hadith in Bukhari which says that prophet Ibrahim(AS) lied on three occasions

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

hadith in Bukhari which says that prophet Ibrahim(AS) lied on three occasions

Q. I wonder if you can shed some light on one issue There is a hadith in Bukhari which says that prophet Ibrahim(AS) lied on three occasions. The hadith alleges two cases of lies from the Qur’an and one external to it. Did the prophet Ibraheem(AS) lied, because a sahih hadith of Bukhari states that prophet Muhammad(SAW) said so?
Narrated Abu Huraira: “Abraham (A.I) did not tell a lie except on three occasions. [...] (Sahih Al- Bukhari, Vol.4, Hadith No 578, Translation by Dr. Muhsan Khan).
Could you please tell me what the scholars of ahl-e-sunnah have said about this particular hadith, and also about the status of Sahih Bukhari. Is it true that all ahadith in Bukhari are technically “Sahih?
I heard from someone that sh. Albani, whom the salafies regard a muhaddis, has graded some ahadith of Bukhari as da’eef and maudu’. Is this true?

A. Both Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet said:

lam yakdhib ibrahimu illa thalath kadhabat…

Ibrahim never lied except for three lies…

A hadith reported in both Bukhari and Muslim has the highest rank of authenticity; then what is reported in Bukhari only; then what is reported in Muslim only.

It is wrong to say: Ibrahim lied. Adab requires that we only say: the Prophet said: “Ibrahim never lied except for three lies…” and we must follow exactly the wording of the hadith, not paraphrase it with expressions of our own making, and we must ascertain that we’ve understood it lest we fall into a grave mistake. It is enough lie that we should report the hadith in translation.

Truly he is safe who keeps silent, as the Prophet said: man samita naja. We should know that to demean a Prophet, call him a liar, curse him or attack his rank, even unwittingly, constitutes a grave offense. May Allah protect us from the slips of the tongue. Whoever is in need to learn what constitutes such offenses from near or far should read Ibn Taymiyya’s book al-Sarim al-maslul `ala shatim al-rasul or the chapter on the subject in Qadi `Iyad’s book al-Shifa’.

As for what the `ulama of Ahl al-Sunna said about this hadith, it is that in this hadith the term “lies” is relative to the outside perspective of the people, not to the acts of the Prophet Ibrahim themselves. This is the explanation of Abu al-Wafa ibn `Aqil al-Hanbali, who added that to attribute common lies to Prophets would contradict their essential characteristic as the most trustworthy of human beings and those who never lie. This is related by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari and he states it as the correct view. Nawawi in Sharh Sahih Muslim cites a similar view from Qadi `Iyad and others. This is the understanding of Ahl al-Sunna, and Allah knows best.

Regarding the question on Albani’s regrading of Bukhari, to my knowledge it was limited to Bukhari’s small book al-Adab al-mufrad, not to al-Jami` al-Sahih. What Albani did was take al-Adab al-mufrad and split it into two books. He called one Sahih al-adab al-mufrad, and the other Da`if al-adab al-mufrad. When he was asked why he divided Bukhari’s book into two books he replied: because the people don’t realize the difference between the sahih and the da`if and this will make them realize it. He said this in his introduction.

May Allah keep us on the Straight Path, the Path of those He has favored, not of those against whom He is angry, nor those led astray. Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions.

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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