Translated & Annotated
Abu Khuzaimah Ansari
The 9th – Report of
Ishaq bin Rahawayh Rahimahullah
KEY BLACK BOLD = Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Junayd.
Blue [AK…..END] my annotations
Harb al-Kirmani said in Masai’luhu (2/886),
“I asked Ishaq about backbiting the oppressive ruler. He said, “It is not regarding them (i.e backbiting them), except that it is disliked a person makes it a habit.”
(These 3 scans were shared on social media by those who promote the permissibility of backbiting rulers publicly)
[AK] The people who use these reports often quote this statement of Imam Ishaq. They always quote it from the addendum from Kitab as-Sunnah which in turn quotes it from Harb’s Masail as we can see above. END]
Shaikh Abdul Qadir al-Junayd said,
This is the best report I have seen in this matter. Ishaq is confined by the evidence that have preceded (which prohibit backbiting). He is indeed a man who is wrong and correct at times and his statements or opinions are not hujjah, rather he requires evidence for them to be accepted. It might also be the case he might have had other reasons, explanations or possibilities (for this statement).”
(Athar al-Waridah Fi Jawaz Ghibah al-Hakim al-Ja’ir Ma’a Dirasah Asanidiha wa Alfadhuha wa Bayan Dhu’afuha wal Ijabah Anha Waradal Istidlal Biha p.20)
Abdul Qadir bin Muhammad bin Abdur Rahman al-Junaid.
[AK] This is the statement of Imam Ishaq bin Rahaywah. Although this statement is quoted in Kitab as-Sunnah of Harb bin Ismail al-Kirmani (d.280), it is not actually from it. The compiler, Adil Al Hamdan added additional chapters as addenda from various early books of creed and Masail which were transmitted by Harb but were not directly related to Masail of the Sunnah, namely creed and Manhaj.
This addendum starts from (p.291) of Kitab as-Sunnah (Adil Al Hamdan, Dar al-Loloaa, 2019 2nd edn) and this report is under the chapter of backbiting the people of innovation. We know the chapter was not from Imam Harb al-Kirmani but Adil Al Hamdan deemed it appropriate to categorise this report (no.660/121) under this chapter based on his understanding of the report.
He also brings other such reports regarding backbiting the people of innovation. This then being the first answer that this report is more appropriately regarding the oppressive rulers who were innovators and those who believed in the innovated belief of the Quran being created.
Imam Harb al-Kirmani brings this report in his Masail (2/886 no.1415) and the researcher of the book does not make any comment.
Let the reader note, did not those who shared this report fail to read the numerous other chapters in this addendum regarding the censure and refutation of the Khawarij (p.308+ no.576/37+) and advising the ruler (p.307+ no.574/35+) and there are many other topics like this that would put the claimants in comprising situations, like the, wilayah of a mushrik, marrying open sinners (Fusaq) and the people of desires or praying behind the Qadariyyah and innovators like them and more importantly, refuting and censuring desires and innovations and warning against its people and their books (p.316+ no.596/57+).
So, would the claimants happily based on having this report to show the Salaf differed in speaking ill of the rulers also take the statements on Abu Hanifah and his people of false opinions transmitted by Imam Harb al-Kirmani in the same book, refer to (p.276-289 no.529-539), particularly report (no.536) which is also from the same Ishaq!
The inference here is, if you take an isolated or lone view of Imam Ishaq which opposes the view of most of the scholars of the Salaf to show a difference of opinion exists or is validated, then surely you should also accept all the reports that show differences on other Masail and this example from Imam Ishaq himself on the veracity of Abu Hanifah. This is a rhetorical point for consideration and not for the blind followers of Abu Hanifah to show hypersensitivity.
Since we know the other reports are weak and the inference of the Salaf allowed backbiting the oppressive ruler is incorrect and wrong. So, we must then assume Imam Ishaq’s statement must be specific to a particular matter. For example, this might apply to a ruler who has an innovated belief like Khalq ul-Quran.
The statement could also refer to when someone lodges a complaint to the Qadhi or he needs to offer testimony in a legal case. Another possibility is, it could be an older statement or view which Harb transmitted. As Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Junayd, there is scope for a valid explanation.
Lastly, it is not from the Manhaj of the Salaf or Ahlus Sunnah to form legal Islamic positions based on isolated or lone reports or views while ignoring the absence of evidence. There must be clear, decisive and authentic texts from the Shari’ah, namely the Quran and Hadith that evidence and validate a legal view. Allahu Ta’la A’lam END]
(Athar al-Waridah Fi Jawaz Ghibah al-Hakim al-Ja’ir p.20)