Companions and caliphs seek blessings in the Prophet’s belongings after his death
Through my research on this subject, I have found more than twenty traditions in the six Sahihs (the Sunni books of Hadith) showing that the companions in general and the caliphs especially, sought blessing from the Prophet’s belongings. However, as I have promised, I shall only mention one or two traditions from al-Bukhari who seems to be strict in such traditions.
Al-Bukhari has mentioned in his Sahih in a chapter “on what was narrated about the Prophet’s armor, stick, sword, drinking-vessel, ring and what the caliphs used of that after him… and from his hair, shoes, and vessels by which his companions and others sought blessing after his death.”1
Al-Bukhari has mentioned in his Sahih that az-Zubayr said, “On the Day (the battle) of Badr, I met Ubaydah ibn Sa’eed ibn al-Aas (in fighting), who was heavily armed and nothing was seen of him except his eyes, and who was surnamed as Abu Thatil Karsh. He said, ‘I am Abu Thatil Karsh.’ I attacked him with my iron-tipped stick. I hit him in his eye and he died.” Hisham said, “I was told that az-Zubayr said, ‘I put my leg against him and stretched myself and with effort I could take spout (the stick) - where its ends were bent.”
Urwa said, “The Messenger of Allah (S) asked him (az-Zubayr) to give it to him, and he gave it to him. When the Messenger of Allah (S) was taken away in death, he (az-Zubayr) took it back. Then, Abu Bakr asked for it, and he gave it to him. When Abu Bakr died, Umar asked for it, and he gave it to him. When Umar died, he took it back, and then Uthman asked for it, and he gave it to him. When Uthman was killed, it became in the possession of Ali’s family, and then Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr asked for it, and it was with him until he was killed.”2
We notice from this tradition that the Messenger of Allah (S) himself sought blessing in that stick, which az-Zubayr had and with which he had fought heroes in the wars. With this stick, he fought Ubaydah ibn Sa’eed ibn al-Aas who was heavily armed and armored that only his eyes were seen. Despite that, az-Zubayr struck him with this stick in his eye and killed him, and then he took it out with difficulty. It was really a wonderful stick, and it might be from the kind of stick that Moses had, with which he had split the sea for the Children of Israel.
Then We revealed to Moses: Strike the sea with your staff. So it had cloven asunder, and each part was like a huge mound. Qur'an, 26:63
And when Moses prayed for drink for his people, We said: Strike the rock with your staff So there gushed from it twelve springs. Qur'an, 2:60
It is no wonder then that the Messenger of Allah (S) asked az-Zubayr to give him that iron-tipped stick to seek the blessing in it, or it could be to teach people that seeking blessing is permissible in Islam. This possibility is too strong, especially when we know that all the caliphs after the Prophet (S) had asked for this stick, which moved from one to another until finally it came to Abdullah ibn az-Zubayer, for it was his father’s heritage.
We find in the Holy Qur'an many references to seeking blessing in things that were related to prophets and messengers. It has been said in the Qur'an:
He said: What was then your case, O Samiri? He said: I perceived what they perceive not, so I seized a handful from the footsteps of the messenger, and then threw it in. Thus, my soul commended to me. Qur'an, 20:95-96
Perhaps Samiri perceived what the rest of companions, did not perceive when he seized a handful from the earth that the Prophet had stepped on, or which might have achieved some miracles. So he thought that Moses was a great magician and the miracles he showed to people were just magic that whoever had means to do it, could do.
Therefore, he threw the handful of earth and his soul incited him to take the Children of Israel back to worship the calf. The story confirms what we have said that he showed some charismata and miracles to the Israelites until they were deceived and they followed him.
We find other references in the Holy Qur’an to the seeking of blessing and cure by the belongings of the prophets. Allah says in the Sura of Yousuf:
Take this my shirt and cast it on my father’s face, he will (again) be able to see, and come to me with all your families. And when the caravan had departed, their father said: Most surely I perceive the scent of Yousuf, unless you pronounce me to be weak in judgment. They said: By Allah, you are most surely in your old error. So when the bearer of good news came, he cast it on his face, so forthwith he regained his sight. He said: Did I not say to you that I know from Allah what you do not know. Qur'an, 12:93-96
What is understood from these verses is that the Prophet Jacob (S) was blind and that his son Yousuf sent him his shirt and asked the one who brought good news to wipe his father’s face with the shirt in order to recover his sight, and this actually happened.
Despite our deep faith that Allah the Almighty is able to make the Prophet Jacob (S) recover his sight without the shirt of Yousuf (S), able to make water gush out of the rock, and the sea to split without the stick of Moses and able to restore to life the killed one without hitting him with some pieces of the cow,3 Allah the Almighty has made a means for all that to happen to make people understand what means and intercession are from the law of Allah to His people, and not polytheism as the Wahabis and their followers claim.
This is Our book that speaks against you with justice; surely We wrote what you did. Then as to those who believed and did good - their Lord will make them enter into His mercy; that is the manifest triumph. And as to those who disbelieved: What! were not My communications recited to you? But you were proud and you were a guilty people. Qur'an, 45:29-31
- 1. Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 4 p. 46. Chapt. The Prophet’s call for Islam and Prophethood.
- 2. Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 5 p. 14. Chapt. The presence of angels in the battle of Badr from the book al-Maghazi (raids).
- 3. In reference to these verses:
“And when you killed a man, then you disagreed with respect to that, and Allah was to bring forth that which you were going to hide. So We said: Strike the (dead body) with part of the (sacrificed cow), thus Allah brings the dead to life, and He shows you His signs so that you may understand.” Qur’an 2:73