Ibadi principles of testing the hadith part 3

“Oh my Lord Advance me in knowledge.” (Qur’an 20:114)

A HADITH WHOSE SANAD IS WEAK BUT ITS MATN IS ACCEPTABLE

In the last article, we divided hadith into three categories:


A hadith whose sanad is weak but its matn is acceptable.
A hadith which is weak in terms of both its sanad and matn.
A hadith whose sanad is strong but its matn is unsound: not compatible with one or more principles.


In this article, let us survey a few examples of the first category postponing the other two for the time ahead.

Al-Tirmidhi in his al-Sunan p. 774, account no. 2906, al-Bayhaqi in his Shu’abu al-Iman vol. 2, p. 325-26, account no. 1935, al-Darimi in his al-Sunan p. 1010-1016 accounts no. 3332-3333, al-Bazzar in his al-Bahru al-Zakhar vol. 3, p. 71-2, account no. 836, and Ibn Abi Shaiba in his al-Musannaf vol 7, p. 164, account no 2, have received a hadith which says thus:


أَلَا إِنَّــهَا سَتَكُــــونُ فِتْنَةٌ فَقُلْتـــُ: مَا المَخْرَجُ مِنْهَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ قَالَ: ” كِتَابُ اللَّهِ فِيهِ نَبَأُ مَا قَبْلَكُمْ وَخَبَرُ مَا بَعْدَكُمْ، وَحُكْمُ مَا بَيْنَكُمْ،
وَهُوَ الفَصْلُ لَيْسَ بِالهَزْلِ، مَنْ تَرَكَهُ مِنْ جَبَّارٍ قَصَمَهُ اللَّهُ، وَمَنْ ابْتَغَى الهُدَى فِي غَيْرِهِ أَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ، وَهُوَ حَــــبْلُ اللَّهِ المـــَتِينُ، وَهُوَ
الذِّكْرُ الحَكِيمُ، وَهُوَ الصِّــرَاطُ المُسْتَقِيــمُ، هُوَ الَّذِي لَا تَزِيغُ بِهِ الأَهْوَاءُ، وَلَا تَلْتَبِسُ بِهِ الأَلْسِنَةُ، وَلَا يَشْبَعُ مِنْهُ العُلَمَاءُ، وَلَا يَخْلَقُ
عَلَى كَثْـــرَةِ الرَّدِّ، وَلَا تَنْقَضِي عَجَائِبُهُ، هُوـــَ الَّذِي لَمْ تَنْتَهِ الجِنُّ إِذْ سَمِعَتْهُ حَتَّى قَالُوا: {إِنَّا سَمِعْنَا قُرْآنًا عَجَبًا يَهْدِي إِلَى الرُّشْدِ}
مَنْ قَالَ بِهِ صَدَقَ، وَمَنْ عَمِلَ بِهِ أُجِرَ، وَمَنْ حَكَمَ بِهِ عَدَلَ، وَمَنْ دَعَا إِلَيْهِ هَدَى إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ

“Behold! There will be fitna (temptation, test, trial, unrest, disorder)! I said: ‘How to escape therefrom, oh the Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘(The only way to escape from the fitna is to adhere to) The Book of Allah. In it are tidings of those who were before you and the tidings which will be after you; and it is a judgment among you; and it is a word that distinguishes (Right from wrong and good from evil): not a thing for amusement; whoever neglects it among the arrogant, the insolent, Allah will crush him; and whoever looks for guidance rather than its guidance, Allah will let him go astray. It is the strong rope of Allah, and it is the message of wisdom, and it is The Straight Path; desires are never deviated by it; tongues never get confused with it (It can be recited by all people, be they Arabs or non-Arabs); Scholars are never tired of it; It does not wear out because of being repeated (Its beauty never fades away and its sweetness is never lost for those who repeatedly recite it); Its wonders and miracles are endless; It is the one about which the Jinns when they heard it, ended n the statement that: ‘Certainly, we have heard a wonderful recital! Whoever speaks of it, will speak the truth; whoever follows it will get good rewards; whoever judges by it, will do justice, and he who invite people to it, will be guided to the Right Path.”


Many scholars, who deal with the sanads of hadith, have disqualified this account on the grounds that there are some unreliable narrators in its sanad. But, as you see, every word recorded in this account has hundreds of evidence, either in the Qur’an, another Prophetic tradition, or both, which support and strengthen it. In short, the meaning of this hadith is irrefutable and its message is not up for debate. It is for this reason that Samahat al-Shaykh al-Khalili, after quoting it, in his Jawahiru al-Tafsir vol. 1, p. 4, said the following:
ومهــما قيل في إسناد الحـــديث فإن البــريق الذي يلمع من عباراته دليل على تألقه من مشكاة النبوة، فإن هذه الإحاطة الدقيقة
بصفات القرآن لا تكون إلا ممن أنزل إليه، وقصارى ما يمكن أن يصــل إليه فهـــمنا من هذا الوصـــف الجامع للقرآن الكريم
احتواء القرآن على كل ما يحتاج إليه الإنسان من عِبر…..


“Whatever has been said concerning the sanad of this tradition, the brightness which shines from its composition is a clear sign that it glitters from the lantern of prophethood. Indeed, this precise information about the characteristics of the Qur’an cannot emanate except the one to whom it was revealed. The maximum we can understand from this comprehensive description of the Quran is that the Quran consists of every lesson human being needs.”

The hadith on the throwing of pebbles.


Another example is the tradition that has been received Ibn Majah in his al-Sunan p 13, account no. 17, al-Tabarani in his al-Kabir vol. 18, p. 227, account no. 566, and other collectors of the prophetic traditions including al-Bukhari and Muslim, each with slightly different wording. It says:
إِيَّاكُمْ وَالْخَذْفَ، فَإِنَّهَا تَكْسَرُ السِّنَّ، وَتَفْقَأُ الْعَيْنَ، وَلَا تَنْكِئُ الْعَدُوَّ

“Be careful not to throw a pebble (carelessly), for it breaks the tooth and tears out the eye, and does not defeat the enemy.”

After quoting this account, al-Munawi, in his al-Taysir bi-Sharhi al-Jami’i al-Saghir vol. 1, p. 824, says:
وإسناده ضعيف لكن معناه صحيح
Its sanad is weak, but the meaning is sound.

Al-Munawi has gone to this interpretation because this hadith, though has been related through a weak chain of narrators, holds the message that is supported by the Qur’an, other authentic hadith and by human logic. The basic message in the hadith is to avoid throwing stones carelessly lest we hit people and injure them unintentionally, which is one of the fundamental elements constituting the teachings of Islam – to establish peace in its various aspects. In one of his authentic hadith, as al-Albani and Ahmad Shakir described it, the Blessed Messenger (saw) said: لَا ضَرَرَ وَلَا ضِرَارَ “There is neither harm nor there is reciprocal harming”. That is: “Do neither harm others nor do you harm one another”.

The Blessed Messenger (saw) also insisted that when a man passes through a crowded area such as a market place, if he bears a weapon like a spear or an arrow, he should cover its point with his hands in order to avoid injuring others. When you consider the implication held by traditions like these, you will know for sure that they are in constant harmony with the meaning of the hadith: “Be careful not to throw a pebble (carelessly), for it breaks the tooth and tears out the eye, and does not defeat the enemy”. As such, the existence of such hadiths, provides us with clear evidence that, though the respective hadith is weak in terms of its sanad, yet it is acceptable in terms of its matn.

Other examples, in brief, are:

The hadith concerning the imprint of menstruation blood on the cloth after the blood has been washed away. Khola, a woman Sahaba, asked the Blessed Messenger (saw) thus:

يا رسول الله فإن لم يذهب الدم قال يكفيك الماء ولا يضرك أثره

Oh, the Messenger of Allah! What are we to do if the blood has not been completely rubbed out? He replied: ‘To wash with water is enough even if a mark will remain’.

Elaborating it, an anonymous commentator of the book Mukhtasar Sharhi Bulughi al-Maram vol. 2, p. 43, said:

قال المؤلف ضعيف لكن معناه صحيح

The author said: ‘It is weak’, but its meaning is accurate (logical and acceptable).

The hadith that says:

إن الله تجاوز عن أمتي الخطأ والنسيان وما استكرهوا عليه

Verily, Allah has pardoned my umma what they do by mistake; when they forget, or if they are forced to do a thing, not for their own will.

Ali bin Naif, in his al-Mufassalu Fii Sharhi Hadithi Man Baddala Dnahu vol. 3, p. 12, says the following:

Abu Bakr, Ibn Al‘arabi says: ‘This account, though its sanad is not authenticated, scholars have unanimously agreed that its meaning is authentic’. Al-Shatibi, on his part, says: ‘Generally, there has been a consensus on its authenticity: no disagreement on it at all’. Ibn Hajar says: ‘This hadith is of great importance to the extent some Muslim scholars say that it is worthy of being regarded as a half of religion’.

The hadith that says:

علمنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في الخلاء أن نقعد على اليسرى وننصب اليمنى

The Messenger of Allah taught us when we go to the toilet that we sit on our left legs and have our right legs stood upright.

In his comment on the book Bulughu al-Maram p. 8, Sheikh Atiyya Muhammad Salim says:
هذا الحديث وإن كان سنده ضعيفاً إلا أن معناه صحيح

Though has a weak sanad, the meaning of this hadith is correct (acceptable).

In Sharhu al-Tirmidhi vol. 26, p. 21. Al-Shanqitwi imposed a question thus:

ما صحة حديث لا تسرف ولو كنت على نهر جار؟

Is the following hadith authentic? “Do not squander (water or west water lavishly) even if you are at the river with running waters”.

Then, in response, he said:

هذا حديث الترمذي وهو حديث تكلم العلماء في سنده ، والأقوى ضعفه ، ولكن معناه صحيح

“This hadith has been narrated by al-Tirmidhi. Muslim scholars have disqualified its sanad. Indeed the strongest idea has been put forward in the suggestion that it is weak, but (even so) its meaning is correct (acceptable).”

All the aforementioned are examples of inaccurately transmitting accurate information.


These are a few examples out of many hundreds which can be taken to show that a hadith can sometimes be regarded and used especially in our practical matters, even if its sanad (chain of transmitters) has one or more weak narrators. It is insisted, therefore, that those who do research into the hadith should have more standards with which to expand the horizons of their insight into the science of hadith.

Which standards are those?

Shaykh Juma Al-Mazrui (May Allah continue to bless him and bless us by him.)

To be continued in article 4 insh’Allah

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