Anti-Shia Hysteria


I was recently linked into a post where some person had decided that due to the blessings of the holy month of Ramadhan he would make a ‘spiritually uplifting’ post in which he would attack Shia Muslims. It seems that the rather long fast has caused sleep deprivation and hunger, resulting in a severely negative affect on this individuals thought processes. The summary of his post was that the hadith of wiping on the Khaffayn (leather socks) is mutawātir (mass transmitted, like for example the Quran) and therefore Shia are committing an act of kufr (disbelief) by rejecting this hadith.

There were two reasons why I decided to comment on this issue. The first is simply that the post annoyed me by the manner in was treating other Muslims. The second is that a few years back whilst on a trip to Turkey, some professors made the same comment. At the time I thought that it was due to their weak understanding of the books of Usul (epistemic principles) that led them to make such a statement, even though they apparently teach Usul at university. But since then I have realised that it is a commonly held understanding of the issue.

The relied upon position in the Hanafi School is that the relevant narration is mashhūr (‘famous’) and not mutawātir. Here is an image from the authoritative book ‘Fath Bab al-‘Inayah’ by Mulla Ali al-Qari:


 Here he states that it is mashhūr almost to the level of mutawātir, but to be clear it is not mutawātir.

Here is an image from ‘Radd al-Mukhtar ala al-Dur al-Mukhtar’ of Ibn Abideen, a late but famous Hanafi.



Here he confirms that the narration is ‘mashhūr’.

The majority of the Hanafi Usul books explain that this narration is mashhūr. Some of the scholars did make an error by stating that it is mutawātir, but Ibn Abideen confirmed that this stance is incorrect. The reason for this is that rejecting a mutawātir hadith should result in kufr (disbelief), but there is ijma (scholarly consensus) which confirms that rejecting the wiping of the leather socks does not lead to kufr. Therefore those scholars who held the weaker opinion (that it is mutawātir) hold a contradictory position because on the one hand they confirm that this issue does not lead to kufr (disbelief) but on the other state that it is mutawātir – which would mean that rejecting it does lead to kufr (disbelief) – something which Shia brother agree with too.

Here is an excerpt from our book ‘Hanafi Principles of Testing Hadith’ about ‘mashhūr’ hadith:

The linguistic meaning of ‘mashhūr’ is ‘famous’. In hadith terminology it means something which is initially aĥad (according to the Hanafis, this is any hadith that does not meet the conditions of mutawātir or mashhūr, see the next chapter ‘Ahad – The Statement of One [Person]’) but later became mutawātir. Further, the hadith must become mutawātir during the time of the Tābiʿīn (second generation) or Taba’ al-Tābiʿīn (third generation). According to the Shafi’is, a mashhūr hadith is a hadith which is not at the level of mutawātir, but has just three or more chains of narration. Therefore the mashhūr of the Shafi’is also encompasses a lot more hadith, but is still considered a type of aĥad.

To summarise, this issue has no real effect on our lives, but for some reason it causes panic amongst some Muslims and so-called ‘Muslim academics’. I have never understood why there is such a high level of hysteria regarding Dhanni (probabilistic or uncertain) issues amongst Muslims and can only imagine that some deep psychological reason is waiting to be uncovered.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Abu Talhah says:

    Assalāmu `alaykum dear Shaykh,

    I have a few questions, if you would please:

    1. Can I as a Hanafī (and fully intending to stay one) pray sadl instead of qabd?

    2. Why do Deobandis/Berelwis insist on the beard (and its fist-length) being wājib, when I’ve heard Shaykh Atābek say on numerous occasions that both are sunnah? I believe their proof is from Imām Ibn `Ābidīn, so why is that not the mu`tamad? Very confused.

    3. Is attending Jumu`ah salāh, under current conditions (not all of the shurūt being met for its validity thus necessitating praying dhuhr afterward anyway – as per Sh. Atābek’s lecture on ‘Rebellion in Islām’), still wājib for me? Or can I choose not to attend if, for instance, I’m at work?

    JazakAllāhu khayr!


  2. Mohammad Rocka says:

    Salaam Alaykum,
    most of your questions can be answered by reading a good classical fundamental introduction to Hanafi Fiqh, like Nur al-Idah and it’s commentary “Maraqah Al-Falah, available together in an English translation by Wesam Charkawi (see, or in the UK,
    I first studied this text after I converted to Islam in 1983 in Damascus from one of the students of Sheikh Ahmed Khorshid.
    For Q1, the short answer is yes, although it is not the preferred position for one’s hands in Salat according the the Hanafi Madhhab.
    If you read the above-mentioned book, you can learn the wajib/required elements of prayer, as well as the sunnah elements of prayer and what invalidates prayer as well as what is disliked (makrooh) but does not invalidate prayer. The position of one’s hands to one’s sides (sadl) is neither Makrooh nor does it invalidate one’s prayer in the Hanafi Methhab.
    You may also find the answers to Q1 and Q2 by further reading or perhaps Sheikh sulaiman Ahmed will answer later.


  3. Abu Talhah says:

    Seeing as the Ja`faris base their performance of masah over the feet in their regular wudu on a different reading of the Qur’an, is salah behind a Ja`fari imam really invalid?


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