Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra
Question: Is the hadith about the person who threw trash on the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s doorstep authentic? Where can I find the reference?
Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious Most Merciful,
As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your question.
Unfortunately, there was more than one person who threw refuse and waste on the doorstep of the Holy Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). Keep in mind, this wasn’t the trash we know today (plastic and cans), but things like rotting scraps of food, thorns and the refuse of slaughtered animals.
Some Narrations that Recount the Throwing of Trash on the Doorstep
Imam al-Suhayli says in his commentary on the Seerah of Ibn Hashim, called al-Raud al-Anif:
“The Chapter on [the Harms and Abuse] that the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) Received from His People:
Ibn Ishaq [am: called the “shaykh of all the scholars of the prophetic biography”], al-Waqidi, al-Taymi, Ibn ‘Uqbah and others mention under this chapter many incidents…
… from throwing sand on his [blessed] head… and from amongst [the incidents] is that they would pile up torn intestines, human feces and blood on his door, and through a dead sheep’s uterus into his cooking pot…” [al-Raud al-Anif, al-Suhayli]
Ibn Sa’d, the early biographer and historian, narrated in his work on history, al-Tabaqat, through ‘Aisha may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported to have said,
“I was [living, in Mecca] between the two worst neighbors [one could have]: between Abu Lahab [his uncle and sworn enemy] and ‘Uqbah ibn Abi M’uayt [who once threw a sheep’s insides on his blessed head, peace be upon him, while he was praying]. Indeed, they would come with bloodied intestines and throw it on my doorstep…” [al-Tabaqa, Ibn Sa’d, as quoted in Suyuti’s Jami’ al Kabir]
In other narrations, it is mentioned that when this would happen, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would pick up the refuse with a stick, come outside of his door, and say aloud, “O sons of Bani Abdi Manaf [his own clan], what kind of protection is this? [am: his clan had pledged to protect him, but did not stop people’s abuses from even reaching his doorstep] Then, he would remove the waste from his doorstep and take it out to the street. [Subul al-Huda wa al-Rashad, al-Solihi; al-Raheeq al-Makhtum, al-Mubarakpuri]
The first woman reported to have done that was Umm Jamil, the wife of Abu Lahab, the paternal uncle and sworn enemy of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
She would gather thorny branches and palm fibers and place them overnight in the path where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would walk. It can be assumed that this includes the doorstep and walkway of his house, since streets are shared between others.
There are many incidents that occurred like this, but the above is enough to show that it did indeed occur, not once but many times, so much so that many incidents of abuse must have gone uncounted and unreported.
A Story that is Commonly Heard Today
When asking whether this story is authentic or not, someone may be alluding to a tale that is commonly heard today:
It goes that a Jewish woman in Mecca who would throw garbage on the doorstep of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in defiance of his message, and one day she fell sick and could not throw the garbage, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited her. Then it is said that she was so amazed at his character that she realized his prophethood and accepted Islam.
I have not found a basis for this specific incident in the books of hadeeth or reliable works of prophetic biography, and it seems as though this story has become popular on the tongues of people without any source to support it, and Allah knows best.
However, there is no need to repeat this story because its moral lesson recurs time and time again throughout the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him). There are so many true accounts of abuses which were followed by displays of the Prophet’s clemency and noble character (peace be upon him) and indeed, people’s hearts would change and they would come to faith.
The important thing is that we read those accounts in the works of Seerah, we should appreciate them, and then strive to emulate that forbearance, clemency and nobility in our own lives.
Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani