The story of Abu Muslim Al-Khawlaani being thrown into the fire
Fatwa No: 248272

  • Fatwa Date:10-4-2014 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 10, 1435
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Question

As-salaamu 3laikum, I have heard that when anything involving specific people is mentioned in the Qur'an especially a miracle, that type of occurrence is unique and will never happen again. However, I also heard that a pious Muslim was living in an area where someone claimed to be a false prophet. The people tried to burn him to death but it didn't affect him. Later this person was recognised by Umar ibn al-Khattab radia Allahu 3nhu and it was said that he was given the same miracle as Ibrahim 3laihi salaam. However I recently heard from a sheikh that a miracle like Jesus being born without a father was a unique event that could never happen again. So what is the truth of the matter? And could these kinds of miraculous events ever happen to people as a way of honouring them and then to others as a punishment? Jazaakumu Allahu khair

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 signs and miracles with which the Prophets of Allaah have been supported can be classified into two categories; major and minor. Major signs were given specifically to Prophets, and no one shares that with them, such as the splitting of the moon, the Quran, the staff turning into a snake, the coming out of a huge she-camel from a rock, and the nativity of 'Eesa (Jesus)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention without a father.

As for the minor signs, they may be shared with the Prophets by the righteous allies of Allaah. However, the sign granted to the Prophet is greater and more striking than that given to the righteous ally of Allaah. For example, Abu Muslim Al-Khawlaani ‘Abdullah ibn Thawb  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was thrown into fire just like Prophet Ibraaheem  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention and the fire was made cool and safe for them both. Imaam Ath-Thahabi wrote, “Al-Aswad Al-‘Ansi, who claimed prophethood in Yemen, asked Abu Muslim to believe in him and testify that he was a messenger, but Abu Muslim refused. He ordered that a fire be ignited and threw Abu Muslim into it. The fire did not harm him. Al-‘Ansi’s advisors told him that if he did not banish Abu Muslim from Yemen, he would be a source of Fitnah for his followers. So, Abu Muslim was ordered to leave the land. He travelled to Al-Madeenah and upon arriving there, he dismounted from his camel and entered the Masjid to perform prayer. ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him saw him, so he approached this stranger and said, “Where are you from?” Abu Muslim said, “Yemen.”Umar inquired, "Tell me about the man whom the liar threw into the fire?" Abu Muslim said, “His name is ‘Abdullaah ibn Thawb.” ‘Umar said, “Tell me, by Allaah, are you him?” He replied, “By Allaah, yes!” ‘Umar embraced him with tearful eyes then seated him between him and Abu Bakr and said, “Praise be to Allaah who did not take my soul until I saw a man from the nation of Muhammad to whom was done what was done to Ibraaheem Al-Khaleel.” [Siyar] Please refer to Fatwa 92013.

Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote in his book An-Nubuwwaat: “As for the supernatural events that took place to honor the pious allies of Allaah, they are also signs for the Prophets, for they are granted to those who testify to the prophethood of those Prophets. They are evidence for the truthfulness of those who believe in their prophethood.

Moreover, supernatural events that took place to honor the allies of Allaah are common among the pious, yet the miracles given to the Prophets were much more striking. The splitting of the moon, the Quran, the staff turning into a snake, the coming out of a huge she-camel from a rock; signs similar to these were not given to the allies of Allaah. The same applies to the miracle of creating birds out of clay. However, the miracles granted to the Prophets are either major or minor signs. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And he showed him the greatest sign.} [Quran 79:20] This proves that there are minor and major signs. Allaah, The Exalted, says about the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, (what means): {He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord.} [Quran 53:18] Major signs are granted especially to the Prophets.

As for minor signs, they may take place at the hands of the pious (i.e. as supernatural events that take place to honor them) such as imparting blessing to food. This happened to several allies of Allaah; however, not on the same large scale that was given to Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as he fed a whole army from a very small amount of food. The pious may be granted signs similar in kind to those given to Prophets, yet less in magnitude. What is particular to the Prophets is either the very category of sign, such as the Quran, the splitting of the moon, the staff turning into a snake, the splitting of the sea, and creating birds out of clay; or the magnitude of the sign like the fire of Ibraaheem. Of course, the fire that was made cool and safe for Abu Muslim Al-Khawlaani was not as great as the fire of Ibraaheem, as described in narrations. So, Abu Muslim shared a sign of the same kind with Prophet Ibraaheem just as he shared with him the same kind of faith, love for Allaah and belief in His Onenness. Undoubtedly, it is known that the privileges given to Ibraaheem in that respect are not matched by Abu Muslim and others like him.

Hence, it should be said that there is no religious impediment that such supernatural events take place to honor whomever Allaah wishes from among His allies at any time. However, the occurrence of such supernatural events is not indicative of their superiority over other people; verily, Taqwah (piety and fear of Allaah) is the sole criterion of superiority in the sight of Allaah.

Allaah Knows best.

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