From the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in the two authentic books, it is narrated that he said, “From my nation a group of seventy thousand [people will] enter paradise whose faces [will] illuminate [like the] illumination of the full moon.” And in the hadith narrated in Bukhari on behalf of Ibn ‘Abbas, it is narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
“The people were displayed in front of me and I saw one prophet passing by with a large group of his followers, and another prophet passing by with only a small group of people, and another prophet passing by with only ten (persons), and another prophet passing by with only five (persons), and another prophet passed by alone. And then I looked and saw a large multitude of people, so I asked Gabriel, ‘Are these people my followers?’ He said, ‘No, but look towards the horizon.’ I looked and saw a very large multitude of people. Gabriel said. ‘Those are your followers, and there are seventy thousand [persons] in front of them who will neither have any reckoning of their accounts nor will receive any punishment.’ I asked, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because they used not to seek to treat themselves with cauterization nor seek Ruqyah [a form of treatment in which the verses of the Qur’an are recited on the patient], and they did not used to see [or believe in] evil omens in things [or other types of superstitions], and they used to put their trust [only] in their Lord.’ On hearing that, ‘Ukasha bin Mihsan got up and said [to the Prophet], ‘Invoke Allah to make me one of them.’ The Prophet said, ‘O Allah, make him one of them.’ Then another man got up and said [to the Prophet], ‘Invoke Allah to make me one of them.’ The Prophet said, ‘’Ukasha has preceded you.’”
There is more information in a report narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and the Sunan of al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah, where Abu Umamah is reported to have said that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “My Lord promised me that seventy thousand of my nation will enter Paradise without being brought to account or being punished; with each thousand of them will be another seventy thousand, plus three handfuls of the handfuls of my Lord, may He be Glorified.”
The above narrations point towards those fortunate few among the Muslims who will enter paradise without accountability nor punishment. This is a great honor that Allah will bestow on a few of His servants on the Day of Judgment. Some of the scholars mentioned that the number seventy thousand refers to abundance and not necessarily the actual figure, however, they are still few in number when compared to the ummah as a whole. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) pointed out four distinguishing qualities that differentiate them from the rest of the Muslims. These qualities include:
1 – They avoid seeking cauterization
Meaning they do not seek anyone to cauterize them for curing purposes. According to Dictionary.com’s definition, the verb cauterize refers “to burn with a hot iron, electric current, fire, or a caustic, especially for curative purposes.” It is strongly disliked to use it because cauterization is a type of punishment with the fire and is a cause of suffering and pain. A person should not resort to it except due to necessity because it is authentically established from the Sunnah to use it when there is a need for it. For example, it is reported in Sahih Muslim on behalf of Jabir that, “Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) sent a physician to Ubayy bin Ka’b. He cut the vein and then cauterized it.” And it is also reported in a number of books of hadith that Sa’d bin Mu’adh was cauterized multiple times when he was injured in his medial arm vein during the Prophet’s (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) time. Ibn Abd al-Barr reported in Al-Tamhid, “I do not know there to be a difference of opinion between the majority of scholars [in] that they see [any] harm in cauterization when there is a need for it.”
Al-Khattabi is reported to have said in the English translation of Ibn Qayyim’s book Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet (p. 67):
“The Prophet only cauterized Sa’d to stop the bleeding, because he feared that bleeding would not stop until Sa’d died. Cauterizing is usually used in drastic cases, such as when a hand or a leg is amputated. As for prohibiting cauterizing, it might be specifically directed at whoever was seeking a cure with it (not to close an open wound). In early times, the people used to superstitiously believe that whoever did not have cauterization would certainly die and this is why the Prophet disallowed it.”
Ibn Qayyim, after mentioning the hadith of the seventy thousand in the same book (p. 68), summed up the various views and concluded:
“In short, the hadiths that discussed the subject of cauterization fall under four categories: practicing it, disliking it, praising those who do not revert to it and disallowing it. There is no contradiction between these categories. When the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had someone cauterized, he indicated that practicing it is allowed. Further, the Prophet’s disliking cauterization for his Ummah (Muslim Nation) does not indicate that it is prohibited. In addition, the Prophet’s praising those who avoid cauterization indicates that avoiding it is better. Finally, disallowing cauterization can be explained that in general, either cauterization is disliked, or that it is directed at those who revert to cauterizing to fend off a future illness. Allah Knows Best.”
2 – They avoid seeking Ruqyah
Ruqyah is also often translated as Qur’anic healing or Islamic prayer formulas. The editor of the English translation of Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet (p. 145) describes ruqyah as, “In Arabic literally mean[ing] incantation and they were used in pre-Islamic times for various purposes. After Islam the Prophet stopped their use and substituted prayers and supplications from the Qur’an and those that he used in praying to Allah.” Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa:
“These people are praised because they did not ask anyone to recite ruqyah for them, and ruqyah is a type of supplication, so they did not ask others to supplicate for them…The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) recited ruqyah for himself and for others; he did not ask anyone to recite ruqyah for him. His reciting ruqyah for himself and others was like his making supplication for himself and others; this is something that is enjoined, for all the Prophets asked of Allah and supplicated to Him.”
Therefore, performing ruqyah on oneself or others is not what is being referred to in this hadith. In fact, such practices are well documented in the life of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). For example, it is reported in Bukhari on behalf of Aisha that she said, “Whenever Allah’s Messenger became ill, he used to recite Al-Muawidhatan (i.e. the last two chapters of the Qur’an) and then blow his breath and passed his hands over himself. When he had his fatal illness [and became too weak], I started reciting Al-Muawidhatan and blowing my breath over him as he used to do, and then I rubbed the hands of the Prophet over his body.”
So this clarifies further that doing ruqyah upon oneself or having it done by someone else without asking for it is not what is being referred to in this hadith. In fact, doing ruqyah on oneself is strongly encouraged and is something which the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) practiced himself and encouraged his companions as well. This is why he told Uthmaan ibn Abi’al-‘Aas when he complained about pain in his body to, “Put your hand on the part of your body where you feel pain and say ‘Bismillaah (in the name of Allah) three times, then say seven times, ‘A’oodhu bi ‘izzat-illaah wa qudratihi min sharri ma ajid wa uhaadhir (I seek refuge in the glory and power of Allah from the evil of what I feel and worry about)” as reported in Sahih Muslim.
Shaykh ‘Uthaymeen said in Liqa’ al-Baab al-Maftooh, “if a person comes forward and recites something over you and you do not stop him, this does not mean that you are not counted among the people mentioned in the hadith, because you did not ask for ruqyah. By the same token, if you do ruqyah for your brother, you are doing him a favor, and this does not rule you out from being one of the seventy thousand.”
People who avoid seeking ruqyah in the hadith, is praising those who have such a high level of trust in Allah that they do not rely on others to do ruqyah for them. Relying on other than Allah is a form of deficiency in a person’s trust in Allah. As Islam-QA accurately points out that, “asking [others] for ruqyah involves a kind of humiliation and need of the Raaqi [the one who performs ruqyah], and part of complete trust [in Allah] and Tawheed [Oneness of Allah] is that the Muslim should not ask people for anything.” This is why if some of the companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), due to their high level of trust in Allah, dropped even a whip, they would not ask anyone to hand it to them; rather, they use to pick it up themselves. Therefore, seeking ruqyah from another person is not prohibited (provided it is done in a permissible manner), but it is contrary to what is best and most perfect.
3 – They do not believe in evil omens (tatayyur) and other superstitious beliefs
The word used in the hadith for evil omens is Tatayyur. Shaykh ‘Uthaymeen said:
“The word tiyarah is derived from the word tatayyur, which refers to superstition about something that is seen or heard; or it was said that it refers to superstition about anything, whether it is something that is seen or heard, or a time or place. This is more comprehensive as it includes things that are not seen or heard, such as superstition about certain times. The basic meaning of tatayyur is pessimism but reference is made to birds (tayr) because most of the superstitions held by the Arabs have to do with birds, so it was connected to them. But the general definition is superstition based on something that is seen, heard or known. The Arabs used to regard certain birds, times and persons as unlucky, and this is shirk [setting up partners with Allah] as the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said.
If a person opens the door to superstition, the world will become a hard place for him and he will imagine that everything is a bad omen. There are even some people who, if they get up in the morning and go out and meet a man who only has one eye, they will regard it as a bad omen and say: Today is a bad day, so such a person will close his shop and not sell or buy anything – Allah forbid. Some of them regarded Wednesday as unlucky and said that it was a day of bad omens and bad luck.”
Therefore, this third quality suggests that such a person does not believe in or act on any superstitious beliefs. The Arabs at the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) were very superstitious and held strange beliefs especially when it came to birds. Ibn Hajar said in Fath ul Baari quoting Al-Bayhaqi from Al-Haleemi, “During the days of ignorance, tatayyur (seeking bird omens) was when the Arabs would disturb birds when wanting to go out on a necessary journey…They also used to regard the voice of a crow and the passing of gazelles as bad omens.”
Imam Nawawi said in Sharh Muslim:
“They [Arabs in the days of ignorance] used to startle birds to make them move; if they went to the right they would regard that as a good omen and go ahead with their journeys or other plans, but if they went to the left they would cancel their journeys and plans, and regard that as a bad omen. So it would often prevent them from doing things that were in their interests. Islam cancelled out all that and forbade it, and said that it had no effect, whether good or bad.”
And this saying of Imam Nawawi is in complete harmony with the hadith of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in Bukhari and Muslim that, “There is no [such thing as] ‘adwa (transmission of infectious disease without the permission of Allah) and no tiyarah (superstitious belief in bird omens) and no haamah (interpreting omens based on the flight of a nocturnal bird).”
Believing in such things to have some sort of effect in our lives is against the teachings of Islam. Islam came to abolish all such baseless beliefs and free the person from being enslaved to such things which neither bring benefit nor cause harm, rather, they are just bogus ideas invented by people. Some modern common superstitious omens that people believe to bring ‘bad luck’ include: the number 13, breaking a mirror, black cats crossing your path, three sixes in a row (666), etc. A true Muslim shuns such beliefs and depends on Allah alone and understands fully that everything is in the Hands of Allah and that nothing can come into effect except by His permission.
Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan said in I’aanah al-Mustafeed Sharh Kitaab al-Tawheed:
Superstition may be dealt with by means of these three things [for those affected by superstitious beliefs]:
- Putting one’s trust in Allah
- Going ahead with one’s plans, not being influenced by superstitious beliefs, and not allowing it to affect any of your behavior, attitude or decisions, so it is as if it never existed
- Saying the supplications mentioned in the hadiths, for if you call upon Allah with these supplications, Allah will save you from superstition and will help you and guide you
4 – They rely completely on their Lord1
Meaning they rely on Allah alone in everything. They do not rely on anyone other than Him as Allah Says in His book [Qur’an 65:3], “And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.” And whosoever Allah suffices, then He is sufficient for him for all his needs.
As for the rest of the hadith, it shows that we should race towards the good and take initiative. We should try to precede others in doing good and never lag behind. And this is what ‘Ukasha bin Mihsan showed by standing up first and asking to be among them. In some versions of the hadith, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) told him, “You are from them.” And due to this we bear witness until this day that ‘Ukasha will enter paradise without accountability or punishment.
As for the other man who got up, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) kindly responded to him without affirming or denying anything. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) did not tell him that he is not among them, rather, he told him, “‘Ukasha has preceded you.” This is one view. Another view is that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) knew that this other man was a hypocrite and the hypocrites will not enter paradise. Another view among the scholars is that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said that in order to not open this door. It may be that someone else may stand up and ask to be among them though he is not worthy of it, therefore, he may ask to be among them under any condition. However, we do not know with certainty as to why the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) did not pray for him [the second man], hence, Allah Knows Best. But we do benefit from even this as to how to deny others with kindness. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) neither insulted the second man nor saddened him; instead, he just kindly denied his request.
After looking into the above, it is clear that in order to be among those fortunate people, we should strive to be the following:
- Never resort to cauterization for curative purposes unless necessary
- Avoid seeking others to do Ruqyah on us
- Keep away from believing [or following] in superstitious beliefs and evil omens of society and not let them have an effect on our decisions and lifestyle
- Always keep our trust in Allah in all things and know that everything is under His control
May Allah make us among them.
1The rest of what follows is a summarized translation from the following: http://www.saaid.net/PowerPoint/397.pps slides 9 and 10.