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Hadith of the Divider of the Hell and the Heaven

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Ḥadīth Qasīm al-Nār wa-l-Janna (Arabic: حدیث قَسیمُ النّارِ و الجَنَة, Divider of the Hell and the Heaven) is a hadith from the Prophet (s) concerning the virtues of Imam 'Ali (a), where the Imam is characterized as the divider of the Hell and the Heaven. The hadith is cited in Shiite and Sunni sources in different wordings.

There are two major interpretations of the hadith by Muslim scholars: the first is that 'Ali’s friends and advocates will go to the Heaven, and his enemies will be in the Hell; and the other is that, on the day of resurrection, Imam 'Ali (a) will determine who would go to the Heaven and who would go to the Hell.

The hadith is deemed mutawatir (or frequently transmitted) by some Shiite and Sunni scholars, but some Sunni scholars have cited it with a particular chain of transmission, which they regard as unreliable.

The hadith of the divider of the Hell and the Heaven is also cited in Arabic and Persian poems.

The Text of the Hadith

Nasta'liq calligraphy by Ahmad Ali related to the Safavid era

“The Divider of the Hell and the Heaven” is a hadith from the Prophet (s) about Imam 'Ali (a), which is cited in different wordings:

  • “O 'Ali, indeed, you are the divider of the Heaven and the Hell.” According to Sahifa Imam al-Rida (a), “the Hell” comes before “the Heaven”: “Oh 'Ali, indeed, you are the divider of the Hell and the Heaven.” In some sources, the hadith continues as follows: “you take your lovers inside the Heaven and your enemies inside the Hell.”
  • “O 'Ali, indeed, you are the divider of the Heaven on the day of resurrection, telling the Hell this is mine and this is yours.”
  • “O 'Ali, indeed, you are the divider of the Hell, and indeed, you knock on the Heaven’s door, entering the Heaven without any reckoning.”

Moreover, there are hadiths in which Imam 'Ali (a) refers to himself as the divider of the Heaven and the Hell, including “I am the distinguisher (faruq) who distinguishes between the truth and the falsehood; I take my friends inside the Heaven and my enemies inside the Hell.”

“The Divider of the Heaven and the Hell” is also said to be a title of Imam 'Ali (a). The hadith is cited in Imam 'Ali’s ziyara (attestation of pilgrimage) as well.

Interpretations of the Hadith

According to Muslim scholars, there are two major interpretations of the phrase “the divider of the Hell and the Heaven”:

  • First, those who love Imam 'Ali (a) are indeed guided to the right path, and thus, they go to the Heaven, while his enemies are misguided, and hence, they go to the Hell. In reply to someone who denied the hadith of “I am the divider of the Hell,” Ahmad b. Hanbal, a Sunni jurist (d. 241/855), adduced another hadith by the Prophet (s) concerning 'Ali (a): “No one loves you except a believer, and no one takes you as an enemy except a hypocrite,” and given that believers go to the Heaven and hypocrites go to the Hell, he infers that 'Ali is indeed the divider of the Hell.
  • Second, Imam 'Ali (a) is literally a divider of the Heaven and the Hell on the day of resurrection; that is, he says who would go to the Heaven and who would go to the Hell.

Both interpretations are implicit in certain hadiths as well.

Some people have said that since Imam 'Ali (a) is an Imam, his deeds and words are authoritative, which implies that his followers go to the Heaven and those who defy him go to the Hell.

Validity and the Chain of Transmission

According to al-ʿAllama al-Majlisi and some Sunni scholars, the hadith of the divider of the Hell and the Heaven is mutawatir (frequently transmitted). Immediate Transmitters of the hadith include Jabir b. ʿAbd Allah, ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAbbas, Abd Allah b. Umar, Abd Allah b. Mas'ud, Abu-l-Tufayl, and Abu Salt al-Hirawi. Nevertheless, some Sunni scholars have just cited the hadith through Musa b. Turayf and ʿAbaya b. Ribʿi, who they regarded as unreliable transmitters, thus taking the validity of the hadith into question.

In Poetry

The hadith of the divider of the Hell features in Arabic and Persian poems. For instance, the following verses are attributed to Muhammad b. Idris Shafi'i (d. 204/819), the leader of the Shafi'i denomination:

'Ali—his love is the Heaven

The divider of the Hell and the Heaven

The truthful successor of Mustafa

The Imam of men and the jinn

Moreover, the following verses are attributed to Qutb al-Din al-Rawandi (d. 573/1177), a Shiite scholar of hadiths:

The divider of the Hell, having the good and being the good

He will save us tomorrow from the Blaze

So, Muhammad was a sun in the religion

After him, 'Ali is like a bright moon.

Notes

References

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