Shia Scholars And Science Of Hadith

Question

1. What is the status of Imam Jafar Sadiq and Imam Musa Kazim as a Muhaddis / Narrator?

2. What is the status of Ahadith that are ascribed by Imam Jafar Sadiq and Imam Musa Kazim to the Prophet PBUH and to the Syedna Ali RA?

3. Did they proclaim themselves as Shia or they were wrongly associated with Shiaism by the followers?


Answer

1. What is the status of Imam Jafar Sadiq and Imam Musa Kazim as a Muhaddis / Narrator?

The dominating view of the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah is that they are both very reliable and in particular Imam Sadiq is counted among the best. Ibn Tayiya writes in Minhaj al-Sunnah about Imam Sadiq:

فإنّ جعفر بن محمد من أئمة الدین باتفاق أهل السنة

(Jafar ibn Muhammad is from among the leading figures of religion as per the consensus of Ahlusunnah)

Imam Zahabi introduces him by these words:

هو- الإِمَامُ ، الصَّادِقُ ، شَيْخُ بَنِي هَاشِمٍ ، أَبُو عَبْدِ اللهِ القُرَشِيُّ ، الهَاشِمِيُّ ، العَلَوِيُّ، النَّبَوِيُّ ، المَدَنِيُّ ، أَحَدُ الأَعْلاَمِ

he then narrates from Yaheya ibn Mu'in that he (Yaheya) had some concerns about Imam Jafar, then writes this was from Yaheya's errors.

There are also a number of praising statements about Imam Sadiq, narrated from Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik, who had seen him.

You might now have a follow up question, that is, if these great personalities had such a great status among scholars then why there are not many Ahadith narrated from them. The reason is that unfortunately these great scholars of Islam had been surrounded by many biased groups and people used to narrate anything they wanted in favour of their biased groups and attribute these narrations to them. It was therefore not quite easy to get a clear picture of their views and authentic narrations without falling into the false narrations attributed to them. Another factor that stopped people at their time to narrate from them was the political factor (the pressure of Bani Umayya against Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq. This of course got better at the time of Bani Abbas).

2. What is the status of Ahadith that are ascribed by Imam Jafar Sadiq and Imam Musa Kazim to the Prophet PBUH and to the Syedna Ali RA?

Like any other Hadith, the chain of the narrators and the narrators need to be studied and also the Ahadith need to be verified and looked at in the light of the Qur'an. There had been however some scholars at the time of Imam Jafar who trusted him so much and respected him as the decendant of the prophet (pbuh) so much that when they would hear him narrating something from the prophet (pbuh) without mentioning the chain of narrators, they would accept it from him without asking about the narrators.

3. Did they proclaim themselves as Shia or they were wrongly associated with Shiaism by the followers?

This depends what you mean by Shia. Bani Hashim (like Bani Abbas and Bani Umayya) had their own political perspectives. Also Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq had their own jurisprudence school of thought. Any one who would follow their political and juristical perspective could have been called a Shia (a follower) and in that sense if they had considered themselves Imams of their Shia that would have been only obvious. Otherwise there are narrations from them where they praised the companions of the prophet (pbuh) in particular Abubakr and Umar (RA-huma). Imam Sadiq himself was discendant of Abubakr from mother, his saying is famous: "Abubakr gave me life twice" (his mother related to Abubakr from the two sides).

However, if you mean Shia meaning people who consider them infallible God appointed Imams, then you should know that for instance when you look at the Ahadith of Imam Sadiq, you cannot help but to think that it is as if there were two Imam Sadiqs in the history! One that says angels came to him to learn from him (!) and one that says whateverr we know is from what we learned from the Qur'an, gets upset from those who degrade the companions of the prophet (pbuh) and gets frustrated from those who exagurate about him. In my view, once we look at the reliability of these two types of Hadith we will come to the conclusion that the real Imam Sadiq was the latter and that the first one is only the produce of liars. There are Ahadith from Imam Sadiq (in Shia books) where he curses those exagurators (Ghulat) who lie and narrate false from him.

Shahrestani in Mafateh al-Asrar narrates from Imam Sadiq in response to one of his students:

أجل! إن الناس اغروا بالكذب علینا حتی كأن الله فرضه علیهم لایرید منهم غیره، و إنی لأحدث أحدهم الحدیث، فلا یخرج منّی حتّی یتأؤله علی غیر تأویله

(see, people are getting satisfaction by saying lie against us as if God has made this an obligation on them and expects nothing else from them!, I say something to them, they leave me and disfigure what I told them in a way that it was not intended)

Hope this helps.

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