Translated by Ahmed Abu Turaab
The Impermissibility of Speaking without Knowledge
The questioner says, “From Abu Hurairah who said, ‘The Prophet of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, ‘Musa عليه السلام struck out the eye of the Angel of Death.’ I have heard one of the scholars declaring the hadith to be weak, saying, ‘This hadith exudes the scent of Israaeeliyat narrations.’ So how do we answer them? And is it permissible for us to call the Angel of Death Izraaeel? Is there an authentic narration naming him as Izraaeel? And how is it permissible for a Messenger to hit an angel, bearing in mind that the Angel of Death is powerful? And did Allaah, the One free and far removed from all defects and the Most High, permit Musa عليه السلام to do that?
Al-Albaani: “This question has two parts, the first being connected to the hadith of Musa عليه السلام striking the angel until he knocked his eye out. And the second is whether the Angel of Death is called Izraaeel as is widespread among the people. We will answer this second part [first] since its answer is short so that we can turn to answering the first part.
Nothing has been authentically reported from the Prophet whatsoever صلى الله عليه وسلم naming the Angel of Death as Izraaeel. The names Jibreel, Meekaa’eel and Israafeel have come in many hadiths, this is established, but naming the Angel of Death as Izraaeel has no basis in the Sunnah let alone the Noble Quraan.
We return to the first part of the question about the hadith of the Angel of Death and the declaration of whoever declared it to be weak from the scholars.
Before answering the question I want to remind you of a principle accepted by those who are not Muslims too: that it is not permissible for someone who is ignorant of [a particular field of] knowledge to speak about it, because doing so goes against texts from the Book and the Sunnah, from them is the saying of our Lord, the Blessed and Most High, “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart–about all those [one] will be questioned.” [Israa 17:36].
So for example it is not permissible for the one who wants to speak about medicine to do so if he is a scholar of Quranic exegesis [mufassir], since medicine is not his field. Just as it is not permissible for a doctor who is a specialist in his field to speak about Quranic exegesis or Islamic jurisprudence or other than that, because if both of these people talk about fields which are not their expertise then they have pursued that of which they have no knowledge, and would thus have opposed the previously quoted Quranic text.
I think this is a matter concerning which it is correct to quote the old Arabic parable: this is something about which no two will differ and over which no two rams will clash horns, i.e., it is not permissible for anyone to speak about a certain [field of] knowledge except for the specialists in it.
So when [it is agreed that] this is something accepted we can turn back to the hadith [in question] and other [such hadith]. Who can speak about them? The doctor, for example? The answer, naturally, is no. Can the chemist? [Again] the answer is no. Many, many questions bringing us closer to the reality. Can the mufassir? No. The scholar of Islamic jurisprudence [faqeeh]? The answer is no.
So, who is the one who can speak [about hadith like this]? Indeed it is only the scholar of hadith. And as was said the scholars of hadith, “… were few when counted … so today they have become the fewest of the few.”
So for this reason it is not permissible for the students of knowledge to embroil themselves in something reported from a scholar who does not know what this knowledge entails or its intricacies when he says, “Such and such a hadith is weak.” This is a principle which we must always stick to.
And one of the amazing things about the calamities which have befallen the ummah in terms of their heedlessness of these knowledge-based, established principles in the Book and the Sunnah is that they are very far removed from [understanding/implementing] it. [But] when the turn comes for something which is connected to themselves [personally] you will [indeed] find them implementing that Quranic text which obligates the Muslims to refer back to the specialists [in each field].
For example, when we or someone who concerns us is taken ill, he will not [just] go to any doctor, but rather before everything else he will inquire about a specialist in that [particular] illness, then he will follow up by asking, researching and verifying [details] about a skilled, specialist doctor, [only] then will he go and present himself or his loved ones to him.
As for what is connected to the religion, then the affair has become anarchic without any order. And that is because today every time the people see a person talking about some matters of fiqh or some Quranic verses or prophetic sayings they assume that such a person is the scholar of the age and so they turn [to him] in asking questions and thus fall into that which has been warned against and mentioned in the hadith, “May Allaah kill them! Couldn’t they have asked–i.e., the people of knowledge–for the cure to ignorance is to ask.”
After this I come back to saying that it is not permissible for any person to speak about that which is not his specialism–particularly when it is clear that his speech in the field about which he has spoken without knowledge opposes that of those who are specialists in it …”
Mowsu’atul-Allaamah, vol. 8, pp. 172-179.