بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Defence of Abu Hurairah
A Reply to some erroneous claims
The Shia claims that:
(1) It is obvious from the initial post that the information quoted is a poor rephrasing of some well known incidents surrounding Abu Huraira’s life – which have been addressed by the scholars. These events are often used to discount Abu Huraira’s veracity and thereby negate a large section of the Sunnah. The two prominent sources in contemporary times for raising these allegations against Abu Hurairah are the Shia and the students of the Orientalist As for the former, many of these allegations are to be found in the work, Aboo Hurairah, by theLebanese Shee’ee author, Abd al-Husayn Sharaf ul-Deen al-‘Amalee. Aspects of this work were refuted by Dr. Muhammad Ajaaj al-Khateeb (Professor at the University of Damascus Colleges of Sharia and Education) in his Master’s thesis, al-Sunna Qabl al-Tadween (Cairo: 1483/1963) and also in his work, Abu Hurairah Raawiya al-Islaam (Cairo:1962). Regarding the latter, most of the arguments of the Orientalist were summarized by Mahmud Abu Rayyah of Egypt. In his work, Adwa’ ‘alas-Sunnat-il-Muhammadeeyah (Cairo: 1377/1958), Abu Rayya attempted to show that the Sunnah is fabricated in the whole and toward that aim he raised questions on Abu Hurairah’s veracity. When Abu Raya’s book first appeared, a number of scholars addressed his arguments. The mostprominent responses wereDr. Mustafaa as-Sibaa’ee (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria), in his thesis, al-Sunna waMakanatuha fit-Tashree’ al-Islaamee, (Cairo: 1380/1961);Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaq Hamza (the head of Darul-Hadeeth in Makkah and Imaam of Masjid al-Haram), Zulumat Abi Raya amam Adwa’ al-Sunnah al-Muhammadeeyah, (Cairo: n.d.); and The definitive response by Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Yahyaa al-Mu’allamee al-Yamanee (theLibrarian of Masjid al-Haram), al-Anwaar ul-Kaashifah lima fee Kitaab Adwaa’ ‘ala al-Sunnah minal-Zallal wa l-Tadleel wa l-Mujaazafah, (Cairo: 1378) – may Allah have mercy with them all.
(2) It should be noted that pertaining to most of the objections raised against Abu Hurairah,there exists a definitive defence written by the Iraqi Muslim Brotherhood scholar, ‘Abdul-Mun’im Saalih al-‘Alee al-‘Izzee, entitled Dif’a ‘an Abu Hurairah (Baghdad: 1393/1973). In this work,al-‘Izzi reviewed, page by page, over 110 classical works (most of which are in a number of volumes, extending thousands of pages) with the aim of collecting everything related to Abu Hurairah. With regards to the three specific objections raised against Abu Hurairah in the post, the response is as follows:
However, both ‘Abdul-Husayn al-‘Amalee (p. 268) and Abu Rayya (pp. 163, 171) report that’ Umar struck Abu Hurairah with a shield for relating too many hadeeth upon the Prophet -PBUH – and accused him of lying. The source of this incident is not Sahih Muslim, but rather a Shia text, Sharh Nahj al-Balagha, by the Shiite Mu’tazilite Ibn Abi al-Hadid who quotes Abu Ja’far al-Iskafi. Abu Ja’far al-Iskafi is a third century, Shiite Mu’tazalite. Al-Iskafi relates this incident with no chain or authorities (sanad). And thus this is an unverified historical incident that appears centuries after the deaths of ‘Umar and Abu Hurairah And moreover it is found in the works of those who harbour religious animosities against Abu Hurairah and adverse theological positions toward the Sunna. (See: al-Mu’allamee, al-Anwaer al-Kaashifah, pp. 152-153, al-Khateeb, al-Sunnah Qabl al-Tadween, p. 457, al-‘Izzee, Difaa’ ‘anAbee Hurayrah, p. 123)
Historically, the Jahmee, Bishr al-Mareesee was perhaps the first to claim that ‘Umar said that”the greatest liar among the narrators of hadith is Abu Hurairah.” To this fabrication, Imam al-Darimee responded, “How could ‘Umar accuse him of lying against the Messenger of Allah -PBUH – and [at the same time] place his in charge of important posts. Had [Abu Hurairah] been thought of by ‘Umar – as [al-Mareesee] claimed, ‘Umar would not have entrusted [Abu Hurairah] with the affairs of the Muslims, placing him in charge,time and time again.”Also, ad-Darimee rhetorically asks al-Mareesee, “If you were truthful in your claim, then expose [to us] who narrated such. You will not be able to expose a trustworthy narrator.” (See al-Darimi,Radd al-Imaam al-Darimee ‘Uthmaan ibn Sa’eed ‘alaa Bishr al-Mareesee al-‘Aneed, pp. 132-135.) Interestingly, al-‘Izzee shows that a number of grandsons of ‘Umar related hadith from Abu Hurairah from the Prophet – PBUH. Among whom: (a) Salim ibn ‘Abd Allahibn ‘Umar, who in Sahih al-Bukhari alone relates three hadith; (b) and Hafs ibn ‘Asim ibn’Umar, who in Saheeh al-Bukhaaree alone relates eleven hadeeth. al-‘Izzi comments (p. 123),”Did they not hear from their fathers that their grandfather considered Abu Hurairah a liar?”
Moreover, it should be noted that a number of the leading scholars among the second generation(taabi’een), held the same opinion of Abu Hurairah. Among them was ‘Aisha’s nephew,’Urwah ibn al-Zubayr. It seems that ‘Urwah interpreted ‘Aisha’s statement to indicate a rulingspecific to the Prophet -PBUH – and not general for theUmmah. This opinion was also held by Taawoos, ‘Ataa’, Saalim ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, al-Hasan al-Basree, andIbraaheem al-Nakha’ee. And thus we see this opinion among the scholars of the tabi’in (the followers of the companions of the prophet) in the cities of Makkah, al-Madeenah, al-Basra, and al-Koofah.Moreover, there are incidents which show that ‘Aisha did not consider Abu Hurairah to be a liar even if she corrected him at times. Among which is that ‘Aisha confirmed a hadith related by Abu Hurairah regarding the reward for following a funeral bier which was questioned by Ibn ‘Umar. This is reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim. (See al-‘Izzee, pp. 234-235)Al-‘Izzee (p. 110) also shows that when ‘Aisha and Hafsah died Abu Hurairah led the funeral prayers and Ibn ‘Umar was among the attendees. This is reported by al-Bukhari in his Taareekhas-Saghaar, p. 52. Al-Haakim reports in al-Mustadrak (Vol. 4, p. 6), that Ibn ‘Umar was among the people and had no objections.Al-‘Izzee remarks, “We know that the Muslims choose the best among them to lead funeral prayers, how much more so when it is the wife of their Prophet – PBUH – in this world and the next?”One may surmise that had ‘Umar considered Abu Hurairah to be a liar and beat him for that,how would Ibn ‘Umar allow (indeed, have no objections) Abu Hurairah to lead the funeral prayer for his sister and Prophet’s wife, Hafsa? If ‘Aisha considered Abu Hurairah to be a liar, would the Muslims permit Abu Hurairah to lead the funeral prayers over her?
(5) As for Abu Haneefah’s rejecting the narrations of these three companions.However, what does exists is a principle of Usool al-Fiqh among the Hanafee scholars that those narrations of Abu Hurairah which are in agreement with analogy (al-qiyaas) are adopted, and what is in disagreement with analogy, one sees if the hadith has been accepted by the ummah, only then it is adopted; otherwise analogy is adopted in preference to hadith. (See Usool al-Sarkhasee, Vol. 1, p. 341)The source of this principle is the Kufan scholar of the tabi’een, Ibrahim an-Nakha’ee, who would not adopt all the hadith of Abu Hurairah. Al-Dhahabi in his Mizaan al-I’tidaal (Vol. 1, p.35) reports that an-Nakha’ee explained his motivations by arguing that Abu Hurairah was not a scholar of fiqh (faqeeh). In response, it should be noted:
(a.) a number of scholars have objected to al-Nakha’i’s position.Among whom ath-Thahabi, Ibn Katheer and Ibn ‘Asaakir. (See ath-thahabi, Siyaar A’laam al-Nubalaa’, Vol. 2, p. 438 and Ibn Katheer, al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah, Vol. 8, pp. 109-110);
(b.) Ibn ‘Abbas who is recognized as a faqeeh, once in a gathering says to Abu Hurairah, “Give a fatwa O Abu Hurairah;”
(c.) For 23 years, after the death of ‘Uthman – RA -Abu Hurairah would deliver fatwa in al-Madinah. (See Tabaqaat Ibn Sa’d, Vol. 2, p. 372).There are no objections by anyone to Abu Hurairah’s knowledge of fiqh. Moreover, most of Abu Hurairah’s students among the tabi’in where accomplished scholars and judges.
(d.) In comparing, the instances where an-Nakha’ee did not adopt the narration of Abu Hurairah, we find that Abu Hurairah’s narration is stronger than the opinion forwarded by an-Nakha’ee. (seeal-‘Izzee, pp. 237-248)I hope this response will be satisfying. Again al-‘Izzee’s defence is the definitive work and it is in 500 pages.