قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «الراحمون يرحمهم الرحمن، ارحموا من في الأرض يرحمكم من في السماء
***I believe the first of our Shuyukh to narrate the hadith of Rahma in the west was none other than Sh. Abdullah al-Qaadi in the mid 1990’s. (He mentioned this to me when I asked him whether he had transmitted to us on the Rihla course in Nottingham way back in 1997)
However Sh. al-Yaqubi is probably credited with transmitting this hadith on a much wider scale to the thousands who have attended his lectures, thereby familiarising muslims in the West with this narration which is widely transmitted amongst the scholars of hadith. May Allah (the Exalted) reward both of them the best of rewards for their efforts.***
Attention of Hadith Scholars
When one looks in the biographical entries of the scholars of hadith one finds an extraordinary care on their part with regards to this hadith. They would strive to hear it from a scholar the first time they met them, aswell as the scholars of hadith themselves taking care for it to be the first hadith narrated in a gathering of students, whether they be local or from another land, so that they not miss out on the opportunity of the hadith of firstness (awaliyyah).
The First Hadith Narrated and a Strategy
Such was the scholars desire for this hadith to be the first that was heard, they found a way for it to be so for a student who had heard other hadith from the scholar previously. They would call it the hadith of ‘relative firstness’ (awaliyyah idafiyyah), and this would be by the scholar narrating it as the first hadith of the gathering (majlis).
Reason for it Being the First Hadith Transmitted
Al-Sayyid Abd al-Hayy al-Kattani (Allah have mercy on him) at the beginning of his ‘Fihris al-Faharis’ (1/93) discussed the reason why the scholars of hadith started their gatherings with this narration, he said that this hadith is:
Common amongst the muslim community (ummah), and was paid attention to by the scholars of the science (of hadith). They gave precedence to its narration over others so that they would have a continuous pattern, as we have also done. And so that the seeker of knowledge follows it and knows that the basis of knowledge is mercy, love and maintaining ties. Not turning away and breaking (off relations). So if the student is nurtured with this, with him is nurtured the call to knowledge and mercy…and he is not raised except with the character trait of mercy, which he informs others of its benefits and results.
A List of Works on This Hadith
A result of the care and attention paid to this narration is that many of the scholars of hadith wrote specific works on it, mentioning therein the scholars from whom they heard this hadith of firstness (awwliyyah). Also going on to mention other narrations with a similar meaning which encourage the showing of mercy.
Al-Sayyid al-Kattani listed the names of those who authored specific works on this hadith, those he named being the following scholars:
1- Ibn al-Salah
2- Mansur bin Sulaim al-Razi
3- Abu al-Qasim Ismail bin Ahmad al-Samarqandi
4- Hafidh al-Silafi
5- Al-Dhahabi who named his work ‘Al-Adhb al-Salsal fi al-Hadith al-Musalsal’
6- Al-Taqi al-Subki
7- Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi
8- Al-Siraj Ibn al-Mulaqqin
9- Al-Hafidh al-Iraqi
10- His son Abu Zurah
11- Abu al-Fath al-Lakhami who named his work ‘Al-Iqd al-Mufassal fi al-Hadith al-Musalsal’
12- Al-Hafidh Ibn al-Abar al-Tunisi who named his work ‘Al-Mawrid al-Salsal fi Hadith al-Rahma al-Musalsal’
13- Abu al-Baqa Khalid al-Balawi the author of ‘Taj al-Mafriq’
14- Al-Hafidh Murtada al-Zabidi who authored four works on the hadith
15- Al-Shams al-Jawhari al-Misri
16- Al-Sheikh Ata al-Makki
Al-Kattani also indicates to works by other authors and mentions that he had also written a number of works on the hadith.
Additonal Works Mentioned by Sh. Awwamah
Sh. Muhammad Awwamah adds to the list of al-Kattani with the following names of authors:
1-Jamal al-Murshidi al-Makki al-Hanafi
2-Qutb al-Khaidari who named his work ‘Al-Masalik al-Ilmiyyah lil Hadith al-Musalsal bil Awwaliyyah’
3-Hibatullah al-Taji who named his work ‘Mazid al-Nimah fi Hadith al-Rahma’ a portion of which was cited by Allamah al-Kawthari at the beginning of his ‘Thabat’.
4-Muhammad Habibullah al-Shinqiti the author of ‘Zad al-Muslim’
5-Abdullah al-Lahji al-Harami al-Makki who named his work ‘Ianah Rab al-Bariyyah ala Jam Tarajim Rijal al-Hadith al-Musalsal bil Awwaliyyah’ in which he wrote the biographies of the chain of Sh. Hasan al-Mashat for this narration.
The Earliest Work Written on This Hadith
Sh. Awwamah mentions that though al-Kattani lists many early scholars of hadith, the earliest known scholar (not mentioned by him) to have written specifically on this narration is by: Imam al-Hafidh Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Dunya who passed away in the year 281 Hijri.