June 23, 2024
Sahifah al-Sadiqah
In this article, we shall delve into details about the compilation of the first book of Hadith, Sahifah al-Sadiqah, by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas.

In the Name of Allah—the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Sahifa al-Sadiqah: The First Book of Hadith

Sahifah al-Sadiqah: The First Book of Hadith

by Sajid Mahmood Ansari

In this article, we shall delve into details about the compilation of the first book of Hadith, Sahifah al-SadiqahDuring the early stages of the revelation of the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) took measures to ensure that his words, known as hadith, were not recorded alongside the Qur’an. This decision was made to prevent any potential confusion between the divine scripture, the Qur’an, and the sayings or actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The primary reason for this distinction was to safeguard the Qur’an’s unique status as the direct word of God, as Muslims believe it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the angel Gabriel. The Qur’an is considered the ultimate and unalterable source of guidance for Muslims, containing the teachings, principles, and laws that form the foundation of the Islamic faith and practice.

Narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Do not write anything from me, and whoever writes other than the Quran, let him erase it and narrate from me. There is no harm in it.”

By forbidding the written collection of his own words initially, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) aimed to prevent any mixture or confusion between his personal opinions, explanations, or interpretations and the divine revelations of the Qur’an. This approach ensured that the people would focus solely on the Qur’an’s teachings and avoid attributing any human statements to it.

During the Prophet’s lifetime, the primary mode of preserving and transmitting knowledge was through oral means. The Companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) closely observed his actions and words, memorizing and transmitting them through oral tradition. This method allowed for direct interaction and clarification if any doubts or misconceptions arose.

After the passing of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the need to compile and preserve his sayings became evident. Many Companions began to collect and document the hadith to prevent their loss and ensure accurate transmission. The rigorous process of scrutinizing and authenticating these traditions was established to ensure the preservation of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) words and actions in a reliable manner.

As a result, the collection and preservation of hadiths alongside the Qur’an formed an essential part of Islamic scholarship. Muslim scholars developed precise methods of grading and verifying the authenticity of hadiths to distinguish reliable narrations from those that were weak or fabricated.

Permission for Recording the Prophetic Traditions Grated

In the early years of Islam, during the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) time in Makkah, the practice of forbidding the writing of hadiths alongside the Qur’an was maintained. However, due to a lack of awareness regarding the Prophet’s specific command, some companions began to write down the Prophet’s decrees for their personal notes. Among the companions who engaged in this practice was Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), who was the first to do so.

Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that he used to write down whatever he heard from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so that he could memorize it. Some people from the Quraish clan stopped him by saying that the Messenger of Allah is a human being, sometimes he speaks in anger and sometimes in happiness. So he stopped writing (hadiths). Then he narrated this whole story to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he pointed to his blessed forehead and said: Write it down, by the One in Whose power is my soul, nothing comes out but the truth from his (mouth).

The hadith mentioned is narrated by Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him). According to his narration, he used to write down whatever he heard from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in order to memorize it. However, some individuals from the Quraish clan discouraged him from doing so. They argued that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a human being who could speak in different emotional states, such as anger or happiness.

Upon hearing this, Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) decided to stop writing down the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) words. However, he later recounted the entire incident to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), seeking his guidance and clarification on the matter.

In response to Sayyiduna Abdullah’s concerns, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) pointed to his blessed forehead, signifying the source of his speech and knowledge. He reassured Sayyiduna Abdullah by affirming that what he spoke, whether in anger or happiness, was always truthful and reliable. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasized that his words were guided by divine inspiration and that he spoke only the truth.

By pointing to his forehead and making a solemn oath by Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) assured Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) and others that his statements were not merely his personal opinions or emotional expressions but were divinely inspired and carried the weight of truth.

This incident highlights the importance of recognizing the trustworthiness and authenticity of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) words. It establishes the credibility of his statements, even in different emotional states, affirming that everything he conveyed was by the truth and had divine guidance behind it.

The permission given by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to write down his words after this incident allowed the companions and subsequent generations to preserve his teachings, in addition to the Qur’an, accurately, ensuring that his guidance would be passed down reliably to future generations.

It is important to note that this permission to write down the Prophet’s decrees did not alter the status of the Qur’an as the primary and definitive source of guidance for Muslims. The Qur’an
remains the ultimate revelation and the undisputed word of God, while the hadiths serve as a valuable source of practical guidance and elaboration on the teachings of the Qur’an.

It is important to note that the distinction between the Qur’an and hadiths does not diminish the significance or authority of the latter. Hadiths provide valuable insights into the practical application of the Qur’an’s teachings, elaborating on its principles and offering guidance for various aspects of life. They serve as a supplementary source of Islamic law, ethics, and spirituality.

By maintaining a clear distinction between the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) words, Muslims strive to uphold the sanctity of the divine scripture while recognizing the invaluable role of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the exemplar and guide for humanity. The collection of hadiths attributed to Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) is known in historical accounts as Sahifah al-Sadiqah or simply Al-Sadiqah. This collection holds a special significance as it is considered to be one of the earliest compilations of hadiths. However, it is essential to clarify that Sahifah al-Sadiqah is not an exhaustive compilation of all the hadiths of the
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Sahifah al-Sadiqah primarily consists of the hadiths that Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) personally heard from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through direct observation or personal interaction. These hadiths were recorded by him for the purpose of preserving and memorizing the Prophet’s teachings. As such, the collection represents a selection of hadiths based on his own experiences and encounters with the Prophet (peace be upon him).

However, despite not encompassing the entirety of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) sayings, Sahifah al-Sadiqah holds a unique position as one of the earliest recorded collections of hadiths. It serves as a valuable historical source, providing insights into the early days of Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The compilation serves as a testament to the efforts of the companions to preserve and transmit the Prophet’s words accurately.

The compilation of Sahifah al-Sadiqah paved the way for future generations of scholars to undertake more comprehensive and systematic collections of hadiths. These subsequent compilations involved rigorous processes of verification, authentication, and categorization to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the narrations.

Today, the Sahifah al-Sadiqah is recognized as an important historical document and a significant milestone in the preservation of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) teachings. While it may not contain the entirety of his hadiths, it serves as a reminder of the companions’ dedication to preserving the legacy of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and their commitment to transmitting his teachings to future generations.

The scripture of Sahifah al-Sadiqah, compiled by Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), was not only significant during his time but also continued to be passed down through generations in his family. This preservation and transmission of the Sahifah al-Sadiqah were carried out by the descendants of Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas.

The authenticity and existence of Sahifah al-Sadiqah have been attested by numerous companions and followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They have affirmed the presence of this collection of hadiths and recognized its historical significance. The testimonies from these companions and followers add weight to the credibility of Sahifah al-Sadiqah as a valid source of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) teachings.

Among the companions, Sayyidina Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) is particularly known for narrating a large number of hadiths. However, he acknowledged that, apart from himself, no companion had narrated more hadiths than Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him). This was because Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas had the practice of writing down the hadiths, while Abu Hurairah himself did not engage in this method of recording.

It was narrated from Sayyidina Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that no companion
recorded more hadiths than me, except Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), the reason being that he used to write down the hadiths and I did not write them down.

[Musnad Ahmad: H#7383, Sahih al-Bukhari: H#113]

This statement from Sayyidina Abu Hurairah highlights the dedication of Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) to preserving the hadiths and his commitment to writing them down for accurate transmission. The fact that Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) had a considerable collection of hadiths indicating his diligence in recording and preserving the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for the benefit of future generations.

The compilation of Sahifah al-Sadiqah by Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), along with the subsequent compilation works by other scholars, laid the foundation for the development of the vast hadith literature that exists today. These collections play a vital role in understanding the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) life, teachings, and the practical application of Islamic principles.

In conclusion, Sahifah al-Sadiqah, as compiled by Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, is recognized for its historical significance and its transmission through generations within his family. While it may not contain the entirety of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) sayings, it stands as a testament to the dedication of the early Muslims in preserving and transmitting the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for the benefit of future generations.

Imam Amr bin Shuaib (may Allah have mercy on him)

Imam Amr bin Shuaib (may Allah have mercy on him), as a great-grandson of Sayyidina Amr bin al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), had a special connection to Sahifa al-Sadiqah, the
collection of hadiths compiled by his ancestor, Sayyidina Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him). Imam Amr bin Shuaib played a crucial role in transmitting and narrating the hadiths from Sahifa al-Sadiqah to subsequent generations.

Imam Abu Zur’ah said: They criticized him (referring to Imam Amr bin Shuaib) due to the abundance of his narrations from his father and grandfather. They said: He only heard a few narrations and he took a manuscript that was in his possession and narrated from it.

[Siyar A’lam Al-Nubala: 5/170]

Imam Amr bin Shuaib, being a trustworthy narrator faced criticism from some scholars of Hadith due to his reliance on the Sahifah al-Sadiqah for narrations. These scholars, who followed a preference for transmitting Hadiths through verbal reports from memory, expressed reservations about relying on a written source for narrations.

In the field of Hadith studies, scholars generally regarded the oral transmission of Hadiths as the most preferred and reliable method. This approach placed emphasis on the memorization and transmission of Prophetic traditions through chains of narrators who memorized the Hadiths and transmitted them orally from one generation to another. This method was considered to have a higher level of authenticity and reliability, as it relied on human memory and oral preservation.

Imam Amr bin Shuaib, on the other hand, relied on the Sahifah al-Sadiqah, a written collection of Hadiths, for his narrations. This collection was compiled by his ancestor, Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him). While Sahifah al-Sadiqah held significant historical value, some scholars expressed reservations about relying on a written source for Hadith transmission.

The criticism towards Imam Amr bin Shuaib primarily stemmed from a preference for the oral transmission of Hadiths, which was considered the most reliable and authentic method. Scholars believed that memorization and preservation of Hadiths in the hearts and minds of individuals reduced the risk of errors and alterations. They emphasized the importance of transmitting the Hadiths through reliable chains of narrators who had committed them to memory and passed them down orally.

However, it is important to note that Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s reliance on the Sahifah al-Sadiqah does not diminish his trustworthiness as a narrator. The Sahifah al-Sadiqah itself was compiled by his ancestor, Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas, who was a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The contents of Sahifah al-Sadiqah were based on the firsthand observations and interactions of Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas with the Prophet (peace be upon him). As such, the collection held significant historical value and contained authentic Prophetic traditions.

While scholars may have expressed reservations about relying on solely on a written source like Sahifah al-Sadiqah, it is important to recognize that the compilation itself was an effort to preserve and accurately transmit the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s reliance on this collection was likely driven by his desire to ensure the preservation and accurate transmission of the Prophetic traditions he had inherited.

In conclusion, Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s reliance on the Sahifah al-Sadiqah for his narrations led to criticism from some scholars who preferred the oral transmission of Hadiths. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the Sahifah al-Sadiqah, as a compilation of Prophetic traditions held historical value, and contained authentic teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s trustworthiness as a narrator should not be undermined solely based on his reliance on a written source.

Generally, the Muhadditheen, the scholars of hadith, held Imam Amr bin Shuaib in high regard and had no doubts regarding his truthfulness, integrity, and reliability as a narrator. These scholars meticulously scrutinized the chains of narrators to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of the hadiths they transmitted. Their recognition of Imam Amr bin Shuaib as a trustworthy narrator serves as a testament to his character and the authenticity of his narrations.

Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s association with Sahifa al-Sadiqah, combined with his reputation among the Muhadditheen, further adds to the credibility and reliability of the collection. It reinforces the historical significance and value of Sahifa al-Sadiqah as a source of Prophetic teachings.

The endorsement and acceptance of Imam Amr bin Shuaib by the Muhadditheen highlight their confidence in his transmission of the hadiths from Sahifa al-Sadiqah. This recognition ensured that the Prophetic traditions preserved in Sahifa al-Sadiqah would be passed down through generations with accuracy and authenticity.

The contributions of individuals like Imam Amr bin Shuaib, who dedicated themselves to the preservation and transmission of Prophetic traditions are vital in maintaining the integrity and reliability of the Hadith literature. Their efforts in safeguarding the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) allow subsequent generations of scholars and Muslims access and benefit from this vast treasure of knowledge.

In summary, Imam Amr bin Shuaib, as a descendant of Sayyidina Amr bin al-Aas held a significant position in the transmission of the hadiths from Sahifa al-Sadiqah. He recognized truthfulness and integrity by the Muhadditheen validates the reliability of his narrations and contributes to the preservation and authentication of the Prophetic traditions contained in Sahifa al-Sadiqah.

The mention of Sahifah al-Sadiqah is clearly found in the books “Siyar A’lam al-Nubala” by Imam Dhahabi, “Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahabah” by Ibn al-Athir, and “At-Tabaqat al-Kubra” by Ibn Saad. For example, observe the narration of Usd al-Ghabah:

Imam Mujahid (may Allah have mercy on him) narrates that one day he was in the service of Sayyidna Abdullah bin Amr bin al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with them), and there was a parchment placed on his bed. I tried to pick it up to see, but he stopped me. I expressed my desire, saying that he had never forbidden me from taking anything before. So he said, “This is Al-Sadiqah, in which I have written the Ahadith that I heard directly from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).”

(Usd al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahabah, Biography of Sayyidna Abdullah bin Amr bin al-Aas, Number 345)

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Sahifah al-Sadiqah

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him), one of the prominent scholars of Hadith, acknowledged the reliability and authenticity of Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s narrations. In his famous
compilation of Hadith, Al-Musnad, Imam Ahmad included forty Hadiths that were narrated by Imam Amr bin Shuaib from his father and grandfather. These Hadiths formed a part of the extensive collection of Hadiths in Al-Musnad.

It is widely believed that the chain of narration for these Hadiths is traced back to Sahifah al-Sadiqah, the written collection of Prophetic traditions compiled by Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas (may Allah be pleased with him). As mentioned earlier, Imam Abu Zur’ah had stated that Imam Amr bin Shuaib had taken a manuscript, likely referring to Sahifah al-Sadiqah, and narrated from it.

The fact that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him) included
these narrations in his al-Musnad demonstrates his acceptance and endorsement of the authenticity and reliability of Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s narrations from Sahifah al-Sadiqah. Imam Ahmad’s inclusion of these Hadiths indicates that he considered them valid and worthy of being included in his compilation of Hadiths.

Furthermore, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him) not only accepted Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s narrations but also based his multiple rulings on these reports from Sahifah al-Sadiqah.

For instance, Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) viewed that blood money for the People of Book as half the blood money of a Muslim.

Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him) reported that my father said: “Go and inform that the blood money for the people of the two Books (Jews and Christians) is half the blood money of a Muslim.” This is a Hadith narrated by Amr ibn Shuaib from his father, from his grandfather, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The blood money for the people of the two Books (Jews and Christians) is half the blood money of a Muslim, which is eight hundred.”

[Masa’il Salih:1059]

This highlights the significance and authority that Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) attributed to these narrations. His reliance on the Hadiths transmitted through Sahifah al-Sadiqah further emphasizes their credibility and importance within the realm of Hadith scholarship.

Imam Ahmad’s acceptance and utilization of the narrations from Imam Amr bin Shuaib’s collection in Al-Musnad played a crucial role in preserving and disseminating the Prophetic traditions contained in Sahifah al-Sadiqah. It reinforced the status of Sahifah al-Sadiqah as a valuable source of authentic Hadiths and contributed to the recognition of its unique position as the first book of Hadith.

The notion that Hadiths were not
recorded until two hundred years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is unfounded. The recording of Hadiths began during the time of the Prophet himself, and various companions, such as Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas, actively engaged in preserving the Prophetic traditions through written means.

While it is true that during the early period of Islam, the emphasis was primarily on memorizing and transmitting Hadiths orally, the practice of writing them down started early on. Initially, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prohibited the writing of Hadiths alongside the Quran to avoid any confusion between the two sources of guidance. However, after consulting with the Prophet, Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas was granted permission to write down the Prophet’s words apart from the Quran.

Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas, as well as other companions, wrote down Hadiths for personal use and to ensure their accurate preservation. The existence of Sahifah al-Sadiqah, the collection of Hadiths compiled by Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas is evidence of this early recording of Prophetic narrations.

Furthermore, scholars like Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal recognized and included Hadiths from Sahifah al-Sadiqah in their compilations, indicating that written collections of Hadiths were indeed available and relied upon by scholars throughout history.

Therefore, the claim that Hadiths were not recorded until centuries after the Prophet’s death is incorrect. The companions and early scholars actively engaged in preserving and transmitting Hadiths through both oral and written means from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon
him) himself.

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