Letter 13 and 14

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Letter 13

 

I. Argument Regarding These Traditions Weak

Thul-Qi’da 1329

 

May Allah bless your hand and pen! How elevated their pages above the position of that who challenges and opposes! How defensible their wise writings against the sight of the critic and researcher! Their pages struggle towards one destination, going along an aimed path, in a purposeful way. Their arguments do not come across the hearing of the wise without reverberating in acclamation.

Concerning your latest letter, its torrent has been overflowing, over­brimming, supported by perfect verses and worthy proofs, with your own self coming thereby out of the charge put forth against you without committing any shortcoming in whatever entrusted to you. Whoever challenges you is bad in argument, stubborn, arguing about falsehood and acting like the ignorant.

Your opponents, however, may argue that those who narrated these verses supporting your argument are Shi’a, and these cannot be relied upon by the Sunnis. What would your answer, therefore, be? Please kindly provide it, if you will, and please do accept my thanks. Peace be with you.

 

Sincerely,

S

 
 

Letter 14

I. Fallacy of Opponent’s Argument

II. Opponents do not Know Shi’as

III. Distinction of Emphasizing Illegality of Falsifying Hadith

 

 Thul-Qi’da 1329

1) Our answer is that the argument of such opponents is wrong. It is baseless because of the fallacy of its minor and major arguments.

As for its minor argument, that is, the claim that “Those who narrated the verses concerning your argument are Shi’a” is obviously false as testified by reliable Sunni authorities who recorded their statements in the meaning which we have stated. Their musnads testify to the fact that they are even more in number than Shi’as, as we explained in our book Tanzilul Ayat al­Bahira, in our chapter titled “Virtues of the Purified ‘itra.” You may also refer to Ghayatul Maram which is widely circulated throughout the Muslim world.

As for the major one, that is, the claim that Shi’as are not regarded by Sunnis as reliable (in narrating hadith), its fallacy is even more obvious than that of the minor one. Sunni Musndads bear testimony to this fact, and the authorities they relied upon are full of Shi’a names.

Take, for example, their six sahih books and others which use them as their authorities, the latter being charged by those who attribute to them deviation from the Right Path, stamp them with the stamps of “Rafidis” and “deviators.” To them have they attributed extremism, fanaticism, and deviation from the Path.

Among Bukhari’s mentors are Shi’a men who have been charged with being “Rafidi” and stamped with hatred; nevertheless, this has never made Bukhari nor others doubt their fair­mindedness. The latter relied upon them even in the sahih books feeling very comfortable with doing so. So; will the opponents who say that “Shi’as are not relied upon by Sunnis” find a listening ear? Of course not!

2) Such opponents, however, are ignorant. Had they known the truth, they would have come to know the fact that Shi’as have followed in the footsteps of and have emulated the Purified ‘itra. Their manners are the ‘itra’s; therefore, everyone they relied upon is unmatchable in truthfulness and trustworthiness. Unmatchable are their reliable heroes in piety and caution.

There are no peers for them among their dependable dignitaries in their forsaking the pleasures of this world, in their piety, worship, good manners, self­discipline, self­denial, and self­criticism. Nobody can equal them in ascertaining facts and looking for them with extreme care and moderation. Had the opponent assessed their value, just as it is in reality, he would have put his confidence in them, entrusting his affairs to them. But his ignorance of them has made him wander at random about them like one riding a blind animal in a dark night.

He would charge the trustees of Islam such as Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al­Kulayni, and a truthful among Muslims like Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawayh al­Qummi, and a mentor of the nation such as Muhammad ibn al­Hassan ibn ‘Ali al­Tusi.

He would belittle their sacred books which are the custodians of the knowledge of the family of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and them, doubting their mentors who are the pioneers of knowledge and the ones who equal the Holy Qur’an and who have dedicated their lives to promote the teachings of Allah, the Sublime, the Almighty, His book and His Messenger, peace be upon him and his progeny, and the Imams of Muslims and their commoners.

3) Both righteous and vicious individuals have equally come to know how these virtuous men judge the case of telling lies. Thousands of their books curse lying, labelling falsification of hadith as sins punishable by Hell-fire. They are distinguished by their judgment of intentional falsification of hadith. They have considered it to break the fast, requiring both compensation and penitence from the person who commits it during the month of Ramadan, and they also require the same for whatever causes the breaking of the fast.

Their Fiqh and hadith are very clear in this regard; therefore, how can anybody charge their narrators while they are the good, the virtuous, the ones who spend the night praying and the day fasting? Since when have the virtuous among the followers and supporters of Muhammad’s family been charged, while the Kharijis, Murji’is and Qadris have not? What other than obvious enmity and ugly ignorance?

We seek refuge with Allah against forsaking us, and from Him do we seek help against the bad consequences of injustice and oppression. There is no might nor power except in Allah, the Sublime, the Almighty, and peace be with you.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 
 

Discussions

Acceptance of Qur’anic arguments

Our discussions on ‘Abdul Hussain’s previous correspondence proves that his letter was brimming only with lies and deceit. Not a single verse from all of the verses cited stood in support of his claim. The unreliable narrations upon which he relied to reinterpret the verse were proven to be either confirmed forgeries or unreliable at best. It is hard to imagine that the Sheikh al Azhar would swoon at the offerings of ‘Abdul Hussain in his previous corresepondence.

Furthermore, if the arguments presented in the earlier correspondence were accepted, the obvious consequence of that – of which there is no alternative – is to denounce the validity of Sunnii belief. Was the Sheikh al Azhar taken so early in his exchange?

 

Shia narrators

A possible objection is carefully construed so that the sincere reader, lacking any insights to the field of Hadith study, would be strategically led on with a cunningly worded question.

The question posed by ‘Abdul Hussain with the pen of Sheikh Salim al Bishri, outwardly appears appropriate whereas it is essentially a very neat exit strategy for ‘Abdul Hussain because it alleges that the only reason to object to the narrations cited by ‘Abdul Hussain is the fact that the narrators were Shia. The elementary flaw in this reasoning provides ‘Abdul Hussain with the perfect opportunity to educate the Sheikh al Azhar with a masterclass on Hadith methodology despite the fact that anyone whose read the most basic primer on the subject would know not to ask such an ill-advised question.

Let us also be reminded of the initial undertaking by ‘Abdul Hussain to present mutually accepted evidence. Many of the narrations that he cited were taken exclusively from Shia Hadith sources.

 

Shia Hadith Literature

The impression given by ‘Abdul Hussain is that Shia narrators are beyond all forms of suspicion. He drops subtle hints at the soundness of the Shia Hadith texts, suggesting that their soundness exceeds that of the Sunni Hadith texts.

He goes on to laud their unmatched truthfulness and trustworthiness. He argues that they are unrivaled, and without peers when it comes to preserving the Prophetic Sunnah. He named three of their early scholars, each famed for his contribution to early Shia Hadith literature; Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al Kulayni[1], author of al Kafi; Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Babawayh al Qummi[2] , also known as al Saduq, author of Man La Yahduruhu al Faqih; and finally Muhammad ibn al Hassan al Tusi[3], the author of both al Tahdhib[4] and al Istibsar.

The interesting observation when subjecting all these books to academic scrutiny is that one of them, Man La Yahduruhu al Faqih, is devoid of any chain of transmission. This means that we have to blindly trust a scholar who died in 381 A.H, without being able to objectively study the source of his narrations. While al Tusi’s works both have chains of transmission, we find that they are severely interrupted. This along with the fact that the bulk of his narrations appear to pass through anonymous individuals. Surely, greater care ought to have went in preserving the legacy of the Infallible Imams? After all, they are the custodians of the knowledge of those “who equal the Holy Qur’an,” in ‘Abdul Hussain’s own words. Perhaps what he meant was that they had given it equal care, since the Shia are not known to have been transmitters of the Qur’an. The variant renditions of the Qur’an are only known by way of the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah. Though his statement could be interpreted in yet another light. Perhaps their knowledge is as susceptible to interpolation as is the Qur’an; since the teacher of al Kulayni, whose book, al Kafi, is filled to the brim with narrations from ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim al Qummi, one of the most outspoken voices that insist the Qur’an has been interpolated.

Al Qummi writes in his Tafsir[5]:

 

As for the verses which are different from how they were revealed, they are as follows:

 

كُنْتُمْ خَیْرَ اُمَّةٍ اُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَاْمُرُوْنَ بِالْمَعْرُوْفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْکَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُوْنَ بِاللّٰهِ

You are the best nation produced (as an example) for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.[6]

 

Abu ‘Abdullah (al Sadiq) said to the reciter of this verse, “The best nation? They killed Amir al Mu’minin, al Hassan, and al Hussain?”

Somebody said to him, “Then how was it revealed, O the son of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?”

He answered, “This verse was revealed like this:

 

كنتم خير أئمة أخرجت للناس

You are the best A’immah produced (as an example) for mankind.

 

Do you not see the praise of Allah for them at the end of the verse:

 

تَاْمُرُوْنَ بِالْمَعْرُوْفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْکَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُوْنَ بِاللّٰهِ ؕ

You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.

 

Similarly the following verse was recited to Abu ‘Abdullah (al Sadiq)

 

وَالَّذِیْنَ یَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ اَزْوَاجِنَا وَ ذُرِّیّٰتِنَا قُرَّةَ اَعْیُنٍ وَّ اجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِیْنَ اِمَامًا

And those who say, Our Rabb, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us a leader (i.e. example) for the righteous.[7]

 

Abu ‘Abdullah (al Sadiq) said, “Indeed they have asked Allah for a great thing; to make them A’immah for the righteous?”

It was asked, “How was the verse revealed, O the son of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?”

He then said, “It was revealed like this:

 

والذين يقولون ربنا هب لنا من أزواجنا وذرياتنا قرة أعين واجعل لنا من المتقين إماماً

And those who say, Our Rabb, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make for us a leader from the righteous.

 

If deliberately lying against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is enough to break the fast, one wonders what is the consequence of those who interpolate the words of the Qur’an. Can they be trusted?

If one chooses to ignore this aspect for the moment, what can be said of the reliability of the books of those whom ‘Abdul Hussains argues vehemently that an unbiased researcher “would have put his confidence in them, entrusting his affairs to them…” Is ‘Abdul Hussain being completely honest in this claim? The list is long, and this is not the primary point on this issue, but there are at least four Shia scholars who have dismessed over two-thirds of the content found in al Kafi, by the unmatched authority, al Kulayni. Muhammad Baqir al Majlisi, Zayn al Din ‘Ali ibn Ahmed al ‘Amili, Murtada al ‘Askari, and Muhammad Baqir al Bahbudi are all Shia scholars whose academic endeavours have led them to dismiss nearly two-thirds of al Kafi. The last two scholars are contemporary scholars, but the previous two would have been no strangers to ‘Abdul Hussain. The irony is that despite their attempts at grading these narrations, the four of them rarely agree on which narrations are authentic. Is this the peerless scholarship that ‘Abdul Hussain suggests we surrender ourselves to?

 

Shia vs Rafidah

‘Abdul Hussain appears to use these terms interchangeably creating the impression that the two convey nearly the same meaning. If the line that seperates the Shia from the Rafidah is erased it becomes very confusing for one to tell the difference. Perhaps it would be prudent to acknowledge our own failings in this regard; our reference to the Shia has almost exclusively intended for the Twelver Shia. Although, we might be excused to some extent since the term Shia, in our times, is used almost exclusively to refer to the Twelver Shia due to them representing the vast majority among the various Shia factions that still exist. The term Shia can thus be said to have evolved in terms of its implications despite retaining its basic element. Historically this term was used to refer to someone who aligned themselves with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu when he became the Khalifah. The description, however, was not a definition, as such it could even apply to those who deified ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. We realise that the term Shia applied to a multiplicity of groupings; their alignment with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu being the common element. The term therefore could refer to a divergence in political stance without doctrinal differences. It could also refer to those who considered ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu superior to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, whilst acknowledging the validity of ‘Uthman’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu Khilafah. Others held ‘Uthman, Talhah, Zubair in contempt; whilst othes would go further still and criticise them. One would notice the innovation increasing in intensity. When this Bid’ah reaches the point where there is denouncement of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum and disassociation with those who swore allegiance to them, it passes the threshhold of Rafd (rejection). This term was coined by the great-grandson of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Zaid ibn ‘Ali ibn Hussain ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, when the Shia of his time abandoned him on account of him upholding that the Khilafah of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma was valid, in addition to him loving them and invoking Allah’s pleasure upon them.

The theologians among the Rafidah would go on to develop a doctrinal model which stipulates that there were twelve divinely appointed individuals who were to succeed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and retrospectively they began developing an alternate narrative of history which was meant to be at harmony with their doctrine. Later on this branch of the Shia gained traction and eventually became the face of Shi’ism globally. Whilst other Shia sects remain in existence, the Twelvers are the most popular and common reference to Shias in our times is almost exclusively directed at them. The same cannot be said for the early period. As such much confusion has risen from the existence of narrators in Sunni Hadith collections who have been described as being from the Shia. Often times it is assumed that every narrator who has been described as being Shia or having those tendencies was an adherent to what has become popularly known as Twelver Shi’ism; whereas this is not the case. The earlier description of those aligned with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu clearly diffrentiates between those who were merely Shia and those who were Rafidah.

In the next communication from ‘Abdul Hussain one might be led to think that the list of one-hundred narrators found in Sunni literature refers to the Rafidah. This is anything but true as we will come to see in the discussion on that letter.

 

Sunni Hadith Criticism

The critical approach—within the Sunni paradigm—finds itself rooted in the Prophetic warning against misrepresenting the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me will surely enter the Hell-fire.[8]

 

Muhammad ibn Sirin identified the Great Fitnah [Murder of ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu] as the event that served as a catslyst for Hadith scrutiny. The tool by which Hadith investigation began was to examine the source.[9] Prior to this there was no reason to doubt that someone would ever deliberately misrepresent the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Anyone ascribing any statement or action to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would be required to furnish his source for it to be accepted. The source was in the form of listing the chain of transmission through which this information passed and was subsequently studied. In terms of assessing a narrator, two major considerations were assessed. Firstly, is there any reason to suspect that the narrator would deliberately misrepresent the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This meant that the moral integrity of the narrator was scrutinised and the scholars of the same generation would either offer their insights in this regard, or their views would be recorded and cross examined by experts of later generations. At times, there was insufficient information before one could make a judgement call on a particular narrator. As such many of the later scholars exercised a policy of prudency and refrained from accepting a narration of any individual when there was ambiguity in this regard. If they found sufficient information the narrator either possessed sufficient moral integrity for him to be trusted; or his lack thereof resulted in rejection of his narrations. A narrator who possessed the necessary moral integrity is refered to as Adl. This quality is refered to as Adalah.

It was not sufficient that a narrator was found on such moral standing where he would not be suspected of deliberately misrepresenting the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for his narrations to be accepted. A subsequent investigation was undertaken on the aptitutde of the narator; assessing his ability to correctly transmit what he had learnt. This was a safety measure for the inadvertent misprepresentation of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by a narrator who would not necessarily attempt to misrepresent the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. A narrator whose memory is strong and whose transcription of narrations are well preserved such that there is minimal—if any—discrepency in his narrations from the time that he received it until he transmits it is refered to as Dabit; and this ability is called Dabt.

If both ‘Adalah and Dabt are found in any narrator his narrations deserve to be accepted. However, if a narrator was known to subscribe to heterodox beliefs he might be motivated to adapt his narrations, either by his choice or subconsiously. Therefore, the trustworthiness of a narrator was of paramount importance when it came to accepting the narrations of an innovator. Even if his religious grounding was firm, he would be investigated by comparing his narrations to that of his peers to determine whether his narrations were not marred by bias or prejudice. If the narrator was found favourable in both evaluations there would be strong reason to accept his narrations.

What we have mentioned above is in respect of some of the major considerations of the narrator himself. The narration however, ought to have been transmitted via a continuous chain, since any interruption would raise the question of the anonymity of the missing link. Some interruptions are clearly noticible whereas others are less obvious.

The early scholars of Hadith did not suffice in merely accepting a source even if it were found acceptable. In addition to this they would collect as much data as possible by cross examining a particular narration with other versions of it; for comparison and corroboration. If any discrepencies were picked up via the cross evaluation, a narration could still be dismissed. This is an extremely brief overview of the phenomenon of Hadith criticism and scrutiny which will—Allah willing—provide some relevance for the discussions which will follow.

 

Accepting the narrations of Innovators

What is the correct position—as far as the Sunni Hadith paradigm is concerned—on accepting the narrations of people who held heterodox beliefs? Surprisingly this is an issue upon which the scholars opinions varied. The natural consequence of this difference manifests in the varying criteria extracted from their works.

 

The first opinion

Those who adopt this view argue that the narrations of innovators are to be rejected without exception. This view has been attributed to Imam Malik and Qadi Abu Bakr al Baqillani;[10] they argue that narrating from such people results in promoting their affair and praiseworthy mention of them.

Al Khatib al Baghdadi says:

 

The scholars have differed regarding hearing Hadith from the people of innovation like the Qadariyyah, Khawarij, Rafidah, and upon relying on, and acceptance of their narrations. Some of the early scholars have prohibited this since they are considered disbelievers according to those who pronounce disbelief on the people of Ta’wil, and they are considered flagrant sinners according to those who do not pronounce disbelief on the people of Ta’wil. Among those who held this view was Malik ibn Anas.[11]

 

Ibn Hajar lists the various positions on this matter:

 

The prohibition of accepting the narration of the innovators who have not crossed the line into disbelief like the Rafidah and Khawarij and their like is the view of Malik and his companions; and al Qadi Abu Bakr al Baqillani and his followers.[12]

 

In response to this view Ibn Salah is quoted as saying:

 

The view of unrestricted prohibition is farfetched from the scholars of Hadith since their books are filled with narrations of people of innovation who did not invite.[13]

 

A similar view has also been attributed to Abu Ishaq, Ibrahim ibn Ya’qub al Juzajani, especially with narrators who were described as being Shia. He was known to reject the narrations of Shias with the exception of a few narrators who were well-known for their excellent memories, precision, and trustworthiness. Al Dhahabi said about him,“Abu Ishaq al Juzajani’s expressions are harsh and such was his habit…”[14] Al Mu’allimi added, “Al Juzajani has the tendency of Nasb and is especially harsh with criticism of narrators with Shia tendencies.”[15]

 

The second opinion

This view calls for distinction between adherents and fanatics. If the narrators level of commitment leads him to invite others towards his heterodoxy, or is known to be a chief proponent of that particular belief, he would be considered a fanatic and his narrations shall not be accepted. Similarly, his narrations would be accepted if he was not known for inviting to his innovation provided that the underlying criteria of moral integrity and meticulous recall of his narrations are found. Many scholars were inclined to this view.

Al Khatib ascribed this opinion to Imam Ahmed and narrates by way of Ibn Mahdi and Ibn al Mubarak that Ahmed said of Shababah ibn Sawwar, “I abandoned him and did not write from him on account his Irja,” so it was said to Ahmed, “What about Abu Muawiyah?” He responded, “Shababah was a propagator [Daiyah].”[16]

‘Abdul Rahman ibn Mahdi said:

 

Whoever held heterodox views still deserves to be considered, but those who invited towards them deserves to be abandoned.[17]

 

‘Ali ibn al Hassan ibn Shaqiq said:

 

I said to ‘Abdullah—referring to Ibn al Mubarak—have you heard from ‘Amr ibn ‘Ubaid? And he indicated with his hand ‘plenty’, so I asked him why do you not name him whereas you name others from the Qadariyyah?

He replied, “Because he was one of their leaders.”[18]

 

Ibn Salah said:

 

This is the most balanced of the views and the preferred one.[19]

 

Al Nawawi agreed with him saying:

 

This is the preferred view, and the most balanced of views; adopted by the majority.[20]

 

Ibn Kathir also said”

 

The majority opinion was to distinguish between those who merely held these views from those who were callers.[21]

 

Al Hakim has also transmitted the agreement of the scholars on this matter.[22]

Al Dhahabi said:

 

As for the extremists and those who invited to their way; majority of the early scholars warned against them and would not narrate from them.[23]

 

He states further, under the biography of Dawood ibn al Hussain:

 

Ibn Hibban said that he was one of the Shurat—meaning Khawarij—like ‘Ikrimah. However, he was not a caller to that way. As for the callers, it is necessary to avoid their narrations.[24]

 

Ibn Hajar was skeptical of this being a unanimous view, although he acknowledges its widespread application.[25] Some have qualified the criteria even further; stating that the narration must not be seen to support the narrators heterodoxy. He elaborates on this point:

 

It is necessary to restrict our statement of acceptance of the narrations of the innovator if he is trustworthy, and not a caller to his innovation that his narration which he narrates should not be supporting his innovation; for we cannot be sure in that case of his impartiality. And with Allah is success.[26]

 

Ibn Hajar provides further insight on the types of innovation:

 

Innovation is of two kinds: it either it necessitates disbelief, in that he believes in something which results in disbelief, or the innovation necessitates fisq (deviance). Thus the majority do not accept the first, though it is said that it is accepted unequivocally and it is [also] said that it is accepted if the person does not believe in the permissibility of lying to assist his opinion. After investigation the preferred stance is that every report by an innovator that leads to disbelief will not be rejected. This is because every sect claims that the opposing party is heretical and sometimes they exaggerate the claim by declaring them disbelievers. If this opinion was to be accepted generally, then it would necessitate that all sects are disbelievers. Hence the trusted opinion is that the narration of someone who denies the mass-transmitted (mutawatir) matters of shari’a, known in religion through conviction will be rejected. And similar is the case for one who does the opposite (in that he believes in something which is definitively known to be forbidden in shari’ah). As for someone who is not of this attribute, coupled with the fact that he is careful in what he reports, with awareness and piety, then there is no hindrance to accepting his report.

In the second—namely the one whose innovative beliefs do not lead to disbelief—here too a difference exists in accepting and rejecting his narrations. Thus it is said that it is unequivocally rejected. This opinion is far-fetched.

The most common reason given for its rejection is that narrating from him will be promoting his belief and will be an approval of it. If this is the case, then the report of any innovator ought to be rejected, wherever an accepted narrator also narrates from the same teacher.

It has also been said that the narrations of an innovator will be accepted without restrictions, except if he believes in the permissibility of lying, as mentioned previously.

It is also said the innovators report is accepted as long as he does not propagate his heterodoxy. This is because appeal to his innovation may result in distorting the narrations [in his favour] and moulding it to comply with the requirements of his innovation. This is the most correct opinion… and this view has been clearly expressed by al Jawzaqani, the teacher of al Nasaʾi.[27]

 

His preference on this matter is clearly stated in the preface of his expansive commentary on Sahih al Bukhari:

 

This view [acceptance of the narrator who does not propogate] is the most balanced, and has become the position many of the scholars have adopted.[28]

 

The third opinion

The prononents of this opinion argue that innovation does not affect the credibility of a narrator as long as he is well-established in terms of his memory, precision of narration, and trustworthiness. This is because his religiousness and honesty will prevent him from lying.[29]

This appears to be the stance of many of the earlier scholars like al Bukhari, Muslim, ‘Ali ibn al Madini, Yahya ibn Sa’id al Qattan, Ibn Khuzaymah among many other Hadith experts.

The following case studies demonstrates their stance on this issue

Al Bukhari has narrated a single report from ‘Imran ibn Hattan, although it would only be fair to point out that there is a supporting narration for what he narrates as well. [30]‘Imran ibn Hattan was from the Khawarij. Ibn Hajar says, “He was a propogator to his way.”[31]

Al Bukhari and Muslim narrate by way of Ismail ibn Abi Khalid, from Qais ibn Abi Hazim, from ‘Amr ibn al ‘As who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying openly and not secretly, ‘Verily the Family of Abu – meaning so-and-so – are not my allies. Indeed my only allies are Allah and the righteous of the believers.”[32]

Qais ibn Abi Hazim[33] is accused of the innovation of Nasb, and this narration appears to support his innovation yet it is still narrated by al Bukhari and Muslim.[34]

Furthermore, Muslim ibn Hajjaj narrates by way of ‘Adi ibn Thabit, from Zirr ibn Hubaysh, from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said: “Indeed it is the covenant of the unlettered prophet to me that none shall love me except a believer and none shall hate me except a hypocrite.”[35]

‘Adi ibn Thabit is a well-known Shia scholar.

Al Dhahabi says

 

‘Adi ibn Thabit is the scholar of the Shia, their truthful one, their preacher, and the Imam of their Masjid.[36]

 

Despite this al Imam Muslim narrates this narration from him.

Al Khatib narrates—with his chain—from ‘Ali ibn al Madini who said:

 

I said to Yahya ibn Sa’id al Qattan that ‘Abdul Rahman ibn Mahdi said, “I abandon from the people of Hadith all those who were leaders of innovation.”

So Yahya laughed and said, “What will he do about Qatadah? What will he do about ‘Umar ibn Thar al Hamadani? What about ibn Abi Rawad?” and Yahya listed a number of names which I have refrained from mentioning. Thereafter Yahya said, “If ‘Abdul Rahman abandons this type, he will abandon much.”[37]

 

Al Khatib narrates further from ‘Ali ibn al Madini who said:

 

If I abandon [narrations from] the people of Basrah on account of Qadar [predestination], and I abandon the people of Kufah on account of that view — meaning Tashayyu’ — the books would be ruined.[38]

 

Al Khatib explains,

 

His statement, “The books would be ruined,” means that many narrations would be lost.[39]

 

Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Khuzaymah states:

 

‘Abbad ibn Ya’qub —who is suspected in his beliefs but reliable in his narration — narrated to us.[40]

 

It appears that Ibn Khuzaymah ratified ‘Abbad ibn Ya’qub al Rawajini in his narration despite him being suspected of deviated belief.

Al Dhahabi says:

 

A group of [narrators] have been accused with [heterodox belief regarding] predestination; yet their narrations appear in the Sahihayn or one of them on account of them being described with honesty and precision and accuracy.[41]

 

Al Mu’allimi writes:

 

The scholars of Hadith have ratified a group of innovators and relied on their narrations and transmitted them in their authentic collections. One who gathers their narrations will find a substantial amount of them that appear to support their innovation; whereas the scholars have an alternative interpretation of those reports without censuring them on account of the innovation of the narrator, nor the narrator on account of what he narrates.[42]

 

Al Dhahabi says:

 

This is a matter of great significance, i.e. the Qadari, the Mu’tazili, the Jahmi, the Rafidi, whose honesty in narration is well known, as well as his piety, and the fact that he does not invite to his corrupted belief. The majority of the Hadith scholars are inclined towards acceptance of his narrations and practicing accordingly. They were less decisive when it came to the matter of one who propagated his (hetereodox) beliefs; whether his narrations could be accepted or not. Many of the great scholars avoided their narrations and refrained from narrating from them. On the other hand, some of them said, “If we are aware of his honesty — even though he is a caller to his corrupt beliefs — and we find with him a Sunnah that is not found with others beside him how could we justify abandoning that Sunnah.” So the manner in which all the scholars conducted themselves seems to indicate that if the corrupted belief of a narrator does not warrant departure from the faith and does not necessitate the spilling of his blood, then it is within plausible means that his narration be acceptable.

This particular matter has not become clear to me as I would like; though what appears to be the case to me is that a person who is involved in an innovation and is not considered from the forerunners of that particular view; neither does he delve into the details of it; his narrations ought to be accepted.[43]

 

Ibn Hajar says:

 

Abstaining from accepting the reports of a narrator described with innovation — whose innovation does not result in departure from the religion — is a view adopted by Imam Malik, and his companions, and al Baqillani and his followers.

The unrestricted acceptance of those whose innovation is not tantamount to heresy and whose integrity does not bring them to lie is a view adopted by Imam Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf, and a group of scholars, and it has been report of al Shafi’i as well.

As for the view which advocates a detailed division; then this is the view of the majority of the scholars of Hadith. Ibn Hibban[44] has transmitted their consensus on this matter; since the innovator who is a caller to his way has an incentive to narrate that which supports his corrupted belief.[45]

 

The case of the narrator whose innovation results in departure from the religion; his narrations are to be rejected and al Nawawi has reported the agreement on this. He said:

 

Whoever commits disbelief resulting from his innovation is not to be relied upon by consensus.[46]

 

Ibn Kathir states:

 

The there is no harm in rejecting the narrations of one whose innovation results in heresy.[47]

 

Ibn Hajar says:

 

The conclusion after examination and investigation is that not every innovators narration is to be rejected — even if it might be considered heresy on some level —since every group accuses the next of innovation and some exceed the bounds and declare statements of disbelief against its opponents. So the upheld view is that the narrations of those who reject what is known of the religion by necessity and transmitted by mass transmission, and believe contrary to it, their narrations will be disregarded.[48]

 

 


[1] Muhammad ibn Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al Kulayni al Razi

Born: 250 A.H Died: 329 A.H

Foremost compiler of Shia hadith. Author of Al Kafi -regarded to be the most important and authentic compilation of hadith by the Shia.

Al Kulayni lived during the period of the al ghaybat al sughra (minor occultation) of the Twelfth Imam. It is believed that he greatly benefitted from the ‘living source of knowledge’ (Imam al Mahdi). The Shia regard him as a mujaddid of the third century (refer to Al Kuna wa al Alqab of ‘Abbas al Qummi)

[2] Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Hassan ibn Musa ibn Babawayh al Qummi

Born: 305 A.H Died: 381 A.H

Referred to by the title Al Saduq and commonly known as Ibn Babawayh. The tale of the birth of Ibn Babawayh is ‘amazing’:

When his father was in Iraq, it is said that he met Abu al Qasim al Hussain ibn Rawh- the third agent of the Hidden Imam. During their meeting he asked the latter several questions. Later he wrote to al Hussain ibn Rawh asking him to take a letter to the Hidden Imam. In this letter he asked for a son. Al Hussain sent back an answer telling him that they (the Hidden Imam and al Hussain) had prayed to Allah to grant the request and he would be rewarded with two sons. Another version of the story says three sons. The elder, or eldest, of these sons was al Sheikh al Saduq.

His book, Man la Yahduruhu al Faqih, is amongst the four early canonical works of the Shia. Interesting to note is that the work stresses that it was conceived as a reference book to help ordinary Shia in the practise of the legal requirements of Islam, and as a result there is a general absence of asanid or chain of narrations. The asanid by            which the tradition is received from the Prophet or one of the Aʼimmah – was, and is an all-important feature of the science of traditions. It is a summary of the study of legal traditions by one of their great scholars of traditions.

[3] Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali al Tusi

Born: 385 A.H Died: 460 A.H

Commonly known as al Sheikh al Taʼifah. Studied first under Sheikh al Mufid in Baghdad. Author of Al Istibsar and Tahdhib al Ahkam- two of the four early canonical works of the Shia. Sharif al Murtada succeeded Al Mufid as leader of the Shia scholars and al Tusi remained a close associate of his during this time and his principle disciple. After the death of al Murtada, al Tusi succeeded him as leader of the Shia scholars.

[4] This name, al Tahdhib, has previously been quoted in this text. Those references refer to Tahdhib al Kamal of al Mizzi, which is a Sunni encyclopeadia which contains the biographies and credentials of all the narrators appearing in the six famous Sunni Hadith collections. Any reference to al Tahdhib of al Tusi will be done as Tahdhib al Ahkam of al Tusi.

[5] Tafsir al Qummi vol. 1 pg. 10.

[6] Surah Al ‘Imran: 110.

[7] Surah al Furqan: 74

[8] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al ‘Ilm, Hadith. 107

[9] Muqaddimah Sahih Muslim

[10] Fath al Mughith vol. 3 pg. 60, al Tankil vol. 1 pg. 45

[11] Al Kifayah pg. 148

[12] Lisan al Mizan vol. 1 pg. 10

[13] al Muqaddimah pg.104

[14] Mizan al I’tidal vol. 2 pg. 66

[15] al Tankil vol. 1 pg 46 – See also Sharh al Ilal of Ibn Rajab vol.1 pg.357, al Thiqat of Ibn Hibban vol. 8 pg. 82; al Kamil of Ibn ‘Adi vol. 1 pg. 310, and al Tankil vol.1 pg.99

[16] Al Kifayah pg. 149, Mizan al Itidal vol. 1 pg. 301, Tahthib al Tahthib vol. 2 pg. 147

[17] Al Kifayah pg.155

[18] Ibid, Siyar Alam al Nubala vol.8 pg.302

[19] Al Muqaddimah pg. 104

[20] Al Taqrib pg. 43

[21] Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al Hadith pg. 299

[22] See al Tankil vol.1 pg.43

[23] Al Mughni vol. 1 pg. 523

[24] Al Mizan vol. 2 pg. 6

[25] Nuzhat al Nazar pg. 137; Hady al Sari pg.549

[26] Lisan al Mizan vol.1 pg. 11

[27] Nuzhat al Nazar pg. 136

[28] Hady al Sari pg. 549

[29] Al Tahdhib vol.3 pg.317; Fath al Mughith vol.2 pg.61

[30] Sahih al Bukhari, Chapter of clothing; sub-chapter of wearing silk for men. Hadith (5835)

[31] Hady al Sari pg 43. in al Fath vol.10pg.357 he comments : “al Bukhari brought his narration on the principle that he will narrate from innovators if they are religious and honest.”

[32] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Adab,Hadith 5990 and Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, Hadith 215.

See also al Tahthib vol.3 pg.444 and Fath al Bari vol.10pg. 516

[33] See ‘al Tahthib’ (3/444) and ‘Fath al Bari’ (10/516)

[34] See ‘al Tankil’ (1/51) of al Mu’allimi as well as al Albani’s comments

[35] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, Hadith no. 78

[36] Mizan al I’tidal vol.3 pg.61

[37] Al Kifayah pg.157. See also al Siyar vol.5 pg.278

[38] Al Kifayah pg. 157

[39] Ibid

[40] Sahih ibn Khuzaymah vol.2 pg.376

[41] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’ vol.7 pg.21

[42] Al Tankil vol.1 pg.50

[43] al Siyar vol.7 pg.154

[44] al Thiqat vol.6 pg.140), al Majruhin vol.1 pg.18

[45] Lisan al Mizan vol.1 pg. 10

[46] Tadreeb al Rawi vol.1 pg.383 and al Nawawis commentary on Sahih Muslim vol.1 pg.60

[47] Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al Hadith vol.1 pg.299

[48] Al Nuzhah pg.138