Hadiths Inserted Posthumously In The Sahih Of Al-Bukhari?

M S M Saifullah & Muhammad Ghoniem

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Created: 5th August 2000

Last Modified: 7th September 2003


Assalamu-`alaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

1. Introduction

We are going to examine a number of strange claims made by Christian missionaries concerning the insertion of "many traditions" of "unreliable" narrators into the Sahih of al-Bukhari after his death. The claim is that the hadiths of "condemned" narrators were later inserted into al-Bukhari's Sahih:

It is interesting to note that Bukhari wrote a book about the narrators (Zuafa-us-sagher). What is even more interesting is that Bukhari's book condemns several narrators including: Ata bin abi Maimoona, Ayyub bin Aiz, Ismail bin Aban, Zubair bin Muhammad, At-Tayyimi, Saeed bin Urwa, Abdullah bin Abi Labeed, Abdul Malik bin Ameen, Abdul waris bin Saeed, Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed, and Khamsan bin Minhal as unreliable. However, the Hadith-collection of Bukhari in the its modern form actually includes many traditions narrated by these very individuals! Obviously, these traditions, which Bukhari rejected, were inserted in his book following his death.

This is an interesting charge, but where on earth is the evidence or source for this claim? The missionaries failed to provide any proper  reference or quotation which the reader could verify. It seems that these claims can be traced back to the writings of one "brother Mark" who in turn quotes from book by Dr. Kamal Omar.[1] It can easily deduced reading his book that Kamal Omar  is a rejecter of hadith (i.e., belonging to the Qur'an-only sect). When the claim is made that the following narrators are unreliable:

Zuafa-us-sagheer condemns certain individuals like Ata bin abi Maimoona, Ayyub bin Aiz, Ismail bin Aban, Zubair bin Muhammad, At-Tayyimi, Saeed bin Urwa, Abdullah bin Abi Labeed, Abdul Malik bin Ameen, Abdul waris bin Saeed, Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed, and Khamsan bin Minhal as unreliable and hence rejected.[2]

one should at least quote from Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir of al-Bukhari. For those who do not know what Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir is, it is a book written by al-Bukhari about the narrators and their weaknesses whether minor or major. What is interesting is the Dr. Omar did not even quote Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir to support his position.[3] Christian missionaries do not fare any better either. This is sufficient enough to make any reader suspicious. Furthermore, commonsense would tell us that if someone was going to insert hadith into al-Bukhari's Sahih after he died, why would that person(s) make the silly mistake of including condemned narrators in the chains of transmission of those hadith, particularly condemned narrators from one of al-Bukhari's other books? It would have made more sense to have ensured that all narrators were famous and reliable so that the hadiths would be accepted by the later day scholars without suspicion. How else is then the "insertion" would gain wide-scale acceptance from scholars of later times?

2. Are The Narrators Mentioned By Missionaries "Condemned" By Al-Bukhari?

The narrators mentioned by the missionaries are

Ata bin abi Maimoona, Ayyub bin Aiz, Ismail bin Aban, Zubair bin Muhammad, At-Tayyimi, Saeed bin Urwa, Abdullah bin Abi Labeed, Abdul Malik bin Ameen, Abdul waris bin Saeed, Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed, and Khamsan bin Minhal

It will be seen that most of the above mentioned narrators do not even exist in Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir! Whoever remains either belong to early sects of Islam, such as the qadariyyah, murji'ah, etc. It is interesting to note that al-Bukhari did not condemn any of the above mentioned narrators as unreliable at all, contrary to the Christian missionaries' claim! Before we proceed with our refutation, let us digress breifly and define the methodology of our refutation.

3. The Methodology Of Refutation

The methodology of our refutation is the following:

  1. Use Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir of al-Bukhari to verify the claim of the missionaries that the narrators were condemned as unreliable. We will also use the footnotes mentioned by the editor of that book which throw light on the issue of "unreliability" of narrators.

  2. Cross-check with al-Bukhari's Kitab al-Tarikh al-Kabir, a book that deals with short biographical notes of the narrators, to see if al-Bukhari consistently maintained his position on the reliability/unreliability of the narrator in question.

  3. Use Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani's Taqrib al-Tahdhib, again a book that gives short biographies and reliability of hadith narrators, for further information, if any, about the narrator.

  4. Check al-`Ijli's Tarikh al-Thiqat, a book that deals with the reliability of hadith narrators, for confirmation.

  5. Finally, we will verify the claim of existence of "many traditions" by the above mentioned "unreliable" narrators in Sahih of al-Bukhari. We will also be studying the isnad bundles of the hadith of these "unreliable" narrators to cross-check the existence of the same hadith or its slight variants in other hadith collections. This will give an idea of existence of parallel isnads independent of the "unreliable" narrator or the use of "unreliable" narrator by an early hadith collector. In the cases where there were many traditions from same narrator, they all are represented by a single tradition so as to maintain the clarity of the isnad bundle. The isnad bundles were drawn using Hadith Sharif software by al-Sakhr.
4. Narrators Associated With Innovated Sects

Even though al-Bukhari did include some of the above mentioned narrators in Kitab al-Du`afa he didn't specifically mention they are weak. For example, for the majority of other narrators in Kitab al-Du`afa, al-Bukhari tells us why they were weak by using words like "he was rejected in hadith" or "his hadiths are not authentic". For the narrators mentioned by Christian missionaries, al-Bukhari does not say any such thing they were unreliable.

In most cases, the narrators mentioned by Christian missionaries were accused at one time or another of being associated with one of the early sects of Islam, such as the qadariyyah, murji'ah, etc. Al-Bukhari mentions this in his Kitab al-Du`afa. This is, in our view, the reason why al-Bukhari included these narrators in Kitab al-Du`afa; not because they were weak narrators, as we would soon see, but because they were linked to one of the rejected sects. This, however, does not stop us from accepting their hadith so long as they do not openly make da'wah [i.e., to call] to their sect and also so long as the hadith they narrate do not support the beliefs of their own sect. This is the soundest opinion among the scholars of hadith. Therefore, it was prudent that al-Bukhari included these narrators in Kitab al-Du`afa to cover the eventuality that they narrated a hadith supporting their sect.

Ibn Kathir in his book Al-Ba`ith al-Hathith Sharh Ikhtisar `Ulum al-Hadith, deals with this issue succintly. He says:

Question: The one who commits a bid`ah [i.e., innovation in religion], if it makes him kafir, then there is no doubt that his narration is rejected. If it does not, then if he deems it lawful to lie, his narration is also rejected. If he does not make lying lawful, is his narration accepted or not? Does it make any difference if he preaches [his bid`ah] or not? There has always been a disagreement about that. The majority is for distinguishing preachers [da`iyah] from non-preachers [of bid`ah]. This was narrated from al-Shafi`i. Ibn Hibban narrated with agreement that: He cannot be used as an proof according to all our Imams, I don't know of any disagreement between them about that.

Ibn al-Salah said: This is the most fair and best opinion. A complete prohibition is remote, far of the known opinion of the Imams of hadith as their books are filled with narrations from people with bid`ahs who did not involve in preaching. The two sahihs contain many such hadiths regarding shawahid and Usul [fundamentals]. And Allah knows best.[4]

It is clear from reading the above material, the best and fair opinion among the hadith scholars is that as long as innovators did not openly make da'wah to their sect and the hadith they narrate do not support the beliefs of their own sect, their hadith is acceptable.

5. Narrators Who Got Confused In The Last Days Of Their Life

What about the narrators who were reliable once upon a time in their life and later became confused due to some malady? Ibn Kathir in his book Al-Ba`ith al-Hathith describes this issue in detail. Below is the complete discussion on this issue.

Those who get confused at the end of their lives

Either out of fear or harm or illness or accident: like `Abd Allah Ibn Lahi`ah, when his books were lost, his mind got confused. Whoever hears from such people before they got confused their narration is accepted and whoever hears from them after that or doubts, their narration is not accepted.

Among those who got confused at the end of their lives there are: `Ata' Ibn al-Sa'ib and Abu Ishaq al-Sabi`i. Al-Hafidh Abu Ya`la al-Khalili said: Ibn `Uyaynah heard from him later. There is also: Sa`id Ibn Abi `Arubah. Waki` and al-Mu`afa Ibn `Imran heard from him after his confusion. There are also al-Mas`udi and Rabi`ah and Salih the freed slave of al-Taw'amah and Husayn Ibn ` Abd al-Rahman, according to al-Nasa'i. There is also Sufyan Ibn `Uyaynah two years before his death, according to Yahya al-Qattan. There is also `Abd al-Wahhab al-Thaqafi, according to Ibn Ma`in. And `Abd al-Razzaq Ibn Hammam of whom Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said: He got confused after he had become blind. Then he had hadith whispered/read to him. Therefore, whoever heard from him after his blindness has not earned anything.

Ibn al-Salah said: I found in the narratives of al-Tabarani from Ishaq Ibn Ibrahim al-Dabari from `Abd al-Razzaq many objectionable hadiths. It may be that he heard from him after his confusion. Ibrahim al-Harbi said that al-Dabari was about six or seven years old when `Abd al-Razzaq died. And `Arim got confused at the end of his life [Arabic: bi'akharah].

Among those who got confused after the former, Abu Qilabah al-Raqashi and Abu Ahmad al-Ghatrifi and Abu Bakr Ibn Malik al-Qati`i, he became senile so much that he did not know what he is reading.[5]

The above material is self-explanatory. This actually shows how careful the hadith critics were when it came to accepting the hadith from people who were young and old, sane and insane, reading from a book or reciting from the memory. Armed with this fundamental knowledge of acceptance and rejection of narrators, let us now move over to the narrators mentioned by the missionaries.

Next (2/11)


References

[1] Dr. Kamal Omar, Deep Into The Quran With A Non-Committal, Non-Sectarian, Scholastic Mind Discovers The Pristine And Is, Therefore, Much Ahead Of Our Times, 1987, Karachi, pp. 286-287.

[2] ibid., p. 287.

[3] ibid., There is absolutely no mention of the book Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir in the notes at the end of the chapter (see pp. 295-295) as well as in the reference section (see pp. 365-368).

[4] Isma`il Ibn `Umar Ibn Kathir, Al-Ba`ith al-Hathith Sharh Ikhtisar `Ulum al-Hadith, 1951, Maktabat wa-Matba`at Muhammad `Ali Subayh wa-Awladuh: Al-Qahirah, pp. 109-110.

[5] ibid, pp. 274-275.

Next (2/11)