The Hadīth “To Ponder for a Moment is Greater Than Sixty Years of Worship”

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An Analysis of the Hadīth “To Ponder for a Moment is Greater Than Sixty Years of Worship”

By Muntasir Zaman

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

[Summary: It is from the speech of al-Sarī ibn al-Mughallis al-Saqatī [d. approx. 250 AH][1]. A similar narration is recorded from Hasan al-Basrī, Ibn ‘Abbās and Abū al-Dardā’ (Allah be pleased with them). In any case, this is not a Hadīth of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). For an explanation of “to ponder” refer to the end of this answer. In addition, we have added a brief description of al-Sarī al-Saqatī in the end]

The Hadīth in reference is recorded by Abū al-Shaykh ibn Hayyān [d. 369 AH] in his book, al-‘Ażama, as follows:masjid_terapung

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: فِكْرَةُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ سِتِّينَ سَنَةً

It is reported on the authority of Abū Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “To ponder for a moment is greater than sixty years of worship”[2]

Hereunder are remarks of the scholar of Hadīth regarding this narration.

Abu ‘l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzī [d. 597 AH] in his book, al-Mawdū‘āt comments:

“To ponder for a moment is greater than sixty years of worship”- This Hadīth is a not authentic (i.e. a fabrication). In the Sanad (chain of transmitters) there are two liars.[3]

It will be beneficial to point out that in books of Mawdū‘āt (fabricated Ahādīth) and biographical accounts of weak transmitters, expressions such as “this is not authentic”(Lā Yasihhu) refers to “this is a fabrication” and not a negation of authentic (Sahīh) in the technical term. Conversely, in books of Ahādīth on legal injunctions (Ahādīth al-Ahkām) it refers to “it is not authentic” in the technical term i.e. not Sahīh and, therefore, it can be Hasan (sound) or Da‘īf (weak). Accordingly, the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī “not authentic” means that the report is a fabrication. [For more details on this principle, refer to the Prologue to al-Masnū‘ of Mullā ‘Alī al-Qārī by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah pp. 27]

Hāfiż Zayn al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī [d. 806 AH] writes:

The Hadīth “To ponder for a moment is greater than the worship of one year” is related by Ibn Hayyān on the authority of Abū Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) with the words “Sixty years” via a weak chain, and Ibn al-Jawzī also records it through the same chain.

Abū Mansūr al-Daylamī relates it on the authority of Anas (Allah be pleased with him) with the words “eighty years,” and its chain is extremely weak.

Abū al-Shaykh [ibn Hayyān] also narrates it as a statement of Ibn ‘Abbās (Allah be pleased with him) with the words “greater than the worship of one night” [4]

It should not come as a surprise that Hāfiż al-‘Irāqī merely classified the narration as weak and not a fabrication, because he seldom classifies any narration as a fabrication. In this respect, Shaykh Ahmad al-Ghumārī [d. 1961 CE] writes:

Al-Hāfiż [ibn Hajar] and his teacher, al-‘Irāqī, are lenient when grading Hadīth. They seldom explicitly classify a Hadīth as Mawdū‘ (fabrication) except when it is clear as broad daylight. [5]

Furthermore, Mawlāna Yūnus Sahāranpūrī writes:

After examining his works, I have learnt that al-‘Irāqī abstains from passing a judgment of forgery, and that is why he graded this Hadīth as weak.[6]

After citing the report of Abu al-Shaykh mentioned above, ‘Allamah al-Suyuti [d. 911 AH] writes:

In his grading of the Ahādīth of al-’Ihyā’, al-‘Irāqī only classified this narration as weak. In addition, there is a corroborating report for it, which al-Daylamī relates on the authority of Sa‘īd ibn Maysara who says: I heard Anas (Allah be pleased with him) say: To ponder over the alternating of the day and night for one moment is greater than the worship of one thousand years.

Abu al-Shaykh mentions that ‘Amr ibn Qays said, “It has reached me that pondering is greater than actions of a lengthy period of time.[7]

In this excerpt, al-Suyūtī attempts to consolidate this narration by citing a corroborating report from Anas (Allah be pleased with him). However, this report itself is a fabrication and, therefore, it cannot be used as such. After mentioning that the above narration of Ibn Hayyān is a fabrication, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah [d. 1997 CE] writes:

In al-La’ālī al-Masnū‘a al-Suyūtī claims that there is a corroborating report for this Hadīth. He pretends to be unaware or is unaware that in the corroborating report that he cites there are also two liars. The first is Sa‘īd ibn Maysara al-Bakrī al-Basrī. Yahyā al-Qattān labelled him a liar, al-Bukhārī said regarding him, “Munkar al-Hadīth” i.e. it is impermissible to narrate from him, and Ibn Hibbān said, “He narrates fabrications.” The second is ‘Alī ibn Ibrāhīm al-Qazwīnī: he is responsible for producing a forged narration, as we learn from his biographical entry in Lisān al-Mizān of Ibn Hajar. Furthermore, in this chain there are some unknown narrators.

Thus, the corroborating report, which al-Suyūtī cites to consolidate this report, contains these calamities (al-Balāyā’), so how can it be regarded as a corroborating report? May Allah forgive Hāfiż al-Suyūtī for his extreme leniency in consolidating fabrications with fabrications.[8]

Mullā ‘Alī al-Qārī [d. 1015 AH] writes:

The Hadīth “To ponder for a moment is greater than the worship of one year” this is not a Hadīth; it is from the speech of al-Sarī al-Saqatī [9]

‘Allāmah Ismā‘īl al-‘Ajlūnī [d. 1162 AH] writes:

“To ponder for a moment is greater than the worship of one year” and in one wording “sixty years.” Al-Fākihānī mentions it with the words, “Fikru Sā‘ah” [i.e. instead of “Tafakkuru Sā‘ah”] and says that it is the statement of al-Sarī al-Saqatī. In one variation it comes as “Sixty years.” He [al-Suyūtī] mentions it in al-Jāmi‘ al-Saghīr as, “To ponder (Fikra) for a moment is greater than the worship of sixty years.” It is recorded from Ibn ‘Abbās and Abū al-Dardā (Allah be pleased with them) with the (same) words “To ponder for a moment is greater than the worship of sixty years…”[10]

Both Mullā ‘Alī al-Qārī and al-‘Ajlūni clearly state that this is the statement of al-Sarī al-Saqatī, and al-‘Ajlūnī further notes that a similar narration is reported from Ibn ‘Abbās and Abū al-Dardā’. As for the narration of Ibn ‘Abbās, it is related by Ibn Hayyān with the words “To ponder for a moment is greater than worshiping for one night.”[11] The narration of Abu al-Dardā’ is recorded by Ibn Sa‘d in al-Tabaqāt [12]and by Imām Ahmad in al-Zuhd[13] with the same wording.

Imām Ahmad [d. 241 AH] has recorded a similar report from Hasan al-Basrī [d. 110 AH] as follows, “To ponder for a moment is greater the worship of an entire night.”[14]

It is possible that because this statement has been recorded from several of the pious predecessors ‘Allāmah Abu ‘l-Mahāsin al-Qāwuqjī [d. 1305 AH] wrote a general answer, instead of ascribing the statement to a particular person. He writes:

The Hadith “To ponder for a moment is greater than the worship of one year” is from the speech of the predecessors (al-Salaf).[15]

In view of the above discussion, we learn that this is actually the statement of al-Sarī ibn al-Mughallis al-Saqatī. Moreover, al-‘Ajlūnī mentions that it is also recorded from Ibn ‘Abbās and Abu al-Dardā’(Allah be pleased with him), and Imām Ahmad has recorded it from Hasan al-Basrī. Since this statement has been recorded from several predecessors with varying words, ‘Allāmah al-Qāwuaqjī simply said that it was from the speech of the Salaf without specifying a particular person.

Nevertheless, it is quite evident that these are not the words of the Messenger of Allah, but from the speech of our pious predecessors. However, the virtues of pondering over the creation of Allah are innumerable, so even though this particular statement is not a Hadīth, the meaning is valid to a certain degree.

It will be beneficial to point out that there are several possibilities as to what “To ponder” can mean. A general description of pondering is given by Abū ‘Alī al-Rūdhabārī [d. 322 AH] who writes:

Pondering (al-Tafakkur) is of four categories: pondering over

    • The signs of Allah. An indication of this is an increase of love (for Allah)
    • The rewards of Allah. An indication of this is a longing in the heart
    • The punishment of Allah. An indication of this is the presence of fear in the heart
    • The nothingness of the self in view of the favors of Allah. An indication of this is the presence of shamefulness from (breaking the injunctions of) Allāh[16]

However, the meaning of “To ponder” in the particular context of this statement can refer to pondering over thegreatness of Allah in his creation, as we learn from the title of the chapter in which Ibn Hayyān cites this report [i.e. Chapter: the virtues of pondering over the greatness of Allāh].[17] It can also refer to pondering over one’s shortcomings, the punishment and rewards of Allah, and the terrifying conditions of the hereafter, as ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ra’ūf al-Munāwī explains [d.1031 AH]. [18]

A brief description of al-Sarī al-Saqatī

‘Allāmah al-Dhahabī [d. 748 AH] describes him as follows:

Al-Sarī ibn al-Mughallis al-Saqatī, the authority, leader and Shaykh al-Islām, Abu ‘l-Hasan al-Baghdādī. He was born around the year 160 AH. He narrated Hadīth from al-Fudayl ibn al-‘Iyādh, Hushaym ibn Bashīr…et al. He was engaged in worship. He accompanied Ma‘rūf al-Karkhī and was his most prominent disciple. Those who narrate from him are al-Junayd ibn Muhammad, al-Nūrī Abu ‘l-Hasan…

Abū Bakr al-Harbī mentions, “I heard al-Sarī say, ‘I praised Allah once, but I am seeking forgiveness from that praise for thirty years.’ He was asked, ‘Why is that?’ he replied, ‘I owned a shop in the bazaar and one day the bazaar caught fire. Thereafter, a person came to me and reassured me, ‘Glad tidings, your store was saved from the fire.’ Hearing this I proclaimed, ‘All praise is due to Allah. Then I thought for a moment, and realized that it was incorrect.’…

He passed away in the month of Ramadān 253 AH, and it is said 251 AH or 257 AH.[19]

 

And Allah Knows Best

Muntasir Zaman

 

 

[2] العظمة لأبي الشيخ الأصبهاني (1/ 299)

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ زَكَرِيَّا، حَدَّثَنَا عُثْمَانُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْقُرَشِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ نَجِيحٍ الْمَلَطِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَطَاءٌ الْخُرَاسَانِيُّ [ص:300]، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «فِكْرَةُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ سِتِّينَ سَنَةً»

[3] الموضوعات لابن الجوزي (3/ 144)

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” فِكْرَةُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عُبَادَةِ سِتِّينِ سَنَةً “.هَذَا حَدِيث لَا يَصح وَفِي الْإِسْنَاد كذابان

[4] المغني عن حمل الاسفار (المطبوع في هامش احياء علوم الدين دار المعرفة) حديث تفكر ساعة خير من عبادة سنة أخرجه ابن حبان في كتاب العظمة من حديث أبى هريرة بلفظ ستين سنة بإسناد ضعيف ومن طريقه ابن الجوزى في الموضوعات ورواه أبو منصور الديلمى في مسند الفردوس من حديث أنس بلفظ ثمانين سنة وإسناده ضعيف جدا ورواه أبو الشيخ من قول ابن عباس بلفظ خير من قيام ليلة

[5] المغير على الأحاديث الموضوعة في الجامع الصغير دار المشاريع ص 56

[6] اليواقيت الغالية 47/1

[7] اللآلىء المصنوعة في الأحاديث الموضوعة (2/ 276)

 (قُلْتُ) اقْتصر الْعِرَاقِيّ فِي تَخْرِيج أَحَادِيث الْإِحْيَاء عَلَى تَضْعِيفه وَلَهُ شَاهد قَالَ الدَّيلميّ أَنْبَأَنَا أَحْمَد بْن نصر أَنْبَأَنَا طَاهِر بْن مِلَّة حَدَّثَنَا صَالح بْن أَحْمَد حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيّ بْن إِبْرَاهِيم القَزْوينيّ حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيم بْن إِسْحَاق النَّيْسابوريّ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّد بْن جَعْفَر الودكاني حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيد بْن مَيْسَرَة سَمِعْتُ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ يَقُولُ: تَفَكُّرُ سَاعَةٍ فِي اخْتِلافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ أَلْفِ سَنَةٍ وقَالَ أَبُو الشَّيْخ فِي العظمة حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّد بْن يَحْيَى المَرْوَزِيّ حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاق بْن الْمُنْذر حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْن المتَوَكل أَبُو عقيل عَنْ عَمْرو بْن قيس الْملَائي قَالَ بَلغنِي أَن: تفكر سَاعَة خير منْ عمل دهر مِنَ الدَّهْر وَالله أعلم

[8] لمحات من تاريخ السنة وعلوم الحديث ص 90

[9] المصنوع في معرفة الحديث الموضوع (ص: 82)

 حَدِيثُ تَفَكُّرُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ سَنَةٍ لَيْسَ بِحَدِيثٍ إِنَّمَا هُوَ مِنْ كَلامِ السُّرِّيِّ السَّقَطِيِّ رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى

[10] كشف الخفاء ت هنداوي (1/ 357)

تفكر ساعة خير من عبادة سنة -وفي لفظ: ستين سنة ذكره الفاكهاني بلفظ: فكر ساعة، وقال: إنه من كلام سري السقطي، وفي لفظ: ستين سنة، وذكره في الجامع الصغير بلفظ: فكرة ساعة خير من عبادة ستين سنة، وورد عن ابن عباس وأبي الدرداء بلفظ: فكرة ساعة خير من عبادة ستين سنة

[11] العظمة لأبي الشيخ الأصبهاني (1/ 298)

حدثنا جعفر بن عبد الله بن الصباح ، حدثنا محمد بن حاتم المؤدب ، حدثنا عمار بن محمد ، عن ليث ، عن سعيد بن جبير ، عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما ، قال : « تفكر ساعة خير من قيام ليلة »

[12] الطبقات الكبرى ابن سعد (6/ 208)

 أخبرنا أبو معاوية الضرير قال حدثنا الأعمش عن عمرو بن مرة عن سالم بن أبي الجعد عن أم الدرداء عن أبي الدرداء قال تفكر ساعة خير من قيام ليلة أخبرنا

[13] الزهد لأحمد بن حنبل (ص: 114)

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا الْأَعْمَشُ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ مُرَّةَ، عَنْ سَالِمِ بْنِ أَبِي الْجَعْدِ، عَنْ أُمِّ الدَّرْدَاءِ، عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ قَالَ: تَفَكُّرُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ قِيَامِ لَيْلَةٍ “

[14]  الزهد لأحمد بن حنبل (ص: 220)

 حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ فُضَيْلٍ، عَنِ الْعَلَاءِ بْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ، عَنِ الْحَسَنِ قَالَ: «تَفَكُّرُ سَاعَةٍ خَيْرٌ مِنْ قِيَامِ لَيْلَةٍ»

[15]  اللؤلؤ المرصوع دار البشائر الإسلامية ص  66  حديث تفكر ساعة خير من عبادة سنة ” من كلام السلف .اهـ 

[16] طبقات الشافعية الكبرى للسبكي (3/ 52)

[17] العظمة لأبي الشيخ الأصبهاني (1/ 297) مَا ذُكِرَ مِنَ الْفَضْلِ فِي الْمُتَفَكِّرِ فِي ذَلِكَ (أي عظمة الله)

[18] فيض القدير (دار الكتب العلمية) 583/4

 (فكرة ساعة) أي صرف الذهن لحظة من العبد في تدبير تقصيره وتفريطه في حقوق الحق ووعده وعيده وحضوره بين يديه ومحاسبته له ووزن أعماله وخوف خسرانه وجوازه على الصراط وشدة وحدته وغير ذلك من أهوال القيامة

[19] ملخص من سير اعلام النبلاء (مؤسسة الرسالة)  187/12

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One thought on “The Hadīth “To Ponder for a Moment is Greater Than Sixty Years of Worship”

    arslan7041 said:
    May 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Masha’Allah, this clears up the issue quite nicely. JazaakAllah.

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