The Author’s Response

This was the precious foreword which Dr. Taha Husayn published about the book “Adwa’ ‘ala al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiyyah” after reading it. Had I be obliged to present to him the most sincere and deepest gratitude, for the extreme care he exerted for my book, making him to read it more than once, but which delights me – for which I praise God – being that his lordship, though being the honourable scholar and renowned critic, has never put his hand on anything liable to be censured, from among the book’s topics – that all being critical – which no book had ever contained, except some points that seemed for him “mere slips for which he is not to blame” as he expressed himself in his foreword.1

On the margin of these slips I give the following brief comment, hoping it win his pleasure and approval.

The first of these slips being his raising doubt about the plot to assassinate Umar, and the collaboration of Ka‘b al-Ahbar in it. On reading his words in this respect, I smiled and asked myself, how would the truth of such a thing be unrealized by him while he being the investigating and penetrating scholar. I eagerly awaited the publication of his book al-Shaykhan, so as to see his opinion in regard of murder of Umar. As soon as I read what he stated in this book on this issue, I became rest assured regarding what I referred to in my book, thanking Allah for finding the doubt raised in the mind of Dr. Taha Husayn concerning the intrigue to kill Umar, be vanished, praise be to God.2

The second slip, claiming that I have gone too far in interpretation when saying that Abu Hurayrah has embraced Islam only for filling his abdomen (satiating his hunger). Whereas the fact being that the only reason behind my reference to this matter lies in Abu Hurayrah’s confession to this fact throughout many hadith books. For instance, al-Bukhari has reported from him his saying: I have kept the Prophet’s company only for filling my belly. And again according to Muslim’s narration, he said: I have been at the service of the Prophet in recompense for filling my belly. And confession, as held by men of law and legislation, is the head of evidences.

Thus I have never interpreted or gone to the extreme in this regard, beside the fact that Abu Hurayrah’s biography confirms his confession. As Ibn Sa’d has narrated about him that before embracing Islam he was hired for Ibn Affan and his son Ghazwan with his wage being only food for sustenance. And after his converting to Islam, when he was a lodger at the Siffah, he has done (indecent) things that were demonstrated by al-Bukhari himself and other scholars, which it is out of scope to refer to them here.

Whereas the third and last slip being the Doctor’s doubt regarding what I narrated, that Abu Hurayrah used to eat mudirah with Mu’awiyah and perform his prayers behind Ali, and that how it would be feasible for Abu Hurayrah to behave in this way with being in safe from being accused by any of the two sects with hypocrisy and espionage!

First of all, I would like to tell that references were made to this report in numerous works for eminent historians and scholars like: Shadharat al-dhahab of al-Imad al-Hanbali; al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah of Burhan al-Din al-Halabi; al-Zamakhshari in Rabi’ al-Abrar and Asas al-balaghah; Badi’ al-Zaman al-Hamadani who not only was among renowned writers, but also – as known from his biography – a trustable (thiqah) traditionist having full knowledge in rijal and texts; beside al-Tha’alibi in al-Mudaf wa al-mansub. It is needless to mention all the reference books containing this report, though he who so doing would not fear any loss, since it was commonly known that he (Abu Hurayrah) was neither here nor there (of no use), and was never among the warriors, keeping throughout all his life to be a man of pacifistic nature.

Concerning the harshness in my style (of speech) observed by Dr. Taha, my response is, had he got to know the abundance of slanders and abuses I encountered since the day of publishing some chapters of this book in al-Risalah journal before having the book printed, he would have excused me for what I stated.

However, I have reviewed my writings and revised all the severe statements I made in the book, deleting them from this edition, preferring to repel evil with that which is better, heeding to God’s commandment, passing then by whatever befalling me with dignity (forbearance), with addressing whoever vexing me with the word of peace.

In regard of the severity against Abu Hurayrah, to which the Professor referred, it was never on our part, but it was verily the strength and decisiveness of the proofs encircling him from all sides.

These were brief lines about the slips referred to by Dr. Taha Husayn in his book. I am so delighted that he has never found fault with any of the book’s topics, which being numerous and critical, the likes of which were never published in any all-inclusive book. And also for his calling what he noticed only slips, with expressly saying: “He is not to blame for the slips, to some of which I have referred, since those who are exonerated of defect or deficiency or slips being rarely found nowadays.”

May God preserve him,

Mahmud Abu Riyyah

  • 1. This foreword was published in al-Jumhuriyyah newspaper, in the issue of Tuesday 25 November 1958.
  • 2. The book al-Shaykhan, pp 256,257