The Second Part,
which is the Second Matter
[This was written to put a stop to and solve a significant argument about the Hadith which describes how Moses (Upon whom be peace) struck Azra’il (Upon whom be peace) in the eye, and the rest of the story.1]
I heard a scholarly argument in Eğridir. It was wrong to hold such an argument especially at this time, but I did not know it was an argument. I was asked a question and shown a Hadith in a reliable book marked with a qaf, which signifies the agreement of the two Shaikhs [Bukhari and Muslim]. They asked me: “Is it a Hadith or isn’t it?”
I replied that one should have confidence in someone who, in a reliable book such as that, cites the agreement of the two Shaikhs concerning a Hadith; it means it is a Hadith. However, Hadiths may contain allegorical obscurities like the Qur’an, and only experts can ascertain their meanings. Even the literal meaning of this Hadith suggests that it may belong to the allegorical category of those obscure ones. If I had known that it was a point of argument, I would not have given such a short answer, and would have replied as follows:
Firstly: The primary condition for discussing matters of this sort is to argue fairly, intending to discover the truth. It is permissible for those who know about the subject to discuss it, so long as they do not do so stubbornly nor give rise to misunderstanding. Evidence that such an argument is for the sake of the truth is that if the truth emerges through the opposite party, a person is not upset but pleased. For he will have learned something he did not know. If it had emerged through him, he would not have learned much and might well have become arrogant.
Secondly: If the argument is about a Hadith, the categories of Hadiths have to be known, as well as the types of implicit revelation, and the varieties of prophetic speech. It is not permissible to discuss ambiguous Hadiths
Bukhari, Jana’iz, 69; Anbiya’, 31; Muslim, Fada’il, 157-8; Nasa’i, Jana’iz, 121; Musnad, ii, 269, 315, 351.