Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars: Abu Hurayrah

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'Abd al-Rahman ibn Sakhr ad-Dawsi (Arabic : عبدالرحمن بن صخر الدوسي), or Abu Hurayra, born between 601 and 604 and died between 676 and 679, is a celebrated sahabi, or companion of the prophet Mohammed. It is estimated that he transmited 5,374 hadiths, more or less the equivalent of an entire Qu'ran by himself. He is cited in more than half of the classic isnâds (chains of transmission) of the hadiths, making him the greatest know traditionalist (muhaddith). He is therefore responsible for transmitting more hadiths than any other companion of the prophet according to the tradition, even though according to this same tradition he spent less time around Muhammad and was less intimitely familiar with him than the other companions. In affect, according the majority of authors, he only knew Muhammad during the latter part of his life: at most he knew the prophet for 4 years before the latter's death.

He was very poor during the life of the prophet, but he became the governor of Bahrain during the reign of ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattâb, and he subsequently abandoned the post then became emir of Madinah under the caliphate of Mu’âwiya.

Place of Abu Hurayrah amongst the Companions of the Prophet During his Lifetime

Bukhari 5432 (and 3708) :

« Narrated Abu Huraira: I used to accompany Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) to fill my stomach; and that was when I did not eat baked bread, nor wear silk. Neither a male nor a female slave used to serve me, and I used to bind stones over my belly and ask somebody to recite a Qur'anic Verse for me though I knew it, so that he might take me to his house and feed me. Ja`far bin Abi Talib was very kind to the poor, and he used to take us and feed us with what ever was available in his house, (and if nothing was available), he used to give us the empty (honey or butter) skin which we would tear and lick whatever was in it.»

Thirmidhi 3764 :

Narrated Abu Hurairah: "None has put on sandals - nor worn them, nor ridden a mount, nor a Kur, after the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) - better than Ja'far [bin Abi Talib]."

Bukhari 5375 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: Once while I was in a state of fatigue (because of severe hunger), I met 'Umar bin Al-Khattab, so I asked him to recite a verse from Allah's Book to me. He entered his house and interpreted it to me. (Then I went out and) after walking for a short distance, I fell on my face because of fatigue and severe hunger. Suddenly I saw Allah's Apostle standing by my head. He said, "O Abu Huraira!" I replied, "Labbaik, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), and Sadaik!" Then he held me by the hand, and made me get up. Then he came to know what I was suffering from. He took me to his house, and ordered a big bowl of milk for me. I drank thereof and he said, "Drink more, O Abu Hirr!" So I drank again, whereupon he again said, "Drink more." So I drank more till my belly became full and looked like a bowl. Afterwards I met 'Umar and mentioned to him what had happened to me, and said to him, "Somebody, who had more right than you, O 'Umar, took over the case. By Allah, I asked you to recite a Verse to me while I knew it better than you." On that Umar said to me, "By Allah, if I admitted and entertained you, it would have been dearer to me than having nice red camels.

Bukhari 6452 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: By Allah except Whom none has the right to- be worshipped, (sometimes) I used to lay (sleep) on the ground on my liver (abdomen) because of hunger, and (sometimes) I used to bind a stone over my belly because of hunger. One day I sat by the way from where they (the Prophet (ﷺ) and his companions) used to come out. When Abu Bakr passed by, I asked him about a Verse from Allah's Book and I asked him only that he might satisfy my hunger, but he passed by and did not do so. Then `Umar passed by me and I asked him about a Verse from Allah's Book, and I asked him only that he might satisfy my hunger, but he passed by without doing so. Finally Abu-l-Qasim (the Prophet (ﷺ) ) passed by me and he smiled when he saw me, for he knew what was in my heart and on my face. He said, "O Aba Hirr (Abu Huraira)!" I replied, "Labbaik, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said to me, "Follow me." He left and I followed him. Then he entered the house and I asked permission to enter and was admitted. He found milk in a bowl and said, "From where is this milk?" They said, "It has been presented to you by such-and-such man (or by such and such woman)." He said, "O Aba Hirr!" I said, "Labbaik, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said, "Go and call the people of Suffa to me." These people of Suffa were the guests of Islam who had no families, nor money, nor anybody to depend upon, and whenever an object of charity was brought to the Prophet, he would send it to them and would not take anything from it, and whenever any present was given to him, he used to send some for them and take some of it for himself. The order of the Prophet upset me, and I said to myself, "How will this little milk be enough for the people of As- Suffa? though I was more entitled to drink from that milk in order to strengthen myself", but behold! The Prophet (ﷺ) came to order me to give that milk to them. I wondered what will remain of that milk for me, but anyway, I could not but obey Allah and His Apostle so I went to the people of As-Suffa and called them, and they came and asked the Prophet's permission to enter. They were admitted and took their seats in the house. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "O Aba-Hirr!" I said, "Labbaik, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said, "Take it and give it to them." So I took the bowl (of milk) and started giving it to one man who would drink his fill and return it to me, whereupon I would give it to another man who, in his turn, would drink his fill and return it to me, and I would then offer it to another man who would drink his fill and return it to me. Finally, after the whole group had drunk their fill, I reached the Prophet (ﷺ) who took the bowl and put it on his hand, looked at me and smiled and said. "O Aba Hirr!" I replied, "Labbaik, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said, "There remain you and I." I said, "You have said the truth, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said, "Sit down and drink." I sat down and drank. He said, "Drink," and I drank. He kept on telling me repeatedly to drink, till I said, "No. by Allah Who sent you with the Truth, I have no space for it (in my stomach)." He said, "Hand it over to me." When I gave him the bowl, he praised Allah and pronounced Allah's Name on it and drank the remaining milk.

Commentary :

Ahl as-Suffah (أهل الصفة) : literally, the people of the banquet. They sojourned permanently about the prophet's mosque and sheltered under a canopy.

Verse 273 of surah number two al-Baqarah may make an allusion to them:

[Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah, unable to move about in the land. An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint, but you will know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all]. And whatever you spend of good - indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.

Bukhari 7324 :

Narrated Muhammad: We were with Abu Huraira while he was wearing two linen garments dyed with red clay. He cleaned his nose with his garment, saying, "Bravo! Bravo! Abu Huraira is cleaning his nose with linen! There came a time when I would fall senseless between the pulpit of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and `Aisha's dwelling whereupon a passerby would come and put his foot on my neck, considering me a mad man, but in fact, I had no madness, I suffered nothing but hunger."

During the course of the last four years of the life of the prophet when according to the tradition he had total, uncontested power in Medinah, it is difficult to imagine someone daring to step upon the neck of a true companion of the prophet in broad daylight. It seems possible that Abu Hourayra didn't habitually accompany the prophet but rather stayed in or around the mosque of Madinah in the day, and homeless under the stars at night, amongst the "Suffah." In such a position he might well have seen the power that religion had in those times in that place. The opportunities afforded by religion would have been apparent.

Judged as too Gossipy during the Lifetime of the Prophet, Saved by the Magic Cloth

If one takes into account that he supposedly transmitted more than 5000 hadiths in the space of four years, that works out to collectively about 4 hadith per day, a startling piece of statistical evidence. Even more confusing : according to numerous sources, during these 4 years, in total he could only have known the prophet for a year and nine months since the prophet sent him under the command of ibn Al Hadhrami to Bahrain. The messenger of Allah died while Abu Hurayrah was still there in Bahrain (Abou Houreyra : Mahmoud Abou Ar Riya Al Misri, Commentaires des Hadiths, de Ibn Koteyba, page 39 et 41). But also because the prophet has spent a great amounts of his time in military expeditions during the last 4 years of his life it is unlikely that Abu Hurayrah spent even 1 year and 9 months around him. Numerous contemporaries of Abu Hurayrah expressed their astonishment if not their doubts concerning this profusion of hadith traditions which seemed to pour out of Abu Hurayrah like bullets from a machine gun .

Muslim 6399 (2493) :

'A'isha reported:

Don't you feel surprised at Abu Huraira? He came (one day) and sat beside the nook of my apartment and began to narrate (the hadith of Allah's Apostle). I was hearing while I was engaged in extolling Allah (reciting Subhan Allah) constantly. He stood up before I finished my repetition of Subhan Allah. If I were to meet him I would have warned him in stern words that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) did not speak so quickly as you talk.

(See also Muslim 7509 (2493) and 7510 (3004) and Bukhari 3568)

Ahmad in al-Mousnad (16/563) :

- « You recount too many hadith traditions! »

- « If I recounted to you all that I have understood from the prophet (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him) you would qualify me as a "collector of anything that comes my way" and you would discuss nothing more with me. »

Ahmad in al-Musnad (16/563)

Muslim 6397 (2492)

Al-A'raj reported that he heard Abu Huraira as saying: You are under the impression that Abu Huraira transmits so many ahadith from Allah's Messenger (may peace up upon him); (bear in mind) Allah is the great Reckoner. I was a poor man and I served Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) being satisfied with bare subsistence, whereas the immigrants remained busy with transactions in the bazar; while the Ansar had been engaged in looking after their properties. (He further reported) that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: He who spreads the cloth would not forget anything that he would hear from me. I spread my cloth until he narrated something. I then pressed it against my (chest), so I never forgot anything that I heard from him.

(see also Bukhari 118,119, 3648, 7354, 2047 and 2350)

Suspicion that he Invented Hadiths

Bukhari 5355 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: "The Prophet (ﷺ) said, 'The best alms is that which is given when one is rich, and a giving hand is better than a taking one, and you should start first to support your dependents.' A wife says, 'You should either provide me with food or divorce me.' A slave says, 'Give me food and enjoy my service." A son says, "Give me food; to whom do you leave me?" The people said, "O Abu Huraira! Did you hear that from Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) ?" He said, "No, it is from my own self."

Muslim 2589 (1109)

Abu Bakr (he is Abu Bakr b. Abd al-Rahman b. Harith) reported: I heard Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) narrating that he who is overtaken by dawn in a state of seminal emission should not observe fast. I made a mention of it to 'Abd al-Rahman b. Harith (i. e. to his father) but he denied it. 'Abd al-Rahman went and I also went along with him till we came to'A'isha and Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with both of them) and Abd al-Rahman asked them about it. Both of them said: (At times it so happened) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) woke up in the morning in a state of junub (but without seminal emission in a dream) and observed fast He (the narrator) said: We then proceeded till we went to Marwan and Abd al-Rahman made a mention of it to him. Upon this Marwan said: I stress upon you (with an oath) that you better go to Abu Huraira and refer to him what is said about it. So we came to Abu Huraira and Abu Bakr had been with us throughout and 'Abd al-Rahman made a mention of it to him, whereupon Abu Huraira said: Did they (the two wives of the Holy Prophet) tell you this? He replied: Yes Upon this (Abu Huraira) said: They have better knowledge. Abu Huraira then attributed that what was said about it to Fadl b. 'Abbas and said: I heard it from Fadl and not from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Abu Huraira then retracted from what he used to say about it. Ibn Juraij (one of the narrators) reported: I asked 'Abd al-Malik, if they (the two wives) said (made the statement) in regard to Ramadan, whereupon he said: It was so, and he (the Holy Prophet) (woke up in the) morning in a state of junub which was not due to the wet dream and then observed fast.

His Use and Occasional Inconvienence to the Caliphates

While he was impoverished during the life of the prophet, Abu Hurayrah managed to considerably enrich himself during the reigns of the first caliphs. He was designated the emir of Madinah more than once. He continued to narrate hadiths throughout his life, but not everyone seemed pleased by his narrations: 'Umar threatened him to shut him up while Mu’âwiya found it easier to purchase his silence.

Tarik Madinat Dimachk by Ibn Asākir Vol 67 p 343

From al Saib bin Yazid who said :I understood Omar ibn al-Khattab to say to Abu Hourayrah : « Either you stop putting out hadith 'from the messenger of Allah' or I will send you to the land of Daws. »

Ibn Asâkir (Ta’rikh Dimashq), Ibn Kathir (Al-Bidaya wa l-Nihâya), Al Dhahabî (Siyar A’lâmi al Nubalâ)

from Sheikh Ahmad : « Abû Hurayrah shut up when Mu’âwiya paid him, and when he didn't pay, Abu Hurayrah talked. »

Bukhari 120 + Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalanî (Fath al-Bari)

Narrated Abu Huraira:

I have memorized two kinds of knowledge from Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). I have propagated one of them to you and if I propagated the second, then my pharynx (throat) would be cut (i.e. killed).

Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalanî (Fath al-Bari) explains the previous hadith in these terms : « The scholars have deduced that the jar that he did not divulge contains some hadiths with the names of the governors of the treasury, their state and their time period. Abû Hurayra made the same indirect reference to certain ones amongst them, because because he was afraid for himself. »

Ibn Sa’d al-Baghdadi Kitab al-Tabaqât al Kabîr :

« I was a servant of Ibn ‘Affan and Bint Ghazwane just to keep food in my belly. I drove them when they were on their mounts and served them when they descended. She [Bousra Bint Ghazwane] told me one day : « you will only mount a mount when they are upright [it is very difficult to mount a dromedary upright] and you will only come down barefoot. » Then god allowed me to marry her[when he was promoted to amir under Mu’âwiya] and I told him : «You will only get down barefoot and you will only get on when it is upright. »

Abu Hurayrah finished his life immensely wealthy, the governor of Medinah living in a palace. In the service of the first caliphs and in particular the Umayyads, he very effectively collaborated and ingratiated himself with the founders of today's current Sunni islam, a venture which served to make him immensely rich and powerful.

Examples of Hadiths in the Pure Style of Abu Hurayrah

Some Hadiths Which Were Favored by the Caliphate:

Bukhari 6924 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: When the Prophet (ﷺ) died and Abu Bakr became his successor and some of the Arabs reverted to disbelief, `Umar said, "O Abu Bakr! How can you fight these people although Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, 'I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, 'and whoever said, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', Allah will save his property and his life from me, unless (he does something for which he receives legal punishment) justly, and his account will be with Allah?' "Abu Bakr said, "By Allah! I will fight whoever differentiates between prayers and Zakat as Zakat is the right to be taken from property (according to Allah's Orders). By Allah! If they refused to pay me even a kid they used to pay to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), I would fight with them for withholding it." `Umar said, "By Allah: It was nothing, but I noticed that Allah opened Abu Bakr's chest towards the decision to fight, therefore I realized that his decision was right."

Bukhari 1442 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, «'O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your Cause,' and the other (angel) says, 'O Allah! Destroy every miser.'»

Bukhari 2548 and 2549 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "A pious slave gets a double reward." Abu Huraira added: By Him in Whose Hands my soul is but for Jihad (i.e. holy battles), Hajj, and my duty to serve my mother, I would have loved to die as a slave.

Abu Dawud 2175 :

Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Anyone who incites a woman against her husband or a slave against his master is not one of us.

Others concerning good morals:

Bukhari 5185 :

« Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (trouble) his neighbor. And I advise you to take care of the women, for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of the women." ».

Bukhari 5136 and Muslim 1419 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "A widow should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! How can we know her permission?" He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission).

Bukhari 1088 and Muslim 1339 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel for one day and night except with a Mahram."

Bukhari 5194 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "If a woman spends the night deserting her husband's bed (does not sleep with him), then the angels send their curses on her till she comes back (to her husband).

(see also Muslim 1436)

Tirmidhi 1159 :

Abu Hurairah narrated that The Prophet said: “If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone, then I would order the wife to prostrate to her husband.”

Muslim 5661 :

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Do not greet the Jews and the Christians before they greet you and when you meet any one of them on the roads force him to go to the narrowest part of it.

Other hadiths:

Muslim 6580 :

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: The claimants would get their claims on the Day of Resurrection so much so that the hornless sheep would get its claim from the horned sheep.

Bukhari 3295 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "If anyone of you rouses from sleep and performs the ablution, he should wash his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out thrice, because Satan has stayed in the upper part of his nose all the night."

Bukhari 608 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "When the Adhan is pronounced Satan takes to his heels and passes wind with noise during his flight in order not to hear the Adhan. When the Adhan is completed he comes back and again takes to his heels when the Iqama is pronounced and after its completion he returns again till he whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget how much he has prayed."

Bukhari 3320 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said "If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink) and take it out, for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease."

Bukhari 278 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, 'The (people of) Bani Israel used to take bath naked (all together) looking at each other. The Prophet (ﷺ) Moses used to take a bath alone. They said, 'By Allah! Nothing prevents Moses from taking a bath with us except that he has a scrotal hernia.' So once Moses went out to take a bath and put his clothes over a stone and then that stone ran away with his clothes. Moses followed that stone saying, "My clothes, O stone! My clothes, O stone! till the people of Bani Israel saw him and said, 'By Allah, Moses has got no defect in his body. Moses took his clothes and began to beat the stone." Abu Huraira added, "By Allah! There are still six or seven marks present on the stone from that excessive beating."

Bukhari 279 :

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, 'The (people of) Bani Israel used to take bath naked (all together) looking at each other. The Prophet (ﷺ) Moses used to take a bath alone. They said, 'By Allah! Nothing prevents Moses from taking a bath with us except that he has a scrotal hernia.' So once Moses went out to take a bath and put his clothes over a stone and then that stone ran away with his clothes. Moses followed that stone saying, "My clothes, O stone! My clothes, O stone! till the people of Bani Israel saw him and said, 'By Allah, Moses has got no defect in his body. Moses took his clothes and began to beat the stone." Abu Huraira added, "By Allah! There are still six or seven marks present on the stone from that excessive beating."

Bukhari 3292 :

« Narrated Abu Qatada: as below. Narrated Abu Qatada: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "A good dream is from Allah, and a bad or evil dream is from Satan; so if anyone of you has a bad dream of which he gets afraid, he should spit on his left side and should seek Refuge with Allah from its evil, for then it will not harm him." »

Bukhari 3860 :

« Narrated Abu Huraira: That once he was in the company of the Prophet (ﷺ) carrying a water pot for his ablution and for cleaning his private parts. While he was following him carrying it (i.e. the pot), the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Who is this?" He said, "I am Abu Huraira." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Bring me stones in order to clean my private parts, and do not bring any bones or animal dung." Abu Huraira went on narrating: So I brought some stones, carrying them in the corner of my robe till I put them by his side and went away. When he finished, I walked with him and asked, "What about the bone and the animal dung?" He said, "They are of the food of Jinns. The delegate of Jinns of (the city of) Nasibin came to me--and how nice those Jinns were--and asked me for the remains of the human food. I invoked Allah for them that they would never pass by a bone or animal dung but find food on them." »

Muslim 6924 :

« Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: The Last Hour would not come until the Romans would land at al-A'maq or in Dabiq. An army consisting of the best (soldiers) of the people of the earth at that time will come from Medina (to counteract them). When they will arrange themselves in ranks, the Romans would say: Do not stand between us and those (Muslims) who took prisoners from amongst us. Let us fight with them; and the Muslims would say: Nay, by Allah, we would never get aside from you and from our brethren that you may fight them. They will then fight and a third (part) of the army would run away, whom Allah will never forgive. A third (part of the army) which would be constituted of excellent martyrs in Allah's eye, would be killed and the third who would never be put to trial would win and they would be conquerors of Constantinople. And as they would be busy in distributing the spoils of war (amongst themselves) after hanging their swords by the olive trees, the Satan would cry: The Dajjal has taken your place among your family. They would then come out, but it would be of no avail. And when they would come to Syria, he would come out while they would be still preparing themselves for battle drawing up the ranks. Certainly, the time of prayer shall come and then Jesus (peace be upon him) son of Mary would descend and would lead them. When the enemy of Allah would see him, it would (disappear) just as the salt dissolves itself in water and if he (Jesus) were not to confront them at all, even then it would dissolve completely, but Allah would kill them by his hand and he would show them their blood on his lance (the lance of Jesus Christ). »

Bukhari 3056 :

« Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Umar and a group of the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) set out with the Prophet to Ibn Saiyad. He found him playing with some boys near the hillocks of Bani Maghala. Ibn Saiyad at that time was nearing his puberty. He did not notice (the Prophet's presence) till the Prophet (ﷺ) stroked him on the back with his hand and said, "Ibn Saiyad! Do you testify that I am Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)?" Ibn Saiyad looked at him and said, "I testify that you are the Apostle of the illiterates." Then Ibn Saiyad asked the Prophet. "Do you testify that I am the apostle of Allah?" The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, "I believe in Allah and His Apostles." Then the Prophet (ﷺ) said (to Ibn Saiyad). "What do you see?" Ibn Saiyad replied, "True people and false ones visit me." The Prophet said, "Your mind is confused as to this matter." The Prophet (ﷺ) added, " I have kept something (in my mind) for you." Ibn Saiyad said, "It is Ad-Dukh." The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to him), "Shame be on you! You cannot cross your limits." On that 'Umar said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! Allow me to chop his head off." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "If he should be him (i.e. Ad-Dajjal) then you cannot overpower him, and should he not be him, then you are not going to benefit by murdering him." »

Bukhari 1145 :

« Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) (p.b.u.h) said, "Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: "Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?" »

This last hadith, like much else in the tradition, seems to imply a flat earth that does not turn.