Precaution and Protection of Hadith

Chapter No.: 

Precaution of Hadith during the period of Hadhrat Abu Bakr

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

خير القرون قرني ثمّ الّذين يلونهم ثم الّذين يلونهم

"The best era is my era, then (the descending order) which is near to it and then which is near to it."

As per this Hadith, the period of Abu Bakr (RA) was next best period as piousness was still predominant among people. Most of Sahaabah were not narrating Hadith in view of the following Hadith:

من كذب علي متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده في النار

" One who attributes a lie towards me deliberately, should find his abode in Hell." (Bukhari)

Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) was also amongst those who liked not to narrate the Hadith. When he became Khalifah, he was over-busy in solving various problems faced by the Ummah, but inspite of that he thought he should write down the Ahaadith he had heard from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as he was the closest associate of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). So he also wrote around five hundred Ahaadith.

Imam Zehbi has quoted Hadhrat Aayesha (RA) as saying

"My father (Abu Bakr) collected (wrote down) around five hundred Ahaadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). One night Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) was seen turning his sides frequently in his bed. I asked him its reason in the morning, he told me to get all those Ahaadith which he had written, then he asked for fire and burnt that document. I asked him as to why did he do that? He replied, I feared that if I die and this document covering Ahaadith which I have got from others after trusting them, it is possible that what they said would not be like that what I have quoted."

From this you can very well understand as to how much cautious Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) was in this regard.

Burning of Sheefah Siddiqui

There are great lessons to be derived from the act of Hadhrat Abu Bakr Sidiq (RA) in which he burnt the document covering Ahaadith he had compiled. First thing which is evident from this act of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) is the extreme caution and fear shown by him in narrating Hadith. To understand the second lesson, more deep thinking is needed. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) during his lifetime made it sure that there should be no intermixing of Qur’an and Hadith and that Qur’an should get its own place and Hadith its own place. For this purpose he once forbade Sahaabah-al-Kiram from writing anything what he utters except Qur’an so as to maintain the distinction of Qur’an. This factor was also there in the mind of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) when he ordered burning of the document covering Ahaadith which he had collected. Secondly Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) wanted to keep some liberty for the Ummah by keeping various options open and not making Hadith so rigid. Had Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) decided to ask the Sahaabah to write the Hadith in same way as Qur’an, then that would have left no choice or options for the Ummah. We see that Ummah can choose various versions of Hadith, of course, very much within the permissible limits of Shari’ah. You can understand authenticity of the document of Ahaadith which would have been compiled by Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA), again it would not have left any option for the Ummah. There are so many other benefits also in not making Hadith so rigid.

Hadhrat Umar and precaution of Hadith

Most of the authentic books on Hadith (Siha Sita) have reported an incident of Hadhrat Umar (RA) and Abu Musa Asha'ri (RA), in which Abu Musa (RA) one day goes to the residence of Hadhrat Umar (RA) to see him. When he reaches the door of Hadhrat Umar's (RA) house, he says Salam loudly three times. On getting no response, he returns back. Hadhrat Umar (RA) sends a man after him and calls him back and asks him why did he do like that and has Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) taught you to do so? Abu Musa Asha'ri (RA) replied in affirmative. Hadhrat Umar (RA) told him that he (Abu Musa) has to produce a witness for the same and threatened him if he proved wrong. Abu Musa (RA) knowing the temper of Hadhrat Umar (RA) got frightened and reached a group of Ansari Sahaabah who were sitting some where nearby. He requested them if anyone of them had heard the Hadith from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in which he had taught that:

“When you go to some body’s house, say Salam loudly three times, if there is no response then return back”.

Also he (Abu Musa (RA)) narrated his incident with Hadhrat Umar (RA). On hearing it, all the present there laughed. Hadhrat Ubi bin Ka’b (RA) told him from amongst us even the youngest person knows it. Since Abu Syed Khudri (RA) was the youngest in that group, Hadhrat Ka’b (RA) tasked him to go along with Abu Musa (RA) to Hadhrat Umar (RA).

After sometime Ubi bin ka’b (RA) met Hadhrat Umar (RA) and asked him why he was creating difficulties for the people as he had asked Abu Musa (RA) to produce a witness for that Hadith, otherwise he would punish him. What Hadhrat Umar (RA) said in reply to this question of Hadhrat Ka’b (RA) is what I want to convey by narrating this incident. Hadhrat Umar (RA) said to Ka’b (RA):

“Subhan Allah, Subhan Allah, I heard something (attributed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)), I wanted to get it confirmed.”

It was not that Hadhrat Umar (RA) was not believing Hadhrat Abu Musa (RA) or had doubt over his integrity, but Hadhrat Umar (RA) wanted to convey to the people that they will have to be very cautious while narrating a Hadith. This act also conveyed that when people would listen that Hadhrat Umar (RA) behaved like this with a distinguished Sahaabi, what would be the fate of others. These kind of acts laid the basis in Muslim Ummah for not accepting any Hadith unless authentic evidences are produced in support. It is for this reason that in Hadith books same Hadith is quoted through many chains of transmission. It is said that Muhaditheen have quoted the Hadith إنما الأعمال بالنيات“Deeds are as per intention” through seven hundred chains of transmission.

Dispute between Hadhrat Umar (RA) and Hadhrat Abbas (RA)

Hadhrat Umar (RA) during his Khilafat wanted to extend Masjid Nabwi and for this purpose he got all houses around it demolished. Lastly there remained the house of Hadhrat Abbas (RA), the uncle of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The latter did not let his house to get demolished. Hadhrat Umar (RA) tried to motivate him in various ways but all in vain. Finally both decided to make Hadhrat Ubi bin Ka’b (RA) as the judge. Hadhrat Ubi (RA) said, he heard from Rasulullah (RA) that when Allah Ta’ala asked Hadhrat Dawood (AS) to construct Baitul Maqdis, he started construction and one day he observed that there was a house which made the whole design look odd. He asked the owner of the house to sell it but he didn't agree. Hadhrat Dawood (AS) decided to take that house forcefully. Allah Ta’ala did not like this intention of Hadhrat Dawood (AS) and told him that He had asked him to construct a house for His remembrance and it was not proper to use snatched property for construction of His house. so he (Hadhrat Dawood (AS)) will be given punishment that he cannot complete that construction of Bai’tual Muqadas. Hadhrat Dawood (AS) made Dua that his son may be allowed to complete that construction, that dua was accepted by Allah Ta’ala.

On hearing this, Hadhrat Umar (RA) got frightened and told Hadhrat Ubi (RA) that he had further complicated the issue for him instead of making it easy, but he has to produce a witness for this Hadith. Afterwards both of them came to Masjid Nabwi and asked the people present there, if anyone of them had heard that Hadith from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Hadhrat Abu Dhar Gifari (RA) said, yes I have heard this Hadith from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Hadhrat Ubi (RA) then complained to Hadhrat Umar (RA) that he had questioned his integrity.

Hadhrat Umar (RA) replied:

“I had no intention to question your integrity, but I do not like that Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) should become common (without proper scrutiny)”

After this incident, Hadhrat Umar (RA) left the idea of demolishing Hadhrat Abbas’s (RA) house, but Hadhrat Abbas (RA) after seeing Hadhrat Umar’s (RA) disappointment voluntarily offered his house to get demolished and included in Masjid Nabwi. (Tabqat-Ibne-Sa’d)

Hadhrat Abu Huriarah (RA) says:

لو كنت أحدّث في زمان عمر مثل ما أحدّثكم لضربني بخفقته

“If I would have narrated Hadith during the period of Hadhrat Umar (RA) in the same way, as I am narrating to you he would have beat me with lashes.”

From these incidents we can very well understand how much cautious Hadhrat Umar (RA) was regarding the Hadith. These kind of incidents laid the guidelines for the future generations as to how much concerned they should be while dealing with the Hadith.

Hadhrat Umar (RA) was a scholar of Torah, he was fully aware of what had happened to Torah and Muthnah. It was famous among Jews that Hadhrat Musa (RA) was given a great treasure of verbal narrations called Muthnah in addition to Torah, which was not written upto about one thousand and five hundred years after Hadhrat Musa (AS). It was Abi Yahooda Haz dosh who wrote it first time, one thousand and seven hundred years after Hadhrat Musa (AS) and this got famous amongst Jews by the name of Muthnah. Its commentary was first written in Jerusalem and then in Babul which was know as Makra. Muthnah and Makra together constitute Talmod. Commentators of Torah like Adam Clark have written that in earlier times Talmod and Muthnah had attained more importance amongst Jews than Torah. (Tabaqat Ibn Sa’ad, Tadween Hadith-Manazir Ahsan Geelani)

There was this kind of fear in the mind of Hadhrat Umar (RA) that later generations may not give due importance to Qur’an, so he tried his best to prevent intermixing of Qur’an and Hadith as was done earlier by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA).

Caution of Hadhrat Uthman (RA) and Hadhrat Ali (RA) in narrating Hadith

The role of Hadhrat Uthman (RA) in compiling Qur’an is well known but in narrating Hadith he was also extremely cautious. He says:

“It is not that I remember less number of Hadith than others that stops me from narrating what Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, but it is due to the fact that I have heard from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that one who attributes that thing to me which I have not said, should consider his abode in Hell.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Hadhrat Ali (RA) and fabricators of Hadith

The leader of the fabricators of Hadith was Abdullah bin Sabah. He was a Jew from Yemen who embraced Islam apparently but his mission was to erode the base of Islam from inside. He started his mission during the very time of Hadhrat Umar (RA) but as you know that Hadhrat Umar (RA) and his appointed governors were very vigilant, so they never allowed any miscreant to play a mischief.

Sabeeg and Hadhrat Umar (RA)

The incident of Hadhrat Umar (RA) and Sabeeg is well known. Sabeeg was a suspicious person who during the period of Hadhrat Umar (RA) used to enter the Muslim colonies and ask strange questions to create confusion amongst the Muslims about the fundamentals of Islam. When Hadhrat Umar (RA) heard it, he called Sabeeg and beat him severely on his head with a fresh soft bundles of sticks. After only few lashes, Sabeeg started crying that his mind had been cured, his mind got treated. After that Sabeeg could not succeed in his mission.

Similarly Abdullah bin Sabah was not allowed to play any mischief during Hadhrat Umar’s (RA) time. First time, he appeared in Basrah. People got suspicious about him and they informed the governor of Basrah, Abdullah bin Aamir, who called Abdullah bin Sabah and asked him to leave Basrah. Then he went to Kufa, there also he was asked to leave. Finally he went to Egypt and there he got scot-free and also got a chance to spread his ulterior motives. During the last period of Hadhrat Uthman (RA), Abdullah bin Sabah was able to influence a large number of neo-Muslims and with them formed a large party called ‘Sabayee’. These people propagated lot of fabricated Ahaadith and were silently eroding the base of Islam. The groupism which they caused among Muslims lead to martyrdom of Hadhrat Uthman (RA). When Hadhrat Ali (RA) took as Caliph, these Sabayee people secretly joined the army of Hadhrat Ali (RA) and showed loyalty to him from outside but from inside they were busy in dividing Muslims. Historians are of the opinion that the battles which were fought by Muslims against each other like battle of Jamal and Sufayn, were totally because of the misunderstandings created by these people deliberately but secretly amongst the Muslims. On one hand this group was fabricating Hadith to prove that Hadhrat Ali (RA) was God (Nauoodhu Billah) and on the other hand they were trying to belittle the Iman of other distinguished Sahaabah as quoted by Ibne Sa’d in the Tabaqat.

As said earlier that they had mixed themselves in Hadhrat Ali’s (RA) army, so they remained hidden for sometime but ultimately they got exposed and Hadhrat Ali (RA) finally came to know about this nefarious group. As per Haafiz Ibne Hajar, Hadhrat Ali (RA) burnt them during his Caliphate. Zahbi says that Ibne-Sabah was also amongst these who were burnt.

Second task for Hadhrat Ali (RA) was to eradicate those fabricated Hadith which this group had propagated. For that purpose he frequently ascended on the Mimber of the Mosque and used to narrate Sahih Hadith in large number in order to remove all doubts and confusions created by Sabayee group. He even asked the people to write down Hadith from him.