Question # 436: Is Mubahala allowed only for the Prophet sallam. And not permitted or haram for anybody else, to settle any disputes?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Al-Mubahalah means mutual imprecation: both disputing parties gather and invoke the curse of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) upon the liars and wrongdoers among themselves. The verse 3:61 (in Soorah Aali Imran) is an evidence that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) ordered His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) to invoke the curse on the Christians of Najran, who denied the truth about ‘Isa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) after the evidence had been established against them. However, the Christians of Najran did not accept to make the Mubahalah with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
It is also evidenced that some of the companions (رضي الله عنهم) called to Mubahalah in relation to Islamic matters. However, Mubahalah is not permissible except in matters that are Islamically dangerous and provided that there is an expected benefit from such a Mubahalah, such as the removal of an injustice and the like, and provided that this is done after establishing the evidence, endeavoring to remove the misconception, and giving advice and warning, while there is no avail to such efforts and there is a necessity of resorting to it Mubahalah. Only if such conditions are met, then Mubahalah becomes permissible. It is not a game or a mere means to support one’s opinion. It is a call of curse on the liar. Indeed, the one who knows its meaning feels its seriousness and does not resort to it except at times of necessity.
In most cases, Muslims should endeavor to solve the problems between themselves in good words and in good manner, fearing Allah. It is not appropriate for a Muslim to invoke the curse of Allah upon his Muslim brother in worldly matters, as this world is worthless. But they can take their case to an Islamic judge or whoever can serve as a judge to solve their problems.
Long Answer: Al-Mubahalah was defined by Ibn Al-Atheer in An-Nihaayah as follows, “It means mutual imprecation: both disputing parties gather and invoke the curse of Allah upon the liars and wrongdoers among themselves.” [Therefore,] al-Mubahalah is invoking sincerely the curse of Allah on the liar. When people differ about something they gather and say: ‘May the curse of Allah be on the wrongdoer among us.’ Al-Mubahalah is permissible if the dissenter persists after the evidence had become clear to him/her. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) invoked sincerely the curse of Allah on the Christians of Najran after establishing the evidence against them that ‘Isa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) is a slave and Messenger of Allah. When they insisted on their disbelief and lies the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) called them for Mubahalah, then the following verse of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) was revealed to him: “Then whoever disputes with you concerning him [‘Isa (Jesus)] after (all this) knowledge that has come to you, [i.e. ‘Isa (Jesus)] being a slave of Allah, and having no share in Divinity) say: (O Muhammad) “Come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves – then we pray and invoke (sincerely) the Curse of Allah upon those who lie.” (Soorah Aali Imran, 3:61)
The following is an excerpt from the Tafseer Ibn Kathir describing the complete event:
“Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar said in his famous Seerah, “The delegation of Christians from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم). The delegation consisted of sixty horsemen, including fourteen of their chiefs who make decisions. These men were Al-`Aqib, also known as `Abdul-Masih, As-Sayyid, also known as Al-Ayham, Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah, of the family o Bakr bin Wa`il and Uways bin Al-Harith. They also included, Zayd, Qays, Yazid, Nabih, Khuwaylid, `Amr, Khalid, `Abdullah and Yuhannas. Three of these men were chiefs of this delegation, Al-`Aqib, their leader and to whom they referred for advice and decision; As-Sayyid, their scholar and leader in journeys and social gatherings; and Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah, their patriarch, priest and religious leader. Abu Harithah was an Arab man from the family of Bakr bin Wa`il, but when he embraced Christianity, the Romans and their kings honored him and built churches for him (or in his honor). They also supported him financially and gave him servants, because they knew how firm his faith in their religion was.” Abu Harithah knew the description of the Messenger of Allah from what he read in earlier divine Books. However, his otherwise ignorance led him to insist on remaining a Christian, because he was honored and had a high position with the Christians. Ibn Ishaq said, “Muhammad bin Ja`far bin Az-Zubayr said that, `The (Najran) delegation came to the Messenger of Allah in Al-Madinah, entered his Masjid wearing robes and garments, after the Prophet had prayed the `Asr prayer. They accompanied a caravan of camels led by Bani Al-Harith bin Ka`b. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah who saw them said that they never saw a delegation like them after that… Then Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah and Al-`Aqib `Abdul-Masih or As-Sayyid Al-Ayham spoke to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and they were Christians like the king (Roman King). However, they disagreed about `Isa; some of them said, `He is Allah,’ while some said, `He is the son of Allah,’ and some others said, `He is one of a trinity.’ Allah is far from what they attribute to Him.”
Indeed, these are the creeds of the Christians. They claim that `Isa is God, since he brought the dead back to life, healed blindness, leprosy and various illnesses, told about matters of the future, created the shape of birds and blew life into them, bringing them to life. However, all these miracles occurred by Allah’s leave, so that `Isa would be a sign from Allah for people.
They also claim that `Isa is the son of Allah, since he did not have a father and he spoke when he was in the cradle, a miracle which had not occurred by any among the Children of Adam before him, so they claim. They also claim that `Isa is one of a trinity, because Allah would say, `We did, command, create and demand.’ They said, `If Allah were one, he would have said, `I did, command, create and decide.’ This is why they claim that `Isa and Allah are one (Trinity). Allah is far from what they attribute to Him, and we should mention that the Qur’an refuted all these false Christian claims.
Ibn Ishaq continued, “When these Ayat came to the Messenger from Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم), thus judging between him and the People of the Book, Allah also commanded the Prophet to call them to the Mubahalah if they still refused the truth. The Prophet called them to the Mubahalah. They said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! Let us think about this matter and get back to you with our decision to what we want to do.’ They left the Prophet and conferred with Al-`Aqib, to whom they referred to for advice. They said to him, `O `Abdul-Masih! What is your advice’ He said, `By Allah, O Christian fellows! You know that Muhammad is a Messenger and that he brought you the final word regarding your fellow (`Isa). You also know that no Prophet conducted Mubahalah with any people, and the old persons among them remained safe and the young people grew up. Indeed, it will be the end of you if you do it. If you have already decided that you will remain in your religion and your creed regarding your fellow (`Isa), then conduct a treaty with the man (Muhammad) and go back to your land.’ They came to the Prophet and said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! We decided that we cannot do Mubahalah with you and that you remain on your religion, while we remain on our religion. However, send with us a man from your Companions whom you are pleased with to judge between us regarding our monetary disputes, for you are acceptable to us in this regard.”’”
Some of the companions (رضي الله عنهم) called to Al-Mubahalah as well, like Ibn Mas’ood and Ibn ‘Abbas, Al-Awza’i, and a group of scholars called to it as well. Ibn Hajar said: ‘It is known by experience that he who calls to Al-Mubahalah while being a liar, one year would not pass after the day of Al-Mubahalah except that he is perished. This indeed happened to me with a person who used to be inclined toward atheists and he did not live after this more than two months.’
As regards whether Al-Mubahalah can be on worldly matters, then the verse and the acts of the companions (رضي الله عنهم) and the scholars after them illustrate that this is done on Islamic matters.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) called to it about the reality of ‘Isa; Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood, (رضي الله عنه) called to prove that the waiting period (Iddah) of a pregnant (widowed) woman ends when she gives birth to the baby, not three months as is normal; Ibn Abbas, (رضي الله عنه) called to Mubahalah in the issue related to the reduction of inheritance’s shares (when it is not possible for every heir to take his original share). Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim also called to it regarding the attributes of Allah, and Ibn Hajar called a man to it in order to deter him from being inclined to atheists and so on. So, we do not know of any one of our righteous predecessors who invoked the curse of Allah in a worldly matter, and we have never come across one.
As regards whether this is permissible between Muslims, the answer is that it is permissible; the evidence is that the companions did so, as we already mentioned [but only in the matter of Islam.] … Ibn Hajar commented on the Prophet’s invitation for the Christians of Najran – a delegation consisting of 14 Christian priests – to Mubahalah challenge, saying, “The permissibility of Mubahalah challenge can be deduced from this incident in case the opponent insists on his (false) opinion after its falsehood had been proved with clear evidence beyond reasonable doubts…” (Fat-h Al-Bari)
[Nevertheless,] Mubahalah is not permissible except in matters that are Islamically dangerous and provided that there is an expected benefit from such a Mubahalah, such as the removal of an injustice and the like, and provided that this is done after establishing the evidence.
Ad-Dawaani said, “Mubahalah is not permissible except in an Islamically important matter about which there is a misconception and stubbornness that cannot be repelled except by Mubahalah, but it is a condition that this be after establishing the evidence, endeavoring to remove the misconception, and giving advice and warning, while there is no avail to such efforts and there is a necessity of resorting to it [Mubahalah].” (Excerpted from Al-Futoohaat Al-Ilaahiyyah)
If such conditions are met, then Mubahalah becomes permissible, otherwise no. Mubahalah is not a game or a mere means to support one’s opinion. It is a call of curse on the liar. Indeed, the one who knows its meaning feels its seriousness and does not resort to it except at times of necessity.
However, it is more appropriate for a Muslim not to invoke the curse of Allah upon a Muslim except after establishing the evidence against him, trying to eradicate the misconception, advising and warning him. [Moreover, the Muslims should] …endeavor to solve the problems between themselves in good words and in good manner and to fear Allah. It is not appropriate for a Muslim to invoke the curse of Allah upon his Muslim brother in worldly matters, as this world is worthless. But they can take their case to an Islamic judge or whoever can serve as a judge to solve their problems.
(Unless stated otherwise, the above reply is based on various answers provided by Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.