The story of Tha`labah ibn Hatib

Q: Al-Ittihad Journal published in its special edition of Ramadan under a competition entitled, "Names to remember in the Qur'an", a question (no. 22) that reads as follows: A Sahaby (Companion) asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to supplicate to Allah to provide him with wealth but when he became wealthy, the Messenger (peace be upon him) asked him to pay Zakah (obligatory charity) but he refused to pay. After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), this Sahaby sent Zakah to Abu Bakr but he did not accept it. Again he sent it in the caliphate of `Umar but he did not accept it either. Later on, he died in the caliphate of `Uthman. What is the true story of this Sahaby? Should not a Fatwa (legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar) be issued to deny or confirm this story?

A: Tha`labah ibn Hatib or ibn Abu Hatib Al-Awsy Al-Ansary is one of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) who witnessed the Battles of Badr and Uhud. He (may Allah be pleased with him) is innocent of what has been ascribed to him. According to a false story, he came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to supplicate to Allah for him to provide him with wealth. The Prophet (peace be upon him) supplicated to Allah for him and Allah made him wealthy but he refused to pay Zakah, and thus the Ayah of Surah Al-Tawbah was revealed. (Part No. 3; Page No. 161) This story was narrated by Al-Tabarany in his book Al-Mu`jam Al-Kabir vol. 8, p. 260, Hadith no.7873 on the authority of Mu`an ibn Rifa`ah from `Aly ibn Yazid Al-Alhany from Al-Qasim ibn `Abdul-Rahman from Abu Umamah that Tha`labah ibn Hatib ... And he mentioned the whole story.Through this chain of transmission, Ibn Jarir reported this story in his Tafsir (exegesis of the meanings of the Qur'an) and his book Al-Tarikh and others relied on him and transmitted this story in full in relevant references or abridged when stating the circumstances associated with the revelation of the Ayah: And of them are some who made a covenant with Allâh (saying): "If He bestowed on us of His Bounty..." Some narrators mentioned the story but did not comment on its Isnad (chain of narrators), such as Ibn Kathir (may Allah be merciful to him) in his Tafsir, while others commented on the invalidity of its Isnad, such as Al-Qurtuby in his Tafsir vol. 8, p. 209 where he said: "Tha`labah is one of those who witnessed the Battle of Badr and is judged to be righteous, for whom Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) bore witness to his good faith. Therefore, what has been ascribed to him is not true." It is reported that Ibn `Abdul-Bar commented on the narration and said: "It is not true." Al-Bayhaqy said in his book Dala'il Al-Nubuwwah: "The Isnad of this Hadith is doubtful, although it is well known among the people of Tafsir." Ibn Hajar said in his book Al-Isabah: "Claiming that the person who is mentioned in the narration (if the story is true and I do not think it is true) is the famous Sahaby who witnessed the Battle of Badr, is a doubtful matter. (Part No. 3; Page No. 162) It is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: None of those who witnessed the Battle of Badr and Al-Hudaybiyah will enter Hellfire. He also reported that His Lord said to the people of Badr: Do what you like for I have forgiven you. How can a person with that status be punished by Allah by putting hypocrisy in his heart and have an Ayah revealed about him! It seems that the Ayah refers to someone else. And Allah knows best." (vol. 1, p. 198).Al-Zamakhshary said in the Takhrij (referencing) of Hadiths of his book Al-Kashaf: "This is a very weak Isnad." Al-Bukhari said in his book Fath Al-Bary: "Ibn Al-Athir confirmed in his book Al-Tarikh that the beginning of the obligation of Zakah was in the ninth year. Some scholars confirmed what Ibn Al-Athir opined concerning the long story of Tha`labah ibn Hatib. However, it is a weak Hadith and cannot be taken as proof." Ibn Hazm judged it to be an invalid narration in his book Al-Muhalla vol. 11, pp. 207- 208. Al-Dhahaby said in his book Tajrid Asma' Al-Sahabah vol. 1, p. 66 in the biography of Tha`labah (Part No. 3; Page No. 163) Ibn Hatib and after referring to this story: "They mentioned a Hadith Munkar (rejected Hadith reported by a weak narrator whose narration conflicts with an authentic Hadith) by general agreement."Also, Al-Tabary mentioned the story in his book Al-Tarikh vol. 3, p. 124 on the authority of Ibn `Abbas from Muhammad ibn Sa`d Al-`Awfy from his father from his uncle from his uncle's father from his uncle from his father, `Atiyyah ibn Sa`d Al-`Awfy who is a weak narrator.To sum up, this story is invalid and not true. Moreover, its Matn (text of a Hadith) renders it rejected. According to Sunnah, Zakah should be taken compulsorily from the withholders, in addition to Ta`zir (discretionary punishment). It is authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said on the authority of Bahz ibn Hakim from his father from his grandfather: For every forty pasturing camels, a Bint Labun (a two-year-old she-camel) should be given [in Zakah]. No camels should be excluded from reckoning [of Zakah]. Anyone who pays Zakah with the intention of getting a reward will be rewarded. Anyone who refuses to pay it, we shall take it [compulsorily from him] as well as half of his property, for being a duty owed to our Lord. No share of it (Zakah) is given to the family of Muhammad (peace be upon him). (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Al-Nasa'y) The context of the above story contradicts this teaching of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, it is invalid with regard to both its Isnad and Matn.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.