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Disagreement about al-Thaqalayn

We have already conceived, through the aforementioned discussions, the viewpoints of the Shi‘ah and Ahl al-Sunnah regarding the caliphate, and the acts and conduct of the Messenger (S) toward the Ummah, as held by the two sects.

Has the Messenger of Allah (S) then left anything for his Ummah, upon which it depends and to which it refers regarding any controversial matter entailing inevitable dispute, that was stated by the holy Qur’àn, when the Almighty said: "O ye who believe! Obey God and obey the apostle and those vested with authority from among you; and then if ye quarrel about anything refer it to God and the Apostle if ye believe in God and in the Last Day (of Judgement). This is the best and fairest way of ending (the dispute)" (4:59).

True, the Messenger has to leave behind for the Ummah a foundation and basis upon which it relies and to which it refers, since he was sent as a blessing for the worlds and he is so keen and concerned that his community be the best of communities, and never be in disagreement after him. Hence his Companions and the traditionists reported that he said “I am leaving behind among you two precious things (Thaqalayn), as long as you adhere to them you will never go astray after me. The Book of Allah and my ‘Itrah my Ahl al-Bayt. They will never separate till they come unto me near the pond (hawd), so look how you are going to treat them after me.”170

This hadith is sahih (correct) and authentic, and was reported by both the sects Sunnah and Shi‘ah. It was narrated in the Musnads and Sahihs of Ahl al-Sunnah, through more than thirty Companions.

Since I, as usual, never argue by the books of the Shi‘ah or sayings of their ‘ulamà’, who have reported the Hadith al-Thaqalayn, acknowledging its veracity, so that the discussion be objective, fair and square (though fairness and equity necessitating that a reference should be made too to the Shi‘ah). Hereinafter a brief list of the narrators of this hadith from among the Sunni ‘ulamà’.

1. Sahih Muslim: "kitàb fadà’il ‘Ali ibn Abi Tàlib". Vol. VII P.122

2. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, Vol.V.P.328

3. Al-’Imàm al-Nasà’i in his book al-Khasà’is. p.21

4. Al-’Imàm Ahmàd ibn Hanbal. in his Musnad, Vol.III,P.17

5. Mustadrak al-Hàkim, vol.III, P.109

6. Kanz al-’ummàl, vol.I, p.154

7. Ibn Sa’d in al-Tabaqàt al-kubrà, vol. II, p.194

8. Ibn al-’Athir in Jàmi‘ al-’usul, vol.I, p.187

9. Al-Suyuti in al-Jàmi‘ al-saghir, vol.I, p.353

10. Al-Haythami in Majma‘ al-Zawà’id, vol.IX, p.163

11. Al-Nabhàni in al-Fath al-kabir, vol.I, p.451

12. Ibn al-’Athir in Usd al-ghàbah fi ma‘rifat al-Sahàbah, vol.II, p.12

13. Ta’rikh Ibn ‘Asàkir vol.V, p.436

14. Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol.IV,p.113

15. Al-Tàj al-Jàmi‘ li al-’usul, vol.III,p.308

Added to these, Ibn Hajar who mentioned it in his book al-Sawà‘iq al-muhriqah, acknowledging its veracity, beside al-Dhahabi in his Talkhis admitting its correctness provided that it be accepted by the Shaykhayn, Ibn al-Maghàzili al-Shàfi‘i and al-Tabarràni in his Mu’jam, with the author of al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah fi hàmish al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, and the author of Yanàbi‘ al-mawaddah, beside others.

Can anyone claim, after this, that Hadith al-Thaqalayn "The Book of Allah and my ‘Itrah": being unknown by the Sunnis, and appertaining to the Shi‘ah alone?? May Allah curse fanaticism, thought inaction and Jahiliyyah fervour.

Hence Hadith al-Thaqalayn in which the Messenger (S) recommended to hold fast to the Book of Allah and his Pure kindred (‘itrah), is a correct hadith in the perspective of Ahl al-Sunnah as mentioned before, and it is regarded by the Shi‘ah more authentic and having stronger chains going back to the Pure Imams.

So why do some raise doubts about this hadith, trying their best to substitute it with the Book of Allah and my Sunnah"? And though the author of Miftàh Kunuz al-Sunnah reports from al-Bukhàri, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Màjah, in page No.478 under the heading; "His (S) recommendation with the Book of Allah and His Messenger’s Sunnah." But when going into these four books we can never see any hint or reference to this hadith. True, you may find within Sahih al-Bukhàri the chapter titled “Kitàb al-’i‘tisàm bi al-Kitàb wa al-Sunnah,”171 but you never find such a hadith at all.

That which can be found in Sahih al-Bukhàri and the aforementioned books being a hadith saying:
“Talhah ibn Musarraf is reported to have said: I asked ‘Abd Allàh ibn Ubayy Awfà (may God be pleased with them): Has the Prophet (may God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) committed to anyone’s charge? He replied: No. I said then: So how was bequest (wasiyyah) prescribed for people, or how were they commanded to write a will? He said: He recommended with the Book of Allah.”172

So no reference is there to a hadith uttered by the Messenger of Allah, saying in it: "I am leaving behind among you two precious things (Thaqalayn): the Book of Allah and my Sunnah." And if supposedly such a hadith is there in some books, it would be to no avail since unanimity was, as mentioned before, to the contraty. Further, should we investigate the hadith. "The Book of Allah and my Sunnah," we will verily see it not congruous with truth, neither through quoting (naql) nor reason (aql). For refuting it there are several causes:

First: The historians and traditionists concur that the Messenger of Allah (S) has forbidden anyone from writing down his traditions, and no one could claim that he was inscribing the Prophetic Sunnah during his lifetime. The Messenger’s saying"I am leaving behind among you the Book of Allah and my Sunnah" then can never be reasonable. And concerning the Book of Allah, it is inscribed and preserved in the bossoms of men, in a way that any Companion can refer to the Qur’àn, even though being not among the memorizers. But as regards the Prophetic Sunnah, there is nothing inscribed or compiled during the Prophet’s lifetime, and the Prophetic Sunnah as is widely known and agreed upon, being whatever said, or done or determined by the Messenger (S). And as is known too, the Messenger never used to gather his Companions for teaching them the Prophetic Sunnah, but rather he used to address them, in all occcasions, with the attendance of some or only one of his Companions. In this case, how would the Messenger say to them. I am leaving behind among you my Sunnah??

Second Cause: When the Messenger of Allah became in a low state of health, three days before his death, he asked to bring him the scapula and inkhorn, so as to write a book after which they would never go astray. Thereat ‘Umar ibn al-Khattàb said: The Messenger of Allah is hallucinating, and we are sufficed with the Book of Allah.

Had the Messenger (S) told them previously: I am leaving behind among you the Book of Allah and my Sunnah, it would have been infeasible for ‘Umar to say: The Book of Allah is sufficient for us!, as in this case he with the Sahàbah sharing his opinion, would be renegading against the Messenger of Allah, the fact that would never be approved of by Ahl al-Sunnah.

Thus it can be realized that this hadith was only fabricated by some of the latters who harbour animosity against Ahl al-Bayt, especially after excluding them away from caliphate. It was as if that who composed the hadith "the Book of Allah and my Sunnah" was astonished to see people adhering to the Book of Allah, forsaking the ‘Itrah and following the guide of other than them, so he thought that he would, through fabricating this hadith, rectify their course, removing any criticism and sarcasm far from the Sahàbah who contradicted the testament of the Messenger of Allah (S).

Third Cause: It is known that the first incident Abu Bakr faced during the first days of his caliphate, was his decision to fight those refusing to pay the zakàt (poor-due), despite opposition on the part of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattàb, beside quoting the Messenger’s hadith (as an evidence):

"Whoever says, there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, his property and blood will be immune against me except when it is due, and his accountability is with Allah."
Hence, if the Messenger’s Sunnah was publicly known, it was not to be ignored by Abu Bakr while he was supposed to be the most entitled to recognize it.

But thereafter ‘Umar was satisfied with Abu Bakr’s interpretation for the hadith he narrated, and his saying that zakàt being the levy on money (màl). They were unaware, or neglected the Messenger’s actual and non-interpreted Sunnah, being the story of Tha’labah who refused to pay the zakàt to the Messenger of Allah (S), and a Qur’anic verse was revealed in his regard. Nevertheless, the Messenger neither fought him, nor forced him to pay it. Another example can be seen in Abu Bakr and ‘Umar’s displeasure concerning the Messenger’s delegating Usàmah ibn Zayd as a commander of a battalion. When he defeated the disbelievers, he pursued one of them and as he caught him, he (the enemy) said: There is no god but Allah! Whereat Usàmah killed him. When this news reached the Prophet(S), he said to Usàmah: O Usàmah, did you kill him after uttering ‘là ilàha illà Allàh?’ He replied: He was seeking protection through his saying, and he kept on repeating it till I wished I had never embraced Islam before that day.174

However, this can never be a proof making us to believe in the hadith “The Book of Allah and my Sunnah”, since the Companions were the first in ignoring the Prophetic Sunnah, so how about those who succeeded them, and those whose houses were distant from al-Madinah?

Fourth Cause: It is known also that so many of the Sahàbah’s deeds after the Messenger’s demise, were contradictory to his Sunnah. Those Sahàbah either were aware of his Sunnah and contradicted it deliberately, out of exerting their opinion against the Prophet’s texts, the fact making them to be among those addressed by the Almighty’s saying:

"And it is not for a believer man or woman to have any choice in their affair when God and His Apostle have decided a matter; and whoever disobeyeth God and His Apostle, indeed he hath strayed off a manifest straying." (33:36)Or they were unaware of the Prophet’s Sunnah, the case in which the Messenger of Allah would not be entitled to tell them: I am leaving behind among you my Sunnah, while knowing that his Companions and nearest people to him having no knowledge of it, so what about those succeeding them who neither recognized nor seen the Prophet (S).

Fifth Cause: It is known further that the (Prophetic) Sunnah was never inscribed but only during the era of the ‘Abbàsid State, and the first book written on hadith was al-Muwatta’ of al-’Imàm Màlik. That was after the great sedition, Battle of al-Harrah and proscription of al-Madinah, with slaying the Sahàbah forcibly. After all that, how would anyone have confidence in narrators trying to make advances to the Emperor for gaining worldly lusts? For this reason, there was great confusion and disagreement in between the traditions, with the Ummah being divided into several madhàhib (schools of thought), in a way that whatever was approved by this school was negated by the other ones, and vice versa.

How would we believe that the Messenger of Allah said (I am leaving behind among you the Book of Allah and my Sunnah) while knowing that the hypocrites and deviants would be lying against him, when he said:."The liars against me have multiplied. Whoever lies against me should occupy his abode in fire."

So if liars did increase in number during his lifetime, how would he charge his Ummah to follow his Sunnah, while they having no knowledge of it, or be able to distinguish the sound from the unsound and the weak from the authentic ones.

Sixth Cause: Ahl al-Sunnah report in their Sihàh that the Messenger of Allah (S) has left behind two precious assets (thaqalayn), or two caliphs, or two things. Once they narrate (that he(S) said) the Book of Allah and Sunnah of His Messenger, and another time that he said: I ask you to adhere to my Sunnah and the sunnah of the Rightly-guided caliphs after me. It should be known that the latter hadith adds the sunnah of the caliphs to the Book of Allah and His Messenger’s Sunnah, so as to make the sources of legislation three instead of two ones, the fact contradicting the correct version of Hadith al-Thaqalayn, upon which there is agreement between the Sunnah and Shi‘ah, which says: "the Book of Allah and my ‘Itrah", for which we introduced more than twenty sources from among the authentic Sunni references,, beside the Shi‘ah sources that we didn’t mention.

Seventh Cause: If the Messenger of Allah (S) knows for certain that his Companions, with whose language and dialects the Qur’àn was revealed (as they claim) had no good knowledge of its tafsir or ta’wil (interpretation), so what about those to succeed them, and how would be the case of those embracing Islam from among the Romans, Persians, Abyssinians and all the non-Arabs who neither comprehend nor speak the Arabic.

It is confirmed in the books of hadith that Abu Bakr was once asked about the meaning of the holy verse: "And fruits and the herbage," he said: Which sky can overshadow me, and which land can bear me, when I claim something I know not regarding the Book of Allah.175 ‘Umar ibn al-Khattàb also was unaware of the meaning of this verse, as Anas ibn Màlik is reported to have said: Once upon a day ‘Umar ibn al-Khattàb ascended the minbar (rostrum) and recited: “and caused We to grow therein the grain. And grapes and the vegetables. The Olive and the Palm. And gardens enclosed, thick with trees. And fruits and the herbage.”

He said: All these things are known for us, but what is meant by “abbà”? Then he said: By God, this is the affectation in itself. What happens if you know not the meaning of “abb”, you can follow and apply what was exposed and demonstrated from the Book. and whatever is not known for you, leave it to its Lord.”176

Whatever is said here in interpreting the Book of Allah, is said also in explaining the holy Prophetic Sunnah. Many a Prophetic hadith remained a topic of controversy between the Sahàbah, and among the schools, and also between the Sunnah and Shi‘ah, either due to confirming or weakening the hadith, or because of interpreting and comprehending it. For elucidation, I supply the dear reader with some examples in this regard:

1) Disagreement among Sahàbah about Veracity or Fabricatedness of hadith:

This case has actually happened for Abu Bakr during the first days of his caliphate, when Fàtimah al-Zahrà’ came toward him demanding to hand her Fadak, which he seized from her after the demise of her father. But he denied her claim that her father the Messenger of Allah. donated it to her during his lifetime. And when she demanded from him the inheritance of her father, he told her that the Messenger of Allah said once: "We, the folk of prophets, never give as inheritance what we leave as alms."

She, in turn, denied the ascription of this hadith to her father, arguing with the Book of Allah. The dispute and debate heated between them, till she passed away while being wrathful against him, forsaking and never talking to him, as reported in both Sahih al-Bukhàri and Sahih Muslim.
Added to this the dispute between ‘A’ishah and Abu Hurayrah concerning the ruling of that who entered upon the morning while being ritually impure (junub) during the month of Ramadàn. She opined that his fasting being valid with keeping on his condition, whereas Abu Hurayrah’s view was that: whoever enters upon the morning in a state of ritual impurity, he should break his fasting. Hereafter the incident in details:

Al-’Imàm Màlik in al-Muwatta’ and al-Bukhàri in his Sahih, report from ‘A’ishah and Umm Salamah, the Prophet’s wives, that they said: The Messenger used to enter upon the morning in the Month of Ramadàn in a state of ritual impurity, out of copulation not out of having a venereal (wet) dream (ihtilàm), and was keeping on his fasting. Abu Bakr reports from ‘Abd al-Rahmàn that he said: I and my father were in a gathering near Marwan ibn al-Hakam, the Emir of al-Madinah, when someone told him that Abu Hurayrah holds that: whoever enters upon the morning (in Ramadàn) in the state of janàbah, he should break the fasting of that day. Thereat Marwan said: O ‘Abd al-Rahmàn, I take an oath by God upon you to betake your self toward the two mothers of believers, ‘A’ishah and Umm Salamah, and inquire about this from them. Then I and ‘Abd al-Rahmàn went together till we entered upon ‘A’ishah, when he saluted her and said: O Umm al-Mu’minin, we were near Marwan ibn al-Hakam, and he was told that Abu Hurayrah holds that whoever enters upon the morning as junub (ritually impure), he should break the fasting of that day. ‘A’ishah said: O ‘Abd al-Rahmàn, it is not as Abu Hurayrah claims. Do you want to turn away from what was done by the Messenger of Allah? ‘Abd al-Rahmàn replied: No, by God. Then ‘A’ishah said: He witnessed against the Messenger of Allah (S) that he used to keep on fasting the day on which he would enter upon its morning in the state of ritual impurity out of copulation not out of having a venereal dream. He said: We went out and entered upon Umm Salamah, when he asked her the same question and she gave the same reply as that of ‘A’ishah, and then we went to Marwan ibn al-Hakam, to whom ‘Abd al-Rahmàn mentioned what these two (women) said. Thereat Marwan said: O Abu Muhammad, would you get on my mount at the door, and betake yourself to Abu Hurayrah who is in his land of al-’Aqiq, and inform him about this. So ‘Abd al-Rahmàn and I got on the mount and went to Abu Hurayrah, when ‘Abd al-Rahmàn talked to him for an hour, telling him about the matter, whereat Abu Hurayrah said: I have no knowledge of this but I was told by someone.177

Look, dear reader, to a Companion like Abu Hurayrah, who is considered by the Sunnis as the Islam narrator; how he issues religious verdicts according to surmise, ascribing them then to the Messenger of Allah (S), without being aware of who has apprised him with them.


170. Mustadrak al-Hàkim, Vol. III, p. 148.

171. Sahih al-Bukhàri, Vol. VIII, p. 137.

172. Ibid., Vol. III, p. 186; Sahih al-Tirmidhi, "Kitàb al-wasàyà"; Sahih Muslim, "kitàb al-wasàyà"; Sahih Ibn Màjah, "kitàb al-wasàyà".

173. Sahih al-Bukhàri, "bàb marad al-Nabi wa wafàtih" (The Prophet's sickness and death), Vol. V, p. 138; Sahih Muslim, "kitàb al-wasiyyah", Vol. II, p. 16.

174. Sahih al-Bukhàri, Vol. VIII, p. 36, and "kitàb al-diyàt"; Sahih Muslim, Vol. I, p. 67.

175. Al-Qastallàni in Irshàd al-sàri, Vol. X, p. 298; Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bàri, Vol. XIII, p. 230.

176. Tafsir Ibn Jarir, Vol. III, p. 38; Kanz al-'ummal, Vol. I, p. 287. Mustadrak al-Hàkim, Vol. II, p. 14: Talkhis al-Dhahabi; al-Khatib in his Ta'rikh, Vol. II, p. 468; al-Zamakhshari in his al-Tafsir al-Kashshàf, Vol. III, 253; Tafsir al-Khàzin, Vol. IV, p. 374; Ibn Taymiyyah in Muqaddimat usul al-tafsir, p. 30; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. IV, p. 473.

177. Sahih al-Bukhàri, Vol. II, p. 232, "bàb al-sà'im yusbihu junuban; Muwatta' Màlik fi tanwir al-hawàlik, Vol. I, p. 272; "mà jà'a fi alladhi yusbihu junuban fi Ramadàn".

Adapted from the book: "To Be With the Truthful" by: "Muhammad al-Tijani al-Samawi"

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