Rethinking Bukhari and Muslim

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Jumada' al-Akhirah 29, 1434 2013-05-10

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

One of the issues is very difficult for us to come to terms with is the fact that we are different. You can’t expect from us, doing our best, to be the exact copies of each other. This is something very difficult to accept. This is a fact that, for some people, is a physical difficulty. Alhamdulillah it’s not present amongst the Muslims but in the context of human society some people don’t accept other people because they are physically different.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ

One of the illustrations of Allah’s power and authority is the differences of your colours and of your languages… (Surah Ar Rum verse 22)

So we have racism and we have nationalism for some people who can’t accept the other and as we mentioned, this is not a problem that is concentrated amongst the Muslims as it is concentrated amongst those who aren’t Muslims and we thank Allah for that even though it exists; but then we come to another issue and that is we are not carbon copies of each other in understanding what Allah and His Prophet say to us. This has become a very difficult issue. When you and I and the rest of the Muslims past, present future are doing our best to understand Allah and His Prophet, after that with a clean heart and a clear mind, we have differences of understanding, we have levels of understanding, we have depths or shallowness of understanding- this is fact of life. An ayah in the Qur’an says

وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً

If Allah had willed it He would have made you, meaning human society or the communities that dwell on earth, one ummah… (Surah Hud verse 118)

but then He says

وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ

إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ رَبُّكَ ۚ وَلِذَٰلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ

… but they continue to be at differences with each other and it’s for this purpose that He has created them… (Surah Hud verse 118-119)

For this purpose of differences we were created and we can’t come to terms with this?! We can’t see the best in the other Muslim if or when he disagrees with our understanding or with our interpretation or with my understanding and my interpretation?! This has become a very difficult issue and besides let us just step out of our selves- step out of yourself for a moment- and look at our selves from the outside. Isn’t it a matter for thought that if Muslims cannot tolerate legitimate differences of opinions then we certainly have a narrow and a phobic understanding of who we are? It takes a broad mind to be inclusive of the other legitimate, bona fide Muslim. That being said we know we sometimes, with Allah’s help and guidance, may be too frank and some of you brothers and sisters out there far or near said with good intentions and with good advice that it probably is not in the best interest of Muslims to become self critical. We sincerely and honestly don’t see it that way and because of that or should we say it has become a demand of our times that we dust off some issues from our minds and behaviour. We know this is going to be very hard for some people to accept but it has to be said. Some Muslims consider the books of hadiths, especially Al Bukhari and Muslim, to be without any false hadiths. The time has come for these types of Muslims to out grow this notion and to, (in a sense), break out of this inherited impression. We have reached that point. We mentioned previously in another khutbah (that) some Muslims- Shi’i Muslims- had the courage to look at the Al Kafi and they went through it carefully and they found out that about two thirds of it doesn’t hold water. It’s about time some Muslims from the Sunni background come out to do the same thing with the books of the Sihaah or the authentic books of hadith. Now when we say this we are not in any way demeaning Al Bukhari and Muslim in the first instance. Not at all! They put in an effort and we think they should be commended for the effort that they put in but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t make mistakes because if any Muslim elevate any book in the world (to say) “well there’s no mistake in this book” then that’s becomes on par with the Qur’an and there’s no book in the world on par with the Qur’an. The Qur’an was registered with a pen and with a memory, (so to speak), the moment it was revealed; the Prophet’s hadiths were not registered with a pen and memory the moment they were uttered. There’s a difference and because of this difference we have some discrepancy here that has to be identified in good faith. Some people (or) individuals want to point out some discrepancies in Bukhari and in Muslim but they do it in a sense that they want to score points; we are not doing it in that sense. We are doing it with a mind that is a Qur’anic mind because that’s what it’s going to take because no one can approach this matter even with the best mental and intellectual credentials without being steeped in the Qur’an and formulated by the Qur’an. That’s what it’s going to take and this is not an impossible task, it can be done. So we’re going to try, (as much as is humanly possible), to say very bluntly and very frankly but without any grudge, without trying to score against anyone and without trying to undermine Al Bukhari and Muslim or the Muslims ever since that time who have referred to them as books without any false hadiths in them. We can’t do this in one khutbah but we’ll just try to at least take the first steps in that direction.

It is related in Al Bukhari on the authority of Anas ibn Malik, a man comes up to the Prophet and says when is the final hour going to occur (or) could you tell me when the end of time is going to happen? If you just read- Bukhari and Muslim are not books that are out of print. They are available, they are around. Just open them up and read with an open mind. So we are told here the Prophet looks around and there’s small boy sitting there. He said if this small, young boy lives into his old age then he will encounter the end of time. Now you tell us, is this an authentic hadith? Of course, that person and many young persons and fourteen centuries of young persons have lapsed since that time and the final hour (or) the final day has not yet arrived yet. What do you say about that? You see, the problem with some Muslims is that they don’t say it by the word but they imply it. They imply that the hadiths in Al Bukhari and Muslim are infallible hadiths- there’s nothing wrong with them. Now there’s two issues here. The Prophet, himself, is infallible and what he said is the truth but the problem is (that) what the Prophet said was not written at that time by Al Bukahri and Muslim. These came generations later and so they had to collect these hadiths. In the process of collecting these hadiths there were discrepancies that resulted in an issue like this. We are told in this hadith in Al Bukhari and maybe in Muslim that the final day is going to arrive when a young boy sitting in his company was going to reach his senior years. The ayaat in the Qur’an say

يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ السَّاعَةِ أَيَّانَ مُرْسَاهَا

فِيمَ أَنتَ مِن ذِكْرَاهَا

إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ مُنتَهَاهَا

إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرُ مَن يَخْشَاهَا

كَأَنَّهُمْ يَوْمَ يَرَوْنَهَا لَمْ يَلْبَثُوا إِلَّا عَشِيَّةً أَوْ ضُحَاهَا

They ask you about the hour- when will be its appointed time? You have no knowledge to say about it. To Allah belongs the affair there-of. You are only a warner for those who fear it. The day they see it, it will be as if they had not tarried in this world except an afternoon or a morning. (Surah An Naaziaat verse 42-45)

Another ayah says Prophet

لَا تَأْتِيكُمْ إِلَّا بَغْتَةً

… it will overtake you all of a sudden… (Surah Al A’raf verse 187)

Which means we don’t know (and) the Prophet doesn’t know, no one knows exactly when as saa’ah is going to happen and when that final day arrives it’s going to come as a surprise- you’re not prepared for it, it’s not on your mind and then all of a sudden its going to occur but we don’t know in what time frame, in what generation, in what year, on what day its going to happen. This is information in the Qur’an from Allah that hasn’t changed, is verified (and) there’s no doubt about it. So what do you do when you have information like this in the Qur’an and then you have a hadith like this in Al Bukhari or Muslim or Abu Dawud, or At Tirmidhi or An Nasa’i or ibn Majah or others? What do you do? Do you believe the Qur’an or do you believe the hadith when there seems to be a distance between them?

There’s another hadith. These are examples brothers and sisters. There’s another hadith narrated by Ahmed and Abu Dawud and ibn Majah on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that says, (or the meaning of this hadith), the Prophet is saying, (we are told and the information is there) I anticipate (or) I hope to catch up with the time when Isa ibn Maryam is here but in case that death expedites my exit from this world then whoever of you, (he’s talking to those around him and he could be talking to the rest of us), catches up with Isa ibn Maryam, then he should express to him my salaam. Now you tell us, you’re going to accept this? If you are reading the Qur’an, are thinking the Qur’an (and) if you are living the meanings of the Qur’an you think this hadith is a valid, a authentic and (a) sahih hadith? The Prophet is saying (or) giving the impression he may live to see the coming of Isa ibn Maryam (alayhima as salaam) and if he doesn’t- which means that here he doesn’t know what’s going to happen- it’s our responsibility if we are living in that future time and the impression is it’s a near future time because he’s saying towards the end of his life he may live the days in which Isa comes. So what do you say if you read the Qur’an and you have the right thinking mind- this hadith is a sahih hadith?

In these other books or sihaah or sahih hadiths we are told the anti-Christ, Al Masih Ad Dajjaal is going to appear in the immediate aftermath of the liberation of Al Qustantiniyyah. Qustantiniyyah today is called Istanbul. When the Muslims liberate Al Qustantiniyyah or Istanbul as they are distributing the gains of that war then Al Masih Ad Dajjaal, the anti-Christ is going to appear. The liberation of Al Qustantiniyyah took place four or five centuries ago and we can see in the immediate years that followed, meaning that if this event took place in the year 1452 in the Christian calendar then in ten or twenty years after that the anti-Christ is going to come. Well, here we’ve had four hundred or five hundred years after that (and) has anyone seen the anti-Christ around or has anyone heard of him? So what do we say about a hadith like this? Doesn’t it make you think?

Then, if we trail the different hadiths in these reference books we are told or we understand when we read the hadiths, (and there’s plenty of them out there), that when it comes to Aa’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, Umm Al Mu’minin (radi Allahu anha), we are told the Prophet married her when she was at an early age and here you have some people saying he proposed to her when she was seven and then married her when she was around ten years old, give and take a year or two. This is what we have all over the place in these books of hadith. When we give an effort to trace these hadiths we find that they are attributable to one person and this person was a scholar in his own right. No one is arguing his scholarly quality. His name was Hisham ibn Urwah ibn Az Zubayr. This person was born in the year sixty one of the hijrah. He lived in the Arabian Peninsula and then he moved and he lived in Iraq and these hadiths about Aa’ishah being married at an early age we can detect them in his hadiths that were quoted in the last years of his life when he moved to Iraq. Al Imam Malik said, (we try not to go into these types of details but sometimes we have to), we can’t see anything wrong with the hadiths that were narrated by Hisham ibn Urwah ibn Az Zubayr while he was in Al Madinah but when he went to Iraq be cautious about the narrations of his hadiths. Some people attribute this to this particular person, Hisham ibn Urwah ibn Az Zubayr, to the fact that he became a very old man and was inflicted with some form of dementia. We don’t know (because) we haven’t researched this to that extent- we say at this point Allahu a’lam; but let us take a closer look at Aa’ishah, Umm Al Mu’minin. She says when certain ayaat, Surah Al Qamar was revealed- and Surah Al Qamar is a Makki surah, i.e. when the Prophet was still in Makkah- I was a jaariyah, i.e. an early teenage girl who was out playing. Her sister, Asma’ the daughter of Abi Bakr (radi Allahu anhuma) was ten years older than Aa’ishah and the knowledge and information that we have is that she was born twenty seven years before the hijrah. It’s also a consensual issue that she died in the year seventy three after the hijrah. So she live to be one hundred years old. So if she was born in the year twenty seven before the hijrah and if she was ten years older than her sister Aa’ishah then that means that Aa’ishah was born seventeen years before the hijrah which makes her at the time of her marriage to Allah’s Prophet between seventeen and twenty one years old. So where’s these hadiths that tell us that she got married to the Prophet when she was nine or eleven or however in those years or that she was young. It is reported in these same books of reference and hadiths that Aa’ishah attended the two battles of Badr and Uhud. We know- this is also common knowledge if we collect the common information that we have, and here’s where we’re going to have to weigh some hadiths versus other hadiths- there are some hadiths that tell us the Prophet did not permit men to assume combat duties or to go to Badr and Uhud, (in other words), unless they were at least fourteen or fifteen years old. So if a man was to participate in a battle, the minimum age he had to be, and this was a reluctant decision when it was made by the Prophet- was fourteen or fifteen years old. The difference here is in the different hadiths that we have. So we know from other hadiths that Aa’ishah was present in Badr and in Uhud and Aa’ishah was a young lady. She wasn’t a man, a boy or a teenager. Wouldn’t it be, with the same standard that women, Muslimaat, cannot participate in combat duties and responsibilities unless they are also of the same age? But what happens here? All of this information is out there but how do we live with this information without scrutinizing it (and) giving it some of our thought? It’s going on! You know it continues on all of these Masajid around. Is there going to be a person who would stand up on Fridays in Islamic seminars or speeches and begin to scrutinize this body of hadith so that we can in good faith… You see, what happened to some Muslims was that they began to look at the body of hadiths, all of these hundreds of thousands of hadiths, that are out there and they found that there’s so much inconsistencies and discrepancies and sometimes conflicting hadiths that they threw all of the body of hadiths out. They said “we don’t want to deal with this at all.” That’s wrong. That’s an extreme no one should go to and as we take a closer look at the hadith literature, what we want to do is place the hadith in the context of the Qur’an. That’s all that is required. No one’s asking for anything more or anything less. If it fits in the structural information of the Qur’an then we are bonded to it; if it doesn’t fit in the structural information of the Qur’an we have nothing to do with it- finished! There’s nothing wrong with that. No one has committed any sin. No one has done anything wrong, no one has taken any offense with the individuals- may Allah reward them for their efforts. They tried to bring these hadiths into a book or into some type of written form. We tip our hats for their efforts but in doing that we don’t say they don’t make mistakes. They did. They didn’t do that to undermine Islam, they didn’t do that to maybe try to convince people of a certain hidden agenda that they had. No! None of that but it’s about time to take issue with these types of hadiths. As we said, we can’t exhaust the hadiths. You are invited to open up the books that you consider to be unquestionable hadiths and then think about what you are reading (and) think about what is said and we just gave a few examples.

One of the reasons, (as you know), when we express this khutbah is it is done in the context of the real world out there. In the real world out there we have some Muslims who have attacked and desecrated one of the graves of one of the companions of Allah’s Prophet, Hujr ibn Adi (radi Allahu anhu). Some Muslims think that because this was done- this was obviously done by people who say “they are the purest (and) most pristine Sunnis in the world.” When we try to follow back into time the origins of these types who are the holier than thou types of Muslims, “Al Firqah An Naji’ah, ma ana alayhi wa as’habi”, etc. etc, (we covered that territory previously), we find that there’s a person- consider him a scholar, consider him a pseudo-scholar, whatever you want- who had whatever it takes to take issue with the rest of the Muslims. That person’s name is ibn Taymiyah. Ibn Taymiyah took issue with what is called tawass’sul and to a certain extent shafa’ah. OK- that’s his opinion. We think he’s wrong. We think the majority of Muslims- if they were to activate their minds- will say that he is wrong. So he said “there’s no such thing. You can’t go up to the Prophet’s grave, (for example), and ask him…” (Let’s put it in today’s words), “… could you do me a favour and make du’a for me. I’m a person who had some mistakes in his or her life and you are my Prophet and I love you and I adore you and I’ll do anything for you but could you just ask Allah to help me out.” And then, whatever request there is, he expresses that request out of his attachment to Allah’s Prophet. Is there anything wrong with that? Well- in ibn Taymiyah’s mind there’s something wrong with that. This is what happens amongst us, the Muslims. What are we going to say? “Ibn Taymiyah is a Kafir?” We can say that. He had this very obvious mistake, a serious mistake. It sort of cuts off the emotional attachment that we have with Allah’s Prophet. This same ibn Taymiyah went on to say “Imam Ali committed seventeen obvious violations of the Qur’an.” Now, without you having any information about ibn Taymiyah or about Ali (radi Allahu anhu), you don’t need very much information but you come and say “how can a person like ibn Taymiyah come and say “Ali…”, (and he is who he is), “violater the Qur’an on seventeen issues.” This is what we have. We’re not making this up. This is true. We go back to this necessary component that seems to be virtually absent among many Muslims and that is their love and their affinity with Allah’s Prophet. An ayah in the Qur’an says, the Prophet of Allah is saying to people around him and to us and the rest of those who identify with him

قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًاٌ

… I’m not asking you for any reward or any compensation (or) I don’t want you to pay me anything (or) I don’t want anything from you for what I’m doing… (Surah Ash Shura verse 23)

(For) all of this sacrifice and all of this struggle I don’t expect any material thing from you

إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَىٰ

… except your affinity or emotional attachment to my relatives… (Surah Ash Shura verse 23)

That’s all. A person came up to the Prophet and said how can we express our salaah towards you. This is also in the books of hadith. He said say Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad kama sallayta ala Ibrahim wa Aali Ibrahim, Allahumma baarik ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad kama baarakta ala Ibrahim wa Aali Ibrahim fi al aalamin innaka hamidun majeed. How do these people like ibn Taymiyah come and tell us that these people who are expressing their devotion to Allah’s Prophet (and) their heartfelt affinity with Allah’s Prophet “do not undertake a journey to the Prophet’s Masjid for purposes of expressing your emotional relationship with Allah’s Prophet.” Where do they get that from? Do you know what this has caused? It has caused the types of individuals we have today! This didn’t happen in one classroom, it didn’t happen in a matter of a few years. This is an accumulation of generations and centuries of emotional detachment from Allah’s Prophet. So you have these people who go “let’s destroy the place or the burial site of Hujr ibn Adi.” From there they’re making noises saying “they want to go and destroy the grave site of As Sayyidah Zaynab.” What happened here? Something’s wrong in the selves of these types of people. If you ever come across any of them, (and do this in a mature way and with an inclusive character; don’t be offensive, don’t be jarring (and) don’t be in an attack mode), very calmly and brotherly ask them “can you explain to me what you mean when you say Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad.” Allah and His Prophet could have taken Aal Muhammad out of this expression. In our salaah we could have just said Allahumma salli ala Muhammad. Why say Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad especially if we were to adopt the thinking mode of ibn Taymiyah and his likes (and) if this thing, Aal Muhammad is going to lead to what they think it is going to lead to i.e. worshipping people in the grave? We don’t know, we haven’t come across any person like that, (i.e.) someone worships someone in the grave. OK- in the fiqhi jargon there’s something called sadd ad dhara’i, (i.e.) if something leads to something worse then we omit that something that will lead to something worse. So if saying the word Aal Muhammad is going to lead to grave worshippers then that should be omitted, it shouldn’t be said; but it doesn’t lead to that. There may have been some ignorant Muslims at different places and at different time who as individuals or a number of them- we’re not talking about the consensual heart of the Muslims going and revering Muhammad as a deity. Astaghfirullah. That never happened!

Then, as a final comment, (we have to wind up because of time), when you who come from a Sunni tradition read these hadiths doesn’t it strike you as odd that there’s just a few hadiths in Al Bukhari and Muslim and At Tirmidhi etc. that are narrated by Ali and Fatima and Al Hassan and Al Husayn (radi Allahu anhum)? Don’t you ask yourself what’s going on here? If there was a fair and objective effort to collect these hadiths, we can’t detect it here because some people are omitted. They’re only mentioned if you’re turning maybe forty or fifty pages you’ll find a hadith. We’re probably speaking about four hundred or five hundred hadiths and then you’ll come across one hadith that said Ali said or Fatima said… Something is going on here that deserves out thoughtful visits. Something is begging us for some type of answer. Can we reach that answer with the Qur’anic information that we have or are we going to continue to allocate this feature that we have of infallibility to these books of hadiths?

Dear brothers and sisters…

If you look around you can see that there is now a noticeable language of fanatics. Before, in the years past, they were around but their voice was not as loud as it is today. When we speak about fanatics, we speak about all types of fanatics. (it’s) as if now the future trend is towards fanaticism. We will tell you this much- if you go to some of these books, (whether they are classical ones of hundreds of years ago or whether they are some of the contemporary ones nowadays), you will find ammunition for these fanatics but this ammunition comes from the absence of a disciplined mind- that’s when fanatics begin to run around and do what they do! They kill, they assassinate, they bomb, they destroy, they are manipulated by enemies, they become patsies- everything goes on when there’s an absence of approaching this matter with our God-given mind. There’s some things to be done. We tell you this as a brother and we say this for no compensation, only for Allah and His Prophet- we Muslims up until now (and) up until this day- and we’ll just take the two major segments of Muslims in today’s world, the Sunnis and the Shi’is- still, none of us, (we’re talking about ninety nine point nine per cent of us), have what it takes to recognise the other. As much as we may say “OK, he’s a Muslim.” You can say whatever you want but words are not going to make it, it’s going to be behaviour. When the day comes- and it’s coming- that a Sunni Muslim with the most intense definition of being a Sunni goes into a Shi’i Masjid and becomes indistinguishable from a Shi’i Muslim, at that time we would have reached the age of maturity and like wise when a Shi’i Muslim with the most intense definition of being a Shi’i Masjid and you can’t distinguish him from being a Sunni, on that day we would have reached the age of maturity, (i.e.) that’s the time when I acknowledge you as an equal Muslim (and) no one’s imposing anything on anyone. You have your freedom of conviction, your freedom of conscience, your freedom of persuasion but that freedom does not by the words of Allah and His Prophet exclude the other Muslim with all his mistakes, with all his traditionalisms (and) with all of the work that has to be done. Some of the work we have pointed out in these self-critical khutbahs. Regardless of all of these mistakes and all of these un-thought through areas of ours especially when it comes to hadiths, the issue of ta’wil, the issue of tolerant interpretations, the issue of evaluating certain historical events. There’s going to come a time when we look at this whole spreadsheet of events and say “I still, with all the deficiencies and with all the lack of knowledge that my brother Muslim has, have the courage to acknowledge him as an equal Muslim.” Because we have fallen short of that we have this desecration of certain areas and we have this fanaticism bubbling up over the surface and we have Muslims beginning to kill other Muslims. It all began when these Muslims are incapable or unwilling to say “my brother Muslim who begins to another school of thought is as Muslim as I am.” There’s work to be done, there are flaws but I’m not going to build a wall of segregation between me and him- whoever the me is and whoever the him is. We have an establishment of Masajid all around who still haven’t reached that day pr that point of maturity in their personal selves or in their congregational selves. There’s still something that says “I am better than the other.” That area in our selves is located in our ego. We have an ego! What’s wrong with you? If you think you are better than the other Muslim then he needs you and if he needs you why are you building a barrier- a psychological barrier, a religious barrier, a sectarian barrier, a communication barrier- between you and him? It goes on and on. That’s not how we understand none of you is going to become committed to Allah and His Prophet until he wants for his brother what he wants for himself.

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