Responding to the Narrations That Have Been Declared Weak, Which Indicate Virtue for Mu`awiyah

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January 20, 2016
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Chapter Two


Responding to the Narrations That Have Been Declared Weak, Which Indicate Virtue for Muawiyah


There are a number of narrations which have come in praise of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and mention his virtue, some of these appear in the authentic collections of al Bukhari and Muslim, which have been discredited. The person who has dismissed these narrations has gone out of his way to discredit these reports; however he has not come with anything substantial.


It has been said of Ishaq ibn Rahuyah that he said:


There exists no authentic narration from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam regarding the virtues of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan.


Some scholars followed him on this.


The response to that is as follows:


Firstly, many verses, narrations and statements from the early Muslims have come in praise for the Sahabah of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and these texts are of two kinds:


1. Those which indicate praise for the Sahabah in general; which would undoubtedly include Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and why not; when Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu has expressly mentioned his companionship.

Al Bukhari reports in his Sahih (3764) by way of ‘Uthman ibn al Aswad — from Ibn Abi Mulaykah, who said:


Muawiyah prayed one rak’ah of Witr prayer after ‘Isha; and a bondsman of Ibn ‘Abbas was with him. So he went to Ibn ‘Abbas (and told him of what happened) and he (Ibn ‘Abbas) said: “Leave him; for he is indeed a Sahabi of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”


Al Bukhari also reports in his Sahih (3766) from Humran ibn Aban, who narrates from Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he said:


Indeed you perform a Prayer; and I have been a Sahabi of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and we have not seen him pray it. Actually, he prohibited it — meaning — the two raka’at after ‘Asr.


In Sahih Muslim it has been reported from Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he said:


What can be said of people who narrate from the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; whereas we had seen him and accompanied him yet we did not hear that from him…


Al Khallal mentions in al Sunnah (2/432) (653) from Muhanna, who said:


I asked Ahmed regarding Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and he said: “He is a companion.” And I asked where he was from; and Ahmed responded: “He is a Makkan who took up residence in al Sham.” – the chain is authentic.”


2. Those narrations and reports which mention the virtues of specific Sahabah; and among those are the narrations which mention Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu specifically. These shall be mentioned under the section of the virtues of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu; and the praise of the early Muslims for Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.


Secondly, the report from Ishaq ibn Rahuyah that no authentic narration exists in praise of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu, this has been narrated by Ibn al Jowzi in his collection of fabrications, al Mowdhu’at (2/263)(832). He says:


Zahir ibn Tahir narrated to us — who said — Ahmed ibn Hussain al Bayhaqi narrated to us — who said — Abu ‘Abdullah al Hakim narrated to us — who said — I heard Abu al ‘Abbas Muhammad ibn Yaqub ibn Yusuf saying — I heard my father saying — I heard Ishaq ibn Rahuyah saying: “There exists no authentic narration regarding the virtues of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan.”


Al Suyuti has quoted this in al La’ali al Masnu’ah (1/388), as well as Ibn ‘Arraq al Kinani in Tanzih al Shari’ah (2/7) as well as al Showkani in al Fawa’id al Majmu’ah (407).


Assuming that this report is sound, the response to it is as follows:


1. There are other scholars who have mentioned narrations with the virtues of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and they have declared them authentic. Through this, they have opposed the view that no authentic narration exists regarding the virtue of Muawiyah. Among these scholars are:

  • Al Ajurri in his book al Shari’ah (5/1524) he collected narrations from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam under the chapter of the virtues of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
  • Ibn ‘Asakir in his book Tarikh Dimashq (59/79).
  • Al Dhahabi in his encyclopaedia of biographies, Siyar A’lam al Nubala’ (3/350) as he mentioned a number of narrations regarding Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and concluded with the remark, “these narrations are fair.”
  • Ibn Kathir in his al Bidayah wa al Nihayah (11/409) commented – after listing the various narrations on the virtue of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

We shall suffice ourselves to the authentic and sound narrations that we have listed without resorting to those which are fabricated or extremely unreliable.

In his comment on the narration, “O Allah, make him a guide, rightly-guided and guide (others) through him,” in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah (11/408), he said:

Ibn ‘Asakir has paid careful attention to this narration and studied it with detail and he has discussed it at great length and excelled and benefitted in his research; and has been excellent in his criticism, may Allah have mercy on him. How many a place he has displayed his excellence above other scholars!

  • Ibn Hajar al Haythami in Tathir al Janan (11).[1]

2. Those scholars who held that opinion (that no authentic narration exists on the virtue of Muawiyah), no doubt they still consider him to be included in the general texts which praise the Sahabah and mention their virtue. Contrary to those who pen tens of pages, and deliver sermons and lectures, attempting to authenticate fabrications about Muawiyah; and dismissing authentic narrations regarding his noble status.

What they mean when they say, “no authentic narration exists,” is that no narration that specifically mentions his virtue on an individual basis. As for him being included in the general texts which mention praise and virtue, undoubtedly he is included. One such scholar who upheld this view was Ibn ‘Abdul Barr. Notwithstanding this stance, we find Ibn ‘Abdul Barr transmitting the Ijma’ scholarly consensus of Ahlus Sunnah on the integrity of all the Sahabah in his book al Isti’ab fi Ma’rifat al Ashab (23). He says:


It is well-known that one, by whose statement rulings are given, and by whose testimony judgement is given; then no doubt it is necessary to be aware of such a person’s name, lineage, moral and religious integrity, and position with regards to knowledge. With regards to the Sahabah, even though we have been sufficed the duty of researching them on account of the ijma’ of the scholars of the religion, the Ahlus Sunnah; that all the Sahabah are of high religious and moral integrity. However, it is our duty to be familiar with their names and be acquainted with their lives and history so that we may follow their guidance and tread their path.


Likewise, Ibn al Qayyim, in al Manar al Munif (93), after mentioning the statement from Ishaq ibn Rahuyah, says:


What he intends, and what all the scholars of hadith who uphold this view intend by it is that there is no specific narration indicating his virtue on an individual level. However, all the authentic narrations regarding the status of the Sahabah — may Allah be pleased with them all — and that of the Quraysh, all include Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu.


Al Mu’allimi said in al Anwar al Kashifah (92):


This does not negate the authentic narrations which include him, and others besides him. Neither does it mean that all that has been narrated regarding his virtues is necessarily a forgery.


Ibn al Qayyim said in al Manar al Munif (94), regarding Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu:


Every disparaging narration regarding him is an invented lie.


Thirdly, if this is established from those scholars then this is a praise for the Sahabah and an exposition of their integrity; and likewise a praise for Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and a clear indicator of his honesty and status since none of the Sahabah invented any narration in favour of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It shows his integrity and honesty since he, like them, did not invent any narration in his own favour; neither did he enlist anyone to do the same.


Al Mu’allimi said in al Anwar al Kashifah (92):


As for the matter of the Sahabah then it is absolutely clear that there is no room for accusing them of lying against the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Consider that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu governed al Sham for twenty years, and he was the khalifah for a further twenty years. From those who were in his camp, and those whose needs centred around him, were a large number of Sahabah; some of whom accepted Islam after the Conquest of Makkah and some who accepted later on, as well as many of the Bedouin tribes. The incentive to show their partisanship towards him and the reasons to show their allegiance to him were present, and if there was any room for anyone to invent a lie against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and it would be accepted from such a person then definitely some of them would have done so by forging narrations regarding the status of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Actually, those Sahabah would have publicly narrated such narrations to get in favour with Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and these would have been transmitted by the generation of the Tabi’in and this would have been passed on from one generation to the next and accepted as truth.


Therefore, if the view of there being no established narration existing were true, then it would be an indicator towards the truthfulness and integrity of the Sahabah in terms of what they narrate. Yet there were none of them, regardless of their position, or however strong the incentive was, who ever attempted lying against the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; and likewise Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Assuming that he allowed lying against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as long as it was in his favour and that others were not prepared to invent the lie; then it was within his capacity to invent a lie from his own side since many a Sahabi besides him narrated from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam their own virtues. The people accepted these narrations from them and the scholars narrated it afterwards. So in this matter there is an indicator that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was on a level of honesty and integrity that prevented him from even considering inventing lies, or employing others to invent lies against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, no matter how pressing the need was. If one considers this carefully, one will realise that the fact that scholars do not consider any such narration to exist, on the specific virtues of Muawiyah, is a greater indicator of his virtue than the existence of such a narration.


NEXT⇒ The First Narration

[1]  See how he reconciles the statement of Ishaq ibn Rahuyah with the manner in which al Bukhari has phrased his chapter heading, it appears in the biographical details of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Wahid, Abu ‘Umar, the linguist and ascetic, better known as the “Ghulam of Tha’lab” (d. 345 A.H), that the nobles and literature enthusiasts when they would come to him for lessons from the books of Tha’lab, he used to have a collection in which he compiled the narrations of the virtues of Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he would insist be read before other books. See Tabaqat al Hanabilah (3/192).

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