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Which one is correct, "My Itrah", or "My Sunnah"?

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

The eminent narrators of the hadith have reported it in two ways:

a) "Kitaballah wa 'itrati, Ahla Bayti" - the Book of Allah and my kindred, my household;

b) "Kitaballah wa sunnati" - the Book of Allah and my Sunnah.

The authentic hadith quoted from the holy Prophet (a.s) contains the phrase: "wa Ahla Bayti." The hadith citing "sunnati" instead of "Ahla Bayti -my household-" is nil and void in terms of authenticity, but the one containing "Ahla Bayti" is sound for the following reasons:

Chain of narrators of the hadith containing "Wa Ahla Bayti"

The two great Islamic narrators of the hadith who have quoted this narration are:

a) Muslim, who, in his Sahih, quotes Zayd ibn Arqam as saying: "Once the Messenger of God delivered a sermon at Ghadir Khumm - a brook between Mecca and Medina. Having praised God, he said: "O people! I am a human being who is about to be summoned by the divine angel and who is to respond to this call. I am leaving behind two precious things (Thaqalayn): the first is the Book of Allah, which contains guidance and light. So take hold of the Book of Allah and act according to it." Thus, he put great emphasis on acting according to the Holy Qur'an. Then he added: "and Ahla Bayti (my household). With regard to my Ahla Bayt I remind you of Allah." He repeated this sentence three times.[1]

b) Darimi has also quoted the same hadith in his book Sunan.[2] It should be noted that both hadiths are textually as lucid as the day, with no distortion in them.

c) Tirmidhi has quoted the same narration using the phrase "wa 'itrati, Ahla Bayti": "I leave behind two things among you. If you take hold of them, you will not be misguided after me. One of them is greater than the other: the Book of Allah, which is a rope extended from the heaven to the earth, and my itrah, my household. The two will never separate until they return to me by the pond (of Kawthar). So, heed how to deal with them."[3]

Muslim and Tirmidhi, authors of the books of Sahih and Sunan, have both emphasized the phrase "Ahla Bayti." This is sufficient proof advocating our view.

The text containing "wa sunnati."

The narration containing the phrase "wa sunnati" (My Sunnah) instead of Ahla Bayti" - household - is forged and weak in its chain of narrators; moreover, it was devised by the Umayyads.

In his Mustadrak, Hakim Nayshaburi, on the authority of 'Abbas ibn Abi-Uways, on the authority of Abi-Uways, and he on the authority of Thawr ibn Zayd al-Daylami, on the authority of ''Ikrimah, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, quotes the holy Prophet as having said, "O people, I leave two things among you, which, if you take hold of, you would not be misguided: the Book of Allah and His Prophet's Sunnah."[4]

Mention should here be made of Abu-Uways and Isma'il ibn Abi-Uways, the father and son respectively, as pests among the narrators of the chain of this hadith. Not only are they unreliable but also accused of fabricating hadiths.

Comments of the experts of 'ilm al-rijal concerning these two narrators

a) Hafiz Mazzi, a researcher of 'ilm al-rijal has the following points to say in his book,

Tahdhib al-Kamal, concerning Isma'il and his father: "Yahya ibn Mu'in, a great scholar of 'ilm al-rijal, says, 'Abu-Uways and his son are weak' He is also quoted to have said, 'These two are used to plagiarizing hadiths." Ibn Mu'in has further said about Abu-Uways' son: 'He can not be trusted."

b) Nasa'i's comment on Abu-Uways' son: "He is weak and inauthentic."

c) Abul-Qasim Lalka'i: "Nasa'i has said a great deal about him (Isma'il), such as: "The hadiths he quotes are to be rejected."

d) Ibn Adi, a scholar of 'ilm al-rijal: "Ibn Abi-Uways has narrated strange hadiths from his uncle, which no one accepts."[5]

e) In the prologue to Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar has said, "The narrations Ibn Abi-Uways has cited can never be taken as a basis for argument due to the charges Nasa'i made against him."[6]

f) In his book, Fath al-Mulk al-'Ali, Hafiz Sayyid Ahmad ibn Siddiq quotes Salamah ibn Shayb as having said, "I have heard Isma'il ibn 'Abi-Uways saying, 'Whenever the citizens of Medina divide on an issue, I fabricate a tradition.[7]

The son, Isma'il ibn 'Abi-Uways, is thus accused of fabricating narrations in addition to being called a liar by Ibn Mu'in. Moreover, none of his hadiths have been cited in either of the Sahih Muslim and Tirmidhi have written.

There is no need to quote more than what Abu-Hatam Razi wrote in his book, al-Jarh wa'l-Ta'dil, regarding Abu-Uways, "His narrations are written down, but are not taken as a ground to base arguments on."[8] Abu-Hatam has also quoted Ibn Mu'in as having said, "Abu-Uways is unreliable." The hadiths these two persons quote are never authentic, and are contradictory to the authentic ones. It is noteworthy that Hakim Nayshaburi, the narrator, has acknowledged the hadith as being weak and has, therefore, not bothered himself to correct them. He has, however, presented evidence in favor of the content of the hadith, which is weak and inauthentic. This weakens the hadith rather than strengthening it. His ill-founded document is mentioned below.

The Second Evidence for 'wa sunnati"

In the following narration Hakim Nayshaburi directly quotes Abu-Hurayrah as reporting the following tradition, without ascribing it to an infallible person: "I have surely left two things among you, after which you will not be misguided: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. And these two will not separate until they return to me by the pond."[9]

The chain of narrators Hakim mentions is: Al-Dabbi, on the authority of Salih ibn Musa al-Talhi, on the authority of 'Abd al-'Aziz Ibn Rafi' on the authority of Abi-Salih, on the authority of Abu-Hurayrah. Like the aforementioned hadith, this narration is forged too. In the chain of narrators of this hadith mention has been made of Salih al-Talhi concerning whom the following comments have been made by the expert of ilm ar-rijal:

a) Yahya ibn Mu'in: "Salih ibn Musa is undependable."

b) Abu-Hatam Razi: "The narrations he quotes are weak and repudiated. In many of his hadiths he ascribes munkar to the trusted ones."

c) Nasa'i: "The hadiths he cites are not to be recorded." Also, "His hadiths are abandoned."[10]

d) In his Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, Ibn Hajar writes: Ibn Habban says: "Salih ibn Musa ascribes to the trusted people words that are not the like of theirs." Also, "The traditions he narrates are not to be taken as evidence."

e) Abu-Na'im: "His narrations are abandoned; he constantly cites munkar hadiths.[11]

f) Ibn Hajar in Taqrib: "His narrations are abandoned."[12]

g) Dhahabi in Kashif: "His narrations are weak."[13] Dhahabi discusses the aforementioned narration in his Mizan al-I'tidal, and calls it munkar.[14]

The Third Document for "Wa sunnati"

a) Ibn Abd al-Barr quotes the aforementioned narration in his book "Tamhid" with the following chain of the narrators ('Abd al-Rahman ibn Yahya, on the authority of Ahmad ibn Sa'id, on the authority of Hunayn, on the authority of Kathir ibn 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn 'Awf, on the authority of his father on the authority of his grandfather.)"[15]

Concerning Kathir ibn 'Abdullah, Imam Shafi'i says, "He is one of the pillars of falsehood."[16] Abu-Dawud says:" He is among the liars."[17] Ibn Habban says: "'Abdullah ibn Kathir quotes from his father and his grandfather narrations which are based on forgery. It is permanently unlawful to cite traditions from 'Abdullah, unless with the aim of (showing) astonishment or criticism."[18]

b) Nasa'i and Daraqutni: "His hadiths are abandoned."

c) Imam Ahmad: "He denounces (the correct) hadiths; he is not dependable." Ibn Mu'in is of the same opinion. How strange for Ibn Hajar to consider him in his al-Taqrib as "weak", and to call "lying extremists" those who accused Kathir ibn 'Abdullah whereas it is those who are avant-gardes in knowledge that have accused him of falsehood and forgery'. Dhahabi calls his word "illusive and infirm."

Uncited Quotation

In his book, al-Muwatta', Malik calls the aforementioned narration as "one without citations, directly narrated", and we know such narrations as worthless."[19] It is thus clearly proved that the narration containing "wa sunnati" is one fabricated by mendacious narrators linked with the Umayyad court, aiming at having it positioned against the authentic one containing "wa itrati." It is thus necessary for preachers delivering sermons in mosques and discussing religious issues to abandon the narration not handed down from the Messenger of God, and instead to familiarize people with the authentic narration, the one Muslim has narrated in his Sahih as containing "Ahla Bayti" and Tirmidhi has cited the phrase "itrati wa Ahla Bayti." Scholars should also reveal the difference between the authentic and other weak narrations.

In conclusion, we would repeat that by using the phrase "Ahla Bayti", the holy Prophet refers to his progeny: Hadrat Fatimah, Hasan and Husayn, peace be upon them, as reported in Muslim's Sahih[20] and Tirmidhi's Sunan[21] which have quoted 'a'ishah as having said that the following Qur'anic verse: "Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from you, O Ahla-Bayt and purify you a thorough purifying" (33:33), was revealed to the holy Prophet (a.s) when he was in Umm Salamah's house. Then the Messenger (a.s) summoned Fatimah (a.s), and Hasan (a.s) and Husayn (a.s) and put an 'aba on their heads, while 'Ali (a.s) was behind him. Then he said, "O Allah, these are my Ahl al-Bayt, so remove from them uncleanness and purify them a thorough purifying." At this time Umm Salamah said, "O Messenger of Allah, am I one of them?" He said, "You hold your own place; you are also on the good path."[22]

Implications of Thaqalayn Hadith

The holy Prophet's juxtaposing the itrah and the Qur'an and calling both Allah's authentic authorities among Muslims, can have, at least, the following implications:

1) The words of the Prophet's itrah are, like the Qur'an, God's authentic proofs in religious affairs, ideological or juridical, to which Muslims should stick, and from which they should not deviate. Although the Muslims were divided into two groups on the issue of caliphate and of the administration of the affairs of the community, each with a reason supporting their belief, they should never differ in Ahla Bayt's scholarly stand, for there is a general unanimity on the authenticity of hadith of Thaqalayn, which considers the Qur'an and itrah as the scholarly stand in matters of beliefs and religious precepts. If the Islamic ummah follows the contents of this hadith, divisions will narrow in scope, and unity will prevail.

2) The Qur'an is the word of God and secure against any error, therefore "Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind" (41:42). And so is its peer, the itrah, for how can an erring individual or the erring ones be taken as peers to the Qur'an? The narration under discussion is evidence supporting their infallibility from any errors. It should be noted that inerrancy does not entail prophethood, since many a person is secured against sin who is not a prophet. The Blessed Mary is such an example whom the Qur'an addressed: "Allah has chosen you and purified you and ranked you above the women of the world." (3:42)

[1] Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p.1803, No. 2408. 'Abd al-Baqi edition.

[2] Sunan al-Darimi, vol. 2, p. 431-2.

[3] Sunan al-Tirmidhi, vol. 5, p. 663, No. 37788.

[4] Al-Hakim's al-Mustadrak 'ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 1, p.93.

[5] Al-Hafiz al-Mazzi's Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol. 3, p.127.

[6] Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani's Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, p. 391, Dar al-Ma'arif Print.

[7] Al-Hafiz Sayyid Ahmad's Fath al-Mulk al-'Ali, p. 15.

[8] Abu-Hatam al-Razi's al-Jarh wa'l-Ta'dil, vol. 5, p. 92.

[9] Al-Hakim's al-Mustadrak 'ala al-Sahihayn, vol. 1, p. 93.

[10] Al-Hafiz al-Mazzi's Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol. 13, p. 96.

[11] Ibn Hajar's Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 4, p.355.

[12] Ibn Hajar's Taqrib, (the translation, No. 2891).

[13] Al-Dhahabi's al-Kashif, (the translation, No. 2412).

[14] Al-Dhahabi's Mizan al-I'tidal, vol. 2, p.302.

[15] Al-Tamhid, vol. 24, p. 331.

[16] Ibn Hajar's Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, vol. 8, p.377, printed by Dar al-Fikr; also Tahdhib al-Kamal, vol. 24, p.138.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibn Habban's al-Majruhin, vol. 2, p. 211.

[19] Malik's al-Muwatta', vol. 3 p.889.

[20] Sahih Muslim, vol. 4, p. 1883.

[21] Al-Tirmidhi, vol. 5, p.663.

[22] Hasan ibn Ali al-Saqqaf's Sahih, Sifat Salat al-Nabi, pp. 289-294.

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

اَللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍ وَّآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّعَجِّلْ فَرَجَهُمْ

وَالْعَنْ أَعْدَائَهُمْ اَجْمَعِيْن

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التماس دعا

فی امان لله

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