Guidelines for distinguishing a saheeh hadeeth from a da‘eef one

Praise be to Allah. Determining whether a hadeeth is saheeh or da‘eef comes after a great deal of study, that passes through two main stages:

~1~

researching all the places where the hadeeth appears in all of the books of the Sunnah, to the best of one’s ability; compiling the isnaads (chains of narrators) through which it was narrated; determining the points at which these chains of narration meet and diverge; defining the chain of narration that the hadeeth is based on and noting it, in order to move on to the second stage

~2~

studying the isnaad or various isnaads of the hadeeth. This is a detailed study of all factors that may impact the ruling on the hadeeth. This is done by means of the following:

1.     Researching the caliber of the narrators and the extent of their religious commitment and honesty

2.     Researching the memory of the narrators (i.e., how good their memory was) in the chain and the extent of their precision in narrating hadeeth

3.     Researching the connections in the chain of narrators to establish whether each narrator took it from his shaykh who narrated it to him, and that there is no interruption or tadlees [tadlees is when a narrator narrates a hadeeth that he did not hear directly from his shaykh, without mentioning the name of the third party from whom he heard it] or irsaal [irsaal refers to when a hadeeth is narrated from a Taabi‘i and attributed directly to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), without mentioning the name of the Sahaabi who narrated it].

4.     Researching whether the isnaad and matn (text) of the hadeeth are in accordance with other hadeeths and do not differ from them or contradict them. This is also very important.

5.     Establishing that the hadeeth is free of hidden faults that no one can detect except highly competent scholars.

Once the study of the hadeeth has gone through these two stages, then it is possible to determine whether it is saheeh or da‘eef. This – as you can see – is a difficult task, that requires a great deal of time, effort and knowledge of the sciences of hadeeth and the methodology of the hadeeth scholars. It is not possible to explain it in detail in a brief answer to be published on a website. But it is a complete field of knowledge that is studied by students in colleges and universities, that they take as a specialty.

But here we should point out some guidelines that will help the Muslim who is not specialized in the study of Islamic sciences to have an idea about hadeeth classification and how to tell whether a hadeeth is saheeh or da‘eef:

1.     If the hadeeth was narrated by Imam al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh with its isnaad, then it is a saheeh hadeeth.

2.     If the hadeeth was narrated by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh, then it is a saheeh hadeeth.

3.     If the hadeeth was narrated by Imam Maalik in his Muwatta’ with its uninterrupted isnaad, then it is a saheeh hadeeth.

4.     If Imam Ahmad, Abu Haatim, Abu Zar‘ah, al-Bukhaari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, or ad-Daaraqutni ruled that a hadeeth is saheeh or da‘eef, and no imam of similar standing disagreed with him, then it is as they said.

5.     If you looked for the hadeeth in the books of the scholars, or on the website ad-Durar as-Saniyyah, and you looked carefully, and you found that the scholars were agreed that the hadeeth is saheeh or da‘eef, then it is as they said, because the ummah of Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) cannot agree upon misguidance.

6.     If you find that the text of the hadeeth speaks of some matter concerning which the scholars stated that there is no saheeh hadeeth concerning that matter, then this indicates that the hadeeth is da‘eef and not saheeh. You can find the topics concerning which there is no saheeh hadeeth in several books, such as al-Manaar al-Maneef by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, and at-Tahdeeth bima qeela la yasuhh fihi Hadeeth by Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd.

7.     Any hadeeth which was narrated only in the following books, and was not narrated by the authors of the famous Sunans and Musnads, is a da‘eef hadeeth. These books are: ad-Du‘afa’ al-Kabeer by al-‘Aqeeli; al-Kaamil fi’d-Du‘afa’ by Ibn ‘Adiyy; Tareekh Baghdaad by al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi; Tareekh Dimashq by Ibn ‘Asaakir; Nawaadir al-Usool by al-Hakeem at-Tirmidhi; and Musnad al-Firdaws by ad-Daylami. You can find out whether the hadeeth was narrated only by one of these authors via as-Suyooti’s book al-Jaami‘ al-Kabeer. In fact many of the hadeeths that were narrated only by Ibn Maajah, to the exclusion of the other authors of the six books, or were narrated only by at-Tabaraani, Abu Nu‘aym, Ibn Hibbaan, al-Haakim, ad-Daaraqutni, al-Bayhaqi and others like them are da‘eef hadeeths, even though (their books) also contain many saheeh hadeeths that were narrated only by them.

These are a few general guidelines that will help you to distinguish between saheeh hadeeths and da‘eef ones. We should also point out that there are some exceptions to these guidelines, but they do not affect the guidelines mentioned above. And Allah knows best.

Islam Q&A

The comfortable mount mentioned in hadeeth includes cars, planes etc.

Al-Haakim (2684) narrated: “Three things are part of happiness and three things are part of misery. Part of happiness is: a wife who, when you see her, she pleases you, and in your absence you trust her with herself and your wealth; a mount that is amenable and enables you to catch up with your companions; and a house that is spacious and has a lot of amenities. And part of misery is: a wife who, when you see her, she displeases you and is sharp-tongued towards you, and when you are absent you do not trust her with herself and your wealth; a mount that is slow and if you strike it (to make it move), it will exhaust you, but if you leave it alone, it will not help you to catch up with your companions; and a house that is small and has few amenities.”

Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in as-Saheehah (1047)

Al-Mannaawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Fayd al-Qadeer (3/442):

“a mount that is amenable” means it is amenable, swift and easy to control.

“and enables you to catch up with your companions” without exhaustion or difficulty in urging it on

“if you strike it” to make it go faster

“it will exhaust you, but if you leave it alone” to walk without striking it

“it will not help you to catch up with your companions” that is, your travelling companions; rather you will be cut off from them.

He also said:

The “comfortable mount” is one that travels swiftly and is not stubborn or obstreperous, and has a smooth gait with which there is no fear of falling, thus causing bodily harm or disturbance.

At-Tahhaawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Sharh Mushkil al-Athaar (7/212) :

A “comfortable mount” is  one that you do not have to be distracted by, and when you are riding it, you are either focusing on remembering Allah or (at least) you are not worried about what it may cause you of harm due to riding it.

What was meant by a mount in the hadith originally was any kind of animal that is ridden, such as a horse, mule, donkey or camel. That also includes ships. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as an adornment. And He creates (other) things of which you have no knowledge”

[an-Nahl 16:8]

“and He has made the ships to be of service to you, that they may sail through the sea by His Command”

[Ibraaheem 14:32].

But nowadays that includes these things and also things that have taken their place, such as cars and other modern means of transportation.

Therefore when getting into these vehicles it is prescribed to say the dhikr for getting onto one’s mount, for if Allah, may He be exalted, reminded His slaves of the blessing of horses, mules and donkeys, the blessing that He has bestowed of these modern means of transportation is greater and more deserving of thanks, so the ruling on all of them is the same.

And Allah knows best.

 

Memorise the Sunnah in Masjid Nabawi

There is a new dawrah/programme beggining in masjid Nabawi, Madeenah giving students a chance to memorise the Sunnah; Saheeh Muslim and Saheeh Bukharee.

The conditions are:

  • Must be haafidh of Quran
  • Must take interview and exam
  • Must attend all lessons

The students will be memorising the ahadeeth that are mutafaq alayh (agreed upon – found in both books) and other selected ahadeeth. The programme is based on the popular, tried and tested method by Shaykh Yahya al Yahya.

hifdh_sunnah

دورات حفاظ الوحيين الصيفية المكثفة بالمسجد النبوي الشريف السابعة

نصف المتفق عليه من كتاب الجمع بين الصحيحن (الجزء الأول والثاني)
نصف المتفق عليه من كتاب الجمع بين الصحيحين (الجزء الثالث والرابع)
مفردات البخاري ومسلم
زوائد ابي داود على الصحيحين
زوائد سنن الترمذي والنسائي و ابن ماجة ومالك و الدارمي على الصحيحين و أبي داوود

 

Which finger did the Prophet wear his ring?

The scholars of Islam, may Allah have mercy on them, have a difference in opinion about which finger the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) wore the ring, and whether he wore it in the right hand or the left:

First Opinion: Left Hand.

This is the opinion of the scholars of the Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali schools of thought.

It is mentioned in Rad Al-Mukhtar (5/230), a book of the Hanafi school:

“(In his left hand) and it should be worn in the little finger (pinkie), not the other fingers, and neither the right hand. Al-Kohistani narrated from Al-Muheet: It is permissible to wear it in the right hand, except that it is a sign of the Rafidhis (extreme Shi’ite, who revile the Companions).”

It is mentioned in Hashiat Al-‘Adawi ‘ala kifayat al-Talib (2/360), a book of the Maliki school:

“the choice of the majority of the scholars, including Imam Malik, is that it is praiseworthy (mandub) to wear the ring in the left hand. Imam Malik use to wear it in the left hand.”

Another Maliki scholar, Abu Al-Waleed Al-Baji, may Allah have Mercy on him, said:

“Ahl Al-Sunnah (people of Sunnah) are in consensus that the ring should be worn in the left hand,. It is also the opinion of Imam Malik, and he disliked (makruh) that it should be worn in the right hand. And he (Malik) said that the right hand is used to eat, drink and work, so how can one use his left hand to wear the ring in the right hand.” [Al-Muntaqa Sharh Al-Mu’atta (7/256)]

It is mentioned in Kashaaf al-Qina’ (2/236), a book of the Hanbali school:

“Wearing the ring in the little finger of the left hand is better than wearing it in the little finger of the right hand, as explicitly narrated from Imam Ahmed in the reports of Salih and Al-Fadhl. This is more established and more authentic. Al-Athram and others reported that Imam Ahmed declared the narrations of wearing the ring in the right hand as weak.

Imam Al-Daraqutni and others said: The well-preserved narration from Prophet (peace be upon him) is that he used to wear the ring in his left hand.”

The proofs of this opinion are as follows:

Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be please with him) said, “The ring of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) was on this”, and he pointed toward the little finger of his left hand. [Sahih Muslim, (no. 2095)]
It was the practice of the majority of the Companions (may Allah be please with them). In fact, Ibn Abi Shaibah reported in Al-Musannaf (6/68) with his own chains of narrations from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, Al-Hasan, Al-Hussain, Ibn ‘Umar, Al-Qasim, Salim and other eminent Muslims of the earliest generations of Islam that they used to wear their rings in the left hand.
Wearing it in the left hand makes it easy for the wearer to take it off with the right hand to stamp (documents etc with the ring) with the right hand. Rings were mostly worn for the purpose of stamping (documents, letters etc.) with them. Hence, wearing it in the left hand was more suitable for fulfilling this purpose.
Wearing the ring in the right hand is the practice of the Rafidhis (extreme Shi’ite, who revile the Companions), and it recommended to oppose Ahl Al-Bid’ah (innovators).

Second Opinion: Right Hand.

This is the opinion of the Shafa’ii school of thought.

Imam Al-Nawawi, may Allah be pleased with him, said in Al-Majmu’ (a book of the Shafa’ii school):

“It is permissible for a man to wear a silver ring in the little finger of the left hand, or if he wants, in the little finger of the right hand, as both practices have been authentically narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, the sahih mashhur (correct and well-known position of the Shafa’ii school) is that it is better to wear it in the right hand, since it is an adornment and the right hand is more honored. The author of Al-Ibanah said that it is better to wear it in the left, since wearing it in the right has become a sign of the Rafidhis (extreme Shi’ite, who revile the Companions)….but the first opinion is correct, and it not their sign in most cities. Even if it were their sign, wearing it in the right should not be abandoned and how can a Sunnah be abandoned because a sect of innovators is doing it. In Sunan Abi Dawud, it has been narrated with an authentic (Sahih) chain of narrators from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that he used to wear the ring in his left hand, and with a good (hasan) chain from Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that he used to wear it in his right.” [Al-Majmu’ (4/462)]

The proofs for this opinion are:

Imam Al-Bukhari [hadith no. 5876] reported from ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Umar : The Prophet had a golden ring made for himself, and when he wore it. he used to turn its stone toward the palm of his hand. So the people too had gold made for themselves. The Prophet then ascended the pulpit, and after glorifying and praising Allah, he said, “I had it made for me, but now I will never wear it again.” He threw it away, and then the people threw away their rings too. (Juwairiya, a sub-narrator, said: I think Anas said that the Prophet was wearing the ring in his right hand.) Imam Muslim also narrated the hadith (no. 2091) in which too the right hand is explicitly mentioned.
Anas b. Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) wore a silver ring on his right hand which had an Abyssinian stone in it, and he kept its stone towards the palm. [Sahih Muslim (no. 2094)]
‘Abdullah Bin Ja’far (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to wear the ring in his right hand. [Musnad Imam Ahmed (3/265)] The researchers of the Musnad Imam Ahmed published by Al-Risalah Establishment said it is hasan (good, well-preserved narration). Imam Al-Bukhari said: “It is the most authentic thing reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this subject.” [Sunan Al-Tirmithi (no. 1744)]
Imam al-Tirmithi said: “In this subject, there are narrations from ‘Ali, Jabir, ‘Abdullah Bin Ja’far, Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘Aishah, Anas and the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (the none in Sahih al-Bukhari, above) is hasan sahih (good and authentic).”
The scholars of this opinion also use the fact that “the Prophet used to like to start from the right side on wearing shoes, combing his hair and cleaning or washing himself and on doing anything else” [Sahih Al-Bukhari (no. 169)] for supporting their opinion. Since wearing a ring is part of adornment, it is recommended to wear it in the right hand.

They replied to the proofs of the first opinion (that it is better to wear it in the left hand) by saying that the hadiths mentioning the right hand in tis regard are more numerous and more authentic, hence they should be preferred over others.

Ibn Hajar Al-Haitami, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “It is better to wear it in the right hand, since the hadiths about it are more numerous.” [Tuhfat Al-Muhtaj (3/276)]

Similarly, Imam Al-Nawawi replied to their contention that wearing the ring in the right hand is characteristic of the Rafidhis, by saying:

“It not their sign in most cities. Even if it were their sign, wearing it in the right should not be abandoned and how can a Sunnah be abandoned because a sect of innovators is doing it.” [Al-Majmu’ (4/462)]

As far as their using the practice of wearing the ring in the left hand of some Companions as evidence for their opinion is concerned, then it can be said that other Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) have been reported to wear it in the right hand. Ibn Abi Shaibah in Al-Musannaf (6/65) narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas, Ja’far Bin Muhammad, ‘Abdullah Bin Ja’far used to wear it in their right hands. In fact Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

“It has been narrated from Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and numerous Companions and Followers (Tabi’oon, people who lived in the Companions’ lifetime) of Medina and others, that they used to wear their rings in the right hand.” [Fath Al-Bari (10/372)]

Third Opinion: Either Hand.

Some scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible to wear the ring in either hand: left or right. This will make one follow all the hadiths mentioned in this regard.

Imam Ibn Qayyim (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“There are varying account from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about whether he used to wear it in the right or the left, and all of them are authentically reported.” [Zad Al-Ma’ad (1/139)]

Sheikh Ibn ‘Uthaimin, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

“The correct opinion is that the Sunnah is to wear it in the right and the left (i.e. either of the two).” [Al-Sharh Al-Mumti’ (6/110)]

Secondly:

The finger in which it should be worn is the pinky or the little finger, as mentioned in the hadiths.

Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) got a ring made for himself and said, “I have got a ring made (for myself) and engraved a certain engraving on it so none of you should get such an engraving on his ring.” I saw the glitter of the ring on his little finger. ” [Sahih Al-Bukhari (no. 5874). Imam al-Bukhari named that chapter: “The ring in the little finger”]

In fact, there are reports which mention the prohibition of wearing it on the middle or the forefinger. ‘Ali Bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) forbade me that I should wear a ring in this and that finger of mine, and he pointed to the middle finger and the next one. [Sahih Muslim (no. 2078)]

Fabricator of a Hadeeth

Regarding the status of the Fabricator, Ibn As-Salaah mentions in his Uloom Al-Hadeeth p. 116:

Rejecting The Narrations Of Fabricators

The scholars agree that narrations of hadeeth are not accepted from one who lied even once about the Prophet (saw). They also agree that it is one of the greatest sins to lie about the Prophet (saw).

Is The Repentance Of A Fabricator Accepted?

There is a difference of opinion over this matter.

Opinion 1) Imaam Maalik said:

“But if one repents for his lies and then becomes known for truthfulness and uprightness, then the majority of scholars hold that both his repentance and narrations are accepted.”

Opinion 2) Imaaam Maalik said:

“Aboo Bakr As-Sairafee dissented, saying: ‘When we reject the narration of anyone for a lie that he was exposed with, we never return to accepting his narrations, not even after an outward repentance.‘ “

These scholars have said that anyone who has deliberately lied concerning a hadeeth or is involved in forgery is disqualified for ever and may never be admitted again even if he repents and corrects himself. [Al-Kifaaya of Al-Baghdaadee, p. 145]

Aboo Al-Mudhaffir As-Sam’aani ruled that if someone lied regarding even one narration, all of his previous narrations must also be rejected.

Is The Fabricator A Disbeliever?

Although the scholars agree that lying in hadeeths is from the major sins, they disagree about whether the fabricator is a disbeliever.

Opinion 1) A group of scholars hold that fabricators are disbelievers.

Opinion 2) Another group say they are not disbelievers.

Should The Fabricator Be Executed?

Owing to the great sensitivity of this matter, some scholars went so far as to say that intentional propagation of lies in the name of hadeeth amounted to disbelief (kufr) and validated the death punishment for its perpetrator. [Tadreeb Ar-Raawee of As-Suyootee, p.22 & Usool Al-Hadeeth of Al-Khateeb, p.274]

Is His Repentance Accepted?

Although these scholars say that the fabricator must be executed, they disagree among themselves whether his repentance is accepted.

Opinion 1) Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Aboo Bakr Al-Humaydee (the shaykh of Imaam Bukhaaree) say that the repentance of a fabricator is never accepted.

Opinion 2) An-Nawawee, on the other hand, positively asserts that his repentance is accepted and that his narrations, like his testimonies, are from that time (i.e. the time of his repentance) onward accepted, and that his situation is similar to that of a disbeliever who acceptes Islaam.

As for repentance from other major sins, it may qualify the repenter again when his sincerity and good conduct becomes known and established beyond doubt.

Accepting Narrations From Truthful Innovators On Conditions

The people of the sunnah did not vilify or discredit their opponent unless:

1) His innovation led to disbelief,

2) He attacked one of the Companions,

3) He was inviting others to his innovation, or

4) The hadeeth he was narrating was in harmony with the innovation to which he was inviting others.

The scholars of hadeeth criticism would consider all of these points as evidence showing that the narrator was not truthful or sincere. This is why the books of the Sunnah, and in their forefront Bukhaaree and Muslim, related hadeeths from some innovators whom history has shown to be truthful.

Examples of such narrators are ‘Umraan Ibn Hattaan Al-Khaarijee and Abbaan Ibn Taghlab Ash-Shi’ee. As he was discussing the biography of Abbaan Ibn Taghlab Al-Koofee, Al-Haafidh Adh-Dhahabee said: “A dyed-in-the-wool Shi’ee, but he is truthful. For us is his honesty and against him is his innovation.”

Imaam Aboo Is-haaq Ibraaheem Ibn Ya’qoob Al-Jawzjaanee said: “Among them was he who deviated away from the truth, yet still possessed an honest tongue. And his hadeeth would be widespread amongst the people since he was forsaken for his innovation but trusted with is narration.

So concerning these individuals, I see no other alternative but to take from their hadeeth that which is (already) known, so long as his innovation does not become strengthened because of that.”

[Ahwaal Ar-Rijaal, p.538]

The Six Books of Hadeeth

The authors of the Six Books are:

1-     Imam al-Bukhaari

2-     Imam Muslim

3-     Imam Abu Dawood

4-     Imam al-Tirmidhi

5-     Imam al-Nasaa’i

6-     Imaam Ibn Maajah

There follow brief details about each of them.

1 – Imam al-Bukhaari

His full name was Abu ‘Abd-Allaah Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel ibn Ibraaheem ibn al-Mugheerah ibn Bardizbah al-Ja’fi al-Bukhaari. His grandfather al-Mugheerah was a freed slave of al-Yamaan al-Ja’fi, the governor of Bukhaarah, so he took his name after he became Muslim. Imam al-Bukhaari was born in Bukhaara in 194 AH. He grew up an orphan and started to memorize ahaadeeth before he was ten years old. When he was a young man he set out to travel to Makkah and perform the obligation of Hajj. He stayed in Makkah for a while, studying under the imams of fiqh, usool and hadeeth. Then he began to travel around, going from one Islamic region to another, for sixteen years in all. He visited many centers of knowledge where he collected ahaadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) until he had compiled more than 600,000 ahaadeeth. He referred to one thousand scholars of hadeeth and discussed these reports with them. These scholars were people who were known for their sincerity, piety and sound belief. From this huge number of ahaadeeth he compiled his book al-Saheeh, following the most precise scientific guidelines in his research as to their authenticity and in distinguishing the saheeh (sound) from the weak, and in finding out about the narrators, until he recorded in his book the most sound of the sound, although it does not contain all the saheeh ahaadeeth. The book’s full title is al-Jaami’ al-Saheeh al-Musnad min Hadeeth Rasool-Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wa Sunanihi wa Ayaamihi.

The governor of Bukhaara wanted al-Bukhaari to come to his house to teach his children and read ahaadeeth to them. But al-Bukhaari refused and wrote to him: “Knowledge is to be sought in its own house,” meaning that knowledge is to be sought not summoned. Whoever wanted to learn from the scholars should go to them in the mosque or in their houses. So the governor bore a grudge against him and ordered that he be expelled from Bukhaara. So he went to the village of Khartank which is near Samarqand, where he had relatives, and he settled there until he died in 256 AH at the age of 62. May Allaah have mercy upon him.

2 – Imam Muslim

His full name was Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj ibn Muslim al-Qushayri al-Nisapoori Abu’l-Husayn. He is one of the leading scholars of hadeeth and one of the most knowledgeable. He was born in Nisapoor on the day that Imam al-Shaafa’i died in 204 AH. He studied in Nisapoor, and when he grew up he traveled to Iraq and the Hijaaz to learn hadeeth. He heard ahaadeeth from many shaykhs, and many scholars of hadeeth narrated from him. The most famous of his books is his Saheeh which is known as Saheeh Muslim. This is one of the six reliable books of hadeeth. He spent nearly fifteen years compiling this book, which is second only to Saheeh al-Bukhaari in status and in the strength of its ahaadeeth. Many scholars have written commentaries on his Saheeh.

His books also include Kitaab al-Tabaqaat, Kitaab al-Jaami’ and Kitaab al-Asma’, and others which exist in printed and manuscript form. He died in the city of Nasarabad, near Nisapoor, in 261 AH, at the age of 57. May Allaah have mercy on him.

3 – Imam Abu Dawood

His full name was Sulaymaan ibn al-Ash’ath ibn Shaddaad ibn ‘Amr ibn Ishaaq ibn Basheer al-Azdi al-Sajistani, from Sajistan. Abu Dawood was the leading hadeeth scholar of his age. He is the author of al-Sunan, which is one of the six reliable books of hadeeth. He was born in 202 AH. He traveled to Baghdad where he met Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and stayed with him; he also looked like him.  He also traveled to the Hijaz, Iraq, Khurasaan, Syria, Egypt and the borders of the Islamic world. Al-Nasaa’i, al-Tirmidhi and others narrated hadeeth from him. He attained the highest degree of piety and righteousness. His book al-Sunan includes more than 5300 ahaadeeth.

The caliph Abu Ahmad Talhah (al-Muwaffaq al-‘Abbaasi) asked three things of him: the first was that he should move to Basrah and settle there, so that seekers of knowledge could come to him, thus bringing more people to settle there. The second was that he should teach al-Sunan to his children. The third was that he should give exclusive classes to his children, for the children of the caliph should not sit with the common people. Abu Dawood said to him: As for the first, yes; as for the second, yes; as for the third, no way, because all people are equal when it comes to knowledge. So the sons of al-Muwaffaq al-‘Abbaasi used to attend his lessons, and they would sit with a screen between them and the people. He remained in Basrah until he died in 275 AH. May Allaah have mercy on him.

4 – Imam al-Tirmidhi

His full name was Muhammad ibn ‘Eesa ibn Soorah ibn Moosa ibn al-Dahhaak al-Salami al-Tirmidhi, Abu Eesa. He came from Tirmidh, once of the cities of Transoxiana, after which he was named. He was one of the leading scholars of hadeeth and memorization of hadeeth. He was born in 209 AH and studied under al-Bukhaari; they had some of the same teachers. He began to seek ahaadeeth by travelling to Khurasaan, Iraq and the Hijaz. He became famous for his memorization of hadeeth, trustworthiness and knowledge.  His shaykhs included Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Abu Dawood al-Sajistani. He compiled al-Jaami’ which is counted as one of the six reliable books of hadeeth. In this book he examined the ahaadeeth in detail, which is of benefit to students of fiqh, because he mentions the ahaadeeth and most of his ahaadeeth deal with rulings of fiqh. He mentions the isnaads and lists the Sahaabah who narrated the hadeeth, so what he believes is saheeh he says is saheeh, and what he believes is da’eef he says is da’eef. He explains who among the fuqaha’ accepted the hadeeth and who did not. His Jaami’ is the most comprehensive of the books of al-Sunan, and is the most useful to the muhaddith (hadeeth scholar) and faqeeh. His other works include Kitaab al-Shamaa’il al-Nabawiyyah and al-‘Ilal fi’l-Hadeeth. He was blind for the latter part of his life, after he had travelled around and compiled saheeh reports from prominent and well-versed scholars. He died in 279 AH at the age of 70. May Allaah have mercy on him.

5 – Imam al-Nasaa’i

His full name was Ahmad ibn Shu’ayb ibn ‘Ali ibn Sinaan ibn Bahr ibn Dinar al-Nasaa’i, Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan. He came from the city of Nasa in Khurasaan, after which he was named (Nasawi or Nasaa’i). He was born in 215 AH, and he was one of the leading scholars and muhaddiths of his time. His comments on al-jarh wa’l-ta’deel (the study of the soundness or otherwise of narrators of hadeeth) are highly esteemed by the scholars. Al-Haakim said: I heard Abu’l-Hasan al-Daaraqutni say more than once, “Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan is the foremost among all scholars of hadeeth, and he is the best evaluator of narrators of his time.”

He was extremely pious and righteous, and he used to regularly observe the best kind of fasting (the fasting of Dawood), he used to fast on alternate days. He lived in Egypt, where his books became famous and people learned from him. Then he moved to Damascus, where he died on Monday 13 Safar 300 AH, at the age of 85. May Allaah have mercy on him.

6 – Imam Ibn Maajah

His full name was Muhammad ibn Yazeed al-Rab’i al-Qazwayni, Abu ‘Abd-Allaah. His father Yazeed was known as Maajah, so he was known as Ibn Maajah. The name al-Rab’i refers to Rabee’ah, after whom he was named because his father was a freed slave of Rabee’ah . He was a famous hafiz and the author of the book of hadeeth called al-Sunan. He was born in Qazwayn, after which he was named, in 209 AH. He travelled to Iraq, Basrah, Kufa, Baghdad, Makkah, Syria, Egypt and al-Rai to write down hadeeth. He wrote three books during his travels: a book on Tafseer; a book on history, in which he compiled the reports of men who had written down reports of the Sunnah from the time of the Sahaabah until his own time; and his book al-Sunan. Ibn Maajah died on Monday 22 Ramadaan 273 AH, at the age of 64. May Allaah have mercy on him.

Ruling on the ahaadeeth in these books:

With regard to Saheeh al-Bukhaari and Saheeh Muslim, the ummah accepts the ahaadeeth that are contained in these books, and they are agreed that everything in them is saheeh apart from a very few phrases which al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated in order to explain why they are not sound, either explicitly or implicitly, as the scholars who wrote commentaries on these two books, such as Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him), have explained. With regard to the other books of Sunan, they are not free of some da’eef (weak) ahaadeeth here and there. Some of them are noted as such by the authors themselves, and others have been pointed out by other scholars. They did not point out all the weak ahaadeeth, because they narrated the ahaadeeth with their isnaads, so it is easy for the scholars to tell the saheeh ahaadeeth from the da’eef by checking the chain of narrators and knowing who is reliable and who is weak.

Among the famous scholars in this field were Ahmad, al-Daraqutni, Yahya ibn Ma’een, Ibn Hajar, al-Dhahabi, al-Waaqi and al-Sakhaawi. Among the contemporary scholars in this field are al-Albaani, Ahmad Shaakir and others. May Allaah have mercy on them all.

And Allaah knows best.