Letter 7 and 8

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Letter 7

I. Requesting Proofs from Statements by Allah and His Messenger

II. Proofs from Ahl al­Bayt are Circumventive

 

Thul-Qi’da 13, 1329 A.H.

1) Bring the proofs from the statements of Allah and His Messenger bearing witness to the mandatory allegiance to the Imams among the Ahl al­Bayt exclusively, and leave aside the speech of anyone else in this respect except those of Allah and His Messenger.

2) Your Imams’ statements cannot serve as arguments against their rivals, and such an argument creates a logical cycle, as you know, and peace be with you.

Sincerely,

S

 
 

Letter 8

I. Overlooking Our Previous Statements

II. Error in Necessity of (Logical) Cycle

III. Hadith of the Two Weighty Things

IV. Its Tawatur

V. Non­Adherents to the ‘Itra Shall Stray

VI. Their Similitude to the ark of Noah, the Gate of Salvation, and the Security Against Religious Dissensions

VII. What is Meant by “Ahl al­Bayt” in this Regard

VIII. Reasons for Similitude to Noah’s Ark and the Gate of Salvation

 

Thul-Qi’da 1329

1) We have not neglected deriving our proofs from the traditions of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny. As a matter of fact, we referred to them at the beginning of our letter which clearly stated that following the Imams from Ahl al­Bayt exclusively is mandatory.

We did so when we stated that he, peace be upon him and his progeny, had compared them with the Glorious Book, setting them as a model for those endowed with reason, equating them with the ark of salvation, the nation’s security, the gate of salvation – all in reference to and quotations from the well­known clear texts in the sahih books. We have also said that you would be satisfied with the hint instead of the details, without the need for further explanations.

2) The statements of our Imams, then, as we have explained, do fit to be used as an argument against their opponents, and using it as such a manner cannot be regarded as a (vicious) cycle, as you yourself know.

3) Take, for example, the statements of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny, to which we referred whereby he struck an awe in the heart of the ignorant, calling upon the indifferent, as quoted by al­Tirmithi and al­Nisa’i from Jabir and they, in turn, are quoted by al­Muttaqi al­Hindi at the beginning of his chapter on those who uphold the Book and the Sunnah in his work Kanzul­‘Ummal , Vol. 1, page 44, saying:

“O people! I am leaving with you the Book of Allah and my household (‘itra ), my family (my Ahl al­Bayt). As long as you uphold them, you shall never go astray.”

He has also said:

“I have left with you that which, as long as you uphold, you shall never let you stray after me: Allah’s Book, a Rope extending from heavens to earth, and my ‘itra , my Ahl al­Bayt. These twain shall never separate from one another till they reach me by the Pool; therefore, see how you succeed me in faring with them.” 1

He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has also said:

“I am leaving among you two successors: the Book of Allah, a rope extending from heavens to earth – or between heavens and earth – , and my household (‘itra ) from my family (Ahl al­Bayt); they shall never separate from each other until they reach me by the Pool.”2

He, peace be upon him and his progeny, also said:

“I am leaving among you the Two Weighty Things: the Book of Allah and my Ahl al­Bayt; they shall never separate from each other till they reach me at the Pool.”3

He, peace be upon him, has said:

“Me thinks I am going to be called upon and shall answer the call, and I am leaving among you the Two Weighty Things, the Book of Allah Almighty and my offspring, my Ahl al­Bayt. The Sublime and omniscient has informed me that they shall never part from each other till they reach me by the Pool; so, see how you succeed me in faring with them.” 4

Having returned from the Farewell Pilgrimage, he, peace be upon him and his progeny, camped at Ghadir Khumm and ordered the area underneath a few huge trees to be swept clean then said in his sermon:

“It seems as if I am going to be called upon and shall answer the call, and I am leaving with you the Two Weighty Things, one of which is greater than the other: the Book of Allah Almighty, and my Household; so, see how you succeed me in faring with them, for they shall never separate from each other until they reach me at the Pool.”

Then he (pbuh) added:

“Allah, the Exalted and the Sublime, is my Master, and I am the master of every believer.” Having said so, he took ‘Ali’s hand and said: “To whomsoever I have been a master, this ‘Ali is his master. O Allah! Befriend whosoever befriends ‘Ali, and be the enemy of whosoever opposes him, etc.” 5

‘Abdullah ibn Hantab has said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) delivered a sermon to us at Al Juhfa wherein he asked us: ‘Don’t I have authority over your own selves more than you yourselves do?’ Attendants there answered: ‘Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah!’ Then he said: ‘I shall then question you about these two: the Qur’an and my ‘itra .’“6

4) The sahih books which deem it mandatory to follow the Two Weighty Things are successive through more than twenty companions who all are in consensus in this regard. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has emphasized these things on numerous occasions: on Ghadir Khumm’s Day, on the ‘Arafat day of his Farewell Pilgrimage, after leaving Taif, from his pulpit in Medina, and inside his blessed chamber during his sickness, when the room was full of his Companions.

He said in the latter incident: “O people! I feel I am going to die very soon, and I had previously informed you as my duty, and to leave no excuse for you, that: I am leaving with you the Book of Allah, the Glorious and Mighty, and my ‘itra , my Ahl al­Bayt.” Having finished, he took ‘Ali’s hand and lifted it saying: “This ‘Ali is with the Qur’an, and the Qur’an is with ‘Ali: they shall never separate from one another till they reach me by the Pool.” 7

A learned group among the majority has admitted the above. Even Ibn Hajar, quoting the tradition of the Two Weighty Things, says, “Be informed, then, that the tradition calling for upholding both of them comes through numerous ways narrated by more than twenty companions.”

Further he says, “Here a doubt arises about when he said so. Some traditionists say he said so at Arafat during the Farewell Pilgrimage and others that he said so in Medina when he was sick, while his room was crammed with his companions. Another group say that he made that statement at the Khumm swamp, and in yet another that he made it, by way of preaching, after having left Ta’if as mentioned above.”

Ibn Hajar furthermore says, “There is no contradiction here, for there is no objection to his repeating it at those places, and at others, out of his own concern for the unassailable Book and the Purified ‘itra,” up to the end of his statement.” 8

Suffices the Imams from the Purified ‘itra the fact that their rank with Allah is similar to that of the Book which falsehood cannot approach from front or from back. This must be sufficient testimony that takes people by the neck and obligates them to abide by their sect. A true Muslim does not accept any substitute for the Book of Allah; therefore, how can he deviate from the path of those who are its own peers?

5) The gist of his saying, “I am leaving unto you that which, as long as you uphold to it, shall never let you stray: the Book of Allah and my ‘itra “ is that anyone who does not uphold both of them spontaneously will eventually stray. This is supported by his saying, peace be upon him and his progeny, in the tradition of the Two Weighty Things, as Tabrani narrates it, “Do not go ahead of them else you should perish, and do not teach them for they are more learned than you.”

Ibn Hajar has said: “In his statement, peace be upon him and his progeny, ‘Do not go ahead of them else you should perish, and do not teach them for they are more learned than you,’ there is proof that whoever among them is elevated to high offices and religious vocations must be preferred over all others,” up to the end of his statement. 9

6) What makes it compulsory to follow and refer to Ahl al­Bayt is this hadith of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny: “The similitude of my household among you is that of the ark of Noah: whoever embarks upon it is saved, and whoever lags behind it is drowned,”10 and his statement (pbuh), “The similitude of my Household among you is that of the ark of Noah: whoever boards it is saved, and whoever lags behind it is drowned. And the similitude of my Household among you is the Gate of the Israelites: whoever enters it is forgiven.”11

Also, consider his statement, peace be upon him and his progeny, “The stars protect the inhabitants of earth against drowning, and my Ahl al­Bayt protect my nation against dissension (in religious matters). If a tribe among the Arabs differs (regarding the commandments of Allah, the High, the Mighty) from them, they will all then differ and become the party of Satan.”12

This is fully sufficient to oblige the nation to follow them and to protect it against differing from them. I do not think that there is any language of man more clear than this hadith to support my argument.

7) What is meant by his word, peace be upon him and his progeny, “Ahlul Bayt” (i.e. “Household”) here is their entirety, collectively, as being their Imams, not merely their entirety inclusively, for this status is nothing but a testimony for the Proofs of Allah – particularly those who stand for His Commandments – as reason and scholarship would rule. A learned group among the majority has admitted the same, such as Ibn Hajar in his Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa . Some of them have said that what is probably meant by ‘Ahl al­Bayt’ who are a security are their own learned men, for they are the ones who are like guiding stars; when lost, inhabitants of the earth will get what they were ominously warned against.

Ibn Hajar said: “That will be during the time when al­Mehdi ‘alayh al Salam appears, and the tradition indicates that Jesus will pray behind him, and the anti­Christ will be killed during his time; after that, unusual events will succeed one another,” up to the end of his statement which is quoted in the exegesis of verse 7, in Chapter 11, page 91, of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa . Somewhere else he indicates that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, was asked once: “How would people live after them?” and he answered: “They will live like an ass whose spleen has been broken.”13

8) You know that likening them with the ark of Noah implies that whoever resorts to them in matters related to the creed, deriving the branches and basics of religion from their virtuous Imams, will certainly be saved from the fire of hell, and whoever lags behind them is like one who seeks shelter during the flood with a mountain so that it may save him from Allah’s destiny, but he will eventually be drowned in water while the first will be hurled in the inferno, may Allah protect us from it.

The reason why they, peace be upon them, are compared to the Gate of Salvation is that Allah has made that Gate a symbol of humility before His Greatness and submission to His Judgment; therefore, it becomes a reason for forgiveness. This is the reason for the similitude.

Ibn Hajar, in the exegesis of Chapter 7 of the Holy Qur’an, in Chapter 11, page 91, of his Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa , has accepted it while saying, after quoting these and other similar traditions, “The reason for their similitude to the ark is that whoever loves and highly respects them as means of thanking the One Who gave them honours, following the guidance of their learned men, will be saved from the darkness of dissension, and whoever lags behind it is drowned in the sea of ingratitude and will perish in the paths of tyranny.”

Then he adds the following: “As to the Gate of Salvation (meaning thereby their similitude thereto), Allah has made entering that gate, which probably was the gate of Shittim or of Jerusalem, in humility, seeking forgiveness, a reason for salvation, and He (likewise) has made loving Ahl al­Bayt a reason for this nation’s salvation.”14

The sahih books are consecutive in stating that following Ahl al­Bayt is mandatory especially quoting the purified ‘itra. Had I not curbed my pen for fear of boring you, I would have elaborated in detail, but what I have stated here must suffice for the purpose.

Wassalam

Sincerely,

Sh

 


Footnotes:

1. Al Tirmithi quotes it from Zaid ibn Arqam. It is hadith 874 of the ahadith quoted in, on p. 44, Vol. 1, of Kanz al ‘Ummal.

2. Imam Ahmed includes it among the ahadith narrated by Zaid ibn Thabit from two sources one of which is stated at the beginning of page 182, and the other at the conclusion of page 189, Vol. 5, and also by Ibn Abu Shaybah, Abu Ya’li, and Ibn Sa’d, from Abu Sa’id. It is hadith 945 on p. 47, Vol. 1, of Kanz al ‘Ummal.

3. It is included by al Hakim on page 148, Vol. 3, of Al Mustadrak. The author comments thus: “This is one hadith the narrators of which are trustworthy according to both Sheikhs, though the latter did not transmit it.” Al Thahbi includes it in his abridged volume of Al Mustadrak, admitting its authenticity due to the endorsement of both Sheikhs.

4. Included by Imam Ahmed in the hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id al Khudri from two sources one of which is mentioned on page 17, and the other at the end of page 26, Vol. 3, of Al Musnad. It is also quoted by Ibn Abu Shaybah, Abu Ya’li, and Ibn Sa’d from Abu Sa’id. It is hadith 945 as listed in page 47, Vol. 1, of Kanz al ’Ummal.

5. It is sequentially quoted by al Hakim from Zaid ibn Arqam on page 109, Vol. 3, of Al Mustadrak. The author adds: “This hadith is authentic according to both Sheikhs who did not narrate it in its entirety.” He quotes it from another source from Zaid ibn Arqam on page 533, Vol. 3, of his Al Mustadrak, adding: “This hadith is narrated by reliable narrators, yet they (both Sheikhs) did not publish it themselves.” Al Thahbi has included it in his Talkhis, admitting its authenticity.

6. Al Tabrani has included it, as referred to in Nabhani’s Al Arba’in, and in Sayyti’s Ihya’ul Mayyit. You are aware of the fact that his khutba, peace be upon him and his progeny, was not confined to this much, for nobody who narrates just this much can claim that he had heard it. But politics tied many tongues of traditionists and chained the pens of many writers. In spite of all this, such a drop of the ocean suffices; praise be to Allah.

7. Refer to it at the conclusion of Section 2, Chapter 9, of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa by Ibn Hajar, after the forty ahadith referred to in that Section on page 57.

8. Refer to it in the exegesis of the fourth chapter:

“And stop them, for they shall be questioned (Qur’an, 37:24),”which is quoted in Section One, Chapter 11, of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa, at the conclusion of page 89.

9. Refer to it in the chapter dealing with the Prophet’s will on page 135 of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa, then ask him why he preferred to follow al Ash’ari in the roots of religion, and the four jurists in its branches, and how he came to consider as superior to them in the narration of hadith men like ‘Umran ibn Hattan and his likes among the Kharijites, favouring over them in exegesis Muqatil ibn Sulaiman, the Murji’ite who believes that Allah has a physical form, and favoured to them in the sciences of ethics, etiquette, conduct, and psychology Ma’ruf and his likes, and how he disregarded the Prophet’s own brother and wali, the one and only executer of his will, for general caliphate and representation of the Prophet (S).

Then ask him how he came to prefer to the descendants of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, the descendants of cowards. What would one who turns away from the purified progeny of Muhammad (S) in all such lofty stations and religious obligations and follows in the footsteps of those who oppose them do with the sahihs of the Two Weighty Things and the like? And how can he claim that he is upholding the progeny and embarking upon their Ark and entering through their Gate of Salvation?

10. Al Hakim quotes it from Abu Tharr on page 151, Vol. 3, of his Sahih Al Mustadrak

11. Al Tabrani quotes it in his Al Awsat from Abu Sa’id. It is hadith 18 of the 25th Al Arba’in [forty] ahadith of Nabhani’s Al Arba’in Al Arba’in (the sixteen-hundred ahadith), p. 216.

12. This is quoted by al Hakim on page 149, Vol. 3, of Al Mustadrak from Ibn ‘Abbas. Al Hakim adds: “This is an authentic hadith though they (both Sheikhs, i.e. Bukhari and Muslim) did not include it (in their own books).

13. Refer to the conclusion of his chapter on the predictions of the holy Prophet (S) of hard times following his death, near the conclusion of page 143 of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa. We ask Ibn Hajar: “Since this is the status enjoyed by the scholars of Ahlul Bayt ‘alayh al Salam, why do you then turn away from them?”

14. Consider this statement of his, then tell me why he did not follow the guidance of their Imams in the branches and tenets of the faith, or in the principles and bases of jurisdiction, or in the sciences of the Sunnah and the Book, or in anything related to ethics, conduct, and etiquette, and why he lagged behind and thus drowned himself in the oceans of those who deny Allah’s favours, ruining themselves in the avenues of oppression. May Allah forgive him for telling lies about us and unfairly assaulting our beliefs.

 

DISCUSSION

 

Circular reasoning

 

‘Abdul Hussain is aware of the logical fallacy in the previous exchange. He is heedful of a potentially alert reader so he sets about to dismiss the lingering problem in the mind of his reader by raising the question of circular reasoning. He deftly avoids the question by feigning surprise at the fact that Sheikh Salim al Bishri failed to pick up on the suggested evidence that he had furnished earlier on. He sets out to convince the reader that it is not necessary to surmise; the detailed proofs substantiating the authority of the ‘Itrah will be presented as his correspondence continues.

The perennial problem with forgeries reveals itself time and again. Even if it is proven that the words of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are tenable proofs, the evidence that he has provided in his previous correspondence is based entirely on an unreliable; Nahj al Balaghah.

Nonetheless, it is not for us to prematurely dismiss his attempt at proving that the speech of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and his sons after him radiya Llahu ‘anhum are authoritative in terms of the Shari’ah. However, failure to prove their binding authority not only renders his earlier correspondence invalid, but it will be a fair indicator of the logical fallacies that surface regularly in his writings.

 

Hadith al Thaqalayn

It is not surprising that ‘Abdul Hussain would hurtle for Hadith al Thaqalayn, also known as the Hadith of the Two Weighty things. One would expect that he would begin by citing proofs from the Qur’an and substantiate these with Ahadith. ‘Abdul Hussain knows too well that in the absence of the backdrop of these selected ahadith whichever verse he cites is virtually defeating the purpose; since there is nothing in the verse itself to indicate the authority of the ‘Itrah.

To begin with, he cites six narrations with slight variations in the way they are worded. Thereupon he concludes that the transmission of this Hadith has reached the level of Tawatur, mass transmission to the extent of absolute certainty. There is no harm in saluting his wily strategy wherein he proceeded by citing the narrations before concluding that they are Mutawatir [meet the criteria of Tawatur]. It further gives the impression that this hadith had passed the blessed lips of our beloved Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam repeatedly.

Before looking into the meaning of this Hadith, it would be prudent to undertake a critical study of the chains of transmission since this Hadith has been narrated by way of a number of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum with significant textual variations. It is therefore necessary to analyse the various wordings of Hadith al Thaqalayn and grouping them according to the narrators who narrate them. By identifying common points in the chains of transmission we would be in a better position to compare the data in order to gain an objective perspective of what the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam actually said. It is through this technique that we can avoid the tendency of manipulating the data to suit a preconceived outcome.

A last word before proceeding with the critical study of this Hadith; the criteria for acceptance of a narration was a matter of debate but what was eventually found acceptable was a standard that fairly represented the existing tradition. The technical definition, which was well-structured and carefully-worded, was composed by the seventh century Hadith expert Abu ‘Amr, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdul Rahman al Shahrazuri, commonly known as Ibn al Salah. His accomplishment was to be able to express in very refined sentences that which was known intuitively, and applied by the centuries of scholars who preceded him. His definition takes cognisance of five elements. Every Hadith must be transmitted with an unbroken chain in addition to every narrator being above suspicion of deliberate misrepresentation as well as displaying the competency in transmitting the data accurately, without error. Furthermore, the narration ought to be free from anomalies and contradictions. This, in general, maps out the broad framework which has been employed by the experts in the field of Hadith verification over the centuries.

 

Elements of Hadith al Thaqalayn

  1. Mention of leaving behind the Two Weighty things [Thaqalayn]
  2. Mention of Imminent departure from this world
  3. Identifying them as the Qur’an and the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam honourable family
  4. Identifying one Weighty object greater than the other
  5. Avoid being led astray through holding firm to the Book of Allah
  6. Instruction to respect and uphold the rights of the Ahlul Bayt
  7. Avoid being led astray by holding firm on the Book of Allah and the Ahlul Bayt
  8. Describing the Qur’an as a rope extended from the Heavens
  9. The two will not be separated until reuniting with him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam at the Pond
  10. Speech given at Ghadir Khum
  11. Speech given at ‘Arafah during Hajj
 

In summary these are the various elements found in these narrations. We shall now proceed by gathering the narrations and grouping them according to common narrators.

1. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al Ansari

  • Zaid ibn al Hassan al Anmati—Jafar al Sadiq—Muhammad al Baqir—Jabir: I saw the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on Hajj, on the day of ‘Arafah K, seated on his camel al Qaswa’, delivering a sermon, “O people, I have left behind for you that, which if you hold onto, you will never go astray, the Book of Allah and my ‘itrah; my Ahlul Bayt. G [1]
  • Hafs ibn Ghiyath—Mujalid ibn Said al Kufi—’Amir al Sha’bi—Jabir from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “… I am but a man who will soon be visited by a messenger from his Lord, whose call I will answer B. I leave behind the Two Weighty things A. The first of them is the Book of Allah C wherein there is light and guidance. Whoever holds firm on to it will be on certain guidance and whoever lets go or leaves it will be led astray E. Also, my family C, I remind you to fear Allah with regards to my family F. Hold firm to the rope of Allah and do not become disunited.”[2]

In these narrations there are some narrators who do not fit the criteria of reliability and some for trustworthiness. These have been pointed out in bold.

a. Zaid ibn al Hassan al Anmati

  • Abu Hatim al Razi said of him, “A Kufan. He came to Baghdad. Extremely unreliable.”[3]

b. Mujalid ibn Said al Hamadani al Kufi

  • Al Bukhari said of him, “Yahya al Qattan considered him unreliable and Ibn Mahdi would not narrate from him.”
  • Al Jawzajani said of him, “His narrations are to be considered weak.”[4]
  • Ahmed said of him, “Not [worth] anything.” In another report Ahmed said, “Such-and such—then moved his hand—however, he adds to the chain of transmission.” In another report from him he said, “Mujalid from al Sha’bi and others, weak, how many a strange narration from Mujalid!”
  • Yahya said of him, “He was weak.” He also said, “I do not consider his narrations reliable.”
  • Al Nasa’i said of him, “A Kufan, weak.”[5]
  • Ibn ‘Adi said of him, “Most of what he narrates is uncorroborated.”[6]

Due to these problematic narrators in both these chains we realise that the narration by way of Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al Ansari radiya Llahu ‘anhu is unreliable. Furthermore, the detail of this speech occurring at ‘Arafah cannot be verified since this detail appears via this chain exclusively.

 

2. Hudhayfah ibn Usayd

a. Zaid ibn al Hassan al Anmati—Maruf ibn Kharbudh al Makki[7]Abu al Tufayl—Hudhayfah ibn Usayd al Ghifari that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O people! I will soon depart, going ahead to receive you at the pond B, which is wider that what is between San’a’ and Busra, whose silver drinking utensils outnumber the stars. I will ask you when you meet me regarding al Thaqalayn A, so beware of how you succeed me regarding them. The greater of the two is the Book of Allah D, the Exalted and Majestic. One end is in your hands and the other end is with Allah H. Hold firmly onto it and do not deviate or change E. And (the other is) my Ahlul Bayt C. The Most Knowledgeable and Aware has informed me that they will not separate until they meet me at the Pond. I

Appearing in this chain is Zaid ibn al Hassan al Anmati whose details have previously been mentioned. In addition, his teacher, Maruf ibn Kharbudh, is a narrator about whom the experts had a divided opinion.

  • Yahya ibn Ma’in regarded him unreliable whereas others have considered him on the border.
  • Ibn Abi Hatim indicated that his narrations may be recorded [for the purpose of corroboration].
  • Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani considered him trustworthy though he is known for errors.[8]

If we consider the situation of Zaid ibn al Hassan al Anmati, coupled with the known errors of his teacher. This narration does not meet the standard of acceptance either. As such, all additional elements have no credibility.

 

3. Abu Sa’id al Khudri

  • Sulaiman ibn Mihran al A’mash[9], Ismail ibn Abi Ishaq al Kufi[10], ‘Abdul Malik ibn Abi Sulaiman[11], Harun ibn Sad[12], Zakariyyah ibn Abi Za’idah[13], and Kathir al Nawa’[14]Attiyah al Aufi—Abu Sa’
  • Harun ibn Sad—’Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Sa’id—Abu Sa’[15]

These are two chains from Abu Sa’id al Khudri. However, both chains suffer from a lack of credible chain. The multiple sub-chains eventually all converge on a common narrator, ‘Attiyah ibn Sa’d al Jadali al Kufi. This means that he is the central figure around which all the subsequent narrations revolve. Before we address the issue with him, let us briefly point out the opinion of the expert hadith scholars about some of those who transmit from him.

a. Abu Isra’il Ismail ibn Abi Ishaq al Mula’i[16].

  • ‘Abdullah ibn al Mubarak said about him, “Allah conferred His favour on the believers through the weak memory of Abu Isra’il.”
  • Abu Hatim states, “His narrations are not proof worthy.”
  • Abu Zur’ah states, “He is honest, though extreme in his doctrine.”
  • Ibn Ma’in’s opinions differed about him. Some quote him as saying, “Honest.” Others relate that he considered Abu Isra’il weak.
  • Al Dhahabi says, “He was a fanatic Shia, with much hatred [for some Companions.] He used to consider ‘Uthman an infidel!” He goes further, “They considered him unreliable!”

b. Harun ibn Sad

  • Al Dhahabi says, “He is honest, but he is an extreme Rafidi, filled with hatred.”[17]
  • Abu Jafar al ‘Uqayli says of him, “A Kufan, extreme in his brand of Rafd (Shi’ism).”[18]

The narration via the alternate chain is also by way of Harun ibn Sa’d. It appears that he has contradicted himself since he narrates it both ways. His level is not such that he is acknowledged when he narrates in isolation.

c. Kathir al Nawa’, Kathir ibn Ismail al Nawa’

  • Al Dhahabi says, “A Shia die hard. Abu Hatim and al Nasa’i deem him incompetent and weak.”[19]

d. Attiyah al Aufi

Ibn Hajar states in his Tahdhib:

 

Muslim ibn al Hajjaj said about ‘Attiyah al ‘Aufi that “His narrations are unreliable.” Thereafter he said, “I have been made aware that ‘Attiyah would visit al Kalbi asking him about tafsir. He had conferred on him the title Abu Sa’id which was his unique way of referring to him. Thereafter, he would narrate to people saying, “Abu Sa’id said”.

Hushaym considered his narrations to be daif (weak).

Al Jawzajani said, “He was inclined towards Shi’ism.”

Al Nasa’i said, “He is weak.”

Ibn ‘Adi included him among the Shia of Kufah.

Ibn Hibban says that he had given him (al Kalbi) the title Abu Sa’id. Later he would narrate in such a way that he gave the impression that he was narrating from Abu Sa’id al Khudri, whereas he was actually referring to his codename for al Kalbi. It is not permissible to write his narrations except to note down their peculiarities. He adds that Abu Bakr al Bazzar considered him from the Shia.

 

Despite his weak memory which is sufficient to discount this version of the narration entirely. It carries the possibility of subterfuge in that ‘Attiyah might have meant al Kalbi by Abu Sa’id, and not the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companion Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Ibn Rajab al Hanbali is on record having said that this ought to apply to what he narrates in terms of Tafsir.[20] Notwithstanding this, al Bukhari has quoted his teacher, Ahmed ibn Hanbal, who pointed out the serious problems with this narration in particular

 

قال احمد فى حديث عبدالملك عن عطية عن ابى سعيد قال النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم تركت فيكم الثقلين…احاديث الكوفيين هذه مناكير

Ahmed said about the hadith of ‘Abdul Malik—from ‘Attiyah—from Abu Sa’id that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, ‘I have left behind Two Weighty things…,’ “These narrations of the Kufans are anomalous and rejected.”[21]

 

All that remains is to produce the wordings of these narrations so that the elements that remain uncorroborated may be pointed out.

 

I am leaving amongst you that which if you hold on to you will never go astray G, the Thaqalayn A. One of them is greater than the other D, the Book of Allah is like a rope that has been extended from the sky to the earth H and my ‘itrah are my Ahlul Bayt C. These two will never separate until they meet me at the pond I.

 

Another version from Abu Sa’id is worded as follows:

 

Soon I will be invited and I will accept the invitation B. I am leaving behind the Two Weighty things A, the Book of Allah and my ‘itrah C. The Book of Allah is like a rope that has been extended from the sky to the earth and my ‘itrah is my Ahlul Bayt H. Indeed the One who is All-Knowing and All-Aware has informed me that these two will never separate until they meet me at the pond I. Beware of how you treat them in my absence F.

 

4. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu

a. Saad ibn Sulaiman—Abu Ishaq al Sabii—al Harith ibn Abdullah al Awar al Kufi—’Ali[22] from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Soon I will be taken away B, and indeed I have left behind for you the Two Weighty things A, the Book of Allah and my Ahlul Bayt C. Indeed you will not go astray after them G. The final hour will not arrive until the Prophet’s Companions are sought ought just as a lost item is searched for, but they will not be found.”

Sa’ad ibn Sulaiman is known for his Shia leanings. In addition to this his narrations are not independently strong, though they may take strength through stronger supporting narrations. Some critics have deemed him unreliable. It is not known when he received hadith from Abu Ishaq al Sabi’i whose memory faltered towards the end of his life. Al Harith al A’war is a narrator around whom there is a great deal of debate. Some, like Shu’bah went as far as to call him a liar, whilst others merely settled for unreliable.[23]

 

5. Zaid ibn Thabit

a. Sharik ibn Abdullah al Nakhai—Rukayn ibn al Rabi’ al Fazari—al Qasim ibn Hassan al ‘Amiri—Zaid ibn Thabit that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “I will leave amongst you two successors after me, the Book of Allah and my ‘itrah, my Ahlul Bayt. Indeed the two of them will not separate until they meet me at the pond.”[24]

Sharik ibn ‘Abd-Allah al Qadi, Abu ‘Abd-Allah, the Kufan, is weak, especially in that which he narrated from memory after being assigned a post in the judiciary.

  • Ibn Hibban said, “Towards the end he erred regularly and his memory failed him. Therefore, those 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.”[25]
  • Ibn ‘Adi said, “The general status of his narrations is that of reliability and is acceptable. However, his narrations became objectionable on account of weakness of memory and not deliberate narration of that which is deserving of being declared weak.”[26]
  • Salih Jazarah said, “He is truthful, but when he took up the post in the judiciary his memory became inconsistent.”

The reliable hadith which meets the criteria of the scholars of hadith is the one narrated by Zaid ibn Arqam. This narration has equal variations in terms of how it is worded when compared to the narrations before it. For the sake of brevity we shall provide the narration which appears in Sahih Muslim. Since this narration is not disputed in any way it will be a fair control to test the various elements found in the hadith.

This narration is transmitted by way of Zuhayr ibn Harb and Shuja ibn Makhlad—Ibn ‘Ulayyah (Ismail ibn Ibrahim)—Abu Hayyan—Yazid ibn Hayyan who said:

 

عن يزيد بن حيان قال انطلقت أنا وحصين بن سبرة وعمر بن مسلم إلى زيد بن أرقم فلما جلسنا إليه قال له حصين لقد لقيت يا زيد خيرا كثيرا رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وسمعت حديثه وغزوت معه وصليت خلفه لقد لقيت يا زيد خيرا كثيرا حدثنا يا زيد ما سمعت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال يا ابن أخي والله لقد كبرت سني وقدم عهدي ونسيت بعض الذي كنت أعي من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فما حدثتكم فاقبلوا وما لا فلا تكلفونيه ثم قال قام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوما فينا خطيبا بماء يدعى خما بين مكة والمدينة فحمد الله وأثنى عليه ووعظ وذكر ثم قال أما بعد ألا أيها الناس فإنما أنا بشر يوشك أن يأتي رسول ربي فأجيب وأنا تارك فيكم ثقلين أولهما كتاب الله فيه الهدى والنور فخذوا بكتاب الله واستمسكوا به فحث على كتاب الله ورغب فيه ثم قال وأهل بيتي أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي فقال له حصين ومن أهل بيته يا زيد أليس نساؤه من أهل بيته قال نساؤه من أهل بيته ولكن أهل بيته من حرم الصدقة بعده قال ومن هم قال هم آل علي وآل عقيل وآل جعفر وآل عباس قال كل هؤلاء حرم الصدقة قال نعم

Hussain ibn Sabrah, ‘Amr ibn Muslim, and I all went to visit Zaid ibn Arqam. As we sat at his side Hussain (ibn Sabrah) said to him, “O Zaid! You witnessed much good. You saw the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam you heard his speech, participated in military campaigns with him, and prayed behind him in salah. O Zaid! You witnessed such good; relate to us some of what you had heard from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

He responded, “O my nephew! By Allah, I have become very old and a long time has passed (since the Prophet’s passing) and I have forgotten some of what I used to remember from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Accept from me what I relate and do not impose upon me (to narrate) what I no longer remember.”

He went on to say, “One day the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stood up to deliver a sermon at a watering stop known as Khumm, which is situated between Makkah and Madinah. He praised and glorified Allah, admonished and reminded us and said, ‘Listen O people, I am merely a human being. A Messenger from my Lord will soon approach me and I will respond to his call. I am leaving behind two weighty things; the First is the Book of Allah which contains guidance and illumination. So accept the Book of Allah and hold firmly to it.”

He emphasized practising on the Book of Allah and holding firmly onto it. Then he said, ‘(And the second is) My family (Ahl Bayti). I remind you of Allah with regards to fulfilling the rights of my family. I remind you of Allah with regards to fulfilling the rights of my family.’”

Hussain said to Zaid, “O Zaid! Who is his family? Are his wives not part of his family?”

Zaid responded, “His wives are part of his family, but his family (in terms of blood relation) are those whom charity is unlawful for.”

Hussain asked, “Who are they?”

Zaid replied, “They are the family of ‘Ali, family of ‘Aqil, family of Jafar, and the family of Ibn ‘Abbas.”

Hussain then asked, “Is it not permitted to give charity to all of them?”

Zaid replied, “Yes.”[27]

 

If we examine the various elements mentioned in the hadith we realise the following:

  1. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam delivered this sermon at Ghadir Khumm, on his return from Hajj.
  2. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was about to depart from this world.
  3. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam left behind two weighty things.
  4. He advised how to deal with each of these weighty things differently.
  5. One of them is the Book of Allah; which he exhorted towards in terms of holding on to and abiding by its injunctions.
  6. The second was his family, the Ahlul Bayt for whom the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam invoked our fear in Allah in terms of respecting them, honouring them, and safeguarding them.
  7. Zaid ibn Arqam identified who the Ahlul Bayt are in terms of the hadith. He also pointed out who are the Ahlul Bayt in terms of receiving Sadaqah.

It is equally important to note that this was a single speech. There was no instruction to “hold on to” the Ahlul Bayt in terms of religious authority. Why then would some versions of the hadith have these? The weakness in the previous narrations have already been demonstrated, however, the fact that many of those narrators, even those who were not weak, happened to have some Shia inclinations. So it is highly possible that the narrator paraphrased the narration in a way that he understood it.

This brings us to the next point. The Ahlus Sunnah, love and adore ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They acknowledge all the narrations which have been reliably attributed to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in his favour. At the same time, an attempt is made to understand those merits in context with what is in the Qur’an, what is found in the Sunnah of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as well as what appears to be a fair reflection of reality. As such, the ahadith in praise of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu do not—by necessity—qualify his exclusivity for the task of Imamah.

 

The claim of Tawatur

A hadith which satisfies the conditions of Tawatur ought to be narrated in such abundance at all levels that no room remains for doubt. In the case with this narration it was merely the case of single change—with a common point of convergence—in almost all cases, which had been transmitted in abundance during the later centuries. Therefore one would have noticed the fact that many chains merely relied on a single chain at some point or the other.

Secondly, the sheer number of people ought to dispel the idea of possible corroboration to unite on a lie. However, as is the case with some of the narrations above, they appear to have been available to unscrupulous individuals in particular regions. Al Bukhari quoted Imam Ahmed demonstrating how a single report became the communal untruth that was being circulated to all and sundry in Kufah.

 

Quoting Ibn Hajar al Haytami

Once we have realised this, we know, from our previous discussions that quoting Ibn Hajar al Haytami does not carry much weight as the opinions of the likes of al Bukhari and Ahmed ibn Hanbal when it comes to Hadith grading. Ibn Hajar al Haytami was an authority of Fiqh in the Shafi’i school, but his opinions on the grading of Hadith do not hold the same authority within the framework of Sunni scholarship. While Ibn Hajar might have erred in this regard, it is no more than a drop in the ocean of knowledge that he has left behind.

Similarly, qualifying the Ahlul Bayt by applying it to the scholarly among them is the natural consequence of relying on the narration which speaks of holding firmly on both of the Weighty Things. However, we have demonstrated that the correct wording, as is related in the authentic narration of Zaid ibn Arqam radiya Llahu ‘anhu, is the instruction to hold firmly to the Book of Allah. The bequest for the second of the Weighty Things was to me reminded of Allah in upholding their rights and caring for them.

Thirdly, we refer the esteemed reader to the definition of a sound Hadith—being free from anomaly and contradiction. The Hadith of Jabir which identifies ‘Arafah as the setting for this sermon is only narrated by way of Zaid ibn Hassan al Anmati, who, as has been sufficiently proven, is extremely unreliable. All the others who narrate the lengthy Hadith of Jabir, describing the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Hajj journey do not mention any such sermon at ‘Arafah. Thus, the reconciliation attempted by Ibn Hajar was not necessary to begin with since the only narrations mentioning a setting other than Juhfah (or Ghadir Khumm) are found wanting in terms of their chains of transmission.

Fourthly, the narration which is cited in al Sawaiq describing those who will live like assess[28] has been mentioned by Ibn Hajar al Haytami as an afterthought. It has also been cited by Ibn ‘Adi in his compendium of weak narrators under the biography of Ahmed ibn Bashir.[29] Ibn ‘Adi cites this as one of his most confounded, unreliable narrations!

Lastly, ‘Abdul Hussain has conveniently omitted significant details when quoting from al Sawaiq al Muhriqah of Ibn Hajar al Haytami. He omits the fact that when citing the Hadith which compares the Noble Family to the stars, Ibn Hajar explicitly states that this has been narrated by numerous chains, all of them unreliable! Ibn Hajar al Haytami, after seeing numerous chains volunteers his opinion that this might elevate the status of this narration, if taken in light of other narrations as well. However, al Dhahabi has graded these as forgeries in his abridgement of the Mustadrak of al Hakim.[30]

 

Hadith of the Ark

The hadith of the Ark of Nuh ‘alayh al Salam revolves around a series of weak and abandoned narrators. In the chain is Hassan ibn Abi Jafar and he is matruk (suspected of forgery), as well as Ali ibn Zaid who is a weak transmitter.

In al Tabarani’s chain of this hadith appears Abdullah ibn Dahir and he is matruk.

The editor of the published version of Fada’il al Sahabah of Imam Ahmed agrees because of a narrator in the chain, Mufaddal ibn Salih al Nahhas al Asadi, who the scholars of verification grade as weak. Al Dhahabi says about him, “Mufaddal is weak.”

From Abu Dharr, who said, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The likeness of my Ahlul Bayt is the likeness of Nuh’s ark. Whoever boards it is saved and whoever lags behind drowns. And whoever fights at the end of days he is like the one who fights Dajjal.” This is narrated by al Bazzar and Tabarani in the three. In al Bazzar’s sanad is al Hassan ibn Abi Jafar al Jafari and in Tabarani’s sanad is Abdullah ibn Dahir and both of them are matruk.

Ibn ‘Abbas, is alleged to have said, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The likeness of my Ahlul Bayt is the likeness of Nuh’s ark. Whoever boards it is saved and whoever lags behind drowns.” This is narrated by al Bazzar and Tabarani and in it is al Hassan ibn Abi Jafar and he is matruk.

From ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The similitude of my Ahl al Bay is the similitude of Nuh’s ark. Whoever mounts it is saved and whoever lags behind drowns.” This is narrated by al Bazzar and in it is Ibn Lahiah and he is a weak transmitter.

From Abu Sa’id al Khudri, he said, I heard the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying, “The example of my Ahl al Bay amongst you is the example of Nuh’s ark. Whoever mounts it is saved and whoever lags behind drowns. And the example of my Ahl al Bay amongst you is the example of the door of Hittah amongst the Bani Isra’il. Whoever enters it is forgiven.’ This is narrated by al Tabarani in al Saghir and in al Awsat and in it is a group (of transmitters) I do not know.[31]

 

Kanz al ‘Ummal

In an attempt to embellish his citations, ‘Abdul Hussain is extremely eager to refer to Kanz al Ummal. So what is special about Kanz al Ummal and why do the Shia love to cite it?

Hadith compilation has two basic forms. Books which are compiled with their own chains of transmission; these are known as primary sources. There are also books which collect, reorganise, select ahadith for a particular purpose; and for the sake of expedience the isnad is often times omitted. Therefore it is no stretch of the imagination to say that whatever is found in the primary books is of significance. Secondary books merely refer to primary books.

In the 10th century of Islam, a dedicated and celebrated polymath from Egypt, Jalal al Din al Suyuti, collected a series of narrations from a primary work. However, the arrangement of these narrations was less than ideal. Ali Muttaqi, an Indian scholar from Gujarat, with an affinity for hadith, had recently taken up residency in Makkah. He undertook to rearrange the narrations of an earlier secondary source, by al Suyuti and named it Kanz al Ummal. Essentially it serves as a hadith directory or an index for finding a hadith from a primary source. The work Kanz al Ummal comprises of over 90 books of hadith which have no academic criteria of acceptance. One can expect to find an entire spectrum of narrations in a work like this; from the most authentic to complete fabrications.

The pedagogy of the Ahlus Sunnah is to rely on what has been authentically related from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. As such, a narration is only considered to have legal consequence once it has been satisfactorily established that it is from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is within this academic framework that our discussions around the al Murajaat will unfold.

In conclusion, we have demonstrated that the logical fallacy of circular reasoning most definitely applies to ‘Abdul Hussain’s argument in Letters 5 and 7. Furthermore, the claim of Tawatur for Hadith al Thaqalayn has been debunked. The only independently sound version is the narration of Zaid ibn Arqam in Sahih Muslim. The other narrations suffer from inherent flaws which certainly keeps the claim of Tawatur at bay. In addition to this we come to realise that Hadith al Thaqalayn was not repeatedly articulated by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but it was part of a lengthier speech that he delivered at Ghadir Khumm, near Juhfah on his return from Hajj. The purport of Hadith al Thaqalayn is exhortation to hold firmly to the Qur’an and to maintain love and respect for the Family of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In no way does it confer legal authority to the members of Ahlul Bayt. The narrations of the Ahlul Bayt being the Ark of Nuh ‘alayh al Salam have been discovered to be baseless narrations which have been narrated exclusive with weak and severely weak chains of transmission.

 

NEXT⇒ Letter 9 and 10


[1] Al Tirmidhi, Abwab al Manaqib, hadith 3788; al Mujam al Kabir li al Tabarani, hadith 2680; al Mujam al Awsat li al Tabarani, hadith 4757—He comments saying that none relates this from Jafar ibn Muhammad except Zaid ibn al Hassan.

[2] Sharh Usul Itiqad Ahlus Sunnah vol. 1 pg. 87.

[3] Tahdhib al Kamal vol. 10 pg. 51.

[4] Ahwal al Rijal (biography no. 126).

[5] Al Duafa wa l-Matrukin (biography no. 552).

[6] Al Kamil (6/423); al Tahdhib (4/24).

[7] Al Mujam al Kabir hadith 2783, 3052.

[8] Al Kashif (5551); al Taqrib (6791).

[9] Musnad Ali ibn Jad vol.1 pg. 397, hadith 2711; Musnad Ahmed vol. 17 pg. 211; Fada’il al Sahabah vol. 2 pg. 779, Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah; al Tabaqat vol.2 pg.2; al Tirmidhi hadith 3788; al Mujam al Kabir hadith 2679.

[10] Musnad Ahmed vol. 17 pg. 169; Fada’il al Sahabah vol.2 pg.779 hadith 1382.

[11] Musnad Ahmed vol.17 pg 308, vol.18 pg. 114; Musnad Abi Yala hadith 1140; al Mujam al Kabir li al Tabarani hadith 2678.

[12] Al Mujam al Saghir hadith 376.

[13] Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, hadith 30704 (Dar al Qiblah); Musnad Abi Yala hadith 1027.

[14] Al Mujam al Awsat vol.3 pg. 374, vol.4 pg. 33; al Mujam al Saghir vol. 1 pg. 226.

[15] Al Duafa’ al Kabir li al Uqayli vol.4 pg. 362.

[16] Mizan al Itidal vol 4. Pg. 490.

[17] Mizan al Itidal vol. 4 pg. 284.

[18] Al Duafa’ al Kabir li al Uqayli vol.4 pg. 362.

[19] Mizan al Itidal vol. 3 pg. 402.

[20] Sharh al Ilal vol.2 pg. 823.

[21] Al Tarikh al Saghir pg. 302.

[22] Musnad al Bazzar vol.3 pg 89.

[23] Al Kashif no. 1816, no. 859; Mizan al Itidal vol.2 pg. 118; al Duafa’ wal Matrukin li al Nasa’i (116).

[24] Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah hadith 32337; Musnad Ahmed hadith 21654, 21578.

[25] Al Thiqat vol. 6 pg. 444.

[26] Al Kamil vol.4 pg.22.

[27] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Fada’il al Sahabah, hadith (5920).

[28] See footnote 13 of al Muraja’at above.

[29] Al Kamil vol.1 pg. 166.

[30] Al Mustadrak, vol.2 pg 486, hadith no.3676.

[31]Majma’ al Zawa’id wa Mamba’ al Fawa’id by Al Haytami, vol. 9, p. 167.