The symbol known as the ouroboros is typically depicted as a snake eating its own tail. It is meant to symbolize ideologies or entities that destroy themselves. This is a very befitting metaphor for the Hadith literature that individuals uphold besides the Quran because the further down the rabbit hole one goes, the more condemning we see the Hadith is to itself and to those who choose to follow it as a source of law besides the Quran.

Bukhari 1870 is a Hadith in the 29th book of Bukhari, The Book About The Virtues of Al-Madina. The opening of this Hadith states:

Narrated by Ali: We have nothing except the Book of Allah and this written paper from the Prophet (wherein is written)…

مَا عِنْدَنَا شَىْءٌ إِلاَّ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ، وَهَذِهِ الصَّحِيفَةُ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ

The first sentence of this Hadith can be understood in one of two ways. The first understanding is that the Quran and the referenced written paper were the only written items left by the prophet. The other understanding is that the Quran and this written paper were the only things left by the prophet. This would imply that aside from these two items, the prophet left nothing else for his people. This would be a clear indication that the Hadith and Sunnah, asides from the Quran, were not left by the prophet, as this would contradict the statement.

Additionally, it is clear that regardless of which of the two understandings is utilized that this statement attributed to the prophet’s companion Ali would have had to have been made after the prophet’s death. This would eliminate the possibility for some to claim that there were additional items that the prophet left irrespective of which understanding from above is used. But regardless of which understanding is taken, both narratives pose major problems for upholders of Hadith besides the Quran.

Naturally, traditionalists will argue that this phrase is only in reference to written items and denounce the interpretation that the only thing we have left from the prophet is the Quran alone and the described written paper. This is because such understanding would completely undermine their justification of Hadith besides the Quran.

For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that this phrase is only about the written items left by the prophet. The problem with this understanding is that according to the traditionalist narrative, they believe that not only did the prophet not write the Quran, but that he was illiterate and could not read or write anything. Therefore, no other written works can legitimately be attributed to the prophet or be considered left by the prophet.

If we go with this interpretation, then how can traditionalists reconcile this statement with the supposed writing of aHadith that we are to believe in having existed during the messenger’s life written by the hands of his companions? This would imply that these writings either didn’t exist or if these works did exist, then it shows that they cannot be attributed as something left by the prophet because the statement clearly states, “We have nothing except the Book of Allah and this written paper from the Prophet.” Again this poses a challenge to the traditionalist argument that the aHadith were written during the life of the prophet, let alone can be considered something even left by the prophet.

Let’s put that aside and now focus on this supposed other writing that the prophet left. Ironically, if we read what he apparently wrote, it is quite damning to the supporters of Hadith besides the Quran. Unfortunately, if we look at the traditionalist translation of this Hadith the significance of this supposed writing left by the prophet is not properly articulated, muddling what is actually stated. For reference, here is how this is translated based on the translation provided by sunnah.com.

We have nothing except the Book of Allah and this written paper from the Prophet (wherein is written:) Medina is a sanctuary from the ‘Air Mountain to such and such a place, and whoever innovates in it an heresy or commits a sin, or gives shelter to such an innovator in it will incur the curse of Allah, the angels, and all the people, none of his compulsory or optional good deeds of worship will be accepted. And the asylum (of protection) granted by any Muslim is to be secured (respected) by all the other Muslims; and whoever betrays a Muslim in this respect incurs the curse of Allah, the angels, and all the people, and none of his compulsory or optional good deeds of worship will be accepted, and whoever (freed slave) befriends (take as masters) other than his manumitters without their permission incurs the curse of Allah, the angels, and all the people, and none of his compulsory or optional good deeds of worship will be accepted.

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بَشَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ التَّيْمِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ مَا عِنْدَنَا شَىْءٌ إِلاَّ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ، وَهَذِهِ الصَّحِيفَةُ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ الْمَدِينَةُ حَرَمٌ، مَا بَيْنَ عَائِرٍ إِلَى كَذَا، مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِيهَا حَدَثًا، أَوْ آوَى مُحْدِثًا، فَعَلَيْهِ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ، لاَ يُقْبَلُ مِنْهُ صَرْفٌ وَلاَ عَدْلٌ ‏”‏‏.‏ وَقَالَ ‏”‏ ذِمَّةُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَاحِدَةٌ، فَمَنْ أَخْفَرَ مُسْلِمًا فَعَلَيْهِ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ، لاَ يُقْبَلُ مِنْهُ صَرْفٌ وَلاَ عَدْلٌ، وَمَنْ تَوَلَّى قَوْمًا بِغَيْرِ إِذْنِ مَوَالِيهِ، فَعَلَيْهِ لَعْنَةُ اللَّهِ وَالْمَلاَئِكَةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ، لاَ يُقْبَلُ مِنْهُ صَرْفٌ وَلاَ عَدْلٌ ‏”‏‏.‏

The problem with this translation is that it is not properly translating what is stated in the Arabic as it completely destroys the narrative by those who uphold Hadith besides the Quran. To truly appreciate what is stated, we need to look at and understand the actual Arabic of this Hadith. First, let’s look at the word-by-word translation for a basic high-level understanding.

مَاNot
عِنْدَنَاwith us
شَىْءٌanything
إِلاَّexcept
كِتَابُ(the) book (of)
اللَّهِ،God
وَهَذِهِand this
الصَّحِيفَةُ[the] writing
عَنِfrom
النَّبِيِّthe prophet:
الْمَدِينَةُThe City* / Medina
حَرَمٌSacred,
مَاwhat (is)
بَيْنَbetween
عَائِرٍ‘Aer
إِلَىto
كَذَاkaḏā [such and such],
مَنْWhoever
أَحْدَثَhe narrated / innovated
فِيهَاin it / therein
حَدَثًاa narration / innovation / Hadith
أَوْor
آوَىsheltered
مُحْدِثًاa propagator of Hadith / innovator,
فَعَلَيْهِthen upon him (is)
لَعْنَةُ(the) curse (of)
اللَّهِGod
وَالْمَلاَئِكَةِand the angels
وَالنَّاسِand the people
أَجْمَعِينَall together.
لاَNot
يُقْبَلُHe accepts
مِنْهُfrom him
صَرْفٌan excuse
وَلاَand not
عَدْلٌa ransom.
وَقَالَAnd he said,
ذِمَّةُ[The] covenant / agreement / responsibility (of)
الْمُسْلِمِينَthe Muslims / Submitters (is)
وَاحِدَةٌone.
فَمَنْThen whoever
أَخْفَرَhe violated / broke [his covenant with]
مُسْلِمًاa Muslim,
فَعَلَيْهِthen upon him (is)
لَعْنَةُ(the) curse (of)
اللَّهِGod
وَالْمَلاَئِكَةِand the angels
وَالنَّاسِand the people
أَجْمَعِينَ،all together.
لاَNot
يُقْبَلُHe accepts
مِنْهُfrom him
صَرْفٌan excuse
وَلاَand not
عَدْلٌa ransom.
وَمَنْAnd whoever
تَوَلَّىhe turned away
قَوْمًاa people
بِغَيْرِwithout
إِذْنِpermission (of)
مَوَالِيهِhis guardian / master,
فَعَلَيْهِthen upon him (is)
لَعْنَةُ(the) curse (of)
اللَّهِGod
وَالْمَلاَئِكَةِand the angels
وَالنَّاسِand the people
أَجْمَعِينَ،all together.
لاَNot
يُقْبَلُHe accepts
مِنْهُfrom him
صَرْفٌan excuse
وَلاَand not
عَدْلٌa ransom.

Now let’s take the above translation that we have deconstructed from the Arabic and look at the proper translation of this written paper that is claimed to be left by the prophet according to this Hadith. But before we do this, there are a couple items worth mentioning regarding the translation.

First, the term Medina simply means city. The city of Medina that we associate with the prophet was called Yathrib before the Hijra and then adopted the full name Al-Medina Al-Nabi (The City of the Prophet) or just simply Medina for short. So in this reference, it is not clear if this is in regards to the city Medina or simply just referencing The Sacred City. The only reason I am predisposed to go with the latter understanding is because according to the Quran there is only one Sacred location which is in Mecca. Secondly, the root for the term Hadith is used three times in this passage. While this word in its broadest sense means narration, we see that in this context, it is used as an innovation, as well as the literal supposed sayings attributed to the prophet. It is very befitting that out of all the words that could be used to signify this meaning it uses the root of the word Hadith in this passage juxtapositioned with the mention of the Quran as the only written document left by the prophet. Thirdly the term مَوَالِيهِ (mawlihi) can be understood in the context of the passage as guardian or master. So now that these details are covered let’s look at the translation based on the actual Arabic.

We do not have with us anything from the prophet except the book of God, and this writing: The Sacred City, what is between ‘Aer and such and such, whoever he narrates therein a Hadith (innovation) or sheltered a propagator of Hadith (innovator), then upon him is the curse of God, the angels, and all the people. Not He will accept from him an excuse and not a ransom. [And he said] The responsibility of the Muslim (Submitter) is one. Then whoever he violated (his responsibility with) a Muslim (Submitter), then upon him is the curse of God, the angels, and all the people. Not He will accept from him an excuse and not a ransom. And whoever he turned away a people without the permission of his master, then upon him is the curse of God, the angels, and all the people. Not He will accept from him an excuse and not a ransom.

What this Hadith and the corresponding writing referenced in this Hadith is stating is that the Quran is the only source we have from the prophet, and the prophet invokes God’s curse upon those who propagate hadith besides the Quran, as well as those who shelter the propagators of hadith besides the Quran, and the people who do this are the ones who lead the Muslims astray. Individuals who are guilty of any of these actions are condemned by God, the angels, and all the people. How suitable that the one Hadith that specifies the only written text that was left by the prophet aside from the Quran actually condemns any Hadith besides the Quran.

[31:6] Among the people, there are those who uphold baseless Hadith, and thus divert others from the path of GOD without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution.

(٦) وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ

Additional References:

https://sunnah.com/bukhari:3047

One thought on “The Most Damning Hadith

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