Whose speech do we Accept or Reject?
Your Narrators are in Question on Social Media
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The chain of narration is a special trait for this Ummah. It’s what safeguards us from circulating false speech and practicing false beliefs. Allah has preserved Islam through the link of the isnad. Abdullah ibn Mubark (181H) said: ” The Isnad is part of the religion . If there was no isnad then anyone could say anything.
During the era of the companions the narrators were trustworthy and upright. After their lifetime obstacles blocked the path to accept the speech of every Muslim. Accepting and relating the speech from others required one to act with caution. Ibn Sireen “The scholars of Hadeeth didn’t use to ask about the chain of narration. When the fitnah occurred, they would question others by asking: “Tell us the names of your men?” Following this, they would look at ahlus-Sunnah and accept their hadeeth. Along with this they would look towards ahlul-Bid’ah and reject their hadeeth.” Let’s pause here for a second; the fitnah in that period forced them to be on alert. So, what about today? A time when every Tom, Dick and Harry can express himself. Social media channels allow them to speak. Unfit missionaries taking the Minbar, opening blogs and monitoring forums is today’s epidemic.
Ibn Sireen said: “This knowledge is religion so pay attention to who learn from.” Islam is a religion with the narration of reports through an isnad. The isnad must be intact before we can act on or believe the report. Can we accept reports from anonymous relaters? Should we convey news broadcasted from notorious sinners? Is it just so simple to retell an event from a person with a fictitious account and accept it to be factual?
The following points address the social ills affecting Muslims through viral communications. These points are built on solid foundations. Some principles from the scholars of Ahlul Hadith are briefly discussed in , “ Whose speech do we accept or reject? Your narrators are in question on social media.”
Scholars of Fiqh and Hadith collectively agree the conditions to accept a person’s narrations are four. The relater is a Muslim in the age of puberty with sound intellect and not known as a sinner. He should not do things that contradict the social norms of his society. A person’s integrity can be in question if he goes against the social norms from his community. Next, the Muslim must be precise when he relates the speech of others. Being accurate is either from the memory or from the place its recorded. Along with this, if he narrates reports by their meaning they must be error-free.
These are the requirements for a person to be considered reliable. So, let’s take each condition and look at it in a few words. We use these conditions to relay the speech of the Prophet, the scholars, or retell an event. Please pay close attention to these conditions.
Condition # 1
The narrator must be a Muslim. This removes the narration of a Kafir. We reject the narration of a disbeliever according to the consensus of the Jurists.
Condition # 2
The reporter must be an adult and not a child, even if he has reached the age of discernment. We are able to accept the report of a child if he narrates it after puberty.
Condition # 3
The Muslim adult delivering the speech of others must be of sound mind. Sound mind is when a person is sane, awake and conscious. The individual asleep, crazy and unconscious isn’t attentive. The narrative of a person who heard information while he was absent-minded is rejected.
Condition # 4
The narrator isn’t known for his disobedience to Allah or acts of oppression towards people. A judge denies the sinner’s testimony in a court . Reason being, he’s not righteous and honest so his speech remains in question. A sinner isn’t called trustworthy. A sinner is the person known to commit major sins or regularly practice minor ones. If this is the case of a narrator in Allah’s deen then his speech and testimony are of no value. Any act that causes people to doubt a person’s integrity must be shunned . 
Before going on to the other issues what have you learned?
- There are ________conditions for a narration to be accepted.
- The Kafir’s narrations are accepted. ( T / F )
- The minor and adult’s speech are equal in reporting facts. ( T / F )
- A Muslim is Thiqa(Trustworthy) we he meets 4 requirements. ( T / F )
Those are the primary issues of dealing with the exposure of news and reports from others. These four conditions allow us to accept their information. Scholars have discussed this topic in the books for Hadith terminology in detail. This isn’t the proper place to define all the detail of those chapters. The following subjects discuss narrations we are able to reject or need extra inquiry.
The narration of reports from liars.
If the experience of the world is worth anything we are certain a liar can’t be trusted. A liar is a person who informs others about speech and events in an imaginary way. There are different categories of lying. Fabricating information about Allah and His Messenger is the most atrocious. The hadiths that warn against this heinous act are galore in the Sunnah.
Reporting things about people which aren’t true is also a major sin. Forging information results in a punishment in this life and in the next. The retribution for the liar in this life is the rejection of his narratives.
Ibn Mubarak said: “The punishment for the liar is his truth isn’t accepted.”
Sufyan At-Thowri said: “Whoever lies will become covered with shame.”
When a person fabricates information from someone he never met this is intentional. That report is dismissed as well as his future narrations until he repents. If he repents after being exposed then his speech is accepted. If he recants saying, ” I made a mistake, or I misinformed you about …etc, you must accept it from him. Those kinds of words show sincerity and honesty. Sincerity and honesty make it a must to accept his retraction and narrations. And Allah knows best.
The narration from a noted sinner
The noted sinner is a person who acts immorally or has strayed from the right course. The noted sinner here is a person whose sins don’t take him out of the fold of Islam. This sinner isn’t a person known to lie on the Prophet. The word used in the Quran to describe the disobedient or disbeliever is Fasiq. A Fasiq abandons obligations and does prohibitions. The scholars agree a noted sinner’s statement or account is rejected.
Ibn Al-Arabi said: Talk and information from a noted sinner isn’t accepted. There is an Ijma for this position. Conveying information is a trust and sins weaken a person’s trustworthiness.
Ash-Shanqeeti said : “Allah said: O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it.(Al-Hujjarat 6). This verse proves we reject a known sinner’s reports. Allah also informs us that an evildoer’s testimony is dismissed in court. Allah said: …”and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the Fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah).”(An-Nur 4) . There is no difference of opinion about the testimony of a sinful person.
Narrations and speech from impudent and lewd Muslims.
The topic of conveying speech in Islam is serious. Scholars reject narrations from people known to have sexual indecency with women. Ahl Hadith didn’t accept reports mentioned from people who were dissolute.
Whenever the scholars of Hadith wanted to record a person’s reports they would watch him. They would observe his prayer, character and appearance. People who were lewd and acted foolish were avoided.
Ibn Munathir used to love Sufyan ibn ‘Uyanah. He was considered a scholar of hadith. Ibn Munathir had strong feelings for Abdul Wahhab At-Thaqafi. He used to flirt with women in the street. The king of Basra exiled Ibn Munathir from the city. His character was lewd and he used to play pranks on other Muslims. Ibn Munathir used to unleash scorpions at the Ka’bah so they could sting people. During the night he would pour ink at the Wudu station so the people’s faces would turn black. For those reasons no one narrated from him.
It is no exaggeration to say the first three people mentioned have major character flaws. Now observe how we deal some others.
News and broadcasts from anonymous and unnamed reporters
Knowing the narrators is an extensive topic in the books for Hadith lingo. Having anonymous reporters in a chain is among the quickest approach to reject a hadith. This topic defines the identity of narrators’ names, fathers’ names, and grandfathers’ names. The subject for lineage, region, birthdates, and death plus more are also included. People writing on forums need to identify themselves by their kunya or their first name. After mentioning those names they state their father’s name followed by their surname. So, how is it we stay tested with unknown tweeters . Names like Salafiboy, or Akhiof Akhis, or even unknownakh, and Sunnitothebone are false lineages.
These kinds of names lead us to classify the people as being anonymous (Mubham). Nameless reporters aren’t accepted even if the person narrating on him mentions him as being, Thiqah (“Trustworthy”). Let’s get to the facts here whenever a scholar or a person says a trustworthy person told me such and such, it’s a must that the person’s name be mentioned. Otherwise he’s anonymous as well because he might be viewed as being trustworthy with one scholar but his reality may be totally different. Imam Ash-Shafi’ used to narrate hadith using the word, “A Trustworthy person informed me”. Sometimes he was referring to Imam Malik or Imam Ahmed, but at other times he was referring to Ibrahim ibn Abee Yahya. Imam An-Nisa’I said Ibrahim ibn Abee Yahya is a liar.
There are many reasons for this but perhaps the most applicable cause relates to homeland. It’s a general rule that the people from their country know their citizens the best. Yahya ibn Ma’een considered Abdur Rahman ibn Mua’wiyyah Al-Madanee a trustworthy man. Imam Malik held him to be unreliable. Imam Malik’s speech takes precedence over Imam Ibn Ma’een’s as he was from Madina and knew Abdur Rahman better.
The spread of information from unknown narrators.
Any narrator is unknown when there isn’t any praise or criticism from a scholar with his name. Whenever a person is praised or is criticized from a scholar this removes him from being unheard of. Unheard-of people who retell reports on religious events, scholars’ Fatawa need to be identified . In contrast if someone reliable conveys the same report, then we are able to accept it.
A person is unknown when he names himself with a name, a nickname, or a description which he isn’t known. Moreover, if the person isn’t known for seeking knowledge or if scholars don’t know him then we can classify him as Majhoul ‘Ayn. Ibn Hajr said : “ The Majhoul ‘Ayn is like the unnamed reporter. His narration isn’t accepted until someone attests to the trustworthiness of his religion.”
Being known or unknown isn’t restricted to a few individuals or scholars. In fact there are reports where scholars were unaware of others who were well-known. An example of this relates to Ibn Hazm’s speech about Imam At-Tirmithi being unknown.
Clearly, the invention of news and stories share harm in a Muslim’s honor today. The mass spread of information retweeted or liked on Facebook has accelerated the spread of destruction of trust and Muslims’ honor exponentially. By implementing the guidelines from Ahlul Hadith we can reduce the spread of injury and abuse. The propagandist potential, to spread misinformation on an unprecedented scale must be sidelined. Their reports must be written with the forgotten voices. Their oral contexts, in whatever mediums that they survive must remain in question. We must protect our tongues and set aside all broadcasts from liars and noted sinners. This not only preserves the honor of others but also safeguards our tongues. Allah said : Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).[ Qaf 18]. Be on alert when spreading news! Only accept reports from people you are certain who are upright and honest in character and speech. Avoid all social media accounts from people you are unfamiliar with. Stay clear on letting your tongue lose with stories from anonymous accounts. You can’t be certain if what they are saying is true or if they are spinning some yarn. Protect your beliefs and your tongue. The Prophet said : Tuba for the one who protects his tongue.”
If you would like a PDF of this article emailed to your address please write to: email@example.com
Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle
PhD Student (Hadith and Its Sciences)
Doha, Qatar 1436(c)
 Tadeqeeq Al-‘Iniyah fee Tahqeeq Ar-Riwayah, Ibn Abi Al-Damm (642H).
 An example of this is : Abu Ahmed Muhammad ibn Mustapha Blackman.
 Al-Hadith Ad-Dha’eef wa Hukm li-Ihtaj bihi, By Shaykh Abdul Kareem Al-Khudir (may Allah preserve him) pg 154-155
 Ibid, pg 154-155
 Dawabitu Ar-Riwiyah, By Shaykh Muhammad Rslan (may Allah preserve him), Vol 2/ 200
 1 (4), 2(F),3(F), 4 (T)
 Mu’jam Mustalahat al-Hadith, by Dr. Muhammad Al-Athami, pg 317
 Al-Ba’ith Al-Hatheeth Sharh Ikhtasar Ulumil Hadeeth, by Sh. Ahmed Shakir, vol1/ 290
 Refer to Al-Tizam Ad-Diqah fee Tahqeeq Qowl Ash-Shafi Akbarana Thiqa,by Abu Asma Attiyah ibn Sadqi
 Hashiya Al-Mustadarak , By Shaykh Muqbil ibn Hadi , vol 1/ 332
 [ At-Tabbarani in Al-Awsot graded as being Hasan Li Ghayrahi by Sh- Albani in Jami As-Saghir 7376.]