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I have found a really strange narration that says that the Nutfah of men travel in the veins and muscles of women.

This is the original text of the hadith:-

فقد ثبت عن مالك بن الحويرث أنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا أراد الله جل اسمه أن يخلق النسمة فجامع الرجل المرأة طار ماؤه في كل عرق وعصب منها فإذا كان اليوم السابع أحضر الله له كل عرق بينه وبين آدم ثم قرأ في أي صورة ما شاء ركبك

This is found in Mu'ajam Al-Kabeer At-Tabrani, Mu'ajam A-Sagheer At- Tabarani, and in Mu'ajam Al-Awsat At-Tabarani. According to THIS SOURCE, the narration in question is authentically reported through a sound chain of narrators, according to Ibn Manda and it is also recorded in Silsila As-Sahiha by Albani! However, there is a Hadith in Sahih Muslim that says that semen "stays" in the womb of women. It doesn't say that semen reaches other parts of a woman.

According to THIS SOURCE, Ibn Masud (RA) is reported to have said that the Nutfah of men travel to hair and nails of a woman. Moreover, it also descends back to the womb! It says,

It has been narrated from Ibn Mas’ud in other ways.

As for his words “The creation of any one of you is gathered in the belly of his mother for forty days as a drop,” their explanation is narrated from Ibn Mas’ud. Al-A’mash narrated from Khaythamah that Ibn Mas’ud said, “When the drop falls into the womb she conceives in every hair and nail. Then it remains for forty days and then it descends into the womb and becomes a clot” He said, “That is its ‘gathering’.” Ibn Abi Hatim and others narrated it.

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So, how can we reconcile these two hadith with modern science?

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    Ibn Masud is not our prophet nor is he the Quran. If it contradicts with modern science, then we can disregard Ibn Masud's opinion. If need be, the matn of it can be defective since there's a hadith in Sahih Muslim directly contradicting it.
    – YoMango
    Apr 18, 2023 at 2:21
  • @YoMango - Well, I am still searching for a good answer and waiting for other brothers to answer the question. Meanwhile I will update the comment section or possibly answer this question myself when I get an answer. So, please keep checking the page again and again.
    – Ren
    Apr 18, 2023 at 11:35
  • The first hadith is raised to the Prophet ﷺ so discounting Ibn Masud is not a solution. The hadith describes the act of Allah that He brings forth all the ancestors of the child till Adam and makes the child resemble any of them (عرق or vein as used to mean ancestor like in Bukhari 6847) It is not necessary that physical observation will show the acts of Allah as they might happen in the unseen world. And modern science can not observe and does not accept Allah.
    – UmH
    Apr 18, 2023 at 15:27
  • @UmH - Well, what do you have to say about Ibn Mas'ud' statements? It could be found in many places such as Al-Nihaya Fi' Gharib Al-Hadith and in Tafsir Ibn Kathir as well. The chain of narrators also seem to be reliable as well, isn't it?
    – Ren
    Apr 20, 2023 at 15:05

1 Answer 1

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Issue: النسمة # النطفة

The hadith you are asking about starts by mentioning (النسمة) while the sahih hadith you regard as contradictory is mentioning semen (النطفة).

Fro example you may read in sahih al-Bukhari:

"There is no soul that is destined to exist but will come into existence, till the Day of Resurrection."
مَا مِنْ نَسَمَةٍ كَائِنَةٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ إِلاَّ هِيَ كَائِنَةٌ

that النسمة is translated as soul not semen. This however creates a new issue since we know from other sahih ahadith that the soul is breathed into the body only after 120 days.
Usually النسمة is also translated as human/man which is the most suitable for the ahadith reported by a-Tabarani especially since the deviation to other compilations is on this term as they use the word "عبد" instead. This will fix at least a part of the issue.
The second part is still semen is mentioned as if it was propagating in the female body parts. And again here we most say that "النطفة" also means a drop (from whatever).
So maybe we don't have a scientific explanation for the hadith, but as scholars may say this knowledge cannot be deduced using the mind, but it is more likely a kind of information which was revealed by Allah to his prophet (), which we may take as is since we have no means to check it. It doesn't necessarily mean that the semen itself propagates, but some parts we can't observe. But Allah knows best.

And this actually can be deduced from the qur'an:

Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing. (76:2)

A human is not only created from a semen (or male semen/sperm as earlier nations pretended and believed before the revelation of the qur'an), but from a mixture of male sperm and female semen (ovum) the qur'an called النطفة الأمشاج. The above propagation could simply be an explanation on how the gen-mixture of the new "human" being is created. Since it is related to all his ancestors. And Allah knows best.

At-Tabarani's narrations in his three mo'jam's

Before starting a deeper analysis in his Majma'a as-Zawa'id al-Haythami claimed the hadith to have trustworthy narrators saying:

رواه الطبراني في الثلاثة ، ورجاله ثقات .
At-Tabarani narrated it in his three books. And his narrators are trustworthy.

First let me list the three narrations:

Al-Kabir

حدثنا محمد بن جعفر الرازي ، ثنا أبو بكر بن أبي الأسود ، ( ح ) . وحدثنا إبراهيم بن نائلة الأصبهاني ، وأحمد بن الحسين بن نصر الحذاء ، قالا : ثنا شباب العصفري ، قالا : ثنا أنيس بن سوار الجرمي ، ثنا أبي ، ثنا مالك بن الحويرث ، قال : قال رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم - : " إذا أراد الله أن يخلق النسمة ، فجامع الرجل المرأة طار ماؤه في كل عرق وعصب منها ، فإذا كان يوم السابع أحضر الله - عز وجل - له كل عرق بينه وبين آدم " ، ثم قرأ : في أي صورة ما شاء ركبك .
(See here with a rough qualification of the narrators)

Al-Awsat

حدثنا أحمد بن الحسين بن نصر الخراساني قال : حدثنا شباب العصفري قال : حدثنا أنيس بن سوار الجرمي قال : حدثنا أبي .
عن مالك بن الحويرث قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : " إذا أراد الله تبارك وتعالى أن يخلق النسمة ، فجامع الرجل المرأة ، طار ماؤه في كل عرق وعصب منها . فإذا كان يوم السابع أحضر الله له كل عرق بينه وبين آدم " . ثم قرأ : في أي صورة ما شاء ركبك .
(See here with a rough qualification of the narrators)

As-Saghir

حدثنا أحمد بن الحسين بن نصر الحذاء البغدادي ، حدثنا شباب العصفري ، حدثنا أنيس بن سوار الجرمي ، حدثنا أبي ، حدثنا مالك بن الحويرث قال : قال رسول الله - صلى الله عليه وسلم - : " إذا أراد الله - جل ذكره - أن يخلق النسمة ، فجامع الرجل المرأة طار ماؤه في كل عرق وعصب منها ، فإذا كان يوم السابع أحضر الله له كل عرق بينه وبين آدم ، ثم قرأ ( في أي صورة ما شاء ركبك ) " . لا يروى عن مالك بن الحويرث إلا بهذا الإسناد ، تفرد به ابن سوار .
(See here with a rough qualification of the narrators)

First conclusions

It seems that all three narrations have the same chain only in al-Kabir at-Tabarani added more of his teachers who downwards narrated it via the same chain.
In al-Kabir at-Tabarni narrated via two of his teachers one of them is إبراهيم بن نائلة الأصبهاني Ibraheem ibn Na'ilah al-Asbahani who is a disputable narrator abu Sheikh al-Asbahani accused him of narrating strangeness's while abu abu Sa'ad as-Sam'aani regards him as trustworthy (the second is discussed later) and on a lower sanad via: Muhammad ibn Ja'afar ar-Razi محمد بن جعفر الرازي (is acceptable) from abu Bakr ibn abi al-Aswad أبو بكر بن أبي الأسود (trustworthy: stated by ibn Hajar, al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi and a-Dhahhabi, 'Ali al-Madini and Yahya ibn Ma'ain only mentioned that his narration from abu 'Awanah is rather weak since it was at a low age) both chains meet at Anis ibn Siwwar al-Jurmi.
The version from al-Mu'jam as-Saghir adds the information that this hadith was only narrated via Anis ibn Siwwar أنيس بن سوار from his father Siwwar al-Jurmi who are both only accepted (مقبول) narrators .

It also shows how difficult checking the narrator chain is:
In al-Kabir the same teacher of at-Tabarni is referred to as:

أحمد بن الحسين بن نصر الحذاء Ahmad ibn al-Hussain ibn Nasr al-Hadha'

While he is called:

أحمد بن الحسين بن نصر الخراساني Ahmad ibn al-Hussain ibn Nasr al-Khorasani

in al-Awsat and

أحمد بن الحسين بن نصر الحذاء البغدادي Ahmad ibn al-Hussain ibn Nasr al-Hadh'a al-Baghdadi

in as-Saghir.
He is regarded as trustworthy by a-Daraqotni. According to this hadith database he is further known as Ahmad ibn al-Hussain al-Hamadaani أحمد بن الحسين الهمداني and his kunya is abu Ja'afar أبو جعفر.

Note that the hadith was compiled with the same chain from abu Bakr ibn abi al-Aswad downwards by ibn Mundah in his at-Tawheed here and here, by abu Bakr ibn al-Anbari in his Muntaqa and also by Ya'qud ibn Yusuf in his al-Ma'arifa wa a-Tareekh and via him by al-Bayhaqi in his al-Asmaa' wa as-Sifaat, but none of these quoted the sentence with the statement about the soul النسمة and in several tafsir books.
It also appears in Bihar al-Anwar of the known shi'a scholar al-Majalisi since Malik ibn al-Huwayrit is regarded as an accepted sahabi by them.

Some scholarly qualifcations on the ahadith of at-Tabarani

I've tried to source the scholarly qualification you've already mentioned based on the fatwa mentioned later:

Ibn Mundah actually confirmed the statement of al-Haythami saying (link is shared above):

إسناده متصل مشهور على رسم ابن عيسى والنسائي وغيرهما
Its chain of narrators is well-known, based on the drawing of ibn 'Isa, Al-Nasa’i and others.

And by as-Suyuti in his a-Dhur al-Ma'thur introduced the hadith as follows:

وأخرج الحكيم الترمذي والطبراني وابن مردويه بسند جيد والبيهقي في الأسماء والصفات It was compiled by al-Hakeem at-Tirmidhi, at-Tabarani, ibn Mardawayh with a good chain of transmission, and al-Bayhaqi included it in "the names and attributes".

And al-Albani seems to have considered it as hassan in his as-Silsilah as-Sahihah and discussed all its chains and quotations as per islamweb fatwa#72781. I strongly assume that the reason (or one of them) for this qualification is the restriction at-Tabarani described in al-M'ojam as-Saghir:

لا يروى عن مالك بن الحويرث إلا بهذا الإسناد ، تفرد به ابن سوار .
It is not narrated on the authority of Malik bin al-Huwairith except with this chain of transmission, and ibn Siwwar is unique to it.

So the hadith however not having any real weak narrator is rather an ahaad.

The chain of ibn Masu'ds athar

ابْنُ أَبِي حَاتِمٍ ibn abi Hatim is a hafidh and trustworthy and so is his teacher:
أَحْمَدُ بْنُ سِنَان Ahmad ibn Sinan ibn Asad al-Qatan.
أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ abu Mua'awiyah a-Darir also known as Muhammad ibn Khazim is also a trustworthy scholar from al-Kufa.
الْأَعْمَشِ al-A'amash (Sulayman ibn Mahran) is trustworthy, he is known to be the most knowledgeable about the wisdom of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, but he is also known for his tadlees, which he didn't practice in this narration.
خيثمة Khaythuma ibn 'Abarrahman was trustworthy and a student of ibn Mas'ud.

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  • Salam bro! Well, what do you have to say about Ibn Mas'ud's narration that says that النُّطْفَةَ (Semen) travel around the body of woman and reached her nails and hair? I reckon that Nutfah النُّطْفَةَ is semen, right? The chain of narrator in this isnad is as follows: ابْنُ أَبِي حَاتِمٍ: حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ سِنَان، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ عَنِ الْأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ خَيْثَمَة قَالَ: قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ(١٤) -يَعْنِي: ابْنَ مَسْعُودٍ
    – Ren
    Apr 18, 2023 at 22:13
  • I would really appreciate if you could comment on Ibn Masud's narration. As we can see, the narration of Ibn Masud seems authentic, doesn't it?
    – Ren
    Apr 18, 2023 at 22:45
  • @Ren hm... somehow I've lost my concept here at a point. I've done some re-reading of sources and came to the conclusion that my answer still doesn't answer more than the fact that scholars consider this hadith as reliable, which I suppose was already clear for you. I'll need some time and clearer mind to see if I can rework the answer properly.
    – Medi1Saif
    Apr 19, 2023 at 13:40
  • No problem, brother. You can take your time. Jazakallah. Meanwhile, I am also searching for more answers related to the narration of Ibn Mas'ud (RA).
    – Ren
    Apr 20, 2023 at 1:33
  • @Ren Even Al-Albani has deemed the hadith hasan, not sahih, meaning it's not authentic and there's weakness in it. The fact that there's no stronger hadith or quran ayah supporting this in any way means that it can be safely and completely ignored.
    – YoMango
    Apr 20, 2023 at 4:32

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