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Meaning and authenticity of the Hadith: 'I am the city of knowledge and 'Ali is it's gate'

Question

What is the authenticity and meaning of the following narration?

‘I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is it’s gate’

Kindly provide the correct meaning as the Shi’ah misinterpret the Hadith.

Answer

 

Authenticity

The authenticity of the above Hadith has been severely debated among the Muhaddithun. Many have dismissed the authenticity completely and some have declared the Hadith authentic.

(Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 3723 and Mustadrak Hakim, vol.3 pg. 127)

Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al ‘Asqalani (rahimahullah) when asked regarding the authenticity of the Hadith, stated that the Hadith is not authentic (sahih) nor is it fabricated (mawdu‘), rather it is sound (hasan).

Hafiz ‘Alaee, ‘Allamah Sakhawi, ‘Allamah Suyuti and Imam Zurqani (rahimahumallah) have also agreed that the Hadith is sound.

(Refer: Al La-Alil Manthurah, Hadith: 113-117, Al Maqasidul Hasanah, Hadith: 189, Mukhtasarul Maqasid, Hadith: 170, Ad Durarul Muntathirah, Hadith: 38, Al La-Alil Masnu’ah, vol. 1 pgs. 302-308, Tanzihush Shari’ah, vol. 1 pg. 377, Al Asrarul Marfu’ah, Hadith: 71, and Kashful Khafa, vol. 1 pg. 184)

In short, according to numerous latter day Muhaddithun, the Hadith is sound and suitable to quote.

 

Correct meaning

Mulla ‘Ali Al Qari (rahimahullah) says that this Hadith means Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) is one of the numerous doors of knowledge and not the only door. However, Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) specifically mentioning his name, indicates that he does have extra knowledge and honour over other general Sahabah.

Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said: ‘My companions are like stars, whichever one you follow, you will be rightly guided’. This Hadith indicates that each and every Sahabi is a door of knowledge. This is further substantiated by the fact that the Tabi’un sought knowledge from various Sahabah, not only Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu)

‘Allamah Tibi (rahimahullah) has also echoed similar sentiments and he emphatically states that this Hadith is in no way a proof  for the Shi’ah.

(Sharhut Tibi, vol. 12 pg. 3886, Mirqat, Hadith: 6096. Also see Tuhfatul Ahwadhi, Hadith: 3732)

 

One should bear in mind that the Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anhum) were unanimous that Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) was the most learned among them.

(Refer: Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 466 and 3654)

 

And Allah Ta’ala knows best

 

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar

 

Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar