Hadith and Protection of Makkah and Madina from Plague


Waqar Akbar Cheema


The article is about hadith reports mentioning protection for Makkah and Madina from plague. Relevant reports have been critically analysed to show how the spread of pandemics such as COVID-19 to Makkah and Madina casts no aspersions on sayings authentically reported from Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).


 1. Introduction

We have earlier explored into narrations of the hadith “there is no contagion” to establish its meanings and see whether or not it contradicts known facts. In the ongoing corona-virus (COVID-19) pandemic another point of discussion has been the protection of Makkah (usually spelled as Mecca) and Madina (also spelled as Medina), Islam’s holiest cities, from epidemics allegedly promised in another hadith. The argument of critics and skeptics being; if Makkah and Madina were promised protection from epidemics why have the two cities including the sanctuaries therein been under lockdown. In fact there are reports about people in the two cities tested positive for COVID-19.[1] This article is an attempt at studying hadith reports to this effect, dwelling on their authenticity, meanings, and significance.

Three things need to be established for the purpose of clarity on the subject:

i) Which locations are subject of the protection proven from hadith?

ii) What kind of protection is mentioned in hadith? whether it is from all kinds of epidemics or a specific disease that usually turns into an epidemic

iii) In what sense is the protection mentioned; if it’s a promised or not?

2. Which locations are subject of protection proven from hadith?

A famous hadith from Abu Huraira included in the celebrated hadith collection of al-Bukhari (d. 256/870) goes as:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «على أنقاب المدينة ملائكة، لا يدخلها الطاعون، ولا الدجال»

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “There are angels guarding the entrances (or roads) of Madina, neither plague (ta‘un) nor Ad-Dajjal will be able to enter it.”

While hadith mentions angels guarding against both Dajjal and plague (ta‘un) it is only the latter which is of interest to us presently. The hadith mentions Madina only. Similarly, narrations from Anas b. Malik, Jabir b. ‘Abdullah and a narration from both Abu Huraira and Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas mention protection from plague (ta‘un) for Madina. None of them mentions any such protection for Makkah.

Whereas Abu Huraira’s report comes from at least four of his students; (i) Nu‘aim al-Mujmir,[2] (ii) Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qarraz,[3] (iii) Abu Salih al-Samman,[4] and (iv) al-‘Ala’ al-Thaqafi,[5] it is only through al-‘Ala’ b. Jariya al-Thaqafi that the hadith makes a mention of Makkah alongwith Madina as being guarded from plague (ta‘un). Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855) records;

حدثنا سريج، قال: حدثنا فليح، عن عمر بن العلاء الثقفي، عن أبيه، عن أبي هريرة، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ” المدينة ومكة محفوفتان بالملائكة، على كل نقب منها ملك لا يدخلها الدجال، ولا الطاعون

Suraij related to us: Fulaih related to us, on the authority of ‘Umar b. al-‘Ala’ al-Thaqafi, on the authority of his father, on the authority of Abu Huraira who said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Madina and Makkah are guarded by angels. One each of their entrances is an angel. Neither Dajjal nor plague will be able to enter them.”[6]

Commenting on it Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) says, “It is strikingly uncorroborated (gharibun jiddan). The mention of Makkah in this hadith is not established, and nor is that of plague.”[7]

Not only is the report odd, it is also weak in terms of narrative authority as highlighted by Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 804/1401).[8] Others have elaborated that it is weak due to negative criticism on Fulaih and the lack of evidence to positively establish the reliability of ‘Umar b. al-‘Ala’ and his father.[9] Al-Bukhari (in his Tarikh al-Kabir),[10] Ibn Abu Khuthaima,[11] Ibn Hibban,[12] and Ibn Asakir[13] also recorded this report and did it through the same narrators.

In view of this, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani’s (d. 852/1449) assertion that ‘Umar ibn Shabbah (d. 262/876) related this report with the mention of Makkah through “Fulaih, on the authority of al-‘Ala’ b. ‘Abdul Rahman, on the authority of his father, on the authority of Abu Huraira”[14] – all generally reliable narrators – can safely concluded to be a mistake on the part of either Ibn Hajar or Ibn Shabbah.[15]

We can, therefore, conclude that the protection mentioned in hadith is proven only for Madina. It is not proven for Makkah.

3. What kind of protection is mentioned in hadith?

All the reports mentioning the protection for Madina do it with regard to “ta‘un.” The word “ta‘un” is usually translated as plague in English. It is both interesting and a source of confusion that both the Arabic “ta‘un” and the English “plague” are also sometimes used loosely to refer to any kind of epidemic besides being names of a specific disease.[16]

Hadith scholars, therefore, differentiate between ta‘un (plague) and waba’ (epidemic/pestilence) taking the former as a specific kind of the latter. Al-Nawawi (d. 676/1277), for instance, says:

وأما الطاعون فوباء معروف …

As for al-ta‘un; it is a well-known kind of epidemic (waba’) …[17]

At another point he goes into detail;

وأما الطاعون فهو قروح تخرج في الجسد فتكون في المرافق أو الآباط أو الأيدي أوالأصابع وسائر البدن ويكون معه ورم وألم شديد وتخرج تلك القروح مع لهيب ويسود ماحواليه أو يخضر أو يحمر حمرة بنفسجية كدرة ويحصل معه خفقان القلب والقيء وأما الوباء فقال الخليل وغيره هو الطاعون وقال هو كل مرض عام والصحيح الذي قاله المحققون أنه مرض الكثيرين من الناس في جهة من الأرض دون سائر الجهات ويكون مخالفا للمعتاد من أمراض في الكثرة وغيرها ويكون مرضهم نوعا واحدا بخلاف سائر الأوقات فإن أمراضهم فيها مختلفة قالوا وكل طاعون وباء وليس كل وباء طاعونا

The ta’un consists of purulent pustules (quruh) that erupt on the body. These appear in the groin, or in the axillae, or on the hands, or on the fingers and elsewhere on the body, accompanies by swelling and intense pain. The eruption of these tumors is accompanies by a fiery inflammation; the surrounding area blackens, and darkens or reddens into dingy purple; and with this there also occurs palpitation of the  heartbeat and nausea.

As for waba’, al-Khalil and others said that it means the ta’un, also that it means any general malady. But the correct signification, reported by those who know best, is that waba’ involves a state of illness affecting much of the population of one specific region, as opposed to other regions. It differs from usual illnesses in its prevalence and in other respects; the illness of the people is of one kind only, in contrast to other times when the sick are affected by a variety of illnesses. Every ta‘un is a waba’, but not every waba’ is a ta‘un.[18]

 The formula in the concluding sense of the above elaboration may be translated as, “Every plague is an epidemic, but every epidemic is not a plague.”

Lawrence I. Conrad undertaking a detailed study of the conception of the term “ta‘un” vis-à-vis “waba’” states:

it can be demonstrated that when writers of the first four centuries of Islam mention waba’ and ta‘un, they have in mind a general notion of pestilence in the former case, and a specific disease in the latter. A close relationship does exist, but the distinction between the two is quite clearly and deliberately drawn.[19]

Conrad substantiates his assertion with comparison of multiple accounts from works on history and literature (adab). A particular example from al-Tabari (d. 310/923) that he highlighted is instructive. Al-Tabari mentioned in the account of the year 301/913-914:

وفيها كثر أيضا الوباء ببغداد، فكان بها منه نوع سموه حنينا، ومنه نوع سموه الماسرا، فاما الحنين فكانت سليمه، واما الماسرا فكانت طاعونا قتاله

In this year, [too,] there was much pestilence (al-waba’) in Baghdad, including a type that was called hnyn, and another called mas(h)irn. The former was benign, but the latter was a lethal plague (ta‘unan qitalah).[20]

In the light of the above, it is clear that the protection mentioned in the hadith was only for a specific disease plague (ta‘un), not epidemics in general. This is confirmed through the following hadith related by Abu ‘Asib, the freedslave of the Prophet (ﷺ).

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ” أتاني جبريل بالحمى، والطاعون، فأمسكت الحمى بالمدينة، وأرسلت الطاعون إلى الشام،

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Gabriel came to me bearing fever (humma) and plague (ta‘un). I kept the fever in Medina and dispatched the plague to Syria …”[21]

Against this hadith we see that epidemic fever remained rampant in Madina even during the time of the Prophet (ﷺ). When the Muslims migrated from Makkah to Madina they were hit by an epidemic fever (humma). It was so powerful that ‘Aisha remarked that “When we came to Madina, is was the most epidemic-ridden (awba’) of the lands of Allah.”[22] That Madina was prone to epidemic fever is highlighted in the comment of Quraish when the Prophet (ﷺ) and his companions went to ‘Umrah in the year Dhu al-Qa‘da 7/March 629; “a delegation is arriving who have been weakened by the Yathrib fever (humma yathrib).”[23] Likewise, Abu al-Aswad mentioned of the time of ‘Umar b. Khattab, “I came to Madina while there was an outbreak of a disease and people were dying quickly.”[24]

These reports confirm that in the hadith ta‘un (plague) refers to a specific disease and not epidemics or pestilence (waba’) in general.

4. Nature and context of the mention of Madina’s protection of from ta‘un (plague)

We have earlier noted that reports from Abu Huraira, Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas, Anas b. Malik, and Jabir b. ‘Abdullah mention Madina’s protection from plague (ta‘un). In reality, however, all those are reports of a single hadith. While the relation of report from Abu Huraira and Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas is established through the detailed narration reported from both together, studying and collating various narrations from other companions helps us get to the actual context.

The joint report of Abu Huraira and Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas records the fuller saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) of which Abu Huraira’s first mentioned report above was actually only a part.

حدثنا أبو عبد الله القراظ، أنه سمع سعد بن مالك، وأبا هريرة يقولان: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «اللهم بارك لأهل المدينة في مدينتهم، وبارك لهم في صاعهم، وبارك لهم في مدهم، اللهم إن إبراهيم عبدك وخليلك، وإني عبدك ورسولك، وإن إبراهيم سألك لأهل مكة، وإني أسألك لأهل المدينة كما سألك إبراهيم لأهل مكة ومثله معه، إن المدينة مشبكة بالملائكة، على كل نقب منها ملكان يحرسانها، لا يدخلها الطاعون ولا الدجال، من أرادها بسوء أذابه الله كما يذوب الملح في الماء»

Related ‘Abdullah al-Qarraz that he heard Sa‘d b. Malik (i.e. Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas) and Abu Huraira say: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “O Allah, bless the people of Madina in their city, bless them in their sa‘s, bless them in their mudds [weights and measures]. O Allah, Ibrahim was Your slave and Your friend, and I am Your slave and Messenger. Ibrahim asked You for the people of Makkah while I am asking You for the people of Madina just as Ibrahim asked You for the people of Makkah, and as much again. Madina is surrounded by angels, on every route to the city there are two angels guarding it; neither the plague (al-ta‘un) nor Dajjal will enter it. Whoever wishes evil for Madina, Allah will cause him to melt as salt dissolves in water.[25]

Collating and relating different reports we can see that context of this hadith was soon after the migration of the Prophet (ﷺ) to Madina. While the nascent city state was looking to become a rallying point of all those who accepted the call of Islam and it was required of believers to migrate to and live in Madina, “the impure water flowing from the valley of Buthan”[26] made the climate of the city unsuited for new residents especially Beduins. Resultantly, some of Bedouins started to slip away[27] and while the Prophet (ﷺ) was informed of this when he was at the springs of Harrah belonging to Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas along with some of his companions (‘Ali[28]/Jabir[29]/Abu Qatada[30]), he said “Madina is like a furnace, it turns out the evil like a furnace removes impurities of iron.” (Abu Huraira[31]/Jabir[32]) “No one will stay there in spite of its hardships and distress without my being an intercessor or witness on behalf of him on the Day of Resurrection,” the Prophet (ﷺ) added. (Sa‘d[33]) Moreover, referring to Ibrahim’s prayers for the peace and bounties for Makkah the Prophet (ﷺ) pronounced Madina a sanctuary, asked for it to be made as adorable as Makkah besides requesting similar and additional favours (Abu Huraira-Sa‘d[34]/ Jabir[35]/Qatada[36]/‘Ali[37]). From the favours like that for Makkah was its protection from Dajjal and from the additional favours, it appears, was the prayer for it be protected from deadly epidemics for good (Anas[38]) and from the pestilential fever that had afflicted Madina at that time (Abu Qataba Qatada[39]).

Though the later part of the Sa‘d –Abu Huraira narration regarding the protection of Madina does not have the explicit supplication marker, it clearly is a part of it. The report from Anas mentioning the protection too suggest that Madina’s protection from plague was only a part of the hope following the prayer.

عن أنس بن مالك، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: «المدينة يأتيها الدجال، فيجد الملائكة يحرسونها، فلا يقربها الدجال» قال: «ولا الطاعون إن شاء الله»

On the authority of Anas b. Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Dajjal will come to Madina and find the angels guarding it, and so the Dajjal will not come near it.” He added. “Nor will the plague (ta‘un), if Allah so willed (in sha’ Allah).”[40]

Jabir b. ‘Abdullah report includes the same disclaimer “if Allah so willed.”[41] A number of scholars have pointed out that this disclaimer could suggest that the promise of protection from plague was not positively established. Those who rejected or preferred against this interpretation did so hastily for some reports sans the disclaimer, the fact that plague had never entered Madina till their time,[42] or for the fact that in odd reports the disclaimer is mentioned for Dajjal as well while the evidence for Madina’s protection from Dajjal (anti-Christ) is overwhelming.[43]

Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri (d. 1353/1934) commenting on the hadith of Anas said:

قوله: (فلا يقربها الدجال ولا الطاعون إن شاء الله تعالى)، هذا هو الصواب في الترتيب، فإن عدم دخول الدجال المدينة حتم، والاستثناء مع دخول الطاعون فقط. ويتوهم من سوء ترتيب بعض الرواة أن عدم دخول الدجال أيضا أمر مرجو، لا أنه حتم، وليس كذلك.

[Wording of the hadith] “Dajjal will not come near it, nor will the plague, if Allah so willed,” has the correct sequence. That Dajjal will not be able to enter Madina is established, while the disclaimer is only about the plague. Due to certain narrators’ inadvertent change of sequence some people have fell for the impression that even Dajjal’s inability into enter Madina is also hoped for but it is not confirmed. This, however, is not actually the case.[44]

What confirms this understanding of the hadith is the fact after the Prophet (ﷺ), even ‘Umar b. al-Khattab mentioned the protection of Madina from plague with the disclaimer as in the saying of the Prophet (ﷺ).[45]

Accordingly, it can concluded that the mention of protection of Madina from the specific disease of plague was not a divine promise but ever since the Prophet (ﷺ) prayed for it the believers have hoped accordingly.

5. Did plague ever enter Madina?

While we have concluded that the hadith does not establish a divine promise for Madina’s protection from plague, there is no historical account to confirm plague afflicting Madina till date. In fact a number of historians over the centuries had mentioned that Madina had never been afflicted by plague (ta‘un) till their day. Among them were Ibn Qutaiba (d. 276/889),[46] Al-Tha‘alibi (d. 429/1038),[47] and al-Samhudi (d. 911/1506).[48]  In fact al-Kashmiri (d. 1934) who highlighted that wording of the hadith did not establish the promise also maintained that Madina had remained safe from plague till his time.[49] Likewise, John L. Burckhardt (d. 1817) confirmed that a plague that hit Arabia in 1815 reached Makkah as well but, he wrote, “Medina remained free from the plague.”[50] Richard Burton (d. 1890) writing in the middle of the nineteenth century also observed, “It is still the boast of El Medinah that the Ta‘un, or plague, has never passed her frontier.”[51]

6. Conclusion

The mention of protection from plague mentioned in hadith is only for Madina and that too from a specific disease plague (ta‘un) not epidemics in general. It does not relate to Makkah. Moreover, the mention is only by the way of prayer and hope; it is not confirmed or promised. Therefore, residents of Madina being afflicted by pestilential fever, MERS, COVID-19 or any other epidemic except plague, does not relate to the hadith in anyway. Moreover, whereas there is no evidence of plague entering Madina till date, even if it happens in future it would not cast on hadith any aspersions whatsoever.


References & Notes:

[1] “Saudi Arabia announced four more deaths and 154 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 2,039.Of those new cases, 34 were reported in Madinah, 30 in Jeddah and 21 in Makkah.” Arab News, April 4, 2020

[2] Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma‘il, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 7133

[3] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 2001) Hadith 1593, 8373

[4] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 8917

[5] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 10265

[6] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 10265

[7] Al-Damishqi, Ibn Kathir, al-Nihaya fi al-Fitan wa al-Malahim, (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1988) Vol.1, 161

[8] Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Siraj al-Din, al-Tawdih li Sharh al-Jami‘ al-Sahih, (Damascus: Dar al-Nawader, 2008) Vol.12, 531; Vol.27, 473

[9] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Vol.16, 184, Hadith 10265; classified as da‘if by Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut et al.

[10] Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma‘il, al-Tarikh al-Kabir, (Hyderabad: Da’ira al-Ma’rif al-‘Uthmaniya, n.d.) Vol.6, 180 No. 2099

[11] Ibn Abi Khuthaima, Abu Bakr, al-Tarikh al-Kabir (al-Sifr al-Thalith), (Cairo: al-Faruq al-Hadithiya, 2006) Vol.1, 146 No. 302

[12] Al-Busti, Ibn Hibban, al-Thiqat, (Hyderabad: Da’ira al-Ma’rif al-‘Uthmaniya, 1973) Vol.7, 173

[13] Ibn Asakir, Abu al-Qasim, Tarikh Damishq, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1995) Vol.14, 308

[14] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1367 AH) Vol.10, 191

[15] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Vol.16, 185; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Edited by Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut, et al. (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 2013) Vol.17, 533 cf. al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Ta‘jil al-Munfi‘ah, (Beirut: Dar al-Basha’ir, 1996) Vol.2, 47. Unfortunately, Ibn Shabbah’s work titled Kitab Makkah from which Ibn Hajar quoted is neither published nor much referred to by past scholars. Even Taqi al-Din al-Fasi (d. 832/1429) did not have access to this work and barely remembered having seen a copy of it. See, al-Fasi, al-‘Iqd al-Thamin fi Tarikh al-Balad al-Amin, (Beirut: DKI, 1998) Vol.1, 178. Although Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani quoted from it a number of times in Fath al-Bari it seems to have been a rare book even in his time. Ibn Hajar’s student al-Sakhawi (d. 902/1497) noted that, “Our colleague Ibn Fahd, (however) copied it in one volume.” See, al-Sakhawi, Shams al-Din, al-I‘lan bi al-Tawbikh li-man Dhamma Ahl al-Tarikh (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1986) 267; translated in Rosenthal, Franz, A History of Muslim Historiography, (Leiden: Brill, 1968) 480; later bibliographers do not even mention this book among works of ‘Umar ibn Shabbah. See al-Babani, Isma‘il bin Muhammad, Hadya al-‘Arifin, (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, n.d.) Vol.1, 780

Moreover, even if we were to believe that Ibn Shabbah’s work indeed had the chain of narrators mentioned by Ibn Hajar, it would still not be proof because al-‘Ala’ b. ‘Abdul Rahman, though generally deemed reliable, has been warned about against his uncorroborated reports. Since the mention of Makkah in the hadith of Abu Huraira is an uncorroborated addition it is not to be accepted from him either. See, al-Mizzi, Jamal al-Din, Tahdhib al-Kamal fi Asma’ al-Rijal, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1980) Vol.22, 523; al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, al-Nukat ‘ala Kitab Ibn Salah, (Madina: al-Jami‘a al-Islamiya, 1984) Vol.1, 316

[16] For Arabic see, Lane, Edward William, Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1968) Vol.5, 1856; Vol.8, 2914-2915. For the fact that use of ta‘un in the sense of epidemic (waba’) has been in loose sense only, see Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol.10, 181

For English see, Oxford Learners Dictionary

[17] Al-Nawawi, Abu Zakariyya, Saḥīḥ Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi, (Cairo: Mo’assasa Qurtuba, 1991) Vol.1, 153

[18] Al-Nawawi, Abu Zakariyya, Saḥīḥ Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi, Vol.14, 295; as translated in Conrad, Lawrence I., “Tāʿūn and Wabāʾ: Conceptions of Plague and Pestilence in Early Islam,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 25, No. 3 (1982), 297

[19] Conrad, Lawrence I., “Tāʿūn and Wabāʾ: Conceptions of Plague and Pestilence in Early Islam,”  279

[20] al-Tabari, Ibn Jarir, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Maluk (Beirut: Dar al-Turath, 1387 AH) Vol.10, 147; translated in Rosenthal, Franz, The History of al-Tabari: Volume XXXVIII – The Return of the Caliphate to Baghdad, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985) 199

[21] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 20767

[22] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 1889; translation by ‘Aisha Bewley; the prayer was to turn the epidemic fever to al-Juhfa. The prayer was granted as shown to the Prophet (ﷺ) in a dream mentioned in a report of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar. See, al-Tirmidhi, Abu ‘Isa, al-Jami‘, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 2290; classified as hasan sahih by al-Tirmidhi, and sahih by al-Albani

[23] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 1602

[24] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 2643

[25] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 1593, 8373

[26] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 1889 (‘Aisha)

[27] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 1883 (Jabir)

[28] al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘, Hadith 3914

[29] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 14112

[30] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 22630

[31] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 1871

[32] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 1883, 7209, 7211, 7216, 7322

[33] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 1363-459

[34] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 1593, 8373

[35] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 14112

[36] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 22630

[37] al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘,Hadith 3914

[38] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 7134, 7473

[39] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 22630

[40] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 7134

[41] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 15233; the individual isnad, however, is weak.

[42] Al-Samhudi, Abu al-Hasan, Wafa’ al-Wafa’ bi Akhbar Dar al-Mustafa, (Beirut: DKI, 1419 AH) Vol.1, 59

[43] Al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol.13, 105 observing that report of Mihjan b. Adra‘ with Ahmad b. Hanbal and al-Hakim mentions the disclaimer with regards to Dajjal as well. It, however, so appears with al-Hakim only. In fact whereas the report comes through at least six narrators from a sub-narrator ‘Abdullah b. Shafiq, it is only through Kahmas b. al-Hasan that we find this disclaimer. From Kahmas too it is only through one of three links that we find it so narrated. See, Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 18975-76, 20347-49; al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, (Beirut: DKI, 1990) Hadith 8315, 8631; Ibn Abi Shaiba, al-Musannaf, (Beirut: Dar Qurtuba, 2006) Hadith 38639; al-Tiyalsi, Abu Dawud, al-Musnad, (Cairo: Dar Hijr, 1999) Hadith 1391; Al-Tabarani, Abu Al-Qasim, Mu’jam Al-Kabir, (Cairo: Maktaba Ibn Taimiya, 1994) Vol.20, 297 Hadith 706

[44] Al-Kashmiri, Anwar Shah, Faid al-Bara ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari, (Beirut: DKI, 2005) Vol.6, 585; also, Vol.3, 316; Vol.6, 57; his observation that narration of the hadith linking the disclaimer “in-sha’ Allah” to Dajjal as well is due to inadvertence of a narrator is confirmed in that whereas the report always comes through Yazid b. Harun it is only in the narration from ‘Abdah b. ‘Abdullah al-Khuzai that “in-sha’ Allah” has been linked to Dajjal as well. See al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami‘, Hadith 2242. On the other hand at least seven other narrators from Yazid b. Harun report it as linked to plague only. See Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 7134 (Yahya b. Musa), 7473 (Ishaq b. Abi ‘Isa); Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 12244, 13089, 13847 (Ahmad b. Hanbal); Ibn Hibban, al-Sahih, (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1988) Hadith 6804 (Ahmad b. Sinan); Al-Mawsali, Abu Ya‘la, al-Musnad, (Damascus: Dar al-Ma’mun li al-Turath, 1984) Hadith 3051 (Zuhair b. Harb; al-Isfarayini, Abu ‘Awana, al-Mustakhraj, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifa, 1998) Hadith 3738 (Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Malik al-Wasiti); al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma’ was-Sifat, (Riyadh: Maktabah as-Sawadi, 1993) Hadith 352 (Sa‘dan b, Nasr)

[45] Al-Jawhari, ‘Ali b. al-Ja‘d, al-Musnad, Edited by ‘Amir Ahmad Haidar (Beirut: Mo’ssasa Nadir, 1990) Hadith 134; See, al-Haithmi, Nur al-Din, Bughyah al-Bahith ‘an Zawa’id Musnad al-Harith, (Madina: Markaz Khidmat al-Sunnah, 1992) Hadith 396; Al-‘Asqalāni, Ibn Hajar, al-Maṭālib al-‘Aliya, Edited by Sa’d bin Nasir al-Shathri et. al. (Riyadh: Dar al-Asima, 1998) Vol.7, 149 Hadith 1318

[46] Al-Dainawari, Ibn Qutaiba, al-Ma‘arif, (Cairo: General Egyptian Book Org., 1992) 602

[47] Al-Tha‘alibi, Abu al-Mansur, Thimar al-Qulub fi al-Mudaf wa al-Mansub, (Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, 1985) 547

[48] Al-Samhudi, Wafa’ al-Wafa’, Vol.1, 57-59

[49] Al-Kashmiri, Faid al-Bara ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.6, 57

[50] Burckhardt, John Lewis, Travels in Arabia, (London: Henry Colburn, 1829) Vol.2, 326-327

[51] Burton, Richard F., Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1874) Vol.1, 93

About the author

Waqar Akbar Cheema


    • No. The hadith whose weakness is highlighted in the article is one that mentions ta’un (plague) as well. Otherwise there are reports that positively establish that Dajjal will not be able to enter both Makkah and Madina. See Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 1881 for instance.

      I have alluded to this in this article in following words:

      “From the favours like that for Makkah was its protection from Dajjal and from the additional favours, …”

  • Salam u alaykum akhi, an Islamic critic brought this up stating that Madinah was affected by the plague , could you fact check this:

    “In Chapter 6 of the book “Geographies of plague pandemics : the spatial-temporal behavior of plague to the modern day” By Mark Welford, ‘Jeddah, Makkah, and Medina were swept by the Third Plague Pandemic in 1898’“

    • Wa alaikum assalam wr wb

      The exact statement in Chapter 6 of the book you mentioned goes as;

      “Jeddah, in modern-day Saudi Arabia, was first infected in early 1896, BUT A FULL-BLOWN EPIDEMIC DID NOT AFFECT JEDDAH, MECCA, AND MEDINA UNTIL 1899 (Curson and McCracken 1989).” (p. 109)

      I am not able to cross check reference, context, and sources cited by Curson and McCracken in “Plague in Sydney: The Anatomy of an Epidemic”(p.33) as only a snippet view is available on Google Books and I could not get access to the book.

      Interesting, a 1903 work refers to the details of plague in Arabia mentioning Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina.

      “A third limited outbreak developed in February 1899. It is a matter for congratulation that in spite of the large number of pilgrims to Mecca and Medina who passed through Jedda in each of these years no widespread epidemic of plague occurred among them. ONLY TWO KNOWN CASES OF PLAGUE OCCURRED IN MECCA IN 1899, AND MEDINA IS STILL ABLE TO BOAST, AS IT DID IN THE TIME OF BURTON’S MEMORABLE PILGRIMAGE, THAT THE TA’UN OR PLAGUE HAS NEVER ENTERED ITS GATES.”

      See, Frank G. Clemow, The Geography of Disease, (Cambridge: The University Press, 1903) 333 (emphasis added)

      Burton’s testimony is cited in the article above.

      I think this contemporary to the event testimony is more relevant and makes the reference the critic mentioned rather irrelevant.

  • Assalaamu Alaykum Akhi,

    Very informative article Jazakullah Khair. I just had a question, you mention that the use of “inshallah” in some variants of the Hadith led some scholars to believe that the protection from plague isn’t established. You then reference Al-Samhudi’s Wafa’ al-Wafa’ bi Akhbar Dar al-Mustafa. I had a read through Al-Samhudi’s book but couldn’t find any mention of scholars saying this. However my Arabic isn’t great. Could you provide the exact quote from his book with reference about this?

    I’ll leave a link to the book to make things easier. This edition discusses Medina’s protection from plague from p61-67. Jazakullah Khair


    • Wa alaikum assalam wr wb

      I cited Samhudi not for the assertion that protection from plague isn’t a given rather I cited him as an example of scholars who hasitly rejected or preferred against such an interpretation because the plague had never entered Madina by their time. Its at footnote number 42.

      //A number of scholars have pointed out that this disclaimer could suggest that the promise of protection from plague was not positively established. Those who rejected or preferred against this interpretation did so hastily for some reports sans the disclaimer, the fact that plague had never entered Madina till their time,[42] or for the fact that in odd reports, the disclaimer is mentioned for Dajjal as well while the evidence for Madina’s protection from Dajjal (anti-Christ) is overwhelming.[43]//

      In the edition you referred, its at page number 64 in the para “وقوله في الروايه المتقدمه … والصواب حفظها منه كما هو المشاهد”

      I hope this helps

      • Jazakullah Khair for your response. Since I initially posted that comment, I’ve done more research and it appears that the overwhelming consensus of scholars is that plague cannot enter Medina including:

        Imam Al-Nawawi
        Ibn Hajr Al Asqalāni
        Ibn Mulaqqin
        Abdullah ibn Battal
        Ibn Hubayra

        In fact, Ibn Hajr Al Haythami (d.974 AH) in Al fatawa Al fiqhiyatil kubra ch 4 p25 that the idea that the Hadith means that plague cannot enter the city is agreed upon except what Al-Qurtubi said (he said this refers to a large plague – 1 or 2 instances of plague may enter)

        But I think that this position actually is amongst the greatest evidences for Islam. Because as you’ve rightly pointed out in your article, despite so many pilgrims and people from around the world coming into Medina, plague has never entered it and will never enter it.

        I’d be interested in and grateful for your thoughts inshallah