(1) In relation to Ḥadīth Jibrīl, did the angel come in the form of the companion Diḥyah al-Kalbī (may Allah be pleased with him)? If so, why did ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him) say that the companions did not recognise him?
(2) Has there ever been an occasion when Diḥyah al-Kalbī (may Allah be pleased with him) was present and Jibrīl (peace be upon him) appeared in Diḥyah’s form in his presence?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمAnswer
(1) Jibrīl (peace be upon him) came in the form of a human being but no one recognised him. This is explicitly mentioned in the narration of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (8) wherein ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him) states, “And no one from us recognised him.” The narration of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (4777) also indicates this. Some narrations in fact suggest that the companions looked at one another and said, “We do not recognise this [person].” (Fatḥ al-Bārī, 1: 116). The narration of Musnad Isḥāq Ibn Rāḥwayh (165), Sunan al-Nasāʾī (4991), Musnad al-Bazzār (4025) that suggests that he came in the form of Diḥyah al-Kalbī (n.d.) (may Allah be pleased with him) is an error, as affirmed by Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1449) in Fatḥ al-Bārī (1: 125), Mullā ʿAlī al-Qārī (d. 1014/1605) in Mirqāt al-Mafātīḥ (1: 51) and others.
(2) There are authentic ḥadīths that affirm that Jibrīl (peace be upon him) would come to the Prophet ﷺ in the form of Diḥyah (Musnad Aḥmad, 5857; Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 3634; 4980) perhaps because he was very handsome (Siyar, 2: 550; al-Iṣābah, 2: 321; ʿUmdat al-Qārī, 1: 40; Mirqāt al-Mafātīḥ, 1: 51). We have not come across any explicit narration that states that Jibrīl (peace be upon him) came in the form of Diḥyah al-Kalbī (may Allah be pleased with him) in his presence. However, there is a ṣaḥīḥ (sound) narration in al-Mustadrak (7412) in which ʿĀʾishah (d. 58/678) (may Allah be pleased with her) suggests that on the day of the battle of trenches she saw the Prophet ﷺ talking to Jibrīl who had come in the form of Diḥyah (may Allah be pleased with him). Diḥyah participated in this battle (al-Iṣābah, 2: 321). The narration however makes no reference to whether other companions besides ʿĀʾishah (d. 58/678) also saw this including Diḥyah (may Allah be pleased with them).
After writing thus far, I came across Imam Bayhaqī’s (d. 458/1066) comments in al-Iʿtiqād (p. 289) which suggests that Jibrīl (peace be upon him) did not come in Diḥyah’s form in his presence. He writes:
وقد روینا أن جماعة من أصحاب النبي صلی الله علیه وسلم رأوا جبریل علیه السلام في صورة دحیة الکلبي ودحیة غائب
“And indeed we have narrated that a group from the companions of the Prophet ﷺ saw Jibrīl, peace be on him, in the form of Diḥyah al-Kalbī whilst Diḥyah was absent.”
Allah knows best
28 Rabīʿ al-Thānī 1438 / 26 January 2017
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmad Sahib