In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنْذِرِينَ وَأَنْزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
"Mankind was one single community, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings and with them He sent the Book in Truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the People of the Book, after the clear Signs came to them, did not differ among themselves except through selfish contumacy. Allah by His Grace guided the Believers to the Truth, concerning that where in they differed, for Allah guides whom He wills to a path that is straight." (al-Qur'an, Baqara, 2:213)
أَفَتَطْمَعُونَ أَنْ يُؤْمِنُوا لَكُمْ وَقَدْ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِنْهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ يُحَرِّفُونَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا عَقَلُوهُ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
"can you (O men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you? - seeing that a party of them heard the word of Allah, and prevented it knowingly after they understood it." (al-Qur'an, Baqara, 2: 75)
فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَٰذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ
"Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say, 'This is from Allah'. To traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write and for the gain they make thereby." (al-Qur'an, Baqara, 2:79)
It had been the practice of the people in the past that after every prophet, they used to make changes in his teachings diametrically and even introduce additions and alterations in the revealed Book. Then Allah had to send another messenger with a fresh set of teachings and in this way He renewed His own earlier religion.
This divine and heavenly discipline thus got perfection and completion only with the advent of the holy Prophet of Islam (P). Allah at this stage decided to introduce the religious code of Islam as a finale to all previous divine systems. For this reason He took upon Himself the responsibility of safeguarding and protecting the heavenly book of Islam against any change or alteration saying:
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
"We have without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption) "(al-Qur'an, Hijr, 15:9)
The basic and fundamental principles of the religious commandments of Islam dealing with Salat, Zakat, Hajj and all that man mostly needs, either pertaining to prayers or to mutual dealings, are pin-pointed in the holy Qur'an. The holy Prophet (P) explained and elaborated the commandments contained in the holy Qur'an. He fixed the Rak'ats in prayers and what was to be recited in them; he also fixed the taxable amount of money and enjoined the rites to be performed during Hajj. He dealt with details of all other religious obligations.
The result is that though the principles of the commandments are all given in the holy Qur'an, yet their elaboration and exposition have been made by the holy Prophet in the form of traditions which have got to be followed as Allah Him self has commanded saying:
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا
"And whatsoever the messenger gives you take it, and whatsoever he forbids,abstain(from it)".(al-Qur'an, Hashr, 59:7)
But unfortunately, some people, even during the life of the holy Prophet attributed lies to him. They fabricated narrations and attributed them to the holy Prophet. This is borne out by one of the sayings of Imam Ali (P) in Nahj al-Balagha. Says he: "During the time of the holy Prophet, some people attributed many lies to him and once (Having come to know of the mischief) he stood up from his seat and addressed the people saying 'whoever attributes lies to me deliberately will find his place in Hell' ". 1
The trouble mongers continued this malpractice (of attributing lies) even after the demise of the holy Prophet. This is how the Islamic commands were tinged with various hues and ultimately dissensions arose among the Muslims as a whole. Since Allah had already guaranteed the safeguard and protection of the holy Qur'an against all sons of alterations or changes, these vicious people laid their unholy hands on. the Hadith of the holy Prophet which are the interpreter and elucidator of the intent and import of holy Qur'an. These people fabricated narrations concerning various topics and attributed them to the holy Prophet. Thus we see what an amount of differences and discords got their easy way into the Muslim ranks, so much so that serious differences arose even on the basic beliefs as well as their off-shoots.
These people went even to the extent of disputing the attributes of Allah: "Has Allah a body and limbs", they asked, "and will He be seen on the Day of Resurrection? If so, how?"2 They also differed even on the holy Qur'an itself and posed questions, like: "Is Qur'an the creation of Allah and no eternal?" or, "Is it ancient and eternal?"
They also disputed the position and entity of the holy Prophets and asked: "Arc the Prophets infallible?". They maintained that the holy Prophets were infallible only so far as their conveying of the divine message was concerned, but in other matters, they were liable to commit sins.
Moreover, they held different view regarding holy Prophet's first revelation, saying, "Did the holy Prophet at the time of his first revelation take Gabriel as a devil who wanted to insinuate him and make fun of him?" or, "Did the holy Prophet knew that it was indeed the Trusted Spirit and was revealing and inspiring the Qur'an into his heart?"3
They also had divergent views on the issues related to subsidiary commands (of Islam), for instance, "Should a man, performing ablution, wash his feet or wipe them clean; or, a man going to recite the opening chapter (al Fatiha) in the beginning of Prayer commence it with 'Bismilla Hir Rahmanir Rahim' or not or, in the Hajj, the Second circumambulation of the Ka'ba (Tawafun Nisa) was obligatory or not?".4
In this way, all the Islamic tenets and the laws underwent bewildering changes. If we probe into the causes of all these differences and disagreements, we find that discords of this nature were introduced by the machinations of the Caliphs of their times. Political expediency was at work in most of their rulings and findings.5 Large groups of stipendiaries did all they could to interpret the Qur'anic verses in a manner that lent support to their 'rulers' wishes6.
They also quoted the holy Prophet's hadith with the same objective, with the result that all the orders that were signed by these people became laws and had got to be obeyed by the masses under duress.
These laws were supposed to contain the true Islamic spirit. Naturally, therefore, any adverse comments on such laws met with their disapproval and so if anyone rose to oppose the orders, they had chosen to issue, he was dealt with very cruelly. At times, such a man faced the danger of being put to death. Such a cruel treatment was meted out to the opponents of the Caliphs' orders which were contrary to the holy Qur'an!
Besides, the rulers, in the best interest of their governments decided to bind their Muslim subjects to follow one of the four leaders (Imams) of the pale of Sunnah7 for the solution of their legal problems. These leaders (Imams) were Abu Hanifah, Shafi'i. Ahmed bin Hanbal and Malik bin Anas 8.The subjects were also compelled to follow the way of Ash'ari 9 regarding the issues concerning the basic principles of faith.
A number of Muslims confined themselves to following six Sihah10 especially "Sahih Muslim" and "Sahih Bukhari"11and by refraining from debating or discussing the Hadith, they closed the door of the Science of Hadith upon themselves. Since they had been compelled to follow one of the four religious leaders (Imams) mentioned above, the pathway of research remained blocked for them.
At the time when the Muslims were toeing the line of their Caliphs to the extent that the orders issued under their authority were deemed to be divine commands, there were persons in the Muslim Ummah who were sincerely devoted to defend Islamic tenets against all odds and spared no pains to see that all the orders were strictly in accordance with the Qur'anic teachings. They were wedded to the task of protecting the religious commandments from becoming defunct. They were also very keen on keeping the Hadith of the holy Prophet intact from all alterations or changes. These persons were the members of the holy Prophet's household (Ahl al-Bait) and those who obeyed and followed them were called "Shia". The Shia scholars as a matter of principle took the Hadith of the holy Prophet only narrated by these Imams and communicated them to the people at large.
A poet has very well said in this regard:
“Follow those whose words and Hadith denote: 'Our grandfather narrates (as words received) from Gabriel and Gabriel from Allah"
The Shia scholars have been trying very intelligently and selflessly to secure and propagate the teachings of Islam ever since its inception till today.
But it is pity that majority of the people followed their rulers and sovereigns and believed that the true Islam was the one which their masters and lords had chosen. These people further believed that the commands of Allah were those that their rulers had declared as valid and accepted them. To them the only narrations which the potentates had accepted were correct.
Such being the circumstances, a group of people who had gradually drifted away from the real Islam and did not follow the true leaders (Imams), emerged on the horizon of Islam and called themselves as "People of the Sunnah and Congregation"(Ahl Sunnah waal -Jamma'ah). Another group of people who were opposed to the then rulers and followed the rightful leaders (Imams), came in the lime light and were called "Rafazah".12 This is why the rulers of those days used to torment and torture these Imams, one after the other, and used to inflict excruciating pains on their adherents and followers under various concoctions and cooked up charges.
The distinguished scholars among the Shia rose against all these wrongs and, one generation after another, stood firm on their grounds until they succeeded in introducing their animating and inspiring Shiite School making clear the points of difference between themselves and the Sunnite School.
Among the Shia scholars who dedicated themselves to this task in recent years are the following:
(a) The late Sayyid Mohsin Amin (d. 1371 A.H.) author of the book "Aa'yan al-Shia"13 (The eminent personalities among the Shia).
(b) The Shaykh Muhammad Husayn A 1e Kashif al-Ghita14 (d. 1373 A.H.) author of the book "Asl-Shia wa Usuloha" (The Shia Origin and Faith).
(c) The late Agha Shaykh Agha Buzurg Tehrani (d. 1390 A.H.) author of the books "Al·Zariah Ila Tasnifal-Shia"15and "Tabaqat A 1am al-Shia".
(d) The late Muhammad Reza Muzaffar, author of the book "Aqaid al-lmamiyah ".
(e) Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, author of the book "Shiite Islam".
This group of scholars together with others have adopted a course to defend the Shia and faith and each of these great men has, in good faith, done full justice to this noble task by his forceful writings.
In our opinion since differences and disagreements have been created by the so called (unauthentic) hadith of the holy Prophet (P) and whatsoever right or wrong that has been written about his biography, it is in the fitness of things that we should probe into such hadith and writings so that we may break the inertia caused by depending upon the sayings of the old scholars and following them blindly. Thus we may be able to pull out the writers of hadith and history out of the mire of meek submission16 to questionable authorities and, by means of thorough discussion and profound investigation open the way to a correct knowledge of hadith and history.
Now, it is our duty to discuss intelligently and scientifically the facts about the tradition of the holy Prophet and biographical accounts of his life and those of his companions, more especially, who have undertaken to narrate hadith. After that, we have got to discuss books on hadith and various schools of religious thought in Islam according to their respective groups from their inception till today. This is the only way by which we may arrive at the truth and root out the differences that exist among Muslims.
Among the people who treaded on this path are the following:
(a) The late 'Abd al-Husayn Sharafal-Din (d. 1377 A.H.), author of the book entitled "Abu Hurayrah".
The writer of the present book in a series of research work on history and hadith, published under the title "Dirasah fi al-Hadith wa.al-Tarikh" (Studies in Hadith and History ).17 Under this series, a number of books have been published on various topics.
Those people who want to have a first-hand information on the subject, should study the conversation of Imam Ali (P) with Sulaym bin Qais. Sulaym says: "I told the Commander of the Faithful 'I have heard something relating to the commentary of the holy Qur'an from Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dharrr.
These are different from what others say. Then I heard from you which agrees with what I have heard from them (Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dharrr). Besides, there are in vogue in the people meanings and interpretations of the holy Qur'an and the hadith of the holy Prophet which you oppose and consider them as false. Do you mean to say that people have attributed lies to the holy Prophet purposely and have interpreted the holy Qur'an all by themselves?"
Ibn Qais says that Imam Ali (P) turned to him and said 'The hadith that are in circulation in the people are those that deal with right and wrong, truth and falsehood, the orders which abrogate and the orders which are abrogated, together with general and particular, clear and allegorical and real and imaginary things. It is an undeniable fact that people attributed lies to the holy Prophet (P) even during his life-time with the result that when the holy Prophet (P) came to know the situation, heat once stood up and started addressing the people and said that there were a large number of liars existing among them, and warned that if anyone attributed lies to him deliberately, he would dwell in Hell. Even after the holy Prophet's demise also, people ascribed lies to him.18
There are four types of persons who narrate the hadith for you. These are:
(1) A double-faced person who makes a show of his faith and Islamic way of life but commits sins without any hesitation or fear. Such a person attributes lies to the holy Prophet. If the people had declared him a hypocrite and a liar, they would not have accepted his version of the hadith as correct and would have rejected him straight away. But there are people who say that this man is a companion of the holy Prophet; he has seen him and has listened to the hadith from him and got it, so the people believe in him. But Allah has pointed out the characteristics of double-faced persons and hypocrites and has warned you to be on your guard against them.
The hypocrites, who outlived the holy Prophet, became close associates of evil leaders and those who, by attributing lies to him (the holy Prophet) were preparing to make their abode and those of their followers in the Hell. These leaders of Hell-fire rose to be the rulers of the people, their lives and properties. The people who raised these leaders to the position of ruler ship reaped rich harvests of worldly benefits, as a reward; people always cling to the world and its kings, except those whom Allah protects. The hypocrite described above is one of the four persons mentioned before.
(2) A man who has heard something from the holy Prophet (P) but has not assimilated it, makes mistakes in reporting the narration. He does not tell lies purposely, but whatever he remembers of the hadith, he narrates it and acts according to it saying that he heard the hadith from the holy Prophet. Now if the Muslims knew that he himself had not clearly understood the hadith, they would not accept it. If he (the narrator of the hadith) knew that he had misunderstood the hadith, he himself would declare it rejected and would not narrate it.
(3) A man who had heard about an order from the holy Prophet (P) who asked the people to act upon it. Later the holy Prophet cancelled that order, forbidding the people to act upon it, but this man (the narrator of the hadith) did not know of this change, or he heard the holy Prophet's prohibition to do something but later he (the holy Prophet) ordered it to be done. Again, this man (the narrator of the hadith) did not know of this change, so he kept in mind the cancelled order, and knew nothing about the order cancelling it. If he had known that hadith had been cancelled, he would not have narrated it, and under which that order had been cancelled he would not have acted upon cancelled order.
(4) There is a man who did not attribute lies to Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (P); rather he hated lies for the fear of Allah and as a mark of reverence for the holy Prophet. He did not make mistakes nor had he any doubts about what he was narrating; but whatever he heard, he learnt it just as it was, and narrated it. He did not add anything to it nor did he take away anything from it. He committed to memory the cancelling order and acted upon it, while the cancelled one he kept in view, but remained unconcerned with it. He knew fully well the general and particular orders and put them in their proper places. He had a thorough knowledge of the clear and the allegorical decrees.
Sometimes the holy Prophet said something that had a double-sided meaning, a saying that had reference to a particular time and thing and another that referred to all things and for all times. So a man who did not know what actually the Allah and His holy Prophet had intended by such a declaration, and, for want of understanding, interpreted it against the propounder's actual intent.19
Things were not such that all the companions of the holy Prophet (P) asked him about a certain thing and exerted their intelligence to comprehend it, so that when their friends or others who were mostly desert dwellers may come to the holy Prophet after a long journey to ask certain questions for answer, they (the holy Prophet's companions) may reply them so satisfactorily that they may attentively and eagerly listen to them. Nothing of this sort happened to me. On my part I asked the holy Prophet something and whatever he said in reply I committed to memory.
These are causes of diversion and discord among the people. The controversies and clashes among various narrations have led to serious trouble' ".20
We have quoted the statement of Imam Ali (P) because it clearly expounds our point of view and re-affirms the imperative need for getting the real meaning and purport of the holy Prophet's hadith through research and investigation in order that all the differences may be removed and all doubts dispelled. Thus alone, we can understand the true Islam by the grace of Almighty Allah. May Allah help us in this regard!
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ ۚ أَفَإِنْ مَاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انْقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَىٰ أَعْقَابِكُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ يَنْقَلِبْ عَلَىٰ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَنْ يَضُرَّ اللَّهَ شَيْئًا ۗ وَسَيَجْزِي اللَّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ
"Muhammad is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dies or is slain, you will turn back on your heels? He who turns back does no harm to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful. " (al-Qur'an, Ale 'Imran', 3:144)
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ
"And whatsoever the messenger gives you, take it. And whatsoever be forbids, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah." (al-Qur'an, Hashr, 59:7)
وَمَا يَنْطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ
"Nor does be speak of (his own) desire. It is naught save the revelation that is revealed ." (al-Qur'an, Najm, 53:3)
Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq (P) said to Muffazzal:
"Consider the nature of the ape and its resemblance with man in most of its physical features, that is, the head, the face, the shoulders, the chest, the guts and so on. Furthermore, in its cleverness and sagacity by means of which it comprehends the gestures of its trainer, there is a lesson for man about himself as he is made aware that he has a nature and origin not unlike that of animals. To be sure, with this close resemblance, had it not been for Allah 's grace in giving him the merit of reason and articulateness, man would have remained a beast; since, the decisive distinction between the ape and the man is the possession of reason, intellect and speech!'
- 1. See Imam Ali's Nahj al-Balagha, Speech 201. See also Muhammad bin Ismail Bukhari (Sahib Bukhari) Chapter Ilm'", Topic: Sin of the person who attributed lies to the holy Prophet, and lbn Hajar 'Asqalani (Fath al· Bari), annotation of Sahib Bukhari,Vol.I, page 209.
- 2. See Ibn Khuzamah (Tawhid), Maktabah al-Kulliyat al-Azharryyah, Egypt (1387 A.H.).Also see Sayyid 'Abd al-Husayn Sharf al-Din Amili, Kalimah Hawl al Ruya, printed at Nu'man, Najaf al-Ashraf.
- 3. See the discussion "The Beginning of Revelation" in the books written by Shias as well as Sunnis.
- 4. See Sayyid 'Abdal-Husayn,Sharfal-DinAmili (Masai!al-Fiqhiyyah)Najmal-Din'Askari(al-Wuzu).
- 5. See Sayyid Murtadha al-Askari (Min Tarikh al-hadith), and Shaykh Mahmud Abu Riyah (Azwa 'Ala sunnah al Muhammadiyah ).
- 6. Muhammad Husayn Muzaffar (Tarikh al-Shi'ah).
- 7. Al-Sultan Zahir Baylaras Band Qidari issued a proclamation in this regard in the year 665 A. H. See "Maqrizi's Khutat".
- 8. The four Imams of the Sunnites are-Abu Hanifah, Nu'man bin Thabit was a slave of Banu Tayum Allah. He died in 150 A.H. Abu Abd Allah Malik bin Anas died 1n 179 A.H., Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad bin Idris Shafi'i Mutallibi died in 204 A.H. and Abu 'Abd Allah Ahmad bin Hanbal, Dhahli Shebani, died in 241A.H.
- 9. By Ash'ari is meant Abu al-Hasan bin Ali bin lsma'il who died in 241A.H. The life histories and other details of this group can be studied from the book, "Ibar" by Zahabi
- 10. Sihah "is the plural of "Sahih". This word applies to the books about which the Sunnites believe that all the narrations contained therein are correct.
- 11. In order to appraise the intrinsic value of these two books, see· Mohammad Sadiq Najmi's "Sayr Dar Sahihayn", Mehr Ustawar Printing Press, Qum (1351 A H.)
- 12. This word is derived from "Rafz" which means to discard or reject. It applies to Shias, because throughout their long history, they used to reject the cruel orders that were against the truth.
- 13. "Aa'yan al-Shia" is a Da'irahal-Ma'arif publication, dealing with the histories of Shia narrators. It was printed in the Insaf Printing Press, Beirut in fifty volumes in 1958.
- 14. This book has been translated into English by Islamic Seminary Pakistan.
- 15. Al·Zariah lla Tasnif al-Shia" has been printed in twenty volumes till to-date, and according to an estimate one third of the book still remains in manuscript form. Similarly the book "Tabaqat a'lam al-Shia" has been written by the late writer, but only four volumes of it dealing with the narratives of the scholars of thirteenth and fourteenth centuries after Hijra have been printed so far.
- 16. As it can be seen a section of the Sunnite Muslims has such beliefs about their leaders of old.
- 17. The following books have so far been published in these series:
(a) " 'Abd Allah bin Saba", Vol.I, a publication of the "Danish Kada Usul Din" which is an establishment of the eminent author in Baghdad. This book has been printed and published in the Persian language
(b) 'Abd Allah bin Saba", Vol. 11, a publication of the "Kitab Khana Buzurg Islam", Tehran.
(c) "Ahadith Umm-al-Mu'minin Ayeshah", Part I. the translation of the book has been printed and published in three volumes.
(d)"Khamsun wa Mi'ah Mukhtalaq", Parts I & II.
- 18. We have quoted this portion of hadith from the book "Kafi", Chapter "Ikhtilaf al·Hadith" 1/62.The rest of the hadith may be seen in Nahj al-Balagha, speech 201, page 606 (Fayz). Also see "Tuhafal-Uqul", page 45.
- 19. Sometimes the holy Prophet's order related to a particular time. That is to say that the order in question was intended to be carried out in that particular time and not any other time.
- 20. The statement contained in this speech may be seen in the following books: -
(a ) Sayyid Murtadha al-Askari "Min Tarikh al-Hadith".
(b) Shaykh Mahmud Abu Riyah "Azwa 'Ala Sunnah al-Muhammadiyah'' and "Shaykh al-Muzirah''.
(c) Sayyid Abdal-Husayn Sharaf al-Din "Abu-Hurayrah "