By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
The hadith “Do not revert to disbelief (kufr) after me by striking (cutting) the necks of one another” is a part of long discourse delivered by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) on the occasion of Hujjatul Wida.
Personally I have studied this hadith at thirty different places in all the six most authentic books of hadith known as Al-Sihah al-Sittah i.e. “The Authentic Six”. In the first stage of narration, it has been narrated by five great narrators.
The hadith specialists (Muhaddethin) regard the hadith “do not revert to disbelief.....” as sahih i.e. authentic. While studying at all thirty places and in other relevant sources, I did not find them rank it as mutawatir. They do not call it Mutawatir, because this hadith in its isnad (chain of narration) does not meet the conditions of Mutawatir (i.e. a hadith narrated by such a large number of narrators that their agreement upon a lie is inconceivable. The condition must be met in the entire chain from the origins of the report to the very end). However, the message of the hadith “do not revert to disbelief after me by killing one another” conforms to various verses of the Quran and hundreds of other relevant Ahadith. Hence, surely this hadith may be described as being akin to Mutawatir-e-Maanwi, (Mutawatir in meaning; which is greater than sahih hadith in rank), for it and other relevant various Ahadith all together share the meaning of “not reverting to disbelief by killing one another”.
Before going through reasonable conclusions, interpretations and brief biography of the first-stage narrators of this hadith, for the sake of ensuring much greater level of reliability than that of a Sahih hadith, it is better to have a look at all the thirty different places where I read this hadith; all with the same words.
16 Places in Sahih al-Bukhari
1. Ibid., Book 3 (The book of Knowledge/Kitab al-Ilm), Chap. 43 (To be quiet (and listen) to religious learned men), Hadith: 63
2. Ibid., Book 25 (Pilgrimage/Hajj), Chapter 132: Al-Khutba during the Days of Mina, Hadith: 217
3. Ibid., Book 25, Chapt. 132, Hadith: 219
4. Ibid., Book 64 (Military Expeditions/Al-Maghaazi), Chapter 77: Hajjat-ul-Wada, Hadith: 425
5. Ibid., Book 64, Chapt. 77, Hadith: 427
6. Ibid., Book 64, Chapt. 77, Hadith: 428
7. Ibid., Book 73 (Festival Sacrifices/ The book of al-Adaahi), Chapter 5: "Sacrifices on the day of Nahr", Hadith 6
8. Ibid., Book 78 (Good Manners and Form/Al-Adab), Chapter 95: Saying "Wailaka.", Hadith: 192
9. Ibid., Book 86 (Limits and Punishments set by Allah/Kitab al-Hudood), Chapter 9: A believer is safe except if he transgresses Allah’s legal limits or takes others’ rights, Hadith 14
10. Ibid., Book 87 (Blood Money/Ad-Diyat), Chapter 2: “And if anyone saved a life….” Hadith: 7
11. Ibid., Book 87, Chapt. 2, Hadith: 8
12. Sahih al-Bukhari: Book 92 (Afflictions and the End of the World/Kitab al-Fitan), Chapter 8: “Do not renegade as disbelievers after me by striking the neck of one another.” Hadith: 28
13. Ibid., Book 92, Chapt. 8, Hadith: 29
14. Ibid., Book 92, Chapt. 8, Hadith: 30
15. Ibid., Book 92, Chapt. 8, Hadith: 31
16. Ibid., Book 97 (Oneness, Uniqueness of Allah/ The book of al-Tawheed), Chapter 24: (The words of Allah “Some faces that Day shall be Nadirah. Looking at their Lord.”), Hadith: 73
3 Places in Sahih Muslim
1. Sahih Muslim: Book 1 (The book of Faith/Kitab al-Iman), Chapter: Clarifying the meaning of the Statement of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam): "Do not revert to disbelief (Kuffar) after I am Gone, striking one another's necks", Hadith: 129
2. Ibid., Hadith: 131
3. Ibid., Book 28 (The Book of Oaths/Qasamah, Muharibin, Qasas/Retaliation, and Diyat/Blood Money), Chapter 9: Emphasis on the sanctity of Blood, Honor and Wealth, Hadith: 42
7 Places in Sunan an-Nasa'i
1. Sunan an-Nasa'i: Book 37 (The Prohibition of Bloodshed/Kitabu Tahrim al-dam), Chapter 29: "The Prohibition of Killing", Hadith, 160
2. Ibid., Book 37, Chap. 29, Hadith: 161
3. Ibid., Book 37, Chap. 29, Hadith: 162
4. Ibid., Book 37, Chap. 29, Hadith: 163
5. Ibid., Book 37, Chap. 29, Hadith: 165
6. Ibid., Book 37, Chap. 29, Hadith: 166
7. Ibid., Book 37, Chap. 29, Hadith: 167
Once in Sunan Abi Dawud
1. Sunan Abi Dawud: Book 42 (Model Behaviour of the Prophet/Kitab Al-Sunnah), Chapter 1692: "Proof Of Increase And Decrease Of Faith", Hadith: 91
Once in Jami` at-Tirmidhi
1. Jami` at-Tirmidhi: Book 33 (Kitab Al-Fitan), Chapter 28: What has been Related About "Do Not Revert to Disbelief After Me, Some Of You Striking The Necks Of Others", Hadith 36
Two Places in Sunan Ibn Majah
1. Sunan Ibn Majah: Book 36 (Tribulations/kitab al-Fitan), Chapter 9: "Do not turn back into disbelievers after I am gone, striking one another's necks", Hadith 17
2. Ibid., Book 36, Chap. 9, Hadith 18
Sahih al-Bukhari: 16+ Sahih Muslim: 3+ Sunan an-Nasa'i: 7+ Sunan Abi Dawud:1+ Jami` at-Tirmidhi:1+ Sunan Ibn Majah:2= 30
Brief Biography of First-stage Narrators of This Hadith
Analysing the first stage of Isnad (the chain of narration) i.e. first generation of reporters of this hadith “Do not revert to disbelief after me by striking (cutting) the necks of one another” at all thirty different places, I have found five great narrators. They are Abdullah Ibn Abbas (d. 68 A.H.), Abdullah bin Umar (d. 73 A.H.), Jarir bin Abdullah al-Bajali (d. 51 A.H.), Abu Bakarah bin Kalada (d. 51 A.H) and Masruq bin al-Ajda' (d. 103 A.H.). All of them except for Masruq bin al-Ajda’ are holy companions. Moreover, to know the reliability of this hadith, I objectively studied the biography of these narrators. Their narrations you will find surely authentic, if you check them through five famous ways to scrutiny the authentication of a hadith 1) Trustworthiness and Moral Uprightness of the Narrators, 2) Retention of every Narrator (a person with a poor memory cannot be relied upon to transmit hadith accurately, unless he writes down hadith upon hearing them and narrates only from his manuscript), 3) Continuity of the Chain (i.e. every narrator must have been able to meet the other), 4) Freedom from Irregularities (Shaaz) and 5) Freedom from flaws. The brief information of these narrators is mentioned below.
Abdullah ibn Abbas (d. 68-69 A.H./687-90 A.D), one of the most learned of the companions in Tafsir was entitled Tarjaman ul-Quran or ‘Interpreter of the Quran’, and Sultan ul-Mufassirin or ‘Prince of Exegetes’. He was the cousin of the prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) who on many occasions made dua (prayer) for Ibn Abbas, “May Allah grant him deep understanding (Fiqh) of Din and instruct him in the meaning and interpretation of things”. Hazrat Umar Ibn al-Khattab frequently sought the advice of Ibn Abbas on important matters of state and described him as "the young man of maturity". Once Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas said, "I have never seen someone who was quicker in understanding, who had more knowledge and greater wisdom than Ibn Abbas”.
Abdullah Ibn Umar (d. 73 A.H.), the son of Hazrat Umar bin al-Khattab and prominent authority in hadith and law was known for his firm adherence to each Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). He never narrated a hadith unless he memorized it accurately. His contemporaries said, "Among the Companions of the Prophet, Abdullah Ibn Umar was more cautious not to misquote the Messenger of Allah, or to add or subtract anything from a hadith. Ibn Umar too said: “I took the oath of allegiance to the Messenger of Allah and I did not violate it nor did I alter anything to this day”. Hazrat Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha) said: ''I have not seen anyone who adhered more closely to the Sunnah of the Prophet and his Companions than Ibn 'Umar.'' Ibn Al-Musayyab said: ''On the day he died, Ibn 'Umar was the best of those who remained. Imam Malik said: ''lbn 'Umar lived for sixty years after the death of the Messenger of Allah delivering legal verdicts to the people during the Hajj season and at other times.'' He further said: ''Ibn 'Umar was one of the Imams of the Muslims.''
Abu Bakarah bin Kalada al-Thaqafi at-Thaifi (also known as Nufay ibn al-Harith) (d. 51 A.H) was one of the pious companions (sahaba) and great jurists. (See Siyar al-Alam Al-nubala by 5/3 by Al-Dhahabi and Tahzib al-Tahzib by Ibn hajar al-asqalani volume 10/469). Hazrat Hasan basari said, "Imran bin Husain and Abu Bakarah were better than those companions who came to Basra to stay. (Usdul Ghabah Fi Marifat -us- Sahabah, 4/391 by Shaykh Ibn Athir Ali bin Muhammad al-Jazari). With reference to Ijma (consensus), Ibn Qudama said “we do not know any difference taking place while accepting the narration of Abu Bakarah” (Al-Mughni 12/87). Abu Nuaim al-Asbahani said “He (Abu Bakarah) was a pious companion” (Tahzeeb al-kamal 18/420). Al-Aini said “Abu Bakarah narrated 132 hadith. Imam al-Bukhari mentioned five of them and Imam Muslim one”. (Umdatul qari 7/208)
Jarir bin Abdullah al-Bajali (d. 51 A.H.) was a great companion of the prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). He was so handsome that Hazrat Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) used to call him “the Yusuf of this Ummah”. Whenever the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saw Jarir bin Abdullah he would smile at him. Once the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) struck him on the chest with his hand and said: “O Allah, make him firm and cause him to guide others and be rightly-guided.” (See Sahih al-Bukhari). According to a narration, Jarir bin Abdullah gave the pledge of allegiance to Allah's Apostle for offering prayers perfectly, paying Zakat (obligatory charity), being sincere, true and giving good advice to every Muslim. (See Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 55,502,484,891)
All the four mentioned above are companions (sahaba) whose narrations, according to Hadith specialists are trustworthy and cannot be rejected. This is why Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani wrote placing the narrators into twelve ranks: “As for the Companions, the first generation of Muslims, they did not need testimony to their knowledge or character as Allah the Most High has already done so in the Qur’an”.
Masruq bin al-Ajda' (d. 103 A.H.) was a pious tabi’i and mukhazrami (i.e. a person who witnessed periods of both Jahiliya and Islam) but could not meet the prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Masruq was the son of Al-Ajda’ but when he met Hazrat U’mar he was named Masrooq bin Abdur Rahman. He was thereafter written as Masruq bin Abdul Rahman in Diwan. Sha’bi said, “When Ubaidullah bin Ziyad came to Kufa, he asked: “who is the best among the people”. The people replied, “Masruq”. Ahmad bin Hambal said with reference to Ibn I’na that Masruq had greatest virtues after Alqamah. Yahya bin Mui’n said “Masruq is thiqa i.e. trustworthy”. (See Siyar al-Alam Al-nubala by Al-Dhahabi)
Reasonable Conclusions Derived From This Hadith
This hadith may be interpreted into two ways; literal and metaphorical. Literally it prevents Muslims from becoming disbelievers (Kuffar) and legitimizing the killing of Muslims. Metaphorically this hadith prevents Muslims from becoming like Kuffar in killing Muslims. The reason is that in the era of the prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), it was the sign of the Kuffar to kill Muslims or legitimize the killing of Muslims.
From this Hadith, it is also vividly clear that the prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) had the knowledge of unseen future. He had known that Muslims in future would kill Muslims by legitimizing it. His prediction proved true, as many fitna thereafter appeared as a cause of violent differences among Muslims. Like Kuffar, Muslims killed Muslims. The bloody wars taking place during Ummayyad and Abbasid periods and now by ‘ISIS’, Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Bokoharam; all testify to the fact of the unseen knowledge of the prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) who had prevented Muslims from becoming like kuffar in killing Muslims or legitimizing the killing of Muslims.
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He did his graduation in Arabic (Hons) and post-graduation (Arabic) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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