Reasons for Differences between Narrations

//Reasons for Differences between Narrations

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Reasons for Differences between Narrations – Ḥadīth #5

[5/-] Al-Kafi: Ali b. Ibrahim from his father from Ibn Abi Umayr from Abd al-Rahman b. al-Hajjaj from Sulayman b. Khalid who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: the companions of my father came to him and asked him about that which is taken by the temporal ruler [as Kharaj – deeming it Zakat – is it sufficient], so he pitied them, while he knew that Zakat is not legitimate except for its people [only the true Imam can divide it to its rightful claimants], so he ordered them to count it [as Zakat], so my thoughts ran wild by Allah about them so I said: O father, if they have heard this then no one of them is ever going to give Zakat [in its right way]! so he said: O my son, it is a truth which Allah wanted to make apparent. Comments

al-Moḥsini: There are several problems with the narration:

(ã) The Imam’s knowledge that Zakat is not legitimate except if given to its rightful people cannot be reconciled with his order to count it so [what they give to the Sultan as Zakat] just because of the pity he felt towards them [they would have had to pay twice otherwise]. It is not allowed to change rulings just because of pity.

(b) al-Sadiq informing us that al-Baqir knew that Zakat is not legitimate except if it is given to its rightful parties contradicts what al-Baqir says “it is a truth which Allah wanted to make apparent”

(c) al-Sadiq himself ruled in a similar way to al-Baqir, even if he contradicts this in some instances.

In Summary, I have not managed to find a solid Dalil to disprove this reason [for the occurrence of differences between narrations], though I do not accept it [perhaps because of the theological implications it would have]. And Allah knows more.

Continuing our list (started from hadith 2 in this chapter):

(XIII) The change in the meanings of words over time, from the age of the prophet and the `Aimma to the age of the scholars engaged in Ijtihad, as is known to happen to all languages. The speakers in the early period had a specific understanding when they heard certain words and phrases spoken while we have our own understanding. This evolution has sometimes caused seeming contradictions between reports based on how we conceive of them. Finally, one must work to exhaust all such potential causes for differences between narrations.

One of the researchers from the Amma [Mahmud Abu Riyya] says: Know that the Hadith which is traced back to the messenger of Allah and his companions and the successors have differences between them, the causes of which can be categorized into eight:

1. The weakness of the chain.

2. Quoting the report based on its “meaning” and not verbatim.

3. Failures in correct vowelization [the early script was defective]

4. Scribal errors in writing.

5. Droppage of a significant portion from the Hadith with the exclusion of which the Hadith’s meaning becomes incomplete [this is because of faulty memory].

6. The narrator transmits the […]

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Reasons for Differences between Narrations – Ḥadīth #4

[4/-] al-Tahdhib: Sa’d b. Abdallah from Ahmad b. Muhammad from al-Husayn b. Sa’id from Hammad b. Isa from Umar b. Udhayna from Zurara who said: I was seated at Abi Ja’far’s عليه السلام place and there was no one with him except his son Ja’far, so he (Abu Ja’far) said: O Zurara, Abu Dhar رضي الله عنه and Uthman argued in the life-time of the prophet, so Uthman said: every kind wealth whether it be gold or silver which circulates [is active i.e. having in-flow and out-flow], is worked with [as a capital], and is used for business – then there is Zakat on it if a year elapses, so Abu Dhar رضي الله عنه said: as for that which is used for business, is active, and is worked with – then there is no Zakat on it, rather Zakat is on that which is buried treasure (found fortuitously) and also on stored-up (saved) wealth, so if a year elapses on it then on it is Zakat, so they argued and referred it back to the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله, so he said: the true position is what was said by Abu Dhar, so Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said to his father: you do not want anything else but that such a one [narration] comes out [and is spread among the people] so that the people stop giving their poor and needy (anything of Zakat)?! So his father said: keep to yourself [don’t interfere], I do not find any option other than it (to narrate what happened and speak the truth). Comments

al-Moḥsini: One can interpret this Hadith in such a way as not to entail a difference of opinion between the two Imams as far as the actual ruling is concerned. Know also that there exist other narrations attributed to al-Sadiq with him having a similar opinion to that of al-Baqir and corroborating him on this issue.

[I the translator say]: Know that some Ahadith indicate that the Ilm of the Imam is not complete until he assumes the Imama officially, and al-Sadiq was not the Imam when this incident occurred because al-Baqir was still alive. Secondly, the surprise of al-Sadiq about the ruling should not be taken to mean that he fundamentally disagrees with it, rather it was motivated by his desire to see as many of the needy and the poor helped.

al-Moḥsini: It is also possible that differences arise because some rulings are dependent on the time-frame in which the question is asked and the location concerned.

[-/4] التهذيب: سعد بن عبدالله عن أحمد بن محمد عن الحسين بن سعيد عن حماد بن عيسى عن عمر بن اذينة عن زرارة قال: كنت قاعدا عند ابي جعفر عليه السلام وليس عنده غير ابنه جعفر فقال: يا زرارة ان ابا ذر رضي الله عنه وعثمان تنازعا على عهد رسول الله صلى الله وآله فقال عثمان: كل مال من ذهب أو فضة يدار به ويعمل به ويتجر به ففيه الزكاة إذا حال عليه […]

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Reasons for Differences between Narrations – Ḥadīth #3

[3/-] al-Tahdhib: Via his chain from al-Husayn b. Sai’d from Muhammad b. Abi Umayr from Muawiya b. Ammar who said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام – do I repay the Salat of the day in the night whilst travelling? he said: yes, then Ismail b. Jabir said to him: do I repay the Salat of the day in the night whilst travelling? he said: no, so he said: you just said yes, he said: that one has the strength for it while you are not capable. Comments

al-Moḥsini: Meaning that the particular act is hard for him to do while it is not hard for you. Thus, answers can change depending on the person asking the question.

Continuing our former list (started in previous hadith in chapter):

(IX) Mistakes in copying down the Hadith and in-turn reading them as a result of bad handwriting [in manuscripts].

(X) Mistakes made by those strengthening narrators and weakening them in their Tawthiqat and their Tajrihat.

(XI) The Hadith abrogating each other.

(XII) Differences in the opinion of the Imams, either because of Tafwidh [law-making has been delegated to them and each one of them can set it as he likes] or for some other reasons. This is something I have not seen raised by anyone and is probably not acceptable to any of the Ulama of the Imamiyya. I do mention it here because it remains a possibility and not because I am accepting it as definitely the case.

Some evidences for this: In the Sahih of al-Halabi which is narrated in both al-Kafi and Tahdhibayn from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام who said: the commander of the faithful عليه السلام used to hold the launderer and the jeweler liable [to compensation – for any damages caused while in their possession] – as a precaution for the people, while my father used to be clement on him if he was trustworthy.

However, it can be said that the clemency shown by al-Baqir is his own personal conduct not an official Fatwa, if that be the case, the narration cannot be used as evidence for there being a difference in opinion between two Imams.

This latter interpretation is supported by another Sahih of al-Halabi from Abi Abdillah عليه السلام wherein he says: my father عليه السلام used to hold the jeweller and the launderer liable if they damaged while Ali b. al-Husayn عليهما السلام used to act  magnanimously towards them.

This means that the Fatwa of al-Baqir is to hold such a person liable but his personal conduct was to overlook, and this is also how the magnanimity of al-Sajjad should be understood.

However, there are other narrations that can be cited which seem to show difference of opinion between al-Sadiq and al-Baqir (consider the next hadith in the chapter).

[-/3] التهذيب: باسناده عن الحسين بن سعيد عن محمد بن أبي عمير عن معاوية بن عمار قال: قلت لابي عبدالله عليه السلام أقضي صلاة النهار بالليل في السفر؟ فقال: نعم، فقال له اسماعيل بن جابر أقضي […]

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Reasons for Differences between Narrations – Ḥadīth #2

[2/-] Ahmad b. Idris from Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar from al-Hasan b. Ali from Tha’laba b. Maymun from Zurara b. A’yan from Abi Ja’far عليه السلام, he (Zurara) said: I asked him about a matter so he answered me, then a man came to him and asked him about it so he answered him with a different answer to mine, then another man came … Comments

The following are just some of the reasons for differences between narrations:

(I) Fabrications, forgeries and lies being attributed to the Prophet and Imams. And such instances will hopefully not be found in our compilation which seeks to include only the Mu’tabar [reliable].

(II) Taqiyya. It can even be said that no Madhhab was tried by this more than ours.

(III) Ziyada (addition) and Nuqsan (deletion) – in the sense which we have described above.

(IV) The forgetfulness of narrators. They were after all mere humans and this comes as second nature to man.

(V) Inaccurate receiving and relaying of Hadith. This is because many of the narrators were not from the scholars rather from the laity. This is something that has affected the narrations of all sects.

(VI) The practice of narrators to transmit “by meaning” i.e. non-verbatim. This caused some to superimpose their own understanding onto narrations.

(VII) Editing narrations as was done by the authors of Hadith compilations. Some authors would only quote a relevant portion from the narration [excising the rest of the narration thereby inadvertently deleting the context which could have helped us understand the narration better].

(VIII) The loss of Qarain [circumstantial indicators] associated with a narration, especially as it was being conveyed originally. This is mainly a result of the passage of time (where we lose the original significance of a detail present in the narration). However, it is also caused by the narrators themselves not choosing to include such Qarain either because of forgetfulness or seeking brevity.

(cont. in next hadith in chapter)

[-/2] الكافي: أحمد بن إدريس، عن محمد بن عبدالجبار، عن الحسن بن علي، عن ثعلبة بن ميمون، عن زرارة بن أعين، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: سألته عن مسألة فأجابني ثم جاءه رجل فسأله عنها فأجابه بخلاف ما أجابني، ثم جاء رجل آخر …

Muʿjam al-Aḥādīth al-Muʿtabara, Reasons for Differences between Narrations – Ḥadīth #1

[1/-] Ali from his father from Ibn Abi Najran from Asim b. Humayd from Mansur b. Hazim who said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام: what is my condition – I ask you about a matter so you answer me in it with a certain answer, then someone other than me comes to you and you answer him with a different answer? He said: we answer the people with deletion [in-short] and [at other times] with addition [in-depth].  I said: so inform me about the companions of the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه واله – were they truthful about Muhammad or did they lie? He said: they were truthful, I said: so what was the matter with them that they differed? He said: don’t you know that a man used to come to the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه واله and ask him about a thing so he answers him in it with an answer, then he answers after that with that which abrogates the former answer, so the narrations abrogated one another. Comments

al-Moḥsini: The Imam answering with Nuqsan [‘in-short’] can be interpreted as him answering ‘in general’/‘in absolute terms’.

The Imam answering with Ziyada [‘in-depth’] can be interpreted as him answering  while ‘specifying particulars’/‘placing conditions’.

The Imam may also be alluding to variation in answers caused by the change in the subject of the ruling. For example it is sometimes said:

(ã) It is obligatory to provide basic necessities to the wife.

(b) It is not obligatory to provide basic necessities to the disobedient wife [Nashiza].

(c) It is not obligatory to provide basic necessities to the wife unless it was a condition in the contract if it is a case of temporary marriage.

As can be seen, all answers above while essentially correct are dependent on the circumstances surrounding the question and the motives of the questioner.

Sometimes someone was ordered to do an action (that is not obligatory) without there being any indicator in the phrasing of the order that the action is only recommended. This is justifiable for attaining a certain greater good, as will be affirmed by anyone who has held the responsibility of giving Fatwa and supervising the affairs of the people.

Additionally, answers being given ‘at length’ and ‘tersely’ can also be referring to instances of Taqiyya.

The meaning of the Imam’s answer about the companions is that they (the companions) were truthful in their totality and that one of the main reasons for the differences in what they narrated is occurrence of abrogation. It cannot be taken to mean that each companion was individually truthful because that would contrary to Reason and the Book and the Sunna.

Refer to what has been written about this by one of the merituous ones among the Ahl al-Sunnah in his book Adhwa al-Sunna al-Muhamadiyya/Lights on the Muhammadan Sunna, and refer also to our book Adala al-Sahaba which has been published together with the third edition of our book Buhuth fi Ilm al-Rijal.

[-/1] الكافي: علي، […]

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