The Correct Way of Treating the Authentic Narrations
Written By: Shaykh Atabek Shukurov
Edited By: Sonia Nisa Authors Note
Ever since, I have released my last two articles some people were confused and even shocked to know that there is not a single copy of a collection of hadith, which would be classified as 'Sahih' (authentic) according to any principles of the classical or traditional 'Schools of Thought.' Nonetheless, I am delighted to have achieved the positive impact, which was the primary objective of compiling the article. Our Muslim academics and the dawah carriers who are continuously active on social media were hindered from accusing their fellow Muslims for rejecting the 'authentic' words of the Prophet (PBUH). I really hope this is not a temporary thing but continues this way as we accelerate forward. Moreover, I am in high hopes that my last two articles triggered a 'wake up call' within the genuine Muslim academics who are truly seeking knowledge. Based on all this, all these Muslims can and will start working hard to research and study.
Today, I want to share another very important topic, which will magnify into the classical scholars ahadith and analyse the following: How the classical predecessors of hadith have practically applied their established principles. What they did with the ahadith, which were authentic according to their stipulated principles. I have previously demonstrated how their principles are no longer applicable during our time and age. My objective from this analysis is to learn their authentic methods of applying conditions as these are our predecessors and we should learn from them and shadow their footsteps. Additionally, I can clearly discern the confusion amongst the Muslims from the past century concerning the following terminologies: ''Authentic Hadith'' and what to do with it? ''Accepted Hadith'', what does it mean? In this article, I want to quote multiple ahadith, which were authentic in the past and I will demonstrate what the classical scholars of Ahl Sunnah did with them. In order to implement the principles, I have chosen the prophetic narrations, which are related to one specific and very important topic that is very crucial in Islam. Below are the reasons why I chose this topic: There are many prophetic narrations, which spoke about this topic (I will not be surprised if it is Mutawatir Ma'nawi (Mass narrated in its meaning)). For some reason the Prophet (PBUH) appears to be talking about this topic from a different angle. The Prophet (PBUH) is describing this topic in numerous different ways upon multiple occasions, mainly within the last two-three years before his death. The authenticity of these narrations is accepted by all of the scholars, including the scholars of hadith, theologians and jurists. This topic had a major impact in the past (when it took place) and the impact is still present in our time. Based on the above reasons, I hope it will be important and interesting to see how Muhadditheen (Experts of Hadith and Narrators) have dealt with these narrations, in terms of applying the principles, which they have created.
I hope you enjoy this article similarly, to how you enjoyed my previous articles.
There is no doubt that Islam has been passed on to us mainly through two sources; the Quran, which is mass narrated (mutawatir), and through the genuine companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) such as Abu Bakr, Ali (ra) etc. More importantly, Quran has reached to us through the real Apostles of the Prophet (PBUH). However, unfortunately not all Muslims were in a good relationship with the Apostles of the Prophet (PBUH). Fortunately, the Prophet (PBUH) has specifically mentioned one group of ''Muslims'' who treated the Apostles bizarrely. The Prophet (PBUH) has mentioned this group upon multiple different occasions and described them evidently with great depth that no one can confuse them with any other group. This group was given the title of ''Khawarij'' (Kharijites). Now, let us try to see what did the Prophet (PBUH) narrate about them, how the experts of the Prophetic narrations represented these narrations and how did they treat the members belonging to this group.
What the Prophet (PBUH) said about Kharijites
There is no doubt that the Prophet (PBUH) clarified the path of guidance and he explained it in the perfect manner. Just before his death, he said; ''I am leaving you with such a bright path that its night is as bright as its day. Only the one who is deliberately intending to be misguided will go astray!'' (Narrated by Irbas bin Saria in the collection of ibn Majah and many others).
Just as the Prophet (PBUH) promised, he actually explained the status of theKharijites, and presented us with a detailed and accurate description of them. We have two types of statements from the Prophet (PBUH) regarding the Kharijites. The first type is a very specific statement from the Prophet (PBUH), where he talks specifically about them by mentioning them explicitly to warn the Muslims. The second type where the Prophet (PBUH) makes a general statement, which includes them as the primary group but it is referring to other groups too.
Specific Hadiths about Kharijties
As for the specific statements of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regarding the Kharijties are of such a large number that I will not be surprised if it is Mutawatir Ma'nawi. I am reluctant to spend excessive time quoting all of these hadiths from the different collections but alternatively I will quote only from one collection ''Sahih Muslim''.
Imam Muslim RA (d. 875 AD) has three chapters in his Sahih Collection where he narrated twenty-three hadith concerning Kharijites. Below are the names of these chapters: Hadiths concerning the Kharijites and their description Hadiths encouraging to kill Kharijites Kharijites are the worst of creation Imam Muslim (RA) narrated the hadiths within these three chapters through many different chains from the following Sahaba; Ali ibn Abi Talib, Jabir bin Abdullah, Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri, Abu Dharr, and Sahl bin Hunaif (May God be pleased with them all).
Obviously, there are many more hadiths from numerous other sahabah in other collections of hadith. I will not quote all of the twenty-three hadiths from Sahih Muslim, but just some hadiths from each of these three above chapters and then translate them for the readers. Moreover, I will mention the opinion of our Muslim scholars relating to these narrations and I will analyse how they apply their established principles.
Hadiths concerning the Kharijites and their description Jabir (RA) said; "Whilst the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was distributing silver that Bilal was holding in his cloth, someone came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said; O Muhammad, [distribute] it by being just!" The Prophet responded; "How come [you are making such as a statement]? If I am not just then who else will be? I will be unfortunate, if I am not just!" Umar (RA) said; "O Prophet (PBUH) let me kill this hypocrite?" The Prophet (PBUH) said; ''May God forbid [such an action]! People will say that I kill my companions. Indeed, this person and his group read Qur'an, but it [Qur'an] does not go any further than their throats. They leave it as an arrow leaves the bow when shooting!'' In many different narrations (of the same hadith), it says that ''they leave Islam'' and that ''they leave the religion.'' This hadith is clearly stating that Kharijites leave religion or leave Islam, which means that they are no longer religious nor Muslims. We will moreover understand the same confirmation of the Prophet (PBUH) in the other hadiths. Therefore, the Prophet is labelling them, as ''they are not Muslims.'' Below are the different opinions of our Muslim scholars and their understanding: This is from the commentary of Sheikh Shabeer Uthmani (died 1949), a highly ranked Deobandi (Subcontinent branch of Hanafi school) scholar. He reports the statements of some of our scholars concerning Kharijites. To summarise everything, he with absolute certainty rejected this hadith for the following reasons: Khattabi (d. 998 AD), a Shafei scholar said: Islam in this hadith means obeying the Political leaders. This means that the Kharijites did not leave the fold of Islam, but instead they disobeyed the Khalif! Mazari (d. 1141 AD) a well-known Maliki scholar said: The Takfeer of Kharijites is one of the most complicated issues. I saw Faqeeh Abdulhaqq come to Abu Ma'ali and ask him concerning the Takfeer of Kharijites; he was afraid, because stating that a Muslim is a kafir and that a kafir is a Muslim is very difficult! Qadhi Baqillani (d. 1013 AD) another Maliki scholar said: It is definitely a complicated issue, because Kharijites did not make an explicit kufri statement My question, why would these scholars give such an opinion? Indeed, it is very strange because: Islam and Religion in these narrations does not mean, ''Obeying the Khalif'' as Khattabi suggested. The context of the hadiths concerning kharijites is simply clear! Additionally, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an Arabian, and he knows how to say; ''Obeying the Khalif'', and he knows the meaning of ''Islam and Religion''! Therefore, the opinion and analysis of Khattabi is fallible. Mazari appears inconsistent because he issued the sentence of innovation when Jassas (d. 981 AD) and Abu Mansur Maturidi (d. 944 AD) rejected that the Prophet (PBUH) was effected by Magic. However, when Prophet (PBUH) evidently informs us that Kharijites are non-Muslims and Mazari quotes some scholar who said; ''stating that a Muslim is a kafir is very difficult''. To this, I would say it is more difficult or even impossible to judge Jassas and Maturidi by heresy and innovation for their opinion, which is the correct opinion nevertheless. Indeed, it is strange why Mazari and Abu Ma'ali found it to be a ''difficult issue'' that even the Prophet (PBUH) could not distinguish whether Kharijites were Muslims or non-Muslims! Moreover, Mazari labelled the genuine scholars for rejecting one fabricated statement regarding the Prophet (PBUH) that he lost his mind for one year. If so, then why is he rejecting the large number of hadiths concerning the kharijites leaving Islam and Religion? Conclusion is that Mazari is inconsistent in his analysis and opinions. Furthermore, Qadhi Baqillani made a strange statement saying that, ''Kharijites did not make an explicit kufri statement!'' I am still trying to understand whether Imam Baqillani is either claiming that these large numbers of hadiths concerning Kharijites are fabricated or he is disagreeing with the content of these authentic narrations (which literally means that he is disagreeing with the one who said it). In my understanding, this statement has more to it. One of the weak points of this statement is that ''Do we know each and every statement that was made by the Kharijites?'' If the answer is, no, then the question arises that how can Baqillani or anyone else claim that Kharijites did not make an explicit kufri statement? Another potential critique concerning this statement can be ''Is the Prophet (PBUH) negligent in regards to the issue of stating whether or not someone is a non-Muslim?'' In addition, when we have numerous authentic narrations from the Prophet (PBUH) where he confirms that this group is an apostate, I personally do not think it is as easy to oppose it. Therefore, none of the above opinions can escape trivial criticism. Moreover, I am thinking why Sheikh Shabeer Uthmani has quoted these opinions without checking whether it is strong enough to include in his book? If we compare it with the works of a medical researcher, who is writing about cancer and his research comprises weak and inconsistent opinions then I do not think that this book would hold any academic value, nor would it be taught at any medical institutes. This means none of the medical students would take any interest in reading the works of such authors. However, I assume that this book is about religious subjects which is full of weak and non-reliable books. The next hadith is also from the first chapter; It is the same (previous) hadith (with some differences) but this time narrated by Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (ra) with some extra information where the Prophet (PBUH) says, "They will be reading Quran, but it will not go any further than their throats! They will kill the believers but will not touch the pagans, and they will leave Islam as an arrow leaves the bow, when shot. If I will be [present] during that time, I will kill them as the tribe of Aad were killed! "
I believe the prediction of the Prophet (PBUH) came true, exactly as he mentioned. The Kharijtes have actually massacred the Muslims. They have mass slaughtered the Apostles and Tabi'een (students of the Apostles). For example, Imam Ali (RA) was killed by one of Kharijites (I will further explain this later on). Furthermore, we still remember the aspiration of Ikrima (the liar), when he said, "I wish to be at Hajj with a spear in my hand, so that I can kill everyone all around me!" (I will talk about this matter separately, too). Moreover, I hope everyone remembers him (Ikrima) saying whilst passing by a mosque, ''Everyone in the mosque are Kuffar!'' And, finally, we still remember how Sufris (the branch of the Kharijite sect of Ikrima) said, ''Anyone who oppose us, are similar to the pagans of the time of the Prophet (PBUH) and have to be killed!'' Besides, the hadith is very clear that Kharijites actually leave Islam and they must serve punishment (killed). Next, I want to review the opinion of the Muslim scholars regarding this hadith: Sheikh Shabeer Uthmani (RA) says; "...they have to be killed so no one from them remains... This hadith means that people are supposed to support Ali (RA) during the battle, and proves the virtue of Ali!" (Further Sheikh Shabeer is silent!)
Habitually, when there is a narration, Sheikh Shabeer and all of these other scholars endeavour to analyse the narration in order to derive all the points and wisdom. For example, there is a hadith where the Prophet (PBUH) asked the boy about his dead sparrow. Below is the Hadith: Some of the scholars have derived three-hundred points and others two-hundred. Here is a book with over 60 points derived from the above hadeeth (about a dead sparrow):
The hadith about the sparrow is very short and not as important, and yet they have managed to derive three-hundred interesting points! Therefore, I would expect that the scholars would derive a minimum of one thousand important points from the above hadith because of its length and the importance of the issue, which is mentioned within (the issue, which caused the lives of millions of genuine followers of the Prophet (PBUH) including his Apostles). However, unfortunately, Sheikh Shabeer (RA) has derived only two points:
1. Support Ali in his battle
2. Ali is a virtuous person
Softly speaking, very strange...
The next hadith is also from the same chapter: Abu Sa'eed also narrates the same story. Prophet (PBUH) very accurately describes the leader of this group (kharijites), mentioning that one of "his hands looks like the breast of a women". Then Abu Sa'eed says that Ali fought against them and after the battle, he asked them to find this person (with that description) and they found him. In the next hadith the Prophet (PBUH) clearly says: They are the worst creatures! (Or ''one of the worst creatures'').
Further, our scholars say; Sheikh Shabeer Uthmani RA says; these [prophetic] statements prove the opinion of the ones who say that they are the disbelievers. But the vast majority of the scholars said; '' It means, the worst Muslims!''
Personally, I do not think that the interpretation of the ''vast majority of the scholars'' is very strong. That is because this interpretation suggests that the Prophet (PBUH) was unable to express himself accurately. He wanted to say ''the worst Muslims'' but instead said ''the worst of the creation.''
In actuality, this entire paragraph is taken from Imam Nawawi (d. 1277 AD) the Shaf'i Jurist. However, Sheikh Shabeer did not explain that he took it from someone else: Further, in the third chapter, Imam Muslim has transmitted another narration where the Prophet (PBUH) clearly re-confirms the word of ''creature'' using two different methods, which proves that he does not mean ''the worst Muslims'' but ''the worst creature.'' In the next hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) explains exactly the time this sect will establish: "There will be a friction between two Muslim groups, which will be followed by the formation of a group. And, the group which is following the truth among the two will be fighting against this group!"
This is a very accurate prediction of the Prophet (PBUH), which came true! Let us look at the second chapter.
Hadiths encouraging killing Kharijites. Ali has narrated from the Prophet (PBUH); "There will be a group of young people towards the end of the time. They are foolish youth who quote the statements of the best creature. They read Qur'an but it does not go any further than their throats. They leave the religion as an arrow leaves the bow when it is shot. If you meet them, kill them! Anyone who kills them will be rewarded by God on the day of Judgement!"
Obviously, in this hadith there are numerous points being made but unfortunately I am not here to comment on them, but instead I am talking about something else. Here are some points from Sheikh Shabeer Usmani RA; Prophet (PBUH) saying; ''They quote the statements of the best creature.'' is referring to the fact that Kharijites used to mention the verse of; ''Judgement only belongs to God [Sura Yusuf; 40]'', also for the reason that Kharijites used to call the people to Qur'an...
I say it is obvious that Sheikh Shabeer is not very accurate here because the Prophet (PBUH) said; ''they quote the words of the best creature'' and did not say, ''they quote the words of the creator''. Therefore, it is not about Kharijites quoting from Qur'an, but it is about them fabricating hadiths on behalf of the Prophet (PBUH). This incorrect interpretation of this hadith is making the people to think that Kharijites keep Qur'an as central located. This incorrect interpretation makes the Muslims treat the people of Qur'an such as Zaid, Abu Hanifa, Afshani and Abu Mansur negatively. However, the correct meaning of the hadith is that they only read Qur'an without believing nor understanding it because it does not go any further than their throats, and the main central located thing for them is the ''words of the best of the creation''. Thus, Kharijites are not the people of Qur'an as many people think, but they are the people of hadith and narrations.
Unfortunately, Sheikh Shabeer is not the only one who translated the ''word of the best of creation" as verses of Qur'an but others too. Here is Imam Nawawi making the same error: And what latter scholars say in defence of Kharijites? Kharijites are the worst of creatures Then name of the chapter is; '' Kharijites are the worst of creatures''. We can see that the word ''creature'' is repeated in Arabic twice in two different forms; one is ''Khalq'' and the second is ''Khaleeqah.'' Thus, there is no way to claim that the Prophet (PBUH) does not mean the''worst of creatures'' but he is trying to say ''the worst amongst Muslims'' as Sheikh Shabeer quoted from the vast majority of the scholars above! Therefore, endeavouring to keep the Kharijites within the fold of Islam is not only baseless but it is actually very banal especially when we saw them killing the genuine Apostles of the Prophet (PBUH) and feeling an extreme level of hatred against them. Therefore, the correct and explicit meaning of what the Prophet (PBUH) said is: The Kharijtes are the worst thing, which is created by God! The ''worst creature'' uttered from the tongue of the Prophet (PBUH) is the most negative thing which can exist in the universe. Hence, it is impossible to translate it as a ''worst Muslim'' unless Sheikh Shabeer and the earlier scholars believe that Muslims are the worst creatures, so Kharijites will be ''the worst amongst the worst''! Now, we can see what the scholars would say about this hadeeth: Sheikh Shabeer Usmani commented on one of the narrators i.e. Yaseer bin Amr or Aseer bin Amr, then he commented on certain part of the hadith where the Prophet (PBUH) said, ''a group of people from east will be misguided''. However, he (Sheikh Shabeer) did not mention anything regarding ''Khalq'' and ''Khaleeqah.''
I believe the commentary of the 'scholars of hadith' appears as a defence of Kharijites from the Prophet (PBUH). For some reason, our early and the latter scholars of Hadeeth tried their best to ensure that the words of the Prophet (PBUH) refrain from even touching the reputation of the Kharijites.
I have merely mentioned the statements of Prophet (PBUH) concerning Kharijites, which are narrated within the collection of Saheeh Muslim, but there are many other narrations in various other Hadeeth collections. The hadiths concerning Kharijites narrated from more than ten Apostles, including the five, which are in Saheeh Muslim. For example; Anas bin Malik, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Mas'ood, Abdullah bin Abbas, Abu Umamah Bahili, Uqbah bin Aamir, Abu Bakrah, Abu Barzah, Abdullah bin Wathilah, Abdullah bin Amr, Aamir bin Wathilah, Abu Huraira and other Apostles.
Hadiths regarding the Kharijites have been narrated by many scholars including; Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Malik, ibn Majah, Haakim, Bazzar, Tabarani, ibn Hibban, ibn Khuzaimah, Samarqandi, Shashi, Darqutni, Bayhaqi, Abd bin Humaid, San'ani, ibn Abu Shaiba etc...
Each of these narrations are narrated by several different chains, some of them narrated by more than eight chains from the Sahabah. As I mentioned earlier the hadith could be Mutawatir, as it is mass-transmitted!
Next, I will briefly mention the comments that Prophet (PBUH) made regarding the Kharijites: Worst creature! · They leave Islam · They leave religion · They kill Muslims · Wherever you catch them, kill them! · God rewards anyone who kills them! · They are the people of Hell! · Quran doesn't pass their throats · They leave Islam as an arrow leaves the bow when shot! · If I would be alive when they appear, I would kill them! · After leaving Islam, they never come back to it! · They will be quoting the words of the best of the creation The Prophet (PBUH) made numerous comments about the Kharijites, including the above. However, for some strange reason, the early and latter Muslim scholars did not accept these comments.
The above-mentioned scholars have equally participated in creating the principles of testing hadith. For example, Imam Baqillani, Imam Mazari, and Imam Khattabi have introduced their principles to the subject. Based on how they have dealt with the hadith we can understand the following points evidently: If the hadith is authentic and narrated by multiple chains, which potentially can be mutawatir, it does not mean that we have to accept its content and act upon it! You can give an interpretation, which is not relevant, or even completely contrary to what the Prophet (PBUH) actually said. The authenticity of a hadith does not mean anything. One can actually ignore what the Prophet (PBUH) says. Moreover, you can suggest your own opinion, which opposes the authentic (or even mass-transmitted) hadith, even if your opinion does not have any valid basis. Learning the principles of testing hadith is completely separate subject to the subject of ''authenticity'' and ''acceptance'' of hadiths. If there is an authentic mass-transmitted hadith, which is referring to something in particular, then you can still suggest your incorrect interpretation or if you want, you can just completely ignore it. Therefore, rejecting the hadith, or more accurately, not accepting the content of the mass-transmitted authentic hadith was very widely practised by the early and the latter scholars of Islam. This was during the time when the narrations were yet authentic according to the principles of classical scholars. For example, Khattabi actually narrates the multiple collections of hadith through authentic chains.
I think this is another strong reason for the contemporary Muslim Academics and Da'wa carriers to stop labelling the Muslim researchers as ''Hadith Rejecters''.
Summary of the article
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was obvious and explicit to state that the Kharijites leave the fold of Islam and that we have to eliminate them off. God will reward us for terminating them. Muslim scholars disagreed with the Prophet (PBUH) and rejected a great number of authentic hadiths. Mazari said; Prophet (PBUH) has stated Kuffar on them, but it is a very complicated issue, which is why we are not sure whether we can accept what the Prophet said about them. Abu Ma'ali was scared to accept the testimony of the Prophet (PBUH). Khattabi said; Islam and religion in these hadiths means obeying the politicians. Being clear and concise, I say it is one of the two; either the hadith is rejected, or the Prophet (PBUH) was using the words and sentences, which do not match the principles of Arabic Language. In my understanding, it is a clear example where scholars actually reject the authentic narrations based on their opinions.
In the next two articles, we will review the biography of two top Kharijites to see if Muslim scholars accepted the authentic words of the Prophet (PBUH) and treated the Kharijites as he ordered them to treat.