Hadith 11

Chapter 5: On whose Islam is best.

11. Abu Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “They said, ‘Messenger of Allah, which Islam is best?’ He said, ‘The one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe.’ “

His saying: They said

In the narration of Muslim, Al-Hasan Bin Sufyan, and Abu Ya`la “They said” was replaced with “We said”, and Ibn Mundeh narrated it with the wording “I said”, so it becomes clear that the questioner is Abu Musa.  In the narration of Bukhari mentioned here, he (Abu Musa) kept it vague, also intending himself and the companions. This same question (Whose Islam is best?) was also asked by other companions such as Abu Thar and `Umair bin Qatadah as was recorded by Ibn Habban, and Al-Tabarani respectively.

His saying: Which Islam

Means which possessor of Islam is best, and this is supported by the narration of Muslim which said: “Which of the Muslims are best”? The common denominator of the two different narrations is that the preferred Muslim is the one that possesses this trait (‘the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe’). This understanding is more appropriate than the understanding of some the explainers (of hadith) who have said the meaning of the hadith is: Which attributes of Islam are best, because of the fact that he (The Prophet) answered with “The one” (rather than answering directly with the attribute). So due to this, the intended meaning here is: whose Islam is best, or which of the Muslims are best.

After it has been established that some of the Islamic characteristics of the Muslims are better than others, the objective of the author’s (Al-Bukhari) statement in regards to the increase and decrease (of eemaan) becomes clear.  On the same token, the correlation between this hadith and the one before it (“A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe”…) to the previous ahaadith which mention some of the characteristics of Eemaan becomes apparent as the author (Al-Bukhari) views eemaan and Islam as synonymous (i.e. he included the chapter “Which Islam is best”, and listed some of the characteristics of the best Muslims under the “Book of Eemaan” and following some ahaadith regarding Eemaan). And Allah knows best.


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