According to Musnad Abi Ya`laa’s narrative no. 2349 the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said:
عرى الإسلام وقواعد الدين ثلاثة عليهن أسس الإسلام من ترك منهن واحدة فهو بها كافر حلال الدم شهادة أن لا اله إلا الله والصلاة المكتوبة وصوم رمضان ثم قال بن عباس تجده كثير المال لا يزكي فلا يزال بذاك كافرا يحل دمه وتجده كثير المال لم يحج فلا يزال بذاك كافرا ولا يحل دمه
Islam has three corners and there are three pillars of religion on which the foundation of Islam is raised. Whoever leaves one of these three, he shall be a rejecter because of it, thereby, allowing his blood1: [First is] to declare that there is no god except the One God; [second is to] offer the obligatory prayers; and [third is to] fast during Ramadan. Then Ibn Abbas said: ‘If you find him to be wealthy but he does not pay Zaka’h, he shall still be considered a rejecter because of it, thereby, allowing his blood. While if you find him to be extremely wealthy but he does not undertake Hajj, he would still be a rejecter, but his blood shall not be allowed2.’
The narrative clearly states that after accepting Islam a person is bound, under all circumstances, to honor some of the commandments of Islam. If a Muslim fails to honor any of these commandments, he shall no longer be considered a Muslim, but would, on the contrary, be counted among the rejecters. According to the stated narrative, these commandments include:
- Declaring that there is no god, except the One God;
- Establishing Sala’h; and
- Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Furthermore, Ibn Abbas (ra) is also reported to have added two more things to this list. These include:
- Where a wealthy person does not pay Zaka’h; and
- Where a wealthy person does not undertake Hajj.
It is further narrated in this narrative that those who turn back from declaring the oneness of God or from offering regular prayers or from fasting during the month of Ramadan or, according to Ibn Abbas (ra), from paying Zaka’h, then they shall be killed.
The Qur’anic Directive regarding the Distinction between Believers and Rejecters and the Punishment of the Rejecters
We know that as an application of the Divine law relating to the dominance of the messengers of God, the Qur’an had unequivocally directed that all polytheists from among the addressees of the Prophet (pbuh) be put to death, except only if they accept Islam, establish Sala’h and pay Zaka’h. The Qur’an says:
فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُواْ لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِن تَابُواْ وَأَقَامُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتَوُاْ الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّواْ سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (التوبة 9: 5)
When the sacred months are over, slay these polytheists wherever you find them; arrest them, besiege them and lay in every ambush for them. But if they turn back [from their rejection], establish Sala’h and pay Zaka’h, then let them be. Indeed God is forgiving, merciful.
It is clear that the Qur’an has made Sala’h and Zaka’h as the only two practices that qualify a person to be considered a Muslim in the eyes of the law. No other practice, however significant it may be, has been made a part of the public law, as opposed to Sala’h and Zaka’h.
Regarding the Ascription of the Saying to the Prophet (pbuh)
The narrative under consideration has been reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas (ra). However, one of the narrators in the chain is not certain whether Ibn Abbas (ra) actually ascribed it to the Prophet (pbuh) or not. In writing the chain of narrators, Ibn Abd al-Burr, in his book “Al-Istizkaar” notes:
حدثنا حماد بن زيد قال حدثنا عمر بن مالك النكري عن أبي الجوزاء عن بن عباس – قال حماد ولا أظنه إلا رفعه – قال…
Hammad ibn Zayd narrated to us saying that Omar ibn Maalik al-Nakriy narrated to us from Abu al-Jauzaa who, in turn, from Ibn Abbas – Hammad has said that I think that Ibn Abbas did not narrate it except on the authority of the Prophet (pbuh) – saying…
It is clear from the above that even the ascription of this narrative to the Prophet (pbuh) is not certain.
Comment on the Narrative
From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that the narrative remains doubtful both from the perspective of its ascription to the Prophet (pbuh) as well as from the perspective of its subject matter.
As for the ascription of this narrative to the Prophet (pbuh), one of the reporters (Hammad ibn Zayd) of the narrative himself is not certain whether or not the narrative is a saying or understanding of Ibn Abbas (ra) himself or a saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). This state of affairs clearly reduces the authenticity of the narrative under consideration.
As for the subject matter of the narrative, we have already shown that in contrast to the directive entailed in the Qur’an, the narrative under consideration states that a person who does not fast during the month or Ramadan or does not undertake Hajj can also be declared a rejecter, just as one who does not offer Sala’h or pay Zaka’h. This clearly is an unwarranted addition made to the law given by the Qur’an.
Furthermore, the subject matter of the narrative is also clearly in contrast to all those numerous, more authentic and accepted other narratives relating to the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’, replacing these with ‘Three Pillars of Islam’.
In view of the stated weaknesses of the narrative under consideration, it is extremely difficult to accept it as accurately ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). The narrative is clearly a result of a faulty understanding of one or more of the narrators in the chain.
This write-up is prepared by the Hadith Cell of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi