2) Hadith Al-Thaqalayn: The Prophet At ‘Arafat (Part 2)

As we have established, it is without doubt that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa alihi, said these words to the people at ‘Arafat during his last Hajj:

يا أيها الناس إني قد تركت فيكم ما إن أخذتم به لن تضلوا كتاب الله وعترتي أهل بيتي

O mankind! I have left behind over you that which if you hold fast to it you will never go astray: the Book of Allah and my offspring, my Ahl al-Bayt.

So, what exactly was he trying to tell the world? Imam al-Mubarakfuri (d. 1282 H) quotes this under his commentary of the hadith:

قال القاري والمراد بالأخذ بهم التمسك بمحبتهم ومحافظة حرمتهم والعمل بروايتهم والاعتماد على مقالتهم وهو لا ينافي أخذ السنة من غيرهم لقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم أصحابي كالنجوم بأيهم اقتديتم اهتديتم ولقوله تعالى فاسألوا أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون

Al-Qari said: “The meaning of holding fast to them is to adhere to their love, to protect their honour, to follow their narrations, and to rely upon their opinions. This does not negate the taking of the Sunnah from other than them, due to his statement, peace be upon him “My Sahabah are like the stars. Whichever of them you follow, you will be rightly guided” and due to His Statement, Exalted be He: “Ask the people of al-Dhikr if you do not know.”1

Al-Qari apparently admits that Hadith al-Thaqalayn commands the Ummah to follow the offspring of the Prophet, ‘alaihim al-salam, after him. His argument, however, is that we should also follow the Sahabah in addition to the Ahl al-Bayt. There are two fatal problems with his submission. First, the hadith he is relying upon is unreliable.

It is graded mawdhu (fabricated) by ‘Allamah al-Albani (d. 1420 H)2. Secondly, Hadith al-Thaqalayn is addressed to all “mankind” – and that naturally included all the Sahabah, the Tabi’in, the Tabi’ al-Tabi’in, the Four Imams, al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Taymiyyah, Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Ibn Baz, Ibn al-‘Uthaymin and others. All of them, without a single exception, were under a strict divine obligation to follow the offspring of Muhammad in everything. The hadith has a general wording, and nothing has been excluded under its order.

Therefore, all humanity from the moment our Prophet left this world till the Last Hour must follow his Ahl al-Bayt in absolutely everything. So, basically, the Sahabah are not supposed to be followed. Rather, they were ordered too to be followers of the Ahl al-Bayt. Meanwhile, in case someone insists that he must still follow the Sahabah, then obedience in Islam is only in al-ma’ruf – in obedience to Allah. In that case, only those Sahabah who complied with the Decree of Allah in Hadith al-Thaqalayn can be followed.

But, al-Mubarakfuri still has one more quote:

وقال ابن الملك التمسك بالكتاب العمل بما فيه وهو الائتمار بأوامر الله والانتهاء عن نواهيه ومعنى التمسك بالعترة محبتهم والاهتداء بهديهم وسيرتهم زاد السيد جمال الدين إذا لم يكن مخالفا للدين

Ibn al-Malik said: “Adherence to the Book of Allah is to follow whatever is in it – and that is to follow the Orders of Allah and desist from His Prohibitions. The meaning of adherence to the offspring (of the Prophet) is to love them, and to seek guidance through their guidance and their way of life.” Sayyid Jamal al-Din added, “if it does not contradict the religion.”3

Ibn al-Malik too concedes that the offspring of Muhammad must be followed, under Hadith al-Thaqalayn. He makes no attempts to explain it away or fix artificial conditions. But, Sayyid Jamal al-Din moves a step forward: he could only follow the Ahl al-Bayt if their guidance or way of life did not contradict the religion! So, he believes that the designated offspring of the Prophet intended in the hadith can go astray too and oppose Islam. This weird opinion of Sayyid Jamal al-Din however directly contradicts the explicit text of the riwayah:

يا أيها الناس إني قد تركت فيكم ما إن أخذتم به لن تضلوا كتاب الله وعترتي أهل بيتي

O mankind! I have left behind over you that which if you hold fast to it you will NEVER go astray: the Book of Allah and my offspring, my Ahl al-Bayt.

You will “never” go astray while following the Ahl al-Bayt. It is a clear guarantee from Allah and His Messenger. This, in turn, means that the offspring of the Messenger – those meant in the hadith among them – are never misguided, and they never misguide. They are always upon the true teachings of the Qur’an and the correct Sunnah of Muhammad, in all their thoughts, sayings, deeds, actions and omissions. Whosoever follows them in absolutely everything will never miss the way.

There is however an opinion within the Ahl al-Sunnah, especially the young Salafiyyah, which insists that the hadith commands to follow the Qur’an only, and nothing else. They cite the use of “it” in it – which is nominally singular – in support of their submission:

إني قد تركت فيكم ما إن أخذتم به

I have left behind over you that which if you hold fast to IT

To them, if the Messenger had intended that both the Book and his offspring must be followed, he would have said: “that which if you hold fast to THEM.” But, there are explicit signs of ignorance in this argument. The “it” (ه) in the hadith is a reference to the “which” (ما) before it. In Arabic, a combination of both is possible even if the allusion is to billions of items. For instance, Allah says:

إن الذين كفروا لو أن لهم ما في الأرض جميعا ومثله معه ليفتدوا به من عذاب يوم القيامة ما تقبل منهم ولهم عذاب أليم

As for those who disbelieve, lo! If all that WHICH is in the earth were theirs, and the likeness of IT with IT, to ransom them with IT from the torment of the Day of al-Qiyamah, it would not be accepted from them. Theirs will be a painful torment.4

We see that “it” here refers to everything in the earth – all the animals, all the constructions, all the minerals, all the lands and so on. Let us see another example:

إن تجتنبوا كبائر ما تنهون عنه نكفر عنكم سيئاتكم وندخلكم مدخلا كريما

If you avoid major sins, that WHICH you have been forbidden from IT, We shall remit from you your sins and admit you to a noble entrance.5

“It” is a direct reference to the “major sins”. With these, obviously, nothing stops the same expression from working for both the Qur’an and the Ahl al-Bayt in Hadith al-Thaqalayn! How do these people reason?!

Interestingly, the alternative hadith which our brothers from the Ahl al-Sunnah love to quote has the same wording too. Imam al-Bayhaqi (d. 458 H) records:

أخبرنا أبو عبد الله الحافظ أخبرني إسماعيل بن محمد بن الفضل الشعراني ثنا جدي ثنا بن أبي أويس ثنا أبي عن ثور بن زيد الديلي عن عكرمة عن بن عباس رضي الله عنهما أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم خطب الناس في حجة الوداع فقال يا أيها الناس أني قد تركت فيكم ما إن اعتصمتم به فلن تضلوا أبدا كتاب الله وسنة نبيه

Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hafiz – Isma’il b. Muhammad b. al-Fadhl al-Sha’rani – my grandfather – Ibn Abi Uways – my father – Thawr b. Zayd al-Dayli – ‘Ikrimah – Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, delivered a sermon to mankind during the Farewell Hajj, and said: “O mankind! I have left behind over you that WHICH if you hold fast to IT, you will never go astray: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.”6

Without a doubt, every single Sunni Muslim – including every single Salafi - understands the “it” in the riwayah to be a reference to both the Qur’an and the Sunnah together! So, why the double standards against Hadith al-Thaqalayn?!

Unfortunately for Sunnis though, this hadith of al-Bayhaqi has a dha’if chain, due to Ibn Abi Uways. He had a poor memory, as al-Hafiz (d. 852 H) states:

إسماعيل بن عبد الله بن عبد الله بن أويس بن مالك بن أبي عامر الأصبحي أبو عبد الله بن أبي أويس المدني صدوق أخطأ في أحاديث من حفظه

Isma’il b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd Allah b. Uways b. Malik b. Abi ‘Amir al-Asbahi, Abu ‘Abd Allah b. Abi Uways al-Madani: Saduq (very truthful), he made mistakes in ahadith due to his memory.7

His memory crisis was, of course, very critical. Al-Hafiz provides further details:

إسماعيل بن أبي أويس عبد الله بن عبد الله بن أويس بن مالك بن أبي عامر الأصبحي … قلت وروينا في مناقب البخاري بسند صحيح أن إسماعيل أخرج له أصوله وأذن له أن ينتقى منها … ما أخرجه البخاري عنه هو من صحيح حديثه لأنه كتب من أصوله وعلى هذا لا يحتج بشئ من حديثه غير ما في الصحيح من أجل ما قدح فيه النسائي وغيره إلا أن شاركه فيه غيره فيعتبر فيه

Isma’il b. Abi Uways ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abd Allah b. Uways b. Malik b. Abi Amir al-Asbahi … I say: We recorded in Manaqib al-Bukhari (Merits of al-Bukhari) with a sahih chain that Isma’il gave his manuscript to him (i.e. al-Bukhari) and allowed him to select from it … Whatever al-Bukhari narrated from him was from the sahih among his ahadith, because he (al-Bukhari) wrote (them) from his (i.e. Ibn Uways’) manuscripts. As such, nothing from his ahadith is accepted as a hujjah except what is in the Sahih (of al-Bukhari), due to the criticisms of al-Nasai and others against him – unless he has been seconded in it, in which case he is accepted as a support in it.8

So, his mistakes in ahadith were severe. As such, whatsoever he narrated from memory – unless he was seconded in it by another person – is dha’if. Interestingly, in the hadith of al-Bayhaqi above, he is not seconded in its reporting from his father, Abu Uways. Moreover, all his (i.e. Isma’il’s) ahadith were transmitted by him from memory, except those in Sahih al-Bukhari. Since the hadith of al-Bayhaqi is not from Sahih al-Bukhari, and Isma’il is not seconded in it, then it is dha’if without a doubt.

Shaykh Ibn Baz (d. 1420 H) also copies the hadith:

اني تارك فيكم ما لن تضلوا إن اعتصمتم به :كتاب الله و سنتي

I am leaving behind over you that WHICH you will never go astray if you hold fast to IT: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah.9

Then, in a rather weird move, he says about it:

أخرجها الحاكم بسند جيد

Al-Hakim recorded it with a good (jayyid) chain.10

Really? In that case, let us check the report as documented by Imam al-Hakim (d. 403 H) himself:

حدثنا أبو بكر أحمد بن إسحاق الفقيه أنبأ العباس بن الفضل الأسفاطي ثنا إسماعيل عن أبي أويس وأخبرني إسماعيل بن محمد بن الفضل الشعراني ثنا جدي عن ثور بن زيد الديلي عن عكرمة عن ابن عباس أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خطب الناس في حجة الوداع فقال : قد يئس الشيطان بأن يعبد بأرضكم ولكنه رضي أن يطاع فيما سوى ذلك مما تحاقرون من أعمالكم فاحذروا يا أيها الناس إني قد تركت فيكم ما إن اعتصمتم به فلن تضلوا أبدا : كتاب الله وسنة نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم

Abu Bakr Ahmad b. Ishaq al-Faqih – al-‘Abbas b. al-Fadhl al-Asfati – Isma’il - Abu Uways:

and Isma’il b. Muhammad b. al-Fadhl al-Sha’rani – my grandfather -Isma’il – Abu Uways:

Thawr b. Zayd al-Dayli – ‘Ikrimah – Ibn ‘Abbas:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, delivered a sermon to mankind during the Farewell Hajj, and said: “Verily, Shaytan has lost hope of being worshipped in your land. However, he is pleased to be obeyed in other than that from your despicable deeds. So, beware! O mankind! Verily, I have left behind over you that WHICH if you hold fast to IT you will never go astray: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet, peace be upon him.11

The Salafi scholar, Shaykh Muqbil, states concerning this hadith in his tahqiq of al-Mustadrak:

حديث ضعيف لأنه من طريق إسماعيل بن أبي أويس عن أبيه وفيهما كلام .وشاهده من طريق صالح بن موسى الطالحي وهو متروك

It is a dha’if hadith, because it is narrated through the route of Isma’il b. Abi Uways from his father, and there is criticism against both of them. Its shahid is narrated through the route of Salih b. Musa al-Talihi, and he is matruk (rejected).12

Unfortunately, Sunni ‘ulama never cease to substitute the genuine hadith with the fake one. In their sermons and publications, they never tell their followers about the true decree of the Prophet to his Ummah. Instead, they frequently quote the counterfeit riwayah as his parting command to us. A well-known contemporary Sunni hadith scientist who is deeply troubled by this ugly situation is Sayyid Hasan al-Saqqaf. He expresses his grave unhappiness about the situation in these sharp words:

وأما حديث] تركت فيكم ما إن تمسكتم بهما لن تضلوا بعدي أبدا كتاب وسنتي [الذي يردده الناس فيما بينهم ويقوله الخطباء على المنابر فحديث موضوع مكذوب وضعه الأمويون وأتباعهم ليصرفوا الناس عن هذا الحديث الصحيح في العترة، فانتبه لذلك جد !!وقد ذكرت جميع طرقه وبينت ما في أسانيده من الكذابين والوضاعين في آخر كتابي} صحيح صفة صلاة النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم {ص (289)

As for the hadith [I have left over you that which if you adhere to them both you will never go astray after me: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah] which people repeat among themselves, and which the lecturers quote on the pulpits, it is a fabricated, false hadith. It was fabricated by the Umayyads and their followers to turn people away from this sahih hadith about the offspring of the Prophet. So, be very careful due to that!! I have mentioned all its chains and exposed the liars and fabricators in its chains at the end of my book Sahih Sifat Salat al-Nabi, peace be upon him and his family, page 289.13

In any case, what matters most to our research here is the Sunni understanding of the dha’if hadith. To them – and to everyone who understands at least some Arabic – it directs all humanity to unconditionally obey the Qur’an and the Sunnah together in all situations and circumstances, as the only way to remain upon the true guidance. In the same manner, the genuine hadith – with an almost identical wording to the fake one – obviously orders us all to obey the Qur’an and the offspring of Muhammad, his Ahl al-Bayt, together, at all times, in all cases and under all circumstances. Whoever fails to do this loses his way, and becomes a heretic.

  • 1. Abu al-‘Ala Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat al-Ahwazi bi Sharh Jami’ al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah; 1st edition, 1410 H), vol. 10, p. 196
  • 2. Muhammad Nasir al-Din b. al-Hajj Nuh al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Dha’ifah wa al-Mawdhu’ah wa Atharihah al-Sayyiah fi al-Ummah (Riyadh: Dar al-Ma’arif; 1st edition, 1412 H), vol. 1, p. 144, # 58
  • 3. Abu al-‘Ala Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Mubarakfuri, Tuhfat al-Ahwazi bi Sharh Jami’ al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah; 1st edition, 1410 H), vol. 10, p. 196
  • 4. Qur’an 5:36
  • 5. Qur’an 4:31
  • 6. Abu Bakr Ahmad b. al-Husayn b. ‘Ali b. Musa al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra (Makkah: Maktabah Dar al-Baz; 1414 H) [annotator: Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Ata], vol. 10, p. 114, # 20123
  • 7. Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Taqrib al-Tahdhib (Beirut: Dar al-Maktabah al-‘Ilmiyyah; 2nd edition, 1415 H) [annotator: Mustafa ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Ata], vol. 1, p. 96, # 461
  • 8. Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Muhammad b. Muhammad b. Hajar al-‘Asqalani al-Shafi’i, Hadi al-Sari Muqaddimah Fath al-Bari (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi; 1st edition, 1408 H), p. 388
  • 9. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. ‘Abd Allah b. Baz, Majmu’ Fatawa al-‘Allamah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Baz, vol. 24, p. 182
  • 10. Ibid
  • 11. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-’Ilmiyyah; 1st edition, 1411 H) [annotator: Mustafa ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Ata], vol. 1, p. 171, # 318
  • 12. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn (Dar al-Haramayn li Taba’ah wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’; 1st edition, 1417 H) [annotator: Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Muqbil b. Hadi al-Wadi’i], vol. 1, p. 161, # 318
  • 13. Hasan b. ‘Ali al-Saqqaf al-Qurashi al-Hashimi al-Husayni, Sahih Sharh al-‘Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah (Amman: Dar Imam al-Nawawi; 1st edition, 1416 H), p. 654, footnote # 385