The Hadith goes as;
عن عبد الرحمن بن مسعود عن أبي سعيد و أبي هريرة قالا : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم : ( ليأتين عليكم أمراء يقربون شرار الناس ويؤخرون الصلاة عن مواقيتها فمن أدرك ذلك منكم فلا يكونن عريفا ولا شرطيا و لا جابيا ولا خازنا )
It is narrated from Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud from Abu Saeed and Abu Hurairah: The Prophet Muhammad , may Allah bless him, said: “Mentally deficient rulers will come to you, and make the most evil, worst people near to them, and delay the prayer (not pray it at the fixed time). Every one of you, who realizes that, must not be a policeman, not a corporal, not a collector and not a treasurer with them.” (Sahih Ibn Hibban, Hadith 4586)
It is also found in Tabarani’s Mu’jam al-Saghir and Musnad Abu Ya’la.
And from these sources it is quoted in Majma’ al-Zawaid, Mawarid al-Zamaan and Matalib al-‘Aliya.
What Shaykh Albani said?
1. Shaykh Albani’s classification of this narration:
In his classification of Sahih Ibn Hibban (4567), Shaykh Albani classified it as Hasan.
In Silsala Sahiha (360) he said, “Its chain is Sahih, its narrators are trustworthy …”
In Sahih al-Targhib wal Tarhib (790) he graded it as, “Hasan li-ghayrihi.”
2. Shaykh Albani’s mistake:
Actually the mistake on Shaykh Albani’s part sprouts from the mistake in Mawarid al-Zamaan where the name of the narrator Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud is mistakenly written as Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah bin Mas’ud. In all other works with this narration (i.e. Mu’jam al-Saghir, Musnad Abu Ya’la, Ibn Hibban, Majma’ al-Zawaid and Matalib al-‘Aliya) it is Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud. As Mawarid al-Zamaan is supposed to be a reproduction of the narrations of Ibn Hibban not found in the Two Sahihs, Bukhari and Muslim, so Shaykh Albani quoted the chain and narrations from there and thus graded it as “Sahih in Chain.”
Later Shaykh Albani himself accepted this lapse on his part but certainly he is not to be blamed for this. He accepted that there was a mistake in the name of the narrator. See under Sahiha 2895.
Shaykh Shu’aib Arnaut graded the Hadith as Da’if:
As against Shaykh Albani, Shaykh Shau’aib graded the Hadith as Da’if. He wrote:
“Its chain is Da’if. Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud, and he is Al-Yashkiri, none termed him trustworthy except the compiler (i.e. Ibn Hibban). And none narrates from him except Ja’far bin Iyas. His profile is given by Ibn Abi Hatim 5/285 and in “al-Ta’jil” p. 258. al-Haithmi in al-Majma 5/240 termed Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud trustworthy. None did it before him except the compiler. And in Mawarid al-Zamaan his name is given as Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah bin Mas’ud and it is tampering. And Shaykh Nasir [Albani] did not know this and ranked him trustworthy in Sahiha (360) because of this.”
(al-Ihsan fi Taqrib Sahih Ibn Hibban Hadith 4586, Mo’sas al-Risala, Beirut 1991 vol. 10 pp.446-447)
Others who “authenticated” the narration:
Actually it is a mistake to say that anyone besides Shaykh Albani explicitly authenticated the narration. Two scholars that are said to have authenticated the narration are:
Hafiz Nuruddin al-Haithmi and Shaykh Hussain Salim Asad.
Hafiz Haithmi after quoting the narration in Majma’ al-Zawaid said:
رِجَالُهُ رِجَالُ الصَّحِيحِ خَلَا عَبْدَ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنَ مَسْعُودٍ وَهُوَ ثِقَةٌ
“Its narrators are those of al-Sahih except Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud and he is trustworthy.”
And as Shaykh Shu’aib Arnaut said none graded him trustworthy before al-Haithmi except Ibn Hibban so most certainly al-Haithmi accepted solely Ibn Hibban’s authentication which shall be discussed shortly.
Similarly Shaykh Hussain Salim Asad in his research on Musnad Abu Ya’la says:
عبد الرحمن بن مسعود وثقه ابن حبان والهيثمي وباقي رجاله ثقات
“Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud. Ibn Hibban and al-Haithmi authenticated him and the rest of the narrators are trustworthy.”
Clearly he also used the same grading by Ibn Hibban alone which was accepted by al-Haithmi.
Besides Imam Ibn HIbban no one graded the narrator Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud al-Yashkiri as trustworthy.
Imam Ibn Hibban the sole person to grade Abdul Rahman as trustworthy:
Imam Ibn Hibban is the sole person to authenticate Abdul Rahman bin Mas’ud al-Yashkiri and has put his name in his work, “al-Thiqaat” (5/106)
As to al-Haithmi, he simply accepted Ibn Hibban’s authentication for he himself could not grade anyone trustworthy or otherwise because he was an 8th century A.H. scholar and had to rely on earlier opinions only. We shall show as to how al-Haithmi went against the Jamhoor in accepting it.
Problem with solely Ibn Hibban grading someone as “Thiqa”
Hafiz Ibn Hajr said:
قلت وهذا الذي ذهب إليه ابن حبان من أن الرجل إذا انتفت جهالة عينه كان على العدالة إلى أن يتبن جرحه مذهب عجيب والجمهور على خلافه وهذا هو مساك ابن حبان في كتاب الثقات الذي ألفه فإنه يذكر خلقاً من نص عليهم أبو حاتم وغيره على أنهم مجهولون وكان عند ابن حبان جهالة العين ترتفع برواية واحد مشهور وهو مذهب شيخه بن خزيمة ولكن جهالة حاله باقية عند غيره
“I say : and towards this went Ibn Hibban, that when the Jahalah al-Ayn of a person is finished, then he is trustworthy until negative criticism is proven against him, and this is a strange opinion, and the majority (Jamhoor) are opposing this, and this is the methodology of Ibn Hibban in his book “al-Thiqat” that he composed, and he mentions in it people that Abu Hatim and others have certified to be Majhool, as if for Ibn Hibban the Jahalah al-Ayn is removed with narration of one Mashoor [narrator], and this is the view of his teacher Ibn Khuzaymah, but the Jahalah al-Hal remains according to others than him.” (Lisan al-Mizan 1/6)
Jahalah al-Ayn means only a single narrator narrates from a person and he is not graded as trustworthy by anyone. And jahalah al-Hal means two or more people narrate from a person and he is not graded as trustworthy by anyone. A report through a narrator with Jahalah al-Ayn is not acceptable except that someone authenticates him and one through a narrator characterized with Jahalah al-Hal is also rejected according to Jamhoor. (See Tayseer Mustalah al-Hadith by Mahmud al-Tahan pp.92-93)
Discussing another narrator Shaykh Albani wrote:
وأما ابن حبان فقد ذكره في ” الثقات ” ، وهذا منه على عادته في وثيق المجهولين كما سبق التنبيه عليه مرارا، توثيق ابن حبان هذا هو عمدة الهيثمي حين قال في ” المجمع … التوثيقات التي لا يعتمد عليها لضعف مستندها
“As to Ibn Hibban for he mentioned him in “al-Thiqaat” this is from his habit of authentication of Majhool narrators as we have warned earlier over and over. And authentication (“tauthiq“) of Ibn Hibban was accepted by al-Haithmi as he says in al-Majma’ … authentications that are not valid for their [own] weakness.” (Silsala Da’ifa 1/381 under Narration 213)
Here Shaykh Albani rejected al-Haithmi’s authentication because he merely accepts the controversial authentication of Ibn Hibban. The same rule ought to be applied elsewhere too.
Similarly Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani discussing the well known compilations of Hadith and issues around them writes;
“To Ibn Hibban if a Majhool narrator’s teacher and student (means person from whom he is narrating and who is narrating from him) are well known and trustworthy then his Jahalah is not a problem, rather his narration is Sahih according to him. However, other scholars of Hadith reject the narration due to Jahalah of a narrator. This principle of Ibn Hibban even runs through his book “al-Thiqaat” as his definition of “Thiqa” is about the absence of negative criticism. Because of this he has counted many Majhool narrators among “thiqaat”. For this very reason generally scholars of Hadith do not authenticate a narrator merely because Ibn Hibban counted him among “thiqaat” except that his being other than Majhool is proved otherwise.” (Dars Tirmidhi 1/67)
With all this known and the fact that we only one person i.e. Ja’far bin Iyas narrating from Abdul Rahman bin Masud al-Yashkiri and with none but Ibn Hibban authenticating him and the trouble of Ibn Hibban in authenticating Majhool narrators, it’s evident that as per the opinion of the Jamhoor the narration stands rejected.
If one alludes to what Shaykh Albani surprisingly referred to under Sahiha 2895 that Ibn Hajr in his book Ta’jil said about Abdul Rahman bin Masud;
وعنه جعفر بن اياس وغيره.
“And from his (narrate) Ja’far bin Iyas and others.” (Ta’jil al-Munfi’a 1/258)
Here is the emphasis being on “others.” But firstly it is not known if others have actually narrated from him for there is no report on this. Even Shaykh Albani did not show any narration with someone other than Ja’far narrating from him. And Shaykh Arnaut claims none narrates from him except Ja’far. Moreover even if there is someone it does not help for Jahalah al-Hal is not removed even then because none other than Ibn HIbban authenticated him and as shown above his authentication is not valid in the cases like the one under consideration.
In Ta’jil al-Munfi’a or elsewhere Hafiz Ibn Hajr did not accept Abdul Rahman as trustworthy. Infact we do not find any mention of him in other works of Ibn Hajr. However we have another example where a narrator solely authenticated by Ibn HIbban was considered like “Majhool” by Ibn Hajr.
Ibn Tahzib al-Tahzib (No. 8921) Hafiz Ibn Hajr mentions Hukayma bint Umaymah and says Ibn Hibban mentioned her in al-Thiqaat but in Lisan al-Mizan (3/289) he says, “Not known!”
Status of al-Haithmi and Hussain Salim Asad’s acceptance:
Now we get the things clear;
1. Ibn Hibban is alone to authenticate Abdul Rahman bin Masud al-Yashkiri.
2. Jamhoor do not accept Ibn Hibban’s authentication if not supported by that of others (cf. quotes from Ibn Hajr, Albani and Taqi Usmani)
3. al-Haithmi used to accept Ibn Hibban’s authentication and that stands rejected (cf. Albani)
4. Shaykh Hussain Salim Asad merely mentioned the authentication by Ibn Hibban and (its acceptance by) al-Haithmi so in its own right it does not even count.
Reality of the supporting narrations (shawahid):
Apparently even Shaykh Albani recognized the problem and graded the narration as Hasan li-ghayrihi in his Sahih al-Targhib wal Tarhib (790).
Do the supporting narrations actually help this narration rise to the level of being authentic?
Shaykh Albani brought a supporting narration for this report from Mu’jam al-Saghir in discussion under Sahiha 360. He mentioned half of its chain there and recognized the problem with one narrator in it, namely, Dawud bin Suleman al-Khurasani but diluted it with a comment of al-Tabarani. However Shaykh Shu’aib Arnaut has commented on it in detail in his research note to Ibn Hibban’s narration. He wrote;
“And it has another chain which does not help it. Al-Tabarani quoted it (Mu’jam) al-Saghir (564) and on his authority al-Khatib brought it in Tarikh al-Baghdad 12/63: Ali bin Muhammad al-Thaqafi narrated it (and he is Majhool), from Muawiya bin al-Hathim bin al-Rayyan al-Khurasani (and he is Majhool likewise), from Dawud bin Suleman al-Khurasani (al-Azdi said, “[He is] Extremely Da’if), from Abdullah bin Mubarak …. And signs of fabrication are evident on this report.”
Two narrators are Majhool and one is extremely Da’if. With this in consideration, what Shaykh Shu’aib Arnaut says makes absolute sense;
“[It] does not help.”
Moreover, mark that he even goes on to say, “And signs of fabrication are evident on this report.”
Can this make the actual narration under consideration rise to the rank of Hasan li-ghairhi? Far from it! I do not know if it is a general principle but under Da’ifa 176 (perhaps the earliest edition) Shaykh Albani made an interesting comment.
He graded a narration as Da’if from a narrator not authenticated by anyone and then quoted Ibn Hajr that the particular narrator is acceptable with some support. Shaykh Albani found a supporting narration but with an even weaker chain and then commented, “this ‘supportive’ account is actually increasing the weakness.” (See Silsala Da’ifa No. 176 Urdu edition vol.2 p.105 Translated by Maulana Sadiq Khalil pub. Zia al-Sunnah)
Note: Later Shaykh Albani reverted from the lapse he had in his research on that narration thus you do not find the discussion in latest edition of Silsala Da’ifa as the narration was removed from it. This however does not undermine the point made above.
To summarize, the above mentioned “shahid” cannot make the report Hasan li-Ghairihi for it requires a narration of equal or higher status to raise another to that level which certainly is not the case here.
The Mauquf narration from Ibn Masud (RA):
It has another “Shahid” in the Mauquf narration from Abdullah bin Masud, may Allah be pleased with him. It is reported in Mu’jam al-Kabir (No. 9385) and Musannaf Abdul Razzaq (No. 3789) and from there it is quoted in Majma’ al-Zawaid (5/240) and Kanzul Ummal (No. 22504)
But it has problems of its own. In its chain (both with al-Tabarani and Abdul Razzaq) a certain narrator Mahdi is narrating from Ibn Masud (RA).
Al-Haithmi after quoting the narration says,
مهدى لم أعرفه
“Mahdi, I do not know him.”
Similarly Habibul Rahman ‘Azmi in his research on Musannaf Abdul Razzaq says;
كذا في الكنز أيضا ولم أهتد إليه
“It is so in al-Kanz (i.e. Kanzul Ummal) and I cannot find him.”
So it has problems of its own.
Now the question, if this being of equal status in chain can help the narration of Ibn Hibban? Not really because it is Mauquf and a Mauquf can help a Marfu’ narration if its meaning is unfathomable to come from a source other than the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him. While such is certainly not the case here, the report of Ibn Hibban is not helped with this even.
Indeed Allah knows the best!