Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Karim Yahya, SunniPath Academy Teacher
I am planning to get engaged soon, in sha' Allah. I want to buy a carnelian ('aqiq) ring, but I am not sure what colored stones men are allowed to wear. What color carnelian ring did Muhammad, Allah bless and grant him peace, use to wear? I know that only a silver base is allowed, but what about the color of the stone and what about the shape?
In The Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
May Allah bless your engagement and grant you success (tawfiq) to follow His beloved messenger, Allah bless and grant him peace, in all your endeavors, outwardly and inwardly.
It is sunna for a man to wear one silver ring, with or without a stone, on his pinky finger. If it has a stone, it is sunna for it to face inwards towards his palm, out of emulation of the Prophet, Allah bless and grant him peace, who did this. He may wear it on the right or left hand, and according to the Shafi'i School the right is best. As for other than his pinky, the relied upon position is that it is offensive (makruh). This is the summary of what is in Tuhfah.1
I have not seen the jurists mention the size, color, or shape of the stone. However, they differ as to the weight of the ring itself. Some of them said that it is obligatory for it to be under one mithqal (4.235 grams) due to a prophetic tradition prohibiting this, but the scholars of hadith differed concerning it's authenticity. While others said that the ring's size may not exceed what was commonly acknowledged to be acceptable ('urf) for someone like him in his location. This second position is what Imam Ramli and al-Khatib, Allah have mercy on both of them, said was the relied upon position,2 but it would be more scrupulous to avoid the difference of opinion and wear a ring that was less than 4.235 grams.
As for the ring of our beloved prophet, Muhammad, Allah bless and grant him peace; Muslim relates on the authority of Anas Bin Malik, Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, wore a sliver ring on his right hand, in it was an Abyssinian stone and he used to make the stone face his palm.3
Imam al-Nawawi said in his commentary on Sahih Muslim: "The scholars say ... an Abyssinian stone means a stone of onyx [ in which there is whiteness and blackness] or carnelian ('aqiq) because their mines are in Abyssinia and Yemen, or it is said [it means] that it's color was Abyssinian (i.e. black)."4 Some of the scholars among them al-Suyuti also said that Abyssinian means a kind of chrysolite with a greenish color which exists in the lands of the Abyssinians.5 This prophetic tradition is rigorously authenticated and one explanation for an Abyssinian stone is that it was carnelian ('aqiq), but it should be noted that there are no prophetic traditions which have been authenticated stating that the prophet, Allah bless and grant him peace, wore a carnelian ring. Shaykh Abdullah al-Lahji said in his commentary on al-Nabahani's Shama'il: "Everything that has been transmitted of prophetic sayings concerning carnelian rings, indeed none of it is authenticated; even if it's chains of transmission are numerous as the Hafiz Ibn Rajab said [Allah have mercy on him]."6
So whether you get engaged or not, intend by wearing a ring emulation of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless and grant him peace. If you choose to wear a carnelian ('aqiq) ring, make the basis of that decision the aforementioned rigorously authenticated (sahih) tradition related by Muslim and others, in which one sound interpretation of an Abyssinian stone was carnelian. And Allah knows best and He alone gives success (tawfiq).
1. Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Hawashi al-Sharwani Wa Ibn Qasim al-Abbadi 'Ala Tuhfah al-Muhtaj Bisharh al-Minhaj (Beruit, Dar Ihya' al-Turath al-'Arabi), 3:276.
2. Abdul-Hamid al-Sharwani, Hawashi al-Sharwani Wa Ibn Qasim al-Abbadi 'Ala Tuhfah al-Muhtaj Bisharh al-Minhaj (Beruit, Dar Ihya' al-Turath al-'Arabi), 3:277.
3. Sahih Muslim hadith 2094.
4. Yahya Bin Sharaf al-Nawawi, Sahih Muslim Bisharh al-Imam Abi Zakariya Yahya Bin Sharaf al-Nawawi (Beruit: Dar al-Fikr, 1995), 7:58-59.
5. Abdullah Bin Sa'eed Muhammad 'Abbadi al-Lahji, Kitab Muntaha al-Sul 'Ala Wasa'il al-Wusul Ila Shama'il al-Rasul, 3d. ed. (Beruit: Dar al-Minhaj, 2003), 1:540.
6. ibid., 1:541.
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