Sectarian Polemics in the Classical
topos that is stressed in Shi‘i juridical, heresiographical, and biographical literature is that the imams trained their close associates to perform various functions on their behalf.1 The
also participated in the polemical disputations in the sectarian milieus of Baghdad and Kufa. In the eighth and ninth centuries, Shi‘i beliefs and practices came under increasing attack, especially from the Mu‘tazilis, who refuted the central doctrine of the imamate as it was promulgated by the Shi‘is. The Mu‘tazilis’ disputations were predicated mainly on
kalam (speculative theology) arguments and other forms of rational tools to vindicate their doctrinal positions.
saw the need to respond with equally sophisticated tools of reasoning and methodological terminologies. Hisham b. al-Hakam (d. 807), for example, did not confine his disputations to the traditions from the imams since these genres of traditions and style of argumentation would not have been accepted by his interlocutors. In his discussion with an Mu‘tazili interlocutor, ‘Amr b. ‘Ubayd (n.d.), Hisham is reported to have argued, based on rational premises, the need for a divinely-guided imam at all times.2 Other disciples also developed
kalam-based arguments in their discourses, arguing, for example, on the rational basis of the imam and other traits of the imams. Due
1 See Liyakat Takim, “Authority Construction in Biographical Texts: TheCases of Humran b. A‘yan and Mu’min al-Taq” in International Journal of Shi‘i Studies, 1 (2003).
2 Muhammad b. Ya’qub Kulayni, Al-Kafi fi ‘Ilm al-Din (Tehran: Daftar Farhang Ahl al-Bayt, n.d.), 1:239.
Topics that were at the nexus of Mu‘tazili and Ash‘ari discussions were also debated by eighth and ninth century Shi‘is.3 The
defined, articulated, and defended Shi‘i beliefs, discussing, in the process, questions such as the creation of the Qur’an, anthropomorphism, the nature and extent of God’s ‘ilm, the need for an imam, and the infallibility of the prophets and imams.
The names and views of the disciples who were engaged in these discussions are cited in both Sunni and Shi‘i texts. In his
al-Farq bayn al-Firaq, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 1037) mentions some of the eminent theologians who were affiliated to al-Sadiq. These included figures like Zurara b. A‘yan (d. 767) and Hisham b. al-Hakam.4 Other prominent Shi‘i theologians at this time included figures like Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. al-Nu‘man (n.d.) and Hisham b. Salim al-Jawaliqi (n.d.). Their views are mentioned and refuted in theological tracts, like those of al-Ash‘ari’s (d. 935)
and Khalifa al-Khayyat’s (d. 913)
Kitab al-Intisar. A study of these works indicates that the views the
propounded were well known when the tracts were compiled in the ninth century.5 A comparison of Sunni and Shi‘i sources further corroborates the view that the
participated in the
3 See the example cited by Mehdi Mohaghegh, “Al-Sharif al-Murtada and theDefense of the Imamate,” in The Shi‘ite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions, ed. Lynda Clarke (Binghamton: Global, 2001), 125.
4 ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Baghdadi, al-Farq Bayn al-Firaq, 3rd
ed. (Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadida, 1978), 43-49.
5 Wilferd Madelung, “The Shi‘ite and Kharijite Contribution to preAsh‘arite Kalam,” in Islamic Philosophical Theology, ed. Parvez Morewedge (Albany: SUNY, 1979), 121.
Shi‘i belief system.
The view that the disciples of the imams engaged in debates with their interlocutors on theological issues is corroborated in many other reports. Along with other disciples like ‘Ali b. Maytham Tammar (n.d.)6 and al-Sakkak7 (n.d.), Hisham al-Hakam participated in a symposium arranged by Yahya al-Barmak (d. 805) in Harun al-Rashid’s court.8 According to the historian al-Mas‘udi (d. 957), Hisham discussed the question of the imamate, that is, whether it should be based on divine appointment or
ikhtiyar (the imam was to be chosen by the people).9 Ibn Qutayba (d. 889), a prominent scholar of the
ahl al-hadith, notes that Hisham debated with Abu’l-Hudhayl (d. 840), al-Nazzam (d. 836), and al-Najjar (d. 836), three prominent Mu‘tazili theologians.10
The significance and impact of the contribution of the
rijal in the realm of intellectual discourse is further underscored by the fact that their arguments were refuted by their opponents. An important Mu‘tazili thinker who wrote on the imamate was al-Jahiz (d. 868/69). In his ‘Uthmaniyya and other works, he refutes Shi‘i positions in great detail. His views were later refuted by Ibn al-Rawandi (d. 859), a Mu‘tazili who converted to Shi‘ism. Although the works of al-Jahiz and Ibn al-Rawandi are not extant, al-Khayyat’s theological tract provides us
6 On whom see Muhammad b. Ja‘far Tusi, Kitab al-Fihrist (Qum: 1983),
7 See Muhammad b. Ishaq b. Nadim, Kitab al-Fihrist, trans. Bayard Dodge(New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), 1:439.
8 ‘Ali b. Husayn al-Mas‘udi, Muruj al-Dhahab wa Ma‘adin al-Jawhar (Qum:Dar al-Hijra, 1983), 3:372.
9 Ibid., 3:371.
Mu‘tazili opponents. In fact, it is possible to reconstruct from this work outlines of the debates between Ibn al-Rawandi and al-Jahiz, and the views advanced by the
are reported to have played an active role in promulgating many Shi‘i doctrines and refuting the views of their adversaries. Another important Shi‘i jurist-cum-theologian of the ninth century was Fadl b. Shadhan (d. 870). Within Shi‘i circles, Fadl was known as a proficient jurist and an extremely effective theologian. An author of one hundred and eighty books, many of his works appear to be polemical in nature, embodying vitriolic attacks on beliefs held by opponents. He is reported to have refuted beliefs held by the Mu‘tazilis, Murji‘is and the
(extremists). Fadl is also reported to have written against the philosophers and refuted the Hashwiya (extreme traditionalists).11
The titles of his works indicate that Fadl was a proponent of major Shi‘i doctrines like those of the imamate and
(the belief in the return of the imams before the end of time). Fadl is also reported to have composed important tracts on juridical practices that differentiate the Shi‘is from the Sunnis. He defended Shi‘i practices like
mut‘a (marriage for a fixed duration) and the wiping of the feet (mash al-khuffayn) during the ritual ablution.12
Besides arguing for various doctrines, Shi‘i sources indicate that the
had specialized in different fields of discourse. Aban b. Taghlib (d. 758) was reportedly an expert in Arabic grammar, Zurara in jurisprudence, al-Ahwal in
kalam, al-Tayyar (n.d.) in
10 ‘Abd Allah b. Muslim b. Qutayba, Ta’wil Mukhtalif al-Hadith (Beirut:Dar al-Jil, 1972), 14. On Hisham's discussions with Abu'l-Hudhayl, seealso al-Mas‘udi, Muruj, 4:21-22.
11 Christopher Melchert, “The Imamis Between Rationalism and Traditionalism,” in The Shi‘ite Heritage, 275-76.
unity) and Hisham b. al-Hakam on the imamate.13 ‘Ali Maytham al-Tammar is also reported to have had discussions with the Mu‘tazili ‘Ali al-Aswari on the imamate.14 Ibn al-Rawandi (d. 859), who wrote almost a century after these
rijal, copiously quotes and defends the views of Hisham b. al-Hakam. Similarly, later Shi‘i theologians like al-Mufid (d. 1022), al-Murtada (d. 1044), and Tusi (d. 1067) elaborate on most of the doctrinal positions that were discussed by eighth century Shi‘is.
The foregoing discussion indicates that the polemical function of the
is confirmed in ninth century Sunni texts where the
are accused of defending and vindicating beliefs related to the imamate. Apart from the beliefs in anthropomorphism and creation of God’s ‘ilm, no attempt was made by subsequent Shi‘is to refute the charges leveled at their
in the Sunni works. On the contrary, the Shi‘is cited many traditions to support these beliefs, whose provenance is mentioned in the Sunni texts to lie in second century Rafidism. Most doctrines, like those of
nass, the infallible qualities of the imam, and
raj‘a, were accepted by the Shi‘is as originating from the imams, although they were transmitted, articulated, and defended by the
Polemics in the Legal Field
12 Tusi, Fihrist, 124-25; Ahmad b. ‘Ali Najashi, Kitab al-Rijal (Qum:Maktaba al-Dawari, 1976), 216-17.
13 Muhammad b. ‘Umar Kashshi, Ikhtiyar Ma‘rifa al-Rijal, ed. al-Mustafawi (Mashad: Danishgahi Mashad, 1969), 276.
14 ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Muhammad al-Khayyat, Kitab al-Intisar Wa’l-Radd ‘ala Ibn al-Rawandi al-Mulhid
(Beirut: Dar Qabis, 1986), 75.
manifested itself in the legal field too. An important characteristic of the Islamic legal experience of the time was its pluralistic nature. The
rijal contributed to the pluralistic ambience of Islamic law since the training they received from the imams enabled them to engage in a creative legal discourse and to participate in the juristic culture that was centered around the developing legal tradition in Islam.
The presence of distinctive Shi‘i legal views and practices is mentioned by Khalifa al-Khayyat in his
Kitab al-Intisar. Referring to the Shi‘i opposition to the community, he states, “[Their opposition] is evident from their [divergent] beliefs concerning ritual purity, prayers, the
(call to prayer), the number of units of prayers, the
tashahhud (a part of the prayer that entails testifying to God’s unity and the prophecy of Muhammad), and the obligatory acts. It is as if the Prophet who was sent to us was different from the one sent to them.”15 The final remark poignantly demonstrates the existence of divergent Shi‘i legal practices in the ninth century when al-Khayyat was writing. He attributes the origins of these practices to the Shi‘is of the eighth century.
Many reports within Shi‘i circles indicate that, as trained representatives of the imams, the Shi‘i disciples’ erudition in the legal field empowered them to challenge the juridical positions of other schools of law. In one instance recorded by Kashshi, when a woman posed a question to Abu Hanifa as to whether it was permissible to extract a living child out of the womb of a mother who had just died, Abu Hanifa admitted his incompetence in ruling on the issue. He directed her instead to Muhammad b. Muslim al-Thaqafi (d. 767) and asked her to inform him of Muhammad’s response. Muhammad answered her question
15 Ibid., 117.
preponderance of the knowledge of the
over that of the other imams in Kufa. It also portrays the
as loyal associates of the imams who transmitted their legal teachings in the form of
reports, whereas other jurists in Kufa resorted to arbitrary reasoning in the formulation of legal opinions.
The foregoing discussion indicates that in the sectarian milieu of eighth and ninth century Iraq, the
played a prominent in vindicating distinct Shi‘i theological and legal points. In the discourses with their interlocutors, the disciples focused on various topics of theology that were anchored on the central doctrine of the imamate. By framing their discourses and performing other tasks related to their positions as the deputies of the imam, the
constructed a normative basis through which ‘orthodox’ views and beliefs could be distilled and differentiated from those espoused by their opponents. In the course of their disputations, the disciples of the imams constructed boundaries of identity and exclusion. This legacy of defending Shi‘i beliefs and refuting the arguments of opponents has continued in modern times.
Contemporary Polemics: Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi and the Combination of Prayers
In this section, I propose to translate Sharaf al-Din’s chapter on the combination of prayers. It is here that the genre and impact of sectarian discourses, with the refutation and counter-refutation of arguments, will become evident. Sharaf al-Din al-Musawi employs Sunni
and juridical literature to prove the validity of Shi‘i practices. This is an important method that Shi‘i scholars have used to vindicate the validity of their practices.
26 Maghniyya, Five Schools, 66. 27 Seestani, Islamic
the year 1872 C.E. where his father had emigrated to study from Jabal ‘Amil, Lebanon. After receiving his primary education in Southern Lebanon, Sharaf al-Din pursued his religious studies at a Shi‘i seminary in Najaf, Iraq. In 1904, he qualified to attain the level of
(independent reasoning in legal issues) at the age of 32, and returned to his home in Jabal ‘Amil after having been away for fifteen years. Later, the highest ranking religious authority in Lebanon, Sayyid ‘Ali al-Amin, authorized him to issue
fatawa (juridical rulings).
Although he was both a social worker and political figure, Sharaf al-Din was known primarily for his scholarship. A perusal of his writings indicates that he was well versed in both Shi‘i and Sunni texts and could provide textual evidence of Shi‘i beliefs and practices from Sunni canonical sources. Sharaf al-Din also struggled to bring Muslims together. In the year 1910 he published
al-Fusul al-Muhimah fi Ta'lif al-Ummah, a book which underlined the necessity to unite Muslims. In this text, he addressed certain sectarian issues. In 1911 he visited Egypt and met Shaykh Salim al-Bishri, the head of al-Azhar. The outcome of their discussions and long correspondence was the book al-Muraja'at, a seminal work on doctrinal issues that contains his correspondence with the Egyptian scholar. This text, translated as “The Right Path” has been recognized and widely circulated in the Muslim world and has been translated into twenty languages.
Al-Muraja'at is one of the best-known books in Shi‘i polemics and has been printed ten times. Many scholars consider this work as one of the best expositions of Twelver Shi‘i doctrines. Sayyid Sharaf al-Din died in the year 1957. The following is a translation of the first chapter of his
Masa’il Fiqhiyya, a juridical tract that seeks to prove the validity of Shi‘i legal practices based primarily on Sunni sources.
There is no difference - between all the Islamic schools of thought among the
ahl alqibla [people who worship towards Mecca] - in allowing the combination of the two obligatory prayers,
al-‘asr, at ‘Arafa at the time of the noon (al-zuhr) prayer. Technically, this is [called]
(the preceding combination). Similarly, there is no difference between them in allowing the combination of the two obligatory [prayers] -
al-‘isha’ - at al-Muzdalifa at the time of the ‘isha’ [prayers].29 Technically, this is called
jam' al-ta'khir (the delayed combination).30 There is no difference [among the scholars] in preferring these two combinations. Indeed, they are among the prophetic practices. However, they (the scholars) have differed as to the permissibility of combining the prayers in other instances.
The point of disagreement here is the permissibility of combining two obligatory prayers by performing them together at the time stipulated for one of them either by bringing it forward (taqdiman) as at ‘Arafa or by delaying it (ta'khiran) like the combination in al-Muzdalifa.
28 Unless indicated otherwise, henceforth, all the footnotes aretranslations of Sharaf al-Din’s text.
29 The consensus (ijma')
of the ahl al-qibla
in allowing the combination [of prayers] at ‘Arafa and al-Muzdalifa is restricted tothe pilgrims. As for [the ruling for] non-pilgrims, there is somedispute [on the issue].
30 This is because of the delaying of the prayer of al-maghrib from its stipulated time and combining it with al-‘isha at [the latter's]stipulated time. Similarly, the combination [of prayers] at ‘Arafa is[called] jam' al-taqdim
as the ‘asr
prayer is brought forward from it's[stipulated time] and is combined with the zuhr at it's [stipulated] time.
this is permissible at all times although it is better to separate them. Their followers (Shi‘as) have followed them in this [ruling] at all times and places. Most of the time, they combine
al-‘isha’, whether they are traveling or at home, whether they have an excuse [to combine] or without an excuse.
Jam' al-taqdim and
jam' alta'khir are equally valid for them [at all times].
As for the Hanafis, they have prohibited the combination [of prayers] absolutely except when combining them at ‘Arafa and al-Muzdalifa. [This is] despite the presence of numerous clear
sahih (authentic) traditions which allow the combination, especially when traveling. However, despite the clear [traditions] they interpreted them to refer to an unintentional combination (al-jam' al-suri). The invalidity of this [view] will become clear to you soon, God willing.
As for the Shafi‘is, Malikis, and Hanbalis, they have allowed it (the combination) when traveling although there are differences between them. Otherwise, they are not allowed to combine except for [genuine] excuses, for example, when there is rain, soil, in sickness, and if there is any fear. There are also differences between them on the conditions which constitute traveling which can be [termed] legal.32
31 Translator’s note - When they cite the name of the Prophet, it iscustomary for Muslims to invoke the blessings of God on him. I willindicate this invocation by shortening the term peace be upon him tothe letter P in parenthesis.
32 This is because some of them have stipulated that the journey be forattaining closeness [to Allah] (qurba) like the pilgrimage or the lesser pilgrimage ('umra) and expeditions etc., not otherwise. Amongthem are those who have stipulated that the journey be lawful (mubah),not one which is for a sinful purpose. Others have stipulated aspecific distance of traveling, others have not stipulated anything.Therefore, combining the prayer is allowed for any type of journey andfor any reason. The details are in their [works of] jurisprudence.
other issues are the authentic [traditions] from our imams, peace be upon them. We shall argue with the masses (jumhur) by referring to their authentic traditions since they clearly point to what we claim. For us, sufficient proofs are [provided by] what the two Shaykhs have reported in the
Sahihs. We present to you what Muslim has narrated in his
Sahih in the chapter on the combination of prayers when at home. He says,
“Yahya b. Yahya reported: ‘I read from Malik from b. Abu al-Zubayr from Sa‘id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas [who] said: ‘The Prophet of God (P) prayed the
zuhr and ‘asr
prayers together and [he also offered] the
maghrib and ‘isha’ prayers together33 even though there was neither any fear nor was he travelling.’”
Muslim said: “And Abu Bakr b. Abi Shayba narrated to us that Sufyan b. ‘Uyayna reported from ‘Amr b. Dinar from Abu Sha‘sha’ Jabir b. Zayd from Ibn ‘Abbas who said: ‘I prayed with the Prophet (P) the eight [cycles] (of prayer) together and the seven [cycles] together.’ ‘Amr b. Dinar said: ‘I said: ‘O Abu Sha‘sha’ I think he delayed the
zuhr and hastened [to pray] the ‘asr and he delayed the
maghrib and hastened [to pray] the ‘isha,’ He (Abu Sha‘sha’) said: ‘I think so too.’”34 I (the author) say: “They only follow [their] conjectures, and the conjecture does not lead to the truth.”
33 Perhaps you are aware that their term for combining the prayer meanstheir occurrence together at the time of one [of them] rather than atthe other, whether it be jam' al-taqdim
or jam' al-ta'khir. This was the meaning intended by their earlier and later scholars from the [timeof the] companions upto today. This is a point of dispute as you haveread before.
34 This tradition has been cited by Ahmad b. Hanbal from a hadith
of Ibn ‘Abbas on page 221 in the first volume of his Musnad. On the same page, he also reported, by a different chain of authority, from Ibn‘Abbas. He said: “The Prophet of God (P) prayed, while staying inMedina, not in a state of traveling, the seven and eight cyclestogether.”
‘Amr b. Dinar from Jabir b. Zayd from Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘Indeed the Prophet of God (P) prayed in Medina the seven and eight cycles, the
zuhr and ‘asr and the
He (Muslim) said: “And Abu al-Rabi‘i al-Zahrani told me that Hammad narrated to us from al-Zubayr b. al-Kharit from ‘Abd Allah b. Shaqiq who said: ‘One day Ibn ‘Abbas delivered a sermon to us after the ‘asr [prayer] until the sun had set and the stars had begun to appear. The people started to say: ‘The prayer! The prayer!.’ He said: ‘A man from the Banu Tamim, who was not smiling or inclined [in stature], came to him (Ibn ‘Abbas) and said: ‘The prayer, the prayer!.’ Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘Do you teach me the
sunna, O one who has no mother?’ Then he said: ‘I saw the Prophet of God (P) combine the
‘asr and the
and ‘isha’.’ ‘Abd Allah b. Shaqiq said: ‘Something about that bothered me, so I came to Abu Hurayra and I asked him about it and he verified his statement.’”36
Muslim said: “And Ibn Abi 'Umar told us that Waqi‘ reported that ‘Imran b. Hudayr reported from ‘Abd Allah b. Shaqiq al-‘Uqayli that a man said to Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘The prayer!’, then he kept quiet. Then he said: ‘The prayer!’ then he kept quiet. Then he said: ‘The prayer!’ and he kept quiet. Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘You have no mother! Do you teach us about the prayer, we used to combine the two prayers in the time of the Prophet of God (P).’”
35 Technically, this [way of expressing] is called unregulated foldingand unfolding, it is not sequential. It is allowed. If he had said “he prayed the eight and seven” it would have been a regulated [form of expression].
36 The world cares little for Allah, the Almighty, and the family of Muhammad (P). For these people, something [coming] from Ibn ‘Abbasbothers them so they ask Abu Hurayra. If only they would act according to the hadith
even after Abu Hurayra had verified it.
‘Abbas prayed the
zuhr and ‘asr in Basra without any interval between them. He did that as he was busy, he reported it from the Prophet (P).37
Muslim said that Ahmad b. Yunus and ‘Awn b. Salaam both told us from Zuhayr. Ibn Yunus said that Zuhayr narrated that Abu al-Zubayr reported from Sa‘id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas who said: “The Prophet of God (P) prayed the
'asr together in Medina when there was neither fear nor [was he] travelling.”38 Abu al-Zubayr said: “I asked Sa‘id: ‘Why did he do that?’ He replied: ‘I asked Ibn ‘Abbas just as you have asked me. He said: ‘He did not wish to impose any difficulty on anyone in his community.’”
Muslim said: “And Abu Bakr b. Abu Shayba and Abu Karib reported to us, they said: ‘Abu Mu'awiya, Abu Karib and Abu Sa‘id al-Ashaj said (and the words are of Abu Karib) that they (Abu Karib and Abu Sa‘id) said that Waqi‘ and Abu Mu‘awiya said, both of them [reporting] from al-A‘mash from Habib b. Abu Thabit from Sa'id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas who said: ‘The Prophet of God (P) combined the
‘asr and the
maghrib and ‘isha’ [prayers] in Medina even though there was neither fear nor rain.’”
He (Muslim) said: “In the tradition of Waqi‘ he said: ‘I asked Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘Why did he do that’? He said: ‘So that he should not [impose a] burden on his community.’” And, [according to] the
of Abu Mu‘awiya, Ibn ‘Abbas was asked: “What did he intend by that?” He said: “He did not wish to impose difficulty on his community.”
has also been cited by Ahmad b. Hanbal from Ibn ‘Abbas on page 251 in the first volume of his Musnad.
37 As al-Zurqani has reported on the combination of the two prayers inthe commentary on al-Muwatta' page 263, volume 1.
38 This tradition has been narrated by Malik in the chapter on thecombining of prayer in the Muwatta' and by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad [onthe authority] of Ibn ‘Abbas.
b. Khalid said that Abu al-Zubayr told us that Sa‘id b. Jubayr reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘Indeed the Prophet of God (P) combined the prayers when on a journey he was undertaking in the battle of Tabuk, he combined the
zuhr and ‘asr
maghrib and ‘isha.’” Sa‘id said: ‘I asked Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘What made him do that?’ He replied: ‘He did not wish to burden his
Muslim said: “Yahya b. Habib said that Khalid b. al-Hirth told us that Qurra b. Khalid narrated that Abu al-Zubayr said that ‘Amir b. Wa'ila Abu al-Tufayl reported that Mu‘adh b. Jabal said: ‘In the battle of Tabuk, the Prophet of God (P) combined the
and ‘asr and the
maghrib and ‘isha’ [prayers].’ He said: ‘I asked: ‘What made him do that?’ He (Mu'adh) said: ‘He did not wish to burden his community.’”
I (the author) say: These authentic traditions are clear as to the reason for the legislation of combining [the prayers] - all [indicate] to give respite to the community, so as not to burden it with separating [the prayers], [thereby] having mercy on the diligent ones who [comprise] most of the people. The last two traditions - the
of Mu‘adh and the one before it - are not restricted to the specific situation - I mean traveling - since the reason for combining [the prayer] in them (the two traditions) is general. It is not the journey
per se, nor for sickness, rain, soil and fear
per se. Rather, it is a general [ruling] which can be applied in any specific case. So it is not restricted to it, rather, it is applicable to all occasions. Due to that, you see that Imam Muslim did not mention the [last] two traditions in the chapter on “combining [the prayer] when travelling,” since they are not restricted to it. Rather, he cited the traditions in the chapter on the “combination [of prayer] when at home” so that they
upon] his understanding, knowledge, and justice.
sahih hadiths on this issue and those which you have heard and not heard are all according to the conditions stipulated by al-Bukhari. The transmitters in their
isnads have all been used by al-Bukhari in his
Sahih, so I wonder what prevented him (al-Bukhari) from mentioning all of them (the traditions) in his
Sahih? What led him to reduce them to a negligible portion? Why did he not append a chapter in his book on the combination [of prayer] when at home or when traveling? Given the abundant
-according to the conditions stipulated by him - which are available on the combination [of prayers] and given that, on the whole, most of the imams do accept it (the combination), why did he select those traditions on combining which have the least [impact] in pointing to it (the combination of prayer)? Why did he insert them in a chapter which could alter its (intended) meaning? I consider al-Bukhari above and exclude him from being like those who alter words from their intended meanings, or like those who hide the truth even though they may know it.
I present to you what he has selected on this topic and has inserted at an improper place. He says in the chapter on the delaying of the
zuhr prayer until the [time of] ‘asr in the book of the timings of prayers in his
Sahih:39 “Abu Nu‘man narrated to us that Hammad b.
39 Shaykh al-Islam al-Ansari, when he reached this chapter in hiscommentary - [called] “the Gift of al-Bukhari,” commented saying: “Thatwhich is appropriate to the tradition [is to insert it under the]chapter: ‘The prayer of al-zuhr with al-‘asr and the al-maghrib
with al-‘isha.’” He (al-Ansari) said: “The interpretation of that is he finished the first [prayer] and the time of the second one set in andhe offered it after the first one, this is opposed to what is apparent[from the tradition]” p. 292, vol. 2 in his commentary. Al-Qastalanisaid on page 293, vol. 2, in his commentary called “Irshad al-Sari.” “His (al-Bukhari’s) interpretation [of the tradition] to mean a non
‘Abbas who said: ‘The Prophet (P) prayed in Medina the seven and eight [cycles] of the
'asr and the
and ‘isha.’ Ayyub said: ‘Perhaps it was a rainy night.’ He said: ‘Maybe.’” I (the author) say: they only follow conjectures.
He (al-Bukhari) also reported in the chapter on the time of the
maghrib from Adam. He said: “Shu‘ba told us: ‘‘Amr b. Dinar reported: ‘I heard Jabir b. Zayd reporting from Ibn ‘Abbas who said: ‘The Prophet (P) prayed the seven [cycles] together and the eight [cycles] together.’”
And he reported with an incomplete chain of transmission (arsala) in the chapter on remembering the ‘isha’ and darkness from Ibn ‘Umar, Abu Ayyub and Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (P) prayed the
maghrib and ‘isha’ - that is he combined them at the time of one of them at the expense of the other.
This is a very small portion from a large number of authentic traditions on the combination [of prayers] which are sufficient to prove what we maintain, as is obvious. This is supported by what [is reported] from Ibn Mas‘ud when he said: “The Prophet (P) combined - in Medina -the zuhr
and ‘asr and the
and ‘isha’ and this [fact] was mentioned to him. He (the Prophet) said: “I did this so that my
umma should not be burdened.” Al-Tabrani has reported this.40
intended combination in that he delayed offering al-zuhr to its last time and hastened to offer al-‘asr at its first [possible] time is weakas it is opposed to what is apparent [from the hadith]”. This is whatthe majority of their scholars have stated, especially the commentatorson the Sahih of al-Bukhari, as you will read from the original sources, God willing.
40 As reported in the last [parts] of page 263, volume 1, in thecommentary on al-Muwatta’ by al-Zurqani, he said: “The wish to removethe burden is a rejection of the interpretation of jam' al-suri
Prophet (P) combine the
'asr and the
'isha’ prayers while he was staying [in town], not traveling?” He replied saying: “He did that so as not to impose a burden on his community.”41
In short, there are, among all the ‘ulama' of the masses, those who say that it is permissible to combine and those who do not say it; they ratify the authenticity of these traditions and their apparent import. This is what we say, that it is allowed [to combine] in all cases. Refer, if you wish, to what they have appended to it so that it may be clear to you.42
Yes, they have interpreted the traditions in accordance with their schools of thought. They were bemused by their interpretation, like one who is in the total darkness of the night. It is sufficient for you to note what al-Nawawi has related from them in his comment on these traditions in his commentary on the
Sahih of Muslim. He says, after considering the apparent meaning in [the traditions of] combining [the prayers] at home: “The ‘ulama' have [differing] interpretations and views on this, some of them interpreted the combination [of prayer] due to rain”. (He said): “This is the famous [opinion] from the prominent erstwhile
(accidental combination) since intending it (jam‘ al-suri) does notremove the burden.”
41 You will find the hadith
on page 242 in volume 4 of Kanz al-'Ummal,
he inserted it on page 5078, relying on ‘Abd Allah.
42 It is sufficient for you to look at the comments of al-Nawawi in hiscommentary on the Sahih of Muslim and al-Zurqani in his commentary on the Muwatta’ of Malik; al-‘Asqalani, al-Qastalani and Zakariyya al-Ansari in their commentaries on the Sahih of al-Bukhari and all those who have commented on any book of the Sunan which include the tradition of Ibn ‘Abbas on the combining of the prayers. They have authenticatedthem in all the chains of transmissions through which we have narratedfrom the Sahihs of Muslim and al-Bukhari. They have derived from them (the traditions) that it is permissible to combine [prayers] when athome for the sole purpose of saving the umma
from a burden. I do not know, by God, what made them deviate from this, perhaps it is becausethey think that this is the view of the ahl al-bayt.
weak due to the second narration
(riwaya) from Ibn ‘Abbas [which states the Prophet (P) prayed together] without fear or rain.”44 (Al-Nawawi said): “Some of them have interpreted that it was due to cloudiness, and that he (the Prophet) prayed the
then the clouds cleared and it became apparent to him that the time for the ‘asr prayer had set in so he offered it at that time.”45 (He said): “This is also not valid for [although] it may be remotely possible for the [prayers of]
zuhr and ‘asr, it is not possible [for it to have occurred] at the [time of]
and ‘isha.” (Al-Nawawi said): “Among them are those who have interpreted it as referring to the delaying of the first [prayer] to it’s latest time for offering it so he offered it at the last [possible] time and when he had finished it (al-zuhr) the time for
al-‘asr had entered so he offered it at that time hence, the combination of the two prayers was not intended.”46
(He said): “This is a weak [argument] too or it is invalid as it is completely opposite to that which is apparent, it is not possible [to admit it].” (Al-Nawawi said): “The act of Ibn ‘Abbas when delivering a sermon and the fact that people called out to him ‘the prayer! the prayer!’ and his not paying heed to them, his deriving proof from a
to justify his act of delaying the
maghrib to the time of ‘isha’ and his combining them at the
43 Like the two Imams Malik and al-Shafi‘i and a group of the people ofMedina.
44 It is completely far from the words [uttered], there is noindication of it whatsoever.
45 This is a conjecture, a fabrication and [an act of] throwing stones in the dark.
46 You know that Abu Hanifa and his companions interpreted theauthentic traditions on combining [prayers] when at home and travelingas referring to jam' al-suri. They have prohibited the combination atall times. This is absolutely strange from them. For us, our debates
disapproving it is clear in refuting this interpretation.”
I say: Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr and al-Khattabi and others have refuted him, saying that the combination is a dispensation (rukhsa). If it (the combination) is not intended then it would be most difficult to undertake every prayer at its [specified] time since the beginning and end of the [prayer] times are things which many specialists are not aware of, let alone the general masses. (They said): “Among the proofs that the combination is a dispensation is the saying of Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘He did not wish to impose a burden on his community.’” (They said): “Also, the clear reports on the combination of two mandatory [prayers] is only to undertake them together at the time [assigned] for one of them rather than the other, either by bringing forward (al-taqdim) the second one from its appointed time and offering it with the first one at it’s time or by delaying the first one from it’s appointed time to the time of the second one and offering them together at that time.” (They said): “This is what immediately comes to mind by the general usage of the word combining (al-jam‘) in all the
sunna, and this is the point of dispute.”
(Al-Nawawi said): “Among them are those who have interpreted [the traditions] claiming that the combination was due to an excuse like sickness or something like it in meaning.” (He said): “This is the view of Ahmad b. Hanbal and the Qadi Husayn among our companions. Al-Khattabi, al-Mutawalli and al-Ruwyani from our companions have [also] chosen it and this is the chosen interpretation as it is the apparent [meaning] of the traditions.”
and discussions with a number of their prominent scholars are sufficient [to prove our point]. You will read their views.
an arbitrary judgement as al-Qastalani in his commentary on the
Sahih of al-Bukhari has admitted.47
Some of the eminent scholars have followed it up by saying: “It has been stated that the combination [of prayers] was due to illness,” al-Nawawi has supported this view. However, there is an objection to it since if the [prayers] were combined for illness then only those who were ill would have prayed with him (the Prophet). It is apparent that he (P) combined [the prayers] with his companions, this is what Ibn ‘Abbas clearly announced in a tradition which has been established from him.48
I say: When the authentic traditions on combining [the prayers] do not have an interpretation which the ‘ulama [uniformly] accept, a group of the masses have reverted to a position which is close to our opinion on the issue though they did not [even] intend to do so. Al-Nawawi mentioned them after [citing their] false interpretations as you have read. He further states: “A group of the imams have allowed the combining of prayers when at home for a need if one does not become habituated to it (the combination). This is the view of Ibn Sirrin and Ashhab among the companions of Malik. Al-Khattabi has reported it from al-Qaffal al-Shashi al-Kabir from the companions of al-Shafi‘i, and from Ibn Ishaq al-Maruzi and from a group of
transmitters. Ibn al-Munzir has [also] chosen this opinion.” Al
47 See his commentary called Irshad al-Sari, the chapter on delayingthe zuhr to the [time of] the 'asr. You will find on page 293 in volume2 these words: “He interpreted it, i.e., the hadith
of Ibn ‘Abbas, tocombining the prayer at home - some of them to combining when ill.” Al-Nawawi reinforced this and followed it by saying that this is contraryto what is apparent from the hadith
and his restricting it (thecombination of prayers) to it (when ill) is giving preponderance to aview without any justification.
saying: ‘He did not wish to burden his community’, he was not afflicted by sickness or by anything else, and God knows this matter best.”49 More than one of their prominent scholars have stated this.50 Perhaps in this era, their researchers are in agreement with our views, as more than one of them have told me. However, they do not dare to openly declare that to the public. Perhaps caution prevents them [from doing that]. There is no difference of opinion on separating the prayer, it is better [to separate] as opposed to combining where there is a difference of opinion. However, it has escaped their notice that separating [the prayers] could lead to many busy people abandoning the prayer as we have sometimes seen whereas combining [the prayers] is the best [solution] to ensuring it is undertaken. Therefore, it is more prudent for the jurists to issue a juridical verdict to the people to combine [the prayers] and they should make things easy, not difficult - for Allah wishes ease not hardship for you - He has not made religion a burden for you. The proof that combining [the prayer] is permissible at all times is available, thanks be to God, it is a correct
sunna, enunciated as you have read. Rather, it is a clear, written and fixed prescription. Do not be inattentive, I will relate to you the clear [verses] so that it will become clear that the times of the obligatory
48 Refer to page 263 in volume 1 of the commentary on Malik's al-Muwatta’
by al-Zurqani in the chapter on combining the prayers.
49 On page 455 in the 4th volume in his commentary on the publishedSahih of Muslim and in the footnotes of Irshad al-Sari and Tuhfa al-Bari, the two commentaries on the Sahih of al-Bukhari. There is no doubt about al-Nawawi's inclination towards this view at the end of his speech when he supported him by citing Ibn ‘Abbas' statement. Hecommented on Ibn ‘Abbas statement: “He was not afflicted by sickness oranything else” the last part of his speech is defective due to hisinterpretation.
50 Like al-Zurqani in his commentary on al-Muwatta’ and all those who commented on the hadith
of Ibn ‘Abbas on the combination of two prayersamong the commentators on the Sihah
and Sunan like al-‘Asqalani, al-Qastalani and others.
shared between them, and time of the two obligatory prayers
al-‘isha’ which are also shared between them and the third is the obligatory morning prayer especially fixed; so hear it and be attentive. (Undertake the prayer at the time of the declining sun to the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; for indeed the morning recitation is witnessed 17:78).
Imam Razi has said about it's interpretation in the chapter of
Isra' (chapter 17) page 428 in the fifth volume of his
Tafsir al-Kabir: “If we interpret the
ghasaq (darkness) as being the time when darkness first appears then the [term]
ghasaq refers to the beginning of
almaghrib.51 On this basis, three timings are mentioned in the verse: “the time of noon, the time of the beginning of
al-maghrib and the time of
al-fajr.” (Al-Razi said): “This requires that noon be the time of
al-'asr, this time is shared between these two prayers. The time of the beginning of
al-maghrib is the time for
al-‘isha’ so this time is also shared between these two prayers.” (He said): “This requires allowing the combining between
al-'asr and between
and al-‘isha’ at all times.”52 (Al-Razi said): “However, there is proof to indicate that combining [the prayer] while at home without
51 Concerning this verse, this meaning has been transmitted by al-Raziin his Tafsir al-Kabir from Ibn ‘Abbas and 'Ata’ and al-Nazr b. Shamil. Imam al-Tabarsi has narrated it in his Majma' al-Bayan from Ibn ‘Abbas and Qatada.
52 If we interpret al-ghasaq as the accumulation of darkness and its intensity [as referring] to the middle of the night - as is reportedfrom al-Sadiq, (P) - then the times of the four obligatory prayers the zuhr, ‘asr, maghrib
and ‘isha' extend from noon to the middle of the night. So the zuhr and ‘asr
share the time from noon to sunset except that the zuhr comes before the ‘asr. The maghrib and ‘isha
share the time from sunset to the middle of the night except that the maghrib
comes before the ‘isha'. As for the morning obligation, Allah hasspecified for it a commendable time saying: “And the morning recitation, for the morning recitation is witnessed.”
any excuse is not allowed. This leads [to the view] that the combining be allowed when traveling or [when there is] rain etc..”
I say: We have examined the discussion on what he has mentioned concerning the proofs that combining [the prayer] while at home without any excuse is not allowed and we have not found - God is our witness - a trace or relic for it. Yes, the Prophet (P) used to combine [the prayer] when he had an excuse just as he used to combine when there was no excuse so that his community would not be burdened. There is no dispute that the separation [of prayer] is better therefore the Prophet of God (P) would prefer it except when there was an excuse as was his habit in all the recommended [practices], peace be upon him and his family.
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