Hadith al-Kisa

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Hadith al-Kisa (حديث الكساء), meaning the hadith of the cloak, is a famous narration that Shi'ite scholars believes indicates the infallibility and Divinely appointed position of the Prophet's family. It has also been reported in a number of Sunni sources.

Chains of Narration in Sunni Sources

Narration of Jabir ibn Abdullah

In Shi'ite gatherings, usually that which are celebratory, a lengthy version of Hadith al-Kisa is recited. This narration has been narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari who states that he heard it from Fatima al-Zahra (daughter of the Prophet) herself and is present in the corpus of supplications, Mafateeh al-Jinan This specific narration with the very minute details has been questioned by scholars due to various reasons.

Ayatullah Mohammad Rayshahri, the founder of the Dar ol-Hadith institution, has commented on it in an interview given to the popular magazine Kayhan e Farhangi.[1]

Interviewer: Another problem that we have in the arena of narrations, is that sometimes a narration is recited off the pulpits and in congregations, finds its way in the books and in the minds of the people. At some point after a few decades, a research scholar comes out and says, "That narration does not have a chain of narrators!" An example of such a narration is << ان الحیاه عقیده و جهاد >>, which has been famously attributed to Imam Hussain (as) and was narrated for years, and now we know that it does not have any chain of narrators. Why is it that before a narration becomes prevalent, it is not researched into?

Rayshahri: Yes, we have many examples of such narrations. Many narrations are stated, but they do not have any support (sanad). For example, I want to say that a narration that is famously recited in our homes and is present in the end of Mafateeh as well, "with a correct chain" is one of these narrations. As far as we know, the first person to say that this narration has no support and base in the last century was the deceased Haaj Sheikh Abbas Qummi himself. It doesn't have a chain, and besides that, he has cursed anyone who adds anything extra in his Mafateeh. However, perhaps due to ignorance or out of gaining a financial benefit, that narration was added to his book. I have done a complete analysis of this issue in the book "Ahlul Bayt in the Qur'an and Hadith".

Interviewer: Are you referring to the actual event of "Hadith al-Kisa" or the way it has been recorded in Mafateeh al-Jinan?

Rayshahri: Look, Hadith al-Kisa is from one of the authentic events in which the Prophet (pbuh) places a cloak over the head of his Ahlul Bayt (as) and the verse of Tatheer was revealed.

This authentic event (hadith) has been recorded by both Shi'as and Sunnis and there is no doubt in its having taken place. However, with the text (matn) that is present in the Mafateeh, is problematic both from a textual perspective and as well as from a chain of narrators perspective. Basically, the way it has been recorded in the book, it did not exist in any book until about 200 years ago. In fact even Allamah Majlisi, who has even recorded weak narrations, has not brought this narration in his Bihar al-Anwar. Basically, many mystical narrations entered in the Islamic community around 6th century (hijri); meaning until 600 Hijri, this narration is not present in any source and entered the books of narration later.

The event of Hadith al-Kisa, according to both the Shi'a and Sunnis, took place in the house of Umme Salma (ra), however this new narrative says that it was in the house of Fatima (sa). What is important in regards to the event is that its text should say that the event took place in the house of Umme Salma, and that the Prophet prevented Umme Salma from entering the cloak. The important point is this, that it is made obvious that the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) are not a part of the Ahlul Bayt.


  1. مصاحبه کیهان فرهنگی با ریشهری
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