Kitaab At-Tawheed, Chapter: 5 It is an Act of Shirk to Wear Rings or Threads
or the Like as a Means of Prevention or Lifting of Afflictions
Kitaab At-Tawheed, Chapter: 5
It is an Act of Shirk to Wear Rings or Threads
Allah (swt ), says:
" Say: "Tell me then, the things that you invoke besides Allah - if Allah intended some harm to me, could they remove His harm, or if He intended some mercy for me, could they withhold His Mercy?" Say: "Sufficient for me is Allah; in Him those who trust [the true Believers] must put their trust."" (Qur'an 39:38)
In this verse, Allah (swt ), Most Glorified, Most High commands His Prophet, Muhammad (saas ) to reject those powerless, graven images worshipped by the polytheists, which can neither remove any harm which might befall a person by Allah's Decree, nor prevent any sustenance or blessings which might come to a person from Him. Then He commands him to place his trust in Allah (swt ), for He is Sufficient to bring benefit or prevent harm for all who sincerely depend upon Him.
Benefits Derived From This Verse
1. The obligation to reject the abominable.
2. The falseness of idol-worship.
3. That the removal of harm and the bringing of benefits is only from Allah.
4. The obligation to trust in Allah and depend upon Him, free from dependence upon any other, and this does not conflict with the requirement to take whatever legal measures one can in order to achieve one's objectives.
Relevance of This Verse to the Subject of the Chapter
That it proves that protection from harm is only from Allah (swt ), and so entrusting oneself to any other protector - such as rings, threads etc. is an act of Shirk.
It is reported on the authority of Umran Ibn Husain (ra ), that Allah's Messenger (saas ) saw a man with a brass ring in his hand, and he asked him: "What is this?" He replied: "It is for protection from al-waahinah."1 The Prophet (saas ) answered:
"Remove it at once, for verily, it will not increase you except in weakness, and were you to die whilst wearing it, you would never be successful."(Narrated by Ahmad, with an acceptable Sanad)
Umran Ibn Husain (ra ) informs us in this Hadith that the Prophet (saas ) saw a man with a brass ring in his hand, and he asked him for what purpose he was wearing it. The man answered that he was wearing it to protect him from illness, at which the Prophet (saas ) ordered him to remove it and informed him that it would only cause him to become weak and not protect him from illness at all, and that should he die while wearing it and believing in its power to protect him, he would not succeed in the Hereafter, nor would he know eternal bliss.
Benefits Derived From This Hadith
1. The permissibility of requesting detailed information by the Mufti. 2
2. The importance of intentions.
3. That the method of reproof and rejection may differ according to the individual concerned, so if there is a likelihood that words of wisdom will suffice, force should not be resorted to.
4. Evidence of the ignorance of the polytheists before Islam.
5. Forbiddance of seeking a cure by the use of that which is prohibited.
6. That the prohibited is of no benefit at all: Even though it may help to some degree, the harm it causes is greater.
7. The ignorant man is not excused from the obligation to seek knowledge.
8. That it is by a person's last actions that he will be judged on the Day of Resurrection.3
a) This Hadith does not contradict the Hadith of `Ali Ibn Al-Husain, which is allegedly from the Prophet (saas ), and which states: "Plough (the earth) well, for verily, ploughing is a blessed task. And sow many seeds." This is because the Hadith of `Ali Ibn Al-Husain is mursal 4 - one of the mursal narration of Abu Dawood, and Abu Dawood has not vouched for the authenticity of his mursal narration. But even were it authentic, the reference is to seeds ( جماجم ), according to a large number of scholars, i.e. taking the required precautions to ensure the success of one's endeavours such as planting many seeds to ensure a good crop or using permitted medicines to alleviate illness, not to some supposed treatment for fever, which involved the laying of hands on the skull5 of the patient. Taking such precautions is not to be compared to resorting to the forbidden in order to achieve one's goals.
b) The enquiry made by the Prophet (saas ) might be construed as a rhetorical one, indicating disapproval, and it could also be understood to be a genuine request for more information.
c) Some of the scholars have said that wearing a ring or such like in order to protect oneself against harm is an act of minor Shirk, but what is understood from the Hadith of Umran is that it constitutes major Shirk because it is mentioned in the Hadith that to die while doing so would result in failure to achieve everlasting bliss in the Hereafter. It could be that the definition depends upon the beliefs and intentions of the perpetrator if he believed that it could cure him of itself, without Allah's Help, then it would be major Shirk; while if he believed it be a cause of the cure, while Allah (swt ) is the One Who grants health, then it would be considered to be minor Shirk - and Allah (swt ) knows best.
Relevance of This Hadith to the Subject of the Chapter
That it proves the obligation to reject the wearing of rings, bangles, chains etc. as a means of protection against harm, because bringing good and avoiding harm are the prerogative of Allah (swt ), Alone, and seeking such help from other than Allah (swt ) means associating partners with Him.
It is also reported by Ahmad on the authority of `Uqbah Ibn A`mir (ra ) in a marfoo' 6 form: "Whoever wore a tamemah, 7 Allah (swt ) will never see his wishes fulfilled, and whoever wears a wada'ah 8 Allah will never grant him peace and tranquility." - and in another narration of Ahmad: "Whoever wears a tamemah has committed an act of Shirk."
`Uqbah Ibn A`mir (ra ) informs us in this Hadith that the Messenger of Allah (saas ) supplicated against every person who wears a talisman or a seashell, believing that it will benefit him without Allah (swt ), that Allah (swt ) will not allow him to achieve any of his goals nor fulfill his wishes or dreams; rather, He will prevent him from ever finding security and tranquility; and he also informed us that any such action is false; indeed, in another narration, he (swt ) informed us that the tamemah is a form of Shirk because its perpetrator believes that it will benefit him without Allah (swt ).
Benefits Derived From This Hadith
1. Denial of any benefit to the one who believes in the use of tamemah or wada'ah.
2. The permissibility of making supplication against the disobedient ones in general.
3. That some of the Companions were ignorant to this extent, so what of those who came after them?
4. That the tamemah is a kind of Shirk.
Relevance of This Hadith to the Subject of the Chapter
That it proves that wearing an amulet or talisman, believing that it can benefit one is an act of Shirk because benefits come only from Allah (swt ), the Almighty, the All-powerful.
It is reported by Ibn Abi Hatim, on the authority of Huzaifah (ra ) that he saw a man with a thread in his hand to protect him from fever; he broke it and recited the Words of Allah (ra ), Most High:
" And most of them do not believe in Allah, except that they associate partners with Him" (Qur'an 12:106)
Huzaifah (ra ) visited a sick man and found him wearing a thread on his wrist; and when he asked the man what was the purpose of it, he told him that it was a protection from fever, at which Huzaifah (ra ) broke it declaring it to be Shirk; and as proof of this, he recited the Words of Allah (swt ), Most High: " And most of them do not believe in Allah, except that they associate partners with Him" - and the meaning of this verse is that many people believe in Allah (swt ), but adulterate their belief with Shirk.
Benefits Derived From This Narration
1. Forbidding the detestable by one's own hand, even though the perpetrator may object.
2. That the use of threads and the like to protect from harm is an act of Shirk.
3. The obligation to reject the detestable.
4. The deep understanding of the Companions, and the breadth of their knowledge.
5. That Shirk is present amongst the people of this Ummah.
6. That the heart of a person may contain faith and Shirk at the same time.
Relevance of This Narration to the Subject of the Chapter
That it proves that the use of threads as protection from harm is an act of Shirk, because protection from harm comes only from Allah (swt ), the Almighty, the All-powerful.
1. Al-waahinah: rheumatism.
2. Mufti: An Islamic scholar, who is qualified to deliver formal legal verdicts, based on the Qur'an and Sunnah.
3. See footnote no. 33.
4. Mursal: An incomplete chain of narrators, not reaching to the Prophet (saas).
5. The Arabic word for skulls is also ( ????? ) - jamaajim.
6. Marfoo': With a sanad reaching to the Prophet (saas).
7. Tamemah: Talisman or amulet.
8. Wada'ah: A sea-shell resembling an oyster shell.