Hadith of the Ark

Hadith of the Ark
Arabic حديث السفینة
Romanization Hadith al-Safinah
Literal meaning Hadith of the Ark

The Hadith of the Ark (Arabic: حدیث السفینة, translit. Ḥadīth al-Safīnah) is a tradition narrated from the Islamic prophet Muhammad by different narrators such as Ali ibn Abu Talib, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (known as Sadiq) and Abd Allah ibn Abbas.[1] In this tradition, Muhammad compares his household (Ahl al-Bayt) to Noah's ark, the only way to salvation in a sea of darkness, deviations, innovations and passions.[2] According to Shi‘ism, the Twelve Imams are the Ulu'l-Amr, who are like the ark of Noah, and Quran 33:33 refers to them.[3] Both Shi'a and Sunni scholars agree that prophet narrated this hadith.[2]

Investigation of the hadith

Al-Hakim Nishapuri narrated this hadith as authentic (sahih) in his Mustadrak al-Hakim.[1][lower-alpha 1][4] Al-Heithami states in his book (written against Shia): By many narrations of this hadith which strengthen each other; "certainly Ahl al-Bayt are like the Ark of Noah, saved Whoever boarded", and in Sahih Muslim "perished whoever turned away from it" also comes along."[5] And in another book, Al-Haythami classed this hadith as authentic.[2] According to Dahlan, the authenticity of this hadith is confirmed by different sources.[lower-alpha 2][2][6]:117

Ibn Taymiyyah remarks this hadith as lacking authority (sanad) and not finding anything about it in authentic books; in fact he insulted the great scholars who narrated this hadith as al-Nisaburi, al-Tabari, al-Tabarani etc. However, some of Sunni scholars refer to him as against Ahl al-Bayt.[7]

Al-Heithami accepted that the Ahl al-Bayt are the only way of salvation but he continues that Sunnis are those who boarded the ark.[2]

Implication of the hadith

Sunni Scholars

Based on Tayyebi:[2] One of the narraters of this hadith is Abu Dharr who narrates this hadith while holding on the door of Kaaba which is an emphasis on this hadith and holding on to the ahl al-Bayt.[1] Abu Dharr, while introducing himself, narrates this hadith to remind people that he is Abu Dharr known as Sadiq by Muhammad.[2]

The Prophet resembles this world with its darknesses, deviations, innovations and passions to a stormy and raging sea covered with dark clouds that the only, unique way of salvation is boarding this Ark (safinah).[2]

Al-Samhudi states: The salvation is the aspect of resemblance of Ahl al-Bayt to Noah's ark by the Prophet. As a result, hadith implies that to be grateful to Ahl al-Bayt by their gratitude, appreciation and sanctity. Everyone behave in this way, he is survived from the darkness of enmity and he is grateful; otherwise he is drowned in the sea of disbelief and the punishment of hell is urgent for him.[2]

Shia Scholars

The hadith implies the absolute priority of Ahl al-Bayt to all others, otherwise Muhammad would have forbidden to follow them.[6]:209

According to Shia scholars, the only path to salvation is by following the Ahl al-Bayt, so they must be infallible (Ma'sum), otherwise they will mislead their followers.[2] If they are infallible, they must be Imam definitely.[6]:207

According to this hadith, they are the criterion of distinguishing believers from non-believers.[6]:210

There must be an Imam at all the times until the Day of Resurrection.[6]:210

The number of Imams is twelve.[6]:211

See also


  1. وهذا حديث صحيح على شرط مسلم ولم يخرجاه (اي البخاري ومسلم).
  2. صحّ عنه صلّى الله عليه وآله من طرق كثيرة


  1. 1 2 3 al-Asgari, Najm al-Din. Hadith al-Thaqalayn (The Hadith of the Two Weighty Things) (in Arabic). Moasese Tahgig va Nashre Ma'aref Ahl al-Bait. pp. 132–158.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 al-Milani, Seyyed Ali (2011). Jawahir al-Kalam V.2 (in Persian). Qom: al-Haqayeq. pp. 85–93.
  3. Fyzee, Asaf A.A (1982). A Shi'ite Creed (3rd ed.). Tehran: WOFIS. p. 85.
  4. al-Nisaburi, al-Hakim. Mustadrak v.2 (in Arabic). Beirut: Dar al-ma'arefah. p. 343.
  5. al-Heithami, Ibn Hajar. al-Sawaeq al-Mohraga (in Arabic). Tehran: Bina. p. 182.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 al-Milani, Seyyed Ali. Nafahat al-Azhar V.4 (in Arabic).
  7. al-Rahmah, Hikmat Jarih Sabr (2009). "A Survey of Hadith Safina in Sunni Sources". http://www.hadith.net (in Persian). Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. External link in |website= (help)

External links

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