Mustalah And Aqida Questions
by Sh. G. F. Haddad


While I was in America I encountered a few relatively short questions during conversations in family/friend circles and in the local masajids. I was wondering if you could address them as they mostly revolve around mustalah al-hadith and one about tawhid.

1.) Out of the 30,000 or so ahadith in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah) how many of them have been classified as "mawdu" by the muhaddithin?

Ibn Hajar in al-Qawl al-Musaddad fil-Dhabb ʿan Musnad al-Imam Ahmad (published by Shaykh Ahmad Shakir in his edition of the Musnad) lists 22 hadiths of the Musnad which Ibn al-Jawzi included among the forgeries in his great dictionary of forgeries, the Mawduʿat al-Kubra. Ibn Hajar begins by stating that the latter book is as unreliable in its declaring the grade of "forged" as al-Hakim's Mustadrak is unreliable in its declaring the grade of "sound." Then he demonstrates that of the 22 claimed forgeries, exactly none can be conclusively said to be forged. Thus it is no doubt an enduring karama for Imam Ahmad and his Musnad that we may rest assured that as long as what we quote is narrated therein, it is not forged. Allah have mercy on him!

2.) What may be a possible reason(s) as to why Imam al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) never explicitly mentioned his conditions of the acceptability of a given "sanad" in written form, unlike his student, Imam Muslim (rahimahullah)?

Muslim wrote his Muqaddima last just as Abu Dawud wrote his epistle to the people of Makka only after he finished his Sunan (these two being the earliest extant works in mustalah, especially the second), so it may be that al-Bukhari also intended to write his summation on his science after he finished his Sahih but he died before finishing the latter, Allah have mercy on all of them.

3.) Were there any reliable hadith scholars who rejected the belief in the coming of the Dajjal and al-Mahdi (ʿalayhis salaam) because they found the narrations to be "very weak" or "fabricated."

None that I know of before the 14th century, rather, earlier evidence points to the contrary since belief in both is included (the first explicitly and the second implicitly) into the obligatory creeds such as the Fiqh al-Akbar, Ashʿari's _Ibana_ and his "creed of Ahl al-Sunna" in _Maqalat al-Islamiyyin_, the Tahawiyya, the various riwayas of _ʿAqidat al-Imam Ahmad_ collected by Ibn Abi Yaʿla in _Tabaqat al-Hanabila_, al-Ajurri's al-Shariʿa, Ibn Batta's Ibana, and the Nasafiyya, and its proofs counted among the mutawatir in meaning by al-Suyuti who expanded on Abu Nuʿaym's "Forty Hadiths on the Mahdi" in his _ʿUrf al-Wardi fi Akhbar al-Mahdi_ in the _Hawi lil-Fatawa_, and al-Kattani in _Nazm al-Mutanathir_, while al-Haytami in the beginning of and al-Saffarini in _Lawamiʿ al-Anwar al-Bahiyya_ (2:72-74) state that whoever denies belief in the coming of the Mahdi commits kufr. However, Ibn Badran (d. 1349) excluded it from both the obligatory creed and the status of tawatur while Ibn ʿAshur (d. 1379) went overboard and deemed its narrations fabrications.

4.) Are all the ahadith in the sahihayn considered to be sound from a matn-criticism standpoint as well or just from an isnad-criticism standpoint?

Some have been critiqued but yes, all are conclusively considered sahih though not to the same degree as they contain the mutawatir as well as the gharib and the ʿaziz. The most authoritative critic of the Sahihayn, Imam al-Daraqutni, does not question matn soundness in them although he tries to be more stringent than both of them with regard to isnad and does question additions to matn and variant riwayas, none of which conclusively. As for fraudulent matn critics their criteria are invariably unIslamic and stem from hawa, for example feminists who dislike that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said no nation led by a woman would succeed or materialists who clatter that Adam cannot possibly have been created sixty cubits tall.

5.) When a hadith is speaking about the matters of the Unseen or matters of which we have been given very little knowledge about, then what if any are the basic principles of interpretation do we use to understand them.

We hear and we believe according to the rules of the Arabic language and its figures of thought and speech together with the foundations of the creed and the musallamat i.e. firmly-established truths that stand uncontradictable, and if it does not make sense then we say, as in Surat Al ʿImran, {We believe in it, all of it is from our Lord} and, as advised in the _Fiqh al-Akbar_, "I believe whatever meaning is true and correct to believe about it" without hesitation until we can ask a reliable ʿalim about it.

For example, the hadith in "Sahih al-Bukhari" about the Hell-Fire breathing and as a result a change in season. How do we understand such hadiths about which we can not really understand from the laws of nature in this world but we know them to be "sahih."

We can understand them from the Messenger of the Creator of those laws since his hadith to that effect, upon him blessings and peace, is actually an elucidation of the verse that mentions unbearable cold (zamharir) as being part of the punishment of Gehenna (may Allah save us from its torment) as every change and every appearance of this dunya is a sign to the Believer. ("The Fire complained to its Lord and said, 'My constituent parts are consuming one another,' whereupon He gave it two breaths every year, one breath in the winter and one breath in the summer. The harshest heat you experience is from its heat and the harshest cold from its cold." He also said, upon him blessings and peace, that our fire here is one out seventy parts of the fire of Gehenna, and that extreme fever is also an outpouring from its Fire.)

6.) I was asked the following question in America: Certain Ashari scholars like to call our 3-fold classification of tawheed to be a bida. But what we would like to ask them why they have classified the Attributes of Allah into different classifications as well. They have their so called sifaat al-maani and sifaat al-manawiyya, then five more attributes. Is this not a bida' to them as well? But no they will be quick to say that we have done this classification to facilitate understanding of the Attributes of Allah. So why cant they accept that we too have classified tawheed into different classifications for the purpose of facilitation?

The big difference is that as far as I know they make it obligatory to believe in their "Three-in-One" Tawhids over and beyond just saying the Shahada, whereas no Ashʿari scholar, as far as I know, makes it a prerequisite of salvation to even know what Attributes are called Sifat al-Maʿani and Sifat al-Maʿnawiyya, let alone believe in them as such over and beyond the Shahada. Furthermore, Ashʿaris did not end up committing takfir of those that did not share their terminology whereas "triple-tawhid" advocates end up committing takfir of any and all Muslims that differ with them, which is the unmistakable hallmark of Ahl al-Bidʿa. There are other differences but these two are enough to discourage the pot from calling the kettle black. Allahu aʿlam.

GF Haddad

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latest update: Wed, 7 Jan 2009


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