Hadith of “the Stars”

In the Sunni tradition, a famous hadith, known as the Hadith of the Stars reports that the Prophet said, “My companions are like the stars: whichever you follow, you will be guided.”[16] Although this hadith is pivotal to the Sunni belief since it gives absolute certainty that all of the companions were entitled to lead others toward Paradise; nonetheless, Imam Ahmad b. al-Hanbal states that this hadith is unauthentic.[17] Abu Ibrahim al-Muzni, a student of al-Shaf’i, and his companions also doubted the authenticity of this hadith.[18] Abu Bakr al-Bazzaz criticized this hadith and expounded upon its flaws.[19]

Other narrators (huffaz) also mention its weakness and the unreliability of its chain of narrators. They include: Abul Hasan al-Darqutni, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Abd al-Birr, Ibn Asakir, Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Dahiyah, Abu Hayan al-Andalusi, Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi, and surprisingly, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah.[20] In addition, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani has stated that although famous, this hadith had an unreliable and weak chain of narrators (isnad).

Given these doubts, this hadith – one of the most important pillars of the concept of absolute righteousness of the companions – falls apart and is nothing more than a fabrication.

[16] “Ashabi kal-nujum…”
[17] Al-Taysir fi Sharh al-Tahrer, 3:243, Al-Muntakhab, Ibn Qudamah
[18] Ibn Abd al-Birr, Jami Bayan al-Ilm, 2:89
[19] Ibn Abd al-Birr, Jami Bayan al-Ilm, 2:90; Ilam al-Muwaqain, 2:223; Al-Bahr al-Muhit, 5:528
[20] Ilam al-Muwaqain, 2:223

When Power and Piety Collide by Sayed Moustafa al-Qazwini

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