Winter is coming…
Are these Prophetic narrations about winter authentic?
‘Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in.’
‘Fasting in the winter is the easy prize.’
- For the reasons set out below, it doesn’t appear that the cited traditions are judged to be authentic (Ṣaḥīḥ).
- Caution should always be exercised where statements are attributed to the Prophet peace be upon him, but do not carry mention of the narrator (rāwi), channel of transmission (isnād) or even on occasion, the collection from where it is taken from.
- Best practice dictates that these details should be mentioned. Where narrations are not authentic, that should also be highlighted, since it will allow the reader to know that it cannot be judged beyond reasonable doubt, as being an authentic statement of the Prophet peace be upon him.
- The first narration is cited in al-Sunan al-Kubra of Bayhaqy, the stated narrator being the companion Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him). Together with the isnād the full wording is:
أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ ثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ثنا محمد بن إسحاق ثنا أبو الأسود ثنا ابن لهيعة عن دراج أبي السمح عن أبي الهيثم عن أبي سيد الخدري قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الشتاء ربيع المؤمن؛ قصر نهاره فصام وطال ليله فقام
Abu Abdullah al-Ḥāfiz reported to us: Abul’Abbās Muḥammad ibn Ya’qub narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq narrated to us Abul’Aswad narrated to us Ibn Lahiyah’ narrated to us from Darrāj Abi al-Samaḥ from Abi al-Haytham from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:
Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in.
- The second narration is often quoted from two different collections, the first being in the Musnad of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal:
حدثنا حسن حدثنا ابن لهيعة حدثنا دراج عن أبى الهيثم عن أبى سعيد عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال الشتاء ربيع المؤمن
Ḥasan narrated to us Ibn Lahiyah’ narrated to us Darrāj narrated to us from Abi al-Haytham from Abu Sa’eed from the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him that he said:
Fasting in the winter is the easy prize.
Secondly, the narration appears in the collection of Sunan by Tirmidhi:
حدثنا محمد بن بشار حدثنا يحيى بن سعيد حدثنا سفيان عن أبي إسحاق عن نمير بن عريب عن عامر بن مسعود عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال الغنيمة الباردة الصوم في الشتاء
Muḥammad ibn Bashār narrated to us Yaḥya ibn Sa’eed narrated to us Sufyān narrated to us from Abu Isḥāq from Numayr ibn ‘Areeb from ‘Aāmir ibn Mas’ud from the Prophet peace be upon him, he said:
Fasting during the winter is an easy reward.
Essentially it is the same narration, although quite often the translation does vary between wording as being either ‘the easy reward’ or the ‘easy prize.’
- It doesn’t appear that any of these traditions are judged to be authentic (Ṣaḥīḥ). As is his noted custom, Abu ‘Esa al-Tirmidhi provides the following valuable comment after mentioning the tradition ‘Fasting during the winter is an easy reward.’ He writes:
Abu ‘Esa said: ‘This ḥadith is mursal (loose). ‘Aāmir ibn Mas’ud did not see the Prophet peace be upon him. He was the son of Ibrāhim ibn ‘Aāmir al-Qurayshi, the one that Shu’bah and al-Thawri report from.’
- Moreover, Tirmidhi provides us with an additional comment in this regard and concerning this narration. Writing in his al-‘Ilal al-Kabir, he says:
I asked Muḥammad about Abu Isḥāq from Numayr ibn ‘Areeb from ‘Aāmir ibn Mas’ud from the Prophet peace be upon him, (where) he said: Fasting during the winter is an easy reward. Upon this he said: ‘It is a mursal ḥadith. ‘Aāmir ibn Mas’ud wasn’t a companion and didn’t hear from the Prophet peace be upon him.’
The ‘Muḥammad’ that Tirmidhi refers to is Muḥammad ibn Ismā’il, namely Imām Bukhāri, compiler of al-Jāmi al-Ṣaḥīḥ al-Mukhtaṣr.
- Writing in the introduction to his Ṣaḥīḥ, Imām Muslim said: ‘…the mursal from the (corpus of) transmissions, in the foundation of our view and that of the people of knowledge in reports, is that it is not a proof; on account of what I described from (its) weakness; I rely on researching the hearing of the transmitter in each report on authority of [who he transmits from].’ For further information concerning the mursal as not being established as a sound evidence in and of itself, please refer to chapter two of our book: Foundational Islamic Principles.
‘The most sagacious…is he who is most strict of all in following the decisions of the Qur’ān, the genuine hadith, narrated on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, and is remotest of all from his own opinion and from asserting his own conjecture.’
[Ibn Hazm, al-Risalah al-Bahirah fil’Rad ‘ala Ahl-al-Aqwal al-Fasada]
- Concerning the first narration, ‘Winter is the best season for the believer…’ this is not authentic due to the presence of a weak narrator in the channel of transmission (isnād): Darrāj Abi al-Samaḥ. In Tahzeeb al-Kāmil fi Asmā’ al-Rijāl by al-Mizzi, several statements are recorded where notable scholars of ḥadith have expressed that this narrator is weak, for example:
- Aḥmad ibn Shu’ayb (al-Nasā’i): ‘He is not strong,’ elsewhere he also said: ‘munkar al-ḥadith (disclaimed, or rejected).’
- al-Dāraquṭni: ‘ḍaef (weak)’ elsewhere he also said: ‘Matruk (discarded).’
- Abu Ḥātim: ‘His ḥadith are ḍaef (weak).’
Perhaps more pertinent for the discussion at hand, is the comment that is carried by Abu Dāwud al-Sijistāni, author of the collection of Sunan. Abu Dāwud said: ‘His aḥādith are upright, except where it is (reported) from Abi al-Haytham from Abu Sa’eed.’
The channel of transmission for this narration is precisely along the lines of reporting that Abu Dāwud has outlined as not being a correct line of transmission.
- In addition to this, in ‘Awn al-Ma’bud (commentary upon the Sunan of Abu Dāwud) there is a statement of al-Munthari after the following tradition is mentioned:
حدثنا سعيد بن منصور حدثنا عبد الله بن وهب أخبرني عمرو بن الحارث أن دراجا أبا السمح حدثه عن أبي الهيثم عن أبي سعيد الخدري: أن رجلا هاجر إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من اليمن، فقال: هل لك أحد باليمن قال: أبواى قال أذنا لك قال: لا قال ارجع إليهما فاستأذنهما، فإن أذنا لك فجاهد، وإلا فبرهما
Sa’eed ibn Manṣur narrated to us Abdullah ibn Wahb narrated to us ‘Amr ibn al-Ḥārith reported to me that Darrāj Abu al-Samaḥ narrated it from Abi al-Haytham from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that a man emigrated to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) from Yemen. He asked: Have you anyone in Yemen? He replied: My parents. He asked: Did they permit you? He replied: No. He said: Go back to them and ask for their permission. If they permit you, then fight otherwise be devoted to them.
Al-Munthari said: ‘In its isnād is Darrāj Abu al-Samaḥ al-Maṣri and he is ḍaef (weak).’
- Given the inter-connectedness of today’s world, many people share little snippets or bitesize quotes to inspire others. While it is not our place to cast aspirations upon the intentions and sincerity of others, one should exercise a degree of caution when repeating narrations, which are not established as being authentic, and inadvertently attribute them to the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him.
- The Deen of Islam is not built upon conjecture and hearsay. The Deen of Islam is derived from the texts of revelation: namely, the noble Qur’ān and the correct genuine ḥadith that are established by way of transmission from trustworthy narrators one from another until it reaches the Prophet (peace be upon him).
- We ask Allah to forgive our errors and grant us all guidance.