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Maqra’ah of the book of ḥadīth: al Aḥādīth al Mukhtārah

By the grace of Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) and His tawfīq, an intensive reading (maqra’ah) of a collection of aḥādith took place on Sunday the 12th of January at Redbridge Islamic Centre in Ilford. The reading was overseen by Sheikh Haitham al Haddad (Ḥafidhahullah) and the chosen text was: al Aḥādīth al Mukhtārah fī al Uṣūl wal Aḥkām wal ādāb wa ghayrihā (Selected traditions related to the principles, rulings and etiquettes etc of the religion) by the great scholar, Sheikh ‘Abdur Raḥmān bin Nāṣir as-Sa’adi (d.1956), who was the main teacher of Sheikh Haitham’s teacher, Sheikh Abdullāh bin ‘Aqīl (Raḥimullah). The text was only recently discovered and published and so it is probably the case that this was the first time the text was read in such a fashion in a maqra’ah setting. The text contains approximately 600 ḥadīth, which makes it slightly larger than ‘Umdatul Aḥkām by Ibn Qudāmah (Raḥimullah). However, its content is somewhat different since it encompasses many more topics than the standard ḥadīth book of aḥkām, such as topics related to the virtue of knowledge, belief, virtues of the Qur’ān, dhikr etc. Also, the author carefully selected the main aḥādith that a serious student of knowledge should be aware of which adds further value to the text itself. Most of the narrations were selected from al-Bukhārī or Muslim.

The maqra’ah began at 9am and was read with its translation in the gathering until 9pm. Although the entire text was not read, 250 ḥadīth were read alongside points of benefit from Sheikh Haitham. Some of these benefits will be mentioned later inshā’ Allāh.

Prior to the reading, the Sheikh narrated a musalsal ḥadīth1 which he heard from his teacher in a similar gathering with a chain of narration and similar circumstances all the way back to the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam). The ḥadīth was as follows: on the authority of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al ‘Aaṣ (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) who heard the Messenger (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) say: “As for the merciful ones, the Most-Merciful will be merciful to them. Be merciful to those upon the earth and the One above the heavens will be merciful to you.”2 The sheikh then gave permission for the attendees to narrate the ḥadīth from him.3

Some may ask as to what the purpose maybe to read aḥādith in such a manner without giving a detailed commentary. To answer this, the following can be stated:

1) The purpose of the reading was not to give a detailed commentary of the aḥadīth but to make the listener develop an awareness of the narrations and their contents.

2) To refresh the minds of the students of such narrations if they were already known.

3) The sheikh would make note of certain facts that would help a person memorise the narrators of ḥadīth, such as the fact that Rāfi’ bin Khadīj (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) used to narrate aḥādith about agriculture and trade and that Anas (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) used to narrate ḥadīth about love for the Messenger (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) etc.

4) It is highly unlikely that a person would read such a high and substantial amount of narrations by themselves in that period of time with the level of concentration that is given in a maqra’āh gathering.

5) Many points of benefit relating to different topics can be conveyed in a short period of time, thus allowing a person to accumulate many points for reflection after the reading.

6) It is an immense opportunity to increase one’s īmān, love for Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla), His Messenger (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) and his companions, may Allāh be pleased with them.

Below are selections of some of the benefits that the Sheikh mentioned during the reading:

Hadīth 21: On the authority of Abū Hurayrah who said that the Messenger (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said: “People will continue to ask one another (questions) till this is pronounced: Allāh created all things, but who created Allāh? Whoever comes across anything of that, he should say: I believe in Allāh.”4 and in another narration it reads: “let him seek refuge in Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) and cease with regards to that matter.”

Benefit: Notice how simple the answer seems, since in reality people are affected by such thoughts in a momentary manner, usually by the whispers of the Devil. Therefore, a person should not become overwhelmed by such questions but rather must turn to Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla).

Hadīth 24: ‘Ali (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, “There is none among you but he has his place written for him either in the Hell Fire or in Paradise.” They said, “O Allāh’s Messenger (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam)! Shall we not depend upon what has been written for us and give up deeds? He said, “Carry on doing (good) deeds, for everybody will find easy to do such deeds as it will lead him to his destined place for which he has been created. So he who is destined to be among the happy (in the Hereafter), will find it easy to do the deeds characteristic of such people, while he who is destined to be among the miserable ones, will find it easy to do the deeds characteristic of such people.” Then he recited: ‘As for him who gives (in charity) and is conscious of Allāh, and believes in the best…’5

Benefit: One should be careful that narrations such as this do not lead to jabr (the belief that we are coerced into doing good deeds or sins and that we have no control over our deeds). The decree of Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) is based upon His eternal knowledge that He knew what path or way of life we would lead and so He facilitated that for us. Also, notice how in the verse, Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) mentions that whoever gives and is conscious of Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla), Allāh will smoothen the path to ease for him. i.e. that is to say that it is the human who initiates the process of guidance by choosing to believe and be conscious of Allāh. The Sheikh also noted that it would have been good to complete the verses from the Qur’ān about the topic in the narration to make the meaning clear.

Ḥadīth 35: Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, “He who removes from a believer one of his difficulties of this world, Allāh will remove one of his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and he who finds relief for a hard-pressed person, Allāh will make things easy for him on the Day of Resurrection; he who covers up (the faults and sins) of a Muslim, Allāh will cover up (his faults and sins) in this world and in the Hereafter. Allāh supports His slave as long as the slave is supportive of his brother; and he who treads the path in search of knowledge, Allāh makes that path easy, leading to Jannah for him; the people who assemble in one of the houses of Allāh, reciting the Book of Allāh, learning it and teaching, there descends upon them the tranquility, and mercy covers them, the angels flock around them, and Allāh mentions them in the presence of those near Him; and he who lags behind in doing good deeds, his noble lineage will not make him go ahead.”6

Benefit: The word ‘difficulty’ (kurbah) has been mentioned in the indefinite form therefore encompassing all forms of difficulties whether large or small. Therefore, we should never be little helping someone even when they are suffering from the smallest of difficulties since that can entail great reward from Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) as can be seen in the narration.

Ḥadīth 36:Abu Mālik al Ash’ari reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, “Purity is half of īmān (faith). ‘Al-ḥamdu lillah (praise be to Allāh)’ fills the scales, and ‘subḥan-Allāh (how far is Allāh from every imperfection) and ‘Al-ḥamdulillah (praise be to Allāh)’ fill that which is between heaven and earth. And the ṣalah (prayer) is a light, and charity is a proof, and patience is illumination, and the Qur’ān is a proof either for you or against you. Every person starts his day as a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or causing its ruin.”7

Benefit: The Qur’ān cannot be neutral to a person. It will either benefit you or it will add to the proofs against you on the Day of Judgment.

Ḥadīth 110: Abū Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said: “Indeed, this religion is ease, and no one will ever overburden himself in religion, except that it will overcome him. So seek what is appropriate, and come as close as you can, and receive the glad tidings (that you will be rewarded), and take it easy; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights.”

Benefit: Whilst the ḥadīth mentions that the religion is of ease, there are actions in the religion that may seem difficult and burdensome, so how can this be reconciled? One way is by realising that by not acting upon those ‘difficult’ acts one will actually fall into more difficulties. For example, the one who does not pray his morning prayers suffers for the rest of the day as a result for not praying it and loses blessings from all of his daily activities.8 Therefore, one should never assume that by not adhering to the religion, one will lead a more comfortable and easy life.

Ḥadīth 123: ‘Abdullah bin Zayd said that the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) went out to this Mualla (praying place) to offer the prayer of Istisqā’ (prayer for rain) and then faced the Qibla and turned his Rida’ (upper garment) inside out.9

Benefit: Sheikh Ibn ‘Aqīl (Raḥimullah) mentioned that a person can perform the prayer from another country.

Ḥadīth 126:

Abū Mūsa al Ash’ari said that the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, “When a slave of Allāh suffers from illness or sets on a journey, he is credited with the equal of whatever good works he used to do when he was healthy or at home”.10

Benefit: In this ḥadīth, there is an encouragement for people to perform as many good deeds possible whilst they have the health and the ability to do so.

Ḥadīth 129:‘Aishah (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhā) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, “He who loves to meet Allāh, Allāh loves to meet him; and he who dislikes meeting Allāh, Allāh abhors meeting him.” I (‘Aishah) said: “O Messenger of Allāh! So far as the feelings of aversion against death are concerned, we all have this feeling.” Thereupon he said, “I do not mean that. What I meant is that when a (true) believer is given the glad tidings of the Mercy of Allāh, His Pleasures and His Jannah (at the time of death), he loves to meet Allāh, and Allāh also loves to meet him. When a disbeliever is given the news of the Torment of Allāh and His Wrath (at the time of death), he dislikes to meet Allāh and Allāh also abhors to meet him.”11

Benefit: Sometimes the shar’i meaning of phrase can differ from the lughawi (linguistic) meaning of it. In that case, preference is given to the shar’i meaning.

Ḥadīth 159:Abu Umamah (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, “O son of Adam, if you spend (in charity) from your surplus wealth, it will be better for you; and if you retain it, it will be bad for you. You will not be reprimanded for keeping what is enough for your need. Begin with those who are your dependents, and the upper hand (i.e., the one that spends in the way of Allāh) is better than the lower hand (i.e., the one that receives charity.)”12

Benefit: It can be possibly inferred from this narration that saving one’s wealth is khilāf al awlā (opposed to what is best). Some people go to extremes when it comes to saving which is questionable especially since so many Muslims around the world are in dire need of financial aid and support.

Ḥadīth 182: A’isha, the Mother of the Believers (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhā), reported that: “the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) came to me one day and said: Is there anything with you (to eat)? I said: No. Thereupon he said: I shall then be fasting…13

Benefit: We can learn from the ḥadīth how the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) thought of doing good deeds very easily by the tawfīq of Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla). For many people, they are quick to think of excuses not to do good deeds whereas the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) would take any opportunity to do good deeds. This requires that a person have a lively mind that actively works for the hereafter.

These were just some of the benefits mentioned throughout the day.

1Musalsal refers to a ḥadīth which is related with a similar attribute that is found in all of the narrators of the report, or most of them.

2Abū Dāwūd and at-Tirmidhī

3This hadith is musalsal as it is from the ‘Awwaliyya‘ (the firsts). All the reporters in this ḥadīth state that this was the first report they heard from their teacher.

4Agreed upon

5al-Qur’ān 92:5-10

6Muslim

7Muslim

8Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) says: “but whosoever turns away from My remembrance, his shall be a life of narrowness, and on Resurrection Day We shall raise him blind.” (20:124)

9Agreed upon

10al-Bukhārī

11Muslim

12Muslim

13Muslim

About Sheikh Alomgir Ali

Ustdah Alomgir has a BA in Arabic & English language and has studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Cairo. He is currently pursuing a degree in Shariah at al Azhar University in Cairo. He has translated a number of books and holds weekly Tafseer classes in London and is a regular Khateeb in a number of mosques in London. He also taught Arabic and Islamic studies at the Tayyibun Institute in London and is currently an instructor for the Sabeel retreats and seminars.

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