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What is the meaning of the hadeeth “Do not inveigh against time (waqt) for Allaah is time (waqt)”?

Is the saying “Do not curse time for Allah is time” authentic from the Rasool’s sayings ? If so, how do you interpret this ? I am confused about this issue.

Praise be to Allaah.

The word used in the hadeeth is not waqt (= time), but dahr (= time, vicissitudes of time) [this element of confusion may stem from translation of the question into Arabic]. This hadeeth was narrated by Muslim (5827) from Abu Hurayrah.

Other versions of the hadeeth are:

“Do not inveigh against time (al-dahr), for Allaah is time”

“Let not any one of you say, ‘Woe to time,’ for Allaah is time”

“Allaah says, ‘The sons of Adam offend Me and say, Woe to time, but they should not say Woe to time. I am time, I alternate the night and the day, and if I willed, I could seize them both.’”

With regard to the meaning of the hadeeth, al-Nawawi said:

They said: this is a metaphor, because the Arabs used to inveigh against time when disasters such as death, old age, loss of money, etc., happened. They would say, ‘Woe to time’ and other phrases cursing or inveighing against time. So the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Do not inveigh against time for Allaah is time’, i.e., do not inveigh against the One Who brings about those disasters, for that will be directed towards Allaah, for He is the One Who causes them to happen. Time (al-dahr) means al-zamaan (time) which cannot do anything in and of itself, for it is just one of the things that have been created by Allaah.

The meaning of the phrase “for Allaah is time” means that He is the One Who causes those events and accidents to happen, and He is the Creator of all that happens. And Allaah knows best.

(Sharh Muslim, 15/3)

It should be noted that “time” (al-dahr) is not one of the Names of Allaah; it is attributed to Allaah in the sense that He created it and is controlling it, i.e., He is the Creator of time. Some phrases in the same hadeeth also indicate this, as when He says,  “It is in My Hand, I alternate the night and the day.” The One Who alternates and the thing which is alternated cannot be one and the same; there is the One Who alternates – i.e., Allaah – and the thing which is alternated – i.e., time, which Allaah controls as and when He wills.

See: Fataawa al-‘Aqeedah by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 1/163

Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer said, in his Tafseer of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“And they say: “There is nothing but our life of this world, we die and we live and nothing destroys us except Ad‑Dahr (time)” [al-Jaathiyah 45:24]

Al-Shaafa’i, Abu ‘Ubaydah and others said, in their commentary on the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Do not inveigh against time for Allaah is time” – During the Jaahiliyyah, if some difficulty, trial or disaster befell them, the Arabs would  say ‘Woe to time’, attributing those events to time and inveighing against it. But the One Who brought those events to pass is Allaah, so it was as if they were inveighing against Allaah, may He be glorified, because in fact He was the One Who caused those things to happen. So it was forbidden to inveigh against time in this manner, because Allaah is Time, i.e., He is the One lWho is controlling it, but the Arabs were attributing those events to Time.

This is the best of the comments made in the Tafseer of this hadeeth, and this is what is meant. And Allaah knows best.

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/152)

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah preserve him) was asked about the ruling on inveighing against time. He replied:

Inveighing against time may be divided into three categories:

1.  Where the intention is to convey information without blaming or condemning. This is permissible, such as when a person remarks, “We are suffering from the heat (or the cold) today” and the like, because deeds are judged according to their intentions, and in this case a person is merely describing what is happening without expressing discontent.

2.  Where a person inveighs against time as the cause of events, as if by inveighing against it he means that time is what causes things to alternate between good and bad. This is shirk akbar (major form of shirk) because when a person attributes events to something other than Allaah, this means that he believes that there is another creator alongside Allaah.

3.   Where a person inveighs against time but believes that the One who causes things to happen is Allaah, but he inveighs against time because of the bad things that happened. This is haraam because it is contrary to the sabr (patience) that is required, but it is not kufr because the person does not inveigh directly against Allaah. If he were to inveigh directly against Allaah, he would be a kaafir

(Fataawaa al-‘Aqeedah, 1/197)

Other reprehensible expressions which people utter include cursing the hour or the day on which a certain bad thing happened, and so on. This is a sin because it is cursing and improper speech, and because this is cursing something which does not deserve to be cursed. What has the hour or the day done wrong? Nothing apart from the fact that the events happened then, but they are only created things which have no control over anything and cannot be held to blame. If a person inveighs against time, this reflects on the Creator of time. The Muslim should be above speaking in such a foolish and improper manner. And Allaah is the One Whose help we seek

Whoever curses time has wronged Allah

It is a common practice among the people to curse, degrade or attribute evil to time, if something displeasing occurs at a certain time. They will curse that day, month or year. Time, however, is not responsible for the occurrence of events. Deeds are only performed in it (i.e., the time). The One, Who Controls and Decrees all events is Allah. When one curses time, he is either, actually cursing Allah, Who governs all events, or he is ascribing occurrence of events to the time – and in doing so, he commits Shirk. The Prophet (sallallahu aliahi wa-sallam) said, ‘Allah said, ‘The son of Adam wrongs me for, he curses ad-Dahr (the time); though I am ad-Dahr (the time), in My Hands are all things, and I cause the revolution of day and night.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee] in another narration, ‘Do not abuse ad-Dahr (time), for Allah is ad-Dahr.’ [Saheeh Muslim]

Ash-Shafa’ee, Abu Ubaydah, and several other Imams of Tafseer explained the meaning of the above Hadeeth saying, ‘During the time of Jahiliyah (ignorance), when an affliction, a calamity or disaster struck them, the Arabs used to say, ‘Woe to ad-Dahr (time)! So they used to blame such incidents on ad-Dahr, cursing ad-Dahr in the process. Surely, it is Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored, Who causes these (and all) things to happen. This is why when they cursed ad-Dahr, it was as if they were cursing Allah, Himself, since truthfully He causes all incidents to happen. Therefore, abusing ad-Dahr was prohibited due to this consideration, for it was Allah, Whom they meant by abusing ad-Dahr,…’ This is the best explanation for this subject, and it is the desired meaning. And Allah knows best. We should mention that Ibn-Hazm and those of the Zahiriyyah like him made an error when they used this Hadeeth to include ad-Dahr among Allah’s most beautiful Names.’ [See, Tafseer Ibn Katheer under the Tafseer of the verse, (45): 24]

‘It is not considered cursing time to describe the years as difficult or to describe the day as black (i.e. dreary, sad), or the months as unfortunate, and similar statements. The reason is that this is restricted, meaning this is the day that he (the person) was unfortunate, or this is the day that he was bleak or dismal. Thus, the meaning of this is to describe what happened in that time, and that from his description was such-and-such, meaning, this person who is speaking. So actually, he is describing his condition and he is not describing the time with praise or reviling it.’ [Ghayatul-Murid fi-Sharh Kitab at-Tawheed by Shaikh Ibn Abdul-Aziz ibn Muhammad Ibn Ibraheem Aali Shaikh]

Kitaab At-Tawheed, Chapter: 43

Whoever Curses Time Wrongs Allah

Allah , says:

And they say: There is nothing but our life in this world: We die and we live and nothing destroys us except time. And they have no knowledge of it, they only conjecture” (Qur’an 45:24)

Allah , Most Glorified, Most High, informs us in this verse about the disbelieving dahris1 from among the Arabs and others, who do not believe in any life, save the life of this world, nor in the Rabb and Creator, Allah , Most High. They believe that nothing causes death except the passage of time. Then Allah , Most Glorified, Most High, refutes their claims, saying that they have absolutely no evidence for what they claim, but instead, depend upon surmise and their own vain opinions.

Benefits Derived From This Verse

1. That attributing good or evil to the passage of time is a sign of atheism.

2. Confirmation of a life after death for mankind.

3. That ad-dahr (time) is not one of Allah’s Names.

Relevance of This Verse to the Subject of the Chapter

That the verse rejects those who attribute events to time, for they commit a great wrong against Allah .

Relevance of This Verse to the Subject of Tawheed

That it rejects those who attribute events to time, because in so doing, they are ascribing a partner to Allah , for it is He, Alone Who decrees what will be and what will not be.

..ooOOoo..

It is authentically reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Allah , Most Blessed, Most High, says: “The son of Adam wrongs Me: He curses time, though I am time: In My Hands are all things and I cause the night to follow the day.” 2 In another narration, He (may Peace Be Upon Him) says: “Do not curse time, for verily, time is Allah .”

Allah , Most Glorified, Most High informs us in this Hadith Qudsi, that man commits a great wrong against Allah when he curses time and attributes the occurrence of events to it, for Allah is the Rabb of time and the Disposer of affairs and it is by His Qadr that events take place. Therefore to curse time is to curse the Owner of time.

In the second narration, the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) forbids us from cursing time, saying that Allah is the Owner of time and the Disposer of it and all events and affairs, and this is confirmation of what was reported in the preceding Hadith Qudsi.

Benefits Derived From This Hadith

1. The forbiddance of cursing time.

2. That no actions may be attributed to time.

Relevance of This Hadith to the Subject of the Chapter

That it proves that to curse time is to commit a great wrong against Allah .

Relevance of This Hadith to the Subject of Tawheed

That the Hadith proves that cursing time is a great wrong against Allah , because those who do so believe that it is time which causes events to take place and this is shirk in Tawheed Ar-Ruboobiyyah, for it is Allah , Alone Who determines events.

Footnotes

1. Dahris: An atheistic sect among the Arabs, their views are widely held in the West today: There is no God, no Resurrection, no punishment, no reward etc., etc.
2. Narrated by Bukhari.
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