An inflammatory article published on 20-May-2021 in a Mumbai-based Urdu daily Sahafat demonstrates the bigoted and biased attitude of the pretentious researcher, Maulvi Abdul Hafeez Islami. The half-baked and slanted article not only exposes Abdul Hafeez’s rancour towards the infallible family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) but also to the lowest levels of partisanship that he is willing to stoop to manifest his animosity towards the Ahle Bait (a.s.) in general and Ameerul Mominee Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) in particular.
The Maulvi has recklessly quoted an obscure interpretation of Surah Nisaa (4): Verse 43, “O you who believe! Do not go near the prayers whilst you are intoxicated,” that it refers to Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) whereas nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone would think twice before accusing even an ordinary companion of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and will exercise extra caution and discretion before ascribing such a malicious allegation. However, the Maulvi has no qualms about it and betrays total lack of conscience while audaciously writing against the best creation of Allah after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), best Companion of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), son in law of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), husband of Fatima Zahra (s.a.), Caliph of Muslims and the Commander of the faithful. What is further deplorable is that barring a few speakers, most of the other scholars – regardless of their sect – maintained a stoic silence on the subject and refrained from speaking out against the insult heaped on Imam Ali (a.s.). But, our honour and love for the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) and religious pride demand that such mischief should not be tolerated, and this Maulvi’s cunning campaign should be effectively repudiated, thus unmasking his deception for the benefit of one and all.
Source of this Tradition
The supposed tradition which this Maulvi has presented as a citation to state his point is taken from the commentary of the Holy Quran by Ibn Kathir. The Maulvi further added that “this tradition is also mentioned in Abu Dawood and Nisaai”. It is indeed surprising that a person who masquerades as a Maulvi is not even aware that Abu Dawood and Nisaai are not books but two authors of the Ahle Tasannun sect. Abu Dawood Sajistani’s book ‘Sunan’ is included in ‘Sihah al-Sittah’ (the six supposedly most authentic books of the Ahle Tasannun sect). Nisaai has two books under the name ‘Sunan’. One of them is ‘Sunan al-Kubra’ which is not included in Sihaah al-Sittah, and the other is ‘Sunan al-Sughra’ which is better known as ‘Sunan Nisaai’ and is included in the Sihaah al-Sittah. Incidentally, this Maulvi also failed to mention whether this tradition was taken from Sunan al-Kubra or Sunan al-Sughra. Perhaps his superficial study is yet to decipher such finer aspects of research. Nevertheless, ignorance cannot be packaged as ‘research’. In the interest of fairness, he should have referred to Ibn Kathir’s Tafseer before jumping to a conclusion. But his bigotry and bias clearly disclose his deception or his hostility towards the family of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Nevertheless, it is essential to analyse this tradition to clarify the actual perspective so that the truth becomes clear to all Muslims.
This tradition is found in Sunan Abi Dawood in the Book of Drinks, Chapter of the Prohibition of alcohol Hadith 3671 and in Sunan al-Kubra by Nisaai, vol. 10, p. 65, Hadith 11041.
Grading of this Tradition
An in-depth scrutiny of this tradition will reveal the following facts:
- Both traditions have been declared authentic by well-known Salafi Scholars including Shaikh Naasiruddin Albaani, even though Nisaai himself did not consider this tradition authentic enough to be included in his Sunan al-Sughra. Albaani is notorious for his hatred and malice towards the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) and needs no explanation.
- In both the references, Ataa Ibn Saaeb and Abu Abd al-Rahmaan Sullami are the primary narrators. Whichever book reproduced this particular tradition has invariably narrated from these two narrators only which clearly establishes that this narration is classified as ‘a single report’ (Khabar-e-Waahid). One of the fundamentals of Ilm al-Hadith (the science of understanding traditions) is that no belief or cardinal principle can be established basis ‘a single report’.
- Ahle Tasannun scholar Imam Shawkani has written about Ataa Ibn Saaeb in his book Nayl al-Awtaar, vol. 8, p. 192 that this tradition was never narrated by anyone except Ataa Ibn Saaeb. On the same page, it is further written that Abu Bakr al-Bazzaar states, “except for these two narrators we have not found this tradition reported from any other chain of narrators which is narrated regarding Imam Ali (a.s.)”.
- Imam Shawkani also states that Mundhiri reports that there are serious conflicts in the authenticity and text of the tradition. The difference of opinion is related to the fact that it has been narrated by Sufiyan al-Thawri and Abu Jafar al-Raazi from Ataa Ibn Saaeb as a direct (Mursal)
Narrators of this Tradition (Sanad)
Ataa Ibn Saaeb
- Dhahabi writes about Ataa Ibn Saaeb in his book Seyar-o-A’alaam al-Nobalaa, 6, pp. 111-112 that Wuhaib reports that when Ataa Ibn Saaeb came to Basra, he claimed he had jotted down 30 traditions from Ubaidah, when in fact, he had never heard any tradition from Ubaidah and this (Ataa’s claim) was severely adulterated (and hence unreliable).
- Shaibah states, ‘Although Ataa used to quote traditions but he suffered from severe amnesia. (Ibid, p. 112).
- Yahya narrates that Abu Awaanah had heard narrations from Ataa but he never used them as proof for any tradition narrated by him (Ibid).
Abu Abd al-Rahmaan Sullami
As far as the second narrator of this tradition, Abu Abd al-Rahmaan Sullami is concerned, it is found that he had intense hatred and enmity towards Imam Ali (a.s.). Abu Jafar al-Tabari has narrated in his book Muntakhab Min Dhayl al-Madheel, vol. 1, p. 147 that a man asked Abu Abd al-Rahmaan Sullami, “I implore you for the sake of Allah! Since when have you borne malice against Ali (a.s.). Is not your rancour against him from the time he (Imam Ali (a.s.)) distributed the spoils of war in Kufa and did not allocate any share to you and your family?” Abu Abd al-Rahmaan Sullami replied: “Since you have sworn to me by Allah, my answer is yes.”
Even a layman will realize that one can only expect fabricated lies and slanderous statements from someone who bears enmity, animosity, and hatred towards Imam Ali (a.s.).
Text (Matn) of this Tradition
The differences in the text of this tradition are related to the fact that:
Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi wrote that congregational prayer was led by Imam Ali (a.s.)
- Nisaai and Abu Jafar Nahhas have written that it was actually Abd al-Rahmaan Ibn Auf who led the prayers
- Abu Bakar al-Bazzaar differed with both these narrations and wrote that the prayers were led by a third person
- Ali Ibn Ahmad Waahidi in his book Asbaab-o-Nuzool al-Quran, p. 158,316 narrated this same tradition from Ataa Ibn Saaeb but there is no mention of Imam Ali (a.s.) in the narration
- The same tradition is quoted by Muhammad Ibn Umar (otherwise known as Fakhruddin) al-Raazi in his Tafseer Mafaatih al-Ghaib (alias Tafseer-e-Kabeer) and under the exegesis of Surah Nisaa (4): verse 43, he has not mentioned the name of Imam Ali (a.s.)
Such a conflict in text (Matn) and reports prove that it is nothing but a feeble attempt to defame the spotless and stainless life and character of Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali (a.s.).
A Ploy by the Kharijites
Renowned Ahle Tasannun scholar Haakim Neyshaapoori who researched on this tradition has written, “
The Kharijites have ascribed this intoxication and incorrect recitation (in prayers) to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and none else, whereas certainly, Allah had kept him pure from such acts even though he may, apparently, be the narrator of this tradition.” [Al-Mustadrak Alaa al-Sahihain, vol. 2, p. 336, comment under H. 316; Nayl al-Awtaar, vol. 8, p. 192 (old edition) and vol. 15, p. 185 (new edition)]
It means that according to Haakim Neyshaapoori, even though Imam Ali (a.s.) may be the apparent narrator of this tradition, this accusation cannot be attributed to him because he is divinely protected from these sins.
Who was the Real Drunkard?
So far, we have presented only a few brief clarifications regarding the Hadith under contention and we hope these will resolve the issues for the just, judicious, and fair-minded people. Now we will prove how this Maulvi Abdul Hafeez is an unscrupulous and untrustworthy man. His intentions were malafide and ignoble because, despite his improper and shallow research, he deliberately tried to hide behind the truth and brazenly denigrated his own fourth caliph and our first Imam Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). Let’s examine the wily nature of this Maulvi and his shocking designs behind the ulterior motives about the massive cover-up that he orchestrated to protect the real drunkard and divert the attention by putting the allegation on Imam Ali (a.s.).
The Hadith that he referred from Sunan Abi Dawood is tradition 3671 while if we just glance at the tradition before this one, that is tradition 3670 of the same book under the same chapter, a startling fact will come to light. The tradition is as follows:
“Abbaad Ibn Musa al-Khuttali narrated from Ismail Ibn Ja’far who narrated from Abu Ishaaq who reported from Amr and he in turn narrated from Umar Ibn Khattaab that, “When the verse of prohibition of alcohol was revealed, Umar said: “O Allah! Provide us with a clear explanation about alcohol.” Then this verse was revealed:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ
“They ask about alcohol and gambling, say (O Prophet) in both of them is a major sin.”
[Surah Baqarah (2): Verse 219]
So, Umar was called and this verse was recited for him. Umar again said, “O Allah! Provide us with a clear explanation about wine.” So, the following verse was revealed:
“O you who believe! Do not approach the prayer in a state of intoxication until you know what you are saying.”
[Surah Nisaa (4): Verse 43]
Thereafter, whenever the herald of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) called for prayer, he used to announce, “Beware! The one who is intoxicated should not come to pray.” Umar was again summoned and this verse was recited to him. Umar repeated his earlier statement, “O Allah! Provide us with a clear explanation about alcohol.” Finally, this verse was revealed:
“Will you now (finally) abstain?”
[Surah Maaedah (5): Verse 91]
At this Umar said, “Yes we have stopped (now)”.
According to this tradition from Sunan-o-Abi Dawood, Umar Ibn Khattab did not give up drinking even after the ruling of prohibition of alcohol came thrice. It is noteworthy that despite the revelation of Surah Maaedah (5): Verse 43, which is the root of Maulvi Abdul Hafeez’s disparaging article, Umar ibn Khattab continued drinking alcohol. Umar Ibn Khattab himself admitted that finally when Verse 91 of Surah Maaedah was revealed that he finally decided to quit drinking. The most significant aspect of this tradition is Shaikh Naasirudeen Albaani has declared even this tradition to be Sahih and authentic. We want to make it clear to our readers that this was just one of the numerous traditions which, the Ahle Tasannun authors have recorded in their books in which prior to and post the revelation of the verse prohibition of alcohol, or for that matter even on his death bed, it is mentioned that Umar called for alcohol (nabeez).
Another interesting thing is that this Maulvi has not even read Tafseer of Ibn Kathir carefully. Had he paid attention, he would have realized that in the commentary of Ibn Kathir, just like Sunan-o-Abi Dawood, the tradition of Umar Ibn Khattab has been recorded first under the exegesis of this verse. But this Maulvi has either ignored this tradition deliberately or the hatred of Imam Ali (a.s.) compelled him to hide the truth and, just like the Kharijites, propound fabrication and lies to tarnish the image of Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). We would like to point out to Maulvi Abdul Hafeez that he should broaden his study before writing such an article in the future, otherwise facts consigned in the history books will be published in such newspapers and this Maulvi and his ilk will be held guilty for disrespecting their own revered leaders i.e. the so-called companions (Sahaba).
This was still a short repudiation. If we narrate only the exegesis of Surah Nisaa (4): Verse 43 from the books of Ahle Tasannun scholars, then it will run into several pages. We conclude here by having the pleasure of presenting a well-known tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in which he addressed Imam Ali (a.s.) thus:
“(O Ali)! None will love you except a believer and none will hate you except a hypocrite.”
[Sunan-o-Nisaai, Book 47, H. 34; Jaame’ al-Tirmidhi, Book 49, H. 4101; Musnad-o-Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Book 5, H. 164; Sahih Muslim, Kitaab al-Imaan (Book of Faith), H. 146]
We implore the Almighty Allah to hasten the reappearance of the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) so that he may punish all such impudent people who dare to show disrespect towards Ahlul Bait (a.s.) and enemies of religion and fill this earth with complete justice and equity. Aameen, O Lord of the worlds!