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Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148 Ghazzālī’s Alteration of h ̣ adīths : Processes and Meaning*

Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148 Ghazzālī’s Alteration of h ̣ adīths : Processes and Meaning* Adrien

Ghazzālī’s Alteration of ḥadīths:

Processes and Meaning*

Adrien Leites

Université de Paris-Sorbonne

Abstract This article starts from the hypothesis, tacitly made by traditional Muslim scholars, that Ghazzālī tended to alter Ḥadīth texts when using them in his Revival of the Religious Sciences. It goes on to explore this hypothesis in four cases previously identified by the author, and attributes each case to a distinct process of alteration. These processes are shown to be triggered by specific concerns — doctrinal as well as argumentative. The article concludes that Ghazzālī departed from the Sunnī principle of authority, and gave priority to argument.

Keywords Ghazzālī; Ḥadīth, Alteration, Argument; Zabīdī

Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazzālī (Muḥammad b. Muḥammad, d. 505/1111) has a reputation for having been a poor muḥaddith. He used ḥadīths extensively nonetheless. The aim of this article is to make some sense of the alterations he made to ḥadīths in his Revival of the Religious Sciences (Iḥʾ ʿulūm al-dīn).

I shall consider four cases of such alteration, which I identified previously,

while exploring Ghazzālī’s understanding of love (ḥubb/maḥabba) and martyr- dom (shahāda). 1 We cannot be completely certain that we are dealing with instances of genuine alteration in these cases since we still lack a critical edition

of the Revival for the purposes of comparison and since, moreover, we cannot be sure which Ḥadīth texts Ghazzālī actually used. In this matter, however,

I have illustrious predecessors, namely Abū l-Faḍl al-ʿIrāqī (ʿAbd al-Raḥīm b. al-Ḥusayn, d. 806/1404) and Zabīdī (Muḥammad Murtaḍā, d. 1205/1791).

* My sincere thanks are due to James Weaver (Cambridge) who carefully revised this article. His improvements of style and form were valuable indeed, and his remarks helped me to improve the argument. All shortcomings remain, of course, my own.

1 See: Adrien Leites, “La règle de l’amour chez G azzālī. À la rencontre d’une éthique du

tawḥīd,” Arabica 54, no. 1 (2007): 25-66; “Amour de Dieu et désir de la mort. Le martyre selon

G azzālī,” Arabica 55, no. 1 (2008): 35-51.


134 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

These two scholars thought it worthwhile to compare the ḥadīths used by Ghazzālī with those recorded in Ḥadīth works, and thereby supported the hypothesis that he had made alterations. Drawing heavily on their work, I shall try to show that this hypothesis is a productive one. The four cases will be attributed to distinct processes of alteration, themselves triggered by spe- cific concerns. In all four cases, we may assume that Ghazzālī was quoting from memory, that is to say, not from written or formally memorized texts. It is the product of informal quotation that I shall present in what follows, and shall attempt to reconstruct as meaningful processes of alteration.

1. Permutation of Elements

In the Book of Love (Kitāb al-Maḥabba) of his Revival of the Religious Sciences, 2 Ghazzālī argues that the joyful condition of the martyrs in the hereafter, as referred to by Koran 3:169-70, is not limited to those who die in battle. It is found in a report (wa fī l-khabar), says the author, that the martyr wishes in the hereafter to be sent back to the world in order to be killed one more time ( yatamannā fī l-ākhira an yuradda ilā l-dunyā fa-yuqtala marratan ukhrā). He wishes that return because of the great reward established for martyrdom, as he now sees it. Ghazzālī adds that the martyrs wish they would be scholars ( yatamannawna law kānū ʿulamāʾ) because of the high rank ascribed to schol- ars, as they now see it. The report alluded to by Ghazzālī occurs in the Ḥadīth works that enjoy the consensual acknowledgement of Sunnis, and appears in different versions. Version 1, recorded by Bukhārī (Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl, d. 256/870) 3 and Ibn Ḥanbal (Aḥmad b. Muḥammad, d. 241/855), 4 states that the martyr would be glad to go back ( yasurruhu an yarjiʿa) in order to be killed one more time. In version 2, recorded by Bukhārī, 5 Muslim (b. al-Ḥajjāj al-Naysābūrī, d. 261/875) 6 and Ibn Ḥanbal, 7 the martyr wishes (yatamannā) to go back in order to be killed again ten times ( fa-yuqtala ʿashra marrāt). Ver- sion 3, recorded by Muslim 8 and Ibn Ḥanbal, 9 states that the martyr wishes

2 Ghazzālī, Iḥʾ ʿulūm al-dīn (Cairo: Dār al-sha‘b, n. d.), 16 volumes, vol. XIV: 2596.

3 Saḥ

̣īḥ, Jihād, VI, rep. 1 (Mawsūʿat al-sunna, al-kutub al-sitta wa-shurūḥuhā, Istanbul, 1992,

̣īḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. III: 202-3).


4 Musnad Ibn Ḥanbal (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-ʿilmiyya, 1993), vol. III: 155 (rep. 12281).

5 Saḥ

̣īḥ, Jihād, XXI (Mawsūʿa, Saḥ

̣īḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. III: 208).

6 Saḥ

̣īḥ, Imāra, XXIX, rep. 2 (Mawsūʿa, Saḥ

̣īḥ Muslim, vol. II: 1498).

7 Musnad, vol. III: 212 (rep. 12777) and 338 (rep. 13934).

8 Saḥ

̣īḥ, Imāra, XXIX, rep. 1 (Mawsūʿa, Saḥ

̣īḥ Muslim, vol. II: 1498).

9 Musnad, vol. III: 341 (rep. 13972).

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


( yatamannā) to go back, while leaving the number of deaths unspecified ( fa- yuqtala fī l-dunyā). In version 4, recorded by Tirmidhī (Muḥammad b. Sawra, d. 279/892), 10 the martyr would like to go back (yuḥibb an yarjiʿa) in order to be killed one more time. Version 5, recorded by Dārimī (ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Samarqandī, d. 255/869), 11 states that the martyr is keen on being killed again an indefinite number of times ( yawadd annahu qutila kadhā marratan). Versions 6, 7 and 8 are recorded by Ibn Ḥanbal. These versions state that the martyr would like to leave paradise ( yuḥibb an yakhruja), 12 would be glad to go back to the world, 13 and is keen on going back (wadda law annahu rajaʿa, var. law rajaʿa), 14 while leaving the number of deaths unspeci- fied ( fa-yuqtala in versions 6 and 7, fa-stushhida in version 8). In version 9, recorded by Ibn Ḥanbal, 15 the martyr is keen on going back (yawadd annahu yarjiʿ) in order to obtain martyrdom again ten times. Nowhere is the verb “to wish” (tamannā) connected with the desire to return specifically “one more time”, as it is in Ghazzālī’s text. I do not think there is any compelling reason why Ghazzālī should have picked out the verb “to wish” (tamannā) instead of “to be glad” (surra), “to like” (aḥabba) or “to be keen” (wadda). Rather, he found in that verb a conve- nient way to convey his criticism of martyrdom. This criticism, as I have shown elsewhere, 16 does not target the merit of martyrdom as such, but rather the superior character ascribed to that merit. “You can earn merit through martyrdom, but you will earn yet more if you practise ‘ilm, religious science” is the core of Ghazzālī’s argument. He does not explicitly advocate the intrin- sic superiority of science over martyrdom although he is, in all likelihood, convinced of that superiority. The contrast between the two meritorious acts (that of science and that of martyrdom), as established by Ghazzālī, lies in their relationship to time. Martyrdom is a transitory act. To become a martyr, you need but a single instant. Science, on the other hand, requires time. The happiest situation for the practice of science is, says Ghazzālī using a phrase of the Prophet, to have the length of a lifetime at one’s disposal. When the Prophet speaks of spending that duration in obedience to God, Ghazzālī understands obedience as the performance of acts that exert the knowledge of

10 Sunan, Faḍā’il al-jihād, XIII, rep. 4 (Mawsūʿa, Sunan al-Tirmidhī, vol. IV: 177).

11 Sunan, Jihād, XVIII (Mawsūʿa, Sunan al-Dārimī, vol. I-II: 523).

12 Musnad, vol. III: 127 (rep. 12009).

13 Ibid.: 188 (rep. 12564) and 348 (rep. 14041).

14 Ibid.: 307 (rep. 13635).

15 Ibid.: 354 (rep. 14091).

16 A. Leites, “Amour,” 38-9.

136 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

God ( al-ma‘rifa bi-llah ). To illustrate the contrast between the transitory act of martyrdom and the continuous act of science, Ghazzālī augmented the material provided by the Tradition. If the martyr in the hereafter can project himself as being killed again, then he should also be able to project himself as transformed into a scholar. The various Arabic verbs found in the Tradition could express this double self-projection without significant variation. How- ever, only the verbs “to wish” (tamannā) and “to be keen” (wadda) can take both a subjunctive and a conditional clause as a predicate. The syntactic flex- ibility offered by the verb “to wish” (tamannā), as well as its frequent employ- ment in the Tradition (and therefore familiarity to Ghazzālī and his readers), thus led Ghazzālī to select this verb. Using “to wish”, it is straightforward to express both that the martyr wishes that he be returned (an yuradda) and killed again ( fa-yuqtala), and that the martyrs wish they would be scholars (law kānū ʿulamāʾ). Both wishes, in other words, are legitimate, but only the first one is feasible and thus expressed in the subjunctive. The second wish is unfeasible, and thus expressed in the conditional, because, in order to actually become a scholar, the martyr would need time in the world. He would indeed need the length of another lifetime, and would have to be back for good. With this contrast in mind, Ghazzālī could have hardly hesitated about which number of deaths to pick out from options available in the Tradition. A lack of specification concerning the number could be interpreted in different ways, and was thus unhelpful for his purpose. The “ten times” specification, on the other hand, manifestly had the unwelcome result of bridging the gap between martyr and scholar, for it meant that the martyr also could benefit from duration. In his case, however, the duration would be the sum of single instants. Only the “one more time” specification could emphasise the transi- tory nature of martyrdom, and serve to highlight the contrast between the feasible and the unfeasible wishes of the martyr. Now, “to wish” (tamannā) occurs with a numerical specification only in version 2, while the “one more time” specification occurs with other verbs in versions 1 and 4. We can there- fore assume that Ghazzālī permuted the verb and specification found in ver- sion 2 with those found in version 1 or 4. Since Ghazzālī does not mention his sources, however, we can hardly determine which works were involved in this permutation. We cannot determine either whether it involved two works (Muslim and Tirmidhī, for instance) or a single one (Bukhārī or Ibn Ḥanbal). It was thus the distribution of religious tasks between martyr and scholar, as conceived by Ghazzālī, that triggered the permutation just reconstructed. This concern led him to come up with a version unknown to Tradition, that of the martyr “wishing” to be killed “one more time”.

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


2. Replacement of Speech and Suppression of Deed

In the Book of the Norms of Familiarity (Kitāb Ādāb al-ulfa), 17 Ghazzālī argues that love for God (ḥubb Allāh), when intense, extends to all being other than Him ( fa-yataʿaddā ilā kull mawjūd siwāhu). The motive of this extension is that every being other than God is a mark of His power (athar min āthār qudratihi). The universal extension of intense love for God is illustrated by a regular practice of the Prophet. When the first fruit of a tree was brought to him (idhā ḥumila ilayhi bākūra mina l-fawākih), he passed it over his eyes and honoured it. He said, pointing at the fruit, “It has just left our Lord” (innahū qarību l-ʿahdi bi-rabbinā). ʿIrāqī 18 mentions three reports describing this prac- tice. These reports are recorded by Tabarānị̄ (Sulaymān b. Aḥmad, d. 360/971) in the Saghīṛ , by Abū Dāʾūd (Sulaymān b. al-Ashʿath al-Sijistānī, d. 275/889) in the Marāsīl, and by Bayhaqī (Aḥmad b. al-Ḥusayn, d. 458/1066) in the Daʿawāt. ʿIrāqī notes that the three reports lack the phrase “and honoured it” and what follows in Ghazzālī’s text. Tabarānī’ṣ report 19 ascribes no speech to the Prophet, and describes a different course of action: the Prophet kisses the fruit, puts it on his eye, and then gives it to the youngest child present in the audience. Abū Dāʾūd records two versions of the same report. The first ver- sion 20 describes yet another course of action, and ascribes a different kind of speech to the Prophet: the Prophet puts the fruit on his eyes, then eats from it, and then asks God to bless the Muslims with fruits throughout the season (kamā atʿ̣amtanā awwalahā fa-atʿ̣imnā ākhirahā). Abū Dāʾūd’s second version 21 contains the two initial deeds found in Tabarānī’ṣ report, but lacks the gift to the child, as well as the prayer found in the first version. Bayhaqī’s report is unavailable to us, 22 but we can be sure that it includes a prayer of the Prophet. ‘Irāqī mentions variants of Bayhaqī’s report recorded by “the rest of the Sunan scholars”, and notes that these variants lack the Prophet’s passing of the fruit over his eyes and what follows it in Ghazzālī’s text. The versions of Mālik

17 Iḥyā’, vol. V: 938.

18 Apud al-Zabīdī, Itḥāf al-sādat al-muttaqīn bi-sharḥ Iḥyā’ ʿulūm al-dīn, vol. VII (Beirut:

Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, 1989): 43.

19 Al-Muʿjam al-saghīṛ , ed. Kamāl Yūsuf al-Ḥūt (Beirut, 1986), 294 (rep. 778).

20 Al-Marāsīl, ed. Shuʿayb al-Arnā’ūṭ(Beirut, 1998), 331 (rep. 475).

21 Ibid., loc. cit. (rep. 476).

22 Only one volume of the Daʿawāt has, to my knowledge, been published up to now: Kitāb al-Daʿawāt al-kabīr, ed. Badr b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Badr (Kuwait: Manshūrāt markaz al-makhtūṭ āṭ wa l-turāth wa-l-wathā’iq, 1989).

138 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


Anas (d. 179/796), 23 Dārimī, 24 Ibn Māja (Muḥammad b. Yazīd al-Qazwīnī,


273/887), 25 and Tirmidhī 26 ascribe to the Prophet a different prayer, which

is not preceded by any deed. Upon receiving the fruit, the Prophet asks God to grant the Muslims and their city prosperity in fruit crops and agricultural resources. 27 In the four versions, this prayer is followed by the gift to the child. The evidence just adduced shows the existence of a first fruit tradition, which was associated with various speeches and deeds of the Prophet. To assess the alterations made in Ghazzālī’s text, we shall consider the speech and deed associations separately. In our sources, the first fruit tradition is always associ- ated with the same kind of speech, namely prayer. The two prayers we have encountered express gratitude for a blessing, and ask for the continuation — or the extension — of that blessing. The expression of gratitude and the request are uttered on behalf of a particular group, the Muslim community. In the dominant report, this community is identified with a particular city. What Ghazzālī wanted to illustrate through the first fruit tradition was a different sentiment: loving a being for the mark of divine power exhibited in it. For the verbal expression of this sentiment, he could hardly use the profit-oriented and group-specific prayer of the Prophet. Instead, he turned to another kind of speech, namely praise. The Prophet’s praise, as found in Ghazzālī’s text, expresses reverential love for a being upon the perception of its recent produc- tion by God, and disregards the profit derived from that being. Muḥammad had this perception through his capacity as a prophet, that is to say, as a man endowed with exceptionally acute senses. He had it in no way as head of the Muslim community. Any sensitive man could perceive, though with less acute- ness, the recent production of the being by God. Such a man should indeed have a perception, and experience a love, modelled on that of the Prophet. In other words, love based on the perception of divine provenance should be universally accessible and universally desirable. Now, we ought to assume that Ghazzālī derived the account of the praise offered by the Prophet from some source available to him, rather than simply having made it up. Nothing in the text of the praise implies, however, that its original object was the first fruit. It

23 Al-Muwat ṭ a’,̣

24 Sunan, Atʿ̣ima, XXXII (Mawsūʿa, Sunan al-Dārimī, vol. I-II: 430).

25 Sunan, Atʿ̣ima, XXXIX (Mawsūʿa, Sunan Ibn Māja, vol. II: 1105).

26 Sunan, Daʿawāt, LIII (Mawsūʿa, Sunan al-Tirmidhī, vol. V: 506).

Jāmi ʿ , I, rep. 2 ( Mawsū ʿ a, Al-Muwat ṭ a’̣ , vol. II: 885).

27 Bārik lanā fī thamarinā wa-bārik lanā fī madīnatinā wa-bārik lanā fī sạ̄ ʿinā wa-bārik lanā fī

muddinā in Mālik, bārik lanā fī madīnatinā wa-fī thamaratinā wa-fī muddinā wa-fī sạ̄ ʿinā in Dārimī, bārik lanā fī madīnatinā wa-fī thimārinā wa-fī muddinā wa-fī sạ̄ ʿinā in Ibn Māja and bārik lanā fī thimārinā wa-bārik lanā fī madīnatinā wa-bārik lanā fī sạ̄ ʿinā wa-muddinā in Tirmidhī.

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


is of course possible that Ghazzālī found the Prophet’s praise already associated with the first fruit tradition in a report we do not know of. He could hardly have been unaware, however, of the widespread association of this tradition with a prayer of the Prophet. If he did not replace prayer by praise, then he at least picked out a marginal association instead of the dominant one. Let us now turn to the deed associations. The Prophet’s kissing of the fruit and putting of it on his eyes (or eye) appear, except in one case (Abū Dāʾūd’s first version), in the texts devoid of prayer. These deeds certainly express love, and were picked out for that reason by Ghazzālī. The variant form and order they take in his text may suggest that he got them from a source unknown to us, but could equally indicate that he is responsible for the variance. The gift to the child is associated with the first fruit tradition in all the texts containing prayer but one (again, Abū Dāʾūd’s first version), and in one text devoid of it (Tabarānī’ṣ report). To assess the absence of this deed from Ghazzālī’s text, we must examine the specific idea that Ghazzālī wants to illustrate. The extension of intense love for God to those other than Him is an idea dear to Ghazzālī. He mentions elsewhere, as objects of this extension, the Prophet together with the scholars and the pious. Another list comprises the invocation of God, the Koran and the Prophet, together with the Companions and the Followers. In the latter context, Ghazzālī considers the man who loves God so intensely that he ends up loving all of His creatures. If he does so, says Ghazzālī, how could he not love the Koran, the Prophet, the Companions and the Followers? The hypothetical example of the man who loves all of God’s creatures thus serves to bring to the fore the love for creatures close to God. 28 That Ghazzālī may actually have excluded mankind from the universal extension of intense love for God is suggested by his use of the first fruit tradi- tion. It might seem that the human newborn would have been better suited for the illustration of love, yet this possibility was left unexploited. Of course, we may assume that Ghazzālī did not have at his disposal from the Tradition a speech of the Prophet expressing love for the human newborn. He did have, however, a widely reported deed: the Prophet’s gift of the first fruit to a young child. Through that deed, the Prophet established an analogy between fruit and child. This analogy expresses, when preceded by the prayer of the Prophet, gratitude for a similar blessing, and the desire of continued or extended bless- ing. When preceded by the Prophet’s kissing of the fruit and putting of it on his eyes, it expresses love for the child as a being similar to the fruit. The latter analogy could hardly fit in with the motive that Ghazzālī wanted to illustrate.

28 For the text of Ghazzālī’s argument, and a fuller interpretation, see A. Leites, “Règle,”


140 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

The fruit clearly bears the mark of divine power, and should be loved for that reason. The child may bear other marks and, in particular, the differentiated mark of his parents’ relationship with God. If this relationship is one of disobedience, love for the child is out of the question. If the child’s parents have a relationship of obedience with God, he will be loved for the mark that this relationship has imprinted on him, and not for the mark of divine power exhibited in him. Here again, I do not intend to say that Ghazzālī necessarily suppressed the gift to the child when shaping his own text. Nevertheless, even if he used a text devoid of this deed, he still disregarded its widespread asso- ciation with the first fruit tradition. In general then, the alterations occurring in Ghazzālī’s text stem from two distinct concerns. Firstly, a concern to empha- sise the equal access to love shared by all men (as a result of their ability to perceive the mark of God’s power in a being) triggered the replacement of the prayer directed towards the benefit of the Muslim community by praise for the divine origin of the fruit. Secondly, it was a concern that love for human beings should be based on religious differentiation, and granted only to the obedient kind, that triggered the suppression of the gift to the child.

3. Alternative Ascription and Anonymization of the Speaker

In the Book of Science (Kitāb al-ʿilm), 29 Ghazzālī mentions contentment (riḍā) among the fruits of acknowledgement of the unicity of God (tawḥīd ), and adduces two sayings to illustrate a related fruit. The first saying was uttered by Abū Bakr during his fatal illness. When people offered to fetch a doctor for him, he replied, “It was the Doctor who made me ill” (al-tabīḅ amraḍanī). The second saying was uttered, in similar circumstances, by “another man” (ākhar). When asked about the doctor’s diagnosis, the ill man answered, “He said, ‘I do as I will’” (innī faʿʿāl li-mā urīd ). 30 Zabīdī devotes a long discussion to the two sayings. 31 He notes that the second saying is ascribed by means of sound trans- mission to Abū Bakr (al-marwiyyu l-thābit ʿan ḥaḍrati l-siddīq̣ ). He quotes a report exhibiting this ascription from the Kitāb al-thabāt li-l-mamāt of Ibn al-Jawzī (ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. ʿAlī, d. 597/1200) 32 and the Ḥilya of Abū Nuʿaym (Aḥmad b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Isfahānī,̣ d. 430/1038). 33 Zabīdī then notes that the

29 Iḥyā’, vol. I: 56.

30 Adaptation of Koran 11:107 and 85:16 ( faʿʿāl li-mā yurīd ).

31 Itḥāf, vol. I: 377.

32 Or al-Thabāt ʿinda l-mamāt, as in GAL, I: 664.

33 Zabīdī’s text appears nearly verbatim in Ḥilyat al-awliyā’, Beirut, Dār al-kitāb al-‘arabī, 1980, vol. I: 34.

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


speaker of the first saying is, to his knowledge, never identified as Abū Bakr. The author quotes from the Fawā’id of Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Thaqafī (al-Qāsim

b. al-Faḍl, d. 489/1086), 34 where the ill man is Ibn Masʿūd. He mentions, as

further sources for the ascription of the saying to Ibn Masʿūd, al-Ḥārith b. Abī Usāma (al-Baghdādī, d. 282/895), Abū Yaʿlā (Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-Mawsilī,̣

d. 307/919), Ibn al-Sunnī (Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Dīnawarī, d. 364/974), 35

Bayhaqī in the Shuʿab 36 and Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr (Yūsuf b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Qurtubī,̣


463/1070) in the Tamhīd. 37 Thaʿlabī (Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Naysābūrī,


427/1035), who records a report exhibiting the same ascription, 38 may be

added to this list. Other attributions of the saying, however, are known to Tradition. The ill man is Anas b. Mālik in a report recorded by Ibn ʿAsākir (ʿAlī

b. al-Ḥasan al-Dimashqī, d. 571/1176), 39 and Ḥudhayfa b. al-Yamān in one

recorded by Ibn al-ʿAdīm (ʿUmar b. Aḥmad al-Ḥalabī, d. 660/1262). 40 In his discussion of the legitimacy of applying generic names to God, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (Muḥammad b. ʿUmar, d. 606/1209) adduces the saying and ascribes it to Abū Bakr. 41 The two sayings used by Ghazzālī belong to similar stories, and express the same attitude: recognition of God as the sole agent of health and illness alike, and contentment with His action, whichever of the two forms it takes. In view of these common features, we may reconstruct a process of alteration which affected the two sayings according to their order of appearance in Ghazzālī’s text. The evidence from the Tradition just adduced shows that, although the first saying had several ascriptions, its speaker was dominantly identified as Ibn Masʿūd. When Ghazzālī adduced this saying, he alternatively ascribed it to Abū Bakr. He may have regarded Abū Bakr as somehow a more appropriate mouthpiece for the expression of contentment than Ibn Masʿūd, let alone Anas and Ḥudhayfa. He may also have found the saying ascribed to Abū Bakr

34 Al-Fawā’id al-ʿawālī in GAL, S I: 602.

35 On the works of these Ḥadīth scholars, see GAS, I: 160, 170 and 198 respectively. In the three cases, the best candidate is not obvious to me.

36 Shuʿab al-īmān, ed. Muḥammad al-Saʿīd b. Basyūnī Zaghlūl, vol. II (Beirut, 1990): 491 (rep. 2497). I owe this reference, and the five ones to follow, to the expansive knowledge of Jonathan Brown.

37 See the report recorded in al-Tamhīd li-mā fī l-Muwat ṭ a’̣ min al-ma ʿ ānī wa-l-asānīd , ed. Musṭ afạ̄ Aḥmad al-‘Alawī et al. (Rabat, 1967-1986), vol. V (ed. Sa‘īd Aḥmad A‘rāb, 1976):


38 Al-Kashf wa l-bayān, ed. Abū Muḥammad b. ʿĀshūr, vol. IX (Beirut, 2002), 199.

39 Tārīkh Madīnat Dimashq, ed. Muḥibb al-Dīn Abū Sa‘īd ‘Umar b. Gharāma al-‘Amrawī, vol. IX (Beirut, 1995): 368.

40 Bughyat al-talaḅ fī tārīkh Ḥalab, ed. Suhayl Zakkār, vol. V (Damascus, 1988): 2172-3.

41 Al-Tafsīr al-kabīr (Tehran, Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, n. d.), 1:152.

142 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

in a report we do not know of, 42 but then he favoured this marginal ascription over the dominant one. With this preference for Abū Bakr, it is hardly con- ceivable that Ghazzālī suppressed independently the established ascription of the second saying to him. The alteration made to this saying was rather the result of the initial ascription. When Ghazzālī adduced the second saying, he had just ascribed the first to Abū Bakr. This led him to suppress the ascription of the second saying to Abū Bakr. There are two different ways, I think, to look at this process. It may be seen, first, that Ghazzālī was concerned with argumentative consistency. In order for an argument to be convincing, its parts should fit in nicely with one another, lest it be left open to the charge of prejudice. 43 Traditional sayings are part of Ghazzālī’s argument, and thus are required to display such consistency. Abū Bakr cannot have uttered both sayings. He cannot have said that he had no use for a doctor, since the Doctor had made him ill and, in the same cir- cumstances, that the Doctor’s diagnosis was that the disease was His will. The ascription of both sayings to Abū Bakr would thus suggest a divergence in the Tradition, which Ghazzālī chose to overlook in order to promote, on the authority of a major figure, his own interpretation of contentment. In the process whereby the ascription of the second saying to Abū Bakr was suppressed, we may also perceive Ghazzālī’s concern to maintain a certain degree of imperfection in order to avoid the appearance of artificiality. If the evidence presented in an argument fits together too neatly, it will give the impression that the selection of the evidence was prejudiced by the motives of the author. The first saying is a reply to an offer, and the second an answer to a question. Abū Bakr could have replied that the Doctor had made him ill, and have answered that the Doctor’s diagnosis was that the disease was His will. That he could have uttered both sayings was possible, but not desirable. The ascription of both sayings to Abū Bakr might have given the impression of a convergence of Tradition constructed by the author, as the reader would suspect at least some measure of divergence in the Tradition. Similar sayings may have been uttered by other figures, perhaps less major ones. Abū Bakr, on the other hand, may have offered other versions of contentment, perhaps less radical ones. Whether underlying divergence or artificial convergence was at stake, Ghazzālī would have weakened the support for the model of content-

42 This is suggested by the separate evidence Rāzī provides unless, of course, he is dependent upon Ghazzālī.

43 I borrow this idea, and the one to follow shortly, from Jon Elster, Alchemies of the Mind. Rationality and the Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 347-9. The author speaks of a “consistency constraint” and an “imperfection constraint”.

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


ment that he wanted to provide. He was thus led to suppress the ascription of the second saying to Abū Bakr. Whichever of the two concerns may have been at work in this process, Ghazzālī did not come up with an alternative ascription, as he had done in the case of the first saying. Abū Bakr remained his preferred figure, or at least the one most salient in his mind. He thus confined himself to making the second saying anonymous.

4. Addition, Suppression of the Speaker and Transfer of Speech

In the Book of the Norms of the Secluded Life (Kitāb Ādāb al-ʿuzla), 44 Ghazzālī considers the man who devotes himself exclusively to God in the struggle he leads against his own soul (nafs). That man, he argues, is a martyr whenever death strikes him as he is moving forward and not backward. This status is illustrated by a saying of the Prophet: “The man who struggles [on the path of God] is the one who struggles against his soul and his passion” (al-mujāhid man jāhada nafsahu wa-hawāhu). Ghazzālī adds that the greater struggle is the struggle led against the soul (wa-l-jihādu l-akbar jihādu n-nafs). This precept is in turn illustrated by the saying of “some Companion” (baʿḍ al-saḥ ̣āba): “We have returned from the lesser struggle to engage in the greater struggle” (rajaʿnā mina l-jihādi l-asghaṛ ilā l-jihādi l-akbar). Zabīdī 45 quotes ʿIrāqī, who men- tions al-Ḥākim (Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Naysābūrī, d. 405/1014) as source for the saying of the Prophet, and notes that al-Ḥākim’s report lacks the phrase “and his passion.” Zabīdī adds Ibn Ḥanbal, Tirmidhī, Ibn Ḥibbān (al-Bustī, d. 354/965), Tabarānị̄ and Quḍāʿī (Muḥammad b. Salāma, d. 454/1062). He notes that these sources likewise lack the reference to passion. This particular saying of the Prophet is seldom the object of a distinct report, and appears in different combinations. In report 1, recorded by Ibn Ḥanbal, 46 Tabarānị̄ 47 and al-Ḥākim, 48 it is part of a series of etymologically based and ethically minded definitions. 49 In report 2, recorded by Ibn Ḥanbal, 50 Tirmidhī 51

44 Iḥyā’, vol. VI: 1076.

45 Itḥāf, vol. VII: 413.

46 Musnad, vol. VI: 24 (rep. 24013) and 26 (rep. 24022).

47 Al-Muʿjam al-kabīr, ed. Ḥamdī ʿAbd al-Majīd al-Salafī, vol. XVIII (Baghdad, 1986): 309 (rep. 796).

48 Al-Mustadrak ʿalā l-Saḥ ̣īḥayn, vol. I (Beirut: Dār al-ma‘rifa, n. d.): 10-1.

49 man aminahu n-nās ʿalā amwālihim wa anfusihim (var. ʿalā anfusihim wa amwālihim) for

mu’min, man salima l-muslimūn (var. n-nās) min lisānihi wa yadihi for muslim, man hājara (var.

hajara) l-khatāyạ̄

wa dh-dhunūb for muhājir.

50 Musnad, vol. VI: p. 23 (rep. 23406).

51 Sunan, Faḍā’il al-jihād, II (Mawsūʿa, Sunan al-Tirmidhī, vol. IV: 165).

144 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

and Ibn Ḥibbān, 52 the definition of the man who struggles follows a statement of the privileges of the man who dies in frontier fighting. 53 In report 3, recorded by Ibn Ḥanbal 54 and Tabarānī,̣ 55 the saying appears separately. Ibn Ḥanbal’s two versions of report 1, as well as Tabarānī’s,̣ have “the one who struggles against his soul in obedience to God ( fī tạ̄ ʿati llah),” while al-Ḥākim’s version mentions struggle “through an act of obedience” ( fī tạ̄ ʿa). Ibn Ḥanbal’s version of report 2 as well as Ibn Ḥibbān’s have “who struggles against his soul for God (li-llah),” while Tirmidhī’s version makes no reference to God whatsoever. Ibn Ḥanbal’s version of report 3 has “who struggles against his soul on the path of God ( fī sabīli llah),” while Tabarānī’ṣ version mentions struggle “in God” ( fī llah). The latter phrase also appears, as a variant, in Ibn Ḥanbal’s version of report 2. 56 The saying of the anonymous Companion appears as a saying of the Prophet in a report recorded by Bayhaqī 57 and al-Khatīḅ al-Baghdādī (Aḥmad b. ʿAlī, d. 463/1071). 58 On his return from a military expedition, the Prophet addressed his men, “You have arrived at the best of destinations (qadimtum khayra maqdamin). You have arrived from the lesser struggle to engage in the greater struggle (mina l-jihādi l-asghaṛ ilā l-jihādi l-akbar).” When asked about the nature of the greater struggle, he answered, “The struggle led by the ser- vant against his passion” (mujāhadatu l-ʿabd hawāhu). From the above, we can see that in order to illustrate the martyrdom gained by the man who dies while fighting against his soul, Ghazzālī had no specifi- cally relevant data from the Tradition at his disposal. The data that he did have could merely provide an illustration of the priority of the struggle against the soul over the struggle against the enemy. For lack of specifically relevant data, Ghazzālī instead looked for an eloquent illustration of the latter doc- trine. It is this concern with eloquence that accounts for the alterations made in Ghazzālī’s text. In view of the variety of elements found in Ghazzālī’s text, these alterations can hardly be reconstructed as a two-stage process. It seems better to assume

52 Ibn Balbān, al-Iḥsān bi-tartīb Saḥ ̣īḥ Ibn Ḥibbān, ed. Kamāl Yūsuf al-Ḥūt, vol. VII (Beirut, 1987): 69 (rep. 4605).

53 His work grows until the day of resurrection and he is relieved of the trial of the tomb.

54 Musnad, vol. VI: 25 (rep. 24020).

55 Al-Muʿjam al-kabīr, vol. XVIII: 309 (rep. 797).

56 Quḍāʿī’s report is unavailable to me. It can perhaps be found in the work published as Dastūr maʿālim al-ḥikam wa-ma’thūr makārim al-shiyam, ed. Barakāt Habbūd, (Beirut: Dār al- arqam). For other titles of Quḍāʿī’s main work, see GAL, I: 419. Whether Quḍāʿī’s report is a version of report 1, 2 or 3, and whether or not it makes any reference to God, we know from Zabīdī that it lacks “and his passion.”

57 Kitāb al-zuhd al-kabīr, ed. Taqī al-Dīn al-Nadwī (Abū Dhabi: al-Mujammaʿ al-Thaqāfī, 2004), 294-5 (rep. 380). I owe this reference, once again, to Jonathan Brown.

58 Tārīkh Baghdād, vol. XIII (Cairo, 1349/1931): 493 (rep. 7345).

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


that the various data were brought together simultaneously, and were reshaped in combination with one another. Such combined reshaping resulted in three distinct statements. The general statement of the Prophet was widely reported, although only in combination with other statements. This statement was suf- ficiently autonomous to be detached from its context, and adduced separately. If we assume, following ʿIrāqī, that Ghazzālī got it from report 1, the other definitions present there were simply unhelpful for his purpose. If, as Zabīdī seems to think, report 2 is an equally suitable candidate, Ghazzālī could easily overlook the praise of frontier fighting, which would have been harmful indeed to his argument. If, finally, some version of report 3 was available to him, no selection of content was needed. In all versions of the statement, Ghazzālī had the soul as single target of the struggle. As I have just contended, Ghazzālī was looking for an eloquent illustration of the priority of the struggle against the soul. A way to make the statement more eloquent was offered to him by another general statement of the Prophet. This statement was less widely reported, but belonged to a coherent story. In the narrative report, Ghazzālī had something found nowhere else, namely pas- sion as target of the struggle. He borrowed the targeting of passion from this report, and added it to the first statement. Ghazzālī thus came up with a target for the struggle unknown to Tradition: that of the soul and passion together. The double target implied no practical difference, but it met the requirements of eloquence. In the struggle against the soul, it is the force of passion with which we are faced. Once he had improved the general statement of the Prophet, Ghazzālī had no use for a second statement ascribed to the Prophet. The statement found in the narrative report was thus deprived of its ascrip- tion, and turned into a general, unattributed precept: “the greater struggle is the struggle led against the soul” (wa-l-jihādu l-akbar jihādu l-nafs). For such a precept, eloquence is the product of concision. Ghazzālī thus suppressed the “servant”, the agent of the struggle in the narrative report. He then replaced the original target of the struggle, namely passion. The reason for the latter process lies in a syntactic feature specific to the use of the term “struggle” with “passion”. As a target of struggle, the force of passion has to be personalised. It must be the struggle specifically against one’s own passion, not against passion in general. The soul, on the contrary, can remain impersonal. The phrase “struggle against passion,” as opposed to “against one’s passion,” does not seem to exist in Arabic, at least not Ghazzālī’s, whilst “struggle against the soul” is common. The specific struggle led by the servant against “his passion” thus became, when elevated to the rank of a general precept, simply “the struggle against the soul”. The particular statement of the Prophet concerning the “return from the lesser struggle”, as found in the narrative report, did provide further illustration

146 A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148

for the doctrine. It would seem more eloquent, however, if uttered by the very people about to engage in the struggle. Rather than being encouraged by the Prophet, they would express their own determination to lead the struggle. For increased eloquence, the speech had only to be transferred to the addressee. The statement addressed by the Prophet to his men was thus transformed into the statement of an anonymous Companion speaking on behalf of his troop. These alterations of ascription (in the former case, the suppression of the

speaker, and in the latter, the transfer of speech) are explained only in part by

a concern for eloquence. They should also be seen, I think, as the outcome of

a concern to avoid artificial neatness. To have had the Prophet utter two gen-

eral statements and a particular one, all three with very similar content, would have suggested a convergence of Tradition constructed by the author to pro- mote his own preference for struggle against the soul. Similar statements, the reader would again suspect, may have been uttered by figures invested with less authority. More problematically, the Prophet also uttered statements prais- ing struggle against the enemy, and disregarding altogether the struggle against the soul. To avoid giving the impression of artificial construction, varying ascription was needed. It was thus his concern to include sufficient imperfec- tion to render his argument credible, in addition to his concern for eloquence, which made Ghazzālī come up with a general precept and a Companion’s say- ing illustrating the doctrine. This situation was unknown to Tradition, which had both statements as sayings of the Prophet. Ḥadīth scholars were right to insist that ḥadīths should be quoted from written or formally memorized texts. When this practice is not followed, the texts can easily fall victim to alteration. As we have seen, ḥadīths can be adjusted to suit doctrine, and are affected by argumentative concerns. Such alterations, of course, do not imply that Ghazzālī dismissed Ḥadīth as a nor- mative source. The fact that he was prepared to alter ascription for the sake of consistency-based or imperfection-based credibility, however, indicates an understanding of authority departing from the normative principle common among Sunni scholars. According to this principle, authority is something vested in specific figures and, in particular, the Prophet. That the Sunni prin- ciple of authority was — in non-legal matters — quite foreign to Ghazzālī became apparent when we saw him introducing the celebrated ḥadīth on the wish of the martyr with the phrase: “It is found in a report.” We later saw that Companions are interchangeable, and could be anonymized when necessary. Lastly, it appeared that the sayings of the Prophet could be ascribed to a Com- panion, or absorbed into a general precept where it was helpful to do so. It could be argued that Ghazzālī adopted a globalizing principle of authority, and acknowledged the authority of the Ancestors (salaf ) collectively. I rather

A. Leites / Oriens 40 (2012) 133-148


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