Hadith 3: There was a bird (cooked as food) with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam so he said, “O Allah, send me the most beloved of Your creation to partake of this bird with me.” …

BACK Return to Table of contents

 

Hadith 3

 

أن النبي كان عنده طائر فقال: اللهم ائتني بأحب خلقك يأكل معي من هذا الطير فجاء أبو بكر فرده ثم جاء عمر فرده ثم جاء علي فأذن له.

 

There was a bird (cooked as food) with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam so he said, “O Allah, send me the most beloved of Your creation to partake of this bird with me.”

Abu Bakr came and he denied him. Then ‘Umar came and he denied him. Then ‘Ali came and granted him permission.

 

Several hadith masters (huffaz) have gathered the (variant) chains of transmission of this hadith for the sake of ‘itibar[1] (consideration), including al Hakim Abu ‘Abdullah, Abu Bakr ibn Mardawayh, Abu Nuaim, and al Hafiz al Dhahabi.

The hadith has been transmitted from Anas ibn Malik, Safinah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al Ansari, Abu Sa’id al Khudri, Hubshi ibn Junadah, Ya’la ibn Murrah, and Abu Rafi’ radiya Llahu ‘anhum. One by one, I have analysed each of these narrations, totalling fifty-four (different) chains.

All of the chains are weak, most of which are extremely weak (shadidat al d’af). They revolved around hulka (disastrous), matruk (narrators suspected of forgery), and majhul (unknown) narrators. In addition the matn (text) of the hadith is mudtarib (unresolvably problematic). Based on these factors, the hadith is inauthentic.

I have previously explained that the ‘ulama’ reject this hadith on account of the text lending a meaning that gives preference to ‘Ali over the Sheikhayn (Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma) and even the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; this, in addition to the scantiness in wording and its unresolvable nature. I have examined the controversial and problematic areas of the hadith and, to the extent of my knowledge, there does not exist (another) hadith with such unresolvable problems. The problems of the hadith are summarized below:

 
  1. Difference of opinion regarding who opened the door
  • Some narrations mention Anas ibn Malik opened the door
  • Some mention it was Safinah who opened the door.
 
  1. Difference of opinion regarding the amount of birds
  • Some narrations mention there was one bird, two, and even three birds
  • Some narrations merely mention atyar or tawa’ir, the plural forms (of the word bird)
 
  1. Difference of opinion regarding the description of the bird

The narrations describe the bird as follows:

  • A small grilled bird
  • A bustard
  • A mountainous bird
  • A partridge/quail served with bread and gravy
  • A bird in-between two pieces of bread (sandwich)
  • A bird with a loaf of barley bread
  • A bird or a hyena
  • Two birds in-between two pieces of bread (sandwich)
  • Flamingos
  • A grilled flamingo
  • Quails
  • Four rolls of bread and a slaughtered, grilled chicken.

Most narrations say it was a grilled bird (tayr).

The other majority of narrations say it was merely a bird (ta’ir) and then he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ordered for it to be cooked and prepared.

Some narrations mention the bird was brought to him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from the leftovers of the night before.

 
  1. Difference of opinion regarding who presented the bird
  • In some narrations Anas says, “Umm Sulaim sent me with a grilled bird to the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He had a loaf of barley bread with him. I came to him with it (i.e. the grilled bird) and placed it in front of him.”
  • In some narrations it is mentioned that one of his wives presented it to him.
  • Some narrations mention Umm Ayman (presented it to him).
  • Some narrations mention it was a man.
  • Some narrations mention it was a woman from the Ansar.
  • Some narrations mention that it was Safinah who presented it.
  • Some narrations mention Umm Salamah.
  • Some narrations mention that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spent the night by some of his wives—possibly Safiyyah or someone else—and she brought them (i.e. the birds) to him.
 

5. Difference of opinion regarding the arrival of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu

  • Some narrations mention that ‘Ali knocked on the door thrice and Anas refused him.
  • Some narrations mention he knocked four times.
  • Some narrations mention he knocked first and Anas refused him. He knocked for the second time and then struck Anas in his chest and entered. Some narrations mention that when he knocked for the second time, he came as if he was whipped (by someone), and so Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Open! Open!”
  • Some other narrations mention that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not actually knock on the door; Anas went out looking for a person to accept the invitation, and so he found ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and returned. This occurred three times.
  • Some narrations mention that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu came and entered without any mention of knocking or being refused (entrance).
  • Some narrations mention ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu raised his hand and shoved Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu in his chest, and then he entered.
  • Some narrations mention Abu Bakr came and he was refused, then ‘Umar came and he was refused, and then ‘Ali came and he was permitted (to enter).
  • Some narrations mention ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu struck the door with his foot and entered. Some narrations mention Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Allow him to enter, whoever he may be.”
  • Some narrations mention that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O Anas, permit him to enter, for I intended him.”
  • Some narrations mention that Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “He (i.e. Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam heard me speaking to him and said, ‘Who are you speaking to?’ I replied, ‘‘Ali.’”
  • Some narrations mention that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam heard ‘Ali speaking and said, “Enter, Abu al Hassan.”
  • Some narrations mention when ‘Ali knocked on the door Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to Anas, “Stand and open the door for ‘Ali.”
  • Some narrations mention the following, “I (i.e. Anas) said, ‘This is ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, O Messenger of Allah.’”
  • Some narrations mention that ‘Ali entered without Anas’s permission. The remaining narrations mention that Anas permitted him (to enter).
  • In one narration, it is mentioned that Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Ali, ibn Mas’ud, and Anas ate with him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Other narrations, however, mention that no one ate with him, except ‘Ali.
 
  1. Difference of opinion regarding where the bird was presented to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

In some narrations (Anas says): “I was with Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in an orchard.” In other narrations it is mentioned: “He spent the night by some of his wives—either Safiyyah or someone else (…)”

 
  1. Difference of opinion regarding the description of how he partook of it
    • Some narrations mention that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not eat until ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu
    • Some narrations mention that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam initially ate, and then he waited until ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu
    • Some narrations mention that he ate one morsel at the first instance of knocking, another morsel at the second knocking, and another morsel at the final knocking.
 
  1. Difference of opinion with regards to how Anas responded to ‘Ali
    • Some narrations mention that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was (at that time) relieving himself.
    • Some narrations mention the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was preoccupied, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu just entered.
    • Some narrations mention that he did not (require) permission.
    • Some narrations mention the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam entered at that moment.
    • Some narrations mention I (i.e. Anas) said, ‘No.’
 

The difference in wording and irresolvable nature of the wording proves it is weak. The narrators contrived the hadith and caused such confusion whereby it is impossible to reconcile between the (conflicting) narrations. This proves the hadith is weak according to the hadith scholars because when a hadith cannot be resolved it is a proof that it lacks accurate (transmission), even if the narrators are reliable. How is this even remotely possible when the narrators of this hadith are weak? How is this possible when they are matruk (suspected of forgery)?

 

The following hadith masters (huffaz) have regarded the hadith as weak:

  1. Imam al Bukhari[2]
  2. Abu Zur’ah al Razi[3]
  3. Al Bazzar[4]
  4. Abu Bakr ibn Abi Dawood[5]
  5. Al Hafiz Abu Musa al Madini[6]
  6. Al ‘Uqayli[7]
  7. Al Daraqutni[8]
  8. Al Khalili[9]
  9. Ibn al Jawzi[10]
  10. Ibn al Qaisarani[11]
  11. Ibn ‘Adi[12]
  12. Al ‘Iraqi[13]
  13. Al Zayla’i[14]
  14. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al Armawi[15]
  15. Imam al Dhahabi[16]
  16. Ibn Taymiyyah[17]
  17. Ibn Kathir[18]
  18. Al Majd al Fayrawzabadi[19] (author of the famous dictionary)
  19. Abu Bakr al Baqillani[20]
  20. Al Hafiz ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani[21]
  21. Abu Hafs ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar al Qazwini[22]
  22. Al Shawkani[23]
  23. Al Albani[24]

It seems that the vast majority of hadith scholars are of the opinion that the hadith is weak. Al Khatib (al Baghdadi) Abu Bakr says, “The people rejected several ahadith that Abu ‘Abdullah al Hakim collected and claimed to be sahih—according to the conditions of the Sheikhayn (al Bukhari and Muslim). Among these ahadith is the (above) hadith of the bird.”[25]

Al Khalili states, “All of the imams of hadith reject this hadith.”[26]

Ibn al Mulaqqin reported that al Khatib said: “Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad (al Armawi) of Naysabur narrated to me—he was a respected, virtuous, pious scholar—(and) said: ‘Al Hakim Abu ‘Abdullah collected several ahadith and claimed they are sahih according to the conditions of al Bukhari and Muslim, and that they should have included them in their respective sahihs. Some of these ahadith include the hadith of the bird and the hadith regarding ‘Ali’s wilayah (man kuntu mawlahu…). The hadith scholars rejected this from him and paid no attention to these statements. They also did not approve of his actions.’”[27]

Al Hakim Abu ‘Abdullah authenticated this hadith; however, the masters of hadith have consistently rejected this from him. It has been reported that he retracted this view on account of the ‘ulama’s rejection.

In one instance, al ‘Ala’i strengthened the hadith, and in another instance he was uncertain.

Al ‘Ala’i states, “This hadith has many chains of transmission, most of which are wahin (feeble and baseless). Some, however, can be used for ‘itibar (consideration), whereby one chain can bolster the other.[28]

(In another place) he says, “The truth is that the hadith can possibly be on the level of Hassan (fair). Or, it can be da’if (weak), but of an acceptable nature. As for all of the narrations being a fabrication, this is not the case.”[29]

(In another place) he says, “Therefore, the hadith via the two chains of Abu Muawiyah and Sharik are on the level of Hassan (fair), such that it can be used as a proof. It is not da’if (weak), let alone mawdu’ (fabricated).”[30]

There is no doubt that what the Imams of hadith have followed is the correct position, for all the considerations that have been mentioned. Furthermore, al Hakim retracted his authentication of the hadith. Al ‘Ala’i was also unsure; sometimes he strengthens the hadith and two pages later he is unsure. Then again, he strengthens the hadith.

 

NEXT⇒ Hadith 4


[1] I’tibar (consideration) is the process in which a hadith critic would collect all the reports that a transmitter had narrated from various teachers and then analyze them for corroboration. [translator’s note]

[2] Al ‘Uqayli: Kitab al Du’afa’, 1/46; Imam al Tirmidhi: al ‘Ilal al Kabir, 374.

[3] Abu Zur’ah al Razi: al Du’afa’ li Abi Zur’ah al Razi, 2/692.

[4] Al Bazzar: Musnad al Bazzar, 14/80.

[5] Ibn ‘Adi: al Kamil, 4/266; Imam al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz,, 146.

[6] Al Zarkashi: al Nukat ‘Ala Ibn al Salah, 1/328.

[7] Al ‘Uqayli: Kitab al Du’afa’, 1/46-82.

[8] Ibn al Jawzi: al ‘Ilal al Mutanahiyah, 1/237; Imam al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, 146.

[9] Al Khalili: al Irshad fi Ma’rifat ‘Ulama’ al Hadith, 1/420.

[10] Ibn al Jawzi: al ‘Ilal al Mutanahiyah, 1/225

[11] Imam al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, 146.

[12] Ibn ‘Adi: al Kamil

[13] Zayn al Din al ‘Iraqi: Takhrij Ahadith al Ihya’, 855.

[14] Jamal al Din al Zayla’i: Nasb al Rayah, 1/359-360.

[15] Ibn al Mulaqqin: al Badr al Munir, 1/315.

[16] Imam al Dhahabi: Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, 13/232, 17/168-169, 175-176, al Mughni fi al Du’afa’, 2/394, Mizan al I’tidal, 1/602, Tadhkirat al Huffaz, 3/164; ibn Kathir: al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 11/80-81;

[17] Ibn Taymiyyah: Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah, 7/371.

[18] Ibn Kathir: al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 11/75, 80, 83.

[19] Al Shawkani: al Fawa’id al Majmu’ah fi al Ahadith al Mawdu’ah, hadith no. 332.

[20] Ibn Kathir: al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 11/83.

[21] Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani: Lisan al Mizan, 2/354, 4/561.

[22] Abu Hafs al Qazwini: al As’ilat al lati Su’ila ‘Anha al Hafiz Ibn Hajar bi Sha’n al Ahadith al Muntaqadah ‘Ala Miskhat al Masabih (printed at the end of Miskhat al Masabih, 3/1774-1776.

[23] Al Shawkani: al Fawa’id al Majmu’ah fi al Ahadith al Mawdu’ah, hadith no. 332.

[24] Al Albani: Silsilat Ahadith al Da’ifah, 14/173.

[25] Al Zarkashi: al Nukat ‘Ala Muqaddimat Ibn al Salah, 1/214.

[26] Al Khalili: al Irshad fi Ma’rifat ‘Ulama’ al Hadith, 1/420.

[27] Ibn al Mulaqqin: al Badr al Munir, 1/315.

[28] Al ‘Ala’i: al Naqd al Sahih Lima ‘Uturida min Ahadith al Masabih, 49.

[29] Ibid., 51.

[30]Ibid., 55.