Assalaamu alaykum. We know that one of the prescribed books of Jamaa‘at At-Tableegh is Fadaa’il Al-A‘maal. Recently, I came across one story mentioned in this book. In short, the story relates that Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, collected 500 hadiths but that he later burnt them out of fear that he might have collected some hadiths which were not authentic. The book mentions that that is why we do not have many Companions who stated hadiths and that that is why Imam Abu Haneefah, may Allah have mercy with him, did not state so many hadiths. As a reference, it has mentioned a book named Tadhkirat Al-Hujjah. I want to know the authenticity of this story. May Allah reward you.
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
The story of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq burning the ahaadeeth that he collected is not authentic, as Ath-Thahabi said in Tadhkirat Al-Huffaath. He quoted the story narrated from 'Aa'ishah; that she said:
“My father collected the ahaadeeth of the Messenger of Allah and it was five hundred ahaadeeth. One night, he was very uneasy, tossing and turning much. I also felt uneasy because of this, so I said, 'Are you turning because of an ailment, or have you heard news that upset you?' In the morning, he said, 'O daughter, bring the ahaadeeth that you have.' I brought them, and he asked for a flame and burnt them. I said, 'Why did you burn them?' He said, 'I feared lest I die while they are with me containing narrations that I heard from a man whom I trusted and whose narrations I considered to be correct while in reality they are not; then I would have quoted incorrect narrations from him.'”
Ath-Thahabi then said, “This narration is not authentic, and Allah knows best.”
Kanz Al-‘Ummaal reads, "Ibn Katheer said about this story and its chain of narrators, 'This is a very strange hadeeth; as ‘Ali ibn Saalih is an unknown narrator.”
The scholars mentioned the reason why Abu Bakr did not narrate many ahaadeeth from the Prophet . They said that it is because he did not live long after the Prophet and was busy with the matters of the Caliphate.
Al-Mu'aallimi Al-Yamaani said in Al-Anwaar Al-Kaashifah, “Abu Bakr lived about two years in office [as Caliph], and he was busy with the Muslims and managing their affairs. During the reign of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar was busy with the Ministry and trade, and after that he was busy managing the affairs of the Muslims as well.
Al-Mustadrak quoted that Mu‘aath ibn Jabal recommended that his companions seek knowledge, and he named those whom they should take knowledge from for them: Abu ad-Dardaa’, Salmaan, Ibn Mas‘ood, and ‘Abdullah ibn Salaam. Yazeed ibn ‘Umayrah said (to Mu‘aath), “And (do we seek knowledge) from ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab?" Mu‘aath replied, "Do not ask him about anything; he is busy [with the affairs of the Muslims].”
‘Uthmaan and ‘Ali were busy in the Ministry and other matters, and then they got busy with the Caliphate and faced the tribulations. Those who wanted to seek knowledge hesitated to ask those great Companions and their like, and they considered that all the Companions are trustworthy and truthful, and thus they sought knowledge only from those who were of a lesser status than those great Companions. The latter (the great Companions) did not deem it an obligation to convey ahaadeeth unless when needed; and they considered that if things worked out in this manner, then nothing would be lost from the Sunnah."
Allah knows best.
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