THE HADITH OF THE CAMEL
Anas Ibn Maalik (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates: Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) performed Asr. When he turned (to leave) a man from Bani Salmah came to him and said: “O Rasulullah! We intend slaughtering a camel and wish you to attend. Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) replied: ‘Yes.’ He proceeded and we went with. We found that the camel had not yet been slaughtered. It was then slaughtered, cut up and cooked. We ate of it before the sun had set. (Saheeh Muslim)
This Hadith is also cited in substantiation of the one mithl view. It is argued that if Asr was performed after Mithlain, all this could no be possible. This claim is arbitrary and incorrect. It is quite possible to accomplish all this even after having performed Asr after Mithlain. The persons carrying out the work of slaughtering, skinning, cutting and cooking of the camel’s meat were experts. This work did not pose a formidable task for them. The interpretation of Asr at one mithl claimed on the basis of this Hadith is extremely flimsy and untenable.
[No Sareeh (Explicit) Evidence for the Salafi View]
Besides the aforegoing ambiguous Ahaadith, the Salafis have no Sareeh (explicit) Hadith to substantiate their claim that Asr commences at one Mithl. Their entire case is the product of interpretation. Ahaadith of ambiguous meanings have been interpreted to produce the ruling of one Mithl. Furthermore, the interpretations are far fetched, and this reduces the strength of their argumentation and the credibility of their view. On the contrary, the Hadith narrations speak with greater clarity in favour of the Hanafi view, namely, Asr begins at Mithlain. The Hadith proofs of the Ahnaaf are as follows:
(1) The Hadith pertaining to the imaamate of Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) which has already been discussed and explained [the first Hadith discussed in this treatise].
(2) The Hadith of Abdullah Bin Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) which explicitly mentions that Zuhr time was also at one Mithl. This has already been discussed.
THE HADITH OF IBRAAD
Abu Tharr Ghifaari (radhiyallahu anhu) said: We were with Nabi ( sallallahu alayhi wasallam) on a journey when the muaththin intended to give Athaan for Zuhr. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Wait until it becomes cool (i.e. delay the Athaan until it becomes a bit cool).”(After some time), the muaththin again intended to give the Athaan Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to him: “Wait till it is a bit cool.” (The Muaththin waited) until we saw the shadow of the dunes. Then Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Verily, the intensity of the heat is of the flames of Jahannum Therefore when the heat is intense, delay the Salaat until it is cool.” (Bukhaari)
It is quite apparent from this Hadith that the Muaththin had intended to recite the Athaan quite early, i.e. before one mithl. However, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) twice ordered him to delay the Zuhr Athaan which the Muaththin recited only after the appearance of the shadows of the sand dunes. The appearance of the shadows of the dunes was after one mithl. Thus it is confirmed that one mithl and after it is still time of Zuhr.
In response to this proof of the Ahnaaf, it is argued that the instruction to delay Zuhr was on a journey, and perhaps this was for combining Zuhr with Asr. This argument is baseless because the Hadith explicitly mentions the reason for delaying Zuhr until the shadows of the dune became visible. The reason which is explicitly stated in the Hadith is: ‘The intensity of the heat is of the flames of Jahannam.’ This illat (reason) applies whether one is on a journey or not. It is common to both situations, hence the ruling will apply whenever and wherever the illat exists. Furthermore, in another Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu), Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“When the heat becomes intense, then delay the Salaat until it becomes cool, for verily, the intensity of the heat is of the flames of Jahannum.” (Bukhaari)
Another Hadith in this regard recorded in Nasaai confirms this position with greater clarity. Anas Bin Maalik (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:
“When it would be hot, he would delay the Salaat until coolness, and when it was cold, he would perform it early.”
We understand from this Hadith that delaying Zuhr Salaat when it was very hot, and performing the Salaat early when it was cold, were the normal practices of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Hence, to restrict the delay to safar (journey) is utterly baseless.
This Hadith is conspicuous proof for the view of the Ahnaaf that one mithl is still Zuhr time, not Asr. The question of the setting in of coolness does not arise before mithl (one shadow length). Before one mithl, the heat is intense. The description of the flames of Jahannum will appropriately apply to the heat prior to one mithl, not to the heat after one mithl. The heat after one mithl is cool in relation to the heat before it.
Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) emphasis on ibraad (to perform Zuhr Salaat when the heat had relatively cooled) is adequate proof for the claim of the Ahnaaf that it was his normal practice to perform Zuhr after one mithl. This effectively negates the contention of Asr being at one mithl.
Some have attempted to argue against the Ahnaaf with an even weaker interpretation. It is claimed that ibraad here does not mean to delay Salaat, but it means the opposite, viz. to perform Salaat early during the time called Burdun Nahaar (early afternoon). This weak interpretation is negated by the following facts :
(1) In the Hadith cited by Abu Tharr Ghifaari (radhiyallahu anhu), Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) explicitly instructed the Muaththin on two occasions to refrain from the Athaan and to delay it until it becomes cool. This instruction would be correct only if the Muaththin had attempted to give the Athaan early, as indeed he had.
(2) It is incorrect to describe the relatively cooler heat of the early afternoon as being of the flames of Jahannum. This description aptly applies to the intense heat of the time after one mithl, not to the early afternoon heat.
(3) In the Hadith of Abdullah Ibn Umar (already discussed), the one mithl shadow of a man is not mentioned as the final time of Zuhr. It is stated as the Awwal Waqt (the Initial Time) with clarity. It is therefore baseless to aver that this initial time of Zuhr is the beginning of Asr.
ENDING OF ZUHR AT MITHLAIN
From the Ahaadith which we have discussed it is abundantly clear that Zuhr Salaat was performed even after one Mithl. There is not a single narration from which it could be inferred that Zuhr was performed after Mithlain (two shadow lengths). On the contrary, the Hadith is explicit in stating that Asr was performed when it was Mithlain. Narrating the Hadith of the imamate of Jibraeel (alayhis salaam), Hadhrat Jaabir (radhiyallahu anhu) says:
Then Jibraeel came (on the second day) when the shadow of a man was twice his length. Then he said: ‘Stand up, O Muhammad and perform Salaat.’ He then performed Asr. (Nasaai)
It has been established beyond doubt that Zuhr time continues after one Mithl, and that Mithlain is the time of Asr in the unanimous view of all authorities. While there is difference on the beginning of Asr time, no one disputes the validity of Asr when it is Mithlain. There is no third view. Mithlain is confirmed to be exclusively Asr time. Hence, it is a logical necessity to accept that Zuhr time expires when it is Mithlain which ushers in the time for Asr.
The contention of the Salafis is that the case of the Ahnaaf is not based on Hadith, but is in conflict with Hadith. They pretend that their view is structured on Sareeh (explicit) Hadith narrations of the Saheeh class. But this is not the case. It has been seen that the primary basis of their view, viz., the Hadith of Jibraeel’s Imaamate, is not a Sareeh substantiation for their view. On the contrary, it contradicts their opinion.
The view of Asr commencing with one Mithl has no Sareeh Hadith to bolster it. Interpretation (Taweel) has been adopted to support the one mithl view with Ahaadith. All Math-habs employ the Hadith of Jibraeel’s Imaamate as their basis. Just as the Ahnaaf are constrained to resort to interpretation of the Ahaadith on this question, so too are all others compelled to adopt interpretation. There is, therefore, no justification for the allegation that the view of the Ahnaaf is in conflict with the Ahaadith.
This exercise has not been embarked on with the intention to disprove the views of the other three Math-habs on the question of Asr time. The aim is only to show that the ruling of the Hanafi Mathhab is based on the Ahaadith, not in conflict with it.