Compiled by Abul LaythIt is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) said:
حَيَاتي خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ تُحْدِثُونَ وَيُحْدَثُ لَكُمْ ، فَإِذَا كَانَتْ وَفَاتي خَيْراً لَكُمْ ، تُعْرَضُ عَلَيَّ أَعْمَالُكُمْ ، فَإِنْ رَأَيْتُ خَيْراً حَمِدْتُ اللَّهَ ، وَإِنْ رَأَيْتُ شَرًّا اسْتَغْفَرتُ لكُمْ“My life is good for you. You will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a good for you, for your actions will be presented to me. If I see goodness I will praise Allah, and if I see other than that I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.”
In this article we will be reviewing the chains and texts of this narration. It will also be our objective to respond to doubts raised regarding its authenticity.
This hadith is reported by Imam Al-Bazzar in his Musnad (Kashf Al-Astar 1/397) in the following manner:
حدثنا يوسف بن موسى ، ثنا عبد المجيد بن عبد العزيز بن أبي رواد عن سفيان عن عبد الله بن السائب ، عن زاذان ، عن عبد الله عن النبي (ص) قال :
حياتي خير لكم تحدثون ويحدث لكم ، ووفاتي خير لكم تعرض على أعمالكم ، فما رأيت من خير حمدت الله عليه ، وما رأيت من شرٍ استغفرت لكم
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi Al-Maliki (rahimahullah) stated in his Mafahim, “It was also declared Sahih in Hafith As-Suyuti in Mu’jizat, as well as Al-Khasa’is, as well as by Al-Qastalani who explained Sahih Al-Bukhari. Al Munawi stated in Fayd Al-Qadir that it was Sahih, as well as Az-Zurqani in his Sharh of Qastalani’s Al-Mawahib. It was also declared Sahih by Imam Al-Khafaji in his explanation of Ash-Shifaa’. (pgs 248-249, English edition translated as “Notions that Must be corrected”)
The opponents of this hadith claim that this narration is weak due to the narrator Abdul Majid ibn Abdul ‘Aziz ibn Abi Rawwad, who in their view is weak in memory. The late Muhammad Al-Albani in his Da’ifah quoted Al-Haythami’s words ‘and its men are the men of the Sahih’ and then said, ‘[However] He is spoken about negatively (وهو متكلم فيه). The wahhabi leaning website, Islamweb.net ((http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/Fatwa/ShowFatwa.php?lang=A&Id=27311&Option=FatwaId )), has declared this hadith weak as well, repeating the verdict of Al-Albani in his Silsilat Ad-Da’ifah that the strongest of the narrations is that of Bakr ibn Abdullah Al-Muzani, a mursal narration that in his view is authentic. We shall return to this mursal narration later in the article. At this time the claim that Abdul Majid ibn Abdul Aziz ibn Abi Rawwad is weak must be investigated. Why didn’t Al-Haythami deem him weak in his grading of this hadith? Or Suyuti and the others who declared it authentic? It is their opinion that we shall defend in this article, with Allah’s permission.
عبد المجيد بن عبد العزيز بن أبي روادHis name was Abdul Majid ibn Abdul Aziz ibn Abi Rawwad Al-Azdi, Abu Abdul-Hamid Al-Makkiy. He reported hadith from his father, Ayman ibn Naabil, Ibn Jurayj, Ma’mar, Salim Al-Jazari, and other than them. Those who reported from him were the likes of Imam Ahmad, Imam Ash-Shafi’i, Al-Humaydi, and many others.
Those who praised him:
Imam Ahmad said, “He was trustworthy (thiqah), in him was exaggeration in Irja’.”
Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal reports from [Yahya] Ibn Ma’in that he said, “Thiqah (trustworthy), no problem with him. Ad-Dawri also reports from Ibn Ma’in that he said, “Thiqah.” Ibn Abi Maryam reported from Ibn Ma’in that he said, “Thiqah, he would narrate from the people of weakness, and he was the most knowledgeable of the scholars in the narrations of Ibn Jurayj. He was open with his Irjaa’.” Ibrahim ibn Junayd mentions that Ibn Ma’in was mentioning Abdul Majid and mentioned his nobleness, dignity (haybah), and mentioned that he was honest (saduq).
Al-Aajuri reported from Abu Dawud that he said, “Thiqah, [Imam] Ahmad used to narrate from him to us as did Yahya. Yahya said of him, ‘He was [the most] knowledgeable regarding Ibn Jurayj.’ Abu Dawud continued, ‘He was a Murji’iah and he called to Irja’ and he went to extremes in that so much so that his son and the people of Khurasan no longer narrated from him.’ Imam An-Nasa’i said of him, “Thiqah” and also said, “There is nothing wrong with him.” Ad-Daraqutni said in his Sunan, “Thiqah!” (1/311) and in his ‘Ilal said, “He is the most established of the scholars regarding the narrations of Ibn Jurayj.” Hafith Ibn Hajr said on him in his Taqrib, “He was honest (saduq), and made mistakes. He was a Murji’i. Ibn Hibban exaggerated in declaring him abandoned.” Ibn Shahin also declared him trustworthy, and of course, Imam Muslim reported from him in his Sahih!
Imam As-Sindi, the author of the commentary of Sunan Ibn Majah also concludes that Abdul-Majid is trustworthy. In hadith number 1084 in the Sunan of Ibn Majah Abdul Majid ibn Abdul-’Aziz is within the chain.
He states, “Even though he was relied upon in Sahih Muslim, he was extreme in his Irjaa’, calling to it. The majority (jumhur) declared him thiqah (trustworthy); Ahmad, Ibn Ma’in, Abu Dawud, An Nasa’i, whereas Abu Hatim declared him weak as well as Ibn Abi Hatim. The rest of the men in the chain are thiqaat, and so the chain is Hasan!” This chain is would then meet the same standards for Imam As-Sindi!
Those who criticized him:
Al-Bukhari said of him, “He was one who delved into Irjaa’. Al-Humaydi spoke [negatively] of him.”
Abu Hatim said, “He is not strong, though write his hadith.” Muhammad ibn Yahya weakened him. As-Saji said of him, “He reported from Imam Malik a munkar hadithfrom Zayd ibn Aslam from Ata ibn Yasaar from Abu Sa’id, “Actions are by intentions.” He continued saying, “He also reported things from Ibn Jurayj that have no follow up reports for them.” Abdur-Razzaq, upon hearing of Abdul Majid’s death said, “Alhamdulillah for Allah saving the nation of Muhammad from Abdul Majid.” Al-Khalil said, “He was thiqah, though made some mistakes in hadith.” Ibn Hibban said that he would mingle narrations and he would report hadith that were singlularly narrated (munkar) from well known scholars, so he was abandoned.
It should be noted that Ibn Hajr said in his Taqrib that Ibn Hibban went to extremes in declaring him ‘abandoned!’ [entry 4160]
Conclusion and Responses to the Weakening of This Hadith By Al-Albani:
The end conclusion of Hafith Shu’ayb Al-Arna’ut and Dr. Bash-shar Ma’ruf said,
“Rather he is thiqah (trustworthy), his mistakes in hadith were as the people made mistakes in them. And he is from the most established of the scholars regarding Ibn Jurayj. And the people were only hostile towards him due to his irjaa‘ and so some of them weakened him due to that reason. Those who forwarded his trustworthiness included Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Ma’in, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Al-Khalili, and Ibn ‘Adi stated, ‘And the general disdain for him was due to his Irja’.'” [Tahrir At-Taqrib]Hafith Shu’ayb Al-Arna’ut points out that those who weakened did so because of his Irja’. Regarding this I would like to bring forth the words of Imam At-Tajud-Din As-Subki who said,
“Always bear in mind that their [hadith scholars'] principle is that finding fault (jarh) with a hadith narrator has priority over ascribing to him acceptability of his testimony and narrations (ta’dil) without any qualification. On the contrary, the correct position is that where someone finds fault with a man whose imamate and good standing as a narrator is established, whose praisers are many and whose fault finders are few, and there is evidence to suggest that the reason for this attack is because of a fanatical devotion to a certain madh-hab (school of thought) or some other reason, then one does not pursue the matter!” [See the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad Shaybani, English version, page 34]Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh in his Rafa’ Minarah declares “This chain is Sahih, without doubt!”
Responding to Further Doubts:
One of the doubts a certain group brings up regarding this hadith is regarding the grading of Hafith Al-Iraqi. He states in his Tarh At-Tathrib that this hadith is “Jayyid (good)” whereas he has criticized this chain in his takhrij of the Ihya. As Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh points out, he wrote his takhrij of the Ihya when he was very young, and praised the hadith later on his life, and so that is what he passed upon.
Another of the doubts that Al-Albani raised was that this hadith was somehow “Shadh”. Al-Albani however, made the mistake of combining this narration we are discussing with the narration “Verily Allah sends angels out to inform me of my Ummah’s Salams…” and saying that it was an extra “addition” to the second narration. This is not the case at all, and the two are separate narrations as Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh has shown in his Rafa’. Imam As-Suyuti noticed such as well and narrated the two separately.
The issue of Abdul Majid reporting a munkar hadith from Imam Malik involves the misnaming of an individual. The actual narration from Imam Malik in chain is as follows:
مالك عن يحيى بن سعيد ، عن محمد بن إبراهيم التيمي ، عن علقمة . عن عمر
This is the chain that the “jama’ah” reported the hadith “Actions are by Intention.”
The chain that was reported by Abdul Majid was as follows:
مالك ، عن يزيد بن أسلم ، عن عطاء بن يسار عن أبي سعيد الخدري
So yes this is possibly a mistake, yet the words are authentically reported from the Prophet Muhammad and DO go through Imam Malik. This is how it was reported by Abu Nu’aym in his Hilyah, the Musnad of Shihab, and Abu Ya’la Al-Khalili in his Irshaad. This “mistake” does not make one “weak”, it simply means that he made a mistake in one chain, and that is all! That is why the scholars, such as Imam Ahmad, reported from him, as his memory was sound. It is also why the scholars generally accepted his narrations. One mistake like this does not make him completely weak at all.
Another supposed weakness brought forth by those who criticize Abdul-Majid is the following narration (as mentioned by Adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajr) and by which Ibn Hibban used to weaken Abdul-Majid:
عبد المجيد عن ابن جريح عن عطاء عن ابن عباس قال: القدرية كفر، والشيعة هلكة، والحرورية بدعة، وما نعلم الحق إلا في المرجئةAbdul-Majid from Ibn Jurayj from Ataa’ from Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “The Qadariyyah are upon kufr, the Shi’ah are doomed, the Hururiyyah are upon bida’ah and I do not know of the truth in a group except in the Murji’ah.” [Note that Ibn Hajr has different wording, though the meaning is the same in his Tahthib]
Ad-Daraqutni said, “Abdul Majid was the only one who reported this narration.” Al-Hafith Ibn Hajr agreed in his Tahthib and added, “And the rest of the men are thiqaat.”
Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh states that there is no dispute that he is the only one who narrated such from Ibn Jurayj. However, this does not mean that Abdul-Majid is the one who is weak here. Rather, Ibn Jurayj was known to commit the worst kind of tadlees. Ad-Daaraqutni has said regarding Ibn Jurayj, “Beware of the tadlis of Ibn Jurayj, for certainly he performs tadlis from only those who have been criticized.” Imam Ahmad said of Ibn Jurayj’s tadlis that he reported fabrications by way of his tadlees (though he uses the term irsaal, and here it is the same thing) as is reported in Mizan Al-’Itidal of Adh-Dhahabi.
Again, tadlees is to narrate vaguely using the term “‘an (from)” without specifying how one received the transmission. Sidi Musa Furber has translated it as “Camouflaging” the real narrator. If one is known to use this vague form of reporting “from” someone other than whom they are really reporting from, then their narrations cannot be accepted when using tadlis. In this narration Ibn Jurayj uses tadlis, and hence, one must be cautious that he did not in fact hear this hadith fron ‘Ataa’ but from someone else who claimed they heard it from ‘Ataa, and Ibn Jurayj is masking the individual through reporting. Furthermore, what shows that Abdul-Majid is not the one to blame for this is that he was the MOST knowledgeable regarding Ibn Jurayj’s reports as stated by the master of hadith Yahya ibn Ma’in. So his narrating singularly reported narrations from Ibn Jurayj is not a weakness, but instead shows that he truly was the most knowledgeable regarding the narrations of Ibn Jurayj as claimed by Yahya ibn Ma’in. Abu Dawud reports from Imam Ahmad that he said of Abdul Majid, “He was knowledgeable in the reports of Ibn Jurayj!” [Su'alaat Abi Dawud li-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal pg 236]
The last claim forwarded by Al-Albani and co. in his Ad-Da’ifah regarding this chain is that he thinks that he mingled the chain, because the only other authentic chain is through Bakr ibn Abdullah Al-Muzani, so Abdul Majid simply must have mis-stated the chain. As Shaykh Mahmud Mamduh states, this is thann (conjecture/suspicion). There is absolutely no proof that he did such with this chain. And as the Prophet Muhammad said, “And suspicion is the most false of speech!” Furthermore, no one prior to Al-Albani made such a suspicious claim regarding this chain of Abdul-Majid. Abdul Majid is thiqah, as stated by Imam Ahmad, Nasa’i, Ibn Ma’in, Abu Dawud, and many other Imams of hadith. To raise suspicion regarding him, without proof, is falsehood. Rather the mursal Sahih narration from Bakr ibn Abdullah shows support for the chain of Abdul-Majid and witnesses to its authenticity.
The hadith of Bakr Ibn Abdullah Al-Muzani reads:
حَياتِـي خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ تُـحَدِّثُونَ ويُحْدَثُ لَكُمْ فإذا أنا مُتُّ كانَتْ وَفـاتِـي خَيْراً لَكُمْ تُعْرَضُ علـيَّ أعْمالَكُمْ فإنْ رَأيْتُ خَيْراً حَمِدْتُ الله وإِنْ رَأيْتُ شَراً اسْتَغْفَرْتُ لَكُمْThe same wording!
In the Musnad of Al-Harith we find the following chain for this narration:
حدثنا الحسن ابن فتيبة ثنا جسر ابن فرقد عن بكر ابن عبد الله المزني قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلمEven Al-Albani admits that this chain is Mursal Sahih! It is also reported by Ibn Sa’ad in his Tabaqaat and also by Imam As-Suyuti in Jaam’i Al-Ahadith wal-Maraasil (11337). Bakr ibn Abdullah Al-Muzani did not see the Prophet Muhammad (‘alayhis salam) so he has not named the companion he heard it from. Bakr was a tabi’i (of the second generation), and reported from Ibn ‘Abbas, Anas ibn Malik, Mughirah ibn Shu’ba and others. It was said that he saw thirty of the companions. Ibn Sa’ad said of him, “He was trustworthy, established, impeccably honest, a proof (hujjah), and he was a jurist!”
There is yet another proof within this hadith, and that is that some of the scholars accept mursal Sahih hadith as proof in the law. The Imam Isma’il Al-Ansari said, ‘And the utilization of Mursal Sahih reports as a proof is correct according to the majority of the jurists. Al-Hafith Ibn Kathir said,
والاحتجاج به مذهب مالك وأبي حنيفة وأصحابهما وهو يحكى عن أحمد في رواية“And using them [i.e. the mursal sahih] as proof is the madh-hab of Malik, Abu Hanifah and his companions, and it is a reported opinion of Ahmad.” [Kitab Ash-Shaybani 1/134-135]
Imam Ibn Abdul-Barr states in his At-Tajrid At-Tamhid that the position of all the Maliki jurists is that the mursal hadith of a thiqah tabi’i is a proof and can be acted upon. Imam Ash-Shafi’i also accepts mursal Sahih hadith with conditions as he has mentioned in his Risalah! He rejects mursal narrations that do not come from the elder Tabi’in. Ibn Abdul-Barr in fact says the first Imam to reject mursal narrations such as this was Imam Ash-Shafi’I (Tawjih An-Nathr page 245). Such a claim may not be true however, considering it is reported from Ibn Mahdi and Yahya ibn al-Qattan that they also held similar views.
Imam Abu Dawud wrote a letter to the people of Makka responding to some issues. He stated therein,
وأما المراسيل فقد كان أكثر العلماء يحتجون بها فيما مضى مثل سفيان الثوري، ومالك، والأوزاعي. حتى جاء الشافعي- رحمه الله- فتكلم في ذلك وتابعه عليه أحمد وغيره“As for the marasil (pl. of mursal) many of the scholars sought proof with them, the likes of them being Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Malik, Al-Awza’i, until Imam Ash-Shafi’i (rahimahullah) came. He spoke [negatively] regarding it and Imam Ahmad and others followed him.”
Shaykh Gibril Haddad states in his translation of “The Prophets in Barzakh”,
“Even if Al-Albani’s grading were hypothetically accepted, then the weak musnad narration in conjunction with the sound Mursal one – graded Sahih by Al-Albani – would yield a final grading of Hasan or Sahih, not da’if. In addition to this Mamduh quoted Al-Albani’s own words in the latter’s attempted refutation of Isma’il Al-Ansari entitled Kitab Ash-Shaybani (1:134-135) whereby, ‘The sound mursal hadith is proof in all four schools and other than them from the Imams of principles of fiqh and hadith, therefore it is apparent to every fair-minded person that the position whereby such a hadith does not form a proof only because it is mursal, is untenable.’ This is one of the many examples of which Al-Albani not only contradicts, but soundly refutes himself.” [page 36]According to the principles of the four schools of law, this Mursal narration alone would be enough proof to implement it, and Allah is the one who knows best!
What Does this Hadith Prove?
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi Al-Maliki (rahimuhullah) stated, “It proves that the Prophet Muhammad knows our actions and they are presented to him. He seeks forgiveness for us for any sins or ugliness that we commit. If this is the case, then it is obviously permissible for us to take him as a means unto Allah and seek intercession through him and by him. This is because he knows that, therefore he can intercede for us and supplicate for us for he is the one who intercedes and the one whose intercession is accepted. Allah informs us in the Qur’an that the Prophet is a witness for his Ummah and this implies that the Ummah’s actions are presented to him to act as a witness to what he has seen and known!” (pg 248-249 of Mafahim or “Notions that must be corrected”)