It is reported from the Prophet that he said ﷺ :
1. "My Companions are like the stars; whoever among them you use for guidance, you will be rightly guided."
This is a weak (da`îf) hadith narrated:
- from Ibn `Umar by `Abd ibn Humayd in his Musnad as stated by al-Suyuti in Manahil al-Safa (p. 193 #1027) and Ibn `Adi in al-Kamil; al-Suyuti indicated it was weak in his Jami` al-Saghir (#4603).
- from Jabir by al-Daraqutni in Fada'il al-Sahaba and Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm (2:924-925 #1759-1760=2:111);
- from Abu Hurayra by al-Quda`i in Musnad al-Shihab with a very weak chain because of Ja`far ibn `Abd al-Wahid al-Hashimi who was declared a liar as stated by Ibn Hajar;
- from `Umar and Ibn `Abbas by al-Bayhaqi in al-Madkhal where he said: "Its matn is well-known (mashhûr) and its chains are weak"; - from `Umar by al-Sajzi in al-Ibana and Ibn `Asakir as stated by al-Suyuti who indicated it was weak in his Jami` al-Saghir (#4603);
- from Anas by al-Bazzar who said of `Abd ibn Humayd's narration: "It is condemned (munkar) and unsound" as cited by Ibn Hajar in Talkhis al-Habir (4:190-191 #2098).
Al-Bajawi said in his edition of al-Qadi `Iyad's al-Shifa (2:613): "Ibn Hazm even said: It is forged. The hadith master al-`Iraqi said: The author (`Iyad) should not have cited it as if it were definitely a hadith of the Prophet ﷺ ." Al-Halabi said: "The author should not have cited it as if it were definitely a hadith of the Prophet ﷺ , due to what is known about it among the scholars of this science, and he has done the same thing several times before." Al-Qari replies in his commentary on al-Shifa' (2:91): "It is possible that he [`Iyad] had established a chain for it, or that he considered the multiplicity of its chains to raise its grade from da`îf to that of hasan, due to his good opinion of it, not to mention the fact that even the weak hadith may be put into practice for meritorious acts (fadâ'il al-a`mâl), and Allah knows best."
Al-Saghani declared it fair (hasan) as stated by Hasan al-Tibi and al-Sayyid's respective commentaries on the Mishkat. Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda in his commentary on al-Qari's Fath Bab al-`Inaya (1:13) and his al-Masnu` fi Ma`rifa al-Hadith al-Mawdu` (p. 273) rejects the grading of mawdû` and equally rejects al-Lacknawi's grading of sahîh - in his marginalia on the latter's Tuhfat al-Akhyar entitled Nukhbat al-Anzar (p. 53) and the introduction to his al-Athar al-Marfu`a fi al-Akhbar al-Mawdu`a - for which the latter cited al-Sha`rani's phrase in the Mizan al-Kubra: "Even if the authenticity of this hadith is questioned among the scholars of hadith, nevertheless it is sound among the people of miraculous unveiling (kashf)." See also the Tamim brothers' marginalia on al-Qari's Sharh Sharh Nukhba al-Fikar (p. 557).
As for the claim by the "Salafi" Sa`id Ma`shasha's recent tract al-Muqallidun wa al-A'imma al-Arba`a (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami and Dar Ibn Hazm, 1999) (p. 102) that "this hadith is forged (mawdû`) as Ibn Hazm said in Usul al-Ahkam (#810), al-Shawkani in al-Qawl al-Mufid (p. 30), and al-Albani in al-Silsila al-Da`ifa (#58) and a number of the scholars": this statement is a shameless lie as all al-Shawkani said in al-Qawl al-Mufid fi Adilla al-Ijtihad wa al-Taqlid on page 9 of its original 1347/1929 edition is: "This hadith was narrated through different routes from Jabir and Ibn `Umar, and the Imams of narrator-criticism have explicitly said that none of them are sound (lâ yasihhu minhu shay') and that this hadith is not firmly established as a Prophetic narration.... In sum, this hadith forms no proof." This is the same opinion as those we have quoted from the majority of the scholars, but it is a far cry from his saying the hadith is forged. Furthermore, it is untrue that "a number of the scholars" have declared it forged, as the only scholar who did was Ibn Hazm, imitated in our time by Nasir Albani. One of the ironies of Ma`shasha's book is that he attacks taqlîd in every page, yet relies exclusively on Albani for hadith authentication, without any reference to the hadith masters!
There is a confirmatory report for the above narration:
2. The hadith in Muslim and Ahmad narrated by Abu Musa al-Ash`ari whereby the Prophet, ﷺ , said: "The stars are trust-keepers for the heaven, and when the stars wane, the heaven is brought what was promised (i.e. of the corruption of the world and the coming of the Day of Judgment); and I am a trust-keeper for my Companions, so when I go my Companions will be brought what was promised them (i.e. of fitna and division); and my Companions are trustkeepers for my Community, so when they go my Community will be brought what was promised to you (i.e. following hawâ and vying for dunyâ)."
Another report states:
3. Anas relates that the Prophet ﷺ, said: "The simile of the scholars of knowledge (al-`ulama') on the earth is the stars in the sky by which one is guided in the darkness of the land and the sea. When the stars are clouded over, the guides are about to be lost."
Narrated from Anas by Ahmad in his Musnad (al-Arna'ut ed. 20:52 #12600=al-Zayn ed. 10:508 #12537=3:157 #12606) with a very weak chain according to al-Arna'ut because of Rishdin ibn Sa`d who is weak, Abu Hafs - the narrator from Anas - who is unknown, and `Abd Allah ibn al-Walid who is "soft" (layyin), although al-Zayn declared it fair with his usual laxity, as did al-Suyuti in al-Jami` al-Saghir. Cf. al-Haytami (1:121). Also narrated by al-Khatib in al-Faqih wa al-Mutafaqqih (2:70), al-Ramahurmuzi in al-Amthal (p. 51) - both with the same chain - and Ahmad in al-Zuhd, mawqûf from Abu al-Darda'. Also narrated mursal from al-Hasan al-Basri by al-Bayhaqi in al-Madkhal (p. 274).
This is what `Umar meant when he named the Companions: "Those whom people look at and take (knowledge) from" when he disapproved of the difference of opinion between Ubay ibn Ka`b and `Abd Allah ibn Mas`ud, as related in Ibn `Abd al-Barr's Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm (Misr: Dar al-Tiba`a al-Muniriyya 2:84).
Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi said in Nawadir al-Usul: "Not everyone that met him and followed him or saw him once is meant by this hadith but only those that studiously kept his company morning and evening, received his conveyance of the Revelation, took from him the Law that became the path of the Umma, and looked to him for the ethics of Islam and to his noble traits. Those became, after him, the Imams and the proofs in which resides right guidance and in whose path is found right emulation and in them is safety and right belief."
There are many reports showing the validity or desirability of following and imitating the Companions in their religious practice, and in the case of the Four Well-Guided Caliphs this imitation is actually a Prophetic command, and Allah knows best.
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