The Sufi Raqs (dance) in light of Shariah
There has been some controversy lurking around regarding legitimacy of the Sufi Raqs (dance) or Hadra as it is called in Arab world which is practiced by eminent Sufis and Mashaikh. People who carry deep Bughz (hatred) for Sufis are often seen spreading propaganda that Sufis are dancers and they have nothing to do with Shariah, but what they forget is that they have no proof whatsoever from Quran and Sunnah on “NAFI” of Raqs whereas we have overwhelming proofs which establish Raqs directly from hadith itself, even absence of Nafi is itself a proof of it being allowed and it cannot be declared haram until proven otherwise.
Proof # 1
عن أنس قال: «كانت الحبشة يزفنون بين يدي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلّم ويرقصون ويقولون: محمد عبد صالح ، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلّم: ما يقولون؟ قالوا: يقولون: محمد عبد صالح
Translation: It is narrated by Anas (R.A) that the Habashis were presenting their art in front of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and “THEY WERE DANCING (Yarqasun)” while saying: Muhammadun Abdun Salih (i.e. Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم the righteous slave). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) asked: What are they saying? They said: Muhammadun Abdun Salih [Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal, Volume No.3, Page no. 152]
Sheikh Shu’ayb al Arna'ut said after this hadith:
إسناده صحيح على شرط مسلم
Translation: The Chain is “SAHIH” on the criteria of “(SAHIH) MUSLIM” [ibid 3/152]
Note: This hadith explicitly uses the word "RAQS” which proves without any shadow of doubt that It was dancing, however the Anti-Sufi people cite the hadith of Bukhari which only mentions “PLAYING”
Some people claim that this above hadith is only understood from hadith of Bukhari which mentions Abyssinians or Ethiopians "PLAYING WITH SPEARS" inside the Prophet's mosque. Now our reply to them is the same i.e. the hadith of Bukhari is understood from the hadith of Musnad Ahmed which is Sahih on criteria of Sahih Muslim, hence both playing and Raqs become allowed, If they are truthful then they should come with proof from hadith which mentions that Raqs is “EXCLUDED” from this. Therefore Alhamdolillah both ahadith go in favour of Sufis.
Proof # 2
أتيت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وجعفر وزيد قال فقال لزيد أنت مولاي فحجل قال وقال لجعفر أنت أشبهت خلقي وخلقي قال فحجل وراء زيد قال وقال لي أنت مني وأنا منك قال فحجلت وراء جعفر
Translation: Hadrat Ali (ra) said: I went to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with Jafar (RA) and Zayd (ra), The Prophet said to Zayd: You are my freedman (anta Mawlay), “AT THIS ZAYD BEGAN TO HOP ON ONE LEG (HAJALA) AROUND THE PROPHET” then the Prophet said to Jafar (ra): You resemble me in my creation and my manners, at this Jafar also began to hop behind Zayd, then the Prophet said to Ali (ra): You are from me and I am from you, at this he also started to hop behind Jafar. [Musnad Ahmed bin Hanbal 1:537 #857] Click Here for Scanned Page (85)
As you can clearly see in the scan proof that Shaykh Ahmed Shakir (a renowned salafi authority of past) has accepted this hadith to be "SAHIH (AUTHENTIC)" , so this hadith proves from the acceptance of Prophet (Peace be upon him) and Amal of great Sahaba like Zayd (ra), Jafar (ra) and Mawla Ali (ra) that doing Raqs is fine.
Imam al Hafidh al Bayhaqi (rah) in explanation of this hadith said:
وفي هَذَا إنْ صَحَّ دلالةٌ على جوازِ الحَجْلِ، وهو أَنْ يَرْفَعَ رِجْلاً ويَقْفِزَ على الأُخْرَى مِنَ الفَرَحِ، فالرقصُ الَّذِي يكونُ عَلَى مِثَالِهِ يكونُ مِثْلَهُ في الجوازِ. والله أعلمُ
Translation: In this (hadith) if sahih has “PROOF” and "PERMISSIBILITY" of hopping (dancing) which includes “RISING UP OR JUMPING IN STATE OF JOY” and also that of doing “RAQS” being similar to it which is also allowed – And Allah knows the best [Sunnan al Baihaqi al Kubra (15/333)]
Note: There is one narrator of this hadith i.e. Hani bin Hani upon whom Salafis do Jarh, now here is comprehensive Ta'deel of him.
هانئ بن هانئ عن على رضى الله عنه. قال ابن المدينى: مجهول. وقال النسائي: ليس به بأس. وذكره ابن حبان في الثقات
Translation: Hani bin Hani narrated from Ali (Radhi Allaho Anho). Ibn Mudayni said he is Mujhool. Imam Nasai (rah) said: “THERE IS NO HARM IN HIM” and Ibn Hibban mentioned him in his “THIQAAT (Reliable narrators)” [Mizan ul Aitidal (7/71)]
Note: Remember being Mujhool in sight of some muhadith does not mean the narrator is weak, because all muhaditheen did not know names of all rijal, so If Ta'deel is done by other Muhaditheen and some call him Majhool then the narrator is definitely known (Ma'roof).
A) Imam at-Tirimdhi declared many ahadith from Hani bin Hani as “HASAN SAHIH” [Sunnan Tirimdhi Volume No.5, Hadith #3798]
B) Imam Ibn Majah (rah) narrated from him and did Sukoot [Sunnan Ibn Majah, Muqadma, Hadith # 143]
C) Imam Ibn Hibban mentioned him in his ”Kitab ul Thiqaat” (5/508)
It is thus radiantly clear that this narration is Sahih, as is also stated by Salafi’s leading Muhadith Shaykh Ahmad Shaakir in his Tahqiq of Musnad Ahmad where he said: “Its chain is sound (إسناده صحيح)“ [Musnad Ahmad Volume 001, Page No. 537, Hadith Number 857, FN: 2]
D) Imam al Ajli (rah) said:
1885 ـ هانىء ابن هانىء، كوفي، تابعي ثقة
Translation: Hani bin Hani, Kufi “TABI AND THIQA” [Thiqat al Ajli Volume No.1, Page No. 454]
E) Imam al Haythami (rah) said about ahadith having Hani bin Hani
ورجال أحمد والبزار رجال الصحيح غير هانىء بن هانىء وهو ثقة
Translation: The Rijaal of Ahmed and Bazaar are those of Sahih except Hani bin Hani who is “THIQA” [Majma az Zawaid (8/102)]
Nasir ud-din Albani the Salafi authority declared ahadith from Hani bin Hani as “SAHIH” [Sahih Sunnan Ibn Majah by Albani, (1/119)
So the hadith is absolutely sahih and the Jarh Mubham on this narrator is not given any worth.
Proof from other scholars that Raqs is allowed
Scholar # 1
Imam Jalal al-Din Suyuti (rah) was asked for a Question “a group of Sufis who had gathered for a session of dhikr,” and he replied: How can one condemn making dhikr while standing, or standing while making dhikr, when Allah Most High says, “. . . those who invoke Allah standing, sitting, and upon their sides” (Qur'an 3:191). And ‘A'isha (Allah be well pleased with her) said, “The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) used to invoke Allah at all of his times” [Sahih Muslim, 1.282: 373]. And if dancing is added to this standing, it may not be condemned, as it is of the joy of spiritual vision and ecstasy, and the hadith exists [in many sources, such as [Musnad al-Imam Ahmad, 1.108, with a sound (hasan) chain of transmission] that Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib danced in front of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) when the Prophet told him, “You resemble me in looks and in character,” dancing from the happiness he felt from being thus addressed.......and the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) did not condemn him for doing so, this being a basis for the legal acceptability of the Sufis dancing from the joys of the ecstasies they experience, Hence it is correct to stand and dance during gatherings of Dhikr and Sama according to a group of Majority of Scholars, among them being Shaykh ul-Islam Iz udin bin Abd al-Salaam.
Imam Jalal ud din Suyuti (Rahimuhullah) in Al Hawi lil Fatawi, Volume No. 2, Page No. 234 Published by Maktaba al Asriyyah, Beirut, Lebanon.
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So the Sultan of Ulama i.e. Imam al Hafidh Izz bin Abdus Salaam (rah) allowed Raqs along with “GREAT SCHOLARS” as said by Imam Suyuti (rah) who was himself Mujaddad of his time.
Scholar # 2
Imam Nawawi said: “Dancing is not unlawful, unless it is languid, like the movements of the effeminate. And it is permissible to speak and to sing poetry, unless it satirizes someone, is obscene, or alludes to a particular woman” [Minhaj at talibin wa `umdat al-muttaqin. Cairo 1338/1920. Reprint. Cairo: Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi edition, Pae No. 152]
Scholar # 3
Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami also mentions “it is permissible to stand and dance during gatherings of Dhikr and audition according to a group of great scholars, among them being Shaykh al- Islam Ibn Abdus Salam.” (Fatawa al-hadithiyya, p. 298)