As in ‘Abaqat al Anwar (vol. 1 pg. 147):
احمد بن فضل بن محمد با كثير عن وسيلة المآل قال عن على بن ابى طالب رضى الله عنه و كرم الله وجهه ان النبى صلى الله عليه و سلم قال قد تركت فيكم ما ان اخذتم به لن تضلوا, كتاب الله سببه بيده و سببه بايديكم واهل بيتى اخرجه اسحاق بن راهويه فى مسنده من طريق كثير بن زيد عن محمد بن عمر بن على بن ابى طالب عن ابيه عن جده رضى الله عنهم
Ahmed ibn Fadl ibn Muhammad Ba Kathir has reported on the authority of Wasilat al Ma’al from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu that Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
Indeed I have left amongst you that which, if you hold onto, you will never go astray. The Book of Allah, the one end of which is in His Hand and the other is in your hand, and my Ahlul Bayt. Reported by Ishaq ibn Rahawayh in his Musnad on the authority of Kathir ibn Zaid from Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib from his father (‘Umar) from his grandfather (‘Ali).
The actual manuscript of the book Musnad Ishaq is very rare. The portion of the chain that we quoted was taken from the book ‘Abaqat al Anwar (vol. 1 page 147). The narration of this Musnad is reported from Kathir ibn Zaid al Rumi who narrates from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Now let us have a look at the credibility of Kathir ibn Zaid according to the scholars of rijal.
1. Ibn Abi Hatim in Kitab al Jarh wa al Ta’dil:
سئل يحيى بن معين عن كثير بن زيد فقال ليس بذاك القوى…فقال ابو زرعة هو صدوق فيه لين
Yahya ibn Ma’in was asked about Kathir ibn Zaid and he said, “He is not strong according to the Muhaddithin”… Abu Zur’ah said, “Truthful but he has weakness.”
2. Al Dhahabi in al Mizan:
قال ابو زرعة فيه لين…قال النسائى ضعيف…قال ابن المدينى وليس بقوى
Abu Zur’ah said, “He has weakness”… Nasa’i said, “Da’if”… Ibn al Madini said, “He is not strong.”
3. Ibn Hajar in al Tahdhib:
قال ابن خزيمة عن ابن معين ليس بذاك وكان اولا قال ليس بشيئ…قال النسائى ضعيف…قال ابو جعفر الطبرى كثير بن زيد عندهم ممن لا يحتج بنقله
Ibn Khuzaimah has reported from Ibn Ma’in, “He is not reliable.” And he first said, “He is nothing”… Nasa’i said< “Da’if”… Abu Jafar al Tabari said, Kathir ibn Zaid is amongst those whose narrations cannot be substantiated from.”
4. Nasa’i said in Kitab al Du’afa’ wa al Matrukin:
كثير بن زيد ضعيف
Kathir ibn Zaid is da’if.
In the above four references, the scholars of hadith have explicitly mentioned that this individual is unreliable in the field of hadith. His narrations are not worthy of being substantiated from and some have given him a degree of credibility, but that is not worthy of attention as the principle discussed earlier states: “Disparagement is given preference over commendation”, therefore this narration will not be acceptable.
After the above explanation, it will make no difference if the author of Wasilat al Ma’al reports it in his book, or some other author besides him. It should also be known that in the book Fayd al Qadir—commentary on the book al Jami’ al Saghir —’Allamah ‘Abdul Ra’uf al Munawi, whilst commenting on the hadith:
لا تبكوا على الدين اذا وليه اهله
Do not cry over the din if it is managed by its people.
criticises Kathir ibn Zaid by labelling him da’if. Therefore we are not the first and only ones to label him as such; rather we have been preceded by the scholars of the past.
Note:- It has been stated in ‘Abaqat al Anwar (vol. 1 pg. 147): “This narration was similarly narrated by al Dulabi (Abu al Bishr, Muhammad ibn Ahmed al Ansari al Dulabi in his book al Dhurriyyat al Tahirah). Al Dulabi mentioned this narration with this exact chain; therefore there is no need to give an independent answer to his narration.
The details mentioned in Fayd al Qadir Sharh Jami’ al Saghir (vol. 6 pg .387) regarding Kathir is also worthy of perusal.
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