The Uniqueness and Importance of Isnaad
Shaykh Mohammed Daniel
Verily Allaah, all praises and thanks are due to him alone, has blessed this Ummah with the honour of Isnaad. It is that continuous and unbroken chain that serves to preserve and protect this Ummah (nation) from any falsities. It is a unique and salient feature of this Ummah and no other nation has ever in the past been bestowed with it. Al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi (RA) in his book ‘Sharaf Ashaab al-Hadith’ (The honour of the people of Hadith) narrates from Mohammed ibn Hatim ibn Muzafar (RA) that he said:
‘Indeed Allaah has blessed, honoured and privileged this Ummah with Isnaad and no earlier nor later Ummah has ever had this blessing, rather the books they have in their hands are a mixture of sayings. They do not possess any differentiation between what was revealed to their Prophets in the Torah and the Bible and what was stated and taken from those who were not trustworthy. However, this Ummah selects only the narrations from those who were steadfast and well known in their times for their honesty and trustworthiness, who took from those who has similar qualities to them up to the end of the narration. Then these reports are researched with the utmost diligence to identify which narrator has the strongest memory and is the best in recording narrations, and which narrator spent more time in the company with those they narrated from their contemporaries. Then the text itself is anaylsed from over twenty angles allowing for each alphabet compared with the other. Is this not then, from one of the greatest blessings that Allaah has bestowed upon this Ummah?
Now I would like to provide a brief compilation of quotations from the great Muhaditheen and Salaf (Allaah have Mercy upon them).
1) Imam al-Shafi’ie (RA) said, ‘The example of the one who seeks knowledge (without Isnaad) is like that of the one whom carries wood in the night wherein which there is a snake that bites him without him realising.
2) Imam Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak (RA) said, “Isnaad is from the deen, if it were not for the Isnaad, whoever wanted to say (ascribe) something would say whatever they wanted to say.”
3) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (RA) said, “Seeking the high Isnaad is a Sunnah of our Salaf”
4) Imam Yazid ibn Zaree’ (RA) would say, ‘In every religion there have been knights and the knights of this Ummah are the people of Asaneed’
5) Imam Sufyaan al-Thawri (RA) would say, ‘Isnaad is the weapon of a Mu’min (believer) so if he does not have a weapon with what will he fight with? And he would say, ‘Increase yourselves in Hadith for it is a weapon.’
6) Imam al-Zuhri (RA) said, ‘Is the roof raised without the use of a ladder? (The asaneed are the stairs through which we reach the classical texts)
7) Sultan Ibrahim ibn Adham (RA) said, ‘Verily Allaah shows mercy upon this Ummah due to the journeys of the people of Hadith’
Ibn Arabi (RA) once said, ‘Allaah has indeed blessed this Ummah with Isnaad which he never gave to anyone. So be careful and do not adopt the ways of the Jews and Christians by reporting without Isnaad thus confiscating this bounty of Allaah upon you.
9) Shaikh Mohammed ibn Aslam al-Tusi (RA) once said, ‘Closeness to Isnaad is closeness to Allaah, for without doubt closeness to our Apostle (salulahu alayhi wasalam) is closeness to Allaah.
10) The Musnid of his time, Abdul Hay al-Kittani (RA) said, ‘The higher the Isnaad of a narrator, the closer they are to Allaah’s Apostle (salulhu alayhi wasalam).
11) Ibn Rahmoun (RA) said, ‘Seeking Ijazah in the past and present was amongst the Sunnah of the Ulama of Hadith in order to preserve the tradition of Isnaad and in turn the Shariah. However, it has been forgotten in these times and Ijazah and Sanad have been neglected because scholars thought that knowledge was only in teaching and being outstanding.
12) Imam Abu Nasr Ahmed ibn Nasr al-Faqih (RA) once said, ‘There is nothing harder upon the people of ilhaad (deviance) nor more despised by them than hearing Hadith and its narration with Isnaad.
13) People came to visit Imam Yahya ibn Mu’een while he was suffering in his last illness before his death and asked him what do you desire? He answered, “An empty house, and a high Isnaad”
14) On one occasion Shaikh Abu Bakr Ahmed ibn Ishaaq (RA) was lecturing a person when he started narrating a hadith by saying, ‘He said…’ The man stopped him and said, “Until when will you keep saying this, leave saying, ‘he said’ (narrating Ahadith) so the Shaikh said to him, ‘Get up you kafir (disbeliever) and it is forbidden upon you to ever come into my house again. Then he looked at the students and said, ‘I have never forbidden anyone from entering my house except this person.’
15) In summarising, I, this lowly slave of Allaah, Mohammed Daniel say:
It suffices the honour of a mu’min that their name is forever connected to the names of the greatest scholars of this Ummah. And it suffices the honour and blessing of a mu’min that their name be connected to that of the one whom is the most honourable and blessed of this Ummah (salulhu alayhi wasalam). Is it not strange therefore, that today we find Muslims that reject the narration with Ijazah and Isnaad which continues to be a light for this Ummah!?
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