Answered by Shaykh Mazhar Mahmood
I’m a postgraduate student in the faculty of hadīth and am eagerly waiting to request my professors to give me permission in obtaining the famous sanad (chain of hadīth to Allāh’s Messenger peace and blessings upon him) consisting Bābā Yūsuf al-Hirawī who is said to have lived 300 years, could you give some information regarding this chain and It’s importance?
Thank you for your query. May Allāh facilitate success in your endeavors and increase your love for His Dīn and it’s sciences. Āmīn!
As far as the chain consisting Bābā Yūsuf al-Hirawī is concerned, in today’s day and age it consists of about 17-18 narrators from its carriers to Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him). It is said to be the shortest chain to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him).
Regarding the authenticity of this chain, the statements of the scholars of hadīth differ pertaining to Bābā Yūsuf al Hirawī. Some of which are found to be supportive of the idea that he never was 300 years old.
Presented below is a brief synopsis regarding the chain in discussion:
1. The chain consisting Bābā Yūsuf al-hirawī is exclusive only to the Hadīth collection of Abul-Fath Al-Tā’ūsī and not any other scholar of hadīth.
2. Part of the chain is as follows:
‘Muhammad Murtadhā al-Zubaidī al-Husainī said, “Muhammad bin Sinnah Al-Fulānī has rightfully given me permission (to be a part of this chain and also narrate it to others)”. The latter Shaykh said: “Ahmed bin al-‘Ajl has rightfully given me permission (to be a part of this chain and also narrate it to others)”. He narrates from al-Qutub al-Yamanī al-Naharwālī, who narrates from al-Qutub al-Yamanī (i.e Muhammad al-Naharwālī), who narrates from Abul-Fath al-Tā’ūsī.’
When analyzing the aforementioned chain, we find that there is a missing link (inqita‘) between “Al-Qutub al-Yamanī (i.e Muhammad al-Naharwālī) and Abul-Fath al-Tā’ūsī”. To begin with, the latter had never even met the former to receive permission in narrating this chain. [Refer to: Mu’jam al-Mukhtas by al-Zubaidī:793]
3. A large portion of narrators in this chain are either individuals who are ambiguous, or are known, but have been scrutinized negatively and have been deemed as “weak narrators”.
4. Al-Katānī (scholar in the field of hadīth) says: “After extensive research regarding Bābā Yūsuf al-Hirawī, it is extremely difficult to confirm that he lived for 300 years. [Check Fahris al-Fahāris 2:955 for details]
5. Many contemporary scholars of hadīth have also refuted this chain and have deemed it as inauthentic.
Obtaining permission in narrating and conveying blessed tokens such as asānīd (chains of hadīth) should be limited to progressing in the love one has for Allāh and His Messenger (peace and blessings upon him), value the sentiments preserved by our religion, but should not become the prime objective of acquiring the knowledge of hadīth.
The purpose of these chains was originally to preserve of the authentic words of Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him). This special task of preservation has been fulfilled centuries ago by the rigorous efforts and sacrifices of early scholars of hadīth (may Allāh have mercy upon them).
Shaykh Muhammad al-Awwamah (leading scholar in the field of hadīth and close disciple of the great Shaykh ‘Abdul Fattāh Abu Ghuddah) advised our graduating class regarding the topic of chains saying,
“The essence of studying the sciences of hadīth is to acquire the merits which are contained in the blessed sentiments of Allāh’s Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) coupled with practicing upon his life and example, and not to compile and gather various chains.”
Allāh Almighty Knows Best