Tag: hadith

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/#

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/#

On Hadith Authentication

How do hadith scholars grade ahadith? Do they all share the same criteria or are there different views? Have they restricted their efforts to scrutiny of the chain of narration (isnad), or did they take the content (matn) into consideration too? What should I do if I am troubled by the content of a particular hadith?

There is general agreement amongst hadith scholars on the criteria for hadith authentication. Some criteria relate to the transmission (isnad), and others to the content (matn).

Transmission Criteria

There are five principal conditions which must be satisfied for the isnad. Lack of any of these conditions generally implies weakness in the narration. (However, weakness does not necessarily imply uselessness or total rejection of the narration. There are different grades of weak narration. As in a court of law, even a dubious witness’ testimony, though not totally credible, might still cast some light on matters.) Continue reading “On Hadith Authentication”

Imam Muslim on The Importance of Hadith Verification

The Importance of Hadith Verification
From Muslim’s Introduction to his Sahih

NOTE: This text is copyright.

Know – may Allah have mercy upon you – that what is obligatory upon every individual who is familiar with discrimination between the authentic among narrations and the inferior [thereof], [as well as between] the reliable reporters thereof from the incriminated ones, is that he narrate from [the body of hadith] only that [material] for which he knows that the source is authentic and its reporters are [of] blameless [character]. He should avoid those [narrations] which are [related] from incriminated people, and [from] obstinate people of innovation.

The evidence that what we have stated is binding rather than anything different is the words of Allah – may His mention be glorified – (translated), “O you who believe! If a transgressor comes to you with information then verify [its truth], in case you smite a people out of ignorance, and then [later] become full of regret over what you have done.” And He said – glorified be his praise – (translated), “. . . from among those whom you approve as witnesses.” And He, the Mighty, the Majestic, said, (translated), “And establish in testimony two upright [men] from among you.” So, He has indicated, through these verses which we have mentioned, that the report of a transgressor is disreputable and unacceptable, and that the testimony of a non-upright individual is inadmissible. Although the import of a report differs from that of a testimony in some respects, they correspond in most of their features, for the report of a transgressor is not acceptable before the people of knowledge, just as his testimony is inadmissible according to all of them. Continue reading “Imam Muslim on The Importance of Hadith Verification”

Mutawatir and Ahad Hadiths

Authority of Ahad and Mutawatir Hadith

A mutawatir narration is one which is:

narrated by a multitude of narrators
their numbers being such that experience / common sense rules out the possibility of their all having colluded to lie, or of their all having made the same mistake or fabrication by coincidence
with such numbers being present in each generation (level) of the chain of narration
the chain ending with something which was directly sensed (e.g. seen, heard) by the initial narrator (as opposed to something s/he concluded or hypothesized).
[see: Sharh Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikr, by `Ali al-Qari, (being a commentary on Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani’s summary text and commentary), pp. 161 ff.]

We encounter this type of narration often in the mundane aspects of our lives. It is by such narrations that we have come to know about distant lands which we have never visited, and similarly about events and people in the past, yet because of the certainty conveyed by these narrations, we do not doubt the existence of these entities. For example, we know about the tyranny of certain world leaders of our day, the poverty of Haiti, and the fact that there is a US-led war going on in `Iraq, because the numerous, abundant reports we have heard about these things have served to corroborate one another to the extent that we have become convinced without doubt that these are incontrovertible facts. Continue reading “Mutawatir and Ahad Hadiths”