Stories from Bani Israa’eel about what is below the earth
Fatwa No: 191765

Question

Assalamu Alaykum. I have a question about the authenticity of these statements, and can you help me to understand them? Hadith 1: Abu Ya'la transmitted from Jabir that Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked about what is below the earth, and he said "water"; it was said "then, what is below water?" He said "darkness"; it was said "what is below the darkness?" He said "wind"; it was said "what is below the wind?" He said "soil"; it was said "what is below soil?" He said "knowledge of creatures discontinues at the knowledge of the Creator." Athar 2: in Al-Tuhfat al-Saniyyah fi Ajwibat al-As'ilat al-Mardiyya by Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Latif al-Bashishi: Ibn Abi Hatim transmitted from Ka'b that he was asked what is below this earth and he said "water" and [it was asked] "what is below water?" He said "earth" until he counted seven earths. It was said "what is below the seventh earth?" He said "a rock" and it was said "what is below the rock?" He said "an angel" and it was said "what is below the angel?" He said "a fish whose two sides are hanging from the throne" and it was said "what is below the fish?" and he said "wind and darkness and then knowledge stops." Hadith 3: The earth is on the Bull and the Fish Athar 4: Muhyi al-Sunnah al-Baghawi said in Ma'alim al-Tanzil: Ibn 'Abbas said, "Indeed the earths are on the back of a fish, and the fish is in the sea, and the sea is on a green rock, which is on the horn of a bull, and the bull is upon soil and what is below the soil is not known but to Allah." Statement 5: The earth is carried on a giant bull; when it shakes its head, then an earthquake occurs. (Ibn Katheer) my own thoughts are: the 1st one and 2nd maybe could be understood that somewhere below there that is present, the 3rd and the 4th maybe means that all planets including the earth's are on a back of a fish, but the how is unknown, and 5th maybe was ibn Kathir's own understanding, Allah knows

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

 

The first Hadeeth was indeed narrated by Abu Ya‘la from Jaabir  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. Ibn Katheer related it in his Tafseer and said thereafter: "This Hadeeth is very strange and is contextually odd. The only person to report it was Al-Qaasim Ibn ‘Abd-ur-Rahmaan, about whom Yahya Ibn Ma‘een said: “He is insufficient.” Abu Haatim Ar-Raazi considered him weak and Ibn ‘Adiyy said: “He is unknown".

As for the report of Ka‘b, it was mentioned by Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer without any commentary and we could not find any comments elsewhere either. However, it is known that Ka‘b Al-Ahbaar would often relate Israa’eeliyyaat [stories from Bani Israa’eel] as he was a Jew who became Muslim. The researching scholars concluded that there are three types of Israa’eeliyyaat:

1.     That which is definitely true, as it coincides with what is established by the Islamic Sharee'ah.

2.     That which is definitely false, as it contradicts the source texts of the Islamic Sharee'ah.

3.     That which is neither declared true nor false. Ibn Katheer mentioned these types in the introduction to his Tafseer, saying about the third type: It is allowed to narrate this type of report due to the saying of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “Narrate from Bani Israa’eel. There is no blame in doing so.” [Al-Bukhari] This is what is neither declared true nor false, due to his saying: “Do not declare them to be truthful and do not declare them to be liars.” [Al-Bukhari]. For more information on this, see Fatwa 91119.

On the other hand, we looked up the rest of the reports you mentioned and found they are equal to the above, as none of them can be used as evidence. Their basis is only found in the Israa’eeliyyaat and you know what is said about that.

As long as these reports remain inauthentic, time should not be wasted by trying to understand them and by deriving meanings from them. The Muslim should not occupy himself with the likes of these narrations and should instead engage in something beneficial.

Allaah Knows best.

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