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I. Requesting more relevant texts
Thul Qi’da 1329
Do not curb your pen, and do not worry about boring me. I am all ears listening to you; my chest is wide, and in learning from you, my heart is at ease and soul in peace and tranquility. All the proofs and arguments which you have stated made me even more enthusiastic, thus removing the obstacle of boredom. Send me, therefore, more of your captivating speech and manifestations of wise genius. I find in your speech the quest of the wise, and it is thus more saturating to my heart than crystal—clear cool water; so, let me have more, may Allah bless your father, and peace be with you.
I. A Glimpse of Sufficient Texts
If you have been pleased by receiving my letter, and if you have approached it with selfsatisfaction, then I have often placed my hope on you for victory and concluded my effort with success. Whoever intends well, adopting a good attitude while being humble, amiable, dignified, crowned with knowledge, wellmannered with patience, is surely worthy of being truthful in what he says and writes, while equity and integrity are in his hand and on his tongue.
It is you to whom I owe my thanks when you asked for more, for who else can be more graceful, kind and humble? In order to grant your quest and cool your eyes, I would like to state the following:
Both alTabrani’s Al Mujma’ al Kabir and Rafi’i’s Musnad, quoting Ibn ‘Abbas, state that “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: ‘Let whoever is pleased to live like me and die like me and inhabit Eden’s Paradise which my Lord cultivated take ‘Ali as his master after me, and let him obey whoever he places in charge over him, and let him follow the example of my Ahlul Bayt after me, for they are my progeny: they are created of my own mould and blessed with my own comprehension and knowledge. Woe unto those who reject them and separate me from them! May Allah never permit them to enjoy my intercession.'”1
Al Matir, al Barudi, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Shahin, and Ibn Mundah have all quoted Ishaq citing Ziyad ibn Matraf saying: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah saying: ‘Whoever wishes to live my life and die my death and enter the Garden which my Lord promised me, the Garden of eternity, then let him take ‘Ali and his progeny after him as his masters, for they shall never take you out of guidance, nor let you stray.'”2
Similarly, Zaid ibn Arqam is quoted in one hadith saying: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: ‘Whoever wishes to live like me and die my death and inhabit the perpetual Garden promised to me by my Lord, let him take ‘Ali as his master, for he shall never get you out of guidance, nor shall he let you stray.'”3
Also, consider this tradition narrated by ‘Ammar ibn Yasir: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: ‘I admonish whoever believed in me and held me truthful to accept the government of ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib, for whoever accepts him as the ruler accepts me as such, and whoever loves him loves me too, and whoever loves me loves Allah. Whoever hates him hates me, and whoever hates me hates Allah, the Sublime, the Almighty.”4
Ammar quotes others stating this hadith: “O Lord! Whoever believed in me and held me truthful, let him take ‘Ali as his master, for his government is also mine, and mine is that of the Almighty Allah.”5
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, once delivered a sermon wherein he said: “O people! Favours, honours, prestige and government are for the Messenger of Allah and his progeny; therefore, let no falsehood divert you.”6
He, peace be upon him and his progeny said: “In every generation of my nation there are members of my Household who equal only my own self and who safeguard this religion from the distortion of wrongdoers and the interpretation of the ignorant. Be informed that your Imams are your deputies to Allah; so, see who you send to Him as your deputies.”7
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has also said: “Do not go ahead of them else you should perish, nor should you lag behind them else you should perish. Do not teach them, for they are more learned than you.”8
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: “Consider my Ahlul Bayt among you as you consider the head of the body, and the eyes in the head, for the head is guided by the eyes.”9
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, said: “Uphold loving us, we Ahlul Bayt, for whoever faces Allah loving us shall enter Paradise through our intercession. I swear by the One in Whose Hands my soul is placed that the good deeds of a believer shall never avail him except through recognizing our rights.”10
And he has also said: “The knowledge of the progeny of Muhammad brings salvation from the Fire, and loving Ahlul Bayt is walking on the Straight Path. Allegiance to the progeny of Muhammad is a security against the torture.”11
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: “The feet of any servant of Allah shall never move on the Day of Judgment unless he is asked about four things: how he spent his life, what he wore his body out for, how he made and spent his wealth, and about loving us, we Ahlul Bayt.”12
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: “If a man stands in prayer between the Rukn and Maqam, hating Muhammad’s progeny, he shall still enter Hellfire.”13
He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has also said: “Whoever dies because of his love for the progeny of Muhammad dies a martyr. Whoever dies because of loving the progeny of Muhammad dies as a believer of a perfect faith.
Whoever dies for loving Muhammad’s children will be given the glad tiding of entering Paradise by the angel of death, then by Munkir and Nakir. Whoever dies for loving Muhammad’s descendants will be taken to Paradise like a bride taken to her groom’s house. Whoever dies loving Muhammad’s progeny will have two doors in his grave overlooking Paradise. Allah will make the grave of whoever dies for loving Muhammad’s children a visiting place for the angels of mercy. Whoever dies for loving Muhammad’s progeny dies adhering to the Sunnah and consensus.
Whoever dies hating Muhammad’s progeny will come on the Day of Judgment with this inscribed between his eyes: ‘He should despair of Allah’s mercy,'” up to the end of his unmatchable sermon,14 the sermon whereby he, peace be upon him and his progeny, intended to divert the inclinations and whims.
The implication is that all these traditions are unanimously agreed upon, especially those narrated through the authority of the purified ‘itra. Their status would not have been confirmed had they not been the obvious Proofs of Allah and the fountainhead of His Jurisprudence, the obvious Proofs of Allah, the fountainhead of His Jurisprudence, the ones who represent the Messenger of Allah in bidding or forbidding, his own deputies in the most clear terms.
Whoever loves them, therefore, is also a lover of Allah and His Messenger, and whoever hates them is an enemy of Allah and His Messenger. He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: “None loves us except a Godfearing and sincere believer, and none hates us except a hypocritical wretch.”15 It is for these reasons that al-Farazdaq, the poet, has said these verses in their praise:
You are ones loving whom is belief, hating an abomination;
Nearness to you is indeed a rescue and a salvation.
If the pious ones are counted, you will be their Imams; it is true.
If one asks: “Who are the best of man?” the answer will be you.
The Commander of the Faithful, peace be upon him, used to say:
“I and the virtuous among my descendants are the best in manners when young, and the most learned when old. Through us does Allah obliterate lies, and through us does He turn the wild fox’s teeth ineffective. Through us does Allah cure your barrenness, and through us does He emancipate you. Through us does Allah begin and conclude.”16
Suffices us a reason for preferring them over others the fact that Allah, the Sublime, the Almighty, has preferred them over all others, making sending prayers unto them part of the obligatory prayers, albeit if the one saying his prayer were a Siddiq or Faruq, with one light, or two, or with numarous lights. Nay! Everyone who worships Allah by performing His obligations also worships Him while doing so by sending blessings unto them, just as he worships Him when testifying through the two parts of the Shahadah. This, indeed, is a status before which the nation’s heads were lowered, and in front of which the eyes of whoever you mentioned of the imams have submitted. Imam alShafi’i, may Allah be pleased with him, has said:17
O Household of Allah’s Messenger! Loving you is an obligation
Which Allah has enforced in His Honored Revelation;
Suffices you a great honour if one sends no prayer unto you all,
It will be as though he did not say his prayers at all.
Let us now be satisfied with this much of the sacred Sunnah in testimony to the fact that following their Sunnah is compulsory; so is emulating them. In the Book of Allah Almighty, the Sublime and the Omnipotent, there are clear verses which make that, too, compulsory. It is to such verses that we would like to attract your aware conscience and sensitive reason. You can be satisfied with an indicative hint, and a signal suffices to attract your attention; all praise is due to Allah, Lord of all the world.
An astute reader would have been attentive to the obvious lack of evidence from the common legacy. All that ‘Abdul Hussain has managed to bolster up thus far amount to nothing more than a series of sermons attributed to Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from a fourth century anthology of literature. In addition to the logical fallacy of circular reasoning, these texts cannot be objectively proven to be the words of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. In arguing for the legal authority of the Ahlul Bayt ‘Abdul Hussain resorted to the famous Hadith al Thaqalayn. He pursued the angle of mass-transmission (Tawatur) with the aim of according this narration absulute reliability (Qat’i al Thubut) within the framework of Usul al Fiqh. This theory, however, has been proven false in the course of the previous discussion. The authentic Hadith, narrated by way of Zaid ibn Arqam, in Sahih Muslim, further confirms that the textual implication of the Hadith does not support the theory that the Ahlul Bayt yield legal authority or have divine mandate.
In the opening passages of his introduction ‘Abdul Hussain has commited to only supporting his position with either rational arguments or ‘authenticated quotations from both groups.’
‘Abdul Hussain’s tale of fiction has unfolded in a unique dimension. The evidence upon which his arguments rest is no less fictional than the correspondence itself. His correspondence comprises of 15 narrations from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which, he alleges, are acceptable by both parties and decisive in proving beyond any doubt that the Ahlul Bayt are the absolute religious authority after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is followeed with a quote from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and excerpts of poetry which supposedly support this claim.
It is farfetched that a senior ranking scholar would have been oblivious of the glaring forgeries that form the basis of ‘Abdul Hussain’s arguments. While much can be said of what the Sheikh al Azhar might—or might not—have known, our task, for the next few pages, is to scrutinize the narrations which ‘Abdul Hussain has painstakingly listed in his round of correspondence.
‘Abdul Hussain has cited the narration by way of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Let whoever is pleased to live like me…”
This narration has been ascribed to al Mujam al Kabir of al Tabarani and al Rafi’i.
Let us begin by pointing out that ‘Abdul Hussain actually cites this narration from a secondary source, Kanz al ‘Ummal, which we have previously discussed. This particular narration could not be traced to al Tabarani’s al Mujam al Kabir. However, it appears by way of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in two later sources. It has ben recorded by Abu Nuaim al Isfahani in Hilyat al Awliya’, and by Ibn ‘Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq. Ibn ‘Asakir narrates it by way of Abu Nuaim, the chain is as follows:
Abu ‘Ali al Hassan ibn Ahmed — Abu Nuaim Ahmed ibn ‘Abdullah — Muhammad ibn al Muzaffar — Muhammad ibn Jafar ibn ‘Abdul Rahim — Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Sulaim — ‘Abdul Rahman ibn ‘Imran ibn Abi Layla — Ya’qub ibn Musa al Hashimi — Ibn Abi Rawwad — Ismail ibn Umayyah — ‘Ikrimah — Ibn ‘Abbas.
The editor of al Muraja’at went to great pains to lay on the references, citing numerous sources including Hilyat al Awliya’. However, he conveniently omited Abu Nuaim’s comment after presenting the narration.
Abu Nuaim indicated the unreliability of the narration saying, “Gharib (This is an unsubstantiated hadith).”
After Ibn ‘Asakir narrated it in his Tarikh he had this to say about it, “This is a dubious hadith with more than one unknown narrator.”
All those in bold are narrators whose status in terms of reliability remains a mystery due to their anonymity as narrators of hadith.
Was ‘Abdul Hussain so desperate that he resorted to a narration that has not only been declared unreliable by those who record it, but is riddled with flaws in that the bulk of those who narrate this hadith are unknowns?
This narration is cited by way of Ziyad ibn Mutarrif and is ascribed to al Matir (the correct name is Mutayyin), al Barudi, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Mandah, and Ibn Shahin.
It appears that he relied entirely on Kanz al ‘Ummal, since the reference provided by the editor corresponds to the Hyderabad edition of the book. In this edition the name Mutayyin is spelled incorrectly. This could easily have been the result of an unclear manuscriot since the letter Ra’ could easily be mistaken for a Nun. ‘Abdul Hussain painstakingly recorded this narration, along with its error, from Kanz al ‘Ummal yet he deliberately ignored the comments of ‘Ali Muttaqi immediately thereafter! ‘Ali Muttaqi declared this narration substantially weak!
Al Haytami cites this narration in Majma’ al Zawa’id stating that it is sometimes narrated by way of Ziyad ibn Mutarrif, from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and some versions include Zaid ibn Arqam between Ziyad and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He goes on to point out that the common narrator in this chain, Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami, is weak.
In his compendium on the biographies of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, under the biography of Ziyad ibn Mutarrif, ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani analysed this narration and declared it weak on account of the same narrator, Yahya ibn Ya’la. However, it appears that Ibn Hajar had a lapse of concentration, and when clarifying which Yahya ibn Ya’la, he wrote Yahya ibn Ya’la al Muharibi instead of al Aslami.
The editor of al Muraja’at used this oversight to give a new spin to this narration. He inferred that the narration was only declared weak on account of this single narrator. However, the experts seem to have confused him with someone with a similar name suggesting that the narration ought to be accepted. These are his words:
This is strange coming from al ’Asqalani, for Yahya ibn Ya’li, according to the consensus of scholars of hadith, is quite trustworthy. In his Sahih, al Bukhari quotes his ahadith related to the Hudaybiya treaty.
This crafty manouevre is further confirmation of the fact that the contents of al Muraja’at were known forgeries since a little investigation reveals that Ibn Hajar himself grades al Muharibi reliable. He said, “Yahya ibn Ya’la ibn al Harith al Muharibi al Kufi; a reliable narrator.” Then, under the biography of al Aslami he writes, “Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami al Kufi; a Shia and a weak narrator.”
Al Dhahabi lists Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami in his encyclopeadia of weak narrators, Mizan al I’tidal, and quotes al Bukhari, who declared him Mudtarib (confused).
He also cites Abu Hatim al Razi, who considered Yahya weak.
Al Dhahabi goes on to explain that Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami was known to have transmitted many disreputable narrations.
This narration has been cited by way of Zaid ibn al Arqam, and has been referenced to al Mustadrak quoting his verification. Likewise it has been attributed to al Tabarani in al Mujam al Kabir, and Abu Nuaim in Fada’il al Sahabah. Thereafter reference is given to Kanz al ‘Ummal.
The truth is that it is essentially the same narration as the one before it. The common narrator is Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami. All that this narration proves is that he used to muddle his narrations. So sometimes he would narrate this by way of Ziyad, from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam directly, and other times from Ziyad ibn Mutarrif, from Zaid ibn Arqam, from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
The narration in al Mujam al Kabir is by way of:
‘Ali ibn Sa’id al Razi — Ibrahim ibn ‘Isa al Tanukhi — Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami — ‘Ammar ibn Zurayq — Abu Ishaq (al Sabi’i) — Ziyad ibn Mutarrif — Zaid ibn Arqam — (and sometimes Zaid was omited).
The narrations appears with the following chain in al Mustadrak:
Bakr ibn Muhammad al Sayrafi — Ishaq — al Qasim ibn Abi Shaibah — Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami — ‘Ammar ibn Zurayq — Abu Ishaq (al Sabi’i) — Ziyad ibn Mutarrif — Zaid ibn Arqam.
Conveniently, al Dhahabi’s rectification of al Hakim has been omitted, despite ‘Ali al Muttaqi clearly stating this after referencing this narration to al Hakim’s Mustadrak. In his gloss on al Mustadrak, al Dhahabi says:
How could this posibly be declared authentic whereas al Qasim is abandoned (because of accusation of forgery), and his teacher, Yahya, is weak! Its wording is poor. On the contrary it appears to be a fabrication.
Abu Nuaim narrates it with his chain to Yahya ibn Ya’la al Aslami, who narates it with the same chain.
The discussion on Yahya ibn Ya’la preceded in the discussion on the second narration. It is clear for all to see that he is the common narrator, and it is on account of him that this narration is unreliable.
However, there is another angle to this narration and that is Abu Ishaq al Sabi’i who, despite being a reliable narrator in general, was known for Tadlis, which was in the form of omiting the name of his teacher in such a way that it would appear that he narrates from someone higher in the chain. To overcome this problem, the scholars would look out for the narrations in which he narrates it without using the phrase “from”. Instead he would be required to transmit it in such a way that eliminates the possibility of omission. Furthermore, his memory lapsed in his old age and the later scholars were cautious about what he narrated after his memory lapse.
Considering all the factors above it is evidently clear why these narrations are unreliable.
This has been narrated by way of ‘Ammar ibn Yasir and the reference in the footnote is from Kanz al ‘Ummal, attributing this narration to al Mujam al Kabir of al Tabarani and Tarikh Dimashq of Ibn ‘Asakir.
It appears that this narration is to be found in the sections of al Mujam al Kabir which are no longer extant. However, we were able to trace this narration through Majma’ al Zawa’id to al Mujam al Kabir. It comes as no surprise to read the comment of Al Haytami:
Al Tabarani relates this with two chains, the better of which comprises of a series of unreliable narrators, some of whom there is a divided opinion.
Thankfully, the common narrator for this particular hadith has been quoted in al Kanz; Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ammar ibn Yasir, who narrates from his father, from his grandfather. Having this part of the narration made it easier to trace from other sources.
Ibn ‘Adi has recorded this narration in his anthology of unreliable narrators, al Kamil fi Du’afa’ al Rijal, under the biography of Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Abi Rafi’. 
He transmits it with his chain as follows:
Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Fudail — ‘Abdul Wahhab ibn al Dahhak — Ibn ‘Ayyash — Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Abi Rafi’ — Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ammar ibn Yasir — his father — his grandfather
Ibn ‘Asakir narrates it with a number of chains to Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Abi Rafi’, and the rest of the chain remains the same.
Al Dhahabi included him his book on unreliable narrators, Mizan al I’tidal, and quotes al Bukhari saying that the scholars considered him significantly weak.
Abu Hatim is on record saying that he is severely criticised as a narrator.
Al Dhahabi ends off his biographical note with a statement from Ibn ‘Adi who said that he is considered among the Shia of Kufah.
This narration is also by way of ‘Ammar ibn Yasir. The reference to al Mujam al Kabir is given via Kanz al ‘Ummal and the chain is also provided.
Muhammad ibn Abi ‘Ubaidah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ammar ibn Yasir — from his father — from his grandfather — from ‘Ammar.
The narration could not be traced via Majma’ al Zawa’id, so it appears that this is the second chain that he was refering to when he commented on the hadith under our discussion on the fourth narration.
Fortunately we were able to trace the chain via al Tabarani through Tarikh Dimashq. The chain is as follows:
Abu ‘Ali al Haddad — Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmed ibn Ridhah — Sulaiman ibn Ahmed al Tabarani — Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaibah — Ahmed ibn Tariq al Wabishi — ‘Amr ibn Thabit — Muhammad ibn Abi ‘Ubaidah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ammar ibn Yasir — his father — his grandfather — ‘Ammar.
He is a narrator about whom the critics are divided. Some have accepted his narrations while others have severely criticised him. Those that argue for accepting his narations have presented a fair case, although the criticism cannot be completely ignored. As such, his narrations are borderline acceptable.
The issue with Ahmed ibn Tariq al Wabishi is his anonymity. His status as a narrator is unknown. All that we have found on him—despite extentive searching—is that Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaibah narrates from him. The protocol of the expert scholars is to refrain from accepting a narration from a narrator whose details remain anonymous. As such, their narrations are treated as unreliable unless there is external evidence to suggest the reliability of such a narration. Considering this principle, and the fact that Ahmed ibn Tariq al Wabishi remains unknown, these are sufficient grounds to dismiss this narration.
‘Amr ibn Thabit is a famous Shia from Kufah.
Finally, no details could be found on Muhammad ibn Abi ‘Ubaidah. Which means his status is inderterminate. As such, the same principle will apply as with Ahmed ibn Tariq al Wabishi, above.
This narration is, therefore, found wanting in terms of its chain. Just like its predecessor, it suffers with a series of flaws in terms of the status of the narrators who transmit it. By no means would such a narration meet the criteria of acceptence. It remains on the list of forgeries that ‘Abdul Hussain so neatly gathered.
This narration appears without any chain of transmission in later sources. The reference to al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah is of no consequence after we have demonstrated that it goes contrary to academic practise to rely entirely on a secondary source. The absence of any chain makes it nearly impossible to verify objectively.
Technical issues aside, if we consider this ‘sermon’, assuming its reliability, it speaks of devotion to the progeny of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Naturally, this excludes ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu as he is not from the progeny of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In his haste to fill his list of narrations, ‘Abdul Hussain overlooked this detail—that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is excluded from the children of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
If we turned a blind eye to that for a moment, we ought to consider that this narration appears in such an obscure source. That is sufficient to raise the eyebrow of even a novice student. Are we to believe that someone who enjoys the academic prestige of Sheikh al Azhar would accept such narrations without objection?
Just like the narration before it. This narration is ascribed to a late source without any chain of narration to verify it against. This narration is ascribed to the Sirah of Mulla ‘Umar ibn Muhammad ibn al Khadir al Mawsili al Dimashqi, who lived in the sixth century and was a contemporary of the famous Ayubid Sultan, Nur al Din al Shahid. This work of his was printed in Hyderabad under the title Wasilat al Muta’abbidin, though it remains incomplete.
Furthermore, if we consider the purport of the hadith it stands in stark contrast to reality since the transmission of the Prophetic Sunnah was not accomplished exclusively at the hands of the Ahlul Bayt. As a matter of fact there exists no single chain of transmission of the Qur’an which is transmitted exclusively by the Ahlul Bayt. The hadith found in the books of the Twelver Shia are also narrated from other than the Ahlul Bayt. This hadith, if proven correct, deals a deathblow to the concept of Ghaybah (occultation). The Ghaybah of the twelfth Imam is a violation of this hadith since th adherents to the teachings attributed to these Twelve Imams have been leaderless for nearly a milleninium. The masses have no option but making Taqlid of the Shia Marja’s.
If we consider the text of this narration, “In every successive generation of my nation there are members of my Household who possess religious integrity, they safeguard this religion from the distortion of those who are misguided and the false interpretation of the ignorant…,” it appears that we, the Ahlus Sunnah are warding off the false attribution of these narrations to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. We have sufficiently demonstrated the extent of unreliability of these narrations. The paradox is that the ones who—by virtue of this narration—ought to be preserving the religion from distortions are the ones guilty of collecting all these unreliable narrations and presenting them as the basis for one’s religion.
This narration is attributed to Zaid ibn Arqam and is referenced to al Mujam al Kabir of al Tabarani, via al Sawa’iq.
In Majma’ al Zawa’id Al Haytami has pointed out that this is merely an extension of Hadith al Thaqalayn. Only that this addition is exclusively narrated by way of Hakim ibn Jubair who is unreliable. This narration appears twice in al Mujam al Kabir with a common chain by way of:
‘Abdullah ibn Bukair al Ghanawi — Hakim ibn Jubair — Abu al Tufail — Zaid ibn Arqam.
This chain is therefore significantly unreliable and is inadmissible as proof.
This narration has been attributed to Abu Dharr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and is said to be narrated by a number of scholars who compiled Sunan works. What is surprising is that the editor of al Muraja’at could only provide references to much later works which have been authored on the virtues of Ahlul Bayt. The academic rigour in some of these works is sometimes found wanting in many respects. However, that does not obviate the requirement of providing genuine references.
The expert eighth century Hadith scholar, al Mizzi, has compiled an index of all the narrations found in the six famous Hadith compilations called Tuhfat al Ashraf. He arranged the book according to the Sahabi who narrates the Hadith, listing them in alphabetical sequence. We have gone throught the entire section with the Ahadith of Abu Dharr radiya Llahu ‘anhu but were unable to locate this narration. Similarly, it cannot be found in the Musnad of Imam Ahmed as well, who has arranged the ahadith according to the Sahabi who narrates it. Eventually, the narration was found through the aid of Majma’ al Zawa’id, wherein Al Haytami references this narration to Salman al Farisi by way of al Tabarani. However, this narration is a statement of Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and is not ascribed to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Secondly, Al Haytami points out another significant issue; an extremely unreliable narrator appearing in the chain of this narrration.
The narrator in question is Ziyad ibn al Mundhir.
The narrations being presented appear to be increasingly compromised even though all of them cannot be reliably attributed to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
This narration is cited by way of Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and is referenced to al Mujam al Aswat of al Tabarani.
Al Haytami lists it in Majma’ al Zawa’id and confirms that it is in al Awsat. However he points out a weak narrator, Layth ibn Abi Sulaim among others.
The narration is found in al Mujam al Awsat with the following chain:
Harb ibn Hassan al Tahhan — Hussain ibn Hassan al Ashqar — Qais ibn al Rabi’ — Layth ibn Abi Sulaim — Ibn Abi Layla — Hassan ibn ‘Ali.
He is Layth ibn Abi Sulaim ibn Zunaym, al Qurashi, Abu Bakr, a Kufan.
As such, this narration cannot be relied on as well
This narration is ascribed to al Shifa of al Qadi ‘Iyad al Yahsubi. Unfortunately it has not beeen narrated with any chain, nor has al Qadi ‘Iyad commented on the reliability of this narration in any way.
This is not as significant as the fact that al Qadi cited this narration under the chapter that states that part of reverence for the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and fulfilling his rights is to be dutiful to his family, wives, and children. Then he cites the famous Ayat al Tathir in Surah al Ahzab.
‘Abdul Hussain omited the mention of wives from the quotation from al Shifa with clinical precision, even though al Qadi mentions it.
The editor saw it fit to take advantage of this narration and gifted the Sunni’s another narration from Shia sources which states that those who die, not acknowledging the Imam of their time die on Jahiliyyah. So much for Shia-Sunni unity!
This narration has been related by way of Ibn ‘Abbas and is referenced to al Mujam al Kabir of al Tabarani.
Al Haytami lists it in Majma’ al Zawa’id and he confirms it from al Mujam al Kabir by way of Ibn ‘Abbas. However he points out the fact that this version of the narration is only known by way of Hussain ibn Hassan al Ashqar who is severely weak.
The details of this narrator preceded under the discussion on the tenth narration.
The severe weakness of this narrator is further compounded by the fact that an authentic version of this hadith contradicts what is mentioned in this version.
Al Tirmidhi narrates by way of Abu Barzah al Aslami radiya Llahu ‘anhu that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
The feet of the slave of Allah shall not move [on the Day of Judgement] until he is asked about his life and what he did with it, about his knowledge and how he practised on it, about his wealth, how he earned it and where he spent it; and about his body and for what did he wear it out.
Al Tirmidhi graded this as authentic and provided corroborating narrations as well.
We can thus conclude that the narration brought by ‘Abdul Hussain is baseless due to the severity of weakness in the narrator of that chain, added to it contradicting what has been authentically narrated and corroborated by other narrations.
This narration is related by way of Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma and is referenced to al Tabarani and the Mustadrak of al Hakim.
Upon investigation we become aware of two interesting details. Firstly, the wording presented by ‘Abdul Hussain is significantly truncated. The complete narration begins with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam addressing the entire Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib. The complete narration indicates who is meant by the Ahlul Bayt in this context, namely the entire Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib. This includes the family of ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Secondly, the purport of this sermon is clearly a warning against bearing enmity for the Ahlul Bayt; hereby inferring the necessity of loving them and upholding their rights. However, there is nothing to indicate a divine mandate according them legal authority.
The Ahlus Sunnah find no dilemna in distinguishing between loving the Ahlul Bayt and accepting them as a religious authority. As a matter of fact, there are leagues between warning against animosity for the Ahlul Bayt and granting them a legal mandate. However, in the Shia paradigm not accepting their legal authority is perceived as hatred for them. The predicament that ‘Abdul Hussain faces—and all the Imamiyyah for that matter—is proving the legal authority of Ahlul Bayt.
As far as loving the Ahlul Bayt is concerned and revering them, there is no arguing that these are not only acknowledged, but upheld by the Ahlus Sunnah. Furthermore, ignorance of this dichotomy is very hard to imagine from someone who holds the position of Sheikh al Azhar.
The next challenge faced by the Twelver Shia is restricting the comprehensive term, Ahlul Bayt, to specific individuals. Therefore we find the sequence in which the Shia string their theory of Imamah is to begin with reliable narrations which are vague, inexplicit, and mention the excellence of the Ahlul Bayt. The next step is to assign a predetermined understanding to those texts, by subjecting them to unreliable narrations which suggest the predetermined meaning. The unreliable texts are then elevated in status to acceptable, and then based on their sheer number, they are further elevated to the status of Tawatur. These ‘Mutawatir’ narrations are then further twisted by the fabricated narrations which identify specific individuals whom they have annointed as infallible Imams.
That being said, let us reveal our findings after studying the chains of the narrations cited by ‘Abdul Hussain Sharaf al Din.
The chain in both al Mujam al Kabir and al Mustadrak have a common narrator from whom the chain continues until the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Ismail ibn Abi Uwais — his father — Humaid ibn Qais — ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah — ibn ‘Abbas
Al Hakim graded it Hassan Sahih, on the criteria of Muslim, and al Dhahabi concurs.
The grading of al Hakim, and al Dhahabi’s concurring, has raised an eyebrow in this case, since Muslim does not transmit from Ismail ibn Abi Uwais, from his father. Infact he does not narrate from the father except in a supporting narration to corroborate it. As such, it cannot be said to be on the criteria of Muslim. Al Dhahabi attests to this himself in his Mizan.
He goes on to list the critical reviews on Abu Uwais, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abi ‘Amir al Madani, the father of Ismail ibn Abi Uwais:
These we can see that the opinions were divided on whether he was on the higher level of weak narrators, or the lowest level of acceptable narrators. As such, his narrations would be accepted in a secondary capacity, when they are corroborated by other narrations.
These are further confirmed by Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani who says:
He is Saduq (trustworthy), though he makes mistakes.
He also listed a group of scholars have graded him weak on account of his poor memory to the extent that Abu Hatim said:
His narrations are to be recorded but not relied upon independently. He is not strong.
Al Haytami has listed two other chains for this narration, both from al Tabarani. We were unable to locate the narration in al Tabarani’s al Mujam al Kabir, so we have no resort but to rely on the details provided in Majma’ al Zawa’id.
After quoting it from Ibn ‘Abbas he states:
Al Tabarani has narrated it from his teacher—Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al Ghallabi—and he is weak. Ibn Hibban included him in al Thiqat.
Al Daraqutni accused him of forging hadith and al Dhahabi crticised him strongly.
The second narration is in al Mujam al Awsat, from ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar who says that ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu approached the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam complaining that people avoided his company. Thereupon the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam allegedly said, “By He in whose hands lies my life, none of them truly believes unless they love you for my sake…” Al Tabarani goes on to say, “This narration is not transmitted from ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar except with this chain.”
After quoting this narration Al Haytami adds:
Appearing in this chain is Asram ibn Hawshab and he is abandoned (accused of lying).
His biographical sketch in al Dhahabi’s Mizan al I’tidal reflects the same conclusion.
If we consider the fact that these narrations which might be cited as corroboration for the narration by way of Ismail ibn Abi Uwais, from Ibn ‘Abbas; we realise that they are severely weak and do not meet the standards of support and corroboration. As such, the narration of Ibn ‘Abbas with the chain from Ismail ibn Abi Uwais remains a solitary narration and falls short of the grade of reliability.
The editor sought to lend further support to this narration and he listed a further four narrations, all of which suffer from weak or unknown narrators.
As a final comment on this narration, we reiterate our preceding comments. The Ahlus Sunnah have always maintained a policy of loving the Ahlul Bayt, this concept is maintained in this narration. The narration suggest nothing further in terms of conferring legal authority on the Ahlul Bayt, just as it does not limit the application of Ahlul Bayt to specific individuals among them. All those who accepted Islam from the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam family are deserving of love and respect.
This narration is only found by way of the Tafsir of al Tha’labi. Al Zamakhshari did not mention his source, but it was most likely al Tha’labi.
Any self-respecting scholar would realise that the Tafsir of al Zamakhshari does not fit the catchment area for sound narrations not to be found in the major Hadith collections. To this end Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani has done a review of all the narrations appearing in al Zamakhshari’s Kashshaf, called al Kafi al Shaf fi Takhrij Ahadith al Kashshaf. He traced this narration to al Tha’labi’s Tafsir and concluded that the evidence of forgery is quite visible for all to see in this narration.
Even Ibn Hajar Al Haytami, who was repeatedly quoted in these letters, concludes that this appears to be a forgery, citing al Sakhawi, who in turn relied on Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani. Why was the reference to al Sawa’iq omited? How does ‘Abdul Hussain fair in his commitment to rely exclusively on sound narrations?
This narration is ascribed to the Sirah of Mulla ‘Umar ibn Muhammad ibn al Khadir al Mawsili al Dimashqi, via al Sawa’iq of Ibn Hajar Al Haytami. We have pointed out earlier that this is a secondary source wherein the chains of transmission have been omited. It is therefore extremely difficult to evaluate this narration due to the lack of data by which we can verify its authenticity.
That being said, there is nothing objectionable in this narration. The Ahlus Sunnah maintain that it is a religious duty to love and respect the Ahlul Bayt. The narration does not suggest that the Ahlul Bayt are infallible or that they yield legal authority. In fact, it is not much different than the narration which has reached us by way of Anas ibn Malik radiya Llahu ‘anhu that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Loving the Ansar is a sign of faith and hating them is a sign of hypocrisy.
It is strange that in arguing for the legal authority of the Ahlul Bayt, ‘Abdul Hussain rests his argument on a poem attributed to a poet who did not even witness the Prophetic Era. If the opinions and statements of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are not proofworthy, certainly this applies even greater to al Farazdaq.
Another factor worthy of consideration is: Whom were these verses of poetry composed for? There is no indication that it applies to the Ahlul Bayt. That is merely assumed. Poets were—and still are—famed for exaggeration in praise. Early experts on Arabic literature have suggested that these lines of poetry were added to a poem of his at a later stage. Other experst have pointed out that these verses of poetry were said in praise of a ruler from the Umayyads.
Notwithstanding the fact that ‘Abdul Hussain has failed to prove the necessity of accepting the words of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu—that they are binding—he failed to find a strong reference for this narration. As such he relied exclusively on a narration which is found in an extremely obscure origin.
These verses have been cited out of context and without seriously considering the flaws in the argument. Similarly, that which is versified in poetry lends itself to contextual meaning.
Al Shafi’i did not claim the Ahlul Bayt infallible. Nor did he say that they have the divine mandate to lead the Ummah afer the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise. All he said is that it suffices the Ahlul Bayt in honour and virtue that they are included in the salutions of the final sitting in prayer. This is the preferred formula of salutation, known as the Salat Ibrahimiyyah. The are other formulas of salutation which clarify who is intended by the Family of Muhammad in the Salat Ibrahimiyyah.
Abu Humaid al Sa’idi radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates:
عن أبي حميد الساعدي رضي الله عنه قال قالوا يا رسول الله كيف نصلي عليك؟ قال قولوا اللهم صل على محمد وعلى أزواجه وذريته كما صليت على آل إبراهيم وبارك على محمد وعلى أزواجه وذريته كما باركت على إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد»
They asked the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam how they were to ask for blessings upon him and he replied that they should say, “O Allah, confer mercy upon Muhammad, his wives, and his descendants; as You conferred mercy upon the family of Ibrahim, and give blessings to Muhammad, his wives, and his descendants; as You gave blessings to the family of Ibrahim. You are worthy of Praise and Glorious.
We have pointed out numerous times that the religious obligation of loving the Ahlul Bayt is distinct from confering upon them the mantle of Imamah.
 Shia Sunni dialogue, pg. 23
 Hilyat al Awliya’ vol. 1, pg. 86
 Tarikh Dimashq vol. 42, pg. 241
 Al Hilyah, vol. 1, p. 86
 Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 42, pg. 241
 Kanz al ‘Ummal, vol. 6, pg. 155
 (مطير – مُطَيِّن)
 Kanz al ‘Ummal, vol. 6 pg. 155
 Majma’ al Zawa’id, vol. 9, pg. 108
 Taqrib al Tahdhib by Ibn Hajar, vol. 2, p. 319
 Mizan al I’tidal vol. 4, pg. 415
 Al Mujam al Kabir vol. 5, pg. 220
 Talkhis al Mustadrak vol. 3 pg. 1418
 Al Hilyah vol.4 , pg.3 49-350
 Tahdhib al Kamal vol. 5, pg. 431
 Majma’ al Zawa’id vol.9 pg. 109
 Kanz al ‘Ummal vol.6 pg. 155
 Al Kamil vol. 7 pg. 273
 Tarikh Dimashq vol. 42, pg. 239-240, vol. 52, pg 7
 Mizan al I’tidal vol. 3pg. 634-635
 Al Kanz vol. 6 pg. 155
 Tarikh Dimashq vol. 42, pg. 239
 Lisan al Mizan vol. 7, pg. 340-342
 Mizan al I’tidal vol. 3, pg. 249
 Majma’ al Zawa’id vol. 9, pg. 164
 Al Mujam al Kabir vol.3 pg. 66 , vol. 5 pg. 166
 Mizan al I’tidal vol. 2 pg. 399, al Mughni fi al Du’afa’ vol.1 pg. 333
 Al Du’afa’ vol. 1 pg. 230
 Mizan al I’tidal vol.1 pg. 583
 Al Majruhin, vol. 1, pg. 246
 Majma’ al Zawa’id vol. 9 pg. 172
 Al Mizan vol.2 pg. 93
 Majma’ al Zawa’id vol.9 pg. 172
 Al Mujam al Awsat vol. 2 pg. 360
 Lisan al Mizan vol.3 pg. 8
 Mizan al I’tidal vol.1 pg. 531
 Al Du’afa al Kabir vol.4 pg. 16
 Tarikh ibn Ma’in narration of al Duri vol. 1 pg. 158
 Al Jarh wal Ta’dil vol.7 pg. 178
 Al Tabaqat al Kubra vol. 6 pg. 349
 Al ‘Ilal al Kabir (293), al Tahdhib vol. 8 pg. 418
 Ahwal al Rijal (biography 91)
 Al Majma’ vol. 10 pg. 346
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 Al Tirmidhi, Abwab Sifat al Qiyamah, hadith no. 2417
 Al Mujam al Kabir vol. 11 pg. 176
 Al Mustadrak vol. 3 pg.148, 149
 Mizan al I’tidal vol. 2 pg. 450
 Taqrib al Tahdhib bio. (3412)
 Tahdhib al Tahdhib vol.5 pg. 281
 Majma’ al Zawa’id vol.9 pg. 171
 Mizan al I’tidal vol.3 pg. 550
 Al Mujam al Awsat vol. 5 pg. 52
 Mizan al I’tidal vol.1 pg. 272
 al Kafi al Shaf pg 145, Hadith no. 354
 al Sawa’iq pg. 629
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Iman, hadith no. 17; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Iman, hadith no. 74
 Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Da’awat, hadith no. 6360; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Salat, hadith no. 407