It is related that Jabir ibn `Abd Allah said to the Prophet : "O
Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you,
tell me of the first thing Allah created before all things." He said:
"O Jabir, the first thing Allah created was the light of your
Prophet from His light, and that light remained (lit. "turned") in
the midst of His Power for as long as He wished, and there was not,
at that time, a Tablet or a Pen or a Paradise or a Fire or an angel
or a heaven or an earth. And when Allah wished to create creation,
he divided that Light into four parts and from the first made the
Pen, from the second the Tablet, from the third the Throne, [and
from the fourth everything else]."
The judgments on this narration vary greatly among the scholars. Their words
are listed below under the alphabetical listing of their names.
`Abd al-Haqq al-Dihlawi (d. 1052) the Indian hadith scholar cites it as
evidence in Madarij al-nubuwwa (in Persian, 2:2 of the Maktaba al-nuriyya
edition in Sakhore) and says it is is sahih (sound and authentic).
`Abd al-Hayy al-Lucknawi (d. 1304) the Indian hadith scholar cites it in his
al-Athar al-marfu`a fi al-akhbar al-mawdu`a (p. 33-34 of the Lahore edition)
and says: "The primacy (awwaliyya) of the Muhammadan light (al-nur
al-muhammadi) is established from the narration of `Abd al-Razzaq, as well
as its definite priority over all created things."
`Abd al-Razzaq (d. 211) narrates it in his Musannaf according to Qastallani
in al-Mawahib al-laduniyya (1:55) and Zarqani in his Sharh al-mawahib (1:56
of the Matba`a al-`amira edition in Cairo). There is no doubt as to the
reliability of `Abd al-Razzaq as a narrator. Bukhari took 120 narrations
from him, Muslim 400.
`Abidin (Ahmad al-Shami d. 1320), the son of the Hanafi scholar Ibn `Abidin,
cites the hadith as evidence in his commentary on Ibn Hajar al-Haytami's
poem al-Ni`mat al-kubra `ala al-`alamin. Nabahani cites it in his Jawahir
`Ajluni (Isma`il ibn Muhammad d. 1162) in his Kashf al-khafa' (1:265 of the
Maktabat al-Ghazali edition in Beirut) narrates the hadith in its entirety
from Qastallani in his Mawahib.
Alusi (al-Sayyid Mahmud) in his commentary of Qur'an entitled Ruuhh al-ma`ani
(17:105 of the Beirut edition) said: "The Prophet's being a mercy to all is
linked to the fact that he is the intermediary of the divine outpouring over
all contingencies [i.e. all created things without exception], from the very
beginnings (wasitat al-fayd al-ilahi `ala al-mumkinat `ala hasab al-qawabil),
and that is why his light was the first of all things created, as stated in
the report that "The first thing Allah created was the light of your
Prophet, O Jabir," and also cited is: "Allah is the Giver and I am the
Distributor." [See al-Qasim #261.] The Sufis -- may Allah sanctify their
secrets -- have more to say on that chapter." Alusi also cites the hadith of
Jabir as evidence in another passage of Ruuhh al-ma`ani (8:71).
Bakri (Sayyid Abu al-Hasan Ahmad ibn `Abd Allah, d. 3rd c.) in his book
al-Anwar fi mawlid al-nabi Muhammad `alayhi al-salat wa al-salam (p. 5 of
the Najaf edition) cites the following hadith from `Ali: "Allah was and
there was nothing with Him, and the first thing which He created was the
light of His Beloved, before He created water, or the Throne, or the
Footstool, or the Tablet, or the Pen, or Paradise, or the Fire, or the Veils
and the Clouds, or Adam and Eve, by four thousand years."
Bayhaqi (d. 458) narrates it with a different wording in Dala'il al-nubuwwa
according to Zarqani in his Sharh al-mawahib (1:56 of the Matba`a al-`amira
in Cairo) and Diyarbakri in Tarikh al-khamis (1:20).
Diyarbakri (Husayn ibn Muhammad d. 966): He begins his 1,000-page history
entitled Tarikh al-khamis fi ahwal anfasi nafis with the words: "Praise be
to Allah Who created the Light of His Prophet before everything else," which
is enough to disprove al-Ghumari's exaggerated claim that "anyone who reads
it will be convinced that the hadith is a lie." Then Diyarbakri cites the
hadith as evidence (1:19 of the Mu'assasat Sha`ban edition in Beirut).
Fasi (Muhammad ibn Ahmad d. 1052) cites it as evidence in Matali`
al-masarrat (p. 210, 221 of the Matba`a al-taziyya edition) and says: "These
narrations indicate his primacy (awwaliyya) and priority over all other
creations, and also the fact that he is their cause (sabab)."
Ghumari (`Abd Allah) in his Irshad al-talib al-najib ila ma fi al-mawlid
al-nabawi min al-akadhib (p. 9-12 of the Dar al-furqan edition), commenting
on Suyuti's words (quoted below) whereby the hadith has no reliable chain: "This
shows great laxity on the part of Suyuti, which I thought him to be above.
First, the hadith is not present in `Abd al-Razzaq's Musannaf, nor in any of
the books of hadith. Secondly : the hadith has no chain of transmission to
begin with. Thirdly: he has not mentioned the rest of the hadith. It is
mentioned in Diyarbakri's Tarikh, and anyone who reads it will be convinced
that the hadith is a lie about the Messenger of Allah." This exaggerated
conclusion is disproved by the fact that Diyarbarkri himself does not
consider it a lie since he cites the hadith in the first words of his book.
Gilani (Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir, d. 561) in his book Sirr al-asrar fi ma
yahtaju ilayh al-abrar (p. 12-14 of the Lahore edition) said: "Know that
since Allah first created the soul of Muhammad from the light of His beauty,
as He said: I created Muhammad from the light of My Face, and as the Prophet
said: The first thing Allah created is my soul, and the first thing Allah
created is the Pen, and the first thing Allah created is the intellect --
what is meant by all this is one and the same thing, and that is the haqiqa
muhammadiyya. However, it was named a light because it is completely
purified from darkness, as Allah said: There has come to you from Allah a
Light and a manifest Book. It was also named an intellect because it is the
cause for the transmission of knowledge, and the pen is its medium in the
world of letters. The Muhammadan soul (al-Ruuhh al-muhammadiyya) is therefore
the quintessence of all created things and the first of them and their
origin, as the Prophet said: I am from Allah and the believers are from me,
and Allah created all souls from me in the spiritual world and He did so in
the best form. It is the name of the totality of mankind in that primordial
world, and after its creation by four thousand years, Allah created the
Throne from the light of Muhammad himself , and from it the rest of creation."
This book has now been translated by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi as The
Secret of Secrets (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1994).
Halabi (`Ali ibn Burhan al-Din, d. 1044) cites it as evidence in his Sira
(1:31 of the Maktaba Islamiyya edition in Beirut) and then states: "It
provides evidence that he is the root of everything that exists (in creation)
and Allah knows best."
Haqqi (Isma`il, d. 1137) cites it as evidence in his Tafsir entitled Ruuhh
al-bayan and says: "Know, O person of understanding, that the first thing
Allah created is the light of your Prophet... and he is the cause for the
existence of everything that was brought to existence, and the mercy from
Allah upon all creatures... and without him the higher and the lower worlds
would not have been created." Yusuf al-Nabahani mentions it in his Jawahir
al-bihar (p. 1125).
Haytami (Ahmad ibn Hajar d. 974) states in his Fatawa hadithiyya (p. 247 of
the Baba edition in Cairo) that `Abd al-Razzaq narrated it, and cites it in
his poem on the Prophet's birth entitled al-Ni`mat al-kubra `ala al-`alamin
Ibn al-Hajj al-Abdari (Muhammad ibn Muhammad d. 736) in his book al-Madkhal
(2:34 of the Dar al-kitab al-`arabi in Beirut) cites it from al-Khatib Abu
al-Rabi` Muhammad ibn al-Layth's book Shifa' al-sudur in which the latter
says: "The first thing Allah created is the light of Muhammad , and that
light came and prostrated before Allah. Allah divided it into four parts and
created from the first part the Throne, from the second the Pen, from the
third the Tablet, and then similarly He subdivided the fourth part into
parts and created the rest of creation. Therefore the light of the Throne is
from the light of Muhammad , the light of the Pen is from the light of
Muhammad , the light of the Tablet is from the light of Muhammad , the light
of day, the light of knowledge, the light of the sun and the moon, and the
light of vision and sight are all from the light of Muhammad ."
Isma`il al-Dihlawi (Shah Muhammad, d. 1246), one of the leaders of the
Wahhabi-influenced Deobandi school in the Indo-Pakistani Subcontinent in one
of his booklets entitled Yek rawzah (p. 11 of the Maltan edition) says: "As
indicated by the narration: The first thing Allah created was my Light."
Jamal (Sulayman d. 1204) cites it as evidence in his commentary on Busiri
entitled al-Futuhat al-ahmadiyya bi al-minah al-muhammadiyya (p. 6 of the
Hijazi edition in Cairo).
Gangowhi (Rashid Ahmad) a leader of the Wahhabi-influenced Deobandi school
of India and Pakistan in his Fatawa rashidiyya (p. 157 of the Karachi
edition) said that the hadith was "not found in the authentic collections,
but Shaykh `Abd al-Haqq (al-Dihlawi) cited it on the basis that it had some
grounding of authenticity." Actually Shaykh `Abd al-Haqq not only cited it
but he said it was sound (sahih).
Jili (`Abd al-Karim, b. 766) in his Namus al-a`zam wa al-qamus al-aqdam fi
ma`rifat qadar al-bani cites it as evidence. Nabahani relates it in his
Jawahir al-bihar (see below).
Kharputi (`Umar ibn Ahmad, d. 1299) in his commentary on Busiri entitled
Sharh qasidat al-burda (p. 73 of the Karachi edition).
Maliki al-Hasani (Muhammad ibn `Alawi) in his commentary on `Ali al-Qari's
book of the Mawlid entitled Hashiyat al-Mawrid al-rawi fi al-mawlid
al-nabawi (p. 40) said: "The chain of Jabir is sound without contest, but
the scholars have differed concerning the text of the hadith due to its
peculiarity. Bayhaqi also narrated the hadith with some differences." Then
he quoted several narrations establishing the light of the Prophet.
Nabahani (Yusuf ibn Isma`il) cites it as evidence in al-Anwar
al-muhammadiyya (p. 13), in his Jawahir al-bihar (p. 1125 or 4:220 of the
Baba edition in Cairo), and in his Hujjat Allah `ala al-`alamin (p. 28).
Nabulusi (`Abd al-Ghani d. 1143) says in his Hadiqa al-nadiyya (2:375 of the
Maktaba al-nuriyya edition in Faysalabad): "The Prophet is the universal
leader of all, and how could he not be when all things were created out of
his light as has been stated in the sound hadith."
Nisaburi (Nizamuddin ibn Hasan, d. 728) cites it as evidence in elucidation
of the verse: "And I was ordered to be the first of the Muslims" (39:12) in
his Tafsir entitled Ghara'ib al-Qur'an (8:66 of the Baba edition in Cairo).
Qari (Mulla `Ali ibn Sultan, d. 1014) cites it in full in his book al-Mawlid
al-rawi fi al-mawlid al-nabawi (p. 40), edited by Sayyid Muhammad `Alawi
al-Maliki. He also said in his Sharh al-Shifa, in commenting upon the
Prophet's title "as a Lamp spreading Light" (33: 46): "Muhammad... is a
tremendous light and the source of all lights, he is also a book that
gathers up and makes clear all the secrets... sirajan muniran means a
luminous sun, because of His saying: "He hath placed therein a great lamp
and a moon giving light" (25:61). There is in this verse an indication that
the sun is the highest of the material lights and that other lights are
outpourings from it: similarly the Prophet is the highest of the spiritual
lights and other lights are derived from him by virtue of his mediating
connection and pivotal rank in the overall sphere of creation. This is also
inferred from the tradition: "The first thing Allah created is my light."" (Sharh
Qastallani (Ahmad ibn Muhammad, d. 923) narrates it in his al-Mawahib
al-laduniyya (1:55 of the edition accompanied by Zarqani's commentary).
Rifa`i (Yusuf al-Sayyid Hashim) cites it as evidence in Adillat ahl al-sunna
wa al-jama`a al-musamma al-radd al-muhkam al-mani` (p. 22): `Abd al-Razzaq
Suyuti in al-Hawi li al-fatawi, in the explanation of Surat al-Muddaththir:
"It has no reliable chain"; and in Takhrij ahadith sharh al-mawaqif: "I did
not find it in that wording."
Thanwi (Ashraf `Ali), a leader of the Wahhabi-influenced Deobandi school in
the Indian Subcontinent, in his book Nashr al-tib (in Urdu, p. 6 and 215 of
the Lahore edition) cites it as evidence on the authority of `Abd al-Razzaq,
and relies upon it.
Zarqani in Sharh al-mawahib cites it (1:56 of the Matba`a al-`amira edition
in Cairo) and refers it to `Abd al-Razzaq's narration in his Musannaf.
Zahir (Ihsan Ilahi), a leader of the Wahhabi-influenced Deobandi school and
declared enemy of the Barelwi school of Ahl al-Sunna in Lahore, India, in
his book Hadiyyat al-mahdi (p. 56 of the Sialkut edition) says: "Allah began
His creation with the Muhammadan light (al-nur al-muhammadi), then He
created the Throne over the water, then He created the wind, then He created
the Nun and the Pen and the Tablet, then He created the Intellect. The
Muhammadan Light is therefore a primary substance for the creation of the
heavens and the earth and what is in them... As for what has come to us in
the hadith: The first thing which Allah created is the Pen; and: The first
thing which Allah created is the Intellect: what is meant by it is a
Blessings and peace on the Prophet Muhammad, the Light of the Full Moon in
its beauty, and upon his Family and Companions.
GF Haddad ©