بعثني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى اليمن قاضيا فقلت: يا رسول الله ترسلني وأنا حديث السن، ولا علم لي بالقضاء؟ فقال: إن الله سيهدي قلبك، ويثبت لسانك. فإذا جلس بين يديك الخصمان، فلا تقضين حتى تسمع من الآخر، كما سمعت من الأول، فإنه أحرى أن يتبين لك القضاء. قال: فما زلت قاضيا، أو ما شككت في قضاء بعد.
The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent me to Yemen as a judge, and so I asked, “O Messenger of Allah, are you sending me and I am still young, I have no knowledge of the duties of a judge?”
He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Indeed, Allah will soon guide your heart and stabilize your tongue. When two litigants sit in front of you, do not pass judgement until you hear from the other party, just as you heard from the first; for it is best that you have a clear idea of the decision.”
He (i.e. ‘Ali) said, “I remained a judge thereafter,” (or he said—the narrator is unsure) “I did not doubt in any judgement thereafter.”
The hadith is narrated from ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
The Hadith of ‘Ali
This hadith has a few chains of transmission:
1. Abu Dawood and others narrate via a few chains of transmission from Simak ibn Harb — from Hansh ibn al Mu’tamir —, from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. There is a difference of opinion regarding Simak ibn Harb. The preferred opinion is that he is weak. There is also weakness in Hansh.
Ibn Hibban narrates another version via Simak: Asbat ibn Nasr — from Simak — from ‘Ikrimah — from Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma — from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This chain of transmission is weak. There is a difference of opinion regarding the status of both Asbat and Simak. Specifically, the narration of Simak from ‘Ikrimah is mudtaribah (unresolvably problematic). And this is one of those ahadith. Al Saji states in al Du’afa’ regarding Asbat, “He narrates ahadith from Simak ibn Harb which enjoy no parallel narrations (mutaba’at). This is one of his narrations from him.”
2. Imam Ahmed narrates this hadith from Isra’il — from Abu Ishaq — from Harithah ibn Mudarrab — from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Abu Ishaq is al Sabi’i. He is a mudallis who commits errors (mukhtalit). The person narrating from him in this chain is his grandson, Isra’il ibn Yunus. He narrated from him after he began committing (serious) errors (ba’da al ikhtilat). Abu Ishaq confused things such that the hadith cannot be reconciled. I have explained this in the original work.
3. Imam Ahmed and others narrate from Abu al Bukhtari al Ta’i who said: “The individual who heard ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu saying (this hadith) informed me.” This chain has a majhul (unknown) narrator. Ibn Hibban and others narrate this hadith from Abu al Bukhtari, from ‘Ali, with the drop of the majhul Al Hakim authenticated it but made a mistake because the hadith is munqati’ (broken).
4. Al Diya’ and Ibn al A’rabi narrate with a chain of transmission that contains the narrator al Qasim ibn ‘Isa ibn Ibrahim al Ta’i. His human capacity of reasoning altered (taghayyara ‘aqluhu), as Abu Dawood mentioned. Ibn Hibban regarded him as a reliable narrator—he is a (known) lenient hadith critic. And Mu’ammal ibn Ismail has a weak memory (sayy’i al hifz).
5. Al Khatib narrates this version with a impugned chain.
The Hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas
Ibn ‘Asakir narrates this hadith with a chain of transmission that contains the narrator Muslim ibn Kaysan al ‘Awar. He is weak (da’if). It has also been said that he is matruk (suspected of forgery).
In short, all chains of transmission are weak and the hadith is inauthentic. However, an authentic hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas has already been mentioned in which he said, “‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu said: ‘Ubayy is the most learned of us (i.e. regarding the Qur’an) and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is the best in judgement among us.’” The takhrij of this hadith has already been mentioned.
 Abu Dawood: Sunan Abi Dawood, hadith no. 3582.
 Ibn Hibban: Sahih Ibn Hibban, hadith no. 5060.
 If reporters disagree about some point in the hadith, either pertaining to a particular narrator, text or the isnad, and none of the opinions can be preferred over the other, then this leads to uncertainty. Such a hadith is termed mudtarib. [translator’s note]
 Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani: Tahdhib al Tahdhib, 1/185.
 Imam Ahmed: Musnad Ahmed, 1/88-156 and Fadaʾil al Sahabah, hadith no. 1212.
 Imam Ahmed: Musnad Ahmed, 1/136.
 Al Diyaʾ al Din al Maqdisi: al Ahadith al Mukhtarah, hadith no. 774; ibn al A’rabi: Kital al Mujam, 2/1719.
 Al Khatib al Baghdadi: Tarikh Baghdad, 12/443.
 Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, 42/391.
 Takhrij is an evaluation of a particular hadith whereby an attempt is made to trace it back to an authoritative and primary (as opposed to secondary) hadith collection with its complete isnad. [translator’s note]