Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Who are the storytellers?


Who are the storytellers who are regarded as being weak and worthless and who are criticized for being storytellers? Does it refer to any person who exhorts people and tells stories, or is there more to the matter than that?.

Praise be to Allaah.

storyteller is one who addresses the common folk and exhorts them on the
basis of stories. 

Ibn al-Jawzi
(may Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

storyteller is the one who makes a point by telling stories of the past and
explaining them. 

(tadhkeer) means telling people of the blessings of Allaah and encouraging
them to give thanks to Him, and warning them against disobeying Him. 

Preaching or
exhortation means reminding people of the punishment of Allaah and softening
their hearts. 

The word
qaass (pl. qassaasoon) “storyteller” applies to all three. 

Al-Qussaas wa Mudhakkireen (157-159). 

and exhortation are praiseworthy in principle, because Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect”

[al-A’raaf 7:176] 

admonish them, and speak to them an effective word (i.e. to believe in
Allaah, worship Him, obey Him, and be afraid of Him) to reach their


remind (by preaching the Qur’aan, O Muhammad), for verily, the reminding
profits the believers”

[al-Dhaariyaat 51:55] 

The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also used to remind and
exhort the people, and tell them stories about the previous nations in which
there were lessons to be learned. 

It was
narrated that al-‘Irbaad ibn Saariyah (may Allaah be pleased with him)

Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
exhorted us in an eloquent manner which moved us to tears and softened our
hearts. Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2676) who said: hasan saheeh. It was also
classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi. 

It was
narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told the people the story
of three men who were trapped in cave by a rock. They asked Allaah for help
by virtue of their good deeds to move the rock, until it was moved. Narrated
by al-Bukhaari (2215) and Muslim (2743). 

the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) used to remind the people of
Allaah and recite Qur’aan and hadeeth to them, and call them to learn
lessons from the stories of people of the past. 

It was
narrated that Abu Waa’il said: ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood used to remind the
people every Thursday. A man said to him: O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, I wish that
you would remind us every day. He said: What is keeping me from doing that
is the fact that I would not like to bore you. I try to choose the best time
as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do
with us, for fear of making us bored.

Narrated by
al-Bukhaari (70) and Muslim (2821). 

follows the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) and his companions, and preaches to the people and exhorts them
with knowledge and insight, and does not indulge in lying, showing off,
exaggerating or showing ignorance, cannot be denounced, rather he will be
rewarded and is to be appreciated. 

Imam Ahmad
said: If the storyteller is truthful, I do not think there is anything wrong
with sitting with him. 

was asked about people who gather and ask a man to tell them stories. He
said: If that is just one day, there is nothing wrong with it. 

narrated that Abu Bakr al-Marwadhi said: I heard Ahmad ibn Hanbal say: I
like the storytellers because they mention the Balance and the torment of
the grave. I said to him: Do you think we may go to them? He said: Yes, by
Allaah, if they are truthful. 

He said: A
man came to Imam Ahmad and complained to him that he was suffering from
waswasah (whispers of the Shaytaan). He said: You should go to the
storyteller, how beneficial it is to sit with them. 

But because
people who had no knowledge started to get involved in preaching and
storytelling, and they told lies or added or took away things, and they
focused on showing off and gaining a reputation, or their conduct and deeds
were bad, the imams and scholars warned against such people. 

It was
narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that he used to leave the mosque and say: Nothing
forced me to leave the mosque except these storytellers; if it wasn’t for
them I would not have left.   

It was
narrated from Umm al-Darda’ that she sent word to two men saying: Tell them
to fear Allaah and they should exhort themselves before they exhort others. 

It was
narrated from Shu’bah ibn Hajjaaj that a young man came to him and asked him
about a hadeeth. He said to him: Are you a story teller? He said: Yes. He
said: Go away, for we do not narrate hadeeth to storytellers. He said to
him: Why? He said: They take the hadeeth from us like a handspan and make it
a cubit! i.e, they add to the hadeeth. 

al-Thawri was asked: Can we listen to storytellers? He said: You should turn
your back on innovation. 

The reports
quoted above may be found in al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah (2/82-89). 

Ibn al-Jawzi
said: The worst fabrication of hadeeth is done by storytellers. End quote. 

Al-Qussaas (308). 

The storyteller is not blameworthy in and of himself, rather it when he
mixes lies, exaggeration and audacity with religion that he is to be

Ibn al-Jawzi
said: The storytellers are not be criticized for this name, rather the
storytellers are criticized because most of them mention stories without
mentioning useful knowledge, and most of them mix what they narrate and
perhaps rely on. End quote. 

Iblees (134). 

Imam Ahmad
said: The storyteller who mentions Paradise and Hell, and warns people, and
is sincere and speaks the truth (there is nothing wrong with him); as for
those who make up stories and hadeeths, they are to be shunned. End quote. 

al-Shar’iyyah (2/85). 

Thus you
will realize that if a narrator is described as one of the storytellers
(qussaas), that does not necessarily mean that he is either condoned or
condemned. Some of the storytellers were trustworthy narrators, and some of
them were da’eef (weak). There follow some examples: 

Sa’eed ibn
Hassaan al-Makhzoomi, the storyteller of the people of Makkah. Ibn Mu’een,
Abu Dawood and al-Nasaa’i said: he is thiqah (trustworthy). Tahdheeb
al-Tahdheeb (4/15). 

‘Aa’idh-Allaah ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr. Mak-hool said: I have not seen
anyone more knowledgeable than him. Al-Zuhri said: He was the storyteller
and judge of the people of Syria. Tahdheeb al-Tahdheeb (5/74). 

Thaabit ibn
Aslam al-Banaani. Ahmad said: Thaabit is good in hadeeth. He used to tell
stories, and Qataadah used to tell stories.

al-Tahdheeb (2/3). 

Ibn al-Jawzi
said: We heard that Hammaad ibn Salamah said: I used to hear that
storytellers did not memorize hadeeth, but I used to narrate hadeeth to
Thaabit, and I would say Anas instead of Ibn Abi Layla, and Ibn Abi Layla
instead of  Anas to confuse him, but he corrected me every time. End quote.
i.e., he tested him and found that he had memorized hadeeth well. 

Al-Qussaas (260) 

Those who
were da’eef (weak) included the following: 

Ahmad ibn
‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Iyaad al-Makki, who narrated munkar reports. Abu Haatim
said: he used to tell stories. Mizaan al-I’tidaal (1/248) 

Abu’l-Samh. Ahmad said: His ahaadeeth are munkar and he regarded him as
weak. Ibn Yoonus said: he used to tell stories in Egypt. Mizaan
al-I’tidaal (3/40). 

And Allaah
knows best.

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