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"Persian Conspiracy" Theory about Hadith: Shows Parwez's Ignorance

"Deem not the summons of the Messenger among yourselves like the summons of one of you to another: Allah does know those of you who slip away under shelter of some excuse: then let those beware who withstand the Messenger's order, lest some trial befall them, or a grievous chastisement be inflicted on them." [The Qur'an 24:63.] Quoted by Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal in his confrontation with a despotic ruler who wanted to include sectarian concerns into the fabric of Islam.

[The following writer has sent several questions this time. We'll answer only one at a time so as not to burden a substantial segment of our readers who are already quite well read in Islam.]

Question from: M., Canada. You are trying to connect the "Qur'an Only" movement to Jewish scholars but Allama Parvez writes so well about some facts of Hadith which no one else had noticed. He wrote that ALL the scholars of Hadith were Persians. He saw that Hadith was not collected by the early Arab scholars. The Persians brought Hadith to oppose the Arabs. He writes about Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Ibn Maja and Nasai:
"All of them were Iranians. None of them was an inhabitant of Arabia. It's an astonishing fact that none of the Arabs took up this great task and the collection and compilation of Hadith was fulfilled by non-Arabs (ajamis) Secondly, all of these persons were in the third century Hijra ...." [Maqame Hadith, G.A. Parvez, page 13.]

Answer by Kaukab Siddique: Parwez's theory is absurd for anyone who has done any reading on Hadith ; hence I feel as if I am wasting my time answering this question. However, I need to answer because Parwez has been effective among people who have not studied Hadith. Among them is a man named Dr. Sayed Abdul Wadud who wrote a book titled Conspiracies against the Qur'an in which he made a straight copy of Parvez's list of the six scholars of Hadith in the form of a chart indicating their Persian origin. A very sincere gentleman (who is in Canada), Akbarally Meherally, was taken in by Abdul Wadud's book and wrote a book of his own Myths and Realities of Hadith in which he reproduces the same chart as Abdul Wadud (p.86) quite confidently. I doubt if Meherally knew that Abdul Wadud is a follower of Parwez. Let's break down the issue.
1. Were the six actually all Iranians? The answer is NO. Probably Parwez did not look at any map connected to Muslim history. Even the area known as "Khurasan" was a vast area, much of it now included in Afghanistan. Allama Tajuddin Subki (died 771 H.) has left us a good impression of the area known as Khurasan. He writes in his Tabqat al-Shafi'a: "The leading cities of Khurasan were four which were like its pillars which marked its foundation: Merv, Nishapur, Balkh and Herat. These were its greatest cities but if you were to say that they were actually the cities of Islam, that wouldn't be wrong because these were the centers of Islamic knowledge as well as of government."

Of the six Parwez noticed, the greatest, Imam Bukhari was born in Bukhara, which is in central Asia and is not included it in Iran or in Khurasan. So Parwez's theory is busted by the very one he hated most. Perhaps Parwez should have come up with a Central Asian theory.

Ibn Maja was from Qazwin which is and was in AZERBAIJAN. Talk to any Azerbaijani, and it becomes apparent that though Azerbaijan today is in Iran, it has its own history and background. Azerbaijanis are not Persians.

Abu Dawood was from Sijistan which is or overlaps with what we call Baluchistan today, some of it now in modern Iran and some in Pakistan.

Thus we are left with a Persian conspiracy with three "conspirators." Of these, Tirmidhi actually differed with Imam Bukhari and criticized the technical quality of some of Imam Bukhari's texts. He also has some criticism of Imam Muslim's texts. Thus this "conspiracy" was certainly not working.

Nasai and Muslim were from the general area of Khurassan but there are serious differences in the way they presented Hadith. Nasai actually ignores quite a few of the narrators Bukhari accepted. The methodology, purpose and style of all six is unique, each in its own way.

All six were independent scholars who stayed away from any control by rulers and took extreme pains to make sure that no one could pressure or buy them. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that they were organizing some kind of cultural "counter revolution" against the Arabs. They loved the Prophet (pbuh) so much and were so fearful of attributing anything to him incorrectly that they would differ among themselves and debate over the best possible sources of information about the Prophet's (pbuh) Hadith. For instance, Tirmidhi differed with Bukhari over his sources for a Hadith about ISTINJA (or cleaning oneself after going to the bathroom). This was indeed a strange "conspiracy" that these two were differing over which chain of narrators was best for reference to the Prophet's (pbuh) mode of cleaning himself. This must have been a revolution about cleanliness!

2. When Parwez gave his neat little chart about the six Persian "conspirators," he conveniently forgot that Hadith was collected in non-Persian cities too. For instance, numerous scholars who met the companions (r.a.) of the Prophet (pbuh) in cities outside Khurasan, also compiled Hadith. Among the great centers of Hadith scholarship were Arab cities, Makka, Madina, Damascus, Kufa, Basra and parts of Egypt and Palestine. The greatest center of learning turned out to be Baghdad which was cosmopolitan, both Arabic and Ajami.

3. Parwez did not understand Hadith scholarship. Hence he did not realize that the six greats he attacked were merely compilers of selective editions of Hadith WHICH ALREADY EXISTED. [A comparison for understanding: Various scholars prepare selections of Iqbal's poetry from his many years of poetry. This does not mean that the anthologists invented Iqbal's poetry. They simply put together what they thought was Iqbal's best or what was best for their purposes.] The six were simply trying, each in his own way, to check on the authenticity of Hadith narrations by the most stringent of tests.

In ADDITION to the six, there were other giants of Hadith scholarship who concentrated on the APPLICATION of the Qur'an and the Hadith to the issues facing the community. Of the FIVE MOST FAMOUS OF THESE GREATS, four were Arabs:
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq 
Imam Malik
Imam Shafi'i
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
[The only non-Arab, great by comparison with these four, was Imam Abu Hanifa. Perhaps Parwez should have come up with a theory of ARAB CONSPIRACY to control non-Arabs. Unfortunately for him, Imam Abu Hanifa was the student of Imam Jafar. The Arabs and the non-Arabs worked together. Islam for both was about the Qur'an and the AUTHENTICITY OF HADITH. All were SCHOLARS OF THE QUR'AN, a requirement before anyone could study Hadith.]

Incidentally, Imam Ahmad's Musnad is not included in the six books of Hadith because its purpose (by definition of the word 'Musnad') was to be INCLUSIVE, while Imam Bukhari and the others were EXCLUSIVE, trying to keep out any narration which had any weakness OF ANY KIND.

Imam Jafar is from the Ahlul Bait, so nobody can suspect him of being an Ajami or non-Arab. He took Hadith from Hazrat Ali(r.a.), one of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) who WROTE Hadith during the time of the Prophet (pbuh), which debunks the idea that Hadith were first written down in the third century.

Imam Malik (most influential and with a wide FOLLOWING IN AFRICA) was from the holy city of Madina. His dates are 93-179 H and his collection of Hadith, MUWATTA, written in 130 H. (before the middle of the second century) is one of the most famous books of Hadith. its very existence refutes the story that Hadith were first written in the third century. [It is not included in the SIX because its focus is on hadith RELATING TO LAW and not to the entire gamut of the Prophet's life (pbuh).] Malik had thousands of students, many of whom were great scholars of Hadith in their own right.

Most amazingly, Parwez missed Imam Shafaii. [His dates: 150-204 also show that Hadith was available in writing in the Second century of Islam.] This great scholar took on those who were trying to claim that ONE REPORT FROM THE PROPHET (pbuh) was not sufficient for purposes of law. His work was definitive in this field. There are few who have served Hadith scholarship better. For purposes of this discussion, I will only look at his Arab descent.

Muhammad (Shafaii son of Idrees, son of Abbas, son of ‘Usman, son of Shafa'e, son of Saib, son of Ubaid, son of Abd Yazeed, son of Hashim, son of Abd Yazeed, son of Abdul Muttalib son of Abd Manaf.

[Pakistani readers should look up Imam Shafaii kay ahd, mujahidat aur zaat-o-sifat ka mukammal jaiza (A Complete Appraisal of the Era, scholarly decisions, personality and qualities of Imam Shafii) by Egyptian writer Muhammad Abu Zahra, translated by Syed Raees Ahmad J'afri into Urdu.]

Parwez's fatal mistake was that he ignored AHMAD IBN HANBAL, who was not only an Arab scholar of Hadith but one who insisted that in the presence of Hadith, there is no need for qiyas. As pointed out earlier, his Musnad, a compendium of Hadith bigger than Bukhari's Sahih is available today. Ahmad's dates are very significant: 164-241 H. Thus he was the contemporary of Bukhari and most of the other five greats of Hadith. He was part of the huge variety of scholarship which emerged from Islam's cultural center BAGHDAD.

That Parwez would try to condemn Bukhari for being "Iranian" while ignoring Ahmad ibn Hanbal is a sign of scholarly dishonesty. Ahmad's MUSNAD is a deadly blow for Parwez because it contains the ENTIRE TEXT of a FIRST CENTURY collection of Hadith, which was prepared in WRITING by Hammam ibn Munabbih who listened to Abu Huraira (r.a.) and wrote down 138 Hadith from him. [The ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT of Hammam's collection was discovered by the Indian scholar, Dr. Hamidullah.]
What we are looking at here is that:

A FIRST CENTURY collection in WRITING reached the THIRD CENTURY intact and was PUBLISHED IN FULL TEXT in the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal which EXISTS TODAY. Thus, there can be no doubt that Hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) were successfully transmitted to future generations by the scholars of Hadith.

[By the way, Ahmad was Arab, not a Persian "conspirator. He was from the Arab tribe of Sheiban which settled in Basra when Omar ibn al-Khattab (r.a.) asked for volunteers to settle in that seemingly inhospitable area. Ahmad's line connects with that of the Prophet (pbuh) through Nazar bin Maadan bin ‘Adnan.]

Imam Ahmed defied THREE ABBASID Caliphs who were trying to bring sectarian concepts into Islam. I am not surprised that Parwez ignored him. Parwez was helping the secularist rulers of his time to bring sectarian ideas into Islam to help defeat the independent Islamic scholars of our time like Syed Abul ‘Ala Maudoodi (rahmatullah alaih).

We as Muslims can be proud that people of all nations have contributed to Islamic learning. I will later discuss WHY WRITTEN COMPILATIONS OF HADITH became so important in the third century.

2003-06-08 Sun 13:40ct