Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hadith 4: Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri's Reply

More on HADITH NUMBER 4 from Dr. Tahir ul-Qadri's book: Islamic Concept of Intermediation

Descension of rain through the Prophet’s means

Imam Dārimī relates from Abū al-Jawzā’ Aws bin ‘Abdullāh:

The people of Medina were in the grip of a severe famine. They complained to ‘Ā’ishah (about their terrible condition). She told them to go towards the Prophet’s grave and open a window in the direction of the sky so that there is no curtain between the sky and the grave. The narrator says they did so. Then it started raining heavily; even the lush green grass sprang up (everywhere) and the camels had grown so fat (it seemed) they would burst out due to the over piling of blubber. So the year was named as the year of greenery and plenty.[7]

The famine gripping the people of Medina ended through the mediation of the Prophet’s grave. Heavy rains created a spring scenario all around. Men found their food and the animals found their fodder. And the rain that came about as a result of the Prophet’s mediation made the lands of Medina greener and more fertile and on account of over-harvesting, they named the year as the year of greenery and plenty.

Those who deny the conceptual relevance of intermediation have raised some objections against this tradition. One of the objections is that its chain of transmission is weak and so it cannot be offered as an argument.

The chain of transmission of this tradition is as follows:

Abū an-Nu‘mān heard it from Sa‘īd bin Zayd, he from ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī and he from Abū al-Jawzā’ Aws bin ‘Abdullāh who has reported it.”

Below are given the allegations levelled against these narrators and a rebuttal of these baseless charges:

1. The name of Abū an-Nu‘mān ‘Ārim was Muhammad bin al-Fadl Sadūsī. They agree that he was a reliable reporter of traditions as is confirmed by Dhahabī in Mīzān-ul-i‘tidāl (4:7): “He was Imam Bukhārī’s teacher, memorizer of traditions and an extremely truthful person.” But their objection is that he had lost his marbles in the declining years of his age. Burhān-ud-Dīn Halabī, who possessed great knowledge of traditions, comments in his book al-Muqaddimah on this reporter along with others who had lost their memory in the closing years of their lives: “The ruling on these narrators is that the traditions reported by them before their loss of memory are acceptable, while the traditions after their deranged conditions are unacceptable. And if we do not know whether these traditions were received from them before or after their memory lapse, we should not accept these traditions from them either.” The objectors say that since we do not know whether Abū an-Nu‘mān has narrated this tradition before or after his loss of memory, we cannot adduce the tradition as evidence.

This objection not only lacks significance but also lacks credibility. Their objection is logically inconsistent. While they discard this tradition as weak, because it is the product of his loss of memory, they ignore other traditions though they are also the products of the same state of mind. Dhahabī says: ‘Imam Dāraqutnī comments, “Though he had lost his memory towards the end of his life, he never reported any tradition in this condition that could affect his veracity, therefore, he remains a truthful narrator.’ I insist that it is a report by that contemporary memorizer of traditions who is only matched by Imam Nasā’ī.” Ibn Hibbān is of the opinion that there are many incompatibilities in Abū an-Nu‘mān’s narrations after his loss of memory but Dhahabī rejects this opinion by asserting that Ibn Hibbān has failed to produce a single fact that establishes him as a misreporter of traditions. And the real position is the one that has been endorsed by Imam Dāraqutnī.[8]

‘Irāqī has admitted in at-Taqyīd wal-īdāh that Imam Dhahabī has convincingly rebutted Ibn Hibbān’s statement. Dhahabī has explained it in al-Kāshif (3:79) that the change took place before death, but after the change he had not related any tradition.

Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī writes in Taqrīb-ut-tahdhīb (2:200) that Abū an-Nu‘mān was a sound narrator and the change came about in his last years.

Muhammad bin ‘Alawī al-Mālikī writes, “Abū an-Nu‘mān’s mental debility is neither damaging for him nor does it affect his credibility as a narrator because Imam Bukhārī in his as-Sahīh has taken more than one hundred traditions from him and has not taken a single tradition from him after his loss of memory as is stated by Imam Dāraqutnī.”[9]

Besides Imam Bukhārī, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ibn Abū Hātim Rāzī and Abū ‘Alī Muhammad bin Khālid Zarīqī have also heard traditions from Abū an-Nu‘mān before his mental confusion set in.[10]

Imam Dārimī is one of the well-reputed teachers of Imam Bukhārī and other famous memorizers of traditions. Therefore, it was impossible for him to accept any tradition from Abū an-Nu‘mān after he had suffered a loss of memory.

2. An objection is raised against Sa‘īd bin Zayd Abū al-Hasan Basrī, brother of Hammād bin Zayd, that he is somewhat weak because Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī has written about him in Taqrīb-ut-tahdhīb (1:296), “That is, he is extremely truthful but sometimes he commits an error.” Dhahabī writes in Mīzān-ul-i‘tidāl (2:138), “Yahyā bin Sa‘īd has called him weak, Sa‘dī says that he is not an argument and his traditions are weak and Nasā’ī etc., are of the opinion that he is not sound.”

The objections of those, who deny the validity of intermediation, are not only partial as they base them exclusively on these statements and references, but they are also based on prejudice as their arguments are not logical because they are tailored to their preconceptions. A detailed refutation of their groundless objections is presented as follows:

Dhahabī negates it in al-Kāshif (1:286). He says that the decrepitude attributed to Sa‘īd bin Zayd is incorrect because Imam Muslim accepted traditions from him and Ibn Ma‘īn has called him authentic and trustworthy.

Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī has described it in detail in Tahdhīb-ut-tahdhīb (4:32-3):

“Imam Bukhārī said that Muslim bin Ibrāhīm reported to us that Sa‘īd bin Zayd Abū al-Hasan is extremely truthful and knows the traditions by heart.[11]

“Dūrī has reported it from Ibn Ma‘īn that Sa‘īd bin Zayd is a trustworthy narrator.

“Ibn Sa‘d has also called him a reliable narrator.[12]

“‘Ujlī comments that he belongs to Basrah and he is a dependable relater of traditions.

“Abū Zur‘ah said he heard it from Sulaymān bin Harb that Sa‘īd bin Zayd is trustworthy.“

Abū Ja‘far Dārimī said: Hibbān bin Hilāl reported to us that Sa‘īd bin Zayd has related to us that tradition and he is truthful and a preserver of traditions.

“Ibn ‘Adī has stated in al-Kāmil (3:1212-5) that Sa‘īd bin Zayd is truthful and he knows the traditions by heart. He has not related any inauthentic tradition except that someone else relates it and to me he happens to be among the (truthful) narrators.”

The famous compiler and exegete of traditions ‘Abdullāh bin Muhammad bin Siddīq al-Ghumārī from Morocco writes in his book Irghām-ul-mubtadī al-ghabī bi-jawāz-it-tawassul bi an-nabī writes: “Imam Ahmad bin Hambal has referred to Sa‘īd bin Zayd as laysa bihī ba’s. It means that there is no objection against him and he is absolutely truthful.[13] Imam Ahmad’s expression is semantically identical with trustworthiness, which is considered the highest virtue by all traditionists of integrity.

Ibn Ma‘īn also identifies the term laysa bihī ba’s with trustworthiness.[14]

The traditionist Ibn-us-Salāh in al-Muqaddimah, Sakhāwī in Fath-ul-mughīth, Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī in Hady-us-sārī muqaddimah Fath-ul-bārī and Nawawī in at-Taqrīb wat-taysīr have identified laysa bihī ba’s with veracity. Besides, a number of traditionists of the third century (ah), for instance, Ibn Ma‘īn, Ibn Madīnī, Abū Zur‘ah, Ibn Abū Hātim Rāzī, Ya‘qūb bin Sufyān Fasāwī, etc., have invested laysa bihī ba’s with the distinction of veracity.

3. Ibn Hibbān has called ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī as veracious as Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī writes in Tahdhīb-ut-tahdhīb (8:96), “Ibn Hibbān has mentioned him in his book Kitāb-ut-thiqāt. Therefore, Ibn Hibbān’s acknowledgement of his credibility is based on truth and it is beyond any iota of doubt that Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, on the basis of his authenticity, has called ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī in Taqrīb-ut-tahdhīb (2:77), “Sadūq lahū awhām (he is truthful but there are doubts about him).”

The word sadūq (truthful) used by Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī attests to the veracity of ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī and he has given it precedence over others. Mahmūd Sa‘īd Mamdūh refers to it in his book Raf‘-ul-minārah (p.258) that ‘Abdullāh bin Ahmad, attributing it to his father, commented, “Annahū ka-annahū da“afahū (as if he weakened him).” I say that the word ka-anna (as if; as though) is doubt and suspicion; it cannot serve as an act of justification.

When ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Alī bin Madīnī referred to Hasan bin Mūsā Ashyab as wa ka-annahū da“afahū (and as if he weakened him), Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī endorsed him by saying: hādhā zann, la taqūmu bihī hujjah (it is suspicion, therefore, it cannot serve as a justification).[15]

So this statement makes the veracity of ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī unquestionable. Dhahabī has explained it further in Mīzān-ul-i‘tidāl (3:286) and al-Mughnī (2:488).

Mahmūd Sa‘īd Mamdūh writes:“Ibn ‘Adī has bracketed ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī with ‘Amr bin Mālik Rāsibī in al-Kāmil (5:1799) and has dubbed him as a recanter narrator. Dhahabī has explained it in Mīzān-ul-i‘tidāl (3:285) and al-Mughnī (2:488) while Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī has commented on it in Tahdhīb-ut-tahdhīb (8:95). Both these hadith-scholars have delinked ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī from ‘Amr bin Mālik Rāsibī and disproved the linkage forged by Ibn ‘Adī, which has driven some of the traditionists to label ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī as unreliable. These traditionists are not to blame as they have based their deductions on the conclusions drawn by Ibn ‘Adī without any conscious attempt at distortion as has been explained by Ibn-ul-Jawzī in Kitāb-ul-mawdū‘āt (2:145) and by Ibn Taymiyyah in Qā‘idah jalīlah fit-tawassul wal-wasīlah.”[16]

Albānī writes in Ta‘līq ‘alā Fadl-is-salāt ‘ala an-nabī (p.88): ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī is a reliable narrator as has been endorsed by Dhahabī. He has also confirmed this view in another book Silsilat-ul-ahādīth-is-sahīhah (5:608).

4. A large number of people have taken traditions from Abū al-Jawzā’ Aws bin ‘Abdullāh on the basis of his credibility and the direct transmission of this tradition from ‘Ā’ishah has also been established. In support of this contention it suffices to state that Imam Muslim has recorded Abū al-Jawzā’ Aws’s narration through ‘Ā’ishah.

Imam Bukhārī says:

It was related to us by Musaddad who had heard it from Ja‘far bin Sulaymān, who from ‘Amr bin Mālik an-Nukrī who had reported it from Abū al-Jawzā’. He said: I spent twelve years with Ibn ‘Abbās and ‘Ā’ishah and there was not a single verse of the Holy Qur'an about which I had not asked them.[17]

Ibn S‘ad has related another tradition on these lines:Abū al-Jawzā’ has related:

I lived as Ibn ‘Abbās’s neighbour for twelve years and there was not a single verse of the Holy Qur'an about which I had not asked him.[18]

Abu Na‘aym has added the following words to the tradition:

And my deputy visited the Mother of the Believers (‘Ā’ishah) every morning and evening. So I did not hear from any other quarter (except what I heard from her), nor did I hear from any other source (except from her) what Allah has enjoined about sin that I shall forgive him (the sinner) except the one who associates any partner with Me.[19]

According to Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, it by no means implies that he never met ‘Ā’ishāh afterwards. So, the inference drawn by Imam Muslim from the frequency of visits clearly indicates that he had a face-to-face meeting with ‘Ā’ishah.

Thus when his meeting with ‘Ā’ishah has been established with irrefutable finality, the element of deceit and incredibility in his statement is automatically washed out and his tradition, therefore, acquires authenticity. To call him an impostor is, actually, to commit excess against his genuineness as a reporter, and to do him justice we have to acknowledge the obvious fact that his statement is based on sound transmission. This conclusion is compatible not only with the findings of Imam Muslim but also reflects the general drift of public opinion.

Abū Nu‘aym has confirmed the authenticity of a number of traditions by Abū al-Jawzā’ with the words ‘an ‘Ā’ishah (from ‘Ā’ishah) in Hilyat-ul-awliyā’ wa tabaqāt-ul-asfiyā’.

Ibn-ul-Qaysarānī has also reported a tradition from Abū al-Jawzā’ by using the words sami‘a ‘Ā’ishah (he listened to ‘Ā’ishah).[20]

This detailed discussion proves beyond doubt that these certificates of authenticity are not based on any forgery but on verifiable evidence, and this chain of transmission is sahīh (sound) or hasan (fair).

Muhammad bin ‘Alawī al-Mālikī says, “This tradition has a good chain of transmission; rather, in my opinion, it is sound. The scholars have also acknowledged its soundness and have established its genuineness on the basis of almost equally credible evidence.[21]

Therefore, this tradition may be relied upon as a viable argument because, according to Imam Nasā’ī’s contention, a narrator may be discarded only when all the traditionists have unanimously rejected him/her.[22]

Those who deny the relevance of intermediation object to the tradition as undependable as its range of reference is limited only to the Companion and does not extend up to the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ) himself. In their opinion, it is only one of ‘Ā’ishah’s statements and not a command to be indiscriminately followed. They add that, even if it carries the stamp of her certification, it cannot serve as cogent argument as it is based on personal opinion, which is generally characterized by fluctuation. Sometimes the personal opinion of a Companion may prove correct but at other occasions it may prove incorrect. Therefore, its application is not binding on the believers.

A simple answer to this baseless objection is that not only the tradition is properly certified, but no Companion has ever raised any objection against the mode of action prescribed by ‘Ā’ishah, nor has such an objection been ever reported, just as no objection has been raised against the person in the tradition reported by Mālik ad-Dār who prays for rain at the grave of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ) .[23 ) These traditions reflect the collective opinion of the Companions and such a consensus is quite valid. An act, which enjoys the tacit support of the Companions, cannot be spelled out as invalid or a discredited form of innovation, and it is obligatory for us to follow the Companions. In this context, Imam Shāf‘ī says, “For us, their opinion about us is far more authentic than our own opinion.”[24]This tradition clearly establishes the fact that ‘Ā’ishah commanded the natives of Medina to rely on the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ) in his grave as a source of intermediation for divine blessings.

Ibn Taymiyyah has discarded the tradition as mere fabrication. According to him, during the entire life of ‘Ā’ishah, there was no such hole in the roof of the Prophet’s tomb. But this objection is weak as watered tea because Imam Dārimī and the religious leaders and scholars who followed him were more deeply aware of these details.

For example, a traditionist and historian from Medina, ‘Alī bin Ahmad Samhūdī has disconfirmed Ibn Taymiyyah and supported Imam Dārimī’s contention. According to him, Zayn-al-Mirāghī said, “Let it be known that it is a practice of the people of Medina to date that, during a period of drought, they open a window at the bottom of the dome in the Prophet’s tomb in the direction of prayer niche though the roof intervenes between the grave and the sky. I say that in our period, too, one of the gates in the boundary wall, enveloping the tomb, called al-mawājahah, that is, the door that opens towards the Prophet’s face, is flung open and people gather there (for prayer).[25]

The Ottoman Turks followed the practice of offering prayers through the mediation of the Prophet’s grave. The practice remained in vogue till the early years of the twentieth century. Whenever there was famine and scarcity of rain, the residents of Medina persuaded a six-or-seven-year-old child to climb the roof of the grave. (He performed the ablution before climbing over the roof.) The child tugged at the rope, which had been hung down the roof to close the hole in the grave, dug at the suggestion of the Mother of the Believers, ‘Ā’ishah. When there was no curtain between the sky and the grave, it started raining.


[7]. Dārimī related it in his Sunan (1:43#93); Ibn-ul-Jawzī in al-Wafā’ bi-ahwāl-il-mustafā (2:801); Subkī in Shifā’-us-siqām fī ziyārat khayr-il-anām (p.128); Qastallānī in al-Mawāhib-ul-laduniyyah (4:276); and Zurqānī in his Commentary (11:150).

[8]. Dhahabī, Mīzān-ul-i‘tidāl (4:8).

[9]. Muhammad bin ‘Alawī al-Mālikī, Shifā’-ul-fu’ād bi-ziyārat khayr-il-‘ibād (p.152).

[10]. ‘Irāqī, at-Taqyīd wal-īdāh (p.462).

[11]. Bukhārī, at-Tārīkh-ul-kabīr (3:472).

[12]. Ibn Sa‘d, at-Tabaqāt-ul-kubrā (7:287).

[13]. Imam Ahmad’s statement has been reproduced by Dhahabī in Mīzān-ul-i‘tidāl (2:138) and by Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī in Tahdhīb-ut-tahdhīb (4:32).

[14]. Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, Lisān-ul-Mīzān (1:13).

[15]. Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, Hady-us-sārī muqaddimah Fath-ul-bārī (p.397).

[16]. Mahmūd Sa‘īd Mamdūh, Raf‘-ul-minārah (pp.259-60).

[17]. Bukhārī, at-Tārīkh-ul-kabīr (2:16-7).

[18]. Ibn S‘ad, at-Tabaqāt-ul-kubrā (7:224).

[19]. Abū Na‘aym, Hilyat-ul-awliyā’ wa tabaqāt-ul-asfiyā’ (3:79).

[20]. Ibn-ul-Qaysarānī, al-Jam‘ bayn as-Sahīhayn (1:46) as quoted by Mahmūd Sa‘īd Mamdūh in Raf‘-ul-minārah (p.261).

[21]. Muhammad bin ‘Alawī al-Mālikī, Shifā’-ul-fu’ād bi-ziyārat khayr--il-‘ibād (p.153).

[22]. Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, Nuzhat-un-nazr bi-sharh nukhbat-ul-fikr fī mustalah hadith ahl-ul-athr (p.89).

[23]. This tradition will be discussed later.

[24]. Ibn-ul-Qayyim, A‘lām-ul-muwaqqi‘īn ‘an rabb-il-‘ālamīn (2:186).

[25]. Samhūdī, Wafā’-ul-wafā (2:560).