The Cobweb Story on Hijrah from Makkah to Madeenah

Among the wildly popular but largely undependable narrations people tell about the Prophet, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), is the story that: When he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and his companion, Aboo Bakr as-Siddeeq (radiya Allahu anhu), were in the cave while the polytheists searched for them, a spider made a web to cover the entrance of the cave and two doves made their nests on the web. Some other reports have it that a tree was caused to grow covering the entrance. Here – Allah willing – it will suffice to only cite the statements of the people of knowledge on these stories:

1. Aboo Turaab adh-Dhaahiree (rahimahullah) said: “It has been reported that two doves made two nests on the entrance and that a tree grew. All of that has strangeness and are rejected from the aspects of transmission...” [al-Athar al-Muqtafaa li Qissati Hijrat al-Mustafaa pg. 13].

2. Imam Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) said, “This is very strange!” [al-Bidayah 3/182].

3. Imam al-Haythamee after citing the chains of one of the reports said, “It contains a number of reporters I don’t know (i.e. unknown reporters).” [Majma’u az-Zawaaid 6/152-153].

4. Shaykh Ahmad Shakir (rahimahullah) said: “Its chain has defects...” [Musnad 5/87].

5. Shaykh Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albaanee (rahimahullah) gave extensive discussions on the various chains of report of these stories and said: “Know that no hadeeth is authentic regarding the web on the entrance and the two doves despite the fact that it is repeatedly cited in some books and during lectures given about the Prophet’s migration to Madeenah...” [Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth ad-Da’eefah 3/259-265 and 3/339].

6. Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullah): “...this is evidence that the story of the spider’s web is not authentic. So what is found in some books of history that a spider made a web on the entrance of the cave and that a tree grew having a dove on its branch...all these are not reliable.” [Sharh Riyad as-Saaliheen 2/525].

7. Dr. Akram Diyaa al-‘Umaree said, “A very weak hadeeth is reported showing that when the messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) stayed in the cave of Thawr, Allah commanded a tree to grow at the entrance and ordered two doves and two nests which covered the entrance of the cave...” [As-Seerat an-Nabawiyyah as-Saheehah 1/208].

However, regarding the event, Allah the Mighty and Exalted said: “...when they were in the cave, he said to his companion, ‘be not afraid, Allah is with us.’ Then Allah sent down His tranquillity upon him and strengthened him with forces which you saw not...” [at-Tawbah: 40]. Imam al-Bagawee, as-Sam’aanee, Ibn Katheer, ash-Shawkaanee, the two Jalaaluddeen, Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sa’dee, al-Ashqar all averred that “the forces which you saw not” were angels. This is supported by a Hasan (sound) hadeeth collected by Imam at-Tabaraanee that an angel covered the entrance with its wings. [See: Silsilat ad-Da’eefah 3/262].

Allah knows Best.

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