The People of Hadeeth – Their Characteristics and Recognizing Them Throughout Time

 

الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد

 

With regard to the understanding of the term; people of hadeeth, Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) mentioned:

“The people of hadeeth; they are the Salaf (predecessors) from the (first) three generations, and those that proceed along their path from the later ones.”[1]

He mentioned also:

“We do not mean by the people of hadeeth those who are exclusive in regard to hearing it or upon the writing of it or reporting it. Rather we mean by them; all of those that are more rightful in regards to guarding it and having acquaintance of it and understanding it – outwardly and inwardly, and following it inwardly and outwardly.”[2]

 

The Characteristics of People of Hadeeth

 

Regarding the characteristics of people of hadeeth, Al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi (rahimahullaah) said:

 

Allaah, The Most High, has indeed made its people as the supports of the Sharee’ah, and by way of them has demolished every repulsive innovation.

So they are Allaah’s trustworthy keepers from amongst His creation.

And the intermediaries between the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and his Ummah.

And they are the diligent ones in the preservation of his religion.

Their lights shine in brilliance.

And their virtues are widespread.

And their signs are overwhelming.

And their views are manifest.

And their evidences are overpowering.

Every group which has partiality to desires will return back to it or will approve of an opinion upon which it adheres to – except for the companions of hadeeth; for indeed – the Book is their appliance, and the Sunnah is their proof, and the Messenger is their faction – and to him is their ascription.

They do not incline to desires.

Nor do they pay attention to the opinions.

Accepted from them is that which they report from the Messenger.

It is they who are the trustworthy ones over it and are of honourable integrity.

They are the protectors of the religion and are its protective keepers.

The vessels of knowledge and its carriers.

If a hadeeth is differed concerning, then to them is the recourse.

Hence that which they judge with regard to it – is accepted; and listened to.

From them comes every ‘Aalim Faqeeh.

And elevated discerning Imaam.

Abstemious in tribe.

Exclusive in virtue.

A reader who is precise.

A fine speaker.

And they are the multitude that is great.

And their path is the straight path.

Every innovator feigns partaking in their creed.

And does not dare to engage upon an expression – other than that of their views.

Whoever plots stratagems against them, then Allaah will render him broken.

Whoever opposes them, then Allaah debases them.

They are not harmed by the one that forsakes them.

And the one that retires from them does not succeed.

The one who is careful in respect to his religion is in much need of their guiding direction.

The sight of the one who glances with ill intent towards them is weak-sighted.

And indeed; Allaah is fully Able to grant them victory.[3]

 

The People of Hadeeth are the Saved Sect – A Study in Recognizing Them Throughout the Various Eras

 

Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadi al-Madkhali (rahimahullaah) said:

 

“Who therefore are the people of hadeeth?

They are those who proceed upon the way of the companions and those that followed them upon excellence in holding firmly to the Book and the Sunnah – biting onto the both of them with the molar teeth, and to give them both precedence over every statement and course of direction. Whether in creed or in the varying acts of worship or in dealings and transactions or in etiquette or politics and social life.

So they are the ones that are firm in the principles of the religion and in its branches, upon that which Allaah sent down and revealed upon His servant and His Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

They are the ones that have stood with calling to that with every endeavour and truthfulness and determination, and they are the ones who are carrying Prophetic knowledge and they expel from it the distortions of the people of exaggeration and the undue assumptions of the people of falsehood and the interpretations of the ignorant ones.

So they are the ones that lie in wait of all of the sects that have deviated from the Islamic methodology, such as the Jahmiyyah and the Mu’tazilah and the Khawaarij and the Rawaafidh and the Murji-ah and the Qadariyyah and every one that deviates from the methodology of Allaah and followed his desire in every time and place, they are not betaken – in the way of Allaah – by the rebuke of the blamer.

They are the group which was praised by the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and which he commended in his saying:

 

لا تزال طائفة من أمتي على الحق ظاهرين لايضرهم من خذلهم و لا من خالفهم حتى تقوم الساعة

((There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah, manifest upon the truth, they will not be harmed by those that forsake them nor by those that oppose them, until the establishment of the Hour.))[4]

 

They are the saved sect that is firm upon that which the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and his companions were upon, those that were distinguished and specified by the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) when he mentioned that this Ummah will split into seventy three sects, all of them will be in the Fire except for one, so it was said: ‘Who are they O Messenger of Allaah?’ So he said:

من كان على ما أنا عليه وأصحابي

((Those who are upon that which I and my companions are upon.))

 

We do not say that out of exaggeration nor mere claim, rather we state the actual reality to which the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah bear witness to, and over which history is a witness and which their statements (i.e that of the people of hadeeth) and their circumstances and their authorships bear witness to.

They are the ones that placed before their vision the saying of Allaah, The Most High:

 

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

((And hold firmly to the rope of Allaah all together and do not become divided.)) (Aal-‘Imraan: 103)

 

And His saying:

 

فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

((So let those who oppose the Messenger’s commandment beware, lest some Fitnah [affliction/tribulation] should befall them, or a painful punishment be inflicted on them.)) (An-Noor: 63)

 

Hence they were the most staunch in being distant from opposing the command of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), and the furthest of them from tribulations.

They are the ones who made their code of regulation as:

 

فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

((But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge in disputes between them, [and] then find within themselves no resistance from what you have judged, and submit with full submission.)) (An-Nisaa: 65)

 

So they give regard to the texts of the Book and the Sunnah in their true regard, and they venerate them in their true veneration. They give precedence to them over the statements of all of the people, and they give precedence to their guidance over the guidance of all of the people, and they appeal to them (i.e. the Book and the Sunnah) in decision for every situation with complete pleasure (contentedness) and with chests that are at ease – without constriction or discomfiture, and they submit to Allaah and His Messenger with complete submission in their beliefs and their acts of worship and their dealings.

They are the ones about whom the saying of Allaah is true in their regard:

 

إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَن يَقُولُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

((The only statement of the believers when they are called to Allaah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say; “We hear and we obey.” And those are the successful ones.)) (An-Noor: 51)

 

They are after all of the companions of the Messenger of Allaah, at the head of them are the rightly guided Caliphs, and they are the predominant ones of the Taabi’een, and at the head of them: Sa’eed bin Musayyib (d. after 90H)

‘Urwah bin az-Zubair (d.94H)

‘Ali bin al-Hussain Zain al-‘Aabideen (93H)

Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyyah (d. after 80H)

‘Ubaidullaah bin ‘Abdillaah bin ‘Utbah bin Mas’ood (d. 94H or after it)

Saalim bin ‘Abdillaah bin ‘Umar (d.106H)

Al-Qaasim bin Muhammad bin Abee Bakr as-Siddeeq (d.106H)

Al-Hasan al-Basree (d.110H)

Muhammad bin Sireen (d.110H)

‘Umar bin ‘Abdil-‘Azeez (d.101H)

Muhammad bin Shihaab az-Zuhree (d.125H)

 

Then the followers of the Taabi’een, and at the head of them:

Maalik (d.179H)

Al-Awzaa’ee (d.157H)

Sufyaan bin Sa’eed ath-Thawree (d.161H)

Sufyaan bin ‘Uyainah (d.198H)

Isma’eel bin ‘Ulayyah (d.193H)

Laith bin Sa’ad (d.175H)

Abu Haneefah an-Nu’maan (d.150H)

 

Then those that followed these people, and at the head of them:

‘Abdullaah bin Mubaarak (d.181H)

Wakee’ bin al-Jarraah (d.197H)

Imaam Muhammad bin Idrees ash-Shaafi’ee (d.204H)

‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin Mahdi (d.198H)

Yahyaa bin Sa’eed al-Qattaan (d.198H)

‘Affaan bin Muslim (d.219H)

 

Then the students of these ones, those that proceeded along their methodology, and at the head of them:

Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d.241H)

Yahyaa bin Ma’een (d.233H)

‘Ali bin al-Madeeni (d.234H)

 

Then their students such as:

Al-Bukhaaree (d.256H)

Muslim (d.271H)

Abu Haatim (d.277H)

Abu Zur’ah (d.264H)

Abu Dawood (d.275H)

At-Tirmidhee (d.279H)

An-Nasaa-ee (d.303H)

 

Then those that proceeded along their path in the generations that came after them, such as:

Ibn Jareer (d.310H)

Ibn Khuzaimah (d.311H)

Ad-Daaraqutni (d.385H) – in his time

Al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi (d.463H)

Ibn ‘Abdil-Barr an-Namari (d.463H)

 

‘Abdul-Ghani al-Maqdisee and Ibn Qudaamah (d.620H)

Ibn Salaah (d.643H)

Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H)

Al-Mizzee (d.743H)

Adh-Dhahabee (d.748H)

Ibn Katheer (d.774H)

 

Likewise the contemporaries of these people in their relevant eras and those that came after them and followed their way in holding firmly to the Book and the Sunnah – until this day of ours.

These are the ones that I mean are the people of hadeeth.”[5]

 

The People of Hadeeth Share a Common Hallmark – From the First of Them to the Last of Them

 

As-Sam’aani (rahimahullaah) said: “From that which is a proof upon the fact that the people of hadeeth are upon the truth is that if you were to inspect all of their authored books, from the first of them until the last of them, the old from them and the new of them, notwithstanding the variation of their lands and their eras and the distance between them in abodes and the inhabitation of each one of them in a region from the lands; you would find them in the matters of belief to be upon a single manner, and a single way.

They proceed along it upon a way that they do not deviate from it nor do they have divergence in it, their hearts in that are upon a single heart, and in their report you will not see any differing or dividing in something – even if it be small.

Rather if you were to gather all of that which has flowed upon their tongues and that which they conveyed from their predecessors, you will find it to be as though it had come from a single heart, and had flowed off a single tongue, and hence is there upon the truth a proof clearer than this?”[6]

 

In Conclusion

 

It is clear therefore that the people of hadeeth, those who follow the Book and the Sunnah upon the methodology of the Salaf – in truth – inwardly and outwardly, they are the saved sect and are upon the straight path, and are not of those that merely utilize its title and then contravene its principles by opposing that which they claim to be upon, indeed the people of hadeeth are those who act upon correct guidance in accordance to the methodology of the Salaf as stated above, they are the saved sect.

In the words of Shaikh Al-Albaanee (rahimahullaah) who said: “So no wonder therefore after this clarification that it should be the case that the people of hadeeth – they are the group which is manifest as well as the saved sect, rather the justly balanced nation – witnesses over the creation.”[7]

 

Finally; may Allaah have mercy on the Caliph Haroon ar-Rasheed who said:

 

“I sought to seek out four things, and so I found them in four:

I sought to seek out disbelief – and so I found it in the Jahmiyyah.

I sought to seek out theological rhetoric and controversy – and so I found it in the Mu’tazilah.

I sought to seek out lies – and so I found it in the Raafidhah.

I sought to seek out the truth – and so I found it to be with the companions of hadeeth.”[8]

 

 

_______________________________

[1] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 6 p.355

[2] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 4 p.95

[3] Sharaf As-haab al-Hadeeth p.8-9

[4] An authentic hadeeth reported by Imaam Muslim in his Saheeh (3/1523 and Imaam Ahmad in the Musnad (5/278-279) and Imaam Abu Dawood in As-Sunan (3/4) and Imaam At-Tirmidhee in As-Sunan (4/420) and Imaam Ibn Maajah in As-Sunan (1/4-5) and Al-Haakim in Al-Mustadrak (4/449-450) and At-Tabaraani in Al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer (7643) and At-Tayaalisi in Al-Musnad (p.94 no.689). See As-Saheehah of Al-‘Allaamah Al-Albaanee (270, 1955).

[5] Makaanah Ahl al-Hadeeth p.4-10

[6] Mukhtasar As-Sawaa’iq al-Mursalah p.425

[7] Silsilatul Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah vol 1 p.544

[8] Sharaf As-haab al-Hadeeth p.55

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