Ascertaining the most accurate wording of the hadeeth of Auf Ibn Maalik “No, as long as they establish the call for prayer amongst you”
It has been reported in the Saheeh of Imaam Muslim,
[حدثنا إسحاق بن إبراهيم الحنظلي أخبرنا عيسى بن يونس حدثنا الأوزاعي عن يزيد بن يزيد بن جابر عن رزيق بن حيان عن مسلم بن قرظة عن عوف بن مالك عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «خيار أئمتكم الذين تحبونهم ويحبونكم، ويصلون عليكم وتصلون عليهم، وشرار أئمتكم الذين تبغضونهم، ويبغضونكم وتلعنونهم ويلعنونكم»، قيل: (يا رسول الله: أفلا ننابذهم بالسيف?!)، فقال: «لا ما أقاموا فيكم الصلاة: وإذا رأيتم من ولاتكم شيئا تكرهونه: فاكرهوا عمله، ولا تنزعوا يدا من طاعة!»]
Told us Ishaaq Ibn Ibraaheem al-Hanzali, informed us ‘Isa Ibn Yoonis, told us al-’Awzaa’i, from Yazeed Ibn Yazeed Ibn Jaabir, from Ruzayq Ibn Hayyaan, from Muslim Ibn Qarda, from Auf Ibn Maalik who said, “The Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salamsaid, “The best of your leaders are those whom you love and they love you, and for whom you pray and they pray for you; and the worst of your leaders are those whom you hate and they hate you, and you curse and they curse you” Someone asked, “Should we not then fight them with the sword?” He saAllaahu alayhi wa salamsaid, “No, as long as they establish the call for prayer amongst you” and he saAllaahu alayhi wa salamcontinued, “And if you observe something dislikeable from the ‘Ameer, then dislike it but do not release your hand from obedience”.
All the mutawatir narrations, in essence have come with the same wording. In some narrations it mentions the word Munaabidtha (disputing with them) but without the word Sayf (Sword). However, the word Sayf has come through various channels from a number of trustworthy authorities and cannot be rejected.
Otherwise, if we take the addition of a Thiqah in one narration but reject the addition of a Thiqah in another narration, then that would be a contradiction. Either you take all the words of a thiqah in a narration or you reject all their words. If he is trustworthy in the main wording of the hadeeth, he is also classed as trustworthy in the additions, unless there is a counter evidence to suggest that he has made a mistake. Accepting the hadeeth of a thiqah is required and rejecting it for no reason is haraam so we have to take this additional part of the hadeeth.
Also, by necessity of reason, disputing with the rulers is usually done with the sword otherwise how else will you be able to dispute with them, so even the other hadeeths which don’t contain the word Sayf , still imply, by necessity of reason, that the disputing with them, will be by the sword.
In some channels of narrations, it says “if there is a wali (governor) above you, and you see him committing a disobedience to Allaah, then hate the disobedience to Allaah, but don’t pull your hand from obedience” instead of the wording contained in the above narration which we have quoted in full, which says ““And if you observe something dislikeable from the ‘Ameer, then dislike it but do not release your hand from obedience”.
The narration we have quoted in full is better and more eloquent for the following reasons.
1. If you hate what the one in authority does, than that is wider then hating just the disobedience to Allaah. For example, you may hate taxes imposed upon you, but they are not a disobedience to Allaah and you are not permitted to rebel just because you hate these taxes.
2. The wording “dislikeable” has a wider meaning.
3. The other wording “then hate the disobedience to Allaah, but don’t pull your hand from obedience” may misguide some people, who may take it to mean that they must tolerate every sin. But this is not correct as some sins cannot be tolerated like the kufr buwah. So the wording “dislikeable” is more befitting and suitable for all cases.
In some of the chains of narration, the phrase “No, as long as they establish the call for prayer amongst you” is repeated two or three times, and this is just for further affirmation and does not change the meaning at all.
The hadeeth of Auf Ibn Maalik in Saheeh Muslim is saheeh and is confirmed by oath in another chain also contained in Saheeh Muslim:
Told us Dawud ibn Rashid, told us Al-Walid ibn Muslim, told us Abdul Rahman ibn Yazeed ibn Jaabir, from Mawla bani Fazarah (who is Razaik ibn Hayan) that he heard from Muslim ibn Karadah (who was the cousin of Auf Ibn Maalik) say that he heard from Auf Ibn Maalik that the Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salamsaid this hadeeth.
Then Abdul Rahman ibn Yazid ibn Jabir said “I said to Razaik (ibn Hayan) when he told me this hadeeth, by Allaah did you hear this hadeeth from Muslim ibn Karadah saying that he heard from Auf Ibn Maalik saying that the Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salam said this hadeeth?” Razaik ibn Hayan went onto his knees and faced the Qiblah and said “By Allaah i heard this hadeeth from Muslim ibn Karadah saying that he heard from Auf Ibn Maalik saying that the Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salamsaid this hadeeth“
The hadeeth of Auf Ibn Maalik is also contained in other narrations of Saheeh Muslim, as well as al-Darimi’s Sunan, the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal, the Saheeh of Ibn Hibban, Imaam Al-Bayhaqi’s Sunan al Qubra, the Al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer of Imaam Tabarani, the Musnad al-Shamail and the Musnad ibn Rowanah from many channels so the hadeeth is well-established and authentic.
There is another similar hadeeth in the Al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer of Imaam Tabarani which is not narrated from Auf Ibn Maalik, but from Uqbah ibn Aāmir:
Told us Muhammad ibn yahya ibn Mandah Al-Asbahani, from Abu Qurayb, from Yunus ibn Baqir, from Musa ibn Ali, from his father, from Uqbah ibn Aāmir who said that the Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salamsaid “Shall I not tell you about the best of your rulers and the worst?” they said “Yes, tell us, Messenger of Allaah” he said “the best are the ones you love and they love you and you make dua for them and they make dua for you. The worst are those who you hate and they hate you and you make dua against them and they make dua against you” they responded “should we not fight them?” the Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salam replied “leave them, as long as they pray and fast”
This isnaad is Hasan not saheeh, because it is said of Yunus ibn Baqir that he is “Saduq (Trustworthy), but makes mistakes” and Bukhaari and Muslim did narrate from him but only as a supporting channel not a main channel. The rest of the narrators in the chain like Musa ibn Ali, his father, and Uqbah ibn Aāmir are from the strong narrators of Saheeh Muslim. While Abu Qurayb is Muhammad ibn Alaa ibn hamdani, a teacher of both Imaams Muslim and Bukhaari and Muhammad ibn yahya ibn Mandah Al-Asbahani are famous scholars, well known to the scholars of hadeeth.
There is a third hadeeth narrated on the authority of Umar ibn al-Khattaab in the Sunan al-Tirmidhi:
Told us Muhammad ibn Bashar, from Abu Amar al-Aqdi, from Muhammad ibn Abi Hamayd, from Zayd ibn Aslam, from his father (Aslam, the freed slave of Umar), from Umar ibn al-Khattaab who said that the Messenger of Allaah saAllaahu alayhi wa salamsaid “”Shall I not tell you about the best of your rulers and the worst? The best are the ones you love and they love you and you make dua for them and they make dua for you. The worst are those who you hate and they hate you and you make dua against them and they make dua against you” the hadeeth stops there and does not carry on.
Imaam Tirmidhi says the hadeeth is “Hasan, but strange” because it is only known through this channel and Muhammad ibn Abi Hamayd has been declared to be weak as a narrator of hadeeth. Shaykh Albani declared this hadeeth to be saheeh, but it is not saheeh unless he meant it is saheeh because of shawaahid (supporting) evidences, but he didn’t mention this when he declared it saheeh and he should have done so as it is not saheeh on its own.
The hadeeth is also mentioned in the Musnad of Abu Ya’la and Shaykh Husayn Salim Asad declared the isnaad to be weak, which is correct. But the hadeeth can be considered Hasan if the other supporting evidences are also taken into account as Imaam Tirmidhi stated.
So we have the hadeeth of Auf Ibn Maalik which is Saheeh without doubt, the hadeeth of Uqbah ibn Aāmir which is Hasan and the hadeeth of Umar ibn al-Khattaab which is of a acceptable isnaad if the supporting evidences are taken into account. So the hadeeth is close to being Mutawatir.
The hadeeth is definite in meaning that it is permissible to remove the rulers including fighting them with the sword, if they do not “establish the call for prayer amongst you”.
The meaning of establishing the call for prayer amongst us can be both literal and metaphorical.
Literally, it can mean allowing us to establish the salah amongst ourselves, by leaving the mosques open, not prosecuting those who pray, not preventing people praying in the official institutions like government buildings and the armed forces. If any of this happens then they are not establishing the call for prayer amongst the Muslims.
The metaphorical meaning of establishing the call for prayer amongst us could be of establishing the deen and this would essentially convey the same meaning as the hadeeth of ‘Ubaaidah bin As-Samit (…unless you see public Kufr for which you have evidence from Allaah) which we will be discussing in the next section. Because whoever establishes kufr buwah in public has not established the deen.
So in the literal sense it gives a condition of allowing salah to be established in the society unhindered and in the metaphorical sense it synchronises with the hadeeth of ‘Ubaaidah bin As-Samit, so it must be understood by both its literal and metaphorical meanings.