HOME BLOG QURANIC HADITH FIQH tGFH English CONTACT hamburger menubar icon

Abu Bakrah and the Feminists

by GF Haddad

Edit OmarKN

Tweet #omarkn


It began with a feminist who said out of the blue that the hadith in al-Bukhari where Abu Bakrah says that the Prophet said, upon him and his Family blessings and peace, "A nation that is led by a woman will not succeed" is a lie and that Abu Bakrah may not have been truthful because he was whipped by Umar ibn al-Khattab for lying about a charge of fornication against someone, and the testimony of one who is punished is not acceptable as mentioned in the Qur'an (24:4).

Ah, but the Qur'an also commands the noblest, most knowledgeable, AND most feminist women in creation (the mothers of the Believers) to stay home; and the Sunna curses women that imitate men. So a nation that is led by a woman may not succeed regardless. How typical are God and His Messenger of the "male elite"!

Then there was that neo-Mutazilite creature who said he keeps a kennel at home and prays behind his wife (presumably au naturel? or at least en cheveux), and he calls our liege-lord Abu Bakrah "this character."

Abu Bakrah3 - Allah be well-pleased with him - was convinced by his own eyes that the man and woman in question were guilty of fornication and he refused to pray behind that man, wrote to the Commander of the Believers, went to see him, and then bore witness against that man according to his conscience along with three other witnesses as the Law demands. But because the fourth witness retracted his testimony or was found unacceptable, the conviction fell through and the witnesses whipped and declared unreliable, as the Law also demands. After the whipping, Abu Bakrah still said, "I spoke the truth and the man did do what I said." `Umar motioned to whip him again but `Ali said, "If you do, then have the other one stoned!" i.e. the testimonials would now amount to four.

Abu Bakrah suffered through this trial all his life and would say incredulously, "Fassaquni" - They declared me corrupt! This, however, as Ibn Hazm said in the Muhalla, is NOT how countless subsequent generations of hadith Masters consider him but rather - beginning with the most stringent of them, al-Bukhari and Muslim - a faultless Companion-reporter of the utmost probity whose hadiths are 100% reliable including this one which is in the Sahih, despite what the feminists claim.

Then, in a hurry to make sense out of nonsense, someone proposed the reasoning that "If you can't be a witness you can't transmit hadith, if you have slandered someone you can't be a witness, thus if you've slandered someone you can't transmit hadith... ergo Abu Bakrah and MORE IMPORTANTLY Nafi', a major hadith transmitter [sic], are not kosher.... This reasoning is correct if you're a Hanafi or Mutazilite (or both) during the first three centuries of Islam."

No, it is not. First, countless Muslims who couldn't be witnesses such as children, women, and slaves, can and do transmit hadith.

Second, there is no established Hanafi report in the early books of riwaya questioning Abu Bakrah as a transmitter of hadith except a disputed report from Imam Abu Hanifa which his own practice disproves. In this respect the Hanafis do not differ from the rest of the Sunnis in that Abu Bakrah is a Companion and the Companions are all Upright (`udul) without exception among the Sunnis by Consensus as per Imam al-Haramayn and others. The Fiqh al-Akbar and `Aqida Tahawiyya show no exception and from the first moments of the discussion on whose riwaya is accepted and whose not, the category of potentially impugned1 narrators is precluded2 from the Compa-nions of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace.

Third, the Nafi` meant above is Abu Bakrah's half-brother, Nafi` ibn al-Harith ibn Kalada al-Thaqafi who is NOT a hadith transmitter except for a lone hadith transmitted by him in Ibn Sa`d, much less a major one, - much less in Malik or al-Bukhari as the same poster also seemed to suspect, but later he seems to have changed his mind.

More on the claim about the early Hanafis. Hanafi texts and practice in the first three centuries of Islam show that they accepted the hadiths of Abu Bakrah (who is by the way among the Fuqaha and Ahl al-Fatwa of the Companions in whose time *extremely few of whom* were more knowledgeable than him contrary to the claim made on zaytuna.org, x L 20120703 .

Al-Sarakhsi in his Usul does mention a report from Abu Hanifa to the effect that someone in Abu Bakrah's case cannot report hadith but he questions that report because it contradicts what he calls "the predominant position of our School":

"The repentant one after having suffered the penalty for leveling a rejected charge of fornication (al-mahdud fil-qadhf), in the transmission of reports, is like anyone else according to the predominant position of our School (zahir al-madhhab). For Abu Bakrah - Allah be well-pleased with him - is an accepted reporter (maqbul al-khabar) and no one busied themselves checking the dates of his reports to see whether he was reporting after the sentence was carried out against him or before, as opposed to [his] testimony. For the rejection of his testimony is part of the completion of his penalty. This is firmly established by textual stipulation [i.e. the Qur'anic verse] while *the narration of reports does not have the same meaning as testimonies.* Do you not see that women cannot witness over penalties at all? Yet their narration in the chapter of penalties is the same as the narration of men. And [contrary to this], in the narration of al-Hasan [ibn Zyad al-Lu'lu'i] from Abu Hanifa - Allah be well-pleased with both of them: The repentant one after having suffered the penalty for leveling a rejected charge of fornication is not an acceptable reporter." Usul al-Sarakhsi (p. 354-355).

But Abu Hanifa's practice belies that he ever said the above since he narrated from Abu Bakrah as did his early and late Companions. All of the following narrate Abu Bakrah's hadiths: Abu Hanifa in his Musnads, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan in the Muwatta' and the Hujja, Zufar in al-Tabarani's Awsat, Waki` ibn al-Jarrah in Ahmad's Musnad, Yahya ibn Ma`in (a fanatic Hanafi) in Muntaqa Ibn al-Jarud (a book of exclusively sahih reports), Yahya ibn Sa`id al-Qattan in Ahmad's Musnad, al-Tahawi in his books....

All those early Hanafis were certainly aware that the Sahaba one and all accepted the riwaya of Abu Bakrah and so did they. What "some early Hanafis" did or said otherwise. Apparently no one known to al-Sarakhsi in al-Mabsut, nor to al-Kasani in Bada'i` al-Sana'i`, nor to Ibn al-Humam in Fath al-Qadir and Tahrir al-Usul. All of them explicitly concurred that the Sahaba accepted the riwaya of Abu Bakrah while al-Kasani went on to explain, like al-Sarakhsi: "because bearing testimony is different from reporting."

The late School in this respect echoes the above position. [From Musa W Furber]:

Sadr al-Shari`ah says: "...Shahadah being rejected eternally is part of what completes the hadd [min tamam al-hadd]..." Sa`d al-Din comments that after tawbah, their shahadah will never be accepted [since it is part of the hadd], though their hadith is accepted because they are `udul. This is at the end of al-rukn al-thani (al-sunna), fasl fi shara`it al-rawi. Source: Sa`d al-Din Mas`ud ibn `Umar al-Taftazani, Sadr al-Shari`a `Ubayd Allah ibn Mas`ud. _Al-Talwih ila Kashf Haqa'iq al-Tanqih_. Ed. Muhammad `Adnan Darwish. Dar al-Arqam. 1419/1998. 2:17.

So do the Shafi`is. Al-Shirazi in his Usul goes a step further to explain why the uprightness of the flogged accusers remains unquestionable. [From Musa W Furber also, slightly modified]:

In Al-Shirazi's _Sharh al-Luma`_ (2:638, paragraph 738) and in the just the Luma` (p. 165, paragraph 208.). Both read: "As for Abu Bakrah and those who were flogged with him for qadhf, their narrations are transmitted since they did not say what they did as qadhf, rather they said it as shahadah. `Umar only flogged them - may Allah be pleased with him - based on his own ijtihad, so it is impermissible to question their uprightness for it, nor can their narrations be rejected."

Similarly in Imam al-Ghazzali's Mustasfa (p. 287): "`Umar flogged Abu Bakrah when the minimal requirement of testimony was not met although the latter came as witness in a tribunal (shahidan fi majlis al-hakam), not as an accuser of fornication (la qadhifan). However, he [`Umar] judged him by analogy with the accuser of fornication."

The above shahada-is-not-qadhf distinction with relation to Abu Bakrah's upright status is faithfully echoed in the Hanbali sources such as Ibn Qudama's Rawdat al-Nazir (1:234-235), the Miswadda of Al Taymiyya (p. 233), and Ibn Muflih's Nukat `ala Mushkil al-Muharrar (2:250-255), the latter mentioning in detail the reasoning of their early authorities (such as Ibn `Aqil, the Qadi Abu Ya`la in his `Idda and Abu al-Khattab) then citing Ahmad ibn Taymiyya's point that "[hadith] reports are not rejected for the same type of suspect causes as testimonies, such as kinship, friendship, enmity, or the like; or because a reporter and what he reports can be one and the same, contrary to testimony."

Hence Ibn al-Qayyim accurately reports Consensus in I`lam al-Muwaqqi`in (1:127) over the universal acceptance of Abu Bakrah's narrations.

Also preposterous is the linkage of al-Bukhari's chapter on the testimony of the defamer, in which he supposedly "devotes a commment disagreeing with "a certain person" i.e. Abu Hanifa over whether or not Abu Bakrah and Nafi are acceptable hadith transmitters [see Abd al-Ghani al- Ghunaymi (d. 1298AH), Kashf al-iltibas 'amma awrada al-imam al-Bukhari 'ala ba'd al-nas, ed. Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda (Aleppo: Maktabat al-Matbu'at al-Islamiyya, 1414/1993), 22."

Not at all! There is not one word of discussion nor even an oblique reference whether or not Abu Bakrah and Nafi` are acceptable hadith transmitters, whether in al-Bukhari or al-Ghunaymi and you are confusing the two issues: "Ba`d al-nas" here does not extend to a purported rejection of hadith riwaya but only to the rejection of < shahadat al-fasiq fil-qadhfi wa'in tab> "the testimony of the transgressor who leveled a charge of zina that was dismissed" based on the verse that forbids acceptance of their testimony forever.

Nor is there an "ahl- al-hadith vs. Hanafis" rift on the acceptance of hadith riwaya from Abu Bakrah whatsoever, nor does al-Ghunaymi's discussion in Kashf al-Iltibas say otherwise.

Al-Ghunaymi only says that the position of the Kufans is the everlasting rejection of the testimony of the transgressor who leveled an inacceptable charge of zina. He then cites Ibn al-Qayyim in I`lam al-Muwaqqi`in showing [as per Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf] that the same position is also reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrima, al-Hasan, Masruq, al-Sha`bi, and Shurayh.

Before him, Ibn al-Humam in Fath al-Qadir cited this everlasting rejection of testimony as the position of Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab, Shurayh, al-Hasan, Ibrahim al-Nakha`i, Sa`id ibn Jubayr, and Ibn `Abbas.

Before Ibn al-Humam, al-Tahawi in Ikhtilaf al-`Ulama' had cited it as the position of Imam al-Awza`i. So the khilaf "pre-repentence / everlasting" very much pre-dates and is wider than the Fiqh of Ahl al-`Iraq, including the Kufans, including Hanafis and Thawris.

Note well that al-Hasan al-Basri narrates liberally from Abu Bakrah even though he believed, as we cited, that the testimony of the repentent qadhif remains forever rejected. And Allah knows best.

Not most but all of what rears up its head today as progressive, feminist, liberal, South African liberation theology, Syrian do-it-yourself(-dare-to-be-ignorant), contemporary, top of the pops re-readings, is in fact a banale catalogue of ancient heresiographical history. All of those strange and new positions or the arguments that prop them up have long crumbled to dust in the vaults of deviant Usul! The sooner we learn about the historical non-Sunnis that specialize in Companion-character-assassination, the sooner we can identify the near-totality of the mashrab of today's "progressive" dona ferentes.

After this, why be circumspect and polite with those that are bigger losers than the {she-wood carrier}? If the same Abu Bakrah were reporting, let us suppose, something that said, "Woman was the first creation and she is man's boss, godfather, and capo di tutti capi here and hereafter," the same critics would have made him infallible. But they have a problem with the hadith "A nation will not succeed" so they set out to find ways of undermining it. Their aims are of course much more ambitious and the Abu Bakrah issue only one trojan horse among many others in their program, as their books and arguments have made abundantly clear.

GF Haddad
[Jan 14, 2005]



Related texts
link-in Role of Women in Islam


fn1: to impugn: to challenge or to call into question, usually the integrity of truth of a person; attack as false or wrong;
[ up back to text]

fn2: to preclude: keep from happening or arising; or preventing
[ up back to text]

fn3: Abu Bakrah's  full name is Nufay' b. Ma'ruq. He should not be confused with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq.
[ up back to text]


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *