Research Compiled by Abul Layth
It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad said,
“The most hated Halal by Allah is divorce.”
Several questions may enter the mind of the one who reads these words. One who has at least some knowledge of Islam may ask what is the authenticity of the report? If it is authentic, what does it mean? In this article we will explore the different chains and statements of the scholars concerning this narration, insha’Allah.
Abu Dawud’s chain ((#1863 )) reads as follows: Kathir ibn ‘Ubayd >> Muhammad Ibn Khalid >> Mu’arrif ibn Wasil >> Muharib ibn Dithar from ibn ‘Umar from the Nabi.
1) كَثِيرُ بْنُ عُبَيْدٍ Kathir ibn Ubayd: Declared thiqah (impeccably trustworthy) by Abu Hatim Ar-Razi, Ibn Hibban, Maslamah ibn Qasim, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Dawud. An Nasa’i stated, “There is nothing wrong with him.” Declared thiqah by Al-Hafith ibn Hajr in his Taqrib At-Tahthib.
2) مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ خَالِدٍ Muhammad ibn Khalid: He is Muhammad ibn Khalid ibn Muhammad Al-Kindi Al-Wahbi. Hafith Ibn Hajr states in his Taqrib, “Saduq – Honest.” The late commentators Hafith Shu’ayb Al-Arna’ut and Dr. Bashshar Ma’ruf disagreed stating, “Rather, he is impeccably trustworthy (thiqah). He was declared thiqah by Ibn Ma’in, Ad-Daraqutni, and Abu Dawud stated, ‘There is nothing wrong with him’, and Ibn Hibban mentioned him in his “ath-thiqat”.
3) مُعَرِّفِ بْنِ وَاصِلٍ Mu’arrif ibn Wasil: He was declared impeccably trustworthy by Hafith ibn Hajr in his Taqrib ((number 6789 )). In fact Imam Ahmad is reported to have said, “Thiqah Thiqah” which is a higher status than simply “thiqah”. Ibn Mahdi, An-Nasa’i and ibn Hibban all agreed with thiqah.
4) مُحَارِبِ بْنِ دِثَارٍ Muharib Ibn Dithar : Hafith Ibn Hajr states, “The judge, an impeccably trustworthy (thiqah) Imam and ascetic (zahid).” All of the scholars agree upon his trustworthiness in the books of rijaal.
This narration was also reported by Imam Al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan Al-Kubra with the exact same chain. On the apparent, this chain is Sahih. However, there are those who dissent and we shall delve into their arguments shortly.
There is yet another narration of this hadith in Mursal form that goes through the same above Mu’arrif from Muharib without the mention of Abdullah ibn Umar reported in the Sunan of Abu Dawud. Abu Dawud reports it thus:
Ahmad ibn Yunus >> Mu’arrif >> Muharib that Rasulullah (‘alayhi salam) said…
This chain is thus disconnected because Muharib did not hear directly from Rasulullah. Keep in mind this chain as it will be mentioned later as we quote the critics.
The third chain is found in Ibn Majah’s Sunan and it reads as follows:
Kathir ibn ‘Ubayd >> Muhammad ibn Khalid >> Ubaydullah ibn Al Walid Al-Wassafi >> Muharib ibn Dithar from Ibn Umar from Rasulullah.
The difference in this chain is عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ الْوَلِيدِ الْوَصَّافِيِّ ‘Ubaydullah ibn Al-Walid Al-Wassafi. Ibn Al-Jawzi in Al-’Ilal Al-Mutanahiyah ((#1056 )) reports this narration from Ibn Majah and weakens its chain due to ‘Ubaydullah Al-Wassafi. Hafith Ibn Hajr agrees that he is dha’if (weak), both in his Taqrib and his Talkhis Al-Habir, but then states in At-Talkhis that this chain is followed up by the report of Abu Dawud who reported it via Muhammad ibn Khalid who then reported it also from Mu’arrif ibn Al-Waasil. Ash-Shawkani mentions this same point in his Nayl Al-Awtar when commenting on this hadith. So this particular narration is weak, though arguably Hasan li-ghayrihi. Some argue that this chain can not be used as support at all due to the fact that some scholars of hadith abandoned ‘Ubaydullah ibn Al-Walid’s narrations altogether, such as An-Nasa’i, Al-Fallas and Al-Hakim who reportedly stated, ‘He reports from Muharib fabricated narrations.’ As-Saji stated that he was very weak in hadith and reported many manakir narrations. However, it should be remembered that Abu Zura’ah, Abu Hatim, and Ad-Daraqutni simply labeled him da’if (weak) without abandonment, and that Ibn Hajr merely graded it “da’if” and not “very weak”.
There is yet another chain for this narration in the Mustadarak of Imam Al-Hakim that reads:
Muhammad ibn Ahmad >> Muhammad ibn Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah>>Ahmad ibn Yunus>>Mu’arrif ibn Wasil>>Muhaarib ibn Dithar from Abdullah ibn Umar that Rasulullah said, “Allah did not make anything permitted more hated to Him than divorce.”
Al-Hakim states after it, “This hadith is Sahih (authentic) and they [i.e. Bukhari & Muslim] did not narrate it.” Imam Adh-Dhahabi agreed to his authentication of this narration in his talkhis. However, some of late have criticized this chain for Muhammad ibn Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah being in it. There is disagreement regarding him. Adh-Dhahabi in his Al-Mizan begins by calling him “Hafith - Master of Hadith” and stated that he was a scholar and had insight in Hadith and its men. Salih Jazrah said of him “Thiqah - impeccably trustworthy!” Ibn ‘Adi’s final words on him were, “I have not seen from him a single munkar hadith…and there is nothing wrong with him. ((See Mizan )) ” Salih ibn Muhammad labeled him “thiqah” ((Lisan Al-Mizaan of Ibn Hajr )) Maslamah ibn Al-Qasim said, “There is no harm with him. The people recorded from him and I do not know of a single one of them that abandoned him.” However, Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal called him a liar. Ibn Khurash said that he used to fabricate hadith. So if we grade the above hadith upon the conditions of Imam Adh-Dhahabi and Al-Hakim, it is Sahih. Whereas, if we take the words of his critics, this hadith would be weak, if not severely. Ibn At-Turkmani stated that this hadith shows that the chain is in fact connected. If this narration is authentic, as Al-Hakim and Adh-Dhahabi state, it undeniably affirms the chain of Mu’arrif from Muharib from Abdullah ibn Umar.
The Real Criticism of this Narration
Al-Albani in his edition of Sunan Abu Dawud as well as others state that the chain of Muharib reporting this from Abdullah ibn Umar is incorrect. Their proof for their claim is that the “more established” version of the chain does not include Abdullah ibn Umar within it. We mentioned this chain earlier from Abu Dawud’s Sunan:
Ahmad ibn Yunus >> Mu’arrif >> Muharib that Rasulullah (‘alayhi salam) said…
Notice that Muharib, in this chain, does not mention Abdullah ibn Umar. This would make the chain “Mursal“, which according to some is weak and can not be used as proof, although there is serious disagreement regarding such a principle. They also use the narration found in the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah that has Waki’ narrating from Mu’arrif from Muharib without mention of Abdullah ibn Umar in the chain, hence it is also mursal. Also to support their is the following narration of Imam Al-Bayhaqi’s Sunan Al-Kubra:
So this chain goes through Yahya ibn Bukayr from Mu’arrif ibn Wasil from Muharib ibn Dithar telling the words of the Nabi (‘alayhis salaam). In Mursal form:
What also aids their argument is that this must be a mistake on Muhammad ibn Khalid’s part. At one moment he narrates this hadith from Mu’arrif including Ibn Umar, and in another he uses the weak narrator ‘Ubaydullah Al-Wassafi. Muhammad ibn Khalid is the only one authentically – without apparent doubt atleast – reporting this narration with Ibn Umar’s name, hence, in their view this is a shaadh (irregular) narration and thus can not be used as evidence.
In response to these narrations and arguments is:
This narration is a narration of Mu’adh ibn Jabal basically stating, “…And Allah has not created on the face of the earth a more hated thing to him than divorce…”
Ibn Hajr stated about this chain in his Talkhis, “Its chain is weak (da’if). and it is disconnected (munqati‘) as well.” It is weak due to Humayd ibn Malik who was declared weak by Abu Zura’ah and Ibn Ma’in. The reason why it is “disconnected” is because Mak-hul did not hear from Mu’adh ibn Jabal. Those who use this chain as support will state that the hadith is not severely weak, and can be used as support.
What is agreed upon by both sides is that the Mursal narrations are authentic as they stand. Al-Mundhiri concluded that “What is well known (mash-hur) is that this narration is Mursal and gharib.” The recent scholar Nawwaf Al-Jarman stated that it is not a statement of the Prophet Muhammad, but of his companion Abdullah ibn Umar as it is in mawquf form. Whereas Al-Hakim and Adh-Dhahabi stated it was authentic. The upshot to all of this is that the disagreement is whether or not the inclusion of Ibn Umar is authentic or not.
What is meant by this Hadith?
According to Al-Khattabi, An-Nawawi, Ibn Hajr and others, this hadith refers to divorcing a woman without a reason (sabab). In other words, to divorce a woman without a reason angers Allah, even though it is Halal. Abu Dawud placed this hadith beneath the chapter heading “Regarding the Hated status of Divorce”. This hadith is warning the believers that divorce is not a game, or a ‘word’ to be thrown around when having a marital spat. The fact is, divorce tears families apart, can leave children with emotional scars, hurt and damage the family structure as a whole. So the believers should be wary, that this “Halal” act is hated by Allah is abused or misused.
And we ask Allah to bless our beloved Sayyid Muhammad, his family and followers.