asked Amir al-mu'minin about concocted traditions and contradictory
sayings of the Prophet current among the people, whereupon he said:
what is current among the people is both right and wrong, true and false,
repealing and repealed, general and particular, definite and indefinite,
exact and surmised.
Even during the Prophet's
days false sayings had been attributed to him, so much so that he had to
say during his sermon that, "Whoever attributes falsehoods to me makes his
abode in Hell." Those who relate traditions are of four categories,
First: The lying hypocrites
hypocrite is a person who makes a show of faith and adopts the appearance
of a Muslim; he does not hesitate in sinning nor does he keep aloof from
vice; he wilfully attributes false things against the Messenger of Allah -
may Allah bless him and his descendants. If people knew that he was a
hypocrite and a liar, they would not accept anything from him and would
not confirm what he says.
they say that he is the companion of the Prophet, has met him, heard (his
sayings) from him and acquired (knowledge) from him. They therefore accept
what he says. Allah too had warned you well about the hypocrites and
described them fully to you. They have continued after the Holy Prophet.
They gained positions with the leaders of misguidance and callers towards
Hell through falsehoods and slanderings. So, they put them in high posts
and made them officers over the heads of the people, and amassed wealth
People are always with the
rulers and after this world, except those to whom Allah affords
protection. This is the first of the four categories.
Second: Those who are mistaken
is the individual who heard (a saying) from the Holy Prophet but did not
memorise it as it was, but surmised it. He does not lie wilfully. Now, he
carries the saying with him and relates it, acts upon it and claims that:
"I heard it from the Messenger of Allah.
" If the Muslims come to
know that he has committed a mistake in it, they will not accept it from
him, and if he himself knows that he is on the wrong he will give it up.
Third: Those who are ignorant
man is he who heard the Prophet ordering to do a thing and later the
Prophet refrained the people from doing it, but this man did not know it,
or he heard the Prophet refraining people from a thing and later he
allowed it, but this man did not know it.
In this way he retained in
his mind what had been repealed, and did not retain the repealing
tradition. If he knew that it had been repealed he would reject it, or if
the Muslims knew, when they heard it from him, that it had been repealed
they would reject it.
Fourth: Those who memorise truthfully
namely the fourth man, is he who does not speak a lie against Allah or
against His Prophet. He hates falsehood out of fear for Allah and respect
for the Messenger of Allah, and does not commit mistakes, but retains (in
his mind) exactly what he heard (from the Prophet), and he relates it as
he heard it without adding anything or omitting anything.
He heard the repealing
tradition, he retained it and acted upon it, and he heard the repealed
tradition and rejected it. He also understands the particular and the
general, and he knows the definite and indefinite, and gives everything
its due position.
sayings of the Prophet used to be of two types. One was particular and the
other common. Sometimes a man would hear him but he would not know what
Allah, the Glorified, meant by it or what the Messenger of Allah meant by
it. In this way the listener carries it and memorises it without knowing
its meaning and its real intention, or what was its reason.
Among the companions of the
Messenger of Allah all were not in the habit of putting him questions and
ask him the meanings, indeed they always wished that some Bedouin or
stranger might come and ask him (peace be upon him) so that they would
also listen. Whenever any such thing came before me, I asked him about its
meaning and preserved it. These are the reasons and grounds of differences
among the people in their traditions.
This was Sulaym ibn Qays al-Hilali who was one of the relaters of
traditions through Amir al-mu'minin.
(2). In this sermon
Amir al-mu'minin has divided the traditionists into four categories.
The first category is that
of a man concocts a tradition and attributes it to the Prophet. Traditions
were in fact falsified and attributed to him, and this process continued,
with the result that numerous novel traditions came into being.
This is a fact which cannot
be denied but if anyone does deny it his basis would be not knowledge or
sagacity by oratory or argumentative necessity. Thus, once, `Alamu'l-huda
(Ensign of Guidance) as-Sayyid al-Murtada had a chance of meeting the
Sunni `ulama' (scholars) in confrontation and on this occasion as-Sayyid
al-Murtada proved by historical facts that the traditions related about
the merits of the great companions are concocted and counterfeit.
On this, the (Sunni) `ulama'
argued that it was impossible that someone should dare speak a lie against
the Prophet and prepare a tradition himself and attribute it to him.
as-Sayyid al-Murtada said there is a tradition of the Prophet that:
A lot of false things will
be attributed to me after my death and whoever speaks a lie against me
would be preparing his abode in Hell. (al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.38; vol.2,
p.102; vol.4, p.207; vol.8, p.54; Muslim, vol.8, p.229; Abu Dawud,
vol.3, pp.319-320; at-Tirmidhi, vol.4, p.524; vol.5, pp.35-36, 40, 199,
634; Ibn Majah, vol.1, pp.13-15)
If you regard this tradition
as true then you should agree that false things have been attributed to
the Prophet, but if you regard it false, this would prove our point.
However, these were people whose hearts were full of hypocrisy and who
used to prepare traditions of their own accord in order to create mischief
and dispersion in religion and to misguide Muslims of weak convictions.
They remained mixed with them as they used to do during the lifetime of
the Prophet; and just as they remained busy in activities of mischief and
destruction in those days, in the same way, even after the Prophet, they
were not unmindful of deforming the teachings of Islam and metamorphosing
Rather, in the days of the
Prophet they were always afraid lest he unveiled them and put them to
shame, but after the Prophet their hypocritical activities increased and
they attributed false things to the Prophet without demur for their own
personal ends, and those who heard them believed in them because of their
status as companions of the Prophet, thinking that whatever they said was
correct and whatever they gave out was true.
Afterwards also, the belief
that all the companions are correct put a stopper on their tongues, as a
result of which they were taken to be above criticism, questioning,
discussion and censure. Besides, their conspicuous performance had made
them prominent in the eyes of the government, and also because of this it
needed courage and daring to speak against them. This is proved by Amir
These people gained
positions with the leaders of misguidance and callers towards Hell,
through falsehood and slanderings. So, they put them in high posts and
made them officers over the heads of the people.
Along with the destruction
of Islam, the hypocrites also aimed at amassing wealth, and they were
doing so freely by claiming to be Muslims, because of which they did not
want to remove the veil of Islam (from their faces) and to come out
openly, but they wanted to continue their Satanic activities under the
garb of Islam and engaged themselves in its basic destruction and
spreading of division and dispersal by concocting traditions. In this
connection, Ibn Abi'l-Hadid has written:
When they were left free
they too left many things. When people observed silence about them they
also observed silence about Islam, but they continued their underground
activities such as the fabrication of falsehoods to which Amir
al-mu'minin has alluded, because a lot of untrue matters had been mixed
with the traditions by the group of people of wrong beliefs, while some
of them also aimed at extolling some particular party with whom they had
other worldly aims as well.
On the expiry of this
period, when Mu`awiyah took over the leadership of religion and occupied
the throne of temporal authority, he opened an official department for the
fabrication of false traditions, and ordered his officers to fabricate and
popularise traditions in disparagement of the Ahlu'l-bayt (the Household
of the Holy Prophet) and in extolment of `Uthman and the Umayyads, and
announced rewards and grants of land for this work. Consequently, a lot of
traditions about self-made distinctions gained entry in the books of
traditions. Thus, Abu'l-Hasan al-Mada'ini has written in his book Kitab
al-ahdath and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid has quoted it, namely:
Mu`awiyah wrote to his
officers that they should take special care of those who were adherents
of `Uthman, his well-wishers and lovers and to award high positions,
precedence and honour to those who related traditions about his merits
and distinctions, and to convey to him whatever is so related by any
person, along with his name, the name of his father and the name of his
tribe. They did accordingly and heaped up traditions about the merits
and distinctions of `Uthman because Mu`awiyah used to award them
rewards, clothes, grants and lands.
When the fabricated
traditions about the merits of `Uthman had been spread throughout the
realm, with the idea that the position of the earlier Caliphs should not
remain low, Mu`awiyah wrote to his officers:
As soon as you receive
this order of mine you should call upon the people to prepare traditions
about the distinctions of the companions and other caliphs also, and
take care that if any Muslim relates any tradition about Abu Turab
(`Ali) you should prepare a similar tradition about the companions to
contradict it because this gives me great pleasure and cools my eyes,
and it weakens the position of Abu Turab and his partymen. and is more
severe to them than the merits and distinctions of `Uthman.
When his letters were read
to the people, a large number of such traditions were related extolling
the companions that are all fabricated with no truth at all. (Sharh Nahj
al-balaghah, vol. 11, pp. 43-47)
In this connection Abu
`Abdillah Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn `Arafah known as Niftawayh
(244/858-323/935) who was one of the prominent scholars and traditionists
has written, and Ibn Abi'l-Hadid has quoted him, that:
Most of the false
traditions about the merits of the companions were fabricated during the
days of Mu`awiyah in order to gain position in his audience because his
view was that in this way he could disgrace Banu Hashim and render them
After that, fabrication of
traditions became a habit, the world seekers made it a means of securing
position with kings and nobles and to amass wealth. For example, Ghiyath
ibn Ibrahim an-Nakha`i (2nd cent. A.H.) fabricated a tradition about the
flight of pigeons, in order to please al-Mahdi ibn al-Mansur (the `Abbasid
Caliph) and to secure position near him. (Tarikh Baghdad, vol.12,
pp.323-327; Mizan al-i`tidal, vol.3) pp.337-338; Lisan al-mizan, vol.4,
p.422). Abu Sa`id al-Mada'ini and others made it a means of livelihood.
The limit was reached when the al-Karramiyyah and some of the
al-Mutasawwifah gave the ruling that the fabrication of traditions for the
prevention of sin or for persuasion towards obedience was lawful.
Consequently, in connection
with persuading and dissuading, traditions were fabricated quite freely,
and this was not regarded against the religious law or morality. Rather,
this work was generally done by those who bore the appearance of
asceticism or fear of Allah and who passed their nights in praying and
days in filling their registers with false traditions. An idea about the
number of these fabricated traditions can be had from the fact that out of
six hundred thousand traditions al-Bukhari selected only two thousand
seven hundred and sixty-one traditions, (Tarikh Baghdad, vol.2, p.8;
al-Irshad as-sari, vol.1, p.28; Sifatu's-safwah, vol.4, p.143). Muslim
thought fit for selection only four thousand out of three hundred thousand
(Tarikh Baghdad, vol.13, p.101; al-Muntazam, vol.5, p.32; Tabaqat
al-huffaz, vol.2, pp.151,157; Wafayat al-a`yan, vol.5, p.194). Abu Dawud
took four thousand and eight hundred out of five hundred thousand (Tarikh
Baghdad, vol.9, p.57; Tabaqat al-huffaz, vol.2, p.154; al-Muntazam, vol.5,
p.97; Wafayat al-a`yan, vol.2, p.404), and Ahmad ibn Hanbal took thirty
thousand out of nearly on million traditions (Tarikh Baghdad, vol.4,
p.419-420; Tabaqat al-huffaz, vol.2, p.17; Wafayat al-a`yan, vol.1, p.64;
Tahdhib at-tahdhib, vol.1, p. 74). But when this selection is studied some
traditions which come across can, in no circumstances, be attributed to
the Prophet. The result is that a group of considerable number has cropped
up among Muslims who, in view of these (so-called) authoritative
collections and true traditions, completely reject the evidentiary value
of the traditions, (For further reference see al-Ghadir, vol.5, pp.
The second category of
relaters of traditions are those who, without appreciating the occasion or
context, related whatever they could recollect, right or wrong. Thus, in
al-Bukhari (vol.2, pp.100-102; vol.5, p.98); Muslim (vol.3, pp. 41-45);
at-Tirmidhi (vol.3, pp. 327-329); an-Nasa'i (vol.4, p.18); Ibn Majah
(vol.1, pp.508-509); Malik ibn Anas (al-Muwatta' vol.1, p.234);
ash-Shafi`i (Ikhtilaf'l-hadith, on the side lines of "al-Umm", vol.7,
p.266); Abu Dawud (vol.3, p.194); Ahmad ibn Hanbal (vol.1, pp.41,42) and
al-Bayhaqi (vol.4, pp.72-74) in the chapter entitled 'weeping over the
dead' it is stated that when Caliph `Umar was wounded Suhayb came weeping
to him, then `Umar said:
O' Suhayb, you weep over
me, while the Prophet had said that the dead person is punished if his
people weep over him.
When after the death of
Caliph `Umar this was mentioned to `A'ishah, she said: "May Allah have
mercy on `Umar. The Messenger of Allah did not say that weeping of
relations causes punishment on the dead. but he said that the punishment
of an unbeliever increases if his people weep over him." After this
`A'ishah said that according to the Holy Qur'an no person has to bear the
burden of another, so how could the burden of those who weep be put on the
dead. After this the following verse was quoted by `A'ishah:
. . . And no bearer of
burden shall bear the burden of another; (Qur'an, 6:164; 17:15; 35:18;
The wife of the Holy Prophet
`A'ishah relates that once the Prophet passed by a Jewish woman over whom
her people were weeping. The Prophet then remarked, "Her people are
weeping over her but she is undergoing punishment in the grave." The third
category of the relaters of traditions is of those who heard some repealed
traditions from the Prophet but could not get any chance to hear the
repealing traditions which he could relate to others.
An example of a repealing
tradition is the saying of the Prophet which also contains a reference to
the repealed tradition, namely: "I had disallowed you to visit graves, but
now you can visit them." (Muslim, vol.3, p.65; at-Tirmidhi, vol.3, p.370;
Abu Dawud, vol.3, pp. 218, 332; an-Nasa'i, vol.4, p. 89; Ibn Majah, vol.1,
pp. 500-501; Malik ibn Anas, vol.2, p. 485; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol.1,
pp.145, 452; vol.3, pp.38, 63, 66, 237, 350; vol.5, pp. 350, 355, 356,
357, 359, 361; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, vol.1, pp. 374-376; and al-Bayhaqi,
vol.4, pp. 76-77). Herein the permission to visit graves has repealed the
previous restriction on it. Now, those who heard only the repealed
tradition continued acting according to it.
The fourth category of
relaters of traditions is of those who were fully aware of the principles
of justice, possessed intelligence and sagacity, knew the occasion when a
tradition was first uttered (by the Prophet) and were also acquainted with
the repealing and the repealed traditions, the particular and the general,
and the timely and the absolute. They avoided falsehood and fabrication.
Whatever they heard remained preserved in their memory, and they conveyed
it with exactness to others.
It is they whose traditions
are the precious possession of Islam, free from fraud and counterfeit and
worthy of being trusted and acted upon. That collection of traditions
which has been conveyed through trustworthy bosoms like that of Amir
al-mu'minin and has remained free from cutting, curtailing, alteration or
change particularly present Islam in its true form. The position of Amir
al-mu'minin in Islamic knowledge has been most certainly proved through
the following traditions narrated from the Holy Prophet such as:
Amir al-mu'minin, Jabir ibn
`Abdullah, Ibn `Abbas and `Abdullah ibn `Umar have narrated from the Holy
Prophet that he said:
I am the city of knowledge
and `Ali is its door. He who wants to acquire (my) knowledge should come
through its door. (al-Mustadrak, vol.3, pp. 126-127; al-Isti`ab, vol.3,
p.1102; Usd al-ghabah, vol.4, p.22; Tarikh Baghdad, vol.2, p.377; vol.4,
p.348; vol.7, p.172; vol.11, pp. 48-50; Tadhkirah al-huffaz; vol.4,
p.28; Majma` az-zawa'id, vol.9, p.114; Tahdhib at-tahdhib, vol.6, p.320;
vol.7, p.337; Lisan al-mizan, vol.2, pp.122-123; Tarikh al-khulafa',
p.170; Kanz al-`ummal, vol.6, pp.152,156,401; `Umdah al-qari, vol.7,
p.631; Sharh al-mawahib al-ladunniyyah, vol.3, p.143).
Amir al-mu'minin and Ibn
`Abbas have also narrated from the Holy Prophet that:
I am the store-house of
wisdom and `Ali is its door. He who wants to acquire wisdom should come
through its door. (Hilyah al-awliya', vol.1, p.64; Masabih as-sunnah,
vol.2, p.275; Tarikh Baghdad, vol.11, p.204; Kanz al-`ummal, vol.6,
p.401; ar-Riyad an-nadirah, vol.2, p.193).
If only people could take
the Prophet's blessings through these sources of knowledge. But it is a
tragic chapter of history that although traditions are accepted through
the Kharijites and enemies of the Prophet's family, whenever the series of
relaters includes the name of any individual from among the Prophet's
family there is hesitation in accepting the tradition.