I am grateful to my brother Mahdi Lock for drawing my attention to the irregular nature of the addition “and every error is in the Fire” at the end of hadith 28 in the Arabic text and in my translation of Imam an-Nawawi’s commentary on his collection of forty, published as The Complete Forty by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., London.
The edition from which I translated, that of ‘Abdullah Ibrahim al-Ansari published by Maktabah Jiddah, does have this addition as does both the Arabic text and the translation in the edition by Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson Davies. However, no other copy of the Forty Hadith that Mahdi or I could find contained this phrase.
Imam an-Nawawi cites the hadith as originating in the collections of Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi, but again in the editions I have of these I could not find this extra phrase. Nor when going through the major encyclopaedic collections in which as-Suyuti and others tried to categorise all or most of the known hadith could I find this extra wording. I looked in Jam‘ al-Jawami‘, Kanz al-‘Ummal, Majma‘ az-Zawa’id, Kashf al-Khafa etc., and found no trace of this wording.
Imam Ibn Rajab also commented on the same hadith in his Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam, which is published in my translation by Turath Publishing Ltd. as The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom, but the Arabic texts of that work do not contain these words, and in his very extensive discussion of the various narrations of the hadith, Imam Ibn Rajab does not even mention this as a possible variant narration. Somehow, the error has also erroneously crept into my translation of the above book.
Sidi Mahdi Lock told me that when he studied the Forty with Sheikh Haytam Tamim of Lebanon at Leeds University, Shaykh Haytam said that this phrase is a shadhdh or irregular variant reading.
The only narration that we have been able to trace is in the book of an-Nasa’i. Even though the author of Kashf al-Khafa ascribes it to Muslim, Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majah, it does not contain this phrase in those narrations as far as we have been able to ascertain. The version of an-Nasa’i is as follows:
From Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah who said: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him, peace used to say in his khutbah, praising and extolling Allah as He is worthy, and then he would say: “Whomever Allah guides then there is no one to mislead, and whomever He misleads then there is no guide for him. The truest discourse is the Book of Allah, and the best way of proceeding is the way of Muhammad. The worst of matters are those that are newly introduced, and every newly introduced matters is an innovation, and every innovation is an error and every error is in the Fire.” Then he would say: “I have been sent – I and the Hour – like these two,” and when he mentioned the Hour the high parts of his cheek used to redden and his voice would become louder and his anger severe as if he were warning about an army, ‘It has come to you in the morning! It has come to you in the evening!’” Then he would say: “Whoever has left wealth then it is for his family, and whoever has left a debt or people in poverty then it is to me or I am responsible for it, and I have more right to the believers.”
Perhaps that since this is the only narration of this hadith that mentions these four words, that this is the reason that Sheikh Haytam regarded it as irregular. And Allah knows best.
Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah said in his Majmu‘ al-Fatawa:
…and he did not say: “And every error is in the Fire,” for on the contrary, those who intend the truth may err from the truth although they have exerted (ijtihad) themselves to find the right way in their quest but were incapable of it, and so will not be punished. They may do some of what they have been ordered to do and will thus have a reward for their exertion (ijtihad), whereas the mistake in which they erred from the reality of the matter is forgiven. Many of the people of ijtihad of the salaf and the later generations have said and done things that were innovation without knowing that they were innovations, either because of weak hadith which they thought to be sahih or because of ayats from which they understood something that was not meant by them or because of a view they held on the matter whereas there were texts on the issue that had not reached them. When a man fears his Lord as much as he is able then he is comprised in His saying: “Our Lord do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake,” (Surat al-Baqarah: 285). And there is in the Sahih that Allah said: “I have done so.”
The proper translation of hadith 28 is now:
28. Taqwa of Allah, Hearing and Obedience
Abu Nahih al-‘Irbad ibn Sariyah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, admonished us with an admonition by which the hearts became frightened and the eyes flowed with tears, so we said, ‘Messenger of Allah, it is as if it were a farewell admonition, so advise us.’ He said, ‘I advise you to have taqwa of Allah, mighty is He and majestic, and to hear and obey even if a slave is given command over you. Whoever of you lives will see many disagreements, so you must take hold of my Sunnah and the Sunnah of rightly guided khulafa’ who take the right way. Bite on it with the molar teeth. Beware of newly introduced matters, for every newly introduced matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a going astray.” Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi narrated it and he [at-Tirmidhi] said, “A good sahih hadith.”