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Compilation of Hadith (2)

Author : Muhammad Ali Mahdawi Rad
Subject : Compilation of Hadith
Translator : Ahmad Rezwani
Editor : Mahdi Baqi


25 Oct 2011
Hadith Sciences 3

Abstract

The article treats of the questions “Who were the precursors in the collection and transcription of hadith?” Following a presentation of diverse views regarding the beginning of hadith collection, the author proceeds to discuss the issues of transcription and culture, the Holy Qur´an, and sunna as well as their interrelations. The discussion is followed by the presentation of certain texts in which hadith collection is encouraged. In this vein, mention is made of Sahifa al-Nabi which constitutes the noble Prophet’s (SAW) dictations recorded by Imam ´Ali (AS). The author presents the Sahifa and runs a search for its Shi´a sources. Mention is also made of Imam ´Ali’s and Fatima’s (AS) books. Narrations prohibiting hadith collection, the reports concerning the last moments of the Holy Prophet (SAW) on death bed and diverse views on them, and finally a critique of the hadith prohibiting collection receive further treatment.

Key Words

hadith collection, prohibition of hadith collection, Sahifa al-Nabi, Ali’s (AS) book, Fatima’s (AS) book, hadith critique.



Body

In the previous issue, we studied the terms ḥadīth, khabar, athar, and Sunna from the viewpoint of the lexicographers and scholars of ḥadīth. Here, concerning the discourse of how ḥadīths have been compiled and disseminated, we proceed with the talk about how aḥādīth were written down in the era of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.).

writing down hadīth

How did ḥadīth and Sunna of the Prophet (S.A.W.) reach the later generations? What was the Prophet's role in recording this collection [of hadīth]? How did the companions deal with such valuable treasure in that era and during the valuable lifetime of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)? Etc. These and others are the questions raised concerning a certain part of the history of ḥadīth and its compilation and dissemination. Following, we are going to see how these questions have been answered.

The Shī‘a scholars and traditionists maintain that ḥadīth has not been compiled until late first/seventh century. Some have taken the date as to be later than that. Al-Siyūṭī says:

"Compilation of ḥadīth began in 100/718 by order of ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz."[1]

Others have also said the same, too, attributing to him the beginning of compilation. However, they are not unanimous in how ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz began the compilation of ḥadīth and to whom he relegated this task. Al-Siyūṭī and others believe that he informed all people about it by declaring it publicly[2]. In some reports, however, he is said to have written to the scholars in Madīna, asking them to compile the aḥādīth of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in order to prevent them from ruin and extinction.[3]

Al-Bukhārī has related that ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz wrote a letter to Abū Bakr b. Ḥazm[4] and appointed him to this task, urging him to spread science and to hold sessions for teaching it and discussing aḥādīth in mosques. He made endeavors in compilation of the aḥādīth in a single book.[5]

It is pointed out in some historical texts that he consigned it to Kathīr b. Marra[6], and in some others it is suggested that he consigned Muḥammad b. Shahāb al-Zuharī to the compilation of ḥadīth[7] and dispatched his writings to Islamic territories. Al-Zahrī said this, boasting that no one had compiled hadīth prior to him.[8]

The Sunnī scholars and traditionists have stressed al-Zuharī's initiative in compilation of ḥadīth, and this is quite well-known among their works.[9]

‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz died in 101/719; thus, given he has ordered the compilation of ḥadīth in the latter years of his life, the year 101/719 has been the beginning of the compilation of ḥadīth according to those who are of this opinion. Other reports, however, indicate that he issued the order but did not manage to have it executed. Hence, some have regarded the beginning of compilation of ḥadīth as earlier than the above date. Some have considered the beginning of ḥadīth compilation as by order of Hishām b. ‘Abd al-Malik and endeavors of Muḥammad b. Shahāb Zuharī as early as 124/742; other dates such as 104/722, 105/723, 110/728, 121/739 have been pointed out, though.[10]

Now, these answers are to be more carefully reflected upon to see whether it has really been so. Did not Islam, as the faith of culture and civilization, and the Prophet (S.A.W.), as the proponent of knowledge and culture, emphasize this undertaking and show no sensitivity towards it?

Has not a century of failing to write down and record ḥadīths and preventing any kind of compilation been a movement towards damage and ruin of ḥadīth and an enormous portion of the Islamic cultural heritage?

Some orientalists and those among the writers who are being sustained by them have by stressing this perspective (i.e., the lack of compilation of ḥadīth in the first century) and other issues, thoroughly denied ḥadīth and Sunna. Now, we are to see what the reality is.

writing down and culture

There is no doubt that writing down (kitābat) plays a great part in spreading knowledge and perpetuating various dimensions of culture. Authorship and recording have always represented the sublimity of civilizations and valuably manifested human knowledge.

Kitābat has always been the most important means for recording of information and transferring wisdom and knowledge.[11]

Dr. Nūr al-Dīn ‘Atir writes:

Kitābat has been one the most significant means of preserving data and transferring it to the later generations. Similarly, it has been one of the most important means of preserving ḥadīth – with all the relevant discussions about it.[12]

Another scholar has stated:

Calligraphy and writing are among the representations of civilization and symbols of society and culture; that is why civilized and culture-loving communities have always endeavored in that field.[13]

And as put by another researcher:

Undoubtedly, kitābat has been one of the most important factors – if not the most important one – in preserving and safeguarding ḥadīth.[14]

A brief glance at various civilizations indicates that the civilized communities have highly valued kitābat, and human beings have always considered and utilized it as a means for spreading and transferring cultures as well as recording the events. The Holy Qur'an and the righteous Sunna of the Prophet (S.A.W.) have cherished this convention of the intellectuals and praiseworthy practice of human beings.[15]

the qur'an and kitābat

We said that the Qur'an, the message revealed in order to guide mankind and uplift them to the utmost peak of perfection, began with ta‘līm (instruction), qarā‘a (reading),and qalam (pen); hence, the high status of knowledge and the importance of kitābat was declared by the Prophet (S.A.W.).

The Almighty God has sworn to "pen" in order to dignify it[16], and considered it as a great blessing. He introduces Himself through it, stating:

﴾Read in the Name of your Lord, ….Read, and your Lord is the most generous, who taught by the pen.﴿[17]

Khaṭīb al-Baqdādī says:

Allah has commanded the faithful to practice kitābat and instructed them to this undertaking and said: ﴾and do not consider it wearisome to write it down, whether it be a big or a small sum, [as being lent] until its term. That is more just with Allah and more upright in respect to testimony, and the likeliest way to avoid doubt.﴿[18]

Moreover, the existence of various derivatives of the root k-t-b in the Qur'an by the meaning of kitābat in 75 instances and the word kitāb (book) in 262 instances as well as the term al-aqlām in several instances represents this great status and high position [of kitābat].[19]

After bringing up the verse concerning loan (dayn) and implying the Qur'an's emphasis on kitābat (as we pointed out earlier), Khaṭīb al-Baqdādī goes on to say:

When Allah commands to write down the terms of loan for its safeguarding and prevention of any doubt, He must have likewise stressed on safeguarding and preservation of knowledge, ḥadīth, and religious truths in order to protect them against doubts and misconceptions, which are far more difficult to safeguard and preserve.[20]

Here we quote the noble words of one of the Arab researches as follows:

The Holy Qur'an not only opened up a resplendent way in the history of ideas and beliefs, but also did so in the history of mankind by honoring the learned and appreciating ideas and mentalities and by swearing to script and pen – which denotes the deepest respect. The Qur'an is the first Arabic text that was meticulously wrought into a perfect Book.[21]

Hence, the Holy Qur'an was the first guide for the Muslims in recording, preserving, and writing down.

The earliest encouragements and persuasions have originated from the Holy Qur'an, which has emphasized acceptable human procedure and the intellectuals' confirmed code of conduct in writing down, recording, and preserving knowledge and erudition.

KITĀBAT AND Sunna

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), the propagator and exponent of the Qur'an – the book of knowledge, pen, and articulate speech – introduces the existential philosophy of his school as spreading consciousness and dissemination of knowledge and states: "I was sent on the mission to instruct".[22] Hereby, he shows that eradicating ignorance, spreading knowledge, and awakening people was the top priority of his mission (da‘wa). So, would it be likely that with such an attitude he would have been negligent of this important task (kitābat) and failed to have called his companions and proponents for it? ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr says:

The Prophet (S.A.W.) commanded to harness knowledge. I asked, "How?" He said, "By writing it down and preserving it."[23]

The traditionists have related that a man of the Anṣār would sit in the presence of the Prophet (S.A.W.), would listen to the noble sayings of his Holiness and would take great pleasure in them, but he was unable to memorize them. He complained to the Prophet (S.A.W.), saying, "I hear your sayings, but I cannot memorize them." The Prophet (S.A.W.) replied:

"Assist your memory with your hand![24] [That is to say, write down what you hear!]

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has, in a public command delineating duties of fathers, emphasized this task and said:

"It is the right of the children over their fathers to choose a decent name for them, to marry them off, and to teach them how to write (kitābat)."[25]

The Prophet (S.A.W.) emphasized this cultural endeavor to the extent that he ordained instructing the illiterate as the ransom for the prisoners of war. Many historians have related this issue, of whom Ibn Sa‘d has said:

"The ransom for the prisoners of war was four thousand dirhams or so, but those who possessed no money [to pay fro their release] had to teach kitābat to the children of Anṣār¬ [to be freed]."[26]

Māwirdī wrote:

"The ransom for the captives of [the Battle of] Badr was four thousand dirhams or teaching the illiterate how to write."[27]

It has been on the basis of these doctrines that the scholars and the learned have considered kitābat among the most important doctrines of a school and the major factor in safeguarding the legal sciences and emphasized it. ‘Allāma Ḥusayn b. ‘Abd al-Ṣamad al-Ḥārithī al-Hamadānī wrote:

"Writing is one of the most important worldly and religious practices on which many of the religious and scholarly affairs are founded."[28]

The great jurist, Zayn al-Dīn b. ‘Alī "Al-Shahīd al-Thānī", has pointed out in his noble work, Munīt al-Murīd:

"Kitābat is one of the most significant religious matters and the greatest means for preserving the Book, the Sunna, and the legal and intellectual sciences. In respect to legal rulings, kitābat is subdivided on the basis of the written science; hat is to say, if a piece of knowledge which is being written down is individually obligatory, its writing down (kitābat) is also individually obligatory, for preserving and safeguarding it is dependant upon its being written down. Similarly, if it is collectively obligatory, writing it down is also collectively obligatory."[29]

That is why the Muslims have always appreciated the scribes of knowledge and learning and thus venerating the learned and the elite on the basis of their teachings. It has been by such emphases, awakenings and doctrines that the Holy Qur'an and Its verses have continuously been transcribed and no effort has ever been spared in recording and preserving it.

Now, the question is to be raised that if kitābat, authorship, and scribing has manifested civilizations and human beings have ever utilized it as the most sublime medium for transfer of culture and knowledge, and if Allah has sworn to "pen" and honored kitābat and the Qur'an has always been transcribed on the basis of such promotions and encouragements, is it acceptable that the Prophet (S.A.W.) might have prohibited the writing down and recording the works of his Risāla (Mission)? Or, has he bypassed it indifferently?

In other words, now it is high time to deliberate a little on how ḥadīth has been compiled and what has ever befallen it; and see into the reality in light of the historical documents.

compilation of Ḥadīth

What is quite indubitable is the existence of many texts and aḥādīth which indicates that the Prophet (S.A.W.) would have commanded the writing down, recording, and preserving his sayings and made endeavors accordingly. The Holy Prophet has sometimes directly commanded the kitābat of ḥadīth and at other occasions when asked to permit to do so, he has assented; yet, on some occasions he has praised the scribes and the writers, and sometimes even expressed reverence and respect for the writing implements.

Ali (A.S.) quotes the Prophet (S.A.W.) as saying:

"Write down this knowledge."[30]

After the conquest of Makka, the Prophet (S.A.W.) stood up among the people and delivered a sermon. Abū Shāh, a man from Yemen, rose and said: O apostle of Allah! Write down this sermon for me. The Prophet (S.A.W.) said:

"Write it down for Abū Shāh!"[31]

Dignitaries among the Sunnī traditionists have related this ḥadīth and attested to its soundness. ‘Abd Allāh b. Ḥanbal said:

"No sounder ḥadīth than this [the above] has ever been related concerning the kitābat of ḥadīth.[32]

Ibn Ṣalāḥ wrote:

"Among the aḥādīth that denote the permissibility of kitābat is that of Abū Shāh of Yemen."[33]

The following is related from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) in various ways:

"Tie up and safeguard knowledge by means of writing [it] down."[34]

‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr relates: "We said to the Prophet (S.A.W.):

We hear things from you that we cannot memorize, shall we write them down?"

The Prophet answered:

"Yes, write them down."[35]

He [‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr] also said: "I would write whatever I heard from the Prophet (S.A.W.), intending to keep them form extinction. The Quraysh prevented me from this, saying, 'Are you writing down whatever you hear from the Prophet, whereas he is a human being speaking [both] in pleasure and displeasure? I stopped writing and told the Prophet what the Quraysh said. The Prophet said:

"Write down! By God, nothing but truth would come out of this (pointing to his blessed mouth)."[36]

Rāfi‘ b. Khadīj said: "We were talking when the Prophet passed us by and said: 'What are you talking about?' We replied, 'What we heard from you.' [Then] He said, 'Converse, and know that whoever ascribes lies to me, will be stationed in the fire [of Hell].' The Prophet went away, and a group was conversing, they kept silent. The Prophet returned and queried their silence. They said, '[We kept silent] for what we heard from you […whoever ascribes lies to me]. The Prophet said:

'I did not mean what you supposed; I meant the one who intentionally ascribes lies to me.'

Then we went on talking."[37]

The Prophet (S.A.W.) would point out the kitābat and its usefulness for this world and the Hereafter, commanding [to practice] it, and saying:

"Write down this knowledge [ḥadīth] that you will benefit from it in this world and the Hereafter. Knowledge will never ruin its possessor."[38]

To this saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) we should add his Holiness' endeavors in having the letters, treaties, contracts written as well as the sayings and the aḥādīth that he has dictated.[39] The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) addressed Ali (A.S.), saying:

"O Ali! Write down what I dictate. (I said: O Rasūl Allah! Do you fear that I may forget [what you say]? He said: No.) I have asked Allah to make you a memorizer [and secure you from oblivion], but [it is to be preserved] for the Imams from among your progeny…"[40]

Thus, the "practical" Sunna of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) is based on writing down and preserving, concerning which some samples will be presented henceforth.

Many of the companions would write down and record aḥādīth in the presence of the Prophet and he would encourage them or at least would not forbid them from this task, thus confirming their action.[41] Dr. Nur al-Dīn ‘Atir rote:

Many traditions indicate by tawātur that a group of the companions would write down aḥādīth in the time of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.).[42]

‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar says:

"There were some of the ṣaḥāba in the presence of the Prophet (S.A.W.), of whom I was the youngest. The Prophet said:

'The one who fabricates lies against me will be stationed in the fire [of Hell].'

When we left the Prophet's audience I said to them, 'How would you relate ḥadīth from the prophet now that you heard this?' They laughed and said, 'What we hear, we preserve it by writing and then relate it.'"[43]

Therefore, the "verbal" and "confirmatory (taqrīrī)" Sunna of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) is a clear evidence for kitābat. In addition to the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s command to certain people concerning the kitābat, learning, and teaching handwriting, recording aḥādīth, traditions, events, legal rulings, judges as well as dictating aḥādīth and sayings to some of the ṣaḥāba, we would now point out some of the collected works which have been written down and compiled through the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s dictations. These, as we said before, comprise his holiness' "actual" (fi‘lī) Sunna.

1. Ṣaḥīfa al-Nabī (S.A.W.):

This collection, which the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has dictated and Ali (A.S.) has written down is mentioned in Sunnī sources as Ṣaḥīfa of Aliand ascribed to that noble figure. Some researchers have given detailed accounts about it[44]; others have asserted its popularity saying:

"The news about the ṣaḥīfa of Ali is well-known."[45]

They have also described its content as follows:

"It is a small collection containing the issues regarding the amount of blood money and the rules of releasing the captives."[46]

As we said, this collection is ascribed to Ali (A.S.) in the Sunnī sources. However, some accounts in those sources imply that Ali (A.S.) has received it from the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), and some have asserted that Ali (A.S.) has inherited it from the Apostle of Allah; but most of the reports in the aforementioned sources have ascribed it to Ali (A.S.).[47]

Ṣaḥīfa al-Nabī in the Shī‘a Sources

There are texts and reports in the Shī‘a tradition sources about this ṣaḥīfa clearly indicating that this collection has been with the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and kept inside the sword handle.

It is related from Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S.):

"There was a ṣaḥīfa in Ali (A.S.)'s sword handle…."[48]

The same has been related from Imam al-Bāqir (A.S.) as follows:

"I found in the Apostle of Allah (A.S.)'s sword handle a ṣaḥīfa in which…"[49]

‘Abū Abwāb b. ‘Aṭiya said he heard from Imam Ja‘far al-Ṣādiq (A.S.) saying:

"Ali (A.S.) found [a piece of] writing in the Apostle of Allah (A.S.)'s sword handle in which…"[50]

What has been related from the content of ṣaḥīfa in these sources is more or less similar to that which has been brought up in the Sunnī sources. Thus, Dr. Abū Shahba has been right to say:

"The ṣaḥīfa has been with the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), which he has given it only to Ali (A.S.).[51]

Some reports show that this ṣaḥīfa has been with Abū Bakr, too. Ibn Ḥajar has concluded from various reports concerning the ṣaḥīfa:

"The conclusion drawn from these reports is that it has been a single ṣaḥīfa and all the quoted material has been compiled under this title, with every narrator transmitting whatever of it he had retained.[52]

Mr. Raf‘at Fawzī, a contemporary Sunnī researcher and traditionist, has gathered, arranged and organized the reports available in Sunnī sources concerning the ṣaḥīfa and published them by the title, "Ṣaḥīfatu ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib Alayha al-Salām ‘an Raṣūl Allah Ṣalla Allāhu ‘Alayhi wa Ālihī wa Sallam".

Nevertheless, the point to be emphasized here is that this ṣaḥīfa and the related reports clearly and decisively proves the kitābat of ḥadīth and the religious knowledge and wisdom as well as its application in the lifetime of the Prophet (S.A.W.). Mr. Raf‘at Fawzī, who has compiled the scattered reports of this collection and published by the above-mentioned title, wrote:

"Bukhārī has brought up one of the aḥādīth of this collection in his Kitāb al-‘Ilm entitled as Bāb-i Kitābat-i ‘Ilm, which attests to the permissibility of writing down ḥadīth. It is also disproof and criticism of those who do not authorize it; and it indicates that traditions were written down in the time and presence of the Prophet (S.A.W.)."[53]

It should be added here that this ṣaḥīfa is different from the book of Ali (A.S.), which we will talk about hereafter. Maḥmūd Abū Riyya has doubted this ṣaḥīfa after reporting different accounts about it, especially for reason that "these reports suggest that in this ṣaḥīfa has contained very few issues, and if Ali (A.S.) had intended to write he could have written much more things to be beneficial to the world and faith of people."[54] This contention is obviously weak. What is brought up in this ṣaḥīfa is not all that Ali (A.S.) has written (so as to allow such suspicion). Besides this, many accounts given in both Sunnī and Shī‘a sources leave no room for doubting. Similarly, evidences indicate that this writing has taken place in the presence of the Prophet (S.A.W.) which has been reached Ali (A.S.); or it has been a writing dictated by the Prophet (S.A.W.) which has reached Ali (A.S.).

2. The Book of Ali (A.S.):

This book and its status have been mentioned in many sources and it is widely popular among the Muslims. On an occasion, Imam al-Ḥusayn (A.S.) has said about it:

"Verily, ‘Ilm is with us, and we are of it and all of it is with us in its entirety. Indeed, nothing will take place until the Day of Resurrection, not even [designation of] the blood money for a scratch except that it [its ruling] is with us as dictated by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and written in Ali (A.S.)'s handwriting."[55]

The Imams (A.S.) have talked about it on various occasions and explained its quality. A short glance at the Imams (A.S.)'s traditions indicates that "Ali's Book" has been a large collection described by such phrases as "there are many sciences in it”, "it is a scroll with a length of seventy dhirā' (cubits)", "it is a great rolled parchment". Likewise, the noble Imams have stressed that the Prophet (S.A.W.) has dictated this collection and Ali (A.S.) has written it down and bequeathed it to his infallible sons.[56]

This collection has been introduced in Sunnī sources and characterized in various reports. It is cited as an instance:

"Ali (A.S.) has gathered many rulings in it."[57]

Or:

"In this ṣaḥīfa many affairs and countless issues have been reported, and …"[58]

As we mentioned earlier, this book has been described by such phrases as "huge, great", "seventy dhirā''", "like the thighbone of a camel", etc. Various reports on its content suggest that it had been a colossal collection containing facts in different dimensions of Islam, jurisprudence and religion. It seems likely that what has often been described as "Al-Jāmi‘a"[59] and "Al-Ṣaḥīfa"[60] with similar qualities has actually meant to be this collection. The same is also true with "Amālī Raṣūl Allah (S.A.W.)", as implied by the following account: Umm Salama (ra) said the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) asked for a skin and Ali (A.S.) brought it. The Prophet (S.A.W.) dictated and Ali (A.S.) kept writing down until the both sides and all corners of the skin were filled up.[61]

In any case, as we said before the Imams (A.S.) have frequently talked about it and explained its features. Sometimes, in response to inquiries from others or in a direct way, they have quoted some rulings from it, which are scattered in ḥadīth collections, especially the colossal book Wasā'il al-Shī‘a.[62]

3. The Book of Fāṭima (S.A.):

There had been a book with ḥaḍrat Fāṭima (S.A.) from the Prophet (S.A.W.), which has been referred to by both Sunnī and Shā‘a scholars and traditionists.[63]

Mujāhid has been quoted as saying that Ubī b. Ka‘b arrived in the presence of ḥaḍrat Fāṭima (S.A.). Her holiness showed him a book which contained the following among others:

"The one who believes in God and the Day of Resurrection, should do good to his/her neighbors."[64]

Abū al-Ḥasan b. Bābway al-Qummī has quoted Imam al-Ṣādiq as saying:

"I looked at Kitāb al-Fāṭima (S.A.) and I saw all the rulers' names and the names of their fathers."[65]

This collection has also been referred to as "Muṣḥaf al-Fāṭima"[66], pointing out that this collection has been dictated by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). The Shī‘a scholars and researchers have talked about this text and its features in detail.[67]

*.*.*

To what we have cited so far many traditions are to be added in which the Prophet (S.A.W.) has commanded the conveyance of his sayings and praised the propagators of his traditions – with kitābat and recording and then disseminating [the traditions] being the firm pillar of this propagation. For instance, see the following:

"May Allah enlighten the person who listens to my word and then convey it."[68]

And many a time he has said in the end of his talks:

"Those present are to convey it to those who are absent."[69]

Furthermore, many other traditions and aḥādīth, which have drawn attention to the significance and status of "pen", "inkwell", "paper", and means of recording and writing down and talked about their quality in detail should be added to the above. A researcher has brought up some relevant instances and, after relating some aḥādīth, has explained how to refer to this collection as evidence for proving the permissibility and occurrence of kitābat in the era of the Prophet (S.A.W.):

"The terms kitābat and the related means such as paper and pen and anything else used to write on, indicate, by clear conventional evidences, the permissibility and advisability of kitābat. Thus, the utterance and dissemination of this saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) is in contrast to the prohibition of writing down and compiling ḥadīth, for the aḥādīth clearly attest to persuading the umma to kitābat and encouraging them to recording and preserving of traditions. And this, obviously, indicates the significance and advisability of penmanship and kitābat from the viewpoint of the Prophet (S.A.W.). Thus, if kitābat is advisable and recording the events, reports, and knowledge is valuable, and if what is used to this end is honored and appreciated by the Prophet (S.A.W.), so can it be maintained that the kitābat of ḥadīth and the Sunna of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) is excluded from this prescript and objectionable? Add to this the many aḥādīth – the ones encouraging kitābat and praising the scribe – which concern ḥadīth and its writers. And this is what many of those who assert the permissibility of kitābat in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) refer to as their evidence."[70]

Now, before drawing this part of the discourse to a conclusion, it seems necessary to touch upon the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s insistence in the last moments of his blessed life on writing down and recording his last testament lest the Umma would be led astray after his demise. Many of the scholars have regarded this statement as clear and irrefutable evidence to the necessity of recording and writing down of ḥadīth. Here, first we relate the very report itself and then bring up the scholars' comments:

‘Abd Allāh b. Mas‘ūd quoted Ibn ‘Abbās as saying, "When the Prophet (S.A.W.) lay in his deathbed – and some people including ‘Umar were present in his house – he said, 'Let me write you something which you would not be led astray afterwards.' ‘Umar said, 'Pain has overpowered the Prophet; you have the Qur'an and the Qur'an suffices us.' Some of those who were present expressed opposition and some said to bring writing implements for the Prophet (S.A.W.) to write what he wanted so that you would not go astray; and some repeated what ‘Umar had said. When disagreement and futility in the presence of the Prophet (S.A.W.) mounted, the Prophet said, 'Rise up and leave!' Sa‘īd b. Ḥabīb relates that Ibn ‘Abbās said, 'Thursday! And what a Thursday!' And he was weeping."[71]

This tradition has been related in various sources[72], and at the moment we do not intend to analyze its content. What is of concern here to us is the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s emphasis on kitābat of ḥadīth and recording and preserving his sayings. Thus, we will bring up another version of this tradition and add some remarks in the footnote:

Ibn ‘Abbās says when the Prophet (S.A.W.) lay in his deathbed and some people including ‘Umar were present in his house, the Prophet said, "Bring some writing implements so that I write something for you that you may never be led astray." ‘Umar said something that meant sever pain had overwhelmed the Prophet. Then he said, "The Qur'an is with us, and the Divine Book suffices us."

In these traditions the phrase, "sever pain had overwhelmed the Prophet" is quoted. In some other traditions, however, there is no mention of the person who uttered this disgraceful remark. Still in others, he is quoted as saying, "hajara Rasūl Rllah! (The Apostle of Allah is delirious)."[73] Or "inna Rasūl Allah yahjur… (Indeed, The Apostle of Allah is in a delirium)."[74] This excruciating position against the Prophet turned out to be the origin of many deviances and wrong-headedness thereafter, which remains to be dealt with in another chance;[75] for we look at this narration from another viewpoint, i.e., a viewpoint indicating the necessity of kitābat of ḥadīth and the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s emphasis on writing. In our opinion the issue is quit evident; however, it is befitting to cite assertions by some of the scholars and traditionists in this respect.

Ibn ‘Asqalānī says:

"This ḥadīth proves the permissibility of kitābat; since the Prophet (S.A.W.) attempted to write something that would salvage his Umma from being misled."[76]

Having related the event and the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s words, Al-Shaykh Muḥammad Muḥammad Abū Zahū goes on to write:

"Thus, the Prophet (S.A.W.) attempted to write down the issue that would set his companions free from disparity, and the Prophet (S.A.W.) did not attempt but in the right thing. So, this intention of writing prior to his demise refutes the previous allegation of his prohibition of kitābat of traditions which is related by Abū Sa‘īd al-Khudrī"[77]

Dr. Raf‘at Fawzī wrote:

"If the Prophet (S.A.W.) had not permitted the writing down and recording of ḥadīth, he would not have called for writing this last testament."[78]

Dr. Muḥammad ‘Ajāj al-Khaṭīb wrote:

"It is evident that by this request the Prophet (S.A.W.) intended to write something other that the Qur'an; and it shows that the Prophet was about to write something that is called "Sunna", and that the Prophet (S.A.W.) was not able to write due to the severity of his illness[79] does not contradict the aḥādīth attesting to kitābat, since the Prophet (S.A.W.) made an attempt to write[80] [but failed to do so].

Having also transmitted other aḥādīth prior to this one, he [Dr. Muḥammad 'Ajāj Khaṭīb] asserts that we deduce the permissibility of kitābat in the era of the Prophet (S.A.W.) from various positions of the Sunna of Rasūl Allah (S.A.W.), and upon bringing up a valuable discussion, concludes:

"I believe that Ibn ‘Abbās's ḥadīth (a‘tūnī bi kitābin…) is a general consent and absolute permissibility of writing down of ḥadīth.[81]

Nevertheless, it is evident that the Prophet (S.A.W.)’s decisive intention for writing, which unfortunately failed to actualize due to the politicos' rabble-rousing, is the best proof of the permissibility of kitābat and surprisingly many of the scholars did not adduce to it. As we said before, great traditionists have related this event; however, many have overlooked it. Why? Apparently because if they alluded to it and the clouds were cleared up, many would fall into disgrace; and that would be uncalled for! Dr. Yūsif al-‘Ash, who has researched on and published Khaṭīb al-Baqdādī's valuable book (Taqīīd al-‘Ilm), wrote the following after reporting the traditions denoting the permissibility of writing down and compiling of ḥadīth:

"It is mind-boggling that someone like Khaṭīb has failed to adduce to this event concerning the permissibility of tadwīn, whereas the event is reported in Ṣaḥīḥ of Bukhārī and…"[82]

However, as some scholars have remarked:

"Yet, more surprising is the position of modern scholars who have written on the compilation of ḥadīth, and their penmanship has been founded on writing profusely and scholarly! And although Yūsif al-‘Ash's appendix was at their disposal, they did not allude to it and some contented themselves with only pointing it out in a marginal note."[83]

..*..

What we brought up so far are but a few documents clearly attesting to the kitābat of ḥadīth in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.). Certain researchers and scholars have taken these documents into consideration and reminded the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s insistence on writing down ḥadīth and demonstrated the practice of kitābat. Dr. Nūr al-Dīn ‘Atar wrote:

"There are many aḥīdīth widely transmitted from the Ṣaḥāba that prove the practice of kitābat of ḥadīth in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.)."[84]

Dr. Ṣubḥī Ṣāliḥ wrote:

"There is no need to document the compilation of ḥadīth to the time of the Caliphate of ‘Abd al-‘Azīz, for our historical books, reports, and documents leave no doubts as to the practice of kitābat and tadwīn in the time of the Apostle of Allah."[85]

Having presented an accurate and wide ranging argument on proving the practice of writing down of ḥadīth in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and with reference to other extensive arguments in this respect, Dr. Muṣṭafā A‘zamī said:

"It may be said, in the light of these studies that no matter who the impermissibility of writing down of ḥadīth is related from, the contrary has also been related. Thus, the writing down of ḥadīth by the Ṣaḥāba and relating ḥadīth from those [texts] is clearly established."[86]

Dr. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī wrote:

"Many of the Ṣaḥāba deemed as permissible the kitābat of ḥadīth, preserved their own writs, and attempted to write ḥadīth."[87]

The knowledgeable and hardworking Egyptian scholar and traditionist, Aḥmad Muḥammad Shākir wrote:

"The right and sound word is that many of the Ṣaḥāba have viewed as permissible the writing down of ḥadīth."[88]

It was thus clarified that ḥadīth would be written down in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and that he stressed on recording and preserving it and would draw attention to it. This fact is so abundantly documented – as partly pointed out – that there remains no room for doubting. Therefore, the fabrications of certain orientalists like Goldziher and some of those in the world of Islam (such as Rashīd Riḍā) affected by their thoughts, presuming that the aḥādīth concerning the permissibility of kitābat of ḥadīth are false and weak, are not to be heeded.[89] As Nūr al-Dīn 'Atir said, what they have presumed and attempted to inculcate is their own fanciful defiance which they have tried to ascribe to Muslim scholars and is too unfounded to be taken into consideration, let alone to defy and criticize.[90] Shaykh Muḥammad Muḥammad Abū Zahū has elaborated on Rashīd Riḍā'a views and criticized them.[91] Then, there is no doubt that the Sunna of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has made it imperative to record and preserve ḥadīth and emphasized on writing it down. Now let's take a brief look at how the prohibitions (concerning the issue of kitābat of ḥadīth) were related from the Prophet (S.A.W.).

A Criticism of the Riwāya Prohibiting Tadwīn of Ḥadīth

What we brought up so far denotes that the Prophet (S.A.W.) stressed on the writing down of ḥadīth and commanded to its recording and preserving. On the other hand, the rulers after the Prophet (S.A.W.) had obviously prohibited the compilation of ḥadīth, writing down of traditions, and their dissemination, threatening and punishing many people in this respect.

The traditionists and scholars have tried to document this prohibition by traditions indicating that the Prophet (S.A.W.) prevented from kitābat of ḥadīth. These attempts, however, are futile and cannot be regarded as anything beyond justification of the existing reality. Ironically, neither Abū Bakr [who for the first time set on fire[92] the aḥādīth written down from the sayings of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and commanded others to set fire on their writings] nor ‘Umar b. Khaṭṭāb [who spread out this prohibition and infamously punished those who took steps contrary to his!!][93], never adduced to the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s prohibition and legal forbiddance issued by his holiness.

The illustrious faqīh, the late Shaykh Muāammad Bāqir Sharīf Zāda wrote:

"Abū Bakr's not referring to burning what he had written, as well as ‘Umar's prohibition of kitābat and his order to destroy the aḥādīth, sufficiently proves the unsoundness of the tradition or traditions of prohibition…"[94]

Dr. Imtiyāz Aḥmad wrote:

"The opponents to the kitābat of ḥadīth had personal motivations and backgrounds; otherwise, why didn't they or even ‘Umar, who attempted more than others in this respect, adduce to any ḥadīth or legal forbiddance uttered by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)? This, in itself, suggests that there was no clear textual literature in this regard."[95]

It is related that ‘Umar intended to write down ḥadīth and consulted with the companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.) to this end. They consented to the writing down of ḥadīth. He spent a month thinking it over, until one day he appeared among the people and declared the prohibition of ḥadīth compilation and ordered the destruction of those written down.[96] Such reports indicate that aḥādīth were written down and there has been no prohibition as to their compilation; and that the Prophet (S.A.W.) did not prevent their tadwīn; otherwise, why would ‘Umar have sought counseling about it? This is the most significant observation that throws all the narrations concerning prohibition into doubt and a researcher cannot remain unconcerned about it.

Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī’s Ḥadīth or Aḥādīth

That part of the traditions and aḥādīth that are related concerning the prohibition of ḥadīth compilation do not enjoy due validity. The Sunnī scholars have no doubt about the unsoundness of such aḥādīth, except for the ḥadīth (or aḥādīth) related from Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī. Therefore, we leave out those traditions and only take a look into the latter's. Dr. Muṣṭafā A‘ẓamī said in his excellent work:

"There is no sound ḥadīth except for that of Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī concerning the inadvisability of writing down and preserving ḥadīth. There is also controversy in respect to its quality; whether it is mawqūf (stopped) or marfū‘ (elevated) on one hand, and what it intends to convey on the other."[97]

Dr. Raf‘at al-Fawzī wrote:

"No ḥadīth in this respect is free from weakness, except for that of Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī..."[98]

Now, let's see how reliable this ḥadīth is. First, we narrate the ḥadīth itself:

"It is related from Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: Do not write anything from me except [what I say] from the Qur'an; if anyone has written anything from me except [what I said] from the Qur'an, then he should efface it."[99]

This ḥadīth has been transmitted by various wordings, which in itself denotes the inaccuracy in recording it.[100]

The Sanad of the Ḥadīth

The only person who has transmitted this ḥadīth from the Prophet (S.A.W.) by way of elevation (marfū‘an) is Hammām b. Yaḥyā.

Khaṭīb al-Baqdādī says:

"This ḥadīth has been transmitted like this (marfū‘an) only by Hammām from Zayd b. Aslam. Some believe that this ḥadīth belongs to Abī Sa‘īd, without ascribing it to the Prophet (S.A.W.)."[101]

Heretofore, we cited Dr. Muṣṭafā al-A‘ẓamī concerning the quality of prohibition of writing down ḥadīth; now, we are going to state that part of his words relating to this ḥadīth:

"The only sound ḥadīth on this issue is that of Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī; yet, whether it is mawqūf or marfū‘ is a matter of controversy."

There has been a long-standing controversy as to whether the aforementioned ḥadīth is mawqūf (i.e., it is attributed to Abī Sa‘īd rather than to the Prophet – S.A.W.), or marfū‘ (i.e., attributed to the Prophet – S.A.W.).

Al-Shaykh Muḥammad Abū Zahū said in his discussion concerning writing down of ḥadīth:

"Some scholars – including Bukhārī – believed that Abī Sa‘īd's ḥadīth is attributed to him (mawqūfun ‘alayh).[102]

Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī has attributed this to some of the pioneer traditionists:

"It is to say that Abī Sa‘īd al-Khudrī's ḥadīth would not be authorized, especially if it is measured with the traditions that document the permissibility of kitābat and the merit of recording and preserving [of ḥadīth] by the Prophet (S.A.W.)."

"We are also to assert that traditionists have stated about preference between two contradictory traditions as follows: If one of the two contradictory traditions is unanimously agreed upon to be marfū‘, and the other one is being disagreed upon as to be either marfū‘ or mawqūf, then the former is definitely preferred over the latter."[103]

Besides this thought-provoking remark regarding the preference in the sanad of ḥadīth, which renders it thoroughly unauthorized, it is to be said that even if we believe in its genuineness, can it be stated that this ḥadīth is meant to prohibit ḥadīth compilation? The foremost uncertainty comes up when Abū Sa‘īd fails to adduce to the words of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in reply to those who ask him the reason for the prohibition of ḥadīth compilation and asserts:

"I do not wish the Qur'an and ḥadīth to be written on the same page."[104]

Thereupon, some traditionists believed that the prohibition in Al-Khudrī's ḥadīth has indeed intended to be the prohibition of writing down ḥadīth together with the Qur'an on the same page in order to prevent their mingling, and nothing more.[105]

It is to be added that Muslim b. al-Ḥajjāj al-Nayshābūrī who has related this ḥadīth in his Ṣaḥīḥ has brought it up in a chapter called, "Bāb al-Thabt fī al-Ḥadīth"[106] and has not titled it as, " Bāb al-Man‘ fī al-Kitābat al-Ḥadīth"; it goes without saying that the titles of the chapters were chosen as to how the traditionists understood the aḥādīth.[107]

Plenty has been said concerning this ḥadīth and its other modes in respect to its sanad and text; however, it suffices here to relate some judgments by scholars on this issue and conclude the discourse. Dr. Raf‘at Fawzī wrote:

"As for the second ḥadīth that is related by ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. Zayd; this ḥadīth is weak. Yaḥyā b. Mu‘īn has said that the sons of Zayd b. Aslam stand on nothing. Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal has said it is weak, and so have others. Therefore, this ḥadīth is weak and cannot be trusted."[108]

In any case, what is clearly evident and leaves no doubt as per the historical critique of the asnād and accurate research into the extant reports, is that ḥadīth was apt to be written down in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his holiness in no way prevented its kitābat and did not regarded as forbidden the recording and preserving of knowledge. So, what is ascribed to the Prophet in this respect does not fulfill the least requirement of being genuine so that the researcher may adduce to it as proof. However, it remains to be discussed in a separate article why after [the demise of] the Prophet (S.A.W.) writing down and tadwīn of ḥadīth as well as its dissemination was banned and the rulers prohibited its recording and preserving by all means, and how they justified this action, or to put it more properly, how the apologists rationalized the banning of ḥadīth.[109]



[1] ??, ???.

[2] Tadrīb al-Rāwī, I, 41; Al-Risāla al-Musṭarafa, 4.

[3] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 106.

[4] Abū Bakr b. Ḥazm al-Khazrajī al-Madanī was the governor of Madīna and one of the judges of that region. He had been praised for his abundant worship and nocturnal prayer. (Al-Jarḥ wa al-Ta‘dīl, IX, 337; Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, VI, 158; Siayr-i ’A‘lām al-Nubalā’, V, 313; Tārīkh al-Islām, V, 222.)

[5]Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 105; Ḥaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, I, 36; Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā, VIII, 480; Adab al-Imlā wa al-Istimlā, 44; Irshād al-Sārī, I, 6; Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 16.

[6] Kathīr b. Marra al-Ḥaḍarī is one of the traditionists and jurists of Ḥamṣ, who is said to have met seventy combatants of Badr in that region. (Tārīkh al-Bukhārī, VII, 208; Al-Jarḥ wa al-Ta‘dīl, II, 158; Asad al-Ghāba, IV, 233; Siayr-i 'A‘lām al-Nubalā’, IV, 46.)

[7] Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā, VII, 447; Jāmi‘ Bayān al-‘Ilm, I, 76.

[8] Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb, IX, 449; Al-Risāla al-Musta, 4.

[9] Tārīkh al-Turāth al-‘Arabī, I-I, 221; Mukhtasar-i Tārīkh-i Damashq, XXIII, 234; also cf., Ḥārith Sulaymān al-Ḍārī, Al-Imām al-Zuharī wa Atharahū fī al-Sunna, 295 ff.

[10] Some believe that no ḥadīth has been written down until after the death of Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (d. 110/728) (Al-Risāla al-Mustaṭrifa, 80; Dalā‘il al-Tawthīq al-Mubakkir, 235). On one occasion, Dhahabī has said that compilation of ḥadīth and fiqh began in 143/760 (Tārīkh al-Islam, 12 "events during 141-160/758/777"), and on another occasion, he is quoted as asserting the year 132/749 (Ta’sīs al-Shī‘a, 279). Abū Ḥatam al-Rāzī says the first person who has compiled ḥadīth is Ibn al-Jarīḥ (d. 150/769) (Al-Jarḥ wa al-Ta‘dīl, I, 184; Tārīkh-i Baqdād, X, 400). Nevertheless, what all the above perspectives are unanimous about is that ḥadīth compilation did not begin in the 1st/7th century. Later on, of course, we will discuss that the contemporary Sunnī scholars have criticized these perspectives and justified the suggestion that ḥadīth has not been written down until 2nd/8th century.

[11] Rasm al-Muṣḥaf, Dirāsatun Lughawiyatun Tārīkhiya, 7.

[12] Manhaj al-Naqd fī ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth, 39.

[13] Al-Ḥadīth wa al-Muḥaddithūn,119.

[14] Tawthīq al-Sunna, 43.

[15] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 177-146, chapter on Faḍl al-Kutub wa mā Qīla Fihā; Also cf., ‘Abd al-Laṭīf al-Ṣūfī, Lamaḥāt min Tārīkh al-Kitāb wa al-Maktabāt, al-Faṣl al-Awwal, Tārīkh al-KitābI; Rasm al-Muṣḥaf, al-Faṣl al-Awwal, Al-Kitāba al-‘Arabiyya.

[16] Al-Qur'an, 68:1.

[17] Al-Qur'an, 96:4; also see: Adab al-Dunyā wa al-Dīn, 68.

[18] Al-Qur'an, 2:282. Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 71.

[19] Cf., the article, Al-Tadwīn wa Ẓuhūr al-Kutub al-Muṣannifa, by Ṣāliḥ Aḥmad al-‘Alī, in Majalla al-‘Ilmī al-‘Araqī, 31, II, 7, in which the relevant verses are appropriately presented and the way the root k-t-b is applied in their various structures as well as its impact on penmanship among the Muslims is touched upon.

[20] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 71.

[21] Dr. ‘Umar Daqqāq: Maṣādir al-Turāth al-‘Arabī, 9.

[22] Sunan-i Ibn Mājja, I, 83; Minya al-Murīd, 106.

[23] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 69; Jāmi‘ Bayān al-‘Ilm, I, 122.

[24] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 66; Sunan al-Tarmadhī, V, 39/2466; Maḥāsin al-Iṣlāḥ, 301.

[25] Kanz al-‘Ummāl, XVI, 417; Baḥār al-Anwār, LXXIV, 80; Al-Tarātīb al-Idāriya, II, 239.

[26] Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā, II, 22.

[27] Adab al-Dunyā wa al-Dīn, 68.

[28] Adab al-Dunyā wa al-Dīn, 68.

[29] Munīt al-Murīd, 339.

[30] Kanz al-‘Ummāl, X, 262.

[31] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 86; Al-Muḥaddith al-Fāḍil, 363; Asad al-Ghāba, V, 224; Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, I, 40-41.

[32] Aḥmad Ḥanbal, Musnad, XII, 235 (Shākir Edition); Tandwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 88.

[33] Muqaddima b. al-Ṣalāḥ, 365, Bint al-Shāṭī Edition (published by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Atir as ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth, 182).

[34] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 69; Al-Muḥaddith al-Fāḍil, 365; Maḥāsin al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 363, 364; Adab al-Dunyā wa al-Dīn, 66.

[35] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 74; Maḥāsin al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 366. The narration by ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has been related in various wordings, and scholars have asserted its soundness and its denoting the permissibility and, above that, the necessity of kitābat. Abū Ḥafṣ al-Bulqaynī has said: "‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ's ḥadīth is sound", and has related it in Al-Mustadrak (Al-Mustadrak, I, 186; Maḥāsin al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 364). Similarly, Khaṭīb al-Baqdādī quoted Ma‘āfī b. Zakariyā as saying: "This ḥadīth clearly indicates that recording and preserving ḥadīth through writing down has been advisable, so as when someone forgets it, he may refer his writings and finds out what he has forgotten; and this refutes the words of those who have maintained disapproval of kitābat (‘Awālī al-Li’ālī, I, 68; Baḥār al-Anwār, II, 147). Ibn Abī Jumhūr al-Iḥsā'ī (ra) commented the narration of ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ as follows: "This denotes the giving of orders for the kitābat of all the aḥādīth of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). (‘Awālī al-Li'ālī, I, 68.)

[36] Al-Mustadrak ‘alā al-Ṣaḥīḥīn, I, 6-106; Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 81-88; Aḥmad Ḥanbal, Musnad, II, 162; Maḥāsin al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 364.

[37] Al-Muḥaddith al-Fāṣil, 369; Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 72; Maḥāsin al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 366.

[38] Kanz al-‘Ummāl, I, 157.

[39] The Prophet (S.A.W.)'s letters to the rulers of the time and the chieftains of tribes, the treaties and contracts made with the tribes and the Jews, etc., are among the important and brilliant components of the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s life history. Some researchers have compiled these letters. Cf., ‘Alī Aḥmadī Miyānijī, Makātīb al-Rasūl; Professor Muḥammad Ḥamīd Allāh Muḥammad, Al-Wathā‘iq al-Siyāsa; Aḥmad Ṣābirī Hamidānī, Zamāmdārān; Dalā‘il al-Tawthīq al-Mubakkir li al-Sunna wa al-Ḥadīth, 367 ff., etc.

[40] Al-Imāma wa al-Tabṣira min al-Ḥīra, 183; Baṣā'ir al-Darajāt, 167; Sahykh al-Ṣadūq, Al-Amālī, 327; Ikmāl al-Dīn, 206.

[41] There is no doubt that recording and preserving aḥādīth and writing down was common in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and during the life span of the ṣaḥāba. This has been confirmed by many contemporary researchers and some have also compiled plenty of texts indicating this view. In the upcoming article, we will point out the companions to whom [such material as] ṣaḥīfa (script), nuskha (transcript), majmū‘a (collection), or kitāb (book) are ascribed in biographical and historical sources.

[42] Minhaj al-Naqd fī ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth, 40.

[43] Ibn ‘Uday, Al-Kāmil, I, 36; Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, from ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Amr, 98.

[44] Dalā'il al-Tawthīq al-Mubakir, 420-423; Ṣaḥā'if al-Ṣaḥāba, 59; Ma‘rifa al-Nusakh wa al-Ṣuḥuf al-Ḥadīthiya, 206; Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth al-Nabawī wa Tārīkh Tadwīnahū, 127.

[45] Al-Sunna Qabl al-Tadwīn, 317-345.

[46] Al-Raḥla ilā Ṭalab al-Ḥadīth, 131; Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd, Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāgha, IV, 75.

[47] Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, al-Musnad, I, 106; Fatḥ al-Bārī, I, 183; Ma‘rifa al-Nusakh wa al-Ṣuḥuf al-Ḥadīthiya, 206-208. Professor Muḥammad Ḥamīdullah says: This ṣaḥīfa had been with the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) which has been handed over to Ali (A.S.) and it seems unlikely that it has been the treaty written in Madīna, since certain parts of the treaty are similar to what is quoted from the ṣaḥīfa. (Dalā‘il al-Tawthīq al-Mubakir, 422 quoted from "Ṣaḥīfatu Hammām b. Munabba, 30-31"). We will talk about this ṣaḥīfa in the upcoming articles.

[48] Al-Ikhtiṣāṣ, 284; Baḥār al-Anwār, XL, 133.

[49] Al-Dhuriya al-Ṭāhira, 126.

[50] Al-Maḥāsin, I, 18. Also cf., Al-Kāfī, VII, 274; Ṣaḥīfa al-Imam al-Riḍā (A.S.), 237, a research performed in Madrasa al-Imam al-Mahdī (A.S.); ‘Uyūn Akhbār al-Riḍā (A.S.), II, 40.)

[51] Ṣaḥīfatu Ali b. Abī Ṭālib, 41.

[52] Fatḥ al-Bārī, I, 183.

[53] Ṣaḥīfatu ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib (A.S.), 41.

[54] Aḍwā‘un ‘alā Sunna al-Raṣūl Allah.

[55] Al-Irshād, 274; Baḥār al-Anwār, XLIV, 100.

[56] Rijāl a-Najāshī, 360; Al-Fawā'id al-Ṭūsiya, 243; Al-Dharī‘a, II, 306 under the title, Amālī Rasūl Allah (S.A.W.); A‘yān al-Shī‘a, I, 93 ff.

[57] Al-Anwār al-Kāshifa, 37.

[58] Ṣaḥīfatu ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib (A.S.), 41.

[59] It is related that: "Kitābu Aliyin sab‘ūna dharā‘an" [Ali's book is seventy cubits.] (Baṣā'ir al-Darajāt, 147). It is also pointed out about Al-Jāmi‘a: "Al-Jāmi‘atu…ṣaḥīfatun ṭūluhā sab‘ūna dhara‘an" [Al-Jami‘a is a scroll whose length is seventy cubits.] (Al-Kāfī, I, 239; Baṣā’ir al-Darajāt, 152.) Some learned scholars have compared the traditions regarding these two titles in relation to their volume, content, and other qualities and concluded that these have actually been one and the same. This seems to be true. (See, Akram Barakāt al-‘Āmilī, Ḥaqīqa al-Jafr ‘ind al-Shī‘a, 91-93.)

[60] For an example see: Baṣā'ir al-Darajāt, 151. It is to be added that among the heritage left behind from the Prophet (S.A.W.) is a book known as al-Jafr, which has been much talked about. Some believed that al-Jafr had been a container of books rather than a book. Although this title can be seen in some traditions, there are traditions suggesting that al-Jafr is the name of a book. For more details see the excellent book, Ḥaqīqa al-Jafr ‘ind al-Shī‘a, especially pp. 27-101.

[61] Al-Muḥaddith al-Fḥāṣil, 601. For more examples, see, Al-Imāma wa al-Tabṣira, 174, 183; Dalā'il al-Imāma, 554; Maḥāsin al-Iṣṭilāḥ, 366; etc.

[62] The late eminent scholar, Ayatollah Shaykh Muḥammad Bāqir Sharīfzāda, has identified some of the scattered quotations from it in Wasā'il al-Shī‘a, and presented an accurate list of it. See, Al-Mawla Muḥammad b. ‘Alī … Astarābādī, Āyāt al-Aḥkām.

[63] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 99; Dalā'il al-Tawthīq al-Mubakkir, 76.

[64] Al-Kharā'itī, Makārim al-Akhlāq, 43; Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 76.

[65] Al-Imāma wa al-Tabṣira min al-Ḥīra, 180.

[66] Al-Dharī‘a, XXI, 126.

[67] Cf., Al-Dharī‘a, under "kitāb"; A‘yān al-Shī‘a, I, 353, first print, and the edition by "Mir‘āt al-Kutub", I, 41.

[68] Al-Kāfī, I, 403; Wasā'il al-Shī‘a, VIIX, 63; Ibn Mājja, Sunan, I, 84; Tarmadhī, Sunan, V, 304; Jāmi‘ Bayān al-‘Ilm wa Faḍlahī, 70 (the chapter on the prayer of the Prophet (S.A.W.) to the listeners to ‘ilm, and its memorizers and propagators).

[69] Ibid., Wasā'il al-Shī‘a, XI, 547; Albukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, Expounded by Al-Kirmānī, II, 102, the chapter on the conveyance of ‘ilm by those who are present to those who are absent; Yād Nāma-yi Shaykh al-Tūsī, III, 827, the article, "Ihtimām al-Rasūl al-A‘ẓam bi al-Ḥadīth wa al-Taḥdīth"; Al-Naṣ wa al-Ijtaḥād, 138.

[70] Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 108.

[71] Al-Murāji‘āt, 355.

[72] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, IV, 7 (Dār al-Ma‘rifa's Edition, VI, 6; Bombay Edition, 1567). Also cf., Al-Naṣṣ wa al-Ijtahād, 355, New Edition; Sabīl al-Nijāt fī Tatamma al-Murāji‘āt, published with al-Muraji‘āt, 262 ff., together with myriad of references.

[73] Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ, IV, 31, Dār al-Fikr; Al-Naṣṣ wa al-Ijtahād, 151.

[74] Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad, I, 355; Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ, II, 16, Al-Ḥalabī Edition; Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ, Annotated by Nūwī, XI, 94; Al-Ṭabarī, Al-Tārīkh, III, 193; Al-Kāmil, II, 320 (And the edition by Mu’assisa al-Risāla, V, 251.)

[75] What did the Prophet (S.A.W.) want to write that such tumult arose by his bedside and that noble ideal remained buried in His Holiness's chest? Ibn ‘Abbās says, "After they said, 'hajara Rasūl Rllah', the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: 'Leave me alone! The state I am in now is better than what you call me to.' Then the Prophet (S.A.W.) made three recommendations: 1. Drive the pagans out of Jazīrat al-‘Arab (Arabian Peninsula); 2. Welcome the delegations as I welcomed them; and I forgot the third one." (Ahmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad, I, 222)

Has Ibn ‘Abbās forgotten the third one, or is the history's memory failing to remember it? Or to put it more accurately, the history-makers deemed it advisable not to transmit the third one?! The late Ayatollah ‘Abd al-Ḥusayn Sharaf al-Dīn commented: the third was the very thing that the Prophet (S.A.W.) intended to write so as to save people from being misled, but the hands tainted with politics forced the traditionists to oblivion. This is what the Ḥanafī Muftī of Ṣūr, Ḥāj Dāwūd Dadā has drawn attention to (Al-Murāji'āt, 354, A Reaserch by Ḥusayn al-Rāḍī). What the Prophet (S.A.W.) had intended to write has been expounded as follows: As you profoundly reflect on the words of the Prophet (S.A.W.) who said, 'Bring in paper and ink so that I write something that you would never be led astray', and think about his other saying, 'I leave among you two weighty things that if you cling to them you would never be misled', then you will find out that the subject matter of both sayings is the same. In his deathbed, the Prophet (S.A.W.) wanted to elaborate on what he had advised the Muslims about in Ḥadīth al-Thaqalayn. The Prophet (S.A.W.) took back his words and gave up insisting on writing since after that dialog, writing would yield but disparity, and if it were written down, all would fall into dispute as to whether the Prophet (S.A.W.) had been [God forbid] delirious while writing or speaking in his right mind? And that they disputed before the eyes of his Holiness. If the Prophet (S.A.W.) had insisted on writing, they would have waved it aside as "delirium", trying to prove it as being frenzy, hence, shouting it down. Therefore, his Holiness' mature wisdom necessitated him to overlook the writing and prevent the impure-mouthed from deriding the Prophethood (God forbid). After all the disputes and conflicts, what good was there in writing?! (Al-Murāji‘āt, 356) Also see: (Aḥmad Ḥusayn Ya‘qūb, Al-Nizām al-Siyāsī fī al-Islām, 119; Sayyid Ayyūb, Ma‘ālim al-Fitan, 259-267.)

[76] Fatḥ al-Bārī, I, 167.

[77] Al-Ḥadīth wa al-Muḥaddithūn, 124. We will discuss this ḥadīth later on.

[78] Tawthīq al-Sunna fī al-Qarn al-Thālith al-Hijrī, Usasuhū wa Ittijāḥātuhū, 47.

[79] The reverend preacher seems to be suggesting that the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s sever illness had rendered him unable to write!! To the researchers of history and those who delve into the events prior to the Prophet's demise, however, there remains no doubt that this failing to write down had been more due to the hideous sedition by the politicos rather than the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s illness. This rabble-rousing and sedition was to such an extent that the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s wives sympathized with the Prophet (S.A.W.) and screamed from behind the curtain: "Do you not hear what the Prophet is saying?" ‘Umar cried out: "You are like the Joseph's Zulaykhā, when the Prophet falls ill in bed you weep and when he recovers his health you mount his shoulder!!" The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Leave them alone as they are better than you." (Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā, II, 243; ‘Abd Allāh b. Sabā, I, 79)

This tragedy had been so painful that Sa‘īd b. Jubayr says whenever Ibn ‘Abbās remembered it tears would roll down his cheeks like beads of pearls and would say, "Thursday! And what a Thursday!" (Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad, I, 355 among many references; Tatamma al-Murāji‘āt, Published along with Al-Murāji‘āt, 264; Al-Murāji‘āt, 325, researched by Ḥusayn al-Rāḍī; Al-Naṣṣ wa al-Ijtahād, 148.

[80] Al-Sunna al-Tadwīn, 306.

[81] Ibid., 309.

[82] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm.

[83] Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 85.

[84] Manhaj al-Naqd fī ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth.

[85] ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭalaḥa, 33.

[86] Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth wa Tārīkh-i Tadwīnahū, I, 76.

[87] Ḥujjiya al-Sunna, 448.

[88] Al-Bā‘ith al-Ḥathīth, 127.

[89] See the scholarly preface by Mr. Yūsif al-‘Ash to Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, ( 16-17) who has related and criticized Goldziher's view; Also cf., ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭalaḥahū, 33; For Rashīd Riḍā's viewpoint, see: The Al-Manar Magazine, vol. 10, issue 10; Al-Sunna al-Tadwīn, 305).

[90] Manhaj al-Naqd fī ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth, 50.

[91] Al-ḥadīth wa al-Muḥaddithūn, 320 ff.

[92] Tadhkira al-Ḥuffāẓ, I, 5; Kanz al-‘Ummāl, I, 174; ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭalaḥahū, 39.

[93] Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 43 ff.

[94] Āyat al-Aḥkām li al-Astarābādī, I, 13 (footnote).

[95] Dalā‘il al-Tawthīq al-Mubakkir li al-Sunna al-Nabawī, 239.

[96] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 49.

[97] Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth al-Nbawī wa Tārīkh-i Tadwīnahū, I, 80.

[98] Tawthīq al-Sunna, 46.

[99] Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ, IV, 2289; Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Musnad, III, 21; Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 30; Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ, Muqaddima, 296.

[100] Cf., (Musnad, III, 12 and 56; Ḥākim, Mustadrak, I, 127; Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 29; Ibn ‘Uday, Al-Kāmil, V, 1771; Dāramī, Sunan, I, 98.)

[101] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 31-32; Tawthīq al-Sunna, 46; Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth al-Nbawī, I, 80.

[102] Al-Ḥadīth wa al-Muḥaddithūn, 124.

[103] Al-I‘tibār fī al-Nāsikh wa al-Mansūkh min al-Āthār, 16-17.

[104] Taqīīd al-‘Ilm, 36.

[105] Taysīr al-Wuṣūl, III, 177. Also cf., Al-Bā‘ith al-Ḥathīth, 127.

[106] Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ, IV, 2289.

[107] Tawthīq al-Sunna, 46.

[108] Hudā al-Sārī, 46. Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharīfa, 293.

[109] As mentioned before, there are other aḥādīth related from the Prophet (S.A.W.) concerning the prohibition of ḥadīth compilation. As we said, these aḥādīth are never acceptable as per all ḥadīth criteria. For more information about them and how they were criticized, see, to name but a few: Mu'jam-i Alfāẓ-i Aḥādīth-i Biḥār al-Anwār, I, (Preface, by the writer of the present article) 22; Tadwīn al-Sunna al-Sharifa, 29 ff.; Tawthīq al-Sunna, 44 ff.; Dirāsāt fī al-Ḥadīth al-Nabawī, I, 76 ff.


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