Friday, 9 November 2018

Four Rivers of Paradise

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa-alihi wasallam) said:

سَيْحَانُ وَجَيْحَانُ وَالْفُرَاتُ وَالنِّيلُ كُلٌّ مِنْ أَنْهَارِ الْجَنَّةِ

“Sayhan, Jayhan, the Euphrates and the Nile are each from the Rivers of Paradise.”

(Sahih Muslim #7161)

Something similar is affirmed in the Torah:

י  וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן, לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת-הַגָּן; וּמִשָּׁם, יִפָּרֵד, וְהָיָה, לְאַרְבָּעָה רָאשִׁים

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads.

יא  שֵׁם הָאֶחָד, פִּישׁוֹן--הוּא הַסֹּבֵב, אֵת כָּל-אֶרֶץ הַחֲוִילָה, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁם, הַזָּהָב

The name of the first is Pishon; that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

יב  וּזְהַב הָאָרֶץ הַהִוא, טוֹב; שָׁם הַבְּדֹלַח, וְאֶבֶן הַשֹּׁהַם

and the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

יג  וְשֵׁם-הַנָּהָר הַשֵּׁנִי, גִּיחוֹן--הוּא הַסּוֹבֵב, אֵת כָּל-אֶרֶץ כּוּשׁ

And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush.

יד  וְשֵׁם הַנָּהָר הַשְּׁלִישִׁי חִדֶּקֶל, הוּא הַהֹלֵךְ קִדְמַת אַשּׁוּר; וְהַנָּהָר הָרְבִיעִי, הוּא פְרָת

And the name of the third river is Tigris; that is it which goeth toward the east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

(Genesis 2:10-14)

The Hadith of Sahih Muslim has explicitly identified two known rivers, i.e., the Euphrates and the Nile. The Biblical passage clearly identifies the Euphrates too, called the Perath. Another river mentioned in the Bible is the Chiddeqel or Hiddekel “east of Assyria”. It is generally believed that this is the Tigris River, but it cannot be said for certain. Perhaps this corresponds to the Sayhan river mentioned in the Hadith. I believe that the Gihon river mentioned in the Bible corresponds to the Jayhan river. Although the Bible says that this river encompasses the land of Cush, it is not necessarily referring to the famous Cush in Africa, but perhaps the Hindu Kush region of Central Asia. Therefore, the Jayhan or Gihon is none other than the Oxus river, also known as the Amu Darya. This leaves the Pishon, which has to be the Nile River as mentioned in the Hadith of Sahih Muslim. The French exegete Rashi likewise identified the Pishon with the Nile: “Rashi, the foremost biblical commentator, identifies the Pishon as the Nile River. The word Pishon, he explains, has the connotation of gushing forth and overflowing, and symbolizes the Nile River, which would overflow and irrigate the land of Egypt. Alternatively, the word Pishon is associated with the Hebrew word pishtan, flax, a reference to the ancient Egyptian flax industry, which was watered by the Nile River. According to this view, the area called Havilah refers to somewhere along the Nile region, perhaps Egypt or Sudan. Egyptians were known to have mined gold and precious stones back in pre-dynastic times, especially in the region known in ancient times as Nubia, modern-day southern Egypt and Sudan.”
Both the Hadith and the Biblical passage reinforce the view that Paradise is on this Earth.

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