أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أمر بسد الأبواب إلا باب علي.
The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam ordered for the doors (of the masjid) to be closed except for the door of `Ali.
This hadith is narrated by Ibn `Abbas, Zayd ibn Arqam, al-Bara’ ibn `Azib, ibn `Umar, Jabir ibn Samurah, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, `Ali, Jabir, and Anas radiya Llahu `anhum.
All of these chains of transmission are weak. In fact, most of them are severely weak (shadidat al-d`af), except for the following three:
The Hadith of Ibn `Abbas
There are a number of different chains for Ibn `Abbas’s version; the strongest of them is narrated by Imam al-Tirmidhi, Imam al-Nasa’i, and others via Shu`bah — from Abu Balj — from `Amr ibn Maymun — from ibn `Abbas.
This is an abridged version of a longer hadith. The correct version is, however, from Maymun Abu `Abd Allah—who is Da`if—not `Amr ibn Maymun. Abu Balj made a mistake.
What further explains this (mistake) is the fact that this exact hadith comes via the same Maymun, in Zayd ibn Arqam’s version. Ibn Hajar authenticated this hadith in Fath al-Bari. In spite of this, Ibn Hajar himself says in Taqrib al-Tahdhib that Maymun is weak. Then (in another place), I saw Ibn Hajar say, “More than one person has deemed Maymun a reliable narrator. Some have, however, spoken about him regarding his memory. Imam al-Tirmidhi authenticated another hadith of Maymun’s, which he alone transmits from Zayd ibn Arqam.” Perhaps he confused him with somebody else.
The Hadith of Ibn `Umar
This hadith has two chains of transmission. The better version is narrated by Imam Ahmad — Hisham ibn Sa`d — from `Umar ibn Usayd — from ibn `Umar who said:
In the time of the Prophet we use to say he (i.e. the Messenger salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam) is the best of people, then Abu Bakr, then `Umar. `Ali ibn Abi Talib was granted three qualities, if I possessed even one of these three it would be more beloved to me than possessing red camels: The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam married his daughter to him, and she gave birth to his child; all the doors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi were closed, except for his; and he was granted the standard on the Day of Khaybar.
Most hadith masters (al-huffaz) are of the opinion that Hisham ibn Sa`d is a weak narrator. Some of them, however, deemed him reliable. Ibn Hajar states, “The narrators are all reliable, except for the fact that Hisham ibn Sa`d was deemed weak on account of his (weak) memory. Imam Muslim included him (i.e. his narration) in Sahih Muslim. Therefore, his hadith is at the level of hasan, especially since it enjoys other witness narrations (shawahid).”
It also appears via another chain of transmission which includes the narrator Abu Ishaq al-Sabi`i. Ibn Hajar deemed the hadith hasan (fair) despite the fact that Abu Ishaq is a mudallis who makes mistakes (mukhtalit).
The remaining chains of transmission are not satisfactory. I have scrutinised them in the original work.
Ibn al-Jawzi exceeded the bounds and judged the hadith a fabrication. Ibn Hajar and others have refuted him.
Ibn al-Jazari states:
The hadith is hasan (fair)… This does not negate the established report in Sahih al-Bukhari that the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, in the sickness that led to his death commanded for all doors to be closed except the door of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. This is so because it occurred in the lifetime of Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam for the reason that Fatimah radiya Llahu `anha needed to pass through from her house to the house of her father. He did this to make it easier for her and as a veil. Also, out of his earnest care for her. Once this reason no longer existed after his death, there was a need to have the door of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq opened for the sake of his going out to the Masjid and leading the salah; after all, he was the Khalifah after him. He also did this to make it easy for him and as an indication of him being in charge after him salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.
Ibn Hajar states:
All of these ahadith bolster one another. All of these individual versions of the hadith are acceptable for using as proof (salih li al-ihtijaj), let alone all of narrations combined together. Ibn al-Jawzi listed this hadith in his al-Mawdu`at; however, he committed a serious blunder. His practice was to reject authentic ahadith if he thought they were contradictory, despite the fact that it is possible (in this instance) to reconcile between the two incidents. The hadith simply means that the door of `Ali’s house was in the vicinity of the Masjid (al-Masjid al-Nabawi), and there was no other door for his house. Therefore, he was not commanded to close his door. The following hadith reported by Isma`il al-Qadi in his Ahkam al-Qur’an supports this (interpretation): al-Muttalib ibn `Abd Allah ibn Hantab (reports) that Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam did not permit anyone to pass through the Masjid in a state of major ritual impurity (junub) except for `Ali ibn Abi Talib; because his house was a part of the Masjid.
The manner of reconciliation then is that the command to close the doors occurred twice: In the first instance, `Ali was exempted for the reasons mentioned above. In the other instance, Abu Bakr was exempted. This can only make sense if the incident of `Ali is understood to have been a real door; and the door being referred to in Abu Bakr’s incident was more figurative, referring to a khawkhah (smaller door)—as some versions of the hadith explicitly mention. When they were commanded to close their doors, it was as if they made smaller doors (khawkhas) so as to facilitate their entering the masjid. After that, they were commanded to close them. There is no problem in reconciling the two incidents in this manner. In fact, Abu Ja`far al-Tahawi and Abu Bakr al-Kalabadhi both reconciled the two aforementioned ahadith in this manner. Al-Kalabadhi explained that the house of Abu Bakr had a door outside the masjid and a khawkhah (smaller door) in the masjid. The house of `Ali only had one door, and it was in the masjid. And Allah knows best.
Ibn Hajar spoke at length on the chains of transmission.
 Imam al-Tirmidhi: Sunan al-Tirmidhi, hadith no. 3732; Imam al-Nasaʾi: al-Sunan al-Kubra, hadith no. 8373.
 Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani: al-Qawl al-Musaddad fi al-Dhabb `an Musnad Ahmad, pg. 17.
 Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani: al-Nukat `ala Muqaddimat Ibn Salah, 1/464.
 A mudallis refers to a narrator who (sometimes) obfuscates his transmissions; either intentionally or unintentionally narrating a hadith in manner that obscures or omits transmitters in the isnad. [translator’s note]
 Abu Ja`far al-Tahawi: Mushkil al-Athar, 9/189; Abu Bakr al-Kalabadhi: Ma`ani al-Akhbar, 1/230-231.
 Ibn Hajar al `Asqalani: Fath al-Bari, 7/14-15.
 Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani: al-Qawl al-Musaddad, 16 and al-Nukat `ala Muqaddimat Ibn Salah, 1/465.