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Justifications of Abu-Bakr and Umar Ibn Al-Khattab for Prohibiting the Collection Hadith

By: Sayyid Ali Al-Shahristani
Abū-Bakr’s justifications can be concluded from the following two texts:
(1) It has been narrated that `Ā`ishah said, My father collected the Hadīth (of the Messenger of Allah), which was five hundred texts. He spent that night so sleeplessly and restlessly that I was sad for him. I therefore asked, ‘Are you moving restlessly due to an ailment or information that you received?’ In the morning, he asked me to fetch him the collection of Hadīth that he had put with me. When I fetched them, he set fire to them. As I asked for the reason, he replied, ‘I anticipated that I would die while I still have this collection among which there might be reports of a man that I deemed trustworthy while he was the opposite; therefore, I would be the narrator of such false reports.’[9]
(2) The following report has been within Ibn Abī-Mulaykah’s incompletely transmitted Hadīths (mursal):
After the demise of the Holy Prophet, Abū-Bakr gathered people and said, ‘You are reporting about the Messenger of Allah inconsistent narrations. People coming after you will be engaged in more intense discrepancy. Therefore, do not report anything about the Messenger of Allah, and if anyone asks you, you should refer to the Book of Allah as the arbitrator. You should thus deem lawful whatever is lawful therein and deem unlawful whatever is unlawful therein.’[10]
Before discussing the two previous texts, two questions must be answered:
First: Did Abū-Bakr collect the five hundred texts during the life of the Holy Prophet and by his commandment, or did he collect them after that as a consequence of the political circumstances and the social exigency?
Second: Was the decision of prohibiting the recordation and reporting of the Sunnah issued in a late period, or was it the Holy Prophet who prohibited recording it during his lifetime.
It has been related to Abū-Sa`īd al-Khidriy that the Holy Prophet said, ‘You must erase anything that has been recorded about me except the Holy Qur’ān.’[11]
From the expression of the first text ‘My father collected the Hadīth,’ it can be noted that Abū-Bakr recorded the Hadīth after the Holy Prophet’s demise, especially the text affirmed that he had quoted them from other narrators, ‘I anticipated that I would die while I still have this collection among which there might be reports of a man that I deemed trustworthy while he was the opposite; therefore, I would be the narrator of such false reports.’
Abū-Bakr’s anticipation that such texts would be falsely related to the Holy Prophet does not agree with the supposition that the Hadīth had been collected during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime; otherwise he could show the collected texts to the Holy Prophet for scrutiny. If it is claimed that the idea of showing such texts to the Holy Prophet for scrutiny had just slipped away from Abū-Bakr’s mind, the answer should be that, firstly, it is unreasonable for Abū-Bakr to miss such a thing, especially that he had a close position to the Holy Prophet in addition to the fact that doubt regarding these collections was rooted in his mind. Secondly, it is unlikely that Abū-Bakr had overlooked neglectfully such an important issue until a time close by his death, whereas the Sahābah used not to neglect asking the Holy Prophet about even the most trivial questions and whenever they had felt any suspicion.
The question of setting fire to the collections of Hadīth and Abū-Bakr’s concern about attributing them to the Holy Prophet and that he ‘would be the narrator of such false reports,’ since death was about to knock his door—this question proves that Abū-Bakr had collected the Hadīth in the last of his reign and that he had never heard even one Hadīth directly from the Holy Prophet; lest it would be extremely odd for him to set fire to Hadīths that he had heard from the Holy Prophet directly!
What is more is that had Abū-Bakr collected such Hadīths during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, historians and biographers would have certainly referred to this issue and he would never have spent that night restlessly plus `Ā’ishah would have narrated that her father had collected the Hadīth during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet or any alike statement.
The reports that Abū-Bakr had written down the laws of almsgiving in the missive that he sent to Anas ibn Mālik;[12]the governor of Bahrain at that time, and `Amr ibn al-`Ās[13] do not contradict the reports narrating his setting fire to the collections of Hadīth, because the points that he had recorded to Anas ibn Mālik were no more than the laws of almsgiving and taxation upon which a state relies, and a caliph must not forget for the good of his state. It has been also narrated that `Amr ibn Hazm had recorded the laws of almsgiving as quoted from the Holy Prophet orally. `Umar ibn al-Khattāb also had such a recording kept by Hafsah, his daughter, and then his family. Hence, the recordation of an issue upon which a state relies is a matter very different from the prohibition of recording something else.
The second question can be easily answered through the acts of Abū-Bakr and `Umar as well as the general conduct of the Muslims. Abū-Bakr’s collecting five-hundred Hadīths is a sufficient proof on the Holy Prophet’s having not prohibited the recordation of the Hadīth. If such a decision of prohibition had been really issued, Abū-Bakr would not have had such collections of the Hadīth recorded. The same thing can be said about `Umar; had a decision of prohibiting the recordation of the Hadīth been already issued, he would not have gathered the Sahābah, who advised him to record the Hadīth,[14] to discuss the matter. Even if we give up our opinion and accept the claim that the Holy Prophet had prevented people from recording anything in general and his Hadīth in particular, we would not find any persuasive meaning to the authentically narrated report that ‘the Holy Prophet ordered the Muslims to record the laws that he said on the day of conquering Mecca,’[15] or the report that after his migration to al-Madīnah, he had ordered to record the laws of the Zakāt and their amounts, which were accordingly written in two papers and kept in the house of Abū-Bakr, the caliph, and Abū-Bakr ibn `Amr ibn Hazm,[16] or the authentic report that he said ‘Feel free to record’ as well as the other clear statements urging to record the laws and the Holy Prophet’s conducts.
It is thus proven that the recordation was not prohibited in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet and that neither Abū-Bakr nor did `Umar record the Hadīth during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime; rather, Abū-Bakr recorded it after the Holy Prophet’s departure. The Holy Qur’ān has urged writing and recording the knowledge upon Muslims as is in the following Verses:
“Noon. I swear by the pen and what the angels write.” [Holy Qur’ān: 68:1]
“…Who taught (to write) with the pen.” [Holy Qur’ān: 96:4]
“O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down.” [Holy Qur’ān: 2:282]
“And be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large.” [Holy Qur’ān: 2:282]
“He said: The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a book.” [Holy Qur’ān: 20:52]
The Arabs used to revere the writers and desire to learn it. Ibn Habīb al-Baghdādiy has listed the names of the famour personalities who could write in the pre-Islamic as well as the Islamic eras.[17] Ibn Sa`d has said that the Arabs in the pre-Islamic and the early Islamic eras used to regard as perfect anyone who could write Arabic, swim, and shoot.[18] Lessons of learning how to write used to be held in Makkah,[19] al-Madīnah,[20] al-Tā’if,[21] al-Anbār,[22] al-Hīrah,[23] and Dawmat al-Jandal.[24] It has been also narrated that the Holy Prophet established a class in his Masjid (mosque) where `Abdullāh ibn Sa`īd ibn al-`Ās used to learn writing and calligraphy to all comers.[25]
Dr. Ahmad Amīn says,
“Illiteracy of the Arabs was not as common as presented by some authors and Orientalists. Because of their neighborhood to the Persians and Romans for ages, their surrounding circumstances, and the stages by which they passed with such civilized nations, it was not difficult for the Arabs, especially those lived in al-Hīrah as well as the nomads of Syria, to learn how to write and acquire sciences and customs that would contribute in achieving a better living for them.”[26]
The Holy Qur’ān has thus prescribed writing and recording, and the Holy Sunnah has also cared for the issue of writing to a considerable extent that a prisoner of the war of Badr was released after he would teach ten Muslim children how to read and write.[27] On that account, the claim that the Holy Prophet prohibited recording the Holy Sunnah is definitely meaningless, since his conduct generally attracts attentions to the fact that he very much encouraged on culture, thinking, and learning. Furthermore, he reproached some people saying, ‘Why have some people neither educated, nor taught, nor admonished their neighbors; nor have they enjoined them to do good nor forbidden them from doing evil? And why have some people neglected learning from their neighbors or received their knowledge and instructions?’[28] From this reproach, we must understand a clear point as regards our topic.
It has been also narrated that the Holy Prophet once asked the delegation of the tribe of `Abd-Qays, saying, ‘How was your brethren’s hospitality?’
‘They have been the best brethren,’ answered they, ‘they offered the best beds and food and taught us the Book of our Lord and the conduct of our Prophet night and day.’
This answer pleased the Holy Prophet who asked each one of them about what they had learned and what they had been taught.[29]
It has been also narrated on the authority of Hudhayfah that the Holy Prophet once ordered them to write down the names of everyone who declared being Muslim orally. They therefore wrote down the names of one thousand and five hundred men.’[30] Finally, biographers have recorded that twenty-six, forty-two, or forty-five men used to record the Divine Revelation under the supervision of the Holy Prophet.
By adding the previous proofs of the Holy Prophet’s emphasis on learning reading and writing to the previous narrations of the Holy Prophet’s issuing the order of recording the Sunnah and the Sahābah’s carrying out this order during his lifetime up to a period after his death -when Abū-Bakr prohibited recording the Holy Sunnah-, it becomes clear that the ascription of the prohibition of recording the Hadīth to the Holy Prophet is no more than a fallacy aimed at deforming the sheer figure of Islam. Likewise, such a fallacy gives reason for the enemies of Islam to claim Muslims’ being in opposition to science, because they first decided that their Prophet had prevented them from narrating and recording the Sunnah while they, later on, violated their situation and went on recording it! If the recordation of the Hadīth was permissible, why did they prohibit it; and if it was prohibited, why did they record it?
If true be said, the claim of the Holy Prophet’s prohibition from recording the Hadīth is contradictory to his famous sayings, ‘write down,’[31] ‘record,’[32] ‘I swear by Him Who has full control over my soul, my mouth has never said anything other than the truth,’[33] ‘Use your right hand to help you learn,’[34] as well as so many similar sayings not to be mentioned at this point for fear of lengthiness.
Let us now discuss the first text that shows Abū-Bakr’s justification of issuing the decision of preventing recording the Holy Sunnah, putting the following questions:
Why did Abū-Bakr spend that night restlessly and sleeplessly? Was it because of an ailment, or was it because of a serious affair of caliphate and Muslims?
We have previously mentioned `Ā’ishah’s wonderment, ‘Are you moving restlessly due to an ailment or information that you received?’ and Abū-Bakr’s reply.
Would we accept his justification that ‘I anticipated that I would die while I still have this collection among which there might be reports of a man that I deemed trustworthy while he was the opposite; therefore, I would be the narrator of such false reports’?
Does such a justification allow him to set fire to the collections of the Hadīth?
Why did he treat the Hadīth with fire, not water or burying in the ground?
To answer the first question, we say that the reason beyond Abū-Bakr’s restlessness and sleeplessness was, as is proven by `Ā’ishah’s words, ‘In the morning, he asked me to fetch him the collection of Hadīth that he had put with me. When I fetched them…’ not an ailment or a matter respecting the campaigns or the like political affairs; it was rather because of the Hadīths contained by these papers to the degree that he thought that the reporting of the Holy Prophet’s words and deeds would be the main cause of disagreement among Muslims, without making any distinction between the different kinds of the reported items or between the direct and the indirect reports. Abū-Mulaykah reports that Abū-Bakr said, ‘Do not report anything,’ while in the beginning he had not adopted such a situation.
Abū-Bakr’s excuse for setting fire to the Hadīths, —‘I anticipated that I would die while I still have this collection among which there might be reports of a man that I deemed trustworthy while he was the opposite; therefore, I would be the narrator of such false reports,’— is subject to a number of objections:
First: how did the trustworthy man (whom Abū-Bakr accepted his narration) change into untrustworthy? Did Abū-Bakr—who lived near the Holy Prophet in the holy city of al-Madīnah—require mediation in narrating the Hadīth of the Holy Prophet?
The news of Abū-Bakr’s close association with the Holy Prophet are inconsistent with the existence of mediation between the Holy Prophet and him, especially for those who claim Abū-Bakr’s having been the first to embrace Islam.
Second: Once a reporter is trustworthy; for Abū-Bakr says, ‘…reports of a man that I deemed trustworthy,’ how is it acceptable to reject such an individual’s reports because they are probably fabricated or originated from inadvertence?
According to such a rule, the authority of the reports of the trustworthy must unquestionably be invalid and it is not viable to depend upon the report of any narrator because it contains any amount of probability of fabrication.
Rāfi` ibn Khudaykh reported that the Holy Prophet, once, passed by them while they were having a discussion and asked about it. “We are mentioning what we have heard from you, Allah’s Messenger,” answered they.
“Yes, mention it; but one who forges lies against me must find himself a place in Hellfire,” said the Holy Prophet as he went on.
They therefore kept silence.
“Why have they stopped talking?” asked the Holy Prophet.
“Because of what we have just heard from you,” one answered.
“I have not meant that you should not discuss what you hear from me,” explained the Holy Prophet, “But I have only meant one who forges lies against me deliberately.” We then resumed our discussion.
“O Allah’s Messenger,” one asked, “Can we record the matters that we hear from you?”
“Yes, you can,” replied the Holy Prophet, “Record, and feel free to record.”[35]
The previous report supports openly our claim that practice of reporting and recording the Hadīth was not prohibited during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime; rather it was totally legal. Besides, the phrase ‘yes, mention it,’ confirms the permissibility to relate the Holy Prophet’s Hadīth but with verification in order to avoid forging lies against the Holy Prophet. Likewise, it confirms that the probability of a reporter’s being liar or the fear of forging lies does not allow Abū-Bakr to neglect the Hadīth. Focusing on being careful in the narration of a report in order to make distinction between the true and the false, the Holy Prophet never issued any order preventing from reporting and recording the Hadīth. As a sequence, Abū-Bakr should have examined these Hadīths; if there were inaccurate ones, he would correct them; if there were forged ones, he would delete them; if there were ambiguous ones, he would explain them; and if there were hidden themes, he would expose them. He should have never annihilated all the collections for the reason that he suspected or supposed falsity.
Generally speaking, any item of science must never be erased, especially when it is said by the Holy Prophet! Reported items must not be burnt under any circumstance, especially when most of them contain the Sacred Name of Almighty Allah and His laws, while it is impermissible to insult them at all. As an Islamic ruling, when such items are decided to be damaged, they must be erased by water, buried in the ground, or destroyed by any other unproblematic method.
Out of their cognizance and education, Muslims realized the fundamental correlation between reporting and recording the Hadīth; they therefore asked the Holy Prophet permission to record his sayings since they expected that the Hadīth would be prohibited or put under conditions. The Holy Prophet’s answer came: ‘Record, and feel free to record.’ This answer cancelled any problem that may be expected from recording the Hadīth and gave full freedom to report it. A Muslim must be sure before he relates something to the Holy Prophet and must avoid recording the forged. These are the only conditions of reporting and recording the Hadīth, and there is nothing more.
Third: If we agree with Abū-Bakr’s opinion that the likelihood of fabrication in the reports invalidates a narration’s consideration, this will require all the Holy Prophet’s narrated reports be unacceptable even if they are recorded in reliable reference books of Hadīth, for the reason that they all are exposed to the likelihood of forgery; and if such an opinion is accepted, it will certainly overthrow one of the two major principals of the Islamic legislation, eradicate the Holy Sunnah completely and terminate all the secondary rulings that have been derived from the Hadīth. Abū-Bakr’s opinion is thus completely unacceptable.
We should then wonder how he adopted it. Did he close his eyes to the fact that the Holy Prophet used to entrust the decent Sahābah with affairs like these of the campaigns and battles in order that they would convey them to the others? He should have understood that the Holy Verse regarding the instruction of looking carefully into any news that is conveyed by an evil-doing, lest others would be harmed ignorantly[36] as well as many other Verses in this regard. Furthermore, Muslims used to follow the reports of the decent ones and avoid those of the indecent. Likewise, reason judges that the report of a decent one must be believable, while the likelihood of fabrication, unintentional mistake, inadvertence and the like matters must be passed up due to the rule of the originally nonexistence of fabrication. Consequently, Ibn Hajar’s claim that Almighty Allah has purified the Sahābah of all vices, including lying, negligence, suspicion, arrogance and the like, has been proven as contradictory to Abū-Bakr’s previous testimony when he had only suspected some of the Sahābah to have all the previous vices up to forging lies. Undeniably, Abū-Bakr knew the Sahābah better than Ibn Hajar did.
Even if we accept the notion that suspicion and likelihood of forgery may invalidate the authority of a report in the view of the one suspecting, we must not consider such invalidity in the view of the others who neither suspect nor suppose the probability of forgery. Abū-Bakr should thus have reported such narrations and presented his suspicion in certain reporters as well as the reasons beyond such suspicion. Then, the recipient of such narrations will have the freedom to accept or reject as maintained by the laws of the religion.
The most unquestionable issue that is concluded from Abū-Bakr’s justification, in the event of its acceptability, is that it never imposes upon others to stop reporting or recording the Hadīth. Nevertheless, his one and only purpose beyond his justification has been to prohibit reporting and recording the Hadīth as a general rule; he therefore ordered people, as in the second text, not to report the Holy Prophet’s Hadīth at all.
As long as it has been proven that reporting and recording the Hadīth had been permissible during the Holy Prophet’s lifetime, what is then the meaning of its prohibition? And if it was really prohibited by the Holy Prophet, why did Abū-Bakr compile five-hundred items of Hadīth?[37]
As a conclusion, Abū-Bakr’s having prohibited Muslims from reporting the Hadīth and having set fire to the collections of Hadīth that he had compiled are not founded on any Islamic law.
The second text sheds light on the real situation of the ummah after the departure of the Holy Prophet. Abū-Bakr however referred the disagreement and discrepancies of the Islamic community to their disagreement in the narration of the Hadīth and Sunnah. In this regard, he says,
‘You are reporting about the Messenger of Allah inconsistent narrations. People coming after you will be engaged in more intense discrepancy.’
Although it is incompletely transmitted, the narration of Ibn Abī-Mulaykah expressed the opinion of the master scholars who objected to the decision of the prohibition of recording the Hadīth. It also indicates that the insistence on the recordation of the Hadīth became one of the means of opposing the caliphs. Muslims who felt the necessity of protecting the Holy Sunnah against waste and spreading the religious laws publicly began, soon after the departure of the Holy Prophet, to report his sayings so as to achieve the goals that they deemed necessary.
In their capacity as being the first generation of Islam, the Sahābah were bound by the explanation of the religious laws for people and the reporting of every single word that they had heard from the Holy Prophet to the new generation who were in urgent need for the acquaintance with the religious laws whose major source was the Holy Prophet’s words and deeds. This was, of course, unfeasible except through the decent Sahābah who represented the thriving archives of the Holy Prophet’s lifetime.
Having realized the new generation’s urgent need for the religious data and the first generation’s duty to answer, Abū-Bakr used the expression, ‘and if anyone asks you…’ in the decision of the prohibition of recording the Hadīth.
In any event, the urgent need for reporting the Hadīth and the existence of discrepancies in the narrations were two serious issues that required solutions by all means.
As a solution for the crisis that augmented dangerously after the Holy Prophet’s decease, Abū-Bakr opted for prohibiting the reporting and recordation of the Hadīth and the restriction to the Holy Qur’ān in order to get rid of the contradictory narrations that he seemed not to be skillful enough to bring them into agreement. He therefore had to ban them all unexceptionally, especially after he had anticipated that the problem would increasingly be bigger and bigger for the coming generations. All the same, Abū-Bakr’s decision of the prevention of recording the Hadīth arouses a number of questions to be presented hereinafter:
First: It has been proven that the Holy Prophet used to order the grand Sahābah to spread in the different areas so as to teach people and invite them to the religion. Also, he used to order people to learn and listen to those instructors. These procedures became more binding after the revelation of Almighty Allah’s saying,
“And it does not beseem the believers that they should go forth all together; why should not then a company from every party from among them go forth that they may apply themselves to obtain understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they come back to them that they may be cautious.” [Holy Qur’ān: 9:122]
To prevent the Sahābah from reporting and applying to themselves what they had directly heard from the Holy Prophet has no meaning other than canceling the religious function of the well-versed in the religious affairs whose main task is to teach and edify the people; while the events of some of the Sahābah’s having fabricated lies against the Holy Prophet must have been encountered by means of preventing the very fabricating ones from reporting the Hadīth, not preventing everybody and for good!
It was also possible to refer to the Holy Prophet personally during his lifetime regarding the questions that were unsolvable and to check the matter with the Sahābah, after the Holy Prophet’s departure, if they had heard something respecting the question involved in order to attain peace of mind or verification of the authenticity of the reporting. As a matter of fact, such conferences have been actually adopted by some of the Sahābah.
Second: In order to compile the reports of the Hadīth, Abū-Bakr should have established a committee comprising the grand Sahābah for listening to the reports and then confirming the sound and rejecting the doubted.[38]For Abū-Bakr, this was easy, because they had not yet been engaged in the campaigns and conquests nor scattered in the remote countries. Furthermore, they had soon departed the Holy Prophet and consequently their memories were still powerful and flaws were hardly expected from them. Hence, it was actually an excellent opportunity to easily unify the reports of the Hadīth, and it was also easy to identify the actual reality of a narrator before the multiplication of the media of narration, since most of them were still alive and living in al-Madīnah.
Third: The prevention of recording the Hadīth would, with elapse of time, increase the number of the religious laws unknown by Muslims. They therefore would have to extract them from the general and the undeniable narrations. As a result, the ways of extraction would vary and the viewpoints would multiply. All such variant viewpoints would have been nonexistent had the reporting and recordation of the Hadīth been operative. Because Abū-Bakr had notified of the fact that the coming generations would be engaged in bigger discrepancies, he should not have left the people rolling about ignorance in the religious laws or sinking in bitterer discrepancies owing to the rise of the variant personal viewpoints of the many investigators. One of the results of such prohibition was that Abū-Bakr, despite his precedence to Islam and close relation with the Holy Prophet, reported no more than one hundred and forty two narrations, as Ibn Hazm claims.[39]
If the compiled narrations are compared to the collections which had been damaged, the result will be that great numbers of the Hadīth were unfortunately damaged.
Fourth: It is impracticable to prohibit the reporting of the Hadīth when it is known for sure that such reports included the major questions that Muslims would urgently require in their daily, worldly, and religious, activities. On this account, the eradication and intentional loss of such questions, including the religious laws, is considered forbidden, since it results in the loss of the fundamentals and laws of the religion. The most proper situation to be taken in this regard should have been that all the reports would be decided according to a definite criterion adopted by Abū-Bakr, the fabricators would be forbidden from reporting the Hadīth and the outward contrast between the reports would be removed by means of the Holy Qur’ān or the other trustworthy Sahābah as well as other ways of checking up and adopting the authentic reports of the Hadīths in order that Muslims would successively follow.
Abū-Bakr’s having instructed the Sahābah to answer the askers, whatever their questions would be, by referring them to the Book of Allah is obviously out of the question, since it is impossible to infer a question respecting a religious law from the Holy Qur’ān alone without the reference to the Holy Sunnah. Furthermore, a single statement in the Holy Qur’ān may hold so many different notions; some are general, private, decisive, allegorical, common, odd, repealed, or repealing. How is it then possible to specify what is allowable and what is forbidden from the Holy Qur’ān alone? Similarly, how is it possible for Abū-Bakr to order people to refer to the Holy Qur’ān alone while he himself had said about the kalālah,
‘I will say my own opinion; if it be true, this will be Allah’s, but if be untrue, I alone should be responsible for it’?[40]
If the Holy Qur’ān has sufficiently covered all the questions of the religious laws, why did he wish had he asked the Holy Prophet, before he had departed life, about the amount of the inheritance of grandmothers and grandfathers, about the Ansār whether they should be given any position of leadership, and about the inheritance of nephews and paternal aunts?[41]
If his claim about the possibility to refer to the Holy Qur’ān alone in the religious questions was true, what would we say about the unanimous agreement of the Muslims on the necessity of referring to the Holy Sunnah in order to acquaint ourselves with the religious laws? What would we say about the Holy Prophet’s having nominated the Holy Qur’ān and the Ahl al-Bayt, or the Holy Sunnah according to other narrations, as the only two principals of the Islamic legislation in the famous Hadīth of al-Thaqalayn (the two weighty things)? Unquestionably, this meant that the two aforementioned principals would persist among the Muslims; therefore, the Holy Prophet said, ‘I have left among you… etc.’ It also meant that an interpreter for the Holy Qur’ān, whether in a form of the Holy Sunnah or one of the Ahl al-Bayt, must be present among the Muslims since the Words of Almighty Allah cannot be individually comprehended. Hence, the Holy Sunnah or the Ahl al-Bayt to whom the Holy Prophet had referred his people after his departure must be clear enough in order that people would follow.

The Hadīth Of Arīkah (The Couch)
The previous instruction of Abū-Bakr draws our attentions to the famous Hadīth that has been related to the Holy Prophet through different series of narrators. Ahmad,[42] Ibn Mājah,[43] Abū-Dāwūd,[44] al-Dārimiy, al-Byhalia[45] and many others[46] have recorded that the Holy Prophet once said,
“I see coming very soon that a man from you will be leaning on a couch and as my Hadīth is said to him, he will answer, ‘the Book of Allah is the decisive judge; I will deem lawful only what I find lawful in it and deem unlawful only what I find unlawful in it.’”
According to other forms of the same narration, the Holy Prophet then say, ‘Verily, I have been given the Holy Qur’ān and its like,’[47] or ‘Verily, I have been given the Holy Book along with its like,’[48] or ‘I see coming that a man from you will be leaning on a couch and as a matter that I have enjoined or forbidden is presented before him, he will answer: I do not know! I will follow only what I find in the Book of Allah.’[49]
In al-Kifāyah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirāyah, al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy records on the authority of Jābir ibn `Abdullāh that the Holy Prophet said,
“One of you will be leaning on a couch and as he receives one of my Hadīths, he will say: Do not mention that! I will follow only what I find in the Book of Allah!”[50]
Ibn Hazm, on the authority of al-`Irbas ibn Sāriyah, have recorded that the Holy Prophet, once, delivered a speech to people saying,
‘One of you will be leaning on his couch thinking that Almighty Allah has not deemed unlawful anything other than what is mentioned in the Holy Qur’ān! I swear by Allah that I have verily enjoined you to do good, warned you against immoral things, and forbidden you from evil. These things are surely like the Qur’ān.’
Commenting on this Hadīth, Ibn Hazm says, ‘The words of the Holy Prophet have been utterly true. His verdicts are similar to the Holy Qur’ān; no difference is seen between both respecting all that which is obligatory upon us.’
The Holy Prophet’s saying has been verified by Almighty Allah Who says,
“And whatever the Messenger gives you, (then you should) accept it; and from whatever he forbids you, keep back.” [Holy Qur’ān: 59:7]
The Holy Prophet’s instructions are also similar to the Holy Qur’ān since the source of both is the Divine Revelation. In this regard, Almighty Allah says,
“Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed”. [Holy Qur’ān: 53:3-4][51]
Before we leave the Hadīth of Arīkah, let us read the following quotation: As long as the Arabic ‘arīkah’ stands for a well-upholstered couch found in a house,[52] or any couch,[53] the ruler who governs the affairs of people must be the first one for whom an ‘arīkah’ is arranged. If the phrase ‘very soon’ that appeared in the Holy Prophet’s words of the Hadīth is taken in consideration, it will be clear that the ruler who governed the people’s affairs directly after the Holy Prophet was Abū-Bakr who actually said the very words predicted by the Holy Prophet. Al-Dhahbiy has recorded that Abū-Bakr, immediately after the demise of the Holy Prophet, gathered people around him and said to them, ‘You are reporting about the Messenger of Allah inconsistent narrations. People coming after you will be engaged in more intense discrepancy. Therefore, do not report anything about the Messenger of Allah, and if anyone asks you, you should refer to the Book of Allah as the arbitrator. You should thus deem lawful whatever is lawful therein and deem unlawful whatever is unlawful therein.’[54]
Consequently, it has become obvious that Abū-Bakr is the very ‘a man from you’ intended in the Hadīth of Arīkah and whom the Holy Prophet had predicted that he would oppose the Hadīth saying, ‘The Book of Allah is the arbitrator. You should thus deem lawful whatever is lawful therein and deem unlawful whatever is unlawful therein.’
This fact has been one of the greatest points of evidence on the soundness of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet.[55] Historically, Abū-Bakr and `Umar were the closest rulers to the lifetime of the Holy Prophet who opposed the Hadīth. Therefore, the Hadīth of Arīkah has meant them personally, none else. Those who came after them and adopted their decision of the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadīth were only following their examples and were not as strict as Abū-Bakr and `Umar in the application of the prohibition.[56]

Which Decision Preceded The Other?
Having covered almost all the aspects of Abū-Bakr’s prevention of reporting and recording the Hadīth, another question floats on the surface. Did Abū-Bakr prohibited the reporting of the Hadīth and the recordation of it at the same time? Or were the two separate decisions that a period of time occurred between them?
It seems that Abū-Bakr prohibited the reporting of the Hadīth after he himself had recorded it. The reason beyond such procedures will be mentioned later on within the discussion of the last reason. Abū-Bakr might have anticipated that the prohibition of reporting the Hadīth would facilitate him to practice the legislation and hold the legislative authority besides the political one. In other words, he might have intended to put the two administrative and legislative authorities under the same cover so that the Islamic caliphate would be easily governed.[57]
Because of the departure of the Holy Prophet, the issuance of the prohibition of reporting the Hadīth and the emergence of the movement that called for the adaptation of individual opinions—because of the three aforementioned matters, some of the Sahābah had to record the Hadīths that they had directly heard from the Holy Prophet in order to preserve them for the coming generations. Hence, Abū-Bakr issued the second decision of the prohibition of recording the Hadīth. Such sequence in the issuance of the decisions of the prohibition are not so important if compared to the historical influence of the events; because the two decisions were issued in a period of four years only, and formed the first seed that produced other decisions issued by `Umar ibn al-Khattāb as well as the other rulers, except Imam `Alī, until it was canceled in a late time of the Umayyad State.
Although Abū-Bakr, `Umar, and `Uthmān achieved great success in the prohibition of recording the Hadīth, they could not achieve such success in the field of the reporting of it. Neither the Sahābah nor did the Tābi’ūn observe the prohibition even if they pretended that they had nothing to do with the recordation of it; and this manner lasted until `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Azīz opened the door of recording the Hadīth. Even when the doors were opened for the ‘governmental’ recordation of the Hadīth during the Umayyad State, it unfortunately acted as introduction to the currency of the phenomenon of recording false Hadīths so publicly that the rulers, especially during the first days of the era, could induce big numbers of writers to record for them the Hadīths that they liked.[58]For instance, Mu`āwiyah, the founder of the Umayyad State, ordered Ka`b al-Ahbār to sit in the Masjid and narrate for people the relations that Mu`āwiyah would like and to prove the falseness of other Hadīths that he would not. On that account, many fabrications were forged against the Holy Prophet.
To sum it up, Abū-Bakr’s opinion about the reporting and the recordation of the Hadīth was the same, since he had already decided to ban both even though he justified the prohibition of reporting the Hadīth by saying that he had anticipated discrepancy in the narrations. He therefore ordered people to accept the Book of Allah only. Because of the anticipated discrepancy that urged him to issue the decision of the prohibition, Abū-Bakr’s heart was filled in with suspicion that included even those whom he had deemed trustworthy; therefore, he rejected all the reported items, including those whom he himself had collected, and, having been more intense, prohibited the recordation of the Hadīth, too.
In a reference to the origination of the Hadīth, Dr. Husayn al-Hājj Hasan, in his book entitled Naqd al-Hadīth (Critique of the Hadīth), says,
“If we move to the age of the Sahābah, we will find most of them dislike recording the Hadīth but like reporting it. This is in fact out of the ordinary and in need for search and interpretation.”[59]
On the surface, this can be understood from the justification of Abū-Bakr, whereas the reality imposes that there were other reasons, save the two justifications that he had presented and we have beforehand proven their impracticability through many critiques, beyond the prohibition. Forthcoming in the chapter of the last justification, the actual reasons of the prohibition will be discussed thoroughly.
In abstract, we have previously proven that Abū-Bakr’s justifications for the decision of the prohibition of reporting and recording the Hadīth have been neither convincing nor conclusive when they were exposed to discussion and investigation.[60]
Notes:
[9]Al-Dhahbiy: Tadhkirat al-Huffādh 1:5, Al-Qāsim ibn Muhammad (died in 1029 AH): al-I`tisām bi-Habl-illāh al-Matīn 1:30, and `Abd al-Ghaniy `Abd al-Khāliq: Hijjiyyat al-Sunnah 394.
[10]Al-Dhahbiy: Tadhkirat al-Huffādh 1:32 and `Abd al-Ghaniy Abd al-Khāliq: Hijjiyyat al-Sunnah 394.
[11]Al-Nawawiy: Sharh Sahīh Muslim 17-8, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 3:12, 21 and 39, and al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 29.
[12]Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 87; al-Bayhaqiy: al-Sunan al-Kubrā 4:84.
[13]Mālik ibn Anas: al-Mutta’ 1:5 as quoted from Mustafā al-A`dhamiy: Dirāsātun fi’l-Hadīth al-Nubawiy 94.
[14]Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 49 and Abd al-Ghaniy Abd al-Khāliq: Hijjiyyat al-Sunnah 395.
[15]Sahīh al-Bukhāriy 1:39 Chapter: Recording the Items of Knowledge.
[16]Dr. Muhammad Yūsuf: Tārīkh al-Fiqh al-Islāmiy 173.
[17] Muhammad ibn Habīb al-Baghdādiy: al-Muhabbar 475-7.
[18] Ibn Sa`d: al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā 91-3.
[19] Mustafā al-A`dhamiy: Dirāsātun fi’l-Hadīth al-Nubawiy, 44 as quoted from Nāsir al-Din al-Asad: Masādir al-Shi`r al-Jāhiliy (Reference books of the poetry of the pre-Islamic era) 52 and Ibn Abd al-Barr: al-Qasd wa’l-Umam 22.
[20] Al-Bulādhiriy: Futūh al-Buldān 583.
[21] Al-Bulādhiriy: Futūh al-Buldān 579.
[22] Shaykh al-Sadūq: 'Uyūn Akhbār al-Ridā 1:43 and Ibn `Abd al-Barr: al-Qasd wa’l-Umam 22.
[23] Al-Bulādhiriy: Futūh al-Buldān 579 and Ibn Abd al-Barr: al-Qasd wa’l-Umam 22.
[24] Muhammad ibn Habīb al-Baghdādiy: al-Muhabbar 475.
[25] Ibn `Abd al-Barr: al-Istī`āb 2:374.
[26] Ahmad Amīn: Fajr al-Islām (The Dawn of Islam) 13-4.
[27] Ibn Sa`d: al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā 2:22, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 1:247.
[28] Al-Targhīb wa’l-Tarhīb 1:71; Al-Haythamiy: Majma` al-Zawā’id 1:164.
[29] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 4:206.
[30] Sahīh al-Bukhāriy 3:1114 H. 2895.
[31] Sahīh al-Bukhāriy 1:53 H. 112; Sahīh Muslim 2:988 H. 1355; Sunan al-Tirmidhiy 5:29 H. 2667.
[32] Al-Hakīm al-Nīsāpūriy: al-Mustadrak `Alā’l-Sahīhayn 1:188 H. 362.
[33] Al-Hakīm al-Nīsāpūriy: al-Mustadrak `Alā’l-Sahīhayn 1:187 H. 359; Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 80-81.
[34] Sunan al-Tirmidhiy 5:39 H. 2666; al-Tabarāniy: al-Mu`jam al-Awsat 1:245 H. 801, 3:169 H. 2825.
[35]Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 73; al-Tabarāniy: al-Mu`jam al-Kabīr 4:276 H. 4410; Ibn `Adiy: al-Kāmil 1:36.
[36] This is an indication to the Holy Verse, “O you who believe: if an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done. 49:6”
[37]See the previous narration of `Ā’ishah regarding her father’s having set fire to the collections of Hadīth.
[38]Of course, this is at worst; rather, if truth be told, it is impermissible to reject even the doubted narration because there is a probability that it was truly said by the Holy Prophet. In view of that, Shī`ite and Sunnite Hadīthists have not neglected recording even the doubted narrations in their reference books of Hadīth.
[39]See Ibn Hazm al-Andalusiy: Asmā’ al-Sahābah, where he has mentioned the number of narrations reported by each one of the Sahābah.
[40] Sunan al-Dārimiy 2:462 H. 2972; Ta’wīl Mukhtalaf al-Hadīth 1:20.
[41] Ibn `Asākir: Tārīkh Dimashq 30:430; al-Haythamiy: Majma` al-Zawā'id 203; al-Tabarāniy: al-Mu`jam al-Kabīr 1:63 H. 43; al-Muttaqiy al-Hindiy: Kanz al-`Ummāl 5:631 H. 14113; Tārīkh al-Tabariy 2:620.
[42] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 4:132.
[43] Sunan Ibn Mājah 1:6, H (Hadīth).12.
[44] Sunan Abī-Dāwūd 4:200, H.4604.
[45] Al-Bayhaqiy: al-Sunan 9:331.
[46] Ismā’īl al-Isbahāniy: Dalā’il al-Nubuwwah 1:25 and 6:549, Ibn Hazm: al-Ihkām fi Usūl al-Ahkām 2:161 and al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: al-Kifāyah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirāyah 9.
[47] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 4:131 and al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: al-Kifāyah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirāyah 8-10.
[48] Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 4:131 and Sunan Abī-Dāwūd 4:200, H.4604.
[49] Sunan Ibn Mājah 1:6, H.13, al-Hākim al-Nīsāpūriy: al-Mustadrak `Ala’l-Sahīhayn 1:108, al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: al-Kifāyah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirāyah 10 and al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: al-faqīh wa’l-Mutafaqqih 1:88.
[50] Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: al-Kifāyah fi ‘Ilm al-Dirāyah 10.
[51] Ibn Hazm: al-Ahkām 1:159.
[52] Ibn al-Athīr: al-Nihāyah 1:40.
[53] Al-Shāfi`iy: al-Risālah 89-91, al-Bayhaqiy: Manāqib al-Shāfi`iy 1:330 and al-Hāzimiy: al-I`tibar 7.
[54] Al-Dhahbiy: Tadhkirat al-Huffādh 1:2-3.
[55] Al-Bayhaqiy: Dalā’il al-Nubuwwah 1:24 and 6:549.
[56] Quoted, not literally, from Sayyid Muhammad Ridā al-Jalāliy: Tadwīn al-Sunnah al-Sharīfah 356-7.
[57] Later on, during the discussion of the final justification, more details will be given to this claim.
[58]More details can be found in `Alī al-Shahristāniy’s Wudū’ al-Nabiy 256.
[59] Dr. Husayn al-Hājj Hasan: Naqd al-Hadīth 1:142.
[60] For more details and a clearer explanation of the idea, refer to the author’s book ‘Tārīkh al-Hadīth al-Nubawiy; al-Mu’aththirāt fī `Ahd Abī-Bakr (History of the Hadīth; Motives in the Reign of Abū-Bakr)’.

Justifications of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattāb
`Umar’s justifications can be concluded from the following texts:
(1) It has been narrated on the authority of `Urwah ibn al-Zubayr that when `Umar had intended to record the Holy Sunnah, he consulted the companions of the Holy Prophet, and they advised him to record. For about a month, `Umar set to seek Almighty Allah’s proper guidance in this regard. One morning, after Allah had decided for him, `Umar said,
‘I had intended to record the Holy Sunnah, but I remembered some past nations who applied themselves completely to the items they had written and, as a result, neglected the Book of Almighty Allah. By Allah I swear! I will never allow anything to interfere with the Book of Allah.’[61]
Yahyā ibn Ju`dah narrated that after `Umar ibn al-Khattāb had intended to record the Holy Sunnah, he changed his mind and distributed a missive in the countries ordering people to erase any item of the Holy Sunnah that they might have recorded.[62]
(2) It has been narrated on the authority of al-Qāsim ibn Muhammad ibn Abū-Bakr that `Umar, after he had received news confirming that people started to hold (or write) books, denied and disliked the matter saying,
‘O people: I have been informed that you have started to hold books. Allah’s most beloved books must be the fairest and the straightest. Now, I order you all to bring me all the books that you hold so that I will decide about them.’
Thinking that `Umar wanted to correct and submit the books to a certain criterion, all people brought their books to him. Instead, he set them all to fire and said,
‘This is a false wish just like that of the Christians and the Jews.’[63]
According to Ibn Sa`d, in his al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā, `Umar said, ‘This is a Mishna[64] just like that of the Christians and the Jews.’[65]
From the previous text, we understand that the justifications that `Umar ibn al-Khattāb presented for the prohibition of recording the Holy Sunnah can be summed up in the following points:
1. The anticipation that the Holy Qur’ān would be abandoned and replaced by other things.
2. The apprehension that other things would be mixed with the texts of the Holy Qur’ān.
The earlier justification can be refuted by the following points:
First: It is clear that this justification was based upon previous convictions and special circumstances, because he said, ‘as I remembered some past nations…’ and, ‘This is a false wish just like that of the Christians and the Jews.’
Details will be given about the backgrounds of this justification during the discussion of the last reason.
Furthermore, `Umar should not have had such a conception about the grand Sahābah whom must not be subjected to such convictions and cases.
Second: The justification is ambiguous to a great extent; therefore, we doubt its being the direct reason beyond Umar’s decision of prohibition. No Muslim would ever deny the fact that to abandon and ignore the Holy Qur’ān so as to attend to something else is unlawful and is forbidden by the Sharī`ah, but the claim that to attend to something other than the Holy Qur’ān results in the abandonment of it is obvious confusion and inaccurate wording. Undoubtedly, what is actually resulting in the abandonment of the Holy Qur’ān is only what contradicts it, such as the adoption of the other Scriptures along with the doctrines written therein; but to regard the attention to the interpreter of the Holy Qur’ān; namely the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet about whom Almighty Allah says, ‘And We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, 16:44’— to regard such attention as the main cause beyond the negligence of the Holy Qur’ān is definitely delusion and confusion between the right and the wrong. Logically, to attend to the Hadīth is to attend to the Holy Qur’ān, since the Hadīth interprets and reveals the true meanings of the Holy Qur’ān.
Third: Umar’s justification implies that the Sahābah are accused of their incapacity to make distinction between the Words of Almighty Allah that they memorized and reported and the words of the Holy Prophet that stood for the interpretation and explanation of the Holy Qur’ān. Everybody knows that the Holy Qur’ān enjoys such an incomparable style of typical eloquence, unique phraseology, and spiritual attraction that it cannot be confused with the Hadīth. The Qur’ānic verses enjoy such a special motif and coherence that they cannot be confused with any other speech. If `Umar anticipated the occurrence of confusion between the Holy Qur’ān and the Sunnah, like that which occurred to some of the Sahābah who confused a few words of a verse with the Holy Prophet’s words, he could deal with the matter by ordering the narrators to be sure of a text, before reporting it, by asking the other experts who were many in that period. When he compiled the scattered papers of the Holy Qur’ān, Abū-Bakr did the same thing.[66]However, such a simple question does not require general prohibition of the reporting and recordation of the Hadīth. Having taken notice of this point, Abū-Bakr did not claim such confusion as the justification for the prohibition after he had solved this problem and dispensed with the method that was later on taken by `Umar in his dealing with the issue.
Umar’s justification might have found a ground if the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah had been written in the same papers. However, none of the Muslims had ever mixed the texts of the Holy Qur’ān with those of the Holy Sunnah in the same paper. Despite the passage of long ages, the earliest books of Tafsīr (Exegesis of the Holy Qur’ān) reached at our hands without having any single confusion between the texts of the Holy Qur’ān and those of the Holy Sunnah.
The latter justification adopted by `Umar ibn al-Khattāb can be refuted by the following points:
First: As far as style and eloquence are concerned, indisputable characteristics have distinguished between the Qur’ānic and the narrative texts. The Qur’ānic texts have been revealed in the form of inimitability, challenging all the Arab polytheists, who were masters of eloquence, to produce the like of it. More than once and in different eloquent and reproachful styles, the Holy Qur’ān challenged the unbelievers to bring its like. Listen to the following Qur’ānic texts,
“Say: Then bring some (other) book from Allah which is a better guide than both of them, (that) I may follow it, if you are truthful.” [Holy Qur’ān: 28:49]
“Say: If men and jinn should combine together to bring the like of this Qur’ān, they could not bring the like of it, though some of them were aiders of others.” [Holy Qur’ān: 17:88]
“Or, do they say: He has forged it. Say: Then bring ten forged chapters like it and call upon whom you can besides Allah, if you are truthful.” [Holy Qur’ān: 11:13]
“And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it and call on your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful. But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.” [Holy Qur’ān: 2:23-4]
The articulacy, fluency, and expressiveness of the Holy Qur’ān astonished the polytheists shockingly that they found nothing to say about it except being ‘transient magic’. On the other hand, the Hadīth has not been challenging the eloquence of the polytheists.
Second: The main topic of the Holy Prophet’s words was to explain the religious laws, aside from the eloquence of his language. Moreover, some of the narrations that are reported from the Holy Prophet conveyed only the meaning, not the very words spoken by him. In the meantime, Muslims have recognized, favored, and memorized the Holy Qur’ān since it has occupied a special position in each and every Muslim’s heart. For instance, they should never touch its letters unless they are pure, for their compliance with Almighty Allah’s saying,
“None shall touch it save the purified ones”. [Holy Qur’ān: 56:79]
Finally, they have been always observing and reciting the Holy verses day and night.
Inasmuch as Muslims used to care for the Holy Qur’ān to such a great extents, it is illogical to anticipate its confusion with the Holy Sunnah! Likewise, the Sahābah were too aware to lack distinction between what is divinely revealed and what is said for mere explanation. Nevertheless, everybody admits to the fact that the Holy Prophet’s articulation was so expressive that it was easily distinguished from ordinary people’s diction, since he was the most eloquent of the Arabs. It is thus claimed that not all people were talented enough to tell apart between the Holy Qur’ān and the Holy Prophet’s words. However, such a claim is too far from the truth; in addition to the aforementioned differences between the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah, the latter embodies words, deeds, and confirmations half of which have been ordinary statements that never promote to the level of the Holy Qur’ān. Moreover, even if the previous claim is accepted, yet supposedly, it should apply only to some of the verbal part of the Holy Sunnah. In addition, we have previously cited that some of the narrations that were reported from the Holy Prophet conveyed only the meaning, not the very words spoken by him.
Third: Supposing the aforementioned claim is accurate, it does not necessitate the desertion of the Holy Sunnah in order to observe the maintenance of the Holy Qur’ān, because the Hadīth is the explanatory body of the Holy Qur’ān and, as a result, to report, record, and study it achieves a big service for Muslims to understand the Holy Qur’ān without making any contradiction with it.
What must be verified and checked is the reporting from the Holy Prophet. In this regard, the Holy Prophet said,
“Anyone who attributes false reports to me must certainly find himself a place in Hellfire.”
A deep look at this Prophetic statement shows that the Holy Sunnah, unlike the Holy Qur’ān, can be exposed to forgery.
Let us now wonder how `Umar ibn al-Khattāb had been so ignorant that he could not appreciate such clear-cut facts and, consequently, claimed matters revealing the absence of differences between the texts of the Holy Qur’ān and those of the Holy Sunnah in aspects of eloquence and perspicuity!
In addition, let us wonder how it is possible that none paid attention to the clear-cut question that such confusion leads to disbelief and that one who claims confusion between the Holy Qur'ān and the Holy Sunnah must be regarded as belying Almighty Allah’s saying—in the Holy Qur'ān,
“And indeed it is a Book of exalted power. No falsehood can approach it from before or behind it: It is sent down by One Full of Wisdom, Worthy of all Praise.” [Holy Qur’ān: 41:41-42]
“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from distortion).” [Holy Qur’ān: 15:9]
It is not unlikely that `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, in order to find foundations for his own opinions, had to resort to various justifications, such as the anticipation of confusion between the Holy Qur'ān and Sunnah, or that he recalled the manners of peoples of bygone times who dedicated all their efforts to studying the books of their doctors of laws and rabbis and left the Book of their Lord, or that he intended to be sure of the authenticity of the reports ascribed to the Holy Prophet as being within his Sunnah... etc. Due to such justifications, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb reduced the reporting of the Holy Prophet’s traditions and tightened the grip around the throat of anyone who had kept a report from the Holy Prophet.
In any case, as `Umar ibn al-Khattāb prohibited the reporting and recording of the Hadīth, he violated the unanimous consensus of the Muslims on the acceptability of the single-reporter narration (khabar al-wāhid). He also violated the majority of the Sunnite Muslims who believe in the ultimate decency of all the Sahābah. Moreover, he violated the rational principle of respecting the report of the trustworthy. Such being the case, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the caliph, caused a large number of the Holy Prophet’s traditions to be lost and aroused suspicions around the principles of the Islamic legislation since the majority of the Sahābah heard, from the Holy Prophet, what many others had not heard; while the caliph’s determination decided the impermissibility of such reports unless a witness and proofs on their having been said by the Holy Prophet would be presented. Of course, such proofs could not be presented by most of the Sahābah except in a few cases such as that of Abū-Mūsā al-Ash`ariy, which happened by chance.
From the above, we reach the conclusion that the justifications of `Umar ibn al-Khattāb for prohibiting the reporting and recordation of the Hadīth have not been sufficiently convincing. We therefore have to search for other justifications, hoping that we may find a persuasive answer!
Notes:
[61] Mu`ammar ibn Rāshid: al-Jāmi` 11:257; `Abd al-Razzāq: al-Musannaf 11:258 H. 484; al-Madkhal Ilā’l-Sunan al-Kubrā 1:407; al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 49 and `Abd al-Ghaniy Abd al-Khāliq: Hijjiyyat al-Sunnah 395 as quoted from al-Bayhaqiy and Ibn `Abd al-Barr.
[62] Al-Muttaqiy al-Hindiy: Kanz al-`Ummāl 10:292 H. 29476; Al-Khatīb al-Baghdādiy: Taqyīd al-`Ilm 35 and Abd al-Ghaniy Abd al-Khāliq: Hijjiyyat al-Sunnah 395.
[63] `Abd al-Ghaniy `Abd al-Khāliq: Hijjiyyat al-Sunnah 395.
[64] Mishna is the collection of precepts and customs which form the basis of the Talmud and is held to embody the contents of Jewish oral law. Hence, Umar likened the Holy Sunnah that had been recorded by the major Sahābah who received it directly from the mouth of the Holy Prophet to the collections of the Jewish oral laws that were neither revealed to nor said by Prophet Moses. Of course, such likening is aimed at belying and despising the Holy Sunnah that included innumerable Hadīths respecting the Ahl al-Bayt’s merits and true positions as well as the divine commissions that they must succeed the Holy Prophet and must be unconditionally obeyed by all Muslims. (See Abū-Na’im: Dalā’il al-Nubuwwah 638, Sayyid Ja`far Murtadā al-`Āmiliy: al-Sahīh min Sīrat al-Nabi al-A’dham 1:59, The Simplified Arabic Encyclopedia: 543 (Talmud), Muhammad Ridā al-Jalāliy: Tadwīn al-Sunnah al-Sharīfah 340 and The Encyclopedia of al-Mawrid 4:199)
[65] Ibn Sa`d: al-Tabaqāt al-Kubrā 1:140.
[66]Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtiy: al-Durr al-Manthūr 4:332; Al-Mubārakfūriy: Tuhfat al-Ahwadhiy fī Sharh Jāmi` al-Tirmidhiy 8:408; al-Itqān fī `Ulūm al-Qur'ān 1:162-163.

Source:
The Prohibition of Recording the Hadith, Causes and Effects
A Glance at the Methodologies and Principles of the two Muslims Schools of Hadith
By: Sayyid Ali Al-Shahristani


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