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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 04:28
Assalamu Alaikum

Askimam has a fatwa entitled "A brief response to Dr. Jonathan AC Brown with regards to the issue of women leading men or mixed gender in congregational prayer" www.askimam.org/public/question_detail/38314

I have no problem with Askimam proving that Dr Jonathan's writing on this topic is misleading/erroneous. The way I see it, even IF there is some evidence to show it MAY be permissible for a woman to lead men in prayer in CERTAIN situations, it certainly wasn't the general practice of the Rasul Salalahu alayhi wasalam or the Sahaba, so there is no need for us to consider this in our Masjid.

Askimam states:
Quote:
It is evident to anyone who has read the chapter in question that even before writing the chapter, Dr. Brown had a predetermined opinion that he wanted to validate. He then went to great lengths in asserting and defending his predetermined opinion, even ignoring the legitimate criticism of the narration he has used as evidence for his opinion


What proof do they have of this and what right do they have to make such assumptions? In fact Dr Jonathan made it clear that his opinion on this issue changed while researching for the book. He says when he started writing the book he did not support women leading mixed gender prayers, but as he was researching the issue the evidence made him changed his mind.

Listen from 29:50 for one minute: youtu.be/jt-l30naUNo

Perhaps Ml Abu Hajera or someone else can pass this on to Askimam.

It is also extremely ironic that Askimam made this accusation against Dr. Jonathan Brown. This is exactly what the Muftis on Askimam do when defending a position of the Hanafi madhab. They already have a predetermined opinion (I.e.the Hanafi position) they want to validate and then to go to great lengths in asserting and defending the opinion. This also happens a lot with regards to the practice of the akabir, some go to great lenghts to justify their writings or practices without looking at the issue objectively.


Since I made this post, I will also mention another minor issue. I would've preferred if the following was not mentioned, as it could be taken as an attack on Dr. Jonathan Brown, which was not necessary, although others may think differently.

Quote:
Unfortunately, some individuals are mesmerised by people’s writing styles and presentation without analysing and measuring the contents of the writing through established academic rules and principles.


Quote:
Furthermore, Dr. Brown’s methodology is very questionable. When deciding the opinion he intends to base his ruling upon, he chooses the minority (supposed) opinion of three scholars, while ignoring the view of the majority. Yet when applying the laws of legal theory (Uṣūl Al Fiqh), he insists on holding onto the view of the majority. This is the insignia of those who are willing to choose any of the opinions of the scholars in order to justify their position


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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 06:08
You can contact them directly at admin@daruliftaa.net.
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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 09:45
Even if we accept the narration, it cleary has directions to " stay in your house" ( feminists should find this oppresive) also the instruction is to do it for your household or private people, which alludes that it was for specific people who have access to your private life and not general.

I feel Dr. Sahib has stretched this a bit too much. I can also see why askimam made the comments because it seems or comes of as objectivity was lost.
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 10:37
Jonathan Brown's views are -rightly - very suspect. How about the issue of him accusing Mu'awiya RA of lying and questioning the principle of Adalat Al-Sahaba (Justice of all Companions). I do not take a man seriously who puts up alluring pictures of his wife on Facebook.
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 11:33
mkdon101 wrote:
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I am not here to claim that Dr. Jonathan Brown's views are perfect, nor am I aware of all of his views. It is clear askimam made an error in their assumption and I pointed it out.

As far as I am aware Dr. Jonathan Brown researches matters and presents writings and conclusions based on his research. If he has made SERIOUS errors and is constantly promoting HARMFUL beliefs then I have no problem being harsh with him.

Concerning the issue you mentioned, it seems that he has said on Facebook that he would make adjustments to how he wrote about that issue relating to Muawiyah R.A in future editions of the book, and that he does not personally believe that Muawiyah R.A. is guilty of what he reported in the book. You can google it.
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 11:47
samah wrote:
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Yes but a couple times I emailed on other matters and received no response.
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 15th May 2017 11:48
Book Review of Jonathan Brown's book "Misquoting Muhammed"


By Abd al-Nur ibn Ahmed
02/01/2017


"Misquoting Muhammed" (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallamf^^) is a book by the Western academic
Jonathan Brown that follows on from a series of books by him on aspects relating to hadith and the

Noble Prophet ('^^). Brown has done a great service to Muslims and non-Muslims by highlighting in
an academic and easily understandable way, the importance of hadith to understand Islam and
Muslims, given some explanations about what hadith science is, the various contributions made by
hadith scholars, and presented some of the traditionalist and classical epistemological views in
relation to hadith and hadith interpretation.

In this book. Brown has done a good job in refuting the interpretations of the violent extremists in
regards to hadiths and rightly encourages Muslims to ensure that they're not quoting forged hadiths.

He has also devoted a few pages to provide good refutations to the "Qur'an only" movement by
arguing that the same methodology they use to reject hadiths, can be applied to reject the other
Islamic sciences such as tafsir, linguistics (through which one knows what the Qur'anic words mean)
because generally the Islamic sciences rely on the tradition of isnad. This would mean that the
Qur'an could not be understood, and in fact would be liable to even more misinterpretations, if we
abandon hadiths as a whole. He also discussed that hadiths and scholars actually provide crucial
explanations to the Qur'an, such as limiting the cutting of hands when conditions of a minimum
amount are fulfilled, or about how to actually pray.

Despite the above benefits of the books, there are a number of other major errors, some of which
are highlighted below. If one is sincere and unafraid of the truth, then the following read is of
beneficial:

1) Attack on the Sahaba

Brown has not applied academic rigour when it comes to his personal beliefs in terms of hating

Sayyidina Mu'awiya, the one who was appointed by the Prophet as the writer of revelation. He
said "Mu'awiya himself encouraged his followers to forge Hadiths" (p 22). When I spoke to Brown
directly on this (in his SQAS talk on 29/02/2016), he said that he had "no doubt about it, that the
Bukhari or Muslim mention that Muawiya encouraged cursing AN and that it mentioned that
Muawiya was a liar, which shows he was a dishonest man". However none of these evidences are
found in the Bukhari or Muslim^.

As for his references in the "Misquoting" book, they are from Kitab al-Ahdath attributed to al-
Mada'ini (d 235 AH) and al-Risala by Ahmad al-Miswari, the latter is definitely a Shia source (shias
curse and hate Mu'awiya). Al-Mada'ini lived over 100 after Mu'awiya and al-Miswari lived a long
time afterwards also. Nevertheless no sound chain is known for their reports and Brown actually
quoted from al-Miswari who apparently quotes from al-Mada'ini. Since al-Mada'ini's work is extinct.
Brown has completely relied on an extremely biased Shia source for the citation and there is no way


^ Instead Jonathan seems to have misquoted the incident mentioned in
sunnah.org/wp/2008/07/18/muawivah-and-abusing-imam-ali-as/


to determine what al-Mada'ini actually said (note that Shias often misquote Sunni sources even
when the works exist^). Even if al-Miswari actually quoted from Kitab al-Ahdath, we don't know if
the copy was the authentic copy of al-Mada'ini or was fabricated or tampered.

Considering that it is well known that many reports against Mu'awiya were forged by Shias and Shias
ritualistically curse him, I expected appropriate scepticism by Brown.

On the other hand the report about Mu'awiya cursing AN is actually without a sound chain^ and is
circulated amongst the Shia (in fact they generally have no chain/isnad).

Shaykh Dr Gibril Haddad rightly mentioned "As for whatever transgression is attributed to Mu'awiya,
Allah be well-pleased with him, the Prophet himself (upon him blessings and peace) declared that it
is does not matter at all, since he said that those who fought at Badr and Hunayn are in Paradise,
and Mu'awiya fought at Hunayn.'"^ On the other hand, various sahaba specifically praised Mu'awiya,
such as Ibn Abbas calling him a faqih^ whilst Bukhari, Muslim, Malik and many other leading Hadith
masters included Mu'awiya as a narrator in their collections.

The Prophet said: "None of you should come to me with anything (negative) about any of my
Companions for I do not want to go out to you except with a clear heart." ®

The Qur'an says "Those are a people who have passed away. Theirs is that which they earned, and
yours is that which ye earn. And ye will not be asked of what they used to do." (2:134)

Based on the principles and sources that Brown uses to attack Mu'awiya, many of the other leading
sahaba would be attacked (such as Sayyida A'isha, Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab), which suggests
that Brown's approach is not consistent. Malik^ and Ibn Taymiyya® deemed it a punishable crime to
believe that Mu'awiya was misguided or to curse him whilst Ahmed said that such people should be
"abandoned"®, which refutes Brown's claim of following the Hanbali madhab.

2) Women leading men in prayer

Brown briefly gives the arguments of the Sunni scholars against women leading men in prayer (for
fardh salats in public) and then provides detailed refutations of each of the Sunni arguments. Whilst
he does not give his personal opinion, the reader is left in no doubt about what is the "correct
opinion".

He defends the Hadith of Umm Waraqa as authentic despite many leading hadith scholars declaring
it weak. Brown does not address the major weaknesses of this hadith, including its numerous
divergent and contradictory versions, the unknown narrators, and the fact that the entire hadith
goes through only one narrator Walid ibn Abdillah ibn Jumay (thus it is a purely solitary hadith which
can't stand against the weight of ijma and other stronger evidences and hadiths).


^ See example in www.abc.Se/~m9783/k/vt2-gfh e.html and
www.livingislam.org/fiqhi/fiqha e94.html#3

^ Bidaya wa Nihaya by Ibn Kathir
eshavkh.com/doctrine/sahabi-muawiva/

^ Sahih Bukhari

® Narrated by Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, and Ahmad. This is also supported by the Hadiths in the sahihayn about
not cursing the sahaba such as "Do not insult my companions, for, by Allah, if any of you gave gold the extent
of Mount Uhud in charity, you would not reach even a handful or even half a handful [of what they did]".

^ Al-Shifa by Qadi lyad
® Majmu' al-Fatawa by Ibn Taymiyya
® Al-Sunnah by al-Khallal


Hakim said about this hadith "This is a strange practice, i do not know of a connected hadith on the
subject besides this" and "it wouid have been better if Musiim did not transmit his (hadiths).".
Despite this, Brown ciaims that Hakim deemed the report authentic (another exampie of Brown
faiiing to understand hadith science and misquoting).

ibn Hibban further said about Waiid "He was of those who were isoiated (in their reports) from firm
reporters (in narrating) what does not resembie the narration of trustworthy men. When that is
excessive from him, adducing evidence from him is nullified." Whilst al-Uqayli said in his book on
weak narrators "There is inconsistency in his hadith." Inconsistency is objective evidence of a
narrator's weakness and is objectively shown by the fact that this hadith has variant and divergent
versions from Waiid (such as some not mentioning Imamate or an Azan, or mixing up narrators).

As for those from whom Waiid narrates from, all of them are either unknown (in person or
reliability). The accepted and soundest position in hadith scholarship is that the people who are
unknown, are not deemed reliable in hadith. This, as well as the detailed analysis by Shu'ayb Arna'ut,
concluded that the hadith of Umm Waraqa is weak and no evidence^.

If the hadith was authentic and some major scholars had allowed women leading men, then such a
practice would have been done or known during the time of the Salaf, who were strict followers of

the Prophet The fact that Hakim found the practice strange, indicates that he had never come
across it. This is supported by Umm Waraqa living in Medinah, yet none of the scholars of Madinah
allowed women leading men (from the time of Malik or before).

The hadith also gives no unambiguous indication that men were led by a woman. In fact the only
version that mentions gender, clearly states women being led by Umm Waraqa.

Brown then tries to bolster his position by attributing the permissibility of women leading men (in
any condition) to Tabari, Abu Thawri, Muzani and the Sufi Ibn Arabi. He further justified this by
claiming that Tabari had a flourishing madhab and giving his credentials. However this only shows
the inconsistent methodology of Brown because he does not quote Tabari's tafsir's interpretation on
hitting women (his view won't please feminists but does Brown deem them as valid followable views
now too?) nor Tabari's other odd and isolated views which no Muslim would accept. Furthermore
there is no isnad for attributing the positions to Tabari or Abu Thawr, hence we can't declare that
there is any reasonable proof that they held this position or what their conditions were (e.g. that
women can only lead in the home when the men are unqualified).

As for Muzani, the latter said "The prayer of anyone praying behind someone in a state of major
ritual impurity, a woman, an insane person, or a disbeliever is acceptably conveyed if he is unaware
of his/her [the 'sj state."^^ Zaid Shakir said "From this we can infer that the prayer of the follower in
all of these scenarios is unacceptable if he knows of the 's state. This would include his prayer behind
a woman. As for the opinion that al-Muzani actually endorsed female prayer leadership, it has not
reached us in any extant document."^^

As for Ibn Arabi, he doesn't quote the latter's statement in the futuhat that women are deficient in
the intellect and religion (section on whether it is obligatory for women to pray in congregation).
Again this shows Brown being inconsistent in quoting and only quoting what supports him. It is also


A detailed analysis of the hadith is given by Zameelur Rahman in islamqa.org/hanafi/askimam/80384
Sunan of Bayhaqi. See his discussion on the evidences and the view of the seven jurists of Medinah.
Mukhtasar of Muzani

www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/articles/female prayer leadership revisited


known that many of Ibn Arabi's works have been tampered with so we are not sure that Ibn Arabi
actually held this position. In fact suggestions of tamperings are found on this issue because it is
against Ibn Arabi's methodology and the reasoning he gave for his position contradicts his other
reasoning elsewhere in the text (where he is explicit that matters relating to the prayer have to be
proven from the Prophet, otherwise they're not allowed)^'*. The other point is that Ibn Arabi does
not state that women can lead in any situation. Due to the lack of transmission of his fiqh through
living scholars and detailed manuals on fiqh, we don't know what his conditions were for women
leading.

Based on the Prophet's ('^^) command to pray as he prayed, the hadiths on bid'a, other hadiths and

the understanding of the Salaf, actions of Salah have to be taken from the Prophet (^^). Since the
permissibility of women's Imamate of men is not proven, women's Imamate is not allowed.
Otherwise A'isha would not have prayed behind a male slave who had not memorised the Qur'an
yet he prayed with a mushaf and she would have communicated the practice to the Ummah.^^

This discussion shows the wisdom of al-Awza'i who said: "The one who takes the odd opinions of the
scholars leaves Islam." Muslims should follow a principled and consistent approach when picking
opinions from Muslim scholars.

3) Scholarship

The authentic hadith says "Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets." What is interesting to note
is that it doesn't call laymen inheritors or the academics inheritors. Instead it is the qualified Islamic

scholars that are meant. In the Hadith of Bukhari, the Prophet said "Allah does not take away
knowledge by plucking it out of the hearts of people, but he takes it away by taking the souls of the
'ulama until, when he doesn't leave a single 'alim, people take ignorant people as their leaders
(ittakhadha al-nasa ru'usan juhhalan), who give fatwa and lead people astray without knowledge."

By Brown writing on complex Islamic matters, attacking scholars, scholarship and trying to give his
own agendas and views. Brown is opposing the above hadiths and affectively telling people "follow
me, a non-scholar, instead of the scholars". Brown is not accepted by the scholarly community as a
scholar nor is authorised as a scholar.

Interestingly Brown quotes (page 223) the maxim "we have been commanded to speak to people
according to their minds' abilities" and a related hadith.

However he doesn't apply the above rule or hadith to his writings, which will confuse many laymen
who aren't trained in the Islamic sciences and can't detect his various misquotes. This is because he
quotes the oddest opinions from various sects inside and outside Islam (such as Amina Wadud, Sidqi,
Qutb, Abu Rayya, the Mu'tazila, the Shia) without consistently giving a fair or proper refutation.

Neither did the Prophet nor the sahaba teach people odd/misguided opinions without refuting
them. By opposing them in this. Brown has and will lead to the misguidance of other lay Muslims
who don't all have the skills to research the topic, critically analyse various claims and to distinguish


Futuhat al-Makkiyya, 1:435 of the Bulaq edition
Al-Muwatta of Malik

Related by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and others. Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Zayla'i,
Ibn Hajar, and others seemed it authentic.

Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-llm


between truth and falsehood. Muslims may also get the impression that this is not a divinely
protected religion due to the many differences and sects, or that any opinion can be followed.

By seeing the amount of variant views and sects that Brown mentions, one questions what is the
intention of writing the book which is for the laymen (Muslims and non-Muslims) and sold in major
bookstores? Ahmed ibn Hanbal prohibited kalam because it would lead to laymen being exposed to
the arguments of the misguided^®.

The saying of the Salaf is "Indeed this knowledge is religion, so look from whom you take your
religion." One should thus take knowledge from the qualified scholars who have the relevant ijazahs
going to the Prophet in an unbroken chain, on that subject. The authentic hadith of the Holy Prophet

states: "From every succeeding generation its upright folk shall carry this knowledge in turn.
They shall repeal from it the distortions of the extremists (tahrif al-ghalin), the (mis)interpretations
of the ignorant (ta'wii al-jahilin), and the pretenses of the liars (intihal al-mubtilin)." and another
mass-transmitted (mutawatir) hadith states "There shall not cease to be a group in my Community
who shall overcome and stand for truth until the end of time." This shows that the true Islam will be
present in every generation (i.e. unbroken chain/isnad) and victorious. This condition only applies to
the four Sunni madhabs, who are the rightly guided, which means that odd opinions found amongst
other sects (whether new or those extinct) are to be rejected.

Thus Ibn Rajab said "We have already alerted you to the reason for preventing this, which is that the
schools of other than these [four] were not widely diffused, nor fully codified. At times views are
ascribed to them which they never said, or their pronouncements are understood in ways they never
intended. There is no [expert in] these schools to defend them or point out where such slips and
errors lie - contrary to the case of the well-known madhhabs."^°

By ignoring the wisdom of following scholars and non-scholars not speaking about complex Islamic
matters to the public, the errors and consequences of Brown's works become apparent. This is also
shown by his use of offensive language when describing Islamic sciences such as referring to hadith
science with the words "cult of authenticity" (p 224).


The distinguishing mark between a true Hadith scholar and an academic is that for the former, the

Prophet (^^) is a living example to be followed in terms of his teachings and actions. This is why

they are carefully not to be stingy in regards to the Prophet ('^^) and don't neglect to send
salutations (salawat) upon him, when his name is written. However the trademark of the modern
academic is to neglect this salawat in the name of materialism (whether it is costs of pages or the


blatantly false argument that attaching will distract the flow) and to address the Prophet
as if the Prophet (^'^) is the academic's student. You will see the modern academics address their
professors with greater respect and titles. This book mentions the name of the Prophet more

than 450 times, yet salawat were only written twice. 100s of times it mentions the Prophet ('^^)
solely with his name, in contradiction to the Qur'an "Make not the calling of the messenger among
you as your calling one of another..." (24:63), about which Sayyiduna Ibn 'Abbas said: "They used to


For more on this topic of kalam, see Ghazali's Qawa'id al-Aqa'id

This hadith is narrated by at least 10 sahaba in various hadith collections such as Tabarani, Bayhaqi, Ibn
Hibban and is analysed by Dr GF Haddad in Sunna Notes volume 1, pages 60-62. It is sahih per Imam Ahmed
etc

Al-Radd 'ala man Ittaba'ah Ghayra'I-Madhahib al-Arba'ah (Makkah: Dar al-'Alam al-Fuwa'id, 1997), 33-4
from thehumblei.eom/2012/10/01/legitimate-islamic-learning-unb...


say, 'O Muhammed(^^),' or 'O Abu Al-Qasim,' but Allah forbade them to do that, as a sign of
respect towards His Prophet , and told them to say, 'O Prophet of Allah,' 'O Messenger of Allah.

4) Authenticity of hadiths

Brown declares that mutawatir are only "at most a few dozen massively transmitted" (p 232) despite
there being over 300 as compiled by the hadith master Ja'far al-Kattani^^.

On sahih ahad (i.e. non-mutawatir) hadiths. Brown said they were "only 'most probably' the words
of the Prophet" (p 232). The Ahlus Sunnah however believe that it is obligatory to believe^^ in sahih
hadiths and al-Qari narrated the consensus of the sahaba on this (as also known by the fact that
often the Prophet would only send one or a few sahaba to transmit the Qur'an to other tribes, who
would be obligated to believe in it).

Brown has wrongly conveyed the views of scholars about ahad hadiths and epistemology. The
scholars either hold them to give absolute certain knowledge (yaqin, as was the view of Ibn Qayyim)
or the compelling assumption of truth (al-dhann al-ghalib, as was the view of most Ash'aris). The
latter is of various degrees and Ibn Hajar labelled the highest form of it as "iron-clad inductive
knowledge".

The crucial point to bear in mind is that Islam requires four witnesses (i.e. ahad reports) for the hadd
of zina. Thus sahih ahad reports give enough knowledge that they can be used in criminal law and
capital punishments.

5) Rants against karamat

The belief in the possibility of karamat is a belief of the Ahlus Sunnah as stated in the Aqidah
Tahawiyya and even by Ibn Taymiyya^^ who mentioned that they will continue until the Day of
Judgement.

Brown compares the miracles related to the Awliya (karamat) to myths mentioned amongst other
religions (p 71-72). The absurdity of such a comparison is known by the fact that karamat should be
verified through proper isnads whereas the previous religions did not do that.

He compares the stories of karamat to "noble lies", quotes Buti's mention of fabricated karamat
stories about his father (p 261), rants against kashf authentication of hadiths and waking visions of
the Prophet (p 226-227). This is despite the fact the Qur'an mentions karamat stories (e.g. Maryam,
the man with the throne of Bilqis etc) and various authentic karamat are narrated from the sahaba
and Salaf. That, combined with the people converting to Islam due to karamat, the need to disprove
materialism and to strengthen the Iman of Muslims, are sufficient benefits in narrating authentic
karamat stories.


Tafsir Ibn Kathir on 24:63,

In Nazm al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir, al-Alim al-Rabbani, by al-Sayyid Muhammed Jafar al-
Idrisi al-Kattani (d. 1927)

Note that if there is proof of abrogation or other reasonable reasons given by the classical scholars, then the
hadith is not acted upon
As stated in his Aqidah Wasitiyya


" djlHulSUIj djilljdl M u li\' [Jj .

X, ' . - 5 - - » » - - i » i


.


Whilst it is true that many karamat stories are forged, many are also authentic when looked through
the eye of isnad. That is one reason why Tahawi mentioned "We believe in what we know of
Karamat, the marvels of the awliya' and in authentic stories about them from trustworthy sources. "
Such is the case with many karamat reported by Ibn Ata lllah about his teacher^^ and by al-Lamati
about his teacher^®.

No less a scholar than the hadith master al-Suyuti (who memorised over 200,000 hadiths) deduces
the permissibility of waking visions of the Prophet based on the authentic hadith "Whoever saw me
in his dream shall see me with his waking eyes and the devil cannot impersonate me"^^. The hadith
mentions no qualifications or restrictions about it being in the hereafter and the like. Suyuti also
narrates an actual story of hadith authentication via kashf while Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh
authenticated many hadiths through his kashf (despite him being illiterate, his gradings were
confirmed by various hadith masters when analysing the isnad^®) and Shah Waliullah Dihlawi
discussed his father seeing the Prophet in a waking state^®.

6) Attack on Syed Naquib al-Attas

Brown accuses the famous Muslim philosopher al-Attas of "noble lying" (like the Buddhists and
Greeks (p 218 - 221)) against the Prophet (^^) when he quoted a saying attributed to the Prophet (

^^) from a book that "People are asleep, and when they die they awaken". It is correct that this
saying was actually said by Sayyiduna AN (RA) and when a questioner challenged al-Attas, the latter
said "Why should we not use this, when it is an important principle (asl) in our religion?". Brown
misinterpreted this to mean that al-Attas believed it is correct to attribute the hadith to the Prophet
and thereby engage in a noble lie.

However what al-Attas meant is that "the statement is true, regardless of who said it" and not that
the questioner was wrong. In fact, Ibn Arabi, about whom Brown said "was no lackluster jurist and
Hadith scholar" (p 190) and "declared him-self able to verify Hadiths that had no chains of
transmission whatsoever on the basis of 'unveiling (kashf)'" (p 226) attributed this hadith to the

Prophet (^^)®°

The hadith on respecting elders is pertinent here. Despite the above accusations. Brown includes a
picture of himself with al-Attas in the book.

7) Weak hadiths

In his chapter on "Lying about the Prophet of God", Brown attacks the scholarly use of weak hadiths
for admonitions and likens it to the Greek use of noble lies and Hollywood, even if the likes of
Ahmad, Shawkani, Ibn Hajar, Bukhari and Ibn Taymiyya allowed it and the conditions were met (such
as not being a forgery or very weak, using uncertain phrasing e.g. "It is said", not being for law or
aqidah, and falling under an established principle).

Since isnad was not the methodology of the Greeks but even weak hadiths quoted by scholars have
isnads, the analogy is false. As weak hadiths should not have a liar in its chain and aren't clearly false.

See the Lata'if al-Minan by Ibn Ata lllah where the miracles of his teacher Abul Abbas al-Mursi are reported
See the Ibriz by al-Lamati where the miracles of his teacher Abd al-Aziz al-Dabbagh are reported
Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and others from the Prophet
See many instances in the Ibriz by his close student al-Lamati
See his Anfas al-Arifin

As mentioned by William Chittick in The Sufi Path of Knowledge, page 120, referring to Futuhat al-Makkiyya
by ibn Arabi in the chapter on dreams.


it cannot be said that the Prophet ('^^) didn't say them. They could be true (it has a 50% chance per
Hamza Yusuf) and can be used to encourage good actions if there is no harm. Respect for the

Prophet means that we should consider things that he might have plausibly said. As Dr Gibril
Haddad mentioned "The difference is clear between saying we are not forced to use weak narrators
and saying that one cannot transmit anything from them"^^

Despite his rant against weak hadiths, he accepts the weak hadith of Umm Waraqah for law.

8) Hadiths and reason

Brown devotes 4 paragraphs (pages 69-70) for the view that deems the authentic hadith about a fly
to be scientifically impossible and against reason. He then devotes a few lines in the middle of
another paragraph (page 70) with a counter argument from Sunni scholars. This gives laymen
readers the impression that "this authentic hadith is against reason and can be rejected".

This theme of how much space is given to both sides of the argument is either an indication of bias
or recklessness. He also did not quote the many scientific studies done (by Muslims and non-
Muslims) that prove that the hadith is true^^ although he briefly mentioned that flies had antibodies.

9) Translating the Qur'an

Brown translates the Qur'an such as by saying "The power [yad] of Abu Lahab will perish" (p 91).
However I couldn't find yad meaning power in any of the linguistic tafsirs so it appears to be a ta'wii
without any basis.

10) Interest/usury (riba)

Brown puts a fog over the ijma/consensus (per both the Sunnis and Shias) on the prohibition of riba
by stating that the Qur'an forbids "excessive usury" (pages 30 and 111). Nowhere in the Qur'an is
the word "excessive" mentioned in addition to riba e.g it says "Allah has permitted trade and has
forbidden riba" (2:275). Although Brown earlier stated that the Qur'an forbids riba ("any kind of
interest-bearing transaction"), by adding the mention of "excessive" later on, obscures the clear cut
Qur'anic prohibition.

Brown makes a mockery of the scholars that quote the hadith comparing riba to interest as clearly
false because apparently incest is worse than riba. However this reasoning is clearly disproved
because Allah Most High says ""Q those who believe, fear Allah and give up what still remains of the
riba if you are believers. But if you do not, then listen to the declaration of war from Allah and His
Messenger. And if you repent, yours is your principal. Neither you wrong, nor be wronged." (2:278-
279)". Riba is thus such a grave sin that Allah declares war against it, whilst I am not aware that he
says the same about incest in the Qur'an.

Perhaps Brown can be excused about the ramifications of riba because he is not qualified in
economics or finance. Riba is a method of economic oppression and enslavement that has caused
large populations to be economically enslaved, led to financial crises, lost homes etc.


Sunna Notes volume 1, page 103. That chapter shows that the vast majority of hadith scholars allowed the
narration of weak hadiths for other than law and aqidah.

Such as "Microbiological Studies on Fly Wings" by Rehab Atta, World Journal of Medical Sciences 11 (4): 486-
489, 2014 or the article by Dr Gibril Haddad seekershub.org/ans-blog/2011/07/02/does-modern-
science-confirm-the-hadith-that-says-there-is-an-antidote-in-the-wing-of-a-fly/


Brown also claims about the hadith that it is "widely considered unreliable or even a blatant forgery
by Muslim Hadith scholars". However this has been narrated by 7 different sahaba with their
collectivity giving it strength and making forgery implausible. Certain scholars also declared some of
the chains authentic, leading to the overall hadith being authentic in meaning.^^

Brown later quotes strange opinions from colonial and post-colonial scholars permitting interest,
such as on the reasoning that fiat money has no value. This opinion contradicts economics and
finance and is an embarrassment to the people. It also contradicts the well known hadith "A time
will certainly come to mankind when no one will remain except the consumer of riba
(usury/interest), and if he does not consume it, some of its vapour will reach him". Ibn Isa said: Some
of its dust will reach him" (Abu Dawud). How can there be riba affecting everyone if the bank
interest is not interest? It is however interesting to note that the fatwas on the permissibility of
interest primarily started during the colonial times.

In conclusion, the celebrity status given to Brown by Muslim laymen and their acting as if he has a
status equal to the four Sunni mujtahids is unhealthy. Although I have not highlighted the many
other errors in the book, this review highlights some of the major and basic errors in the work and
the need for only qualified Muslim scholars to write about such complex and important Islam topics,
rather than unqualified academics such as Brown. For good scholarship by hadith scholars in English,
one is recommended to read the works of Mustafa A'zami and Gibril Haddad instead of the works of
Jonathan Brown (unless one is classically trained in the Islamic sciences).


Targhib of Mundhiri, volume 3, pages 6-8.
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