The hadith on sorcery – supposing it to be correct, is a singly narrated one (hadith ahad), and the ahad traditions are not approved in the bab of doctrines (aqa’id). And the Prophet’s infallibility against impact of sorcery being one of the aqa’id, that cannot be refuted and discarded off him but only by certainty (yaqin), nor it can be adopted through suspicion and suspected! While in regard of the hadith reaching us through the way of ahad, suspicion occurs only for that who deemed it veracious, but that for whom it was proved to be incorrect, he has no hujjah to establish against us. Anyhow, we have to give full authority in the matter of hadith, not making it arbitrator in regard of our creed, and take hold of the text of the Book and evidence of reason (’aql). Since if the Prophet became disordered in mind — as alleged by them — he would be warranted to suppose that he propagated something while he did not do so actually, or that something was revealed to him while it was not so, and this fact is so manifest needing no elucidation. Till he (Muhammad Abduh) said:
How detrimental is the ignorant lover, and how severe being his danger against that whom he thinks to love. We seek protection by God against disappointment.
It is to be noted that the denier of sorcery outright can never be regarded a heretic, since Allah the Exalted has clarified what is that the believer should believe in the verse”. The Messenger believed…” (2:285), and in other verses. Also there were commandments showing the things in which the Muslim should believe so as to be counted a (true) Muslim, with no any reference to sorcery.
He also said: Had these people given the Book its rightful value, and knowing of the language that much enough for a wiseman to speak, they would have neither prated all that nonsense, nor disgraced Islam with that blemish. But with that who got accustomed to believe in the impossible, it is not possible to debate with him whatsoever. We seek refuge by God against insanity.717
Charging the Prophet with sorcery was negated and refuted by the earlier ulama’ among whom I can refer, beside al-Imam (Abduh), to al-Jassas in his Tafsir.
Al-Imam (Abduh) has also refuted many traditions on doctrinal and non-doctrinal matters like hadith al-gharaniq (crowned-cranes), and hadith on Zaynab bint Jahash and others, regarding which his comments we cannot cite here.
717. The tafsir of part of ‘amma, pp.183-186. Some ulama’ refuted and disapproved narration of hadith of sorcery, among whom being the faqih exegete Abu Bakr al-Jassas in his book Ahkam al-Qur’an.
Adapted from: “Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah” by: “Mahmud Ali Riyyah”
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