Someone 1 asked Amir al-mu'minin about concocted traditions and contradictory sayings of the Prophet current among the people, whereupon he said:
ومن كلام له (عليه السلام)
وقد سأله سائل عن أحاديث البدع، وعما في أيدي الناس من اختلاف الخبر
فقال (عليه السلام(
Certainly what is current among the people is both right and wrong, true and false, repealing and repealed, general and particular, definite and indefinite, exact and surmised.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, 2 no more.
إنَّ فِي أَيْدِي النَّاسِ حَقّاً وَبَاطِلاً، وَصِدْقاً وَكَذِباً، وَنَاسِخاً وَمَنْسُوخاً، وَعَامّاً وَخَاصّاً، وَمُحْكَماً وَمُتَشَابِهاً، وَحِفْظاً وَوَهْماً، وَقَدْ كُذِبَ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ(صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) عَلَى عَهْدِهِ، حَتَّى قَامَ خَطِيباً، فَقَالَ: «مَنْ كَذَبَ عَلَيَّ مُتَعَمِّداً فَلْيَتَبَوَّأْ مَقْعَدَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ». وَإِنَّمَا أَتَاكَ بِالْحَدِيثِ أَرْبَعَةُ رِجَال لَيْسَ لَهُمْ خَامِسٌ:
The 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.
رَجُلٌ مُنَافِقٌ مُظْهِرٌ لِلاْيمَانِ، مُتَصَنِّعٌ بِالاْسْلاَمِ، لاَيَتَأَثَّمُ وَلاَ يَتَحَرَّجُ، يَكْذِبُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ (صلى الله عليه وآله) مُتَعَمِّداً، فَلَوْ عَلِمَ النَّاسُ أَنَّهُ مُنَافِقٌ كَاذِبٌ لَمْ يَقْبَلُوا مِنْهُ، وَلَمْ يُصَدِّقُوا قَوْلَهُ،
Rather 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 through them. 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.
وَلكِنَّهُمْ قَالُوا: صَاحِبُ رَسُولِ اللهِ(صلى الله عليه وآله) رآهُ، وَسَمِعَ مِنْهُ، وَلَقِفَ عَنْهُ، فَيَأْخُذُونَ بِقَوْلِهِ، وَقَدْ أَخْبَرَكَ اللهُ عَنِ الْمُنَاقفِقِينَ بِمَا أَخْبَرَكَ، وَوَصَفَهُمْ بِمَا وَصَفَهُمْ بِهِ لَكَ، ثُمَّ بَقُوا بَعْدَهُ(عليه السلام)، فَتَقرَّبُوا إِلَى أَئِمَّةِ الضَّلاَلَةِ، وَالدُّعَاةِ إِلَى النَّارِ بِالزُّورِ وَالْبُهْتَانِ، فَوَلَّوهُمُ الاْعْمَالَ، وَجَعَلُوهُمْ عَلَى رِقَابِ النَّاسِ، وَأَكَلُوا بِهِمُ الدُّنْيَا، وَإِنَّمَا النَّاسُ مَعَ الْمُلُوكِ وَالدُّنْيَا، إِلاَّ مَنْ عَصَمَ اللهُ، فَهذَا أَحَدُ الاْرْبَعَةِ.
Then there 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.
وَرَجُلٌ سَمِعَ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ(صلى الله عليه وآله) شَيْئاً لَمْ يَحْفَظْهُ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ، فَوَهِمَ فِيهِ، وَلَمْ يَتَعَمَّدْ كَذِباً، فَهُوَ فِي يَدَيْهِ، يَرْوِيهِ وَيَعْمَلُ بِهِ، وَيَقُولُ: أَنَا سَمِعْتُهُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ(صلى الله عليه وآله)، فَلَوْ عَلِمَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ أَنَّهُ وَهِمَ فِيهِ لَمْ يَقْبَلُوهُ مِنْهُ، وَلَوْ عَلِمَ هُوَ أَنَّهُ كَذلِكَ لَرَفَضَهُ .
The third 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.
وَرَجُلٌ ثَالِثٌ، سَمِعَ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ(صلى الله عليه وآله) شَيْئاً يَأْمُرُ بِهِ، ثُمَّ نَهَى عَنْهُ وَهُوَ لاَ يَعْلَمُ، أَوْ سَمِعَهُ يَنْهَىُ عَنْ شَيْء، ثُمَّ أَمَرَ بِهِ وَهُوَ لايَعْلَمُ، فَحَفِظَ المَنسُوخَ، وَلَمْ يَحْفَظِ النَّاسِخَ، فَلَوْ عَلِمَ أَنَّهُ مَنْسُوخٌ لَرَفَضَهُ، وَلَوْ عَلِمَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ إذْ سَمِعُوهُ مِنْهُ أَنَّهُ مَنْسُوخٌ لَرَفَضُوهُ.
The last, 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.
وَآخَرُ رَابِعٌ، لَمْ يَكْذِبْ عَلَى اللهِ، وَلاَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ، مُبْغِضٌ لِلْكَذِبِ، خَوْفاً لله، وَتَعْظيِماً لِرَسُولِ اللهِ، وَلَمْ يَهِمْ، بَلْ حَفظَ مَا سَمِعَ عَلَى وَجْهِهِ، فَجَاءَ بِهِ عَلَى مَا سَمِعَهُ، لَمْ يَزِدْ فِيهِ وَلَمْ يَنْقُصْ مِنْهُ، وَحَفِظَ النَّاسِخَ فَعَمِلَ بِهِ، وَحَفِظَ الْمَنْسُوخَ فَجَنَّبَ عَنْهُ، وَعَرَفَ الْخَاصَّ وَالْعَامَّ، فَوَضَعَ كُلَّ شَيْء مَوْضِعَهُ، وَعَرفَ المُتَشَابِهَ وَمُحْكَمَهُ .
The 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.
وَقَدْ كَانَ يَكُونُ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ (صلى الله عليه وآله) الْكَلاَمُ لَهُ وَجْهَانِ: فَكَلاَمٌ خَاصٌّ، وَكَلاَمٌ عَامٌّ، فَيَسْمَعُهُ مَنْ لاَ يَعْرِفُ مَا عَنَى اللهُ بِهِ، وَلاَ مَا عَنَى بِهِ رَسُولُ اللهِ (صلى الله عليه وآله) فَيَحْمِلُهُ السَّامِعُ، وَيُوَجِّهُهُ عَلَى غَيْرِ مَعْرِفَة بِمَعْنَاهُ، وَمَا قُصِدَ بِهِ، وَمَا خَرَجَ مِنْ أَجْلِهِ، وَلَيْسَ كُلُّ أَصْحَابِ رَسُولِ اللهِ (صلى الله عليه وآله) مَنْ كَانَ يَسْأَلُهُ وَيَسْتَفْهِمُهُ، حَتَّى إِنْ كَانُوا لَيُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَجِيءَ الاْعْرَابِيُّ أَوْ الطَّارِىءُ، فَيَسَأَلَهُ (عليه السلام) حَتَّى يَسْمَعُوا، وَكَانَ لاَ يَمُرُّ بِي مِنْ ذلِكَ شَيْءٌ إِلاَّ سَأَلْتُ عَنْهُ وَحَفِظْتُهُ. فَهذِهِ وَجُوهُ مَا عَلَيْهِ النَّاسُ فِي اخْتِلاَفِهِمْ، وَعِلَلِهِمْ فِي رِوَايَاتِهِمْ.
(1) Kitab Sulaym ibn Qays;
(2) Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, II, 62;
(3) al-Harrani, Tuhaf ,136;
(4) al-Saduq, al-Khisal, I, 333;
(5) al-Tawhidi, al-'Imta`, III, 197;
(6) al-Nu`mani, al-Ghaybah, 26;
(7) al-Tabari, al-Mustarshid, 30;
(8) Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Tadhkirah, 142;
(9) al-Tabarsi, al-'Ihtijaj, I, 293;
(10) al-Karajiki, al-'Intisar, 10;
(11) al-Shaykh al-Baha'i, al-'Arba`in, 98.
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; 39:7; 53:38).
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.