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On Quoting and Using

Mawdu' Hadiths

by Sh G F Haddad

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[Question by IH]

It is mutawatir that our Prophet (saws) said: "Whoever lies about me, then he shall prepare for himself for a seat in the Fire" (and other similar wordings), showing the gravity of invented and forged ahadith.

However, how and why is it that we find many of our Sufi Mashayikh (such as Sidi Abdul-Qadir al-Gaylani, Sidi Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, and so on) frequently quoting and using ahadith which the hadith scholars know and have shown to be forgeries?

It is the Awliya' who have in my opinion the greatest veneration for the Prophet (saws), so why would they be content with using these forgeries, and how do we reconcile this in ourselves?

Also, what do the ulama of hadith say about (for example) the words of Shaykh al-Akbar Ibn al-'Arabi on the famous statement: "Whoever knows himself, he knows his Lord" when he quotes this as a hadith of the Prophet (saws) and says, "this is not sound by way of Sanad, but its attribution to the Prophet (saws) is sound by way of Kashf." he also related in his Futuhat that he frequently used to see the Prophet (saws) in his dreams, and he would ask him about hundreds of ahadith, and the Prophet (saws) would sometimes deny some hadith which the scholars stated were Sahih, and confirm some other hadith which the scholars of hadith would say were da'if or mawdu' even.

so is the kashf of awliya' a sound measurement of authenticity for ahadith, according to its scholars? and if not, then what can/do we do about statements such as these (for whoever sees the Prophet in a dream has truly seen him)??

again, i hope that my question is not offensive, and i ask forgiveness if it is. any help in this matter is greatly appreciated and valued.


From the Muqaddima of Sahih Muslim:

Muslim narrates in his Sahih with his chain from ʿAli ibn Mus-hir that the latter had asked the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace in a dream about one thousand hadiths he had heard from Aban ibn Abi ʿIyash – one of the discarded narrators due to his poor memory – whereupon the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, did not recognize more than five or six of them.

From the Sharh of Imam al-Nawawi:

Al-Qadi ʿIyad - Allah have mercy on him! - said: "Such reports are taken into consideration to show what is already decided concerning the weakness of Aban. Not that dreams are definitive, nor can an established sunna be abrogated because of them, nor a previously unestablished sunna be established, by consensus of the scholars." These are al-Qadi's words. Others of our [Shafiʿi] companions said something similar and reported agreement to the effect that nothing of what has been decided by the Law can be changed because of what the sleeper saw. What we mentioned here does not contradict the saying of the Prophet upon him blessings and peace: "Whoever sees me in vision or dream sees me truly." For the meaning of this hadith is that the dreamer's vision is true and not from the fantasies of dreams nor the delusions of the devil. However, it is not permissible to establish a legal ruling on the basis of this dream, because the state of sleep is not a state of accuracy and verification for whatever the dreamer is seeing. The scholars all agree that among the conditions necessary for accepting one's narration or legal testimony is that he be awake, not somnolent, nor poor in his memorization, nor prone to making many mistakes, nor lacking accuracy. A sleeper does not meet these criteria. Therefore his narration is not accepted because he lacks accuracy. This all pertains to a dream that contains a ruling that contravenes what those in authority ruly by. As for seeing the Prophet upon him blessings and peace ordering him something which is recommended, or forbidding him something which is forbidden, or directing him to do something beneficial, there is no disagreement that it is desirable that he go ahead and act according to his dream. For here the ruling does not depend on the dream but on what has been decided from the principles at hand, and Allah knows best.

See more in "Authentication of Hadith by Kashf," the last article in my Sunna Notes I, in nine parts:

- Definitions
- Status of One That Denies Kashf
- Status of Kashf
- Proofs for Kashf and Kashf-Authentication
- Seeing the Prophet upon him blessings and peace in Dream
- Three Visions of Ibn ʿAbbas
- Seeing the Prophet and Authenticating Hadith Canonization
  of Sahih al-Bukhari by Kashf Authentication of Ijmaʿ by Kashf

February 21, 2006

sn2The updated text is in 'Sunna Notes' volumes 1 and 2
by Dr. Gibril Fouad Haddad.
The foreword to vol 1 can be found [here] as pdf


[Regarding "Whoever knows himself, he knows his Lord"]

In SP; SM wrote:

Firstly, about the saying, "Whoever knows himself, he knows his Lord" we need to go no further than the Book of our Lord, when He says, jalla dhikruhu:, "and do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves," in surah Hashr.

Yes, the verse is a contrapositive proof of the truth of this saying. There are several other verses to that effect. Al-Qari quotes ones of them: {and who forsakes the religion of Ibrahim save him who fools himself} (2:130); "meaning, he ignores his own soul so that he does not know its Lord." Al-Qunawi cited the verse {Say: the spirit is from my Lord, and you have been told little about it} (17:85).

Another confirmation is in the verses {We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves} (41:53) and {We verily created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein} (50:16).

Another confirmation - cited by Imam al-Nawawi in his Fatawa - is the hadith "Glory to You! I cannot sufficiently extol Your praise! Truly, You are just as You have glorified Yourself" narrated from ʿA'isha and ʿAli, Allah be well-pleased with them, in the Nine Books except al- Bukhari and al-Darimi.

This is all meaning-wise. As for Prophetic attribution, it remains unestablished as the totality of the Ulema of hadith do not accept authentication nor disauthentication of hadith on the sole basis of kashf. "Otherwise," Mulla ʿAli al-Qari said in his dictionary of forgeries, "its meaning is firmly established." I.e. it is simply not a hadith, but an aphorism which conforms with the Qur'an and Sunna.

Isnad-wise, it is more likely:

- an Israelite report in the wording, "O Man! Know yourself and you will know your Lord" cf. al-Fayruzabadi in Sifr al-Saʿada.

- a saying of Sahl al-Tustari as narrated by Abu Nuʿaym in the Hilya (10:208).

- a saying of Yahya ibn Muʿadh al-Razi as reported from Ibn al- Samʿani's Qawaʿid fi Usul al-Fiqh by al-Zarkashi in al-Tadhkira (p. 129), al-Suyuti in the Durar (p. 258 §420) and in the fatwa entitled al-Qawl al-Ashbah fi Hadithi Man ʿArafa Nafsahu fa-qad ʿArafa Rabbah in his Hawi lil-Fatawi (2:412) as well as al-Sakhawi in the Maqasid and al-Haytami in his Fatawa Hadithiyya (p. 289).

- a saying of Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham. Sharik said, "I asked Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham about what had happened between ʿAli and Muʿawiya and he wept. I felt remorse that I asked. Then he raised his head and said, 'Truly, whoever knows himself remains busy with himself and whoever knows his Lord remains busy with his Lord away from anything and anyone else.'" Narrated by Abu Nuʿaym (8:15).

Al-Mawardi mentions in his ʿAmal al-Yawm wal-Layla, as cited in Kashf al-Khafa (2:343), from ʿA'isha in Adab al-Dunya wal-Din: "The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, was asked: 'Who among people knows his Lord best?' He replied: 'Whoever knows himself best.'" However, al- Mawardi is not among the hadith masters but an erudite and trustworthy Shafiʿi Muʿtazili qadi – and no-one else reports it.

In his Nizamiyya epistle (p. 14-16, chapter titled "What is impossible to attribute to Allah Almighty"), Imam al-Haramayn details some of the guiding principles of Ahl al-Sunna in understanding the verses and hadiths that pertain to the Divine Attributes so they steer clear of the heretical innovations of the anthropomorphists: "No attribute of which possibility (al-jawaz) forms a portion can be used to describe the exalted Godhead. For pre-eternity (qidam) and possibility are complete opposites. To elaborate: the quality of being created (al- huduth) is characterized, with regard to us, by possibility; therefore, we declare Allah transcendent above it. Being formed of parts (al-tarkib), possessing measure and form (al-taqaddur wal- tasawwur), with regard to us, is characterized by possibility. There is no combination of parts except that a hypothetical variant is also possible. Nor is there any limit (hadd), measure (qadr), length (tul), or width (ʿard) except their likes and variants are rationally possible. All these attributes, because they are possible, depend on specifications set by their Creator. Exalted is He above such attributes! This is the meaning of the statement of the liege-lord of humanity, upon him blessings and peace: 'Whoever knows himself knows his Lord.' Meaning, whoever knows himself to be utterly dependent knows his Lord's utter exemption of his own [human] attributes. For all the Names of Allah are transcendent above any signification of need and He is utterly exempt of it. Accordingly, it is obligatory to declare the transcendence of the Creator of the worlds above the least attribution of any particular direction."

Subsequent scholars reiterated the gist of the above in their explanation of this saying, some excepting the positive attribution to the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, others, such as the Sufis (e.g. Ibn ʿAta' Allah quoting Abu al-ʿAbbas al-Mursi, Abu Talib al- Makki, and ʿIzz al-Din al-Maqdisi) focusing on content with the satisfaction that the saying undoubtedly came from the mishkat of Prophetic wisdom. WAllahu aʿlam wa-ahkam.

I would also like to introduce the following points to the discussion:

-Of the khasa'is of the Prophet, salla Allahu alailhi wa alihi wasalaam, is that he was given "jawami' al-kalim"; therefore, when attributing to him something which he did not say ā¤" is this not taking away from that special characteristic? Especially if these narrations have 'rakakah' or poor usage of words. For example, some of the narrations about his shama'il, e. g. his being created from nur, etc., peace and blessings of Allah upon him, - no one disagrees as to the content of these narrations as they are confirmed by the consensus of the awliya, but the point is ā¤" to ascribe these to the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wasalam, as his words, if these narrations are baseless - does this not fall under the severe warning of the liar, and would it not be out of 'tawqeer' and reverence of him that we make clear these are not his words?

Rakaka in its two kinds (words and meaning) is among the "internal" or intra-matn indications of forgery. An example of the rakaka of wording, in the well-known "hadith of Jabir" about the primeval creation of the light of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, is the expression "and there was not, at that time, any heaven..." "wa- lam yakun fi dhalika al-waqti sama'un etc." which is long-winded, whereas a hadith would more likely have "wa-lam yakun thamma sama'un" or simply "wa-la sama'un." Nevertheless, a hadith may have been textually corrupted through the liberty of the narrator(s) who transmit "to the meaning" rather than "to the letter" so this is too circumstancial to serve as proof of forgery.

Hence the greater import of rakaka of meaning, on which basis al- Ghumari affirmed that the hadith of Jabir was a forgery. Nevertheless, the very first phrase of that hadith "The first thing Allah Most High created is the light of your Prophet, O Jabir!" conveys no rakaka whether of meaning or wording. WAllahu aʿlam.

Just because the meaning of a text is correct, (when referring to his shama'il) or we use the hadith because it is in the fada'il ā¤" does this make it okay to attribute it to the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wasalam without due clarification? Is it not from iman and reverence of his lofty maqam that we attribute to him the best of words, and not attribute to him that which is not thabit on him, for perhaps had he said it in his own words, it would be a thousand times more eloquent and beautiful?

Indeed, but until the process of discovery establishes that the Prophet, upon him peace, never said a certain saying - and short of the falsification of isnad or the rakaka of meaning, for example - that saying cannot be positively dismissed merely on the basis that it is conveyed in meaning rather than word for word.

The most eloquent person in the world ā¤" everyone else's words combined can never match his, so to ascribe something as his from another's words- is it not taking away from his eloquence?

Is not that same eloquence further manifested rather than betrayed by the translation of meanings? Do not the non-Arabs and the uneducated have a share in it as well - through meaning? Even Imam al-Burkhari in his Sahih narrated in meaning rather than wording at times. As one of the Salaf said: "Allah Most High revealed His own Speech in seven different huruf, so don't be so strict about hadith narration."

The latter is of course not limited to the books of the Sufis and is found in all sciences. My question is: when going through a text which mentions baseless report, does it suffice the teacher to say, "The author says" when mentioning these narrations for him to not be responsible whether the saying is really one that the Prophet said? According to the rule of mentioning baseless accounts that one can only do so when explicitly mentioning their forgery when teaching ā¤"wouldn't the onus of clarifying this still remain on the teacher? I'm wondering as I haven't seen anyone do this regularly in classā¤? Yes, many narrations that are mentioned in the fiqh books for example, may not be correct to the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wasalam, but they are correct to a Sahabi, so the meaning is considered; but again ā¤" is it not from the highest adab, in recognition of the uniqueness that he, salla Allahu alaihi wasalam was given 'jawami' al-kalim' ā¤" is it not more becoming for us to differentiate between his words and other's? Also - because the saying of the Sahaba are not a strong proof in some madhabs.

The positive affirmation of a saying as "baseless" or "forged" is the province of the experts of hadith, from whom teachers and preachers are supposed to take their clue. However, because of the entrenched position of such reports in non-hadith books such as those of fiqh and usul, and even their profusion in books of tasawwuf, such "diehard" reports remain in the pool of Prophetic attributions. If we take a long hard look we might find hundreds of such examples but if we eliminate the reports whose contents have been argued to be in conformity with the Shariʿa although they are not hadiths, the remaining number, utter lies, are relatively few and Allah knows best.

Perhaps this isn't directly related to the discussion, but I've wondered: the majority opinion is that it is correct to narrate by meaning, but do have the scholars mentioned if the words still would contain the characteristic of "jawami' al-kalim"? I would think so because this is a characteristic that should be preserved as a part of his sunnah. However, some, such as the Hanafis, when accepting only the narrations by meaning from a faqih ā¤" does this not indicate that something is lost?

As I said, something is temporarily lost to some and something is gained by others. Diraya and the fiqh of hadith focuses on other than its riwaya and word-for-word attribution through a proper chain. The maqam of teaching and admonishing is different from the maqam of narrating. Even inside narrative gatherings, the maqam of mudhakara - refreshing one's memory - focuses on matn and is therefore different from the maqam of isnad. None of this ultimately harms the characteristic of "jawami' al-kalim" and Allah knows best.

[SP February 23, 2006]


In; SP IH wrote:

Why do some of the great Awliya quote and use hadith that are known to be mawdu', given their utmost respect and veneration for the Prophet (saws)?
this seems to also be a (legitimate?) grievance of the pseudo-salafiya against Tasawwuf and its Shuyukh.

If you mean outright forgers and liars, see the chapters on the different types of forgers and the causes of forgery in Ibn Hibban's book of weak narrators and al-Hakim's Madkhal. If you mean the likes of Imam al-Ghazzali, Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Gilani, and the author of Qut al-Qulub, I have not, to the best of my knowledge, found any such cases where they quote and use hadith known to be mawduʿ. I cannot think of a single case except they apparently have husn al-zann about the status of those hadiths being acceptable, and Allah knows best.

As for the grievance you mentioned, the same exists to various degrees from the same source (and other sources) against Fiqh and its Shuyukh, Usul and its Shuyukh, Lugha and its Shuyukh, Waʿz and its Shuyukh... In his Hawi li-Fatawa al-Albani the latter even says that Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab was a man of "Salafi" daʿwa all right, but in hadith he was a commoner who lacked knowledge of the authentic and the inauthentic.

March 2, 2006

Of benefit:

[link to/ from /maa ...]

From: "M. Afifi al-Akiti"
Regarding Kissing the Thumbs etc. during Adhan


I am aware that a number of muhaddiths (such as Ibn Tahir al-Zahiri, our al-Sakhawi and al-Shawkani) have considered this Hadith [of Kissing the Thumbs] to be inauthentic (all using the phrase: lA taSiHu; although "not Sahih", they nevertheless did not use the stronger term "bATil", for example) and some modern Muhaddith as outright mawdu' (al-Albani & co) even when Mulla 'Ali himself did not declare it as Mawdu' (as he would elsewhere in this work for other sayings) and rather he himself left open the possibility that it could very well be a Sunnah of the Four Khulafa'. But yes, the saying is still problematic.

However, despite the strict assessment of this Hadith by the Muhaddiths and the possible attribution of it to Khidr (alayhissalam) and the uncertain attribution of this 'amal to the Siddiq (radiyallahu 'anh), one must balance this with the tahqiq of jurists (ours as well as the Hanafis, for example) who have certainly been forgiving (compared to the Muhaddith's assessment of it) regarding this 'amal and who spoke well about it and who did not exclude it in the babs of adhan in spite of the difficulties regarding its attribution. At this point, we must remember that the ultimate reference for us on what to do/not to do ('amal) is in the mawdu' of fiqh and not Hadith. So when there appears to be a khilaf between the muhaddith vs. the faqih assessment of a particular 'amal, it is always proper, wiser and safer to rely on the views of the jurists.

The way my teachers explain the cause for this kind of khilaf is that
(1) it may be that the 'documentation' for this 'amal was not written down 'properly' or not at all in the early period (because it was not necessary to do so in the first place (and this is the reason why tadwin has a life of its own): even writing the wajibat for instance took its own course and time; this partly explains why many of the fada'il a'mal type of 'amal are found in many of our tasawwuf literature (the mukhatabat, etc.) and there are still many fawa'id from our qutbs and their practices that have not been written down until the last day) and
(2) because there had been very little written about a particular fadila, for example, and because the 'awamm have been practicing it through the ages (or taking practices of this kind for granted orally) until in later centuries when some people begin asking for their written references. and because Hadith scholars can only base their assessment on something written down (i.e., mansus), it is understandable that the assessment among some of them may be bleak. But because of the precedent of 'amal, jurists on the other hand have never been quick to condemn it and solved its problematic attribution by considering it to be among the fadila (i.e., take it or leave it type of 'amal). That is why regarding this particular 'amal, for example, there is in the books of Hadith, the Muhaddith Qawl: "It is something not done and NOT forbidden, etc. etc."

I have seen myself the muhaddith and faqih Sayyid Muhammad ibn 'Alawi (the son of the author of the risalah of the quoted Manhal and later the author of the big Manhal itself) (radiyallahu 'anhuma) doing this 'amal in many of his majalis in Indonesia when the 'awamm were doing it -- not to mention the musnid al-'asr al-fadani.

The reason why I have not mentioned in our article concerning the controversy surrounding its textual attribution other than to say clearly that it is not outright Mawdu' despite some modern Muhaddith having said so is for the larger concern for:
(1) the 'awamm who is used to practising this good 'amal that may result in fitna and confusion for him or her and a mukhalafa qulub between their family/community/Sufi murshid and tariqa; and
(2) defending the assessment of our own jurists. We have been taught that among the adab of giving an answer with regards to practices of the fada'il type when some scholars have considered wrong but the society where one lives in practices it, for example, (and especially when the said thing is not blameworthy in itself -- meaning when there is no Nass that has come down to prohibit/ discourage it), then it behoves the juristis to search for any weaker qawl to justify the practice. This is precisely what Imam Ibn Hajar means by "al-fatwa bi-ma'na l-irshad" and why Imams al-Bakri and al-Jurdani, for instance included this 'amal in their fiqh magna opera.

The worse that can happen from this omission when scholars [...] notice that I have neglected to explain this controversy, is that they can assume then that I have made taqlid of those who consider the Hadith and/or Athar (or whatever source for the 'amal: written down, spoken of only, inspirational, or practiced) is Da'if instead of outright Mawdu'. and if they are unhappy that some still choose to follow a weaker Qawl in Hadith, then we can only say that this is the point when Muslims today have to learn to agree to disagree.



[SP 2004-12-03]


In SP SM wrote:
Here the question arises: Can one say: If there is no isnad and we do not definitively know that this is not a saying of the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wasalam, therefore we may narrate it? It seems that the muhadithoon demanded quiet the opposite.

Let us take individual examples for clarity. See how Imam al-Suyuti treated the narration: "Ikhtilafu ummati rahma". He said: Its chain may have been mentioned in the books that did not reach us. This is precisely the reasoning behind Sh. Afifi's leniency in the excerpt from his letter which I posted before now.[LINK] The fact that the meaning is established is the reason why excuses are found for such narrations and this also is taharree from a different perspective. Hafiz al- ʿAsqalani also, you will notice, is always keen to ward off the grading of "forged" from what others declared forged if he finds an avenue of validation through meaning. For example, he says of the narration "The Lord of foods in this world and the hereafter is meat": "It is not clear to me why the text of that hadith should be considered forged." Of the narration, "The white rooster is my friend and the friend of my friend and the enemy of my enemy" he says the very same. In the case of the matn of the Prophetic nur's primacy, the grounds for a similar disclaimer are much firmer.

Isn't 'taharree', or taking extra-precaution a must when attributing something to the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him?

Yes, and taharree goes the other way also: precaution against repelling something he might even remotely have said, even if the written proof eludes us.

Even when narrating a hadith whose chain we have but is weak, we must say, "ruwiya", or use other forms of implying the weakness of hadith, out of vigilance to attribute something to him that he did not say, so what about a narration that we don't even have a sanad for? Do the Masters of hadith allow quoting these hadith with "qal Rasul Allah" and without explicitly mentioning the lack of a sound chain?

Another example: in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar Mulla ʿAli al-Qari mentions "I was a treasure unknown..." and attributes it to Allah Most High even though he includes it among his entries in his forgery manual.

Today we read the poetry in the Mawahib al-Laduniyya where al- Qastallani imagines the Prophet, upon him peace, speaking certain things through the "lisan al-haal." Similarly, one might treat these not as musnad narrations in the strict sense, but as paraphrases of what is said elsewhere (i.e. not contradicting Qur'an and Sunna) and is now loosely attributed to Allah Most High and the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace.

It seems if we look at the way we ourselves expect to be treated - none of us like being misquoted; This becomes more and more serious when quoting in matters of knowledge – a student who misquotes his teachers is considered deficient, and his teacher can rightfully get very upset. So, we take so much care in quoting our teachers, quoting from this text, or that, then when it comes to quoting our Prophet. Where does that go?! Shouldn't we apply higher standards - by darajaaat -with him, salla Allahu alaihi wasalam?! Shouldn't our concern for itqan secondly and adab firstly drive us to be evermore precise when quoting from him?

Overall the adab you mention is kept in the Umma. However, we are trying to ferret out some finer instances of apparent breaches in the books of the very same Ulema or Awliya who might be supporting, in another context, exactly the same black-and-white rules you are mentioning.

... it seems from what Sh.Gibril quoted from the Sharh of Imam Nawawi that the muhadithun as well should not have a problem accepting these if they don't relate to establishing a new hukm, correct? [and]:
In addition to the above-mentioned condition, cannot the same rules of 'jarh and ta'deel' be applied to narrations based on kashf? Hence if Sh. Muhyiddin narrates something on the Prophet by kashf, should this not be considered a strong narration?

Or Shaykh ʿAbd Allah Siraj al-Din. Imam al-Lacknawi said of the kashf- authentication of the Shuyukh that are knowledgeable in the branches of the Law as well as the spiritual realities: "If one of them declares it we will certainly accept his assertion on the strength of his truthfulness, his trustworthiness, and his high rank." Al- Lacknawi, al-Aathaar al-Marfuʿa (p. 19).

Nevertheless there are conditions for this as stated by Imam al- Nawawi; further, rather than "the Prophet said" it would be more appropriate to always quote it as: "So-and-so relates that he saw in dream or in a vision while awake that the Prophet said...."

Otherwise, to say merely "the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said" or "My Shaykh told me" when in actuality this was not heard in the world of physical forms, is a needlessly confusing concealment [tadlis] for the most part and, in the wrong hands, dajal. Allah is our refuge.


[SP March 5, 2006]



Related texts
link-in The Story of Hadith On Obeying, Following, Imitating, And Loving Prophet Muhammad ﷺ by Sh. G. F. Haddad
link-in 'Sunna Notes' The foreword to vol 1, by Dr. Gibril Fouad Haddad.
link-in The "Famous Ḥadīth” and "Forgery” Compilations and Mullā ʿAlī al-Qārī's Use of Them.
Also regarding the use of weak hadith:
link-in Kissing the Thumbs, etc. During The Adhan? By Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *