A Principle in Jarh & Taʿdil (Accreditation and Discreditation)

A Principle in Jarh & Taʿdil (Accreditation and Discreditation)

`Allamah Taj al-Din Ibn al-Subki says,

“One whose leadership and uprightness have been established, whose extollers and accreditors abound, and whose discreditors are rare, and there are circumstances indicating the reason for his discreditation – by way of partisanship to a school of thought or something else – we do not heed discreditation of him.  We deal with him as upright; otherwise, if we were to open this door, and to start giving absolute precedence to discreditation, none of the Imams would remain for us unscathed, for there is no imam whom [some] maligners have not maligned, and in [whose malignment ] some fools have not destroyed [themselves].

Hafiz Ibn `Abdil-Barr composed a chapter, in his book on knowledge, about the verdict of scholars’ statements about one another.   In it, he began with the hadith of Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him) ascribed [to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)], “The malady of the nations before you has crept towards you : envy and hatred . . . .”  And, he narrated through his isnad, on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “Listen to the knowledge of scholars, but do not affirm them against one another, for by He in whose Hand is my soul, indeed, they differ with one another more than the goats in a corral.”

And, on the authority of Malik ibn Dinar : he said, “Take by the sayings of the scholars and reciters in everything except their statements about one another.””tribalism-1201697_1920

We informed you at the start that discreditation is not accepted from a discreditor – even if he details it – with regard to one whose [acts of] obedience [to Allah] outweigh his acts of disobedience, whose extollers [outnumber] his critics, and whose commenders [outnumber] his discreditors – if there are circumstances which [are such that] reason testifies that the like of them can incite [someone] to defamation of the one he is discrediting.  [These circumstances can be] by way of fanaticism to a school of thought, or worldly vying such as may occur among rivals, or other [factors] besides those.  So, we say, for example : the words of Ibn Abi Dhi’b about Malik are not to be heeded, nor [those of] Ibn Ma`in about al-Shafi`i, nor [those of] al-Nisa’i about Ahmad ibn Salih. [This is] because these are famous imams, [and so] the discreditor of them becomes comparable to one producing an obscure report [which,] if it were authentic, is such that there would be abundant motives [for others] to report it [as well, but since no such abundant reports exist], certainty is established about its untruthfulness.

Among that which should be investigated when [considering] discreditation is : the state of beliefs and differences in them, with regard to the disreditor and the discredited.  Often, the discreditor may differ with the discredited in [peripheral issues of] doctrine, and discredit him because of that.  This was alluded to by al-Rafi`i when he said, “It is imperative for the commendors [of narrators] to be free of rancor and partisanship to a school of thought, out of fear that that may incite them to discredit an upright individual, or to commend a transgressor, and [in fact] this has occurred for many of the imams.”

Shaykh al-Islam Taqiyy al-Din Ibn Daqiq al-`Id, in his book, “Al-Iqtirah” has indicated this, saying, “The reputations of the Muslims are one of the pits of the Fire [of Hell].  Two groups of people have stood at its brink : the hadith scholars and the judges.”

One of the examples of that which we have mentioned above is the statement of one of [the scholars] about al-Bukhari, “Abu Zur`ah and Abu Hatim forsook him on account of the issue of the Word [of Allah].”  Alas, what a calamity!! Is it permissible for anyone to say Bukhari is to be forsaken, when he is [in fact] the bearer of the standard of this vocation, and the forerunner of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah?

Among [the examples of this also] is the statement of one of the corporealists (Mujassimah) about Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban, “He was not very religious; we expelled him from Sijistan because he denied a limit for Allah.”  Alas!  I wish I knew who is more deserving of expulsion : one who considers his Lord limited, or one who declares His transcendence above corporeality!!

The examples of this abound.”

[al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol. I, p. 187] 

Similarly, Hafiz Ibn Hajar reports, under the biographical entry for Muhammad ibn al-Muthanna,

“`Amr ibn `Ali was asked about [Muhammad ibn al-Muthanna and Bundar, whereupon he replied, “Two reliable individuals; everything is accepted from them except for that which they say about one another.”]

[Tahdheeb al-Tahdheeb, vol. IX, p. 427)]

 [See also:  “Fawatih al-Rahamut,”  vol II, p. 154;  “al-Raf` wa al-Takmil fi al-Jarh wa al-Ta`dil,” by M. `Abdul-Hayy al-Laknawi. ]

IMAGE CREDIT: johnhain, https://pixabay.com/illustrations/tribalism-antagonism-opposition-1201697/#

Ibn Hazm, Ploys of Satan (Quote)

“I have not seen any of Satan’s [ploys] a greater trap, nor uglier, nor more foolish, than two statements that he has cast upon the tongues of his proselytizers:

The first of the two: A person’s excusing his wrongdoing on the basis that such-and-such person has done wrong before him.

The second: A person’s dismissal of [the fact] that he is doing wrong today, on the basis that he [already] did wrong yesterday, or that [he may as well] do wrong in one thing because he has [already] done wrong is other things.”

— Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (d. 1064 CE / 456 H)

قال ابن حزم: لم أر لإبليس أصيد وَلَا أقبح وَلَا أَحمَق من كَلِمَتَيْنِ ألقاهما على أَلْسِنَة دعاته إِحْدَاهمَا اعتذار من أَسَاءَ بِأَن فلَانا أَسَاءَ قبله وَالثَّانيَِة استسهال الْإِنْسَان أَن يسيء
الْيَوْم لِأَنَّهُ قد أَسَاءَ أمس أَو أَن يسيء فِي وَجه مَا لِأَنَّهُ قد أَسَاءَ فِي غَيره

(من كتاب السيروالأخلاق)

Bukhari on Filial Piety

Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari (d. 256H / 870CE), most famous for his Sahih al-Bukhari (the actual title of the book was longer), also compiled a number of other hadith works. One of these is a compilation of 76 narrations (mostly hadiths, ostensibly) on filial piety (birr al-walidayn).

The compilation includes four types of hadiths:

(A) many hadiths that are obviously pertinent to the subject,
(B) general hadiths about maintaining ties of kinship,
(C) common deeds that take on an added dimension when they involve parents, and
(D) some hadiths that at first glance appear to be out of place.

Below are a few examples of each (for the full text of the hadiths, and relevant commentary, see the published version of the book, by Mufti Yusuf Shabbir and his team, recently published by Turath Books, available from https://www.amazon.com/Birr-al-Walidayn-Being-Dutiful-Parents-ebook/dp/B08LDVY1FB ):

 

A) Hadiths directly relevant to filial piety include:

  • That filial piety is ranked as the most important deed after on-time prayer (salah).
  • Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas’ story of how his mother tried to get him to renounce Islam.
  • That your mother is the most deserving of your good companionship, followed by your mother, followed by your father.
  • Disobedience to parents (normally) being a major sin.

B) Some general hadiths on the importance of ties of kinship, e.g.

  • Maintaining ties of kinship leads to blessings in this life.
  • Severing ties of kinship prevents entry to Heaven.
  • Ties of kinship have been given a name derived from one of God’s names, indicating their importance.

C) Common deeds that are not specifically related to parents, but could involve them, e.g.

  • Don’t get angry, the implication being that one should be especially careful to avoid getting angry at a parent.
  • Telling someone that you love them.
  • Being merciful to an animal, i.e. so then what about being merciful to parents?
  • Sin is that which troubles you internally, and you would not like for people to see it.

D) Let us now look at some of the apparently irrelevant hadiths, and see why Bukhari might have included them.

  • Advice to pray 2 rak`as if one enters the mosque while the imam is delivering the Jumu`ah sermon (#41). The answer probably lies in a hadith not in this compilation (‘Filial Piety’) but which is included in the Sahih: the hadith of Jurayj not heeding his mother’s call to him while he was praying, and his mother subsequently supplicating (making du`a) against him. Ibn Battal (d. 449H, who wrote a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari) was of the view that the reason that Jurayj suffered as a result of his mother’s supplication was that at that time it was permissible to talk during prayer (i.e. he could have responded to his mother without breaking his prayer). Perhaps Imam al-Bukhari shared the same view, in which case he would be intimating that if your parent calls you while you are praying, then you should finish the prayer quickly and then respond. Even though this hadith does not mention that the 2 rak`a during the sermon should be quick, this was mentioned by Imam al-Bukhari in the relevant chapter heading in the Sahih, and is explicitly mentioned in one of Imam Muslim’s version of the hadith.
  • Hadiths about fitna Fitna has a variety of meanings, but Bukhari probably intended the meaning of political strife, given that right after this he mentions a hadith that couples rebellion and severing ties of kinship. So, perhaps he is intimating that political differences with one’s parents should not lead one to be disrespectful to them.
  • A hadith about Lady Khadija’s response to the Prophet’s first revelation, and her subsequently taking him to her uncle Waraqa. In addition to the overt mention of ties of kinship in the hadith, we might additionally venture that Imam al-Bukhari might have been intimating the desirability of seeking advice from parents (or other elders, in the case of one whose parents have died).

Finally, a reminder again about the published version of the book (by Mufti Yusuf Shabbr et al): is it a valuable book, which not only includes the hadiths and useful commentary, but also the translations of the many hadiths on the topic which Imam al-Bukhari mentioned in two of his other books (the Sahih and al-Adab al-Mufrad). 

Ibn al-Qayyim, Charitable Interpretation (Quote)

The famous Hanbali scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751H / 1350 CE) on the Principle of Charitable Interpretation:
“The great scholar is dear to us, but the truth is dearer to us than he. One does not unconditionally accept the words of anyone other than God’s Prophet. We look for the best possible meaning for their words, then clarify [the problematic aspects] in it.”
[Madarij al-Salikin, (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-`Ilmiyya, 1416/1996), 2/38]
The ‘great scholar’ (shaykh al-islam) he is referring to is the Hanbali Sufi Abu Isma`il al-Harawi (d.  481H / 1088CE).
شيخ الإسلام حبيب إلينا . والحق أحب إلينا منه . وكل من عدا المعصوم صلى الله عليه وسلم فمأخوذ من قوله ومتروك ، ونحن نحمل كلامه على أحسن محامله . ثم نبين ما فيه .”
(من كلام ابن القيم رحمه الله في الشيخ أبي إسماعيل الهروي)

The Best Days of the Year

The best days of the year are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja (the 12th month of tbe Islamic calendar). Accrdibg to hadiths, there are no other days in which good deeds are more loved by God.
Good deeds are many, and include helping others, as well as remembrance of God.
A hadith singles out 3 expressions of praise for God:
1- declaring the oneness of God, and that only God is to be worshipped (tahlil)
2- declaring God’s greatness (takbir)
3- praising God (tahmid )
Avoiding sins in the other side of the coin of ‘doing good deeds.’
Sahl (d. 896, the mystic of Shushtar) said: The righteous as well as the wicked do [good] deeds, but only a steadfastly sincere person avoids sins.

Fasting Ashura: yes or no, and if yes how many days?

Ashura is the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
Fasting One Day
It is recommended, in the Sunni and Zaydi Shi`i schools, to fast the day. There are numerous sahih hadiths about its fasting, some of them mentioning that it was an obligatory fast in the days before fasting Ramadan became obligatory.
وَسُئِلَ عَنْ صِيَامِ يَوْمِ عَاشُورَاءَ. قَالَ: ” يُكَفِّرُ اَلسَّنَةَ اَلْمَاضِيَةَ (رواه مسلم)
وقال أحمد بن عيسى بن زيد بن علي (عليهم السلام) في أماليه: صوم الأيام البيض، ورجب وشعبان، والإثنين والخميس حسن جميل، وجاء فيه فضل كثير، وكذلك يوم عاشوراء
Fasting Two Days
According to one sahih hadith, the Prophet Muhammad later expressed his wish to also fast on the 9th of Muharram (the day before Ashura), but he died before that could happen.
قال (ص): لئن بقيت إلى قابل لأصومن التاسع (رواه مسلم)
وعن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام عن أبيه، أن عليا عليه السلام قال: صوموا العاشوراء التاسع والعاشر، فإنه يكفر ذنوب سنة (وسائل الشيعة)
Hence, Sunni fuqaha’ in general recommend fasting both the 9th and 10th of Muharram. This view can be found among Twelver Shi`ah as well, as I return to later.
Fasting Three Days?
A hadith of disputed reliability says that the Prophet recommended, along with the fast of Ashura, fasting either the day before or the day after.
عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رضي الله عنه قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : (صُومُوا يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ ، وَخَالِفُوا فِيهِ الْيَهُودَ ، صُومُوا قَبْلَهُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْدَهُ يَوْمًا) (رواه أحمد)
One version (with a weak isnad) indicates all three days.
Hence, some Sunni fuqaha’ recommended fasting the 9th, 10th and 11th. This is because even if the hadith about this should turn out to be false, it would still be recommended to fast the 11th of Muharram based on the sahih hadith that recommends optional fasting in this month.
أفضلُ الصيامِ بعدَ رمضانَ شهرُ اللهِ المحرَّمُ (رواه مسلم)
There are risks in taking a weakly-substantiated position and making it normative across the board. A more precautionary position would therefore be that if one wishes to fast the 11th, it would be prudent to intend it as a general fast of Muharram rather for Ashura specifically.
Some fuqaha recommended fasting all three days (9th, 10th, 11th) specifically in cases when the dates are uncertain (i.e. you are not sure which day exactly is the 10th) in order to be safe. This was the view of Ibn Sirin and Tawus (both scholars of the Tabi`in) and was adopted by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.’
Fasting Zero Days, or Part of a Day
The dominant view among Twelver Shi`ah is that it is not recommended to fast Ashura. One narration in the Twelver hadith books suggests that it is a fast that was abandoned after Ramadan became obligatory. Other narrations (in Twelver Shi`i books) condemn its continued fasting as a practice initiated by the killers of the Prophet’s grandson al-Husayn, their purpose being to give thanks for his death.
Nevertheless, the Twelver scholar al-Hurr al-`Amili indicated that it is recommended to fast the 9th and 10th with grief (in contrast to the murderers of Husayn, who fasted it out of joy).
وعقد في وسائل الشيعة بابا: استحباب صوم يوم التاسع والعاشر من المحرم حزنا، وقراءة الاخلاص يوم العاشر ألف مرة والافطار بعد العصر بساعة . وبعده: باب عدم جواز صوم التاسع والعاشر من المحرم على وجه التبرك بهما.
According to one narration he cites, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq recommended abstaining from food and drink the major part of the day of the 10th, until after `Asr but before Maghrib.’
Final Words
The killing of the Prophet’s grandson was a tragedy, and is a source of grief for Sunnis and Shi`ah. If you fast Ashura, it should definitely not be with the intention of celebrating Imam Husayn’s murder. I hope we can at least start understanding each other better, and realize what we have in common, even if we don’t end up agreeing on everything. And I am pretty sure the Sunnis and Zaydis who fast Ashura are not doing it to celebrate the killing of al-Husayn.

Femicide in Pre-Islamic Arabia

“And [on the Day of Judgment] when the baby girl who was buried alive shall be asked, for what sin was she killed?” (Quran, 81:8-9)

Quranic exegete Biqa`i (died 1480 CE = 885 H) commented:
Throwing [the baby girl] into the grave dug for her is similar to the stars swooping down and falling (which is mentioned earlier in 81:2)…. 
Since this was the simplest way of killing among them (the pre-Islamic Arabs), and they used to think that this was not of significance ….. 
[God] has made clear that He does pay attention to it, and that it is no escaping [that child] being resurrected [on the Day of Judgment] and being made capable of understanding and replying. 
So [if even the innocent child shall be questioned by God] then what do you think will be the fate of the offender? She will be questioned [not due to any guilt on her part, but] in order to censure her killer, …. 
….for the [pre-Islamic Arabs] used to bury daughters alive out of fear of poverty or of being shamed [by their community, for having had a daughter rather than a son]. So, they would say: It is better for us to send [the daughters] back to God [by killing them]. 
[But] there were [also] people among them [the pre-Islamic Arabs] who were nobler than to do such things, and others who would rescue buried-alive girls and raise them. 
 
 

﴿وَإِذَا ٱلۡمَوۡءُۥدَةُ سُىِٕلَتۡ بِأَیِّ ذَنۢبࣲ قُتِلَتۡ﴾ [القرآن، سورة التكوير 8 و 9]  قال البقاعي: وإلْقاؤُها في البِئْر المَحْفُورِ لَها قَرِيبٌ مِن انْكِدارِ النُّجومِ وتَساقُطِها. ولمّا كانَ هذا أهْوَن القَتْلِ عندهم وكانوا يَظُنُّونَ أنَّهُ مِمّا لا عِبرَةَ بِهِ، بَيَّنَ أنَّهُ مُعْتَنًى بِهِ وأنَّهُ لا بُدَّ من بَعْثِها وجَعْلِها بِحَيْثُ تَعْقِلُ وتُجِيبُ  وقال: فَما ظَنُّكَ بِمَن هو فَوْقَها وبِمَن هو جانٍ، وسُؤالُها هو عَلى وجْهِ التَّبْكِيتِ لِقاتِلِها، فَإنَّ العَرَبَ كانَتْ تَدْفِنُ البَناتَ أحْياءً مَخافَةَ الإمْلاقِ أوْ لُحُوقِ العارِ بِهِنَّ، ويَقُولُونَ: نَرُدُّها إلى اللَّهِ هو أوْلى بِها،  وقال: وكانَ فِيهِمْ مَن يَتَكَرَّمُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ ومَن يَفْدِي المَوْءُوداتِ ويُرَبِّيهِنَّ 

Stereotypes

A man from the Maghreb had been entrusted with 100 dinars to bestow on a sharīf (descendant of the Prophet) in Madīna. Upon arriving in Madīna, he was informed that all the sharīfs are Shīˁites, who revile Abū Bakr and ˁUmar, so he did not give the money to a sharīfite man he had met.
That night, he saw the Prophet in a dream, along with Fāṭimah, Abū Bakr and ˁUmar. The setting was Judgment Day, and people were crossing the path over Hell (ṣirāṭ). Fāṭimah elicited a pardon from Abū Bakr and ˁUmar for her descendant’s vilification of them, and then criticized the man (from the Maghreb) for interfering in the matter. The man awoke from the dream in fright, and taking the money in hand, immediately sought out the same sharīf. He gave the money to him, and then found out that the man did not actually revile Abū Bakr and ˁUmar.
[`Abdullah al-Ghumārī, al-Naqd al-Mubram, p.69]

Pharoah’s Yes-Men

“[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, ‘This is indeed a learned magician.” 26:34
Ibn `Ashur (d. 1973CE) comments in his exegesis:

In this verse, these [words] are the statement of Pharoah to the eminent ones, but in the verse of al-A`raf (7:109) [we have]: “The eminent ones among the people of Pharoah said…” They can be pieced together by [saying] that Pharoah said it to those around him, and they repeated it in his [very] words, so as to completely agree with him, such that they did not suffice with [merely] saying, ‘Yes,’ but rather they repeated Pharoah’s words so that their words could be perfectly matching his.

قالَ لِلْمَلَإِ حَوْلَهُۥٓ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَسَـٰحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
26:34قال ابن عاشور: وفي هَذِهِ الآيَةِ أنَّ هَذا قَوْلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِلْمَلَأِ، وفي آيَةِ الأعْرافِ (﴿قالَ المَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِ فِرْعَوْنَ﴾ [الأعراف: ١٠٩]) والجَمْعُ بَيْنَهُما أنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ قالَهُ لِمَن حَوْلَهُ فَأعادُوهُ بِلَفْظِهِ لِلْمُوافَقَةِ التّامَّةِ بِحَيْثُ لَمْ يَكْتَفُوا بِقَوْلِ: نَعَمْ، بَلْ أعادُوا كَلامَ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكَونَ قَوْلُهم عَلى تَمامِ قَوْلِهِ.

Musalsal Hadiths

Musalsal Hadiths

هَتَفَ العِلمُ بالعمَلِ فَإنْ أجابَهُ وإلّا ارْتَحَلَ (رواه السيوطي في جياد المسلسلات بإسناد فيه رجال مجهولون)

‘Knowledge calls out to action. If it responds to it [then it stays], but otherwise it departs.” [ʿAli ibn Abi Talib, d. 661CE]

This is the last narration in Suyuti’s (d. 1505CE) compilation Jiyad al-Musalsalat. The musalsalat genre in hadith comprises narrations whose isnads (chains of narration) contain a pattern repeated at multiple generations in the chain, e.g. each narrator having the same name, or performing the same action while narrating the hadith.

The most common musalsal hadith is the ‘Hadith of Firstness,’ “The merciful ones will be treated mercifully by the Source of Mercy (God). Be merciful to those upon the earth, [that] [God] who is in (i.e. above) Heaven be merciful to you.” Since the time of Sufyan ibn ʿ Uyayna (d. 815CE / 198H), it has been a tradition that the “hadith of Firstness” be the first hadith that a student hears from his hadith teacher.

The above quote from ʿAli has 9 successive narrators each saying, “My father told me that ….” Most of these hadiths have weak chains of narration. The above quote from Ali contains a number of narrators about whom we do not know much (i.e. we don’t know how reliable they were). The most reliable (sahih) musalsal hadith is that it which each narrator recites Surat al-Saff after narrating the hadith.

Suyuti compiled 85 musalsal narrations in his book al-Musalsalat al-Kubra, and then selected 25 of the best of these for the compilation Jiyad al-Musalsalat. Note that ‘the best 25 of the 85’ does not necessarily mean that they are all reliable (sahih); some are, but others are merely stronger than the rest.

These musalsal hadiths continue to be transmitted to this day with the patterns replicated, and are a type of collector’s item for students of hadith. i.e. these hadiths are fun!

Suyuti probably chose to end the book with this quote from ʿAli in order to remind us that the main objective of acquiring Islamic knowledge is to act on it; to become a better person, to contribute positively to the world, and to grow in love for God. i.e. You can have fun (including dabbling in musalsal hadiths), but at the end of the end of the day, make sure you have done something you can be proud of when you face God.

PICTURE CREDIT: Hans Braxmeier, from https://pixabay.com/photos/chain-jewellery-gem-valuable-2119612/#