as a person who made mistakes in his narrations as seen in Waqar Cheema's analysis:

Muhammad ibn Sa’d said about him: “He was reliable (but) he made many mistakes in his narrations.” (Tabaqat al-Kubra, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1990, vol.7 p.227 No. 3417)

Obviously quality and quantity would mean that the Muslim does not accept this narration but rather accepts the more numerous and reliable Hadiths which are those that do NOT contain the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water”

There's even a theory how the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water” got into the Hadith by mistake - see Cheema's analysis

Cheema points out the Hadith in question is Anomolous and Defective and supplies the definitions which impugn the reliability of such hadiths:

“… the anomalous hadith is the one which a reliable transmitter relates and which is in conflict with what other people relate.” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, Translated by Dr. Eerik Dickinson, Garnet Publishing Ltd. Berkshire 2006 p.57)

 “A defective hadith is one in which a defect impugning its soundness is detected, although it outwardly appears to be free of the defect. That may apply to an isnad made up of reliable transmitters which outwardly seems to fulfill the conditions of soundness. Someone being alone in transmitting the hadith as well as others contradicting him aid in catching the defect.” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, p.67)

And when a report or a part of it becomes “shaadh” it ceases to be a sahih (sound) report. For this the definition of a “Sahih hadith” will help.

Hafiz Ibn Salah writes;

“The sahih (sound) hadith is a “supported” hadith (al-hadith al-musnad), the isnad of which coheres continuously through the transmission of one upright and accurate person from another up to its point of termination. The sound hadith can be neither anomalous (shaadh) nor defective (mu’allal),” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, p.5)

So merely being “sahih al-isnaad” is not enough for the report itself to be sahih.


If you come across aChristian missionary or any other Anti-Islam zealot quoting any Hadith saying the sun “sets in a spring of warm/murky water” then just dismiss it. Kindly let that person know that the Hadith is unreliable and there are numerous Hadith which contradict that and these are the more reliable Hadith. Let the person know, the Hadith he/she is citing cannot be attributed to the Prophet - due to intellectual honesty.

For more information see Waqar Cheema's analysis.

The narrations which you may come across:

Yazid bin Harun- Sufyan bin Husain- Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah- Ibrahim (b. Yazid al-Taymi)- Yazid al-Taymi- Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 3991)

Related narrations:

In Musnad Ahmad these words are part of a longer narration reported through same chain of narrators;

Abu Dharr narrated, “Once I was with the Prophet riding a donkey on which there was a saddle or a (piece of) velvet. That was at sunset. He said to me, ‘O Abu Dharr, do you know where this (sun) sets?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said, ‘It sets in a spring of murky water, (then) it goes and prostrates before its Lord, the Exalted in Might and the Ever-Majestic, under the Throne. And when it is time to go out, Allah allows it to go out and thus it rises. But, when He wants to make it rise where it sets, He locks it up. The sun will then say, “O my Lord, I have a long distance to run.” Allah will say, “Rise where you have set.” That (will take place) when no (disbelieving) soul will get any good by believing then.’” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 21459 al-Risala ed.)

This narration is quite similar to the narration found in many hadith works including Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim etc. except the words “It sets in a spring of warm water.”

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