Refering to the hadith of Anas on which the Permanent Commitee for Fatwah (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and the other great scholars of Islam based the prohibition of bowing in greeting, a brother posted the following comment to me:
“Fatawa Lajna also quoted the Hadeeth and made a comment that the Hadeeth is weak, even though its position is that the act is Haram.”
I answered: “Do you not think it is most absurd and disappointing for those eminent scholars to judge an act haram as you say, warn against it both at commitee level and as individuals and still grade the sole hadith on which their verdict is based ‘weak’?”
The seeming confusion is resolved by going through their detailed commentary on the hadith in question. The Lajnah wrote:
رواه الترمذي وقال: حديث حسن، كذا قال، وإسناده ضعيف، لأن فيه حنظلة السدوسي، وهو ضعيف عند أهل العلم، لكن لعل الترمذي حسنه لوجود ما يشهد له في الأحاديث الأخرى” (فتاووى اللجنة الدائمة ج١،صفحة ٢٣٢).
“Attirmidhee reported it and said it is a good hadith. So he said, and its chain of narration is weak because it contains Hanzalah Assadoosee and he is a weak individual by the reckoning of the scholars, but it is possible that the reason Attirmidhee graded the hadeeth “good” is that there are other ahaadeeth which attest to its correctness [in content]”( The Permanent Commitee for Fatwah, vol 1, page 232).
If this statement of theirs still has any ambiguity as to where precisely they place the hadith, that ambiguity is banished by their verdict that the act is prohibited and their reference to this same hadith as their basis.
Students of hadith (may Allah make me one) know that a hadith with some weakness in its chain of narration can still be judged صحيح المعنى ( sound of content) when its content is confirmed correct by other ahaadeeth. That is the case with this particular hadith – according to the Permanent Commitee. It explains their verdict on bowing.
And by the way, how often have we students of knowledge been warned to beware of hastening to make our independent judgment disagreeing with the trusted scholars when their preponderant view on a matter points in a particular direction, not to talk of unanimity! That precisely is what they refer to as self-conceit in us. May Allah purge us of every bit of it.
Written by: Sheikh Murtado Adedokun, Hafidhahullah.