al-Sunnah” and the Obliteration of the Sunnah
In this chapter, we
would like to explain something very important which researchers ought to
deeply investigate in order to find out, beyond any shadow of doubt, that
those who call themselves “Ahl al-Sunnah” in all reality have very little to
do with the Sunnah of the Prophet. This is so because they, or rather their
predecessors among the sahaba and “righteous caliphs,” whom they emulate,
and through loving for and allegiance to whom they seek nearness to Allah,
took a negative stand towards the Prophetic Sunnah to the extent that they
burnt that Sunnah and prohibited anyone from recording it or narrating its
Moreover, we have to
unveil the mean plot woven against the pure Prophetic Sunnah in order to
prohibit its dissemination, and in order to kill it in its infancy and
substitute it with innovations, personal views, and interpretations of the
rulers and the sahaba.
Early rulers did the
They fabricated false ahadith to support their stand to prohibit the
recording of the Prophet’s Sunnah and the sacred ahadith.
Imam Muslim, for
example, records in his Sahih what is quoted by Haddab ibn Khalid al-Azdi
who cites Humam citing Zayd ibn Aslam citing Ata ibn Yasar citing Abu Sa‘id
al-Khudri saying that the Messenger of Allah has said,
“Do not record anything
which I say, and whoever quotes what I tell you besides the Qur’an should
erase what he writes, and [orally] narrate about me without any
The purpose of
fabricating this alleged “hadith” is to justify what Abu Bakr and Umar did
to the Prophet’s ahadith written down and recorded by a number of companions
of the Prophet. This “tradition” was fabricated many years after the end of
the period of the “righteous caliphs,” and the fabricators, professional
liars, overlooked the following issues:
1) Had the
Messenger of Allah actually said so, the sahaba would have acted upon his
orders (not to write traditions down), and they would have erased all
traditions many years before Abu Bakr and Umar had burned them.
2) Had this
tradition been authentic, Abu Bakr would have first cited it, and then Umar,
in order to justify their prohibition of recording hadith, and they would
have erased them, and those who had recorded them would have sought an
excuse for having done so either due to their ignorance [of such a
“tradition”] or to their lapse of memory.
3) Had this
tradition been authentic, Abu Bakr and Umar would have had to erase all
traditions, not burn them.
4) Had this
“tradition” been authentic, the Muslims, who were contemporary to Umar ibn
Abd al-Aziz, till our time, would have been committing the sin of disobeying
the Messenger of Allah, particularly their chief, namely Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz
who had ordered the scholars of his time to record hadith, in addition to
al-Bukhari and Muslim who regarded this tradition as authentic yet they did
not act upon it but wrote thousands of the Prophet’s ahadith.
5) Finally, had
this “tradition” been authentic, it would not have been missed by the gate
of knowledge Ali ibn Abu Talib who compiled the ahadith of the Prophet in
one saheefa the length of whose pieces reached seventy yards which he called
al-jami‘a, the one that includes everything, and which we will discuss later
by the help of Allah.
Umayyad rulers spared no efforts to underscore their theory that the
Messenger of Allah was not protected by Allah against falling into error as
is the case with all other human beings who sometimes are right and
sometimes are wrong, fabricating several "traditions”
to support their claim. The purpose of
“traditions” was to make sure that the Prophet used to follow his own
personal views; therefore, he often erred to the extent that some of his
companions had to correct him, as indicated in the incidents of palm tree
pollination, the revelation of the verse referring to the issue of hijab
(veil), the case of accepting fidya (ransom) from the captives seized after
the Battle of Badr, in addition to many such incidents claimed by “Ahl
al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah” and included in their Sahih books in support of such
an attitude towards the Messenger of Allah, peace and the best of blessings
be upon him and his progeny.
We argue with “Ahl
al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah” thus:
If such is your creed
and attitude towards the Messenger of Allah, how do you claim to be
upholding his Sunnah, believing that you and your predecessors regarded such
Sunnah as unprotected from Allah from error, even unknown and
Yet we reject these
claims and false charges and are able to refute them by quoting your own
references and Sahih books. Examples:
In a chapter on
recording knowledge in his Kitab al-‘Ilm (Book of Knowledge) of his Sahih,
al-Bukhari quotes Abu Hurayra saying, “None among the companions of the
Prophet narrates more hadith than me except Abdullah ibn Umar, for he can
write whereas I cannot (i.e. am illiterate).”
This statement clearly
indicates that there were among the Prophet’s sahaba those who wrote his
ahadith down. Since Abu Hurayra narrated more than six thousand traditions
of the Prophet orally (because he could
not write), Abdullah ibn Umar quoted more traditions of the Prophet because
of his ability to write them down. Undoubtedly, there were among the sahaba
those who could write the Prophet’s traditions and whom Abu Hurayra did not
mention because they were not famous for being so prolific.
Add to the above Imam
Ali ibn Abu Talib who used to spread out from the pulpit a scroll which he
used to call al-jami‘a in which he compiled all what people need of the
Prophet’s traditions, and which was inherited by the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt
who often referred to it. Examples:
Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq has
said, “We have the saheefa; it is seventy yards long: it is the dictation of
the Messenger of Allah written down in the hand-writing of Ali. Nothing
permissible or prohibitive the knowledge thereof is needed by people, nor
any other issue, except that it is in it, even the penalty for inflicting an
offense as minor as a tiny scratch on someone’s cheek.”
Al-Bukhari himself has
referred to this saheefa, which was in Ali’s possession, in many chapters of
his book, but he, as was quite often his habit, curtailed a great deal of
information about its nature and contents. In his Kitab al-‘Ilm, al-Bukhari
records the following:
Al-Sha‘bi has quoted Abu
Juhayfa saying, “I asked Ali: ‘Do you have a book in your possession?’ He
said, ‘No, except the Book of Allah, or some knowledge bestowed upon a
Muslim man, or what this saheefa quotes of the Prophet.’ I asked him, ‘And
what is in this saheefa?’
‘It contains reason,’ he
said, ‘the ransoming of the captives, and that no Muslim should kill another
In another place,
al-Bukhari quotes Ibrahim al-Taymi quoting his father quoting Ali saying,
“We have nothing except the Book of Allah and this saheefa which quotes the
In yet another place in
al-Bukhari’s Sahih, the author quotes Ibrahim al-Taymi quoting his father
“Ali delivered a sermon
once to us in which he said, ‘We have no book to read except the Book of
Allah and what is recorded in this saheefa.’”
In another place of his
Sahih, al-Bukhari quotes Ali saying, “We did not write down from the Prophet
except the Qur’an and this saheefa.”
In yet another place of
his Sahih, al-Bukhari says, “Ibrahim al-Taymi quotes his father saying,
‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, delivered a sermon to us once from a
pulpit built of baked bricks, and he was carrying a sword from which a
saheefa was draping and said, ‘By Allah! We do not have any book to read
except the Book of Allah and what is recorded in this saheefa.’”
Al-Bukhari, however, did
not indicate that Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq had said that this saheefa was called
“al-jami‘a” due to the fact that it contained all what is permissible and
prohibitive, and it had all what people need, even the penalty for
scratching one’s cheek, that it was dictated by the Messenger of Allah and
hand-written by Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib. Instead, he only made a casual
reference to it. He has said once that it has
reason, the ransoming of the captives, and that no Muslim man should be
killed on account of a non-Muslim. And once he says, “Ali spread it out, and
it had a reference to camels’ teeth, that Medina is not to be entered by
non-Muslims, that the Muslims’ security is their collective responsibility,
and that if someone followed certain people without the permission of his
This is nothing but
forgery and the adulteration of facts; otherwise, does it make sense to say
that Ali wrote only those four statements on it then draped it to his sword
to the extent that it was with him even whenever he preached from the
pulpit, making it second only to the Holy Qur’an as his reference, telling
people, “We have not quoted of what the Prophet has said except the Qur’an
and what this saheefa contains”?!
Was Abu Hurayra’s mind
greater than that of Ali ibn Abu Talib to the extent that he learned by
heart one hundred thousand traditions from the Messenger of Allah without
having written a single one of them down?!
Strange, by Allah, is
the case of those who accept one hundred thousand traditions narrated by Abu
Hurayra who did not accompany the Prophet except for three years, the
illiterate that he was, while claiming that Ali was the gate of the city of
knowledge from whom the sahaba learned various branches of knowledge. Yet,
according to them, Ali was carrying a scroll containing only four ahadith
that remained with him during the Prophet’s lifetime till his own caliphate,
so he ascended the pulpit and it was draping from his sword...! What a big
statement they make, and what lies they fabricate...
Yet what al-Bukhari has
recorded suffices the researchers and any discreet person especially since
he mentioned that that saheefa contained many topics relevant to the human
mind and to the Islamic intellect.
Our point is not to
prove or disprove what the saheefa contained, for the residents of Mecca
best know its valleys, and the family members know best what their house
contains, but what concerns us in this research is the fact that the sahaba
were indeed writing down the traditions of the Prophet. Abu Hurayra’s
statement that Abdullah ibn Umar used to record the Prophet’s traditions, in
addition to the statement of Ali ibn Abu Talib saying, according to al-Bukhari’s
Sahih, “We have not quoted of what the Prophet has said except the Qur’an
and what this saheefa contains,” irrevocably proves that the Messenger of
Allah never prohibited anyone from recording his ahadith; rather, it proves
the opposite. The tradition recorded in al-Bukhari’s Sahih quoting the
Prophet saying, “Do not quote me, and anyone who quotes anything from me
other than the Qur’an must erase it” is a false tradition fabricated by
those who supported the caliphs so that they might support them. It was
fabricated in order to justify what Abu Bakr and Umar and Uthman had done:
the burning of Prophet’s ahadith and the prohibition of the Sunnah from
being disseminated. What increases our conviction is the fact that not only
did the Messenger of Allah refrain from prohibiting the writing of his
ahadith, but that he even ordered them to be recorded. Imam Ali, who was the
closest person to the Prophet, said: “We have not quoted of what the Prophet
has said except the Qur’an and what this saheefa contains.” This statement
is quoted by al-Bukhari in his Sahih.
If we add to the above
what Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq has said, that is, that al-saheefa al-jami‘a was
the dictation of the Messenger of Allah in the hand-writing of Ali, we will
conclude by saying that the Prophet had ordered Ali to quote him.
In order to dispel any
doubt which may still linger in the mind of the dear reader, I would like to
shed more light and state the following:
Al-Hakim in his book Al-Mustadrak,
Abu Dawood in his Sahih, Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, and al-Darimi in his
Sunan have all quoted a very important hadith regarding Abdullah ibn Umar to
whom Abu Hurayra referred and whom he described as having written down a
larger number of the Prophet’s ahadith than he himself had quoted; it is as
Abdullah ibn Umar has
said: “I used to write down whatever I heard from the Messenger of Allah, so
Quraysh prohibited me from doing so saying, ‘Do you write everything you
hear from the Messenger of Allah who is a human being talking in anger or
So I stopped writing,
then I told the Messenger of Allah about it, whereupon he pointed to his
mouth and said, ‘Keep writing, for by the One Who holds my soul do I swear
that nothing comes out of it except the truth.’”
This tradition clearly
tells us that Abdullah ibn Umar used to write down everything he heard from
the Messenger of Allah who did not prohibit him from doing so; rather, such
a prohibition came from Quraysh. Abdullah did not want to identify those
who prohibited him from writing what he was writing, for their prohibition
contradicted what the Messenger of Allah had told him. It is also quite
clear that his generally ambiguous reference to
“Quraysh” means the leaders of Quraysh [who were then present in Medina],
that is, the Meccan Muhajirs, immigrants, led by Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman,
Abdul-Rahman ibn Awf, Abu Ubaydah, Talhah, al-Zubayr, and all those who
followed their line.
We also notice that
their prohibiting Abdullah took place while the Prophet was still alive:
this by itself emphasizes the depth of the conspiracy and its gravity;
otherwise, why should these men prohibit Abdullah from writing hadith
without first consulting with the Prophet himself in this regard?
This can also be
understood from their statement that the Messenger of Allah was an ordinary
human being who talked when angry and when pleased. It indicates how weak
their belief in the Prophet was to the extent that they expected him to say
something wrong, or pass an erroneous verdict, especially in the state of
anger. The fact that the Prophet said the following when Abdullah ibn Umar
mentioned to him Quraysh’s prohibition and what they said about him, he
pointed to his mouth and said, “By the One Who holds my soul do I swear that
nothing comes out of it except the truth” is another proof of the Prophet’s
knowledge of their doubting his justice, and that they expected him to err
and to utter falsehood (Astaghfirullah! [We seek forgiveness of Allah]);
therefore, he swore by Allah that he said nothing except the truth.
This is the accurate
interpretation of the verse saying, “Surely he does not utter anything of
his own desire; it is but a revelation revealed” (Holy Qur’an, 53:3-4), and
that he was protected against erring or uttering falsehood. Because of all
the above, we emphatically state that all "traditions”
fabricated during the time of the Umayyads which implied that he was not
divinely protected against erring are not authentic at all. The tradition
cited above also gives us the impression that their influence on Abdullah
ibn Umar was so great that he stopped writing hadith down as he himself
admitted when he said, “... so I stopped writing...” He remained so till an
occasion came wherein the Messenger of Allah interfered in person to dispel
the doubts circulated against his infallibility and equity, the doubts which
were quite often articulated even in his own presence such as their asking
him: “Are you really a prophet?!” or: “Are you the one who claims to be
a prophet?!” or: “By Allah, he did not seek in this distribution the
Pleasure of Allah!” or Ayesha’s statement to the Prophet: “Your God is
sure swift in fulfilling your desires!” or her asking the prophet once
to be fair..., up to the end of the list of impertinent statements which
demonstrate the fact that they doubted his infallibility, believing that he
was liable to be unfair, to oppress, to err, to lie...; we seek Allah’s
He, indeed, possessed
sublime morals; he was kind and compassionate as he tried to dispel such
doubts by saying once, for example, “I am only a servant receiving orders
from his Master,” and once, “By Allah! I am kind for the sake of pleasing
Allah Whom I fear,” and at another time he said, “By the One Who controls my
life! It utters nothing except the truth.” He used quite often to say: “May
Allah have mercy on my Brother Moses! He was subjected to more afflictions
than this, yet he persevered.”
statements which cast doubts about the Prophet’s infallibility and about his
Prophethood were not made by those who were outcasts or hypocritical;
rather, they were unfortunately made by very prominent companions of the
Prophet, and by the Mother of the Believers, and by those who are still
regarded by “Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah” as role models of conduct; so, there
is no power nor might except in Allah, the Sublime, the Great.
What confirms our
conviction that the tradition which supposedly prohibited the recording of
hadith is fabricated and was baseless, and that the Prophet never said so at
all, is the fact that Abu Bakr himself used to write down the traditions of
the Prophet during his lifetime. Yet when he ascended to the post of caliph,
he decided to burn them for a reason with which the researchers are
Here is his daughter
Ayesha saying, “My father gathered the ahadith of the Messenger of Allah,
and they totalled five hundred, then he spent his night sleeplessly turning
on his sides. I thought that he was upset because of someone’s complaint, or
because of some news which he had heard. The next morning, he said to me,
‘Daughter! Bring me the ahadith in your possession,’ so I brought them to
him, and he set them on fire.”
And here is Umar ibn al-Khattab,
also upon becoming caliph, delivering a sermon one day to people in which he
said, "Anyone who has in his possession
a book must bring it to me so that I may tell him what I think of it.”
People thought that he simply wanted to verify their contents to remove from
them any discrepancy, so they brought him their books whereupon he set them
Then he dispatched his
orders to Islamic lands ordering people thus: Anyone who has any ahadith
written down has to erase them. This is the greatest evidence testifying
to the fact that all the sahaba, had they lived in Medina or in the rest of
Muslim lands, had in their possession books in which they compiled sacred
ahadith of the Prophet which they had recorded during the Prophet’s
lifetime. They were all burnt according to the orders first of Abu Bakr then
of Umar. All other books found in other lands were erased during Umar’s
caliphate as he had ordered.
Based upon the above, we
cannot, nor can any sane person, believe that the Messenger of Allah had
prohibited them from writing them down, having come to know that most sahaba
possessed books containing traditions especially the saheefa with which Imam
Ali never parted, and whose length reached seventy yards, and which he used
to call al-jami‘a [literally meaning: the university] because it contained
all sorts of knowledge.
Since the interests of
the ruling authority and the dominant political line dictated the
obliteration and the burning of the Sunnah and the prohibition of quoting
hadith, the sahaba who supported such caliphate obeyed those orders and
burnt such Sunnah and ceased quoting hadith. Thus, they left themselves and
their followers no option except resorting to personal views expressed as
ijtihad, or following the “sunnah” of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Mu‘awiyah,
Yazid, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, al-Waleed ibn Abd al-Malik, Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik....
This continued till [Umayyad caliph] Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz came to power and
asked Abu Bakr al-Hazmi to write down what he remembered of the ahadith and
Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah or the "sunnah”
of Umar ibn al-Khattab.
Thus does it become
clear to us that even during the circumstances that permitted the recording
of the Sunnah, a hundred years after the obliteration and prohibition of the
Sunnah, we can see the moderate Umayyad caliph whose name was added by “Ahl
al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah” to the list of the “righteous caliphs” ordering the
compilation of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah in addition to the
“sunnah” of Umar ibn al-Khattab, as if Umar ibn al-Khattab was a partner of
Muhammad in his Prophetic mission and prophethood...!
And why did Umar ibn Abd
al-Aziz not ask the Imams from Ahl al-Bayt, who were his contemporaries, to
give him a copy of al-saheefa al-jami‘a? And why did he not put them in
charge of collecting the Prophet’s ahadith especially since they knew best
what their grandfather had said? But verifiers and researchers know the
Can those traditions
which were compiled by “Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama‘ah” be taken for granted
especially since those who compiled them belonged to Banu Umayyah and their
supporters who represent Quraysh’s caliphate? Can we rely on them after
having already come to know the truth about Quraysh and its attitude towards
the Messenger of Allah and his purified Sunnah?
It remains obvious,
having come to know all of that, that the ruling authority across the
centuries acted only upon the principles of ijtihad, analogy, and mutual
Since the said authority
had expelled Imam Ali from the stage of public life and ignored him, it had
nothing against him to require him to burn what he had recorded during the
Prophetic Message according to the dictation of the Prophet himself.
Ali remained in
possession of that saheefa in which he compiled everything people need, even
the penalty for slightly scratching one’s cheek. When he became caliph, he
was still letting it drape from his sword as he ascended the pulpit to
deliver a sermon to people to acquaint them with its importance.
Consecutive stories told
by the Imams of Ahl al-Bayt kept indicating that their sons inherited that
saheefa from their fathers, chronologically one from another, and that they
used to refer to it in order to issue religious decisions (fatawa) with
regard to questions raised to them by their contemporaries who were guided
by the light of their guidance.
For this reason, Imam
Ja‘far al-Sadiq, Imam al-Rida, and many other Imams, used to always repeat
the same statement in its regard. They used to say, “We do not issue
verdicts to people according to our own views; had we been issuing verdicts
to people in the light of our own views and according to the dictates of our
own inclinations, we would surely have been among those who perish. Rather,
they are legacies of the Messenger of Allah of knowledge which sons inherit
from their fathers, and which we treasure as people treasure their gold and
Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq
said once, My hadith is my father’s, while my father’s hadith is my
grandfather’s, and the hadith of my grandfather is that of al-Husayn; al-Husayn’s
hadith is that of al-Hasan; al-Hasan’s hadith is that of the Commander of
the Faithful; the hadith of the Commander of the Faithful is the hadith of
the Messenger of Allah, and the hadith of the Messenger of Allah is the
speech of Allah, the Lord of Dignity and Greatness.
Based on such premises,
the tradition of the Two Weighty Things (al-Thaqalain) becomes consecutively
reported (mutawatir), and its text is as follows:
I have left among you
the Two Weighty Things: the Book of Allah and my Progeny; so long as you
(simultaneously) uphold both of them, you shall never stray after me.
 Read in this
regard from page 200 and beyond in my book Ask Those Who Know.
Sahih, Vol. 8, p. 229, “Kitab al-Zuhd” (Book of Asceticism) in a chapter
dealing with verification of hadith and the injunction regarding the
recording of knowledge.
 This is so
due to the fact that recording the Sunnah was postponed till the time of
caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz or even thereafter. As for the caliphs and
rulers who preceded him, they burnt it and prohibited anyone from writing it
down or quoting it.
 What is
strange is that “Ahl al-Sunnah” often narrate one hadith and its antithesis
in the same book. Yet even more strange is that they quite often follow
false traditions and neglect authentic ones.
Sahih, Vol. 1, p. 36, “Kitab al-‘Ilm” (Book of Knowledge).
 Usul al-Kafi,
Vol. 1, p. 239, and also on p. 143 of Basair al-Darajat.
Sahih, Vol. 1, p. 36, [original Arabic text].
Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 221.
Sahih, Vol. 4, p. 67, and Muslim, Sahih, Vol. 4, p. 115.
Sahih, Vol. 4, p. 69.
Sahih, Vol. 8, p. 144.
Mustadrak, Vol. 1, p. 105. Also Abu Dawud, Sunan, Vol. 2, p. 126. Also al-Darimi,
Sunan, Vol. 1, p. 125, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 2, p. 162.
statement was made by Umar ibn al-Khattab during the Treaty of Hudaybiya,
and it is recorded on p.122, Vol. 2, of
statement was made by ‘Ayesha daughter of Abu Bakr; see p. 29, Vol. 2, of
al-Ghazali’s book Ihya al-‘Ulum.
 This was the
statement made to the Prophet by an Ansar companion as recorded on p. 47,
Vol. 4, of al-Bukhari’s Sahih.
Sahih, Vol. 6, p. 24, and also Vol. 6, p. 128,
of the same reference.
 See p. 237,
Vol. 5, of Kanz al-‘Ummal. Refer also to Ibn Kathir’s book Al-Bidaya
wal-Nihaya as well as p.5, Vol. 1, of
al-Dhahabi’s Tadhkirat al-Huffaz.
 Ibn Sa‘ad,
Al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol. 5, p. 188. It is also recorded in Taqyeed al-‘Ilm
by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi.
 Refer to Ibn
Abd al-Birr’s book Jamai‘ Bayan al-‘Ilm.
 Look, may
Allah protect you, at such a horrible act committed by the caliphs Abu Bakr
and Umar towards the Prophetic Sunnah! Imagine the greatly immeasurable loss
which they inflicted upon the Islamic Ummah which very badly needed such
ahadith in order to understand the Holy Qur’an and the commandments of
Allah, the Most Glorified One. They were, by my life, authentic ahadith
because they were direct quotations from the Prophet recorded in the absence
of a second narrator. As for the “traditions” which were compiled after that
period, these were mostly fabrications because dissension had already taken
place, and Muslims killed one another, and they were manufactured according
to the specifications provided by various oppressive rulers...
 Malik, Al-Muwatta’,
Vol. 1, p. 5.
 ‘Allama al-‘Askari,
Ma‘alim al-Madrasatayn, Vol. 2, p. 302.
Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p. 53.
Sahih, Vol. 5, p. 122, also al-Tirmidhi, Sahih, Vol. 5, p. 637.
Extracted from the book "The Shi'ah
are (the real) Ahl al-Sunnah" by Dr. Muhammad Al-Tijani Al Samawi.