Rays of Knowledge
Arba’een - the forty
Haidar Ali Madani
From the first century after hijrah, honourable scholars have gone to tremendous lengths to be included in the excellence detailed by the following blessed hadith: ‘نَضَّرَ الـلّٰـهُ اِمْرَاً سَمِعَ مِنَّا حَدِیثًا فَحَفِظَهٗ حَتَّی یُبَلِّغَهْ’ - May Allah Almighty keep him fresh who hears any of my hadith, and remembers it, to the extent that he conveyed it (to others).
They prepared such grand bouquets and collections of blessed hadith that the one who journeys through these literary gardens has their hearts and eyes cooled and refreshed by what they behold. Sahih, Sunan, Musnad and Mustadrak categories found within the science and study of hadith are all fragrant flowers within these gardens of knowledge. One distinguished flower in this garden is the Arba’een, a collection of forty blessed hadith.
The excellence of compiling an Arba’een
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated: ‘In my Ummah, whosoever memorizes forty hadith from which the Ummah draws benefit, Allah Almighty will raise him on the Day of Judgement in the state of being a jurist and scholar.’
The meaning to memorize in this context is to quote and narrate forty hadith so the Ummah may benefit, even if one has not memorized the hadith by heart themselves, or one does not know of their meaning or context. This is because, by means of literary reference and quoting, the Ummah will still be able to benefit.
The aforementioned blessed hadith has been narrated with slight differences in wording by eleven honourable companions – our masters, Ali, Ibn-Mas’ood, Mu’aaz Bin Jabal, Abu Darda, Abu Sa’eed, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Umamah, Ibn-Abbas, Ibn-Umar, Ibn-‘ Amr, Jabir Bin Samurah, Anas, and Buraydah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُم.
If the wording of all of their respective narrations are observed, then the following excellences are found: Being raised in the category of scholars and jurists on the Day of Judgement, or he will himself become a scholar or jurist, the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم will intercede and be a witness for him, being able to enter Paradise through whichever door he wishes, being included amongst the ranks of honourable scholars and being raised amongst the martyrs.
Keep in mind, these qualities do not oppose one another. Rather, it is possible to reconcile between them. As Imam Ibn-e-Daqeeq-ul-Eid رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه states: ‘Those who narrate forty hadith comprise of different ranks and degrees, as such, their respective rewards will differ from one another.’
The reasoning behind compiling forty hadith
The foundational objective behind undertaking this work is to gain the benefit and excellences previously mentioned in numerous blessed hadith. Alongside this, one seeks to act upon the following blessed hadith: ‘Those present should convey to those not present’, and obtain the virtue of ‘May Allah Almighty keep him fresh who listens to any hadith of ours and remembers it, to the extent he conveys it (to others).’
The first Arba’een compilation was at the hand of Sayyiduna Abdullah Bin Mubarak رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه. The succession of work initially started by him has still continued up until our present time. The honourable scholars have compiled an uncountably long list of Arba’een in a multitude of languages, such as Arabic, Urdu, Persian, etc. The goal and objective behind the compilation of Arba’een may differ from one another. For example, one Arba’een may comprise of hadith pertaining to principles of religion, whilst another may discuss the oneness of Allah Almighty. Another may comprise of legal affairs and rulings, whilst another may discuss striving in the way of Allah Almighty. One collection may discuss the excellences of a certain demographic, whilst another outlines the correct method of living and maintaining aversion from worldly matters. In this manner, blessed hadith are collected on certain topics and presented in various bouquets, all comprising of forty hadith. Some are noted here:
Arba’een on mysticism (Tasawwuf)
This was compiled by Sayyiduna Muhammad Bin Husayn Abu Abd al-Rahman Sulami رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (who passed away in the year 412 Hijri). Within this, he collated forty hadith pertaining to Tasawwuf and those who practice it.
This was compiled by Imam Ali Bin Husayn Dimashqi, (d. 571 Hijri) who was famously known as Ibn al-Asakir رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه. This contains lengthy and detailed hadith on the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, and the excellences and praise of the honourable companions. Alongside this, Imam Ibn al-Asakir also compiled Arba’een Buldaaniyya, in which he collected forty hadith, narrated from forty companions, collected from the Shuyukh of forty cities, and he also left a memorable compilation comprising of the excellences and praise of the mothers of the believers titled ‘اَلْاَرْبَعِیْن فِی مَنَاقِبِ اُمَّھَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنِیْن’.
This was compiled by Sayyiduna Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad Bin Husayn Bayhaqi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 458 Hijri), who collected one hundred hadith on the topic of character and disposition, and compiled them into forty chapters.
This was compiled by Imam Abu al-Futooh, Muhammad Bin Muhammad Taa’i Hamdani رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 555 Hijri). He gathered forty hadith from forty Shuyukh, with each hadith being narrated by a different companion. Furthermore, this contains the biography and excellences of each respective companion, as well as the benefits associated with and necessary explanation of each hadith. The name of his work is ‘اَرْبَعِیْن فِی اِرْشَادِ السَّائِرِیْن اِلٰی مَنَازِلِ الْیَقِیْن’.
This was compiled by Imam Abu al-Hasan Ali Bin Mufaddal Maqdasi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d .611 Hijri). Within this, a collection of forty hadith Qudsi can be found. Another collection of forty hadith Qudsi was collected at the hand of Shaykh-ul-Akbar, Muhiyyuddin Ibn al-Arabi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 638), who compiled it within Makka al- Mukarramah.
Shaykh Hafiz Ibn al-Hajar ‘Asqalani رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 852 Hijri) compiled this work, within which he narrates forty hadith from Saheehayn (Bukhari and Muslim - books of hadith), whose chain of narration is higher in Muslim than in Bukhari.
This was compiled by Shaykh Shihab al-Deen Ahmad Bin Hajar Makki رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 973 Hijri), who collected forty hadith pertaining to justice, fairness and just individuals.
Arba’een جَوَامِعُ الْکَلِم
Compiled by Allamah Ali Qaari رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 1014 Hijri), this collection contains forty hadith of جَوَامِعُ الْکَلِم (hadith in which, within a few words, an entire spectrum of meanings can be derived). He also compiled another Arba’een pertaining to hadith-Qudsi, entitled: ‘اَلْاَحَادِیْثُ الْقُدْسِیَهُ الْاَرْبَعِیْنِیَه’.
Arba’een Taash Kubra Zaadah
This was compiled by Sayyiduna Ahmad Bin Mustafa Rumi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 968 Hijri), comprising of forty hadith regarding a beautiful facet of the blessed life of our Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, his blessed and noble humour.
Sayyidi A’la Hadrat, Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 1340 Hijri) compiled an entire host of Arba’een across his lifetime. From amongst them, one will find Mukhtasar al-Meezan, in which he collected forty hadith relating to following the large majority (of Muslims). He also compiled ‘اَلزُّبْدَۃُ الزَّکِیَّۃ فِی تَحْرِیْمِ سُجُوْدِ التَّحِیَّۃ’, within which forty hadith are presented, discussing the prohibition of prostrating to other than Allah Almighty.
اَرْبَعین فِی طِبِّ الرَّقِی النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن
This was compiled by Abul-Barakaat Sayyid Ahmad Qadiri رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه (d. 1398 hijri). Within this, he compiled forty hadith pertaining to remedy, acquiring cure, and damm etc. Alongside this, he also compiled Arba’een discussing the excellences of the rightly guided caliphs, prophetic miracles, and reformation of character and deeds.
Blessings of Salat and Salam
Compiled by the Ameer of Ahl Al-Sunnah, ‘Allamah Muhammad Ilyas Qadiri دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ. This collection consists of forty blessed hadith outlining the benefits and excellences of reciting Salat upon the final Prophet of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
Faizan-e-Chehl Ahadith aur 40 Farameen-e-Mustafa صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
The compiling of these works was supervised by the chief editor of the monthly magazine Faizan-e-Madinah, Maulana Abu Rajab Muhammad Asif Attari Madani. This collection of hadith was compiled in order to benefit the Muslims with their respective translations. Alongside this, necessary explanations are included in certain narrations. Within ‘Faizan-e-Chehl Ahadith’, a word for word translation of the narrated hadith is included, whereas in ‘40 Farameen-e-Mustafa صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم’, narrations related to the subject matter are also mentioned.