Refuting Tijani’s Criticisms of Abu Hurairah

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Chapter Twelve

Tijani’s Criticisms of Abu Hurairah

 

Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the Companion of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who was most distinguished in terms of his phenomenal memory and the abundance of hadith which he transmits. Despite the fact that he enjoyed the company of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for only a few years, Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu clung to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whether at home or on a journey so that nothing of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Sunnah would escape him. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars about his name, although the most famous is ‘Abd al Rahman ibn Sakhr. Despite Abu Hurairah’s unrivalled contribution to Islam in terms of knowledge from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he was not spared the wrath of the ‘impartial researcher’ who accuses him of forging ahadith against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Some of the objections and criticisms against him will be listed below followed by the responses to them.

 

1. Tijani’s claims that Abu Hurairah fabricated ahadith from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

 

Tijani says:

 

Perhaps they assigned the second half of the religion to Abu Hurairah, who told them what they wanted to hear, so they bestowed on him various honours: they gave him the governorship of al Medinah, they gave him al Aqiq palace and gave him the title of “Rawiat al lslam” – the transmitter of Islam. He made it easy for the Umayyads to create a completely new religion which took whatever pleased them and supported their interests and power from the Holy Qur’an and the tradition of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[1]

 

He says at another place:

 

The virtues of Abu Bakr were also mentioned by Amr ibn al ‘As, Abu Hurairah…[2]

 

He says also:

 

Then I read “Abu Hurayra” by Sharaf al Din and Sheikh “al Mudira” by Sheikh Mahmud Abu Rayyah al Misri, and learnt that the Companions who changed after the departure of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were two types. The first changed the rules because of its power and authority. The second changed the rules by attributing false Hadiths to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[3]

 

Refuting Tijani’s claims that Abu Hurairah fabricated ahadith from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

The assertion that Abu Hurairah narrated ahadith in support of Banu Umayyah by virtue of which they compensated him by constructing a castle for and conferred upon him the title of Rawiyat al Islam is a blatant lie for a number of reasons:

a. Abu Hurairah avoided the Fitnah and adopted a neutral position during these trying times. As a matter of fact he narrated some ahadith from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which encourages seclusion at a time of communal strife. The following narration is a clear example of such ahadith:

ستكون فتن القاعد فيها خير من القائم والقائم خير من الماشي والماشي فيها خير من الساعي من تشرف لها تستشرفه فمن وجد ملجأ أو معاذا فليعذ به

There will be tribulation. The one sitting when it occurs will be better off than the one standing, and the one standing will be better than the one walking, and the one walking will be better than the one running. The person who involves himself in it, it will overwhelm him. Therefore, the person who finds a shelter or a refuge let him take refuge in it.[4]

 

b. Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu only witnessed the era of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu from the Umayyad rulers. He passed away before Yazid assumed leadership. It is no surprise that Tijani overlooks this considering his track record with Islamic history in general and the history of that period in particular. Furthermore, by the time that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu became the Khalifah Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not destitute, neither was his appointment over Madinah the first time that he was tasked with governing. ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointed him as governor over Bahrayn during his era and by that time he had owned a considerable amount of wealth. Muhammad ibn Sirin relates:

 

‘Umar appointed Abu Hurairah as governor of Bahrayn. Later he returned with ten thousand. ‘Umar said to him, “Did you prefer yourself with this wealth, O enemy of Allah and His Book?”

Abu Hurairah said, “I am not the enemy of Allah and I am not the enemy of his Book. Rather, I am the enemy of the one who transgresses them. ”

‘Umar said, “Where did you get this wealth from?”

Abu Hurairah said, “Horses begotten, the profits of my slaves and gifts that poured forth.”

They looked into it and found it to be as he said. After some time ‘Umar summoned him to in order to appoint him as governor (once again) but he (Abu Hurairah) refused.

‘Umar said, “You do not want to work and someone better than you, Yusuf, requested work.”

He said, “Yusuf was a Prophet, the son of a Prophet, the son of a Prophet, and I am Abu Hurairah, the son of Umaymah. Also, I fear three and two things.”

‘Umar said, “Why did you not say five things?” He said, “I fear that I will say something without knowledge, and I fear that I will pass a judgement without knowledge, and I fear that my back will be beaten, and I fear that my wealth will be taken, and I fear my honour will be insulted.”[5]

 

c. Abu Hurairah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu appointment as governor of Madinah during the Umayyad period was due to the fact that he was one of the few remaining senior Companions in Madinah at the time. In addition to this he was a prime candidate for leadership in Madinah especially when we consider that he was forwarded to lead the salah during the days of ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Whoever took charge of the affairs of the Muslims, whether the Umayyads or anyone besides them, would certainly have considered him a prime candidate to serve as the governor of Madinah.

d. Tijani’s cheap attempt to portray Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as someone covetous for the material gain, worldly acquisition and fulfilment of his base desires, signifies the weakness of his position and the feebleness of his accusations. Compare what Tijani said about Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu with what Abu Hurairah relates from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

ثلاثة لا ينظر الله إليهم يوم القيامة ولا يزكيهم ولهم عذاب أليم رجل كان له فضل ماء بالطريق فمنعه من ابن السبيل ورجل بايع إماما لا يبايعه إلا لدنيا فإن أعطاه منها رضي وإن لم يعطه منها سخط…

Three persons, Allah will not look at them on the Day of Judgement, and he will not purify them, and for them is a painful punishment… (One of them is) A man who gives his pledge to a leader but only for a worldly benefit, therefore, when he gives him he is happy but when he does not give him he is upset…[6]

 

Also, how could he have been covetous for worldly prominence when he narrated from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

لأن يحتطب أحدكم حزمة على ظهره خير من أن يسأل أحدا فيعطيه أو يمنعه

No doubt, it is better for any one of you to chop wood and carry it in a bundle over his back than to ask someone who may or may not give him.[7]

 

If Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu were a forger there is no doubt that he would conceal these narrations. Similarly, if Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu were to be as Tijani described him he would have remained silent when evil was done in his presence. Muslim reports in his Sahih from Abu Zur’ah, who said:

 

دخلت مع أبي هريرة في دار مروان فرأى فيها تصاوير فقال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول قال الله عز وجل ومن أظلم ممن ذهب يخلق خلقا كخلقي فليخلقوا ذرة أو ليخلقوا حبة أو ليخلقوا شعيرة

I entered Marwan’s house along with Abu Hurairah. Then he saw paintings in it and said, “I heard the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying that Allah says, ‘Who is worse than the person who attempts to create a creation like My creation? Let them create corn, or let them create a seed, or let them create barley!’”[8]

 

Hakim narrates in his Mustadrak from Abu Maryam, Abu Hurairah’s freed slave, who said:

 

Abu Hurairah passed by Marwan while he was building his house in the middle of Madinah. So I sat by him while the workers were working. He said, “Build something solid, and hope far into the future, and die very soon.”

Marwan said, “Abu Hurairah must be narrating hadith to the workers. What are you saying to them, O Abu Hurairah?”

He replied, “I said, ‘build something solid, and hope far into the future, and die very soon,’ O Quraysh (he repeated it thrice). Remember your condition yesterday and what you have become today! You employ your slaves, the Persians and the Romans; eat firm bread and fat meat. You do not eat one another and you do not bite your front teeth like horses. Be small today and you will be big tomorrow! By Allah, no man amongst you will ascend a single level except that Allah will bring him down on the Day of Judgement.”[9]

 

Compare this Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu with the Abu Hurairah described by Tijani. I am sure the reader notices the ‘impartiality’ in Tijani’s eyes.

Tijani further accuses Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu of forging hadith to appease people. Similarly he accuses Abu Hurairah of narrating forged ahadith about the merits of the Sahabah, especially Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Tijani has honestly pointed out that his convictions were further reinforced after reading the book Abu Hurairah by ‘Abd al Hussain Sharaf al Din and Mahmud Abu Rayyah.

 

Let us examine Tijani’s accusation:

a. There is no difference of opinion among the Companions about the merit of Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Furthermore they attest to his integrity as a person as well as the keenness of his memory. They regard him among the most knowledgeable Companions when it comes to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Sunnah. Ibn ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu once said to Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

يا أبا هريرة أنت كنت ألزمنا لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وأحفظنا لحديثه

O Abu Hurairah, you spent the most time with the Prophet among us and you the most knowledgeable with regards to his hadith.[10]

 

Ibn ‘Umar was once asked, “Do you negate anything that Abu Hurairah narrates?” He replied:

 

No! But he is bold and we are cautious.[11]

 

Ash’ath ibn Salim, relates from his father, who said:

 

I came to Madinah and I found Abu Ayub narrating from Abu Hurairah from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. I said, “(Do you narrate from Abu Hurairah) yet you accompanied the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

He said, “He heard and I narrate from him from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. I find this more pleasing than narrating (directly) from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”[12]

 

Muawiyah ibn Abi’Ayyash al Ansari relates:

 

I was sitting with Ibn Zubair when Muhammad ibn Iyas ibn Bukair came and asked about a man who divorced his wife thrice, before consummation (of the marriage). Then he sent him to Abu Hurairah and Ibn ‘Abbas and both of them were by Aisha. Then he went and asked them, and Ibn ‘Abbas said to Abu Hurairah, “Answer him, O Abu Hurairah, as it is a complex question.”

He said, “The first (utterance of divorce) terminates it, and the three (divorces) prohibit her (from remarrying him).”

Ibn ‘Abbas said something similar.[13]

 

Consider Abu Hurairah’s academic stature before Ibn ‘Abbas—who was a close ally and confidant of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu—that he considered him better suited to answer this problematic question. Would Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu consider Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu unreliable?

The reason for his prolific transmission from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is that he accompanied the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam under all circumstances; whether the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was at home or on travel. Furthermore, Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had no work commitment, nor wife to occupy his time. He was eager to be in the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam company whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Malik ibn Abi ‘Amir said:

 

A man came to Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd Allah and said, “O Abu Muhammad, what do you think about this Yemeni (referring to Abu Hurairah)? Is he more knowledgeable about the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ahadith than you? We hear things from him that we do not hear from you; is he saying things that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not say?”

Talhah responded, “As for him hearing what we did not hear, I do not doubt (his having heard it). Let me tell you about his situation. We had families, livestock, and work (to attend to). We used to visit the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mornings and evenings. As for Abu Hurairah, he was poor and a guest at the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam door. His hand was with his hand. Therefore, I have no doubt that he heard what we did not hear. You will not find any person who has any good in him forging lies upon the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”[14]

 

b. In addition to accompanying the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which contributed to him becoming the most prolific narrator of hadith among the Companions, he also stood out on account of his retentive memory, accuracy of transmission, and his attention to detail. This is the result of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mercy and grace. Al Bukhari narrates by way of al Zuhri, who said:

 

سعيد بن المسيب وأبو سلمة بن عبد الرحمن أن أبا هريرة رضي الله عنه قال إنكم تقولون إن أبا هريرة يكثر الحديث عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وتقولون ما بال المهاجرين والأنصار لا يحدثون عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بمثل حديث أبي هريرة وإن إخوتي من المهاجرين كان يشغلهم صفق بالأسواق وكنت ألزم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على ملء بطني فأشهد إذا غابوا وأحفظ إذا نسوا وكان يشغل إخوتي من الأنصار عمل أموالهم وكنت امرأ مسكينا من مساكين الصفة أعي حين ينسون وقد قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في حديث يحدثه إنه لن يبسط أحد ثوبه حتى أقضي مقالتي هذه ثم يجمع إليه ثوبه إلا وعى ما أقول فبسطت نمرة علي حتى إذا قضى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مقالته جمعتها إلى صدري فما نسيت من مقالة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم تلك من شيء

Sa’id ibn Musayyab and Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd al Rahman narrated to me that Abu Hurairah said, “Some of you say that Abu Hurairah is abundant in what he relates from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. You also say what is the matter with the Muhajirin and the Ansar that they do not narrate from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam like Abu Hurairah narrates. Indeed, my brothers from the Muhajirin were occupied with their dealings in the market place while I stuck to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Therefore, I witnessed (things) when they were absent, and I would remember when they forgot. My brothers from the Ansar were occupied with their farms; while I was a poor man from the poor Companions of al Suffah and I remembered when they forgot. Also, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once said, ‘None amongst you will spread open (a garment) until I complete this talk of mine and then press it against himself except that he will remember what I say.’ So I spread open a striped garment I was wearing until the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam completed his talk then I pressed it against my chest and I did not forget anything since that speech of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”[15]

 

c. It would be prudent to refer to one of the ‘infallible’ Imams of the Shia and hear what he says about Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, whether he is trustworthy. We present the views of the fourth Imam, Zayn al ‘Abidin, ‘Ali ibn Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, on Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Abu al Hassan al Arbili, a senior Shia scholar, relates in his book Kashf al Ghummah from Sa’id ibn Marjanah that he said:

 

One day I was with ‘Ali ibn Hussain and I said, “I heard Abu Hurairah saying that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, ‘Whoever frees a believing slave, Allah frees with every limb of his body a limb of his from the fire of Jahannam to the extent that he frees with the hand the hand, and with the foot the foot, and with the private parts the private parts.’”

‘Ali ibn Hussain said, “You heard this from Abu Hurairah?”

I replied that I did, on which he said to a slave of his, the most energetic of his slaves, whom ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar had offered him one thousand dinars for but he refused to sell. He said “You are free, for the sake of Allah!”[16]

 

The extent of Abu Hurairah’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu trustworthiness and honesty in the eyes of Imam ‘Ali ibn Hussain is that he did not delay in practising upon a hadith that reached him from Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Tijani does not trust someone whom the ‘infallible’ Imam trusts. Subhan Allah!

It is not strange then to find that one of the senior Imamiyyah scholars in the field of hadith transmitters ratifies him and places him amongst the category of praiseworthy transmitters. Ibn Dawood al Hilli says:

 

‘Abdullah, Abu Hurairah, is well-known and from amongst the Companions of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[17]

 

Similarly Ibn Babuwayh al Qummi cited him in his book al Khisal at more than one place[18] and the examiner of the book, ‘Ali Akbar Ghifari, does not subject him to criticism despite his footnotes on many of the transmitters in the book.

This is in addition to the fact that the person transmitting many of the ahadith from Abu Hurairah is his son-in-law, Sa’id ibn Musayyab. He is one of the most famous of his students, and the person who narrated the hadith about the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instructing to spread a garment which resulted in the extraordinary capacity for memorisation of hadith. Al Kashshi, a senior Shia scholar in the field of transmitter criticism, says about him, “Sa’id ibn Musayyab, he was raised by Amir al Mu’minin.”[19]

It has been narrated that Abu Jafar al Baqir said:

 

I heard ‘Ali ibn Hussain saying, “Sa’id ibn Musayyab is the most knowledgeable of people with regards to what preceded him of traditions and the person with the most understanding of his generation.”[20]

 

Does it matter what Tijani says after ‘Ali, Zayn al ‘Abidin, attested to his faithful representation of the Prophetic tradition and his reliability as a transmitter of Prophetic knowledge? If Zayn al ‘Abidin could trust him, what stops Tijani?

 

Tijanis callous treatment of this noble Companion is further demonstrated by his statement:

 

The virtues of Abu Bakr were also mentioned by Amr ibn al ‘As, Abu Hurairah, Urwa and Ikrima, and all of them hated Ali and fought him either with arms or by plotting against him and attributing virtues to his enemies…[21]

 

Our response:

a. It is correct that ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu but this was not on account of enmity towards him. Rather, it was because he believed he was fighting in defence of the truth. The reason for conflict between Muawiyah and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma has already been dealt with so it suffices from repeating those discussions here. All that can be added is that ‘Amr ibn al’As radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought on the side of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is hardly any reason to forge ahadith on the virtues of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

‘Amr ibn al ‘As is also known for narrating the virtues of those who stood against him on the battlefield. He is one of the transmitters of the hadith, “Pity ‘Ammar, the rebellious group will kill him.” He narrates also that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The one who kills him and takes his belongings is in the fire,” and when someone objected to him and argued that he, ‘Amr, was fighting him he responded, “He (the Prophetsalla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said the person who kills him and takes his belongings.”[22]

Is this what Tijani refers to when he accuses him of ‘fabrication’ and ‘inventing of merits for ‘Ali’s enemies’.

‘Amr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu real ‘crime’ is that he asked the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

أى الناس أحب إليك قال‏ عائشة‏ فقلت من الرجال فقالَ أبوها‏ قلت ثم من قال‏ ثم عمر بن الخطاب فعد رجالا‏

“Who is the most beloved person to you?”

He said, “Aisha.”

I said, “And from the men?”

He said, “Her father!”

I said, “Then who?”

He said, “‘Umar ibn al Khattab.” And he mentioned other men.[23]

 

b. Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu withdrew himself from the conflict between ‘Ali and Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Therefore, from this perspective he did not attack ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. However, apparently, he attacked him by ‘fabricating’ and ‘inventing’ merits for his enemies. These manifests in the form of what Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about the Day of Khaybar:

 

لأعطين هذه الراية رجلا يحب الله ورسوله يفتح الله على يديه.فدعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على بن أبي طالب فأعطاه إياها

I will most certainly hand over this flag to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger and Allah will grant victory at his hands… Then the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and gave him the flag.[24]

 

Not only this, he also narrated from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that he said:

 

Whoever loves them loves me, and whoever hates them hates me (referring to Hassan and Hussain).[25]

 

He narrated also that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

O Allah! I love them so you love them![26]

 

Our question for Tijani is whether these are fabrications? Or are they only fabrications when there is merit for Abu Bakr or ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma?

 

NEXT ⇒ Chapter Thirteen – The Final Study: Miscellaneous Issues


[1]Then I was guided, p. 120.

[2]Then I was guided, p. 142.

[3]Then I was guided, p. 130.

[4]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Fitan, Bab Takun Fitnah, al Qa’id fiha Khayr min al Qa’im, Hadith: 6670-6671.

[5]Siyar A’lam al Nubala’ by al Dhahabi, vol. 2, p. 612, the examiner says, “Its transmitters are reliable.”

[6]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Musaqat, Bab Man’ Ibn al Sabil min al Ma’, Hadith: 2230, vol. 2.

[7]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Buyu’, Bab Kasb al Rajul wa ‘Amaluhu bi Yadih, Hadith: 1964.

[8]Muslim with the commentary, Kitab al Libas wa al Zinah, Hadith: 2111.

[9]  Narrated by Hakim in the Mustadrak, vol. 4, p. 463; Refer also to Aqbas min Manaqib Abi Hurairah by ‘Abd al Mun’im Salih al ‘Ali, p. 119.

[10]Sunan al Tirmidhi, vol. 3, Bab Manaqib Abi Hurairah, Hadith: 3836.

[11]Siyar A’lam al Nubala’,vol. 2, p. 608.

[12] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2, p. 606.

[13]  Ibid, p. 607, the editor said, “its chain is reliable.”

[14]Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2, p. 605-606, the examiner says, “Its transmitters are reliable.”

[15]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Buyu’, Hadith: 1942.

[16]Kashf al Ghummah, vol. 2, p. 290, Fada’il al Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin.

[17]Rijal Ibn Dawood al Halbi, p. 198.

[18]Al Khisal by al Qummi, p. 31, 38, 164, 174, 176, and at other places as well.

[19]Rijal al Kashshi, biography no. 54, p. 107.

[20]  Ibid, p. 110.

[21]Then I was guided, p. 142.

[22]Musnad Ahmed, vol. 6, Hadith: 17791

[23]  Previously cited Chapter 9.

[24]  Previously cited Chapter 6.

[25]Fada’il al Sahabah by Ahmed, Hadith: 1395, the examiner says, “Its sanad is reliable.”

[26]Al Fada’il, Hadith: 1371, the examiner says, “Its sanad is reliable.”