Category Archives: Hadith

On Meaning of the Hadith “There is no Contagious Disease”

By Waqar Akbar Cheema

According to a famous hadith in Sahih Bukhari, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:

لا عدوى ولا طيرة، ولا هامة ولا صفر

There is no infection, no evil omen, no hama, and no serpent in a hungry belly (safar).

Problematizing the apparent meanings

The above translation done by an orientalist James Robson is actually how many people tend to understand this hadith as a negation of infection or communication of disease. The history of experiences of regular infectious diseases and epidemics, on the other hand, leave no doubt even to a person without knowledge of biology or microbiology that certain diseases do have contagious nature. The current pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) is just a case in point.

The hadith is indeed authentic having been related by a number of companions including Abu Huraira,[1] ‘Abdullah b. Mas‘ud,[2] Ibn Abbas,[3] Sa‘d b. Abi Waqqas,[4] Jabir b. Abdullah,[5] ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar,[6] and Anas b. Malik.[7] There is no reason to question its veracity.

Other narrations/versions of the hadith

So, did the Prophet (ﷺ) plainly deny an observable fact? When we study the hadith more carefully taking into account other narrations of it, we arrive at a conclusion different from the superficial understanding. According to another relatively detailed narration of the hadith;

أبا هريرة، يقول: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «لا عدوى ولا طيرة، ولا هامة ولا صفر، وفر من المجذوم كما تفر من الأسد»

Related Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘There is no contagion, nor is there any bad omen (tiyara), nor is there any vermin calling for revenge (hamah), nor is there a serpent in the belly (safar), yet flee from a leper as you would flee from a lion.”[8]

Here the final part of the hadith “yet flee from a leper as you would flee from a lion” clearly contradicts the apparent meanings of the first phrase “there is no contagion” asking for further deliberation.

Another similar hadith goes as:

عن أبي هربرة، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: لا عدوى، ولا هام، ولا صفر، ولا يحل الممرض على المصح، وليحلل المصح حيث شاء، قال: ولما ذلك، يا رسول الله؟ قال: إنه أذى

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “There is no contagion (‘adwa), nor is there any vermin calling for revenge (hamah), nor is there a serpent in the belly (safar). The owner of sick livestock, however, must not stop at the same place as the owner of healthy livestock, but the owner of healthy livestock may stop wherever he wishes.” They said, “Messenger of Allah, Why is that?” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “(Because) it is harmful.”[9]

Here the Prophet (ﷺ) clearly mentioned that healthy cattle should not be brought to a place where cattle suffer from some contagious disease elaborating that doing so was indeed harmful.

These reports, therefore, make it clear that in denying “‘adwa” the Prophet (ﷺ) did not mean to deny the observable phenomenon of contagious nature of certain diseases. He was actually hitting at something else. The flow of the hadith tells us that it was about denouncing certain pre-Islamic beliefs of superstitious nature. The denounced “‘adwa”, therefore, did not refer to simple plain fact of spread of an infectious disease it rather was the belief that certain diseases spread by themselves which ignored Almighty Allah as the ultimate originator of everything. The underlying message, therefore, was that the affecting agency was not a disease itself rather it was subjected to divine will in its spread or otherwise from one body to another.

We now turn to another narration of the hadith which reports a Bedouin’s query on the same lines as the apparent reading alongwith the Prophet’s (ﷺ) response which provides evidence to make sense of the seemingly contradicting parts of the hadith.

أن أبا هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال: إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: لا عدوى ولا صفر ولا هامة» فقال أعرابي: يا رسول الله، فما بال إبلي، تكون في الرمل كأنها الظباء، فيأتي البعير الأجرب فيدخل بينها فيجربها؟ فقال: «فمن أعدى الأول؟

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “There is no contagion (‘adwa), nor is there a serpent in the belly (safar), nor is there any vermin calling for revenge (hamah). A bedouin stood up and said, “Then what about my camels? They are like deer on the sand, but when a mangy camel comes and mixes with them, they all get infected with mangy.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Then who conveyed the (mange) disease to the first one?”[10]

Yet another narration of the hadith actually provides the fuller context and relates to us the complete saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) in this context.

عن أبي هريرة، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ” لا يعدي شيء شيئا، لا يعدي شيء شيئا “، ثلاثا، قال: فقام أعرابي، فقال: يا رسول الله، إن النقبة تكون بمشفر البعير، أو بعجبه، فتشتمل الإبل جربا، قال: فسكت ساعة، ثم قال: ” ما أعدى الأول، لا عدوى، ولا صفر، ولا هامة، خلق الله كل نفس، فكتب حياتها وموتها ومصيباتها ورزقها “

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “One thing does not infect another by its own agency,” repeating it three times. So a Bedouin said: “Messenger of Allah!  When mange effects a camel it spreads to all the camels around.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) paused for a moment and said: “Who caused the first one to be diseased? There is no contagion (‘adwa), nor is there a serpent in the belly (safar), nor is there any vermin calling for revenge (hamah). Allah created every soul, determining its span of life, (time and cause of) its death, its afflictions, and its provisions.”[11]

This narration being the most complete provides the actual context and thus clarifies the real meanings of the hadith. The Prophet (ﷺ) basically refuted the idea that anything could be effective on its own and when a Bedouin asked a question related to spread of diseases based on his experience with camels the Prophet (ﷺ) made a rhetorical rejoinder on cause of infection in the first camel. Thereafter while rejecting different superstitions common amongst pre-Islamic Arab pagans he said “there is no contagion” and reiterated the basic beliefs of Islam that Allah not only created souls He also decreed the details of their life and death.[12] Accordingly, “there is no contagion” has to be understood in the light of initial thrice repeated saying, “One thing does not infect another by its own agency.”[13]

Breakup of what the Prophet said

We thus learn that the Prophet (ﷺ) did the following together;

(a) Denied a conception on contagious diseases

(b) Ordained keeping oneself away from someone affected by a contagious disease mentioning that it indeed meant harm

(c) Highlighted that someone actually controlled and affected disease in the first place

(d) Reiterated that it was Allah who decreed life, death, and all the afflictions one suffers in life

Whereas, the above points are not deduced or inferred from the sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ) rather these are plainly stated in his very own words tells us that far from denying the fact of certain diseases spreading from one person or animal to another, the Prophet (ﷺ) meant to highlight that the diseases did not spread on their own, rather it was Allah, the Almighty, who decreed their spread or otherwise.

Further elaboration

What confirms this is the fact that other things denounced alongwith “spread of a disease by its own agency” (‘adwa) were beliefs of similar nature about experienced facts. Safar referred to a superstition about hunger being caused by bite of a serpent in the belly[14] and hama to a superstition about the a vermin that the pagan Arabs believed came out of head of the murdered calling for his revenge. While both hunger and the impulse for revenge were experienced facts there was no basis of a serpent in the belly causing hunger pain or a vermin emerging from the corpse of the murdered. Likewise, while certain diseases did spread from one human or animal to another it was not their own agency but rather Allah’s decree that caused its spread, whatever the observable source or means.

Even at causal level, upon entry of infectious microbe into a body its possible effects are governed by efficiency and response of host body’s innate immune system. The response of the immune system itself is contingent upon scores of complicated and interdependent variables such as genetics, environmental factors, previous disease history, microbe exposure and evolution pathways, nature and timing of exposure, what else is happening in a body at that time. All this makes it rather easier for anyone to realize and be reminded of the fact that the ultimate causation of everything rests with Allah alone.[15]

Accordingly, the Prophet (ﷺ) concluded the talk by mentioning that it was Allah who decreed life, death, and any troubles and provisions that one finds in his lifetime. He, therefore, highlighted that all that befalls one in this life was only from Allah and one should never be oblivious of this fact.

Besides a condemnation of the pre-Islamic superstitions the hadith also serves as a corrective in the modern world imbued with secular outlook which is akin to paganism in attributing independent agency to mortals; human, objects, or microbes. The attribution even if not theorized and dogmatized is there at least by the way of exclusive focus making people oblivious to the Creator and Lord of the universe and His commands.

Other relevant hadith reports

Getting back to the original query; ‘if the Prophet (ﷺ) denied the fact of some diseases being contagious?’ let us quickly refer to a few more hadith reports that affirm our conclusion that the Prophet (ﷺ) did not preach any kind of fatalism by denying the fact of contagion.

عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: «إذا سمعتم بالطاعون بأرض فلا تدخلوها، وإذا وقع بأرض وأنتم بها فلا تخرجوا منها»

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”[16]

Likewise when a leper came to pledge allegiance to the Prophet (ﷺ) which was typically done by putting hand in hand, “the Prophet (ﷺ) sent a message to him: ‘We have accepted your allegiance, so you may go.’”[17]

Conclusion

Far from denying the universally known fact of certain diseases being contagious, the hadith was actually a refutation of the pre-Islamic pagan Arab beliefs and superstitions. The Prophet (ﷺ) in fact preached and ordained isolation and quarantining to check the spread of infectious diseases.

References & Notes:

[1] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 5707, 5717 et al.

[2] al-Tirmidhi, Abu ‘Isa, al-Jami’, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 2143;

[3] Ibn Majah, al-Sunan, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 3539; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 2425

[4] Al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2008)  Hadith 3921; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 2001) Hadith 1502

[5] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007)  Hadith 2222 (107-109)

[6] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5753

[7] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5756

[8] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5707

[9] Malik b. Anas, al-Muwatta  bi-rwayat Abu Mus‘ab al-Zuhri, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1412 AH) Hadith 1989; unlike other recensions (riwayat) of Muwatta that of Abu Mus‘ab mentions that this hadith comes from Abu Huraira; al-Baihaqi too has it from Abu Huraira through two independent connected isnad. See, al-Baihaqi, Abu Bakr, Sunan al-Kubra, (Beirut: DKI, 2003) Hadith 14239-14240

[10] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5717

[11] Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Hadith 8343; the hadith as it appears in Musnad of Ahmad b. Hanbal is narrated from Abu Huraira by Abu Zur‘a ‘Abdul Rahman b. ‘Amr b. Jarir; see also, al-Tirmidhi, Abu ‘Isa, al-Jami’, Hadith 2143 where the same Abu Zur ‘a relates on the authority of an unnamed person from Ibn Mas‘ud from the Prophet (ﷺ). With al-Tahawi, however, the report comes from Abu Zur‘a from Ibn Mas‘ud through “a man from the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ).” Except if it is a mistake on the part of some sub-narrator, it helps us identify the unnamed teacher of Abu Zur‘a in the version with al-Tirmidhi as Abu Huraira. See, al-Tahawi, Abu Ja‘far, Sharh Ma‘ani al-Athar, (Beirut: ‘Alam al-Kitab, 1994) Hadith 7057; for more on Abu Huraira relating from Ibn Mas‘ud, see ‘Abdullah b. Ahmad, al-Sunnah, (Dammam: Dar Ibn Qayyim, 1986) Hadith 1192 and al-Ghumari, Abu al-Faid, al-Mudawi li-‘Ilal al-Jami‘ al-Saghir wa Sharhaiy al-Munawi, (Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Makkiyya, 1996) Vol.2, 481; see also, al-Bazzar, Abu Bakr, al-Musnad, (Madina: Maktaba Ulum wa al-Hikam, 1993) Vol.4, 269 Hadith 1438; al-Baihaqi, Abu Bakr, al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat, Edited by Zahid al-Kawthari (Cairo: Maktaba al-Azhariyya li al-Turath,n.d.) 126; also, al-Mizzi, Jamal al-Din, Tahdhib al-Kamal, Edited by Bashar Awwad Ma‘ruf (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1980) Vol.16, 126

[12] What further confirms this meaning is that while at first Abu Huraira narrated both the hadith “there is no contagion (‘adwa)” and the hadith forbidding the owner with sick livestock from stopping over at the place of the healthy livestock, overtime he stopped narrating the “no contagion” hadith while continuing to narrate the hadith about mixing of healthy and sick livestock. He became so adamant in refusing to narrate the “no contagion” hadith that it made his student Abu Salama b. ‘Abdul Rahman (d. 94) wonder if Abu Huraira had forgotten it or if he thought it had been abrogated. (Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 2221 (104)) While the question of abrogation does not arise in such cases, the suggestion of forgetfulness too seems farfetched. It rather appears that overtime Abu Huraira thought that the “no contagion” hadith was no more relevant after the Islam had fully prevailed. In a bid, therefore, to keep the laity from falling into impression of contradiction across the sayings of the Prophet (ﷺ) he stopped narrating it. See, Al-Qurtubi, Abu al-Abbas, al-Mufhim lima Ashkala min Talkhis Kitab Muslim, (Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1996) Vol.5, 626

[13] Translation of the “لا يعدي شيء شيئا” phrase in the hadith as, “One thing does not infect another by its own agency,” follows Edward William Lane’s rendering of it. See, Lane, E. W., Arabic-English Lexicon, (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1968) Book I, 1978 cf. Al-Jawhari, Abu Nasr, Taj al-Lugha wa Sihah al-Arabiya, (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm al-Malayin, 1987) Vol.6, 2421

[14] There are variant explanations of Safar in this context. Whereas, some like Malik b. Anas thought it referred to changing the sequence of the month of Safar in view of the restrictions attached to it, (Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 3914) others held that Safar here referred to a serpent that pagans of Arabia used to believe caused hunger by biting in the belly. This latter interpretation of Safar has been reported from a companion Jabir b. Abdullah as well and since he has also related this hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ), his explanation has been adopted here. See, Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 2222 (109). Al-Bukhari too preferred this explanation.

[15] This paragraph is actually an only slightly emended reproduction from a post of Sh. Salman ibn Nasir, here.

[16] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5728

[17] Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 2231 (126)

Source: https://icraa.org/on-meaning-of-the-hadith-there-is-no-contagious-disease/

Beware of Rejecting Dha’eef Hadith

By Mujlisul Ulama

ISTIKHFAAF in the context of the Shariah means to consider any act of the Deen to be insignificant, ‘small’ or light. Istihza’ means to view with mirth or to make a joke of any Deeni issue, or to mock at it. Both these attitudes are kufr.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) warned a gainst cupping (hijaamat) on Saturdays and Thursdays. There is the danger of contracting the disease of leprosy if cupping is done on these days. A Muhaddith who had classified this Hadith as Dhaeef (Weak) had deliberately had himself cupped on a Saturday. In consequence he contracted leprosy.

After some time, he saw Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in a dream, and he (the Muhaddith) complained about his disease. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Why did you resort to cupping on a Saturday?” The Muhaddith said: “O Rasulullah! (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) The raawi (narrator) of this Hadith is Dhaeef.”

Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “But it was attributed to me.” The Muhaddith said: “O Rasulullah? (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) I have erred. I repent.” Then Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) made dua for his shifa’ (cure). In the morning when the Muhaddith opened his eyes, there was not a sign of the leprosy on him.

Beware of nafsaani dismissal of Ahaadith. Dhaeef Ahaadith are not fabrications. Your aversion for Hadith can be calamitous for you.

Hadith: “Islam erases what came before it.”

By a sister

Most likely, you’ve heard of the famous hadith: “Islam erases what came before it.”

” ﺍﻹﺳﻼﻡ ﻳﺠﺐُّ ﻣﺎ ﻛﺎﻥ ﻗﺒﻠﻪ ”

But do you know the context in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, said it in? To whom he said it, and why?
Here’s the story (one of my all-time favorite stories of the life of one of my all-time favorite Sahaba, may Allah be pleased with them all!):

The Prophet, peace be upon him, always liked the personality of Khalid ibn Al-Waleed (radhiyallahu anhu), even before Khalid became Muslim, due to what he possessed of generous and noble qualities from a young age. He also awaited his accepting of Islam and expected it, despite the delay of this step in Khalid(radhiyallahu anhu)’s life.

One day, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said about Khalid to his older brother, Waleed ibn Al-Waleed (radhiyallahu anhu) “Where’s Khalid?”

Waleed replied, “Allah will bring him, O Messenger of Allah.”

“A person like Khalid is not unaware of Islam, and if he were to utilize his intelligence and strategy against the enemy, it would be better for him, and we would advance him above others.”
Years pass.

On the day that Khalid (radhiyallahu anhu) eventually makes the journey from Makka to Madina to take his shahada, this is the scene of his meeting with the Prophet peace be upon him, described by Khalid  (radhiyallahu anhu) himself:

Khalid ibn Al-Waleed (radhiyallahu anhu) says: “I walked toward the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, and my brother intercepted me and said, “Hurry, because the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, is waiting for you!”

So I quickened my steps toward him, until I reached him.

He continued smiling at me, peace be upon him, until I stood in front of him and greeted him with Prophethood. He responded to my salam with a beaming face.

Then I said, “I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and I testify that you are the Messenger of Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “Praise be to Allah who has guided you. I had always known your intellect, and I’d always hoped that it wouldn’t deliver you except unto goodness.”

I said, “O Messenger of Allah, I had seen situations that would have been enough for me to testify about you, but I refrained out of stubbornness against the truth. So ask Allah to forgive me.”
So he said, peace be upon him: “Islam erases what came before it.”

I said, “O Messenger of Allah, despite that.”

So he said, “O Allah, forgive Khalid ibn Al-Waleed anything he has ever done to prevent from Your path.”

Save Five before Five

[By Maulana Mohammad Nadeemuddin Qasmi]

Allah has bestowed countless blessings upon us. He endowed us with the gifts of sight and hearing, the intellect, health, wealth and family. He has even subjected everything in the universe for us as Allah says:

وسخر لكم مافي السموات والارض

Beside these, There are many blessings which we can’t count, Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

“If you tried to count Allah’s blessings, you could never count them.” [Surah Al Ma’idah 16 :18]

But five blessings before five are important for us, we must take advantage of them as prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) reiterated this for us. The time will not slow down and we can’t go back to fix the mistakes we make, Therefore he advised us to take advantage of Five. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

“Take advantage of five matters before five matters, your youth before you become old, your health before you fall sick, your wealth before become poor, your free time before you become busy, your life before your death.” [Al-Hakim]

In this Hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) advised and thought to take advantage of five:

YOUTH

Youth is the golden period of life and it is stage of “make it”or “break it” and Young man’s deeds are beloved to Allah, the prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “The acts of youth is very dearer to Allah than the acts of old aged.”

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has listed seven kinds of people who will be sheltered under the shade of God on the day of judgement;

• A just ruler.

• A young man who passed his youth in the worship and service of God

• One whose heart is attached to mosque.

• Two people who love each other for the sake of God.

• A man who is invited to sin but he declines, saying ”I fear Allah.”

• One who spends his charity in secret without making show.

• One who remembers God in solitude, so that this eyes overflow with tears.[Riyadh-us-Saliheen]

Therefore, we should take advantage of it before we become a old aged, and grey hairs appears, and boundless energy should be used to help others and to collect as many rewards as possible.

HEALTH

It is one of five important blessings, Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) emphasized strongly on a healthly life, A believer should not be a weak person but must be strong physically and spiritually. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

“A strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer.”

Emphasizing on it, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said our bodies have rights upon us, our eyes have rights upon us, so give everyone its due rights.

We think and imagine, when we are ill, we can’t do nothing properly, we can’t fullfill our obligated activities. Therefore, we must take care of health and use it for the sake of Allah.

WEALTH

It is big blessing on us that we have, without this, we can’t do nothing.

We are ordered by Allah to earn money from Halaal ways and avoid Haraam.

Allah says: Allah will deprive usury of all blessing but will increase for deeds of charity [Qur’an 2: 276]

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

“On the day of Meraj, I came upon a group of people whose bellies were like houses, they were full of snakes which be seen from outside, I asked Jibrail who they are? He told me that they were people who had practiced Riba (sood, interest).” [Ibn Majah]

Therefore, we must take advantage of it and spend money for charity and to help poor and needy persons and pay Zakat every year.

FREE TIME

Time has great importance in life, Time is one of mankind’s most precious resources since it can never be replaced or renewed once it has passed, The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:

“There are two blessings which many people do not know and thus lose out: good deeds and free time.” [Bukhari]

Allah swears the time:

“By the time, verily, man is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds and recommended one another to the Truth and recommended one another to patience.” [Surah al-‘Asr]

But most people are unaware of the importance of this blessing and are neglectful of their duties towards it, namely to fulfil it with acts of gratitude and obedience towards Allah.

Therefore, we should not waste precious time on things that will not bring you closer to his creator, and actions that do not contain a benefit for us and we should treat every Muslim as our brothers and sisters, so everyone is responsible for one another, helping the neighbours and being kind to each other.

LIFE

Life is very shorter than hereafter. A man will say in the Day of Judgement:

“We stayed a day or part of a day ask of those who keep account.” [Qur’an 23:113]

Our lives are judged according to what we did, not according to how many years we lived. Life is very short, death awaits us, we do not know when we are going to die, so we have to make sure that we do as many good deeds as possible before we pass into the next life, once we have died we are unable to return to repent from our bad deeds, as we know, time passes very quickly and swiftly.

But our Muslim community are still neglectful, they waste their golden life and always busy in actions that they have no profit like spending time in Haraam Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp etc, and not offer Salah and serve parents, and they have ignored sacrifices of Prophet (alayhimussalaam) and the Sahaabah (alayhimur-Ridhwan) and have forgotten teachings of beloved prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

May Allah give us taufiq to take advantage of these blessings. Aameen!

 

Hamza Yusuf & The Sultan: A Case Study in the Misuse of Prophetic Traditions

[By Abdullah Feras]

In the past few days, footage from Hamza Yusuf in a Sufi retreat in 2016 was widely circulated on social media, resulting in significant backlash and outrage from the Muslim community. In the clip, Hamza could be seen criticizing the Syrian revolution, claiming that the “humiliation” the Syrian people were experiencing was directly consequential to their humiliation of the ruler, Bashar Al-Assad. To justify such a deplorably preposterous political outlook, Hamza cites an alleged Prophetic tradition where he quotes the Prophet saying: “If you humiliate a ruler, God will humiliate you.” He goes on to say: “That’s a hadith! In Tirmiḏī.”

Though Hamza has recently issued an apology regarding his tone and the pain he has caused others over his comments, he has not addressed his actual position expressed in the video, which is arguably much more problematic than his mere tone or attitude. Similarly, Hamza’s appeal to the aforementioned hadith is left unchallenged as many prepare to forgive him after his latest apology, which was nothing short of a mere emotional appeal. A careful analysis of the said Prophetic tradition, however, is sufficient to demonstrate Hamza’s problematic framework when dealing with Prophetic traditions in several regards. It is a classical example of the abuse and misuse of Prophetic authority amidst various discussions pertaining to Islam and the Muslim community. The defectiveness of Hamza’s appeal to the hadith revolves around two main points:

  1. The authenticity of the said hadith.
  2. The misquotation of the said hadith.

The Tradition’s Authenticity

Before discussing the ḥadīth’s wording and implications, it is important that we first discern it’s authenticity. The tradition in question today is a ḥadīth ascribed to the companion of the Prophet, Abū Bakrah al-Thaqafī. I have outlined the ḥadīth’s chains of transmission in figure 1 below:

Figure 1. A schematic outlining the transmission of this ḥadīth from Abū Bakrah

As seen in figure 1, the ḥadīth’s chains of transmission ultimately converge to a single strand of transmitters: Ḥumayd b. Mihrān → Sa’d b. Aws → Ziyād b. Kusayb → Abū Bakrah → The Prophet. Prior to the evaluation of each individual transmitter in the isnād, several preliminary observations regarding the trasnmission of this report must be made:

1. The ḥadīth’s transmission remained exclusively singular (gharīb) up till the late second century, where it eventually became more widely circulated by the students of Ḥumayd b. Mihrān.

Though this point is not necessarily direct evidence for the ḥadīth’s weakness, it is indeed a very peculiar phenomenon, considering that the isnāds of authentic traditions tended to branch out much earlier than that (usually between the late first century and early second century.) The relatively late exclusive transmission (gharābah) in this isnad is indeed the first indicator of a potential problem in the transmission of this ḥadīth. Thus, al-Bazzār (d. 292), after transmitting the report, commented saying: “Wording similar to that of this ḥadīth has been transmitted from the Prophet ~ through several chains, and we do not know of anyone who transmitted this ḥadīth with this wording from the Prophet except Abū Bakrah, Ḥumayd b. Mihrān, Sa’d b. Aws, and Ziyād b. Kusayb; and they are all Baṣrans.” (al-Bazzār 9:121)

Al-Tirmiḏī (d. 279) similarly made note of the gharābah in the ḥadīth, where he described it in his Jāmi’ saying: “This ḥadīth is ḥasan gharīb.” (al-Tirmiḏī 4:72)

2.The ḥadīth was excluded from all early ḥadīth collections that aimed to compile authentic reports, such as the Ṣaḥīḥs of al-Bukhārī and Muslim and later more lenient collections such as the Ṣaḥīḥs of Ibn Khuzaymah and Ibn Hibbān, and the Muntaqā of Ibn al-Jārūd etc.

Again, this point alone is not necessarily sufficient to dismiss the authenticity of this ḥadīth. However, it, along with the previous point, is a noteworthy phenomenon that may be cumulatively indicative of the defectiveness in the transmission of this report. We know that al-Bukhārī, for example, was well aware of this ḥadīth, since he referenced it in his seminal biographical work, al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr (Al-Bukhārī 3:366).

After these preliminary observations, we can proceed to evaluate the transmitters of this ḥadīth. As seen in figure 1, there is a bottleneck at several points in the isnād: (1) Ḥumayd b. Mihrān, (2) Sa’d b. Aws, and Ziyād b. Kusayb. These multiple pivots in the isnād contextualize the aforementioned peculiarities in the transmission of this ḥadith: Sa’d b. Aws was a criticized transmitter and Ziyād b. Kusayb was an obscure unknown transmitter.

Sa’d b. Aws al-Baṣrī’s reliability (not to be confused with the Kūfan Sa’d b. Aws):

  • Yaḥya b. Ma’īn said: “Sa’d b. Aws is a weak Basran.”
  • Al-Sājī said: “He is truthful.”
  • Ibn Ḥibbān mentioned him in his work, al-Thiqāt. However, this is not necessarily tantamount to an endorsement on his part as well-known. What further attests to this is that Ibn Ḥibbān had fully excluded Sa’d b. Aws from his Ṣaḥīḥ.

Source: Tahḏīb al-Tahḏīb 3/467

There is no conflict between Ibn Ma’īn and al-Sājī’s statement, for a truthful transmitter may simply be of bad retention, hence his description as a weak transmitter by Ibn Ma’īn.

Ziyād b. Kusayb’s reliability:

Ziyād was an obscure transmitter who’s reliability was not endorsed by a single early ḥadīth critic. Ibn Ḥibbān mentioned him in Kitāb al-Thiqāt, and that, for reasons similar to the aforementioned ones, is not tantamount to an endorsement.

Thus, we have a report exclusively transmitted by a criticized transmitter, from an unknown transmitter, from Abū Bakrah, and it is clearly inauthentic. What is further indicative of the weakness of this report is another redaction of this ḥadīth found in Al-Sunnah by Ibn Abī ‘Aṣim with the following isnād:

Muḥammad b. ‘Alī b. Maymūn informed us:  Mūsā b. Dāwūd informed us: Ibn Lahī’ah informed us, from Abū Marḥūm, from a man from Banī ‘Adiyy, from ‘Abdurraḥmān b. Abī Bakrah, from Abū Bakrah: “Whoever honors the Sulṭān of Allah in the Dunyā, then Allah shall honor him in the ‘Akhirah.” (Ibn Abī ‘Aṣim 2:492)

This other redaction of the ḥadīth presents the report as a statement of Abū Bakrah himself, not the Prophet. This redaction, however, is severely weak, as its isnād contains Ibn Lahī’ah, a disparaged transmitter, and two anonymous men. There is no way to ascertain the independence of the two redactions of this ḥadīth. Similarly, there is no way to dismiss the possibility that Sa’d b. Aws or Ziyād b. Kusayb may have actually acquired the ḥadīth from one of these anonymous transmitters and then erroneously (or intentionally) redacted it with a different chain of transmission. Either way, the ḥadīth is evidently inauthentic: the initial redaction of this report is transmitted with a weak isnad, and the second redaction does not even present it as a Prophetic tradition.

Al-Bazzār, as quoted earlier, noted that there are other isnāds to this tradition with different wordings. A question one may ask is: can these other reports strengthen the aforementioned ḥadīth of Abū Bakrah? The answer to that question lies in the analysis of those reports. There are two other companions from the Prophet from whom similar traditions are transmitted: (1) Ibn ‘Abbās and (2) Ḥuḏayfah.

Let us evaluate the transmission of Ibn ‘Abbās’ report, which is outlined in figure 2 below:

Figure 2. A schematic outlining the transmission of this ḥadīth from Ibn ‘Abbās

Before evaluating the the individual transmitters in this chain of transmission, it is important to note that this report, like the report of Abū Bakrah, was excluded from every single ḥadīth collection that sought to compile authentic traditions. Moreover, all chains of transmission converge to two main transmitters whom were both abandoned in ḥadīth and even accused of forgery, (1) Ḥusain b. Qays and (2) Ḥamzah al-Naṣībī.

Ḥusain b. Qays’ Reliability:

  • Aḥmed b. Ḥanbal said: “His transmission is worthless, and I transmit nothing from him.” He also said: “He is abandoned and weak in ḥadīth.”
  • Yaḥya b. Ma’īn weakened him.
  • Al-Bukhārī said: “He is severely disapproved in ḥadith, and his transmission should not be transcribed.” Al-Jawzajānī made a similar statement.
  • Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī said: “He is weak and abandoned in ḥadith.” He was then asked: “Did he used to lie?” Abū Ḥātim replied saying: “I ask Allah for safety.”
  • Al-Nasā’ī said: “He is abandoned in ḥadīth.” He also said: “He is not reliable.”
  • Ibn Ḥibbān said: “He used to distort reports and ascribe the transmission of weak transmitters to reliable transmitters.”

Many others criticized him as well.

Source: Tahḏīb al-Tahḏīb 2:365

Ḥamzah al-Naṣībī’s Reliability:

  • Ibn Ma’īn said: “He is not worth a cent.” He also said: “His transmission is worthless.”
  • Al-Bukhārī and Abū Ḥātim said: “He is disapproved in ḥadīth.”
  • Abū Dāwūd said: “He is worthless.”
  • Al-Nasā’ī and al-Dāraquṭnī said: “He is abandoned in ḥadīth.”
  • Ibn ‘Adiyy said: “He fabricates ḥadīth.” He also said: “Most of what he transmits are disapproved fabrications, and he is implicated in their transmission.”
  • Al-Ḥākim said: “He transmits fabricated reports.”

Many others criticized him as well.

Source: Tahḏīb al-Tahḏīb 3:29

Thus, it is is evident that this report simply has no basis from Ibn ‘Abbās and that it was most likely acquired from other sources and then falsely ascribed to him by the disparaged transmitters.

Ḥuḏayfah’s report, on the other hand, is perhaps the most insightful of them all, as it may possibly lead us to the actual origin of this entire sentiment. I have outlined the transmission from Ḥuḏayfah in figure 3 below:

Figure 3. A schematic outlining the transmission of this report from Ḥuḏayfah as a Prophetic Tradition

Before evaluating the authenticity of this report, one must ask: can it even strengthen Abū Bakrah’s earlier report cited by Hamza Yusuf? It simply cannot. The ḥadith’s wording is fundamentally different to that of Abū Bakrah. In this report, Ḥuḏayfah is quoted by Ibn Shabbah and al-Maḥāmilī saying, in response to a group of individuals from the tribe of Banī ‘Abs who aspired to revolt against  ‘Uthmān b. ‘Affān, “The Messenger of Allah said: The first band to march towards the Sultan [of Allah] to humiliate him shall be humiliated by Allah on the Day of Judgement.”

It is clear that this report is specifically referring to the murderers of ‘Uthmān, and it specifically refers to the first band to humiliate the Sultan of Allah. Moreover, there are various reasons to doubt the authenticity of this report as a Prophetic tradition, which I see no need to delve into. There is conflicting transmission from Ḥafṣ b. Ghiyāth that has implications on the connectivity of the isnād (shown in red and blue in figure 3). Similarly, al-Bazzār’s redaction converges to Kathīr b. Abī Kathīr, a contested transmitter. Another major piece of evidence that hints to the inauthenticity of this report as a Prophetic tradition is that it is authentically redacted in several sources as a statement of Ḥuḏayfah himself, not the Prophet. The chains of transmission for these other reports can be seen outlined in Figure 4 below:

Figure 4. A schematic outlining the transmission of this report as a statement of Ḥuḏayfah himself

The transmission of this redaction of the report is much more refined than the aforementioned redactions: Ibn Abī Shaybah’s isnād is authentic, and the other redaction from Abū Isḥāq is decent and is further corroborated by Ibn Abī Shaybah’s report. Thus, what most likely happened is that this tradition, as authentically reported in multiple sources, originally was a statement of Ḥuḏayfah himself regarding the first rebels against ‘Uthmān. Eventually, that statement of his was mistaken for a Prophetic tradition by some later transmitters. This phenomenon was a very common error that used to occur during the transmission of ḥadīth, and past ḥadīth critics often weakened reports for this reason.

Thus, it can be seen that the report cited by Hamza Yusuf in the video is evidently weak. To formulate political positions on the basis of such inauthentic Prophetic traditions is definitely problematic, let alone to implicate millions of Muslims in a crime they never committed. It is not acceptable for such reports to be ascribed to the Prophet. Similarly, it is not acceptable for them to be disseminated to the Muslim public without any clarification on their authenticity.

The Misquotation of the Hadith

Asides from the fact that Hamza’s appeal primarily stems from an unreliable Prophetic tradition, what is further concerning is that Hamza seems to have drastically misquoted that report and misrepresented its contents. He translates the tradition, which he alleges is in Jāmi’ al-Tirmiḏī, saying:

“If you humiliate a ruler, God will humiliate you.”

“That’s a hadith! In Tirmiḏī.”

If we were to refer to al-Tirmiḏī’s Jāmi’, we would find that Hamza’s wording is slightly off and out of context. Al-Tirmiḏī redacted the report in the following manner:

“عن زِيَادِ بْنِ كُسَيْبٍ الْعَدَوِيِّ، قَالَ: كُنْتُ مَعَ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ تَحْتَ مِنْبَرِ ابْنِ عَامِرٍ، وَهُوَ يَخْطُبُ وَعَلَيْهِ ثِيَابٌ رِقَاقٌ، فَقَالَ أَبُو بِلَالٍ: انْظُرُوا إِلَى أَمِيرِنَا يَلْبَسُ ثِيَابَ الْفُسَّاقِ، فَقَالَ أَبُو بَكْرَةَ: اسْكُتْ، سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ  يَقُولُ: ” مَنْ أَهَانَ سُلْطَانَ اللَّهِ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَهَانَهُ اللَّهُ

Ziyād b. Kusayb said: I was with Abū Bakrah beneath the pulpit of Ibn ‘Amir as he was giving a sermon wearing thin clothes. Abū Bilāl (A Kharijite) thus interjected: “Look at our ruler wearing the clothes of the fussāq!” Abū Bakrah thus replied: “Be silent, for I have heard the Messenger of Allah say: Whoever humiliates the Sultan of Allah in the land, then Allah shall humiliate him.” (Al-Tirmiḏī 4:72)

The word used by Abū Bakrah in this hadith is: “Sultan of Allah”, which evidently is of slightly different implications than “ruler.” The context of this report similarly alludes to this reality: a just Muslim governor appointed by ‘Uthmān was interrupted by a Kharijite amidst a sermon for no valid reason. Can the report be cited to undermine the Syrian people’s demand for their God-given rights as the reason why they are being “humiliated” today?

A careful assessment of this report in other sources demonstrates that it was never intended to mean what Hamza Yusuf derived from it. Al-Tirmiḏī’s redaction of this ḥadīth is abridged and concise. The complete redaction of this report, however, can be found in several sources, such as the Musnad of Aḥmed. In his Musnad, Aḥmed b. Ḥanbal redacts the report as follows:

 

” مَنْ أَكْرَمَ سُلْطَانَ اللَّهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا، أَكْرَمَهُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وَمَنْ أَهَانَ سُلْطَانَ اللَّهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا، أَهَانَهُ اللَّهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ “

“Whoever honors the Sultan of Allah in the Dunyā, then Allah shall honor him on the Day of Judgement; and whoever humiliates the Sultan of Allah in the Dunyā, then Allah shall humiliate him on the Day of Judgement.” (Ibn Hanbal 34:79)

As evident, this redaction is of drastically different implications:

  1. It asserts that Allah’s consequent humiliation of the individual who humiliates His Sultan will take place on the Day of Judgement. Thus, the ḥadīth simply cannot be cited to explain the tribulations faced by the Syrian people today for merely demanding their rights.
  2. The report mentions the honoring of the Sultan, and it entices Muslims to do so. It is clear that the Prophet was not enticing Muslims to honor and revere oppressive criminal tyrants who openly defied Allah, such as Bashar Al-Assad etc. The context of the ḥadīth simply is fundamentally different than the one promoted by Hamza Yusuf when appealing to this tradition.

In fact, several early authorities presented a drastically different interpretation of the ḥadīth than the one promoted by Hamza. Several scholars have held that it was referring to just and righteous rulers who enforced Allah’s commands and prohibitions.

Al-Suyūṭī, in his commentary on the Jāmi’ al-Tirmiḏī, said:

In his book, نزهة الأخيار في شرح محاسن الأخبار, Ibn al-Khāzin said: “What is meant in the hadith is that Allah appointed the Sultan to fulfill his commandments. Thus, if a person honors him, then he has honored the One who has appointed him, and Allah shall honor him; and vice-versa. Humiliating him (the Sultan) is in disobeying his commands to do acts of righteousness.” (al-Suyūṭī 2:535)

ِAl-San’ānī explains the hadith saying:

What is meant by the Sultan is the evidence and proof, and the Sultan of Allah in the land is the Quran. Thus, whoever humiliates it and refrains from acting upon it and fulfilling its obligations, then Allah shall humiliate him with all types of humiliation.

It is also possible that it was referring to the Caliph, since the muḥaddithīn referenced the report in this context. Thus, it would mean that the Sultan here is the Sultan of Truth whose obedience is obligatory.  Humiliating him is to refrain from carrying out was is necessary, such as abiding by his commands and avoiding his defiance; and to avoid revolting against him and break the unity of the Muslims; that is what the story behind the ḥadīth hints to… (ِAl-San’ānī 3:736)

There are various other interpretations of the ḥadīth, but these examples shall suffice to demonstrate that Hamza Yusuf’s understanding of the ḥadīth simply is not a universal understanding among Muslim scholarship. Not only is his quotation of the ḥadīth inaccurate, but his interpretation of it is, at best, contestable.

Conclusion

Though there is a lot to be said about Hamza’s problematic political views and affiliations, this scenario provides us with a live example of how Prophetic authority may be abused and misused to justify various ideas and ideological predispositions. This abuse of Prophetic authority by Hamza manifests in several main issues:

  1. His appeal to an inauthentic Prophetic tradition to justify his political outlook.
  2. His decontextualization of that inauthentic Prophetic tradition.
  3. His provision of contestable commentary on that inauthentic and decontextualized ḥadīth which, contrary to what is implied, is not universally accepted among Muslim scholarship.

It is unfortunate that a man who is seen as a scholar of the Islamic faith by many would fall prey to such problematic behaviors and practices. Nevertheless, so as long as Hamza opts to remain silent about the actual content of his talk, it is incumbent upon us to respond to his claims, clarify the Truth, and advise him and the rest of the Muslim community. It is about time that we, as a community, stand up against the misuse of Prophetic authority to justify defective ideologies and practices that have plagued the Ummah for many years, and it is about time that Hamza is held accountable for his morally defunct views and positions and for his meddling with the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ.

Works Cited

Al-Bazzār, Aḥmed b. ‘Amr. Musnad al-Bazzār. 1st ed., Maktabat Al-Ulum Wal-Hikam, 2009.

Al-Bukhārī, Muḥammad b. Ismā’īl. Al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr, Da’irat Al-Ma’arif Al-‘Uthmaniyyah.

Al-Tirmiḏī, Muḥammad b. ‘Isā. Al-Jāmi’ Al-Kabīr. Dar Al-Gharb Al-Islami, 1998.

Al-San’ānī, Muḥammad b. Ismā’īl. Al-Taḥbīr li-Iḍāḥ Ma’ānī al-Tafsīr, 1st ed., Maktabat Al-Rushd, 2012.

Al-Suyūṭī, ‘Abdurraḥmān. Qūt al-Mughtaḏī ‘alā Jāmi’ al-Tirmiḏī, Umm Al-Qura University, 1424.

Ibn Abī ‘Aṣim, Abū Bakr. Al-Sunnah. 1st ed., Al-Maktab Al-Islami, 1400.

Ibn Ḥajar, Aḥmed. Tahḏīb al-Tahḏīb, 1st ed., Matba’at Da’irat Al-Ma’arif Al-Nizamiyyah, 1326.

Ibn Ḥanbal, Ahmed. Musnad al-Imām Aḥmed. 1st ed., Mu’assasat Al-Risalah, 2001.

Response to the Hadith Rejectors’ Contention: “Is Saheeh Bukhaari a Revelation from Allaah that it cannot contain a Mistake!!?”

By Haafidh Muhammad Zubayr

Whenever the topic of defending the Hadeeth comes, this is the question that often gets asked by the Rejectors of Hadeeth.

So the very first thing to note here is that, whatever is between the two covers of Saheeh Bukhaari is not a revelation from Allaah, and no one has claimed it so! Rather the right phrase is to say, “the revelation of Allaah is found in Saheeh Bukhaari, but Saheeh Bukhaari itself is not the revelation of Allaah”.

Second and a more important thing to note is that, “Hadeeth” is what we call revelation, not Saheeh Bukhaari. Saheeh Bukhaari CONTAINS that hadeeth, but not every single thing Saheeh Bukhaari contains is a Hadeeth! Hadeeth refers to that narration which contains the sayings, actions, or approvals of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), while Saheeh Bukhaari also contains the sayings of the Sahaabah, the Taabi’een as well as the A’immah.

Third and even more important thing is that, no one ever refers to the Hadeeth as a “literal revelation”, on the contrary, Hadeeth is an “interpreted revelation”. Hence, the “meaning” of the hadeeth is a revelation from Allaah, but its “wording” is that of Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), if it is a Qawli Hadeeth. Similarly if it is a Fi’li Hadeeth (action of the Prophet) or a Taqreeri Hadeeth (Approval of the Prophet), then in that case the wording is that of a Sahaabi (Companion of Allaah’s Messenger). Now even though a lot of effort has been put in preserving the exact wording of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), the reality is that it is only his “meaning” that is preserved.

The rejectors of hadeeth do not usually take these key things under consideration when casting doubts on Ahaadeeth. Like, for example, they object on Saheeh Bukhaari by saying that it contains a story which says a monkey committed fornication and his fellow monkeys did rajam on him. Now Imaam Bukhaari has narrated this incident from Amr bin Maymoon, a taabi’ee, and it is him who says that I once saw such and such thing happening in Yemen. Now this is not even a Hadeeth, even though it is narrated in Saheeh Bukhaari.

Now as far as critiquing Saheeh Bukhaari is concerned, then the Imaams and experts of this field have already critiqued it and the Imaam and experts have also replied to those critiques. And now after all the criticisms and their answers, it has been clarified and made clear as to what those places are where criticism can possibly be done and what their answers are. And this conclusion has been reached after over a thousand years of practice. Now you cannot create a new objection on Saheeh Bukhaari, while those that were made in the past have already been answered.

That is why after all the extensive criticisms and their answers on Saheeh Bukhaari and Muslim, all those places in these books have been pointed out where any Ilal (Defect) are found, and the status of those Ilal has also been clarified as to whether those Ilal are Qaadiha (harmful) or not?

Now if someone tries to criticize a hadeeth of Saheeh Bukhaari or Saheeh Muslim basing it on the research of Imaam ad-Daaraqutni or any other Muhaddith from the A’immah of Salaf, then this criticism of his on Saheehayn will not be considered an independent criticism, and such a criticism has already been answered with a sufficient and convincing reply from Muhadditheen of the A’immah of Salaf themselves.

And if someone criticizes such a narration of Saheehayn which was not even criticized by anyone among the A’immah Salaf, then such a person is opposing the Ijmaa of Muhadditheen, because the narrations which the Muhadditheen did not lay a criticism on, proves that those were agreed upon to be Saheeh near all the Muhadditheen. Hence criticizing on those narrations simply means challenging the claim and Ijmaa of all the Muhadditheen. Such a criticism itself is not worth paying attention to, let alone doing its Tahqeeq.

An Introduction to Fayd aI-Bari ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari

By Mawlana Dr. Yunus Usman

Fayd aI-Bari ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari is a commentary on al-Jami’ al-Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari in the Arabic language and was compiled from the dictations and lecture notes of ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (hereinafter referred to as Shah Sahib) by one of his students, namely, Mawlana Badr ‘Alam Mirathi.
Mawlana Badr ‘Alam Mirathi was born in Bidayu in 1898 in South India. In 1947 he migrated to Pakistan and a few years later he migrated to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, where he passed away in 1965.

At the age of 14, Mawlana Badr ‘Alam Mirathi was admitted as a student at Mazahir al-‘Ulum in Saharanpur, U.P., India. He qualified as an ‘alim in 1918 and taught in Saharanpur for two years. In 1920, he enrolled at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband in order to specialize in hadith. He spent four years at that institution as a student of Shah Sahib. In 1927 when Shah Sahib moved from Deoband to Dhabel, Mawlana Badr ‘Alam Mirathi also moved to Dhabel where he spent five years teaching. While he was engaged in teaching, he enrolled as a student of Shah Sahib. It was during that period that he undertook to write down the dictations of Shah Sahib’s commentary on al-Jami’ al-Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari. Mawlana Badr ‘Alam Mirathi requested Shah Sahib to revise the dictations which were in manuscript form. The manuscript was titled Fayd aI-Bari ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari and was later published by Matba’ah al-Hijazi in Cairo under the auspices of Majlis ‘Ilmi in Arabic.

Special Features of Fayd aI-Bari ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari

Fayd aI-Bari consists of four lengthy volume. Its special features are discussed hereunder:

Its first volume consists of a lengthy introduction, which deals with the biography of Shah Sahib and notes on al-isnad (chain of narrators) by Mawlana Muhammad Yusuf Binnuri. It also includes a biography of Imam al-Bukhari and the special characteristics of Imam al-Bukhari’s hadith compilation and other related issues. For example, the total number of hadith recorded in it, and under what conditions it was compiled, etc are discussed.

This work gives extensive coverage to Tarjumat al-Abwab (explanation of the chapter headings) in order to acquaint the reader with the relationship that exists between the headings of the chapters and the hadith contained in them.

The subject of ‘aqa’id (beliefs) is also discussed in great detail so as to impress upon the reader the need for one to have the correct belief as a Muslim.

The ruwat (narrators) are identified so that the reader may have an idea as to who they actually were. For example, the chain of narrators that appear in the very beginning of al-Jami’ al-Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari are recorded thus:
“AI-Humaydi ‘Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr reported on the authority of Sufyan who reported on the authority of Yahya Ibn Sa’id al-Ansari who reported on the authority of Muhammad ibn Ihrahim al-Taymi who said that he heard ‘Alqamah bin Waqqas al-Laythi say that he heard ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) say from the pulpit…” In Fayd aI-Bari, al-Humaydi is identified as the teacher of Imam al-Bukhari whose name was in fact ‘Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr who died in 219 Hijri. Sufyan is said to be the famous muhaddith (hadith scholar) Sufyan Ibn Uyaynah who was the student of Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal. Yahya Ibn Sa’id al-Ansari is identified as the son al-Qays who died in 198 Hijri and was the teacher of both Imams Abu Hanifah and Awza’i.

Certain omissions of Imam al-Bukhari are also highlighted. For example, it is pointed out that Imam al-Bukhari should have included under the chapter titled as ﺑﺎﺏ ﺍﻟﺴِّﻮَﺍﻙِ all the ahadith that pertain to siwak (brushing of the teeth with a tooth-brush in the form of a pencil from the root of a special type of tree known as the Arak tree). Imam al-Bukhari, on the other hand, chose to include the ahadith on siwak at two different places, namely in ﻛﺘﺎﺏ ﺍﻟﻮﺿﻮﺀ (The Book of Ablution) and ﻛﺘﺎﺏ ﺍﻟﺠﻤﻌﺔ (The Book of Friday).

An effort has also been made to extrapolate a fiqhi (legal) ruling, wherever possible, from some of the subjects that have been tackled in al-Jami’ al-Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari. For example, under ﻛﺘﺎﺏ ﺍﻟﻮﺿﻮﺀ (The Book on Ablution), there is a chapter which is entitled: ﺑﺎﺏ ﺍﻟﺘَّﺴْﻤِﻴَﺔِ ﻋَﻠَﻰ ﻛُﻞِّ ﺣَﺎﻝٍ (Chapter: To Recite “In the Name of Allah” During Every Action…) Commenting on whether it is compulsory to mention the tasmiyyah (the Name of Allah) at the time of performing the ablution, it is mentioned that Shah Sahib was of the view that it is not wajib (compulsory) to do so and that his view was in conformity with all the Imams of the Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence except Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Likewise, Shah Sahib went further to explain that amongst the Hanafi scholars, only Ibn Humman, the author of Fath al-Qadir, was of the view that the tasmiyyah is a compulsory component for the ablution to become valid. Shah Sahib was inclined to believe that Imam al-Bukhari also held that view.

Shortcomings in Fayd aI-Bari ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari

The writer of this dissertation [Mawlana Dr. Yunus Usman] is of the view that while Fayd aI-Bari is an excellent commentary on the hadith compilation of Imam al-Bukhari, some of its shortcomings may be enumerated as follows:

It is in the Arabic language and this makes it inaccessible to the vast majority of lay Muslims. In other words, only Muslim scholars and others who have mastered the Arabic language may derive any benefit from it.

The original text of al-Jami’ al-Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari has not been included in Fayd aI-Bari and hence for the reader to be in a position to make sense of the commentary, he/she would have to have a copy of the hadith compilation of Imam al-Bukhari at hand. This makes it cumbersome for the reader to refer to both works simultaneously.

The author of Fayd aI-Bari has not included, in some instances, the full title of the chapters and this may result in the reader not being able to grasp the full import of the commentary. For example, on page 79 the title of the chapter is mentioned as: ﺑﺎﺏ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺴْﻠِﻢُ instead of: ﺑﺎﺏ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺴْﻠِﻢُ ﻣَﻦْ ﺳَﻠِﻢَ ﺍﻟْﻤُﺴْﻠِﻤُﻮﻥَ ﻣِﻦْ ﻟِﺴَﺎﻧِﻪِ ﻭَﻳَﺪِﻩِ.