The Qur’an is a hadith with a weak chain, but this does not bother the believer

There is no doubt that the Qur’an is a hadith ( حديث ), a saying that we have never heard with our own ears from the mouth of Muhammad (s.) or from one of his companions and that we only know it because other people told us about it, most of whom we have never met.

The Shiite scholar Al-Kulaini writes that Imam Al-Baqir (a.) said:
إن كتاب الله أصدق الحديث

“The book of God is the most truthful Hadith.” [Al-Kafi, Volume 3, Page 240, Hadith 6]

The Sunni scholar Muslim Ibn Hajjaj writes that the Prophet (s.) said:
فإن خير الحديث كتاب الله 
“The best hadith is the Book of God.” [Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Hadith 867]

In the 23rd verse of chapter 39 of the Qur’an it is written:
الله نزل أحسن الحديث
“God sent down the best hadith.”

A widespread phenomenon among Muslims is that if someone tells them a hadith to which they are not comfortable, they immediately ask for the chain of its transmitters, because they would only take the religion from authentic sources. Interestingly, however, this thinking does not seem to have reached the transmission of the most popular hadith, the Qur’an, which was narrated by Hafs from Asim.

The Shiite scholar Fadl Ibn Hasan At-Tabarsi writes:

وأما الكوفي فأولهم عاصم بن أبي النجود بهدلة وله روايتان رواية حفص بن سليمان البزاز [ … ] فاما عاصم فإنه قرأ على أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي وهو قرأ على علي بن أبي طالب عليه السلام
“As far as the Kufite is concerned, the first of them is Asim Ibn Abi Najud Bahdalah and he is narrated in two ways, one of which is narrated by (1.) Hafs Ibn Sulaiman Al-Bazzazaz [ …] and as far as (2.) Asim is concerned, he learned the Qur’an from (3.) Abu Abdi r-Rahman As-Sulami and he learned the Qur’an from Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.).” [Majma’-ul-Bayan, Volume 1, Page 9]


The Shiite scholar Muhammad Al-Jawahiri writes:

حفص بن سليمان أبو عمرو الأسدي الغاضري الفاخري المقريء البزاز الكوفي من أصحاب الصادق عليه السلام أسنده عنه مجهول

(1.) “Hafs Ibn Sulaiman, Abu Amr Al-Asadi, Al-Ghadiri, Al-Fakhiri, the reciter, Al-Bazzaz, the Kufite, who is one of the companions of Ja’far As-Sadiq (a.) and transmitted from him, is unknown (Majhul).” [Al-Mufid Min Mu’jam Rijali l-Hadith, page 187]

عاصم بن أبي النجود الأسدي مجهول روى في التهذيبين متحد مع لاحقه

(2.) “Asim Ibn Abi Najud Al-Asadi is unknown (Majhul). He transmitted in At-Tahdhib and Al-Istibsar and is identical with the person thereafter.” [Al-Mufid Min Mu’jam Rijali l-Hadith, page 294]

عبد الله بن حبيب السلمي أبو عبد الرحمان عده البرقي من خواص أصحاب علي عليه السلام وقال: وبعض الرواة يطعن فيه

(3.) “Abdullah Ibn Habib As-Sulami, Abu Abdi r-Rahman, was counted by Al-Barqi as one of the special companions of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.) and he said: “Some traditionals condemned him (Mat’un).” [Al-Mufid Min Mu’jam Rijali l-Hadith, page 330]

The Sunni scholar Muhammad Adh-Dhahabi writes:

حفص بن سليمان وهو حفص بن أبي داود أبو عمر الأسدي مولاهم الكوفي الغاضري صاحب القراءة وابن امرأة عاصم ويقال له حفيص روى عن شيخه في القراءة عاصم وعن قيس بن مسلم وعلقمة بن مرثد ومحارب بن دثار وعدة وأقرا الناس مدة وكان ثبتا في القراءة واهيا في الحديث لأنه كان لا يتقن الحديث ويتقن القرآن ويجوده والا فهو في نفسه صادق

(1.) “Hafs Ibn Sulaiman, who is Hafs Ibn Abi Dawud, Abu Umar Al-Asadi, its servant, the Kufite, Al-Ghadiri, who is the owner of the reading and son of the wife of Asim and who is also called Hufais. He told the way of reading from his teacher Asim and from Qais Ibn Muslim and Alqamah Ibn Marthad and Muharib Ibn Dithar and another group, and he taught the people the Qur’an for a while and was strong in reading and weak in hadith, because he did not get the hadith well, but read the Qur’an beautifully and well, but in itself he is an honest man.” [Mizan-ul-I’tidal, Volume 1, Page 558]

قال النسائي عاصم ليس بحافظ

(2.) “An-Nasa’i said: ‘Asim does not know the full Qur’an.” [Siyar-ul-A’lam, volume 5, page 257]

وقال سعد بن عبادة أقرأ أبو عبد الرحمن في خلافة عثمان وإلى أن توفي في زمن الحجاج قال شعبة لم يسمع من عثمان كذا قال شعبة ولم يتابع وروى أبان العطار عن عاصم بن بهدلة عن أبي عبد الرحمن قال أخذت القراءة عن علي
(3.)“Sa’d Ibn Ubadah said: “Abu Abdi r-Rahman taught the Qur’an during the term of Uthman until he died during the term of Yusuf Al-Hajjaj. Shu’bah said: “He did not hear from Uthman.” Likewise Shu’bah said: “He did not follow him.” Aban Al-Attar told from Asim Ibn Bahdalah that Abu Abdi r-Rahman said: “I learned the Qur’an from Ali.” [Siyar-ul-A’lam, Volume 4, pages 167-168]

In order to play down their weakness in the transmission of the Qur’an, they like to drag scholars here who report how beautifully these people could read the Qur’an. Narrators like these may have recited the Qur’an beautifully and well, but they were too weak to transmit it completely just as Hadith – as it is. Another amusing assertion of such fellows is that the transmitters would have been Shiites or Sunnis. But none of them has ever been reported to have said: “I am a Sunni and believe in the four rightful successors after the Prophet.” Or said: “I am a Shiite and believe in the 12 rightful Imams after the Prophet.” Even if one of them had said: “I love Abu Bakr and Umar.” That wouldn’t be proof he was Sunni, because groups like the Mu’tazilites, Zaidites, Kharijites and those who embody God did. Even if one of them had said: “I love Ali and believe that he is the rightful successor after the Prophet.” That wouldn’t be proof that he was an Imamite, because groups like the Zaidites, Isma’ilites and Waqifites also did that. The undeniable fact remains that we do not even know the denomination of these people, and anyone who advertises with it is only following his instinct to present himself better to the others.

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