Al-Zuhrī & the Ḥadīth on ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām)’s Return
The Blessed City of Madina in Which Ibn Shihab Az-Zuhri Taught Imam Malik ibn Anas
Abu Layth has recently espoused typical anti-ḥadīth arguments to attack the mutawātir ḥadīths on the return of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām). For more on the subject of the second coming of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) and its being a fundamental Islāmic belief, see: ahlussunnah.boards.net/thread/715/second-coming-fundamental-islamic-belief. The purpose of this brief response is to address one of Abu Layth’s major points of attack: the imām of the Salaf and pillar of the Sunnah, Ibn Shihāb al-Zuhrī (58 – 124 H).
One of the most famous ḥadīths on the descent of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) comes through al-Zuhrī, via his narration from Sa‘īd ibn al-Musayyib from Abū Hurayrah from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), stating that “the son of Maryam will soon descend amongst you, breaking the cross, killing the pig, abolishing the jizyah…” This is found in many of the famous compilations of ḥadīth, including Muṣannaf ‘Abd al-Razzāq, Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah, Musnad Aḥmad, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.
Imām Mālik was One Amongst Several of the Most Reliable Transmitters from al-Zuhrī
On the basis that Imām Mālik is the most reliable student of al-Zuhrī and that he did not include this ḥadīth in his Muwaṭṭa’, Abu Layth suggests that this alone is a basis for questioning the narration. Al-Zuhrī had several students who were ranked amongst his most reliable transmitters, including: Mālik, Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah, al-Layth ibn Sa‘d, ‘Uqayl, Yūnus ibn Yazīd al-Aylī, Shu‘ayb ibn Abī Ḥamzah, Ma‘mar ibn Rāshid, Ziyād ibn Sa‘d, Muḥammad ibn al-Walīd al-Zubaydī, Ṣāliḥ ibn Kaysān and al-Awzā‘ī.
Although many of the imāms of ḥadīth, including Yaḥyā ibn Ma‘īn, regarded Imām Mālik as the most reliable student of al-Zuhrī, others disagreed. ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī said: “The most reliable of people from al-Zuhrī are Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah and Ziyād ibn Sa‘d, and then Mālik and Ma‘mar.” (Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 32:556) He also said: “There is no one more proficient from the students of al-Zuhrī than Ibn ‘Uyaynah.” (Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 11:189) Aḥmad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-Miṣrī said: “We do not put anyone ahead of Yūnus [in narrations] from al-Zuhrī.” (Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 32:556) Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah said: “Ziyād ibn Sa‘d was the most reliable of the students of al-Zuhrī.” (Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 9:476) Al-Awzā‘ī said: “There is no one more reliable in the ḥadīths of al-Zuhrī than al-Zubaydī.” (Tahdhīb al-Kamāl, 26:590)
No imām is free of mistakes, including Imām Mālik. In fact, the scholars point out a ḥadīth Imām Mālik narrated in his Muwaṭṭa’ from al-Zuhrī via ‘Urwah from ‘Ᾱ’ishah in which he contradicted the majority of the students of al-Zuhrī (like Ma‘mar, Yūnus, al-Awzā‘ī and Shu‘ayb) in the content (matn) of the ḥadīth. According to Imām Muslim in his Tamyīz and others, this is evidence that Imām Mālik erred in this ḥadīth. (See footnotes to Tadrīb al-Rāwī, Dār al-Minhāj, 2:151)
The ḥadīth in question on the return of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) was reported from al-Zuhrī by some of his most reliable students, including al-Layth ibn Sa‘d, Ma‘mar ibn Rāshid, Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah, Yūnus ibn Yazīd al-Aylī and Ṣāliḥ ibn Kaysān. Nowhere does Imām Mālik criticise this ḥadith. Its mere absence from the Muwaṭṭa’ does not prove anything.
Moreover, Imām Mālik does cite a ḥadīth about the return of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) in the Muwaṭṭa’. In some versions of the Muwaṭṭa’, he narrates from al-Zuhrī via Ḥanẓalah ibn ‘Alī from Abū Hurayrah from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) that ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) will call the Talbiyah for Ḥajj or ‘Umrah at Fajj al-Rawḥā’. This ḥadīth is also found in Musnad Aḥmad and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. Displaying incredible stupidity, Abu Layth argues that Imām Mālik only included this ḥadīth in his Muwaṭṭa’ to demonstrate that it contradicts other ḥadīths which state that ‘Īsa (‘alayhissalām) will first arrive in Damascus and will take refuge at a mountain outside of Arabia. It is obvious that there is no contradiction whatsoever between these ḥadīths since it is entirely possible for ‘Īsa (‘alayhissālm) to travel to different locations during the course of his stay on earth.
Narrations Corroborating al-Zuhrī’s Transmission
Imām Aḥmad narrates via two reliable teachers from: al-Layth ibn Sa‘d from Sa‘īd ibn Abī Sa‘īd al-Maqburī from ‘Aṭā’ ibn Mīnā from Abū Hurayrah that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “The son of Maryam will descend as a just ruler, breaking the cross, killing the pig and abolishing the jizyah…” (Musnad Aḥmad, 16:254-5) The editors of Musnad Aḥmad say: “Its isnād is ṣaḥīḥ according to the criteria of the two shaykhs (Bukhārī and Muslim).” Imām Muslim also transmits it in his Ṣaḥīḥ with a different chain to al-Layth ibn Sa‘d as does Ibn Ḥibbān in his Ṣaḥīḥ. These are thus four authentic chains to al-Layth ibn Sa‘d. Hence, there is no doubt that al-Layth narrated this from Sa‘īd al-Maqburī from ‘Aṭā’. Layth is an undisputed authority in ḥadīth and regarded as the most reliable narrator from Sa‘īd a-Maqburī, another undisputed authority. Aṭā’ is from the well-known and reliable students of Abū Hurayrah.
Imām Aḥmad narrates: Abū Aḥmad [Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdillāh ibn al-Zubayr al-Zubayrī] narrated to us: Kathīr ibn Zayd narrated to us from Walīd ibn Rabāḥ from Abū Hurayrah, he said: The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “The Masīḥ, ‘Īsā ibn Maryam, will soon descend as a fair arbiter and just ruler, killing swine and breaking the cross...” (Musnad Aḥmad, 15:62) The editors of Musnad Aḥmad say the chain is ḥasan.
Aḥmad also narrates: “Surayj narrated to us: Fulayḥ narrated to us from al-Ḥārith ibn Fuḍayl from Ziyād ibn Sa‘d from Abū Hurayrah, he said: The Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: The son of Maryam will descend as a fair ruler and just arbiter, breaking the cross, killing swine…” (Musnad Aḥmad, 16:182) Ibn Kathīr says: “Its isnād is excellent and strong.” (al-Bidāyah wa l-Nihāyah, Dār Ibn Kathīr, 17:126)
These are three independent and authentic chains without any mention of al-Zuhrī, all corroborating the fact that Abū Hurayrah taught this ḥadīth from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). After citing these and other narrations from Abū Hurayrah, Ibn Kathīr says: “Thus, these are numerous transmissions, akin to mutawātir, from Abū Hurayrah [alone].” (al-Bidāyah wa l-Nihāyah, Dār Ibn Kathīr, 17:128)
Thus, no matter Abu Layth’s unjustified attacks on al-Zuhrī, it is impossible to deny that Abū Hurayrah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu) taught this ḥadīth from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Abu Layth’s only option, therefore, is to attack the noble ṣaḥābī Abū Hurayrah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu). But there are numerous supporting narrations from other ṣaḥābah. For example, Ibn Abī Shaybah and Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal transmit via two independent chains from Yaḥyā ibn Abī Kathīr: “Ḥaḍramī ibn Lāḥiq narrated to me from Abū Ṣāliḥ Dhakwān from ‘Ᾱ’ishah…the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘‘Isā (upon him peace) will descend and kill [Dajjāl], and then ‘Isā (upon him peace) will remain on the earth for forty years as a just ruler and fair arbiter.’” (Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah, 21:200; Musnad Ahmad, 41:15-6) Shaykh ‘Awwāmah and the editors of Musnad Aḥmad say the chain is ḥasan, and al-Haythamī said: “Its reporters are the reporters of the Ṣaḥīḥ collections besides Ḥaḍramī who is trustworthy (thiqah).” (ibid.) Ibn Ḥibbān also includes it in his Ṣaḥīḥ (Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān, Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 6:127)
There are numerous other ḥadīths corroborating the future coming of ‘Isā (‘alayhissalām), some of which were cited here: ahlussunnah.boards.net/thread/715/second-coming-fundamental-islamic-belief
The claim that al-Zuhrī erred or lied in this ḥadīth is, therefore, completely baseless. Abu Layth implies that these chains were invented by fabricators. For his criticism to hold any merit, however, he must show who from these multiple supporting chains of transmission were guilty of fabrication and why he believes so. The compilers of the famous books of ḥadīth were careful not to take from fabricators, hence why their works were accepted. Merely pointing out the fact that fabricators existed in that period is, therefore, a red herring.
Al-Zuhrī and the Narration on Suicide
In his attacks on al-Zuhrī, Abu Layth points to two ḥadīths in which the scholars have said al-Zuhrī added something to the actual contents of a ḥadīth. While this is true, al-Zuhrī added these words either as his personal commentary or as further information from another source, but Abu Layth construes this as the scholars having accused al-Zuhrī of “making them up”!
The first narration Abu Layth refers to is one in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī stating that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) became extremely distressed to the point of wanting to throw himself off a mountain peak. Al-Zuhrī mentioned this towards the end of a ḥadīth he reports from ‘Urwah from ‘Ᾱ’ishah. However, the account in al-Bukhārī itself clarifies that this is an insertion from al-Zuhrī who is quoting from a different source. Al-Zuhrī says: “until the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) became sad, according to what has reached us, with such sadness, as a result of which he proceeded several times to fall from the tops of mountain peaks…” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, no 6982) Al-Zuhrī thus explicitly says “according to what has reached us” (fī mā balaghanā), excluding this addition from what he narrated via ‘Urwah from ‘Ᾱ’ishah.
Imām al-Bukhārī includes this addition in his collection to remain faithful to what Zuhrī said. However, it does not fall within his core collection of ḥadīths as it is not part of the connected report. It is obvious that adding something from a different source in no way entails lying or making an error. (See: Fatḥ al-Bārī, 16:290-1)
Al-Zuhrī and the Narration on Fāṭimah’s Anger with Abū Bakr
Abu Layth refers to another narration mentioning that Fāṭimah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā) became angry with Abū Bakr (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu) over a dispute about inheritance. This is found in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī also from al-Zuhrī’s narration via ‘Urwah from ‘Ᾱ’ishah. Again, there are good reasons to believe this was inserted into the narration of ‘Ᾱ’ishah, either as Zuhrī’s own commentary of what he believed occurred or based on other narrations that reached him which he inserted into the account of ‘Ᾱ’ishah. (Takmilah Fatḥ al-Mulhim, 3:79) Scholars have therefore questioned the authenticity of this addition. (ibid.)
Abu Layth says that the scholars who explain this as an “insertion” into the ḥadīth are accusing al-Zuhrī of “making this up”! In nobody’s understanding, however, does someone providing commentary or adding something from an alternative source amount to “making something up”. Moreover, while there is evidence of al-Zuhrī’s insertion of certain words or sentences in these two ḥadīths, there is no evidence of this in the ḥadīth in question on the return of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām). Thus, Abu Layth’s arguments here are, at best, red herrings and, at worst, a desire to impugn and degrade one of the greatest scholars of ḥadīth from the Salaf.
Al-Zuhrī and Tadlīs
Abu Layth says: “Zuhrī was known as somebody who would blag. He would kind of like just make up a chain or add things to a chain…” Apparently, Abu Layth is referring to the accusation that al-Zuhrī was a mudallis, thus he quotes Ibn Ḥajar’s view that al-Zuhrī was a mudallis of the third category – meaning, when he narrates from someone with “‘an” (from), it is suspect as there may be an intermediary that al-Zuhrī did not mention. However, the majority of scholars regard al-Zuhrī as belonging to the category of narrators who would very rarely do tadlīs, so even when he says “‘an” his ḥadīths are accepted. Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Alā’ī says: “The imāms have accepted his ‘an” and al-Dhahabī says: “He would rarely do tadlīs.” (Riwāyāt al-Mudallisīn fi Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, p. 226)
Moreover, in the ḥadīth in question, al-Zuhrī explicitly states that he heard the ḥadīth from Saīd ibn al-Musayyib, as found in a narration of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī via an impeccable chain of narrators: “‘Alī ibn ‘Abdillāh (al-Madīnī) narrated to us: Sufyān (ibn ‘Uyaynah) narrated to us: al-Zuhrī narrated to us, saying: Sa‘īd ibn al-Musayyib reported to me, he heard Abū Hurayrah saying from the Messenger of Allāh, he said: ‘The Hour will not come until the son of Maryam descends amongst you as a just ruler, breaking the cross, killing swine and abolishing the jizya. Wealth will overflow such that no one will accept it.’” (Fatḥ al-Bārī, Dār Ṭaybah, 6:297)
Isnāds in the First Century
In order to cast doubt on ḥadīths as a whole, Abu Layth states that, based on an account narrated by Imām Muslim, it was only at around the year 110 Hijrī that people started to ask for chains of narration. This, however, is false. Abu Layth is referring to a narration from Muḥammad ibn Sīrīn (33 – 110 H) who said: “They used to not ask about the isnād. When the Fitnah occurred, they said: ‘Tell us your sources.’ Those belonging to the Sunnah would be scrutinised and their ḥadīths accepted, while those belonging to innovations would be scrutinised and their ḥadīths not accepted.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Maktabat al-Bushrā, 1:82). Ibn Sīrīn was describing the situation in the very early period when there was no need to ask for a source; however, once the Fitnah of ‘Uthmān (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu)’s murder and subsequent dissensions occurred, and people had motives to fabricate ḥadīths, the scholars of the Salaf amongst the ṣaḥābah and tābi‘īn would scrutinise the source i.e. the chain of transmission. Ibn Sīrīn also said: “This ḥadīth is religion, so be careful of who you take your religion from.” (Shamā’il al-Tirmidhī, p. 198) Imām Muslim in fact narrates accounts from Ibn ‘Abbās, Abu l-Zinād and Ṭāwūs from the early imāms of the Salaf to demonstrate that in this very early period, they would check who they were taking ḥadīths from, and would not take from all and sundry. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Maktabat al-Bushrā, 1:77-84) Ibn Sīrīn and al-Zuhrī from the early imāms of ḥadīth used the terms “isnād” (chain) and “mursal” (unsourced) (al-Manhaj al-Muqtaraḥ, p. 37), showing that these were terms and concepts being used in this early period.
To prove that false ḥadīths were very common in the first century, Abu Layth claims that the reason ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz commissioned al-Zuhrī and Abū Bakr ibn ‘Amr ibn Ḥazm to write down ḥadīths was because there were so many false ḥadīths in circulation. The truth, however, is that he told them to write down authentic ḥadīths because, as explicitly mentioned in the narrations, he feared there would be few ‘ulamā’ and knowledge would be lost. In other words, there was a need for such ḥadīths to be documented in written form rather than being just passed on orally as there was a fear that there would be few scholars to preserve this knowledge. (Muwaṭṭa’ Muḥammad, p 302, Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, Kitāb al-‘Ilm, Bab Kayf Yuqbāḍ al-‘Ilm, Sunan al-Dārimī, p. 431; Taqyīd al-‘Ilm, p. 136-8)
Abu Layth is a Liar and Heretic
Perhaps one of the reasons Abu Layth so brazenly accuses al-Zuhrī and others of lying is because he is so accustomed to it himself. As has been documented here: ahlussunnah.boards.net/thread/710/refutation-abu-layth-burzul-view, Abu Layth has been shown to lie several times.
Because the authentic ḥadīths on the return of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) are so numerous and are supported by the very obvious meanings of several Qur’ānic verses, the belief in his return is conclusive both in its authenticity from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and in its meaning (qaṭ‘ī al-thubūt, qaṭ‘ī al-dalālah); hence, al-Suyūṭī , al-Ᾱlūsī , al-Kashmīrī , al-Kawtharī  and al-Ghumārī  have said denial of this belief is disbelief (kufr).
For those who wish to follow the “voice of reason”, it stands to reason that one should not follow someone who is incompetent, lies and commits heresy, but should rather follow the trustworthy, competent and pious ‘ulamā’ of the Salaf and the early Ummah – who were all in agreement that ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) will return and that the ḥadīths on the topic are authentic.
 After clarifying that the ḥadīth, “There is no prophet after me”, means there will be no new appointment of a prophet, al-Suyūṭī explains that to take it absolutely literally would “entail one of two things, either denial of the descent of ‘Īsā or negating prophethood from him, both of which are disbelief.” (al-Ḥāwī li l-Fatāwī, 2:166)
 Regarding the descent of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām), al-Ᾱlūsī says: “It is necessary to believe in it, and those who reject it like the philosophers are considered to have disbelieved.” (Rūḥ al Ma‘āni, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 21:342)
 ‘Allāmah Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī states: “It is mass-transmitted and consensus has been achieved on the descent of ‘Īsā ibn Maryam, upon him peace. Thus reinterpreting this and distorting it [let alone denying it] is also disbelief. It states in Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, and [the author] is one of the verifiers amongst the late ones, that the scholars have considered one who does not believe in his descent to have disbelieved. This is based on the principle of denying what has been mass-transmitted in the Sharī‘ah.” (Ikfār al-Mulḥidīn fī Ḍarūriyyāt al-Dīn, p. 33)
 ‘Allāmah al-Kawtharī states: “Assuming hypothetically that the ḥadīth on the descent of ‘Īsā is a solitary report, it is from those that al-Bukhārī and Muslim have agreed on transmitting without criticism from anyone from the perspective of ḥadīth-science, and the Ummah have received it with acceptance, the later ones from the earlier ones, and the ‘ulamā’ of the Ummah have uninterruptedly believed in its contents through the passage of time, so believing in it is a must. This is when assuming it to be a solitary report, so what of [the fact] that it is mutawātir without doubt, based on the passages of the experts of the field we cited on that; thus, denial of it after comprehending the various ḥadīths is extremely dangerous, we ask Allāh for protection. On the matter of [‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām)’s] ascent and descent mutawātir reports are established, and al-Bazdawī has stated towards the end of his discussion on mutawātir that the one who denies something mutawātir and opposes it becomes a disbeliever.” (Naẓrah ‘Ᾱbirah fī Mazā‘īm man Yunkir Nuzūl ‘Īsā ‘alayhissalām Qabl al-Ᾱkhirah, p. 110-1)
 ‘Abdullāh ibn Ṣiddīq al-Ghumārī writes: “Thus, it is clear that the report on ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām)’s descent is definitive from all angles: definitive in transmission, definitive in indication and definitive in intent. Thus, you understand that Ḥāfiẓ al-Suyūṭī’s explicit mention of the disbelief of one who denies the descent of ‘Īsā (‘alayhissalām) was not carelessness or excess like those who are careless assume, but is based on solid academic foundations. If the ignorant one is excused because of his lack of knowledge, what is the excuse for this stubborn heretic after the evidence has been erected for him and the path has been made clear to him?!” (‘Aqīdah Ahl al-Islām fi Nuzūl ‘Īsā ‘alayhissalām, p. 58)
Article Source: http://ahlussunnah.boards.net/thread/762/zuhr-return-refutation-abu-layth#ixzz59gBrEeWP