بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Continuing from the previous entry, we discussed the Four Rivers of Paradise (Sayhan, Jayhan, the Euphrates and the Nile) as a proof that Paradise is on this Earth, when the latter shall be transformed into a “new Earth”. Although the Euphrates and the Nile are two well known rivers, there is some dispute about the exact identity of the Sayhan and Jayhan rivers. I argued that the Jayhan river must correspond to the Gihon river mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 2:13), and perhaps this is the Amu Darya (Oxus River), which is known as Jayhun to the Arabs, but Allah knows best. Imam an-Nawawi has disputed this claim in his Sharh of the Hadith:
اعلم أن سيحان وجيحان غير سيحون وجيحون
“Know that the Sayhan and Jayhan are other than the Sayhun and Jayhun”
According to Imam an-Nawawi, these two rivers are located in the land of the Armenians. He identifies the Jayhan with the Ceyhan River in Anatolia. Qadi Iyad, however, located the Sayhan and Jayhan rivers in Transoxania, i.e., the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) and the Oxus (Amu Darya).
Perhaps a clue to the reality of the Sayhan and Jayhan rivers can be found in another Hadith which describes the Prophet’s Mi’raj (spiritual ascension) to Heaven:
وَرُفِعَتْ لِي سِدْرَةُ الْمُنْتَهَى فَإِذَا نَبِقُهَا كَأَنَّهُ قِلاَلُ هَجَرٍ، وَوَرَقُهَا كَأَنَّهُ آذَانُ الْفُيُولِ، فِي أَصْلِهَا أَرْبَعَةُ أَنْهَارٍ نَهْرَانِ بَاطِنَانِ وَنَهْرَانِ ظَاهِرَانِ، فَسَأَلْتُ جِبْرِيلَ فَقَالَ أَمَّا الْبَاطِنَانِ فَفِي الْجَنَّةِ، وَأَمَّا الظَّاهِرَانِ النِّيلُ وَالْفُرَاتُ
Then I was shown Sidrat ul-Muntaha and its Nabiq fruits which resembled the clay jugs of Hajr, and its leaves were like the ears of elephants, and four rivers originated at its root, two of them were hidden and two were apparent. I asked Gabriel and he said: “The two hidden rivers are in Paradise, and the two apparent ones are the Nile and the Euphrates.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari #3207)
Therefore, the stronger view is that these two rivers (Sayhan and Jayhan) are the two hidden rivers of Paradise which the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wa-alihi wasallam) was shown during the Mi’raj and Allah knows best!