Letter 27 and 28

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Letter 27

 

Thul-Hijjah 18, 1329

 

I. Raising Doubts About the Status Hadith

 

The “status hadith” is authentic and well-known, but al Amidi, who verified and ascertained hadith, and who is considered the master of the science of usul, has doubted its sources and suspected its narrators. Your debater may uphold al Amidi’s view; so, how can you prove him wrong? And peace be with you.

 

Sincerely,

S

Letter 28

 

Thul-Hijjah 19, 1329

 

I. The Status Hadith Stands on Most Solid Grounds

II. Binding Proofs

III. Its Sunni Narrators

IV. Why al Amidi Suspects It

 

1) Al Amidi has done nobody injustice except his own self by casting doubt about the authenticity of this hadith which is one of the most accurate sunan and a most solid legacy.

 

2) Nobody else has doubted its accuracy, nor did anyone else dare to argue about its grounds. Even al Thahbi, who is a most prejudiced narrator, has admitted its accuracy in his Talkhis Al Mustadrak1. Ibn Hajar al Haithami, in spite of his antagonistic views embedded in his Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa, has quoted this hadith in his chapter on “Al Shubuhat,” citing statements by the foremost narrators of hadith testifying to its accuracy; so, refer to that book. Had this hadith not been accurate, al Bukhari would not have included it in his book, in spite of his prejudice when it comes to counting ‘Ali’s merits and those of Ahlul Bayt ‘alayh al Salam.

Mu’awiyah was the leader of the oppressive gang. He stood in enmity against the Commander of the Faithful ‘alayh al Salam, fought him, cursed him from Muslims’ pulpits and ordered people to do likewise. Yet, in spite of his insolent hostility, he never doubted the status hadith. Nor has Sa’d ibn Abu Waqqas exaggerated when he, according to Muslim, was asked by Mu’awiyah why he hesitated to denounce “Abu Turab;” he answered him by saying:2

I remember three ahadith of the Messenger of Allah which I have personally heard, because of which I shall never curse him. Had I had just one of his exclusive merits, it would have been more precious for me than a herd of the choicest red camels. I have heard the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who was then accompanied by a few people participating in some of his campaigns, saying to ‘Ali: ‘Are you not pleased that your status to me is similar to that of Aaron to Moses except that there will be no Prophet after me?’“3 Mu’awiyah was dumbfounded, and he could not utter a word or pressure Sa’d.

In addition to all of this, Mu’awiyah himself has narrated the same hadith. Ibn Hajar says in his book Al Sawa’iq Al Muhriqa:4 “Ahmed has said that a man once asked Mu’awiyah a question and his answer was: ‘Forward your question to ‘Ali because he is more knowledgeable.’ Yet the man said: ‘Your own answer to this matter is dearer to me than that of ‘Ali.’

Mu’awiyah was angry, and he said: ‘What a bad statement you have uttered! You hate a man whom the Messenger of Allah used to gorge with knowledge? He even told him that his status to him was like that of Aaron to Moses except that there would be no Prophet after him? Whenever ‘Umar was confused about a matter, he sought ‘Ali’s advice….’“5 In short, the status hadith is considered, according to the consensus of all Muslims, regardless of their sects and inclinations, to be authentic.

 

3) Authors of both Al Jami’ Baynal Sihah Al Sitta and Al Jami’ Bayna Rijal al Sahihain have quoted it, and it is included in Bukhari’s chapter on the Battle of Tabuk in his Sahih, in Muslim’s chapter on ‘Ali’s merits in his Sahih, in a chapter on the attributes of the Prophet’s companions in Ibn Majah’s sunan, and in a chapter on ‘Ali’s merits in Hakim’s Al Mustadrak. Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal has quoted it in his Musnad from several different reporters. Ibn ‘Abbas, Asma’ bint ‘Amis, Abu Sa’d al Khudri, Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan,6 and many other companions have all narrated it as recorded in the musnad.

Al Tabrani has quoted it as narrated by Asma’ bint ‘Amis, Umm Salamah, Habis ibn Janadah, Ibn ‘Umar, ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib ‘alayh al Salam,7 and many others. Al Bazzaz has included it in his Musnad,8 and so has al Tirmithi in his Sahih9 depending on the authority of Abu Sa’id al Khudri. In Al Isti’ab, in a chapter dealing with ‘Ali, the author quotes Ibn ‘Abdul Birr narrating it, then he comments thus: “This is one of the most reliable and accurate ahadith narrated about the Prophet by Sa’d ibn Abu Waqqas.” Sa’d’s references are numerous and are enumerated by Ibn Abu Khayth’amah and others. Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Sa’id al Khudri, Umm Salamah, Asma’ bint Amis, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah, and quite a few other traditionists have all narrated it.”

As a matter of fact, whoever researches the Battle of Tabuk and refers to books of traditions and biographies will find them mentioning this hadith. Those who have written biographies of ‘Ali, among authors of glossaries of ancient as well as modern times, regardless of their inclinations and sectarian preferences, have all quoted this hadith. It is also quoted by anyone who writes about the merits of Ahlul Bayt, those of the Imams among the companions of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam such as Ahmed ibn Hanbal, and by others before or after his time. It is a hadith taken for granted by all past Muslim generations.

 

4) There is no lesson to learn about the doubt cast by al Amidi regarding this hadith in his Musnad, since the man knows nothing about the science of traditions, and his knowledge about musnads and narrators is the knowledge of illiterate commoners who do not know the meaning of hadith. In fact, his own extensive knowledge in the science of usul is the reason why he has fallen in such a dilemma. According to the requirements of usul, he saw it to be a correct hadith which he could not get rid of except by suspecting its isnad, thinking that that would be possible. Indeed, that was only his unattainable desire, and peace be with you.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 

Footnotes:

  1. Letter No. 26 contains his admission of its authenticity.
  2. This occurs in his section dealing with ‘Ali’s virtues at the beginning of page 324, Vol. 2, of his Sahih.
  3. Al Hakim, too, quotes it at the beginning of page 109, Vol. 3, of his Al Mustadrak, admitting its authenticity due to its being endorsed by Muslim.
  4. This occurs in the fifth maqsad of Al Maqasid when the author discusses verse 14 in Section 11, page 107, of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa.
  5. He says that others have quoted it, and that some added to it “Get up; may Allah never allow you to stand up,” and his name is omitted from the diwan, to the end of his quotation on page 107 of his Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa. This proves that a group of late traditionists besides Ahmed has quoted the status hadith from Mu’awiyah.
  6. As we mentioned in the beginning of this Letter, quoting the fifth maqsad of the Maqasid of verse 14 of the verses discussed in Chapter 11, Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa, page 107.
  7. As Ibn Hajar describes in the first hadith of the forty ones which he discusses in the second section of chapter 9, page 72, of his Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa. Al Sayyuti has stated the following while discussing ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam in his chapter on the righteous caliphs: “Al Tabrani has quoted this hadith from all these men, adding to them Asma’ bint Qais.”
  8. Al Sayyuti indicates so while discussing ‘Ali ‘alayh al Salam in his chapter on the caliphs on page 65.
  9. As attested to by hadith 2504 of the hadith of Kanz al ’Ummal, page 152, Volume 6.
 
 
 

Discussions

 

Why quote al Amidi?

We have already pointed out that the reference to al Mustadrak could only have been possible if the correspondence took place after 1340 A.H. If we commence this discussion keeping in mind that it is nothing more than a tale of fiction, we need to realise the agenda behind citing al Amidi; and whether he has been faithfully represented.

Firstly, a novice would know better than to cite al Amidi in matters relating to Hadith as this was not his field. It is no different from asking a dentist to perform heart surgery.

Since al Murajaat is more about propaganda than academics, it would seem wise to make the opponent look desperate, and his arguments erratic. The earnest reader would let his guard down on the purport of the Hadith since the debater who is meant to represent the Ahus Sunnah appears to be grasping at straws to find a way to declare it unreliable. It also gives ‘Abdul Hussain the perfect platform to tutor his opponent on Hadith sciences; giving the reader the impression that he has expert command of the subject.

 

Accusation of bigotry

The next step are ad hominem outbursts against scholars from the Ahus Sunnah. He accuses them of bigotry among other accusations. The facts, however, speak for themselves. None of the scholars that he has mentioned have concealed any of the virtues of Ahlul Bayt.

The accusation of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu cursing ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu has no historical truth.

Al Qurtubi writes:

 

It is farfetched that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu would openly curse and abuse him on account of what Muawiyah had been described with in terms of intelligence, religiousness, forbearance, and general good manners. As for what has been narrated of him in this regard most of it is a lie and unfounded.[1]

 

Hafiz ibn Kathir debunked this myth in al Bidayah wal Nihayah saying that there is no basis for the accusation of instuting the cursing of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.[2]

There has been some confusion over what Imam Muslim narrates by way of ‘Amir ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas from his father that:

 

Muawiyah called for him [Sa’d] and said: “What prevents you from abusing Abu al Turab,” whereupon he said, “It is because of three things which I remember Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam having said about him that I would not abuse him and even if I had one of those three accolades, it would be dearer to me than the red camels. I heard Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say about ‘Ali as he left him behind in one of his campaigns. ‘Ali said to him, ‘O Messenger of Allah, you leave me behind along with women and children?’ Thereupon Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him, ‘Aren’t you pleased with being unto me what Harun was unto Musa but with this exception that there is no prophethood after me.’ I (also) heard him say on the Day of Khaybar, ‘I would certainly give this standard to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger, and Allah and his Messenger love him too.’ We had been anxiously waiting for it, when he (the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Call ‘Ali’, he was called and his eyes were inflamed. He applied saliva to his eyes and handed over the standard to him, and Allah gave him victory. (The third occasion is this) when the (following) verse was revealed, “Let us summon our children and your children.” Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called ‘Ali, Fatimah, Hassan, and Hussain and said, ‘O Allah, they are my family.’”[3]

 

People have assumed that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was soliciting people to curse ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu but that is incorrect on all levels, and is either a result of prejudice or failure to understand the context of the Hadith.

If Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu really wanted to curse ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu he would not have asked of that from Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu since he stayed out of the conflict. Furthermore, it has been established via authentic narrations that he, Sa’d, prayed against those who cursed ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Allah accepted that supplication.

Al Dhahabi related an incident of a man who abused ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu rebuked him but the person did not stop, so Sa’d prayed against him and no sooner did he complete his supplication that a camel came and stomped the man until he died. [4] Al Dhahabi then said, there are many chains of transmission for this incident which have been narrated by Ibn Abi al Dunya.

It appears that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu wanted to know the position of Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu with regards to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu so he asked him the reason that prevented him from criticising, was it out of reverence for him [‘Ali] or was it out of fear or piety.

Al Qurtubi comments on this:

 

This was a question about what was holding him back from cursing ‘Ali so that he [Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu] could speak openly about his [‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu] virtues or the opposition [those who were cursing him] as was clear from his response. Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu silence after hearing this shows his approval and acknowledging the right for what it was.[5]

 

Al Nawawi provides a similar explanation, though he mentions an alternate interpretation as well:

 

It is as if he is saying, “Have you withheld out of piety, fear, or any other reason? Hence, if it is out of piety and reverence for him then you have adopted the correct policy; and if for any other reason there is a different response.” Perhaps Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu was with a group who used to curse but refrained from cursing and was not in a position to rebuke them so he asked the question prompting him, and thus providing the opportunity to object to those who were cursing.

Some have said that it has the potential for an alternative interpretation and that it means why did you not object to his Ijtihad and make apparent to the people the correctness of our opinion and Ijtihad?[6]

 

Rationally speaking, Muawiyah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu successful rule which lasted twenty years would not have been possible if he was known for cursing ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu; especially after the tension during the period of Fitnah.

 

This Hadith is from the merits of ‘Ali

This Hadith, among so many others, is from the merits and virtues of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu and is recorded in most of the Sunni Hadith collections. ‘Abdul Hussain’s manner might give the impression that Sunni’s are averse to this Hadith but nothing could be further from the truth.

Why would they want to conceal the merits of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu? His rank is among the highest according to the Ahus Sunnah.

The issue that ‘Abdul Hussain — and many like him — have with this Hadith is that the Ahus Sunnah understand it in its proper perpesctive. The most accurate wording is in the version of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhu; even ‘Abdul Hussain attests to that when he cited Ibn ‘Abdul Barr in al Isti’ab.

Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:

 

خلف رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على بن أبي طالب فى غزوة تبوك فقال يا رسول الله تخلفني في النساء والصبيان فقال أما ترضى أن تكون مني بمنزلة هارون من موسى غير أنه لا نبى بعدي

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left Ali ibn Abi Talib behind for the Battle of Tabuk. He said, “O Messenger of Allah! Are you leaving me behind with the women and the children?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Does it not please you that you are to me, in the position Harun was to Musa (when he left to speak to his Lord) except that there is no Prophet after me?”[7]

 

To understand the meaning of the hadith it is necessary that we are aware of the background to it. The Battle of Tabuk was one wherein the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not permit anyone to remain behind. Thus, when he left ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu behind, the munafiqin spread the rumour that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left him behind because he was displeased with him. Al Nasa’i elaborates on this in Khasa’is Ali from Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who said:

 

When the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left for the Battle of Tabuk he left ‘Ali, may Allah brighten his face, behind in Madinah. They (the munafiqin) said concerning him, “He is tired of him and he dislikes his company.” So, ‘Ali followed the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam until he caught up with him in the road and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Are you leaving me behind with the women and the children and now they are saying, ‘He is tired of him and dislikes his company’?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “O ‘Ali! I have left you behind to take care of my family that you are to me, in the position Harun was to Musa (when he left to speak to his Lord) except that there is no Prophet after me?”[8]

 

This version of the narration illustrates the reason that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu went to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said to him what he said. Thereafter, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam attempted to console ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and explained to him that remaining behind is not necessarily a shortcoming, since Nabi Musa ‘alayh al Salam left Nabi Harun ‘alayh al Salam behind to assume responsibility for his people in his absence. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was satisfied with that explanation and said, “I am pleased, I am pleased,” as it appears in the narration of Ibn al Musayyab narrated by Ahmed.[9]

‘Abdul Hussain gets into the explanation of this Hadith in the forthcoming correspondence. It would be more suitable to discuss the intended meaning behind the Hadith in the associated correspondence. However, the background to the Hadith mentioned in Khasais ‘Ali of al Nasa’i ought to be kept in mind throughout the discussion.

 

NEXT⇒ Letter 29 and 30


[1] Al Mufhim, vol. 6 pg. 278.

[2] Al Bidayah wal Nihayah, vol. 10 pg. 576.

[3] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fada’il, Hadith: 2404.

[4] Siyar Alam al Nubala’, vol. 1 pg. 116.

[5] Al Mufhim, vol. 6 pg. 276.

[6] Sharh al Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, vol. 15 g. 175.

[7]Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fada’il, Hadith: 2404; Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Fada’il, Hadith: 4416.

[8]Khasa’is ‘Ali by al Nasa’i, Hadith: 43, the editor says, “Its chain is reliable.”

[9]  Refer to Fath al Bari, vol. 7, p. 92.