Did Abu Ayyub al-Ansari place his face on the Prophet’s (ﷺ) grave?

By Ebn Hussein (Hassan Shemrani)

ِAbu Ayyub shrine (!) which is regularly visited by Erdogan and by Sufis around the world in Istanbul. They have turned the once modest grave of this Sahabi into a pilgrimage hotspot.

Some people resort to grasping at straws to justify one of the stepping stones to paganism, which is grave worship. A whole list of their false arguments has already been debunked here with the tawfiq of Allah.

A frequently repeated bogus proof (spoof) presented by the people of Bid’ah is the following munkar (vice) narration which is attributed to the noble companion Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him).

 8571 – حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ثنا العباس بن محمد بن حاتم الدوري ثنا أبو عامر عبد الملك بن عمر العقدي ثنا كثير بن زيد عن داود بن أبي صالح قال :أَقْبَلَ مَرْوَانُ يَوْمًا فَوَجَدَ رَجُلًا وَاضِعًا وَجْهَهُ عَلَى الْقَبْرِ ، فَأَخَذَ بِرَقَبَتِهِ وَقَالَ : أَتَدْرِي مَا تَصْنَعُ ؟ قَالَ : نَعَمْ ، فَأَقْبَلَ عَلَيْهِ فَإِذَا هُوَ أَبُو أَيُّوبَ الْأَنْصَارِيُّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ ، فَقَالَ : جِئْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَلَمْ آتِ الْحَجَرَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، يَقُولُ : ” لَا تَبْكُوا عَلَى الدِّينِ إِذَا وَلِيَهُ أَهْلُهُ ، وَلَكِنِ ابْكُوا عَلَيْهِ إِذَا وَلِيَهُ غَيْرُ أَهْلِهِ

هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد و لم يخرجاه تعليق الذهبي قي التلخيص : صحيح

“Marwan (the then governor of Madinah) one day saw a man placing his face on top of the grave of the Prophet. He said: “Do you know what you are doing?” When he came near him, he realised it was Abu Ayyub al-Ansari. The latter said: “Yes; I came to the Prophet, not to a stone.” I have heard it from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) not to cry over religion when its guardian is competent. Yes, shed tears over religion when its guardian is incompetent. (al-Mustadrak by al-Hakim who says that the isnad of the report is sahih. Al-Dhahabi says in his al-Talkhis: sahih)
Shrine business from Istanbul to Cairo and beyond. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari’s (may Allah be pleased with him) once simple and humble grave has been transformed by the Sufis into a shrine and pilgrimage hotspot.
For starters, not every report that is described as sahih al-sanad/isnad (i.e. having an apparent authentic chain of transmission) is considered by hadith experts as a hadith sahih report in and of itself.

Ibn Kathir:

“The fact that the chain is deemed to be sahih or hasan does not necessarily mean that the same applies to the text, because it may be shadh (anomalous) or mu’allal (faulty).” (Ikhtisar al-Uloom al-Hadith by Ibn Kathir)

Interestingly, the story attributed to Abu Ayyub al-Ansari has neither an authentic narrative nor a text free from anomalies.

The report contains severe weakness in its chain of transmission

In Musnad Imam Ahmad:

قال الإمام أحمد

حدثنا عبد الملك بن عمرو، حدثنا كثير بن زيد، عن داود بن أبي صالح، قال: أقبل مروان يوما فوجد رجلا واضعا وجهه على القبر، فقال: أتدري ما تصنع؟ فأقبل عليه فإذا هو أبو أيوب، فقال: نعم، جئت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم آت الحجر، سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: ” لا تبكوا على الدين إذا وليه أهله، ولكن ابكوا عليه إذا وليه غير أهله“.

برقم (23585)

The isnad (chain of transmission) is weak due to the narrators Dawud Ibn Abi Salih (majhool/UNKNOWN) and Kathir Ibn Zayd (disputed, weakened by more than one hadithist). Shu’ayb al-Arna`ut weakens it in his takhrij of the Musnad of Imam Ahmad.

The Mustadrak of al-Hakim:

الحاكم – المستدرك – كتاب الفتن والملاحم – رقم الحديث: (8571) 8717 – حدثنا: أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب، ثنا: العباس بن محمد بن حاتم الدوري، ثنا: أبو عامر عبد الملك بن عمر العقدي، ثنا: كثير بن زيد، عن داود بن أبي صالح، قال: أقبل مروان يوماً فوجد رجلاً واضعاً وجهه على القبر، فأخذ برقبته وقال: أتدري ما تصنع؟ قال: نعم، فأقبل عليه فإذا هو أبو أيوب الأنصاري (ر)، فقال: جئت رسول الله (ص) ولم آت الحجر سمعت رسول الله (ص)، يقول: لا تبكوا على الدين إذا وليه أهله، ولكن إبكوا عليه إذا وليه غير أهله،

Shaykh al-Albani comments on the claim that its chain is sahih as per al-Hakim and that al-Dhahabi agreed with al-Hakim:

قال العلامة الألباني رحمه الله

وقال الحاكم: صحيح الإسناد، ووافقه الذهبي! وهو من أوهامهما فقد قال الذهبي نفسه في ترجمة داود هذا: حجازي لا يعرف. ووافقه الحافظ ابن حجر في ” تهذيب التهذيب ” فأنى له الصحة؟

سلسلة الأحاديث الضعيفة والموضوعة وأثرها السيئ في الأمة (1/552)

“This claim stems from their delusion. This is because al-Dhahabi himself says in the biography of Dawud (Ibn Abi Salih): An UNKNOWN Hijazi. In his Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar ageed with him. So what sahih are they talking about? (Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Dha’ifah wa al-Mawdhu’ah wa Athariha al-Sayyi` Fi al-Ummah by Shaykh Nasir al-Din al-Albani)

In short: the athar is very weak isnad-wise.

As for al-Dhahabi: he didn’t agree with al-Hakim’s authentication, he merely summarised the verdict of al-Hakim in his al-Talkhis. This is a delicate point to consider as there is often evidence that proves that al-Dhahabi did not agree with all of al-Hakim’s (whose tashih is worthless due to his tasahul) authentications. the story of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari is a prime example of that. This is because al-Dhahabi did not just weaken one of the narrators presented by al-Hakim in the story of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, he actually declared him as majhul (unknown)!

وترجمه الذهبي في الميزان 2/9 قائلا : لا يعرف

In his al-Mizan 2/9, al-Dhahabi says about him (Dawud Ibn Abi Salih):  “He is UNKNOWN…”

The report contains defects in its matn (text)

What further indicates the fabricated nature of the narration is its odd matn (text). The grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) was and is leveled. If Abu Ayyub al-Ansari put his head on the grave he inevitably must have performed some type of prostration. Such a Yahoodi-Rafidi practice can never be attributed to a noble companion like Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him).

Another oddity in the text is the mention of the tomb as if it were visible and accessible to anyone passing by. The truth is that the tomb of the Prophet (ﷺ) is in ‘Aishah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) chamber and even at that time it was sealed off and not accessible except for the authorities and those who granted permission.

Follow the Salaf

The Salaf, including Imam Maliki and the Imams of the Prophet’s progeny (peace be upon them) such as Ali Ibn al-Husayn, Zayn al-Abidin (whom the Rafidah mistakenly attribute to themselves) have never engaged in grave veneration. On the contrary, they rejected such Ghuluw (extremism) and warned against such excesses which are contrary to the nature of the Tawhid:

سئل مالك رحمه الله تعالى عن الغريب يأتي قبر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كل يوم، فقال: ما هذا من الأمر، وذكر حديث: ((اللهم لا تجعل قبري وثنًا يُعبد)) ، قال ابن رشد: فيُكره أن يُكثر المرور به والسلام عليه، والإتيان كل يوم إليه لئلا يُجعل القبر كالمسجد الذي يؤتى كل يوم للصلاة فيه، وقد نهى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن ذلك بقوله: ((اللهم لا تجعل قبري وثنًا))”

البيان والتحصيل لابن رشد (18/444-445)

Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about a stranger who comes to the grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) each day. He said: “That is not right,” and quoted the hadith: “O Allah, do not make my grave an idol that is worshipped.” Ibn Rush said: “It is therefore not permissible to regularly pass by it (i.e. the grave of the Prophet) to send greetings and to visit him daily, lest his (ﷺ) grave be taken as a mosque where people gather for daily prayer. The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade all these practices when he said: “O Allah, do not make my grave an idol that is worshipped.” (Al-Bayan wa al-Tahsil by Ibn Rushd)

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ قَالَ : حدثنا زَيْدُ بْنُ حُبَابٍ ، قال حدثنا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ، مِنْ وَلَدِ ذِي الْجَنَاحَيْنِ ، قَالَ : حَدَّثَنِي عَلِيُّ بْنُ عُمَرَ ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ ، عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْحُسَيْنِ ، أَنَّهُ رَأَى رَجُلًا يَجِيءُ إِلَى فُرْجَةٍ كَانَتْ عِنْدَ قَبْرِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَيَدْخُلُ فِيهَا فَيَدْعُو ، فَدَعَاهُ فَقَالَ : أَلَا أُحَدِّثُكَ بِحَدِيثٍ سَمِعْتُهُ مِنْ أَبِي ، عَنْ جَدِّي ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ : لَا تَتَّخِذُوا قَبْرِي عِيدًا ، وَلَا بُيُوتَكُمْ قُبُورًا ، وَصَلُّوا عَلَيَّ ، فَإِنَّ صَلَاتَكُمْ تَبْلُغُنِي حَيْثُمَا كُنْتُمْ».

[صحيح بطريقه وشواهده, رواه ابن أبي شيبة]

“Once Ali Ibn al-Husayn (may Allah have mercy upon him) saw a man who used to enter an opening that is at the Prophet’s grave and make supplications there. He forbade him from doing that and told him.” Let me narrate to you a hadith I heard from my father on the authority of my grandfather that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Do not make my grave a place of festivity (which you visit repeatedly), nor turn your houses to graves [whereby you do not pray in them]. Invoke blessings on me, for your invocation of peace and blessings on me reaches from wherever you may be.” (Sahih due to shawahid, narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah]

The Twelver Shias and some of the Sufis, despite their (empty) claims, stand in contradiction to the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) which was lived by the early Imams of Aal Muhammad (peace be upon them) and the Ahl al-Sunnah and Athar to this very day. Instead of following their lead, they have defied them by building shrines and places of worship (which they frequently visit) over the (once modest) graves of their favorite saints.

Think about it: the Ahlul-Bayt, the Salaf, even disliked when people frequently visited the grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) to pray to Allah alone. They advised him not to do that! Now imagine what they would say about those who not only literally invoke the Prophet (ﷺ) in their supplications for help, assistance, and fulfillment of their needs, but even those who are not even worth the dust under his feet! Allah is the one sought for help (الله المستعان)!

Final words

The story about Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) having put his face on the grave of the Prophet (ﷺ) is not proven due to severe weaknesses in its chain of transmission and anomalies in its text. The mere claim of authentication provided by some later scholars is not proof in and of itself as the evidence speaks against those who (mistakenly or deliberately) authenticated this false story. Therefore, the proponents of grave veneration cannot use the story about Abu Ayyub as proof for their own heretical rituals.

الحمد لله