What is the reporting concerning the following ḥadith and is it authentic?
The Prophet peace be upon him said: ‘I wish I could meet my brothers. The companions of the Prophet peace be upon him said: Are we not your brothers? He (the Prophet) said: You are my companions, but my brothers are those who have faith in me although they never saw me’ [Aḥmad].
- The narration is purportedly from the companion Anas ibn Mālik, may Allah be pleased with him, and is reported outside of the commonly known books or famous books of ḥadith.
- Primarily, the tradition appears in three different collections: the Musnad of Aḥmad, Musnad Abu Ya’la and in Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ of al-Ṭabarāni.
- As far as can reasonably be discerned, it doesn’t appear that any of the notable scholarly authorities declared this outright to be Ṣaḥīḥ. At best seems to be the comment of Shu’ayb al-Arnā’uṭ, giving the assessment ‘ḥasan li’ghayrihi,’ as a follow-up comment after the tradition is mentioned in his commentary upon Musnad Aḥmad. But there are issues with each individual line of reporting, each in fact being judged singularly as weak, ḍaef.
- The tradition mentioned appears in the Musnad of Imām Aḥmad. In full, this is as follows:
حدثنا هاشم بن القاسم حدثنا جسر عن ثابت عن أنس بن مالك قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وددت أني لقيت إخواني قال فقال أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أوليس نحن إخوانك قال أنتم أصحابي ولكن إخواني الذين آمنوا بي ولم يروني
Abdullah narrated to us my father narrated to me Hishām ibn al-Qāsim narrated to us Jasr narrated to us from Thābit from Anas ibn Mālik, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said: I wish I could meet my brothers. The companions of the Prophet peace be upon him said: Are we not your brothers? He (the Prophet) said: You are my companions, but my brothers are those who have faith in me although they never saw me.
- Shu’ayb al-Arnā’uṭ commented on the narration with the following: ‘ḥasan li’ghayrihi, and this isnād is ḍaef.’ Ostensibly, it would appear the weakness in this isnād is due to the narrator, Jasr ibn Farqad. In al-Ḍu’afā wal-Matrukin (no. 657) Ibn Jawzi cites the some of the following that has been said of him: ‘Yaḥya (ibn Ma’een) said: He is nothing, don’t write his ḥadith; al-Nasā’i and al-Dāraquṭni said: ḍaef.’ Ibn ‘Adi has similar, though lengthier comments in his work, al-Kāmil fi Ḍu’afā al-Rijāl.
- In the Musnad of Abu Ya’la [Vol. 6, no. 3390] it is narrated similarly through Thābit from Anas ibn Mālik, the beginning of the chain of transmission, isnād though is different and there is also a slight variance in the reported wording:
حدثنا الفضل بن الصباح أبو العباس حدثنا أبو عبيدة الحداد عن محتسب عن ثابت البناني عن أنس بن مالك قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم متى ألقى إخواني قالوا يا رسول الله ألسنا إخوانك قال بل أنتم أصحابي وإخواني الذين آمنوا بي ولم يروني
al-Faḍl ibn al-Ṣabbāḥ Abu’l ‘Abbās narrated to us Abu Ubayda al-Ḥaddād narrated to us from Muḥtasib from Thābit from Anas ibn Mālik, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said When will I meet my brothers? They said: Are we not your brothers? He said: No, you are my companions and my brothers are those who believe in me but haven’t seen me.
- In Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ [Vol. 7, no. 5494] al-Ṭabarāni records the same tradition, with a difference in the isnād; rather than ‘from Muḥtasib,’ is ‘Muḥtasib narrated to us,’:
حدثنا محمد بن عثمان بن ابي شيبة قال حدثنا يحيى بن معين قال حدثنا ابو عبيدة الحداد قال حدثنا محتسب بن عبد الرحمن عن ثابت البناني عن انس بن مالك قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم متى القى اخواني قالوا يا رسول الله السنا اخوانك قال انتم اصحابي واخواني الذين آمنوا بي ولم يروني
Muḥammad ibn Uthman ibn Abi Shayba narrated to us he said Yahya ibn Ma’een narrated to us he said Abu Ubayda al-Ḥaddād narrated to us he said Muḥtasib ibn Abdur-Raḥman narrated to us from Thābit al-Bunāni from Anas ibn Mālik, he said the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said: When will I meet my brothers? They said: Are we not your brothers? He said: No, you are my companions and my brothers are those who believe in me but haven’t seen me.
- After presenting the narration al-Ṭabarāni comments: ‘This ḥadith is not seen from Thābit al-Bunāni except by way of Muḥtasib ibn Abdur-Raḥman, Abu Ubayda al-Ḥaddād following him in that.’
- Both the previous traditions have the narrator ‘Muḥtasib ibn Abdur-Raḥman’ appearing in them, leading to the judgement that these traditions are also ḍaef. In Lisān al-Mizān [Vol. 5, no. 6853], Ibn Ḥajar writes: ‘Muḥtasib ibn Abdur-Raḥman Abu ‘Aā’id (narrating) from Thābit al-Bunāni and from him, Abu Ubayda al-Ḥaddād – ‘layyin.’ Ibn ‘Adi said: He narrates from Thābit aḥādith that were not preserved from Anas, may Allah be pleased with him.’ Al-Ḥāfiz uses the discreditation (jarḥ) for the narrator as ‘layyin’ indicating soft, malleable; thereby not a strong narrator. The comment from Ibn ‘Adi is also found in his work, al-Kāmil fi Ḍu’afā al-Rijāl.
- It would seem the comment of al-Arnā’uṭ that it is ‘ḥasan li’ghayrihi,’ stems from the other lines of transmission for this narrative. However, it should be noted that each single line of transmission on its own, is and has been judged to be ḍaef. It would therefore be quite difficult to return a judgement of authentic beyond reasonable doubt, e.g. Ṣaḥīḥ.
- There is a different narration that is found in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and some of the other Sunan collections via different isnād. Although the wording is extended fuller, there is a similar theme that is expressed.
حدثنا يحيى بن أيوب وسريج بن يونس وقتيبة بن سعيد وعلي بن حجر جميعا عن إسماعيل بن جعفر قال ابن أيوب حدثنا إسماعيل أخبرني العلاء عن أبيه عن أبي هريرة أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أتى المقبرة فقال السلام عليكم دار قوم مؤمنين وإنا إن شاء الله بكم لاحقون وددت أنا قد رأينا إخواننا قالوا أولسنا إخوانك يا رسول الله قال أنتم أصحابي وإخواننا الذين لم يأتوا بعد فقالوا كيف تعرف من لم يأت بعد من أمتك يا رسول الله فقال أرأيت لو أن رجلا له خيل غر محجلة بين ظهرى خيل دهم بهم ألا يعرف خيله قالوا بلى يا رسول الله قال إنهم يأتون غرا محجلين من الوضوء وأنا فرطهم على الحوض ألا ليذادن رجال عن حوضي كما يذاد البعير الضال أناديهم ألا هلم . فيقال إنهم قد بدلوا بعدك فأقول سحقا سحقا
Yaḥya ibn Ayub, Surayj ibn Yunis, Qutayba ibn Sa’eed and Ali ibn Ḥujr narrated to us, all of them from Ismā’il ibn Ja’far he said Ibn Ayub; Ismā’il narrated to us al-‘Alā reported to me from his father from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him came to the graveyard and said: Peace be upon you! The abode of the believing people and we, if Allah so wills, are about to join you. I love to see my brothers. They said: Aren’t we your brothers, O Messenger of Allah? He said: You are my companions, and our brothers are those who have, so far, not come into the world. They said: Messenger of Allah, how would you recognise those persons of your Ummah who have not yet been born? He said: Supposing a man had horses with white blazes on foreheads and legs among horses which were all black, tell me, would he not recognise his own horses? They said: Certainly, O Messenger of Allah. He said: They would come with white faces and arms and legs owing to ablution, and I would arrive at the cistern before them. Some people would be driven away from my cistern as the stray camel is driven away. I would call out: Come, come. Then it would be said (to me): These people changed themselves after you, and I would say: Be off, be off.
- May Allah make us of those who the Prophet peace be upon him described as his brothers in the ḥadith of Ṣaḥīḥ And let us not be the people driven away from the cistern, by flouting the very message that he, peace be upon him brought.
And Allah knows best.