Attacks upon Sahih hadith by Sufi Leaning Ashari Theologians

And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed MY SON IS OF MY FAMILY (AHLI)and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges! He said, “O NOAH, INDEED HE IS NOT OF YOUR (AHLIKA) FAMILY; indeed, he is one whose work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant. Noah said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.”(Qur’an 11:45-47)

I am often told that my presuppositions as a ‘westerner’ would preclude me from being fair in accessing certain hadith traditions. That I would approach the text with my own suppositions. I don’t disagree with this statement. The real point is who doesn’t approach something with their own suppositions? 

However, I think the point is we all approach any situation with our own suppositions. The point is to be mindful of this, and know when it may impede our ability to look at something from a different perspective, or not.

What better example than the attacks upon ‘sahih’ -ahadith found in the collection of  Muslim, by those who hold to the Ashari theological school. 

In particular, things that the ‘Sufi‘ find troubling about the following sahih hadith. As well as those who have been affected by the Shia-fication of Sunnism as follows:

Narrated from Anas (r.a) that a man said: “O Messenger of Allah, where is my father?” He said: “In Hell.” When he turned away he called him back and said: “My father and your father are in Hell.”

Source: (Sahih Muslim 203)

Some may say why even talk about this subject? It is bad manners.  The very people who say that, are the very people themselves who have brought the topic up. 

There is actually no good reason to reject this hadith. The only reason to reject this hadith is based upon an emotional attachment to the ‘Ahl Bayt‘ and to the family of the Blessed Prophet (saw).

Say, [O Muhammed], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.” (Qur’an 9:29)

If this is the state of faith that Muslims are to have in regards to Allah (swt) It is certain that the Blessed Messenger (saw) had this state of faith, a state of faith that none of us would pale in comparison to.

There is also the reality that hellfire is real. That some people will go to hellfire. Those people will be other people’s fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. All of us live with the reality that either ourselves or our most beloved family will not be in paradise. 

With the Blessed Messenger (saw) making that statement about his father, it makes the Blessed Prophet (saw) a very relatable human being. 

Now the “Sufis” will go on and on about knowledge of the unseen that the Blessed Messenger (saw) is said to have had.

However, when it comes to something like this they simply cannot accept that the Blessed Messenger (saw) may have had some insight into what happened to His (saw) parents;  albeit a very painful insight.

The same people will go absolutely ballistic when anyone challenges their Sahih hadith canons, but themselves will pull out all the stops when they come across something that goes against their presuppositions.

It is worth it to watch the entire video presentation of Dr. Jonathan Brown (May Allah have mercy on him).  However,  for the purpose of this entry, it would suffice to watch from 42:50, to see exactly what I am talking about.

At 43:50 Dr. Jonathan Brown takes liberties by saying ‘there is an important principle in Islam that in order to be accountable for anything you have to have knowledge‘.

First, it should be very clear what he is about to present to the audience is not necessarily the position of ‘Islam’.  It is a position of creed, one that a certain group of Muslims with their own presuppositions hold to.

Basically what Dr. Jonathan Brown is doing is expounding upon a position in the Ashari theological school. (Albeit in a very superficial manner)

They assume that just because people have not heard about Islam, these people would automatically enter into paradise.

In other words, if divine guidance has not come to you, you will automatically enter paradise.

Think of the implications of that for a moment.  Now if your going to talk about justice this creedal position of the Ashari turns the justice of Allah (swt) into a cosmic comedy.


Well, how is it fair for people who have been exposed to Islam entered into it and possibly still end up in hell?  

Assurance of salvation is not a doctrine in Islam.

Whereas it would have been more preferable (I mean we are talking about eternity here) for said people to have never heard about Islam, and enter into heaven automatically, simply by virtue of the fact of not receiving guidance.

So if you do not receive divine guidance you automatically enter into heaven?

However, if you do hear about divine guidance and reject it you will go to hell.

Then if you embrace the divine guidance but your scale is not heavy on the day of judgment you will spend eternity in hell. You have a 50/50 chance of going to heaven/hell. 

Something seems very inconsistent here.

I am extremely disheartened that someone, as educated and eloquent as Dr. Jonathan Brown, gives such a bad example about ‘the man living in a remote part of Nebraska‘.

So you mean to tell me this man who lives in a remote part of Nebraska and never heard about Islam, or even had an adequate presentation of Islam delivered to him, can steal from his mother, rape a child, rob a bank, never pay back any of his loans, constantly lie, beat his wife and lead an overall horrible life and he will enter heaven?

Whereas countless Muslims all of the world are trying their utmost to have a relationship with their Creator and to fulfill the commands as they understand them, in a sea of competing sects and schism,  and then there is a very likely chance that they could end up in hell?

Does that honestly make any sense to anyone at all?

Notice Dr. Jonathan Brown says at 45:13 “God will judge them on the day of judgement like God judges everybody

So why would God judge them? If they would automatically enter into heaven?  If God judges them than doesn’t that mean they stand a chance to be condemned?

If they do stand the chance to be condemned than the Ashari needs to explain based upon what.

Apologies to the readers, as I digress.  

However, this is fundamentally important to the discussion, because it is an ironclad proof!  It is an ironclad proof from within that if those from the Ashari school find something that goes against their presuppositions they will discard ahadith!

Gibril Fouad Haddad (May Allah have mercy on him) is a modern scholar who gave a lengthy apologetic response to the issue in pages 51-64 of his book “The Four Imams and Their Schools

Which by the way if you don’t have that book you absolutely should buy it. You should buy everything written by Gibril Fouad Haddad for that matter. He has absolute attention to detail. He is in my view one of the most, candid and truthful scholars in our time. May Allah (swt) grant him long life and health.

In the pages of the book of his book, there are some eye-opening admissions. His book also contains his own biases and leanings for example

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (raheemullah) and his Minah Al-Rawd Al-Azhar, commentary on Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar is simply thrown under the bus.

Shaykh Haddad states:

“Mulla Ali al-Qari claimed in Sharh al-Fiqh Al Akbar, Mu’taqad Abu Hanifa, and Shar al-Shifa that Imam Abu Hanifa said, “The parents of the Prophet (saw) died as disbelievers.” and that this was the Maturidi position. He was refuted harshly by his student the Faqih and Friend of Allah, Imam Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammed ibn Ahmad al Tabari, during the latter’s lessons in the Makkan Sanctuary, Al-Qari died in Makka shortly after those lectures from a bad fall-May Allah have mercy on him and forgive him. Shaykh Ibrahim al-Halabi, the Hanafi faqih, held the same view as Mulla Ali al-Qari as well as does al-Azim Abadi in AAwn al-Mabud.” (pg 51) There is no attempt at innuendo here.

The implication is Allah (swt) made the learned scholar die form a bad fall for saying such things. 

Is what is attributed to Imam Abu Hanifa (r) a forgery? 

Shaykh Haddad quotes Dr. Inayatullah Iblagh al-Afghani in the 1987 2nd edition of his published doctoral thesis titled ‘al-Imam al-A’zam Abu Hanifa al-Mutakallim (“The Greatest Imam, Abu Hanifa, the Theologian”), said:

“Regarding the text [of al-Fiqh al-Akbar] we find in some of them: “and the two parents of the Prophet (saw) died according to pristine disposition” (mata ala al-fitra), In some others, it is: “did not die as disbelievers” (ma mata ala al-kufr) while in others yet, we find: “died as disbelievers” (mata ala-al kufr)”

Shaykh Haddad continues: The erudite scholar al-Kawthari noted that the word fitra can be easily altered to read kufr in Kufic Arabic calligraphy. It is highly probable, therefore, that the copy with “died according to pristine disposition” was changed to “died disbelievers.” The original reading implies that the Greatest Imam was arguing against those who adduce the hadith; “My father and your father are both in Hellfire.” (pg 57) 

So now let us think about this claim.

The text could read:

did not die as disbelievers/did not die in pristine disposition


could read died as disbelievers/died according to pristine disposition.

Now we can’t assume that the version that Shaykh Hadad prefers is the original version.  Especially if it simply a copyist error. However, something that was not pondered upon at all is the possibility of forgery.  The reason I believe this was not discussed is that to discuss forgery we need to discuss a motive.   We have a high motive for someone to change the text from disbeliever to pristine disposition. However, what possible motive would any Muslim have for changing the text from pristine disposition to disbeliever?     

Let us look at some other evidence that shows contrary to what some people desire that relatives of the Blessed Messenger (saw) were indeed people who do not make it to paradise. 

“The daughter of Abu Lahab, Subay’a came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said, “Messenger of Allah!”  The people are calling me the daughter of the Fuel of the Hellfire! The Messenger of Allah (saw) stood angry and said on the pulpit:  “What is the matter with the people that harm me in my relatives? Whoever harms my relatives harms me, and whoever harms me has harmed Allah!”  Source: (Narrated from Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Hurayra, and Ammar bin Yasir by Ibn Abi ‘Asim in al-Ahad wal-Mathani (5:470 & 3165).

“May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he.” (Qur’an 111:1)

Did Allah (swt) find it insensitive to name someone’s father as a resident of hellfire? 

Ali himself said that Abu Bakr is the only Companion to have both parents, Abu Quhafa and Umm al-Khayr enter Islam. 

Source (Aisha by Malik in Muwatta, Ibn Sa’d (3:194-195) Al-Bayhaqi in Al-Sunan al-Kubra (6:169-170 & 11728, 6:178 & 11784, 6:257 & 12267, Abd Al-Razzaq (9;101) , Al-Tahawi in Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar (4:880, Istiab (4:1807), Nasb (2:630), al-Lalika’i in Karamat al-Awliya (p 117), al-Mizzi in Tadhib al-Kamal (35:380) and Muhhib al-Din al-Tabari in al-Riyad al-Nadira (2:122-123 & 576)

Narrated by Al Musaiyab                                                                                                                      

“When Abu Talib’s death approached, the Prophet went to him while Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya were present with him. The Prophet said, “O uncle, say: None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, so that I may argue for your case with it before Allah.” On that, Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abu Umaiya said, “O Abu Talib! Do you want to renounce ‘Abdul Muttalib’s religion?” Then the Prophet said, “I will keep on asking (Allah for) forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden to do so.” Then there was revealed: ‘It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe that they should invoke (Allah) for forgiveness for pagans even though they are of kin after it has become clear to them that they are companions of the Fire.’ (9.113)”   Source: (Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 197)

The point being is that all of these groups and factions you are hard-pressed to find anyone to be consistent. People will attack Shaykh Nasir Ad-Deen Al Abani (r) because he said that Bukhari itself was bound to have mistakes. 

However, the same people in my humble opinion apply double standards. They use their own presuppositions to evaluate the truthfulness of a text even if it said hadith is within the category of something deemed ‘sahih’ -sound!

“O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do?”  (Qur’an 61:2)

It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire.” (Qur’an 9:113)



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6 responses to “Attacks upon Sahih hadith by Sufi Leaning Ashari Theologians

  1. kn83

    I don’t know any Sufi group nor Ashari that denies the reality of hellfire.

    Also, do you believe in the eternity of hellfire?

  2. Arhum

    I loved your honesty and evaluative style.

    I just wanted to ask; how Ibadiya takes the Kutub Al-Sittah?

    What is the method to see the Hadiths? And do you accept the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim? And Abu Hurairah?

    • Well, the Kutub Al-Sittah is a collection of lone narrator reports. So we evaluate the lone narrator reports on their own merit rather than grade whole collections. We do rigorous analysis of the sanad, the chain of transmitters, as well as rigorous analysis of the matn (the text).

      I will ask about Abu Hurairah, however, thus far I haven’t heard anything to disparage him as an individual.

  3. Kamillah

    This is a tough one, emotionally. I recall listening to Abdul Nasir Jangda’s Seerah lectures when this came up and I was too emotional to hear all the possibilities, but I pushed through. There is a (mystical) hadith that says the Prophet (saaws) was given the chance to convert both of his parents when they were revived for a minute, and they both accepted him as messenger. When I think about the Prophet (saaws) crying at his mother’s grave, I can’t imagine they were punished.

    I never thought about Abu Lahab’s daughter reading that surah. Very sobering. Islam wasn’t about to spare anybody who considered the Prophet (saaws) and his message the enemy from any embarrassment. Good to keep in mind, but terrifying to try and explain in an environment of multiculturalism and perennialism.

    I’m more conservative for my own practice but I find excuses for others who don’t “appear” to be practicing. I don’t busy myself with judging what Allah will or will not punish in others, unless someone is tormented by something, mentally. I will try to find every excuse and ways to give them hope so they aren’t in despair. I recall the Prophet (saaws) used to accept people saying they would become Muslim but not pray or fast and he (saaws) never argued with them. In his wisdom, he (saaws) knew they’d grow to love the deen and want to partake in all the rites – and he was right, of course. These days, there is so much mental turmoil that any rope back to Allah swt is worth extending. And Allah swt knows best.

    • “Good to keep in mind, but terrifying to try and explain in an environment of multiculturalism and perennialism.”

      So very true

      “These days, there is so much mental turmoil that any rope back to Allah swt is worth extending. And Allah swt knows best.”

      I am certainly empathetic to this approach. Ultimately, Allah(swt) is the arbiter.

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