05 Nov Tenth Sign
Corroborating the miracles concerning trees and reported in the form of ‘consensus,’ is the miracle of the moaning of the pole. Yes, the pole’s moaning in the Prophet’s mosque before a vast crowd because of its temporary separation from the Prophet (PBUH) both confirms and strengthens the instances of miracles related to trees. For the pole also was of wood; their substance was the same. However, the reports of this miracle itself form a consensus, whereas the others are thus as a group in one class, most of them individually or separately not attaining the degree of ‘explicit consensus.’
When delivering the sermon in the mosque, God’s Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) used to lean against a pole consisting of a date-palm. But when the pulpit was made, he began to give the sermon from there. Whereupon the pole moaned and wailed like a camel; the whole congregation heard it. Only when the Prophet came down from the pulpit to it, and placed his hand on it, speaking to it and consoling it, did the pole stop moaning. This miracle of Muhammad (PBUH) was narrated through numerous chains of transmission, at the degree of ‘consensus.’
Indeed, the miracle of the moaning of the pole is very widely known and there is ‘true consensus’ concerning it. Hundreds of authorities on Hadith of the subsequent generation narrated the miracle through fifteen chains of transmission from an illustrious group of Companions, and passed it down to succeeding centuries. From that group, eminent scholars among the Companions and leading experts on Hadith such as Anas b. Malik and Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari both servants of the Prophet, ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar, ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas, Sahl b. Sa‘d, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, Ubayy b. Ka‘b, Burayda, and Umm Salama, the Mother of Believers, each at the head of a chain of transmission, reported this same miracle to the Prophet’s community. Foremost Bukhari, Muslim, and the authentic books of Hadith gave accounts of this great miracle, concerning which there is consensus of reports, together with its lines of transmission for succeeding generations.
Jabir, in his chain of transmission, says: “God’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) used to lean against a wooden pole called ‘the palm trunk’ while delivering the sermon in the mosque. The pole could not endure it when the pulpit was made and the Messenger used that for the sermon, and began to moan and wail like a pregnant camel.” In his narration, Anas says: “It moaned like a water-buffalo causing the mosque to tremble.” In his narration, Sahl b. Sa‘d says: “And weeping increased among the people, on the pole’s moaning.” In his narration, Ubayy b. Ka‘b says: “It wept so much it split.” While in another narration, the Noble Messenger said: “It is weeping at being separated from the recitation of God’s Names and the mentioning of God during the sermon.” Still another narration reports that God’s Messenger said: “If I had not embraced and consoled it, it would have wept at being separated from God’s Messenger until Doomsday.” In his narration, Burayda reports: “When the pole began to moan, God’s Messenger put his hand on it and said, ‘If you wish, I will return you to the grove you came from; your roots will grow and you will flourish; you will produce new fruits. Or if you wish, I will plant you in Paradise, and God’s friends, the saints, will eat of your fruit.’ He then listened to the pole. The people behind God’s Messenger could hear it as it spoke, saying: ‘Plant me in Paradise, where there is no decay, so that Almighty God’s beloved servants will eat of my fruit.’ The Messenger said: ‘I will,’ and added: ‘It has preferred the eternal realm to that of transitoriness.’” Abu Ishaq Isfarani, one of the great authorities on theology, narrated: “God’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) did not go to the pole, but it came to him, at his command. Then, at his command, it returned to its place.” Ubayy b. Ka‘b says: “After this extraordinary event, God’s Messenger ordered that the pole be put under the pulpit. It was put there and remained there until the mosque was pulled down before being rebuilt. Then Ubayy b. Ka‘b took it and kept it until it decayed.
The famous scholar Hasan al-Basri would weep while teaching this miraculous event to his students, and say to them: “A piece of wood demonstrated love and longing for God’s Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace), so you should feel more love than that.” As for us, we say, Yes, and love and longing for him is shown through following his illustrious Practices and sacred Shari‘a.
An Important Point
If it is asked: Why were the other miracles which were demonstrated in relation to food -to satisfy fully a thousand men with four handfuls of food in the Battle of Khandaq, and another thousand men with water flowing from the Messenger’s blessed fingers- not narrated through numerous chains of transmission as the miracle of the moaning of the pole, although the former two miracles occurred in the presence of larger crowds?
The Answer: The miracles that were manifested were of two kinds: one were manifested at the hands of God’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace), in order to make people assent to his prophethood. The moaning of the pole was of that kind. It occurred solely as a proof, an affirmation, of prophethood, to increase the believers’ faith, to urge the dissemblers to sincerity and belief, and to bring to belief the unbelievers. That is why everyone, the low and the high, saw it, and great attention was paid to broadcasting it. However, the miracles concerning food and water were wonders rather than miracles, or Divine favours rather than wonders, or, more than favour, they were banquets bestowed by the All-Merciful One because of need. For sure, they were proofs of his claim to prophethood and miracles, but their basic aim was this: the army was hungry so Almighty God provided a feast for a thousand men out of a handful of food from His treasury in the Unseen, just as He creates a thousand pounds of dates from a single seed. And for a thirsty army fighting in His way, He caused water to flow like the water of Kawthar from the fingers of the Commander-in-Chief, and gave them to drink.
It is for this reason that all the examples of the miracles concerning food and water do not attain the degree of the miracle of the moaning of the pole. However, in their entirety, the various kinds of these two miracles are as numerous and unanimously reported as the moaning of the pole. Moreover, not everyone could see the increase of food and water flowing from his fingers; they could only see the results. Whereas everyone heard the pole moaning, so it was more widely broadcast.
If it is asked: All the actions and conduct of God’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) were recorded and transmitted by his Companions with extreme care. Why then are such great miracles only narrated through ten or twenty chains of transmission, when they should have been narrated through a hundred? Also, why are many narrated from Anas, Jabir, and Abu Hurayra, and few related from Abu Bakr and ‘Umar?
The Answer: The answer to the first part of the question has been given in the Third Principle in the Fourth Sign. Regarding the second part: just as someone in need of medicine goes to a doctor, mathematicians are consulted on mathematical problems, and questions to do with the Shari‘a are asked of the Mufti, and so on; so too, some of the scholars among the Companions were charged with the duty of instructing succeeding centuries in the Hadiths of the Prophet, working with all their strength for this end. Yes, Abu Hurayra devoted his entire life to memorizing Hadiths, while ‘Umar was occupied with the world of politics and the Caliphate. ‘Umar therefore narrated very few traditions, relying on persons like Abu Hurayra, Anas, and Jabir, to teach the Hadiths to the Muslim community. Furthermore, on a well-known, truthful, sincere, honest, and trusted Companion reporting an incident through one chain, it was regarded as sufficient, and no need remained for another to narrate it. This is why some significant events were narrated through only two or three chains of transmission.