Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad
Wa `alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh,
The nonagenarian Muhaddith Abu Hilal and Abu Ahmad al-Hasan ibn `Abd Allah ibn Sahl ibn Sa`id al-`Askari (d. 382 or 395) was a student of al-Baghawi, Ibn Abi Dawud, al-Tabari, Ibn `Arafa and others. From him narrated al-Malini, Abu Nu`aym, al-Batirqani, Ibn Zanjuyah and others. He is the compiler of many meticulous books of hadith narration such as al-Hikam wal-Amthal, al-Tas-hif, Rahat al-Arwah, al-Zawajir wal-Mawa`iz, Kitab al-Sina`atayn, and others. He is relied upon by later Masters of Hadith such as Ibn Hajar, al-Sakhawi, and al-Nawawi.
As for the hadith cited:
It is narrated from Ibn Mas`ud with a good chain as per al-Haythami who said al-Tabarani narrates it and he indicated its chain is good as did al-Suyuti in al-Dur al-Manthur while al-Mundhiri adduces it in al-Targhib wal-Tarhib and references it to al-Hakim in the Mustadrak, adding that its asl or essential wording is in al-Nasa’i [also in al-Tirmidhi from Ibn`Abbas].
It is also narrated thus in full by Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat al-Awliya’, al-Bayhaqi in `Adhab al-Qabr (his great compilation of about two hundred hadiths on the punishment of the grave), and al-Dhahabi with his complete chain in the chapter on Imam Mis`ar ibn Kidam in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ and its correct translation is:
A person is approached [by the angels of punishment] in the grave from the legs then the legs say: “You cannot approach him from here for he used to stand on us reciting Surat al-Mulk”; when they approach his chest it says: “You cannot approach him from here for he preserved Surat al-Mulk in me”; and when they approach his head it says: “You cannot approach him from here for he used to recite Surat al-Mulk with me.” Hence this Sura is the Immunizer (al-Mani`a), it immunizes one from the punishment of the grave. It is mentioned in the Torah as Surat al-Mulk also. If anyone recites it in the night he has accomplished a great deal and has excelled!
***Warning on Companion-sayings that concern the unseen (ghayb)***
It is narrated from Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be well-pleased with him and reward and thank him!) as his saying but has the probative force of a hadith of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, because it relates news of unseen matters in which there is no room for opinion, therefore Ibn Mas`ud necessarily heard it from the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace.
The frequent recitation of Surat al-Mulk is a very common practice among the Sufis and other pious Muslims. I have attended many evening gatherings with Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa`i in which the entire gathering recited this blessed Sura from beginning to end. In the Naqshbandi Tariqa of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani it is recited as a twice-daily wazifa, after the post-Salat tasbihs of both Zuhr and `Isha.
May Allah grant every the Believers reprieve and safety from the punishment of the grave, the punishment of Hellfire, dissensions and calamities past, present, and future, especially the trials of life and death and the trial of the Anti-Christ Dajjal.
MMVIII © Qibla.
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