Assalaamu alaykum Shaykh. I want to know about a statement attributed to 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib, who was reported to have said, “A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three occasions: at the time of your need, behind your back, and after your death.” My question is whether this saying of 'Ali Ibn Abi Talib was ever reported in any authentic Islamic texts or books of Hadith. If so, then I would like to know whether this saying is authentic or weak. Please shed some light on this issue. May Allaah reward you for your time; it is appreciated.
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
We have not come across this statement in any of the authentic books that we have at hand. Nonetheless, Ibn Muflih, from the Hanbali School of jurisprudence, reported it in his book Al-Aadaab Ash-Shar’iyyah, as he said, “‘Ali said, ‘A friend cannot be considered a friend until he protects his friend in his absence and after his death.’” However, he did not say here ‘in three things’ [or three occasions]; and we have not come across a narration with this wording.
Also, we have not come across a scholar who ruled whether or not this statement is authentic.
It should be mentioned here that some scholars permitted leniency in narrating the ahaadeeth that are about matters other than what is lawful and what is forbidden (halaal and haraam), and this includes statements of the Companions in such matters.
For instance, Al-Bayhaqi, in his book Dalaa'il An-Nubuwwah, quoted ‘Abdur- Rahmaan ibn Mahdi, as saying, “In reports about reward and punishment and virtuous deeds, we are lenient about the chain of narrators and the men who narrated them; but in narrations about what is lawful and what is forbidden and rulings, we are very strict about the chain of narrators and we criticize the narrators.”
Allaah knows best.
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