Fatima, Hujja of Allah upon us?
We commonly hear in Shi’i circles about the hadith attributed to Imam al-Askari:
“We (the Imams) are Allah’s hujja upon his creation. And our grandmother Fatima is Allah’s hujja upon us”
نحن حجج الله على خلقه، وجدّتنا فاطمة عليها السلام حجّة الله علينا
The earliest source for this hadith is the book “Atyab al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran”, whose author Sayyid Abd al-Husayn al-Isfahani died in 1412 AH.
One cannot help but wonder though:
1 ) This is a hadith attributed to Ahlulbayt, how come it isn’t found in earlier hadith corpus?
2 ) Is the hadith based on another hadith?
3 ) Why isn’t an isnad (chain of transmission) mentioned for the hadith?
These are questions I will hope to explore in my article.
“This is a hadith attributed to Ahlulbayt, how come it isn’t found in earlier hadith corpus?”
The author seems to have practiced the principle enjoined by our Imams regarding ‘al-Riwayah bil Ma’na’ الروايةبالمعنى (narration of a hadith from an Imam based on general meaning, instead of exact words).
This is permitted by our Imams, in case we forget the words of a hadith but remember the meaning. But not encouraged by them.
How many of us remember that a verse is talking about so and so, but do not remember the words? So we express the words of Allah in our own words to convey the meaning.
Same kind of thinking here.
- Hadith #1
(Al-Kafi, vol 1, page 51)
“I said to Abu Abdullah, peace be upon him: I hear ahadith from you, and I want to narrate it as I heard it from you, however I cannot remember the words.
He (the Imam) said: ‘Do you intentionally do that?’ (i.e, not want to mention our exact words?)
I said: No.
He said: You want to convey the meaning of our ahadith?
I said: Yes.
He said: There is no harm (i.e, in narrating the hadith from us even if the words are not exactly what we said - but the meaning of the hadith is reached)”
3 - وعنه، عن محمد بن الحسين، عن ابن سنان، عن داود بن فرقد قال: قلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام: إني أسمع الكلام منك فأريد أن أرويهكما سمعته منك فلا يجيئ قال: فتعمد (2) ذلك؟ قلت: لا، فقال: تريد المعاني؟ قلت: نعم، قال: فلا بأس.
- Hadith #2
(Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol 27, page 105)
“Abi Abdillah said:
‘As long as you reach the meaning of our hadith, you are free to express the words of (the hadith) however you wish”
(33333) 88 - محمد بن إدريس في آخر (السرائر) نقلا من كتاب أبي عبد الله السياري عن بعض أصحابنا يرفعه إلى أبي عبد الله (عليهالسلام) قال: إذا أصبت معنى حديثنا فاعرب عنه بما شئت
“Is the hadith based on another hadith?”
The hadith of Fatima being Allah’s hujja on creation seems to be reflective of an existent genre of ahadith on the great virtue of Sayyida Fatima (s) above humanity.
Shaykh Abdullah al-Bahrani (d. 1100s AH), and a student of Allama Majlisi provides a similar hadith in his work ‘Awalim al-‘Uloom:
“O Ahmad, had it not been for you - I would not have created the universe. And had it not been for Ali, I would not have created you. And had it not been for Fatima, I would not have created you”
يا أحمد لولاك لما خلقت الأفلاك، ولولا علي لما خلقتك، ولولا فاطمة لما خلقتكما
While it is not clear which hadith exactly upon whose meaning Sayyid al-Isfahani narrated his hadith from.
It would not be unusual for someone to remember Sayyida Fatima being the reason for both the Prophet and Imam Ali’s creation as meaning she is hujja upon the Imams.
1 ) The Imams are hujja upon us human beings.
2 ) Our ahadith state they (the Ahlulbayt) are the reason Allah created us.
Something classical scholars such as Shaykh al-Saduq took upon, believing that had it not been for the Ahlulbayt - Allah would have not created anything in the universe
Interestingly enough, with the above being taken into account -
Shaykh Abdullah mentions that the chain of narration of the hadith of the universe being created for Prophet Muhammad and the Prophet being created for Fatima has Shaykh al-Saduq in it.
Perhaps this may be a hint of the hadith having a classical origin - although it cannot be definitively corroborated from chain alone, due to several issues.
“Why isn’t an isnad (chain of transmission) mentioned for the hadith?”
The author most likely believed in the authenticity of the statement and wanted to make the hadith easier to memorize and less tiresome for the reader, by removing the isnad.
For similar reasons on why and when Shi’i scholars did this, take a look at this post.
Wa Allahu A’lam