Hadith Of Warning

The Hadith of Warning or Yawm al-Inzar (یوْمُ الْاِنذار‎), also known as the Invitation of the close families of Muhammad (دعوة ذو العشیرة – Da‘wat dhul-‘Ashīrah), was a hadith in which the Islamic prophet Muhammad attempted to warn his relatives to become Muslim.


The hadith is narrated in the context of the revelation of Ash-Shu’ara, the 26th surah in the Quran, in 617. The surah includes a verse in which Muhammad is instructed to warn his relatives against adhering to their pagan beliefs and to instead become Muslim so as to avoid imminent disaster. There are two primary versions of the hadith, though both conclude with Muhammad mostly failing to convince his family and being mocked by his uncle Abu Lahab. Due to the latter incident, the hadith has also been linked to surah Al-Masad.

Address on the mountain

Muhammad ascended a mountain to address the warning to his clan, the Quraysh, speaking of an approaching Doomsday and stating that only faith in God would save them. Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj and Abu Awana ascribe the following declaration to him:

Alas for the sons of ‘Abd Manaf! I am a warner. I am a man who has seen the enemy and hastens to warn his people, before the enemy gets ahead of him, and exclaims: Alas, you are being attacked!

The hadith is further elaborated in other variations with Muhammad issuing warnings of individual fates and stating that his own intercession would not be enough to save them. In such a context, he intreats by name his aunt Safiyya bint Abd al-Muttalib, his paternal uncles, as well as his daughter Fatimah.

Address during a feast

Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal

According to the Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, upon receiving the Quranic instruction, Muhammad summoned thirty members of his immediate family to share in a meal with him. He then asked his gathered relatives “who of you is willing to act for my religion and for my prophecies, and in return will dwell in Paradise with me and become my successor in my family?” Among those gathered, only his young cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, offered his consent. Muhammad’s reaction to this is not recorded, though other variations of the story state that he explicitly accepted Ali’s support. In one such account, recorded by Ibn Ishaq, Muhammad declares Ali to be his brother, his heir, as well as his successor. Others also add a miraculous aspect to the hadith. Ibn Sa’d narrates that when forty members of his family arrived for the meal, Muhammad instructed Ali to feed them with a single plate of food. This plate provided enough food to satisfy all the guests, though Abu Lahab dismissed it as sorcery. Muhammad invited the group another night and repeated the miracle, asking who among them will lend him their support so as to become his “brother” and enter Paradise. Here too, Ali is the only one to agree. In both versions, his response is shown in clear contrast to the remainder of the Quraysh. Sir Richard Burton comments that this banquet “won for [Muhammad] a proselyte worth a thousand sabers in the person of Ali, son of Abu Talib.”

Sunni and Shia interpretations

The differing primary versions of the hadith have historically been appropriated for political means in the schism between the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam. In regards to the address on the mountain, the idea that kinship with Muhammad not being enough to secure salvation can be interpreted to have anti-Shia insinuations. This is due to the reverence given by the sect to the family of Muhammad. The implication was made especially clear with the implicit warning given to Fatimah, from whom the later Shia Imams descend. Conversely, the second version was used to advance one of the primary tenets of Shi’ism; the right of Ali as the successor to Muhammad. The direct appointment of Ali as Muhammad’s heir was used to convey that his right to succession was established at the very beginning of Muhammad’s prophetic activity. His merit for the role was further emphasised by the description of him being alone among his family in his support of Muhammad.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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