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Hadith al-Kisa – between Truth and Fabrication

In this post I wish to shed some light on the authenticty of the exaggerated version of Hadith al-Kisa that is popularly recited from Mafatih al-Jinan nowadays.


In the shia corpus we have 2 transmissions for Hadith al-Kisa, one on the authority of Um Salamah and one supposedly on the authority of Jabir b. Abdullah narrating from Sayeda Fatima (sa).

The latter is the popularly recited one which can be found on websites like duas.org

Some scholars have raised awareness about its apparent fabrication, most notably Grand Ayatollah Shaykh Hussain al-Radhy has done a study on this hadith and came to the conclusion that it is mawdhoo’ [fabricated], you can read his research in Arabic here

Problems raised

1. This hadith did not surface until the 11th century AH! [in contrast, our hadith works collected by our classical scholars such as Al-Kafi and the works of Shaykh al-Saduq, stem from the 3rd/4th century AH]

2. Shaykh Tarihih, in his “Al-Muntakhab” where he first mentioned this hadith, did not provide a chain of narrators for the hadith.

Shaykh Abbas al-Qummi [Author of Mafatih al-Jinan] says:

أما الحديث المعروف بحديث الكساء الشائع في عصرنا بهذا الشكل فلم يلحظ في الكتب المعتبرة المعروفة وأصول الحديث والمجامع المتقنة للمحدثين. وجاز لنا أن نقول: إنه من خصائص كتاب (المنتخب)

The hadith Kisa that is widely read and spoken of amongst people is different from what is mentioned in hadith collections. Apparently, this hadith is only narrated in Al-Muntakhab.

Muntaha al-Aamaal, vol 1, pg 527


This is why he has not mentioned Hadith al-Kisa in Mafatih al-Jinan. The hadith that you find there nowadays has been added to Mafatih al-Jinan after his death!

3. There is a chain mentioned for this hadith in the margins of (Awalem al-‘Ulum, vol 11, pg 930), besides it being disputed who wrote this chain down as it is based on someone recognising a handwriting, this chain has many problems, one of the reasons this chain is weak is because of the narrator Qasim ibn Yahya

Besides that a more apparent issue would be that some of the scholars that supposedly passed down this hadith to eachother in the chain include:

  • Ali ibn Ibrahim
  • Shaykh Kulayni
  • Shaykh Mufeed
  • Shaykh Tusi
  • Shaykh Tabarasi
  • Shaykh Muhammad ibn Shahraashoob
  • Muhammad ibn Idris al-Hilli
  • Al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli
  • Allamah al-Hilli
  • Shaheed al-Awal (Makki)
  • Shaheed al-Thani (Zayn Al-Deen)

If all these people have had this specific narration with them and they’ve somehow passed it down, then how come no one has recorded it in their books?!

Even Sayed Hashim Bahrani – who supposedly wrote down this chain – did not mention this narration in his books either..

Scholars

Among the scholars who confirm the weakness of this hadith are:

  • Ayatollah Sayed Kamal al-Haydari
  • Ayatollah Shaykh Makarem Shirazi
  • Ayatollah Shaykh Hussain al-Radhy
  • Ayatollah Sayed Fadhlallah
  • Ayatollah Shaheed Muttahari

and others…

Although there is no explicit reference to the words of Ayatollah Sayed al-Sistani regarding this hadith, this issue was brought up to the Religious Research Center of his Eminence, and they also came to the conclusion of its weakness, see here

The authentic version

We like to make it clear that the weakening of this exaggerated extended narration does not negate the event of the cloak and the conclusions we draw from it, such as that Ayat al-Tatheer (3:33) was revealed about the Ahlulbayt (as).

As we have other more accurate accounts, and in fact even the Sunni / Salafi scholars attest to the authenticity of this event. Most Shia scholars deem the transmission from Umm Salamah to be the most correct.

Here is an authentic report from a sunni source:

عمر بن أبي سلمة ربيب النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال لما نزلت هذه الآية على النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم { إنما يريد الله ليذهب عنكم الرجس أهل البيت ويطهركم تطهيرا } في بيت أم سلمة فدعا فاطمة و حسنا و حسينا فجللهم بكساء و علي خلف ظهره فجللهم بكساء ثم قال اللهم هؤلاء أهل بيتي فأذهب عنهم الرجس وطهرهم تطهيرا قالت أم سلمة وأنا معهم يا نبي الله ؟ قال أنت على مكانك وأنت على خير

‘Umar b. Abi Salamah, the dependent of the Prophet ﷺ, said: When THIS VERSE {Allah intends but only to keep impurity away all from you, O Ahl al-Bayt, and to purify you absolutely} was revealed upon the Prophet ﷺ in the house of Umm Salamah, he called FaṭimahHasan and Husayn and spread a cloak over them while ‘Ali was behind him. Then, he covered them with a cloak. Then, he said, “O Allah! These are my Ahl al-Bayt. So, keep impurity away from them and purify them absolutely”. Umm Salamah said, “Am I with them, O Prophet of Allah?” He replied, “You are upon your place and you are upon a good thing.”

Abu ‘Isa Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Sulami al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami’ al-Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 5, p. 351, # 3205


Grading: Sahih (Shaykh al-Albani, Abu ‘Isa Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Sulami al-Tirmidhi, al-Jami’ al-Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 5, p. 351, # 3205)

Earliest narrations

Some of the first Shia reports attesting to this event can be found in Al-Kafi, Tafsir Furat al-Kufi and has been quoted by Shaykh al-Tusi in his Quran tafsir.

From part of a long narration narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (as):

قال: لا تعلموهم فهم أعلم منكم، وقال: إنهم لن يخرجوكم من باب هدى، ولن يدخلوكم في باب ضلالة، فلو سكت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله فلم يبين من أهل بيته، لادعاها آل فلان وآل فلان، لكن الله عز وجل أنزله في كتابة تصديقا لنبيه صلى الله عليه وآله ” إنما يريد الله ليذهب عنكم الرجس أهل البيت ويطهركم تطهيرا (1) ” فكان علي والحسن والحسين وفاطمة عليهم السلام، فأدخلهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله تحت الكساء في بيت أم سلمة، ثم قال: اللهم إن لكل نبي أهلا وثقلا وهؤلاء أهل بيتي وثقلي، فقالت ام سلمة: ألست من أهلك؟ فقال: إنك إلى خير ولكن هؤلاء أهلي وثقلي،

[…] He [the Prophet ﷺ] said: “Do not teach them, for they are more knowledgeable than you.” And he said: “They will not take you out of the door of guidance, and they will not enter you in the door of deviance.” If the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was silent, it would’ve not been clear who the Ahlulbayt are. As so-and-so have claimed. However Allah (azwj) has sent down in His book confirmation of his Prophet ﷺ , “Verily Allah intends but to keep off from you (every kind of) uncleanness, O’ you the people of the House! And purify you (with) a thorough purification.” (3:33) So Ali, al-Hassan, al-Hussein, and Fatima, peace be upon them, were [purified]. So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ , brought them under the cloak in the house of Umm Salamah, then he said: “O Allāh for every Prophet has a family, and a weighty endowment, and this is my family, and weighty endowment.” Umm Salamah said: “Am I not from among your family?” He said: “You are upon a good thing but these are my family and my weighty endowment.”

Al-Kafi, vol 1, pg 287-288


Grading: Sahih (Mir’at al-‘Uqool by Allamah Majlisi, Volume 2, pg. 248)

And we also have other authentic narrations where the Imams refer to Ashab al-Kisa:

 يَقُولُ لِأَبِي جَعْفَرٍ الْأَحْوَلِ وَ أَنَا أَسْمَعُ أَتَيْتَ الْبَصْرَةَ فَقَالَ نَعَمْ قَالَ كَيْفَ رَأَيْتَ مُسَارَعَةَ النَّاسِ إِلَى هَذَا الْأَمْرِ وَ دُخُولَهُمْ فِيهِ قَالَ وَ اللَّهِ إِنَّهُمْ لَقَلِيلٌ وَ لَقَدْ فَعَلُوا وَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ لَقَلِيلٌ فَقَالَ عَلَيْكَ بِالْأَحْدَاثِ فَإِنَّهُمْ أَسْرَعُ إِلَى كُلِّ خَيْرٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ مَا يَقُولُ أَهْلُ الْبَصْرَةِ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ قُلْ لا أَسْئَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْراً إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبى‏ قُلْتُ جُعِلْتُ فِدَاكَ إِنَّهُمْ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّهَا لِأَقَارِبِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ص فَقَالَ كَذَبُوا إِنَّمَا نَزَلَتْ فِينَا خَاصَّةً فِي أَهْلِ الْبَيْتِ فِي عَلِيٍّ وَ فَاطِمَةَ وَ الْحَسَنِ وَ الْحُسَيْنِ أَصْحَابِ الْكِسَاءِ ع‏

I once heard Abu ‘AbdAllah, asking Abu Ja’far al-Ahwal, when I was listening, “Did you go to Basrah?” 
He replied, “Yes” (I went to Basra)
He (the Imam) asked, “How was people’s promptness to access this affair (Wilayah)?
He replied, “By Allah it is very little, they have done it but they are very few.” 
He (the Imam) said, “You must approach the young ones because they are quicker to all good things.” 
He (the Imam) said, “What do the people of Basra say about the verse of the Quran, “Say, I do not ask of you any reward, except that you must love my near ones.” (42:23)
I then said, “May I be ransomed for you, they say it is about the near ones to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ .”
He (the Imam) said, “They have spoken a lie.  It was revealed about us specifically, about Ahlulbayt, Ali, Fatimah, al-Hassan and al-Hussain, the people of the Cloak.

Al-Kafi, vol 8, pg 93


Grading: Sahih (Mir’at al-‘Uqool by Allamah Majlisi, Volume 25, pg. 221-222)

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