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Hadith: The jews were divided into seventy one groups

Question

A Shaykh said that the hadith relating to that jews were divided into seventy one groups and the Christians into seventy two and the muslims into seventy three all in Jahannam except one

He states that this hadith is questionable;
1. its sanad (chain of narrators) is questionable
and
2. its matn (text) is questionable for the Quran says “You are the best of Ummahs”

Kindly express the research on this hadith

 

Answer

The above hadith regarding the jews being divided into seventy one groups is recorded by Imams:

1) Tirmizi (rahimahullah), he has declared this hadith as authentic and sound

(Sunan Tirmizi 2640)

2) Ibn Hibban (rahimahullah)

(Sahih ibn Hibban; Al Ihsan, Hadith: 6247)

The above shows that there is no question regarding the authenticity of this narration, in fact some Muhaddithun have regarded this hadith to be mutawatir (the highest level of authenticity due to a large number of narrators reporting the hadith)

(See Nazmul Mutanathir of Muhammad bin Ja’far Al Kattani pg 57)

Furthermore this kind of objection is not sufficient to dismiss the authenticity of the hadith. It is incorrect to assume that being the best of ummahs goes against this hadith.This will lead to dismissing many other authentic hadiths like:

1.

لتتبعن سنن من كان قبلكم شبرا بشبر … إلى آخر الرواية

( أخرجه البخاري 3456)

Translation:

You will definitely follow the ways of those before you,handspan for handspan (exactly)

(Sahih Bukhari 3456)

 

2.

 لا تترك هذه الأمة شيئاً من سنن الأولين حتى تأتيه

(أخرجه الطبراني كما في الفتح 7320)

Translation:

This ummah will not leave out any way of the previous nations except that it will carry it out

(Tabrani,see Fathul Bari 7320)

 

3.

 لتركبن سنة من كان قبلكم حلوها و مرها

(أخرجه الشافعي من حديث عبد الله بن عمرو بسند صحيح كما في الفتح 7320)

Translation:

You will definitely follow the ways of those nations before you,the good and the bad

(Musnad Shafi’i;Fathul Bari 7320)

 

In actual fact it is the misunderstanding of ‘best of all nations’ that leads to dismissing the authenticity of these ahadith

Ulama have categorised this Ummah into three categories

1) Ummatud Da’wah ie. The Kuffar

2) Ummatul Ijabah ie. The general Muslims

3) Ummatul Ittiba’  ie. The pious and righteous from the Ummatul Ijaabah

(Fathul Bari 6542 and Min Sihahil Ahadithil Qudsiyya of Shaykh Muhammad Awwama hafizahullah pg 118)

So it is clear that خير الامة (the best of nations) doesn’t refer to the first category, nor does it refer to the second, rather it refers to the third one, the pious from this ummah

Sayyiduna Umar (radiyallahu ‘anh) is reported to have said:

من سرّه أن يكون من تلك الأمة( اي من خير الأمة ) فليؤدّ شرط الله فيها

(رواه ابن جرير كما في تفسير ابن كثير )

Translation:

Whoever wishes to be from that nation (ie the best of nations) then he should fulfill Allah’s conditions

This statement of Sayyiduna Umar (radiyallahu ‘anh) shows us that the entire Ummah is not termed as the best of ummahs by default, rather it only applies to those who fulfill the conditions of being the best ummah. Therefore the deviated sects are not being referred to in this verse

Both the assumptions of the shaykh you quoted are incorrect

 

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best

 

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

 

Checked by; Moulana Haroon Abasoomar