A friend of mine alerted me to an argument that a prominent Salafi inclined Shaykh was making about the existence of Mutawatir Hadiths.
He said that not only are there no such thing as Mutawatir Hadiths, but it is impossible to have Mutawatir Hadiths according to the conditions of Mutawatir Hadith and he lists four reasons:
1) All of the Hadith Compilers through which we know Hadiths exist had the possibility of collusion upon a lie. Imam Ahmad met Imam Bukhari and Imam Abu Dawud. Imam Abu Dawud met Imam Nasai and Imam Bukhari met Imam Tirmidhi and Imam Muslim and so on and so forth and in this way, all of the ‘Ulama who compiled Hadiths into books have some link to each other which establishes the possibility of colluding upon a lie and thus, because this is the only way we know of Hadiths existing and because in this way, collusion was possible, no Hadith can be considered Mutawatir.
2) Ihalah of collusion cannot be proven because the ihtimal of collusion always exists. Just because two narrators never met does not mean that collusion between them was not possible. They could have had an intermediary between them colluding, or be colluding through letters, or perhaps have met each other secretly without the aimmah noticing it in their biographies and thus, because there is ihtimal of collusion, there is no ihalah and thus, the conditions of Tawatur cannot be fulfilled.
3) The source from which we get our information to establish the conditions of tawatur themselves are not subject to those same conditions. The early books of Jarh and Ta’dil themselves do not meet the conditions of tawatur and are dhanni. Ibn ‘Adi’s Al Kamil, Imam Bukhari’s Tawarikh, Ibn Abi Hatim’s Jarh wa Ta’dil, Yahya ibn Main’s Tarikh and the other books all have Ihtimalul Tawatu because they met each other and thus collusion was possible between the Imams of Jarh and Ta’dil and it is from them that we derive our information on which narrator may have met, which other narration to see if tawatur is possible or not. Given that the information source itself is not free from the possibility of collusion, it cannot be used to determine if actual Hadiths are Mutawatir or not.
The main one I was hoping you could answer is the first point. If you can provide some insights, that would be much appreciated.
There are several answers to this. The following points will -insha Allah- answer all three objections mentioned in your query.
1. The condition of ‘impossibility of collusion’ (ihalatul kadhib) that the Scholars have mentioned pertains to the possibilities in reality (‘adatan), and not mere rational possibilities (‘aqlan).
In other words, there must be no such example in reality of people like this ever colluding on a Hadith.
The Arabic wording for this condition is as follows:
أحالت العادة تواطؤهم على الكذب
أحالت العقل تواطؤهم على الكذب
The question arises: Is there any example of the Scholars like Imams Ahmad, Bukhari, Tirmidhi etc ever colluding on a fabrication?
Is there a case of such an occurrence in reality?
Definitely not. People of this calibre don’t do things like this in reality (‘adatan).
The possibilities mentioned in the objection are only theoretical (‘aqli) and not matched by a single such occurrence in reality. This objection is therefore baseless.
(See Nazmul Mutanathir of Al-Kattani, pg.13 & Al-Yawaqitul Ghaliyah, vol.1 pg.39-41)
2. Generally when there is a very large number of narrators reporting something, it is accepted as being undoubtedly accurate, since it is impossible for such a large number of people to conspire and fabricate that report.
In the same vein, if a few narrators of high standing agree on a report, their qualities (sifat) of reliability and trustworthiness makes it impossible for one to fathom that they could have colluded among themselves to fabricate this.
The Muhaddithun have clearly stated that quality (sifah) can replace number (‘adad).
وأن فيهم من الصفات اللائقة الموجبة للقبول ما يقوم مقام العدد الكثير من غيرهم
(Sharhun Nukhbah, pg. 55)
This means that if its impossible for a certain number of narrators to collude, it is also impossible for people of high reliability (sifat) to collude. Hence, for one to say: it is possible that they met each other and colluded is baseless.
3. These baseless objections should be totally avoided as it could indeed lead one to negate the tawatur of the Quran too someday!
May Allah Ta’ala save us from such Shaytani whispers.
Hafiz ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has clearly explained that those who negate the existence of Mutawatir Hadiths, do so out of ignorance.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar