Tag Archives: Ali

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.

Who was the bravest companion? [Ibn Hazm]

Who was the bravest companion?


Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazm



This is one of the issues which Shia love to raise against the personality of companions like Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Their problem is that they think bravery is to kill people in Jihad and if someone couldn’t kill with his power than he is not brave. And hence, they conclude, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were not brave. If that is the case then people like Pharaoh, Nimrod, Stalin and all the mass murderers would have to be listed at the top of all the braves.

Among the believers Bara bin Malik al-Ansari lonely killed hundred men besides those whom he killed with the help of others. Hamza, Abu Dujanah al-Ansari, ‘Aasim bin Thabit, Talha, Zubair, Sa’d were all known for their specialty in tackling the enemy. But no one prefer them over ‘Ali bin Abi Talib or over Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, may Allah be well pleased with them all.

Once a person presents himself to face the enemy he is proven to be a brave one regardless of how much of them he could kill or defeat. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, never missed any battle with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and they were seen defending the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) during harsh conditions especially in Uhud and Hunain. How could such a person be coward? If it is just because there is hardly any narration describing how they killed a Mushrik during battle then what could be the response regarding the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) who never killed anyone in battle except Ubayy bin Khalaf? If they say that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was bravest but he was a leader and hence did not involve in fighting then we shall let ‘Ali (ra) falsify this claim. Hence Imam Ahmad records in Musnad (1042), Abu Ya’la (302, 412) and others with an authentic Isnad through Abu Ishaq from Harithah bin Mudharrib that ‘Ali said:

لَمَّا حَضَرَ الْبَأْسُ يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ اتَّقَيْنَا بِرَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَكَانَ مِنْ أَشَدِّ النَّاسِ، مَا كَانَ – أَوْ: لَمْ يَكُنْ – أَحَدٌ أَقْرَبَ إِلَى الْمُشْرِكِينَ مِنْهُ

“When the fighting grew intense on the day of Badr we sought shelter by drawing closer to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), who was one of the strongest of men, and no was closer to the disbeliever than him.”

We see that during the harsh time even brave like ‘Ali (ra) used to seek shelter with the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) but still he did not kill anyone except Ubayy.

So what is bravery? Let us look at the meaning of Shuja’ah [Arabic of bravery] in Arabic dictionary. Al-Jawhari says in “As-Sihaah” (3/1235):

شدَّة القلب عند البأس

“It is the stability of heart during trial.”

Even the English word bravery means ‘able or ready to face and endure danger, disgrace or pain’. So not being able to kill someone or not being able to conquer some place does not indicate cowardice. Indeed, those who were killed by ‘Ali during the battles were more than those who were killed by Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. But it only proves that ‘Ali encountered more famous combatants than them not that they were hiding for their life.

As for running away from battles than there is no indication that any of the two Shaikh left the battle field. There were two incidents in Prophetic history when Muslims ran from the battle field when they couldn’t handle the enemies’ fierce attack. But in none of them, with any shred of evidence, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar left the battle field. So called proofs which some Shia authors quote to prove that they ran away from the battlefield are nothing but sheer misrepresentation of the context. If Allah willed I will compile a refutation on such arguments.


The following passage I translated from Minhaj as-Sunnah (8/87-89) of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah who quoted ‘Allamah Ibn Hazm from “Al-Fisal” (4/107).



Ibn Hazm said:

We see that they claim that ‘Ali was the greatest in waging Jihad against disbelievers and attacking and fighting them among all the companions.

Abu Muhammad (Ibn Hazm) said: This is wrong as the Jihad is classified in three categories;

  1. One of them is calling towards Allah,
  2. Second is to do Jihad during war by ideas and strategies
  3. And the third is to do jihad with hands by killing and hitting.

We find that with regards to the first type of Jihad no person supersede Abu Bakr and ‘Umar after the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). As for Abu Bakr then we find that the senior companions accepted Islam on his hands. As compared to him, ‘Ali does not have much share in this. As for ‘Umar then we see that the day he became Muslim Islam was strengthened and the worship of Allah was being done openly. This is the greatest Jihad and these two persons were alone in such Jihad of the first two categories (during early days) which has no comparable and ‘Ali does not have participation in it.

With regards to the second category then we find that it is specifically for Abu Bakr and then for ‘Umar.

As for the third category which is stabbing, hitting and combating then we find that it is the lowest level of Jihad because of the obvious reason that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), with the agreement of Muslims, was selective in doing the most virtuous of the act and we see that his – may Allah sends Salaat and salutation upon him – Jihad in most of the cases was restricted within the first two categories which is to call towards Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and planning and forwarding. His least involvement (among the three categories) was in stabbing, hitting and combating. This is not because of cowardice but in reality he was absolutely the bravest of all earthly beings with his hands and soul and the most complete to attain succor. But he would look for the best and then next after it from the acts, and then he would prefer it and get involved with it. We find that, during Badr and other battles, Abu Bakr would not leave him and sometimes even ‘Umar was included in it. They were distinguished in this case unlike ‘Ali and all other companions, except in rare cases.

Then after that we ponder over the third category of Jihad which is to stab, to hit and to combat. We see that ‘Ali was not alone in this, but many other companions also had the same share like Talha, Zubair and Sa’d and those were killed in early Islam like Hamza, ‘Ubaidah bin Harith and Mus’ab bin ‘Umair, and from Ansar Sa’d bin Mu’adh, Simak bin Kharshah Abu Dujanah and others. Also Abu Bakr and ‘Umar do have good share in it even if they did not involve in it like these people which is because of their participation in a better Jihad in association with the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and to aid him during battles. And he sent them for war more than he sent ‘Ali. He sent Abu Bakr towards Bani Fazarah and elsewhere and he sent ‘Umar towards Bani Fulan. On the other hand we do not know ‘Ali was sent for any battle except at some fort of Khaibar which he conquered [and he had sent Abu Bakr and ‘Umar there, before ‘Ali, but they could not conquered it]. So Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were involved in the highest level of Jihad and besides that they have their share with ‘Ali in the lower category of Jihad.