Al-Darimi in the Chapter 15 of the Muqaddima (Introduction) to his Sunan (1:43) entitled: “Allah’s generosity to His Prophet after his death,” relates from Aws ibn `Abd Allah with a good chain:
“The people of Madina complained to `A’isha of the severe drought that they were suffering. She said: “Go to the Prophet’s grave and open a window towards the sky so that there will be no roof between him and the sky.” They did so, after which they were watered with such rain that vegetation grew and the camels got fat. That year was named the Year of Plenty.”
It is clear from the above narrations that the position of the Mother of the Believers `A’isha differs from that of modern-day “Salafis,” since she recommended to the people of Madina to use the Prophet in his grave as a means of obtaining blessing and benefit and this remained in use until the Wahhabis took over the Hijaz, while “Salafis” declare this to be unacceptable. Either they know better than the fuqaha’ of the Companions or, most certainly, they are peddling misguidance and innovation.
Shaykh Albani, in order to reject the hadith of Darimi, raised some objections which are so full of holes that one can not only see the sky through them, but also the sun, the moon, and the stars. He said in his little book translated under the name Tawassul: Its Types and Its Rulings (p. 130-131) about Darimi’s chain of transmission for the report (Abu al-Nu`man from Sa`id ibn Zayd from `Amr ibn Malik al-Nukri from Abu al-Jawza’ Aws ibn `Abd Allah from `A’isha):
This chain of narration is weak and cannot be used as a proof due to three reasons:
(i) Sa`id ibn Zayd who is the brother of Hammad ibn Zayd is somewhat weak. al-Hafiz [Ibn Hajar] said about him in al-Taqrib: “Generally acceptable, but he makes mistakes.” Dhahabi said about him in al-Mizan: “Yahya ibn Sa`id said: Weak, and al-Sa`di said: He is not a proof, they declare his ahadith to be weak. Nasa’i and others said: He is not strong; and Ahmad said: He is all right. Yahya ibn Sa`id would not accept him.”
However, the above documentation is partial and biased, and this is not surprising since “Salafis” only mention what advances their view while they cover up, rephrase, or declare weak whatever contradicts it. This is especially true of Albani, whose followers claim him as “the leading scholar of hadith of this age”(!) whereas he makes frequent mistakes, innovates in many of his rulings, and is generally unreliable except to those unschooled in the Islamic sciences. It would be more correct for “Salafis” to say: “He is our leading scholar,” for in this we would agree with them completely. However, it is a fact that no one who has actual knowledge in hadith and fiqh uses Albani’s books except that they check and verify anything they take from them against trustworthy scholars.
The present narration is a case in point, since Albani deliberately omits to mention the authentication of the narrators he seeks to declare weak, hiding basic evidence from his readers in order to mislead them, all because he is dead set against the issue at hand, even if it is authentically reported from the Mother of the Believers!
Following is a point-by-point refutation of Albani’s claims by the Moroccan hadith scholar `Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari in his booklet entitled: Irgham al-mubtadi` al-ghabi bi jawaz al-tawassul bi al-nabi (The coercion of the unintelligent innovator to the effect that using the Prophet as a means is permissible p. 23-25):
Albani’s weakening of Sa`id ibn Zayd is rejected, because Sa`id is one of Muslim’s narrators, and Yahya ibn Ma`in declared him trustworthy (thiqa)!
The editor of Ghumari’s text, Ghumari’s student Hasan `Ali al-Saqqaf says on the same page as the above:
Albani has adduced worthless proofs as is his habit when embellishing falsehood.
He cited whatever fit his whim from Ibn Hajar’s Taqrib, leaving out his mention that Sa`id ibn Zayd is one of Muslim’s narrators in his Sahih. Beware, therefore, of this tadlis (concealment) on his part!… He added Dhahabi’s notice on Sa`id ibn Zayd in the Mizan, and this is another deliberate cover-up, for he faithlessly omitted to mention what Ibn Hajar reported in Tahdhib al-tahdhib (4:29) from those who declared Sa`id ibn Zayd trustworthy, in addition to his being one of Muslim’s narrators:
– Bukhari said: “Muslim ibn Ibrahim narrated to us: Sa`id ibn Zayd Abu al-Hasan narrated to us, and he is reliable and a memorizer of hadith (saduq hafiz).”
– al-Duri said on the authority of Ibn Ma`in: “Sa`id ibn Zayd is trustworthy (thiqa).”
– Ibn Sa`d said: “He was trustworthy.”
– al-`Ujli said: “He is from Basra, and he is trustworthy.”
– Abu Zur`a said: “I heard Sulayman ibn Harb say: Sa`id ibn Zayd narrated to us, and he was trustworthy.”
– Abu Ja`far al-Darimi said: “Hibban ibn Hilal narrated to us: Sa`id ibn Zayd narrated to us, and he was a memorizer of hadith and he was reliable.”
– Ibn `Adi said: “There is no denounced narration from him except someone else also narrates it, and I consider him one of those in the reliable category.”
In addition to the above remarks it is noteworthy to mention that Albani cited Ahmad’s grading of Sa`id ibn Zayd as la ba’sa bihi which his translator rendered as “he is all right,” but neither the author nor the translator seems to know that in Imam Ahmad’s terminology la ba’sa bihi is identical with thiqa, which means “trustworthy” and is among the highest gradings of authentication! Ibn Salah in his Muqaddima (p. 134), Dhahabi in Lisan al-mizan (1:13), Sakhawi in Fath al-mughith, Ibn Hajar in Hadi al-sari, Abu Ghudda in his commentary to Lucknawi’s Raf` (p. 222 n. 3), as well as the editor of Nawawi’s al-Taqrib wa al-taysir (p. 51) have indicated that the equivalency of saying “There is no harm in him” with the grade of trustworthy (thiqa) obtains for many early authorities of the third century such as Ibn Ma`in, Ibn al-Madini, Imam Ahmad, Duhaym, Abu Zur`a, Abu Hatim al-Razi, Ya`qub ibn Sufyan al-Fasawi, and others.
Albani continues in his list of reasons for weakening Darimi’s narration:
(ii) It is mawquf (stopping at the Companion), coming only from `A’isha and not from the Prophet, and even if the chain of narration up to `A’isha were authentic then it would not be a proof since it is something open to personal judgment in which even the Companions are sometimes correct and sometimes incorrect, and we are not bound to act upon that (!).
To this claim it is easy to reply that not only is the narration sound and authentic, but also that there is no objection related from any of the Companions to the act recommended by the Mother of the Believers, just as there was no objection on their part to the istisqa’ made by the man who came to the grave of the Prophet in the narration of Malik al-Dar cited below. This shows ijma` on the matter on the part of the Companions, and such ijma` is definitely binding in the sense that no one can declare unlawful or innovative something which they have tacitly declared lawful or desirable. As for the following the opinion of the Companions we say what Imam al-Shafi`i said as related by Ibn Qayyim in A`lam al-muwaqqi`in `an rabb al-`alamin (2:186-187): “Their opinion for us is better than our opinion to ourselves.”
Albani listed the following as his last reason for weakening Darimi’s narration:
(iii) Abu al-Nu`man… was originally a reliable narrator except that he deteriorated at the end of his life. The hadith master Burhan al-Din al-Halabi mentions him among those who deteriorated in later life in his book al-Muqaddima (p. 391) and he says: “The ruling about these people is that their narrations are accepted if reported from them by people who heard from them before they deteriorated. But narrations reported from them by those who heard from them after they deteriorated, or narrations reported from therm by people about whom we do not know whether they heard from them before they deteriorated or after, then these narrations are to be rejected.”I say: We do not know whether this report was heard by Darimi from him before or after his memory deteriorated, it is therefore not acceptable and cannot be used as evidence. [Footnote:] Shaykh al-Ghumari missed this weakness in Misbah al-zujaj (p. 43), just as it was ignored by another in order to give the impression to the people that this report is authentic(!).
Ghumari said regarding these claims about Abu al-Nu`man:
His weakening of Abu al-Nu`man is invalid, because Abu al-Nu`man’s deterioration did not affect what is narrated from him! al-Daraqutni said [as cited by Dhahabi in Mizan al-i`tidal (4:81)]: “He deteriorated at the end of his life, and no denounced hadith issued from him after his deterioration whatsoever, and he is trustworthy (thiqa).” As for what Ibn Hibban said, that “Many denounced things occurred in his narrations after his deterioration,” then al-Dhahabi refuted it when he said (4:8): “Ibn Hibban was unable to cite a single denounced narration from him, and the truth is just as Daraqutni said.”
Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki said in his book Shifa’ al-fu’ad bi ziyarat khayr al-`ibad (p. 152):
Abu al-Nu`man’s deterioration neither harms nor is detrimental to his reliability, since Bukhari in his Sahih narrated over one hundred hadiths from him, and no narration was taken from him after his deterioration, as Daraqutni said…. The chain of transmission is all right, in fact I consider it good. The scholars have cited as evidence many chains that are like it or less strong than it.
Following are Saqqaf’s further comments, beginning with Albani’s charge against Shaykh al-Ghumari:
We know full well that it is Albani who betrays scholarly trust and deliberately misinforms the people, even if he accuses others of disinformation…. In weakening Abu al-Nu`man he has again acted faithlessly. His quotation from al-Burhan al-Halabi’s book al-Ightibat bi man rumiya bi al-ikhtilat (p. 23) is designed to pull the wool over the eyes of his followers and those who only read his works! For it is necessary to also know that those who are branded as suffering from deterioration in the aforementioned book are divided among those whose narrations were unaffected by their deterioration and those whose narrations were affected. Abu al-Nu`man belongs to the first group, and al-Dhahabi made this clear in al-Mizan (4:8). Therefore our reply to Albani is: Shaykh al-Ghumari did not miss anything concerning this matter of deterioration, because he is a hadith scholar and a master memorizer (hafiz), however, it is you who have missed it, O slandering backbiter!
As for Albani’s quotation of Ibn Taymiyya’s claim in his al-Radd `ala al-Bakri (p. 68-74) whereby “a clear proof that it is a lie is the fact that no such opening existed above the house at all in the whole of the life of `A’isha”(!) then it is a weak objection which is no sooner brought up than cast out. Surely Imam al-Darimi and the scholars of the succeeding generations would know of such a detail better than latecomers. As for the authorities among the latter, then the hadith scholar and historian of Madina Imam `Ali al-Samhudi (d. 922) did not so much as look at Ibn Taymiyya’s objection, rather he confirmed the truth of Darimi’s narration by saying, after citing it in his Wafa’ al-wafa’ (2:549): al-Zayn al-Miraghi said: “Know that it is the Sunna of the people of Madina to this day to open a window at the bottom of the dome of the Prophet’s room, that is, of the blessed green dome, on the side of the Qibla.” I say: And in our time, they open the door facing the noble face (the grave) in the space surrounding the room and they gather there.”
So much for the claims of naysayers regarding istisqa’ through the Prophet.· The act of the Mother of the Believers `A’isha in the narration of Darimi is explicitly confirmed by Abu Talib’s famous line of poetry concerning istisqa’ through the Prophet as related in the book of istisqa’ in Bukhari’s Sahih:
`Abdullah ibn Dinar said: “I heard Ibn `Umar reciting the poetic verses of Abu Talib:
A fair-skinned one by whose face rainclouds are sought,
A caretaker for the orphans and protector of widows.
`Umar ibn Hamza said: Salim narrated from his father (Ibn `Umar) that the latter said:
“The poet’s saying came to my mind as I was looking at the face of the Prophet while he was praying for rain — and he did not get down till the rain water flowed profusely from every roof-gutter:
A fair-skinned one by whose face rainclouds are sought,
A caretaker for the orphans and protector of widows.
One sub-narrator added: “These were the words of Abu Talib.”
Note that in his translation of Bukhari (2:65), Muhammad Muhsin Khan alters the wording of the hadith to read: “A white person who is requested to pray for rain” in place of “by whose face rain is sought,” and Allah knows best the reason for this grave betrayal of the translator’s trust in the most important Islamic source after the Qur’an.