Examples of Authentic Traditions labeled as Fabricated
Imam Bukhari relates in his Sahih:
This is in the Torah: ‘O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and a refuge for the unlettered. You are My servant and Messenger. I named you ‘the one who places his trust in God’. He is not one harsh and rude, and shouting in streets. He does not repel evil with evil, instead he pardons and forgives. God will not take his soul until He guides the deviant people to believe that there is no god but God, and thereby opens ‘blind’ eyes and ‘deaf’ ears and hardened hearts.’94
Orientalists and their followers in Muslim world criticize this hadith only because it was reported by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, who sometimes narrated from Ka‘b ibn al-Akhbar.
First of all, there is nothing in this hadith in contradiction with the characteristics of God’s Messenger described in the Qur’an and other Islamic sources. Second, as pointed out in the first volume of this book, despite the distortions and alterations they have been made to undergo over time, the Torah and the Gospels still contain some references to God’s Messenger in their present versions. The Qur’an points to this fact in some of its verses like, Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet whom they find written in the Torah and the Gospel with them (al-Araf, 7.157); This is their like in the Torah, and their like in the Gospel is this (al-Fath, 48.29). Husayn Jisri, who lived in the first half of this century, found 124 allusions to God’s Messenger in the present versions of the Torah and the Gospels. The Gospel of Barnabas, which we hope will be proved in the future to be authentic, explicitly mentions the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings.
Thirdly, Ka‘b al-Akhbar was one of the Jews who accepted Islam. Numerous Christians and Jews embraced Islam especially in the early years of the spread of Islam in Africa and Asia. They introduced their previous knowledge into the edifice of Islam, but the part of that knowledge contrary to Islam was either corrected or mostly rejected. Some Companions like ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Hurayra, Anas ibn Malik and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As gave ear to the narrations of Ka‘b al-Akhbar from the Torah, but it was impossible for them to accept anything contrary to Islam. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr was among the ascetics of the time, who lived an austere life. He was deeply devoted to Islam and the Prophet, therefore it is inconceivable that he told a lie on behalf of God’s Messenger, or fabricated a Tradition. God forbid such a thought!
During a severe famine and drought, the Caliph ‘Umar, holding the hand of ‘Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet, prayed:
‘O God! While he was alive, we used to take our Prophet as the means to pray to You for rain and You sent down rain. Now we take the uncle of our Prophet as the means to pray to You for rain, so send down to us rain!’95
Some, depending on the objection of Jahiz, criticize this Tradition. Dedicated to denial of even most authentic Traditions, although having nothing to do with the science of Tradition, Jahiz, the student of Nazzam, a materialist belonging to the heterodox sect, the Mu‘tazila, criticizes this Tradition in his al-Bayan wa l-Tabyin, saying: ‘In all the Traditions attributed to ‘Umar with regard to praying for rain, there are defects making it difficult for us to accept their authenticity. In some of its versions, ‘Umar prayed on the pulpit, in some others, in an open area, and still in others, after a prescribed prayer. Such confusions show that those Traditions are not authentic.’
Hadith is a different, independent discipline requiring profound speciality. Jahiz has nothing considerable to do with the science of Hadith, as does Ibn Abi al-Dunya, who, although a blessed ascetic, criticizes this Tradition in his book containing many mistakes and fabricated Traditions. Imam Ghazali is one of the few great revivers of the Islamic religious sciences and one of the greatest religious guides in the history of Islam, yet if you mention him as a reference in a disputed matter of Hadith, Traditionists will laugh at you. A doctor is not asked about engineering, and no one goes to a chemist for medical information or advice.
Second, taking somebody or something as a means to reach God is not something prohibited by Islam. The Qur’an declares:
O you who believe! Fear God and seek a means to Him (al-Ma’ida, 5.35).
The Companions usually requested God’s Messenger to pray to God on their behalf. Once, during a drought, they asked him to pay for rain. He prayed and it rained so heavily that they had to request him that time to pray for its cessation. He prayed on the pulpit and the people went to their houses in the sun. In the face of that explicit favor of God, the Messenger uttered: I bear witness that God is powerful over everything, and that I am His servant and Messenger.96
The Qur’an encouraged the Companions to go to God’s Messenger to ask him to pray to God and ask God’s forgiveness for them, emphasizing that his praying is a means of peace and tranquility for them:
We sent not ever any Messenger, but that he should be obeyed, by the leave of God. If, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, and prayed forgiveness of God, and the Messenger had prayed forgiveness for them, they would have found God All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate (al-Nisa’, 4.64). Pray for them; your prayers are a comfort for them (al-Tawba, 9.103).
Once a blind man came to him and complained about his blindness. The Messenger advised him: Take a ritual ablution correctly and perform two rak‘ahs of prayer. After the prayer, say: ‘O God! I ask You and turn to You for the sake of Your Prophet Muhammad, who is the Prophet of mercy. O Muhammad, I turn to my Lord for your sake for this need of mine to be met. O God, accept his intercession with You on my behalf!’ The man did this and recovered his sight.97
In conclusion, there can be nothing in the Tradition in question to nullify it.
It is reported in almost all of the six most authentic books of Tradition:
When a dog has licked a bowl of yours, clean it seven times, the first time with earth, the other six with water.98
Some who are unaware of the principles of Hadith and the medical developments in the world criticize the authenticity of this significant Tradition, which, besides being authentic with regard to its chain of transmission, contains a proof for the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. For it was impossible for a man, however great a genius he was, to know fourteen centuries ago the medical principles contained in the Tradition, unless he was a Prophet instructed by God, the All-Knowing.
Being a fact discovered recently, dogs may be carrying the microbes of certain diseases which can be communicated to human beings. Also, the saliva of dogs, like their excrement, may contain substances greatly injurious to human health. As a third point, at the time of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, neither disinfection nor sterilization was known. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, being a Prophet taught by the All-Knowing, recommends earth to clean a bowl licked by a dog. Today we know that earth is a good antiseptic containing substances like tetracycline.
Some interpreted ‘seven times’ in the Tradition to mean ‘as many times as needed to clean the bowl’. So, the jurists of the Hanafi School regarded it as sufficient to clean the bowl three times.
Some contemporary critics, including Maurice Bucaille, a French convert, showed haste in criticizing the following Tradition, reported by Abu Hurayra:
When a fly falls into the bowl of somebody among you, let him dip it completely in the food before taking it out. For there is disease in one of the fly’s wings [or sides] and cure in the other.99
It is impossible to criticize this Tradition with respect to its chain of transmission. Since it was narrated by completely reliable narrators who were also famous for their memory, uprightness and ability of understanding, it was included by Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Darimi and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Like the previous Tradition, this one too contains proof for the Prophethood of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. For first of all no one at the time of the Prophet knew that flies carry microbes. Second, when a fly drops in a bowl, it tries to hold one of its wings off the food, so that it can take off again. In which case, it leaves in the food the bacteria it carries in its wing or on its side. But when it is submerged in the food with a slight touch, the tiny bag on the other wing or side (the word janah in the Tradition may mean either wing or side) bursts open to scatter anti-bacteria to kill the germs it has already left. This is one of the latest discoveries in medicine.
One of the authentic Traditions which, although mentioned in all the authentic books of Tradition, has been criticized by those who are planning to destroy the second source of Islam, the Sunna, is the following:
It is not worth setting out to visit [with the intention of gaining spiritual reward] any mosque other than these three: al-Masjid al-Haram [the Holy Mosque surrounding the Ka‘ba], the Mosque of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, and al-Masjid al-Aqsa’ [the mosque just south of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem].100
This Tradition is criticized on the pretext that it was reported by the Companions who made narrations from Ka‘b al-Akhbar, or that it sanctifies Masjid al-Aqsa’. This pretext is completely groundless. For Masjid al-Aqsa’ does not belong to the Jews. Our Prophet turned to it while praying in Makka. It is the symbol of the dominion of Islam in the world. Our Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, was first taken to Mascid al-Aqsa’ during his Ascension and led prayer there before the souls of the previous Prophets. God declares in the Qur’an that He blessed the vicinities of this mosque (al-Isra’, 17.1). This blessed land surrounding it was first captured by the Prophet Yusha (Joshua) ibn Nun after the death of Moses, upon them be peace. After the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, it was re-captured during the caliphate of ‘Umar, may God be pleased with him. One of the greatest commanders of the history of Islam, Salah al-Din Ayyubi, retook it from the control of European crusaders. If God’s Messenger included it among the three mosques most blessed and worthy of visiting despite difficulties of travel, it is because God sanctified it.
Despite their sanctity, it is a mistake to assume special kind of prayer in those mosques. As reported by Ibn ‘Abbas, a woman promised God to perform prayer in Masjid al-Aqsa’ if she recovered from the illness she was suffering. She recovered and, before setting out, called on Maymuna, Mother of Believers, who told her:
Stay here and mind your house, and perform your prayer in the Mosque of the Prophet. For I heard God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, say: ‘Prayer performed here is a thousand times better than that performed in any other mosque except the Mosque of the Ka‘ba.’101
God’s Messenger declared:
Among my community, there will always be a group who support the truth, until the Command of God will come [that is, until the Last Day]. Those who oppose them will not be able to do them any harm.102
Despite being recorded in almost all of the authentic books of Tradition and proved by the long history of Islam, this Tradition has also been made subject to unjustifiable criticism. Islam has been able to resist, since the beginning, all attacks. No power in the world has ever been able to destroy it and, after all the concerted efforts of world powers during the last three centuries to efface it from the hearts of Muslims and the surface of the earth, Islam is the only alternative, stronger and fresher than ever, before humanity, for true happiness and prosperity in both worlds. God has preserved Islam through a devoted self-sacrificing community in every period. This community concentrated, in one period, in Damascus, and in another, in Baghdad or Istanbul; once around ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and then around Imam Ghazali or Imam Rabbani; or while concentrating around Hasan al-Banna in one place, they may have come together, in another, around Bediuzzaman Said Nursi or someone else. Nor will the world be lacking in such groups in the future.
Another Tradition denied by some is this:
When one of you gets up from bed, he should not put his hand in a bowl [of food or drink] before he has washed it three times. For he does not know where his hands have moved in sleep.103
Ahmad Amin and Abu Rayya, under the influence of Goldziher, a notorious Orientalist, ridicule this Tradition, which, in reality, contains principles of hygiene. A man may be suffering from allergy or an itch. He might have scratched in sleep that part of his body and germs may have accumulated particularly at the roots of his fingernails. If that man sits at the table without washing his hands, those germs will find a way into, not only his body, but also the bodies of those who eat from the same food at the table.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, never spoke on his own; he always depended on Revelation, whether explicit or implicit, and his Companions, famous for truthfulness, followed him in every step of his and narrated to succeeding generations whatever they received from him. The meticulous, truth-loving Traditionists collected the Traditions reaching them through reliable, trustworthy and upright narrators. Among the authentic Traditions, there are some predicting certain future events and scientific developments. Just as none of those predicting particular future events and scientific developments have so far been proven to be false, so too no one has ever been able to falsify any of the other authentic Traditions, nor will anyone be able to do so in the future.
The mysteries of creation have not yet been solved; however far mankind advances in this respect, there will always remain some mysteries unsolved. Psychic events or supernormal phenomena like telepathy and second sight, necromancy and other transcendental experiences, all give clues to the existence of worlds or dimensions different from those we live in. As it is possible to find references to this fact in the Qur’an, some Traditions may also be dealt with from this view-point.
As recorded in authentic books of Tradition, Tamim al-Dari, a Christian convert into Islam, tells of a hairy creature called ‘Jassasa’ whom he saw in a strange island, and of a gigantic man who lives in a cave and introduces himself as the Dajjal (Anti-Christ).104 We cannot deny this Tradition on positivistic premises, as we cannot deny that the breast of our Prophet was burst open.
Another similar Tradition which we can deal with partly from the same viewpoint is this:
God enjoined fifty occasions of prayer a day during the Ascension of the Prophet Mohammad, upon him be peace and blessings. On his return, the Prophet was warned by the Prophet Moses against the difficulty of performing fifty times of prescribed prayer a day, and after repeated appeals, the number was reduced to five.105
There are delicate points in the hadith. God is All-Forgiving and although He absolutely knows how many times of prayer a day His servants can endure, He expects His servants to pray to Him for forgiveness and for realization of their goals. Praying or supplication is a mystery of servanthood to God; it is the corner-stone of servanthood. When a servant perceives his poverty, inadequacy and impotence, he comes to depend on the absolute and infinite Richness and Power of his Lord and thus acquires an immeasurable power and inexhaustible source of wealth. A servant should be repeatedly awoken to this fundamental point so that he may not be left to his carnal, evil-commanding and self-conceited self and thereby to incurable, unrecoverable helplessness and destitution.
The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is the last Prophet, with whom Prophethood ended. Therefore, he encompasses all the aspects, all the dimensions, of the mission of Prophethood, and while he confirmed all the previous Prophets on the one hand, Prophethood was perfected through him on the other. If we compare Prophethood to a huge blessed tree, the branches of which spread through all parts of the universe, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, represents this tree with all its aspects and dimensions. His Prophethood is deeply rooted in the mission of the previous Prophets, therefore it is quite natural for him to benefit from his roots. The Prophet Moses came before him centuries ago, so in pursuit of ease for his nation in carrying out their religious duties, the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, justifiably acted according to the advice of Moses, upon him be peace. The Prophet Muhammad, although the greatest of all the Prophets, never allowed, as a requirement of his matchless greatness, his followers to regard the others Prophets as inferior to him.
This matter requires further elaboration as there is much to be said on it. However, we must cut it short, because the main theme of this book does not allow further explanation.
94. Bukhari, “Tafsir,” 48/3, “Buyu‘”, 50; Darimi, “Muqaddima,” 2.
95.Bukhari, “Istithqa’,” 3, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 11.
96. Bukhari, “Istithqa’,” 14; Abu Dawud, “Istithqa’,” 2; I. Ma’ja, “Iqama,” 154.
97. I. Maja, “Iqama,” 189; Tirmidhi, “Da‘awat,” 118.
98. Muslim, “Tahara,” 91; Bukhari, “Wudu’,” 33; Abu Dawud, “Tahara,” 37.
99. Bukhari, “Tib,” 58; Abu Dawud, “At‘ima,” 48; I. Ma’ja, “Tib,” 31; Darimi, “At‘ima,” 12.
100. Bukhari, “al-Salat fi Masjid Makka,” 1; Muslim, “Hajj,” 511; Tirmidhi, “Salat,” 126.
101. Muslim, “Hajj,” 510; Bukhari, “Masjid Makka,” 1; Nasa’i, “Manasik,” 124.
102. Muslim, “‘Imara,” 170; Bukhari, “I‘tisam,” 10; Abu Dawud, “Fitan,” 1.
103. Abu Dawud, “Tahara,” 50; Bukhari, “Wudu’,” 26; Muslim, “Tahara,” 87–8.
104. Muslim, “Fitan,” 119; Abu Dawud, “Malahim,” 15; Ibn Ma’ja, “Fitan,” 33.
105. Bukhari, “Salat,” 1; Nasa’i, “Salat,” 1; Muslim, “Iman,” 263; I. Ma’ja, “Iqama,” 194.
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.