The Blessed Sandals. Handling the words attributed to the Prophet Muhammed (saw).

“So for their breaking of the covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” (Qur’an 5:13)

By the grace of Allah (swt) this entry will take a look at a very important hadith that is attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw). We will look at the theological motivations on what ‘tahreef’ was introduced to one of the most attested and widely spread sayings attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw).

An example from the New Testament.

Simple changing of words or changing the place of words that drastically alter the theology.

“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1:32-34)

In the narration given to us above it is said that the people brought ‘all’ of those who were sick and demon-possessed; but that Jesus healed ‘many’.

“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” (Matthew 8:16)

In the narration given to us above it is said that the people brought ‘many’ of those who were sick and demon-possessed; but that Jesus healed ‘all’.

This is a simple changing of words, yet it has a huge theological impact. A Jesus who can heal ‘all’ is far better than a Jesus who simply healed ‘many’.

If they brought many and that number was 20, Jesus healed all.
If they brought
all and that number was 20, Jesus healed many; possibly 15.

The addition or subtraction of one word can completely change the meaning of something.

Example:

All the apples in the basket are good.

All the apples in the basket THAT are good.

In the first sentence, we can see that all the apples are good. In the second sentence, we can see that the addition of the word ‘that’ tells us that not all the apples in the basket are good. In this case, one would need to use caution.

Forgetfulness of the revelation of Allah (swt) is not something to be taken lightly. Allah (swt) does not take lightly the issue of ‘tahreef’.

Tahreef means: ‘changing a text in wording or meaning’
There are three types of ‘tahreef’.
1) Tahreef that changes the wording and the meaning.
2) Tahreef that changes the wording only (and not the meaning).
3) Tahreef that changes the meaning only (and not the wording).

So if Allah (swt) does take the issue of ‘tahreef’ lightly in the case of the ‘Ahl Kitab’ why would Allah (swt) make allowances for the case of the words, deeds, and actions of the Blessed Messenger (saw)?  Especially in light of the fact that many have taken this to be a second source of revelation on par with the Qur’an.

The mutawatir -mass transmitted reports attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw).

Even in the example of what is considered to be a mass-transmitted report attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw) has come down to us in two forms with some interesting theological implications.

WHOEVER LIES ABOUT THE PROPHET

“Whoever lies about me willfully, let him take right now his seat in the Fire!” A mass-narrated (mutawatir) hadith reportedly from many companions in Al Bukhari and Muslim.

One version narrated from Ibn Abbas by Ahad with three chains, al Tirmidhi (hasan), and -with a sound chain-Ibn Abi shayba begins with words “Avoid relating my words except what you know for sure.”

Source: (The Four Imams & Their Schools by Gibril Fouad Haddad page 132)

Narrated by Ali: “The Prophet said, “Do not tell a lie against me for whosoever tells a lie against me then he will surely enter the hell-fire.”

Source: (Bukhari Vol 1, Book 3. Knowledge. Hadith 106)

Narrated By ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair: ” I said to my father, ‘I do not hear from you any narration (Hadith) of Allah s Apostle as I hear (his narrations) from so and so?” Az-Zubair replied. l was always with him (the Prophet) and I heard him saying “Whoever tells a lie against me then (surely) let him occupy, his seat in Hell-fire.”

Source: (Bukhari Vol 1, Book 3. Knowledge. Hadith 107)

Narrated By Anas: “The fact which stops me from narrating a great number of Hadiths to you is that the Prophet said: “Whoever tells a lie against me intentionally, then (surely) let him occupy his seat in Hell-fire.”

Source: (Bukhari Vol 1, Book 3. Knowledge. Hadith 108.)

Narrated By Al-Mughira: “I heard the Prophet saying, “Ascribing false things to me is not like ascribing false things to anyone else. Whosoever tells a lie against me intentionally then surely let him occupy his seat in Hell-Fire.” I heard the Prophet saying, “The deceased who is wailed over is tortured for that wailing.”

Source: (Bukhari Vol 2, Book 23. Funerals (Al-Janaa’iz). Hadith 378.)

Now obviously there is a huge difference between ascribing to the Blessed Messenger (saw):
“Who tells a lie against me” &
“Whoever tells a lie against me intentionally.”

The introduction of that one word ‘intentionally’ drastically alters the meaning, theologically.

This is why in my article: My position on the hadith I have stated that any ahadith that are attributed to the Blessed Messenger(saw) that we should always say under any circumstance… “It has been narrated or attributed to the Blessed Messenger.”

This was a practice that comes from the Shafi’i scholar Al-Qadi Abd al-Jabbar. He is reported to have said, “Who stated that if one wants to cite a hadith that is unreliable one should not say, “the Prophet said. ,, ” but rather “it has been narrated from the Prophet,” Source: (al-Qâdî ‘Abd al-Jabbâr, Fadl al-i’tizâl, ed, Fu’âd Sayyid (Tunis: al-Dâr al-TQnisiyya, 1393/1974), 186,)

I take it a step further and say in reality we should be saying this of every single narration of the Blessed Messenger (saw).

Why?

#1) He is our beloved Messenger (saw). It is a matter of scrupulous piety and mannerism to handle Him and words attributed to Him with the utmost of respect, caution, and vigilance. How would we as those who are imbibed with love for the Blessed Messenger (saw) even handle his scandals let alone his words?

#2) There is a hadith that says if we attribute something to him that he did not say then we would end up in hell!
Now that alone should make anyone pause.

A MATTER OF GREAT THEOLOGICAL CONCERN HISTORICALLY

The following is from: pages 136-139 The Four Imams & Their Schools by Gibril Fouad Haddad

“There is a hadith of the Prophet (saw) relevant to the issue narrated by Ibn Mandah in Ma’rifat al-Sahaba and al-Tabarani in al-Kabir from ‘Abd Allah ibn Sulayman ibn Aktham al Lathi who said: “I said: ‘Messenger of Allah! Verily, when I hear a hadith from you I am unable to narrate it again just as I heard it from you” That is, he adds or omits something. The Prophet (saw) replied”: “As long as you do not make licit the illicit or make illicit the licit, and as long as you adduce the meaning, there is no harm in that.”
“When this was mentioned to Al-Hasan he said:
“Were it not for this, we would never narrate anything.”

Source: (Narrated by Al -Khatib: Jami’ (2:21-22 & 1100), Kifaya (Madina ed. p. 207).

Now ponder this? Isn’t this a far cry from people who tell us that these people had memories of the likes of supercomputers?

Now here is the discussion on its authenticity…
“Narrated from ‘Abd Allah ibn Sulayman ibn Ukyama by Al-Tabarani in Al-Kabir (7:100 & 6491, 117) and Ibn Qani (d. 351) in Mu’jam al-Sahaba (3:17),
both with a chain containing two unknown narrators– Ya’quub ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Sulaym (an) ibn Ukayma and his father ‘Abd Allah ibn Sulaymn (an)-as stated by Al-Haythami (1:154), cf. al-Sakhawi, Fath al Mughith (3:145). Also narrated by Al-Jawraqani (d. 543) in al-Abatil (1:90-97) where he said: “This hadith is null and void (vatil), and there is confusion (idtirab) in its chain.”

Source: ( The Four Imams & Their Schools by Gibril Fouad Haddad pg 137)

The hadith above and those like them clash with reports from Abu Hurayrah (r.a) who relates to us that the Blessed Messenger (saw) was giving out infallible memory retention left, right, and center!

Abu Hurayrah said: I said to Allah’s Messenger (saw) “I hear many narrations from you but I forget them.” Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Spread your Rida’ (garment).” I did accordingly and then he moved his hands as if filling them with something (and emptied them in my Rida’) and then said, “Take and wrap this sheet over your body.” I did it and after that I never forgot anything. (Source: Al Bukhari, hadith #119)

My immigrant brothers were busy in the market while I used to stick to Allah’s Apostle content with what fills my stomach; so I used to be present when they were absent and I used to remember when they used to forget, and my Ansari brothers used to be busy with their properties and I was one of the poor men of Suffa. I used to remember the narrations when they used to forget. No doubt, Allah’s Apostle once said, “Whoever spreads his garment till I have finished my present speech and then gathers it to himself, will remember whatever I will say.” So, I spread my colored garment which I was wearing till Allah’s Apostle had finished his saying, and then I gathered it to my chest. So, I did not forget any of the narrations.”

Source: ( Al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 34, Hadith Number 263.)

Lets go back and look at the hadith given to us above.
Narrated By Al-Mughira: “I heard the Prophet saying, “Ascribing false things to me is not like ascribing false things to anyone else. Whosoever tells a lie against me intentionally then surely let him occupy his seat in Hell-Fire.” I heard the Prophet saying, “The deceased who is wailed over is tortured for that wailing.”

Source:  (Bukhari Vol 2, Book 23. Funerals (Al-Janaa’iz). Hadith 378.)

Now obviously the companions heard things from the Blessed Messenger (saw). There are those among them who knew better on issues of jurisprudence, on what the Blessed Messenger (saw) said concerning family matters; and those of them who penned down the Qur’an.

So you can see on the issue of rather or not someone is punished in the grave because of the weeping of the relatives, that the companions themselves had differences of opinion on this issue. It is an important issue. No one wants their mother, father, daughter, son, wife or husband to be lacerated in the grave on account of mourning!

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Ubaidullah bin Abi Mulaika: One of the daughters of ‘Uthman died at Mecca. We went to attend her funeral procession. Ibn ‘Umar and Ibn Abbas were also present. I sat in between them (or said, I sat beside one of them. Then a man came and sat beside me.) ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said to ‘Amr bin ‘Uthman, “Will you not prohibit crying as Allah’s Apostle has said, ‘The dead person is tortured by the crying of his relatives.?” Ibn Abbas said, “Umar used to say so.” Then he added narrating, “I accompanied Umar on a journey from Mecca till we reached Al-Baida. There he saw some travelers in the shade of a Samura (A kind of forest tree). He said (to me), “Go and see who those travelers are.” So I went and saw that one of them was Suhaib. I told this to ‘Umar who then asked me to call him. So I went back to Suhaib and said to him, “Depart and follow the chief of the faithful believers.” Later, when ‘Umar was stabbed, Suhaib came in weeping and saying, “O my brother, O my friend!” (on this ‘Umar said to him, “O Suhaib! Are you weeping for me while the Prophet said, “The dead person is punished by some of the weeping of his relatives?” Ibn Abbas added, “When ‘Umar died I told all this to Aisha and she said, ‘May Allah be merciful to Umar. By Allah, Allah’s Apostle did not say that a believer is punished by the weeping of his relatives. But he said, Allah, increases the punishment of a non-believer because of the weeping of his relatives.” Aisha further added, “The Quran is sufficient for you (to clear up this point) as Allah has stated: ‘No burdened soul will bear anther’s burden.’ ” (35.18). Ibn Abbas then said, “Only Allah makes one laugh or cry.” Ibn Umar did not say anything after that.(Book #23, Hadith # 375)

Source for the above is here:

http://www.sahihmuslim.com/sps/smm/sahihmuslim.cfm?scn=dspchaptersfull&BookID=4&ChapterID=331http://www.searchtruth.com/searchHadith.php?keyword=Aisha&book=&translator=1&search=1&search_word=all&start=180&records_display=10

Notice that when the matter was brought before Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that she bi-passed the Blessed Messenger (saw) as a source by going to a higher source of authority….. The Qur’an!

It is very interesting that in the hadith narrated by Al-Mughira that he brought up an issue that was of obvious dispute or doubt among the companions. He then juxtaposes this issue with a report about lying about the Blessed Messenger (saw) intentionally.

Now, this was done to either excuse someone (perhaps even Aisha) who related something from the Blessed Messenger (saw) albeit intentionally or to excuse Ibn Umar. It can also be related as a veiled warning to either camp who may be trying to ‘trump’ the other, in their appeal to authority.

I am of the view that the statement “whoever lies about me” is more accurate and authentic. I am of the view that the word ‘intentionally’ is the product of a redactor.

Why would I say this?  The issue of ‘riwaya bil ma’na’

As the ‘Ahl Hadith’ school of jurisprudence began to take shape over jurisprudence that focused on ‘nahu’ and ‘tafsir of the Qur’an by the Qur’an’ this hadith was introduced as a pretext to allow transmission by ‘riwaya bil-ma’na’ -or transmission by general meaning.

I believe that many knew that the so-called ahadith attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw) about relaying his words in general meaning or ‘riwaya bil-ma’na’ were weak and or suspect and this is why you see them turning to other arguments for example:

“Sufyan Al Thawri used to say: “When you see a man show strictness in the wordings of hadith, now that he is advertising himself.” He narrated that a certain man began to question Yahya ibn Sa’id Qattan (d. 198) about a specific wording inside a hadith. Yahya said to him; “Ya Fulan! there is not in the whole world anything more sublime the Book of Allah, yet He has permitted that its word be recited in seven different dialects. So do not be so strict!” Source: (Cf. al-Shaf’i, al-Risala p.274).

These arguments supposedly brought forward by the illustrious and pious scholar Sufyan Al Thawri seems to be redacted because it is not possible that such a scholar would use an extremely weak argument. The Qur’an was sanctioned to be read in different readings (ad verbatim) and not ‘the gist of the meaning’.

Remember that Allah (swt) condemns in no uncertain terms the ‘Ahl Kitab’ for distorting words with their tongues. Not even so much for textual corruption as not everyone could read and write; (just as with the case of the Arabs), but more so for their distortions in the oral transmission.

“So for their breaking of the covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” (Qur’an 5:13)

In conclusion:

I will be responsible to stand before a just, sovereign, holy, fearsome, loving, and awesome God.

I will be responsible for what I have learned and what I have passed on. I will have to give an account of myself. With that being the case when relaying the oral tradition I will continue to say, ‘It has been attributed’ or ‘It has been reported that’ the Prophet (saw) said. I do this out of love and respect for the Blessed Messenger (saw) and for the safety of my own well being.

 

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