(5) The Great Ash`ari Scholars

Al-Hakim’s “Mustadrak” was criticized by the hadith scholars due to the number of mistakes and inaccuracies found in it. Al-Sakhawi in “al-Tawbikh” and others mention that he declares many forged reports to be rigorously authentic, not to mention weak ones, instead of clinging to his own expressed precondition that only reports with chains of the rank of Bukhari’s and Muslim’s would be retained. Al-Dhahabi went to excess in regretting that al-Hakim had compiled the “Mustadrak” in the first place. However, the hadith expert Dr. Nur al-Din `Itr of Damascus pointed out that al-Hakim compiled it in his old age, intending to revise it, which he did not do beyond the first volume. This is proved by the fact that al-Hakim’s mistakes are imperceptible in the first volume of the “Mustadrak,” as confirmed by al-Dhahabi’s own minimal corrections.

Another latent criticism is al-Hakim’s alleged Shi`ism. Al-Dhahabi in one place names him “one of the oceans of knowledge although a little bit Shi`i” (`ala tashayyu`in qaleelin feeh), in another “al-Hakim the Shi`i,” and in another “a famous Shi`i” (shee`iyyun mashhur). Al-Subki rejects the label of Shi`i as baseless since, among other proofs, Ibn `Asakir includes al-Hakim among the Ash`aris, who consider the Shi`is innovators. Yet this label is still branded as a blemish today at the hands of those who oppose his positions if they weaken theirs, and those who oppose him for being a follower of al-Ash`ari, or for being a Sufi. As for what al-Dhahabi said about al-Hakim, we must place it in the same category as what he said about the “Mustadrak.”

The first hadith of the Prophet (saw) al-Hakim narrated in his “Ma`rifa `Ulum al-Hadith” is: “May Allah make radiant the face of one who heard one of my sayings and then carried it to others. It may be that one carries understanding without being a person of understanding; it may be that one carries understanding to someone who possesses more understanding than he.”

On the 3rd of Safar 405, al-Hakim went into the bath, came out after bathing, said “Ah” and died wearing but a waistcloth before he had time to put on a shirt. Al-Hasan ibn Ash`ath al-Qurashi said: “I saw al-Hakim in my dream riding a horse in a handsome appearance and saying: ‘Salvation.’ I asked him: ‘O al-Hakim! In what?’ He replied: ‘In writing hadith.’”

Al-Darani, `Ali ibn Dawud, Abu al-Hasan al-Muqri’ al-Dimashqi (d. 402). When the imam of the Great Damascus Mosque died, the people of Damascus came in throngs to Daraya to ask for `Ali ibn Dawud to be their imam but were faced by the people of Daraya in arms. The latter said: “We shall never let you take our imam!” But they were persuaded by Muhammad ibn Abi Nasr’s argument: “Are you not pleased that it be said in every country that the people of Damascus came in need of the imam of the people of Daraya?” Then `Ali ibn Dawud said: “Can one such as myself be suitable for the Great Mosque of Damascus, when my father was a Christian then converted, and I have no Muslim ancestor?” Then he rode to Damascus on his mule. He accepted no compensation for his imamate nor his teaching, and he would make his own bread from wheat which he brought from his village and had ground with his own hand. He was confronted by some Hashwiyya in Damascus, whereupon he wrote al-Baqillani in Baghdad for assistance, and the latter sent him his student al-Husayn ibn Hatim al-Adhri. After this, the people of Damascus would never leave `Ali ibn Dawud’s gatherings except with the words “One, One!” on their lips.

Al-Baqillani, Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad ibn Ja`far, Shaykh al-Islam, al-Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Baqillani al-Basri al-Baghdadi al-Maliki al-Ash`ari (d. 403), eulogized by al-Dhahabi as “the erudite imam, peerless of the mutakallimeen, and foremost of the scholars of usul, author of many books, the exemplar of perspicuity and intelligence.” Al-Qadi `Iyad said: “He is known as the ‘Sword of the Sunna (Sayf al-Sunna)’ and the ‘Spokesman of the Community (Lisan al-Umma),’ a mutakallim who spoke the language of the hadith scholars, adhering to the doctrine of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, and the apex of Maliki scholars in his time. His gathering in al-Basra was huge.”

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