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Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra) the Prophet (saw) said, "I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me:

  1. Allah made me victorious by awe (by his frigtening my enemy), for a distance of one month's journey.

  2. The earth has been made for me (and my followers) a place for offering salah and a thing to purify (perform tayyamum), therefore anyone of my followers can offer salaah wherever he is at the time of salaah.

  3. The booty has been made halal to me, yet it was not lawful to anyone else before me.

  4. I have been given the right of intercession.

  5. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have sent to all mankind". (Sahih Bukhari, p.51, English summarised edition; Muslim; Bayhaqi, p.4, vol.9; bold emphasis mine)

The Hadith above tells us that booty was not made halal to anyone before the Prophet SAW. What does that actually mean? The Torah mentions war booty captured by Prophets and Israelite soldiers, doesn't that contradict what the Prophet SAW said here? Or is there a different meaning to it? According to the verses below, even Moses, Joshua and David received booty. The latter won a crown from an enemy king :

1 Chronicles 20 : 2

David took the crown from the head of their king[a]—its weight was found to be a talent[b] of gold, and it was set with precious stones—and it was placed on David’s head. He took a great quantity of plunder from the city 3 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes.

And.....

2 Samuel 3:2

Just then David’s men and Joab returned from a raid and brought with them a great deal of plunder.

And.....

Joshua 8:1-2

8 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”

And.....

Deuteronomy 2:35

35 But the livestock and the plunder from the towns we had captured we carried off for ourselves.

And.....

Deuteronomy 3:7

7 But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves.

Can anyone explain this supposed contradiction?

2 Answers 2

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Alaikum salam wa rahmatullah dear Brother,

interesting question!

First of all keep in mind that the science of Ahadith is too complex as to compare it to events in the old Testament.

Regarding your question:

there is another Hadith variant which says "..not lawful to any Prophet before me" (Al Tabarani)

So it could be possible that the Prophet meant that he as a Prophet can take from the booty whereas the previous prophets had to divide the booty only between the army and residents (according to the Quran which suggest to give 1/5 of the booty explicitly to the Prophet)

The second option could be that writers of the Old Testament fabricated the lawfulness of taking booty from the enemy whereas God has forbid it.

Both is possible, but remember: According to our orthodox Sunni Belief the consumption of wine is impermissible and Prophets are without sin, yet we find in the Bible stories about drunk prophets (God forbid).

We dont know exactly what the Prophet meant compared to the Booty stories of the old testament, but we know for certain that our beloved prophet is As Sadek Al Ameen (the trustworthy) and we hear and obey.

So dont let these things worry you and focus on receiving tradtional islamic knowledge. (For example here: www.seekersguidance.com

May Allah bless you and increase you in knowledge. Salam

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The Hadith it is classed Sahih, we suppose that the transmission is likely to be reliable. The book of Joshua is a kind of Hadith, too; its reliability cannot be estimated because the chain of transmission has never been documented for the books of the Tanakh.

But caution: A Hadith is a transmission of what Muhammad (p.b.u.h) did or said. Hadith is in most cases not a revelation.

The prophets, including Muhammad (p.b.u.h) were not all-knowing. Muhammad (p.b.u.h) did not know the entire Tanakh. It is thus possible that he simply did not know whether prophets in ancient times took booty and whether it was halal.

Doubts on the reliability on the Tanakh and even on a hadith with a sahih chain are permissible with a reason, above all if they contain a contraditction to the Quran. However, in this case, it is not necessary to assume that either is wrong taking into account that Muhammad (p.b.u.h) did not necessarily have all knowledge about prior prophets.

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  • The hadith is very clear that this was a direct revelation, "I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me.....''
    – Afiq
    May 20, 2021 at 8:38

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