Judging Conflict between Narrations

//Judging Conflict between Narrations

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Judging Conflict between Narrations – Ḥadīth #3

[3/-] al-Tahdhib: Via his chain from Ahmad b. Muhammad from al-Abbas b. Ma’ruf from Ali b. Mahziyar who said: I read in a letter of Abdallah b. Muhammad to Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام [the following]: our fellows have differed in their narration from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام in regards the two units of Fajr whilst travelling, some of them narrated ‘pray them in your litter’ while others narrated ‘do not pray them except stationary on the ground’ so inform me what you personally do so that I can follow you in it? he wrote: it is accommodating for you whichever of them you act by. Comments

al-Moḥsini: The narration does call for Takhyir [choosing] explicitly, but it is not evident whether it is speaking of a clear-cut choice between two contradicting Ahadith both of which have Hujiyya – which is what the Usulis are after – or whether it is talking of a practical choice between two rulings of the Sharia i.e. permissibility of praying the Nafila of the morning either in the litter or upon the earth – both of which are equally valid even if the latter is more preferrable.

The Imam’s words “it is accommodating for you whichever of them you act by” evidently refers to acting upon either of the Ahadith. If he had said: “both are permitted” then it would have been possible to say that reference is being made to the rulings [not the Ahadith]. This point is also supported by the fact that the question of the narrator was about differences between Ahadith and so the Imam’s words ‘whichever of them’ would be most likely referring to Ahadith.

All this would mean that the original premise as far as contradictory narrations are concerned should be Takhyir [selecting whichever] and not Tasaqut [both being equally invalidated], even if this latter is what is entailed by first principle [al-Qa’ida al-Awaliyya].

[-/3] التهذيب: باسناده عن احمد بن محمد عن العباس بن معروف عن علي بن مهزيار قال: قرأت في كتاب لعبد الله بن محمد إلى ابى الحسن عليه السلام إختلف أصحابنا في رواياتهم عن ابي عبدالله عليه السلام في ركعتي الفجر في السفر فروى بعضهم ان صلهما في المحمل، وروى بعضهم ان لا تصلهما إلا على الارض فاعلمني كيف تصنع انت لا قتدي بك في ذلك؟ فوقع عليه السلام: موسع عليك بأية عملت

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Judging Conflict between Narrations – Ḥadīth #2

[2/-] The Treatise on the ‘Status of the Narrations of our Companions and Establishing their Authenticity’ authored by Sa’d b. Hibat Allah al-Rawandi: al-Saduq from his father from Sa’d b. Abdallah from Ayyub b. Nuh from Muhammad b. Abi Umayr from Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Abdillah who said: al-Sadiq عليه السلام said: if there comes to you two divergent Hadith then compare them with the book of Allah, then take the one which agrees with the book of Allah and reject the one that opposes the book of Allah, so if you do not find anything to do with them in the book of Allah then compare both to the reports of the Amma, so the one that agrees with their reports then leave it, and the one that opposes their reports then take it. Comments

al-Moḥsini: This is, on face-value, the only reliable narration about resolving contradictions between Ahadith, and the paucity is surprising because the subject [contradictions in Ahadith] is one that is pervasive. Having said this, there are multiple non-reliable narrations which corroborate the purport of this particular narration either wholly or partially. Some of them call for the measures outlined herein (comparison with the Qur’an or with the reports of the Amma) to be implemented immediately, while others call for them to be implemented after exhausting the possibility of resolving the contradiction by judging the relative merits of the respective narrators in terms of their judiciousness, moral probity, righteousness, and the fame of what they narrate.

There also exist other non-reliable narrations on the subject. Some of them indicate that one should choose between contradicting Ahadith [Takhyir], two of them indicate that one should take the latter-most Hadith [that of the most recent Imam], while the remaining indicate that one should abstain from doing anything [Tawaquf] and withhold judgment.

Refer to the first volume of Jami Ahadith al-Shia and the second volume of Bihar al-Anwar [Pg. 220 – 252] for a full survey.

It is said: ‘oppose’ in the narration refers to the opposition of a Hadith with respect to the generalities of the Qur’an or its absolutes and the like, for only then would comparison act as a criterion to give precedence [to one Hadith over another], not opposition in the sense of being diametrically or partially opposed in some respect to the Qur’an, for this latter would cause such a Hadith to lose Hujiyya outright [and not even need to be factored into the resolution process] as has been pointed out in the previous chapter.

However, this interpretation is refuted by pointing out that the narrations found in the preceding chapter have the same wording as this narration and one cannot interpret the two differently in any way [i.e. in the preceding chapter ‘opposition’ was taken to mean diametric or partial opposition in some respect to the Qur’an]. Moreover, ‘opposing’ in terms of a difference between general and specific, absolute and conditional is not even considered ‘opposition’ in customary usage as has been explicitly stated by a number of […]

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Judging Conflict between Narrations – Ḥadīth #1

[1/-] al-Kafi: Ali b. Ibrahim from his father from Uthman b. Isa and al-Hasan b. Mahbub all together from Sama’a from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام, he (Sama’a) said: I asked him about a man who is answered oppositely by two of his co-religionists (i.e. Shi’as) in regards to a matter – both transmitting it [their answers – on your authority], one of them obligates it while the other forbids it – what should he do? he said: he withholds [doing anything] until he accesses one who will inform him (of the true position), and he is respited until such a time as he meets him. [And in another narration [the Imam said]: whichever of them you act by –  suffices you – if done in subservience (with the intention of obeying)]. Comments

al-Moḥsini: The ‘respite’ here can refer to permission to choose [Takhyir] between two conflicting Ahadith or it can refer to both of them losing Hujiyya [not acting on any of them]. It is also questionable whether this permission extends to the period of occultation [because the Imam is not here to be referred to], unless we take the absolute nature of the clause ‘the one who informs him’ as encompassing both the Imam and anyone else who is more knowledgeable and can resolve conflicts between Ahadith.

[-/1] الكافي: علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن عثمان بن عيسى والحسن بن محبوب جميعا، عن سماعة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: سألته عن رجل اختلف عليه رجلان من أهل دينه في أمر كلاهما يرويه: أحدهما يأمر بأخذه والآخر ينهاه عنه، كيف يصنع؟ فقال: يرجئه حتى يلقي من يخبره، فهو في سعة حتي يلقاه، وفي رواية اخرى بأيهما أخذت من باب التسليم وسعك
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