Isnad is part of Deen

بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه ومن تبع هداه وبعد
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Suwayd ibn Sa’eed said: ‘I saw ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak* in Makkah as he went to the (water of) Zamzam and drank from it. He then faced the Ka’bah and said:

اللهم إن ابن أبي الموالي حدثنا عن محمد بن المنكدر عن جابر عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال:  ماء زمزم لما شب له  وهذا أشربه لعطش القيامة. ثم شربه

“O Allaah, Ibn al-Mawali narrated to us from Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir, from Jabir from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم that he said [as found in Ibn Majah, 3062]: ‘The water of Zamzam is for whatever (intention) it is drank for’ and here I am drinking it to prevent the thirst of the Day of Judgement.’ Then he drank it.”

[Ibn Jawzi, ‘Sifat al-Safwah‘, #438]

* His short biography can be downloaded from here:

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1. The Imam, the Faqeeh and Ameer al-Mu’mineen fil Hadeeth, Ibn al-Mubarak رحمه الله تعالى utilised his fiqh and knowledge of isnad before acting upon it (i.e. the ilm).

2. Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said:

الإسناد من الدين ولولا الإسناد لقال من شاء ما شاء

“The Isnad is part of the Deen. If it were not for the Isnad, then any person would have said (about Islam) whatever he wished.”

3. He narrated the riwayah back to Allaah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم and then acted upon it. He asked Allaah based on a narration that was established and verifiable – He did not innovate or introduce any act (of ‘ibadah) in Islam that had no basis.

4. This has remained the methodology of the Ahl al-Hadeeth from the time of the Sahabah and will remain with them until the Last Day by the Will of Allaah. The incident of Abu Bakr رضي الله عنهما is well known, when a grandmother came to him asking about her share in the inheritance of her grandson (who had died). He (Abu Bakr) replied, “I have not found a share for you in the Book of Allaah (and) I do not know the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم fixing any share for such a case.” He asked the (other) Sahabah about it and Mugheera ibn Shu’bah رضي الله عنه told him that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم gave a grandmother one-sixth (of the share). Abu Bakr asked him, “Is there anyone with you?” (i.e. can anyone testify to your statement) – upon which Muhammad ibn Maslamah al-Ansari رضي الله عنه stood up and stated the same (as Mugheera). Upon this statement (and verification), Abu Bakr gave the grandmother one-sixth.

5. Commenting on this incident, al-Hakim (the great scholar of hadeeth of 4th cent Hijri) said that Abu Bakr was the first who took care in accepting hadeeth of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم when he heard a Sunnah; he did not base it on the first statement but he had it testified by another. [see Al-Hakim, ‘Madhkal’, 46]

6. Umar ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنهما too was perhaps even more strict in verifying a Sunnah… Abu Musa al-Ash’ari رضي الله عنه went to Umar’s house and gave him three salutations (of salaam) at his door. Upon not getting any response, he turned and walked away. Umar called him back and asked him what prevented him from entering. Abu Musa replied, “I heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم say: ‘When one of you asks permission three times, and it is not granted, he should go away.’ Umar asked him to prove (verify) this statement of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم otherwise action would be taken against him. Abu Musa then brought a witness; Umar told Abu Musa that he did not suspect the authenticity of his statement [note: a Sahabi’s statement is not like a non-Sahabi’s statement!] but he was only concerned that people should be more careful in transmitting the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم

7. These examples are from the best of the Ummah (i.e. the Sahabah of the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم) – how much stronger is the case when it comes to people after them, who are of lesser merit, stature and knowledge? We rush in accepting anything that is presented to us in the garb of Islam, and have no qualms in accepting it as face value: treating our Deen like a leisurely play-thing.

8. Ibn Sireen said:

إن هذا العلم دين فانظروا عمن تأخذوا دينكم

“Indeed this knowledge is (a matter of) Deen, so look to the one (i.e. be careful who) you take your Deen from.”

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9. The statements of the Imams of the Madhahib are also clear on this issue:

– Imam Abu Haneefah رحمه الله تعالى said: “When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab.” [Ibn ‘Aabideen in al-Haashiyah, 1/63] – He also said: “It is not permitted for anyone to accept our views if they do not know from where we got them.” [I’laam al- Muwaqi’een, 2/309]

– Imam Malik رحمه الله تعالى said: “Everyone after the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم will have his sayings accepted and rejected – not so the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم” [Irshaad as- Saalik, 227/1; Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Jaami’ Bayaan al-‘Ilm, 2/91]

– Imam Shafi’i رحمه الله تعالى said: “When a hadeeth is found to be saheeh, then that is my madhhab.” [Nawawi, Al-Majmoo’, 1/63]

– Imam Ahmad رحمه الله تعالى said: “Do not follow my opinion; neither follow the opinion of Malik, nor Shafi’i, nor Awza’i, nor Thawri, but take from where they took.” [I’laam al- Muwaqi’een, 2/302] – He also said: “Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم is on the brink of destruction.”

9.Sufyan at-Thawri said: “Take your religion only from one who is sincerely and compassionately concerned about his own religious guidance. The example of a scholar who is not concerned about his own religious well-being is that of a sick doctor: If he cannot treat his own disease…then how can he treat the diseases of others…? Likewise, if one is not concerned about his own religious well-being, then how can he be concerned about the religious well-being of others?”

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Allaah Has Singled Out This Ummah With Isnaad

In his ‘Tahdheeb Sharaf Ashaabul-Hadeeth‘ Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee writes:

“Abu Bakr Muhammad bin Ahmad said: “It has reached me that Allaah has singled out this Ummah with three matters and which were not given to those before it: The Isnaad (chain of narration), the Ansaab (genealogy), the I’raab (inflection in grammar).

Muhammad bin Haatim bin al-Mudhaffar said: “Verily Allaah ennobled this Ummah and dignified it and gave it preference by way of the Isnaad. And there is no one in any of the nations, past or contemporary that has Isnaad. Rather, they only have scrolls in their hands, and their learned ones have caused confusion in their books. They do not have any way of distinguishing between what has been revealed of the Tawraat and the Injeel from that which was brought by their Prophets, and between that which they have appended to their books of reports and narrations that they have received through untrustworthy people. And this Ummah writes hadeeth from a trustworthy person known in his time, famous for his truthfulness and integrity, from someone who is just like him (in trustworthiness). Then they research in the most severe manner until they come to know the best memorisers, then those after them; and those who are most precise and exact, then those after them; and those who accompanied for the longest time, those whom they narrate from, then those who spent lesser time. Then after all this, they write down ahaadeeth from at least twenty different angles (i.e. chains) such that they remove from this hadeeth all the errors and mistakes, and they exact its wording.”

[Al-Khateeb]: ‘So this is from the greatest of the blessings of Allaah the Most High to this Ummah, we give abundant thanks to Him for this blessing and we ask Him for firmness, and success in that which brings us closer to him, and which binds us to His obedience, indeed He is Al-Wali (the Protector), Al-Hameed (the Praiseworthy).'”

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Read also: Importance of Isnaad

May Allaah make us amongst those who tread the path and methodology of the first and best generations of the Ummah. May He suffice us with what sufficed them in establishing our Deen.

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