Tِwelver polemicists today often attempt to incriminate Abu Hurayrah by desperately arguing that he was a forger of hadith who lied upon the Prophet. This debate has now become a fundamental aspect of Sunni-Shia polemics.
Even though Abu Hurayrah never participated in a battle against ‘Ali, the Shia today seem so adamant about his incrimination as a forger. I thus found myself asking: “Did the Imams authentically say anything about Abu Hurayrah?” This question sparked my interest and led me to several surprising conclusions:
The Imams Said NOTHING About Abu Hurayrah
As desperate as the Shia are today to prove that Abu Hurayrah was a liar, the Imams are not authentically quoted saying anything about the status of this man as a transmitter of hadith in the Twelver tradition.
There are only two baseless traditions cited by Shi’ite polemicists today. These traditions, surprisingly, are extremely weak according to Twelver standards, let alone Sunni standards.
The first report is a tradition transmitted by Al-Saduq in Kitab Al-Khisal. He said:
Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Ishaq Al-Talqani informed us, he said: ‘Abdulaziz b. Yahya informed us, he said: Muhammad b. Zakariyya informed us, from Ja’far b. Muhammad b. ‘Umarah, from his father, I heard Ja’far (as) say:
“There were three individuals who used to lie upon the Prophet: Abu Hurayrah, Anas b. Malik and a woman.”Al-Khisal pg. 190
This report is extremely weak and worthless for several reasons:
- Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Ishaq is unknown. (Al-Jawaheri 483)
- Muhammad b Ibrahim’s exclusive transmission from ‘Abdulaziz b. Yahya.
- Ja’far b. Muhammad b. ‘Umarah is unknown.
- Ja’far b. Muhammad b. ‘Umarah’s exclusive transmission from his father
- His father, Muhammad b. ‘Umarah is unknown as well.
- Muhammad b. ‘Umarah’s exclusive transmission from Ja’far Al-Sadiq.
This report clearly is not authentic according to Twelver standards: it contains three unknown transmitters who all exclusively transmitted this report at various points in the isnad. Similarly, Muhammad b. Zakriyya b. Dinar was a suspect of forger in the Sunni tradition.
The next alleged report is not even a hadith. The 5th century Twelver polemicist, Al-Tabari (d. post-411), in his book Al-Mustarshid, simply said:
And the Commander of the faithful said regarding him (Abu Hurayrah): The most prolific of liars upon the Messenger of Allah is this young man from the tribe of Daws (Abu Hurayrah).Al-Mustarshid pg. 170
Unsurprisingly, this report too is a fabrication. Al-Tabari does not list an isnad for it, and there is a 350+ year-long disconnection in its transmission. It is worthless according to Twelver standards, let along Sunni standards of hadith.
These literally are the only two texts where the Imams are quoted implicating Abu Hurayrah. Other than these two forgeries, there is not a single authentic quote where one of the Imams is quoted addressing Abu Hurayrah’s reliability as a transmitter of Prophetic traditions.
Other than these two clearly inauthentic reports, Shi’ite polemicists primarily appeal to fallacious reasoning and dishonest appeals in a desperate attempt to implicate Abu Hurayrah, as we have demonstrated in our article: “Abu Hurayrah & The Mirage of Lies.”
In the process, Twelver polemicists similarly uphold a double standard as they attempt to slander and implicate Abu Hurayrah, as we have demonstrated in the following article: “Shia Double Standards with Abu Hurayrah.”
It is evident that there is not a single authentic text from any of the 12 Imams regarding the status of Abu Hurayrah as a transmitter of hadith. What is further surprising is that Abu Hurayrah never participated in a battle against ‘Ali. In fact, Abu Hurayrah transmitted several merits of Ahlulbait, as demonstrated in this article.
The reality of the matter is that the early Shi’ite community did not necessarily have a negative view of Abu Hurayrah. Rather, these “anti-Abu Hurayrah” sentiments only emerged in the late 2nd century, which explains the incidence of a few Twelver fabrications from this era regarding Abu Hurayrah.
Those who insincerely slander Abu Hurayrah today will one day regret their transgression against this innocent companion of the Prophet.
And on the Day of Resurrection you shall see those who lied about Allah; their faces are blackened. Is there not an abode in hell for the arrogant?Quran 39:60
Al-Jawaheri, Muhammad. Al-Mufid Min Mo’jam Rijal Al-Hadith. 2nd ed., Al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1424.
Al-Tabari, Muhammad b. Jarir b. Rustom. Al-Mustarshid. Edited by Ahmed Al-Mahmudi, 1st ed., Salman Al-Farisi, 1415.
Ibn Babuyah, Muhammad b. ‘Ali. Al-Khisal. Edited by ‘Ali Akbar Ghifari, 2nd ed., Jama’at Al-Mudarrisin, 1403.