Caution in Narrating Hadīth

The following is taken from pages six hundred and one to six hundred and two of the muassas al-risālah print of Sīyar ‘Alām al-Nubalā:

Yahya Ibn Ayyub relates on the authority of Ibn ‘Ajlān that Abū Hurayrah used to say, “I am narrating such ahādīth that if I had uttered them during the time of ‘Umar, without a doubt, my head would have been split.”

I [Hāfidh al-Dhahabī] say, “This is exactly how things were. ‘Umar, may Allāh be pleased with him, used to say, ‘Lessen your narration of ahādīth from the Messenger of Allāh,’ and stopped more than one companion from freely narrating ahādīth. This was the policy of ‘Umar as well as others.

For God’s sake, when narrating abundantly during ‘Umar’s rule was forbidden in spite of their truthfulness, the absence of chains of narrators, and this was at such a time when things were still fresh, then what do you think about the abundance of narrating gharīb and munkar hadīth along with lengthy chains of narrators and loads of deception and mistakes in our time? It is more fitting that we should prevent the people from it. Ah, if only they would have restricted themselves to relating gharīb and dha’īf hadīth! But, by Allāh, they will cite fabrications, falsehood, and utter absurdities for aqīdah, fiqh, malāhim, and zuhd. We seek Allah’s pardon.

Whoever narrates such knowing its baseless nature, and deceives the believers, has oppressed themselves, and perpetrated a grave offense against the the prophetic hadīth and the traditions for which they should be asked to make tawbah. If they turn back in repentance to Allāh and desist, well and good, otherwise such a person is an open sinner. And it is sin enough that they pass on everything they hear.

If such a person did not know then they should be cautious and seek help from someone who can assist them in sorting through their narrations. Again, we ask Allah’s pardon, for this scourge has become widespread, heedlessness has prevailed, and strangers have inserted themselves amongst the scholars of hadīth whom the Muslims relied on.”

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