“My companions are like stars, whoever of them you follow, you will be rightly guided”.

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“My companions are like stars, whoever of them you follow, you will be rightly guided”.

Q: 1. What is the status of the following Hadith…. “My companions are like stars, whoever of them you follow, you will be rightly guided”.

A: The Hadith you question has been debated extensively by the Muhadditheen. Some have classified it as weak, others have said it is Hasan (sound) and a small minority have exaggerated by considering it a fabrication.

One of the reasons for such difference of opinion is the fact that at times, one Muhaddith (expert in Hadith), may regard a particular Hadith as weak due to the chain of narrators that was available to him, whilst another Muhaddith may have a totally different chain which may also be weak and so on. When all these chains are gathered, they could collectively gain the strength for credibility and acceptance. Hence, occasionally, one would notice that the earlier Muhadditheen may have classified a certain narration as weak, whilst some latterday Muhaddith who was able to gather the various chains, regards it as authentic or acceptable.

Another scenario of the above could be that when all the various chains are gathered, some Muhadditheen still maintain that the narration is weak, whilst other experts conclude that it has gained enough strength for acceptance. This seems to be the case in the Hadith in question.

In other words, several Muhadditheen have ruled that this Hadith is weak, and some have stated that it is acceptable due to the strength gained from all the chains. We concur with the latter view.

1. The learned Muhaddith and Shaafi’ee Faqih (jurist), Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Haytami [ra] has classified this Hadith as Hasan (soundly authentic). (see Tuhfatul Akhyaar of Ml. Abdul-Hayy Laknawi pg.63)

2. Imaam Saghaani [ra] has also classified it as Hasan. (Ibid pg.54; Sharhu Teebi alaa Mishkaat)

3. Allaamah Qaasim ibn Qutloobugha [ra] – a renown Hanafi Muhaddith and Faqih has stated, ‘It’s chains have defects, but they strengthen each other.’ (refer Tuhfatul Akhyaar pg.134)

4. Imaam Bayhaqi [ra] has mentioned that though all its chains are weak, its subject matter is supported by other authentic Ahaadith. (Kitaabul I’tiqaad, Tuhfatul Akhyaar pg.57 and Talkhisul Habeer of Hafiz ibn Hajar)

5. Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Asqalani [ra] has also mentioned another authentic narration that implies the same meaning. (al-Amaalil Mutlaqah pgs.59-62)

In light of the above quotations, it would be proper for one to quote the blessed Hadith on question. If one still maintains that it is a weak narration, then as mentioned earlier, this was also the view of some Muhadditheen as well and it should be remembered that in such situations, there is no need for vicious opposition because both sides have great, eminent scholars and both views should be respected. However, the exaggeration of classifying it a fabrication is unacceptable.

Lastly, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that although Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal [ra] had refuted the authenticity of this narration at one stage of his life (as quoted by yourself). In another instance, he actually accepted it. Imaam Ibn Taymiyah [ra] has mentioned that, ‘Imaam Ahmad had used these words as proof and this indicates that he regarded it as authentic.’ (refer footnotes on Tuhfatul Akhyaar pg.62)

Regarding the view of Hafiz ibn Abdil-Barr [ra], Allaamah San’aani [ra] has stated in his book entitled, ‘Tawdeehul Afkaar’, ‘As for ibn Abdil-Barr, he also used it as proof in his book, ‘Al-Tamheed’ and he did not comment on it. So, possibly, he considered the collectivity of all the chains a strengthening factor, or may be he knew of other Ahaadith that strengthen its meaning.’ (Ibid pg.63)

We haven’t come across this version of the narration.

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best