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Reliable Narration: Wilaya and Thaqalayn


Islamic Salvation

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Introduction

It is sometimes claimed that the Shia do not have reliable narrations from their own books for the centerpieces of their faith. All this does is expose the ignorance of the claimant. Below is one such reliable narration which includes parts of the prophet’s speech when returning from Hijjatul Wida. It includes both Hadith al-Wilaya and Thaqalayn. This is not to say that this event relies on the analysis of an individual chain, in fact, it is so widely dispersed in our corpus and theirs, making it a viable candidate to be deemed Mutawatir.

 

The Text of the Hadith

محمد بن الحسن بن أحمد بن الوليد، عن محمد بن الحسن الصفار، عن محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب ويعقوب بن يزيد جميعا، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن عبد الله بن سنان، عن معروف بن خربوذ، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة، عن حذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري قال: لما رجع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله من حجة الوداع ونحن معه أقبل حتى انتهى إلى الجحفة فأمر أصحابه بالنزول فنزل القوم منازلهم، ثم نودي بالصلاة فصلى بأصحابه ركعتين، ثم أقبل بوجهه إليهم فقال لهم: إنه قد نبأني اللطيف الخبير أني ميت وأنكم ميتون، وكأني قد دعيت فاجبت وأني مسؤول عما ارسلت به إليكم، وعما خلفت فيكم من كتاب الله وحجته وأنكم مسؤولون، فما أنتم قائلون لربكم؟ قالوا: نقول: قد بلغت ونصحت وجاهدت فجزاك الله عنا أفضل الجزاء ثم قال لهم: ألستم تشهدون أن لا إله إلا الله وأني رسول الله إليكم وأن الجنة حق؟ وأن النار حق؟ وأن البعث بعد الموت حق؟ فقالوا: نشهد بذلك، قال: اللهم اشهد على ما يقولون، ألا وإني اشهدكم أني أشهد أن الله مولاي، وأنا مولى كل مسلم، وأنا أولى بالمؤمنين من أنفسهم، فهل تقرون لي بذلك، وتشهدون لي به؟ فقالوا: نعم نشهد لك بذلك، فقال: ألا من كنت مولاه فإن عليا مولاه وهو هذا، ثم أخذ بيد علي عليه السلام فرفعها مع يده حتى بدت آباطهما ثم قال: اللهم وال من والاه، وعاد من عاداه، وانصر من نصره واخذل من خذله، ألا وإني فرطكم وأنتم واردون علي الحوض، حوضي غدا وهو حوض عرضه ما بين بصرى وصنعاء فيه أقداح من فضة عدد نجوم السماء، ألا وإني سائلكم غدا ماذا صنعتم فيما أشهدت الله به عليكم في يومكم هذا إذا وردتم علي حوضي، وماذا صنعتم بالثقلين من بعدي فانظروا كيف تكونون خلفتموني فيهما حين تلقوني قالوا: وما هذان الثقلان يا رسول الله؟ قال: أما الثقل الاكبر فكتاب الله عزوجل، سبب ممدود من الله ومني في أيديكم، طرفه بيد الله والطرف الآخر بأيديكم، فيه علم ما مضى وما بقي إلى أن تقوم الساعة، وأما الثقل الاصغر فهو حليف القرآن وهو علي بن أبي طالب و عترته عليهم السلام، وإنهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا علي الحوض. قال معروف بن خربوذ: فعرضت هذا الكلام على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فقال: صدق أبوالطفيل رحمه الله هذا الكلام وجدناه في كتاب علي عليه السلام وعرفناه.

[al-Saduq from] Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid from Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar from Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab and Ya`qub b. Yazid from Muhammad b. Abi Umayr from Abdallah b. Sinan from Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh from Abi Tufayl `Amir b. Wathila from Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari who said:

We were with the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله when he was returning from his farewell pilgrimage. He went forth until he reached Juhfa where he ordered his companions to decamp. The call for prayer was made and he led his companions in a two-unit prayer. After that he turned his face to them and said: The Kind and All-Aware has informed me that I am to die and you too will one day die. It is as though I have been called and have responded. I am to be asked about that which I was sent with for you and also what I leave behind in your midst including the Book of Allah and His proof - and you too shall be asked - so what are you going to reply to your Lord? They said: we will say ‘you have conveyed, counselled and struggled, so may Allah reward you on our behalf the best of rewards’.      

Then he said to them: do you bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that I am the messenger of Allah? that the Paradise is a reality, the Fire is a reality and the resurrection after death is reality? They said: we bear witness to that, he said: O Allah witness what they say. Behold! I make you witnesses that I myself bear witness that Allah is my Mawla, and that I am the Mawla of every Muslim, and that I have a greater claim over the believers than their own selves, do you admit to that and bear witness to it about me? They said: yes, we witness that to be true about you. He said: Behold! To whomsoever I am a Mawla then Ali is also his Mawla, and he is this one, and he took Ali by the hand and raised it with his own hand until their armpits became visible, then he said: O Allah – be a guardian to whomever takes him to be a guardian, and be an enemy to whomever takes him to be an enemy, aid the one who aids him and abandon the one who abandons him.    

Behold! I will proceed you but you will catch up with me at the reservoir – my Lake-fount – tomorrow. It is a Lake-fount whose breadth is like the distance between Busra and San`a. In it are goblets made of silver like the number of stars in the sky. Behold! I will ask you tomorrow about what you did in regards that which I made Allah bear witness to - over you - in this day of yours when you reach my Lake-fount.

And also about what you did with regards the ‘Two Weighty Things’ after me, so take care of how you will preserve my legacy in them when you meet me. They said: and what are these ‘Two Weighty Things’ O the messenger of Allah? he said: as for the greater weighty thing then it is the Book of Allah Mighty and Majestic, a rope extending from Allah and myself in your hands, one end of it is by the hand of Allah and the other end is in your hands, in it is the knowledge of what has passed and what is left until the Hour comes. As for the smaller weighty thing it is the ally of the Qur`an, and that is Ali b. Abi Talib and his descendants عليهم السلام – the two will not separate until they return to me at the Lake-fount. 

Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh said: I relayed these words to Abi Ja`far عليه السلام so he said: Abu Tufayl has spoken the truth - may Allah have mercy on him - we have found this speech in the book of Ali and do recognize it.

 

Alternate Chains

  أبي، عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن أبي عمير

جعفر بن محمد بن مسرور، عن الحسين بن محمد ابن عامر، عن عمه عبد الله بن عامر، عن محمد بن أبي عمير

محمد بن موسى بن المتوكل، عن علي بن الحسين السعد آبادي، عن أحمد بن أبي عبد الله البرقي، عن أبيه، عن محمد بن أبي عمير، عن عبد الله بن سنان، عن معروف بن خربوذ، عن أبي الطفيل عامر بن واثلة، عن حذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري بمثل هذا الحديث سواء 

قال مصنف هذا الكتاب أدام الله عزه: الاخبار في هذا المعنى كثيرة وقد أخرجتها في كتاب المعرفة في الفضائل.

My father – Ali b. Ibrahim – his father – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr

Ja`far b. Muhammad b. Masrur – al-Husayn b. Muhammad b. A`mir – his uncle Abdallah b. A`mir – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr

Muhammad b. Musa al-Mutawakkil –  Ali b. al-Husayn al-Sa`dabadi – Ahmad b. Abi Abdillah al-Barqi – his father – Muhammad b. Abi Umayr

---> Abdallah b. Sinan – Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh – Abi al-Tufayl A`mir b. Wathila – Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari 

The author of this book [al-Saduq] said: the reports with the same meaning are numerous, and I have gathered them in the book ‘al-Ma`rifa fi al-Fadhail’

 

Reference

Al-Saduq, Al-Khisal, ed. `Alī Akbar al-Ghaffārī, 2 vols., (Qum: Mu’assasah al-Nashr al-Islāmi, 1403 AH), vol. 1, pg. 65, Hadīth # 98 [Chapter on the Number Two: The Questioning about the ‘Two weighty Things’ on the day of Judgment]

 

Diagrammatic Representation

5974d5408a1b2_WilayaandThaqalayn.png.cdd4e6c12974020baad7b6765dbed583.png

 

Breakdown of Narrators

i. al-Saduq (d. 380)

جليل القدر ... حافظاً للاحاديث، بصيراً بالرجال، ناقداً للاخبار، لم ير في القمّيين مثله في حفظه وكثرة علمه

[al-Tusi] Esteemed in status … had mastery over the Hadith and insight about the narrators [of Hadith]. His like has not been seen among the Qummis in terms of memorization and extent of knowledge.

 

ii. Muhammad b. al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. al-Walid (d. 343)

شيخ القميين وفقيههم ومتقدمهم ووجههم ... ثقة ثقة، عين، مسكون إليه

[Najashi] The Shaykh of the Qummis, their jurist, foremost representative and eminent head …Thiqatun Thiqa, Ayn, relied upon …

 

iii. Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Saffar (d. 290)

كان وجهاً في أصحابنا القميّين، ثقة، عظيم القدر، راجحاً، قليل السقط في الرواية

[Najashi] He was an eminent head among our Qummi associates, Thiqa, great in station, given precedence, having very few lapses in narration.

 

iv.a Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab (d. 262)

جليل من أ صحابنا، عظيم القدر، كثير الرواية، ثقة، عين، حسن التصانيف، مسكون إلى روايته

[Najashi] Esteemed among our companions, great in station, prolific in narration, Thiqa, Ayn, able in authorship, his reports are relied upon.

 

iv.b Ya`qub b. Yazid (d. n/a)

كان ثقة صدوقا

[Najashi] He was Thiqa, truthful.

 

v. Ibn Abi Umayr (d. 217)

كان من أوثق الناس عند الخاصة والعامة، وأنسكهم نسكا، وأورعهم وأعبدهم، وقد ذكر الجاحظ في كتابه في فخر قحطان على عدنان بهذه الصفة التي وصفناه، وذكر أنه كان واحد أهل زمانه في الأشياء كلها

[Tusi] He was the most trust-worthy of people from both the Khassa [Shias] and `Amma [Sunnis], the most ascetic of them, the most scrupulous in abstaining from sins, and the most worshipful. al-Jahiz mentioned him in his books about the superiority of Qahtan compared to Adnan with this description which we have quoted and also said: he was matchless among his contemporaries in all aspects.

 

vi. Abdallah b. Sinan (d. n/a)

ثقة، من أصحابنا، جليل لا يطعن عليه في شئ له كتاب ... روى هذه الكتب عنه جماعات من أصحابنا لعظمه في الطائفة، وثقته وجلالته

[Najashi] Thiqa, from among our companions, esteemed, he is not criticized in anything, he authored the book … a large number of our companions transmitted these books on his authority because of his greatness in the sect and his trust-worthiness and merit.

 

vii. Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh (d. n/a)

أجمعت العصابة على تصديق هؤلاء الاولين من أصحاب أبي جعفر، وأصحاب أبي عبداللّه عليهما السلام وانقادوا لهم بالفقه، فقالوا أفقه الاولين ستّة: ... ومعروف بن خرّبوذ ...

[Kashshi] The whole sect is unanimous in deeming truthful the following foremost ones amongst the companions of Abi Ja`far and Abi Abdillah and yielding to them in matters of jurisprudence, so they said: the most judicious of the foremost ones are six: … Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh … [He is from Ashab al-Ijma]    

 

viii. `Amir b. Wathila (d. 100)

أدرك ثماني سنين من حياة النبي صلى الله عليه وآله ولد عام أحد

[Tusi] He experienced eight years in the life of the prophet صلى الله عليه وآله having been born in the year of the battle of Uhud (3 AH)

وكان أبو الطفيل رأى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله، وهو آخر من رآه موتا

[Kashshi] Abu Tufayl saw the messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله and he was the last one to die among those who had seen him.

Al-Barqi included his name among the closest companions [Khawass] of Ali. He participated in all the three battles of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrawan. He later joined Mukhtar’s uprising and was the carrier of the banner in that army.

 

ix. Hudhayfa b. Asid

محمد بن قولويه قال: حدثني سعد ابن عبد الله ابن أبي خلف، قال: حدثني علي بن سليمان بن داود الرازي، قال: حدثنا علي بن أسباط، عن أبيه أسباط بن سالم قال: قال أبو الحسن موسى بن جعفر عليهما السلام: إذا كان يوم القيامة نادى مناد: أين حواري محمد بن عبد الله رسول الله، الذين لم ينقضوا العهد ومضوا عليه؟ ... ثم ينادي المنادي: أين حواري الحسن بن علي عليهما السلام ابن فاطمة بنت محمد بن عبد الله رسول الله؟ فيقوم ... وحذيفة بن أسيد الغفاري ...

[Kashshi] Muhammad b. Qulawayh – Sa`d b. Abdallah b. Abi Khalaf – Ali b. Sulayman b. Dawud al-Razi – Ali b. Asbat – Asbat b. Salim: Abu al-Hasan Musa b. Ja`far عليهما السلام said: when it will be the day of judgment a caller will cry out: where are the disciples of Muhammad b. Abdallah the messenger of Allah who did not break the covenant and passed on while faithful to it? … then a caller will cry: where are the disciples of al-Hasan b. Ali عليهما السلام the son of Fatima the daughter of Muhammad b. Abdallah the messenger of Allah? then will stand up … and Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari …

 

Corroboration for Connection of the Chain

A part of the upper chain [Ma`ruf > Abu Tufayl & Abu Tufayl > Hudhayfa] have occurred in a number of narrations in Sunni sources some of which are highlighted below:

وقال علي حدثوا الناس بما يعرفون أتحبون أن يكذب الله ورسوله حدثنا عبيد الله بن موسى عن معروف بن خربوذ عن أبي الطفيل عن علي بذلك

[al-Bukhari] Ali said: report to the people what they recognize – do you wish that Allah and his messenger be rejected. Ubaydullah b. Musa narrated this from Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh from Abi Tufayl from Ali.

As a sidenote, the later `Aimma spoke several statements similar to this which we understand to be about Taqiyya. However, since they do not see this Athar from Ali in this interpretive lens they have become confused about its exact meaning.

This is also the only time Bukhari narrates from Abu Tufayl [this is because he was a ‘Rafidhi’ companion].

وَحَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ دَاوُدَ، حَدَّثَنَا مَعْرُوفُ بْنُ خَرَّبُوذَ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا الطُّفَيْلِ، يَقُولُ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَطُوفُ بِالْبَيْتِ وَيَسْتَلِمُ الرُّكْنَ بِمِحْجَنٍ مَعَهُ وَيُقَبِّلُ الْمِحْجَنَ

[Muslim] Muhammad b. al-Muthanna: narrated to us Sulayman b. Dawud: narrated to us Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh who said: I heard Aba al-Tufayl saying: I saw the messenger of Allah circumambulating around the House and touching the Rukn with his stick and then kissing the stick.

This proves Sima`a between Ma`ruf and Abu al-Tufayl [i.e. that the former had indeed hear directly from the latter and that they were contemporaries] and also the Suhba of Aba al-Tufayl [i.e. that he was a companion].

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو خَيْثَمَةَ، زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ وَإِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَابْنُ أَبِي عُمَرَ الْمَكِّيُّ - وَاللَّفْظُ لِزُهَيْرٍ - قَالَ إِسْحَاقُ أَخْبَرَنَا وَقَالَ الآخَرَانِ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ بْنُ عُيَيْنَةَ، عَنْ فُرَاتٍ الْقَزَّازِ عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ بْنِ أَسِيدٍ الْغِفَارِيِّ، قَالَ اطَّلَعَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ نَتَذَاكَرُ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ مَا تَذَاكَرُونَ ‏"‏ ‏ قَالُوا نَذْكُرُ السَّاعَةَ ‏قَالَ ‏"‏ إِنَّهَا لَنْ تَقُومَ حَتَّى تَرَوْنَ قَبْلَهَا عَشْرَ آيَاتٍ ‏"‏‏ فَذَكَرَ الدُّخَانَ وَالدَّجَّالَ وَالدَّابَّةَ وَطُلُوعَ الشَّمْسِ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا وَنُزُولَ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَيَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ وَثَلاَثَةَ خُسُوفٍ خَسْفٌ بِالْمَشْرِقِ وَخَسْفٌ بِالْمَغْرِبِ وَخَسْفٌ بِجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِ وَآخِرُ ذَلِكَ نَارٌ تَخْرُجُ مِنَ الْيَمَنِ تَطْرُدُ النَّاسَ إِلَى مَحْشَرِهِمْ ‏‏

[Muslim] Abu Khaythama Zuhayr b. Harb narrated to us, also Ishaq b. Ibrahim and Ibn Abi Umar al-Makki – and the wording is from Zuhayr – Ishaq said: Ishaq reported to us and the rest said: narrated to us Sufyan b. Uyayna from Furat al-Qazzaz from Abi Tufayl from Hudhayfa b. Asid al-Ghiffari who said: the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم looked in on us while we were discussing, he said: what are you discussing? They said: we are discussing the Hour, he said: it will not come about until you see ten signs before it, then he mentioned the Smoke, the Dajjal, the Beast, the rising of the sun from its setting place, the descent of Isa b. Maryam صلى الله عليه وسلم, Gogg and Maggog, and three sinkings of land, a sinking in the East, a sinking in the West, and a sinking in the Arabian peninsula, and the last of them is a fire which originates from Yemen and rushes the people to their gathering place [Mahshar].

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  • Advanced Member

Wa aleykumsalaam,

Brother there is one more chain in the last part of the hadeeth, where Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh narrates from Abi Ja`far (as). And he (as) attested that hadeeth narrated by Abu Tufayl is correct, this is very strong chain.

Here are some scholar's comment on hadeeth authenticity.

  • Sayyed al-Khoei said “Some chains of this ādīth are aī” in his Mu’jam Rijal Al-Hadith, Vol. 10 Pg. 222-223.
  • Shaykh Āif Muhsini said ādīth has “Mu’tabar Sanad” in his Mashra‘at Behar al-Anwaar, Vol 2, Pg 97.
  • Shaykh Mohammad Mumin Al-Qummi said ādīth has "Mu'tabar Sanad" in his Al-Wilayah Al-Ilahiyya Al-Islamiyya, Pg 80.
  • Shaykh Hasan Abdullah `Alī Al-Ajmi said ādīth is "aī" in his Ar-Radd An-Nafees, Vol 1, Pg 176.
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  • Veteran Member
On 9/8/2017 at 6:26 PM, The Straight Path said:

@Islamic Salvation Salam brother, what do you think about the claims on this page that there is only one authentic version of Hadith Al-Ghadir from Shia sources?

 http://ghadirkhumm.com/shia-version-hadith-al-ghadir/

W. Salam.

I don't think that they are qualified to speak about Shi'i Hadith. They likely limited themselves to popular works of Hadith like al-Kafi [which have accessible gradings] and did not conduct an exhaustive search. 

In any case, the Hadith in the OP is enough to disprove their claim, seeing as though it is a reliable version of Hadith al-Ghadir apart from the one they quote. Even if you do not accept the Wathaqa of Abu Tufayl and Hudhayfa b. Asid [the only controversial narrators in the chain], it does not matter one bit because Abu Ja`far عليه السلام confirms it, making it authentic by our standards.

 قال معروف بن خربوذ: فعرضت هذا الكلام على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فقال: صدق أبوالطفيل رحمه الله هذا الكلام وجدناه في كتاب علي عليه السلام وعرفناه

Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh said: I relayed these words to Abi Ja`far عليه السلام so he said: Abu Tufayl has spoken the truth - may Allah have mercy on him - we have found this speech in the book of Ali and do recognize it.

The chain to Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh is undisputed.

On top of this, the purport of the Hadith comes in so many alternative reports that it can be claimed to be Mutawatir in meaning, at which point individual chains lose over-riding significance.

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  • Advanced Member
5 hours ago, Islamic Salvation said:

W. Salam.

I don't think that they are qualified to speak about Shi'i Hadith. They likely limited themselves to popular works of Hadith like al-Kafi [which have accessible gradings] and did not conduct an exhaustive search. 

In any case, the Hadith in the OP is enough to disprove their claim, seeing as though it is a reliable version of Hadith al-Ghadir apart from the one they quote. Even if you do not accept the Wathaqa of Abu Tufayl and Hudhayfa b. Asid [the only controversial narrators in the chain], it does not matter one bit because Abu Ja`far عليه السلام confirms it, making it authentic by our standards.

 قال معروف بن خربوذ: فعرضت هذا الكلام على أبي جعفر عليه السلام فقال: صدق أبوالطفيل رحمه الله هذا الكلام وجدناه في كتاب علي عليه السلام وعرفناه

Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh said: I relayed these words to Abi Ja`far عليه السلام so he said: Abu Tufayl has spoken the truth - may Allah have mercy on him - we have found this speech in the book of Ali and do recognize it.

The chain to Ma`ruf b. Kharrabudh is undisputed.

On top of this, the purport of the Hadith comes in so many alternative reports that it can be claimed to be Mutawatir in meaning, at which point individual chains lose over-riding significance.

Thank you brother for the explanation! :)

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Excellent as always 

Can you share please more on the companion hudhayfa b asid ghiffari ?

Did he die before fitna ?

I've not seen his name amongst those who are commonly presented as supporters of a imam at the time of the saqifa  

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      In Bait-al Ma'mur, Azazil-later called Iblis-sitting on a white minbar and holding a tasbih in his hands, was preaching for a crowd of angels and other residents of empyrean. He was deeply happy and proud to see that he had such a special superior status and that the angels listened to him with great interest.
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         8 comments
      [amended 19 August 2023 to include references to the Irish potato famine and two Bengal famines]
      Surah Yusuf
      Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) advised Pharoah to hoard grains during the years of plenty. I think this episode is a noteworthy one because it shows how a State can intervene in the marketplace in order to improve the welfare of the wider population.
      But as we shall see below, the government intervention that Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) instigated favoured some sections of the population over others - it was not neutral in terms of how it spread gains and losses across the population.
      https://www.al-islam.org/sites/default/files/singles/633-yusuf.pdf
      While there is other material in the Qur'an that deals with transactions within the marketplace between individual participants - this story stands out in terms of its focus on state intervention. 
      I'll be coming back to this issue later - but I think it informs the discussions we have about Islam and contemporary socio-economic theories. In particular, I think it illustrates that Islam does see the State as an active market participant and that in an Islamic state, the role of government is not one that is hands-off or laissez-faire.
       
      What policy options did Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) have?
      We should not take the story as presented 'for granted'. In reality, the Prophet (عليه السلام). had a range of choices open to him, and thinking those through helps us better understand the reasons for the policy he undertook and the reason why. 
      No government interference
      Let's start with the simplest and easiest option that Pharoah's government could have pursued once they knew that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine (as predicted by the Pharoah's dream which was interpreted by Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام).) .
      Pharoah could have left the entire issue to the 'market'. During the years of plenty, the price of food would have fallen and people would have enjoyed a higher standard of living. For example, the lower grain prices could have led to people rearing more cattle and their diets would have improved with more meat.
      However, during the years of famine, grain prices would have risen and those people who had accumulated assets in the years of plenty would be able to pay the higher prices in the famine years. Those who had not had such assets would have starved.
      This assumes a fairly high level of self-discipline on the part of the population, but as Milton Friedman would say, the people would have been 'free to choose'. This is not a hypothetical option. The British lack of action to the Irish potato famine has been attributed to the British government's ideological adherence to a laissez-faire approach to macro-economics:
      https://kenanfellows.org/kfp-cp-sites/cp01/cp01/sites/kfp-cp-sites.localhost.com.cp01/files/LP3_BBC Irish Famine Article for Lab.pdf
       
      The Bengal famine is another one where government policy was different to the one Prophet Yusuf ((عليه السلام).) prescribed to Pharoah. In this instance, it was lack of government restriction over the action of privateers:
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/29/winston-churchill-policies-contributed-to-1943-bengal-famine-study
       
      Going back still further, the Great Bengal Famine of 1770 has been directly attributed to British government laissez-faire economic policy.
      https://worldfinancialreview.com/the-political-economy-of-famines-during-the-british-rule-in-india-a-critical-analysis/
       
      Light interference - provision of information
      A common policy option nowadays, where people do not want direct government intervention is to recommend improving the provision of information to the population who will then be better able to make the correct decisions for themselves. The government could have mounted an information campaign during the years of plenty and told people to hoard food themselves, hoarding when there is no shortage is allowed in Islam.
      However such attempts to influence awareness about the famine to come and changing peoples' attitudes so that they saved more than they were used to, would likely have run against increased social pressures on people to do the opposite. For example typically in societies as wealth increases there is social pressure to spend more, in this case, for example, have more lavish weddings.
      Also providing information would have been a practical benefit for the better off e.g. those with storage capacity, but not so good for the poor (who would not have room to store grain, for example).
      The government (using a bit more intervention) could have given tax breaks to people who owned granaries, to help the poor who needed such facilities. Again this solution would be to focus on market-based interventions and simply alter the working of the market using incentives. Current economic theory holds that people discount future risks very heavily i.e. they don't perceive them as much of a threat as they should. So, for example, just telling people they should save for a pension does not work. 
      So we can likely predict that the solutions described above would not have worked had they tried them.
      Heavy interference
      This is what they actually did.
      In times of plenty, Pharoah's government did not let prices fall as would have happened under free market conditions. They kept prices higher than they otherwise would have been because the government intervened and took excess stocks of grain out of circulation.
      All people (rich and poor alike) had no option but to pay the usual higher prices - effectively, the government was taxing everyone, but this was not seen as a loss by anyone because the prices were no higher than usual.
      The government stored the grain centrally and then they decided to release the grain according to their own policies.
      Assumptions made by Prophet Yusuf's government
      If you leave people to their own devices they may not make the best decisions (whether they are rich or poor), this could be due to: People do not have the resources to cater for future shocks (mainly the poor) People do not have the discipline to address future shocks (applies to both the rich and the poor) The government can make better decisions than individuals acting in their own self-interest because: The government can have access to more and better information than individuals do The government may not be as susceptible to a lack of self-discipline  
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      Of all the policy options open to Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام) he advised Pharoah to pursue the most interventionist one. Some people may be tempted to call this socialist or communist, but I think those terms carry a lot of excess baggage, so I won't bring them into the discussion.
      What I think can be safely inferred from his choice of policy is a fundamental principle that could inform economic policy in any Islamic state.
      Facing an external shock to the Egyptian economy, he went for the option that would cause the least pain to the worst off in society. Other policy options would have caused more pain for the poorest but somewhat less for the better off.
       
       
         1 comment
      Summary
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      Serendipity (pot luck)
      I have previously remarked upon how, in some fields of human endeavour where the scientific approach is held to be the ideal, in reality human scientific and technological discoveries has often been the results of luck and even mistakes.
      Social science 'theories'
      There is a corollary in the field of the social sciences which also emphasise the value of the scientific approach to generate knowledge. In this domain the anomalies are various frameworks and models that are widely taught and even used, but which have no basis in rigorous scientific research.
      The famous work by Abraham Maslow on motivation and his resulting 'hierarchy of needs' is very widely studied and used. He posits that human motivation at the fundamental level is driven by physiological needs, and once these are satisfied (he did qualify this in later works) people try and address safety needs and then, social needs and self-esteem and finally self-actualisation. 
      But Maslow did not come up with this through any research that would hold up to scientific scrutiny.
      Does the lack of a scientific approach invalidate a model or framework?
      Yet the Maslow hierarchy is productively used by professionals in a variety of industries, managers, MBA students and others in universities. For example, people use it to understand why consumers buy certain products.
      The same issue applies to Bloom's taxonomy in the field of learning and also Elmo's buying funnel in the area of marketing. The three laws of robotics have their basis in science fiction and in the area of web searching there is no scientific basis for the information-navigational-transactional categories that are used.
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      The implication from this is that while ideas and knowledge may ideally be the result of the scientific approach I.e. hypothesising and then testing, there are many instances where this is not the case. In the area of the social sciences and management the value of some types of knowledge seems to rest on their 'face validity', do they make sense to the individuals who are presented with them and can those individuals make better sense of their external environment as a result of using these tools and if they can, that is good enough.
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      The same principle could surely apply to various aspects of religion. There may be no scientific proof underpinning various religious ideas, but if they have face validity, if they help the individual make sense of their external environment and manage it, surely that is good enough?
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