The Origins of the Hadra

Hadra – (a special way of doing Dhikr by standing and swaying from side to side) is a very popular form of doing dhikr in some parts of the middle east, North Africa and Yemen. However not many people know its origins. where did it emerge from? was it a practice of the companions? who was the first to do it? etc. Is it a bida (innovation) in Islam? Interestingly enough i have come across this statement in Al Ibriz by Syyiduna Abdul Azeez Ad Dabbagh – the Ghous (support) of his time, with regards to Hadra:

…alDabbagh states that it didn’t exist during the first three generations of Islam. And this accords with what the religious scholars have affirmed. AI-Dabbagh then notes that in the fourth generation four or five Friends of God who were endowed with illumination and had disciples and followers were in fact the origin of the ecstatic dance. They observed how angels worship God and are engaged in recollection. AI-Dabbagh explains: ‘There are some angels …who recollect God with their tongue and their whole body. You see their body swaying to the right and to the left, and swaying forward and backward.’ These few Friends, while absent in beholding God, unconsciously imitated the angels. …

Read the complete quotation of Syyiduna Abdul Azeez Dabbagh on HADRA here

SO, it is clear that the hadra is not from the sunnah. But, that of the form of worship which some of the angels engage in. This clearly confirms that it was not the practice of the prophet (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam), the companions, and the four founding fathers of the schools of thoughts (scholars) and therefore is a BIDA (innovation) in Islam. Now having included this statement/quote, i am pretty much sure there will be an onslaught of criticisms from people. Before you intend to reply or form a conclusion in your mind, please be aware that the person who made this statement was not an ordinary person like you or i. He was the Ghous (support) of his age. Which was attested to by the great scholars of his time. An unlettered saint endowed with numerous miracles and most important of which was the sight of our liege lord Syyiduna Muhammad (Sallahu’alihi’wa’salam) on a constant basis. If he is attesting to this, then it must be the truth!

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24 comments

  1. Salam,

    No ‘onslaught’ brother. But, you have done nothing to explain whether the hadra is bid’ah mahmuda or bid’ah dalalah.

  2. as salaamu `alaykum

    It was not the Shaykh (Allah have mercy upon him and spread his benefit) who made the statement, “This clearly confirms that it was not the practice of the prophet (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam), the companions, and the four founding fathers of the schools of thoughts (scholars) and therefore is a BIDA (innovation) in Islam:” but you. The Shaykh’s statement was you’ve related was and states that the practice was not know in the first three generations. This fact in itself does not make an act a bida`, particularly if said act is rooted in the Qur’an and sunnah.

    (Further, see above point made by Mansoor

    • Yes, that is true what you have mentioned brother Umar. The quoted parts which are clearly highlighted and can be seen are the saying of Syyiduna Abdul Azeez ad Dabbagh (ra) the rest are my words and therefore is NOT in quotation marks.
      Secondly, having been blessed to have studied in an darul uloom i am aware of the different types of bidahs in existence. Numbering upto 5 different types of innovations which the ulema of the deen have labeled. My point here was to simply mention that it is a Bidah. Not going into the depths of whether it is a good bidah or not. That is a different topic entirely. Which i hope someday to address aswell. What i wanted to achieve here was to highlight its origins and that it is not an actual activity which can be easily labeled as being from the sunnah. As many people tend to do.

  3. In ten years of study and travel, I have never heard a single individual, knowledgeable or otherwise, label the hadra as a ‘sunnah’ according to any legal connotations that attach themselves to that term. I am left wondering exactly what your aims and intentions are?

    Having studied in a dar al-uloom, you should be well aware of Mawlana Tahanwi’s sanctioning of the hadra.

  4. Sallams

    Beware of quoting from books on matters you do not fully comprehend.

    Its not knowledge this Ummah lacks, its the lack and vastness of its understanding.

  5. I heard once shaykh Ul islam dr. Muhammad Tahirul Qadri use Hadith to justify the hadra. In one of the revival retreats he used a hadith to say that once a group of bedouins came to the prophet (saw) and they were doing some kind of a dance together in celebration of something and the prophet (saw) did not disapprove of it. i have not quoted the hadith obviously for word for word but it was something along these lines).
    So does that mean that the Hadith has nothing to do with hadra actually?

  6. Assalaam alaykum,

    Alhamdulilah, it’s good to see Sunni Muslims discussing this issue from the other side.

    Sheikh Ramadan Al-Bouti, as well as Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuhayli (both Shaf’is), have spoken out out against the hadra or at least elements of it, such as dancing and grunting instead of saying Allah’s names. For Sheikh Az-Zuhayli’s position have a look at: http://mahdinnm.blogspot.com/2010/10/sheikh-wahba-az-zuhayli-on-hadra.html

    For Sheikh Al-Bouti’s position, there’s the second half of that interview he did, which is here: http://mahdinnm.blogspot.com/2010/10/beautiful-interview-with-sh-ramadan-al.html with translation.

    The point that Sheikh Al-Bouti alludes to in Fiqh As-Seerah (p.527-31 of the English translation) is that dhikr, in fiqh, falls under ibadat, because it is worship that occurs between the slave and his Lord. It is not part of mu’amalat. When discussing a newly invented matter in the realm of mu’malat, the principle is that permissibility is the foundation until evidence is brought against it. The opposite goes for ibadat. The foundation of a newly invented matter is impermissiblity.

    The Sheikh, may Allah preserve him, says: “Add this to the fact that the state into which these “worshippers” enter leads them to utter sounds which have nothing to do with the words employed in the remembrance of God. Rather, they are nothing but inarticulate utterances by means of which they produce a steady drone that harmonizes with the rhythms of those chanting and singing and increases the mood of escstatic exhilaration. How can this be the type of remembrance which God has commanded us to engage in, and which was practised by the Apostle (pbuh) and his Companions?! How can activity such as this be worship, when worship – as you are all aware – is what God has legislated for us in the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah, neither of which is to be added to or detracted from?” (Fiqh as-Seerah, trans. Nancy Roberts (The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography) p.528, available from http://www.haddad.co.uk)

    Right after this paragraph, and again in volume 1 of his fatwa book Ma’ An-Nas, Sheikh al-Bouti makes it clear that this is not his personal view or opinion but rather that of the majority of scholars of Islamic law throughout the ages.

    In conclusion, dhikr should be done with proper etiquette and Allah’s names should be articulated clearly, otherwise it falls into blameworthy innovation. As for wajd, Sheikh al-Bouti states there is a difference between wajd and tawaajud mustana’ (fabricated, bogus ecstasy). Genuine wajd happens spontaneously and incidentally; it can’t be planned or orchestrated. Excessive joy is like excessive grief; one can’t make oneself cry and weep just as one can’t make oneself ecstatic with joy, unless one is pretending. If anyone gets a chance, they should the read the whole section, four and a half pages in total.

    Again, may Allah reward you for raising this issue, and with Allah alone is every success.

    Assalaam alaykum,

    Mahdi

  7. Valuing the principles of democracy, aspects which also the shari’ah values. I have made it a fundamental aspect of this site to allow what ever anyone wishes to express to express it without there being a iron fist on people comments. Obvisouly if anything is said against shari’ah it will be dealt with. This is why you may wish to call me anything you like (within the boundaries of shari’ah) I will not remove the comments.
    I believe in these values; everyone having the right to express their opinions in the correct manner when time and situation allows. You have a right to disagree (as to wether I have understood the statement correctly or not) with me and I respect this.
    Secondly, yes I am aware of what you mentioned above. Going by the fundemtals of what constitutes bidah (wether good or bad) and the quote “…it did not exist within the first three generations of islam…” I’m sure everyone is clear on this issue and therefore can form their own conclusions.

  8. If one does not want to engage in hadhra then don’t! What’s the point of your statements? As you have and others above clearly stated , the scholars have dealt with and disagreed with this issue and have moved on what is YOUR objective?

    • You see there is a clear difference between the scholars and the Awliyah. The true Awliyah are the spritual heirs of the prophet (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam). If they say something then it has a greater weight to it than that of the scholars. Unlike the scholars who are as we know, prone to making errors in their judgements the Awliyah are less likely so. Due to the reason that the Awliyah are in the constant presence of our lord Syyiduna Muhammad (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam) they can clearly distinguish the truth from the falsehood. Espically the Ghous of the time. To be frank he can simply ask the prophet (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam) directly on any issue and get the answer. E.g the hadra.
      Secondly, if they make a statement on an issue they do so with full knowledge of the ‘supposed’ Hadiths in relation to any particular subject. If there was any Hadiths related to this subject which made it sunnah or an ‘act of ibadah’ according to islam then the Awliyah (here Syyiduna Abdul Azeez ad Dabbagh (ra)) would be clearly aware of it and hence forth maybe the statements made would
      have been slightly different. Scholars can be wrong, remember. Most of the sects in islam you see are a result of the scholars interpretations, and not because of the true Awliyah. The Awliyah are less likely to be wrong on issues, simply because of the fact that they have direct access to our liege lord.
      Thirdly, I would suggest you read the al
      Ibriz which is now available in english. In doing so you will gain the magnitude of understanding as to who this particular personality was. What the scholars of his age for instance Imam ibn al Mubarak al Latimi had to say about him. Despite himself being an mufti and an esteemed man of knowledge.

  9. Sidi Khalid it is your comments that make you look silly!

    What is is meant to be established from the quote is a simple historical fact: whether the hadra was practiced by the first three generations of Muslims. According to Shaykh Dabbagh, the answer is simply no. Shaykh Dabbagh’s opinion of the hadra is irrelevant to this question. In fact because Shaykh Dabbagh is praising the hadra, it only adds credence to his statement.

    Because the hadra was not done by Prophet sallalualahiwasalam or the first three generations then this is by definition is bida (refer to Shakh Nuh or Shaykh Gibril Haddad ,as I am sure you have read).

    ML

  10. khalid, you need to remove yourself from the deluded and perplexed framework of understanding you are in. Let me clear some issues which you seem to be only one having as opposed to the many other contributors here.
    1) i have never said that the kashfs can be used as a reference points. (they cant, as we only base our deen on the established sources).
    2) you seem to be confused with regards to what kashfs are.
    3) there are a significant difference betweeen what kashfs are and the MUSHAHADA that the awliyah have on a constant basis, which is granted once the individual has been given the great opening (fath al Kabir). i would recommend you reading up on it, Al ibriz will be a good place to begin. Kashfs are a different thing all together, nothing to do with our discussion here.
    4) A gentle reminder, try to stay calm and understanding of others. there are different sorts of people reading this blog, and the perception you are giving them of yourself is not of a person with good akhlaq. I’d say you are painting a picture of yourself being a short tempered, arrogant, ‘mr know it all’ guy.
    5) please read the statement of the blessed one, where (im sure you must have missed the points) “And this accords with what the religious scholars have affirmed” you would see that even Lamati accords the shaykhs statements with the established sources, some of which are been presented here.
    6) what is being established here are the facts, Historical facts. Not once was the practice of Hadra done or carried out during the time of the prophet (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam), or in the first three generations.
    7)

  11. Brother Khalid,

    Can you explain what Our Master Abdul Azeez Dabbagh rahimullah was saying then if the brother has misunderstood?

  12. Shaykh Hamza once mentioned how a person (person a) objected to another person (person b) when he (person b) was stating a hadith as “this cannot be true, i have not heard it before”. Person b replied “well, how many Hadiths do you know?” person a replied 50% of all the ahadith. Upon hearing this person b declared “put this hadith in the other 50% of hadith you don’t know of”. the point of shaykh hamzas example here was at times we tend to assume we know all the evidence available for and against an argument. When it is evident that, we are limited in our understanding though we may claim to be the most knowledgeable.
    the irony here is, although some are saying they have never met anyone who says hadra is from the sunnah. I have met and personally know many ulema for instance dr. tahirul qadri who portray hadra is from the sunnah justifying it with apparent hadiths as one poster was indicating towards, poster Muna i believe. In the same skeleton of shaykh hamzas words i would like to say to those who say they have never met any ulema or people who say hadra is from the sunnah, to stop being naive and know that there are ulema accross the muslim world not just in the arab lands. Here the original poster is establishing that this is not the case, of hadra being from the sunnah.
    Allu’alam
    Allah knows best.

  13. So from what I can gather from both sides of the table (after having read all the comments) and in answering the original posters questions, aswell as some of my own, this is the result or ‘findings’ to some extent:

    1) Q: Where did it emerge from?
    A: From the circles of the Sufis.

    2) Q: Did the prophet (pbuh) do Hadra?
    A: No

    3) Q: Did the companions engage in Hadra?
    A: No

    4) Q: Did the early generations practice it?
    A: No

    5) Q: Who was the first to do it?
    A: the sufis

    6) Q: Is it a bidah?
    A: there are differing arguments for and against it.

    Well, from what I can see, the hadra not being a bidah – a bidahtul hasana or otherwise is very slim indeed.

    • Nicely simplified. This is pretty much the stance. Although as many have indicated the issue of hadra is something they would prefer to brush under the carpet and continue to live in their ‘airy fairy’ ‘hanky panky’ world.
      People bring in other arguments to such as the mawlid. What they fail to understand is that these issues as the mawlid have string baskets in the sunnah. For example there are several Hadiths which say that the prophet (sallahu’alihi’wa’salam) would fast on mondays. This is a form of celebration done by the master himself. When asked he replied to the nearest meaning “I was born on Monday”. when it comes to the hadra it’s a different issue as people apply their own understanding to a select number of Hadiths and indicate to it being the sources of the hadra. When this is clearly not the case. As these select Hadiths which supposedly are linked to the hadra are not as clear.

  14. Assalaam alaykum,

    Further to the discussion about bida’, it would be good to have a definition of terms. Please have a look at Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuhyali’s explanation:

    http://marifah.net/articles/Innovation-alZuhayli.pdf

    One can also consult Sahih Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawi, Kitab Al-Jumu’ah, volume 6, p.134-135, in which Imam An-Nawawi more or less states the same.

    And with Alla alone is every success.

    Assalaam alaykum,

    Mahdi

    And with Allah alone is every success.

    Assalaam alaykum,

    Mahdi

  15. Shaykh Gabriel has doone a wonderful job ma’sha’Allaah. However, i do find what this poster is saying credible and although at times vague in explanation of his points he/she does have a point to make. Mawlid and issues likewise have a strong support. Where as i find the juisdiction the ulema apply for hadra a little tedious and unclear. The example which can be drawn for this is when a christian tries to explain the trinity. Many find it is unclear, mystified and as a result find it difficult to digest the explanations given. This is because the explainations differ from person to person. Although we know the reason for this is, the trinity is simply an idea cooked up by the religious mafia cult of the early christian era. Likewise the issue of hadra is very similar, unclear, differeing views from ulema to ulema.
    this is why i prefer to stay quiet on this issue.

  16. السلام عليكم . Did the messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be on him, or his companions, the rightly-guided khulafa’, or anyone of the first three generations, or even the generations following them, perform this ‘hadra’ to worship Allah? Everyone knows the answer to this question is NO. So why should anyone now, hundreds of years later, perform this act that has no basis whatsoever in Islam, and claim to be worshipping Allah, and what is more, look down on those who do not take part in this so-called act of worship?! The foundations of ibadah/dhikr are rooted in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Allah’s messenger, and the hadrah is nowhere to be found therein – whoops!

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