Jump to content
Ali_Hussain

Sunnis make 'Sahih' Nahj al-Balagha

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

On 5/13/2017 at 0:57 AM, Qa'im said:

Firstly, despite its popularity, Nahj al-Balagha is not one of our main books, and so it is not at the same level of importance and authenticity as the Four Books - al-Kafi, Man La Yahduruhul Faqih, Tahdheeb, and Istibsar - or many other texts.

Secondly, much of Nahj al-Balagha actually comes from Sunni texts, and so when the website says "There are no reliable Shia sources that predate Nahj Al-Balagha", it ignores that the author collected some of the sermons and letters from Sunni sources, some of which may be authentic by their standards.

Thirdly, as a Buyid-era Baghdadi text, Nahj al-Balagha is meant to be a syncretic book whose content can be appreciated by multiple schools and sects. It is similar with other Baghdadi texts of this era, such as Tafsir Tibyan.

Fourthly, the book itself is called the "Peak of Eloquence", and is not meant to be a sahih book of Shii theology or law, but a book about the poetic eloquence of Imam `Ali (as), his wisdom, and his character. Some believe that the Imam had a specific literary style that is difficult to replicate, due to its proficient use of vocabulary and grammar.

Fifthly, rijal is not black and white, and its proper application is debated in scholarly circles. Two people can look at the same chain and come to three conclusions. A person cannot just pick up Sayyid al-Khoei's book and start grading away. Perhaps a more useful evaluation of the sermons is to analyze their phrasing and their use of vocabulary, because the Arabic of the 7th century is not identical to the Arabic of later centuries. Of course, that would take real scholastic competence, which most of these websites do not have.

So I think people should look at "authenticity" differently. "Authentic" can mean correct, but it also means original, genuine, and legitimate. Instead of just analyzing the isnad of the sermons, and deciphering what we think Najashi said about this narrator or that narrator, let's look at its content, and judge the value of its wisdom, its literary style, and even its tawatur (in form and in meaning). That is what "Nahj al-Balagha" is all about.

Salam, 

Thank you for the detailed answer brother. It's true that one mustn't rely purely rely on sanad to judge the authenticity of a book. Content is also important. My only concern is that there are certain sayings in the Nahjul-balagha, especially with regards to women, that are questionable. If we except it with the style of rhetoric, then how do we decide if these were truly the words of the Imam (AS)? Sanad analysis should be part of the picture right, along with content wisdom?

Salman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, salman1 said:

Thank you for the detailed answer brother. It's true that one mustn't rely purely rely on sanad to judge the authenticity of a book. Content is also important. My only concern is that there are certain sayings in the Nahjul-balagha, especially with regards to women, that are questionable. If we except it with the style of rhetoric, then how do we decide if these were truly the words of the Imam (AS)? Sanad analysis should be part of the picture right, along with content wisdom?

Yes isnad analysis is useful in sifting wheat from chaff, but it is a tool in a toolbox. Keep in mind that our scholars mostly use rijal to settle debates in fiqh, and even then it is not the only ijtihad they do. Much of Nahj al-Balagha consists of political documents and public sermons - things that are difficult to fabricate, and not fatal for your hereafter - and these sources are not at all inconsistent with the content of our texts. It is of course naive to assume that the book is fully authentic, certain sections are definitely more reliable than others. But weakening an isnad is not enough to call a report a fabrication. Even traditional rijal terminology is averse to saying a hadith is fake (dha`eef means weak, mawdoo` means set aside), because there is always a chance that it is truly the words of the Imam.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've also noticed, they seem to assume that Shaykh As Saduq [ra]'s book of ahadith, Man La yadhuru Al Faqih, contains no chains. This is not entirely true, because the chains can be reconstructed , and he has ommited chains for sake of brevity - and has else where given the chains/information to reconstruct it.

Additionally, the Matn is also important, and much of what Imam Ali [as] has been attributed to have said can be corroborated in authentic narrations, both of his own that are not in Nahjul Balagha, and also of the Prophet [saw] and the Aimmah [asws].

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/13/2017 at 0:57 AM, Qa'im said:

Fifthly, rijal is not black and white, and its proper application is debated in scholarly circles. Two people can look at the same chain and come to three conclusions. A person cannot just pick up Sayyid al-Khoei's book and start grading away. Perhaps a more useful evaluation of the sermons is to analyze their phrasing and their use of vocabulary, because the Arabic of the 7th century is not identical to the Arabic of later centuries. Of course, that would take real scholastic competence, which most of these websites do not have.

To give an example of what I meant here, we can take a look at their weakening of the Sermon of Shiqshiqiyya, arguably one of the most important sermons in Nahj al-Balagha. http://nahjul-balagha.net/shaqshaqiya-grading/

The sermon was a public event with dozens of chains in different books (Saduq's `Ilal ash-Shara'i` and Ma`ani al-Akhbar, Mufid's al-Irshad, and elsewhere) which from a historicist viewpoint is difficult to fabricate.

They noted that Muhammad b. `Ali Majiluwayh was majhool, but he receives the taraddi and tarahhum of Shaykh as-Saduq. Saduq himself was a rijal scholar, but his rijal text was lost, so in the minds of some, his praise of individuals amounts to nothing. However, in my experience, most of those whom Saduq praises are either trustworthy or unknown in status. Since rijal is pretty much based on the appraisal of one scholar or another, I see no issue with taking the appraisals of Saduq on unknown narrators, most of whom are his shuyukh whom he actually met. Shaykh al-Mazandarani strengthened this narrator.

They also said that Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi was weak. He was weakened by Najashi, but he was strengthened by Tusi, and `Allamah al-Hilli considered Tusi's opinion to be stronger in rijal. Even then, Najashi considered him "weak in hadith", which is not necessarily an attack on his character (there is a difference of opinion among the rijal scholars on how Najashi's weakening is to be interpreted). Sayyid al-Khoei considers him to be trustworthy.

Ikrimah mawla Ibn `Abbas was also considered weak in Rijal al-Kashi, but he was considered strong by Bukhari and Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani.

There's also the valid point that the meaning of this sermon is consistent with many of our sahih hadiths.

In the end, giants like Saduq put a lot of work into refining their works, and containing that which they saw as valid and consistent with the school of Ahl al-Bayt.

So again, these issues are really not black and white. The hyperskeptical approach that they've employed treats chains of human beings like chemistry or algebra equations, and it does not account for nuance or ambiguities that exist in rijal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×