Category Archives: Hadeeth

Sufi Chain : Did Hasan al-Basri gain knowledge from ‘Ali (r.a.) directly?

بسم الله

والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام علي رسول الله وعلي آله وصحبه أجمعين

Imam of Basra Hasan al-Basri is an important figure in islamic history. Besides being a great scholar of Fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence] and Tafsir [Qur’anic exegesis], he is also linked with well known sufi chains. People of Tasawwuf claim that the special knowledge which they call “secret knowledge” has been transferred from ‘Ali b. Talib (ra) to specific people whom he taught this knowledge. So this knowledge has been transferred from person to person up till our time. However the first link in their golden chain is broken as they claim Hasan al-basri took this ‘Ilm from ‘Ali directly while based on history we know that Hasan al-Basri never sit with Sayyiduna ‘Ali to gain knowledge. There has been unanimity among ‘Ulama of Hadith  in early times on this matter. However, later on people went overboard to establish this link. Hafiz Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti compiled one such treatise to establish the companionship of Hasan al-Basri with ‘Ali. Following is a response to all such arguments made to prove hearing of Hasan al-Basri with ‘Ali.

Claim – Hasan al-Basri took knowledge from ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (ra).

Response – Hasan al-Basri himself denied taking knowledge from any of the Sahaba who fought in Badr. This was narrated by his close companions and Huffaz like Qatada and Ayyub.

  1. Hammad b. Zaid narrated from Ayyub al-Sikhtiyani from Qatada who said:
    قَالَ قَتَادَةَ حَدَّثَنَا الْحَسَنُ أَنَّهُ مَا لَقِيَ أَحَدًا مِنَ الْبَدْرِيِّينَ شَافَهَهُ بِالْحَدِيث
    “Hasan al-Basri narrated to us that he did not met anyone from the Badri companions, listening directly to a hadith from him.” [Al-Fasawi (2/35)]
  2. Ayyub al-Sikhtiyani said:
    قَالَ مَا حَدَّثَنَا الْحَسَنُ عَنْ أَحَدٍ مِنْ أَهْلِ بَدْرٍ مُشَافَهَةً
    “Hasan did not narrate to us directly from any of the companions who fought in the battle of Badr.” [Al-Maraseel (95) Ibn Abi Hatim]

 

Claim: Hasan Basri lived in Madina when ‘Uthman was caliph he saw Zubair giving pledge to ‘Ali, therefore he has taken knowledge from ‘Ali.

Response: Here it is important to differentiate between following terminologies:

  1. Idraak [إِدْرَاكٌ]: This means a person found a specific time in which the person, whose companionship is being claimed, lived.
  2. Ru’yah [رأية]: This simply mean a person saw the one with whom him companionship is being discussed. This is enough to establish companionship with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) where disconnected narration of a sahabi is unanimously accepted.

However, none of these is enough to establish hearing of Hasan from ‘Ali. It is accepted that Hasan Basri lived during the time of ‘Ali and he also saw him when they both were in Madina however there is no proof that he studied under him or even hear a single narration from him. In fact, it is not even known that he has started to seek knowledge when he was in Madina where he lived up to the age fourteen. [See comment of Hafiz Ibn Hajar in “al-Jawahir wa al-Durar” (2/939-940)]

Hafiz Bazzar said, “Hasan hearing from any of the companions who participated in the Battle of Badr is not proven, not even in a single narration.” [Nasb al-Rayah (1/91)]

Hafiz Abu Zur’ah al-Razi concluded it well. He was asked, “Did Hasan Basri met any of the people of Badr?” He replied, “He saw (some of) them. He saw ‘Ali.” I [Ibn Abi Hatim] asked, “Did he hear any narration from him?” He replied, “No.” [Al-Maraseel (94) Ibn Abi Hatim]

 

Claim: Hasan Basri have heard from seventy companions who fought in Badr.

Response: The reply comes from the Imam of ‘Ilal, ‘Ali b. Madeeni who said: “This is falsehood. I have counted people of Badr from whom Hadith is being narrated, so they did not reach the count of fifty. Among them migrants are twenty four.” [Siyar (4/566-567) by Al-Dhahabi]

This claim has been mentioned in some books but as Imam Ibn al-Madeeni said it is falsehood.

 

Claim: Hasan Basri hides the name of ‘Ali while narrating due to fear of Umayyids?

Response: In this regard, Hafiz al-Mizzi has mentioned a story. Yunus b. ‘Ubaid said: I asked Hasan al-Basri, “O Abu Sa’eed, you often say “the Messenger of Allah said so and so” while you have not found his time?” Hasan said, “O my nephew, you have asked me about something no one before have asked me about. If it is not for your status near me I would not have informed you about it. We are in a time as you see – He lived during the time of Hajjaj – so all what I say “The Messenger of Allah said…” then it is from ‘Ali b. Abi Talib. But we are in a time when I am not capable of mentioning ‘Ali (openly). [Tahdheeb al-Kamaal (6/124)]

Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said regarding it, “This chain is weak. And it is not proven that Hasan heard from ‘Ali.” [Sharh al-‘Ilal (1/537)]

This report goes through Thumama b. ‘Ubaida from ‘Atiyyah b. Muharib from Yunus who narrated it from Hasan al-Basri. Thumama, in this chain, was highly unreliable narrator and I could not trace the details of ‘Atiyya b. Muharib in books of Rijal. That is why Ibn Rajab al Hanbali declared this unreliable and Hafiz Ibn Hajar excluded this report from Tahdheeb al-Tahdheeb.

This report also goes against the statement of Hasan Basri where he denied having narrated from any Sahabi who participated in Badr.

Besides that, it is also not true that Hajjaj b. Yusuf ever punished anyone simply for narrating from ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.

 

Claim : Hasan Basri himself narrated from ‘Ali (ra) wherein he clearly said that he heard it from ‘Ali. So this proves he met him and heard narrations from him.

Response: One such narration is quoted by Hafiz Mughaltay al-Hanafi in “Al-Ikmaal” (4/78). He attributed this to Musnad of Abu Ya’la with the chain of Juwairiya b. Ashras  [correct is Hawthara b. Ashras] from ‘Uqba b. Abi Sahbaa who said: I heard from Hasan b. Abi Hasan [al-Basri] saying: I heard from ‘Ali b. Abi Talib that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “Similitude of my Ummah is like the rain..” [See also “Al-Haawi (2/125) by Al-Suyuti who quoted it from Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Al-Jawahir wa al-Durar (2/938) by Al-Sakhawi]

This tradition has been narrated in three different form:

  1. Hasan Basri from ‘Ali [which is being discussed]
  2. Hasan from ‘Ammar b. Yasir [Musnad Ahmad]
  3. Thabit al-Bunani from Anas
  4. Hasan from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

However, as per Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal the correct version is the third one and it is clearly a Mursal. Imam Ahmad did not mention the first one from ‘Ali as he might not have come across any such chain [or it could be that this chain is only a mistake that is why nobody noticed it before]. Three great Huffaz and students of Hasan Basri viz. Thabit al-Bunani, Yunus and Humaid, narrate it through Hasan from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) directly without mentioning anyone between them. [See, “Al-‘Ilal” (3/314-315) by Abdullah b. Ahmad]

It seems this narration is not present in all manuscripts of Musnad that is why Hafiz Ibn Hajar did not mention it in “al-Mutalib al-‘Aliya”. In any case, this isolated report on its own cannot be taken as a proof to reject Hasan’s own admission which was reported by Huffaz from his students.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani was asked about those people who take this report as Hujjah to establish companionship of Hasan with ‘Ali, so he replied:

“This argumentation which was given by al-Sairafi is not correct on the guidelines of the Imams of Hadith. It is correct as per the methodology of some of the usulis and people of Fiqh. That is because it is from the methodology of the Imams of Hadith, in case of dispute between different versions (of a narration), to give preference to the version narrated by majority, or by people greater in Hifz, or the one who was more knowledgeable about the sheikh from whom the narration is being narrated…”

Then Hafiz says:

“Unlike the Jurist and Usuli I have pointed at, for his methodology is to give preference to those with whom there is extra knowledge. So when a narrator attributes something to his teacher while others who were greater in Hifz, or more in numbers, or someone who had long companionship with that teacher negate it then they [the group of some Jurists and Usulis] prefer the report which establishes something over those who negate it…” [al-Jawahir (2/938)]

Note that in our case even the methodology of the Usuli and Faqih whom Ibn Hajar mentioned would not approve the companionship of Hasan Basri from ‘Ali. This is for the following reason:

  1. Hasan Basri himself denied any such possibility.
  2. Narrators of the given narration are not strong enough to stand against companions of Hasan who were Ayyub al-Sikhtiyani and Qatada.

In conclusion, such thing cannot be established based on an isolated narration that too which came through an obscure source not present in any other sources. Also it is narrated in different forms, the correct one of them being the mursal one narrated directly from the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

And Allah knows best.

Analysis of the Hadith about “Qur’an and Sunnah”

Bismillah

All praises due to Allah and May his peace and blessing be upon the Last and Final Messenger Muhammad, his family and companions.

Imam Malik records in his well-known Mu’atta, hence he sai under the Book of destiny that it has reached him the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “I am leaving among you two commandments, by adhering to them you will never be deviated; that is the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.”

This narration has been narrated through several chains, from atleast four of the companions. However, all of them have some defects in them.
Recorded in “Mu’atta Imam Malik” without any sanad [Imam Malik said: it has reached us that Prophet [SAW] said…]. However, Imam Ibn Abdul Barr narrates it with his sanad in his Sharh of Mu’atta through two companions; Abu Hurairah and ‘Amr bin Awf, and he declare it to be preserve and famous among scholars. [At-Tamheed (24/331)]

This narration has been narrated through Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Amr bin Awf, Abu Hurairah and Anas bin Malik.

Ibn ‘Abbas: – Narrated through Ibn Abbas by Imam Al-Bayhaqi in “Sunan Al-Kubra” (10/114) and in “Dalaa’il An-Nubuwwah” (5/549), Al-Hakim in “Al-Mustadrak” (318), Al-‘Uqaili in “Du’afa” (2/250) and Abu Bakr Al-Aajuri in “Ash-Sharee’ah” (5/2220). All of them narrate it through the route of Isma’eel bin Abi Uwais from his father from Thawr bin Zaid Ad-Dailee from Ikrimah from Ibn Abbas. This narration describe the speech of the Prophet (SAW) during his farewell pilgrimage.
Abdullah bin Abdullah bin Abi ‘Aamir Abu Uwais Al-Madani, the father of Isma’eel bin Abi Uwais, was close to weakness. Yahya and Ahmed said he was weak in hadith. Another time Yahya bin Mu’een said, there is no problem with him. In another narration, he said: Sadooq, but not Hujjah. Nasai and Ibn Madeeni also considered him weak. Abu Dawud said: Saleh Al-Hadith. Muslim relied on Abu Uwais in his Sahih. [Meezan Al-E’etidal (2/450)]
Isma’eel bin Abi Uwais was a disputed narrator. The correct ruling on him is that he was truthful but made mistakes while narrating from his memory. Bukhari and Muslim narrated from him in their Sahih. [Refer to al-Kashif (1/247), Taqreeb (1/96), Meezan (1/222-223) etc]
In the report of Al-Aajurri, al-‘Uqaili and al-Marwazi the father of Ibn Abi Uwais narrates from Abdullah bin Abi Abdullah Al-Basari also along with Thawr bin Zaid Ad-Dailee.

Al-Albani declared the sanad in Mustadrak Al-Hakim from Ibn ‘Abbas to be hasan [“At-Tawassul” (pg.16)], and declared the hadith to be Sahih in “Sahih Al-Jami’” (3232). Al-Hakim said, “The command to stick with Sunnah is Ghareeb (odd) in this speech (farewell speech).” The comment of Imam Hakim is true when we look at the authentic tradition of Ibn ‘Abbas recorded by al-Bukhari in his “Sahih” (1739) Ahmad in Musnad (2036) and others through Fudail b. Ghazwan from ‘Ikrimah from Ibn ‘Abbas. Basically, the version reported by al-Hakim is a manipulated version of famous narration recorded in Sahih and Musnad. And Allah knows best.

‘Amr bin ‘Awf: – Narrated by Ibn Abdul Barr in “At-Tamheed” (24/331) and in “Jami’ Bayan Al-‘Ilm” (1/755, 2/979) through the way of Katheer bin Abdullah from his father from his grand-father…
Katheer bin Abdullah was weak. Taqreeb (2/39)

Abu Hurairah: – Through Abu Hurayrah by al-Daarqutni in “Sunan” (4606), al-Bazzaar in his Musnad (8993), Al-Hakim in “Al-Mustadrak” (1/172), Imam Al-Bayhaqi in “al-Kubra” (20337), Ibn Abdul Barr in “At-Tamheed” (24/331) through the route Salih bin Musa At-Talhi from Abdul Aziz bin Rufai’ from Abu Saleh from Abu Hurairah.
Regarding Saleh bin Musa, Ibn Hajar said: He was matrook.

Anas bin Malik: – Abu Ash-Shaykh Al-Asbahani narrates as a hadith of Anas bin Malik in his “Tabaqat al-Muhadditheen” (4/67).
In this, Yazeed bin Abaan Ar-Raqqashi narrates from Anas. Yazeed was weak in hadith, as said by Ibn Ma’een, Ahmed, Ibn Sa’d, Daarqutni etc. [Tahdheeb (11/270)]

This has also been narrated through ‘Urwah and Musa bin ‘Uqbah in Mursal form.

‘Urwah bin Zubair: – This was reported by Al-Bayhaqi in “Ad-Dala’il” (5/447-448) from Urwah bin Zubair from Prophet (SAW) as a Mursal tradition. The isnad contains Ibn Lahee’ah who was weak in hadeeth.

Musa bin ‘Uqbah: – Al-Bayhaqi reports it as a Mursal report of Musa bin ‘Uqbah (d.141 AH) in the same book (5/448).

 

 

Against Hadith al-Thaqalain

Some people, especially shi’ites, always represent Hadith al-Thaqalain as an evidence against this narration. According to them, the Hadith of “Quran and Sunnah” was forged to diminish the importance of hadith al-Thaqalain. To them, since the latter is reported with so many routes therefore the former must be a fabrication. However there is no real contradiction between them.

 

No real Contradiction

The importance of Sunnah is evident from numerous Qur’anic verses and prophetic traditions. For example, it is mentioned in the Quran:

“O you who have believed! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything then refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [4:59]

“He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah” [4:80]

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:

“Whoever obeys me will enter paradise, and whoever disobeys me has denied.” Sahih Bukhari (7280)

Hudhaifa b. Yaman narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “…so read from the Qur’an and understand the Sunnah.” [Sahih Bukhari (6497, 7276), Sahih Muslim (230), Tirmidhi (2179)]

These are only few evidence to prove the validity of Sunnah as a source of Islam. So it is beyond understanding as to why some of the Rawafid dislike when the hadith of Qur’an and Sunnah is used to show the importance of Sunnah. No Sunni scholar uses this hadith to discard the authenticity of the hadith of Thaqalain rather they consider both to be different statements of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

The common thing about both hadith Thaqalain and that of “Quran and Sunnah” is that they both speak of adhering to Qur’an. The difference in them is that the former speak of the status of Ahlul Bayt while the latter command to adhere the Sunnah. The is the basic difference which Shiites today fail to understand that hadith Thaqalain does not represent Ahlul Bayt as a source to be followed in absolute sense. To read further on this see this article.

 

Concluding remark

It can be seen from above discussion that this narration has considerable defects with all of its routes. So, to many scholars the narration remains weak as a whole as these different routes do not strengthen each other because of fact that they arise from different sources, while for others it would be Hasan (which is a level just near weak) as the text has been reported through different routes and the text speaks of something which every Muslim agree on. Allah knows best.