Shattering the Mirage: A Response to ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din’s al Muraja’at: Letter 35 and 36

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Letter 35

Thul-Hijjah 27, 1329 A.H.

 

I. Requesting other texts

 

1) May Allah reward your father! How eloquent your arguments and how convincing! Please oblige and go ahead to state the rest of the clear consecutively reported (mutawatir) texts, Wassalamo Alaikom.

 

Sincerely,

S

 

Letter 36

Thul-Hijjah 29, 1329

 

I. Hadith by ibn ‘Abbas

II. ‘Umran’s Hadith

III. Buraidah’s Hadith

IV. Hadith Recounting Ten Exclusive Attributes [of ‘Ali]

V. ‘Ali’s Hadith

VI. Wahab’s Hadith

VII. Ibn Abu ‘Asim’s Hadith

 

1) Refer to what Abu Dawood al Tayalisi has reported, as stated in a chapter discussing ‘Ali in Isti’ab through the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas who is quoted saying: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said to ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib: ‘You are next to me alone as the wali of every believer.’“1

 

2) Another authentic hadith is narrated by ‘Umran ibn Hasin who says: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, deployed an army division under the command of ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib who chose, as his share of the khums, a slave-girl for himself, and people criticized him. Four men vowed to complain against him to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny.

When they came to the Prophet, one of them stood up and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Have you seen how ‘Ali has done such and such?’ The Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam turned his face away from him. The second stood up and spoke likewise, and the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam ignored him, too. The third stood up and repeated what his fellows had previously stated, and he, too, was ignored. The fourth one stood up and stated exactly as had been stated by his fellows.

It was then that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, turned to them with anger in his eyes and said: ‘What do you want of ‘Ali? ‘Ali is of me and I am of him, and only after me is he the mawla of all believers.’“2

 

3) Also refer to Buraidah’s hadith quoted verbatim on page 356 of Vol. 5 of Ahmed’s Musnad. He says: “The Messenger of Allah sent two armies to Yemen. One of them was led by ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib ‘alayh al Salam, and the other by Khalid ibn al Walid. He instructed them thus: ‘When you combine your forces, let ‘Ali be the overall leader.3

But if you disperse, then each one of you is the leader over his own troops.’ We then battled Banu Zubaida, and ‘Ali selected one of the captives, a slave-girl, for himself; so, Khalid and I wrote to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, to inform him of the incident. When I came to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, and the letter was read for him, I noticed anger in his eyes; therefore, I pleaded to him by saying: ‘This is the place for those who seek refuge; you have sent me with a commander and ordered me to obey him, and I have done just that.’ The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, said: ‘Do not ever plot against ‘Ali, for he is of me and I am of him, and he is your wali after me.’“4

Al Nisa’i has quoted the following words of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam verbatim on page 17 of his Al Khasa’is al ’Alawiyyah: “O Buraidah! Do not try to make me dislike ‘Ali, for ‘Ali is of me, and I am of him, and he is your wali after me.” Jarir, too, quotes Buraidah’s statement verbatim thus: “The Prophet’s face became red with anger, and he said: ‘To whomsoever I have been mawla, ‘Ali is his mawla;’ therefore, I forgot my own anger against ‘Ali and said that I would never speak ill of ‘Ali again.”5

Al Tabrani, too, has quoted this hadith in detail. Among what he narrates is that when Buraidah came from Yemen and entered the mosque, he found a crowd standing by the room of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam. Upon seeing him, they stood up to greet him and ask him what news he had brought them. He said: “Good news. Allah has rendered victory upon the Muslims.” They asked him: “Then what brought you here?” He answered: “An incident regarding a slave-girl whom ‘Ali chose as his share of the khums, and I have come here to inform the Prophet about it.”

They said: “Inform him of it, do inform him, so that he may change his heart about ‘Ali,” while the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, was standing overhearing their conversation from within. He, thereupon, came out angrily and said: “What is the matter with those who bear grudge against ‘Ali? Whoever hates ‘Ali hates me, too, and whoever abandons ‘Ali abandons me. ‘Ali is of me and I am of him; he has been created of my own mould, and my own mould is Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s), and I am even superior to Ibrahim,6 one progeny descending from another, and Allah is all-Hearing, all-Knowing. O Buraidah! Have you not come to know that ‘Ali’s share is a lot more than the slave-girl he took, and that he is your wali after me?”7 – There is no doubt about the authenticity of this hadith, and its narrators are quite numerous, and they are all reliable.

 

4) Similar to this narration is what al Hakim has narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas who cites a particular hadith of weight and significance. In it he counts ten exclusive attributes of ‘Ali, and he quotes the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, addressing ‘Ali thus: “You are the wali of every believer after me.”8

 

5) Likewise, in another hadith, he, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said, “O ‘Ali! I have prayed Allah to grant me five wishes concerning you, and He granted me four and denied the fifth.” He continues to say: “He has granted me that you are the wali of the believers after me.”9

 

6) A similar hadith is transmitted by Ibn al Sakan from Wahab ibn Hamzah and is quoted in Wahab’s biography in Isti’ab thus: “I travelled once with ‘Ali and found him to be cold towards me; therefore, I decided to complain about him to the Prophet upon returning.

So I mentioned him to the Messenger of Allah and I spoke ill of him, whereupon he salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Do not say so about ‘Ali, for he is your wali after me.’“ Al Tabrani, in his book Al Mujma’ al Kabir, cites Wahab’s statement with a minor alteration in its wording thus: “Do not say this about ‘Ali, for he is the most worthy of being your leader after me.”10

 

7) Ibn Abu ‘Asim has quoted ‘Ali’s hadith from the Prophet through a chain of narrators thus: “Do I not have more authority over the believers than they themselves have?” People answered in the affirmative. The Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam then said: “To whomsoever I have been wali, ‘Ali is his wali;”11 and our sahih books in this regard are mutawatir from the Imams of the Purified Progeny ‘alayh al Salam.

This much should suffice to prove our point, although ayat al wilayat alone suffices to support our claim, and praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Wassalamo Alaikom.

 

Sincerely,

Sh

 

Footnotes

  1. This is quoted by Abu Dawood and other authors of books of traditions from Abu ‘Awanah al Waddah ibn ‘Abdullah al Yashkuri through a chain of narrators: Abu Balj Yahya ibn Salim al Fizari, ‘Amr ibn Maymun al ’Awdi, ending with Ibn ‘Abbas. The men who have quoted this tradition are all authorities in their own right, and they are relied upon by both Sheikhs in their respective sahihs with the exception of Yahya ibn Salim whom they do not quote, yet even the pioneers of criticism and verification have all declared his trustworthiness, and that he used to mention the name of Allah most frequently. Al Thahbi, while stating his biography in his Al Mizan, quotes Ibn Ma’in, al Nisa’i, Dar Qutni, Muhammad ibn Sa’id, Abu Hatim, and many others all testifying to the fact that the man is a trusted authority.
  2. This is quoted by many authors of books of traditions such as Imam al Nisa’i in his Al Khasa’is al ’Alawiyya, Ahmed ibn Hanbal (when quoting ‘Umran’s hadith at the beginning of page 438, Vol. 4, of his Musnad), al Hakim on page 111, Vol. 3, of his Al Mustadrak, al Thahbi in his Talkhis al Mustadrak, admitting its authenticity due to its endorsement by Muslim. It is quoted by Ibn Abu Shaybah and Ibn Jarir, and the hadith both men quote from him has been verified by al Muttaqi al Hindi at the beginning of page 400, Vol. 6, of Kanz al ’Ummal. It is also quoted by al Tirmithi from reliable sources as mentioned by al ’Asqalani while discussing ‘Ali’s biography in his Al Isabah. The Mu’tazilite scholar has quoted it on page 450, Vol. 2, of Sharh Nahjul Balaghah, commenting: “This is narrated by Abu ‘Abdullah Ahmed [ibn Hanbal] in his Musnad in more than one place.” He also narrates it in his book Fada’il ‘Ali [‘Ali’s virtues], and it is narrated by most traditionists.
  3. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, as long as he lived, never required anyone to issue orders to ‘Ali; on the contrary, he vested upon him the responsibility of issuing orders to others. He was his standard-bearer in every campaign, unlike many others. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were both ordinary soldiers in Usamah’s troops, serving under the standard tied for him by the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam who ordered him to take charge of the Mu’ta expedition. He personally enlisted both men, according to the consensus of chroniclers, and he also made them soldiers of Ibn al ’As. These facts are stated by al Hakim on page 43, Vol. 3, of his Al Mustadrak, and they are cited by al Thahbi in his Talkhis al Mustadrak, admitting the authenticity of the hadith. As regarding ‘Ali himself, he was never to receive orders, nor to be the subject of anyone other than the Prophet himself since the inception of his mission and till his demise, peace be upon him and his progeny.
  4. This is quoted by Ahmed on page 356 from ‘Abdullah ibn Buraidah who quotes his father. On page 347, Vol. 5, of his Musnad, relying on a chain of narrators including Sa’id ibn Jubayr and Ibn ‘Abbas, he quotes Buraidah saying: “I participated in ‘Ali’s campaign against Yemen, and I felt that his attitude towards me was cool. When I came to the Messenger of Allah and mentioned ‘Ali, I belittled him. Having done so, I saw the face of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam change colour, and he said to me: ‘O Buraidah! Do I not have more authority over the believers than the believers have over their own selves?’ I answered: ‘Yes, indeed, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: ‘To whomsoever I am a mawla, ‘Ali is his mawla.’“ This is quoted by al Hakim on page 110, Vol. 3, of his Al Mustadrak, in addition to many traditionists. It is, as you see, quite clear in its gist, for when he starts with the question “Do I not have more authority over the believers than the believers have over their own selves?” he bears testimony to the meaning of “mawla” in this hadith to be “the one who is awla, i.e. most worthy of ruling” them, as is quite obvious. Similar to this hadith is what has been quoted by many traditionists such as Imam Ahmed at the end of page 483, Vol. 3, of his Musnad, from ‘Amr ibn Shas al Aslami, one of those who were present at Hudaybiya, who quotes the same adding: “I accompanied ‘Ali to Yemen, and he was cool to me during the trip, so much so that I concealed some feelings against him. When I came back, I complained about him at the mosque till the news reached the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam. I entered the mosque one afternoon, and the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, was present there accompanied by many of his companions. As soon as he saw me, he stared at me till I sat down. He said to me: ‘O ‘Amr! By Allah you have hurt me.’ I said: ‘I seek refuge with Allah against hurting you, O Messenger of Allah!’ He said: ‘Yes; whoever hurts ‘Ali hurts me, too.’“
  5. As he is quoted by al Muttaqi al Hindi on page 398, Vol. 6, of Kanz al ’Ummal. He is also quoted in Muntakhab al Kanz.
  6. When he was told that ‘Ali was created of his own mould, peace be upon him and his progeny, thus by necessity becoming superior to this man, he said: “And I am created of Ibrahim’s mould,” mistakingly thinking that Ibrahim (Abraham) is superior to him, peace be upon him and his progeny, which contradicts the truth of the matter.
  7. Ibn Jarir has quoted this hadith from al Tabrani who includes it on page 103 of his book Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa while discussing the second maqsad of verse 14 of the ones which he discusses in Chapter 11 of Al Sawa’iq al Muhriqa. But when he comes to the statement “Have you not come to know that ‘Ali’s share is more than a slave-girl?” his pen halts, and he cannot finish the hadith in its entirety! This is not strange, coming from him and his likes; and praise be to Allah for our good health.
  8. This is quoted by al Hakim at the beginning of page 134, Vol. 3, of Al Mustadrak, al Thahbi in his Talkhis al Mustadrak, admitting its authenticity, al Nisa’i on page 6 of his Al Khasa’is al ’Alawiyya, and Imam Ahmed on page 331, Vol. 1, of his Musnad. We have quoted it verbatim at the beginning of Letter No. 26.
  9. This hadith is number 6048 among the ones cited in Kanz al ’Ummal, page 396, Vol. 6.
  10. This hadith is numbered 2579 among the ones cited in Kanz al ’Ummal, page 155, Vol. 6.
  11. This is transmitted by al Muttaqi al Hindi from Ibn Abu ‘Asim on page 397, Vol. 6, of Kanz al ’Ummal.
 
 

Discussions

There is no harm in summarizing the general approach towards the narrations about Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. There are abundant sound narrations about the virtues and merits of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu; all these we accept.

On the other hand, there are even more narrations about him which are either complete forgeries, significantly unreliable or adapted versions of the sound narrations.

It might be asked, “If you accept the sound narrations, why is it that you reject what the Shia say? After all these narrations, by your own admission, are correctly attributed to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” The simple response is that we understand these in their proper context.

Stripped of their context, these narrations could be adapted to suit any preconceived ideology. Further still, if the narrations about the other Companions are completely dismissed there is no chance that the narrations about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu will ever be understood in context.

The correspondence does have the tendency of becoming tedious especially since ‘Abdul Hussain employs the same evidence repeatedly. The Sheikh al Azhar does not appear to even notice this fault. We cannot blame him though; he didn’t even see these letters!

In this exchange, ‘Abdul Hussain has requested himself to furnish unambiguous Mutawatir texts. The motive behind this specific request is to present an opportunity to design a foundation upon which doctrine may be built. While there is a debate among Sunni’s about the role of a solitary narration in matters of ‘Aqidah, there is no arguing with evidence which is absolute in what it denotes and uncontestable in the manner it is establishment.

Narrations which are Mutawatir [mass-transmitted] are presumed, under ordinary circumstances, to eliminate the possibility of conspiracy to misrepresent. It would follow that such evidence is beyond contest [Qati].

‘Abdul Hussain overlooks the fact that those who consider a Mutawatir narration beyond contest also stipulate that it has to be mass-transmitted at all stages of the isnad before it is exempt of scrutiny.

In his attempt to establish Tawatur [mass-transmission], ‘Abdul Hussain has cited seven narrations. We shall discuss all these narrations and compare different versions of them to establish the veracity of ‘Abdul Hussain’s

 

The Narrations

1. The narration of Ibn ‘Abbas[1]

This is the exact narration that appeared in Letter 26 and reappeared in Letter 34. ‘Abdul Hussain cunningly references it to Abu Dawood, creating the impression that it is a different narration. What he failed to realize was that Abu Dawood al Tayalisi, the compiler of the Musnad where this narration is found, is not Abu Dawood Sulaiman ibn Ash’ath from Sijistan, the compiler of the famous Sunan.

While we refer the esteemed reader to the detailed discussion under Letter 26[2], it would be prudent to summarize some of those discussions here since ‘Abdul Hussain is going to repeat this Hadith at narration no. 4.

The narration is only known by way of a single common chain:

Abu Balj – ‘Amr ibn Maymun – Ibn ‘Abbas

 

The problematic narrator is Abu Balj. We find the academic integrity in al Murajaat is such that he quotes Mizan al Itidal to produce the opinions of five Hadith critics, all appearing to ratify Abu Balj, Yahya ibn Sulaim. Conveniently he ignored the fact that al Bukhari, Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Ibn Hibban, al Juzajani and al Dhahabi, the author of Mizan al Itidal, have all pointed out that he narrates baseless narrations![3]

Ibn Ma’in is also on record for having criticized him; his acceptance as mentioned in Mizan al Itidal is thus qualified to specific narrations. One could also add to the list of those who criticized Abu Balj: al Azdi, Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, Ibn al Jawzi and Ibn Hajar. [4] As a matter of fact, even al Tirmidhi[5], ‘Abdul Ghani ibn Sa’id al Misri,[6] Ibn Rajab al Hanbali,[7] Ibn Taymiyyah,[8] and al Haythami[9] confirm that he is weak on some levels.

If it came down to sheer numbers, those who consider him weak outnumber those who accept his narrations. Furthermore, they have provided reasons for their assessment; he is known to have narrated baseless narrations. The general principle that applies to a narrator where the evaluations vary is to see who provides details for their evaluation. Based on that principle alone, Abu Balj would be considered unreliable.

The method of reconciliation between the conflicting opinions is to recognize that he has erred in a fair number of narrations, whilst the extent of his error is not so severe that it warrants his narrations to be discarded altogether. That is to say that where Abu Balj is supported by other narrators his narrations are to be accepted. However, this narration, in particular, has been specifically criticized.

Ibn Rajab has also provided another perspective which also maintains that the error is ascribed to Abu Balj. He quotes ‘Abdul Ghani al Misri saying that Abu Balj erred in the name of his teacher. Instead of Abu ‘Abdullah Maymun he named him ‘Amr ibn Maymun.[10]

 

2. The narration of ‘Imran ibn Hussain[11]

The common chain for the narration of ‘Imran ibn al Hussain is as follows:

Jafar ibn Sulaiman al Dubai – Yazid al Rishk – Mutarrif ibn ‘Abdullah – ‘Imran ibn al Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

 

Al Tirmidhi stated that this narration is only known by way of Jafar ibn Sulaiman; indicating that there is no alternate chain to ‘Imran ibn al Hussain.

Al Hakim declared this Isnad authentic. ‘Abdul Hussain lied about al Dhahabi agreeing with al Hakim; he remained silent on this narration.[12]

 

3. The narration of Buraidah

The narration cited by ‘Abdul Hussain appears with this common chain:

Ajlah al Kindi – ‘Abdullah ibn Buraidah – his father, Buraidah radiya Llahu ‘anhu[13]

 

Both of these narrations refer to the same incident, hence it is more practical to study both narrations together.

The version of ‘Imran ibn Hussain states that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam dispatched an army and he put ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu in charge of it. After the expedition he consummated a union with a slave girl. So four of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam disapproved of this, and they made a pact saying: “[If] we meet the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam we will inform him of what ‘Ali did.” When the Muslims returned from any journey, they would first meet with the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, then they would go to their homes. So when they met the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam one of the four stood saying, “O Messenger of Allah! Do you see that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib did such and such.” The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam turned away from him. Then the second one stood and raised the same complaint, and he turned away from him. Then the third stood before him, and complained as well, and he turned away from him. Then the fourth stood and said as they had said. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam faced him, visibly angry, and said, “What do you want from ‘Ali? What do you want from ‘Ali? Ali is from me, and I am from him, and he is the Wali of every believer after me.”

The version of Buraidah states that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam dispatched two battalions to Yemen, one led by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the other led by Khalid ibn al Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed them that when they were together, ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in charge, and when they were separate, each leader was responsible for their own battalion. In Yemen they fought Banu Zaid,[14]and the Muslims were victorious. We killed many of their fighters and captured many of their women and children, and ‘Ali chose a woman for himself. Buraidah said that Khalid sent him with a written message to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He says, “When the message was read to him, I could see the signs of anger in the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam face so I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah. This is where I seek refuge. You have sent me under the leadership of a man and instructed me to obey him. I have only done as tasked.’ The reply was, ‘Do not be unfriendly towards Ali since he is from me and I from him; and he is your Wali after me. He is from me and I from him; and he is your Wali after me.’”

At this point it is necessary to draw the esteemed readers attention to a particular aspect of narrator criticism. We have previously established that there are, broadly speaking, three views when it comes to accepting the narrations of innovators – where the narrators are proven to be honest and competent.

The fringe view holds that the narrations ascribed to anyone with heterodox beliefs ought to be discarded. The second opinion – and this is the popular view – holds that it is necessary to diffrentiate between those who were staunch promoters of their heterodox beliefs, especially when they narrate something that might support their views.

If this view is applied rigidly, all narrations which might be seen to support an innovated belief would be rejected. However, we find isolated narrations in the rigourously authenticated collections, from well-known innovators, which appear to favour their heterodox inclinations. These narrations only appear to favour their unorthodox views, whereas in reality there are perfectly acceptable explanations for these.

If this is the case, how does one account for the second opinion? The short answer is that, in principle, a reliable narrator with heterodox beliefs, because of prejudice, might inadvertently convey the Hadith in a manner that supports his belief. The experts who were capable of textual scrutiny, beyond narrator criticism, would accept only those narrations that were free of anomalies; hence a third view. Those whose Hadith criticism featured mainly in narrator criticism applied the principle rigidly.

It would be fair to ask how is it that we know these experts were able to differentiate between the accepted versions and the anomalous versions. This is where the above narrations enter the scene.

Both narrations describe a single event, an event which ‘Abdul Hussain will later come to reinvent.

 
Background

Prior to Hajj the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Yemen to distribute the spoils after Khalid ibn al Walid’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu military campaign in Yemen. There were some people who were displeased with ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and complained to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about him. These people felt that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not entirely fair in his distribution and had treated them harshly. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam realized that there had been a misunderstanding and that there was some bitterness towards ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from those who had complained about him. Having realized this, and finding a suitable opportunity to address the matter, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stopped at a place called Ghadir Khum, which served as a rest stop for travellers with water and shade. On his return to Madinah, after the Farewell Hajj, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stopped here to rest and pray. He addressed the entire gathering and said, ‘Whoever considers me his Mawla, then ‘Ali is also his Mawla.’

Rawh ibn ‘Ubadah – ‘Ali ibn Suwaid – ‘Abdullah ibn Buraidah relates from his father:

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Khalid to collect the Khumus [one-fifth share of the spoils of war]. I was already averse to ‘Ali, so when he took a bath[15] I said to Khalid, “Do you see this?”

When we met the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam we spoke of this to him and he replied, “O Buraidah; do you dislike ‘Ali?” I replied in the affirmative and he commented, “Do not be unfriendly towards him; his share of the Khumus is more than that.”[16]

 

Abu Muawiyah – al A’mash – Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaidah – [‘Abdullah] ibn Buraidah – his father

The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam dispatched us and appointed ‘Ali (as the leader) over us. When we returned he asked us, “How did you find your companion’s (i.e.’Ali’s) company?” Either I was going to complain about him or someone else was going to complain about him. I raised my head, even though I was a person whose gaze was usually lowered, and I saw the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam face was red. He said, “Whoever considers me his Wali, Ali is his Wali![17]

 

There is a similar narration with the chain from al A’mash.

Waki – al A’mash – Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaidah – [‘Abdullah] ibn Buraidah who relates that his father [Buraidah radiya Llahu ‘anhu] passed a group of people and overheard them speaking ill of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu so he stopped them immediately and said:

There was time when I also held a grudge against ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Khalid ibn al Walid radiya Llahu ‘anhu shared my sentiments. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent me with a small army led by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and we had taken women as captive [as spoils of war]; and from his own share of the Khumus he had taken a slave-girl for himself. Khalid said to me, “[Look] there!” When we joined up with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam I related to him what transpired and complained about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu [taking the slave-girl for himself]. Buraidah said, “It was my nature to lower my gaze [in his presence], but this time I looked up and made eye-contact with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and I noticed the signs of anger on his face salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” He remarked, “Whoever considers me his Wali, Ali is his Wali!”. [18]

 

Waki’ ibn al Jarrah and Sulaiman ibn Mihran al A’mash both appear in ‘Abdul Hussain’s list of 100 narrators.

There is yet another version of the same narration, this one by way of Sa’id ibn Jubayr, from Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

Abu Nuaim al Fadl ibn Dukayn – Ibn Abi Ghunayyah – al Hakam –Sa’id ibn Jubayr – Ibn ‘Abbas from Buraidah, who said:

I went out with ‘Ali to Yemen and noticed some harshness about him. I went to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and complained about ‘Ali and criticised him. Then the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam face started to change (and he said), “Buraidah! Do I not have more right over the believers than they have over themselves?” I said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Whoever considers me his Mawla, Ali is his Mawla.” [19]

 

‘Adi ibn Thabit relates the same narration from Sa’id ibn Jubayr with the same chain going to Buraidah.[20] ‘Adi ibn Thabit is a well known Shia narrator. He appears in ‘Abdul Hussain’s list of 100, as does al Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah and Abu Nuaim al Fadl ibn Dukayn.

Finally the version of Yahya ibn Sa’id – ‘Abdul Jalil – ‘Abdullah ibn Buraidah – Buraidah:

 

There was a time when I used to detest ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu such that there was none more disliked to me than he. I had a companion who shared my sentiments, on account of which I kept his company. This companion of mine was sent on an expidition, and I joined his party only because of our mutual dislike for ‘Ali.[21]

[Due to our victory] there were women and chidren captives. He sent message to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam for someone to distribute the spoils.[22]He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent ‘Ali for that task. Among the captives was a most beautiful slave girl. After allocating the shares, we saw him come out and his hair was wet [from ceremonial bath]. We asked him, “O Abu al Hassan! What is this?” He responded, “Did you not see the slave girl? She was part of the Khumus of the Ahlul Bayt, and she formed part of the share of the family of ‘Ali so I consumated with her.”

So this man wrote to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and I requested to be sent along to confirm the details of the report.I read the complaint that was written to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and repeatedly confirmed the details as I read. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took hold of my hand and the document that I was reading, then asked me, “Do you dislike ‘Ali?” I replied in the affirmative so he responded, “Do not have an unpleasant disposition towards him, and if you have any love for him then let that increase. I swear by He in whose hands lays the the life of Muhammad, the share of the family of ‘Ali from the Khumus is greater than the slave girl!”

After hearing those words from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam there was no person more beloved to me than ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. [23]

 

‘Abdullah ibn Buraidah said, “I swear by He besides whom there is none worthy of worship; in this Hadith there is no one between myself and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam besides my father, Buraidah.”[24]

Al Bara ibn ‘Azib radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates:

We returned with the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam from the farewell Hajj, and we stopped at some point on the road. He instructed that prayer should be performed in congregation, then he took the hand of ‘Ali and said, “Do I not have a greater right over the believers than their own selves?” They said, “Yes, indeed.” He said, “Do I not have a greater right over every believer than his own self?” They said, “Yes, indeed.” He said, “This man is the Wali of those whom I am there Mawla. O Allah, take as friends those who take him as a friend, and take as enemies those who take him as an enemy.[25]

 

All these narrations – the narration of ‘Imran ibn Hussain, the narration of Buraidah and the narration of al Bara ibn ‘Azib radiya Llahu ‘anhum – refer to the same incident, and are consistent with the fact that some of the companions complained about ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu distribution of the spoils of war. When these complaints reached the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam he addressed the companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum invoking their own love of him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

We know that Jafar ibn Sulaiman al Duba’i is a fairly reliable narrator, as a matter of fact his narrations even appear in Sahih Muslim. However, he was not considered on the highest grade. How does this tie in with the introduction about the narration of an innovator?

While there seems to be a general sense of accepting his narrations, some of the experts, like Yahya ibn Sa’id, prefered not to transmit what he narrates citing slight weakness. After quoting Yahya ibn Sa’id, Yahya ibn Ma’in offered his own view; that was of acceptance. Al Bukhari pointed out that Jafar was known to have been contradicted by greater authority on a number of narrations. Ibn Sa’d summed up the status of Jafar most succinctly, “He is a reliable narrator with slight weakness[26] and known for Shia inclinations.”[27] Ibn Hajar suggests that the overall grade was slightly lower when he graded him with the term, “Saduq [Trustworthy],”[28] often used when there are minor issues with a narrators precision and accuracy. Al Dhahabi paraphrases both al Bukharis and Ibn Sa’d’s assessment,[29] and cites this narration as one of those where he erred and contradicted the majority.[30]

We learn from this case study that a narrator’s prejudice has the potenial to affect the accuracy of what he narrates. Since Jafar ibn Sulaiman al Duba’i was a commited Shia, his own notions of Wasiyyah were projected on his narration which bears the additional phrase, “ the Wali of every believer after me.” He clearly understood the term Wali, to mean successor and narrated it in a manner consistent with his own belief system.

The debate about the meaning of the word Wali will feature prominently in the upcoming discussions. Let us suffice to point out here that this narration is Munkar [severely flawed] as it is not only inconsistent with the other versions in how it is worded, but its wording affects the meaning of the narration significantly. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the Wali of all the believers prior to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam departure from this world and he continues to be the Wali of all believers.

These elements are present in the version of Ajlah al Kindi as well. It is evident that his narration bears the same features as Jafar’s. Even though Ibn Ma’in, Ibn ‘Adi and al ‘Ijli accord him a very low status within the acceptable spectrum, he was considered weak by all of Abu Hatim, al Nasa’i and al Qattan.[31]

The additional phrase, “the Wali of every believer after me,” does not feature in the narration ascribed to Ibn Jarir by way of Kanz al Ummal. The narration cited there[32] is consistent with the sound narrations which we have listed above.

The scholars who have documented the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam history have also indicated that the versions of Jafar and Ajlah are inconsistent with what is narrated regarding this incident;[33] including the supporting narration in al Tabarani’s al Mujam al Awsat.[34] ‘Abdul Hussain’s reference to the narration in al Mujam al Awsat does very little to alleviate the problem with the cited narrations since it is extremely weak or even fabricated according to some. The likes of Hussain al Ashqar have already been discussed earlier.[35]

The claim that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was never under someone elses authority is inaccurate. In the year prior to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Hajj he was under the authority of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu

Al Tabari, Isḥaq ibn Rahuyah in his Musnad, Nasa’i, Darimi, Ibn Khuzaimah, and Ibn Ḥibban all narrate by way of Ibn Jurayj, who says, “‘Abdullah ibn ‘Uthman ibn Khaytham narrated to us—from Abu Zubair—from Jabir who said:

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, after his return from the ‘Umrah which commenced at Ji’irranah, sent Abu Bakr to lead the Ḥajj. We proceeded until we were close to al ‘Arj when the adhan for Fajr was called out and the sound of the Messenger’s camel was heard and sitting on it was ‘Ali. Abu Bakr said to him, “Have you been sent as a leader or a messenger?” He said, “Rather, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent me with (Surah) al Bara’ah to recite to the people.” We arrived in Makkah and one day before the Day of Tarwiyah, Abu Bakr came and addressed the people with regards to their rituals. Upon the completion of his address ‘Ali stood up and recited (Surah) al Bara’ah to the people until he completed it. The Day of al Naḥr passed by in the same manner and the Day of al Nafr passed by in the same manner. [36]

 

‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu own statement clarifies that he was under the authority of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu; he prayed behind him and sat quietly listening to Abu Bakr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu sermons during Hajj. Furthermore, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not part of the battalion of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had instructed him to lead the people in prayer.

 

4. The ten accolades of ‘Ali is exclusively narrated by a chain to Ibn ‘Abbas

‘Abdul Hussain is pulling a juvenile stunt by repeatedly using the narration that appeared as no. 1 in this series of correspondence. All that he has done this time is to reference it to al Mustadrak. The poor chap does not realize that the narration in al Mustadrak is the very narration in Musnad Ahmed; it is transmitted with the same chain via al Qati’i – ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmed – Ahmed ibn Hanbal. Although, he cannot be blamed for not knowing this, how was he to access al Mustadrak in 1329 A.H when the book was only published for the first time in 1341 A.H? Is it not obvious that these letters were penned a long time after the death of the said interlocuter?

 

5. The narration of ‘Ali

The narration was referenced to al Kanz but conveniently omitted the reference provided in Kanz al Ummal, “Ibn al Jawzi in al Wahiyat.”[37]This refers to Ibn al Jawzi’s compilation on severely weak narrations, also known as al Ilal al Mutanahiyah fi al Ahadith al Wahiyah.[38]

The original source for this narration is al Khatib al Baghdadi’s Tarikh Baghdad by way of Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al Durays – Isa ibn Abdullah ibn Umar ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib – ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar – his father – his grandfather ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib …[39]

‘Isa ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali is accused of forging this narration. Ibn Hibbban, Abu Nuaim and Al Dhahabi all said that he narrated fabricated reports by way of his father, from his grandfathers.[40]

 

6. The narration of Wahb ibn Hamzah

This narration is referenced to al Isabah of Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani. While the narration does appear in al Isabah, Ibn Hajar states that the narrator, Wahb, cannot be proven to be a Companion of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam since the narration which is used to prove this – the narration under discussion – appears with a weak chain.[41]

In addition to the fact that Wahb cannot be objectively proven to be a Sahabi – which means the rules of Jarh and Tadil apply to him – there is very little detail about his status as a narrator.

Furthermore, ‘Ubaidullah ibn Musa, despite being a reliable narrator, was known for having transmitted uncorroborated narrations about the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Ahlul Bayt in general. It was on account of this that his status as a narrator was called into question by some of the experts like Ahmed ibn Hanbal. Ibn Sa’d expressed similar concerns about his uncorroborated narrations.[42]

Dukayn is another narrator in this chain. All that is known of him is that he was from Kufah. He was mentioned without comment by Ibn Abi Hatim, suggesting that he is Majhul.[43]

This narration appears with a similar chain in al Mujam al Kabir of al Tabarani

Ahmed ibn ‘Amr al Bazzar and Ahmed ibn Zuhayr al Tustari – Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Karamah – Ubaidullah ibn Musa – Yusuf ibn Suhayb – DukaynWahb ibn Hamzah…

The wording is somewhat different since it is worded, “Do not say this since he is the closest of people to you after me.”[44]

The textual implication of this narration is thus ambiguous. Even if the narration was accepted, it amounts to no more than identifying ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as a distinguished member of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family. May Allah increase our love for the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family.

 

7. The narration from ibn Abi ‘Asim

The wording of this narration supports the claim that we have been making all along; the addition of ‘after me’ does not appear in the sound narrations. The issue is not with this narration, but how it is understood. That is the topic of the next series of correspondence.

 

NEXT⇒ Letter 37 and 38


[1] Musnad Abi Dawood al Tayalisi vol. 4 pg. 369 Hadith no. 2875, Musnad Ahmed vol.5 pgs.178-181 Hadith 3061, al Mustadrak vol.3 pg.132

[2] Please refer to Letter 26

[3] Mizan al I’tidal vol. 4 pg. 384

[4] Tahdhib al Tahdhib vol 12. Pg. 47

[5] Jami’ al Tirmidhi, Hadith 3732

[6] Sharh ‘Ilal al Tirmidhi vol. 2 pg. 687-688

[7] Ibid

[8] Minhaj al Sunnah vol. 5 pg. 34

[9] Majma’ al Zawa’id vol. 9. Pg 120

[10] Sharh ‘Ilal al Tirmidhi vol 2. Pg. 688

[11] Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah vol. 17 pg. 130 Hadith no. 32784, Musnad Ahmed vol. 33 pg. 154 Hadith no. 19928, Jami’ al Tirmidhi, Abwab al Manaqib, Hadith 3712, al Mustadrak vol. 3 pg. 110-111

[12] Al Mustadrak vol. 3 pg. 110-111

[13] Musnad Ahmed vol. 38 pg. 117-118, Khasa’is ‘Ali Hadith no. 90

[14] Some versions have it as Banu Zubaid

[15] After relations with a beatiful slave girl.

[16] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Maghazi, Hadith no. 4350, Musnad Ahmed vol. 38 pg. 144 Hadith 23036

[17]Musnad Ahmed vol 38. Pg. 58 Hadith: 22961, Ahmed in al Fada’il, Hadith: 947; Khasa’is Amir al Mu’minin, Hadith: 77

[18] Musnad Ahmed vol. 38 pg. 133 Hadith: 23028, in al Fada’il, Hadith: 947, 1177

[19]Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah vol 17. Pg. 136 Hadith:32795, Musnad Ahmed vol 38. Pg. 32 Hadith: 22945, Fada’il al Sahabah by Ahmed, Hadith: 989; al Sunan al Kubra lil-Nasa’i Hadith 8145 (Risalah edition), Khasa’is ‘Ali Hadith: 82

[20] Al Sunnah by ibn Abi ‘Asim Hadith: 2359, al Bazzar (Kashf al Astar: 2534)

[21] This probably refers to the time when both ‘Ali and Khalid had been mandated with their respective tasks.

[22] Including the women and children captives who had now become slaves

[23] Musnad Ahmed vol. 38 pg. 65 Hadith 22967, Fada’il al Sahabah Hadith: 1180, Khasa’is ‘Ali Hadith: 97

[24] Ibid

[25] Ibn Majah, Kitab al Sunnah, Hadith 116; al Sunan al Kubra by al Nasa’i Hadith: 8473

[26] Suggesting that he has a few well-known anomalous narrations

[27] Mizan al I’tidal vol. 1 pg. 409

[28] Al Taqrib bio. 942

[29] Al Kashif bio. 792

[30] Mizan al I’tidal vol. 1 pg. 411

[31] Mizan al I’tidal vol. 1 pg. 78

[32] Kanz al ‘Ummal Hadith: 36425

[33] Tarikh al Tabari vol 3 pg. 131-132, Tarikh al Islam vol. 1 pg. 690, al Bidayah wal Nihayah vol. 7 pg. 343

[34] Majma’ al Zawa’id vol. 9 pg. 127

[35] Refer to Hussain ibn Hassan al Ashqar in Letter 9 and 10

[36] Fatḥ al Bari vol. 8 p. 171

[37] Kanz al ‘Ummal Hadith : 36411

[38] Al ‘Ilal al Mutanahiyah Hadith 394

[39] Tarikh Baghdad vol. 5 pg. 556

[40] Al Majruhin vol 2 pg 121, Mizan al I’tidal vol 3. Pg. 315

[41] Al Isabah vol. 3 pg. 604

[42] Tahdhib al Kamal vol. 19 pg. 164

[43] Al Jarh wa al Ta’dil vol 3 pg. 439

[44] Al Mujam al Kabir vol. 22 pg. 135