Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 21 and 22

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Letter 21

 

Thul-Hijjah 10, 1329

 

I. Raising Doubts about the Hadith’s Authenticity

 

Your debater strongly doubts the credibility of this hadith. For one thing, both Sheikhs have not included it in their sahih books, nor have the authors of other sahih books. I do not think that this hadith has been narrated by any reliable Sunni traditionist, and I do not think that you yourself consider it authentic, and peace be with you.

 

Sincerely,

S

 

Letter 22

 

Thul-Hijjah 1329

 

I. Proving the Text’s Authenticity

II. Why the Sheikhs Have Not Reported it

III. Whoever Knows These Sheikhs Knows Why

 

1) Have I not ascertained its reliability by Sunnis, I would not have mentioned it to you. Yet Ibn Jarir and Imam Abu Ja’far al Iskafi have taken its authenticity for granted.1 Several other critics have also considered it authentic. It is sufficient proof for its authenticity the fact that it is reported by the reliable authorities upon whose accuracy the authors of sahih books rely unhesitatingly. Refer to page 111, Vol. 1, of Ahmed’s Musnad, where you will read this hadith as narrated by Aswad ibn ‘Amir2 from Sharik,3 al A’mash,4 Minhal,5 ‘Abbad ibn ‘Abdullah al Asadi,6 from ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam chronologically.

Each one of these men in the chain of narrators is an authority in his own right, and they all are reliable traditionists according to the testimony of the authors of the sahih books without any dispute. Al Qaisarani has mentioned them in his book Al Jami’ Bayna Rijal al Sahihain. There is no doubt that this hadith is authentic, and the narrators report it from various ways each one of which supports the other.

 

2) The reason why both Sheikhs [Bukhari and Muslim], and their likes, have not quoted this hadith is due to the fact that it did not agree with their own personal views regarding the issue of succession. This is why they have rejected a great deal of authentic texts for fear the Shi’as may use them as pretexts; therefore, they hid the truth knowingly.

There are many Sunni Sheikhs, may Allah forgive them, who have likewise hidden such texts, and they have in their method of hiding a well known history written down by al Hafiz ibn Hajar in his Fath Al Barari. Al Bukhari has assigned a special chapter for this theme at the conclusion of his chapter on “Al ’Ilm,” in Vol. 1, page 25, of his Sahih, subtitled “A Chapter on Those Who Recognized the Knowledge of some People Rather than that of Others.”

 

3) Whoever knows the way al Bukhari thought, his own attitudes towards the Commander of the Faithful ‘alayh al Salam, and towards all Ahlul Bayt ‘alayh al Salam, will come to know that Bukhari’s pen falls short of narrating texts regarding them, and his ink dries up before recounting their attributes. He will not be surprised to see him rejecting this particular hadith as well as others similar to it; therefore, we seek refuge with Allah, the Almighty, the Sublime, and peace be with you.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 

Footnotes

  1. Refer to hadith 6045 of the hadith included in Kanz al ’Ummal, page 396, Vol. 6, where you will find reference made to Ibn Jarir’s verification of this hadith. If you refer to Muntakhab al Kanz, the beginning of the footnote on page 44, Vol. 5, of Ahmed’s Musnad, you will find reference to Ibn Jarir’s verification of this hadith. As regarding Abu Ja’far al Iskafi, he has emphatically judged its accuracy in his book Naqd al ’Uthmaniyya; so, refer to the text of page 263, Vol. 3 of Sharh Nahjul Balaghah by al Hadid, Egyptian edition.
  2. Both al Bukhari and Muslim have relied on him in their sahihs. They have both learned hadith from Shu’bah, and Bukhari has learned it from ‘Abdul-’Aziz ibn Abu Salamah, while Muslim has learned hadith from Zuhayr ibn Mu’awiyah and Hammad ibn Salamah. His hadith is narrated in Bukhari by Muhammad ibn Hatim ibn Bazi’. In Muslim’s Sahih he is quoted by Harun ibn ‘Abdullah the critic, and by Abu Shaybah and Zuhayr.
  3. Muslim has relied on his authority in his Sahih, as we explained when we discussed him in Letter No. 16.
  4. Both Bukhari and Muslim rely on his authority in their respective sahihs, as we have stated while discussing him in Letter No. 16.
  5. Al Bukhari has relied on him, as we explained when we mentioned him in Letter No. 16.
  6. His full name is ‘Abbad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair ibn al Awwam al Qarashi al Asadi. Al Bukhari and Muslim rely on his authority in their respective sahihs. He has heard hadith from Asma’ and ‘Ayesha daughters of Abu Bakr. He is quoted in both sahihs by Ibn Abu Malka, Muhammad ibn Ja’far ibn al Zubair, and Hisham ibn ‘Umar.
 
 
 

Discussions

 

Versions of the Hadith

The first Hadith cited by ‘Abdul Hussain, which concludes the lengthy backstory, is narrated by way of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu and is worded as follows:

This is my brother, my executor, and my khalifah amongst you! So, listen to him, and obey him!

 

In the previous discussion we have demonstrated that this version of the Hadith is narrated exclusively by way of either ‘Abdul Ghaffar ibn al Qasim or ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul Quddus, both of whom were severely impugned as narrators due to them being suspected of forging Hadith, and both of whose narrations could not be elevevated due to the severity of their weakness.

‘Abdul Hussain then cited other narrations for the purpose of corroboration. The narrations he cited were referenced to the Musnad of Imam Ahmed vol.1 pgs 111, 159. He also references a narration from Ibn ‘Abbas from Musnad Ahmed vol.1 pg.331, which can also be found in Khasa’is Ali, and the Mustadrak of al Hakim vol. 3 pg. 132. For further reading he cites Kanz al Ummal vol. 6 and Muntakhab al Kanz, which is printed in the margin of Musnad Ahmed, vol. 5 pgs 41, 43.[1]

The edition of Musnad Ahmed that ‘Abdul Hussain refers to is the old Maymaniyyah edition which was printed in Egypt in 1313 A.H.

When we refered to the narrations from Musnad Ahmed we found the ‘supporting narrations’ worded differently from the original narration which was cited.

The first narration is the one whose narrators ‘Abdul Hussain makes sweeping claims about their reliability

Imam Ahmed narrates it with the following chain:

Aswad ibn ‘Amir – Sharik – al A’mash – al Minhal – Abbad ibn Abdullah al Asadi – ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu who said:

 

When the verse “and warn you nearest kin” was revealed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gathered some of his family members. Around thirty of them gathered and after they ate and drank the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Who will stand surety for my debts and possessions in my trust, so that he will be with me in Jannat and my successor in my family?”

A man – whom Sharik did not name – said, “O Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam you are like the ocean [in your endless generosity]; who would be able to fulfill this?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then repeated his offer to his family and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “I [will take that responsibility].”[2]

 

Before addressing the issues with the chain of transmission—which is one of the primary means of verifying the reliability of any Prophetic tradition—we ought to point out that this narration is worded differently from the first narration cited in letter 20.

While the wording of the narration in letter 20 might have suggested overall authority for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu this narration merely limits his mandate to representing the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam internally, within his family. The inconsistancy between both narrations emerges when we consider that the narration in letter 20 puts their number at forty, whereas this narration says they were only thirty in number.

It appears that ‘Abdul Hussain anticipated the possibility of a discerning reader questioning the reliability of the narration cited earlier. In an attempt to put that objection to rest he thought it would be expedient to provide the reference for a different narration altogether.

Let us now focus our attention on the chain of transmission which ‘Abdul Hussain authenticated. This is also the version which Ibn Jarir al Tabari accepts.

 

Sharik ibn ‘Abd-Allah al Qadi

Early in the chain we find one Sharik ibn Abd-Allah al Qadi, from Kufah. He is considered weak, especially in that which he narrated from memory after being assigned a post in the judiciary. The narrations which are accepted from him are those which he narrated prior to his appointment as judge, or when he narrated from his books and not from memory.

Ibn Hibban said about him:

 

Towards the end he erred regularly and his memory failed him. Therefore, the narrations of those who heard from him in his early days in Wasit do not have confusion — like Yazid ibn Harun, Ishaq al Azraq — as for those who heard from him later on in Kufah, their narrations have many mistakes.[3]

 

Ibn ‘Adi had this to say:

 

In general his narrations are acceptable. However, his narrations were affected on account of weakness of memory so he began to narrate contradictory reports. None of is objectionable reports were deliberate.[4]

 

Abu Dawood said:

 

Sharik is truthful, though he errs in his narrations from al A’mash.[5]

 

Al Dhahabi states:

 

Muslim barely cites the narrations of Sharik, and that too only for Mutabaat [supporting narrations which do not satisfy his criteria]. Al Bukhari has only mentioned him in his Muallaqat [incomplete chains which often do not satisfy his criteria]. [6]

 

‘Abbad ibn ‘Abdullah al Asadi

Sharik is not the only issue in the chain of this narration. The more pressing issue is the narrator Abbad ibn Abdullah al Asadi, whom ‘Abdul Hussain seems to have confused with another narrator with a similar name. We are prepared to give ‘Abdul Hussain the benefit of doubt in this instance and consider this an error on his part. One doubts that he would accuse al Bukhari of partiality for concealing knowledge and then deliberately deceive his readers by listing the biography of a different narrator.

The narrator of this report is not ‘Abbad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair al Asadi al Madani since neither ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu is listed as his teacher, nor is al Minhal ibn ‘Amr listed among those who took Hadith from him.[7] On the other hand, there is an ‘Abbad ibn ‘Abdullah al Asadi al Kufi who narrates from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and from whom al Minhal ibn ‘Amr narrates.[8]

The latter, the one from Kufah, is the narrator of the Hadith under discussion since he narrates from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the narrator from him is al Minhal.

‘Ali ibn al Madini and al Bukhari both classified him as a weak narrator. Al Dhahabi also pointed out a forged narration that ‘Abbad narrates by way of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu which suggests that his weakness is significant.[9]

This narration is definitely problematic in light of the following factors:

  • This narration is at odds with the rigourously authenticated Ahadith on the circumstances surrounding the revelation of the said verse.
  • The weakness of Sharik ibn ‘Abdullah al Nakha’
  • The fact that Aswad ibn ‘Amir is not recorded among those who received Hadith from Sharik in the early period.
  • The problems in Sharik’s narrations from al A’mash as alluded to by Abu Dawood.
  • The fact that ‘Abbad ibn ‘Abdullah al Asadi al Kufi is unreliable.

This narrations does not fulfill the criteria of basic reliability let alone satisfy the criteria of al Bukhari or Muslim.

 

The second narration from Musnad Ahmed (vol.1 pg. 159) is narrated with the following chain:

‘Affan ibn Muslim — Abu ‘Awanah — ‘Uthman ibn al Mughirah — Abu Sadiq — Rabi’ah ibn Najidh — ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu who relates:

 

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam invited Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib. They were a group of men, each of them ate a Jadha’ah[10] and drank a Faraq.[11]Then he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam prepared a mudd[12] of food[13]and they ate to their fill. The left over food seemed as if they had not even touched it. He then called for a small bowl with something to drink and they drank to their satisfaction, and the leftovers appeared as if they had not touched it. Then he said, “O Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib, I have been sent to you specifically and the rest of people in general. You are well aware of what this verse entails. Who of you is prepared to pledge allegiance to me so that he will be my brother and companion?

None responded to him, so I stood up to pledge and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told me to sit. He repeated this a second time, and I alone stood and he told me to sit. On the third time he held my hand [and took the pledge].[14]

 

This narration only speaks of a fraternal bond and does not mention anything of successorship, although we acknowledge that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was worthy of being a successor.

Not only does this narration not support ‘Abdul Hussain’s theory but the chain is found wanting since Rabi’ah ibn Najidh is an anonymous identity. Al Dhahabi says that he is barely known. The only person who narrates from him is Abu Sadiq. He is known for a baseless narration, “‘Ali is my brother and heir.”[15]

Al Nasa’i narrates this narration with slightly variant wording though with the same chain of transmission.[16]

The unknown status of Rabi’ah ibn Najidh excludes this narration from fulfulling the criteria of reliability. It, therefore, is also weak.

 

Al Bukhari’s academic honesty

The last essential issue that requires attention is the allegation that al Bukhari was prejudiced and deliberately excluded narrations on the virtue of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu and concealed the narrations which explicitly mention his appointment.

Not only is this conjecture, but the chapter heading which ‘Abdul Hussain quoted refers to a statement from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself, with a chain whose narrators are all on ‘Abdul Hussains’s list of one-hundred!

‘Ubayd Allah ibn Musa — Ma’roof ibn Kharrabudh — Abu al Tufayl — ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu

 

Narrate to people what they are familiar with. Do you wish that Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam are belied?[17]

 

What is meant by this is that some aspects of knowledge might be counter-productive to people who lack the capacity of correctly understanding it; not that any knowledge should be concealed.

Al Bukhari provides an example of this under the same chapter. Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates:

 

I was informed that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had said to Muaz, “Whosoever will meet Allah without associating anything in worship with Him will go to Paradise.”

Muaz asked the Prophet, “Shall I not inform the people of this good news?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “No, I fear they would rely upon it (only and make no effort to practise).”[18]

 

NEXT⇒ Letter 23 and 24


[1] See previous letter, al Muraja’at letter 20.

[2] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 1 pg. 111 [old edition]; vol 2. Pg. 225 Hadith: 883 [Risalah edition].

[3] al Thiqat, vol. 6 pg. 444.

[4] al Kamil, vol. 5 pg. 36.

[5] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 8 pg. 214.

[6] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 8 page 212.

[7] Tahdhib al Kamal, vol. 14 pg.136-138.

[8] Tabaqat ibn Sa’d, vol.6 pg.179; al Tarikh al Kabir, vol. 6 bio. 1594; al Kamil, vol. 2 pg. 187; Tahdhib al Kamal, vol. 14. pg. 138.

[9] Mizan al I’tidal, vol. 2 pg. 368.

[10] This term is used to refer to the age of livestock. The age also indicates its size. This term refers to camels which have reached four years of age, or cows and goats which have reached one year of age.

[11] A measurement which is equivalent of 9 litres.

[12] A measure of volumes which is equivalent to 750 ml.

[13] The word Ta’am is often used in Hadith in referene to food prepared with wheat.

[14] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 1 pg. 159 (old Egyptian edition), vol. 2 pg. 465 (Risalah edition).

[15] Mizan al I’tidal, vol. 2 pg. 45.

[16] Al Khasa’is, pg. 83.

[17] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al ‘Ilm, Hadith: 127.

[18] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al ‘Ilm, Hadith: 131.