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Last Updated: 2007/05/21
Summary of question
Did Umar scold and punish Abu-Hurairah as a result of him forging hadiths?
I have heard that Umar openly scolded and beat the Sunni hadith narrator as a result of him forging hadiths. Is this true? If it is possible, please list a source that I can refer to.
Concise answer

Bukhari, Muslim, Dhahabi, Imam Abu Ja’far Iskafi, Muttaqi Hindi and others have reported that the second khalifah, whipped Abu-Hurairah as a result of him going too far in forging hadiths from the Prophet (pbuh) and strongly prohibited him from narrating any more till the end of his reign.

The reason behind this can be found in the following:

1- His companionship with Ka'b al-Ahbar the Jew, and narrating from him.

2- Him narrating hollow hadiths which usually would convey what the Israiliyyat hadiths (unauthentic and forged hadiths by the Jews or under the influence of them that cause distortion in Islamic tradition, history and tafsir and bring into religion fraud beliefs) conveyed, and in reality, were the Israliyyat themselves.

3- Narrating hadiths that were the opposite of ones narrated by the Sahabas.

Imam Ali (as) and Abu Bakr opposing him.

Detailed Answer

Concerning Abu-Hurairah's life before Islam, not much information is in hand other than what he himself has said. He says that in his childhood his only playmate was a small cat, and he himself was a poor orphan who would work for others in order not to starve. In his book, Al-Ma'aref, Daynouri says he was of the Dus tribe in Yemen who was a poor orphan that moved to Madinah in the age of thirty and was one of the companions of "Saffah" there. (The companions of Saffah are those who migrated from Makkah with the Prophet (pbuh) and since they were extremely poor and had no family there, resided in the Prophet's mosque and went through a lot of hardship during that time.)[1]

Abu-Hurairah himself explains that the main purpose of him embracing Islam was for his stomach to become full and be freed of poverty, nothing more.[2] He himself reports that I was always thinking about my stomach, to the extent that some Madinians would run away from me because of the fact that I would go to their house everyday for food. He considers Ja'far ibn abi-Taleb as the highest individual after the Prophet (pbuh) because of his great hospitality towards him and has some marvelous statements regarding him.[3]

In his book, Thimarul-Qulub, Tha'labi says that Abu-Hurairah would dine with Mu'awiyyah and pray behind Imam Ali (as), explaining this act by saying: Muawiyyah's food is much more oily (meaning that it is much better) and delicious, while praying behind Ali is of more virtue.[4]

As for Umar punishing Abu-Hurairah as a result of him forging hadiths, one must say that first of all, it is true that although Abu-Hurairah accompanied the Prophet (pbuh) for only a year and nine months, he has narrated more hadiths from him than any other of the Prophet's companions.[5]

Ibn Hazm has mentioned some of his statistics in narrating, by saying that the Musnad of Buqayy by itself contains 5374 hadiths reported by Abu-Hurairah, and Bukhari has 446 by him.[6]

As Bukhari has narrated, Abu-Hurairah says: "None of the sahabah have narrated from the Prophet as much as I did, other than Abdullah ibn Amr, who would write the hadiths (after hearing them), but I wouldn’t."[7]

The tremendous amount of hadiths by Abu-Hurairah worried Umar, to the extent that he whipped him and told him: "Oh Aba-Hurairah, you narrate far too many hadiths from the Prophet; I'm afraid that you will lie about him." He then warned him that if he doesn’t give up narrating, he will be sent to exile from Madinah.[8] Hence, most of his narrations belong to after Umar's death because it was after him that he wasn't afraid anymore.[9] He himself would admit: "I am narrating hadiths for you that if I was to narrate at his time, would be whipped."[10]

Zuhari narrates from Ibn Salmah that I heard Abu-Hurairah saying: "We weren’t able to narrate these hadiths from Rasulullah until Umar passed away. (Do you think we were able to narrate these hadiths during the time of Umar? By God, I am still frightened by his vows of whipping me on the back."[11]

He has some special principles for justifing the great number of hadiths he has narrated from the Prophet (pbuh) and says: “As long as a hadith doesn’t forbid something that is halal, or doesn’t allow what is haram, there is nothing wrong in relating it to the Prophet (pbuh).” His reason for this principle are hadiths such as the one Tabrani narrates from Abu-Hurairah that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “As long as you have reached the truth and don’t allow a haram act or forbid a halal one, there is nothing wrong in relating it to me.” He also claims that he heard the Prophet (pbuh) saying: “Anyone who narrates a hadith which pleases Allah (swt), then I have said that hadith, even though I might not have said it.”[12]

This is while what has really been narrated by the Prophet (pbuh) is: “Whosoever narrates something I truly haven’t said will be in the burning Hellfire.”[13]

Umar had ordered for Abu-Hurairah to be reminded of this hadith when he saw him over-doing himself in narration.[14]

Abu-Hurairah and Tadlis

Tadlis means for you to narrate from someone that you have been with, something that you haven’t heard from him/her, or to narrate something from a contemporary that he/she hasn’t said and imply in your way of narrating that he/she has said it.[15] It is clear that all forms of tadlis are bad and haram; it has even been referred to as the brother of lying.[16]

Hadith experts say that if it is proven that a narrator has narrated using tadlis, no hadith will ever be accepted by him, even though he has only done tadlis once.[17] Daynoori and Ibn Kathir have narrated from the son of Ibn Saeed that he would say: “Fear Allah and don’t narrate hadiths for by Allah I was with Abu-Hurairah; he narrated a hadith from Rasulullah (pbuh) and one from Ka’b Ahbar, then he told some of those around us that he relates Ka’b’s hadiths to the Prophet (pbuh) and the Prophet’s to Ka’b.”[18] Hadith experts all say that Abu-Hurairah, Abadilah, Mu’awiyyah and Anas have all narrated from Ka’b Ahbar the Jew, the very person who had hypocritically become Muslim in order to trick the Muslims. Abu-Hurairah has learned the most hadiths from this person and has depended on him more than others have.[19] In reality, Ka’b has tricked him into adding superstition and imaginative material to Islam. As one can conclude from the different viewpoints on Ka’b, he has had his special ways. In his book, Tabaqatul-Huffadh, Dhahabi says: “Ka’b says: I haven’t seen anyone who hasn’t studied the Tawrah, yet is more knowledgeable than Abu-Hurairah on it.”[20] Just look at how this Jewish priest has tricked him! How can Abu-Hurairah be the most learned on the Tawrah, while he wasn’t familiar with it, and even if he was, he surely wasn’t able to read it since it is written in Hebrew, because he was an illiterate individual not even knowing Arabic literature (let alone Hebrew).[21]

Bukhari narrates from Abu-Hurairah that: “The people of the book would read the Tawrah in Hebrew and explain it in Arabic for the Muslims and if I knew Hebrew, I would become one of its interpreters.”[22]


Concerning him, Daynoori has written: “Since Abu-Hurairah has narrated things that none of the great Sahabas or those of his level have narrated from the Prophet (pbuh), they have accused him (of forging) and have rejected his hadiths asking how he has heard these hadiths from him, while he has never been alone with him.”[23]

Daynoori says that Aisha would harshly reject him[24] and some of those who would accuse him of forgery were Umar, Uthman, Ali (as) and others.

Abu-Hurairah had narrated from the Prophet (pbuh) that: “Considering women, animals and homes of bad omen is okay.” When Aisha heard of what he had said, she answered: “By the one who revealed the Quran on Abul-Qasem (meaning the holy Prophet [pbuh]), whosoever relates this hadith to the Prophet is a liar; what he has said is that during the Jahiliyyah (referring to the era of “ignorance” prior to Islam) women, animals and homes were considered of bad omen (not that the Prophet [pbuh] says that they are of bad omen).”

Imam Ali (as) would say that he is the biggest liar among all people and that he is the biggest liar regarding the holy Prophet (pbuh). It has been reported that he once said: “Haddathani khalili…” (meaning that my friend (the Prophet) once told me…)  Right there Imam Ali (as) stopped him, saying: “Mata kanal-nabiyyu khalilak?” (since when was the Prophet your friend?[25]

Abu-Jafar Iskafi says: “Mu’awiyyah influenced a group of the sahaba and tabe’in (those who came after the Prophet and weren’t his immediate companions) to forge ugly hadiths against Ali (as). They were Abu-Hurairah, Amr ibn As and Mughayrah ibn Shu’bah of the sahaba, and Urwah ibn Zubayr of the tabe’in.[26]

Concerning this specific issue, two books have been written about Abu-Hurairah:

1. Seyyid Sharaful-Din Ameli, Abu-Hurairah, pg. 136, 160 and 186.

2. Mahmoud Aburayya Misri, Shaykhul-mudhayrah Abu-Hurairah.

[1] Al-Shaykh Aburayya, Sheykhul-Mudhirah Abu-Hurairah, pg. 103, Al-Shaykh Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 195, Seyyid Sharafuddin Musawi Ameli, Abu-Hurairah, pg. 136.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Fathul-Bari, v.7, pg. 62.

[4] Tha’alebi, Thimarul-Qulub fil-Mudhafi wal-Mansub, pg.76-87.

[5] Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 200.

[6] Al-Sheykh Mahmoud Aburayya, Sheykhul-Mudhayrah Abu-Hurairah, pg. 120.

[7] Ibn-Hajar, Fathul-Bari, v.2, pg. 167 (He says that it has been proven that Abu-Hurairah neither would write, nor had memorized the Quran).

[8] Sahih Bukhari,v.2, chapter: Bid’ul-Khalq (the beginning of creation), pg. 171, Muslim ibn Hajjaj Neishabouri, Sahih Muslim, v.1, pg. 34, Ibn Abil-Hadid al-Mu’tazeli, Sharh Nahjil-Balaghah, pg. 360, Dhahabi, Siyaru A’lamil-Nabla’, v.2, pg. 433-434, Muttaqi Hindi, Kanzul-Ummal, v.5, pg.239, hadith 4857, Imam Abu-Ja’far Iskafi, quoted from Sharh Nahjul-Hamidi, v.1, pg. 360.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 201.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Shatebi, Al-Muwafaqat, v.2, pg. 23.

[13]Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 202.

[14] Seyyid Sharafuddin Musawi Ameli, Abu-Hurairah, pg. 140.

[15] Sheykh Ahmad Shakir, Sharhul-Alfiyyah lil-Suyuti, pg. 35.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 202-203.

[18] Ibn-Kathir, al-Bidayah wal-Nihayah, v.8, pg. 109, Ibn Qutaybah Daynouri, Ta’wil Mukhtalaful-Hadith, pg. 48 and 50.

[19] Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 207.

[20] Dhahabi, Tabaqatul-Huffadh, quoted by Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 207.

[21] Mahmoud Aburayya, Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 207.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Daynouri, Ta’wil Mukhtalfil-Hadith, pg. 50.

[24] Ibid, pg. 48.

[25] Adhwa’un alal-Sunnatil-Muhammadiyyah, pg. 204.

[26] Muhammad Abduh, Sharhu Nahjil-Balaghah, v.1, pg. 358.

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