Is there a strong Hadith confirming that the Prophet ﷺ used antimony kohl whilst fasting? I understand that the Hanafis use this Hadith to say eye drops are permitted for the fasting person, but is the Hadith authentic?
Classification: Hasan (Sound)
This hadith is considered to be at least hasan (sound) which is why the Hanafis use it. It is not permitted to use a weak Hadith for important legal rulings like this.
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ اكْتَحَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ
Sayidah Aisha (radiAllahu anha) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) applied kohl to his eyes while he was fasting.’ [Sunan Ibn Majah, 1678].
The authenticity of this Hadith is differed over, some scholars like Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani deemed it to be weak. However, others said it is authentic, for example Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni:
وروى ابْن مَاجَه بِسَنَد صَحِيح لَا بَأْس بِهِ عَن عَائِشَة، قَالَت: اكتحل رَسُول الله صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم وَهُوَ صَائِم
Ibn Majah narrated, with a sound chain that has nothing wrong with it, from (Sayidah) Ayesha who said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) applied kohl to his eyes while he was fasting.’ [Umdatu al-Qari, Vol. 11 p15, Dar Ihya al-Turaath al-Arabi].
Although Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani deemed the Marfoo (Prophetic) Hadith to be weak, in al-Dirayah he said the Mowqoof (Sahabi) narration of Sayidinah Anas Ibn Malik is Hasan (Sound):
وَأخرجه أَبُو دَاوُد عَن أنس أَنه كَانَ يكتحل وَهُوَ صَائِم مَوْقُوف وَإِسْنَاده حسن
Abu Dawood narrated from Anas, that he used to apply Kuhl whilst fasting. And the chain is strong (Hasan). [Al-Dirayah fi Takhreej Ahadeeth al-Hidayah, Vol. 1, p281]
The Hadith of Saydinah Anas is in Abi Dawood :
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، «أَنَّهُ كَانَ يَكْتَحِلُ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ
It is narrated from Anas, that he used to apply Kuhl whilst fasting. [Sunan Abi Dawood, 2378].
In al-Talkhees al-Habeer, Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani said it is also narrated from Bareerah in Imam Tabarani’s Owsat and Bayhaqi’s Shoab al-Imaan and the narration is strong (Jayiid):
وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنْ بَرِيرَةَ مَوْلَاةِ عَائِشَةَ فِي الطَّبَرَانِيِّ الْأَوْسَطِ، وَعَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ فِي شُعَبِ الْإِيمَانِ لِلْبَيْهَقِيِّ بِإِسْنَادٍ جَيِّدٍ
[Al-Talkhees al-Habeer, Vol. 4, p154, Muasasah Qurtubah]
In Imam Tabarani’s al-Mujam al-Owsat:
عَنْ بَرِيرَةَ، مَوْلَاةِ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ: «رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَكْتَحِلُ بِالْإِثْمِدِ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ»
Bareera, the Mowlaat of Sayidah Ayesha said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah applying Ithmid Kuhl whilst he was fasting.’ [Al-Mujam al-Owsat, Hadith 6911]
So as we can see the Hadith is strong. Some scholars have considered the original Hadith in Ibn Majah as sound although others have not. Even if we go with the opinions of those scholars who have considered the Hadith in Ibn Majah to be weak, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said there is a sound version of it as a Mowqoof Hadith. Mowqoof means a hadith that either records the actions or words of a Sahabi rather than the Prophet ﷺ. Therefore, the Mowqoof Hadith would go to strengthen the issue being discussed in the Prophetic Hadith in this case. As well as this, we find other narrations addressing the same issues and as mentioned above, some of those narration were considered sound even by Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani who considered the original hadith in Ibn Majah to be weak.
Ultimately, not only do we have a difference of opinion regarding the authenticity of the original Hadith, we have other strong supporting evidence and sound narrations to establish this point.