“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah often.” (Qur’an 33:21)
“And We have not sent you, except as a mercy to the worlds. ” (Qur’an 21:107
“Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: A thief was brought to the Prophet Muhammed (saw). He said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Messenger of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his hand. So his (right) hand was cut off. He was brought a second time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Messenger of Allah! Then he said: Cut off his foot. So his (left) foot was cut off. He was brought a third time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Messenger of Allah! So he said: Cut off his hand. (So his (left) hand was cut off.) He was brought a fourth time and he said: Kill him. The people said: He has committed theft, Messenger of Allah! So he said: Cut off his foot. So his (right) foot was cut off. He was brought a fifth time and he said: Kill him. So we took him away and killed him. We then dragged him and cast him into a well and threw stones over him.” (Abu Dawud: Book 38, Number 4396)
Sunan Abu Dawud, 4410
Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 5, Book of Prescribed Punishments (Kitab Al-Hudud), Hadith 4396
Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Prescribed Punishments (Kitab Al-Hudud), Hadith 4396
Imagine! Even after having his right hand cut off, his left foot amputated, his left hand cut off, and finally his right foot amputated, this man undeterred, was determined to steal!”
You really have to wonder not only about narrations like the one above but about the attitude that those who narrated them had concerning the Blessed Messenger (saw). This underscores the importance of ‘matn’ (the text) criticism.
This atrocious hadith is in the collection of the Persian scholar and hadith master: Abu Daud Sulayman ibn Al-Ash’ath ibn Ishaq al-Azdi al-Sijistani. or some spellings have his name as Abu Dawood, Abi Dawood, Abu Dawud, Abu Daud.
Now you know what you are going to hear? You are going to hear that this hadith is classified as ‘hasan‘ or good. What you most likely will not hear is that this at one point in the history of hadith classification there was no distinction between ‘hasan‘ or ‘sahih‘-sound.
However, let us give our interlocutor some wiggle room. Let us say that the above hadith is ‘daif‘ -weak.
You have to wonder what was it about this great Persian scholar, what was it about his love, his yearning for the Blessed Messenger (saw) that would posses him to relate such a hadith?
Wouldn’t any hadith scholar simply look at this text and dismiss it out of disgust?
I say this because all to often today in many circles of learning in the Muslim world such a picture is painted of the Blessed Messenger (The Prophet Muhammed) that it seems that often what we find in the hadith is of another person entirely.
The most benign, the most tolerate, compassionate, patient, lenient towards the creation of Allah (swt).
Than comes this Persian hadith master who includes this in his collection. Why? Did he think that this could possibly be an accurate portrayal of the Beloved of Allah (swt)?
Was the chain of transmission more sacred than the actual character of the Blessed Messenger (saw)? As long as the hadith ‘checked out‘ it was O.K. according to this Persian hadith master?
Why is it that the character of the Blessed Messenger (saw) is so often sacrificed on the altar of isnaad?
Ah Jalal ad-Din Rumi penny for your thoughts. I wonder what this lover of the divine would have to say about his fellow Persian and the words he transmitted about the Beloved of Allah (swt).
I’m honestly trying to imagine scenarios where a person who has legs and arms cut off was caught stealing. Maybe the readers of this blog can help me out. Admittedly at times I lack imagination.
Had any hadith reached me I would think about what Allah (swt) had said about his noble creation the Blessed Messenger (saw). I would weigh it against other hadith that show him to be compassionate and kind and than I would have stood up in what ever circle of learning I was in, and told the one narrating this to “Fear Allah!” I would have left such a circle.
In my heart how can such a circle be sacred that speak such monstrosities about the Blessed Messenger (saw). Not only that but that the companions did not act upon the explicit and direct command of the Blessed Messenger (saw).
But for those who grade this as ‘hasan‘ as sound you have to wonder what they envisioned the Blessed Messenger (saw) to have been like. You have to wonder how they see Islam being implemented in communities across the globe.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the traditional Sunni scholarship is correct about this hadith and it is accurate portrayal of the Blessed Messenger (saw).
After this man has stolen a number of times why didn’t anyone inquire about his social well being?
What was it that drove this man to steal?
If he had an illness like kleptomania was the Blessed Messenger (saw) not made aware of that through divine unveiling?
Why did the companions not carry out the supposed order of the Blessed Messenger (saw) to “kill him” ?
Personally, this hadith seems like the machinations of those that care more about arguing certain legalistic points than it speaks to anything even remotely close to what the Blessed Messenger (saw) was like.
How do you think Imam Dawud al-Zahiri would have dealt with such a narration? How do you think anyone from the Zahiri school of jurisprudence would have responded to such narrations?