The Aahaad Narration
By ’Uthmaan ’Alee Hasan
DOES THE AAHAAD NARAATION AMOUNT TO KNOWLEDGE?
In this issue there are three opinions:-
[i] That the aahaad narration amounts to knowledge absolutely and unrestrictidly.
[ii] That it amounts to knowledge with certain conditions.
[iii] That it does not amount to knowledge at all.
The First Opinion
With regards to the first position: which is that the khabarul-aahaad amounts to ’ilm (knowledge), and this applies to the report of any person. Al-Aamidee (d.631H) mentions this and then ascribes it to some of the Dhaahirees and Ahmad bin Hanbal (d.241H) in one of the two narrations from him concerning this.
So the reply to this opinion is: that one cannot imagine that a person possesing intellect will affirm everything which he hears, when we know that there are people who lie, who forget and who differ in what they report. Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) - rahimahullaah - said: “Since none of the people of intellect say that the report of every person amounts to knowledge, and many people have applied themselves in refuting this saying.”
As for the Dhaahirees, then their Imaam, Abu Muhammad Ibn Hazm (d.456H) - rahimahullaah - has clearly stated that the report of a trustworthy person, reporting from his like, all the way back to Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam is certain truth, obligating both action and knowledge. Thus he mentioned the report of the trustworthy person and did not leave it unrestricted.
As for Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal - rahimahullaah - then his speech in matters of al-jarh wat-ta’deel (invalidating or validating the narrators) are very famous, and his rejection of the narrations of the du’afaa (the weak narrators) is more than can be counted.
So that which al-Aamidee, and others from the people of kalaam and the Scholars of Usool, have mentioned is merely clouding the issue and causing false alarm about the affair. Rather, the khabarul-waahid will be judged to be truthful or false according to its own individual merit. Sometimes it will be clear that it is a lie, sometimes it may seem to be a lie, whilst sometimes judgement will be witheld concerning it - it not being clear whether the report is true or false; there being nothing to prove one over the other. At other times it will be more apparent that the report is true - although without declaring this with certainty, or that it is indeed true for certain - there being no doubt about it. All of this wll depend upon the evidence. So it is not the case that the report of every person will amount to knowledge, just as it is not permissible to unrestrictedly deny that the khabarul-waahid amounts to knowledge.
The Second Opinion
As regards the second position: that the aahaad narration amounts to certain knowledge with conditions, then that is correct.
So the condition is that this narration has with it qaraa‘in.This qareenah may be something which is connected to the report itself, or it maybe something connected to the reporter; and it maybe something connected to both of them. This includes the mustafeed narration, which is reported originally by a single person, then is transmitted by many people and becomes very well-known. Also entering into this is the narration which is accepted by the Ummah, or accepted by the Scholars of this affair - such as that which is reported by al-Bukhaaree or Muslim, or any one of them. And from it also, is that which is reported through an isnaad (chain) of those who were leaders in precision and memory, such as Maalik relating from Naafi’ relating from Ibn ’Umar. So this narration - and its like - amount to knowledge with the great majority of the Scholars of Hadeeth, the Scholars of Usool, most of the people of kalaam and the great majority of the fuqahaa of the Ummah; and there was no disagreement between the Salaf about this issue.
Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah - said: “As for the second type of narration; that which has been reported by single reliable narrators and their like - neither its wording nor meaning is mutawaatir - yet the Ummah accepts it, acts upon it or affirms it ... this amounts to al-’ilmul-yaqeenee (certain knowledge) with the majority of the Ummah of Muhammad sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam - from the earlier and later people. As for the Salaf, then there was no difference between them regarding this matter. As for the khalaf (those from the later generations), then this is the madhhab of the major Scholars from amongst the followers of the four Imaams. This issue can be found stated in the books of the Hanafiyyah, the Maalikiyyah, the Shaafi’iyyah and the Hanbaliyyah.”
Ibn al-Qayyim (d.751H) - rahimahullaah - related from Ibn Khawaazimdaad, the Maalikee Scholar - and he mentioned the khabarul-waahid which is not reported except by one or two people - so he said: “And through this type al-’ilmud-durooree (necessary knowledge) is also attained, and Maalik has textually stated this.”
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar (d.852H) said: “Al-Qaadee Abu Nasr ’Abdul-Wahhaab al-Malikee stated definitely ... that this is correct in that which they all accept.”
Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee (d.204H) - rahimahullaah - said: “If a reliable person relates from another reliable person, all the way back to Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi a sallam, then it is thaabit (established) from Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam.”
Ibn al-Qayyim quoted from him: “And what is reported from a single person to another single person, then we indeed know that the Prophet sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam said it - due to the truthfulness of the narrators with us.”
Qaadee Abu Ya’laa (d.345H) related from Abu Bakr al-Marroodhee who said: “I said to Abu ’Abdullaah - meaning Imaam Ahmad - that there is a man here who says that the narration obligates action but does not obligate knowledge. So he rejected that and said: I do not know what this is.” Abu Ya’laa said: “What is apparent from this is that he made both knowledge and action the same in this regard.”
Imaam Ahmad sais about those ahaadeeth concerning ar-Ru‘yah (the Believers seeing Allaah in the Hereafter): “We have eemaan in them and know that they are true.” Abu Ya’laa said: “Thus he stated with certainty that they amount to knowldge. And what is apparent from these words is the saying of a group from our companions, who say: The khabarul-waahid in matters of Sharee’ah obligates knowledsge, and this - in my view - is what is correct from the saying of Ahmad - rahimahullaah - and that it obligates knowledge by way of istidlaal (derivation), not by way of duroorah (necessity).
Al-Majd - rahimahullaah - said: “And there is a report from Ahmad which shows that it amounts to certainty if it is authentic. This was the preferred view of a group of our companions.” Shihaab said: “And this has been supported by al-Qaadee (Abu Ya’laa) in al-Kifaayah.”
Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm - rahimahullaah - said: “Abu Sulaymaan (Daawood adh-Dhaahiree), al-Hasan ibn ’Alee al-Karaabasee and al-Haarith ibn Asad al-Muhaasibee and others have stated: that the khabarul-waahid which is reported by reliable narrators - all the way back to Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam - necessitate both knowledge and action. And this is our saying also.”Abu Muhammad supports this position, discusses it at length and refutes all the doubts which the opponents of this cling to.
Abu ’Amr Ibnus-Salaah (d.643H) mentioned in his Muqaddimah, that those ahaadeeth that al-Bukhaaree and Muslim agree upon: “are certainly authentic and amounts to al-’ilmul-yaqeenee an-nadharee (certain knowledge arrived at through investigation), as opposed to the saying of those who deny this; seeking to prove this by the fact that in origin it amounts only to dhann (that its level of being certain is greater than it being error or falsehood), and that the Ummah have acepted it only because it is obligatory to act upon dhann - but dhann may be erroneous. And I used to lean towards this myself, thinking that it was strong. But it beceme apparent to me that the position that we initially preferred was correct. Since dhann from one who is protected from error, cannot be error. And the Ummah - when united - is protected from error ... This is a fine and beneficial point, and from its benefits is: the saying that what is related by al-Bukhaaree alone, or Muslim alone, falls under that which is to be declared qat’ee (definitely) authentic, since the Ummah has accepted both of their books ... except for a very few words, against which some of the critics from the huffaadh (memorisers and preservers of hadeeth) - such as ad-Daaraqutnee and others - have spoken about, which are well-known to the people of this field.”
Ibn Taymiyyah says - whilst affirming the point the the khabarul-waahid amounts to knowledge: “So Abu ’Amr Ibnus-Salaah mentioned the first saying - that it amounts to knowledege - and he preferred it, declaring that to be correct. However, he did not know about the large number of people who held the same position, in order to be strengthened by them., rather he said it according to what the authentic proofs demanded ...” Therefore as-Sakhaawee (d.902H) said in Fathul-Mugheeth (1/51): “Since he was preceeded in that saying - with regards the narration which has been accepted by all - by the vast majority of muhadditheen (Scholars of Hadeeth), usooliyyeen (Scholars of Usool) and the great body of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors). Rather, the same was said by some with regards to what is contained in the two Saheehs [of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].” Al-’Iraaqee (d.806H) indicated that Ibnus-Salaah was preceeded in this saying by al-Haafidh Abul-Fadl Muhammad ibn Taahir al-Maqdisee and Abu Nasr ’Abdur-Raheem ibn ’Abdul-Khaaliq ibn Yoosuf, who both said: “It is qat’ee (definitely certain).”
Abu ’Amr Ibnus-Salaah has also been agreed to in this position by a group of the later Scholars, from them: Shaykh as-Sakhaawee - as has preceeded, Shaykhul-Islaam al-Balqeenee, al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr, al-Haafidh Ibn Katheerand al-Haafidh Jalaalud-Deen as-Suyootee (d.911H).
Shaykh Ahmad Shaakir - rahimahullaah - said: “And the truth which is shown to be the most correct by the authentic proofs, is that which was held by Ibn Hazm and those who hold his saying, which is: that the authentic hadeeth amounts to al-’ilm-ul-qat’ee (decisive and certain knowledge); whether it is in one of the two Saheehs, or other than them. This ’ilmul-yaqeenee (certain knowledge) is ’ilm nadharee burhaanee (knowledge arrived at through investigation, and supported by proof). This knowledge does not come about, except to the Scholar who has delved deeply into the science of Hadeeth, having full knowledge about the condition of the narrators and their weaknessess ...”
The Proofs for the correctness of this opinion: And they are plentiful - and all praise is for Allaah - but this is not the place to encompass them all. However, from them:-
Firstly: Differentiating between the mutawaatir and the aahaad, with respect to that which amounts to knowledge, is a newly-invented terminology, not proven by the Book, nor the Sunnah, nor was it known to the Sahaabah, nor the Taabi’een. Thus, the truthfulness of the Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam was affirmed by the Believers with regards to what he informed them of, without the need for them to be informed by a mutawaatir number of people.
Likewse, the Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam used to believe his Companions in what they informed him of, and likewise, the Companions used to believe each other with regards to what they would narrate from Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam. None of them ever said to the one that was narrating to him: ‘Your report is that of a single person and thus does not amount to knowledge, unless and until it is reported by a mutawaatir number of people.’ And that some of them would sometimes withold from accepting certain matters until supportedby the narration of someone else - then this is not a proof for rejecting the aahaad narration. Rather, on some very rare occasions they asked to seek some further verification.
Likewise, the Taabi’een - both as groups and individuals - used to meet the Companions; they took knowledge from them and believed them, without seeking to attain mutawaatir proof. Likwise, each Scholar or Imaam would sit and teach his students, and they would beleive him in that - and he was a single person. Indeed the saying that the aahaad narration does not amount to knowledge, would demolish both the Religion and worldly affairs - and it rents assunder the clear ijmaa’ (consnsus) of the Companions, the Taabi’een and those who came after them from the People of Knowledge.
Secondly: That the Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam used to send single Companions to the various kings and governers to convey from him the Message of his Lord. So if the reports of these single Companions was not going to establish knowledge - he would not have sent them - as this would be futile, from which the Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam is certainly free.
Thirdly: That the Muslims - when they were praying Fajr in Qubaa - were informed by single person that the qiblah (direction of the Prayer) had been changed to the Ka’bah, they accepted his report. This was the case even though the proof which they were previously upon was something qat’ee (definite and amounting to knowledge), yet they turned to the new qiblah in response to the order of Allaah and His Messenger - (which was also qat’ee to them) and which had been conveyed to them by way of a single person. And the Messenger sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam did not criticise them for this, rather they were praised for it.
The Third Opinion
Which is that the aahaad narration does not establish knowledge at all - whether it has a qareenah or not.
This is the peosition of some of the People of Kalaam (rhetorical speech and theology) and Scholars of Usool - such as Abu Ma’aalee al al-Juwaynee (d.478H), al-Ghazaalee (d.505H), Abu Mansoor al-Baghdaadee (d.4629), al-Baaqilaanee (d.403H), and it is quoted by Ibnul-Haajib (d.555H) in at-Taqreer wat-Tahbeer (2/268) as being the saying of the majority of the Scholars of Fiqh and Hadeeth - and this statement should really be re-examined, due to what has preceeded about the second opinion, and also due to what will follow - if Allaah wills.
It is sometimes also quoted as being one of two sayings from Imaam Ahmad (d.241H), basing that upon what is attributed to him by al-Athram in Ma’aanee ul-Aathaar, where he said: “He - meaning Ahmad - said: When the hadeeth comes from the Prophet sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam with a saheeh isnaad (authentic chain of transmission), containing a ruling or an obligation, then I act upon it and take it as part of my Deen before Allaah. However, I do not bear witness that the Prophet sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam said that.”Abu Ya’laa (d.438H) said: “This saying is clear that he does not state it to be qat’ee.’
It is also attributed to him that he said: “And we do not bear witness about anyone from the people of the Qiblah, that he is in the Fire due to a sin he has committed, nor a major sin of which he is guilty - unless it occurs in a hadeeth like that, which we affirm and have knowledge that it is like that, but we do not bear witness. Nor do we bear witness that anyone is in Paradise due to his righteaous actions, nor due to any good he has done, except due to a hadeeth which is reported like that. So we affirm it as it is reported, but we do not stipulate that.” Abu Ya’laa said: “Its meaning with me - and Allaah knows best - is that he does not state it to be qat’ee (definite).”
The reply to the narration of al-Athram is from a number of angles:-
Firstly: Al-Athram is alone in reporting this narration. It does not occur in his book al-Masaa‘il, nor in his book as-Sunnah. Rather, it has been quoted by Abu Ya’laa who said that he found it in the book Ma’aanee ul-Aathaar.
Secondly: Al-Athram did not mention that he heard it from Imaam Ahmad. Rather it could have been that it reached him from a person who was mistaken, who erred with regards to its wording - since none of his companions and students relate this from him.
Thirdly: What is correctly reported from Imaam Ahmad is contrary to this, as occurs in his bearing witness in favour of al-’Asharah al-Mubasharah (the ten promised Paradise) - and the report about this is an aahaad one.
Fourthly: Perhaps Imaam Ahmad said it out of wara’ (cautiousness and piety), since he used to definitely state things to be forbidden or obligatory, but would sometimes be cautious and withold from applying the term haraam or waajib. So he would say: ‘I hate this,’ or ‘I recommend this.’
As regards the second narration: Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The wording: “nuss” [stipulate] is what is well known. Its meaning is that we do not bear witness with regards to a particular person. However, he also says: “We have knowledge as it is reported.” So this means that it amounts to knowledge. And from this principle also is that he bears witness to the ten being in Paradise due to the narration reprted about this - and this narration is an aahaad narration. ” He also said: “The wording: “I bear witness” and “I have knowledge” is one and the same, and this is a proof that he would bear witness due to the aahaad narration ...”
Imaamul-Haramayn al-Juwaynee mentions in al-Irshaad (pp.416-417) that which is contrary to what he mentions in his other books, so he says: “And every narration which does not reach the level of being mutawaatir, then it does not amount to knowledge on its own, unless it is accompanied by a qareenah which obligates affirmation of it - for example, that it conforms to an intellectual proof, or it is supported by a miraculous event wich affirms it, and likewise if the Ummah accepts a narration and are in consensus upon its acceptance - then we know its truthfulness.” So this is totally contrary to what is mentioned in his other books that the khabarul-waahid does not establish knowledge at all.
And Abu Mansoor al-Baghdaadee declares that the khabarul-mustafeed amounts to knowledge, and there is no doubt that the mustafeed is not from the catagory of mutawaatir; and he declares it to be of four types, from them: “The khabarul-waahid which is accepted by the Ummah.” Then he said: “And all the types of this mustafeed necessiate action and acquired knowledge.”
Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahimahullaah - said, after mentioning the position of the great majority of the earlier and the later people - with regards to the aahaad narration amounting to knowledge, and mentioning its being preferred by Ibnus-Salaah - then he said: “And those who raise an objection to it, from the Shaykhs who possessed knowledge and Deen - but who did not have sufficient knowledge in this matter - thought that this saying of Abu ’Umar Ibnus-Salaah, is a saying of his alone, to the exclusion of the great majority. Their excuse for this was that, in this particular issue, they turned to what can be found from the sayings of Ibnul-Haajib. And if they take a step higher, then they would reach to Sayfud-Deen al-Aamidee (d.631H) and to Ibn al-Khattaab (meaning Abu ’Abdullaah al-Fakhrur-Raazee d.510H). If they look further back for the source, then they would reach to al-Ghazzaalee (d.505H), al-Juwaynee (d.478H) and al-Baaqilaanee (d.403H).”
So from those Shaykhs who raise objections against Ibnus-Salaah are al-’Izz ibn ’Abdus-Salaam (d.660H)Ibn Burhaan (d.518H), and an-Nawawee (d.676H), who said - after quoting the saying of Ibnus-Salaah - : “And most of the precise researchers differ with him.”
Al-Balqeenee said: “What an-Nawawee and Ibn ’Abdus-Salaam and those who followed them said is not the case.” Then he quotes what Ibn Taymiyyah reported from the position of the earlier and later people in this matter, and from them are all the people of Hadeeth, the heads of the four madhhabs and most of the people of kalaam.
From his Manhajul-Istidlaal ’alaa Masaa‘ilil-I’tiqaad ’inda Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah (1/115-129). Refer to al-Ihkaam (1/234) of al-Aamidee, al-Burhaan fee Usoolil-Fiqh (1/606) of Abu Ma’aalee al-Juwaynee and at-Taqreer wat-Tahbeer (2/268) of Ibn Ameerul-Haaj. Al-Muswaddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (p.244) of Aal Taymiyyah. Refer to al-Ihkaam fee Usoolil-Ahkaam (1/121, 126-127) of Ibn Hazm. Refer to Mukhtasarus-Sawaa‘qul-Mursalah (2/359-360). Singular: Qareenah. It is the matter which indicates what is intended and correct, and emphasises it. Refer to at-Ta’reefaat (p.183) of al-Jurjaanee. Refer to Raf’ul-Malaam ’anil-A‘immatil-A’laam (p.63) of Ibn Taymiyyah and also Fathul-Mugheeth (1/51) of al-Haafidh as-Sakhaawee. Recorded by Ibn al-Qayyim in Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iqul-Mursalah (2/372 -373), and its like can be found in Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (8/41). Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iqul-Mursalah (2/362-363). Refer also to at-Tamheed limaa fil-Muwattaa minal-Ma’nee wal-Asaaneed (1/8) of Ibn ’Abdul-Barr and al-Ihkaam (1/132) of Ibn Hazm. Imaam ash-Shawkaanee said in al-Irshaadul-Fuhool (p.48): “Ibn Khawaazimdaad related this from Maalik ibn Anas, prefering it and discussing in its favour at length.” An-Nukat (1/373) of al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar. Al-Umm (7/177). Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq (2/365-366). Al-’Uddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (3/899) of Abu Ya’laa. Al-’Uddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (3/899). Al-’Uddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (3/900). Al-’Uddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (3/900). Al-Muswaddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (p.240). Al-Muswaddah (p.240). Al-Ahkaam fee Usoolil-Ihkaam (1/132) of Ibn Hazm. Muqaddimah fee Uloomil-Hadeeth (pp.14-15) of Ibnus-Saalah. Recorded from him by Ibn al-Qayyim in Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq (2/373). At-Taqyeeyd wal-Iydaah (p.28). Refer to: Muhaasinul-Istilaah wa tadameen Kitaab Ibnus-Salaah (p.101) by al-Balqeenee. An-Nukat ’alaa Ibnis-Salaah (1/371) of Ibn Hajr. Al-Baaithul-Hatheeh Sharh Ikhtisaar Uloomil-Hadeeth (p.37) of Ibn Katheer. Refer to: Tadreebur-Raawee (1/134) of as-Suyootee. Al-Baaithul-Hatheeth (p.39). For a further in depth discussion of this matter refer to: al-Ihkaam (1/135 onwards) of Ibn Hazm and Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iqul-Mursalah (2/394) of Ibn al-Qayyim. And from the contemporary books refer to Akhbaarul-Aahaad fil-Hadeethin-Nabawee (p.61) of Shaykh ’Abdullaah ibn Jibreen and al-Hadeeth Hujjatun bin-Nafsee fil-’Aqaa‘id wal-Ahkaam (p.57) of Shaykh al-Albaanee - which has been translated into english under the title The Hadeeth is proof Itself in Belief and Laws. Refer to: ar-Risaalah (p.436) of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee. Refer to: Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq (2/361). Refer to: Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq (2/362) and al-Ihkaam (1/150-151). Refer to: Ar-Risaalah (pp.406-408) and al-Muswaddah (p.247). The narration mentioned is reported by al-Bukhaaree (8/174) Refer to: Al-Burhaan fee Usoolil-Fiqh (1/599). Refer to: Al-Mustasfaa (1/145). Refer to: Al-Farq baynal-Firaq (pp.325-326) and Usoolud-Deen (p.12). Refer to: At-Tamheed fee Radd ’alal-Mulhidah Mu’attilah war-Raafidah wal-Khawaarij wal-Mu’tazilah (p.164). Al-Muswaddah (p.241) and al-’Iddah (3/898) of Abu Ya’laa. Al-’Iddah (3/898). Al-’Iddah (3/899). Al-’Iddah (3/899). Refer to: Mukhtasarus-Sawaa‘iq (2/370). Mukhtasar us-Sawaa‘iq (2/370-371). Refer to: Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq (2/371). As for Imaam Ahmad’s bearing witness to al-’Asharah then refer to Tabaqaatul-Hanaabilah (1/289) of Ibn Abee Ya’laa. Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq (2/371). Al-Muswaddah fee Usoolil-Fiqh (p.242). It is a narration which is reported by a minimum of three narrators at every level of the chain. Usoolud-Deen (pp.12-13). Ibn al-Qayyim quotes it from him in Mukhtasarus-Sawaa‘iqul-Mursalah (2/373-374). Refer to Tadreebur-Raawee (1/132). Refer to the introduction of Saheeh Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawee (1/20). And Ibn Burhaan is: Abul-Fath, Ahmad ibn ’Alee ibn Burhaan, well-known as Ibnul-Jaamee the Faqeeh of Baghdaad. He learnt Fiqh with Ibn ’Aqeel and excelled in the madhhab of Ahmad, then he crituicised him for some things and moved to the madhhab of ash-Shaafi’ee and pre-occupied himself with al-Ghazaalee and ash-Shaashee. He was born in 479H and died in the year 518H. Refer to al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (12/194 - events of the year 518H) and also al-A’laam (1/167) of az-Zarkalee At-Taqreeb (1/132) of an-Nawawee - along with Tadreebur-Raawee. Refer also to an-Nawawee’s Sharh Saheeh Muslim (1/20). Mahaasinul-Istilaah (p.101). Its like occurs in Mukhtasarus-Sawaa’iqul-Mursalah (2/373-374). And refer to Nukat (1/376-377) of Ibn Hajr and also al-Baa’thul-Hatheeth (p.38) of Ibn Katheer.