The hadith is regarded as Sahih and is compiled in several sources like both Sahih's, Sunan abi Dawod and Musnad Ahmad with a slight difference of wording:
Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: The son of Adam causes Me pain as he says: Woe be upon the Time. None of you should say this: Woe be upon the Time, as I am the Time (because) I alternate the day and the night, and when I wish I can finish them up.
(Sahih Muslim in several chapters, Sahih al-Bukhari in several chaptersand Sunan abi Dawod)
The original text of the version from Sahih Muslim is:
قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يُؤْذِينِي ابْنُ آدَمَ يَقُولُ يَا خَيْبَةَ الدَّهْرِ . فَلاَ يَقُولَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ يَا خَيْبَةَ الدَّهْرِ . فَإِنِّي أَنَا الدَّهْرُ أُقَلِّبُ لَيْلَهُ وَنَهَارَهُ فَإِذَا شِئْتُ قَبَضْتُهُمَا
And the word that might cause trouble here is:
Which was rather wrongly translated:
causes ME pain (or injury)
While it is closer to:
The hadith is rather self-explaining. It makes clear what the issue is: Allah created day and night and therefore time.
Allah says in the qur'an:
And it is He who has made the night and the day in succession for whoever desires to remember or desires gratitude. (25:62)
In the pre-Islamic culture it was usual to abuse or complain about the "time" as stated in the hadith:
he says: Woe be upon the Time.
So Arabs said for example:
here and in the following I'll be translating from Arabic language, as these translations are of my own take them with the necessary care!
قبح الله الدهر الذي شتت شملنا
May Allah distort the that that separated us
Note that the term:
May refer to time, age, epoch, era etc.
But when a person complains about time or abuses it (as is the statement in the linked version from Sahih al-Bukhari) that person indirectly complains about or abuses the Creator of time Himself.
Therefore imam a-Shafi'i said in a poem:
نعيب زماننا والعـيـــــب فينا - ومـا لـزماننا عـيـب سـوانا
وقد نهجوا الزمان بغير جرم - ولو نطق الزمان بنا هجانا
وليس الذئب يأكل لحم ذئب - ويأكل بعضنا بعضا عيانا
We blame our time though we are to blame,
no fault has time but only us.
We scold the time for all the shame,
had it a tongue, it would scold us.
For no Wolf eats the meat of another,
While we kill each-other without remorse.
Can humans hurt Allah at all?
The question is does this really hurt Allah or causes Him pain?
First of all assuming this is true we should know that this hurt is beyond our knowledge as Allah says:
...There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (42:11)
in Arabic isn't necessarily pain nor does it harm or hurt (See for example: in the Sahih hadith speaking about removing harmful things إِمَاطَةُ الأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ). As أذى may simply cause some kind of negative reaction, as for the example of a bad smell (like in this Sahih hadith"!وَلاَ يُؤْذِيَنَّا بِرِيحِ الثُّومِ should not harm us with the odour of garlic"). It doesn't hurt you nor does it harm you, but you may find it disgraceful or unappetizing or disgusting etc..
And in the case of the earlier linked hadith this may mean: to remove an obstacle which may hurt a person who oversees it, or remove pieces of bread in order to avoid people step on it etc. so the hurt or harm must not happen, but could happen, and is not necessarily a physical hurt or harm.
Allah the almighty says:
Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. (33:57)
إن الذين يؤذون الله ورسوله لعنهم الله في الدنيا والآخرة وأعد لهم عذابا مهينا
Where "يؤذون" was translated as "who abuse".
And HE also made clear:
And do not be grieved, [O Muhammad], by those who hasten into disbelief. Indeed, they will never harm Allah at all. ... (3:176)
ولا يحزنك الذين يسارعون في الكفر إنهم لن يضروا الله شيئا
So none of Allah's creation can ever hurt or harm HIM as their attempts would never reach HIM.
Note that the verbs:
This meaning also appears in the long hadith Qudsi starting with Allah's prohibition of injustice and oppression:
O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefiting Me so as to benefit Me. (Sahih Muslim)
يَا عِبَادِي إِنَّكُمْ لَنْ تَبْلُغُوا ضَرِّي فَتَضُرُّونِي وَلَنْ تَبْلُغُوا نَفْعِي فَتَنْفَعُونِي
So how would humans be able to hurt or annoy or harm Allah -if that is possible-?
In fact this is by ignoring HIM and by setting others equal to him (shirk), by speaking the untruth about HIM and HIS creation and power, or by abusing or talking badly about HIS creation as is the case with the "Time" in the hadith above. Our sins especially performing big sins: in general by our denial and disobedience. Some of these may start in a light manner "by saying something unintentionally" or unaware of the link. As it is when one speaks bad about "our times", as one indirectly refers to their Creator.
It is by simple unthought words like: "may Allah remember you next time" while Allah says:
...and never is your Lord forgetful - (19:64)
Or for example if we ask: "Allah why me? What have I done?". While Allah says:
He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned. (21:23)
So to sum up Allah can't be injured or harmed in a physical manner as we may imagine.
Some quotes from hadith commentaries
Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-Barry فتح الباري quoted al-Qurtobi's statement:
قَالَ الْقُرْطُبِيُّ مَعْنَاهُ يُخَاطِبُنِي مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِمَا يَتَأَذَّى مَنْ يَجُوزُ فِي حَقِّهِ التَّأَذِّي وَاللَّهُ مُنَزَّهٌ عَنْ أَنْ يَصِلَ إِلَيْهِ الْأَذَى وَإِنَّمَا هَذَا مِنَ التَّوَسُّعِ فِي الْكَلَامِ وَالْمُرَادُ أَنَّ مَنْ وَقَعَ ذَلِكَ مِنْهُ تَعَرَّضَ لِسَخَطِ اللَّهِ
Al-Qurtobi said: The meaning is that I'M addressed with a speech that may hurt those on which harming is permissible. While haram iis strictly forbidden to reach Allah. But this is an expansion of speech, and it is intended that whoever does that will be exposed to the wrath of God.
The same statement appears in Irshaad as-Sary إرشاد الساري of al-Qustalani.
And in 'Umdat al-Qari عمدة القاري we find a statement of at-Tybi:
وَقَالَ الطَّيِّبِيّ: الْإِيذَاء إِيصَال الْمَكْرُوه إِلَى الْغَيْر قولا أَو فعلا أثر فِيهِ أَو لم يُؤثر، وإيذاء الله عبارَة عَن فعل مَا يكرههُ وَلَا يرضى بِهِ، وَكَذَا إِيذَاء رَسُول الله صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم.
Al-Tayyiby said: Harm is the delivery of what is detestable to someone else by word or deed that has an effect on him or not, and harming Allah is an act of what He hates and does not please Him, and that is what He dislikes and does not satisfy Him.
Finally imam an-Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim said about "The son of Adam causes Me pain":
فَمَعْنَاهُ يُعَامِلُنِي مُعَامَلَةً تُوجِبُ الْأَذَى فِي حَقِّكُمْ
It means that he treats ME as a treatment that would cause harm to you (humans) if you were the adressed.
The different meanings of "أذى" in the qur'an
To emphasize the impoirtance of context here just a few examples:
- injury: (2:196) "ailment of the head", (3:111) "not harm you except for [some] annoyance."
This 2nd verse also would apply partly for the last category, however some of the scholars of Tafsir described it as physical hurt.
- filth, uncleanness: (2:222) "hurt and a pollution."
- abuse: (3:186) "much abuse."
- talk (reminders) that may hurt the listener: (2:262), (2:263) "with reminders [of it] or [other] injury".