Debates Around Khabar al-W?hid in the 4th/10th Century in Islamic Legal Theory Literature: al-Jassas's Criticism of al-Jubb??

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Yilmaz O. K.



The evidential value of khabar al-wahid was one of the important issues in Islamic legal theory. It has been intensely discussed among theologians (Mu`tazila), fiqh scholars and hadith scholars since the 2nd/8th century. Many scholars from these schools joined in the discussion in their works that either deny or defend the evidential value of khabar al-wahid.Abu Ali al-Jubbai (d. 303/916), the leading name of the Basra Mu`tazila school, was one of those who put forward a different view on the subject criticizing the opinions and evidence pre-sented before him; probably in his nonextant work named Kitabul'-akhbar. Jubbai firstly criticized the evidence produced about the evidential value of khabar al-wahid, which means the report of a single person. As a result of our comparisons, we found that the evidence which al-Jubbai criticized is the same evidence used by Shaybani (d. 189/805), Shafi'i (o. 204/820), Isa b. Aban (d. 221/836) and Bukhari (d. 256/870) before him about the authority of khabar al-wahid. Sec-ondly, al-Jubbai argued that khabar al-wahid which does not reach the level of tawatur should be transmitted at least from two transmitters in order to be evidence and tried to justify this with various arguments. In this study, we elaborated on his views concerning the subject and revealed how they were understood in the tradition of legal theory. al-Jassas (d. 370/981) who lived two generations after al-Jubbai, reported these criticisms in al-Fusul, and tried to respond to them. He probably knew al-Jubbai's Kitabul'-akhbar and used it. However, al-Jassas did not explicitly mention the name of the person; he only criticized and conveyed his views and evidences and referred to him as "some people of knowledge". As a result, we reached the conclusion that the one whom al-Jassas refers to here is al-Jubbai. The evidences criticized by al-Jubbai in this regard are verse 122 of al-Tawba, the hadith of the Prophet, "May Allah make this person's face white..." and the Prophet's sending a governor or a zakat officer to each region. al-Jubbai argued that the word "ta'ifa" in the relevant verse does not mean a single person but a community or a group, and he claims that the verse has no indication that the report of a single person is evidence. Likewise, he suggested that the hadith of the Prophet was aimed at reaching the level of tawatur by spreading the reports and that the neces-sity of accepting the reports of the governors and zakat officers was a requirement of the author-ity they had, so he asserted that this evidence did not refer to the stated that the relevant verse shows that the report of a single person is evidence depending on other verses of the Qur'an and commentaries from the predecessors. Again, al-Jassas replied to al-Jubbai by saying that the apparent meaning of the hadith (dhulyadayn) con-stitutes evidence for the issue, and the governor and the zakat officers also notified people whom they were sent to about religious matters not related to the administration. An important part of the evidence that Jubbai criticizes is the practices of the companions. al-Jubbai claimed that the companion's acceptance khabar al-wahid narrated by a single person, such as the change of qibla and the prohibition of wine do not refer to the issue. al-Jubbai saw some reports as problematic in terms of authenticity and answered some of the abovementioned issues by bringing up the possibility of reporting by other narrators. al-Jassas evaluated this argument of possibility as an interpretation that could invalidate all sunnahs and replied that the narrations come to us by transmission, not by possibility. al-Jassas eliminated the problems of authenticity by presenting concrete reasons depending on his extensive knowledge in the field of grounded his claim that at least two people's reports are evidence on comparing it (qiyas) mainly to witnessing. Additionally, he referred to the verse of surat al-Hujurat (49/6), the hadith of dhulyadayn and the Prophet's practice for land allocation and the narrations reported from Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, and 'Ali in which they rejected the report of a single person. al-Jassas criticizes all these arguments by examining them one by one. He argued that there is no common ratio legis between reporting and witnessing, and these two subjects have different rulings, and according to him, even al-Jubbai would not accept the results that emerged after qiyas. al-Jassas interprets the verse which al-Jubbai cited for his own claim based on the occa-sions and circumstances of the revelation and explains that the practice of land allocation is out of discussion since it is actually related to witnessing. For the hadith of dhulyadayn and other practices of the Companions, he answers that the Prophet and the four caliphs wanted confirma-tion from a second person either as a precaution or due to a defect ('illa). al-Jassas stated that these narrations al-Jubbai used as evidence for his opinions would actually go against those who favored accepting the report without any criticism, but they did not show that the narration of two people was a must.The critique of al-Jassas is significant in terms of showing that the debate on the evidential value of khabar al-wahid maintained its significance even in the 4th/10th century. Another value of his critique is that it sheds light on the rich debates and views put forward in the time period, which is described as the "lost period" of the legal theory that lasted from Shafi'i's al-Risala to the period in which he lived. These views and discussions, which have implicitly reached us through founding and carrier texts such as al-Jassas's al-Fusul, will be able to come to light with contemporary studies on similar works.