Introduction

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Introduction

 

In the name of Allah, the All Merciful, the Mercy-Giving

All praise is for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds. Prayers and peace upon the most noble of Messengers (Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), his family, and noble Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum.

I had previously compiled a book entitled, The Virtues of al Imam ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This book came to three volumes. A number of brothers then requested me to compile an abridged version, something more suitable for common people. I saw my way, embraced their desire, and acquiesced to their request.

I collected anything and everything I could lay my hands on that was narrated about the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu; narrations available in both common books and specific books, authored by scholars of the Sunnah. I traced all of their appearances in various hadith collections and scrutinized their various chains of transmission. I explained the authentic from the unauthentic and also referenced any scholars who also had an input in this regard.

The total number of marfu’[1] ahadith I came across totaled 302. I divided these hadith into the following three categories:

  1. Sahih (authentic) and Hassan[2] (fair). These amounted to twenty-seven ahadith.
  2. Da’if (weak). These amounted to fifty-eight hadiths.
  3. Mawdu’ (fabricated), batil (baseless), and munkar (unacceptable). These amounted to 217 ahadith.

The total number of hadith (302) mentioned above refers to independent narrations, and not the various chains of transmission a single hadith potentially has. For a single, independent hadith can, at times, have ten different chains of transmission. For example, the hadith:

 

مَنْ كُنْت مَوْلَاهُ فَعَلِيٌّ مَوْلاهُ

Whoever’s master I am, ‘Ali is his master.

 

I cited seventy-five different chains of transmission for this hadith. Another example is the hadith of the ‘bird’[3]. I cited fifty (different) chains of transmission for this hadith. And like this, other ahadith as well.

I should also make mention of another important matter: there are several sahih (authentic) and Hassan (fair) hadiths which contain additional, unsupported words that are unauthentic. I have clarified all of this in the course of my tracing their appearances in the various hadith collections (takhrij al hadith).

I also critically studied the various chains of transmission for the hadith:

 

أَنا مَدِينَةُ الْعِلْمِ وَ عَلِيٌّ بَابُها

I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its door.

 

I dedicated an entire chapter in explaining the inaccuracies of Ahmed ibn al Siddiq al Ghumari’s authentication of this hadith. I also added a number of interesting scholastic points of interest and other beneficial hadith-related discussions.

I explained the meanings of many of these sahih ahadith and how they do not conflict with the beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah. In fact, they support and are indicative of their beliefs.

I am referring only to the narrations elevated to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (marfu’), and not reports of the Sahabah (mawquf) and Tabi’in (maqtu’). The only exception in this regard has to do with “reasons of revelation”, or Asbab al Nuzul. Books within the sciences of hadith (‘ulum al hadith) explain that a mawquf narration, or a narration that is attributed to a Sahabi that explains the cause of revelation of a particular verse of the Quran, are treated as marfu’ (marfu’ hukman). I have also scrutinized these types of ahadith. Similarly, I restricted myself to ahadith that speak specifically to ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu virtues and not those which speak about the virtues of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in general.

The general practice of some scholars of hadith is to narrate in their collections those which they heard, irrespective of their authenticity. In doing so, their objective was that if it was authentic, then all is well and good, and if not, then at least the chain of transmission is known; and with this, it becomes possible to grade the hadith and identify its respective rank. Other hadith scholars, however, postulated the condition of including only authentic ahadith. In this instance, the hadith scholar will only include ahadith which he deems authentic.[4]

It is not as simple as saying about a hadith which relates the virtue of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu—or any other Sahabi for that matter, “So and so narrated from so and so…” rather, the more appropriate thing to do is to ask, “Is this hadith authentic or not?” And if it has been authenticated, has it been verified by others? This is what I will attempt to uncover in this book, in sha Allah.

It should be noted that the vast majority of ahadith on the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu revolve around narrators who have either been deemed weak (du’afa’) or as liars (kadhdhabin), or have been abandoned (matrukin), or are simply unknown (majahil).

I have no compunction in considering narrations which contain majhul (unknown) transmitters among the narrations of those considered matruk[5]. Any hadith critic who tries to bolster a narration with the help of a transmitter who is majhul (unknown) is considered a mutasahil (lenient). This is because it is equally possible that a majhul (unknown) transmitter can be da’if (weak), matruk (suspected of forgery), or even be a wadda’ (forger), especially if he is transmitting a hadith which its outward meaning contains information which contradicts more reliable narrations (or the Quran). This is why the practice of the great huffaz (hadith masters) was to deem a hadith mawdu’ (fabricated) if it was transmitted by a majhul (unknown). I have explained this in detail in my original comprehensive work.

Sunni scholars have devoted much of their attention around the virtues of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu, just as they have equally devoted their attention to the biographies of other Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. This can be seen in their:

  • numerous chains of transmission (which I have mentioned)
  • transmitting and speaking about his virtues
  • auditioning (sama’) and conveying (isma’) of ahadith
  • gathering them in independent books dedicated to his biography
  • mentioning of his virtues—and other Sahabah in biographical works about them
  • works of hadith such as the (two) Sihah (Authentic books of hadith), Sunans, Masanid, Ma’ajim, and Ajza’ literature

We can say with certainty that the virtues of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu are to be found in most of the famous hadith works. I restricted myself in the original work in only mentioning those books that were specifically dedicated to the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. I will limit myself here to mentioning those books (only) that have been printed. They are:

  1. Khasais Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu of Ahmed ibn Shu’ayb al Nasa’i
  2. Manaqib Amir al Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu of ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn al Tayyib Abi al Hassan al Wasiti al Maliki (better known as ibn al Maghazili) (d. 483)
  3. Manaqib al Asad al Ghalib Mumazziq al Kata’ib wa Muzhir al ‘Aja’ib Layth ibn Ghalib Amir al Mu’minin Abi al Hassan ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu of Shams al Din ibn al Jazari Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Yusuf (d. 833).

With this book, I hope to have settled a debt on behalf of the Ummah, for I am unaware of anyone before me who has undertaken this task so extensively. All virtue lies in the hands of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, and He grants it to whomsoever He desires.

Al Sheikh al Albani intended gathering and scrutinizing these ahadith but he had passed on before doing so.[6]

And now, here it is before us. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has enabled me to undertake this task. All praise is for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.

 

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[1] A marfu’ hadith is a narration elevated to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This, as opposed to a mawquf hadith, which is a narration raised to a Sahabi, and a maqtu’ hadith, which is attributed to a Tabi’i. [translator’s note]

[2] Hassan is a term describing a hadith that, while not meeting the isnad requirements to be sahih, did not have flaws serious enough to be considered weak or enjoyed some form of bolstering corroboration. [translator’s note]

[3] The hadith al tayr (hadith of the bird) is an infamous report that has been reported by many Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, including Anas, Jabir, ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Sa’id, and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Ibn Kathir writes in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah that all of them are problematic (fi kullin minha nazar). The version/s of Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu contains numerous chains of transmission, one of which is narrated by Imam Tirmidhi. He narrates:

حدثنا سفيان بن وكيعٍ، حدثنا عبيد الله بن موسى، عن عيسى بن عمر، عن السدي عن أنس بن مالكٍ قال كان عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم طير فقال ‏اللهم ائتني بأحب خلقك إليك يأكل معي هذا الطير‏.‏ فجاء علي فأكل معه.

There was a bird with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, so he said, “O Allah, send to me the most beloved of Your creatures to eat this bird with me.” So ‘Ali came and ate with him.”

[translator’s note]

[4] Ibn Taymiyyah Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah, 5/79

[5] A narrator suspected of hadith forgery whose reports are not used at all, he is considered matruk (lit. abandoned). [translator’s note]

[6] Nasir al Din al Albani Silsilat al Ahadith al Da’ifah wa al Mawdu’ah, 10/11