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‘Superstitious’ Hadiths Explained

Jaskaran Singh (username: fact329) contacted Islam-Sikhism on our Youtube Channel with a series of hadiths that he deems to be “superstitious”. Yes; another poor attempt at finding faults with the true religion of God.

I will come straight to point. Please tell the logic behind following superstitions in islam [sic]:

If a fly falls on your food, take it and immerse it once more because according to prophet mohammed, the fly carries the medicine on one wing to counter the disease it carries on the other wing:

The prophet said “If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it in the drink, for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease.”
(Bukhari V4 B54 N537)

HADITH OF THE FLY

Jaskaran and others like him are winging it (pun intended) by labelling hadith that do not make sense to their limited comprehension as superstition.

Evidence has been unearthed by the scientific community that there is more to the hadith of the fly than meets Jaskaran’s myopic eye.

An experiment coordinated by Dr Saleh as-Saleh and supervised by Dr Jamaal Haamid of the Dept. of Medical Microbiology College of Science at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia, revealed that the “complete dipping” of a fly into three separate petri dishes each containing E. Coli bacteria, Coynebacterium Dephtheroid bacteria and Staphylococcus sp. type bacteria, not only resulted in the “entire disappearance” of these “pathogenic (disease causing) bacterial colonies”, but more remarkably led to “new bacteria growing … as Actinomyces … from which useful antibiotics can be extracted”. [1]

The process of extracting such antibiotics has also been achieved. ABC Science published an article in 2002 which stated:

The surface of flies is the last place you would expect to find antibiotics, yet that is exactly where a team of Australian researchers is concentrating their efforts. [2]

Ms Joanne Clarke, who was heading a team of researchers at the Macquarie University’s Dept. of Biological Sciences, was quoted as saying:

Our research is a small part of a global research effort for new antibiotics, but we are looking where we believe no-one has looked before. (Ibid) [3]

Although it may be true that no scientist has ever looked into this phenomenon before, it certainly is not the case that Ms Clarke (now Dr J. Lind), or anyone else for that matter, was the first to conceive such an idea. In fact, the question that begs to be asked is whether anyone ever preceded Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah) in suggesting such an approach. If not, then it could be inferred that the first documented evidence of anyone proposing the antidotal/ antibacterial properties found on the surface of the fly was none other than Khatim an-Nabiyeen – The Finality of the (true) Prophets (of God), Muhammad (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah).

There is yet more. The journal reports a remarkable moment of coincidence during the course of the experiment when the team unknowingly replicates the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah) instructions of dipping the fly back into the fluid to acquire the cure:

The antibiotic material is extracted by drowning the flies in ethanol, then running the mixture through a filter to obtain the crude extract.

When this was placed in a solution with various bacteria including E.coli, Golden Staph, Candida (a yeast) and a common hospital pathogen, antibiotic action was observed every time. (Ibid; bold, underline ours)

Awareness that flies have the potential for cure, however, was known by the scientific community as far back as the 1970s. The Economic reported in 1994 that Professor “Juan Alvarez Bravo and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo hope to see one particular fly, or at least a tiny part of it, in hospitals everywhere in the not too distant future. They think its unpleasant habits make it an ideal source of new medicine”.

Why? Because flies “unlike people … [can] make their own antibiotics”. However, such information “has been known for some time; Shunji Natori, Dr Alvarez Bravo’s boss, identified the ones in S. peregrina 20 years ago”. The article concluded:

Far from spreading diseases, as flies usually do, this particular pest might be used to control them. [4]

As much as today’s scientific studies, which empirically confirm the instructions delivered by our Prophet over 1400 years ago, make for an interesting read, they only serve to complement what we as Muslims know and invite others to recognise and accept: the truth of Muhammad’s Prophethood (upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah). After all, this is not the first time that science has unearthed compelling evidence to support the authentic statements of our Prophet. Muslims do not require 21st century science to provide them with a rational reason for emulating his example or in fully accepting his authentic traditions simply because we have always known him to be: as-saadiq al-masdooq – the truthful one who conveyed the truth re hadith of the fly.

How true are the words of Allah:

Nor does he (Muhammad) speak from (his own) caprice. It is no less than revelation revealed. (Qur’an; 53:3-4)

I heard the Prophet saying, “Fever is from the heat of the hell fire; so cool it with water.”
(Bukhari V4 B54 N484)

FEVER FROM THE HEAT OF HELL

The greatest contention of both Islam and Sikhism is belief in a transcendent and omnipotent deity who is, above all else, unseen. In this respect, both religions would presumably categorise this and similar such aspects as part of an hitherto unseen and unobservable realm. In the Islamic world view, there exists an important methodological distinction between the “observable (i.e. physical) world” (‘aalam ash-shahaadah) and the “unseen or inaccessible (i.e. metaphysical) world” (‘alaam al-ghayb).

Another example of the metaphysical in Sikhism is the belief that Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains the jott (divine light) of Waheguru. Can Jaskaran empirically prove or show the existence of this jott? If not, then is he willing to dismiss this belief as mere superstition or will he appeal to it being part of the unseen world?

It should be noted that most of the examples cited by Jaskaran below cannot be summarily dismissed without him being guilty of employing double-standards. Hence, in this regard, ‘what’s good for the goose is indeed good for the gander’.

There is, however, another consideration to be aware of when attempting to interpret scripture correctly, without erroneously reading into it: are hadiths to be understood literally or figuratively? In the case of the aforecited hadith, the latter would mean that the causal factor for fever is not hellfire, thus rendering Jaskaran’s objections false.

Bassam Zawadi cites the explainer of Sahih al-Bukhari, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, as stating:

“… from the ‘Fai’h’ or the ‘Fauj’ of Hell, which means, ‘from its radiation and heat.’ There is a difference of opinion regarding its relation to Hell. It was said that the relation is literal. Therefore, the heat felt by one who suffers from a fever is a part of Hell, which Allah made to appear through means that He has measured so that the slaves heed to this lesson.  Similarly, types of delight and elation are parts of Paradise’s delight and Allah made these to appear in this life as a lesson and a reminder. It was also said that this Hadeeth (Khabar) is a figure of speech. Thus, in this case, it would mean that the heat of fever is similar to the heat of Hell to alert one’s inner self to the intensity of the heat of the Fire and that the heat of fever is similar to the Fire’s Fai’h’ in that it touches those near it.” (Fathul Baari) [5]

In light of this, what can be seen is that a genuine difference of opinion exists in the interpretation of said hadith. All the same, a literal or figurative understanding is of no significance given Jaskaran’s catch-22 situation. If it is taken literally, then any answers to the question of how a fever could arise in such a way would necessarily be premised on the Islamic understanding of the unseen world and the metaphysical laws that govern it. Hence, Jaskaran would be guilty of employing double-standards if he were to interpret it literally and accuse Muslims of believing in superstition.

A group of people from ‘ukl tribe came to Medina and they became ill, so the prophet ordered them to go to the herd of Milch she-camels and told them to go out and drink the camels’ urine and milk as a medicine.
(Bukhari V1 B4 N234)

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF CAMEL URINE

It is important to identify what the illness was that these people were suffering from. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 751AH/ 1350CE) identifies the ailment as dropsy:

The proof that these people were complaining from dropsy, is from Imam Muslim who narrated in his Sahih from the same Hadith above that the Bedouins said, “We have not found Al-Madinah suitable for us and our stomachs swelled, our organs became weak…” until the end of the Hadith.

Dropsy is a physical disease that occurs when a harmful cold substance penetrates the external organs of the body and also the body organs other than those that are used in digestion, causing them to swell. [6]

Although the hadiths do not specify exactly how the milk and urine were to be taken, Ibnul Qayyim cites al-Israili as offering a possible prescription that could have also been used at that time:

Fresh, warm camel’s milk is beneficial against dropsy, especially when taken with fresh, warm camel urine, thus making the combination more salty and adding strength to its effectiveness in dissolving harmful fluids and as a laxative. If the [combination of milk and urine] did not purge the stomach, then one should take a stronger laxative. [7]

The celebrated polymath Avicenna is also quoted by Ibnul Qayyim as stating:

Do not listen to those who claim that milk does not provide cure from dropsy. Rather, know that camel’s milk is an effective cure, because it cleanses gently and easily, due to its other qualities. This type of milk is so beneficial that if a person substituted water and food with camel’s milk, he would be cured [from dropsy and other ailments]. Some people tried this remedy and were soon cured. We should state that the best camel urine is that of the camels of Bedouin people. [8]

Aside from a cure for dropsy, preliminary research conducted by modern medical experts into the health benefits of camel urine could point towards avenues leading to some potentially revolutionary breakthroughs and possible advancements in medical science.

For example, researchers in Saudi Arabia wrote:

Since antiquity the tribes in the Asian deserts have used camel urine and milk for several illnesses. These natural products in their crude form are used in the treatment of stomach infections, tuberculosis and cancer (Gauthier-Pilters and cell lines (Kudriashov et al., 1979; Peterson and Peterson, 1979; Adachi et al., 1980; Kanzawa et al., 1982; Kitahara et al., 1986; Gallant et al., 1993; Lillie et al., 1993; Miller et al., 1993). (bold ours) [9]

In regards to cancer, these researchers said:

The mutagenic nature of cytotoxic drugs [10] is known to cause secondary affliction and is a major drawback for the long term survivors of chemotherapy (Harris, 1976). However, the complex nature of natural products has the potential to inhibit the clastogenicity [11] and suppress secondary malignancies. Uric acid and creatinine present in camel urine are known to be potent antioxidants (Ames et al., 1981; Glazer, 1988). In a recent study, AI-Bekairi et al. (1991a, 1991b) reported uric acid to inhibit the clastogenicity and biochemical changes induced by cyclophosphamide in mice. (Ibid; bold ours)

Cyclophosphamide (CP) is a drug used to treat various types of cancer and some autoimmune disorders. It is converted in the liver to active forms that have chemotherapeutic activity. But, what these researchers wanted to explore was “the effect of camel urine treatment on the cytological and biochemical changes induced by a known mutagenic and cytotoxic drug, cyclophosphamide (Oleinik, 1985; 1986; AI-Bekairi et al., 1991a)”. They believed that “[i]n view of the cytotoxic, mutagenic, antioxidative and antimutagenic nature of ingredients present in camel urine and its folklore use in cancer therapy”, “[m]ore scientific studies are required to investigate different aspects of camel urine due to its different composition as compared with urine of other animals”. [12]

Their results showed that “CP treatment was found to be highly clastogenic, cytotoxic and it inhibited the levels of proteins, nucleic acids, glutathione and increased the malondialdehyde concentrations”. However:

Unlike treatment with CP, the camel urine treatment was devoid of any clastogenic activity …. Despite the presence of a number of mutagenic ingredients such as purine bases, urea derivatives and hypoxanthine (Peterson and Peterson, 1979; Emerit et al., 1985; Bonatti et al., 1986; Cole et al., 1991; Moore et al., 1991; Nagao et al., 1991; Matsuda et al., 1991; Liber and Denault, 1991; Asita et al., 1992; Wood et al., 1992; Basu et al., 1993; Gruz et al., 1993; Shcherbakova and Pavlov, 1993) the camel urine was not found to be clastogenic. The non-clastogenic nature observed in the present study appears to be due to the effect of antioxidative and antimutagenic components of camel urine such as creatinine and uric acid (Ames et al., 1981; Glazer, 1988; AI-Bekairi et al., 1991a, 1991b). [13]

The report concluded:

Our results demonstrate the cytotoxic and non-mutagenic nature of camel urine and support its folkloric claims. Further studies are in progress to explore the cytotoxic activity of camel urine and its active constituents in cancer cells. (bold, underline ours) [14]

As far as additional studies are concerned in further supporting the “folkloric claims” of camel’s urine vis-à-vis cancer cells, then more recently in 2010, researchers at Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University and the University of Alberta in Canada explored “the ability of three different camel urines (virgin, lactating, and pregnant source) to modulate a well-known cancer-activating enzyme … Cyp1a1”. The team were again motivated by knowledge that “[d]rinking camel urine has been used traditionally to treat numerous cases of cancer”. They revealed:

The camel has played a crucial role in desert dwellers for thousands of years. Not only the camel has provided transportation and food, but also its milk and urine have been used traditionally for the maintenance of good health and in the treatment of diverse diseases (Redwan el and Tabll, 2007; Conesa et al., 2008; Agrawal et al., 2009). The medicinal use of camel urine is dated back to the time of the famous Persian scholar known as Avicenna (980-1037), author of al-Qanoon (The Canon). For the Bedouin people, camel urine remains an important natural remedy for different diseases.

Until recently, it is traditionally claimed that drinking camel urine has cured and treated numerous cases of cancer, but this claim has never been exposed to scientific scrutiny investigation. A very few studies have been published in the literature regarding the medicinal properties of camel urine, with just one report describing a possible anti-carcinogenic activity (al-Harbi et al., 1996). Furthermore, Khorshid and Moshref (2006) have recently reported the anti-carcinogenic effect of camel urine in different cancer types in rats. However, these studies did not investigate the mechanisms by which camel urines exhibit anti-carcinogenic effect. (Ibid; bold, underline ours)

The results found that while “virgin camel urine showed the highest degree of inhibition at the activity level”:

All types of camel, but not bovine, urines differentially inhibited the induction of Cyp1a1 gene expression by TCDD, the most potent Cyp1a1 inducer and known carcinogenic chemical.

In conclusion, the present work provides the first evidence that camel urine inhibits the TCDD-mediated effect, at least in part by inhibiting the expression of Cyp1a1, a cancer-activating gene, at both the transcriptional and the post-transcriptional levels through an AhR-dependent mechanism. These results are of potential clinical significance to humans in that it uncovers the molecular mechanism involved and could explain the anecdotal evidence for the successful use of camel urine in the treatment of various medical conditions. (bold, underline ours) [15]

Also in 2010, the African Journal of Agricultural Research published a research paper titled: The Inhibitory Effect of Camel’s Urine on Mycotoxins and Fungal Growth. The paper acknowledges that “camel’s milk and urine have medical effects, so Islam encourages and permits the drinking of camel milk, and camel urine is permitted in case of necessary medical treatment (Al-Bukhhari)” (bold ours). It goes on to reveal:

There are many well known health benefits, with regard to drinking the milk and urine of camels, to the earlier generations of medical science and they have been proven by modern scientific researches. For example swollen abdomen, which may indicate oedema and liver disease (jaundice), or cancer, and thin bodies which indicate extreme weakness, and which often accompanies hepatitis or cancer. This may be due to the effectiveness of camel’s urine, as against all other cattle to the active substances contained in desert plants which benefited more of them; this was summed up by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Many researches have been conducted on a variety of desert plants and a strong effect against bacteria, yeast and fungi has been found. Kaul et al. (1976) and Zaki et al. (1984) have conducted researches on the wormwood plant, and results have shown strong effectiveness against bacteria, yeast and fungi. (bold ours) [16]

The paper then cites a number of studies conducted over the past three decades showing the varied health benefits of camel urine and milk.

Hence, rather than this hadith being full of superstition as Jaskaran mistakenly asserts, the true import and wisdom of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recommendation has only today come to be more deeply appreciated after scientific research unearthed the potentially unique medicinal properties of camel’s urine.

The prophet said, “If anyone of you rouses from sleep and performs the ablution, he should wash his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out thrice, because satan has stayed in the upper part of his nose all the night.”
(Bukhari V4 B54 N516)

SATAN SLEEPS IN THE NOSE

Again Satan is a living creature that exists as part of the unseen world.

It was mentioned before the prophet that there was a man who slept the night till morning after sunrise. The prophet said, “He is a man in whose ears satan had urinated.”
(Bukhari V4 B54 N492)

SATAN URINATES IN THE EARS

Ibid.

Mohammad said he split the moon in two. To this day, muslims believe the moon was split, and that that is legitimate proof of mohammad’s miracle [sic]:

During the lifetime of the prophet the moon was split into two parts and on that the prophet said, “Bear witness to thus.” That the meccan people requested allah’s apostle to show them a miracle, and so he showed them the splitting of the moon. The moon was split into two parts during the lifetime of the prophet. [sic] (Bukhari V4 B56 N830-832)

THE SPLITTING OF THE MOON MIRACLE

If miracles are a phenomenon which Jaskaran rejects entirely as superstition, then he must be consistent and also reject stories of miracles allegedly performed by his Gurus. Besides, are miracles beyond the ability of the Almighty? The answer is no.

The prophet said, “Allah does not accept prayer of anyone of you if he does hadath (passes wind) till he performs the ablution (anew).”
(Bukhari V9 B86 N86)

PASSING WIND BREAKS ABLUTION

There does not seem to be anything superstitious about the strict conditions of purity and cleanliness that are conditional for prayer to be valid and acceptable to God. Breaking wind that leads to ablution being rendered void is simply a peculiarity that is specific to the ritual performances of Muslims in preparation for their worship of God as instructed by none other than Him.

Jaskaran and his fellow Sikhs have much more serious things to contend with including idol-worship of their “divine” scripture, SGGS.

Jabir b. ‘Abdullah reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: Do not eat with your left hand, for the Satan eats with his left hand.
(Sahih Muslim B023 N5007)

PROHIBITION OF EATING WITH THE LEFT HAND

Belief in God, Satan, angels, jinn, paradise, hell-fire, the punishment of the grave, etc. are all parts of the unseen world. Information of the peculiar characteristics of the species known as jinn, of which Satan is a member, only reaches us through revelation. It has been disclosed to Muslims of not only how Satan accomplishes his modus operandi of misguiding humankind from fulfilling their true purpose in life, but also some characteristics specific to him. We know that Satan can take the shape of human beings and some animals. He can also travel great distances without the aid of technology in very short periods of time. Being the obstinate and arrogant creature that he is, which was essentially the reason for his original expulsion from paradise following his first act of disobedience to God, Satan has wilfully chosen to adopt a behaviour in opposition to God’s commandments. So, for example, Allah has instructed Muslims to carry out all acts considered impure, such as cleaning the private parts after relieving oneself, with the left hand; leaving the right hand to do all things designated as pure, such as eating. As an avowed enemy of God and humankind, however, Satan does the opposite; thus, he eats with his left hand. Hence, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reminding Muslims to do all things pure with the right hand and that eating with one’s left hand is in imitation of one who is the greatest personification of evil.

It is no more superstitious to believe in Satan as an unseen entity, protect ourselves from his evil plots and refrain from imitating his evil ways as it is to believe in God as another unseen entity and striving to listen and obey Him.

There is also a matter of how far Jaskaran and those like him will go in applying this arbitrary label. Will he apply it to anything related to Satan and his antics? How about anything to do with angels? A point that Jaskaran et al. would do well to consider is that it is not illogical for God to create other species that are, in general, hidden and unseen. This is entirely within His capability.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: A woman, an ass and a dog disrupt the prayer, but something like the back of a saddle guards against that.
(Sahih Muslim B004 N1034)

WOMEN, DOGS AND DONKEYS ‘CUT-OFF’ PRAYER

Why is it that Jaskaran sees certain aspects of Islamic orthopraxy as superstitious, but would not dare to label the worship rituals of Sikhism, such as the Sukhasan ceremony, which we use to support our assertion that Sikhs worship their so-called divine scripture as an idol, in the same way? On what objective basis does Jaskaran consider one to be superstition and not the other: perhaps a religiously motivated subjective bias?

As for the correct understanding of the aforecited hadith, then it is either strongly recommended or obligated – depending on what opinion one follows – for either the imam, who leads a congregation in prayer, or the lone worshipper to erect a barrier (Arabic: sutrah) in front to ensure that nothing passes between said individuals and their sutrah.

In a hadith narrated by Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

If any one of you is praying, he should not let anyone pass in front of him. Let him push that person away as much as he can; but if that person insists then fight him, for he is nothing more than devilish (in nature). [17]

As to the cutting off (Arabic: yaqtha’u) of prayer with the passing of a woman, donkey or dog, then again there exists a difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether this annuls the prayer or merely adversely affects its merit.

For example, Imam Nawawi states:

Imam Malik, Abu Hanifah and ash-Shafi’ee (may Allah be pleased with them) and the majority of the scholars from the Salaf [first three generation of Muslims] and Khalaf [successors to the first three generation of Muslims] said: The prayer is not annulled by the passing of any of them (i.e. dog, donkey and woman) and other than them. These scholars have interpreted the hadith to mean that what is meant by “cut off” is that there is a decrease in the merit of the prayer due to the heart being distracted by these things and does not mean that the prayers are invalidated. (bold ours) [18]

However, others such as Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibnul Qayyim, et alia, held the opposite opinion.

Be that as it may, the point is that again this hadith does not constitute a superstitious belief.

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying. When you listen to the crowing of the cock, ask Allah for His favour as it sees Angels and when you listen to the braying of the donkey, seek refuge in Allah from the Satan for it sees Satan.
(Sahih Muslim B035 N6581)

COCKS SEE ANGELS; DONKEYS SEE SATAN

Once again, these are portents of the unseen world.

Anas reported Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) disapproved the drinking of water while standing.
(Sahih Muslim B023 N5017)

PROHIBITION OF DRINKING WATER STANDING

This instruction is merely from the etiquettes of drinking and not based on superstition. The question that should be asked is whether it is strictly prohibited for a Muslim to drink while standing? And the answer is no given the existence of hadith that mention the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) drinking while standing. This point was answered by Shaykh Bin Baaz as follows:

Q: Some purified hadiths forbid eating and drinking while standing while some other Hadiths allow doing so; which hadiths must we follow?

A: Both the two groups of hadith referred to in the question are sahih (authentic). To be clearer, it is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade people to eat or drink while standing and that he (peace be upon him) drank while standing. This issue is flexible, for all the narrations mentioned above are sahih; all praise be to Allah Alone. Forbiddance here is to express a karahiyyah (reprehensibility). However, one needs to eat or drink while standing; it is permissible because it is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) drank while sitting and while standing. In addition, it is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Drank from Zamzam (a well near the Ka’bah) while standing.” Also, there is another sahih hadith that is narrated on the authority of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) to the effect that the Prophet (peace be upon him) drank while standing and while sitting. Again, the issue is flexible. In conclusion, drinking and eating while sitting is better and healthier though it is permissible for a person to drink and eat while standing. [19]

A solar eclipse once occured [sic] at the prophet’s time. The sahabah left their jobs. Even young boys who were practising archery hastened towards the mosque to see what the prophet would do at that time. The prophet started two rak’ats of salaah, which were so long that some people fainted and fell down. He wept in his salaah and said, “O, my lord! Thou hast said that thou wouldst not punish them as long as I am amongst them and so long as they seek forgiveness”. He then addressed the people saying, “You should hasten for salaah whenever you happen to find the sun or moon in eclipse. If you happen to know the signs of the last day as I do then surely you would weep more and laugh less. In all such happenings, make haste towards salaah.”

SOLAR ECLIPSE – A CURSE FROM GOD?

It is clear from the hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not pray or weep on account of any superstitious beliefs over the event, but rather what the eclipse represented: a reminder to him of the “signs of the last day” as clearly alluded to in the hadith.

Other than a few descriptive signs regarding the immanency of the last day being disclosed to him, which would include chapter 75 of the Qur’an speaking of the moon being eclipsed, as well as the fact that it was “close at hand”, [20] Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was well aware that he would not be privy to the exact time of the final hour. It is entirely plausible, therefore, that the sheer grandeur of such a rare and spectacular natural occurrence as an eclipse could have caused him to think that the day of judgement was closer than he might have imagined.

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari reported that the Prophet said:

These signs [eclipses] that Allaah sends are not for the death or life of anyone, but Allaah makes His slaves afraid through them, so if you see anything of that [eclipses], then hasten to remember Allaah and call on Him and seek His forgiveness. [21]

Coupled with starkly vivid details revealed by Allah in the Qur’an describing the horrifying events of the destruction of the earth and the entire universe, which will include the eclipsing of the moon, such as the following:

He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?”
At length, when the sight is dazed.
And the moon is eclipsed.
And the sun and moon are united.
That Day will Man say “Where is the refuge?”
By no means! No place of safety!
Before thy Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest.
That Day will man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.
Nay, man will be evidence against himself.
Though he forwards his excuses. (Qur’an 75:6-15)

It is, again, highly plausible, given how God-conscious Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was of his Lord, that this all culminated in triggering within him not only a natural fear of facing such a harrowing occurrence, but also concern for his followers. After all, since the Prophet’s past, present and future sins had been forgiven by God, thus, guaranteeing him a place in paradise, the same was not true for all his followers.

The commencement of the final day at that time could also represent a final punishment for his people for any wrongs they had committed. Hence, the reason why he emphasises the condition of seeking forgiveness as means of staving off God’s punishment.

It would also mean an end to their opportunity in seeking His forgiveness. It is this selfless concern he had for his people, and mankind in general, that prompted him to drop everything and rush to prayer in a bid to earnestly beseech his Lord to delay the final day and provide them with respite. In effect, he lays down a precedence for his followers to emulate during such events.

There is no proof that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed during the eclipse out of superstition. Rather there is evidence to show that he, in fact, did everything to break any superstitious beliefs held by his people.

For example, there existed the superstitious belief among the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs that eclipses marked the birth or death of a great person. However, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) declared this belief to be false and explained the divine wisdom behind the occurrence of eclipses. Ibn Mas’ud al-Ansari said:

The sun was eclipsed the day Ibraheem, the Messenger of Allaah’s son, died resulting in the people claiming: “The sun is eclipsed because of the death of Ibraheem.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The sun and the moon are two signs from Allaah, and they do not become eclipsed over the death or the birth of anyone. If you see it, then hasten to remember Allaah through prayer. [22]

In another version narrated by his wife ‘A’ishah, he added:

If you see it, then call on Allaah, perform prayer, give charity…. [23]

This again emphasises the seeking of God’s forgiveness and His remembrance through prayer, followed by further good deeds in the form of alms-giving.

[1] S. as-Saleh (2005), The Hadeeth of the Fly — one wing had disease, the other wing has the cure, (Understand Islam).
[2] D. Kingsley (2002), The New Buzz on Antibiotics, (ABC Science Online, 01 Oct.).
[3] Ms Clarke’s PhD thesis, titled: Hypothesis driven drug discovery: antimicrobials in flies, was later published in 2003 and is available at Macquarie University Library.
[4] Antibiotics – The Ointment In The Fly, (The Economist, Vol. 333, Issues: 7892-7895, 03 Dec 1994), p. 101:

FOR most people, flies are the epitome of unhygienic squalor, the last thing one would want in a hospital. Yet Juan Alvarez Bravo and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo hope to see one particular fly, or at least a tiny part of it, in hospitals everywhere in the not too distant future. They think its unpleasant habits make it an ideal source of new medicine. For, as the early investigators of penicillin mould discovered, creatures that live cheek-by-jowl with germs have clever chemical tricks for dealing with them.

Sarcophaga peregrina, the fly in question, is one of summer’s less welcome visitors. The adults are large and annoying and the larvae feed on rotting meat. They are not alone in this taste; meat rots because zillions of bacteria are munching their way through it. Such bacteria would not be averse to a little fly larva in their diet too. To survive their predations, larvae must be tough. They are. A fly larva (weighing about a hundred-thousandth as much as a person) can survive injections of bacteria in quantities that would give a human a very gippy stomach.

Flies can stand such abuse because, unlike people, they make their own antibiotics. This has been known for some time; Shunji Natori, Dr Alvarez Bravo’s boss, identified the ones in S. peregrina 20 years ago. Until recently, their presence remained merely a curiosity. But strains of bacteria now exist that eat conventional antibiotics for breakfast and so are almost impossible to control. Any extension of the antibiotic arsenal is welcome. Dr Alvarez Bravo thinks that S. peregrina may have just the thing.

The larvae make around half a dozen antibiotics. Dr Alvarez Bravo decided to concentrate on one: sapecin-B. This is a small protein, consisting of a mere 34 of the amino-acid units of which all proteins are composed. That is not small enough, however, to be overlooked by the human immune system. The body’s ever-vigilant defences react badly to foreign proteins in the bloodstream. To use one as an antibiotic risks provoking an allergic reaction.

The immune system is, however, usually willing to ignore interlopers less than about ten amino acids long, so Dr Alvarez Bravo wondered whether he could isolate the business part of sapecin-B from the wrapping. He worked out the molecule’s shape using a nuclear-magnetic resonance machine (a distant cousin of a hospital body-scanner), and realised that it was composed of four distinct pieces. He then synthesised each of the pieces from its appropriate amino acids and tested them on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a strain of bacterium whose resistance has long been the bane of hospital surgical wards.

Dr Alvarez Bravo found that one of the pieces, a spiral 11 amino acids long, was almost as good at killing MRSA as the whole molecule. And 11 amino acids long is small enough, just, to avoid the immune system.

But there was another problem. An ideal antibiotic is one you can swallow. The trouble with proteins is that they tend to be digested in the stomach, breaking them up. Dr Alvarez Bravo was equal to this. Amino acid molecules come in two forms, known as L and D. Although they are mirror images of one another, only the L form normally exists in living things. So he tried making the spiral out of D-amino acids in the hope that it would then prove indigestible. It did and, as a bonus, was also more effective at killing MRSA in test-tubes than the L form.

It could also save lives-albeit, at first, only the lives of rodents. Dr Alvarez Bravo took some mice and suppressed their immune systems with cyclophosphamide, a drug. Then he infected the animals with MRSA. Of those subsequently injected with the cut-down, inverted version of sapecin-B, 80% survived for more than a week. The unfortunate mice that were given only saline injections succumbed within two days.

Laboratory trials do not a medicine make. Next must come a serious check to ensure that sapecin-B is not poisonous to people. The auspices are good. Unlike commercial antibiotics (which generally work by blocking a biochemical pathway), sapecin-B seems to do something nasty to the membrane that keeps a bacterium’s insides in. The germs may simply “bleed” to death. Mammalian membranes are different. Experiments on cells from cattle have shown that sapecin-B does not have the same effect on bovine cell membranes. It is probably safe for fellow mammals such as humans.

Ahead after that is the long slog of clinical trials and maybe, in a decade or so, a prescribable drug. Far from spreading diseases, as flies usually do, this particular pest might be used to control them.

[5] B. Zawadi, Explaining the Hadith: Fevers Are From The Fire of Hell, (call-to-monotheism).
[6] Ibn Q. al-Jauziyah, trans. J. Abual Rub (2003), Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet, (Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, King Fahd National Library), p. 55.
[7] Ibid., p. 56.
[8] Ibid.
[9] M.M. AI-Harbi, S. Qureshi, M.M. Ahmed, M. Raza, M.Z.A. Baig, A.H. Shah (1996), Effect of camel urine on the cytological and biochemical changes induced by cyclophosphamide in mice, (Journal of Ethnopharmacology 52, 20 Feb), pp. 129-130.
[10] Cytotoxicity – A description of the extent of the destructive or killing capacity of an agent. Most often used to describe the character of immune activity or toxicity of certain drugs that limit the development of cancer cells.
[11] Clastogenic – Capable of causing breakage of chromosomes.
[12] M.M. AI-Harbi, et. al. (1996), op. cit., p. 130.
[13] Ibid., pp. 134-5.
[14] Ibid., p. 135.
[15] A.A. Alhaidera, M.A.M. El Gendyb, H.M. Korashyc, A.O.S. El-Kadib (2010), Camel urine inhibits the cytochrome P450 1a1 gene expression through an AhR-dependent mechanism in Hepa 1c1c7 cell line, (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Sept 29, 2010), pp. 184, 190.
[16] A.H.A. Al-Abdalall (2010), The inhibitory effect of camel’s urine on mycotoxins and fungal growth, (African Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 5(11), 4 June), p.1332.
[17] Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
[18] An-Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, (Kitaab: As-Salaah; Baab: Qadr Ma Yastor Al-Musalli).
[19] Bin Baaz, Ruling on eating and drinking while standing, (Fatwas of Ibn Baz, Vol. 25, no. 25), pp. 275-6.
[20] Narrated Sahl bin Sad:  I saw the Messenger of Allaah pointing with his index and middle fingers and saying:

“The time of my advent and the (final) hour are like these two fingers.” The Great Catastrophe will overwhelm everything. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

[21] Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
[22] Sahih al-Bukhari.
[23] Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

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