Some liberalists say it is a lie that the martyr will be awarded 72 ḥūrs in Jannah. Are they correct in their claim, or is there a legitimate basis to the above-mentioned reward?
It is relatively unusual how the so-called liberalists are not so loyal in their liberalism that they are intolerant of the transmitted virtues of the martyr, as articulated by the holy Prophet of Allāh ﷺ. The ḥadīth in question is, without doubt, an authentic narration recorded in numerous books of Ḥadīth literature, transmitted through various chains. Before the scrutiny of the ḥadīth, it ought to be clarified why such people are rejecting these ḥadīths.
The sole reason these self-designated spokesmen feel the need to reject such texts is due to their lack of academic integrity: whenever they are cornered by a difficult question which they cannot answer, it is not a crime to admit one does not know. In fact, it is a remarkably honourable trait of a human.
The primary reasoning of their rejection is due to this virtue not being mentioned by Allāh ﷻ in the Glorious Qurʾān; little do they realise that although the Qurʾān holds the highest authority in the final religion of Allāh ﷻ, it is not the only authoritative fountain wherefrom Islāmic knowledge gushes forth. This is neither a valid nor sound argument in terms of logic: the absence of an idea from one source does not necessitate its absence from other sources.
Secondly, they are incapable of locating the authentic source to verify the virtue. This, again, is no argument; rather, it displays their incompetence in Islāmic academia. It is a clear demonstration of their lack of credentials, which fails to explain why such self-designated spokesmen consider themselves a paragon of scholarship worthy to appear on the television and reject parts of the Dīn. “Little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is a phrase these pseudo-intellectuals ought to consider.
To continue, the full ḥadīth entailing the above-mentioned virtue of the martyr reads:
للشهيد عند الله ست خصال: يغفر له في أول دفعة، ويرى مقعده من الجنة، ويجار من عذاب القبر، ويأمن من الفزع الأكبر، ويوضع على رأسه تاج الوقار، الياقوتة منها خير من الدنيا وما فيها، ويزوج اثنتين وسبعين زوجة من الحور العين، ويشفع في سبعين من أقاربه
“There are six traits of a martyr in the sight of Allāh: he shall be forgiven in the first flow (of his blood), and be shown his place in Jannah and be protected from the punishment of the grave; he shall be safe from the great panic; a crown of honour shall be placed on his head, the diamond of which is better than the world and what it contains; he shall be given seventy-two of al-Ḥūr al-ʿĪn to marry as wives; and his intercession on behalf of seventy of his relatives shall be accepted.”
As evident from the text, the fifth trait of the martyr is being granted wives from al-Ḥūr al-ʿĪn. The above is the wording of Imām al-Tirmidhī ؒ – who has authenticated the narration – and the number of wives has been explicitly mentioned as seventy-two (72). However, in a variant of this very ḥadīth, as narrated by Imām Ibn Mājah ؒ, no number is specified. This requires further investigation.
This ḥadīth, in its essence, has been recorded by the following Imāms in their respective works:
- Aḥmad in his Musnad (17182) and (17183).
- Al-Tirmidhī in his Jāmiʿ (1663).
- Ibn Mājah in his Sunan (2799).
- Ibn Abī ʿĀṣim in his Jihād (204), (205), (206) and (207).
- Al-Bazzār in his Musnad (2696).
- Al-Ṭabarānī in his al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr (67) and (14651).
- Al-Ṭabarānī in his Musnad al-Shāmiyyīn (204) and (1163).
- Ibn Shāhīn in his Targhīb (439).
- Ibn Abī Shaybah in his Musnad (19383) and (19467).
More Imāms of Ḥadīth have recorded this narration; however, the above will, InShāʾAllāh, suffice.
Of the above narrations, the number seventy-two (72) is in the wordings of Aḥmad, al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Abī ʿĀṣim, al-Ṭabarānī (in one of his narrations) and Ibn Shāhīn. It is not mentioned in the wordings of Ibn Mājah, al-Bazzār and Ibn Abī Shaybah ؒ. Depending on the authenticity of the chains, the number will either be accepted or rejected: should the chains of those affirming the number be weak and those negating strong, the number will not be accepted as sound; however, should the narrations affirming the number be strong – irrespective of whether it is stronger than the negating ones or not – the number must be affirmed. This is based on the principle:
الزيادة من الثقة مقبولة
“The extra wording of a trustworthy-narrator is accepted.”
All of the narrations – except those of al-Bazzār, Ibn Abī Shaybah and most of al-Ṭabarānī – pivot around Baḥīr b. Saʿd, who narrates from Khālid b. Maʿdān. Since all narrations entail these two narrators, let us discuss them before those who appear prior to them in the chains.
Baḥīr is a trustworthy narrator, as is Khālid, although the latter often skips citing the authority of the companion from whom he narrates (irsāl). In most narrations, he narrates directly from the companion Miqdām b. Maʿdī Karib ؓ; hence, this half of the chain is sound (ṣaḥīḥ). However, in other narrations, Khālid narrates from Kathīr b. Murrah, a trustworthy narrator, from the companion ʿUbādah b. al-Ṣāmit ؓ. This, too, is a sound chain. The companions ؓ need not be scrutinised: the Ḥadīth experts unanimously agree on all companions being sound. Since both chains are sound, there is nothing to fear from Khālid’s narrating from two different people, as it is not contradictory: he must have heard the account from both routes.
Therefore, the second half of the chain can be comfortably declared sound; only the first half, now, remains. Baḥīr b. Saʿd transmitted this account to two students: Baqiyyah b. al-Walīd and Ismāʿīl b. ʿAyyāsh.
The narration of Baqiyyah b. al-Walīd explicitly mentions the number seventy-two (72). However, although Baqiyyah is graded overall a good (ḥasan) narrator, his habit of deliberately skipping the names of narrators (tadlīs) is outrageous. Therefore, unless he explicitly states he heard the account directly from his teacher, his words are not to be accepted without a supporting narrator. Abū Mushir has warned against Baqiyyah’s narrations via a catchy rhyme; he said:
أحاديث بقية ليست نقية، فكنْ منها على تقية
“Baqiyyah’s ḥadīths are not clean, so be wary of them.”
The narration of al-Tirmidhī is among such narrations; hence, the other chains must be scrutinised before securing a grading.
The second student, Ismāʿīl b. ʿAyyāsh, is a trustworthy narrator when transmitting from the scholars of al-Shām; Baḥīr b. Saʿd is one of them. Therefore, this narration is sound given that his students are sound. Although Ismāʿīl b. ʿAyyāsh has fallen prey to inconsistency (iḍtirāb) in narrating this, the narration of Baqiyyah removes all doubt. The remaining chain of al-Tirmidhī’s narration is sound because Nuʿaym b. Ḥammād is an accredited narrator, albeit erroneous; and ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān, author of Sunan al-Dārimī, is sound.
Continuing with the students of Ismāʿīl b. ʿAyyāsh, his students include:
- Abū ’l-Yamān al-Ḥakam b. Nāfiʿ
- Hishām b. ʿAmmār
- Yaʿqūb b. ʿAbbād al-Makkī
- Abū ’l-Mughīrah
As for the wording of Hishām b. ʿAmmār, he excludes the number seventy-two (72) from his narration. His narration is irrelevant, as he has only excluded the figure and not denied it. As for his grading, he is a truthful narrator who later became erroneous.
With regard to Abū ’l-Yamān al-Ḥakam b. Nāfiʿ, he is a trustworthy narrator. This much is enough to authenticate the second narration of Aḥmad (17183). However, this version does not display the text of (17182), which has the identical chain, but between Aḥmad and al-Ḥakam b. Nāfiʿ is another narrator, Isḥāq b. ʿĪsā. This does not mean Aḥmad has committed iḍtirāb; it means he later heard the narration directly from his teacher’s teacher. Isḥāq b. ʿĪsā is a trustworthy narrator who sometimes erred. Therefore, Aḥmad’s narration explicitly mentioning the number seventy-two (72) is authentic – each of the two chains is ḥasan; hence, together, they are ṣaḥīḥ lighayrih. This grading is only for the chains under scrutiny; the other chains have not been taken into consideration while doing taḥsīn of this ḥadīth.
Since the narrations of Aḥmad and al-Tirmidhī are authentic and support one another, there is no need to further investigate all other variants to answer your question. Bear in mind there are other chains in the Ḥadīth literature which contain a totally different set of narrators. Even if, hypothetically, they are discovered to be weak, they will yet aid the authenticity of what has already been substantiated in this brief scrutiny.
The conclusion to which we have reached has also been the grading of the Ḥadīth experts of the past.
Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī has written:
ولأحمد والطبراني من حديث عبادة بن الصامت مرفوعا: أن للشهيد عند الله سبع خصال، فذكر الحديث، وفيه «ويزوج اثنتين وسبعين زوجة من الحور العين» إسناده حسن، وأخرجه الترمذي من حديث المقدام بن معد يكرب وصححه
Al-Haythamī has written:
رواه أحمد هكذا، قال مثل ذلك، والبزار والطبراني إلا أنه قال: «سبع خصال» وهي كذلك، ورجال أحمد والطبراني ثقات
Also, Ibn al-Mundhir has written:
رواه أحمد والطبراني، وإسناد أحمد حسن
As a final note, we advise you to continue your praiseworthy trait of verifying everything about which you are unsure. It is never a good idea to accept the words of self-designated spokesmen who have not been traditionally trained to understand the complexity of the profound sciences of Islām.
Sincerely, we attest that Allāh ﷻ knows best.
Answered by Shahin-ur Rahman, Northampton.
Sunday 30th Shawwāl 1436 AH / 16th August 2015.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed, London.
 Al-Tirmidhī (1663) and Ibn Mājah (2799).
 Muqaddimah Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ, Nūr al-Dīn ʿItr ed. [Dār al-Fikr, Syria [1406 AH / 1986 CE)] vol. 1 p. 72.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 640.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 1678.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 5631.
 Muqaddimah Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ, Nūr al-Dīn ʿItr ed. [Dār al-Fikr, Syria [1406 AH / 1986 CE)] vol. 1 p. 72, at the end of the ninth (9th) Nawʿ.
 Mīzān al-Iʿtidāl under the entry 1250.
 For details, see al-Nawawī, Abū Zakariyyā, Al-Minhāj Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim b. al-Ḥajjāj, Dār al-Fayḥāʾ, Damascus (1431/2010), ed. Muwaffaq Marʿī, vol.1 pp. 179-180 under .
 Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 777.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 7166.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 3434.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 7303.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 1464.
 Taqrīb al-Tahdhīb under the entry 377.
 Fatḥ al-Bārī vol. 6 p. 16 under (2795).
 Majmaʿ al-Zawāʾid vol. 5 p. 293 (9516).
 Al-Targhīb wa ’l-Tarhīb vol. 2 p. 210 (2133).