Rounding Up the Number of Wives of Prophet Sulayman
Fatwa No: 453505

Question

Assalamualaikum In sahih Al Bukhari the number of wives of Sulaiman peace be upon him is 60,70,90,100,99 ,I read the article where you explained it but I didn't understand the reason why the narrator rounded the numbers,can you please explain,may Allah reward you, i had asked a question previously last month under number 2813160,I couldn't find that answer , could you please asist me with that?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

As for the numbers mentioned in the narrations of this Hadeeth, the scholars have three approaches in combining them:

First: Mentioning the smaller number does not negate the bigger number. This is because the significance of the number itself is not intended according to the majority of the Principles of jurisprudence scholars. Thus, there is no contradiction among all the narrations, and this is the view held by An-Nawawi in his explanation of Saheeh Muslim, and Ibn Al-Mulaqqin in Al-I'laam bi Fawaa-id Umdat Al-Ahkam.

Second: The view held by Ibn Hajar in Fath Al-Bari by saying: The conclusion of the narrations of sixty, seventy, ninety, ninety-nine, and one hundred, and combining them: is that the number sixty indicates the free women, and what was above that number indicates the women possessed by one’s right hand or vice versa.

As for seventy: it indicates exaggeration – which means: that the Arabs used to use the number seventy just for exaggeration and the exact number is not intended. This is similar to the Saying of Allah (which means): {Ask forgiveness for them, [O Muhammad], or do not ask forgiveness for them. If you should ask forgiveness for them seventy times – never will Allah forgive them} [Quran 9:80]

As for the ninety and one hundred: the number is less than one hundred and above ninety, so whoever said ninety rounded the number down, and whoever said one hundred rounded the number up. This is why differences occurred in the narration.

Third: This is the point mentioned by Al-Haytami in Al-Fatawa Al-Hadeethiyah, as he said: The best explanation is that he said this at multiple times, in each time he mentioned the number of those who were with him at that time, and perhaps he said it repeatedly and forgot to say Inshaa’ Allah; this is why none of them delivered a safe and sound male.” [End of quote]

Perhaps the most preponderant opinion in combining the narrations is the second approach which was mentioned by Ibn Hajar.

The reason that the narrator rounded the number: is that the Arabs used to omit the fractions when they mentioned numbers, Al-Qastalani said in Irshad Al-Sari fi Sharh Saheeh Al-Bukhari: “The Arabs used to omit the fraction sometime, and round it up at some other time.” [End of quote]

Allah Knows Best

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