A hadith occasionally cited by Shi’ite polemicists is the alleged statement of the Prophet where he is quoted saying: “Ali is the most knowledgeable from my Ummah after myself.” This report can be found in the 5th century hadith collection, Al-Firdaws bi Ma’thur Al-Khitab. What is bizarre about this report, however, is that the author of the collection, Al-Daylami, did not list an isnad for it. Rather, he simply said: “Salman Al-Farisi: Ali is the most knowledge from my Ummah after myself.” (Al-Daylami 1:370). Thus, there is a 5-century-long disconnection in the transmission of this report.
This hadith roused my interest: it cannot be found transmitted in a single canonical hadith collection, so what was Al-Daylami’s source for this report? I thus expanded the scope of my research to gain a better understanding of the origin of this forgery, and the results were interesting (to say the least).
Luckily, Akhtab Khawarezm the Mo’tazilite (d. 568), transmitted this report from Al-Daylami with an isnad in his notorious hadith collection, Al-Manaqib.
Let us evaluate the isnad listed by Akhtab Khawarizm:
Sharhadar b. Shirawayh Al-Daylami → Abu Ishaq Al-Qaffal → Abu Ishaq [Ibn] Khurshid → Ahmed b. Ziyad Ibn Al-A’rabi → Nujayh b. Ibrahim b. Muhammad → Dhirar b. Surad → ‘Ali b. Hashem → Muhammad b. ‘Abdillah Al-Hashimi → Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Hazm → ‘Abbad b. ‘Abdillah → Salman Al-Farisi (Al-Khawarezmi 82)
The isnad of this fabricated hadith is a living wonder. It contains at least five blunders:
- Abu Ishaq Al-Qaffal is unknown.
- Nujayh b. Ibrahim b. Muhammad has weakness.
- Ibn Hibban said: “He transmits exclusive reports. (Ibn Hajar, Lisan Al-Mizan, 8:254)
- Maslamah b. Al-Qasem said: “He is weak.” (Ibn Hajar, Lisan Al-Mizan, 8:254)
- Dhirar b. Surad was abandoned (matruk).
- Yahya b. Ma’in stated that he was a liar. (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Al-Bukhari and Al-Nasa’i said: “He is abandoned.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Husayyn b. Muhammad Al-Qibabi said: “They had abandoned him.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Abu Hatem said: “He was a trustworthy reciter of Quran. His hadith should be written, but he cannot be relied upon.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Abu Ahmed Al-Hakim said: “He is not strong.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Al-Daraqutni said: “He is weak.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Al-Saji said: “He has disapproved reports.”(Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Ibn Qani’ said: “A weak transmitter who espouses Shi’ism.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Ibn Hibban: “He was a jurist who was competent in inheritance; however, he used to transmit distorted reports from reliable transmitters such that anyone who heard them would attest to his weakness and unreliability.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 4:456)
- Muhamamd b. ‘Abdaydllah Al-Hashimi was a suspect forger. His name is misspelled in the isnad, for ‘Ali b. Hashem did not have a teacher named “Muhammad b. Abdillah Al-Hashimi.” Rather, his teacher’s name was “Muhammad b. ‘Ubaydillah Al-Hashimi”, and he is the notorious Ibn Abi Rafi’.
- Ibn Ma’in said: “He is worthless.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 9:321)
- Al-Bukhari said: “He is disapproved in hadith.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 9:321)
- Ibn Ma’in said: “He is worthless.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 9:321)
- Abu Hatem said: “He is weak in hadith, extremely disapproved in hadith, and abandoned.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 9:321)
- Ibn ‘Adiyy said: “He is among the Shia of Kufah, and he transmits reports in the fada’il in which he is not corroborated.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 9:321)
- Al-Daraqutni said: “He is abandoned, and he has blunderous reports.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 9:321)
- Abbad b. ‘Abdillah was weak.
- Al-Bukhari said: “fihi nazar” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 5:98), which indicative of his extreme weakness.
- ‘Ali b. Al-Madini said: “He is weak.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 5:98)
- Ibn Hazm said: “He is unknown.” (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 5:98)
- Ibn Hanbal declared a report of his to be munkar. (Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib Al-Tahdhib, 5:98)
Other Indicators of Forgery
Asides from the blunderous isnad for this hadith, the report embodies several other indicators of forgery:
Ahmed b. Ziyad, also known as Ibn Al-A’rabi, was the compiler of a hadith collection known as Mo’jam Ibn Al-A’rabi What is alarming about this report is that it is not found in his collection, which consists of 2460 reports. In his book, Ibn Al-A’rabi transmitted several reports from Nujayh b. Ibrahim from Dhirar b. Surad (some of which being in the virtues of ‘Ali, see report #2389), yet this report is not mentioned in the book. Perhaps this may indicate that this report is a later fabrication that was forged after Ibn Al-A’rabi and then falsely ascribed to him. Ibn Al-A’rabi was preceded by an unknown transmitter in this isnad, and it is possible that he was behind the fabrication of this hadith.
Another noteworthy indicator is the preponderance of more reliable reports that conflict with this report and demonstrate the superiority of other companions to Ali in knowledge.
Another red-flag in the transmission of this report is the fact that it cannot be found in a single primary source prior to the late 5th century.
Unfortunately, it seems as though Akhtab Khawarezm had filled his book with such evidently fabricated reports. Ibn Taymiyyah thus described him saying:
Akhtab Khawarezm authored a book on this topic. It contains fabricated hadiths, and their falsehood is apparent to anyone with a bit of knowledge in hadith, let alone the scholars of hadith. He (Akhtab) was not among the scholars of hadith nor was he a referable authority in this field. (Ibn Taymiyyah 5:41-42)
After a careful analysis of this report and the history of its transmission, it becomes apparent that it is a later fabrication that was falsely ascribed to the companion of the Prophet, Salman. This can be demonstrated in the report’s:
- Worthless and extremely weak isnad
- Exclusive transmission in later obscure and non-canonical sources
- Conflicting content with a variety of more reliable reports
- Absence from the book of Ibn Al-A’rabi, who was an alleged transmitter of this hadith.
Again, it is unfortunate that Shi’ite polemicists continue to cite historically worthless reports from unreliable sources to push forth their fallacious theological narrative. Nevertheless, a bit of research and scrutiny is sufficient to dispel these misleading appeals. Such examples serve to remind the average Sunni to be cautious of Shi’ite polemicists whenever they claim to cite reports from “Sunni sources.”
And Allah is the Witness of Abu Al-Abbas.
Al-Daylami, Shirawayh. Al-Firdaws bi Ma’thur Al-Khitab. Edited by Al-Saeed Zaghlul, Dar Al-Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1986.
Al-Khawarezmi, Al-Muwaffaq. Al-Manaqib. Edited by Malik Al-Mahmudi, 2nd ed., Al-Nashr Al-Islami, 1411.
Ibn Hajar, Ahmed. Lisan Al-Mizan. Edited by Abdulfattah Abu Ghoddah, 1st ed., Dar Al-Bashair Al-Islamiyyah, 2002.
—. Tahdib Al-Tahdib. 1st ed., Da’irat Al-Ma’arif Al-Nizamiyyah, 1326.
Ibn Taymiyyah, Ahmed. Minhaj Al-Sunnah fi Naqd Kalam Al-Shia wal-Qadariyyah. Edited by Muhammad Rashad Salem, 1st ed., Imam Saud University, 1986.
So who was most knowledgeable of Muslim Ummah after Prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.w) according to authentic hadith(s)?
The following report is exponentially stronger than the fabrication that was analyzed in this article:
Similarly, I would also ask you:
It’s kind of pathetic how some try to rank the Sahabah in knowledge, even though they’ve been dead for 1400 years.
It’s not a competition.
The reason for asking the question was not for competition but to know the person having most knowledge of Prophetic hadiths. Stop assuming things – you don’t know about people’s intention.
It’s obvious that people would go to most knowledge person of the time in order to learn from him – What is the reason that hadiths narrated by Muadh is few? Whereas on the other hand hadiths narrated by Abu Hurayrah and Aisha are numerous. If those 1400 years old dead people hadn’t transferred their knowledge to Ummah then people would had lost Prophetic teachings. GOD takes away knowledge from the earth by death of scholars. It is important for scholars to transfer their knowledge to people so that ignorance and biddah does not replace Sunnah.
Mu’adh died in 17 AH, while Abu Hurayrah and ‘Aisha died in 57 AH (4 decades after Mu’adh). This obviously gave them greater exposure to later tabi’in and a much more significant opportunity to disseminate Prophetic traditions.
I’m not interested in entertaining any more idiocy that is not related to the hadith discussed in the article.
If you have anything to say regarding my analysis, please go ahead. Otherwise, please do not waste your (and our) time.