Hazrat Abū Hurayrah رضى الله عنه and His Detractors: Vindicating the Most Prolific Hadith Transmitter

Despite their mutual accolade of being companions of the Beloved (peace and blessings be upon him), the Sahābah vary in their individual rankings and accomplishments.[1] By way of example, one Companion was crowned the Custodian of the Muslim community[2] and another the Sword of Allah (Allah be pleased with them).[3] Abū Hurayrah, for his part, enjoys the status of being the most prolific transmitter of hadīths. Being a central link between the Prophet and succeeding generations, however, he was the target of unwarranted criticisms from his detractors and more so by subsequent unorthodox groups.[4] In recent times, this debate has resurfaced in the Muslim world with more rigor, due in part to the writings of Ahmad Amin (d. 1954), ‘Abd al-Husayn Sharaf al-Dīn (d. 1957), and Mahmūd Abū Rayyah (d. 1970)—they did little more than parrot Orientalist critics and reproduce outdated clichés.[5]

In what follows, we will have a look at Abū Hurayah’s biography, followed by an appraisal of key objections raised against him. It is beyond the scope of the present article to address every issue; hence, here we will suffice on two major points of contention: (1) the vast number of hadiths attributed to him despite his relatively short stay with the Prophet, and (2) his alleged bitter relationship with some fellow Companions. Peripheral objections will be addressed in relevant parts of the article or, for the sake of brevity, in the footnotes.

Curriculum Vitae

Hailing from the tribe of Daws, Yemen, his name was ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Sakhr,[6] but is always referred to by his sobriquet “Abū Hurayrah.” [7] He joined the Prophet in 7 AH, emigrating from his hometown having already embraced Islām.[8] He received the prayers of the Prophet from many angles: the Prophet prayed for the blessing of Yemen in general,[9] asked Allah to guide the tribe of Daws in particular,[10]and supplicated specifically for him, “O Allāh, make this slave of yours and his mother beloved to the believers and make the believers beloved to them”[11] In addition to the time he spent in the dissemination of knowledge, he would spend a considerable amount of his day in worship.[12] He would habitually fast on Monday, Thursday[13] and three days in the beginning of every month.[14] His nights were divided into three parts: one for resting, one for worship, and one to review hadīths.[15] He was among the People of the Suffah and exercised a great deal of scrupulousness and piety.[16]

Once he complained to the Prophet that he hears many hadiths but fails to retain them. The Prophet told him to spread his shawl and then made a gesture with his hands and told him to wrap the shawl around his body. After wearing the shawl, he said, “I never forgot a single hadīth.” [17] In addition to his phenomenal memory, he had an unwavering zeal to accompany the Prophet and learn hadīths. The Prophet said he was a vessel of knowledge[18] and praised him for his zeal to learn hadiths.[19] This was common knowledge among the Companions. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, for instance, said that he spent the most time in the company of the Prophet and was most knowledgeable about hadiths.[20] Talhah ibn ‘Ubaydallāh said that Abū Hurayrah heard from the Prophet what other Companions did not, because he would stay with the Prophet when others would attend to their responsibilities.[21]

After the Prophet’s demise, he participated in several military campaigns, such as the Battle of Yarmūk (15 AH).[22] He served multiple terms as the governor of Bahrain[23] and was later appointed the governor of Madīnah[24] where he passed away around the year 58 AH.[25] He was married to Busrah bint Ghazwān and together they had four children, three sons and one daughter.[26] He was of moderate complexion, soft, broad-shouldered, possessing two braids, and had a gap between his front two teeth. He would dye his white hairs red. He would wear white clothing and was seen wearing a black turban and a white one as well (Allah be pleased with him).[27]

Abundant Narrations

Perhaps the most reoccurring criticism against Abū Hurayrah is the vast number of hadiths he purportedly narrated despite spending a relatively short amount of time with the Prophet.[28] To be sure, Abū Hurayrah spent roughly four years in the company of the Prophet[29] and the number of narrations generally attributed to him is 5374. This figure emanates from Ibn Hazm (d. 456 AH) who authored a treatise[30] wherein he enumerated the number of hadīths narrated by each Companion in the Musnad of Baqī ibn Makhlad (d. 276 AH),[31] which is considered the most inclusive Hadīth compilation[32] but is yet to be located in any library.[33]

However, there is a problem with attributing such a large number of hadiths to Abū Hurayrah. The largest primary Hadīth compilation available today is the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH) where Abū Hurayrah narrates 3848 hadīths including repetitions. Once the repetitions are eliminated, there remain only 1579 narrations.[34] If the number of hadiths enumerated by Ibn Hazm is accurate, it is unlikely that Ahmad would omit such a large number of Abū Hurayrah’s hadīths, bearing in mind the exhaustive nature of his Musnad.[35] The glaring disparity between these two numbers is due to a few reasons. First, Ibn Hazm possibly counted each chain of transmission as a separate hadith even though the text was the same.[36] Second, it seems Baqī ibn Makhlad cited different parts of a single hadith in various chapters as the need arose—Ibn Hazm counted each part as an individual narration. [37] Finally, Ibn Hazm included every narration regardless of its authenticity. [38] Against this backdrop, it becomes increasingly clear that the actual number of hadīths Abū Hurayrah narrated is far less than popular belief.

It should be noted that the Companions would frequently narrate from the Prophet via other Companions; the Companions being collectively upright, there was no problem in this practice even if they did not disclose their direct source. [39] This phenomenon was more frequent among junior Companions like ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbās, who narrated well over a thousand hadiths [40] mostly through the medium of other Companions.[41] Since Abū Hurayrah was no exception to this practice, though he stayed in the companionship of the Prophet for a relatively short time, he could have learnt many hadiths from other Companions during and after the Prophet’s era.[42] In fact, most of his hadiths are corroborated by other Companions, and therefore, the number of hadiths he narrated independently are few. According to one study, a mere 220 authentic, uncorroborated hadiths are transmitted via Abū Hurayrah.[43]

With that said, it is obvious that the number of hadīths a Companion narrates does not necessarily reflect the number he knew; it only shows how much he managed to impart and the amount his students were able to hear and transmit from him. That Abū Hurayrah narrated more hadīths than Abū Bakr, for example, in no way necessitates that he knew more than him.[44] It is unfair to compare Abū Hurayrah with the Rightly-guided Caliphs because the latter were restrained by political responsibilities. And since Abū Hurayrah outlived them by many years, he managed to impart more hadiths.[45] Some disliked transmitting hadīths abundantly out of caution;[46] others narrated as much as possible to avoid hoarding knowledge—both were justifiable choices.[47] Being from the second category, Abū Hurayrah held public Hadīth lectures [48] and imparted hadiths during his many travels.[49]

Relationship with Fellow Companions

To get a good understanding of how Abū Hurayrah’s contemporaries viewed him, it may be useful to note, as al-Bukhārī states, roughly 800 scholars from the Companions[50] and Successors collectively narrated from him; thus, verifying his status as a reliable source of knowledge.[51] In this section, we will have a look at his relationship with some of the Companions, with whom he allegedly had a bitter relationship, namely, ‘A’ishah and ‘Umar.[52]

Our Mother ‘Ā’ishah

On a number of occasions, ‘A’ishah corrected Abū Hurayrah on issues she believed he erred. But, as is well known, this was also her practice with other Companions.[53] In one instance, Abū Hurayrah recited hadiths audibly at a quick pace by the room of ‘A’ishah who was busy with worship. By the time she completed her worship, he had already left, so she said, “I would have informed him that the Prophet would not rattle hadīths in that manner.”[54] Interestingly, she disapproved his pace of his recitation, not the content.[55] In another instance, she told him, “You narrate hadīths from the Prophet I did not hear.”Abū Hurayrah replied, “O my beloved mother, while you were busy with your mirror and antimony bottle, I sought them and nothing preoccupied me from them”[56] and she replied, “It is possible.”[57]Consider his dignified address, on the one hand, and her humility for the possibility that she is unaware, on the other.

By taking their exchanges out of context, certain feminists accuse Abū Hurayah of misogyny.[58]Notwithstanding certain matters of disagreement, Abū Hurayrah had an amicable relationship with ‘A’ishah; he sat in her company[59] and even led her funeral prayer.[60]In addition, Abū Hurayrah in general had utmost respect for the women most near to him: he was grateful for his marriage with Busrah bint Ghazwan,[61] provided a good upbringing for his daughter,[62] and expressed immense love for his mother.[63] The criticisms against him in this regard, however, also pertain to the nature of some hadiths he narrated. For the purpose of illustration, let us have a look at two hadīths that were put under scrutiny: (1) There is shu’m (lit. misfortune) in three things: the home, the woman, and the horse [64] and (2) [The passing of] A woman, mule, and dog breaks the prayer.[65]

On the first hadīth, ‘A’ishah objected that the Prophet only said in the pre-Islāmic days people would consider misfortune in these three things—it was in reference to a specific context, not a general statement. However, Abū Hurayrah is not alone in narrating the aforementioned hadith; Ibn ‘Umar and Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqās also narrated it.[66] Although some scholars opine that ‘A’ishah’s criticism is valid, others say the hadith as narrated by other Companions is correct but refers to a hypothetical scenario, that is, had there been misfortune, then in these three things.[67] ‘A’ishah also objected to the second hadith, but again Abū Hurayrah is corroborated by other Companions; in this case, Abū Dharr and ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mughaffal. [68] Moreover, it was interpreted figuratively to mean that the passing of these three things potentially disturbs the concentration of the worshiper—not that it literally invalidates the prayer.”[69] Be it as it may, to single out Abū Hurayrah for some perceived objectionable content is unfair since he is corroborated and the hadiths he narrated have a sound explanation.

‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb

‘Umar ibn Khattāb’s passion for justice and his standards of discipline require no introduction.[70] Relying on unsubstantiated reports, detractors attempt to paint a fully negative picture of ‘Umar’s relationship with Abū Hurayrah.[71]That ‘Umar asked Abū Hurayrah about certain hadiths indicates that he regarded him reliable. On one occasion, he asked Abū Hurayrah about a hadith on tattooing [72] and on another he accepted a narration from him extoling Hassān ibn Thābit. [73] Had ‘Umar doubted Abū Hurayrah’s probity, he would not have accepted his transmission. The same is true for ‘Umar’s progeny: his son ‘Abd Allah praised Abū Hurayrah and regarded him the most knowledgeable about Hadīth,[74] and his grandchildren, viz. Sālim ibn ‘Abd Allāh[75] and Hafs ibn ‘Asim,[76] narrated hadiths from him. Nonetheless, there are two issues that are worth addressing here. The first is a heated conversation between ‘Umar and Abū Hurayrah upon his return from Bahrain, and the second is ‘Umar’s warning of exiling Abū Hurayrah for excessively narrating hadīths.

As mentioned earlierAbū Hurayrah had a history of serving in Bahrain; he served one term during the reign of ‘Umar. [77] Critics claim that ‘Umar dismissed Abū Hurayrah from his post due to a misappropriation of public funds. Not only that, but he also rebuked him and inflicted corporal punishment.[78] The dialogue in reference is where Abū Hurayrah returns to ‘Umar from Bahrain with a large sum of money. The following conversation then ensued:

‘Umar: Have you oppressed anyone or taken anything without its right?

Abū Hurayrah:  No.

‘Umar: What have you brought for yourself?

Abū Hurayrah:  Twenty thousand.

‘Umar: How did you acquire it?

Abū Hurayrah:  I invested.

‘Umar: Calculate your capital and wage; take that amount and put the remainder in the Muslim treasury. [79]

In another report with slight variations, ‘Umar opened his address by saying, “O enemy of Allāh and His book, have you usurped the wealth of Allāh?” and Abū Hurayrah replied, “I am not the enemy of Allāh nor the enemy of His book; rather, I am the enemy of those who oppose them. After the conversation, Abū Hurayrah said, “After I performed the morning prayer, I sought forgiveness for the leader of the believers [‘Umar].”[80]

The first thing to note is the absence of any corporal punishment. Second, Abū Hurayrah never misappropriated public funds; by his own admission, only part of the wealth was from his own earnings and the remainder was for the Muslim treasury. According to one narration, he actually offered the entire sum to the Muslim treasury.[81] As seen earlier, ‘Umar did not doubt his probity, so the heated conversation was because of ‘Umar’s strict protocols when dealing with his governors. He was known to appoint a more competent person in the place of an existing governor if he knew he could execute the duty more effectively. For example, he wrote to al-‘Alā’ al-Hadramī to take the post of ‘Utbah ibn Ghazwān, who ‘Umar himself praised highly but believed was less effective than al-‘Alā’.[82] A similar treatment regarding monetary issues was also meted out with other governors, like Sa‘d ibn Abī Waqqās.[83] That ‘Umar was simply acting according to protocol and never harbored distrust for Abū Hurayrah is evident in a later conversation where he asked him to govern again, but this time Abū Hurayrah politely refused.[84]

The second point of contention is ‘Umar’s warning to Abū Hurayrah, “If you do not cease narrating from the Prophet, I will send you to the land of Daws.”[85] However, this was, as Ibn Kathīr explains, because he feared the dissemination of narrations people could potentially misuse or misunderstand. It is naturally expected from a person who narrates hadīths excessively that there would be some errors, which people could potentially hear and convey without correction.[86] Whatever the case may be, later ‘Umar granted him permission to narrate. But first he reminded him of the hadith “Whoever lies about me knowingly should prepare his abode in the fire” and then said, “If you are conscious of this statement then you are free to go and narrate hadīths.”[87] This shows that ‘Umar’s reservation was out of caution and not because he doubted his probity. Moreover, this attitude was not exclusive to Abū Hurayrah, for he dealt with other Companions in a similar manner.[88]

Detractors incorrectly ascribe the words “I will send you to the land of the monkeys” to ‘Umar.[89] The full report in the primary reference is, “‘If you do not cease to narrate from the Prophet I will send you to the land of Daws’ and he told Ka‘b al-Ahbār, ‘If you do not cease from [relating] reports [from the past] I will send you to the land of the monkeys [Yemen].’”[90] As can be seen, the second statement was directed to Ka‘b al-Ahbār.[91]

A slight digression may be useful at this point on Abū Ishāq Ka‘b ibn al-Māti’ (d. 32 AH), better known as Ka‘b al-Ahbār.[92] He was a Yemeni Jew, who was well versed in Jewish scripture. He lived during the Prophet’s lifetime but never met him and only accepted Islām after his demise.[93] Due to his proficiency in Biblical sources, he was a point of reference for a number of Companions[94] including Abū Hurayrah.[95] Like other Companions, Abū Hurayrah would not accept everything Ka‘b related from earlier scriptures—when it conflicted with Islamic teachings, he had no qualms in disagreeing with him.[96]Simply because certain hadiths resemble material from Biblical sources should not be a reason to dismiss them as fabrications. As Islam is an extension of earlier Abrahamic faiths, it should come as no surprise that they share common themes.[97]Yes, there were instances where narrators incorrectly—at times deliberately—attributed material from these scriptures to the Prophet, [98]  particularly in the case of Abū Hurayrah via Ka‘b,[99] but these were noted by scholars.[100]


It should be clear from the foregoing that Abū Hurayrah led an exemplary life; the Prophet prayed for him and praised him, and the Companions echoed similar sentiments. When taken on face value, his exchanges with some Companions may come across as confrontational or even bitter. But studied in their context, it becomes clear that such altercations were based on scholarly differences, not an attack on his reliability. Moreover, it has become all too common to question Abū Hurayrah’s ability to narrate a vast number of hadīths in spite of his relatively short stay with the Prophet. This criticism, however, does not hold water when weighed against a number of facts, viz. he narrated far less than popular belief, he narrated via other Companions, and he lived longer and traveled more than many Companions—let’s not forget the Prophet himself acknowledged his passion for knowledge.

[1] Ibn al-Jawzī, Talqīh Fuhūm Ahl al-Athar, p.72; Ibn Nāsir al-Dīn, Majālis Fī Qawlihī Ta‘ālā, p.66 ff.

[2] Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Musnad al-Sahīh, vol.5, p.25.

[3] Ahmad, al-Musnadno.43.

[4] See, for instance, Abū Bakr ibn Khuzaymah’s observation in this regard in: al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak ‘alā al-Sahīhayn, vol.3, p.586. For a study on how some early Hanafīs, like ‘Isā ibn Abān, viewed the hadiths of Abū Hurayrah. See: al-Turkumānī, Dirāsāt fī Usūl al-Hadīth ‘alā Manhaj al-Hanafiyyah, p.229 ff.; al-‘Izzī. Difā‘ ‘an Abī Hurayrah, p.237 ff. [Both references shed light on Abū Hurayrah’s juristic standing and qualification to pass legal verdicts.]

[5] Al-Sibā‘ī, al-Sunnah wa Makānatuhā fī al-Tashrī‘ al-Islāmī, p.322. As al-‘Izzī points out, a common thread in their criticisms is the reliance upon dubious and biased sources (e.g., al-Iskāfī [d. 240 AH], Sharīf al-Murtadā [d. 436 AH], and Ibn Abī al-Hadīd [d. 656]) and the lack of context. See: al-‘Izzī, Difa‘ ‘an Abi Hurayra, p.121; al-Mu‘allimī, al-Anwār al-Kāshifah, p.152; ‘Ajjāj, al-Sunnah Qabl al-Tadwīn, p.442.

[6] As Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr points out, there is considerable, unparalleled dispute over the name of Abū Hurayrah; al-Nawawī notes that there are roughly thirty views, the most accurate being ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Sakhr. See: Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Usd al-Ghābah, vol.5, p.319; al-Nawawī, al-Minhāj, vol.1, p.67. The reason for this considerable difference, as Ibn Hajar postulates, is that there are ten views specifically on the name of Abū Hurayrah and a similar number on his father’s, which were then multiplied. But once the weak opinions are eliminated, we are left with three, viz. ‘Umayr, ‘Abd Allah, and ‘Abd al-Rahmān, the first two were possibly his name before Islam and the latter after Islam. See: Ibn Hajar, al-Isābah fī Tamyīz al-Sahābah, vol.6, p.273; idem, Hudā al-Sārī, p.245 [‘Abd Shams being his name before Islām according many latter-day scholars]. That Abū Hurayrah was always referred to by his sobriquet explains the difficulty in pinpointing his actual name. To put things into perspective, consider that many people are unaware that Abū Bakr’s name was ‘Abd Allah. This is because he is hardly ever referred to but by his agnomen. See: al-Sibā‘ī, al-Sunnah wa Makānatuhā fī al-Tashrī‘ al-Islāmī, p.354.

[7] He owes his sobriquet to a kitten he took under his care. See: al-Tirmidhī, al-Sunan, vol.6, p.168; al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak ‘alā al-Sahīhayn, vol.3, p.579. In one hadith, the Prophet addresses him as “Abū Hirr.” See:  al-Bukhārī, al-Jām‘ al-Musnad, vol.1, p.65.

[8] Opinions vary whether he accepted Islam before or after his emigration from Yemen which corresponded with the Battle of Khaybar in 7 AH. The soundest opinion is the former for at least three reasons. First, it is reported that he was among the few who accepted the call of al-Tufayl ibn ‘Amr al-Dawsī, who accepted Islam before the Migration and began calling his fellow Dawsīs to Islam. See: Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī, vol.8, p.102; idem, al-Isābah, vol.3, p.80 [via Abū al-Faraj al-Asfahānī through Ibn al-Kalbī]; cf. Ahmad, Fadā’il al-Sahābah, vol.2, p.884; other sources make no explicit mention of Abū Hurayrah, but that should not dismiss the possibility of his responding to al-Tufayl’s call. Second, he was well aware of certain events that occurred before the Battle of Khaybar (e.g., he knew who murdered Ibn Qawqal in the Battle of Uhud). See: al-Bukhārī, al-Musnad al-Jāmi‘, vol.4, p.24. Finally, according to one report, he arrived in Madīnah and the Prophet had already proceeded to Khaybar, so he joined the morning prayer in the Masjid. See: Ahmad, al-Musnadno.8552; Ibn Hibbān, al-Sahīh [al-Ihsān], vol.8, p.169.

[9] Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Sahīh, vol.2, p.33.

[10] Ibid., vol.4, p.44.

[11] Muslim, al-Musnad al-Sahīh, vol.7, p.165-166.

[12] See, for instance: Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol.8, p.118.

[13] Ibn Abī Shaybah, al-Musannaf , vol.6, p.191, no.9320.

[14] Ibn Rāhwayh, al-Musnad, vol.1, p.103.

[15] Al-Dārimī, al-Sunan, vol.1, p.322, no.272; cf. Ibn Rahwayh, al-Musnad, vol.1, p.103.

[16] Abū Rayyah claims Abū Hurayrah later abandoned this austere lifestyle for one of luxury, pandering to the demands of the government, which compensated him with plots of land and wealth. See: Abū Rayyah, Adwā’ ‘alā al-Sunnah al-Muhammadiyyah, p.185-189. This is patently false. It was on account of his harsh relationship with the state that he was often dismissed from his post as governor. And in not a few cases, he objected to members of the ruling class, like Marwān ibn al-Hakam. See: Ahmad, Musnadvol.12, p.84; al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.2, p.613; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol.8, p.116. Moreover, he was financially stable due to his own investments, and still he was in possession of only one house. See: Ibn Sa‘d , al-Tabaqāt, vol.3, p.206; cf. al-Mu‘llimī, al-Anwār al-Kāshifah, p.206.

[17] Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Sahīh, vol.1, p.35.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, vol.2, p.596.

[20] Al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, vol.3, p.584.

[21] Al-Tirmidhī, al-Sunan, vol.6, p.166.

[22] Ibn ‘Asākir, Tārīkh Madīnat Dimashqvol.11, p.317/vol.20, p.160; cf. ‘Ajjāj, Abū Hurayrah Rāwiyat al-Islām, p.92 ff.

[23] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqāt, vol.3, p.220; Abū Yūsuf, al-Kharāj, vol.1, p.127; cf. al-Mu‘allimī, al-Anwār al-Kāshifah, p.225.

[24] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.2, p.613.

[25] Ibn Hajar, al-Isābāh, vol.6, p.283. On Abū Hurayrah’s date of demise, see: Ajjāj, Abū Hurayrah Rāwiyat al-Islam, p.101.

[26] Ibn Hazm, Jamharat Ansāb al-‘Arab, p.382.

[27] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā, vol.4, pp.248-249; al-Rāfi‘ī, al-Tadwīn fī Akhbār Qazwīn, vol.1, p.85.

[28] Abū Rayyah, Adwā’, p.167, 173.

[29] Abū Dāwūd, al-Sunan, vol.1, p.23. That he spent only three years, as he admits himself, refers to the time he de facto spent in the Prophet’s company, i.e. excluding campaigns, travels, etc. See: al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Sahīh, vol.4, p.196; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī, vol.6, p.608; al-‘Izzī, Difā’ ‘an Abī Hurayrah, p.26.

[30] On the title of Ibn Hazm’s treatise, see: Mujīr al-Khatīb, Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, vol.1, p.270.

[31] For Ibn Hazm’s description of Musnad Baqī ibn Makhlad, see al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’vol.13, p.291.

[32] Ibn Hazm, ‘Adad mā li Kulli Wāhid min al-Sahābah min al-Hadīth in al-‘Umarī’s Baqī ibn Makhlad al-Qurtubī wa Muqaddimat Musnadihī, p.79. Ahmad Shākir believes Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597 AH) in his book Talqīh Fuhūm Ahl al-Athar is the source for the aforementioned figure. See: Shākir, al-Bā‘ith al-Hathīth, vol.2, p.507. However, as can be seen, Ibn Hazm was the first to take up this task and his treatise was then used by subsequent scholars. In general, since Ibn al-Jawzi drew on sources besides Ibn Hazm, his book contains additions but this did not affect Abū Hurayrah’s number. See: Mujīr, Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, vol.1, p.270.

[33] Shākir, al-Bā‘ith al-Hathīth, vol.2, p.508. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Mubārakfūrī (d. 1925), the famous commentator on Jāmi‘ al-Tirmidhī, claims that a manuscript of this rare compilation can be been found in a German library. See: al-Mubārakfūrī, Fawā’id fī ‘Ulūmal-Hadīthpp.864-865. However, the manuscript expert al-Kawtharī (d. 1951) is unaware of the whereabouts of this supposed library while Sa’ūd Sarhān considers it a myth. See: al-Kawtharī, Rasā’il al-Imām Muhammad Zāhid al-Kawtharīpp.122-124.

[34] Shākir, al-Bā‘ith al-Hathīth, vol.2, p.508.

[35] As is well-known, he selected the hadīths in his Musnad from a pool of seven-hundred fifty thousand hadīths. See: Abū Musā, Khasā’is al-Musnad, p.21. Although it can be argued that he did not include many hadiths in his Musnad, it is unlikely that he omitted such a large number – hence, the need for an explanation.

[36] Shākir, al-Bā‘ith al-Hathīth, vol.2, p.508.

[37] Ibid., p.511. This is similar to al-Bukhārī’s methodology of separating parts of a single hadith. See: Ibn Hajar, Hudā al-Sārīpp.15-16. [on the title of the aforementioned reference, see: al-Arna’ūt, Introduction to Fath al- Bārī, vol.1, p.38; ‘Awwāmah, Footnotes on al-Madkhal, vol.2, p.615]. On the hadiths with identical chains and texts that were repeated throughout Sahīh al-Bukhārī, see: al-Jawnfūrī, Irshād al-Qāsid in al-Yawāqīt al-Ghāliyah, vol.3, p.9 ff.

[38] Al-‘Izzī, Difā’ ‘an Abī Hurayrah, p.267.

[39] Al-‘Alā’ī, Jāmi‘ al-Tahsīl, p.36. The common method is where the Companion discloses the name of the Companion from whom he is narrating. At times, this is left unmentioned, but when asked, the source is disclosed. See: al-Zarkashī, al-Nukat ‘alā Muqaddimat Ibn al-Salāh, vol.1, p.63.

[40] In Musnad Baqī, Ibn ‘Abbās narrates 1660 hadīths and in Musnad Ahmad 1696 hadīths. See: Ibn Hazm, ‘Adad, p.79; Shākir, al-Bā‘ith al-Hathīth, vol.2, p.510.

[41] Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārīvol.11, p.383. Ibn Hajar was able to locate over forty [sahīh or hasan] narrations which Ibn ‘Abbās heard directly from the Prophet. Muhammad ‘Ābid al-Sindhī (d. 1257 AH) authored a treatise on these hadīths entitled “Kashf al-Ba’s ‘ammā Rawāhu Ibn ‘Abbās Mushāfahatan ‘an Sayyid al-Nās.” Based on the author’s numbering,  he collected seventy-seven such narrations, keeping in mind that the work is incomplete. See: al-Sindhī, Kashf al-Ba’s, al-Khazānah al-Taymūriyyah manuscript no.342; cf. Bakdāsh, Muhammad ‘Ābid al-Sindhī al-Ansārīpp.342-345; Mughaltāy, Ikmāl Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, vol.8, p.12.

[42] It should be recalled that he, based on the sounder opinion, accepted Islām before his migration to Madīnah in 7 AH, so he must have heard hadiths even before meeting the Prophet.

[43] Diyā’ al-Rahmān al-A’zamī, Abū Hurayrah fi Daw’ Marwiyātihi bi Shawāhidihā, section . He informs the reader that his research was based on the sources available to him, so further study may reveal corroboration for the remaining hadiths.

[44] In Ibn Hazm’s treatise, Abū Bakr narrated 142 hadīths. See: Ibn Hazm, ‘Adad, p.82.

[45] ‘Ajjāj, al-Sunnah Qabl al-Tadwīn, p.450; al-Hasanī, Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, vol.1, p.361.

[46] For instance, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr asked his father, “Why do I not hear you narrating hadīths from the Prophet just as so and so?” His father replied, “I did not separate from him, but I heard him say, ‘Whoever lies about me should prepare his abode in the Fire.’” See: Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Musnad, vol.1, p.33.

[47] For instance, Abū Hurayrah said, “If it were not for two verses of the Qur’ān, I would have never narrated a single hadīth. He then recited: Those who conceal the clear signs We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, on them shall be Allāh´s curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse. Except those who repent and make amends and openly declare (the Truth): To them I turn; for I am Oft-returning, Most Merciful (Q. 2:159-160).” See: Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Musnad, vol.1, p.33.

[48] Ibn ‘Asākir, Tārīkh Madīnat Dimashqvol.67, p.364; al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.2, p.611.

[49] Ibn al-Wazīr, al-‘Awāsim wa al-Qawāsim, vol.2, p.42; ‘Ajjāj al-Khatīb, Abu Hurayrah Rāwiyat al-Islām, p.110.

[50] Based on al-Hākim’s research, at least 28 Companions narrated from Abū Hurayrah. See: al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, vol.3, p.586.

[51] Al-Bayhaqī, al-Madkhal ilā ‘Ilm al-Sunan [with editor’s annotations], vol.1, p.212.  Al-Bayhaqī attributes this statement to al-Bukhārī’s Tārīkh and relates it via his chain of transmission from Abū Ahmad ibn Fāris, the transmitter of al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr. But the statement is yet to be found in any extant print of book. In an attempt to verify al-Bukhārī’s claim, ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-‘Izzī prepared a chart of those who narrated from Abū Hurayrah as found in the extant classical Hadīth literature. Based on his findings, there are over 750 who directly narrated from him, and therefore, al-Bukhārī’s statement is accurate. The marginal difference between the two numbers is most probably due to a limitation of the sources al-‘Izzī managed to collate. See: Al-‘Izzī, Difā‘ ‘an Abī Hurayrah, p.273 ff.

[52] For a study of his relationship with other Companions, see: ‘Ajjāj, Abū Hurayrah Rāwiyat al-Islām, p.211 ff.

[53] For examples of this, see al-Zarkashī, al-Ijābah, p. 71 ff.

[54] Muslim, al-Musnad al-Sahīh, vol.4, p.1940.

[55] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.2, p.607; cf. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī, vol.6, p.579.

[56] Ibn Sa‘d , al-Tabaqāt, vol.1, p.272

[57] Ibn ‘Asākir, Tārikh Dimashqvol.67, p.353; al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.2, p.604.

[58] One Feminist in particular is Fatima Mernissi (d. 2015) in: Mernissi, The Veil and the Male Elite, p.72. In the above mentioned exchanged between ‘A’ishah and Abū Hurayrah, Mernissi conveniently omits ‘A’ishah’s reply “it is possible,” a crucial part of the dialogue to put it into perspective. See: ibid. For a response to Mernissi’s criticisms, see: Ghani, Usman (2011), ‘Abū Hurayrah a Narrator of Hadīth Revisited, (unpublished PhD. Thesis), p. 293 ff.

[59] See, for instance: al-Bukhārī, al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr, vol.1, p.21.

[60] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā, vol.8, p.76.

[61] Al-Asfahānī, Hilyat al-Awliyā’, vol.1, p.380.

[62] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.4, p.218; Ahmad, al-Zuhd, vol.1, p.126.

[63] See an example of his love for his mother in: al-Bukhārī, al-Adab al-Mufradno.12/14.

[64] Al-Tayālisī, al-Musnad, vol.3, p.124, no.1641; Ahmad, al-Musnadno.25168.

[65] Muslim, al-Musnad al-Sahīh, vol.1, pp.59-60.

[66] See: al-Bukhari, al-Jāmi‘ al-Musnad, vol.7, p.135; Ahmad, al-Musnad, vol.3, p.92.

[67] Al-Zarkashī, al-Ijābahpp.115-117.

[68] See: Muslim, al-Musnad al-Sahīh, vol.1, p.59; Ibn Mājah, al-Sunan, vol.2, p.102.

[69] Al-Nawawī, al-Minhāj, vol.4, p.227.

[70] His strict principles notwithstanding, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb accurately fits his own description of a suitable ruler, “Gentle without weakness, firm without harshness, thrifty without miserliness, and generous without extravagance.” See: ‘Abd al-Razzāq, al-Musannafno.15288.

[71] See, for instance: Abū Rayyah, Adwā’, p.174; ‘Ajjāj, Abū Hurayrah, p.213.

[72] Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Musnad, vol.7, p.166

[73] Muslim, al-Musnad al-Sahīh, vol.7, pp.126-163

[74] Al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, vol.3, p.584

[75] See, for instance, al-Mizzī, Tuhfat al-Ashrāfno.12911-12913.

[76] Ibid., no.12263-12269.

[77] Abū Yūsuf, al-Kharāj, vol.1, p.127.

[78] Abū Rayyah, Adwā’ pp.190-191.

[79] Ibn Sa‘d , al-Tabaqāt, vol.3, p.206.

[80] Ibid.

[81] Abū Yūsuf, al-Kharāj, p.56.

[82] Ibn Sa‘d, al-Tabaqāt, vol.4, p.362.

[83] Ibid., vol.3, p.149

[84] Al-Hākim, al-Mustadrak, vol.2, p.378.

[85] Al-Dimashqī, Tārīkh Abī Zur‘ah, vol.1, p.544; al-Rāmahurmuzī, al-Muhaddith al-Fāsil, p.554. Salāh al-Dīn al-‘Alā’ī (d. 761 AH) regards this report unreliable. See: al-‘Alā’ī. Tahqīq Munīf al-Rutbah, p.293. Two comments need to be made concerning al-Mu‘allimi’s criticism of the chain in: al-Anwār al-Kāshifah, p.155. First, Muhammad ibn Zur‘ah is a reliable narrator (al-‘Ijlī, al-Tārīkhno.1454), and second, the correct name of the narrator in Tārīkh Abī Zur‘ah is Isma‘īl ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh and he did hear from al-Sā’ib ibn Yazīd (al-Dhahabī, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.5, p.213; cf. Ibn al-Wazīr, al-‘Awāsim wa al-Qawāsim [with editor’s annotation], vol.2, p.40).

[86] Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol.8, p.114.

[87] Ibn ‘Asākir, Tārīkh Dimashqvol.67vol.344-345.

[88] ‘Ajjāj, al-Sunnah Qabl al-Tadwīn, p.458.

[89] Abū Rayyah, Adwā’, p.174.

[90] Al-Dimashqī, Tārīkh Abī Zur‘ah, vol.1, p.544; cf. Abū Ghuddah, Footnotes on al-Manār al-Munīf, p.90. In the given reference, the words to Ka‘b are “la-tatrukanna al-ahādīth” whereas secondary sources that quote Abū Zur‘ah, like Ibn Kathīr, qualify the statement as “al-hadīth ‘an al-awwal” (reports from the past). See: Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol.8, p.115.

[91] After his conversion, Ka‘b’s enjoyed a close relationship with, and narrated extensively from, ‘Umar. See: al-Nawawī, Tahdhīb al-Asmā’ wa al-Lughāt, vol.2, p.69. Seeing Ka‘b’s proficiency in Judeo-Christian scripture, ‘Umar seized the opportunity to consult him when needed, provided it was congruent with Islamic teachings; otherwise, he openly disagreed with him. See, for instance: Ahmad, al-Musnadno.261. It can even be argued that ‘Umar later restricted his initial consent, as is seen from the above warning, but his objection here was to Ka‘b’s narrations not his reliability. See: Tawakkal, Abd Alfatah (2007), Ka‘b al-Ahbār and the Isrā’iliyyāt in the Tafsīr Literature, (unpublished M.A thesis), pp.28-29.

[92] The sobriquet “Ahbār” in the plural form, and less frequently hibr/habr in the singular form, was due to his profound knowledge (particularly concerning Biblical sources). See: al-Nawawī, Tahdhīb, vol.2, p.69.

[93] Ibn Hajar, al-Isābah, vol.4, p.502; Abū Shahbah, al-Isrā’īliyyāt wa al-Mawdū‘ātpp.100-105.

[94] The Prophet allowed the Companions to consult Judeo-Christian sources; he said, “Narrate from the People of the Book and fear no sin.” This permission was obviously restricted to material that did not conflict with Islamic teachings. See: Al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Musnad, vol.6, p.20; Abū Dāwūd, al-Sunanno.3644; Falātah, al-Wad‘ fī al-Hadīth, vol.1, p.330; Abū Shahbah, al-Isrā’īliyyāt, p.106 ff. The Companions’ relationship with Ka‘b was most definitely not one of blind acceptance. When required, they would openly disagree with him. See, for instance, the statement of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamān in: Ibn Hajar, al-Isābah, vol.4, p.504.


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