Praise be to Allaah.
Al-Bukhaari (986) narrated that Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may
Allaah be pleased with him) said: On the day of Eid, the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would vary his route, i.e., he would go
via one route and come back via a different route.
The believer is required to follow the example of the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) even if he does not know
the reason why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
did something. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allaah (Muhammad) you have a
good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allaah and
the Last Day, and remembers Allaah much”
Ibn Katheer said (3/756):
This verse points to an important principle, namely following the example of
the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in
word and deed.
The scholars differed greatly as to the reason for this
(i.e., returning via a different route).
The scholars differed greatly as to the reason for this. I
have collected more than twenty different opinions, which I have summed up
and highlighted those that are weak. Al-Qaadi ‘Abd al-Wahhaab al-Maaliki
said: Several opinions have been mentioned concerning that, some of which
are likely to be correct but most of which are far-fetched.
He did that so that the two
routes would bear witness for him, or it was said: so that their
inhabitants, jinns and humans, would bear witness for him
It was said that it was so as
to make them equal because they are blessed by his passing through.
It was said that his route to
the prayer-place was to his right, and if he came back the same way he would
be coming to the left, so he went back by a different route. This requires
It was said that it was to make
manifest the symbols of Islam on both routes, or to make manifest the
remembrance of Allaah.
It was said that it was to
annoy the hypocrites or the Jews, or to alarm them by showing the large
number of those who were with him. Ibn Battaal thought this was most likely
to be correct.
It was said that it was a
precaution against the plots of the two groups, or one of them. This needs
It was said that he did that in
order to make more people happy or bring blessing to them by his passing
through or by their seeing him, and so that he might attend to their needs,
answer their questions, teach them, give them charity, greet them with
It was said that it was in
order to visit his relatives and uphold the ties of kinship.
It was said that it was in
order to have a change of scene.
10-It was said that
that when he went he gave charity and when he came back he had nothing left,
so he came back via a different route so that he would not have to refuse
anyone who asked of him. This is a very weak view as well as one that
11-It was said that
that route by which he went was longer than the route by which he came back,
and he wanted to increase his reward by taking more steps to get there, but
on the way back he was hastening to go home. This is the view favoured by
al-Raafi’i, but he stated that it requires evidence and that the reward for
taking steps also applies to the way back, as was proven in the hadeeth of
Ubayy ibn Ka’b which was narrated by al-Tirmidhi and others.
12-It was said that the angels stand on the
roads and he wanted two groups of angels to bear witness for him.
Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned some of these reasons in Zaad
al-Ma’aad (1/449), then he said:
The most correct view is that he did this for these and other
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said: If it is said, what is the reason
for coming back by a different route?
The answer is: to follow the Messenger of Allaah (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and
His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in
their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed
strayed into a plain error”
[al-Ahzaab 33:36 – interpretation of the meaning]
This is the reason… Then he mentioned some of the reasons
quoted above from al-Haafiz.
Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 16/222.