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A Critical Defect of Narration How Were Their Narrations

Many defects were there for narrating hadith after being forbidden by the Messenger of Allah (S), among which its being not narrated at the time of hearing it, the fact necessitating the narrators to report (hadith) according to the meaning. The other defect is that they used to practise fraud in narration, in a way that a Companion reporting the Messenger’s hadith from another one without referring to the name of that from whom he reported. This fact was stated by Ibn Qutaybah in his book, Ta’wil mukhtalif al-hadith,188 when talking about Hurayrah’s narration which he never heard from the Prophet (S), that he used to say: “The Messenger of Allah said kadha (so and so)”, but in fact he heard it (hadith) from a trustworthy (in his view) narrator, relating it then. And the same was practised by Ibn Abbas and other Companions. Such kind of riwayah was called by the scholars of hadith by the term tadlis (fraudulence). In his reference to biography of Abu Hurayrah, al-Dhahabi said: Abu Hurayrah used to practise tadlis, and the tadlis of the Sahabah was so much and faultless.189

I have exposed these defects and indicated their bad effects in a previous chapter of this book, and in my book Shaykh al-mudirah which I published seperately. But there is a quite dangerous defect I haven’t referred to before, which was disclosed by the eminent Companion Imran ibn Husayn,190 in his statement in which he swore saying: “By God had I found it necessary, I would have reported from the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be God’s peace and benediction) as much as I willed, for two consecutive days, but I abstained from so doing when noticing a number of the Companions of the Messenger, though having heard what I heard and witnessed what I witnessed, relating traditions whose original wording and expressions be far from what they were narrating. So I feared of falling into imagination and misconception as happened to them. But the fact I want to disclose being that their practice was only out of mistake on their part, and was never done by them on purpose.191

In his book Shubhat al-tashbih,192 Ibn al-Jawzi is reported to have said: Al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam heard a man relating a hadith. He waited till the man finished his speech, when he said to him: Did you hear this from the Messenger of Allah? The man replied: Yes!! Al-Zubayr said then: This hadith and its likes are preventing me from relating from the Prophet! By my life, I heard this hadith from the Messenger of Allah, and I was there when he (S) started to recite it. Then we talked to him about a man from among the people of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab), when you came after the fore part of the hadith was over. When he referred to the man of Ahl al-Kitab, you thought that part to be included in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah!!

Bisr ibn Sa’id is reported to have said: Observe your duty to Allah and take precaution in the hadith. By God, we used to sit with Abu Hurayrah, who would relate to us hadith of the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be God’s peace and benediction) and report (hadith) from Ka’b. Then as soon as he left us, I would hear someone from among us reporting the Messenger’s hadith from Ka’b, with ascribing hadith of Ka’b to the Messenger of Allah.193

This report was mentioned by Imran ibn Husayn, al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam and Bisr ibn Sa’id, and every open-minded thoughtful Muslim is asked to ponder upon and attentively contemplate over it.
As the Companion Imran ibn Husayn swears by God, that if he intended he would report hadith from the Messenger of Allah for two consecutive days, but he abstained since he saw some of the Messenger’s Companions relating traditions whose original be different from what they narrate, only out of error or misconception. So if such be the case of those unintentional among the truthful Companions, how would it be the condition of the intentional ones, and hypocrites and enemies of religion? It is by God, in riwayah, one of the major sins! And whoever trying to enlighten people to this fact would be charged with impiety.

Another defect was described by al-Zubayr, which is: some of the Companions hearing a portion of the hadith from the Prophet, without its fore part, going out then and narrating what he heard to be a complete hadith.

After that comes the turn of Bisr ibn Sa’id, to appeal to people to observe their duty to Allah in (narrating) the hadith, as some of them used to compose the Messenger’s hadith from Ka’b al-Ahbar and make Ka’b’s hadith as if uttered by the Messenger of Allah. All that and others than it were recorded in the books, and continued to be extant, reported by successors from the ancestors till the Day of Resurrection. And there is neither might nor power but in God.
There is much more discussion and elaboration on taking precaution in narrating the hadith, recorded in our book Shaykh al-mudirah, to which the dear reader can refer.


188. See p.50.

189. Siyar a'lam al-nubala', vol.II, pp.437, 438.

190. Imran ibn Husayn ibn Ubayd ibn Khalaf and his father embraced Islam together with Abu Hurayrah in 7 H. He took part in some battles beside the Prophet. He became governor of Basrah, when Umar delegted him to make its people comprehend their religion, and al-Hasan took oath that they were never visited by anyone better than 'Imran ibn Husayn. He died in 5 H. His Musnad contained 180 traditions, four of which on al-Bukhari, and nine of on Muslim - (Siyar a'lam al-nybala', vol.II, pp.363, 366).

191. Ibn Qutaybah, Ta'wil mukhtalif al-hadith, pp.49, 50.

192. See p.38.

193. Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a'lam al-nubala', vol.II, p.436.

Adapted from: "Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah" by: "Mahmud Ali Riyyah"

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