What is the authenticity of this narration?
From Abdullah ibn ‘Amr he said the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him said: The rightness in the beginning of this nation was by renouncing the world and attaining conviction. The destruction in the end of it is by miserliness and vain hopes.
Is it Ṣaḥīḥ according to al-Suyuti?
- We have not been able to determine any of the scholarly authorities declaring this narration in its various forms as being Ṣaḥīḥ. A close analysis of its isnād’s reveals several criticisms being levelled at several of the narrators.
- Even modernists, like al-Albāni, don’t seem to have graded this as being Ṣaḥīḥ, noting that its matn is ghareeb and returning the assessment that it is perhaps at best, ḥasan li’ghayrihi [Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targheeb wal’Tarheeb, Vol. 3, no. 3215, p. 138]. Moreover, there is uncertainty as to whether the narration is attributable to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, i.e. marfu’. It may well be that it is a comment, albeit inauthentic, attributed to a companion, mawquf.
Analysis I: Sourcing
The full wording of the narration, together with the isnād as it appears in al-Zuhd [Vol. 1, p. 10], by Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal is as follows:
حدثنا عبد الله حدثنا ابي حدثنا الهيثم بن جميل حدثنا محمد عن ابراهيم بن ميسرة عن عمرو بن شعيب عن عبد الله بن عمرو قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم صلاح اول هذه الامة بالزهد واليقين ويهلك اخرها بالبخل والامل
Abdullah narrated to us my father narrated to us al-Haytham ibn Jameel narrated to us Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhim ibn Maysara narrated to us from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from Abdullah ibn ‘Amr he said the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him said: The rightness in the beginning of this nation was by renouncing the world and attaining conviction. The destruction in the end of it is by miserliness and vain hopes.
Other scholars recorded the narration. Bayhaqy cites this in Sha’b al-‘Imān, [Vol. 7, no. 10844, p. 427]:
أخبرنا أبو عبد الرحمن السلمي أنا محمد بن عبد الله بن قريش أنا الحسن بن سفيان نا موسى بن هارون نا المعافى عن ابن لهيعة عن عمرو بن شعيب عن أبيه عن جده أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال أول صلاح هذه الأمة باليقين والزهد وأول فسادها بالبخل والأمل
Abu Abdar-Raḥman al-Sulami reported to us Muḥammad ibn Abdullah ibn Quraysh reported to us al-Ḥasan ibn Sufyān reported to us Musa ibn Hārun narrated to us al-Ma’āfi narrated to us from Ibn Lahiya from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather, that the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said: Rightness was at the beginning of this Ummah, with yaqeen and al-zuhd was by renouncing the world and attaining conviction. And the beginning of corruption rests upon miserliness and (false) hope.
In Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ [Vol. 5, no. 7650, pp. 372/373] al-Ṭabarāni records it as:
حدثنا محمد بن موسى الإصطخري نا إسماعيل بن يحيى الإصطخري نا عصمة بن المتوكل نا زافر بن سليمان عن محمد بن مسلم عن إبراهيم بن ميسرة عن عمرو بن شعيب عن أبيه عن جده لا أعلمه إلا رفعه قال صلاح أول هذه الأمة بالزهادة واليقين وهلاكها بالبخل والأمل
لم يرو هذا الحديث عن زافر بن سليمان إلا عصمة بن المتوكل
Muḥammad ibn Musa al-Iṣtakhri narrated to us Ismā’il ibn Yaḥya al-Iṣtakhri narrated to us ‘Iṣmah ibn al-Mutawakil narrated to us Zāfir ibn Sulaymān narrated to us from Muḥammad ibn Muslim from Ibrāhim ibn Maysara from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather, I don’t know if it is raised, he said: Rightness was at the beginning of this Ummah, with yaqeen and al-zuhd was by renouncing the world and attaining conviction. And the beginning of corruption rests upon miserliness and (false) hope.
[al-Ṭabarāni said]: ‘This ḥadith has not been narrated by way of Zāfir ibn Sulaymān except by ‘Iṣmah ibn al-Mutawakil.’
Al-Haythami mentions the narration in al-Zawā’id [Vol. 10, no. 18063 p. 370] as per al-Ṭabarāni but without the isnād. This is similar to al-Suyuti in al-Jāmi al-Ṣaghir [No. 5112, p. 315], but there he mentions only the reported wording, even the narrator is not mentioned. In al-Durr al-Manthur [Vol. 4, p. 174], al-Suyuti mentions the narration, without comment upon the authenticity but he does mention that it is recorded by Aḥmad, al-Bayhaqy and al-Ṭabarāni, following it seems the wording and the higher portion of the channel as that presented by al-Ṭabarāni. Al-Ḥāfiz mentions it in Fatḥ al-Bāri [Vol. 11, p. 202], but without a substantive analysis upon its grading.
Analysis II: Channel of Transmission
Overall, the isnād’s that exist for the narration present some problems. As shown by al-Ṭabarāni, this appears more as a statement of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, mawquf than it does as marfu’, in other words, directly attributable to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. The print version of Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ carries the designation that the isnād is ḍaef (weak) because within it is the narrator ‘Iṣmah ibn al-Mutawakil. Mention of him is made by al-‘Uqayli in al-Ḍu’afā’ al-Kabir [Vol. 3, no. 1367, p. 340], whether narrating from Shu’ba or others, little exactitude in his ḥadith, but also having wahm (delusions). We have already provided detailed comment elsewhere on the narrator Zāfir ibn Sulaymān.
After mentioning the narration in al-Zawā’id, al-Haythami doesn’t say it is Ṣaḥīḥ. Rather he comments with: ‘It is narrated by al-Ṭabarāni in al-Awsaṭ, its men are trustworthy but some of them are ḍaef (weak).’ As we have outlined previously, there is considerable scholarly disagreement regarding the status of the reporting of ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather. Ibn Ḥazm didn’t accept this isnād with the reasoning that ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb is narrating from a manuscript / book of his grandfather’s without directly hearing it [see: al-Muḥalla, Vol. 3, no. 498, p. 162; no. 504, p. 169 and Vol. 4, no. 641, p. 38]. Consequently, the narration presented by Aḥmad would thus fall because of this line of reporting. Al-Tirmidhi summarises the scholarly view concerning the reporting of ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather in his Sunan, after mentioning a tradition in the book of prayer concerning a prohibition of reciting poetry in the mosque:
قال أبو عيسى ومن تكلم في حديث عمرو بن شعيب إنما ضعفه لأنه يحدث عن صحيفة جده كأنهم رأوا أنه لم يسمع هذه الأحاديث من جده . قال علي بن عبد الله وذكر عن يحيى بن سعيد أنه قال حديث عمرو بن شعيب عندنا واهي
Abu Esa said: ‘Those who criticised the narrations of ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb only considered him weak because he narrated from a book of his grandfather’s, so it is as if they thought that he did not heard these narrations from his grandfather. Ali ibn Abdullah said: ‘It has been mentioned from Yaḥya ibn Sa’eed that he said: ‘The ḥadith of ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb is very weak to us.’
Al-Tirmidhi has an earlier comment from al-Bukhāri noting that Aḥmad and Isḥāq generally accepted such narrations as proof, that channel of reporting doesn’t appear at all in the Ṣaḥīḥ of al-Bukhāri, and neither does it feature in the Ṣaḥīḥ of Imām Muslim either.
The narration of al-Bayhaqy would also be put into question on this basis too, but further weakened because Ibn Lahiya is also a narrator in the isnād, and he is graded ḍaef (weak) by many authorities. In al-Ṭabaqāt [Vol. 7, no. 6245], Ibn Sa’d said: ‘His kunya was Abu Abdar-Raḥman. He was ḍaef, and had many ḥadith…He died in Egypt 174AH.’ Al-Tirmidhi carries the same view in his Sunan in the book of purity, he writes: ‘Ibn Lahiya is ḍaef according to the scholars of ḥadith. He was graded ḍaef by Yaḥya ibn Sa’eed al-Qahṭān and others due to his memorisation. Al-Tirmidhi also seems to grade other traditions routed via this path (Ibn Lahiya/’Amr ibn Shu’ayb/father/grandfather) as being ḍaef in his collection of Sunan. In Siyar ‘Alām al-Nubulā’ [Vol. 8, no 4004, p. 15] al-Dhahabi quotes Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal as saying: ‘And Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal said: Ibn Lahiya wrote from al-Muthanna ibn al-Ṣabbāḥ from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb, and he used to narrate it as being from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb, by itself; and al-Layth was two-years older than him.’
And Allah knows best.
Analysing the plight of the Muslim Ummah in the contemporary era is difficult as it is complicated. But hope that the situation will eventually be rectified should never be lost. There will always be a group carrying the standard of truth, not compromising with oppressors, tyrants and not cow-towing to the latest narrative pushed by the West. As Imām Muslim records in his Ṣaḥīḥ:
حدثنا سعيد بن منصور وأبو الربيع العتكي وقتيبة بن سعيد قالوا حدثنا حماد وهو ابن زيد عن أيوب عن أبي قلابة عن أبي أسماء عن ثوبان قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لا تزال طائفة من أمتي ظاهرين على الحق لا يضرهم من خذلهم حتى يأتي أمر الله وهم كذلك
Sa’eed ibn Manṣur, Abu al-Rabih’ al-Ataki and Qutayba ibn Sa’eed narrated to us, they said: Ḥammād and he is Ibn Zayd narrated to us from Ayub from Abu Qilābah from Abu Usāmah from Thawbān, he said the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him said: ‘A group of people from my Ummah will always remain triumphant on the right path and continue to be triumphant. He who deserts them shall not be able to do them any harm. They will remain in this position until Allah’s command is executed.’
May Allah grant us to the foresight to recognise such a group, support them in their efforts and hold steadfast, unswerving, to the rope of Allah.
ولا تهنوا في ابتغاء القوم إن تكونوا تألمون فإنهم يألمون كما تألمون وترجون من الله ما لا يرجون وكان الله عليما حكيما
Do not be faint-hearted in pursuing the enemy: if you are suffering hardship, so are they, but you hope to receive something from Allah for which they cannot hope. Allah is all-knowing and wise.
[Qur’ān, 4: 104]