SUFIS AND HADITH
As-Salam Alaykum Sidi,
I wish to ask you, why do many Sufis qoute Hadith in their books that have been classified asmawdu (fabricated or wrongly atributed to the Prophet SAW) or da'if (weak)?
Wa Alaykum As-Salam ya Sidi,
As you have asked for any answer, I will mention some of the points i picked up on this issue during my search for knowledge:
(Note: I do not necessarily endorse everything here but am simply explaining and exploring why the Sufis might have quoted da’if and mawdu ahadith in their works, as that’s what the brother wants to know……the muhaddithin’s position towards kashf has already been adequately explained by our learned members so I wont repeat it)
Here I go:
1) First of all, many of the Sufis who have mentioned these “muwdu” ahadith in their works, were not masters in the field of hadith, so there is a big probability that they didn’t know themuwdu status of these ahadith.
They simply quoted these ahadith as they were famous (ahadith mash’hurah) among the masses (and among many Ulama!!) and their contents were good, i.e. they had a good message, which could be attributed to the Prophet (S.A.W.).
Even a man like Hujjat al-Islam al-Ghazali mentioned many da’if and muwdu hadith in his works. Many fuqaha and wu’az have also done the same (not to mention the historians). Even Ulama who were masters in hadith have quoted baseless ahadith in non-hadith contexts (like Ibn-al-Jawzi and al-Suyuti)!
One could say that there was a period or trend in our intellectual history when quotingahadith without checking their status or origin had become normal (it remains normal in many sufi and non-sufi circles till today). To be fair, the Salafis, despite all the damage they have done, definitely contributed to the rise of takhrij consciousness among the Ulama and masses. Nowadays, one is scared to quote a hadith without knowing the full takhrij and status, while my grandfather (who was also an Alim and Sufi) could do that a lot without anyone questioning him.
In short, the great Sufis and Friends of Allah, didn’t knowingly and intentionally attribute anything to the Prophet (S.A.W.), hasha wa kalla, but they did so unknowingly. It would beyond these “people of Jannah” to do something characteristic of the “people of Hell”.
2) The fact that a hadith has been considered da’if or mawdu, sanad-wise, doesn’t necessarily mean that the Prophet (S.A.W.) definitely didn’t or couldn’t have said it. It simply means that thesanad is unhealthy. Without the sanad, the muhaddithin had no other way of verifying the authenticity of the hadith.
However, many (but not all) Sufis had another unique (but also very out of the ordinary) way of verifying the authenticity of ahadith; and that is through kashf (spiritual unveiling of realities), or direct contact with Rasul-Allah (S.A.W.), through a dream or in wakefulness.
The great majority of Ulama consider both phenomena as very much possible and true, according to reason and revelation….Ja’iz aqlan wa Thabit naqlan. The Prophet (S.A.W.) himself informed the ummah that they will continue seeing him after his passing away, and lest anyone deny it, he emphasized that they will see him, for Shaytan cannot take his shape. Obviously they will not see him for futility but to learn things from him.
This issue has already been resolved by our Ulama, and most of the greatest Ulama and Awliya of this ummah have seen the Prophet (S.A.W.) in dreams and wakefulness and havelearned many things from him, such as duas, salawats, masa’il, nasa’ih, maqams of people, places or poems, answers and decisions on din and dunya issues…etc etc etc.
One can cite countless examples of this from numerous Ulama and Sufis but most of us know these stories already. It is indeed a great Bisharah for this Ummah that our Prophet (S.A.W.) is still in touch with us (I mean the chosen ones amongst us!).
With this said, it is very much possible for a Wali who saw or always sees Sayyid al-Wujud (S.A.W.) to ask him about the status of a certain hadith, and it is also possible that he (S.A.W.) authenticates a hadith that is generally not verifiable in the books.
Here it is also possible that he confirms that he did actually say those words, or confirms the contents of the words (which would then count as Prophetic approval).
None less than a great muhaddith like the mujaddid al-Suyuti mentions in his Tanwir al-Halak how a certain Wali called a certain hadith a faqih was quoting in his lecture as muwdu, and when asked for a proof, said: “There is Rasul-Allah (S.A.W.) standing next to you and rejecting that he said those words.”
It is mentioned in the Ibriz that the Ghawth Mawlana Abd-al-Aziz al-Dabbagh was quoted many sahih and muwdu ahadith by a certain arrogant faqih who wanted to test him, but was astonished to see that the “illiterate” saint could easily distinguish between the sahih and themawdu!!!
When asked ‘how he did that’, he replied that every true saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) has a certain light that emanates with it, and he (as a sahib al-kashf al-nurani) could see it!!! Wa ma dhalika ala Allahi bi-aziz.
Shaykh al-Akbar Ibn-Arabi also verified the authenticity of certain ahadith through kashf. Sayyidna Shaykh Ahmad al-Tijani (RA) also did so, and many other Awliya.
In summary, for the Wali who really saw the Prophet (S.A.W.) and heard him confirm a certain hadith, there is certainty (yaqin) on the matter once and for all, and he will not listen to any muhaddith ‘complaining about the sanad’ after that. For the Sufi, the Prophet (S.A.W.) had already warned to not take him as anyone else if he appeared in a dream or vision.
Of course, the muhaddithin will not accept most of this, but I am simply explaining the Sufi viewpoint, as that’s what the brother wanted to know. I am NOT justifying anything here.
3) There is also the likelihood that the Prophet (S.A.W) said something to a certain Wali in a dream or vision, and then the Wali quoted the saying as “Qala Rasul-Allah (S.A.W.)”, and with the passage of time, people (and other Sufis) took that saying to be a hadith proper. This has happened.
4) Another important reason for the leniency of some Sufis in attributing sayings to the Prophet (S.A.W.) is their understanding of who the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) really is…in his pre and post-human reality??!
Here I am referring to the Sufi concept of al-Haqiqah al-Muhammadiyyah. According to this concept, all goodness, wisdom, knowledge and beauty in the universe emanates from Muhammad (i.e. his Haqiqah), therefore, in a state of fana fi’r-Rasul (annihilation in the Muhammadan Reality) it is all attributable to him.
The Sufi poet al-Busiri in his Burdah and Hamziyyah (also recited with devotion by many fuqaha and muhaddithin) attributed all the miracles and wisdom of all the Prophets and all wise people to our Prophet Muhammad (SAW)!
و كل آي أتى الرسل الكرام بها
فإنما اتصلت من نوره بهم
و كلهم من رسول الله ملتمس
غرفا من البحر أو رشفاً من الديم
أنت مصباح كل فضل فما
تصدر إلا عن ضوئك الاضواء كل فضل في العالمين فمن
فضل النبي استعاره الفضلاء
This is also another reason why a genuinely fani fi’r-Rasul Sufi might not hesitate as much as a muhaddith in attributing a certain ‘wise saying’ to the Prophet (S.A.W.), even if thesanad was found lacking. The Sufi might agree that in the Zahir (outwardly), the saying might probably be more attributable to a famous sahabi, tabi’i or wali, but in the Batin (inward reality), he would have no doubt that such knowledge only emanates from the Prophet (S.A.W.), as he (SAW) is the Ustadh al-'Azam!
I have personally been in the company of some genuine fani fi’r-Rasul people who when they quote a certain wise saying as a hadith, and are then reminded that it is probably the saying of another holy person, will immediately react and say, “It is still the Prophet (S.A.W.)….it is all the Prophet (S.A.W.).”
In conclusion, these are some of the reasons I have picked up for the Sufi quotation ofda’if or mawdu hadith, and I don’t mean to be comprehensive here.
It goes without saying that the honorable muhaddithin do not accept most of the above-mentioned points as a valid hadith verification methodology (for good reasons too), and the Sufis themselves have not tried to impose this on the muhaddithin.
But it also goes without saying that the Sufis have a methodology and criteria of their own in these and other matters, and are not strictly bound to the methodology of the muahaddithin. They, the Qawm, are a ta’ifah on their own, and most scholars mention them as such next to themutakallimin, muhaddithin and fuqaha. Each group of these seekers of the truth have there own methodologies and priorities.
What is amazing though (in Sunni Islam) is that despite these differences in approaches and epistemologies, most of the taw’aif of the Ulama (mutakallimin, muhaddithin, mufassirinand fuqaha) have nevertheless held the Sufis in the highest of esteem and have rarely dared to criticize them.
Indeed, Imam Ibn-Hajar al-Makki (despite his adherence to the methodology of themuhaddithin and fuqaha) considered criticizing the Sufis as a “Summ al-Qatil” i.e. a deadly poison, and warned the Ulama and tullab al-Ilm to not to fall into the trap of criticizing the Awliya-Allah and finding faults with them, as they are the beloveds of Allah, and nothing matters more than that.
In our times, there is an increase in the number of these unfortunate “students of Ilm” who love to find faults with the Awliya, forgetting that their blessed meat is poisoned.
Mawlana al-Shaykh al-Muhaddith al-Faqih Sidi Ahmad Sukayrij al-Fasi al-Tijani (d.1944) used to say:
“Allah has declared War on two kinds of people only; those who are engaged in Riba, and those who fight the Awliya; and in our times, most of the traders are involved in Riba and most of the students of Shariah are involved in fighting the Awliya…so no wonder that the Ummah is in trouble with Allah.”
The false Salafis condemn the Sufis for not adhering to hadithic principles in their books, but forget that the greatest masters of hadith had showed the highest adab and mahabbah for the Sufis, and at the most, considered them ma’zur (excused) due to their states.
We saw our Shaykh, the muhaddith of the Haramayn Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Maliki show adab to some contemporary men of Allah, who had probably never completely read any book of hadith or fiqh. Yet he honored them for their salah and wilayah.
I personally think that approach would be safer, but what I wrote is open for criticism.
Fakhruddin al-Madani al-Tijani