Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I came across this Hadith:
“Philosophy is the stray camel of the Faithful, take hold of it wherever ye come across it.”
Is it authentic?
Answer: Walaikum assalam,
I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah.
The hadith you mentioned is related through various narrations from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), but it mentioned wisdom (hikma) in a general sense—not “philosophy,” specifically.
Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja and others relate from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) said, “The wise word is the lost property of the believer. Wherever they find it, they are most deserving of it.” [This is the wording of Imam Tirmidhi.]
This hadith has been deemed weak (da`if), despite its various narrations, as indicated by Imam Tirmidhi himself. [Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’; Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]
However, its meaning is sound, [ibid.] as confirmed by many other texts from the Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him).
What is Meant By “Hikma” Here?
The wording of the main narrations of this hadith (such as in the Sunan of Imam Tirmidhi) is, “The wise word” (al-kalima al-hikma). This makes clear that “wisdom”—not “philosophy”—is meant, despite some recent writers using it in the latter sense. This is how all major hadith commentators—-including authorities such as Imam Munawi and Mulla Ali al-Qari—have explained the hadith.
Mulla Ali al-Qari, in his Mirqat al-Mafatih explains that this refers to beneficial words of wisdom. Imam Malik defined wisdom (hikma) as being, “Deep understanding of religion.” (al-fiqh fi’d deen)
Allah Most High says, “He grants wisdom (hikma) to whomever He wills.” [Qur’an, 2.269]
May Allah Most High grant us wisdom, in all its manifestations.
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.
* روى الترمذى ( 5 / 51) و ابن ماجه ( 2 / 1395 ) و القضاعى فى مسند الشهاب ( 1 / 65 ) ثلاثتهم من طريق إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ الْفَضْلِ عَنْ سَعِيدٍ الْمَقْبُرِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ مرفوعا بلفظ ” الْكَلِمَةُ الْحِكْمَةُ ضَالَّةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ فَحَيْثُ وَجَدَهَا فَهُوَ أَحَقُّ بِهَا ” و اللفظ للترمذى
[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersGuidance Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersGuidance Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).