Friday, 16 August 2013


Question : Kindly explain the hadeeth :
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not initiate the greeting of salaam to a Jew or Christian, and if you meet them in the street, push them to the narrowest part of the road."

[ Narrated by Muslim, 2167, or see Hadith - Sahih Bukhari Book 25, Number 5389, Narrated AbuHurayrah ]
There is a similar hadeeth wherein the prophet (s.a.w) asked us to push women or corner them on the road. does this show the intolerance or bad attitude of Islam towards the women?

Answer :

Many Disbelievers use this hadeeth to mock at the so called tolerance of Islam, however, the sad part is that even so called MUSLIM named passports (Munkarul Hadeeth) reject the command and hadeeth of the Prophet (s.a.w) because of two main reasons :

1) Desires
2) Lack of Proper knowledge

These Munkarul Hadeeth, failing to understand the vastness of Islam, end up rejecting ahadeeth with their weak ta'weelat and presenting funny wujoohaat (reasons) to support their stance. They remind me of the People of Gallelio, who when tried to prove that the earth wasn't flat, his countrymen rejected his claims and even threatned him because THEY COULD NOT COMPREHEND THIS FACT.

Same is the case with these Munkarul Hadeeth today Oh Muslims ! They reject the ahadeeth because they don't have the I.Q to understand. And we all know that the prophet (s.a.w) said : Whoever immitates a nation, he is one of them" . So if these Munkarul hadeeth immitate the people of Gallelio then they too become Fools and if they Imitate the disbelievers who also object to this hadeeth, then they too ..... Nevertheless coming to your Question :

Firstly, Pushing someone towards the end of a road or a corner is not necessarily derogatory in application. It could be both useful as well as discriminatory


Abu Usayd al-Ansari narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger (May peace and blessings be upon him) say to the women on his way out of the mosque when he saw men and women mixing together on their way home:

‘Give way (i.e., walk to the sides) as it is not appropriate for you to walk in the middle the road.’ Thereafter, women would walk so close to the wall that their dresses would get caught on it. 

[Ref: Narrated by Abu Dawood in "Kitab al-Adab min Sunanihi, Chapter: Mashyu an-Nisa Ma’ ar-Rijal fi at-Tariq]

Lessons drawn from this hadeeth:

1) As we can see, the prophet (s.a.w) did not only Apply this rule of narrowing a set of people only to Non Muslims but also Muslims

2) Doing so, it did not degrade the status of woman in any way. Even after this incident, women continued to hold big positions like teaching Islam such as :

the jewish orientalist Godziher says :  In particular, A'isha is one of the most important figures in the whole history of hadith literature - not only as one of the earliest reporters of the largest number of hadith, but also as one of their most careful interpreters. [Ibn Sa'd, 8/355.]


Al-Tirmidhi narrates in Kitab al-Manaaqib in "Chapter: The Virtues of Aa'isah (may Allaah be pleased with her)" from Abu Moosa RA who said,

"Never did any hadeeth become difficult for us, the companions of Allaah's Messenger, and we asked Aa'ishah except that we found she had knowledge regarding it."

(Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 3883)


It is reported from Masrooq that he said:

We swear by Allah, we have seen senior Companions of Allah’s Messenger (salAllaho allaihi wa sallam) asking ‘Aa’ishah RA about inheritance laws.

[Ibn Al-Jawzî, Sifah Al-Safwah, 1/319]

So since the very start of the Islamic era, women were of great importance because nothing is more Important for us Muslims than Islam and islam is knowledge

We had this respect and tradition widespread during the first era followed till date and you may refer to this article to see the Muhaddithaat (female scholars of Hadeeth) :

Apart from this women used to engage in battle, another major event which no religion or culture allowed before Islam. For e.g the famous Khawla bint al Azwar (r.a) who fought like a Lioness among the ranks of Battle field during a campaign led by Khaalid ibn Waleed (R.a)

The Arab Historian, Al Waqidi, tells us about this in his book “The conquering of Al Sham (greater Syria).

Further more, to further prove that despite such a hadeeth, women were not oppressed is the fact that  Islam honoured women, whether as mothers, daughters or sisters. It honoured women as mothers. It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, who among people is most deserving of my good company?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Then your father.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5626; Muslim, 2548)

Islam honours women as daughters. It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever has three daughters or three sisters, or two daughters or two sisters, and takes good care of them and fears Allaah with regard to them, will enter Paradise.

(Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh, 2/190)

And Islam honours women as wives. It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of you are those who are best to their wives, and I am the best of you to my wives.”

(Narrated and classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi, 3895)

Also see the way Muhammad (s.a.w) treated his wives - The Best Husband ever ! :

This is such a huge topic that enlisting the virtues, honor and respect Islam gave women in the form of laws of inheritance, cultural respect, and in other means it would take hundreds of pages and if we further move on to comparing Islam with the religions of past, present, and the history of past and present it would take another hundred pages to show how diminishing and futile they look compared to the High status Islam offered women. But to keep it short I'll quote a short passage from the western sources :

Describing the status of the Indian woman, Encyclopedia Britannica states:

In India, subjection was a cardinal principle. Day and night must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependence says Manu. The rule of inheritance was agnatic, that is descent traced through males to the exclusion of females.

In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good wife is as follows: "a woman whose mind, speech and body are kept in subjection, acquires high renown in this world, and, in the next, the same abode with her husband."

In Athens, women were not better off than either the Indian or the Roman women.

Athenian women were always minors, subject to some male - to their father, to their brother, or to some of their male kin.

Her consent in marriage was not generally thought to be necessary and "she was obliged to submit to the wishes of her parents, and receive from them her husband and her lord, even though he were stranger to her."

A Roman wife was described by an historian as: "a babe, a minor, a ward, a person incapable of doing or acting anything according to her own individual taste, a person continually under the tutelage and guardianship of her husband."

In the Encyclopedia Britannica, we find a summary of the legal status of women in the Roman civilization:

In Roman Law a woman was even in historic times completely dependent. If married she and her property passed into the power of her husband... the wife was the purchased property of her husband, and like a slave acquired only for his benefit. A woman could not exercise any civil or public office, could not be a witness, surety, tutor, or curator; she could not adopt or be adopted, or make will or contract. Among the Scandinavian races women were: under perpetual tutelage, whether married or unmarried. As late as the Code of Christian V, at the end of the 17th Century, it was enacted that if a woman married without the consent of her tutor he might have, if he wished, administration and usufruct of her goods during her life.

To see a short summary of the rights offered by Islam to women see : [ See article no. 33, Article 62, Article 63 and 64]

So we learn that women were not oppressed or their status was not looked down upon despite prophet (s.a.w) commanding them to walk at the sides of the road.

The third lesson we learn is that the command of the prophet (s.a.w) was to achieve a greater good. Islam forbids unnecessary mingling of men and women and restricts the interaction subject to certain limitations. This is in order to avoid Fitnah (such as tempations) and I don't think i need to give you or show you the divorce cases due to extra marital affairs, or the number of teenagers getting their abortion done without parents knowing about it, or the number of suicides due to an uhappy relationship or a broken relationship or etc. Any educated individual is aware of these mishaps , and so the prophet (s.a.w) commanded as such to avoid the mixing or touching of men and women which could open the door to further evil.

A Muslim may refer to real stories of how mingling caused havoc in their married and unmarried life here :


Explaining the hadeeth :

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not initiate the greeting of salaam to a Jew or Christian, and if you meet them in the street, push them to the narrowest part of the road."

[ Narrated by Muslim, 2167, or see Hadith - Sahih Bukhari Book 25, Number 5389, Narrated AbuHurayrah ]

There are different explanations given by the scholars for this report

Ibn Al-Qayyim writes:

لَكِنْ قَدْ قِيلَ إِنَّ هَذَا كَانَ فِي قَضِيَّةٍ خَاصَّةٍ لَمَّا سَارُوا إِلَى بَنِي قُرَيْظَةَ
It is said that this was in a specific situation, when they were marching to the tribe of Qurayzah

[Source: Zād al-Ma’ād 2/388; copied from faithinallah website]

As for the Prophet ordering us to force the Christians and Jews to the narrowest parts of the road, well in Awn al-Mabud it has it...

And Ibn Maalik said: meaning don't leave them walking the main pathway if it is in a situation of crowdedness but if the pathway was empty and not crowded then it is okay.

(Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi, Awn al-Ma'bud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al Adab, Bab: Fi Al Salaam A'ala Ahl Al Dhimma, Commentary on Hadith no. 4529  , Source :]

Also Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said...

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) says: "Do not initiate the greeting with a Jew or a Christian, and if you meet one of them on the road, push him to the narrowest part of it." What this means is, do not give them lots of space when you meet them, so that they have plenty of room and you are constricted; rather continue in the direction in which you were headed, and if there is to be any constriction, make it for them. It is well known that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), when he saw the kuffaar (such as the Jews who lived in Madeenah), did not push them so that they ended up against the wall, and neither did his Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) after they conquered other regions.

So what is meant is that just as you should not initiate the greeting with them, you should not make way for them if you meet them; rather you should keep going in the direction in which you were headed, and let them be constricted if the road is not wide enough. There is nothing in this hadeeth to put people off Islam, rather it is a manifestation of the pride of the Muslim, and shows that he does not humble himself before anyone except his Lord.

[Majmoo' Fataawa Ibn 'Uthaymeen, 3/38] 

قال القرطبي في قوله وإذا لقيتموهم في طريق فاضطروهم إلى أضيقه معناه لا تتنحوا لهم عن الطريق الضيق إكراما لهم واحتراما وعلى هذا فتكون هذه الجملة مناسبة للجملة الأولى في المعنى وليس المعنى إذا لقيتموهم في طريق واسع فألجئوهم إلى حرفه حتى يضيق عليهم لأن ذلك أذى لهم وقد نهينا عن أذاهم بغير سبب

Al-Qurtubi said about the statement of the Prophet, “when you meet any one of them on the roads, force him to go to the narrowest part of it” – it means, do not yield any space on the road to them in a narrow road as an honor to them. And concerning this there is an appropriate situation in this first [aforementioned] situation, and the meaning is not that if you meet them on a wide road that you should then force them to its edge until it constricts them, for that is harming them and we have been prohibited from harming them without reason.

[Fath al-Bari #9342]

Ibn Hajar writes:

مَعْنَاهُ لَا تَتَنَحَّوْا لَهُمْ عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ الضَّيِّقِ إِكْرَامًا لَهُمْ وَاحْتِرَامًا

It means do not give up your section of the road to them in order to honor and respect them.

[Source: Fatḥ al-Bārī 11/40; via faithinallah]

Note: It was a custom back then and even today that higher dignitories are given way as they pass , just like how the road is emptied when an ambassador or a govt official car passes through , similarly back then and in many places today, giving way to someone is considered a respectful gesture and during those times when the JEWS and CHRISTIANS AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN PLOTTED AND REVOLTED AGAINST ISLAM , this command to merely not honor them in such a way was nothing compared to the plotting and abusing and mocking the messenger of God and his allies.

So this Hadeeth does not mean to make the road narrow for them, as this is harming them and we are prohibited from doing so. Rather, its meaning is that a Muslim should not honor them by giving way to them when meeting them [on a narrow road] or by giving them priority when passing and the like, because whoever disbelieves in Allaah and belies His Messengers does not deserve to be honored with this kind of honor.

For more benefit, here is the statement of Al-Qurtubi may Allaah have mercy upon him about the meaning of this Hadeeth, as he said in his book entitled "Al-Mufhim Limaa Ashkala Min Talkhees Muslim": "And the Prophet’s saying “And when you meet any one of them [i.e. the Jews and the Christians] on the road, force him to go to the narrowest part of it” means not to give them priority on a narrow way as an honor and respect for them. Based on this, this sentence would be appropriate to the first sentence [of this Hadeeth]: “Do not initiate Salaam (the Islamic greeting) with the Jews and the Christians when meeting them” in meaning and coordination; however, it does not mean that when meeting them on a wide road, we are supposed to force them to go to its side in order to make the road narrow for them; as this is harming them for no reason, and we are forbidden from harming them.

Some (unaware of the arabic language) may argue then why did he say push or etc? To which we answer that push is the english translation and secondly arabic is a vast and rich language , wherein words and gestures are used differently than the modern day english language. For e.g the prophet (s.a.w) said travelling is an Adhaab (punishment) but this adhaab here does not refer to an actual severe punishment, rather it was an expression in the arabic language to indicate the trouble one undergoes leaving his comfort at his home and travelling.

Another example is when the prophet (s.a.w) addressed 'Ali (r.a) as Abu Turaab (father of mud) which was another arabic customary use of language. There are umpteen such examples but i hope this explains it all.


When it comes to intolerance, i could quote several passages from the Bible and other religious Books showing how "Tolerant" were the crusaders or others towards women , children and Muslims.

I could even show current world examples , displaying the "utmost justice" (sarcastically speaking) of certain administrations

On the contrary, talking about tolerance, then know that From greeting to etiquette of War, Islam is filled with manners and tolerance. I don't want to get into that but here are few examples that may suffice :

A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a jew, he said, "Is it not a living being (soul)?" (Bukhari Book #23, Hadith #399)

 Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As: Mujahid said that Abdullah ibn Amr slaughtered a sheep and said: Have you presented a gift from it to my neighbor,the Jew, for I heard the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) say: Gabriel kept on commending (treating well) the neighbour to me so much so that I thought he would make (the jew) an heir  (Abu Dawood Book #41, Hadith #5133)

The Prophet said: Beware! Whosoever oppresses a Muahid (i.e. Non-Muslim living in Muslim land with agreement) or snatches (any of) his rights or causes him pain which he cannot bear, or takes anything from him without his permission, Then “I WILL FIGHT AGAINST SUCH A (MUSLIM) ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT” [Sunnan Abu Dawud, Volume No. 3, Page No. 170, Hadith No. 3052]

A number of the sons of the Prophet’s companions reported on the authority of their fathers: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “If anyone wrongs a person protected by a peace treaty (Non Muslim), detracts from his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do, or takes something from him without his consent, then I will plead for him on the Day of Resurrection.”

[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Leadership, Number 3052, Sahih]

 Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr: The Prophet said, "Whoever killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims, shall not smell the smell of Paradise though its smell is perceived from a distance of forty years [Saheeh Bukhari Volume 4, Book 53, Number 391]

I MEAN WHAT MORE COULD ONE WANT? COULD ONE SHOW THE SAME FROM HIS/HER BOOKS? these are just small tiny clippings. Here's a short article showing the Mercy of Muhammad (s.a.w) towards Non Muslims :

No Racism in Islam :

Rights of Prisoners of wars in Islam :




1) If a father keeps his child towards the narrowest section of the road, or if a man tries to keep an Old man or a blind man walk towards the corner of the road or pathway, does it mean he has evil intentions? Of-course not. Similarly, the prophet (s.a.w) to achieve greater good or ease affairs , he commanded the women to walk at the sides and similarly asked Muslims to retain their honor which is a gift from the creator to those who submit their will to him.

2) So if the status of women didn't diminish after this command and neither did the scholars or pious predecessors  treat them badly i.e contradictory to the islamic teachings, then how can you claim that pushing the Jews and Christians to the side (as and when required) diminishes the command Muslims are enjoined upon to treat everyone with mercy, respect, not to violate one's oath, to treat them kindly so on and so forth?


  1. perfect explanation of hadith! good job!
    Baraka Allahu fiykum.

  2. At the time of Muhammad's birth, women in 7th century Arabia had few if any rights. Even the right of life could be in question, since it was not uncommon for small girls to be buried alive during times of scarcity. In the Qur'an, it is said that on Judgment Day "buried girls" will rise out of their graves and ask for what crime they were killed. Part of Muhammad's legacy was to end infanticide and establish explicit rights for women.

    Islam teaches that men and women are equal before God. It grants women divinely sanctioned inheritance, property, social and marriage rights, including the right to reject the terms of a proposal and to initiate divorce. The American middle-class trend to include a prenuptial agreement in the marriage contract is completely acceptable in Islamic law. In Islam's early period, women were professionals and property owners, as many are today. Although in some countries today the right of women to initiate divorce is more difficult than intended, this is a function of patriarchal legislation and not an expression of Islamic values. Muhammad himself frequently counseled Muslim men to treat their wives and daughters well. "You have rights over your women," he is reported to have said, "and your women have rights over you."

  3. Muhammad was orphaned at an early age. He once remarked that, "Heaven lies at the feet of mothers." As the father of four daughters in a society that prized sons, he told other fathers that, if their daughters spoke well of them on the Day of Judgment, they would enter paradise.

    Beginning from the time of Muhammad's marriage to his first wife Khadijah, women played an important role in his religious career. According to Muslim sources, Khadijah was the first person Muhammad spoke to about his initial, terrifying experience of revelation. She consoled him and became the first convert to Islam. She remained a confidant and source of support throughout their entire marriage. Though men commonly took more than one wife in 7th Century Arabia, Muhammad remained in a monogamous marriage with Khadijah until her death, when Muhammad was in his fifties.

    By then, Muhammad was working to establish a new community. In that context, over the next 10 years, he married several women. In some cases, these marriages occurred in order to cement political ties, according to the custom of the day. In some cases, the marriage provided physical and economic shelter to the widows of Muslims who had died or who had been killed in battle, and to the wife of a fallen foe. Of all his marriages, only one appears to have been controversial, and it was to the divorced wife of his adopted son.

    Only one of his wives had not been previously married. Her name was Aisha, the daughter of one of his closest companions. Aisha was betrothed to Muhammad while still a girl, but she remained in her parents' home for several years until she reached puberty. Years later, when absent from Medina, Muhammad often recommended that, if religious questions arose, people should take them to his wife Aisha. After Muhammad's death, Aisha became a main source of information about Muhammad, and on medicine and poetry as well.

    Aisha's assertion that Muhammad lived the Qur'an became the basis for Muslims ever since to emulate his example.

    Muhammad's daughters also played an important and influential role, both in his life and in the establishment of Islam. Most notable was his daughter Fatima, who is still revered by all Muslims, particularly Shiite Muslims.

    Following the Battle of Uhud (625), in which scores of male combatants died leaving unprotected widows and children, Muhammad and the Qur'an decreed that, in order to protect the orphans of such families, men might take up to four wives. The permission itself is surrounded with language that discourages the very thing it permits, saying that unless a man can treat several wives equally, he should never enter into multiple marriages. The usual supposition in the modern monogamous West-that Islam institutionally encourages lustful arrangements-is rejected by Muslims themselves as an ill-informed stereotype. At the same time, Muslim feminists point out that in various cultures at different economic strata the laws of polygamy have frequently operated to the clear detriment of women. Polygamy is an uncommon occurrence in the modern Muslim world.

    Today, Islamic legal and social systems around the world approach and fall short of women's rights by varying degrees. Muslims themselves generally view Islam as progressive in these matters. Many Muslim feminists hold the view that the problems presently hindering Muslim women are those that hinder women of all backgrounds worldwide- oppressive cultural practices, poverty, illiteracy, political repression and patriarchy. There is a strong, healthy critique of gender oppression among Muslim feminist authors and activists worldwide.

    It would be anachronistic to claim that Muhammad was a feminist in our modern sense. Yet the same present-day barriers to women's equality prevailed in 7th century Arabia, and he opposed them. Because in his own lifetime Muhammad improved women's position in society, many modern Muslims continue to value his example, which they cite when pressing for women's rights.

  4. I think that the one who posted the essay at the top needs a lesson in empathy. Okay, how would you like it, follower of Muhammad, if the prophet of a different religion had declared: "When walking down the street, PUSH ANY MUSLIM YOU SEE TO THE NARROWEST PART OF THE ROAD." Would you like that?
    Instead of saying this statement 1) "push any Christian or Jew you encounter to the narrowest part of the road," Muhammad could have instead said statement 2) "strive to become friends with the Christians and Jews." Muhammad chose not to say that. In your mind, which statement is wiser, 1 or 2?

  5. I am not a scholar, just a Muslim. And from all I have read on this issue in addition to all I knew about the the deen, the Prophet and his beautiful, kind and compassionate life, this hadith may only be explained as a prescription (not literally) given at a time of great distress. Yes, given the reported plots and plots by non-Muslims against the rise and consolidation of Islam, the Prophet must have felt that deferring to non-Muslims on the road (at that period) was akin to rewarding their transgressions against Islam and might even lead to being misconstrued as by the non-Muslims as ' an acknowledgement' of the superiority of their persons and ways (religion, status, culture) over Muslims. I also align with scholars that say the word 'push' was not meant literally. It just meant stay in your track. Pushing someone off the road is harming him/her and that is against the grain of Islam. I think it is instructive to remember that the Prophet himself never pushed anyone off the road, but rather he was very kind, accommodating and compassionate to one and all. If we remember that he hosted non-Muslims in his sacred mosque (some Muslims must have shifted to clear spaces for the non-Muslims to sit down), then it becomes clear that this instruction was not literal and might have even been for a specific time. As according to Ibn AlQayyim, this instruction was only referring to one particular time 'when the Muslims were marching to the tribe of Qurayzah'. God knows best.


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