Suyuti recounts, “His martyrdom and death occurred on the day of ‘Ashura. On that day, the sun was obscured and the horizons remained red for the next six months. This redness, which had never been seen before his martyrdom, was then seen on a daily basis. It has been narrated that on the day of ‘Ashura every stone that was upturned in Bayt al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem) contained red blood under it.”1
One of Imam al-Hasan and Imam al-Husayn’s (as) exclusive virtues, according to authentic hadiths, which have been transmitted by both Sunnis and Shi‘ahs from the Holy Prophet (S), is that these two are the leaders and masters of the youths of Paradise. This honor has not been granted to anyone except these two people.
Let us now examine and deliberate upon these hadiths.
It has been recorded that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two masters and leaders of the youths of paradise.” This tradition has reached high fame and reputation and is classified among the firmly established hadith related in successive chains. Now, let us refer to and discuss the various versions of the hadith that have been recounted:
1. On his own chain of transmission [sanad], Khatib Baghdadi recounts that Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali (as) quoted the Holy Prophet (S) saying,
الحسن والحسين سيدا شباب أهل الجنة، وأبوهما خير منهما.
“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the masters of the youths of Paradise and their father is better than these two.”2
2. On his own chain of transmission, Muttaqi al-Hindi recounts that Imam ‘Ali (as) narrated that the Holy Prophet (S) said to Fatimah (as),
ألا ترضين أن تکوني سيدة نساء أهل الجنة، وأبناك سيدي شباب اهل الجنة.
“Will you not be pleased that you will be the chief of the women of Paradise and your two children will be the chiefs of the youths of Paradise?”3
3. On his own chain of transmission, Ibn ‘Asakir recounts that Ibn ‘Abbas quoted the Holy Prophet (S) saying,
الحسن والحسين سيدا شباب اهل الجنة، من أحبهما فقد أحبّني ومن أبغضهما فقد أبغضني.
“Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are both chiefs of the youths of Paradise. Anyone who loves them, surely loves me, and anyone who hates them, surely hates me.”4
Others who have narrated and recorded this hadith are listed in the following two groups:
This hadith has been recounted by many of the Prophet’s (S) companions including:
1. Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as).
2. Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as)
3. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas
4. Abu Bakr ibn Abi Qahafah
5. ‘Umar ibn Khattab
6. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar
7. Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah Ansari
8. ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud
9. Hudhayfah ibn Yaman
11. Malik ibn Huwayrith Laythi
12. Qurrah ibn Ayas
13. Usamah ibn Zayd
14. Anas ibn Malik
15. Abu Hurayrah Dusi
16. Abu Sa‘id Khudri
17. Bara’ ibn ‘Azib
18. ‘Ali Hilali
19. Abu Ramathah
Many Sunni scholars have also recorded and narrated this noble hadith. Among them are the following:
1. Khatib Baghdadi5
2. Ibn ‘Asakir6
4. Muttaqi al-Hindi8
5. Muhibb al-Din Tabari9
7. Abu Na‘im Isfahani11
8. Ibn Hammad Hanbali12
10. Ibn Majah14
11. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi 15
12. Ganji Shafi‘i16
14. Ahmad ibn Hanbal18
16. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani20
18. Abu al-Qasim Sahmi22
20. Ibn Hajar Haythami24
21. Suyuti 25
23. Ibn Abi Shaybah27
25. Ibn Hibban29
A number of Sunni scholars of hadith have stipulated and confirmed the correctness of this hadith:
1. Hafiz al-Ganji al-Shafi‘i says, “This hadith is healthy [hasan] and founded [thabit]…”34
2. Abu al-Qasim Tabarani, the leader of Sunni scholars of hadith, has related the chain of transmission of this hadith in his “Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabir”. At the same time, he comments on the spiritual state and position of Imam al-Husayn (as). He attributes this hadith to a number of the Prophet’s companions [sahabah] and names all of them… After that, he adds, “The close and strong connection of these chains of transmission to one another is enough to prove the correctness and authenticity of this hadith.”35
3. Al-Hakim al-Neyshaburi says, “This hadith, including the part which says ‘and their father is better than these two’, is correct according to the conditions of the two shaykhs (i.e. Bukhari and Muslim), but they did not collect it.”36 Following this hadith, al-Neyshaburi states, “This is a hadith which can be authenticated in many ways, and I am surprised why these two did not narrate it.”37
4. Dhahabi says, “This hadith is authentic [sahih].”38
5. Al-Tirmidhi says, “This hadith is noble and sound [hasan] but has been isolated and abandoned [gharib].”39 Al-Tirmidhi also narrated this hadith on a different chain of transmission and adds a footnote at the end saying, “This hadith is sound and correct.”40
6. Al-Albani has approved the authentication done by al-Tirmidhi. He says, “The truth of the matter is what has been reported by al-Tirmidhi.”41
Al-Tirmidhi says, “The chains of transmission of this hadith are authentic and the people mentioned in the line of transmission are all truthful according to the distinguished and upheld standards of narrating; in addition, Maysarah ibn Habib (one of the narrators of this hadith) is well known for his trustworthiness.”
Al-Albani has also assented to the authentication done by Hakim and Dhahabi.42
7. Haythami, in his book entitled, “Majma‘ al-Zawa’id”, assents to the authenticity of the above mentioned hadith through the line of transmission of Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri.43
8. Mustafa ibn ‘Aduwwi.44
9. Huwayni Athari in his book entitled, “Khasa’is Amir al-Mu’minin (as)” has approved and assented to the authenticity of this hadith.45
10. Al-Dani ibn Munir Al Zahawi.46
11. Hamzah Ahmad al-Zayn, the renowned and celebrated researcher of the book entitled, “Musnad Ahmad” has categorized this hadith as authentic.47
12. Ibn Hibban has reported this hadith in his “Al-Sahih”.48
This hadith has been recounted through so many chains of transmission that Suyuti and Sam‘ani consider it to be consecutive [mutawatir].49
This hadith is strong evidence to prove the rightful rank of Imam al-Hasan (as) and Imam al-Husayn (as). It proves beyond doubt that they belong to Paradise. This fact puts them in an enviable and exceptional position above the rest of the Holy Prophet’s (S) companions. It is for this reason that some have sought to remedy this situation in order to preserve the positions of their leaders and not fall behind these two.
Because of this, they have engaged in activities to change, alter and even distort the nature of this hadith. They have done so by way of removing certain parts from the hadith, adding extra parts to it, and even going so far as to forge and create a new hadith similar to the original, just for the sake of challenging this renowned hadith and raising the status of their leaders.
We will now examine and refute each of these alterations and distortions.
The hadith recounted by Tabarani mentions the prophets Jesus Christ (as) and John the Baptist (as) to be exceptions. He narrates that Allah’s Prophet (S) addressed Fatimah (as) in the following way:
والله ما من نبي الاّ وولد الأنبياء غيري، وإنّ ابنيک سيدا شباب اهل الجنة الاّ ابني الخالة يحيى وعيسى.
“I swear upon Allah! There was never a man who was raised to the prophethood unless he was the son of a former prophet, other than me. And these two, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, are certainly the chiefs of the youths of Paradise, other than Jesus and John.”50
Firstly, we have to mention that Tabarani has narrated this hadith five times through five different chains of transmission. On the first four chains of transmission, he has repeated the hadith word by word, without any changes in the text at all, “Al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the chiefs of the youths of Paradise.”
On the fifth chain, however, the part, ‘other than Jesus and John’ has been added. Since only the fifth chain of transmission has this added part, it is probable that this hadith has been altered and distorted through supplementation.
This hadith, as recounted by Abu Sa‘id Khudri, also comprises the part ‘other than Jesus and John’ on some of his chains of transmission. He has however omitted it from other channels.51
It is possible for one to object and say, “These kinds of additions and omissions are found in a lot of hadiths. How can one prove that the part ‘other than Jesus and John’ is an alteration and distortion?”
We respond by saying that those hadiths that have either additions or omissions can be identified and corrected because they have been recounted by so many witnesses and on so many chains of transmission which are independent of each other that the sheer popularity of their reportage is sufficient for them to be regarded as correct and adopted as authentic hadiths.
Secondly, the hadith comprising the part ‘other than Jesus and John’ has been attributed to either Imam ‘Ali (as) or Abu Sa‘id Khudri and the chains of transmission of both of these hadiths are disputable.
Let us now examine them carefully:
a. One of the transmitters mentioned on the chain of transmission attributed to Imam ‘Ali (as) is Asbat ibn Nasr. He is a reporter who has been reproached and severely scolded by many of the Sunni scholars of hadith.
Abu Hatam says, “I heard Abu Na‘im saying that he used to consider Asbat ibn Nasr as a weak [da‘if] and unreliable transmitter of hadith.”
Nassa’i says, “He is not a strong [qawi] reporter.”
Saji categorises Asbat ibn Nasr among the weak transmitters of hadith and says, “He has narrated hadiths which are not reliable at all.”
Ibn Ma‘in does not even include or mention him among the reporters of hadith.52 Ibn Hajar has called him “the one who makes many mistakes.” [kathir al-khata’]53 When Ahmad ibn Hanbal was asked about Asbat ibn Nasr, he answered, “I do not narrate what he says regarding anyone.”54 Dhahabi has classified him among the weak transmitters of hadith.55
b. One of the transmitters mentioned in Abu Sa‘id Khudri’s chain of transmission of this particular hadith is Hakam ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman. He, too, is considered weak by some Sunni scholars of hadith.
Ibn Ma‘in categorises him among the weak transmitters of tradition.56
Ibn Hajar says, “He is a man afflicted with a bad and weak memory.”57
Some have turned this noble hadith upside down by endeavoring to prove that it was said in favor of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. The reporters were careful not to overlook the fact that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were old men at the advent of Islam; therefore, they changed the wording of the hadith by removing the word “shabab”, which means “youths”, and inserting in its place the word “kuhul”, which means “old men”.
We will now analyze and refute such hadiths:
Al-Tirmidhi has narrated this hadith through three chains of transmission [sanad].
حدّثنا علي بن حُجر، اخبرنا وليد بن محمد الموقري عن الزهري، عن علي بن الحسين، عن علي بن ابي طالب، قال: کنت مع رسول الله صَلَّي اللهُ عَلَيهِ وآله اذ طلع ابوبکر، وعمر فقال رسول الله صَلَّی اللهَُ عَلَيهِ وآله: هذان سيدا کهول اهل الجنة من الاوّلين والآخرين الاّ النبيّين والمرسلين، يا علي لا تخبرهما.
“This hadith was related by ‘Ali ibn Hujr who quoted Walid ibn Muhammad al-Mawqiri. He quoted al-Zuhri who quoted ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn who in turn quoted ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) who said, ‘I was in the presence of the Prophet of Allah (S) when he saw Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. The Prophet (S) said, ‘These two are the chiefs of the old people of Paradise, from the first to the last save the prophets and messengers. O ‘Ali, do not inform them of this.’’”
This hadith has a number of weaknesses:
Firstly, al-Tirmidhi himself considered this hadith to be estranged and scarce [gharib].
Secondly, al-Tirmidhi himself says that Walid ibn Muhammad Mawwqiri, one of the transmitters on the chain of transmission of the hadith, is considered to be a weak and unreliable reporter of hadith.58
Some other Sunni scholars of hadith also consider Walid ibn Muhammad Mawqiri to be among the weak transmitters of traditions, including:
1. Bukhari says, “His hadiths contain refutable parts.”59
2. Abu Hatam says, “He is a weak transmitter of hadith [da‘if al-hadith].”
3. Ibn Hibban says, “He has forged hadiths and attributed them to Zuhri, and yet Zuhri never said those things at all… Therefore, relying on his hadiths and using them to deduce legal judgment is not permissible at all.”
4. Ibn al-Madini says, “His hadiths should not be recorded and recounted.”
5. Dhahabi has categorized him among weak narrators. He says, “Yahya discredited him and al-Daraqutni classified him among the weak narrators of hadith.”60
6. Ibn Khuzaymah says, “I do not rely on his hadiths.”
7. Nassa’i considers him to be “a rejected and abandoned narrator” [matruk al-hadith] and adds that “Yahya ibn Ma‘in considered him to be an unreliable person.”
It is clear that it is not possible to use such weak traditions in logical argument.
Thirdly, one of the transmitters of this hadith is Zuhri who was one of the nobles and dignitaries of Bani Marwan’s government. He could always be seen in the company of Bani Marwan’s exclusive group. It is for this reason that his own sister considered him to be an immoral and corrupt man.61 In such a case, how can one trust him as a transmitter of hadith?
Shafi‘i and Daraqutni have also characterized him as a person that misrepresents the truth through concealing facts (subreption) [mudallis]. Ibn Hajar has explicitly ranked him in ‘the third level of subreption [tadlis]’.62 It should be borne in mind that subreption, which necessitates the distortion of truth, is a type of lying.
Fourthly, from the Sunni point of view, this hadith has the problem of discontinuity and cessation [inqita‘] in transmission. During the lifetime of Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (as), from whom this hadith has been quoted, was not old enough to be able to directly recount a hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as).
This dilemma, of course, is not faced by the Shi‘ahs who can easily solve the problem of discontinuity and cessation, because their Imams (as) have superseded each other in an unbroken chain of succession. Therefore, there is no such thing as ‘a broken chain of transmission’ in hadith transmitted through the Imams, because every Imam quotes his father, who in turn quotes his father,
until the quotation reaches their ancestor the Holy Prophet (S).
Fifthly, all people in heaven are youths. There are no old men in heaven at all. (This issue is discussed in more detail in a later section entitled ‘The Problem with the Text of This Hadith’.)
Sixthly, why would the Holy Prophet (S) be disinclined to let Imam ‘Ali (as) expose this hadith?
On his second chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi has quoted this same hadith from Hasan ibn Sabah Bazar. Hasan Bazar quoted it from Muhammad ibn Kathir, from al-Awza‘i, from Qutadah, from Anas ibn Malik, and Anas ibn Malik quoted it from the Holy Prophet (S). It will be shown that this chain of transmission has weaknesses also, and its falsity can therefore be proven.
Firstly, al-Tirmidhi considers this hadith, like the previous one, to be estranged and scarce [gharib].
Secondly, one of the transmitters on the chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir Masisi. He is considered a weak narrator of hadith by a number of Sunni scholars of hadith. Some of the scholars who consider and categorize him to be a weak narrator are as follows:
1. Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, “The name of Muhammad ibn Kathir was mentioned in my father’s presence. My father seriously rebuked him as a weak narrator of hadith and called him as one whose hadiths should be denied [munkir al-hadith].”
2. Salih ibn Ahmad quotes his father as saying, “In my opinion, he is not trustworthy [thaqah].”
3. Some people said to Ibn al-Madini, “This hadith has been narrated by Muhammad ibn Kathir. He quotes it from al-Awza‘i, who quotes from Qutadah, and Qutadah quotes from Anas.” Ibn al-Madini answered, “In the past I had the desire to meet this shaykh, but now I do not wish to do so anymore.”
4. Abu Dawud says, “He did not understand or comprehend hadith at all.”63
5. Abu Ahmad Hakim does not consider Muhammad ibn Kathir to be a strong Sunni narrator of hadith.
6. Nassa’i presents him as one who is “full of mistakes” [kathir al-khata’].
Thirdly, another narrator on this chain of transmission is Qutadah who has been introduced as a frontrunner in the misrepresentation of facts [tadlis].64
On his third chain of transmission, al-Tirmidhi has quoted this hadith from Y‘aqub ibn Ibrahim Dawraqi. Y‘aqub ibn Ibrahim Dawraqi quotes it from Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah quotes from Dawud. Dawud quotes from Shi‘bi and Shi‘bi from Harith. Harith quotes from ‘Ali (as), and Imam ‘Ali (as) quotes it from the Holy Prophet (S).
This chain of transmission, like the others before, has various weaknesses.
Firstly, Nassa’i and other Sunni scholars of hadith have stipulated in a clear and firm way that Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah is a misrepresenter of facts [mudallis].
Ibn Hajar has also classified him as belonging to the third level of subreption and distortion of facts [tadlis]. Nevertheless, he has spared him harsh words and instead has apologetically said, “He has only engaged in subreption regarding trustworthy people.”
However, if it were true that all the reporters were trustworthy people, why was it necessary to engage in subreption at all? Subreption which is intentional misrepresentation through the concealment of pertinent facts is considered by the majority of Sunni scholars as one of many types of lying [kidhb].65
Secondly, one of the narrators on the chain of transmission of this hadith is Dawud ibn Abi Hind. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has described him as ‘a man full of anxiety and unease when confronted by the scholars of hadith, and a person about whom there are many differing opinions among the scholars [‘ulama’]’.66
Thirdly, it is surprising that Sha‘bi has quoted a hadith from Harith, because he himself considers Harith to be a liar [kadhib]. We will discuss this matter in the next discussion.
Ibn Majah has narrated this hadith through two chains of transmission [sanad].
On his first chain of transmission, Ibn Majah quotes this hadith from Hisham ibn ‘Ammar, from Sufyan, from Hasan ibn ‘Amarah, from Faras, from Shi‘bi. Sha‘bi quotes the hadith from ‘Ali (as), and ‘Ali (as) quotes it from the Holy Prophet (S).67
Problems concerning this chain of transmission:
Firstly, one of the transmitters on this chain of transmission is Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. He is widely believed to be a liar and a distorter of hadith. Lying and distortion of facts [tadlis] occurs when a transmitter attributes statements to someone when in actual fact he did not hear them from that person.
Secondly, another person named as one of the transmitters of this hadith is Hasan ibn ‘Amarah. He is believed to be worse at distorting facts than Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah. All the Sunni leaders and scholars have classified him among the weak transmitters of hadith. Among those who consider him to be a weak reporter are:
1. Al-Bayhaqi says, “He was abandoned [matruk] as a narrator. No reliable verdict can be deduced on the basis of his hadiths.”68
2. Al-Daraqutni has classified him among the weak narrators of hadith.69
3. In his book called “Majruhin”, Ibn Hibban has mentioned him as a weak narrator of hadith.70
4. Yahya ibn Mu‘in has classified him among the unworthy transmitters of hadith.
5. Ibn Hibban quotes Shu‘bah as saying, “We do not have any problem with hadiths that he narrated, just as we would not have any problem if he were to commit fornication or adultery.” Shu‘bah said this to mean that the weight of these two sins, recounting distorted or false hadith and committing adultery or fornication, are equal.
Thirdly, Shi‘bi, one of the transmitters on this chain of transmission, is a person who cunningly found his way into the government of Bani Umayyah. He was the private tutor of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan’s children. He was also the high judge and jurist during the reign of Hajjaj in Kufah.71
It is narrated that Ahnaf said to him, “You should judge between people according to Allah’s decrees.” He replied, “I do not judge according to my Lord’s decrees. I judge according to my own decrees.”72
Ibn Abi al-Hadid recounts, “Jamilah, the daughter of ‘Isa ibn Jarad, was a very beautiful woman. One day she lodged a complaint with the high court against one of her enemies. Shi‘bi judged in favor of the beautiful woman. Because of this judgment, Hudhayl Ashja‘i composed a poem that alluded to the unfair judgment.”73
Fourthly, Shi‘bi quotes this hadith from Harith, while he himself always accused Harith of lying.
In the introduction of his book entitled “Al-Sahih”, Muslim says that he heard Shi‘bi saying, “Harith A‘war Hamadani used to be one of our transmitters of hadith, and he is certainly a habitual liar.”74
Ibn Hibban quotes from Shi‘bi saying, “Harith narrated for us and I bear witness that he is surely one of the depraved liars.”75
Ibn Hajar, while narrating an account of Harith, says, “Shi‘bi considers him to be a liar. He has also been considered to be a heretic, and weaknesses can be found in the hadith he recounts.”76
Nuwi in his book entitled, “Khulasah” says, “There is unanimity among Sunni scholars of hadith that Harith is a weak transmitter of hadith because he is a liar.”77
On this chain of transmission, Ibn Majah quotes this hadith from Abu Shu‘ayb Salih ibn Haytham Ta’i who quotes from ‘Abd al-Qudus ibn Bakr ibn Khunays. ‘Abd al-Qudus ibn Bakr ibn Khanays quotes from Malik ibn Mughul who quotes from ‘Awn ibn Abi Juhayfah. ‘Awn ibn Abi Juhayfah quotes from his father who finally quotes from the Holy Prophet (S).
To substantiate the falsity of this hadith, suffice it to say that one of the narrators on the chain of transmission is ‘Abd al-Qudus. He is a person about whom Ibn Hajar says, “Mahmud ibn Ghaylan relates that Ahmad, Ibn Mu‘in and Khaythamah said that they deleted and cancelled all the hadith which he had recounted for them.”80
Haythami has narrated this same hadith. On his chain of transmission, he quotes from ibn Juhayfah who quotes from Allah’s Prophet (S).81
The problem with this transmission is that one of the other narrators included on his chain of transmission is Khunays ibn Bakr ibn Khunays who has been classified among the weak narrators of hadith by Salih ibn Jazrah.82
Dulabi has recounted this hadith on a different chain of transmission through ibn Juhayfah from the Prophet of Allah (S). One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Khunays ibn Bakr ibn Khunays who has already been classified among the weak transmitters of hadith.
‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal has also recounted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (S).83 However, one of the narrators on his chain of transmission is ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar Yamani whom Dhahabi has described to be obscure, vague and ambiguous.84 Another narrator on his chain of transmission is Hasan ibn Zayd, who was Mansur’s caretaker in Medina and was one of the companions of Mahdi ‘Abbasi after that. Ibn ‘Uday says, “His hadith are controversial and difficult to accept.”85 In addition, Fatani says, “He is a weak transmitter of hadith.”86
Baghdadi has narrated this hadith on four chains of transmission:
Baghdadi has narrated this hadith on a chain of transmission through Anas ibn Malik.87 However, one of the narrators on his chain of transmission is Yahya ibn ‘Anbasah. We are compelled to consider this chain of transmission weak for the following reasons:
Ibn Hibban has mentioned Yahya ibn ‘Anbasah in his book, “Al-Majruhin”. Ibn Hibban writes, “He is the leader of all imposters [shaykh al-dajjal]. He has forged hadith and attributed them to Ibn ‘Uyaynah, Dawud ibn Abi Hind, Abi Hanifah and other trusted narrators of hadith. Quoting hadith from him is not acceptable at all.”88
Daraqutni has described him as an impostor [dajjal].
Ibn ‘Uday says, “He rejects authentic hadith [munkir al-hadith]. Therefore, his position (as a relater of hadith) is clear.”89
Dhahabi has included him in his “Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin” (the Collection of the Weak and Rejected Transmitters of Hadith).90
In addition, one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Hamid Tawil, about whom Dhahabi says, “We do not know who he is.”91
Baghdadi has quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as), and Imam ‘Ali (as) is said to have quoted it from the Holy Prophet (S). One of the narrators included on this chain of transmission is Bashshar ibn Musa al-Khaffaf. Bukhari has described Bashshar ibn Musa al-Khaffaf to be a man who rejects authentic hadith [munkir al-hadith], preferring distorted and/or altered ones instead. Ibn Mu‘in has described him as an impostor [dajjal] and Abu Zar‘ah considers him to be a weak narrator of hadith [da‘if].92
Other narrators on this chain of transmission are Shi‘bi and Harith, whom have already been discussed and classified among distorters and weak narrators of hadith.
On his third chain of transmission, Baghdadi has quoted this hadith from Ibn ‘Abbas on two different channels.93
One of the narrators on the first chain of transmission is ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Musa, whom the Sunni scholars of hadith have described as a hot and firebrand Shi‘ah. It is therefore extremely unlikely that he could really have recounted such a hadith.94 Additionally, Ahmad ibn Hanbal has explicitly ordered transmitters of hadith not to quote his hadith.95
Furthermore, one of the narrators on the first chain of transmission is Yunus ibn Abi Ishaq, whom some Sunni scholars of hadith have classified among the weak [da‘if] narrators. Ahmad ibn Hanbal considers Yunus to be a weak transmitter and mudtarib al-hadith; (i.e. hadiths related by him are shaky and unfounded).96
One of the narrators on this second chain of transmission is Talhah ibn ‘Amru, whom most of the transmitters and scholars of hadith consider to be a weak reporter. Ahmad ibn Hanbal considers him to be worthless altogether [la shay’] and believes that hadith related by him are rejected. Ibn Ma‘in has classified him among the weak transmitters and Jawzajani says his traditions are not satisfactory.
Abu Hatam has classified him among the weak narrators. Bukhari says he is worthless and Nassa’i considers him to be a rejected, abandoned [matruk al-hadith] and untrustworthy [ghayr-u thaqah] reporter. Ibn al-Madini says he is a weak and worthless transmitter while Ibn Hazm considers him to be the greatest of liars and believes that hadiths related by him must be rejected.
Ibn Hibban says, “He attributes hadiths to trustworthy people, but these hadiths cannot be traced back to or found in the actual statements of these people.”97
This hadith has also been narrated on a chain of transmission which goes back to Ibn ‘Abbas. One of the transmitters on that chain of transmission is Talhah ibn ‘Amru, whose position has already been analyzed.
Baghdadi has recounted this hadith in his book called “Mawdih Awham al-Jam‘ wa al-Tafriq”.98 However, one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is ‘Akramah ibn Ibrahim, about whom Hibban says, “He distorts hadith and uses them in instances where they do not apply.
It is for this reason that deducing evidence for the purpose of passing legal judgment is not permissible, if the basis for such a verdict is a hadith related by him.” Ibn Mu‘in and Abu Dawud have described him as a worthless person and Nassa’i has categorized him to be among the weak narrators of hadith.99
Ibn Hajar has quoted this hadith from ibn ‘Umar in his book “Lisan al-Mizan”.100 One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is ‘Ubayd Allah ibn ‘Umar.
Ibn Hajar quotes Ahmad ibn Hanbal saying, “For some time, we used to burn hadiths reported by him.” Jawzajani considers him to be a weak spirited man [da‘if al-amr]. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has listed a number of people who have classified and recorded his other weaknesses [tad‘ifat].101
In the book called, “Tarikh-e Baghdad” (The History of Baghdad), Ibn al-Najjar has narrated this hadith on his own chain of transmission from Anas. One of the transmitters on this chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir whom we have already categorized among the weak transmitters.
Ibn ‘Asakir has recounted this hadith on his own chain of transmission. He quotes it from al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (as). One of the transmitters on his chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Yunus Qarashi Kadimi. Daraqutni has accused him of forging and creating new hadiths. Ibn Hibban says, “He used to forge hadith.
He has falsely attributed more than a thousand invented hadiths to trustworthy people.” Ibn ‘Uday says, “He is accused of forging hadith. It is for this reason that most of our scholars abandoned and rejected hadiths reported by him.”
Ibn Abi Shaybah has quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as). One of the narrators on his chain of transmission is Musa ibn ‘Ubaydah Rabadhi, about whom Ahmad ibn Hanbal says, “The hadiths he recounts are not worthy of being recorded.” Nassa’i and others have classified him among weak transmitters of hadith.
Ibn ‘Uday says, “There is apparent weakness in the hadiths he reports.” Ibn Mu‘in has described him as a worthless narrator. Yahya ibn Sa‘id says, “We abstain from hadiths recounted by him.”
Likewise, one of the transmitters mentioned on this chain of narration is Abi Ma‘adh. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has prohibited narrating hadiths related by him. Ibn Mu‘in has described him as a worthless reporter. Jawzajani has nullified him altogether. Abu Dawud and Daraqutni have described him as an abandoned and obsolete reporter.102
In addition, ‘Ya Abi al-Khattab’, the person from whom Abi Ma‘adh quotes this hadith, is unknown.
Tahawi has narrated this hadith on four chains of transmission in the book called, “Mushkil al-Athar”.
This hadith has been quoted from Anas ibn Malik. One of the people on this chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir San‘a‘i, whose weaknesses and shortcomings we have already mentioned.
On this chain of transmission, the hadith has been quoted from Imam ‘Ali (as). The person that quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as) is Abi Janab Yahya ibn Abi Hayyah Kalbi. Yahya ibn Qattan did not consider quoting traditions narrated by him to be lawful [halal].
Falas has described him as an abandoned and obsolete reporter of hadith. Nassa’i and Daraqutni and ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah have called him a weak narrator.103
Ibn Hibban says, “He used to attribute what he heard from weak reporters to trustworthy people… That is why Yahya ibn Qattan has considered hadiths related by him to be baseless and groundless. Ahmad ibn Hanbal has viciously attacked him.”104
Furthermore, one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Shi‘bi, whom we have already shown to be a weak reporter.
On the third chain of transmission, Tahawi has also quoted this hadith from Imam ‘Ali (as). One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Shi‘bi who quotes this hadith from Harith. We have already shown both Shi‘bi and Harith to be weak reporters of hadith.
On the fourth chain of transmission, this hadith has been quoted from Abu Sa‘id Khudri. Suffice it to say that one of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Asbagh ibn Faraj who was one of the chiefs of Bani Umayyah.105
Another person on this chain of transmission is ‘Ali ibn ‘Abbas. Hibban has mentioned him in his book “Al-Majruhin”. Hibban considers legal judgment deduced by relying on hadiths related by ‘Ali ibn ‘Abbas to be null and void.106
Another problem with this chain of transmission is that one of the narrators is Kathir al-Nida’, whom Dhahabi has included in his “Diwan al-Du‘afa’ wa al-Matrukin” (the Collection of the Weak and Rejected Transmitters of Hadith).107
Ibn Abi Hatam has narrated this hadith on three chains of transmission, but he himself has nullified all the three chains.108
Tabarani has narrated this hadith on two chains of transmission:
On this chain of transmission, Juhayfah has quoted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (S).109 One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Khunays ibn Bakr, who has been considered a weak reporter by Salih Jazrah. Buysari has also criticized him.110
On this chain of transmission, Anas ibn Malik has quoted this hadith from the Holy Prophet (S). One of the narrators on this chain of transmission is Muhammad ibn Kathir, whom we have already shown to be a weak reporter.
This hadith has been recorded in the first chapter of his book. Suffice it to say that one of the narrators on his chain of transmission is Nuh ibn Abi Maryam, about whom Ibn Hibban has said, “He used to forge and counterfeit chains of transmission. He has narrated hadiths from trustworthy people which cannot be found or traced to their actual narrations. Therefore, deducing legal proof and judgment [ihtijaj] by relying on hadiths reported by him is not permissible at all.”111
Muslim and other scholars of hadith have referred to him as a disparaged narrator [matruk al-hadith] and Bukhari has called him a rejecter of hadith [munkir al-hadith]. Hakim and Ibn al-Jawzi have called him a forger of hadith.112 Ibn al-Jawzi has mentioned the hadiths he forged in several places. Hakim says this about him, “He has been blessed with everything except truthfulness.”113
The previous traditions were documented hadiths which some have narrated as regards the issue of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar being the leaders of the elderly of heaven. However, it has been clearly shown that none of the chains of transmission for this hadith is authentic or correct.
Others, too, have narrated this hadith in their books, but they have narrated the hadith in such a way that it gives rise to cessation and discontinuity of transmitters on the chains of transmission, which classifies them as weak hadiths.
The fundamental problem with the text of this hadith is that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar have been called ‘the two leaders of the elderly of Paradise’ whereas other texts of hadith explicitly state that there are no old people in heaven; on the contrary, such hadiths state that the people in Paradise are all youths aged thirty. Note the following:
1. Abu Hurayrah has recounted that the Holy Prophet (S) said, “The people that are destined to enter paradise will be tall, will have no beards on their faces, will have curly thick hair on their heads and will be thirty years of age. Their youth will be endless and their clothes will not wear out.”114
2. Abu Sa‘id Khudri narrated from the Holy Prophet (S) that he said, “Whoever dies, whether young or old and is destined to Paradise will enter as a thirty-year-old youth and his age will never be increased. Those entering the Hell will be of the same age.”115