13) Hadith Al-Thaqalayn: Clarifying The Confusions Of Ibn Taymiyyah (Part 1)

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H) says:

والذي رواه مسلم انه بغدير خم قال إني تارك فيكم الثقلين كتاب الله فذكر كتاب الله وحض عليه ثم قال وعثرتي أهل بيتي أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي ثلاثا وهذا مما انفرد به مسلم ولم يروه البخاري وقد رواه الترمذي وزاد فيه وانهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا علي الحوض

وقد طعن غير واحد من الحفاظ في هذه الزيادة وقال إنها ليست من الحديث والذين اعتقدوا صحتها قالوا إنما يدل على أن مجموع العترة الذين هم بنو هاشم لا يتفقون على ضلالة وهذا قاله طائفة من أهل السنة وهو من أجوبة القاضي أبي يعلى وغيره

والحديث الذي في مسلم إذا كان النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قد قاله فليس فيه إلا الوصية باتباع كتاب الله وهذا أمر قد تقدمت الوصية به في حجة الوداع قبل ذلك وهو لم يأمر باتباع العترة لكن قال أذكركم الله في أهل بيتي وتذكير الأمة بهم يقتضي أن يذكروا ما تقدم الأمر به قبل ذلك من إعطائهم حقوقهم والامتناع من ظلمهم وهذا أمر قد تقدم بيانه قبل غدير خم

As for that which is narrated by (Imam) Muslim, that at Ghadir Khumm he (the Prophet) said: “I am leaving behind over you the two weighty things (al-thaqalayn): the Book of Allah” – and he mentioned the Book of Allah and focused exclusively on it, then he said – “and my offspring, my Ahl al-Bayt. I remind you, by Allah, of my Ahl al-Bayt” three times, this is one of the reports which are documented by (Imam) Muslim alone, and al-Bukhari did not record it. Al-Tirmidhi narrated it, and recorded an additional part for it: “Verily, both shall never separate from each other until they meet me at the Lake-Fount.”

Many of the hadith scientists have criticized this additional part, and he said: “It is not part of the hadith”. As for those who believed in its authenticity, they said, “It only proves that the ‘itrah as a whole, who are the Banu Hashim, will never agree on an error.” This is what a group from the Ahl al-Sunnah say, and it is from the replies of al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la and others.

And the hadith in (Sahih) Muslim – if the Prophet, peace be upon him, really said it – there is nothing in it except a command to follow the Book of Allah (alone); and the command for this matter had already been given before that during the Farewell Hajj, and he did not give a command to follow the offspring (‘itrah).

Rather, he said, “I remind you, by Allah, of my Ahl al-Bayt.” The remembrance of them by the Ummah means that they must remember what had previously been commanded before that, in terms of giving them their rights and refraining from oppressing them. And this matter had already been explained before Ghadir Khumm.1

He also says:

وأما قوله وعترتي أهل بيتي وأنهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا على الحوض فهذا رواه الترمذى وقد سئل عنه احمد بن حنبل فضعفه وضعفه غير واحد من أهل العلم وقالوا لا يصح وقد أجاب عنه طائفة بما يدل على أن أهل بيته كلهم لا يجتمعون على ضلالة قالوا ونحن نقول بذلك كما ذكر القاضي أبو يعلي وغيره

As for his statement “and my offspring, my Ahl al-Bayt. Verily, both shall never separate from each other until they meet me at the Lake-Fount”, this is recorded by al-Tirmidhi. Ahmad b. Hanbal was asked about it, and he declared it dha’if, and many of the people of knowledge equally classified it as dha’if and said, “It is not authentic”. A group have also replied it with that which proves that his Ahl al-Bayt altogether do not agree on an error. They said “We too say that” as al-Qadi Abu Ya’la and others mentioned.2

The arguments of our Shaykh, in simplified forms, are:

There are only two versions of Hadith al-Thaqalayn: that of Sahih Muslim and the other of Sunan al-Tirmidhi.

The version of al-Tirmidhi was declared dha’if by Ahmad and the other people of knowledge.
The version of Sahih Muslim is doubtful too, which is why Ibn Taymiyyah says about it: “if the Prophet really said it”.

The version in Sahih Muslim only commands the Ummah to follow the Qur’an alone. It contains no order to follow the Ahl al-Bayt.

So, no one is obliged to follow the Ahl al-Bayt.

The ‘itrah of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa alihi, are all of Banu Hashim, including all those who are not from his offspring.

These submissions of our dear Shaykh – as usual – contain several levels of misleading information. First and foremost, every single version of the hadith is sahih as we have proved so far – whether that of Sahih Muslim, or Sunan al-Tirmidhi or others. None of them is dha’if. So, even if Ahmad b. Hanbal and some other Sunni ‘ulama had declared some versions of the hadith as dha’if, they would have made such statements in error. Meanwhile, errors of scholars are not followed in Islam, nor are they accepted as hujjah. All the various versions of Hadith al-Thaqalayn have been narrated through sahih or hasan chains. As such, there is no doubt about their authenticity.

Secondly, as Ibn Taymiyyah himself admits, the Prophet had described the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt as “the Two Weighty Things” (thaqalayn). This, of course, was primarily to stress the significance of following them both! Let us remind the esteemed reader of the words of Imam Ibn al-Athir (d. 606 H), a leading classical Sunni hadith linguist, in this regard:

]إني تارك فيكم الثقلين : كتاب الله وعترت] سماهما ثقلين لأن الأخذ بهما والعمل بهما ثقيل . ويقال لكك خطير نفيس ثقل فسماهما ثقلين إعظاما لقدرهما وتفخيما لشأنهما.

[I am leaving among you the Two Weighty Things: the Book of Allah and my offspring], he named them both thaqalayn because holding fast to them both and following them are weighty (responsibilities). And every priceless weighty thing is called thaqal. Therefore, he named them thaqalayn to highlight their significance and to extol their importance.3

So, it is absolutely proved from that term – thaqalayn – alone that the Messenger was forcefully commanding his entire Ummah to follow both the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt after him. The conclusion of Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah is, therefore, a clear misrepresentation of the true instruction of the Prophet of Islam.

Thirdly, our Shaykh has defined the ‘itrah of the Prophet as being the whole of Banu Hashim. This obviously converts the meaning of the word from “offspring” to “clan”. However, this contradicts the default, customary definition of the term. Ibn Manzur, the ace Sunni lexicographer, submits on the word “‘itrah”:

والعامة تظن أنها ولد الرجل خاصة وأن عترة رسول الله، صلى الله عليه وسلم، ولد فاطمة، رضي الله عنها، هذا قول ابن سيده

The common masses claim that it (i.e. ‘itrah) refers to the offspring of the man alone, and that the ‘itrah of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, are the offspring of Fatimah, may Allah be pleased with her. This was the statement of Ibn Sayyiduh.4

Of course, the Messenger of Allah was certainly speaking in the language of the common masses to all of humanity!

Even then, the “offspring” in Hadith al-Thaqalayn are only a few people, and not everyone who is descended from the Prophet. As ‘Allamah al-Albani (d. 1420 H) records, he identified those intended as his offspring in the ahadith as his khalifahs:

إني تارك فيكم خليفتين: كتاب الله حبل ممدود ما بين السماء والأرض وعترتي أهل بيتي وإنهما لن يتفرقا حتى يردا علي الحوض

I am leaving behind over you TWO KHALIFAHS: the Book of Allah - a rope stretching between the heaven and the earth – and my offspring, my Ahl al-Bayt. Verily, both shall never separate from each other until they meet me at the Lake-Fount.5

Then, the ‘Allamah comments:

صحيح

Sahih6

Therefore, anyone who is not a khalifah from the progeny of Muhammad – however pious or knowledgeable he or she is - is excluded from the “offspring” in the ahadith. This automatically excludes all females from the loins of the Messenger. A female can never be a legitimate khalifah in Islam. Moreover, even the number of these male khalifahs from the Ahl al-Bayt is only twelve, as declared by the Prophet himself.

Therefore, only twelve people from the bloodline of Muhammad are included in Hadith al-Thaqalayn. Imam Ahmad (d. 241 H) has this authentic hadith:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا مؤمل بن إسماعيل ثنا حماد بن سلمة حدثنا داود بن هند عن الشعبي عن جابر بن سمرة قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول يكون لهذه الأمة اثنا عشر خليفة

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) – Mumal b. Isma’il – Hammad b. Salamah – Dawud b. Hind – al-Shu’bi – Jabir b. Samurah:

I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: “There will be for this Ummah TWELVE KHALIFAHS.”7

Shaykh al-Arnaut says:

حديث صحيح

It is a sahih hadith.8

So, any other khalifah apart from these twelve is NOT “for” this Ummah. He is only an impostor. This riwayah is extremely significant.

Ahmad again documents:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا هاشم ثنا زهير ثنا زياد بن خيثمة عن الأسود بن سعيد الهمداني عن جابر بن سمرة قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم أو قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يكون بعدي اثنا عشر خليفة كلهم من قريش

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) – Hashim – Zuhayr – Ziyad b. Khaythamah – al-Aswad b. Sa’id al-Hamdani – Jabir b. Samurah:

I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying, or the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “THERE WILL BE AFTER ME TWELVE KHALIFAHS, all of them from Quraysh.”9

Al-Arnaut comments:

حديث صحيح

It is a sahih hadith10

There will no be more than twelve khalifahs after the Rasul. This hadith is explicit and emphatic.

Another point to note is that the khilafah of the twelve from Quraysh, from the Prophet’s offspring, shall remain continuous, unbroken and uninterrupted till the Last Hour. Imam Muslim (d. 261 H) records in this regard:

حدثنا قتيبة بن سعيد وأبو بكر بن أبي شيبة قالا حدثنا حاتم (وهو ابن إسماعيل) عن المهاجر بن مسمار عن عامر بن سعد بن أبي وقاص قال كتبت إلى جابر بن مرة مع غلامي نافع أن أخبرني بشيء سمعته من رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال فكتب لي سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يوم جمعة عشية رجم الأسلمي يقول (لا يزال الدين قائما حتى تقوم الساعة أو يكون عليكم اثنا عشر خليفة كلهم من قريش)

Qutaybah b. Sa’id and Abu Bakr b. Abi Shaybah – Hatim b. Isma’il – al-Muhajir b. Musmar – ‘Amir b. Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas:

I sent a letter to Jabir b. Samurah through my servant, Nafi’, to inform me of something he heard from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. So, he wrote in reply back to me: “I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying on a Friday, on the eve of the stoning of al-Aslami, saying: ‘The religion will never cease to stand until the establishment of the Hour or as long as there are twelve khalifahs over you, all of them from Quraysh.’”11

In simpler words, the rule of the twelve khalifahs will remain uninterrupted as long as Islam, as a religion, “stands” on the surface of the earth. Meanwhile, Islam will never fall until the Hour. So, the rule of the twelve khalifah will last continuously till al-Qiyamah. The very moment their rule ceases, Islam will collapse.

The same point is emphasized in this hadith of Imam Ibn Abi ‘Asim (d. 287 H):

ثنا الحسن بن علي، ثنا سنيد بن داود، عن حجاج، عن ابن جريج، حدثني محمد بن طلحة، عن معاوية بن أبي سفيان أنه قال وهو على المنبر أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسل قال:لا يزال والي من قريش.

Al-Hasan b. ‘Ali – Sunayd b. Dawud – Hajjaj – Ibn Jurayj – Muhammad b. Talhah – Mu’awiyah b. Abi Sufyan, who said while on the pulpit:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “There will never cease to be a wali from Quraysh.”12

Al-Albani comments:

حديث صحيح

A sahih hadith.13

The authority of the wali is called al-wilayah. A reference is made to this, in an hadith of Imam Muslim:

حدثنا ابن أبي عمر حدثنا سفيان عن عبدالملك بن عمير عن جابر بن سمرة قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول (لا يزال أمر الناس ماضيا ما وليهم اثنا عشر رجلا) ثم تكلم النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم بكلمة خفيت علي فسألت أبي ماذا قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم؟ فقال ( كلهم من قريش)

Ibn Abi ‘Umar – Sufyan – ‘Abd al-Malik b. ‘Umayr – Jabir b. Samurah:

I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: “The affairs of humanity will never cease to continue as long as twelve men rule them by wilayah.” Then, the Prophet, peace be upon him said a sentence which was not clear to me. So, I asked my father: “What did the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, say?” He replied, “All of them will be from Quraysh.”14

This hadith, which is extremely crucial, establishes the following points:

The authority of the twelve men is over all of humanity.

As long as human affairs continue on the earth, then one of these twelve men is exercising wilayah over them.

There is always a wali from Quraysh over humanity as a whole at every point in time.

Human affairs on our planet will end with the wilayah of the twelve men only.

Another key fact about these twelve men is that they are all kings. They are all royal khalifahs, in a dynastic system. Imam Ahmad here presents the relevant hadith:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا يونس بن محمد ثنا حماد يعنى بن زيد ثنا مجالد عن الشعبي عن جابر بن سمرة قال خطبنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم بعرفات فقال لن يزال هذا الأمر عزيزا منيعا ظاهرا على من ناوأه حتى يملك اثنا عشر كلهم قال فلم أفهم ما بعد قال فقلت لأبي ما بعد كلهم قال كلهم من قريش

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) - Yunus b. Muhammad – Hammad b. Zayd – Mujalid – al-Sha’bi – Jabir b. Samurah:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, delivered a sermon to us at ‘Arafat and said, “This affair will never cease to be strong, invincible and victorious over whoever opposes it as long as twelve (people) rule by kingdom. All of them….”

(Jabir said): I did not understand what was said after that. So, I said to my father, “What did he say after ‘all of them…’?”. He replied, “All of them will be from Quraysh.”15

Al-Arnaut says:

حديث صحيح

A sahih hadith16

Imam Ibn Hibban (d. 354 H) here documents a mutaba’ah for Mujalid:

حدثنا إبراهيم بن نصر العنبري بسمرقند قال ثنا على بن خشرم قال ثنا عيسى بن يونس عن عمران القبي عن الشعبي عن جابر بن سمرة قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول في حجة الوداع لا يزال أمر هذه الأمة عاليا على من ناواها حتى يملك اثنا عشر خليفة

Ibrahim b. Nasr al-Anbari – ‘Ali b. Khashram – ‘Isa b. Yunus – ‘Imran al-Qubi – al-Sha’bi – Jabir b. Samurah:

I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying during the Farewell Hajj: “The affair of this Ummah will never cease to be victorious over whoever opposes it as long as twelve khalifahs rule by kingdom.”17

Meanwhile, Imam al-Tirmidhi (d. 279 H) has recorded an interesting shahid:

حدثنا أحمد بن منيع حدثنا زيد بن حباب حدثنا معاوية بن صالح حدثنا أبو مريم الأنصاري عن أبي هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم الملك في قريش

Ahmad b. Mani’ – Zayd b. Hubbab – Mu’awiyah b. Salih – Abu Maryam al-Ansari – Abu Hurayrah:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “THE KINGDOM is in Quraysh.”18

‘Allamah al-Albani comments:

صحيح

Sahih19

Imam Ahmad has written it too:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي حدثنا زيد بن الحباب حدثنا معاوية بن صالح قال حدثني أبو مريم انه سمع أبا هريرة يقول قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم الملك في قريش

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) – Zayd b. al-Hubbab – Mu’awiyah b. Salih – Abu Maryam – Abu Hurayrah:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “THE KINGDOM is in Quraysh.”20

Assessing the sanad, al-Albani says:

وهذا إسناد صحيح رجاله ثقات رجال مسلم غير أبي مريم وهو الأنصاري وهو ثقة كما في التقريب

This chain is sahih. Its narrators are thiqah (trustworthy), narrators of (Sahih) Muslim, apart from Abu Maryam, and he is al-Ansari, and he is thiqah (trustworthy) as stated in al-Taqrib.21

Then, he adds:

قلت: زيد ثقة صدوق كما في " الميزان " وقد رفعه، وهي زيادة يجب قبولها كما تقرر في المصطلح.

I say: Zayd is thiqah (trustworthy), saduq (very truthful) as stated in al-Mizan, and he has narrated it in a marfu’ manner. It is a ziyadah which must be accepted as it has been repeatedly mentioned in al-Mustalah.22

In another hadith, the Prophet interchanged “kingdom” and “khilafah”. Imam Ibn Abi ‘Asim records:

ثنا أبو صالح هدبة بن عبد الوهاب، حدثنا النضر بن شميل، ثنا شعبة، عن حبيب بن الزبير، عن عبد الله بن أبي الهذيل قال: كنا نجالس عمرو ابن العاص نذاكره الفقه فقال رجل من بكر لتنتهين قريش أو ليجعلن الله هذا الأمر في جمهور من جماهير العرب فقال عمرو بن العاص: كذبت سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: الخلافة في قريش إلى قيام الساعة.

Abu Salih Hudbah b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab – al-Nadhr b. Shumayl – Shu’bah – Habib b. al-Zubayr – ‘Abd Allah b. Abi al-Hudhayl:

We were sitting with ‘Amr b. al-‘As, discussing al-fiqh. Then, a man from Bakr, said, “If Quraysh do not desist, Allah will place this affair in another group among Arabs.” So, ‘Amr b. al-‘As replied, “You lied! I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying: ‘The khilafah is in Quraysh till the establishment of the Hour.’”23

And ‘Allamah al-Albani says:

إسناده جيد

Its chain is good.24

Ibn Abi ‘Asim further documents:

حدثنا أبو بكر، ثنا عفان، ثنا سكين بن عبد العزيز، عن أبي المنهال سيار بن سلامة قال: دخلت مع أبي على أبي برزة وأنا غلام فقال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: الأئمة من قريش.

Abu Bakr – ‘Affan – Sikkin b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz – Abu al-Minhal Sayyar b. Salamah:

I went with my father to Abu Barzah while I was a still boy, and he (Abu Barzah) said: “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: ‘The Imams are from Quraysh.’”25

Al-Albani comments:

حديث صحيح إسناده حسن

It is a sahih hadith. Its chain is hasan.26

We know from all these authentic ahadith that each true khalifah is a royal king, a wali, and an Imam. By extension, we also see that the khilafah is kingdom, wilayah and Imamah. Notably, since the khilafah is kingdom, it necessarily follows that it is both hereditary and dynastic in nature.

  • 1. Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Halim b. Taymiyyah al-Harrani, Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah (Muasassat Qurtubah; 1st edition, 1406 H) [annotator: Dr. Muhammad Rashad Salim], vol. 7, p. 318
  • 2. Ibid, vol. 7, pp. 394-395
  • 3. Abu Sa’dat al-Mubarak b. Muhammad, Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari, al-Nihayah fi Gharib al-Hadith wa al-Athar (Beirut: al-Maktabah al-‘Ilmiyyah; 1399 AH) [annotator: Tahir Ahmad al-Zawi and Mahmud Muhammad al-Tanahi], vol. 1, p. 216
  • 4. Abu al-Fadhl Jamal al-Din Muhammad b. Mukram b. Manzur al-Afriqi al-Misri, Lisan al-‘Arab (Beirut: Dar Sadir; 1st edition), vol. 4, p. 536
  • 5. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Nasir al-Din b. al-Hajj Nuh b. Tajati b. Adam al-Ashqudri al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami’ al-Saghir wa Ziyadatuhu (Al-Maktab al-Islami), vol. 1, p. 482, # 2457
  • 6. Ibid
  • 7. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurtubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnaut], vol. 5, p. 106, # 21051
  • 8. Ibid
  • 9. Ibid, vol. 5, p. 92, # 20890
  • 10. Ibid
  • 11. Ibid, vol. 3, p. 1453, # 1822 (10)
  • 12. Abu Bakr b. Abi ‘Asim, Ahmad b. ‘Amr b. al-Dhahhak b. Mukhlid al-Shaybani, Kitab al-Sunnah (al-Maktab al-Islami; 1st edition, 1400 H) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 2, p. 533, # 1126
  • 13. Ibid
  • 14. Abu al-Husayn Muslim b. al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naysaburi, Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi) [annotator: Muhammad Fuad ‘Abd al-Baqi], vol. 3, p. 1452, # 1821 (6)
  • 15. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurtubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnaut], vol. 5, p. 96, # 20944
  • 16. Ibid
  • 17. Abu Hatim Muhammad b. Hibban b. Ahmad al-Tamimi al-Busti, Kitab al-Thiqat (Hyderabad: Majlis Dairat al-Ma’arif al-‘Uthmaniyyah; 1st edition, 1393 H), vol. 7, pp. 241-242, # 9878
  • 18. Abu ‘Isa Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Sulami al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami’ al-Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 5, p. 727 # 3936
  • 19. Ibid
  • 20. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurtubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnaut], vol. 2, p. 364, # 8746
  • 21. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Nasir al-Din b. al-Hajj Nuh b. Tajati b. Adam al-Ashqudri al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah wa Shayhun min Fiqhihah wa Fawaidihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma’arif li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’; 1st edition, 1415 H), vol. 3, p. 72, # 1084
  • 22. Ibid
  • 23. Abu Bakr b. Abi ‘Asim, Ahmad b. ‘Amr b. al-Dhahhak b. Mukhlid al-Shaybani, Kitab al-Sunnah (al-Maktab al-Islami; 1st edition, 1400 H) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 2, p. 527, # 1109
  • 24. Ibid
  • 25. Ibid, vol. 2, p. 532, # 1125
  • 26. Ibid