First up on the Day of Judgment: Prayers or Bloodshed?

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What will be the first act inquired about or decided on on the Day of Judgment? A hadith related by ‘Abdullah b. Mas‘ud (d. 32-33/653) says:

قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: «أول ما يقضى بين الناس بالدماء»

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The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The cases which will be decided first (on the Day of Resurrection) will be the cases of blood-shedding.”[1]

Another well-known hadith, on the other hand, has that Abu Huraira reported:

سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: ” إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ بِهِ العَبْدُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ صَلَاتُهُ

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I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “The first of his deeds for which a man will be taken into account on the day of resurrection will be his prayer.”[2]

So which is it, prayers or murder/ homicide? And is it not a case of contradiction between hadith narrations? There is no contradiction, and the two things mentioned are first in their respective categories; prayers (salah) will be the first of Allah’s exclusive rights (huquq Allah) that a person will be asked about, whereas bloodshed or homicide will be the first of the people’s mutual rights (huquq al-‘Ibad) to be decided. Not only was this mentioned by many scholars over time,[3] but it is also reported together in a single hadith.

‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud related:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «أول ما يحاسب به العبد الصلاة، وأول ما يقضى بين الناس في الدماء»

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“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The first thing concerning which a person will be brought to account will be the prayers, and the first thing concerning which scores will be settled among the people, will be bloodshed.”[4]

The above also serves as an example of putting together different narrations of hadith reports to resolve an apparent contradiction.

References:

[1] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 6533, 6864

[2] Al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘, Hadith 413; Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 864; graded as hasan gharib by al-Tirmidhi and sahih by al-Albani

[3] Al-Nawawi, Yahya b. Zakariyya, al-Minhaj Sharh Sahih Muslim b. al-Hajjaj, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1392 AH) Vol.11, 167; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 1379 AH) Vol. 11, 396

[4] Al-Nasa’i, al-Sunan, Hadith 3991;graded as sahih by al-Albani

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Waqar Akbar Cheema

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