An Analysis of the Hadīth “Whoever Assists a Mu’min in Distress, Allāh Will Grant Him Seventy-Three Rewards…”
An Analysis of the Hadīth “Whoever assists a Mu’min in distress, Allāh will grant him seventy-three rewards, one of which will suffice him in this world and the remaining will be saved for the Hereafter…”
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Abstract: The Hadīth in reference has been reported on the authority of two Sahābah with slight variations in the wording: Thawbān and Anas (Allāh be pleased with them). The narrators from Anas are Ziyād ibn Abī Hassān, ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmān, Abān, ‘Abbād ibn ‘Abd al-Samad and Dīnār, the freed slave of Anas.
Although some of these transmissions are weak (da‘īf) and some inadmissible (munkar), the Hadīth gains strength from the multiplicity of the slightly weak transmission and is thus suitable to mention.
In Hilyat al-Awliyā’, Hāfiż Abū Nu‘aym al-Asfahānī [d. 430 AH] reports on the authority of Thawbān (Allāh be pleased with him):
The Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever relieves a distressed believer [Man Farraja ‘an Mu’min Lahfān], Allāh will grant him seventy-three counts of forgiveness [Maghfira], by one of which He will amend his worldly life and Afterlife, and the seventy-two He will return to him in full on the Day of Judgment.
Thereafter, Abu Nu‘aym writes, “It is rare from the Hadīth of Farqad, and we have only written it from this route.” 
It has become a norm in our era to label acceptable practices in religion as innovations. Unfortunately, our Masājid have become arenas of disputation and debate; luminaries and high-ranking Islamic scholars are branded as innovators. Many issues that have a legitimate basis in religion are rejected under the pretext that they are innovations not found in the early era of Islām. One such issue is the ruling of delivering a lecture prior to the Jumu‘a prayer. Many people claim that the prohibition of delivering a lecture before Jumu‘a can be inferred from Hadīth. Further, they assert that such a practice was not found among our pious predecessors. Hence, it is an innovation.
The article before you is an abridged translation of the treatise “Mashrū‘iyyat al-Dars Qabl Salāt al-Jumu‘a” by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhāb al-Mahiyya. In this article, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhāb has conducted a brilliant research in which he adequately addresses each objection posed by those who assert that the practice is an innovation. He proves that far from being an innovation, numerous Sahāba, Tabi‘ūn and people of knowledge have lectured in their Masājid before Jumu‘a. In fact, he submits that there is a basis for this practice from the blessed Hadīth.
Since this is the most detailed article we have come across on the topic, we felt it appropriate to translate it for the benefit of those interested in the topic. We ask Allāh to accept this effort and make it a means of clarifying any doubts in this regard. Amīn
In recent times, there has been great confusion between two distinct concepts: Ikhtilāf [legitimate disagreement] and Khilāf [illegitimate disagreement]. Many misinformed people, for lack of Suhbah (companionship) of traditional scholars and spiritual guides, read the differences of the Salaf and misinterpreted their Ikhtilāf as Khilāf. Undoubtedly, the Sahābāh (may Allah be pleased with them) were the most united group of individuals to have walked the earth, yet they differed with each other in their verdicts and opinions while remaining within the boundaries of Ikhtilāf. Conversely, the divergences of deviant groups like the Khawārij, Shī‘a and Mu‘tazila in relation to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘a are considered Khilāf, as there is no scope for academic tolerance in issues related to the fundamentals of religion.
In a similar light, we regard the mutual disagreements between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘a as Ikhtilāf, not Khilāf. Abu ‘l-Baqā’ al-Kafawī [d. 1094 AH] writes:
Ikhtilāf is when there are numerous paths leading to one specific destination. As for Kihlāf, it is two separate paths leading to separate destinations.
Thus, the differences between Imām Mālik [d. 179 AH] and Imām Ibn Abī Dhi’b [d. 159 AH], or between Imām Muhammad al-Dhuhalī [d. 258 AH] and Imām al-Bukhārī [d. 256 AH], will be regarded as Ikhtilāf, as they adopted different routes with the intention of reaching one particular destination.
An example of Ikhtilāf misconstrued as Khilāf is the differences that ensued between Imām al-Bukhāri and the Ahl al-Ra’y in a handful of issues wherein the former alluded to the opinions of the Ahl al-Ra’y with the statement “and some people say.” Unfortunately, this mutual disagreement has become a pretext for vilifying Imām Abū Hanīfa [d. 150 AH] and his illustrious students, who were at the forefront of the Ahl al-Ra’y, with the allegation that they showed disregard for textual proofs. In response to this misunderstanding, many treatises and books were written.
In his introduction to one such work, Kashf al-Iltibās, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah [d. 1997 CE] has presented a brilliant analysis of the topic. He first explains the uniqueness of the chapter-headings of Sahīh al-Bukhārī, after which he shows the role of the Hanafīs in the academic development of Imām al-Bukhārī. He also proves that, although there were many issues of disagreement between them, there are an equal number or more issues of agreement. In addition, he discusses various treatises written on this topic. Finally, he summarizes a study conducted by Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd Mahmūd on the differences between the Ahl al-Hadīth and Ahl al-Ra’y, in particular that of Imām al-Bukhārī and Imām Abū Hanīfa.
In view of the importance of his research, particularly in today’s times, we felt it appropriate to translate this brilliant analysis for the benefit of non-Arabic speaking readers. We have employed an idiomatic translation of some of the passages to make this work more reader-friendly. For the sake of brevity, several passages that were not directly related to the topic were omitted. Moreover, in the summary of Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd’s study, which covers all twenty-four issues according to his count, only one example was presented, as the purpose of this translation is to present an analysis of this topic, not of addressing the issue itself for which relevant treatises may be consulted.
May Allah make this a means of dispelling doubts concerning the mutual differences of our noble predecessors, Âmīn.
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An Analysis of the Hadīth:
“Whoever Begins His Meals with Salt Will Be Saved From Seventy Diseases”
By Muntasir Zaman
In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
[Summary: This Hadīth has been reported Marfū‘an – from the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) – on the authority of four Sahābah: ‘Alī, Anas, Sa‘d ibn Mu‘ādh and ‘Ā’ishah (Allāh be pleased with them). However, all of these narrations have been heavily criticized, such that they cannot even collectively corroborate one another. Furthermore, it has been reported Mawqūfan – from a Sahābī- as a statement of ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him), but this report is also unreliable.
After analyzing the Ahādīth, we present the Fatwa of Muftī Rashīd Ahmad Ludhyānwī in this regard, who says that it is incorrect to regard this etiquette as a Sunnah.
Thereafter, we discuss the issue of authentication, and in what context a jurist’s citation of a Hadīth will be regarded as authentication of it. Finally, we discuss how the jurists cannot be blamed for mentioning this unreliable narration in their books, as the science of Hadīth was not their specialty.]
Several leading jurists, such as Burhān al-Dīn al-Bukhārī [d. 616 AH] from the early jurists and Ibn ‘Ābidīn [d. 1250 AH] from the later ones, have stated that the etiquette mentioned in the Hadīth in reference is a Sunnah. Ibn ‘Ābidīn even alludes to the Hadīth in his comment, “Not only is it a Sunnah, but it also contains the cure for seventy diseases.”
Before discussing whether it is correct to regard this etiquette as a Sunnah, let us first analyze the authenticity of the Ahādīth in this regard.
Analysis of the Hadīth Read the rest of this entry »