Islamic stones: A Sunni Perspective

When I made a tutorial clip on the Islamic recommendations of wearing a ring and the spiritual and religious value of certain stones, I realised, by the many comments I received, that this information disturbed some of my fellow Sunni brethren.

The anti-shirk police saw it upon themselves to point out how un-Islamic belief in power of stones was. Of course, we are not foreign to accusations of kufr and shirk, as sadly this has become a regular mode of attack against the followers of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.).

Although we understand that ‘al-takhattum bil-yamin,’ or wearing a ring on the right hand is the sign of a believer, but we see it has turned into a unique trademark of a Shi’i Muslim.[1] We adorn our hands with stones we believe to have religious value[2] and natural powers.  

It is possible for us to end the argument simply by saying that such a belief is from the viewpoint of Shi’ah Muslims, and we are more than entitled to hold certain views and have certain practices that are a part of our Ja’fari Madhhab, our rituals or our customs.

On the other side, we do have a duty of defending ourselves from the accusation of shirk, and hence we need to explain how believing in the power of a stone does not conflict in any way with belief in Tawhid. In addition to this, we cannot overlook the strong presence of this Sunnah in the Sunni tradition as well, which is very important to highlight.

With the rise of Wahhabism and its widespread influence in hijacking mainstream Sunnism, we are able to clearly see how even some moderate Sunnis have been influenced by the unorthodox Salafi ideology. Even if we were to refute the alleged shirki side of this, Shi’a-phobes will somehow find something else to brand us with.

Let me first start with sharing information about the Sunnah of wearing a ring in Sunni sources:

Wearing a Ring in Sunni Sources

With a simple search in the Sunni Sihaah books, we are able to find an abundancy of traditions narrating that the holy Prophet (s.a.w.) wore a ring. A number of these traditions are in the Chapter of Dress, in Sahih Bukhari.[3] We can see that the Prophet’s companions also wore rings.

Some of these traditions say the ring was silver, and so was the stone (fass), some speak of an Ethiopian stone, with inscription on it.[4]

As for which hand the Prophet (s.a.w.) wore his ring one, this is an area of dispute. Some traditions and some Sunni scholars say the right hand,[5] and some say left hand.

Just as a side-note here, if you look into this topic of wearing ring on right hand or left hand, you will come to see that one of the main reasons given by the proponents of wearing on left hand is ‘to oppose the Madhhab of the Rafidha’.[6] So, basically they are abandoning a Sunnah, only for the purpose of opposing the Shi’ah. However, they cannot overlook the many narrations of wearing on right hand, and also, among others, is the Shafi’i Madhhab that strongly believes wearing on right hand is not only better, but more noble.[7]

Some Sunni scholars say wearing a ring is ‘Sunnah’, and some say it is not a Sunnah, or recommended, but just mubah. This latter view is more in line with Ibn Taymiyah kind of opinion. In one place I read someone had said if we believed in ring being Sunnah, then we should also believe that wearing a shirt and Izaar to also be a Sunnah.

The Effects of Rings and Stones in Sunni Sources

There are a variety of Sunni scholars who have some very interesting things to say about stones and wearing them.[8] Among these scholars is al-Nawawi, narrating from al-Shafi’i, where he praises the wearing of certain stones like ruby or peridot.[9]

There are also statements made by al-Shalabi and Ibn Hazm, and even contemporary scholars like Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan.

We can also see views of certain stones being reprehensible to wear, like al-hadid, saying it is makruh to wear.[10]

In Sunan Ibn Majah, in the Chapters on Medicine it narrates that the Prophet (s.a.w.) reprehended someone for wearing a certain ring, and told him to take it off as it will weaken him.[11]

If soil or our saliva is a cure that others can use, as the hadith says in Sahih Bukhari,[12] then why can’t some precious stones do the same thing. Again, by the will of God.

So, there is no Shirk here.

There are also numerous books written by Sunni scholars on this topic. One of these books is Nukhab al-Dhaka`ir fi Ahwal al-Jawahir, by Ibn al-Akfani al-Hanafi (d. 749 AH). There is also al-Biruni’s (d. 440 AH) al-Jamahir fi ma’rifah al-Jawahir.

All Muslims believe in the recommendation of touching and kissing the Black Stone in the holy Ka’bah, and the power it holds.

Modern day science acknowledges the physical/mental value of stones, as far as negative and positive energy, and many studies have been done in this regard. Other religions have also strong belief in the spiritual power and healing of certain stones.

As Shi’ah Muslims, we do not see these stones as means of sorcery and magic. Almighty God did not create these minerals and jewels for no benefit, or for no reason.

When we say that stones have an effect on us, our belief in this does not bypass the presence or influence of Almighty God. The ultimate cause is still Allah ta’ala. Rizq, health, wealth, and everything else occurs under the will and command of Almighty Allah.

All we say is there are benefits for things around us, and by referring back to the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), we can see there are certain stones that have certain benefits for us.

We believe medicine, or natural herbs, or magnets have an effect, by the will of Allah. Again, the problem here is baseless accusations and falsely charging other Muslims with the worst of sins.

As someone had said to one of these Wahhabis, how do you know I am doing Shirk? Have you split open my heart and checked my niyyah? Do you have some kind of super-power where you are able to know the intentions and motives of what people do?

A very important point to make here is not all the narrations we have in this field are authentic. We must also be careful of deceitful cases where a person might claim that a stone they have has super powers, or that they’ve read some things on it, and have made it’s wearer bullet-proof, and so on.

Something being mustahab, or bringing about health or rizq, does not mean defying the tawhid of Allah ta’ala, or is it placing them in partnership with the Almighty.

A Muslim is not going to wear a ring, and then believe in it being a divine entity worthy of worship. Who has come across such an example? Again it is just another case of close-minded Salafis using the so over-used word ‘shirk’, with no accountability or correct understanding.

Of course, as we mentioned, the basis for our belief in the recommendation of wearing a ring and the merits of certain stones are authentic traditions. We must also stay away from whatever is unsubstantiated, or practices based on magic or superstition.

In conclusion, we can see the strong evidence of the Sunnah of wearing a Ring (al-takhattum) in the Sunni tradition, and the Wahhabi idea of this does not represent mainstream Sunnisim, so our fellow Sunnis should refer back to their original Madhhab. As for the Ja’fari Madhhab, it is a Sunnah and also a sign of a believer.

 

 

[1] Please refer to the famous tradition from Imam Hasan al-‘Askari that says there are five signs of a believer, and one of them is wearing a ring of the right hand.

[2] This is why I use the term ‘Islamic rings’ or ‘Islamic stones’, not that a stone or a ring has a religion, but in reference to them being of importance and having spiritual value from an Islamic perspective and based on ahadith. This would exclude other rings or stones that have not been mentioned in our traditions.

[3] Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7, Book 72, Hadith 755. [https://sunnah.com/bukhari/77/82]

[4] Sunan al-Nasa`i, Vol. 6, Book 48, Hadith 5279. [https://sunnah.com/nasai/48/238]

[5] Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4, Book 32, Hadith 3647 [https://sunnah.com/urn/1278990], graded as authentic (sahih). Also: Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 3, Book 22, Hadith 1744. [https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/24/25], graded as Sahih.

[6] See Ibn Taymiyah’s Minhaj al-Sunnah, vol. 2, p. 147.

[7] Imam al-Nawawi, al-Majmu’, vol. 4, p. 462.

[8] Of course, we also have verses in the Quran that speak about mountains, minerals and stones glorifying Allah ta’ala and having effects. See:

﴿وإن من شيء إلا يسبح بحمده ولكن لا تفقهون تسبيحهم
﴿فَفَهَّمْنَاهَا سُلَيْمَانَ وَكُلّاً آتَيْنَا حُكْماً وَعِلْماً وَسَخَّرْنَا مَعَ دَاوُودَ الْجِبَالَ يُسَبِّحْنَ وَالطَّيْرَ وَكُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ 
﴿إِنَّا سَخَّرْنَا الْجِبَالَ مَعَهُ يُسَبِّحْنَ بِالْعَشِيِّ وَالْإِشْرَاقِ 
﴿لَوْ أَنزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَّرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعاً مُّتَصَدِّعاً مِّنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ وَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ 
﴿أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالطَّيْرُ صَافَّاتٍ كُلٌّ قَدْ عَلِمَ صَلَاتَهُ وَتَسْبِيحَهُ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَفْعَلُونَ 

[9] Al-Majmu’,vol. 4, p. 466.

[10] Kashf al-Qina’, vol. 2, p. 237.

[11] Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4, Book 31, Hadith 3531. [https://sunnah.com/urn/1275760]. This link also has hadith grading, and grades this tradition as ‘dha’if’.

[12] Sahih Bukhari, vol. 7, book 71, hadith 641. https://sunnah.com/bukhari/76/60

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