Home > Hadeeth > Few examples of unintentional textual alteration in the books of hadith

Few examples of unintentional textual alteration in the books of hadith


Bismillah

All praises due to to Allah and may His peace and blessings be upon the last and final prophet Muhammad.

 

“The Best of Inhabitants of Madinah” or “the Best judge of inhabitants of Madinah”: Clarification regarding a narration

It was reported by Ahmad in Fadhail As-Sahaba (1033) through Muhammad bin Ja’far Ghundur and Abu Ja’far Al-Qatee’i reports it in Zawaid to Fadhail As-Sahabah of Ahmad (1097) through Abul Qasim al-Baghwi from his grandfather from Abu Qutn. Both Abu Qutn and Ghundur narrates it from Shu’bah from Abu Ishaq from Abdullah bin Yazeed from ‘Alqamah from Ibn Mas’ud that he said, “We used to say that the best (Afdhal) among the people of Madinah is Ali bin Abi Talib.”
This Isnad is authentic but there is replacement of the word Afdhal (best) in place of Aqdha (best judge) as we shall see. This narration has also been reported by Al-Bazzar in his Musnad (1616) through Yahya bin Sakan from Shu’bah similarly with the phrase “the best (afzal) among the people of Madinah”.

However, Yahya bin Sakan is weak. Besides that the narration of Bazzar has been cited by Ibn Hajar in Al-Mutalib al-‘Aliyah (16/75) with the original wording “Aqdha Ahl al-Madinah”. In Fath al-Bari also, he cites it with correct wording but at another place in Fath al-Bari he cites it with the phrase “Afzala Ahl Al-Madinah”. One may claim that these both wordings are present in the Musnad of Bazzar and in current version it is missing due to some unknown reason, however this assumption is false because this hadith is present in the Musnad under the section where Bazzar has cited the narration of Abdur-Rahman bin Yazeed from ‘Alqamah. There he has cited only one narration and that could only be with one of those phrases. Also, if there had been both of these wordings present in Bazzar then Ibn Hajar would have cited both of them separately in Al-Mutalib as it is a collection of Zawaid of ten hadith books. Al-Haythami also cites only one wording in Majma’ az-Zawaid (9/116) and that is with the incorrect wording “Afzala Ahlal Madinah”. So we see that there is only one wording in Musnad al-Bazzar and that could be any of those two.  Therefore, if the wording is “the best judge among Ahlal Madinah is Ali” then it would add to the list of those students of Shu’bah who has reported this from him, and if the wording in Bazzar is “the best of Ahl al-Madinah is Ali” then this would be a weak and Munkar tradition due to weakness in Yahya bin Sakan and his opposition to the reliable students of Shu’bah. Although Ibn Hibban listed him among Thiqat but Imam Ad-Daarqutni and Salih Jazrah said that he was weak. Adh-Dhahabi also said that he was not strong. It is quite well known that Ibn Hibban was lenient in Tahwtheeq to some extent. [See Lisan al-Mizan (1/28) (6/259)]

The narration related by Al-Qatee’i in Fadhail as-Sahaba (1097) is also a Tasheef or mistake. The reason being the Shaykh of Al-Qatee’i in this is Abul Qasim al-Baghwi, and this Shaykh has reported this narration in his book “Mu’jam as-Sahabah” (4/361) in the same manner but the wording is “We used to say the best judge among the people of Madinah is Ali bin Abi Talib.” Ibn ‘Asakir also relates it in Tarikh Dimashq (42/405) through the Isnad of Abu al-Qasim al-Baghwi similarly as in Mu’jam as-Sahabah.

As for the narration of Ahmad in Fadhail as-Sahabah then I could not find it in any other book with the Isnad of Ahmad so as to compare them except that Ibn ‘Asakir (42/404) has cited this through Muhammad bin Uthman bin Abi Shaibah from his father from Ghundar, the shaykh of Ahmad in this narration, from Shu’bah with the correct phrase “the best judge among Ahl al-Madinah”. However there is famous dispute regarding the reliability of Muhammad bin Uthman bin Abi Shaybah among scholars. In any case, it appears that there is replacement of the word in this narration as well because it is very much probable that a scribe might have done this. Bothe the words “Afdhal” and “Aqdha” look very similar when written in arabic especially without dots. Besides that it is very much unexpected that Imam Ahmad would narrate a narration, which is not found anywhere else with authentic Isnad, and scholars would not narrate it.

From above discussion we can see that the wording ((best among people of Madinah)) has been narrated in the following sources:

  1. Fadhail as-Sahabah of Ahmad through Ghundur from Shu’bah. If it is not a Tasheef (a replacement of the correct word with similar incorrect word) then it is a mistake by Ghundur as he was opposed by majority of students of Shu’bah. However, Abu Ja’far Ibn Abi Shaibah has reported this through Ghundur with correct wording. And Allah knows best.
  2. Additions of Al-Qatee’i on Fadhail as-Sahabah through Abu Qutn from Shu’bah. This is obviously a Tasheef as the shaykh of Al-Qatee’i here has narrated this in his book “Mu’jam as-Sahaba” with the correct wording.
  3. Musnad al-Bazzar through Yahya bin Sakan from Shu’bah. Yahya bin Sakan was weak specially when opposed by well known students of Shu’bah. However, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani has recorded this report in Al-Mutalib al-‘Aaliyah through Ibn Sakan with correct wording. And Allah knows best.

Now coming to the narration with accurate wording through famous students of Shu’ba, it was reported by Ahmad bin Manee’ [Al-Mutalib al-‘Aliyah (3924)], Ibn Sa’d in Tabaqat (2/258), Al-Hakim in Al-Mustadrak (4656), Abul Qasim al-Baghwi in Mu’jam as-Sahabah (4/361), Ibn ‘Asakir (42/404, 405) and Ibn Abdul Barr in Al-Istai’ab (3/1103).

So from the above references we came across the following students of Shu’bah:

  • Abu Qatan Umar bin Haytham
  • Wahb bin Jareer
  • Adam bin Abi Iyas
  • Muslim bin Ibrahim
  • Abu ‘Aamir al-‘Uqdi

All these narrators narrate it from Shu’ba bin Hajjaj with the wording “we used to say that the best judge among Ahl al-Madinah is Ali”. Also Hafiz Ibn Abdul Barr has said the same thing that the wording “Afzala Ahl al-Madina” is a Tasheef (mistake in word while writing or narrating). Al-Istidhkar (14/242)

Another strong evidence which strengthen our above clarification is that Ibn Mas’ud considered Uthman (ra) to be the best among the companions after the death of Umar (ra), so how could Ali (ra) be superior than even Abu Bakr (ra) and ‘Umar (ra) according to him?

Therefore, Imam Ahmad narrates in Fadhail (747), Ibn Sa’d in Tabaqat (3/46), Tabarani (9/170), Abu Nu’aym in Hilyah (7/244) through Abdul Malik bin Maisirah from Nazzaal bin Saburah from Abdullah that he said when Uthman was chosen as Caliph, “We selected the best of those who are alive as our leader.” This has been reported through other Isnad as well and is quite famous from Ibn Mas’ud so much so that Imam Abu ‘Ubaid used it as evidence to claim that ‘Uthman (ra) was superior to ‘Ali (ra). [Tarikh Baghdad (12/409), Siyar A’alam an-Nubala (10/498)]

 

An addition in the published copies of Sunan Ibn Majah

 

In Sunan Ibn Majah (154) a hadith exist which is narrated through Anas bin Malik (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “The most merciful of my Ummah towards my Ummah is Abu Bakr; the one who adheres most sternly to the religion of Allah is ‘Umar; the most sincere of them in shyness and modesty is ‘Uthman; the best judge is ‘Ali bin Abi Talib; the best in reciting the Book of Allah is Ubayy bin Ka’b; the most knowledgeable of what is lawful and what is unlawful is Mu’adh bin Jabal; and the most knowledgeable of the rules of inheritance is Zaid bin Thabit. And every nation has trustworthy guardian, and the trustworthy guardian of this Ummah is Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Jarrah.”

This is taken from English translation of Sunan Ibn Majah published from Darussalam with the rulings of Shaykh Zubair ‘Ali Za’i. The part of the narration “the best judge ‘Ali bin Abi Talib” is not present in the manuscript although it is in the published version and Sharh Ibn Majah of Abul Hasan as-Sindi. Shaikh Shu’aib Arnaut notified that this part is not found in the manuscript he had although it is in the copy on which As-Sindi wrote his commentary. [Ibn Majah (154) Arnaut’s ed.]

The absence of this part in Ibn Majah could be claimed based on the following factors:

  1. It cannot be found in original manuscripts as per the statement of Shaykh Shu’aib Arnaut.
  2. Hafiz Ibn Abdul Hadi has a treatise on the hadith “the most knowledgeable about Faraidh is Zaid bin Thabit” which is a part of this tradition. He quoted this hadith even from Ibn Majah but did not mention this addition.
  3. Hafiz Sakhawi discussed the hadith al-Qadha in Al-Maqasid al-Hasanah but did not reference Ibn Majah as its source.
  4. This hadith has been narrated through this route by many but no one mention this part. Hence the hadith in Ibn Majah is through Abdul Wahhab Ath-Thaqafi from Khalid al-Hadhdha from Abu Qilabah from Anas bin Malik (ra). The hadith with this same isnad has been recorded by Imam Tirmidhi in Sunan (3791), Imam Nasai in As-Sunan al-Kubra (8229), Ibn HIbban in his Sahih (7131, 7137, 7252), Al-Bayhaqi in As-Sunan al-Kubra (12188), Al-Hakim in “Al-Mustadrak” (5784), but no one mention the sentence under discussion. Other students of Khalid al-Hadhdha, like Wuhaib and Sufyan ath-Thawri, also relate it without any such addition.

 

There is another book where this addition exists in a version of this hadith. Hence it is present in Mawarid az-Zamaan (2218) by Al-Haythami which is a collection of those hadith which is in Sahih of Ibn HIbban but not in the Sahih collection of Bukhari and Muslim. Therefore the actual source of this book is the Sahih of Ibn Hibban. But when we look into Sahih Ibn HIbban, preserved as an arrangement of that book done by Ibn Balban, we find that he has reported this hadith three times in the book but nowhere does this addition exist. Besides that all the factors (from 2 to 4) mentioned earlier to show the absence of this addition in Ibn Majah also apply here.

Another factor which testifies that this addition is not in the book of Ibn Hibban is the explanation of Ibn Hibban to this hadith:

قال أبو حاتم: هذه ألفاظ أطلقت بحذف الـ “من” منها يريد بقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “أرحم أمتي” أي: من أرحم أمتي وكذلك قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “وأشدهم في أمر الله” يريد: من أشدهم ومن أصدقهم حياء ومن أقرأهم لكتاب الله ومن أفرضهم ومن أعلمهم بالحلال والحرام يريد أن هؤلاء من جماعة فيهم تلك الفضيلة وهذا كقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم للأنصار: “أنتم أحب الناس إلي”, يريد من أحب الناس من جماعة أحبهم وهم فيهم

 

In brief, Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban is saying is that these phrases (in the hadith) are used with the ommition of “min”. Hence, although “min” (which literally means ‘from’) is not mentioned in the text but its meaning is intended there. Then Ibn Hibban mentions the original phrase and then expand it with the addition of “min” in it. He does so starting from the statement regarding Abu Bakr (ra) until he ends with the statement of praise mentioned in in the hadith regarding Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Jarrah (ra). The point of evidence is the fact that he did not mention the statement regarding ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (ra) in it. This shows that the addition was not there in the text otherwise Ibn Hibban would have done the same as he has done with the statement regarding other companions. All these things suggest that the addition regarding ‘Ali (ra) is not the part of hadith of Ibn Hibban and it was mistakenly added by the author or some of the copyists of the book Mawarid az-Zamaan. And Allah knows best.

 

RULING ON THE HADITH AS A WHOLE

A lot of ‘Ulama have declared this hadith to be Mursal of Abu Qilabah. Therefore according to them the hadith was not narrated by Abu Qilabah from Anas, rather Abu Qilabah (who was a Taba’i) narrates it directly through the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Here is a list of those scholars who consider this hadith (even without the addition regarding ‘Ali) to be Mursal:

 

  1. Ad-Daarqutni
  2. Ibn ‘Abdul Barr
  3. Khateeb Baghdadi
  4. Ibn Taymiyyah
  5. Ibn ‘Abdul Hadi
  6. Al-Albani

Ibn ‘Abdul Hadi had written a treatise regarding the hadith “the most knowledgeable regarding the law of inheritance is Zaid bin Thabit” which is a part of this hadith, where he discussed the authenticity of this hadith and declared it to be Mursal. This treatise has been published in the collection of Ibn Abdul Hadi’s treatises called “Majmoo’ rasail Ibn Abd al-Hadi”. All the references to the above mentioned scholars, except Al-Albani, could be found there. As for Shaykh Al-Albani’s view then earlier he authenticated the hadith but later on when he was shown the treatise of Ibn Abdul Hadi he retracted and declared it weak as mentioned by his student Shaykh Mashhoor Hasan[1].

While some other scholars have authenticated it which includes Imam Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban and Hakim etc. However, the opinion of the first group of scholars seems more correct due to their status in the field of hadith and it’s ‘Ilal. Besides that, apparently Bukhari and Muslim held the same view as they have included this hadith in their Sahih with only the part regarding Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Jarrah which is the only connected (Musnad) portion of the hadith. Therefore the only portion of the hadith which is connected is the part in praise of Abu ‘Ubaidah (ra), while other portions of this narration are Mursal. And Allah knows best.

 

‘ALI BIN ABI TALIB: THE BEST JUDGE

Although it is not reported authentically from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) however as a statement of ‘Umar bin al-Khattab it is authentic. Hence Imam Bukhari narrates in his Sahih (4481):

حدثنا عمرو بن علي، حدثنا يحيى، حدثنا سفيان، عن حبيب، عن سعيد بن جبير، عن ابن عباس، قال: قال عمر رضي الله عنه: ” أقرؤنا أبي، وأقضانا علي، وإنا لندع من قول أبي، وذاك أن أبيا يقول: لا أدع شيئا سمعته من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم “. وقد قال الله تعالى: {ما ننسخ من آية أو ننسها}

Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘Umar bin al-Khattab said, “Our best Qur’an reciter is Ubayy and our best judge is ‘Ali…”

 

[1] http://ar.islamway.net/fatwa/31123

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: