Prophet Idress (Alayhis salaam)
Idrees (Alaihis salaam) is mentioned in only 2 verses of the Holy Quran viz:
1. “Remember Idrees (in the Quran). Undoubtedly he was a true Nabi, and we elevated his status.” (19:56,57)
2. “Remember Ismaeel, Idrees and Zul Kifl; each one was forbearing.” (21:85)
Name and lineage
There is much difference of opinion among the historians regarding his name, lineage and era. Such conflicting viewpoints are found that no decisive conclusion can be reached. The question might arise as to why the Quran and Hadith do not present us with a clear appraisal of his personal details viz. his birth, etc. The reason for this is that the Quran, being essentially a book of guidance, has not deviated from its objective and become involved in irrelevant historical facts, but has concentrated on merely the pertinent essentials i.e. his prophethood, elevated status and noble characteristics. The same could be said concerning the ahaadith (traditions) of Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Therefore the only source of information regarding his lineage are Jewish narrations which are notorious for being a plethora of contradictions. One group is of the opinion that he was the grandfather of Nuh (Alaihis salaam) and his actual name was Enoch, while Idrees was his title. Another version is that Enoch was his name in Hebrew, while Idrees is the Arabic equivalent of this Hebrew word (more details regarding his lineage, etc. can be found in Fathul Bari vol. 6 pg. 288, Al-bidaaya Wan-Nihaaya). His lineage is as follows: Khanukh or Enoch (Idrees), the son of Parid, son of Mahlaeel, son of Qaynaan, son of Anoosh, son of Shees, son of Adam (Alaihis salaam). This is the view of Ibn Ishaq while another group of historians are of the opinion that he was a Prophet of the Banu Israeel (Israelites) and that Ilyas and Idrees refer to the same person. However, the fact that the Quran has mentioned Ilyas and Idrees separately indicates that they are different personalities.
A narration of Sahih Ibn Hibban states that Idrees (Alaihis salaam) was the first person to use the pen. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was asked about geomancy (divination by means of lines and figures in the sand). He replied that this knowledge was granted to a Nabi. If anyone’s sketches correspond to that Nabi’s, the target is struck, otherwise not. After mentioning these narrations, Hafiz Ibn Kathir states that many Ulama of tafsir (exegesis of the Quran) and ahkaam (Jurisprudence) are of the view that Idrees (Alaihis salaam) was the first person to utter the words of geomancy. In the hadith of Mi’raj (ascension) (in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim), it is mentioned that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) met Idrees (Alaihis salaam) on the fourth heaven. However, not much more is mentioned about him.
A narration on the authority of Hilal bin Yasaf has been mentioned in the famous Tafsir Tabari, in which Abdullah bin Abbas
Abbas asked Ka’b Ahbaar concerning the tafseer (hermeneutics) of the verse, “We raised him to a lofty status.” (19:57) (The verse refers to Idrees (Alaihis salaam). Ka’b replied: “Once Allah revealed to Idrees (Alaihis salaam) that he will reward him daily the amount of good deeds which the people of the entire world accumulate in a day. Upon bearing this, Idrees (Alaihis salaam) desired to have a longer life. He mentioned this desire to a companion angel so that he could intercede on his behalf to the angel of death. The companion angel upon hearing his request carried him on his wings. When he reached the fourth heaven, the angel of death was descending to the earth. Both the angels met and began conversing. The companion angel spoke to the angel of death regarding the matter of Idrees (Alaihis salaam). The angel of death inquired as to where Idrees (Alaihis salaam) was? He replied that he was on his back. The angel of death said: “I was given the command by Allah to take the life of Idrees (Alaihis salaam) in the fourth heaven. Knowing that he was on earth, I became extremely surprised and wondered how it would be possible to take his soul. The angel of death immediately took the soul of Idrees (Alaihis salaam). After mentioning this incident, Ka’b Ahbaar commented that this was the tafsir (exegesis) of the verse: “We raised him to a lofty status.” (19:57)
Ibn Abi Haatim, like Ibn Jareer has also mentioned a similar narration in his tafseer. After quoting these two narrations, Hafiz ibn Kathir comments that these are all Jewish fabrications. The sanad (chain of narrations) of these incidents is also defective. Accordingly, the correct tafseer is that he was spiritually elevated.
According to Imaam Bukhari, Abdullah ibn Mas’ood and Abdullah ibn Abbas have reported that Idrees is definitely the name of Nabi Ilyas (Alaihis salaam). The reason for this viewpoint is based on the narration of Anas (Radiallahu anhu) which Imam Zuhri has mentioned in the hadith of Mi’raj. The narration states that when Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) ascended the heavens, he met the Anbiya (Alaihimus salaam). When he went to meet Idrees (Alaihis salaam), he was addressed likewise: “O pious brother.” If Idrees was in fact the prophet Enoch, then he would also have addressed Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) as, “O pious son,” as did Adam and Ibrahim (Alaihimas salaam).
This is a weak proof according to ibn Kathir, firstly because there is a possibility that the narrator of this lengthy Hadith did not preserve the words accurately. Secondly the possibility exists that Idrees (Alaihis salaam) refrained from expressing his fatherly status due to the lofty status of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Hence out of humility, he preferred calling him his brother.
In the Torah, only the following has been mentioned regarding him:
“When Enoch was 65, he had a son, Methuselah. After that, Enoch lived in fellowship with God for 300 years and had other children. He lived to be 365 years. He spent his life in fellowship with God, and then he disappeared, because God took him away.” (Genesis Chapter 5 Verses 21-24 – Good News Bible, Today’s English Version)
The view of the philosophers
Allamah Jamaluddin Qitfi states in Taarikhul Hukama: “Philosophers differ in their opinions regarding the birth place of Idrees (Alaihis salaam) and concerning whom he obtained his knowledge from before prophethood.
One group is of the opinion that his name is Hermusul Haramisa (the first astrologer), and that he was born in the Egyptian village of Manaf. The Greeks refer to Harmus as Armees.
Another group is of the opinion that his name in Greek is Tarmees, Khanukh in Hebrew and Enoch in Arabic, while he is called Idrees in the Quran. His teacher’s name is Ghosazimun (Egyptian – meaning pious). The only fact they mention about Ghosazimun is that he was a Greek or Egyptian prophet. They refer to him as Orion 2 and Idrees as Orion 3. They state that Hermus left Egypt and travelled the whole world and when he returned to Egypt, Allah Taala raised him unto Himself at the age of 82 years.
A third group is of the opinion that Idrees was born and brought up in Babul. In his early life he obtained knowledge from Shees bin Adam. Allamah Shahristani, the famous theologian, states that Ghosazimun is actually the name of Shees (Alaihis salaam). When Idrees reached the required age and maturity, etc. Allah conferred prophethood on him. Thereafter he began guiding and teaching the people the true Deen. However the evil agitators did not lend an ear and openly opposed him. Only a small group embraced Islam. When Idrees (Alaihis salaam) realised that the situation reached such aggravating proportions that it would be necessary for himself and his small band of followers to migrate, he prepared himself and instructed his followers to do the same. When they heard this, they felt it extremely difficult to leave their homes and desisted by saying that they would not obtain another fertile place like Babul (a famous city of ancient Iraq which no longer exists). Idrees (Alaihis salaam) consoled them by saying that if they would bear this hardship in the path of Allah, then due to His extreme compassion, He would grant them something better in exchange.
When they had been convinced, Hadrat Idrees (Alaihis salaam) migrated to Egypt with his followers. When his followers saw the fertility of the embankments of the Nile, they were overjoyed. Idrees (Alaihis salaam) told them that they had chosen Babylon (meaning a large river), a more fertile area than Babul. This statement of Idrees (Alaihis salaam) became so popular that besides the Arabs, even the ancient nations began calling this area Babylon. However the Arabs called it Misr (Egypt). The reason for this is that after the flood of the time of Nuh (Alaihis salaam), this area became the home of Misr bin Haam’s progeny.
When Idrees (Alaihis salaam) settled in Egypt with his followers, he continued the propagation of truth and the forbidding of evil. It is said that 72 languages were spoken in his time and by the grace of Allah, he was fluent in all of them. He propagated to each nation in its respective language.
Besides propagating the deen of Allah, he also taught economics and local administration. He gathered students from each sect and taught them the principles governing the administering of a town. When these students had excelled and become competent, they returned to their people and began inhabiting cities where they applied the principles they had learnt. These cities numbered approximately 200, the smallest of which was Raha. (it does not exist today). Idrees (Alaihis salaam) taught them other subjects as well, inter alia philosophy and astronomy.
Idrees (Alaihis salaam) was the first person to expound the principles of philosophy and astronomy. Allah Taala endowed him with the knowledge of the planets, the stars, their movements and the secrets of their interaction. He was also endowed with the knowledge of arithmetic. Had this messenger not been divinely taught these various sciences of knowledge, it would have been extremely difficult for mankind to attain them. He formulated judicial and governmental principles for every nation based on their conditions. He divided the earth into four regions and appointed a ruler over each one. He made it incumbent on each of the four to give the divine law which he had taught them, preference over all other judiciary codes. The first four rulers were:
1) Elaous (meaning merciful)
4) Zous Amoun or Elaous Amoun or Baselokbus.
From the above-mentioned four kings, Isqlibous was righteous and of firm determination. He safeguarded the words of Idrees (Alaihis salaam) and the laws of Shariah. He expressed extreme remorse and grief on the passing away of Idrees (Alaihis salaam). Isqlibous ruled the area which was called Greece after the flood of Nuh (Alaihis salaam). When the Greeks saw the remnants of the statues of Idrees (Alaihis salaam) and the pictures of his ascendancy, and coupled with that they heard of the greatness of Isqlibous and his expertise in hikmat (medicine) and philosophy, they mistook him to be the prophet that was raised. This was a clear error due to their incorrect assumption.
Summary of Idrees’ (Alayhis salaam) teachings
He propagated the belief of the unity of Allah i.e. worshipping only Him. Some of the basic tenets of his teachings were as follows:
Good actions form a shield against the punishment of the hereafter.
Abstinence from the world is of primary importance.
Priority must be given to justice in all matters.
Worship Allah in the prescribed way.
Fasting during Ayyamul Beed (i.e. 13, 14 and 15 of every lunar month), to wage jihad against the enemies of Islam, to pay zakaat, to be clean and to abstain from dogs, pigs and all forms of intoxicants is essential.
He specified by a divine decree, certain days for the celebration of Eid, and certain days for Udhiyyah (Qurbani) and vows. The dates for some of the rites were determined according to the sighting of the moon, some were performed when the sun entered a certain planetary phase, whilst others were performed when certain planets entered certain galaxies or when they were parallel to each other.
Methods of sacrifice
With regards to sacrificial practices and vows, three methods were in vogue at that time. Burning harvest, incense, slaughtering of animals and sacrificing the first fruit, grain and flowers of the season was essential. Some historians have mentioned wine which seems far-fetched. From amongst sacrificial fruits, apples were given preference over all others whereas amongst flowers and grain, the rose and wheat respectively were highly regarded.
Glad tidings of future messengers
Idrees (Alaihis salaam) also informed his nation that many messengers will succeed him for the guidance and reformation of people. Their characteristic features will be that they will be free of all impurities and sins i.e. they will be perfect models and paragons of virtue. They will be granted the knowledge of the underlying secrets governing the interaction between the sky and the earth. They will be informed of ailments and their cures by means of divine guidance. Their supplications will be granted by Allah. However the primary motivation for their mission will be the reformation of mankind.
When Idrees (Alaihis salaam) was made the ruler on earth, he divided the people into three groups based on knowledge and practice: fortune-tellers, kings and subjects. He specified their status according to sequence. The fortune-teller had the highest status because in the presence of Allah he was answerable for himself, the matters of the kings and the subjects. The king had the second stage due to his personal responsibility and the responsibility of his subjects, while the subjects were only answerable for themselves thus forming the third stage. This classification of his was religiously based and was not according to social or financial status. Until his death he continued propagating the laws of the Shariah.
Features of Idrees (Alaihis salaam)
He was fair in complexion, tall with little hair on his head, handsome, with a thick beard and elegance illuminated his countenance. His striking features were his strong arms, broad shoulders and his powerfully built physique. He had shiny eyes and spoke with dignity but preferred to be silent. When he walked, he kept his gaze low and was always in deep thought. His anger could be quite intense and he used to point with his forefinger when conversing. He lived to the age of 82 years. The following words were inscribed on his ring: “To have patience together with faith in Allah leads to victory.” The following words were inscribed on his belt: “Eid in reality, is in preserving the obligations, Shariah is total Deen and the completion of Deen is the perfection of manliness.” The belt which he donned at the time of Janaazah salaat had the following sentences: “Fortunate is the one who safeguards himself and his virtuous deeds intercede on his behalf in the presence of his Creator.” There are many statements of wisdom of Idrees (Alaihis salaam) which have become proverbial in many languages. Some of them are:
1) Gratifying Allah on his countless favours is beyond the power of man.
2) Whoever desires perfection in knowledge and good deeds should not even come close to the causes of ignorance and evil character. Don’t you see when an expert in any field intends to sew, he takes a needle in his hands and not a drill.
3) The good of this world is sorrow and the evil is regret.
4) Sincerity of intention is a condition for Allah’s remembrance and virtuous deeds.
5) Do not take false oaths, nor make Allah’s name a target of oaths, nor induce liars to take oaths, otherwise you will have participated in the sin.
6) Do not adopt a despised occupation.
7) Obey your leaders (those who implement Shariah), adopt humility before your leaders and always engage your tongue in the praise of Allah.
8) Wisdom is the spirit of life.
9) Do not be jealous of others leading a good life because life is only temporary.
10) Whoever seeks more than his needs will never be satisfied. (Tarikhul Hukama)
A group of Ulama are of the opinion that Hermus 1 is the teacher of all the knowledge in the world before the flood of Nuh (Alaihis salaam). He was a resident of northern Egypt and the Hebrews also regard him as the Nabi Khanukh, one of the descendants of Adam (Alaihis salaam).
They also claim that the educational gems and the mention of the stars made in the books of philosophy were first made in his language. The building of temples for the worship of Allah, the discovery of medicine and the expressing of opinions regarding earthly and heavenly objects by means of metered rhymes was also initiated by him. He was also the first person to warn the people of a flood in the future. He was shown in a dream that the world was being engulfed in water and fire. When he saw this, he feared the destruction of knowledge and trades. Accordingly, he built the Pyramids and he drew pictures of all new inventions and instruments and engraved all his knowledge in these pyramids so that it remained perpetually.
This is a summary of the unsubstantiated facts concerning Idrees (Alaihis salaam) mentioned in the books of philosophy. Neither does logic nor historical events substantiate them. In fact, due to recent archaeological discoveries, it becomes extremely clear that these theories are all fabrications. Today we have the facts about the pyramids, their builders, those who drew pictures and inscriptions on these pyramids and the different types of Hieroglyphics, etc. which clearly show how far-fetched these tales are. These theories were only quoted to reveal the fabrications which the books of philosophy contain concerning the prophets. In this regard, only the facts quoted in the Quran and Hadith are correct and in a neutral stance, some of the statements in the Torah and those statements worthy of a prophet.