16

Since childhood, I had been hearing many fantasy stories about prophets and other Islamic historical persons. Some examples:

  • Adam (A) was 60 feet cubit tall (Its possible, but is there any evidence by Quran/Hadis reference)?
  • Musa (A) fought an enemy who was extremely tall (say 20 times than a normal man)
  • Buraq was a horse and was female.
  • A prophet (don't remember who) had a black Pegasus from heaven which was so beautiful that that prophet could not concentrate to his duties. As a result he cut off the Pegasus's wings. The Arabian Black horse is the children of that horse that is why Arabian Black Horse is the best quality horse (truthfulness of this last sentence is off-topic).
  • very descriptive conversation between Allah and Adam (A)

These stories were really very nice to hear but as I grew older, I realized that most of these stories are just stories. No evidence is found either by Quran/Hadis or History. Unfortunately, I have found many matured muslims who believe many of such stories.

What does Islam say about believing or spreading such fantasy story? I would like to warn people who do such things.

Please note that I do not claim that all those stories (including the examples here) are necessarily false. I just don't want people believe things without appropriate reference.

Further Clarification

This question is not about lying in general. Obviously to lie is a great sin is Islam.

By Fantasy story, I mean those which appears to be impossible.

For example, the Miraj of Muhammad(Sm) and Musa(A) fighting a 20 times tall Man. However, the first one is obviously true (I am sure someone can quote from Quran/Hadith) while the second one may or may not because from whom I heard this did not give me a reference.

The problem is: because these stories are about prophets, people usually believe them as Allah often gave prophets unusual power. I am sure a false story may become very harmful, specially when offering Islam to a non-muslim. Therefore, I would like to know what Islam says about spreading them.

Or, a more general question may be equivalent to this question: What Islam says about telling something that may or may not be true? And what about believing such things?

  • 4
    Most of them has some basis in Islam but the fact is they are not really considered authentic from modern view point. We humans were always fascinated with our history and origin. Some of these tries to explain that in religious context. Other came as glorification of a prophet and became part of the great religious stories whose references does not exists. – muslim1 Aug 27 '12 at 20:42
  • If a fantasy story is a lie, then it should not be believed in and it should not be told. I am sure most people can provide many sources about the sin of lying in Islam. If the fantasy story is a true story, then it should be told. So I am not sure what exactly you're asking. – oshirowanen Aug 30 '12 at 15:02
  • @oshirowanen: I have edited the question. – Mohayemin Aug 31 '12 at 4:53
6

Is your question about "Unverified and unbelievable stories"?

Based on the clarification you added, my understanding is that you simply mean "unbelievable stories" rather than "fantasy stories".

You also mentioned that, No evidence is found either by Quran/Hadis or History. This would make your question about "Unverified & unbelievable stories"



Islam does lay stress on how VERIFIABLE anything is...

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Quran 49:6)

In the above verse the Quran makes it compulsory on verifying information if it comes from a disobedient person(i.e. faasiqun).

But another point that comes to light in this verse is that...

verification of information prevents us to "harm people out of ignorance" .

Why we verify these stories?

Narrated by Abu Huraira

The Prophet; said, "A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire." (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 485 )

Islam requires us not to be careless about "a word" we say.

  • verification of information should be done if the information comes from anyone even a shaik – مجاهد Sep 1 '12 at 13:57
  • 1
    +1. Excellent answer. Actually, I used the word "fantasy" to mean unbelievable stories. I should be more careful about choosing words I suppose. – Mohayemin Sep 2 '12 at 2:51
8

Firstly, let me assert that it would be a sin to spread these fantasy stories as real because they undoubtedly fall under the category of "lying" even if it might have glorified the prophets/islam in anyway.

When asked about the permissibility of narrating unverified stories, Sheikh Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen ruled thus:

It is not permissible for a person, a storyteller or one who gives advice, to narrate a hadeeth and attribute it to the Messenger (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) whilst he does not know if it is authentic. And it is (also) not permissible for him to narrate a hadeeth whilst he knows it to be weak. However, if he narrates a weak hadeeth to reveal it's weakness and warn the people from it, then that is obligatory. Likewise, he should not narrate stories which he assumes are worthy (of being narrated) without checking (their authenticity), and he should not narrate stories which he knows are fabricated, because that is being dishonest and deceiving the people.[0]

If these fantasy stories also include our Prophet, we must also note that the Prophet himself said the following:

“Whoever tells lies about me deliberately, let him take his place in Hell.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1291; Muslim, 933.


Regarding spreading fantasy stories with a clear disclaimer that it is not true, such may be classified as fiction. And a ruling on that by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid says:

If it is made perfectly clear that this did not really happen, and that the story is being told just to give an example, then there is nothing wrong with that, but one should be careful to ensure that the style, contents and goal are beneficial and that the story helps to explain something about Islam and serves as a effective means of teaching and guiding people. We ask Allaah to grant you strength.[1]

Regarding "fantasy stores" you mentioned it may rather be held as "legends" for historical reasons and it should be made clear that it is a legend rather than true incidents. (because there is very little information that it could be real) Believing such stories is not right because it should be backed by authentic reports of hadiths and/or the Qur'an.

  • 1
    Your post answers exactly what I asked. But as the question is put under bounty, I will wait for some more answers before I accept yours. +1 for now. – Mohayemin Aug 31 '12 at 10:24
  • Another issue is, can we really rely on the the first reference you provided? – Mohayemin Aug 31 '12 at 10:25
  • @Mohayemin I don't see a reason not to.. It is a fatwa from Sheikh Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen and is also published in his book as-Sahwah al-Islaamiyyah. – Irfan Aug 31 '12 at 10:40
  • Actually, I did not know Ibn Al Uthaymeen before. Unlucky me. Thanks. – Mohayemin Aug 31 '12 at 10:56
  • i dont belive it would be wrong to belive these stories, im thinking of the hadith where the prophet says not to take the bible as the truth nor as a lie because it can be either – NesreenA Sep 6 '12 at 13:05
8
+200

A very important parallel can be made with the transmission of ahadith; while the two extremes (authentic vs fabricated) have rulings which are clearly understood, there are also various grades in between, in which the authenticity can be neither guaranteed nor dismissed out of hand.

Excepting the ones that are truly weak, even ahadith which are not guaranteed to be authentic can be used to make authoritative rulings. And a number of scholars consider that even those weak hadith still have value; in the introduction to his Forty Hadith, An-Nawawi describes the majority scholarly opinion thus:

Religious scholars are agreed it is permissible to put into practice a weak Hadith if virtuous deeds are concerned…

It is important to note that classifying any hadith (or story) as weak is not the same as classifying it as false. Similarly, stories in which the authenticity is disputed — and as is often the case, impossible to verify — may (or may not) still be true. Such stories fall into the realm of al-Ghaib (the Unseen).

After narrating the story of Companions of the Cave in the Qur'an, God rebukes those who attempt to guess at al-Ghaib. Arguing about the details about any such story, including details such as whether it's authentic or fabricated, is futile unless clear evidence is available.

How unbelievable and fantastical it may appear is irrelevant. Belief in al-Ghaib includes believing in things that are otherwise unexplainable by science or observation.

Insofar as nobody was witness to the actual event, or has clear proofs thereof, narrating such stories as fact is (inadvertently) claiming knowledge of the unseen; this is arrogance tantamount to shirk. However, exactly the same argument can be made against outright decrying it as false. In order to claim that anyone should, or should not, believe and narrate such a story depends on its veracity; if its veracity is indeterminate, so too is any attempt at ruling on it.

The best one can do would be to apply the advice presented in the hadith of God's pasture: by only narrating those stories which are clearly permissible (such as those in the Qur'an, those authentically narrated by the prophet, or those from the children of Israel) and avoiding all others, one can be sure they're not transgressing God's own limits, even if by accident.

However, it is incorrect to apply a general ruling such as "One must never tell such stories, nor believe in them," as there is no way of knowing that the stories themselves are not true. I know of no evidences to outright forbid such, especially if the following points are considered:

  • Such stories are not directly contradicted by clear evidences (such as the Qur'an),
  • Such stories are not proclaimed as fact,
  • There is a benefit, and no harm, from telling such stories (such as helping a person toward virtuous deeds)

But even then, avoiding doubtful matters is still preferable.

7

A true-story non-islamic example

About a week ago, news spread about "Samsung giving a billion dollars to apple as 5 cents!", even famous news sites like Yahoo! reported this legendary story, but was it correct? Actually No!.

Where did the error happen? What's wrong?

As you see a rumor spread like a plague which affected famous companies. This is because they didn't (apparantly) try to check the authenticity of it, although they should be masters of authenticity checking. This is only because the story was funny and people wanted it to be real (although I never believed it, I liked it very much and wished it be true :D ). So the error happened in the authenticity-checking step, which is the most important, but also likely to be most difficult, and hence comes the question:

Should I always check the authenticity of what I hear/read?

You should do that if you will ever repeat it. Because if it was proven to be wrong, then the one who heard it from you will have a bad image about you (as you maybe will towards the one who told it to you/the source you read it from). This is one reason.

Another is that you should check the authenticity of it if you know you are affected -willingly or unwillingly- by things you hear from wherever (which is a bad thing indeed), so you can't leave anything "hanged" in your mind.

A third reason is that you should check it's authenticity if you you thought it is not correct, this is because you are likely to just say "This story is not correct" without any proofs, and that will result in a bad image about you as well, disbelieving without a reason is sometimes a bad behaviour, besides, this story is taking part of your mind, why not free it and get some authenticity check experience? maybe with an idea about how authentic the source is.

But this is very hard, authenticity check is not an easy process

True, this is hard especially for, for example, bottleneck historical stories. Based on this, you should either just keep silent and not repeat the story, which is something most of us can't do! Or reference this story to the source where you got it (and maybe saying "I'm not sure about it's authenticity"), thus giving the listener a "handler" and maybe freeing yourself from the accusation of lying.

So, what does Islam say about that?

Islam seems to prohibit us from saying what we are not certain about, or tell stories that we author and are fake, as the ayah says:

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا

And follow not (O man i.e., say not, or do not or witness not, etc.) that of which you have no knowledge (e.g. one's saying: "I have seen," while in fact he has not seen, or "I have heard," while he has not heard). Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allah).

[Surat Al-'Isrā':36].

But since authenticity check in Islam is a more complex process, which the majority of people can't do (neither do I generally), then it largely depends on the authenticity of the source. There is a Hadith which I think is very useful for this topic, it says:

Narrated Abdullah binAmr: The Prophet said, "Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel (which have been taught to you), for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire."

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو عَاصِمٍ الضَّحَّاكُ بْنُ مَخْلَدٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا الأَوْزَاعِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا حَسَّانُ بْنُ عَطِيَّةَ، عَنْ أَبِي كَبْشَةَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ "‏ بَلِّغُوا عَنِّي وَلَوْ آيَةً، وَحَدِّثُوا عَنْ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلاَ حَرَجَ، وَمَنْ كَذَبَ عَلَىَّ مُتَعَمِّدًا فَلْيَتَبَوَّأْ مَقْعَدَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ ‏"‏‏.‏

[Sahih Bukhari]

See there are three ideas we can extract:

  1. The Prophet, and the Quran, are most trusted sources, the Prophet ordered us to repeat what they say because they are authentic, rule #1: If the source is ultimately authentic (and you understand it well), then repeat the story, advice... etc.

  2. The Prophet allowed us to adopt israilites, but in caution. If the story contradicts to Islam then we shouldn't accept it, rule #2: Use the powerful brain with which Allah made you superior to all other creations. And check authenticity.

  3. The prophet warned us from talking lies and refer them to him on purpose and said who does that will be in Hell. But what about the non-purpose, for example, saying a Hadith we think is Sahih but in truth it's not? This is the bottleneck, and depends largely on the reference, if you can't check authenticity, then look for the most trustworthy source at least, if you don't trust the source, then don't repeat what it says.

Hope that's helpful.

2

These kinds of stories if it does not come form The Quran or sunnah, than most come from legends, for example (this is the only example I could think of) in Syria when you go and visit Maqamul Arba'een on Mountin Qasiun, when you take the tour and go into the no camera area, which is a cave. In this cave there is a hand print on the wall which "legend says" when Qabeel killed Habeel the mountain was so sad that it was falling down, so Allah sent Jibreel to hold up the mountain so that is the reason for the hand print, and the legend goes on. Now there is absolutely no evidences from the Qur'an or sunnah that proofs this legend true. So your "Fantasy stories" may come from such legends. There is no real way to tell whether such stories are true or not so it is better to stick to the stories from Qur'an and sunnah, and what I mean by that is only believe those stories. Now it is not good to spread something that might or might not be true.

http://quran.com/24/15-15

2

Adam (A) was 60 feet cubit tall (Its possible, but is there any evidence by Quran/Hadis reference)?

Yes, from a translation of Sahih Bukhari - Volume 4, Book 55, Number 543:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "Allah created Adam, making him 60 cubits tall. When He created him, He said to him, "Go and greet that group of angels, and listen to their reply, for it will be your greeting (salutation) and the greeting (salutations of your offspring." So, Adam said (to the angels), As-Salamu Alaikum (i.e. Peace be upon you). The angels said, "As-salamu Alaika wa Rahmatu-l-lahi" (i.e. Peace and Allah's Mercy be upon you). Thus the angels added to Adam's salutation the expression, 'Wa Rahmatu-l-lahi,' Any person who will enter Paradise will resemble Adam (in appearance and figure). People have been decreasing in stature since Adam's creation.

However, I'm not sure if I've fully understood your question, but it sounds like you're asking if it's OK in islam to lie?...

“O you who believe! Be afraid of Allaah, and be with those who are true (in word and deeds).” [al-Tawbah 9:119]

You can read a fatwa here about it.

So, if these fantasy stories are true, what's the harm in telling them and what's the harm in believing them? But if these fantasy stories are lies, they should not be told and they should not be believed in.

1

Regarding the hadith in Bukhari about Adam (AS) being 60 cubits, Mufti Usmani explained it clearly, pointing out that Adam was 60 cubits in heaven, but when he was sent to earth, he was made short, and his offspring have not ceased being short (meaning, they have remained short ever since, not returning to the original heavenly height). The translation is faulty. It says "...they have not stopped decreasing ever since..." although the direct translation would read "...and they have not stopped being (or, they have remained) short till now..."

As regarding the story of Musa (AS), then there is no reference to that story that I have ever come across in any of the stories of Musa (AS) I have ever seen.

All stories regarding the sex or description of Buraq are false. The only authentic narration concerning Buraq is that it LOOKS like a mule or a horse (but is not - the description is meant to give listeners a general description).

For the story regarding the black Pegasus, it is just like the story of Musa (AS), and there is no known basis for it.

The last story (of Adam - AS) is ambiguous and like above, there is no basis on which to work.

Regarding whether it is right to narrate stories not mentioned in the Qur'an, then it is permissible IF the narrator makes it clear that it was taken from such and such a source, or that it is not narrated from authentic Islamic sources. Even then, the story should have some virtuous moral or purpose, and should refrain from lewd themes.

Rule of thumb: "You need to authenticate stories you hear" if it is narrated as authentic (even if you are given a reference, check the reference).

"O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful." (Quran 49:6)

Finally, concerning Israa'iliyyat, if it tallies with the Islamic message, it would be okay to narrate them (make sure to specify they are Israa'iliyyat). If it goes contrary to anything in Islam, it is rejected outright. If it neither confirms nor denies anything in Islam, do not narrate them (and do not deny or confirm them).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.