Preservation of Sunnah Fall 2009

Preservation of Sunnah

Sheikh Jamaal Zarabozo

September 27, 2009

Recommended Textbooks:

Jamaal Zarabozo.The Authority and Importance of the Sunnah (Basheer Publications)

M. M. Azami,Studies in Early Hadith Literature


    Final Exam  100% or 90% (One final, November 22, one week before last week of class)

    Pop Quiz  10% at the discretion of the instructor 

Basic Outline of the Class

Topic 1:  Travels and Hadith (Zarabozo, pp. 196-200)

Topic 2:  Role of Government

Topic 3:  Late Appearance of Hadith Fabrication (Zarabozo, pp. 202-210)

Topic 4:  Comparisons with the Quran

Topic 5:  Comparisons with the History of the Bible

Topic 6:  Study of Specific Companions/Tabieen and their Roles

Topic 7:  Al-Kulaini vs. al-Bukhari 

Summary of previous sessions

1. Prophet's conveying of knowledge

2. Companions understanding of their responsibility

3. Recording hadith

4. The use of isnaad (chain of narrators). Why is isnaad important? When did they start to use Isnaad? We also have biographical information of people involved in the isnaad.

5. Jarh and ta'dil / Hadith criticism. Even honest human beings can make mistakes

Today's topic - traveling for the purpose of seeking hadith

Hadith quoted about prophet to travel to china to seek knowledge is fabricated.

Prophet Musa traveled to seek knowledge - Surat Kahf.

Al-Kahf, Chapter #18, Verse #60 "And (remember) when Musa (Moses) said to his boy-servant: "I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling."

Hadith of the Prophet: “Whoever goes out along a path in search of knowledge, Allah makes a path to Paradise easy for him…” Recorded by Muslim. 

Many Scholars would travel to seek knowledge. 

Bukhari recorded it is narrated that Jabir Ibn Abdullah traveled for 1 month to verify a hadith from Abdullah ibn Unass. 

o      Abu Ayyoob traveled to Egypt to ask about a hadith with Uqba ibn Amr. After he heard about this hadith he went back to Medina. 

o      Companions traveled in search of hadith for two basic reasons (starts at the bottom of pg 199 in The Authority and Importance of the Sunnah book

§       To hear the hadith from a follow Companion concerning which they did not have the honor of hearing it themselves

§       To confirm the wording or meaning of the hadith that they and the other Companions had heard directly from the Messanger of Allah. So the Companions are cross checking their hadith and this would assist in the safeguarding of the purity of the hadith that they narrated.

§       Also they could investigate the individual that they were sitting with. To examine their character. 

October 4, 2009

Last week's notes are here

When you travel you find tendencies for some bidah. For example shiaism in Iraq

Ways and means by which Sunnah of the prophet has been preserved.

Hadith criticism was discussed in the last quarter.

We will now discuss therole of government in the preservation of sunnah. Again this is not discussed in the texts.

Relevant categories of government that could influence the preservation of sunnah:

1. "Muslim Government" that is anti-sunnah 

2. "Non-Muslim" and anti-sunnah government

3. Muslim government that is pro-Islam 

    3a. Plays positive role

    3b. Plays a neutral role

This is not an overcompassing categorization but only for the purpose of our analysis

According to the Jewish texts, they had Israelite kings and rulers who were anti-Torah or anti-religion. The rulers made sure that torah is not taught and not implemented and not passed on. They are actively involved in learning it and passing it on. Because it questions the rulers validity. Do you think this activity of the government could have prevented the preservation of sunnah. So if there was an activist government who strived to obstruct the sunnah, it would have prevented the preservation of sunah.

Christianity was heavily persecuted by Romans. As a consequence they could not openly practice the religion, or have schools to teach the religion. They had to hide from persecution and it could have affected the preservation of christian texts

Muslim History

Abu Bakr was khilafa from 10 - 12 Hijri. He believed in the Sunnah and he adhered to the Sunnah. During his time, there were lots of things that pre-occupied him. Difficult to prove that his khilafa belongs to 3a and we have to withold judgement. We want direct evidence. So the best we can say that his khilafa belongs to 3b.

Umar ibn Khattab was khilafa from 12 - 23 Hijri. 3a.

Uthman khilafa was from 23 - 35 Hijri. 3a  He was careful about narration of hadith. Concerned about hadith that were not correct. Towards the end of his life there was some fitnah. The environment for learning and teaching were already developed. Can you imagine someone forging hadith during the year 35 Hijri? 

Abdullah ibn Sabah claimed that prophet Mohamed saw will be resurrected since he is more beloved that prophet Isa pbuh. Even his statements did not made forgery about hadith. He was the leader of the fitnah.

Ali khilafa was from 35 - 40 Hijri.  3a. One of the differences between Ali and others is that he had already spent 25 years after the death of the prophet as a common person and he has spent his time preserving the hadith and teaching hadith. As a khalifa he spent time preserving the sunnah. And he was very strict in the narrations of the hadith.

Hasan ibn Ali Khalifa for about 7 months. Muawiyah did give his allegiance to Hasan. Hasan did not play a large role and his khilafa belongs to 3b.

And then comes the Umayyid dynasty

Muawiyah khilafa was from 41 - 60 Hijri. He became muslim during the conquest of Makkah. Prophet used him as a scribe. He had ability to read and write. He was governer of Sham. Umar appointed him governer of Sham (syria). He had authority and he was already involved in collecting and recording the hadith. His khilafa was from 3a. He established schools. There was fitnah and there was some bad blood between Ali and Muawiyah. Each party felt they were doing something wrong. Maybe there were some cursing. 

If by the year 60, if there was a ruler who was fabricating hadith, it would have been a problem. Was it hapening?

Jonathon Brown's book about hadith. He states (page 70) There are even reports from early historians Madaeeni that Muawiyah encouraged systematic forging and circulation of hadith affirming the virtues of other khaleefs at Ali's expense. He is quoting a shia from Yemen. He is not using Madaeeni as a source. His references are all secondary. So it is not surprising that a shia source will have something negative about Ali.

Madaeeni - some say there was some weakness. He died in 220 Hijri and is not a direct observer. His works are quoting shia sources and it leaves out the isnaad (chain). 

There are reports that said Muawiyah asked to spread the virtues of the khilafa other than Ali. There are no reports of forging.

Later shia sources that Muawiyah asked people to spread forged virtues of the khilafa other than Ali. 

How is Jonathon Brown quoting? Is he quoting Madaeeni? 

According to the sheikh the only reason he is quoting this book, is because the author speaks at Islamic conferences and he might be quoted.

There is no proof the Muawiyah forged any hadith or systematically asked others to forge the hadith.

The book is trying to please the orientalists, the sufis and others. It is very difficult to please all of the people all of the time - Abraham Lincoln.

October 11, 2009

Last week's notes are here

Jonathan Brown's book discussion. He should have clarified his sources (shia sources) and the source lived centuries after Muawiyah.  Jonathan should have verified his sources and not make that statement without making any attempt at explaing it. 95% of the people who read the book will take it at face value.

You have to be careful when discussing historical sources. Many of the historical writings come from Abassayid reign. It was an opportunity for pro-Ali people to answer or even give back at the Umayyids in particular. Tarik-at-Tabarri was written during this period. Tabarri gives you isnaad but sources are shia. 

Goldzeir (orientalist) also said that Muwaiyaah asked for forgeries. His sources were Tabarri but Goldzeir while quoting he inserted(?) the claim of forgeries.

One thing that Muwaiyaah did do, that he asked his governors to bring people closer to Uthman and distance themselves from people close to Ali. Muwaiyaah did not ask for hadith to be forgeries in favor of Uthman or against Ali. There is no record of request for hadith to be fabricated.

Spread the hadith about Uthman and downplay the hadith of Ali is not the same as fabrication or forgeries.

Muwaiyaah played an active role in spreading the hadith. 40-60 Hijri.  Scholars were free to discuss and pass the hadith. There was a specialization of study of hadith.

Scholars of hadith were not policitally active. They had a tendency to avoid the fitnah. They took neutral steps. 

Fighting that took place between Ali, Ayesha and Muwaiyaah were based on differences in Islamic opinion.

Yazid ibn Muwaiyaah ruled from 60-64 Hijri. He did not play an active role. There was a lot of political rift during his time.

Next khaleefa son of Yazid who did not last long.

The next khaleefa was Marwan ibn Haqam ibn As 64-65 Hijri. He was governor of Madinah. He took an active role in the study of hadith. He invited Abu Hurairah to collect the hadith. Marwan used his influence to protect ibn Umar, Al Hasan al Basri, Anas ibn Malik from the wrath of the hajjaj of Iraq.

Two of his sons Abdul Aziz and Abdul Malik. Abdul Aziz was governor of Egypt and scholar of hadith. He asked ibn Katheer to collect the hadith except hadith of Abu Hurairah since he already had the collection. Most probably the collection from his father Marwan 

65-86 khilafa was of Abdul Malik. He was considered one of the scholars of Madinah. Marwan made sure that Abdul Malik was taught by the leading scholars. He protected Abdullah ibn Umar, Hassan al Basar, and Anas ibn Malik  from Hajaj in Iraq. Hajaj came to Medina to fight (?).

86-96 Al Walid ibn Abdul Malik. He very much promoted education 

Sulaiman ibn Abdul Malik 96 - 99

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz 99 - 101 is one of the two famous Umars. He was governor of Makkah and Madinah. He appointed people who were scholars of deen.  He was very particular to adhere to the sunnah. He was extremely pro sunnah. He took an active role in collecting the hadith. He encouraged Az-Zouhri to collect hadith. He asked scholars to collect the hadith because he was afraid of loosing the knowledge due to the death of scholars.

Muslim scholars say that Az-Zouhri was first person to record hadith for public use under the patronage of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz. However this collection did not survive.

Yazid ibn Abdul Malik 101 - 105 was concerned of preservation of Sunnah

Hisham ibn Abdul Malik 105 -125 is included in Imam Bukhari's book. 

Umaiyyids used public funds to encourage the recording of hadith.

Umaiyyids lasted until 132 Hijri. Their reign was from 41 - 132 Hijri.

What happened in 132 Hijri. There was a revolution. Then began the Abassids.

Descendants of Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, the uncle of prophet.  

What is the state of hadith in 132 Hijri?

Isnaad is well defined.

People had to use isnaad.

We have independent works. Imam Malik has started to work on his muwatta.

Recording of hadith has become common and expected.

Criticing of hadith and grading of hadith has become known and well established.

What were the issues that led to the revolution of the Abassids?

1. Rights and the position of Ahl al-Bayt the family of the prophet. Umaiyyids were not giving honor to the descendants of the family of the prophet.

2. Pro-Ali faction. There were two groups in this faction - Extreme and Moderate. Extreme faction put Ali on a pedestal.

Why did Abassids distance themselves from the Ali faction?

Since they became the biggest threat to the Abassids. The Ali faction would have raised the issue of Ahl al-Bayt for the descendants of Ali.

What is the Ahl Al-Bayt stance towards hadith?

They did not have any problems or issues with the scholars of hadith. Abassids became pro-Sunnah and pro-Hadith. There were some exceptions such as the Mutazillah

Footnote for the next class

Is there a famous story of Imam Malik and the Abassids. And is that story true?

When did the phenomenon of the fabrication of hadith begin?

October 18, 2009

Last week's notes are here

Abassids ruler wanted to hang the Muwatta of Imam Malik in Makkah and make it a rule of the land. 

Couple hundred years after the death of the prophet - all of the sources were available for the scholars to learn and teach.

This is some of the other factors by which Allah swt made sure that the hadeeth were available.

Sheikh does not claim that there were never any problems betweent the rulers and the sheikhs. Some of the scholars were improsined or tortured. But mostly they were free to teach the deen.

When did the phenomenon of the fabrication of hadith begin?

Uptil now we have looked at the preservation of hadith and the various tools used to preserve the hadith. There were no gaps or period of time during which the tools used to preserve the hadith were non-existent. Or scholars did not use the tools to preserve the hadith. Alhudullilah there were no gaps.  If fabrication happened before the tools for the preservation of hadith then it would be a big problem. However this did not occur either.

When did the fabrication of hadith begin? 

If it occured later rather than earlier in the Islamic history, the damage done by it could be minimized. Because the tools to preserve hadith would have been more prevalent and it would be easier to repel the fabrications.

Why would somebody fabricate hadith?

1. Financial benefits - marketers who want to sell their product by producing a false hadith. Would this motivation exist during the time of the prophet?

2. Sectarian or Political reasons - people trying to promote their school of thought - Trying to convince for or against a group of people. First people to fabricate hadith were shia. 

3. To seek attention. 

Ignorant religious people??

Story tellers - qisas - when did they first appear? During the time of Umar but he made sure that they did not say anything nonsense.

Some of these motivations we cannot deny that they could have existed during the time of prophet or sahaba. But the existence of motivations does not imply that the fabrications did take place. Just because there is an incentive does not imply unethical behavior. 

Q: Did prophet warn about lying or fabricating hadith?

Different hadith of prophet: Whoever falsely attributes to me shall take his seat in hellfire. This hadith has been reported through atleat 100 different chains. This statement of the prophet indicate that people were fabricating hadith during his lifetime?

Q: When did the fabrication of hadith begin?

Fabrications can occur years after an event. Such the division between Muawiya and Ali. The fabrications of Muawiya can occur much later.

As shia developed more into an ideology and a group, the teachings of Ali and Muawiya continue even now. The fabrications of Umar and Abu Bakr even continue now. The fabrications can occur centuries later. Because the group is based on ideology of hatred towards Umar, Abu Bakr etc.

The presence of a large number of sahabas was a deterrent to fabricate hadith. Especially since the sahaba were greatly respected. 

Number of opinions about fabricating of hadith

1. Fabrication began during the lifetime of prophet. Opinion of Ahmad Amin 1900s - influenced by orientalists. His proof is the hadith of the prophet - Whoever falsely attributes to me shall take his seat in hellfire - this implies that there were fabrications. So the question to ask is, give us evidence that this hadith was narrated in response to fabrications. All of the narrations of the hadith, you will not find the evidence.

Only exception is the following story about a man fabricating a gift from prophet as dowry. This is an extremely weak narration. There is a story that during the lifetime of prophet, a man tried to marry a woman in exchange for a cloth from prophet as dowry. The tribe went to prophet to ask whether it was true. The prophet replied that this person is lying and if you find him kill him etc etc.

2. According to Akrama ul Amri, contemporary author of a book “Madina society in the time of the Prophet (pbuh)” Fabrication began during the later half of Uthman's rule. Proof is due to divisions between pro and anti Uthman camps. Story of ibn Udais??? In this story the narrator: ibn Udais fabricated lies about Uthman and attributed them to prophet. Uthman says that ibn Udais is a liar. It is confirmed that ibn Udais did get on the mimbar to criticize but there is no evidence that he attributed the criticism to the prophet.

3.  Mohammed ibn .. (another contemporary author)

§       Fabrication began around 40 AH. 

§       Groups use to attack Uthman. 

§       Abu Zahu has the same opinion. 

There were divisions but this in itself is not sufficient proof for fabrications. Sahaba differed and fought but there is no report of sahaba fabricating hadith of the prophet.

4. Umar Fullaata has three volume dissertation on fabrication of hadith. He concluded that the fabrications began sometime during the last third of the first century. What are some of the factors that led to fabrication:

4.1 People began to openly criticize sahaba. Ibn Udais (anti-Uthman group - rebel rouser) and climbed mimbar of the prophet's mosque to attack Uthman - He was not a sahaba. 

4.2 Khawarij - Criticized Uthman saying that he accepted people's rule and not divine rule. Veneration and respect of the sahaba started to lessen. 

He did not find any incident of the forging of hadith until the last third of the first century.

The first authentic incident - Mukhtar al Taqabi asked Rabiya Al Khuzai to make a hadith of the prophet and he would pay him. Rabiya refused saying that there is fire for fabricators. So even in this story there is no fabrication of hadith. But there is evidence that somebody is trying to influence or purchase a fabricated hadith. 

Only the younger sahaba are left and the young sahaba has secluded themselves and were not at higher level of society. Even Umar Fullaata has not been able to provide evidence that fabrications did indeed occur.

Conclusion: All of the tools of preservation were in affect before fabrications occured. And hence they were able to identify fabrications and exclude them.

October 25, 2009

Last week's notes are here

When muslims think about preservation, they refer to Allah swt preserved the quran. When they say Allah preserved the quran, do they mean some kind of super natural aspect? Some do...

Today's topic is discussion of "How the Quran was preserved vis-a-vis How the Sunnah was preserved"


1. A bound, limited set

2. Memorization 

3. Written down

4. Reading with Jibreel

5. Prophet's methodology of teaching and conveying the importance of the Quran and itls responsibility


1a. Twenty three years of speech, actions - almost an unbound set

1b. Individual hadith are bound limited set.

2. Memorization

3. Process of recording hadith began during the lifetime of the prophet - some have been written. Not all of the sunnah was recorded during the lifetime of the prophet.

Hadith of the prophet which describes how the quran was written after the prophet received revelations.

During the khalifa of Abu Bakr, a number of sahaba died in a battle who were the leading reciters of Quran. So they compiled a copy of the quran which was kept with the khalifa.

During the khalifa of Uthman, ...

Isnaad is just as important in recitation of quran as the hadeeth. In order to read the mushaf of Uthman, you learn it from someone who can trace his recitation back to the prophet.

Discussion of the important qaris

All of these qura have to trace their recitation back to the prophet.

Nafi took his recitation from 70 different taba tabieen

ibn Hisham died in 170

We have shaad qiraat, week qiraat, fabricated qiraat (however the fabricated qiraat were not preserved)

The role of the Government in preserving the Quran was positive. Children would learn the Quran. 

What about traveling for the sake of the Quran?

o      Was it necessary? No. 

Allah swt preserved the quran through sahab, tabieen, taba tabieen, human beings using techniques for preservation. Similarly for the preservation of sunnah.

Sunnah is not a bound set.

There were some additional methods for preserving hadith such as the hadith criticism jarh wa tadeel

Meaning of the word dhikr implies both quran and the sunnah.

-----Kamran's Notes-------

10/25/2009 – Preservation of Sunnah

·        Discussion: How the Quran was preserved vis-à-vis How the Sunnah was preserved

·        Quran:

o       A bound, limited set. It’s from this point to that point and that’s it. 

o       How was it preserved?

1)       Memorization

2)        *Written Down: Prophet (saw) had number of scribes and their job was to record the Quran. We have different narrations, some of them are clearly authentic and some of them are questionable. Ibn Hibban, Ahmed and Hakim record from Uthman bin Affan that during the time of Rasul (saw) .... the Prophet will after a verse is revealed would say, Put this in the surah and then mention such and such. (narration is authentic). Each surah as a whole was not revealed. 

·        narration from Zaid ibn Thabit, while the Prophet was dictating to me and the verse in which (those who do not go out to make J are not the same…) and then Ibn Umm Makhtum asked about his inability and the verse “ghayru ulid dar” was revealed. Zaid makes it very clear that Prophet (saw) was dictating this to Zaid. Is this authentic? Yes in Saheeh Muslim. 

·        the writing down of the quran was done during the lifetime of the Prophet (saw). 

·        Is recording sufficient and necessary to preserve.

·        What took place after the death of the Prophet (saw). During time of Abu Bakr, when number of huffadh died and Umar was worried about the loss of too many huffadh and all the writings were compiles together to consist of one copy of the quran. That took place in the time of Abu Bakr. Originally it stayed with Abu Bakr and then passed on the Umar and then with Hafsa. 

·        During the time of Uthman, they made a standard mushaf and sent copies to the different part of the Muslim world. The other copies of the quran that existed at that time, it looks like people were kind of given an option. We have story of Abu Musa al-ashari and Hudayfah that they corrected their mushaf based on the copy sent by Uthmaan. 

·        So definitely the history of writing of Quran is different than the writing down of Sunnah. We have now a standard version of the quran, we did not have a standard collection of hadeeth. 

·        These musahaf that Uthman sent, could someone go to these mushaf of Uthman and just start reading the quran and saying that this is the quran? no…there were many different ways that it could be read so Uthmaan with that sent Qari. So Quran also had an isnaad and it’s just as important in the Quran as it is in Hadeeth. The only major difference is that b/w quran and hadeeth that now there’s a standard book that you cannot deviate from. You could learn it from someone who learnt it from someone to the Prophet (saw). If someone reads different from the mushaf of uthman, is that an acceptable reading? No. 

·        who were these people (asim, hafs, nafi’). For example, Ibn Kathir died in the year 120 and he had met from amongst the sahabah, Anas bin Malik, Abdullah bin Zubayr, Abu Ayyub al-ansari. He was one of the main Qari in Makkah. 

·        Nafi died 169 and took his recitation from 70 of the Sahabis

·        Ibn Amr in Shaam.

·        Specific qira’a, we have isnad back to the Prophet (saw). Do we have fabricated qiraat, shaad, weak and fabricated qira’a. 

·        What we have is a process which is similar to what is going on in the field of hadith. So aspects of isnad are here as well as in the ahadith of the Prophet (saw) but not much relevance since we know as a whole it’s passed as mutawatir. But for each particular reading, we need to look at the isnaad. If we claim that each of these readings for that word is mutawatir, something very difficult to prove. 

·        We also talked about the role of Government in Hadith, it’s positive for all times during all periods. 

·        Jarh wa ta’deel, did it also exist in this category? There’s not really much room for Jarh wa ta’deel with the exception of at-tabari who critiqued many qiraa’h. So this was more to do with hadith sciences. 

·        Traveling for the sake of Quran, it wasn’t necessary. So that was also something unique to hadeeth. So there’s a difference in the nature of how the Quran was preserved and the Sunnah was preserved. So we have some extra measures on Sunnah side that weren’t there in the Quran. 

·        When Zaid was collecting the last 2 verses of Surah Tawbah that Zaid knew but they couldn’t find it written anywhere. Until he finally found it with one of the sahabah Abu Khuzaymah (Dhul Yadayn), they knew the verse but he was looking for someone who had it. So not really relevant here this point. 

·        So the collection of the quran was done through the Sahabahs…through human. Many of the same individuals and techniques were used to collect the sunnah of the Prophet (saw). 

·        This step is not that much different than the ahadith that were recorded by the sahabah for hadith. If you have a reading of quran that is perfectly consistent with the mushaf of uthman but it doesn’t have a chain dating back to the prophet it doesn’t mean anything. In the case of hadith therefore, they had to take some extra measures but otherwise if you’re going to say that Allah preserved the Quran then similarly you must say that Allah preserved the Sunnah. Same people, same technique. 

·        Everything of the quran that was meant to be passed on was preserved. Similar to sunnah. 

3)         Reading w/Jibreel. Last one, Zaid bin Thabit was also there.

4)        Prophet (saw) method of teaching and giving the importance that it deserves + making Sahaabah understand responsibility. “the Best of you is the one that learns the quran and teaches it”

·        Sunnah:

o       23 years of speech, actions, tacit approval…almost like an unbound set. 

o       Individual statements (hadith), each one of them can be considered a bound limited set. It is possible to take a hadeeth, hear it, memorize it and pass it along….just like the Quran. So individual hadeeth is bound and limited.

o        How was it preserved?

1)         Memorization

2)         Some Writing Down

3)         Prophet (saw) method of teaching and giving the importance that it deserves + making Sahaabah understand responsibility