Most of the Shi`ite Muslims believe that the prohibition of the recordation and reporting of the Hadith was aimed at stopping the narrations regarding the merits of the Ahl al-Bayt, since the adopters of the decision were afraid of the spread of the Holy Prophet’s sayings about the merits1 and Imamate2 of Imam `Ali and his descendants.
The decision was applied more intensely during the reign of Mu`awiyah, the first Umayyad ruler, who used to order people to curse Imam `Ali during the ritual Friday Sermons from the Muslims’ minbars.3
This opinion has been also concluded from the reality of the ummah after the Holy Prophet as well as the political and social structure of the caliphate; the cultural act was not unfamiliar to the political act and the caliphs exerted all their efforts to keep the Ahl al-Bayt as far as possible from the new system of the Islamic State (namely, System of Caliphate) and, furthermore, they disrobed the Holy Prophet’s Family from any rest they would rely upon; consequently, it is not strange to say that `Umar ibn al-Khattab’s decision of the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadith was issued for this very purpose, nothing else.
Some authors have recorded `Umar’s statements that were quoted from al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy in the following narration:
It has been narrated on the authority of `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad on the authority of his father that `Alqamah once brought a book from Makkah (or Yemen) comprising Hadiths about the Ahl al-Bayt. We then visited `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud and gave him that book. He asked his bondmaid to fetch him a washtub filled with water. We asked him to read that book since it contained great Hadiths, but he put the book in the water reciting (Almighty Allah’s saying),
‘We narrate to you the best of narratives, by Our revealing to you this Qur’an. (Holy Qur’an: 12:3)’
He then said, ‘Hearts are like bowls. You should thus fill in them with the Qur’an, nothing else.’4
From the previous narration, the adopters of this opinion have concluded `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s deviation from the line of the Ahl al-Bayt, which is consequently regarded as deviation from the line of Imam `Ali,5 or that his indifference to the topic and tearing of the book were aimed at deluding the people that the Holy Qur’an is sufficing for anything else.6
As a result, such acts have been seen as attempts to eradicate the evidences on the Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt, which was the one and only purpose behind the issuance of the decision of prohibiting recording and reporting the Hadith.7
(1) Reference books of Hadith have proven that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud encouraged the reporting and recordation of the Hadith; therefore, he was summoned to al-Madinah during the reign of `Umar ibn al-Khattab and was arrested there to the last of `Umar’s reign. Confirming this claim, we cite the following narrations:
It has been narrated that `Amr ibn Maymun said, “I have always been present before `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud on every Thursday night and he was always reporting the Hadith of the Holy Prophet.”8
It has been narrated that `Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr said, I asked my father, “Why have I never heard you reporting the Hadith of the Holy Prophet as Ibn Mas`ud and others do?”9
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu-Qulabah that Ibn Mas`ud said, “Persist in knowledge before it is removed. Its removal stands for the departure of its bearers. You do not know at which time you will need knowledge. You will also find some peoples claiming that they are encouraging you to abide by the Book of Allah while they have, in fact, flung it behind their backs.”10
Ma`an also narrated that `Abd al-Rahman ibn Mas`ud took out a book (copy of the Holy Qur’an) and sworn that it had been handwritten by his father personally.11
In Sahih al-Bukhariy,12 the chapter regarding the recitations of the Holy Qur’an, there is an indication to the existence of a copy of the Holy Qur’an found with or handwritten by Ibn Mas`ud. His disciples were reported to have traveled for sake of seeking and recording knowledge.
In this regard, al-Shi`biy said, “As much as I know, none was more active in seeking knowledge than Masruq in all countries. The disciples of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud who used to teach people knowledge in general and the Holy Qur’an in particular were `Alqamah, Masruq and… etc.”13
Ibn `Ayyash was reported to have said that he had heard al-Mughirah saying, “The only ones who used to report `Ali’s narrations as authentic as they were except the disciples of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud.”14
`Alqamah, who was known of his love for Imam `Ali, was one of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s disciples.
According to al-Fasawiy’s book of history (al-Tarikh), one of the grandsons of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud showed Ma`an a copy of the Holy Qur’an that had been handwritten by his father, `Abd al-Rahman, comprising Hadiths and religious verdicts issued by `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud.15
On the authority of him, al-Tabaraniy narrated that `Āmir ibn `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud had handwritten some Hadiths as well as the religious verdicts issued by `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud and sent them to Yahya ibn Abi-Kathir.16
In addition to the previous narrations, what has been said about `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud who was one of the foremost six Sahabah who hurried to accept Islam; about whom the Holy Prophet said, ‘You are certainly a skilled boy,’17 and ‘If you desire to listen to the Qur’an as fresh as it is, you should listen to him from the mouth of Ibn Ummi-`Abd (`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud)’18 and whom `Umar ibn al-Khattab sent to al-Kufah for teaching the people there the issues of the religion—all these matters, if considered deliberately, prove that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud enjoyed the clearest Islamic view and education. He insisted on teaching people the Holy Qur’an as accurately as he had heard from the Holy Prophet until `Uthman ibn `Affan broke one of his ribs.19
As a result, any reports narrating that an individual enjoying such characteristics supported the prohibition of recording the Hadith must be carefully and deliberately scrutinized.
(2) We could not put our hands on the other part of `Alqamah’s narration that has been quoted by al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy from Ibn Sallam’s Gharib al-Hadith where he mentioned that the Hadiths were about the Ahl al-Bayt.20 This narration also opposes other reports that narrate `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s being one of the twelve individuals who disapproved of Abu-Bakr’s having seized the position of leadership saying,
“O People of Quraysh: Your chiefs and you have known for sure that his Household (Ahl al-Bayt) are closer to the Holy Prophet than you are. If you claim that you are the most rightful in holding this position for your kinship to the Holy Prophet or claim your being the foremost, his Household are, of course, closer to him than you are and more advanced than you are. You should then avoid turning on your backs for then you will turn back losers.”21
According to al-Isabah fi Tamyiz al-Sahabah and other reference books of Hadith, Abu-Musa (al-Ash`ariy) said:
“When my brother and I came (to al-Madinah) from the Yemen, we though that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud had been one of the family members of the Holy Prophet for we used to see his mother and him always visiting the Holy Prophet.”24
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud also quoted the Holy Prophet as saying,
“The leaders (caliphs) coming after me will be twelve in number, which is the number of the Israelite Chieftains.”25
Al-Khazzaz, in Kifayat al-Athar, has quoted `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud as saying,
“I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: The Imams to come after me will be twelve in number. Nine of them are from the offspring of al-Husayn and the ninth of them is (their) al-Mahdi.”26
On the authority of Masruq, Ahmad (ibn Hanbal) narrated the following:
“We were accompanying `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud in the Masjid when a person asked him, ‘Did your Prophet inform you about the number of his successors?’ ‘Yes,’ answered `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, ‘Their number is the same as the number of the Israelite Chieftains.’”27
The following narration is quoted from al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah:
“The Holy Prophet said: The number of the caliphs to come after me will be as same as the number of the Disciples of Prophet Moses.”28
Al-Hakim al-Nisapuriy has recorded the following on the authority of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud:
“One time, we visited the Holy Prophet who received us with great pleasure due to which he answered all our questions and, moreover, had informed us of things before we asked him. This situation lasted until some Hashemite youngsters, among whom were al-Hasan and al-Husayn, passed by us.
Having seen them, the Holy Prophet kept silent as his eyes shed tears. ‘O Allah’s Messenger,’ said we, ‘Your face is showing a scene that we dislike.’ He answered, ‘Almighty Allah has chosen for us, the Ahl al-Bayt, the Hereafter to this world.
Verily after me, my Household shall have to encounter expulsion and displacement until black standards will be raised from the East, and their bearers will demand with the right but they will be denied. Again, they will demand with it but they will also be denied and then they will be fought and victory will be given to them…”29
Al-Hakim al-Nisapuriy, also, has quoted `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud as saying,
“The Messenger of Allah said: Fatimah has verily guarded her chastity; therefore, Almighty Allah has forbidden Hellfire to consume her progeny.30
The Messenger of Allah also said,
To look at `Ali’s face is an act of worship.”31
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was the narrator of the Holy Prophet’s famous saying about Imam `Ali when proceeded to fight `Amr ibn `Abd-Wudd (during the Battle of Khandaq):
“The whole faith is now facing the whole polytheism.”32
He also narrated the Holy Prophet’s saying,
“Anyone who declares that he believes in me and in that which I have brought but he, meanwhile, dislikes `Ali is actually liar, not believer.”33
In addition, he reported that the Holy Prophet handed the standard of the Muhajirun34 to Imam `Ali during the Battle of Uhud.35 He also reported that when the Holy Prophet was asked about `Ali’s position to him, he said,
“`Ali’s position to me is as same as my position to Almighty Allah.”36
Moreover, he reported many Hadiths praising `Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan and al-Husayn. He was quoted to have said,
“In the age of the Holy Prophet, the only means through which we used to recognize the hypocrites was their having hated `Ali ibn Abi-Talib.”37
“Wisdom has been divided into ten parts; nine parts are given to `Ali while the people’s share is one part only. Yet, `Ali is more knowledgeable than they are on the subject of this part.”38
“The Holy Qur'an was revealed in seven characters of knowledge each of which has a definite explicit and implicit signification. `Ali ibn Abi-Talib has for sure known all the explicit and the implicit indications of each of these characters.”39
“I have learned seventy Surahs of the Holy Qur'an at the hands of the Messenger of Allah and learnt the rest at the hands of the best people—`Ali ibn Abi-Talib.”40
Al-A`mash has narrated on the authority of Abu-`Amr al-Shaybaniy that Abu-Musa al-Ash`ariy said,
“Whenever I saw `Abdullah (ibn Mas`ud), I thought of him as the slave of the family of Muhammad.”41
It is also well known that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud issued the verdict that seeking Allah’s blessings for Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad42 during the Tashahhud is obligatory.43 It has been recorded in Qadi (Judge) `Ayyad’s al-Shifa that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud reported the Holy Prophet as saying,
“A prayer in which seeking Allah’s blessings for my family (the Ahl al-Bayt) and me is not mentioned will not be admitted.”44
In order to avoid lengthiness, the aforementioned citations are sufficient if they are considered properly. What is more is that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud is well-known to have disagreed with `Uthman ibn `Affan on more than one situation and about more than one issue.
In spite of the pressure that he had to encounter because of the policies of the ruling authorities, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud used to declare whatever he had heard from the Messenger of Allah. So long as these reports are authentic, the words of al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy quoted from `Alqamah must be seen as suspicious.
Nevertheless, if al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy’s words are accepted as true, we will face the problem of the authentic narrations that reported `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud as having been one of the few men who were permitted to participate in the funeral ceremonies of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra’ and offer the Deceased Prayer (Salat al-Mayyit) for her.
We all know for certain that the permission of attending the burial of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra’ was given exclusively to the choicest of the Shi`ite Muslims and the superior disciples of Imam `Ali. If we give credence to the aforementioned narrations that report `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s having been loyal to the Ahl al-Bayt, we must not believe the claims that he erased the Hadiths revealing their merits. In al-Khisal and al-Amaliy, Shaykh al-Saduq has recorded that Imam `Ali said,
“The earth was created for seven individuals in favor of whom (the other) peoples are given their sustenance, bestowed with rain, and given victory (over their enemies). They were permitted to offer the Deceased Prayer for Lady Fatimah—peace be upon her. One of them was `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud.”45
Moreover, he was one of those who offered the Deceased Prayer for Abu-Dharr and witnessed the ceremonies of bathing, coffining, and burying his body. On the grounds of the authenticated narration that quotes the Holy Prophet as saying, “Abu-Dharr’s funeral will be witnessed by a faithful group of people,”46 or “a virtuous men of the ummah,”47 as quoted by al-Kishiy, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud must be one of such virtuous and faithful people.
All the previous statements demonstrate the grandeur and standing of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud about whom Sharif al-Murtada, in his book entitled al-Shafi, says,
“Consensually, the ummah has confirmed the purity, virtuousness, and faithfulness of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud whom was praised and honored by the Messenger of Allah and who persisted on his praised characteristics until he died.”48
Supposing al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy’s narration was true, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud probably warned against some myths that were included in such Hadiths. As evidence, the narrator added that Ibn Mas`ud erased such narrations with his hand while he recited (Almighty Allah’s saying),
‘We narrate unto thee (Muhammad) the best of narratives. (Holy Qur’an 13:3)’49
Supporting this probability, it has been narrated that a Syrian man carrying a paper on which several statements and myths of Abu’l-Darda’ were written brought it to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud and asked him to evaluate the texts therein. He took the paper and read it. He then came to his house and asked his bondmaid to bring him a vessel full on water. When she did, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud rubbed the inscriptions out while reciting Almighty Allah’s saying,
“Alif. Lam. Ra. These are verse of the Scripture that maketh plain. Lo! We have revealed it, a Lecture in Arabic, that ye may understand. We narrate unto thee (Muhammad) the best of narratives in that We have inspired in thee this Qur'an, though aforetime thou wast of the heedless. (Holy Qur’an: 13:1-3)”
He then added twice, Do you expect to find accounts better than those of Almighty Allah?”50
The previous report can have two probabilities:
a) Ibn Mas`ud might have erased that paper for it comprised Hadiths indicating the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt. This opinion is carried by the scholars under the seventh reason.
b) Ibn Mas`ud mighty have erased that paper for it comprised some fables since he knew that Abu’l-Darda' and Ka`b al-Ahbar had not cared to narrate the fables of the ancient nations that are related to the Islamic beliefs. Besides, he justified his action by reciting the holy verse,
‘We narrate unto thee (Muhammad) the best of narratives. (Holy Qur’an: 13:3)’
Experts have regarded such fables and sermons as one of the twelve or sixteen reasons beyond forging lies against the Hadiths.51
It is thus probable that Ibn Mas`ud, having noticed such fables fabricated against the Ahl al-Bayt, erased them because he would not accept such lies to be forged against the Ahl al-Bayt. On this account, to decide the first justification as the true and the main reason beyond Ibn Mas`ud’s erasing these papers is unambiguously beyond limits.
Inasmuch as `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud is intended, it seems necessary to mention that some people criticized him for he, like some of the Sahabah, had issued personal opinions. This is in fact not untrue; since Ibn Mas`ud was a religious authority, he must have issued some verdicts depending upon certain narrations that, in his conception, were the truest or acting upon his conclusions or inference.
This situation can be noticed with the Tabi`un or their followers, such as Abu-Hanifah, Sufyan al-Thawriy, al-Hasan al-Basriy, and other scholars who issued personal verdicts. Yet, the situations of these scholars did not mean that they intended to keep pace with the ruling authorities, since not all of their opinions agreed with the regulations of the ruling regime.52
Nevertheless, unlike al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, `Ammar ibn Yasir, and Abu-Dharr, as well as other Sahabah and Tabi’un who believed in the religious opinions and course of Imam `Ali as being a true copy of the Holy Prophet’s Sunnah, the aforementioned scholars had their own principles and bases that have created such variety of opinions.
This is on the assumption of compromise. Yet, the reality is that if we consider the jurisprudential aspect of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud objectively, it becomes unfeasible to throw him in the side of the Opinionists who depended upon their personal views.
For instance, when some people referred to him in a religious question more than once, he used to answer them each time that he had not been acquaintanted with the answer. Had it not that the obligation of issuing religious verdicts was individual for him (because of the absence of any other individuals authorized enough for issuing religious verdicts), he would not have issued such a verdict.
In this connection, Ahmad ibn Hanbal has narrated that the following question was put before `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud: A man died before he consummated his wife for whom he had not nominated a dowry. After they had referred to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud in this question for about a whole month, they finally forced him to issue any verdict.
He thus said, “I decided that this woman’s dowry should be as much as the dowry of ordinary women without addition or reduction and that she is worthy of her share of inheritance and she must observe the ritual waiting period of widows. If this judgment is true, it is then due to the guidance of Almighty Allah; and if it is incorrect, it is then due to my own fault as well as Satan’s seduction.
Yet, Almighty Allah and His Messengers are released from such a flaw.” A group of people, from the tribe of Ashja`, among whom were al-Jarrah and Abu-Sinan stood up and said, “We do witness that the Messenger of Allah issued this very judgment as regards the case of one of our women named Buru` bint Washiq.” On hearing this, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud became terribly delighted as he noticed that his judgment had agreed with the Holy Prophet’s.53
On the contrary of the claims of Ibn Shadhan, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud did not follow, support, incline to, or repeat the same words of the party who violated the Holy Prophet’s instruction regarding the divinely commissioned leadership of Imam `Ali.54 According to reliable books of Hadith, Imam `Ali, having been asked about `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, said,
“He learnt the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah and stopped. This is in fact the utmost knowledge.”55
“He has studied the Holy Qur'an and thus followed its instructions and refrained from doing what is deemed unlawful therein. He is expert in the religion and authority in the Sunnah.”56
If truth be told, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s virtues that have been recorded in the books of the other sects are more than these mentioned in the Shi`ite books. Yet, everybody testifies his great personality and high reputation.
As a result, the words of al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy and the facts adopted by some of the Shi`ite scholars so as to prove that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud had torn and erased some papers that comprised Hadiths about the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt cannot be taken as irrefutable evidences because
(1) the statement ‘Hadiths regarding the Ahl al-Bayt’ does not necessarily refer to words of praising them; therefore, it is probable that Ibn Mas`ud erased such papers because they contained words of exaggeration about or condemnation against the Ahl al-Bayt, and the latter probability agrees with our aforementioned statements about the life account of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud who used to report the Holy Prophet’s words of praise about the Ahl al-Bayt, and
(2) the claim that the prohibition of recording the Hadith was intended to eradicate the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt and the evidences on their Imamate—such a claim does not agree with Abu-Bakr and `Umar’s general prohibition of recording the Hadith since the evidence is more specific than the claim. In other words, Abu-Bakr and `Umar ibn Al-Khattab issued a general decision of preventing from recording any Hadith.
The earlier prohibited reporting the Hadith and called for referring to the Qur'an exclusively after he had set to fire his five hundred recorded Hadiths. The latter ordered everyone who had kept such papers of Hadith to bring them to him so that ‘he would take up the most appropriate.’
Had their one and only purpose beyond the decision of the prohibition been to erase the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt and the evidences on their Imamate, Abu-Bakr could have erased, among the five hundred Hadiths that he had kept, the ones that he had not liked and kept the others.
Similarly, `Umar would have erased such narrations only and kept up the others in a definite book and then ordered people to conclude the religious precepts from that book. He would also have forwarded the Hadiths of the exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, morals, virtues, sermons, instructions, and the like to definite preachers whom he trusted so that he would conceal his main purpose beyond the prohibition of recording the Hadith from the Muslims by creating a confusion between what is right and what is wrong!
In addition, the justification that `Umar prohibited the recordation of the Hadith in order to eradicate the Hadiths regarding the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt denotes that `Umar was not brave enough to prevent spreading the Hadiths indicating the virtues of Imam `Ali and the Ahl al-Bayt and he therefore had to declare a general prohibition of recording the Hadith so as to achieve his aim and avoid the consequences of a decision preventing the spread of the Hadiths indicating the virtues of the Ahl al-Bayt.
Nevertheless, everybody knows that `Umar was so severe and harsh-hearted that he feared nobody at all. History has proven that he attacked those who protected themselves in Lady Fatimah al-Zahra'’s house because they had not accepted the leadership of Abu-Bakr.
Among those persons were Imam `Ali, al-`Abbas, al-Fadl ibn al-`Abbas, al-Zubayr, Khalid ibn Sa`id, al-Miqdad, Salman, Abu-Dharr, `Ammar, al-Barra’ ibn `Āzib, Ubayy ibn Ka`b,57 Sa`d ibn Abi-Waqqas and Talhah ibn ‘Ubaydullah.
All the same, `Umar carried a torch of fire to set it to the house while they were therein. Lady Fatimah faced him and said surprisingly, “Son of Al-Khattab! Have you come to set our house on fire?” “I will do it unless you follow what people have followed,” answered `Umar.58
According to Kanz al-`Ummal, `Umar said to Lady Fatimah, “Although I know for sure that you were the most beloved to your father and the most beloved to us after your father, this will not stop me from setting the door of your house on fire while you are in as long as those people are gathering therein.”59
According to al-Imamah wa’l-Siyasah, after the group who gathered in Imam `Ali’s house refused to respond to `Umar and come out, he ordered his followers to bring him firewood saying, “I swear to Him Who prevails on my soul that if you do not come out right now, I will certainly set this house and its inhabitants on fire.” Some of the attendants warned him that Fatimah was there in the house, but he answered, “So what!”60
According to Ansab al-Ashraf, when `Ali refused to swear allegiance to Abu-Bakr after he had invited him to it, `Umar, carrying a torch of fire, came to his house. Facing him, Lady Fatimah said, “Son of al-Khattab: Do you intend to set the door of my house on fire?” “Yes, I do,” answered `Umar, “This will be stronger in what your father has carried.”61
The previous narrations and their likes that confirm `Umar’s coarseness and impudence in presenting his opinions make it unlikely to believe that he prohibited the compilation of Hadiths for nothing other than erasing the texts that manifest the Ahl al-Bayt’s merits and prove their divinely commissioned leadership.
Had `Umar wanted this, he would not have feared anything or anybody, he would not have anticipated the Sahabah’s misgiving, and he would not have stopped for fear of the consequences; rather he would have shown the red lines of this decision in the very same way as he had done when he openly and bravely declared,
“Two issues were allowed during the age of Allah’s Messenger, but now I deem them forbidden and will punish anyone who violates this prohibition. These are the temporary marriage and the allowable period during the Hajj (mut`at al-Hajj).”62
Thus, the questions of the seizure of Imam `Ali’s divine position of leadership, the usurpation of Fadak, the transgression against Lady Fatimah al-Zahra', forcing Imam `Ali to swear allegiance to Abu-Bakr, and many other behaviors—all these questions are different from the purpose beyond the question of prohibiting recording and compiling the Hadith.
It has been proven that Abu-Bakr and `Umar narrated numerous Hadiths concerning the virtues of Imam `Ali in specific and the Ahl al-Bayt in general. Muhibb al-Din al-Tabariy, for instance, has dedicated a chapter of his book to the narrations that Abu-Bakr reported from the Holy Prophet about the merits of Imam `Ali, such as the Hadiths:
‘Looking at `Ali’s face is a sort of worship.’
‘The palms of both the Holy Prophet and Imam `Ali were even.’
‘The Holy Prophet once gathered `Ali’s sons under the same tent under which he was sitting.’
‘Imam `Ali’s position to the Holy Prophet is as same as the Holy Prophet’s position to his Lord.’
‘On the Resurrection Day, nobody will be permitted to pass the Path (Sirat) before he obtains a license written by Imam `Ali.’
‘The Holy Prophet declared that Imam `Ali was the closest to him.’
As well as his reference to Imam `Ali when he was asked about the features of the Holy Prophet.63
In al-Mustadrak `Ala’l-Sahihayn (The Narrations Subjoined to al-Bukhariy and Sahih Muslim), we read that `Umar ibn al-Khattab said,
“`Ali ibn Abi-Talib has been given three characteristics which I would prefer to the best kind of camels if I was given only one of them… (1) he married Fatimah, daughter of the Messenger of Allah, (2) he was the only one to be permitted to live in the Masjid with the Holy Prophet and (3) he was given the standard (i.e. the commandment of the army) in the war of Khaybar.”64
Through authentic reports, it has been proven that `Umar ibn al-Khattab, during his reign, used to ask and adopt the rulings issued by Imam `Ali. Al-Khawarzmiy, in al-Manaqib, has recorded the following:
When two men asked him about the rulings of the divorcement of bondmaids, `Umar turned to a bald man to his side and asked the same question. As he received the answer from the man, `Umar said it to the two men verbally. Wondering at `Umar, the two men asked, “We asked you because you are the caliph! But you referred to a man to take the answer from him!” “Woe to you,” said `Umar,
“Do you know who the man to whom I referred the question is? He is `Ali ibn Abi-Talib! I have heard the Messenger of Allah saying: If the heavens and the earth are put in one scale of a balance and the faith of `Ali is put in the other, the faith of `Ali will certainly exceed in weight.”65
In addition, `Umar is quoted to have said,
“`Ali is the most experienced of us in the field of judicature,”66
“Without `Ali, `Umar would have perished”67
“May Allah take my soul before I face a problem while Abu’l-Hasan (Imam `Ali) is not present.”68
Tarikh Dimashq reads that `Umar narrated the Holy Prophet’s saying,
“`Ali’s position to me is same as (Prophet) Aaron’s position to (Prophet) Moses; yet, no Prophet is to come after me.”69
“`Ali: You are the first to embrace Islam and the first to believe (in my Mission).”70
Al-Bukhariy has recorded that `Umar ibn al-Khattab said,
“When the Holy Prophet departed life, he was pleased with `Ali.”71
Muhibb al-Din al-Tabariy has also dedicated a chapter to the Hadiths that `Umar narrated concerning the merits of Imam `Ali, such as, ‘the commandment of the Muslim army was given to `Ali during the war of Khaybar,’ ‘`Ali has had three characteristics I wish I had only one of them,’ ‘`Ali’s position to the Holy Prophet is as same as Aaron’s to Moses,’ ‘`Ali’s faith is overweighing the heavens and the earth,’ ‘the Holy Prophet said that `Ali must be the leader of him whoever had taken the Holy Prophet as his leader,’ ‘the Holy Prophet said that he would send `Ali for definite honorable acts and `Umar expressed his wish to have leadership at that situation,’ `Umar said to `Ali: You have become my master and the master of every male and female Muslim,’ ‘
`Ali is the master of everyone who has regarded the Holy Prophet as his master,’ ‘`Umar declared `Ali as his master,’ ‘referring the religious questions to `Ali more than once,’ ‘`Ali’s being the most experienced in the Islamic judicature’ and ‘depending upon `Ali’s opinions in many questions.’72
It has been also proven that the Sahabah used to narrate the merits of Imam `Ali during the reigns of Abu-Bakr and `Umar. On the authority of `Uqab ibn Tha`labah, al-Hakim al-Nisapuriy has recorded that during the reign of `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Abu-Ayyub al-Ansariy narrated that the Holy Prophet ordered `Ali ibn Abi-Talib to fight against the breachers (those who breached their swearing of allegiance to Imam `Ali’s leadership), the violators (those who rebelled and waged war against the army of Imam `Ali) and the apostates (the Khawarij who invented their own beliefs and apostatized from the Islamic beliefs).73
Had it been true that Abu-Bakr and `Umar prohibited reporting and recording the Hadith only for purpose of eradicating the merits of and the evidences on the divinely commissioned leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt since such Hadiths formed a source of challenge against the ruling authorities and their policies—had this been the only reason beyond the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadith, the numerous Hadiths mentioned in the Sahih books (Sunnite reference books of Hadith) concerning the divinely commissioned leadership of the Holy Imams would not have reached us.
Examples on such Hadiths are the Holy Prophet’s sayings ‘`Ali is with the Holy Qur'an and the Holy Qur'an is with `Ali,’74 ‘I am leaving amongst you the two weighty (precious) things—the Holy Qur'an and my Household; Ahl al-Bayt,’75 ‘the example of Ahl al-Bayt is Noah’s Ark; anyone who embarks on it will be certainly saved while those who abstain will certainly fall and drown’76 and ‘`Ali must be the master of him whoever has regarded me (i.e. the Holy Prophet) as his master’77 in addition to many similar narrations.
To be reasonable, we have to say that although Abu-Bakr and `Umar reported Hadiths concerning the merits of and the evidences on the Ahl-Bayt’s divinely commissioned leadership (Imamate), they were extremely cautious of the explanations and discussions about the matter of choosing Imam `Ali for the leadership of the Islamic community or the existence of a number of Sahabah supporting the necessity of the pure commitment to the divine commandments and violating the personal opinions and inferences regarding the religious issues.
Abu-Bakr and `Umar, though they did not take strict procedures in the field of reporting the merits alone, did not like the spread of the Hadiths that injured their caliphate. In this regard, Abu-Bakr attempted to take the publics away from discussing the affairs of the leadership and from reporting the Holy Prophet’s sayings about the merits of Imam `Ali ibn Abi-Talib and his most worthiness of holding this position.
This is because to explain, display, and divulge the dimensions of the Hadiths indicating the leadership and Imamate of Imam `Ali would be the main factor that terrifies the ruling authorities, not mere reporting from the Holy Prophet. From this cause, Abu-Bakr warned against such sort of display and divulgence.
Shaykh `Abd al-Rahman ibn Yahya al-Mu`allimiy al-Yamaniy says,
“As regards the origin of the incompletely transmitted narration of Ibn Abi-Mulaykah, it derives its significance from the fact that it followed the decease of the Holy Prophet and was related to the affair of the caliphate.
It shows that the people, after having paid homage to Abu-Bakr as the successor of the Holy Prophet, disputed among them; some of them claimed that Abu-Bakr was worthy of the position because the Holy Prophet said to him so-and-so, while others claimed another ones’ having been the worthiest for the Holy Prophet had said about them so-and-so... etc. To avoid such, Abu-Bakr, willingly, decided to take them away from such disputes.”78
`Umar criticized and threatened `Abdullah ibn `Abbas for he used to defend earnestly the divinely commissioned leadership of Imam `Ali. Having heard Ibn `Abbas’s opinion on the caliphate and the worthiness of Imam `Ali in the position of leadership, `Umar said, “Ibn `Abbas: I have been informed that you have been spreading among people some words about which I do not like telling you so that you will keep the same position that you have with me.”
“What are these words?” asked Ibn `Abbas.
“Rumors have it that you always claim that this position (of leadership) was seized from you out of envy and wrong,” said `Umar.
Showing no flattery, Ibn `Abbas insisted on his opinion; therefore, `Umar said to him when he was about to leave, “In spite of your opinion, I still respect your position.”79
On another, yet similar, situation, Ibn `Abbas narrated that `Umar did not like his argument and he thus flamed up with rage; but Ibn `Abbas could amend the situation.80
On a third situation, after Ibn `Abbas had overwhelmed in argument, `Umar ordered him to keep the matter secret, for if he would hear it from a third person, he (either `Umar or Ibn `Abbas) would not spend another night in the city.81
The previous situations prove that `Umar feared that the same words of Ibn `Abbas would be repeated by people whom would have rallied against his government whose legal bases would thus be collapsed.
The previous constraint on displaying the proofs on the Imamate of the Ahl al-Bayt and, for the meantime, the reporting of the Hadiths proving such divinely commissioned position make us understand that Abu-Bakr and `Umar intended smartly to conceal the features of their policy by reporting and listening to the Hadiths revealing the Ahl al-Bayt’s merits.
From the other side, they stopped strictly against anyone who would exceed the defined limits of reporting the Hadith. Accordingly, the blackout practiced on the Hadiths revealing the Ahl al-Bayt’s merits and divinely commissioned leadership was not the one and only reason for the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadith.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that this issue played a role in the decision of the prohibition, especially the prohibition from explained matters that dealt with the origin of the caliphate, but this role was partial as it had come under a more comprehensive frame that surrounded a wider, more general, and more wide-ranging purport.
To sum it up, the claims of al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy (died in AH 463) mentioned in his book entitled ‘Taqyid al-`Ilm’ cannot stand for a perfect proof on the aforementioned opinion for the phrase ‘Ahl al-Bayt’ has not been mentioned in the narration of al-Qasim ibn Sallam (died in AH 224), in addition to the criticisms that were addressed to him. As a result, the prohibition of recording the Hadith was not purposed for this reason, which cannot be regarded as the one and only cause of the decision.
In addition to the aforementioned report about `Alqamah’s book of Hadith that was erased by `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, there are other seven reports relating similar events. Let us now display these reports:
1) Ibn Fudayl has narrated that Husayn ibn `Abd al-Rahman ibn Murrah said: We were visiting `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud when Ibn Qurrah came carrying a book: “I found this book in Syria and it was astonishing; therefore, I have brought it to you.”
2) As `Abdullah looked in the book, he commented, “The past nations perished only because they followed such books and left their (divinely revealed) Book.” He then asked for a washtub in which he put that book and erased it.82
3) `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad has narrated that his father said: `Alqamah and I found a book and took it directly to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud. It was about midday when we sat at his door waiting for permission.
When he woke up, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud sent his bondmaid to see who was at the door. When she informed him, he permitted us to enter. As we were in, he asked us, “You have been waiting for a long time, have you not?”
4) “Yes, we have,” answered we.
5) “Why did you not ask for permission to get in?” asked `Abdullah. “We expected that you were asleep?” answered we.
6) “You should not have thought so, because this is an hour that is as valuable as the hours of the Night Prayer (Salat al-Layl),” said `Abdullah.
7) We then showed him the book saying, “This is a paper containing an astonishing narratives.”
8) Surprisingly, he took the book, asked his bondmaid to bring his a washtub full of water, and erased that book with his hand reciting (Almighty Allah’s saying) ‘We narrate unto thee (Muhammad) the best of narratives.’”
9) We asked him to look in the book for it contained good Hadiths, but he kept on erasing it saying, “These hearts are containers; therefore, you must full it with the Qur’an and nothing else.”83
10) It has been narrated on the authority of `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad on the authority of his father that `Alqamah once brought a book from Makkah (or the Yemen) comprising Hadiths about the Ahl al-Bayt—the Holy Prophet’s Household. We then visited `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud and gave him that book. He asked his bondmaid to fetch him a washtub filled with water. We asked him to read that book since it contained great Hadiths, but he put the book in the water and erased it reciting (Almighty Allah’s saying),
‘We narrate to you the best of narratives, by Our revealing to you this Qur’an. (Holy Qur’an: 12:3)’
He then said, ‘Hearts are like bowls. You should thus fill in them with the Qur’an, nothing else.’84
11) It has been narrated on the authority of Sulaym ibn al-Aswad that he said: `Abdullah ibn Mirdas and I found a book comprising some narratives and Qur'anic verses with a man from the (tribe of) al-Nakha`. We arranged to see him in the mosque after `Abdullah ibn Mirdas had decided to buy that book with one dirham85.
While we were still in the mosque, a man came and told us that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud wanted us. I passed through the circle of the people until I reached `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud and found him catching with that book. He then said, “Verily, the best guidance is that of Muhammad and the best narrative is the Book of Almighty Allah.
Similarly, the worst matters are the innovated. You are conveying narratives and listening to others’ narratives. If you happen to find an innovated matter, you must adhere to the foremost guidance.
Nothing except this book and its likes had caused perdition to the past nations. They inherited it through generations until they neglected the Book of Almighty Allah as if they had never known it. I hereby adjure you by Almighty Allah to bring me any similar book you may find. I swear by Almighty Allah that if I know that such a book is found in Dayr al-Hind, I will go there to bring it.”86
12) It has been narrated on the authority of Ash`ath ibn Sulaym that his father said: I used to sit with some people in the mosque and one day, I found them reciting a book that contained astonishing statements of glorification and praise of Almighty Allah. I then asked the owner to give them to me so that I would take a copy, but he apologized that another man had asked for them.
One day, I entered the mosque and listened to a boy summoning people to be present in `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s house. I therefore went there and found him carrying the same book that I had intended to copy.
He then said, “Verily, this book contains sedition, delusion, and heresy. The past nations who had Divine Books perished because they followed such books and neglected the Book of Allah. I hereby ask anyone who knows where such books are found to lead me to them. I swear by Him Who prevails my soul that if I know that such a book is found in Dayr al-Hind, I will bring them even if I will have to go there on foot.” He then asked for water and erased that book.”87
13) …`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud made all efforts for obtaining the book found with some people until he obliged them to bring him that book. When he obtained it, he erased its contents saying, “The past nations who had Divine Books perished because they entered upon the books of their scholars and bishops and neglected their Lord’s Book. (according to another narration, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, “They neglected the Torah and Gospel until they, as well as the religious rulings therein, were obliterated.”)88
14) It has been narrated on the authority of `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Aswad that his father said: A Syrian man carrying a book that comprised Abu’l-Darda’s words and narratives came to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud saying, “Abu-’Abd al-Rahman: may you have a look in this book that comprises words of Abu’l-Darda, your brother?” `Abdullah took the book and read it until he reached his house.
Upon reaching there, he asked his bondmaid to bring him a washtub filled with water. He then erased the contents of the book reciting Almighty Allah’s saying, “Alif. Lam. Ra. These are verse of the Scripture that maketh plain. Lo! We have revealed it, a Lecture in Arabic that ye may understand. We narrate unto thee (Muhammad) the best of narratives in that We have inspired in thee this Qur'an, though aforetime thou wast of the heedless.” He then added twice, “Do you intend to find narratives better than those of Almighty Allah?”89
A comprehensive look in the previous narrations altogether brings forth conclusions that are contrary to those presumed by the adopters of the aforementioned opinion. Let us now refer to these conclusions in the following points:
1) The narrations of reporting and recording the knowledge prove that all or most of the books mentioned in the previous narrations comprised astonishing materials of which the Muslims had not heard before because they did not agree with the nature of the Islamic legislation. From this cause, such contents were objects of surprise and astonishment. Had such contents been harmonious to what the Muslims had received and comprehended, they would not have surprised the Muslims.
The previous narrations comprised statements like “I found this book in Syria and it was astonishing,” “This is a paper containing an astonishing narratives” and “I found them reciting a book that contained astonishing statements of glorification and praise of Almighty Allah” all of which prove clearly that the contents of these books did not comprise texts of the Holy Qur'an or the Hadith; otherwise they would not have been astonishing.
2) Except the book that comprised Abu’l-Darda’s words and narratives, all these books did not comprise the words of a definite Sahabiy or narrator of Hadith since the previous narrations had not referred to any definite name being the narrator of such stories and words. Accordingly, the authors of such books are unknown and their contents are not reported from any individual. In other words, they are completely unidentified.
Besides, some of the narrations have proven that the owners of these books were unknown. This is clear in some statements like “I found this book in Syria,” “Alqamah once brought a book,” “A Syrian man carrying a book,” “I found a book comprising some narratives” and other similar statements all of which prove that the source of such books was unknown and thus they cannot be reliable. Correspondingly, Abu’l-Darda’s book contained his own words and stories that he derived from unreliable sources.
3) Some of these books were brought from Syria and others from Makkah or the Yemen. Yet, the source of the others is unknown. Thus, these books were not written by the Sahabah nor were they brought from the center of the Divine Revelation, the seat of the Prophethood, or the home of the Sahabah. Some of these narrations carried statements like “I found this book in Syria,”
“`Alqamah once brought a book from Makkah (or Yemen)” which prove that such difference in identifying the source of these books was because of the uncertainty of the matter, not the narrator. In other words, the carrier of these books did not know the source of these books whose narratives were influenced by the social and geographical factors because Syria was the neighbor of the full-Christian Rome and the center of the Christian momentousness. In view of that, these books might have been ‘missionary’ papers through which the Christians attempted to penetrate the Islamic ideology.
Because of the inconsideration of such books whose sources, writer, and reporters are unknown, the Ahl al-Bayt used to confirm that the books that they have are of famous source, writer, and narrator. In this regard, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq, answering those who accused him of having derived his information from the books of the past nations, says, “This is true. Abu-Hanifah has said the truth. I have read the (Divine) books of Prophet Abraham and Prophet Moses as well as my forefather’s books.”90
Describing the Book of Imam `Ali, the Holy Imams say, “It has been written by Imam `Ali as exactly as received from the mouth of the Messenger of Allah.” As a result, the Holy Imams have declared that the books that they kept and copied were inherited from the most trustworthy ones of each generation up to the Messenger of Allah and that they comprised the laws of Allah beginning with Prophet Abraham and Prophet Moses up to Prophet Muhammad. `Abdullah ibn `Adiy al-Jurjaniy, in al-Kamil, writes down that “Ja`far ibn Muhammad (Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq) have narrated very much on the authority of Jabir (ibn `Abdullah al-Ansariy—one of the most trustworthy Sahabah) and on the authority of his father who narrated from his fathers. He also kept many copies (books) that belonged to the Holy Prophet’s Household.”91
4) Most, if not all, of these books comprised neither religious rulings and laws nor exegesis of the Holy Qur'an. Apparently, they comprised narratives, accounts, and invocations whose source was something other than Almighty Allah. Usually, such narratives, accounts, and invocations were invented by storytellers and taletellers who used to overstate some facts and belittle others according to certain conditions, tendencies, and tribal fanaticism as well as similar circumstances that change one’s inclinations.
The aforementioned narratives included statements like “A Syrian man carrying a book that comprised Abu’l-Darda’s words and narratives,” “I found a book comprising some narratives and Qur'anic verses” and “a book that contained astonishing statements of glorification and praise of Almighty Allah” that prove that these books comprised astonishing stories and tales similar to those currently found in some books of Tafsir (Exegesis of the Holy Qur'an) regarding the details of the Holy Prophets’ stories, such as the falsehood that Prophet Joseph was seduced by the chief’s wife to such a degree that he took the same position that a husband takes with his wife;92 and the falsehood that Prophet David sent one of the commanders of his army to the battlefield so that he would be killed and the Prophet would marry his widow thereafter;93 and the falsehood mentioned in the distorted Torah that after the Flood that Almighty Allah sent to destroy the world, all the people perished; therefore, the two daughters of Prophet Lot got their father to drink wine and then lay with him!94
Hence, they became pregnant and, thus, the line of humanity was survived from extinction;95 and the falsehood that Khadijah bint -daughter of- Khuwaylid96 conspired against her father who would not accept Prophet Muhammad as her husband, got her father to drink and then asked the Prophet to come and propose her; therefore, her father accepted unconsciously.
When he regained his consciousness, he had to accept the matter.97 Such lies and their likes cannot be produced by anyone except Abu’l-Darda, Ka`b al-Ahbar, and their likes who were influenced by the Christian and Jewish cultures.
This fact is supported by the statement that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, having looked in these books, recited Almighty Allah’s saying, “We narrate unto thee (Muhammad) the best of narratives in that We have inspired in thee this Qur'an, though aforetime thou wast of the heedless.” He then commented, “Do you intend to find narratives better than those of Almighty Allah? Do you expect to find accounts better than those of Almighty Allah?” He also said, “Verily, the best guidance is that of Muhammad and the best narrative is the Book of Allah. Similarly, the worst matters are the innovated.” All these quotations and words hint at the contents of these books.
The word of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, “Verily, the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad... etc” confirms that the materials that he erased with water had not been within the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad; rather they had been within the invented innovative material that he would not accept.
By saying such, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud wanted to inform those who were admired by such materials that they had not belonged to the Holy Sunnah, the guidance of the Holy Prophet, or to the Holy Qur'an, because the Holy Prophet had reproached `Umar ibn al-Khattab for he had shown admiration for taking from the papers (i.e. books) of the Christians and Jews and neglected the Hadith of the Holy Prophet.
In this respect, al-Suyutiy has recorded that `Umar ibn al-Khattab, once, said to the Holy Prophet, “O Allah’s Messenger: the Ahl al-Kitab98 are reporting us narrations that grasped our hearts and we were about to write them down.” Reproachfully, the Holy Prophet said,
“Son of al-Khattab! Will you frivolously engage yourselves in perplexity in the same way as the Jews and Christians have engaged themselves in perplexity? I swear by Him Who grasps my soul that I have brought it to you purely white and I have been given the comprehensive wording.”99
Ponder carefully over `Umar’s saying, “...that grasped our hearts...” and compare it to the words said about the papers that were brought to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, such as “People are keeping materials that have admired them...” “This paper comprised an admiring narration...” “They have a paper that admired them...” “I found it and it admired me...”
Again, ponder over the Holy Prophet’s reply to `Umar, “I have brought it to you purely white...” and compare it to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s reply to those whose hearts were grasped by such papers, “Verily, the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad...” Thus, the result will divulge the secret beyond that admiration and the similarity between the reply of the Holy Prophet and that of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud. In addition, it is impossible to find any narration showing such admiration and presenting the Holy Prophet’s threat except those reported on the authority of `Umar ibn al-Khattab through which he showed his admiration for the Jews’ recordations. A deeper ponderation over `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s having erased these papers with water demonstrates that his justification meets the legal trend, especially when we notice that he, instead of burning, erased these papers with water confirming that the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad and the best of narratives is the Holy Book of Almighty Allah and that the most evil of affairs are the innovatives.
More obviously, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud stated, “Verily, this book contains sedition, delusion, and heresy. The past nations who had Divine Books perished because they entered upon the books of their scholars and bishops and neglected their Lord’s Book. They neglected the Torah and Gospel until they, as well as the religious rulings therein, were obliterated.”
From the previous, we conclude that the books that were brought to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud did not comprise religious rulings and laws; they in fact comprised stories, tales, and some invocations related to these fables. It is thus probable that these books comprised the stories of Tamim al-Dariy—the monk who obtained `Umar’s permission to tell tales that might have been similar to those found in these books.100
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud also said, “I hereby adjure you by Allah to bring me any similar book you may find. I swear by Allah that if I know that such a book is found in Dayr al-Hind, I will go there to bring it.” “I hereby ask anyone who knows where such books are found to lead me to them. I swear by Him Who prevails my soul that if I know that such a book is found in Dayr al-Hind, I will bring them even if I will have to go there on foot.” A narrator said that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, “I swear by Allah that if these books were in Dayr al-Hind,101 (i.e. a place very far from al-Kufah) I will bring them even I will have to go there on foot.”102
On the face of it, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s insistence on erasing such books was because they comprised narratives derived from Christian and Jewish sources. He understood that they had been made by monasteries so as to confuse the feeble-minded Muslims as well as those who were ideologically attached to the Christians and Jews. As if the matter was deliberately studied by the Christians, the monasteries intended to draw the feeble-minded Muslims towards the styles of narrating myths and legends.
Having been aware of this objective, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud used to erase these books as soon as he had a primary look at them because he had already known their contents. On this account, he stood firmly against such attempts.
In the meantime, `Umar ibn al-Khattab led a campaign against reporting and recording the Hadith; therefore, some people mixed the two campaigns while, if truth be told and if the matter is seen prudently, there was a great difference between the two.
On the grounds of this conclusions obtained from our comprehensive look in the narrations that reported `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud’s having prevented recording the Hadith, it has been quite true to allege that al-Darimiy’s narration saying that these books erased by `Abdullah comprised statements of praise and glorification of Almighty Allah cannot be sufficiently taken as evidence.
This is because these books did not comprise only such statements; rather there were other things similar to the previously discussed statements, such as those about which `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, “Verily, this book contains sedition, delusion, and heresy.” It is absolutely irrational to claim that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, or any other ordinary Muslim, could ever say these words about statements of praise and glorification of Almighty Allah that he, as well as every Muslim, uttered each day more than once.
Some have claimed that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud warned against the process of recordation, considering it as delusive, apart from what would be written. Yet, the actual statement of `Abdullah does not indicate such, since he said, “Verily, this book contains sedition, delusion, and heresy” and this statement obviously means that the intended was the very contents of that book, not the process of recordation; otherwise, he would have said, “The recordation is sedition, delusion, and heresy!”
The same previous discussion is applicable to the single narration that claimed the existence of Hadiths revealing the Ahl al-Bayt’s merits in the book that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud erased. Supposing the narration is authentic, a number of evidences prove that the book might have comprised fabricated or exaggerated information about the Ahl al-Bayt and their merits.
All the same, it is impossible to believe that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud intended to erase or eradicate the merits of the Ahl al-Bayt after it has been proven that he was one of the grand narrators who reported and spread the merits and remarkable situations of them.
Unlike Abu-Bakr and `Umar, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud did not exercise massive eradication of the records of the Hadith nor did he set fire to them; rather he used the method of erasing with water, which is the legal method of eradicating the books comprising delusive materials and, in the meanwhile, they contain the Holy Names of Almighty Allah, the Prophets, the Prophets’ Successors, and the Imams. As a religious law, it is forbidden to set fire to the Sacred Names; rather they must be erased with water or buried.
Supporting our conclusions, Abu-`Ubayd, a famous scholar, says,
“Since he believed that such books were taken from the Christians, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud disliked looking into them at all.”
Murrah, a famous scholar, says,
“Had these books contained texts from the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud would not have erased them. Actually, these books belonged to the Christians and Jews.”103
There is another probability; `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud might have done so because he understood an advantage (maslahah) that would not have been practiced by another means, or because he practiced Taqiyyah (pious dissimulation) or because he feared the famous rod of `Umar who, in addition to instructing people not to report the Hadith commonly, ordered all the records of the Hadith to be burnt and used that rod against some of the Sahabah who did not carry on that order and, for the same reason, imprisoned others among whom was `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud himself.
As a consequence, it is not unlikely that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud might have done so in order to comply with the general situation of the state and in order not to challenge the orders of `Umar ibn al-Khattab, the caliph, for the aforementioned reasons. In this regard, it has been narrated that al-Harith ibn Suwayd heard `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud saying,
“I will certainly utter the words which any authority orders me to say in case these words will save me from one or two lashes.”
Commenting on these words, Ibn Hazm says that none of the Sahabah violated this rule!104
It has been also narrated that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, out of Taqiyyah, followed al-Walid ibn `Aqabah ibn Abi-Mu`it, the governor of al-Kufah during `Uthman ibn `Affan’s reign, in a congregational prayer when al-Walid, having been drunk, performed the Fajr Prayer in four Rak`ahs (units of prayer)105 then turned his face towards his followers and said, ‘Do you want more?’ `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud answered, ‘We have had it.’106
It is thus not inaccurate to claim that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud might have warned against recording the Hadith because he feared the rod of `Umar and intended to act upon the protection of the Islamic entity. In this regard, it has been authentically narrated that `Abdullah offered a four-Rak`ah prayer with `Uthman ibn `Affan at Mina although he had already declared that such prayer must be shortened into two Rak`ahs (qasr) because he intended to avoid sedition and evil. When he was asked about that while he had reported that the Holy Prophet and Abu-Bakr used to offer a two-Rak`ah’s prayer on such a situation, he answered,
“It is true that the Holy Prophet and Abu-Bakr used to offer a two-Rak`ah prayer on such a situation; but since `Uthman is now the leader, I must not challenge him, for discrepancy is evil.”107
It has been narrated that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said to Ibn `Awf—who wondered about his objection against `Uthman ibn `Affan in the ruling that the Prayer at Mina must be shortened and, in the meantime, he offered that prayer with him in its shortened form—“Discrepancy is evil. When I was informed that `Uthman offered that prayer in its perfect form, I followed him.” Ibn `Awf then decided to imitate `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud in this regard.108
From the previous narrations, we conclude that the Sahabah, the first generation of Islam, used to do anything for the sake of protecting the Islamic entity even if that would cause them to hide their own beliefs and opinions. This fact does not stand against the statement that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was a Sahabiy (singular form of Sahabah) who encouraged the reporting and recordation of the Hadith and spread the merits of the Ahl al-Bayt.
Generally, it happens that one may conceal his beliefs and opinions for the sake of a greater aim or for avoiding a danger. This is applicable to `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud who, according to narrations, spread the merits of Imam `Ali, Fatimah al-Zahra', al-Hasan, and al-Husayn; and was one of the seven persons who witnessed the burial ceremonies of Lady Fatimah al-Zahra' and one of the twelve persons who objected Abu-Bakr’s having seized illegally the leadership of the Islamic community, which had been divinely commissioned for Imam `Ali.
Moreover, his verdicts concerning the religious laws were similar to those issued by the Ahl al-Bayt. All these facts deny the Shi`ite writers’ claim that `Umar ibn al-Khattab prohibited the reporting and recordation of the Hadith for one and only reason—preventing the spread of the Hadiths revealing the merits and the divinely commissioned leadership of the Ahl al-Bayt.
Besides, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud has been regarded as “the slave of the Ahl al-Bayt” for his frequent visits to them; and he believed that to add the Ahl al-Bayt to the Holy Prophet in the ritual blessings of the prayers and other religious rites is obligatory. Accordingly, it is logical to believe that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud warned against recording the Hadith on account of his concern for the general Islamic entity or similar reasons.
Although we do not deny the aforementioned ‘seven’ reasons as a whole and, meanwhile, do not accept it as the major reasons beyond the prohibition of recording the Hadith, it may be, by the consideration of our previous discussions, accurate to some extent and a part of the question.
Let us now keep on investigating the actual reason beyond the decision of prohibiting reporting and recording the Hadith issued by Abu-Bakr and `Umar who forced people to abide by the Holy Qur'an and neglect the Holy Sunnah as proved by the narrations of Ibn Abi-Mulaykah according to which Abu-Bakr said, “Only does the Holy Qur'an stand between you and us,”109 and `Umar and `Ā’ishah said, “The Book of Allah must be sufficient for us,”110 “Nothing must be considered after the Book of Allah” and many similar statements.
Previously, we have mentioned seven justifications for the decision of the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadith that was issued by Abu-Bakr and `Umar. These justifications have been presented by Abu-Bakr and `Umar themselves in addition to some past and modern authors among whom were Orientalists, Sunnites and the Shi`ites. Let us now cite the last reason that will hit the mark.