Ibn al-Hashimi of Team Ahlel Bayt writes:

In reference to the following Hadith:

“I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.”

It was related by al-Hakim, at-Tabarani and others. It was also related by at-Tirmidhi with the wording, “I am the House of Wisdom, and Ali is its Door.”

Albani declared the Hadith to be Mawdoo (fabricated). Daraqutni labeled the Hadith as mudtarib (shaky), both in isnad and text. Tirmidhi labeled it is ghareeb (weak) and munkar (rejected). Bukhari said that the Hadith has no sahih narration and declared it un-acknowledgeable. Qurtubi said about this Hadith in al-Jame’ li Ahkam al-Quran: “This Hadith is Batil (false)!” Ibn Maeen said that the Hadith is a baseless lie. Dhahabi considered it a forgery and included it in his book on forged Hadiths. Al-Hakim declared that it is weak. Amongst others who dismissed the Hadith are Abu Zur`ah, Abu Hatim, Yahya bin Saeed, etc.

This Hadith is narrated by many unreliable chains. These Isnads (chains of transmission) were deemed to be unreliable because they contain Shia, liars, and people accused of lying. It should be noted that Ibn Hajar and some others differed and stated that because there were so many unreliable chains–and because the meaning of this Hadith is not invalid–that collectively these many unreliable chains could constitute a level of Hasan. However, we do not agree with this position and instead take the opinion of Bukhari and the many others who deemed that the weakness in the chains could not constitute anything but weakness or forgery.

However, even those who accept this Hadith do not interpret the Hadith in the same manner that the Shia do. The Hadith refers to Ali as a gate to the city of knowledge; yet, this does not impart exclusivity nor does it convey superiority of Ali over Abu Bakr or Umar. The Prophet similarly praised other Sahabah and it is incorrect to take a close-minded and dogmatic approach to this Hadith. Abu’l Mu`in al-Nasafi says in Tabsirat al-Adilla: “This Hadith does not establish the superiority of Sayyiduna Ali (over Abu Bakr). ‘I’m the city of knowledge and Ali is its door.’ A city never has only door (unlike a fortress). Rather, most cities would have…one (door) from each side.”

In another Hadith, the Prophet refers to Ali as his brother, and the Shia use this as a proof for the superiority of Ali over Abu Bakr. And yet, the Prophet similarly refers to Abu Bakr as his brother, and this is recorded in the Sahihayn! What the Shia need to understand (and Allah help them to understand this seemingly intuitive concept) is that these are not praises of exclusivity. A man can have many brothers, not just one! We direct the reader’s attention to the following Hadith:

“Let no door of the Mosque remain open, except the door of Abu Bakr.”

(Sahih Muslim, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 244)

In this Hadith, the Prophet even uses an expression of exclusivity (i.e. let no door…), yet we Sunnis still do not interpret this literally. Instead, we understand that these are expressions of praise. The other doors of the Mosque were not closed, as it is clear that this is a saying and it is meant simply to praise Abu Bakr. Furthermore, this Hadith shows that there are many doors, not just one. In the case of the Hadith of the city of knowledge, this reference is not to be taken literally: it is obvious that the Prophet is not in actuality a city. In other words, this is a saying not to be taken literally; it is praise of Ali and cannot be construed in the sectarian manner that the Shia view it. The reader should be reminded that those scholars of Hadith who overlooked the weakness of the various chains of this Hadith did so on the condition that the meaning of the Hadith be interpreted in the manner above and not in the Shia manner.

In conclusion, the Hadith was narrated by weak and unreliable narrators (i.e. Shia, liars, etc.). It was not narrated by even a single reliable chain. As such, we are inclined to reject it, as was the opinion of the impressive list of scholars we mentioned above. We therefore reject both versions of the Hadith (i.e. the City of Knowledge and the House of Knowledge…).

Umm Abdullah of Team Ahlel Bayt writes:

The Hadith (i.e. the city of knowledge…) has been shown/declared to be false/fabricated by the following scholars:

Yahya Bin Ma’een
Source: al Jarh wat-Ta’deel 6/99
Su’alat ibn Junayd #185
Tareekh Baghdad 11/205

Ahmad Bin Hanbal
Source: Tareekh Baghdad 11/49

Ibn Hibban
Source: al Majruheen 2/136

Ibn ’Adi
Source: al Kamel fi ad-Du’afa 1/311 & 316

Al-Daraqutni
Source: Ta’liqat ‘ala al Majruheen 179

Ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi
Source: Dhakhirat al Huffadh 5/2578 – Tadhkirat al Huffadh #136

Ibn Al-Arabi al Maliki
Source: Ahkam al Quran 3/86

Ibn A’sakir
Source: Tareekh Dimashq 45\321

Ibn Al-Jawzi
Source: Al Mawdu’at 2/112-116

Al-Nawawi
Source: Tahdheeb al Asma’ wal-Lughat 1/348

Al-Mizzi
Source: Tahdheeb al Kamal 11/462

Al Dhahabi
Source: Mizan al-I’tidal 1/415 – 1/110

Abu Ali Efendi Abdullah al-Ujari of Team Ahlel Bayt writes:

In regards to the Hadith “I’m city of knowledge, and Ali is a gate”,

Shaykh Albani judged the Hadith in “Jamiu sagir” (#3247) as “fabricated.”

Shaykh Dhahabi judged the Hadith as “fabricated” in “Talkhees al-maudua” (1/115/#256).

The Hadith is narrated from Ibn Abbas in al-Mustadrak as follows:

[ 4637 ] حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ثنا محمد بن عبد الرحيم الهروي بالرملة ثنا أبو الصلت عبد السلام بن صالح ثنا أبو معاوية عن الأعمش عن مجاهد عن بن عباس رضى الله تعالى عنهما قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنا مدينة العلم وعلي بابها فمن أراد المدينة فليأت الباب

One of the narrators is Abu Salat Abdus-salam ibn Salih, and he is a rejected narrator in accordance to majority of the Ulema.

Mizzi in “Tahtheeb al Kamal” vol 18, #3421

وقال أبو بكر المروذي سئل أبو عبد الله عن أبي الصلت فقال روى أحاديث مناكير
Abu Bakr Marwadhi said: “I asked Abu Abdullah about Abu Salat, (and) he said: ‘(Abu Salat) narrated rejected (munkar) narrations.”

وقال زكريا بن يحيى الساجي يحدث بمناكير هو عندهم ضعيف
Zakariya ibn Yahya Sajji said: “(Abu Salat) narrated rejected narrations…he is weak.”

وقال النسائي ليس بثقة وقال عبد الرحمن بن أبي حاتم سألت أبي عنه فقال لم يكن عندي بصدوق وهو ضعيف ولم يحدثني عنه
Nasai said that Abu Salat is “not truthful.”
Abdur-Rahman ibn Abu Hatim said: “I asked my father about him, he said: ‘Not truthful for me; he is weak; I’m not narrating from him!’”

Ibn Hajar in “Tahtheeb at tahtheeb” 6/#619

وقال العقيلى رافضي خبيث وقال مسلمة عن العقيلى كذاب وقال ابن حبان لا يجوز الاحتجاج به
Ukayli said (about Abu Salat): “Rafidhi (Shia extremist), khabith (wicked).”

Muslimat reported that Ukayli said: “(Abu Salat) is liar.” Ibn Hibban said: “It’s not permissible to rely on him.”

وقال الحاكم والنقاش وأبو نعيم روى مناكير
Hakim Naggash and Abu Nuaym said: “(Abu Salat) narrated munkira (rejected narrations).”

وقال محمد بن طاهر كذاب
Muhammad ibn Tahar said (about Abu Salat): “Liar.”

Dhahabi in “Mizan” #5051:

وقال ابن عدى: متهم.
Ibn Adi said (about Abu Salat): “Accused!”

وقال الدارقطني: رافضي خبيث متهم بوضع حديث: الايمان إقرار بالقلب (1). ونقل عنه أنه قال: كلب للعلوية خير من بنى أمية.

Daraqutni said (about Abu Salat): “Rafidhi (Shia extremist), khabith (wicked). Accused in fabrication of narrations…”

Ibn Adi said: “The narration is fabricated by Abu Salat.”

Daraqutni further stated: “…Abu Salat is the man who fabricated this narration…And the groups of people steal this narration from him.”

Ahmad ibn Hanbal was asked about this narration and replied: “May Allah disfigure Abu Salat!”

In regards to the chain in #4638 of Mustadrak:

[ 4638 ] حدثنا بصحة ما ذكره الإمام أبو زكريا ثنا يحيى بن معين ثنا أبو الحسين محمد بن أحمد بن تميم القنطري ثنا الحسين بن فهم ثنا محمد بن يحيى بن الضريس ثنا محمد بن جعفر الفيدي ثنا أبو معاوية عن الأعمش عن مجاهد عن بن عباس رضى الله تعالى عنهما قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنا مدينة العلم وعلي بابها فمن أراد المدينة فليأت الباب

One of the narrators is Husayn ibn Fahm who was not strong.

Ibn Hajar al Askalani in “Lisan al mizan” (Vol.2, #1266):

قال الحاكم ليس بالقوى
Hakim said (about Husayn ibn Fahm): “Not strong.”

ذكره الدار قطني فقال ليس بالقوى
Daraqutni mentioned (Husayn ibn Fahm) and said: “Not strong.”

The House of Wisdom and Ali is its Door

In regards to the Hadith in which the Prophet supposedly used the wording “House of Knowledge” instead of “City of Knowledge”, this was narrated in Tirmidhi. But Tirmidhi himself said about it that it was “munkar (rejected).” Bukhari said: “There is nothing authentic in it.” Ibn Maeen said: “It’s a lie.” (“Kashful hafa” 1/203)

Shaykh Dhahabi said in “Talkhees Kitab al-Maudua” (1/116) that it is “fabricated.”

Shaykh Albani said in “Jamiu as-sagir” (#3238) said that the Hadith was “fabricated.”

Ibn Daqiq said that the “narration is not steady; it is fabrication!” (Sahawi in “Makasidal Hasanat”, p.54)

Shawkani also said it is fabrication, and he included it in his book on weak narrations. (see Fawaid al-Majmua, p.348, #51)

The same is the case with Ibn al-Jawzi. (see “Maudua” 1/349-350-351)

Nawawi said in “Tahzeeb Asma wa Lughat” (p.480) that both versions of the Hadith (I am the House of Wisdom…and I am the City of Knowledge) are false:

وأما الحديث المروى عن الصنابحى، عن على، قال: قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم -: “أنا دار الحكمة، وعلى بابها”((1)). وفى رواية: “أنا مدينة العلم، وعلى بابها” ((2))، فحديث باطل، رواه الترمذى، وقال: هو حديث منكر