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Uloom al Hadith Fall 2010

Uloom al Hadith - Beginning Sciences of Hadith V

  • In this session, the concept of hasan and weak hadith will be dealt with.
  • Prerequisite: NONE (all topics are independent of previous sessions)
  • Required Text: Usool al Hadith by Bilal Philips (available at MCA bookstore and Al Huda bookstore)
  • Time: Sundays 5:15 - 6:15 pm PDT September 26 to October 28 2010;  Sundays 5:00 - 6:00 pm PST November 7 to November 28 2010
  • Grading: 100% Final Exam; Scheduled for November 21

Basic Outline of the Class

Topic 1:  Hasan Hadith (Philips, pages 60-66)

Topic 2:  Weak Hadith (Philips, pages 66-92, 106-110)


2010-09-26 Class Notes

Summer session was dedicated to sahih hadith and in particular to Sahih Bukhari and  Sahih Muslim.  We discussed relevant points of the sahih hadith. Then we discussed the classification of hadith. When scholars study hadith, they divided it into different categories to describe accepted hadith and rejected hadith.

1. Sahih Hadith is accepted hadith
2. Hasan Hadith are also accepted

They are considered hujja or accepted authority.  These are called maqbool or accepted.

The rejected hadith or mardood are classified into:
3. Dhaeef (weak)
4. Dhaeef Jiddan (very weak)
5. Maudhoo’ (fabricated) Then there is another category of fabricated hadith which is completely rejected.


Mutawaatir
Any piece of information that is transmitted in such a way that its veracity cannot be debated. It is transmitted by so many sources, that it is impossible for all of them to make the same mistake.
For mutawatir hadith, there have to be 4 chains of narrations. We can add some more requirements on the quality of the narrators.

Ahaad
Any report that is not mutawaatir. If a report does not meet the criterion of mutawaatir and then it is considered ahaad.  It can be broken down into different categories such as gharib, etc. Scholars of hadith concentrate their effort on ahaad hadith.

The question of hasan hadith is one of the most difficult topics in uloom al hadith. It is still a problematic topic.

What is borderline between what you are going to accept and reject? It is a difficult issue. even within scholars of hadith, there is a lot of discussion about this topic.

Scholars have come up with five conditions for hadith to be sahih:
1.The chain (isnaad) has to be unbroken (muttasil). In case of hadith of prophet, we should be able to trace it back to the prophet. If somebody is missing, then by definition is that we do not know who the narrator is.
2. Every narrator must be adl (righteous). We will not put our trust on somebody who is not righteous.
3. Every narrator must be proficient. Not everyone who is righteous has the academic qualities for transmitting hadith, maybe his memory or ability to remember is lacking
4. No shudhoodh. Any hadith that contradicts an established fact  such as quran or sunnah or stronger narrators. The report (both isnaad and matn) have to be free of shaadh.
5. No hidden or damaging defects.  We are talking about some error that has been commited.

If a hadith reaches these conditions, then it is sahih li dhaatihi, it is sahih on its own merits.

Hasan hadith is of a lesser quality than sahih hadith. Which of any of the above five conditions can be relaxed for a hadith to be considered hasan.

... we can relax the proficiency or dhaabit of the narrator ....

Hasan hadith is one where we have relaxed the condition #3.  We don’t reject everything he reports but we are very careful about what he says.

Definition of Hasan (according to later established principles of the science of hadith): Is is hadith where condition 3 from Sahih hadith is relaxed a little but other conditions stand as it is! Such hadith is called Hasan li dhaatihi. (hasan based on its own merits).

Hasan li ghairihi - hasan based on supporting evidences

Now if can take two hasan li ghairihi hadith based on some conditions and combine them to form ??sahih??, raising a level of hadith.

(Hasan hadith) + (Hasan hadith) = sahih hadith
(Daeef hadith) + (Daeef hadith) = hasan hadith

You have to be careful about raising a level of hadith. If all of the reports that you are combining have some defects, then if the combination does not remove the defect, then you cannot really raise the level of the hadith.

You have to ask the questions about raising the level of hadith. It has to meet certain conditions before raising the level of the hadith.

Everything discussed so far, you will find it in the post or early books of uloom al hadith.

Note we are not raising the level of the less dhaabit narrator, put we are strengthening the report from the less dhaabit narrator by using another report from another less dhaabit narrator.

Discussion about reports from children. At what age do they become acceptable?

Next time we will talk about the realities about the difficulty of hasan hadith.

2010-10-03 Class Notes

Five conditions for hadith to be sahih:
1. Chain is unbroken
2. Every narrator is adl (righteousness)
3. Every narrator is dhabt (proficiency)
4. No shudhoodh (should not contradict Quran and Sunnah)
5. No illah (should not have hidden defects)

Sahih li dhatihi - sahih based on it’s own merits

If we want to relax some condition, we can only relax #3. if we relax #3 a little bit, should be more strict on 4 and 5.

one of categories of hasan narrator is that their quantity of narration is not that much. It would be strange if you find someone of that nature narrating a hadith where other major scholars don’t have. So even if a narrator is somewhat dhabt, you may reject it based on the chains he’s using and the fact that more qualified and more experienced scholars of hadeeth have that narration.

Once you relax # 3, you’re basically saying room for error is greater so you need to compensate it by making 4 and 5 tighter.

Raising the level of hasan hadith:
A hasan hadith has a small level of doubt, however by combining two hasan hadith, we can raise the level of the hadith to remove the doubt.
S = Sahih
s = Sahih li ghayri.
H = Hasan
h = hasan li ghayri
D = Daeef

(Hasan [H]) + (D’aeef [D]) = [H] hasan
(Hasan hadith[H]) + (Hasan Hadith[H]) => sahih li ghayri [s]
weak(D) + weak(D) => hasan li ghayri (h) ---- this is a problematic case and we will discuss it later

Discussion of a hadith from the collection of Sahih ibn Hibhan.
Ibn Hibban was from al-bust which is current in Afghanistan. He died in 354 Hijri. He has a collection of hadeeth known as Sahih ibn Hibban.

أخبرنا أبو يعلى قال حدثنا محمد بن أبي بكر المقدم  قال حدثنا المقرئ قال انبأنا حيوة قال أبو صخر

[whoever enters this mosque of ours to learn some good or to teach it is like a mujahid. If he enters it for some other reason, then he is like someone who is looking for something that does not belong to him

[Just for clarity purposes: The second part of the text of hadith is in relation to times when it is not time for salat or itakaf etc....]

How can we determine the chain is unbroken?
(Sheikh underlined the words used to describe the narration on the board)
By looking at the terms such as akbarahana أخبرنا  or hadathana حدثنا , which indicates the hadith were transmitted in a session with the narrator of the hadith. If there is “aan” to describe the mechanism of narration of the hadith, then we cannot determine how exactly it was transmitted. However in general “aan” from the prophet to the sahaba is not a cause of concern. It is in later stages of the chain that we are concerned if we see the term “aan”..

How would we determine if narrators are adl or dhaabit?
In order to know the narrators, we need to look at the books of rijaal. Tahdeeb at-Tahdeeb. Would you expect to find aboo ya’la in that book?

Why would you not expect to find abu ya’la in tahdeeb at-tahdeeb. Because in that book, it’s only narrators from the six books. 6 books: Al-bukhari, muslim, an-nasai, tirmidhi, dawood and ibn majah.

Everything is good in the chain until we encounter Abu Sakhr أبو صخر, ... Al-albani said that he is sadooq, that he is honest but he makes mistakes. At one time he was declared weak and then he was declared that there is no harm in him. This implies sometimes he is acceptable and sometimes he is not. A narrator who is not at sahih level but he is not a narrator who is to be rejected. So all the narrators in this chain are adl and dhaabit. Except for the proficiency of Abu Sakhr  أبو صخر.

Because of Abu Sakhr أبو صخر  this hadith is declared to be hasan. A contemporary scholar, Shuaib al Arnaut has declared this hadith as sahih li ghayrihi based on two or three other chains.

Supporting evidence should be more specific than the hadith in question.  Raising a hadith from hasan to sahih is not a big issue.  The big issue here (problematic) is raising hadith from lower categories to that of acceptability.  There should be strong evidence or proof to support this kind of adjustment.  

The above hadith is an example of a hasan hadith.

The last part of the hadith, “the one who enters it for anything other than that is like one looking for something that does not belong to him;” how could this hadith be understood other than someone entering the mosque for something other than the salaat time or to learn or convey some knowledge.  There are exceptions to this of course like itekaaf.  

There has to be some authentic source for these narrations as sort of a precursor for this process (?).

When a narrator is said to be from the sahih, it does not mean that they are sahih under all conditions.  Some may be at the hasan level and others may be even lower in some cases.

Discussion about narrators in Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim.
Sometimes a particular narration was chosen by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim to highlight some important points about the narrator.

An example to illustrate this:
There are a number questions about hasan hadith, even the definition and limits of hasan hadith.  Should hasan hadith be considered an authority in Islamic law?  A big issue that has arisen lately amongst Muslim scholars is if the early scholars treated hasan hadith differently than the later scholars; was the methodology different?  
There are a couple of authors, some famous, that reject hasan ghayri hadith under almost any circumstances. They say that hasan al ghayrihi are not hujjah or authority in Islamic law.   

Definition of Hasan
What does hasan mean and where did it come from?  What does hasan mean linguistically?  Beautiful, pleasing.

Hasan sounds good.  Let’s look at how the earliest scholars of hadith used the term.  We can divide the history of the use of hasan in hadith into 4 stages.  In the earliest stages, those scholars who were not known as critics of hadith but were known to pass on hadith, they used hasan in a very particular fashion.  Like during the time of the tabi’en or the tabi tabi’ien. People like Urwah ibn Zubair,  Ibrahim al Nakhee.

Sometimes something is pleasing or interesting to you, not necessarily for a good reason.  They used hasan to refer to reports that were strange reports and not well known or if they contained something in the narration that was unique to that narraton and was not repeated by any other hadith (or unique chain).  They used it to refer to something strange (gharib) or not really accepted.  

Earlier usage of term Hasan as gharib
One scholar was asked, why don’t you narrate from so and so, his hadith are very “hasan”.  The response was that his “hasanness” was causing the other to flee from them.  “Do not narrate the hasan hadith, for the people will reject you narrations.”

What they meant by hasan was something gharib or strange or lacking evidence or lacking source of highest level of narrator. That’s how the earliest scholars used the term hasan. Imam Malik was a scholar that used hasan in this sense.

Hasan as acceptable or maqbool
Then comes the next generation of scholars who were like the early critics of hadith.  They include As Shafi’’, Al Bukhari, Abu Zar’a.  We find that among this later group, some of them still use hasan to describe something strange or gharib, but among this group of scholars, hasan meant acceptable hadith.  

Whether the hadith were at the highest level of sahih or the lowest level of acceptability, they would still use the word hasan to describe it.  Still at this early stage, the word hasan is still not a unique classification of hadith.  If you take the category of acceptable hadith and rank them according to acceptable strength, starting from the bottom with rejected, they might use the word hasan for a hadith right above the rejection level or use it for a hadith at the highest level (sahih).  This is a very important point; a contemporary scholar discussed this in a lengthy dissertation.  He went through narrations report by report to come to a conclusion concerning this principle.  Contemporary scholars debate over this issue of the use of the hasan classification.  

At that time, hasan is synonymous with sahih. Even Bukhari would call some of his highest authenticity ahadeeth as “Hasan”.

Concept of Hasan as separate category of Hadith
From the critics of hadith but beginning a new generation.
The first to separate it into a separate category was Al Bukhari’s student, At Tirmidhi.  He lived from 209-279.  He is the one who began to start introducing and pioneering hasan as a new category.  Before him, there were two categories: sahih and da’if.  They did recognize that there were differing levels of strength despite having only two categories.  

When At-Tirmidhi came along and created this new category of hasan, what did he do?  Did he just say that the lowest level of acceptable hadith are now hasan, or did he possibly go down and say that some of the high level of rejected hadith were now hasan (including now some of the borderline reports that earlier scholars would not have accepted).  What did he really mean by hasan? (insert picture from phone here)

Next class, we will give At Tirmidhi’s defintion of hasan and what it did.  We will also discuss above a certain level we accept it and below it we reject it.

2010-10-10 Class Notes

What At-Tirmidhi did and didn’t do and a discussion of the terminology of At Tirmidhi

Understanding terminology is very important especially when dealing with people, eg people who deal with taqleed and say a hadith is hasan.  In order to understand what the original said is to understand what hte scholar meant.  One can’t take his words or terminology and apply one’s own understanding of the terminology used and then say that you understand the scholar’s statement the same way.  In uloom ul hadith, understanding a scholar specific terminology is more important in uloom ul hadith than any other field.  Doing otherwise can easily lead to wrong conclusions.  

Evolution of the word Hasan: A quick review of the usage of the word hasan from the 1st century until about 650 Hijri.

After 650 Hijri, the terminology becomes more or less standardized.  Ibn as Salaah (ابن الصلاح) died in 643.  He wrote a book on uloom ul hadith that is commonly known as Muqadimah (المقدمة --  means an introduction).  

The usage of the word Hasan falls into two categories: A technical term related to grading and a more general usage.

Cateogory 1: Hasan - Technical term related to grading

The following are some of the different meanings of hasan when used as a technical term related to grading of hadith:

1. Hasan = Sahih (equivalent) with no distinguishable difference between calling a hadith hasan or sahih.  
In particular, this was Ali Ibn al Madini (a colleague of Ahmed ibn Hanbal, one of the important teachers of Al Bukhari), Imam Ahmad, al Ghazzar, al Darraqutni, Al Baihaqi, Ibn Abdul Barr. Here the term is equivalent to sahih and it means acceptable.

2. A hadith in which there is some difference in opinion, ie. some scholars accept it while other scholars reject it.  Those who reject is do not reject it in a major way, rather it is for a minor defect.  Ibn al Qattaan (lived from about the 4th to 5th century hijri, roughly after At-Tirmidhi) uses the term hasan to describe this.  He is an important critic of hadith and is strong in this field.  His words are given significant weight among the scholars of hadith.  This is kind of Unique to Ibn Al-Qattan.

3. The relaxation of the requirement of proficiency or level of dhaabit of the narrator. This usage is by the scholar Abu Haatim al Raazi. he is one of the colleagues of Bukhari. And this later becomes the standard definition of the term hasan. Unfortunately Al Darraqutni and Al Baihaqi also use this term in this way and also the meaning of equivalent to Sahih, so it must be determined through context what is meant by the word uses in the case of some scholars.

4.  Saalih/Hasan - when one thinks about a hadith that is weak and not accepted on its own but can be used as supporting evidence for a stronger hadith.  If there is no other supporting evidence, it remains weak.  This terminology is used by scholars like al Baihaqi and al Darraqutni.  From the context in which they use this term, it is clear what is meant.

5.  A weak hadith for which there is supporting evidence.  Later this usage  became known as hasan lighairih (hasan due to supporting evidence).

Hasan can be at highest level of sahih as sometimes used by Bukhari and in some cases it might mean a weak hadith. #2 is unique to the terminology of al Qattaan. There is overlap in usage #3 and #4.

Category 2: Hasan - More general usage

Here hasan is used in a more linguistic way. Sometimes it is used to mean unique and strange. Or it could mean beautiful, even in the cases of fabricated hadith to highlight the unique or something beautiful aspect of the narration. You have to be careful about how it was used by a scholar. And that is the reason why we are spending so much time on this topic and we have to be careful

The above is from a PhD thesis which did a detailed analysis of the various usages of the word hasan.

Tirmidhi’s contribution to the categorization of hadith

The one who is acredited in introducing the term Hasan is At-Tirmidhi. Tirmidhi is considered the person who introduced the concept of hasan and sahih hadith that we use today.  

Ibn Taymiyyah said that At Tirmidhi is the first one to divide hadith into sahih, hasan, gharib and dha’eef (this term doesn’t really belong here).  This categorization/division was not known before him, instead scholars used to divide hadith into sahih and dha’eef.  

So what was really happening before the advent of hasan, did it mean that the new term hasan as described by Tirmidhi were the weakest of the sahih, or were they the weakest of sahih and the best of dhaeef, or was it just the best of dhaeef? There are some issues with the statement of ibn Taymiyyah and Sheikh Jamaal has raised the above questions.


Short Biography of At Tirmidhi

Title of At-Tirmidhi’s book

He was born is 209 Hijri and died in 279 Hijri.  He was famous for his taqwa and his knowledge. His most important book was Al-Jaami’ al-mukhtasar min al-sunan ‘an rasool illah w ma’rifat al-saheeh wal-ma’lool wa ma ‘alayhi al-’amal -- الجامع المختصر من السنن عن رسول الله  و معرفة الصحيح و المعلول و ما عليه العمل

Al-Jaami - all aspects of deen which includes aqeedah and other aspects and not just fiqh
al-mukhtasar - abridged (does not include all of the hadith that he knows)
al-saheeh wal-ma’lool wa ma ‘alayhi al-’amal - knowledge of sahih and defective and authentic, hadith that were acted upon regardless of whether they were authentic or not.

Later became known as Sahih al Tirmidhi, scholars say that this is an exaggeration. It was also known as Sunan al Tirmidhi.

Tirmidhi was a scholar of hadith and also a faqih. After he presents a hadith, he would mention statements of sahaba such as A’isha, etc. This part is considered one of the most exhausting parts of his works. Scholars have tried to trace these statements of the sahaba, such as ????

Baab means chapter (also means door), and he will say Fil Baab so and so (title of chapter). Sometimes the chapter is very general. .... missed what the sheikh said here .....

There is a recent six volume book to trace all of the narrations of the sahaba.

Tirmidhi’s definition of hasan

Tirmidhi did not write an introduction to his book, however at the end of his book there is a section titled al illal or defects of hadith.  But in reality it is an introduction of his book and he describes the jaami and some of the key points of his work. However this section is missing in the translation of his work.

It is in this illal al sagheer were Tirmidhi gives us his definition of the term hasan.

Three conditions for hasan as defined by Tirmidhi:
1. In the chain, there is no one who has been accused of lying
2. The hadith is not shaad, i.e it does not contradict stronger reports.
3. Something similar to it has been narrated through some other means.

Looks like this definition is very accommodating. What about somebody who practices tadlees, i.e narrates from his sheikh but he did not hear from his sheikh but he got it from other source and narrates as if he heard from his sheikh and it would be difficult to identify this broken chain.

Since this is his defintion of hasan, he has the right to grade the hadith according to his definition.

Analysis of Tirmidhi’s definition of hasan:

Khalid al durais who wrote the PhD thesis, he took each and every hadith of Tirmidhi and he came to a conclusion of Tirmidhi’s understanding of hasan. Taymiyyah is right in saying that he introduced the new category of hasan but in reality we are not really clear of his definition of hasan.

1. No narrator can be accused of lying, What he meant by that includes narrators who made lot of mistakes and those who were rejected by others. So it includes a category just above lying. And it is

2. Definition of shaad. Here he uses Shafieeh definiton of shudoodh.  Shaad is when a hadith contradicts any stronger report. Some scholars say Tirmidhi can be very lenient in this regard to a point where it would seem like it was very accomadating in presenting other’s point of view or .....

3. His understanding of other chains (being narrated through another means) is also a very broad understanding.  It’s sufficient for him that there is some area of commonality between two reports, something is supported.  

A contemporary scholar, Khalid al Drais said that this is good for the general case.  If one looks at this scholar, he concluded that hadith that Tirmidhi called hasan, 75% of those hadith have strong supporting evidence.

4. Usage of Hasan Gharib by Tirmidhi. Gharib in general means ...  

Some of the terms that Tirmidhi used, he did not define, so we have to do some research before we can understand from his usage in his books. Some scholars have defined this on behalf of Tirmidhi, but Al Drais has found it that it contradicts the usage of the term by Tirmidhi.


2010-10-17 Class Notes

Khalid al Durais does not find any differences between hasan gharib and hasan as used by Tirmidhi. He found 56% of hasan gharib have weak chains and are less then hasan li dhatihi and this is pointed out by Tirmidhi himself.

How could something be gharib according to Tirmidhi?
Gharib does not necessarily mean that there is no supporting evidence for it whatsoever. It is unique in the way captured by Tirmdhi, but it could have supporting evidence elsewhere.

Then Tirmidhi goes on to use Hasan Sahih and and Hasan Sahih Ghareeb. Then the scholars go on and try to understand what Tirmidhi meant by those terms. We don't have to worry too much since according to Tirmidhi meant that the hadith were acceptable and we don't have to delve into the details of what he meant by it exactly.



Was Trimidhi lax when grading hadith as hasan?
How many of you have heard this statement before, that Tirmidhi was lax in grading hadith as hasan? What do we mean by that? He accepted hadith as hasan that we would not classify as hasan. But given his criteria for hasan, is he meeting his own definition? Yes, we cannot say that he is lax according to his definition or criteria for hasan. So we cannot really critique Tirmidhi using our definition of hasan and say that he is lax.

Modern scholars say that some of the hadith that are classified as hasan by Tirmidhi are in fact daeef according to the modern definition of hasan and daeef, however Tirmidhi was totally consistent with his own definition.

Not every hadith that Tirmidhi called hasan did he consider hujjah or authority. In other words he recognized the weakness of his hasan hadith.


Sheikh discussed handout page 160 and 164 from Arabic and English translation of Tirmidhi’s book. In the  text in parenthesis which state sahih, daeef, etc and the commentary are from the editor and are not from Tirmidhi. The editorial is really the ijtihaad of a modern scholar from Pakistan who is the editor of Tirmidhi’s book.

On page 161, ghair mafoodh means not correct, a mistake has been done and it is not correct, and then Tirmidhi goes on to discuss why it is weak.

On page 162-163, hadith #720, the commentator says daeef in parenthesis. And then Tirmidhi goes on to say, it is a hasan gharib hadith. On the next page, he continues that Mohammed (Al Bukhari) says that it is not preserved. And then he points out the weakness of the hadith. He concludes that not everything that he considered hassan was hujjah. So here editor is agreeing with the conclusion of Tirmidhi or as he referred to by the editor by his kunya of Abu Eisa. By the way this hadith #720 is considered sahih by Al Albani based on other chains.

So what do we do with hadith that Tirmidhi says are hasan?
The most important thing to note that he is not considering hasan to be hujjah, this conclusion of hasan as hujjah came later on. Also note that his criteria for hasan does not include taking hadith from liars or fabricators, so there is value in his hasan hadith. Remember Tirmidhi came earlier on during the formal definition of hasan hadith and his definition of hasan was very nascent.

It is an exaggeration to say that majority of hasan hadith according to Tirmidhi are weak.


Ibn Taymiyyah’s thesis brings up a lot of questions. According to Taymiyyah before Tirmidhi, we had sahih and dhaeef. They did not have this middle category of hasan. Taymiyyah says that dhaeef before Tirmidhi was two categories: Dhaeef that was hujjah and Dhaeef that was rejected. Taymiyyah says that he took this subcategory of Dhaeef that was hujjah and raised it to the level of hasan.

Note that Tirmidhi called some hadith hasan ghareeb which were very weak and he also called some hadith hasan that were definitely sahih.

Key point is that we have to be careful what Tirmidhi calls hasan, since the definition of hasan has become more formal for the grading of hadith that did not exist during the time of Tirmidhi.


Sunan Abu Dawood

During the time of Abu Dawood the following terminology existed:
Al Thabit - الثابت means ?????
Al Jayyid - الجيّد means ????
Al Qawi (القوي) means strong
Al Mahfooth (المحفوظ) means thing that is preserved
Al Maroof (المعروف) means that is recommended
Al Munkar (المنكر)  means thing that is rejected
Al Nadheef (النظيف)  means clean
Al Salih (الصالح) means pious/good


You will see that Abu Dawood does not comment as much as Tirmidhi. Abu Dawood in a famous letter to ahl al Makkah in which he describes his sunan.He said that The hadith that Sunan contains are from the category of salih and if there is strong weakness in the hadith then I mention it.

This implies if Abu Dawood did not comment on a hadith, does it mean that it is hasan? We will discuss it next time.

2010-10-24 Class Notes

Short Biography of Ahmed ibn Hanbal
(missed a portion of notes here, can someone fill in the gap?)
Ahmed ibn Hanbal has a series of books called Masa’al Ibn Ahmed coming through Abu Daw’ud.  His other teachers include the people of that generation, including Ibn Abi Shayba.  He was a contemporary of Bukhari and Muslim as well as Tirmidhi and Nisa’i (could call them colleauges).  His most important book is his Sunan, translated into English.  

Going to the email that the Sheikh sent out, you’ll see that his comments on the hadith are much fewer than at-Tirmidhi.  Abu Daw’ud has much less of this kind of commentary, but you do find commentary.  After one hadith, for example, on page 237 on the top, Abu Dawu’d points out a weakness in the hadith that the chain is broken.  

Silence of Abu Da’wud regarding a hadith
One can see that Abu Dawu’d does not comment on most hadith.  The fact that he didn’t say anything is very important because in his letter to the people of Makkah in which he is explaining something about his sunan work, he said that if there is any strong weakness in any hadith in his book, he would point it out.  If he did not say anything about it, then it is saalih (didn’t use the word hasan).  He then said some of them are stronger than others.  One of his students also narrated from him and said that he has recorded 500,000 hadith from the Prophet saas (including chains and texts).  He has chosen from those hadith the ones he feels are sahih and important and what are similar and close to those sahih hadith.  

If Abu Da’wud is silent regarding a hadith, should we understand from the statements above that the hadith is hasan?  Or does it mean that hadith is at least acceptable as supporting evidence? It could mean sahih, hasan, or weak according to some scholars.

Does Saalih = hasan or does Saalih = hasan + supporting evidence?  
This is a debate amongst scholars.  Those who think this statement means that saalih means hasan in Abu Daw’ud view are Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al Qayyim (very important here b/c there is a scholar that came after Abu Saw’ud, Al Mundari, who made an abridgement of Sunan Daw’ud and Ibn Qayyim wrote a commentary on this abridgement, this led to an axiom later that if both Abu Daw’ud and Al Mundari are silent on a hadith, then that means the hadith is hasan).

The opinion that saalih means hasan with supporting evidence.
This is the opinion of Nawawi, Ibn Hajr and Ad Dahari.  The correct view seems to be this second opinion.  Like at-Tirmidhi’s classification of hasan itself, we are left with a situation here where Abu Daw’ud silence does not necessarily mean that those hadith are hasan.  They could be weak however they would not be very weak otherwise he would have noted them as such. You have to know about weak narrations, otherwise when they crop up, you will be tripped.

What would be a good collection or book to look for hasan hadith?
We have some books that have the word hassan (plural of hasan) in their title but these hadith are a different definition of hasan. It is not the meaning of grading of hadith, but the meaning there implies strange, rare, etc.

We have many collections where the vast majority of hadith in that collection are hasan.  Examples of these are Sunan Nisai’, Sunan Tirmidhi, Sahih Ibn Habban and Sahih ibn Khuzayma (the way they define sahih is inclusive of what is hasan; ie their definition of sahih encompasses hasan as well).  A few other books that are excellent in quality are al Muntaqa by Ibn al Jarood (this has been published in four volumes), Al hadith al makhatajah by Al Maqdasi (published in about ten volumes).  These collections are not well-known by the masses.  Another collection is by a contemporary scholar from Yemen, Muqbil bin Haadi (sp?) the collection of sahih hadith which are not from the sahiheen.  These hadith are source books; they have full isnad for each hadith, going all the way back to the Prophet (saas).  

Discussion about books for the masses
Mishkat us sunnah, is very popular in the subcontinent of India and Pakistan. He has two sections for every chapter, the first section are hadith from Bukhari and Muslim, the second section are hadith from Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and others. And by his definition, he calls hadith in the second section, he calls them hassan. So if somebody would think that all of the hadith in the second section are hasan according to the definition of hadith grading.

Mishkat al Tibrizzi added some more hadith from other collections in the second section.

Riyaadh us saliheen takes all of the hadith and categorizes them and makes them easy to read by removing the isnaad.

If isnaad is taken out, then it is not a source book, and it impacts your ability to check the narration, and determine its acceptability. So when these kinds of books are prepared for the masses, they are made it easy for the people and take out the technical details. And the collectors have to choose the hadith carefully, the quality of the hadith should good and is based on the scholar who creates the collection. Vast majority of hadith in Riyaadh us saliheen are authentic or sahih.

Targeeb wa tahdeeb, Sheikh was translating this book. There was a long hadith which took so much time to translate and then we have came to the footnote, it stated that the hadith was fabricated.

Judging of hadith by later scholars
Very few of the later scholars lived up to the criteria of the earlier scholars and thus their grading of hadith left a lot to be desired, according to the sheikh.  There are a couple of exceptions though.  When the sheikh sees a contemporary scholar declare a hadith as hasan or sahih, he takes a closer look into that statement and then works backwards.  There are some very important points that the early scholars were very careful about that the contemporary scholars kind of glossed over; later being 500 to 600 hijri and later on. He has some scholars in mind, but refuses to mention them. He accepts Sh Muqbil’s classification of ahadeeth as haan amongst later scholars. Even Al Albaani has these mistakes.

We can divide narrators into three broad categories:
  1. Thiqah - trustworthy, have very little doubt about their proficiency and accuracy (definitely no doubt in their honesty)
  2. Sadooq - an intensive form of honesty.  We have no doubt about their honesty but they are not as accurate or proficient as people in category 1.
  3. Dhaeef - weak.  Among those narrators are some who are honest but make many mistakes (i.e. are problematic).  People who are not honest are included in this category.
The weakest link will have the greatest affect in the grading of hadith.

1. Differences between thiqah and sadooq narrators
Q from sheikh: Should you treat a narrator who is thiqah the same way as a narrator that is sadooq in the sense of accepting their reports?
Some later hadith scholars treated them differently as in these are hasan and those are sahih, etc.

The question is more general than that; for example a report comes from somebody who is honest and knows what he is talking about, as opposed to someone who comes to you but you know that is not like the other narrator.  

Would you treat both reports in the same way?  What would be some of the differences between the two?  What would you do?  Try for some supporting evidence?  

Even from thiqah narrator, it cannot contradict stronger sources. What are the differences betwern thiqah and sadooq narrators?

There will be some difference in how you act upon the reports and accept them; it should be just natural.  The two are different even though they both may be acceptable.  

2. Differences between thiqah/professional and sadooq narrators
There’s another issue.  Thiqah/Professional.  People who narrated many many hadith; it was their field of expertise.  

Sadooq - Narrated many.  Could be a large database.

3. Differences between professional and amateur narrators
Sadooq - A non-professional, non-specialist.  Narrated very few hadith, amateur.  Generally a much smaller database.

We still double-check hadith from these categories.

There’s one more important step.  
====
I missed his point about the issue, did you get it?????   stlll coming?  I missed it too.
Some contemporary scholars treat saduq and thiqah with the same categorization, that’s the problem sheikh has.
Problem understood... but what is the next important step?
====

DIfferences between hadeeth sessions and methodology of transmitting hadith
Another important issue as well.  If you go to the time of the Sahabah and the Tabi’ien, the nature of the ahadeeth sessions and the methodology of passing on the hadith was a little bit different than in later times.  

For example, a sahabi sat with the Prophet saas and learned from him and may have been the only Sahabi that knew that information; logically speaking this is possible.  It is not unusual nor unlikely that we got some information through one Sahabi.    We don’t necessarily have the need to verify this information from other Sahabi.  During the Tabi’ien and Tabi’tabien, this was a similar case.  

However during the third and fourth hadith, the sessions are more organized, books as a whole are being passed on, almost a sort of curriculum is being passed on, the sheikh is passing on hadith that are known to be his hadith.  If someone is solitary in having some information from the Sahabah and Tabi’ien, that is not unusual.  If someone is solitary in narrating something from the third or fourth generation and is from the thiqah or sadooq categories, this is very strange and should be investigated.  

There are other things going on that must be looked at.  The classic scholars in hadith were much more detailed, methodical and much less robotic.  They understood that all the facts around the narrator must be considered.  For example, you’ll find Imam Ahmed, concerning this chain xyz, the scholars of hadith accept this chain or reject the chain when they want or will.  What he means is that one can’t just look at the chain itself without looking at all corroborating aspects relating to it.  

Questions that we need to ask when grading sadooq narrators
From among the questions that the early scholars of hadith looked into and investigated, the later scholars tend to neglect:
  • Discussing the narrator that is sadooq
    • Does he differ from any other narrator?
      • If he differs from narrators that are stronger than him, he will be rejected.
    • Does he differ from those similar to him?
      • One has to suspend judgement, these are people who make mistakes, until one can find external evidence that demonstrates which one is correct.
    • Does he have any additions or changes to the text that no one else has?
      • According to the early scholars, solitary additions are accepted from the highest category, al thiqah.  
    • Is he solitary with respect to the text or isnaad in such that someone like him would not be accepted if he was solitary?  If the sheikh has well-known students and they are the best of him and someone comes along and narrates something different, we will reject such narrations.
    • Those who narrated from him differ in how they narrate it from him? If his students are not reliably transmitting this hadith, ie they have differences in their narrations.  This is a sign that there is some problem in that narration.
    • Is there any other circumstantial evidence that the hadith was not preserved in the proper way?
Looking in Ibn Hajr’s book, Takhreej al (? what is the rest of the book’s title?), there are 8,031 narrators that he declares sadooq, sometimes saying sadooq by itself or sadooq and makes mistakes.  This is an important category where the point of accepting and rejecting hadith lies.  The early scholars of hadith recognized this.  

Conclusion:  If someone is sadooq, we do not accept their hadith as hasan without asking these questions.  Just simply grading a hadith as hasan, if the narrator is sadooq is unacceptable according to the early scholars. We have to go and take a look at it in more detail. A statement of the early scholar, “He is sadooq but we don’t argue by their hadith.”  This is a level by them self that we have to look into these hadith and narrators. Sadooq has to be dealt with differently from thiqah.


2010-11-07 Class Notes

Always double-check why the later scholars grade a hadith as hasan. What principles are they applying? And this applies to hasan li dhatihi. We have not yet started to discuss the category of hasan li ghairihi, wherein hadith is weak and then upgraded to hasan based on external evidence.

Suppose you find narrator and find out what the scholars say about the narrator. For example, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Maeen, Shubah, Abu Haatim and Abu Zura are early scholars of hadith and critics of narrators.

So suppose there is a hadith narrator called Sufyaan. Yahya b. Maeen says he is a thiqah (trustworthy -- both aadil and thaabit), then another scholar (say Shu’bah) says that he is weak, and not to rely on his reports. What would you do in this case?

People divided into two groups: There were some people who were called “waqifites” (وقف) or “hesitators” -- people who refuse to make a judgement. Most modern scholars, however, would give an opinion. If there is a mixed opinion on a narrator, they would regard the hadith as hasan. This may be troubling.

The same principle is also applied to hadith: if some scholars say saheeh, and others say da’eef, then they will call this hassan. This might be troubling.

But more thorough scholars will go through and look at the analyses. Sometimes a scholar that says a narrator is weak will explain his position and reasons. But then sometimes a scholar that says that a narrator is a thiqah will have a rebuttal to other scholars who said he was weak.

When Ibn Hajr concludes a narator is sadooq, he makes that conclusion because some critics are saying are saying that he is thiqah and others are saying that he is weak. He does this sometime in his most concise encyclopedia of biographies, taqreeb al-tathheeb (تقريب التذهيب).

When shiekh is forced to quickly give an opinion, he will pass on the hasan hadith reported by Albaani or other later scholars, but when he is writing a book or if the hadith is a critical one for an opinion on a topic, he will make the extra effort to go and research it further.

If you go back to the earlier scholars, you will find them consistent, except for some outliers and you were aware of them.  From 300 to 600, when people started writing usool al fiqh, things were very fluid, in this middle range, you have to go research. The later scholars are consistent but Sheikh has questions about how they grade hadith as hasan.

Ibn Seerah, after his time you have number of commentaries of his book and you will find that number of scholars do not agree with him.

A final point re: hassan lithaatihi -- throughout the history of scholars of hadith, there has never been any doubt about the acceptability of hassan lithaathihi hadith. All scholars accept hasan li dhateehi, and consider it a hujjah.

Some people claim that Bukhari did not accept hasan hadith, but these seem to be based on misunderstandings.

Q: What is the most important need in regards to hasan hadith  for contemporary scholars?
A: We need to re-identify what is hasan? You have to ask all of the questions that were raised in the last class. And answering those questions requires a lot of energy and time. Because it takes so much time, it is easy to just take the earlier conclusions of hasan hadith.

How much presumption do you make of your fellow Muslims and narrators of hadith? The most reliable were professional narrators of hadith.

Weak Hadith

What is weak hadith? Let us begin with an easier question.

What is a rejected hadith? The reason why you would reject a hadith, is because you could not authenticate it.

What about break in chain?
You cannot say anything about the hadith. You cannot say with confidence that you can accept the hadith. You have to know all of the narrators in the chain, then you have to critique them.

Al-Daraqutni and other scholars who were great scholars of hadith.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make, is to attribute a hadith to a different narrator. It is very easy to make mistakes like that. If you get the isnaad wrong on the hadith, do you know what problem you have created? You have now created a completely new independent source to verify another hadith. But that was not a reality. Scholars were very careful about the chains. They would even know which hadith are typically used by which scholars, and hence they would notice that there were mistakes simply because they were not know that they would use that hadith. They could recognize the mistakes in the isnaad.

Classes of rejected hadith
Some scholars went overboard with these classifications, we won’t go into those caegories (e.g. Ibn Hibban had about 46 categories of weak hadith)

Reasons for rejecting hadith
1. Munqati’ (منقطع) - Hadith with a broken chain, which we discussed above.

2. Issues with adaalah or thabt.

Suppose someone is not religious, is that a problem? Yes. Why? Because you cannot trust what he says. They can claim that they heard a hadith directly from the prophet. We have examples of that.

Suppose someone drinks alcohol, would you accept his hadith? The problem is that he does not have fear of Allah swt. One of the reasons why we dont accept hadith from children, is because they have no concept of speaking false against Allah swt. Would an alcoholic be treated differently from a liar?

Not dhaabit, he is not proficient. Would you choose honest over a proficient narrator? What are their levels of weaknesses. In case of rejected hadith, not all hadith are at the same level. This would be of importance to raise the level of hadith based on external evidence, li ghairihi.

3. Hadith contradicts Quran -- Shuthooth (شذوذ). This contradicts the shudooh. It is considered shaad. You have to be careful about what you mean by hadith contradicting Qur’an.

You can see modern interpretations who reject all hadith that they claim to contradict that men and women are not treated equally.

Example of a weak hadith
Prophet (SAWS) said: “The differences of my community are a mercy” (إختلاف أمتي رحمة).

Who recorded this hadith?
This hadith is found in books of usool al fiqh and so forth. There is no known isnaad for it back to the prophet. Scholars will use the expression la asla lahu (لا أصل له).

It violates the unbroken chain.

Subki said, famous shafiee scholar, he said that he did not come across any sound, fabricated or weak isnaads for this hadith.

Suyuti said that maybe the chain did not reach us and it might have been lost in one of the books that we no longer have access to it. This is a problematic issue, if he is implying that this is sahih hadith, we still have to analyze the chain, and we are unable to do so.

Unfortunately, Bilal Phillips in his book gives an example of a weak hadith on page 67, he should have chosen an example that is agreed upon, unfortunately Albaani says that this hadith is sahih.
Abu Isa (Tirmidhi) says that this hadith has reached us only from one narrator. And then Bilal Philips says that the narrator is not accepted, this might be construed as statemetn of Tirmidhi and it is not the statement of Tirmidhi.

We will discuss the strongest of the weak hadith. Think about what could possibly be the strongest of the weak hadith. Scholars says it is weak but most of the jurist accept it.


2010-11-14 Class Notes

By itself what could be the strongest of the weak hadith. We have five conditions for the authenticity of hadith.

Mursal Hadith
Suppose we have all narrators are adl, dhabit, there is no shudodh or illa. However the only problem is that it is tabieen reporting from the prophet, ie the name of the sahaba is missing in the chain. This is known as mursal hadith.

Why is this considered the strongest of the weak hadith?
Should this be a weak hadith? Should we accept the hadith?

Remember there could be quite a few narrators missing in the chain, because there might be other tabieen in the chain, or there might be other possibilities, such as Tabieen -> Sahaabi -> Tabieen -> Sahaabi. But some of them might be unusual cases, such as the one shown by arrows or the case that there might be six tabieen between the prophet and the one mentioned in the chain.

What if an adl and dhabit taba-tabieen says that he heard from the prophet? Remember there are some narrators missing in the chain.

One kind of mursal hadith that everybody accepts. The mursal of the sahaba. For example, when the prophet died, ibn Abbas was very young and the number of hadith that he directly learnt from the prophet was very few, but he studied directly from the other sahaaba and learnt many hadith from them. So he reported hadith of the prophet, when in fact he heard it from the other sahaaba, and this is accepted, because the sahaaba trusted one another.

For example, the hadith in Sahih Bukhari that discusses the first revelation received by the prophet, it was narrated by Ayesha. Was Ayesha there? Most likely, she heard it directly from the prophet or she heard it from other sahaaba. IN either case, not knowing the name of the sahaaba is not necessary, because all of the sahaaba are considered adl and dhaabit. Sahaaba were very careful about narrating hadith. They took precaution to not take any hadith from the tabieen.

There are three definitions for mursal. A common definition, wherein the tabieen say that the prophet said and does not mention the name of the sahaabi.

Some scholars restrict it the definition of mursal to a list of major tabieen. Major tabieen are those who met a large number of sahaaba. Because the tabieen who came late might not have met many sahaaba.

Not all mursal hadith are going to be of the same quality. Said ibn Musaid who met many sahaaba versus Anas Ibn Malik who did not meet any sahaaba. So in the case of Said ibn Musaid would be that in his mursal hadith, it is the sahaaba is missing.

A second definition of mursal encompasses anyone who said that the prophet said or did without refering to the sahaaba. They are leaving out many narrators. Unfortunately the fuqaha or legal theorist use this definition of mursal, there is a reason why they adopted this definition which we will discuss later.

Another definition of mursal hadith, where one narrator is narrating from some one he did not meet. If Imam Al Bayhaqi says that he heard from Imam Ahmad, then it is a mursal hadith. It is a broken chain. It is known because everyone knows that they did not meet.

There are books called Al Maraasil, written by Abu Dawood and others. These books identify the breaks in the chain. There is a tabieen Durain who reports from Ayesha, but if you study the history if you find out that the two never met, the possibility existed but it never occured. So the book, Kitab al Maraasil, identifies all of the broken chains.

So the strongest of the weak hadith is the hadith reported by tabieen with a chain missing between him and the prophet.

Should this type of hadith be accepted?

There are ten different opinions, which can be broken down into three major views. These three major views have some fundamental views that lead to the difference of opinions.

Is it permissible to accept the reports of unknown narrators?
Scholars of hadith do not accept it, but fuqaha accept it unless you present evidence why they should not accept it.

If an adl narrator narrates from another narrator, does that imply that he considers the other narrator to be adl?
So some people say that if adl narrator consider the other narrator to be adl, then it is not necessary for them to know who this other narrator is.

So these fundamental questions have different answers among the scholars and fuqaha. So these differences lead to different opinions about mursal reports.

First approach towards Mursal reports is to accept mursal reports as an authority to Islamic law, as long as the one narrating the mursal report is trustworthy.

This is the view of Hanafi, Maliki, some of the mutazillah, a few of the scholars of hadith. This view has to be broken down into subviews.

Accept all mursal reports even if they are from generations long after the tabieen (followers).

This was the view of some of the Shafiee scholars such as Isa ibn Haban.

Here the narrator is grading the report of the other narrator that is missing and some accept the narrators.

Another subview is to accept the mursal hadith from the sahaaba, tabieen, and the taba tabieen. The prophet praised those generations and we know the quality of those generations. This is the opinion of some hanafis such as Juraas and ..... who are the major fiqh scholars. Also opinion of Tanwi who is very good in hadith.  This opinion is more generally accepted by many Hanafis. The person narrating the mursal hadith must be theeqa and he is known to report hadith from trustworthy narrators.

All of these views are missing an important branch. The five conditions. We have to be able to ascertain that there were no mistakes made. Human beings make mistakes. And if we did not have complete unbroken reports, then there is no way for us to go back and verify it.

For example, in the mursal report, is it the action of the prophet or of the sahaaba. We cannot verify it.

Third subview is to accept mursal reports from someone who is Imam or scholar of jarr wa tadeel but not of anybody else. This is the opinion of Maliki scholar ibn Al Hamaam. Here the distinction is the person narrating the mursal hadith is aware of the requirements of grading of the hadith. This opinion takes into consideration the jarr wa tadeel and is better than the second subview or the previous view. It takes into consider this topic.

Fourth subview is to accept the mursal hadith from someone who is Imam or scholar of jarr wa tadeel in the sirat al jism in active voice and not in passive voice. This is the opinion of the Shafiee scholar ....

Next time we will discuss the evidences for it.



2010-11-21 Class Notes

Mursal hadith is hadith with entire chain except for the name of the sahaabi who narrated from the prophet. Sheikh described these type of hadith as strongest of the weak hadith.

Question: Should these mursal hadith be accepted? Some madhahab do accept Mursal reports.

Isa Habban: A Hanafi scholar who accepted anyone who said they heard it from the Prophet (SAWS). Others felt it should be in the first three generations.

Among those who accepted mursal hadith said, that we should accept reports from tabieen who reported hadith from trustworthy narrators.

Tabi’een is narrating from sahaba or from other tabi’een. There is another possibility that we did not discuss last time. Tabieen narrating from taba tabieen who is reporting from the tabieen who is reporting from sahaba and then the prophet.

Tabieen  ( --> tabi tabieen  --> tabieen  -->  sahabi ) --> Prophet (SAWS)

Scholars of hadith are more particular about chains because of the above chain, if you have tabieen to the prophet and in reality you are missing three narrators in the chain.

Some scholars thought that it would be acceptable to accept a mursal hadith if the narrator only narrated hadith from other reliable narrators. Several scholars accepted this, included Ali ibn al Madeenee, Yahya b. Ishaaq and others.

A grave mistake is to take the books of Seerah and use them for a purpose that was never intended. The standards for inclusion in Seerah books were much lower than the scholars of hadith. Ibn Ishaq in general unless he says “‘an” is regarded as a hasan narrator. Some books try to verify their sources more carefully, but the problem is that using only authentic sources, there are lots of gaps and thats why authors try to fill this gap by his understanding of the Quran and Sunnah and theories that the author believes. But this should not be used to derive a methodology or strict law. That is why seerah works were never considered a source for rulings.

Ibn Taymiyah talks about Mursal reports and if it is known that the narrator only narrates from thiqah narrators, then he should be accepted. If it is a mix of thiqah and non-thiqah then his hadith need further analysis. If they only narrate from non-thiqah then they should be rejected.

They try to quote one verse in the Qur’an. Verse Taubah:122.

وما كان المؤمنون لينفروا كافة فلولا نفر من كل فرقة منهم طائفة ليتفقهوا في الدين ولينذروا قومهم إذا رجعوا إليهم لعلهم يحذرون

Muhsin Khan

And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).


How was this verse used as proof for mursal reports?
The group that stayed behind should accept the mursal reports from the party that went to get instructions in religion.

What is the isharatal nass of this verse?
There is nothing in the verse that supports their argument. But at the same time, we know from the example of the sahaba, that we have to verify the information and not just accept it as face value.

A group of scholars say that the mursal reports are stronger than the unbroken chains? How can that be? They claim that since they are not reporting whom they heard the reports from, they are so sure and hence claim it to be stronger than the unbroken chain. How is that possible?

Stating the isnaads was the habit of the sahaaba. Even if some reporters did not mention the chain, you should be able to find it from some other reports. What about a lone mursal report? You cannot say that it is stronger and it is unacceptable from the sciences of hadith, because of the possibility of human error and not having an avenue to check and verify the mursal reports.

In formal hadith sessions for transmitting hadith, we will have to give complete isnaads, but in some other sessions, we might abbreviate reports, mursal reports and there might be some who heard this report in this session.

Another case might be where reporters heard it from so many sources that they report it directly from the prophet as a mursal report, but in this case we should be able to go and verify the report from other sources.

We have to know who the narrator in the chain is, because we can critique the narrator.  We have to identify the narrators.

Some narrators reported from unknown reporters, from the perspective of uloom al hadith, they have no rank in hadith literature. They might omit the narrator to highlight the weakness of the report, since the unknown narrator cannot be ranked.

There is an argument that is made by some that there is ijmaa that mursal reports have to be accepted until Imam Shafiee came along and rejected the mursal reports. This is based on statement about Tabari and Abu Dawuud. They gave this impression.

It is sufficient to disprove this that there were other scholars before Imam Shafiee who rejected mursal reports, such as Az-Zuhri, Said ibn Musayyib, and Ibn Sirin.   Even Ibn Abbas, he did not bother to listen to a narration from somebody outside a masjid......

Another argument is that a mufti reports a mursal hadith, then we should follow him and not question him.

What a mufti tells you is not binding upon you whatsoever. You have the right to ask him for his sources. And this is not a valid argument that you have to accept mursal reports from a mufti.

What about hadith of the prophet that describes the first three generations as the best generation?

He described that after the first three generations would be some who would betray their trust, they would also give their testimony when they were not asked for it. This is a general statement and it does not mean that every single individual of the first three generations is to be trusted, this statement is generally speaking that the first three generations were the best.

Opinion: Rejecting the mursal hadith
This statement is the view of the Ash-Shafiee, one narration from Imam Ahmad, Dhahiris, Abu Hatem, Abu Zarha (and others). Yahya, Ibn Abi Shayba and many others also reject using mursal hadith.

What is the basic evidence of this position?
As we have been describing, if we do not have all the information then this missing information is open to too many possibilities.  Once you start removing this information, one can no longer affirm that the Prophet saas actually made the statement.  The basic principle in uloom ul hadith is that all statements must be traced back to the Prophet saas.

The mursal hadith is the strongest of the weak hadith.  As such, it does not require much corroborating evidence to tip the scale to accept it.  It has some weakness it in, but the amount of damage is not extreme.  The report, in a way, can be recessitated.  If it has some supporting evidence, then we will eventually accept it.

Scholars are divided over what Imam Shafi’s opinion is.

Imam Shafi’s exact approach is that a mursal report is rejected unless it meets certain conditions:
  1. The report must have originated from a major tabi’een, one that has spent much time with a major sahabah.
    1. A scholar (who?) said: “I do not see anyone accept mursal reports from a minor tabi’een.”
    2. It must be known that he only narrates from trustworthy narrators
    3. Must be dhaabit
    4. Even then, the report is considered weaker than a report directly from a sahabi. (musnad hadith)
  2. Must be supported by at least one of the following
    1. The hadith is also narrated through an unbroken chain
      • Does this defeat the purpose?  He did not say the other chain had to be authentic.  This chain might have some weakness but between the two chains they may support each other.
    1. The report is supported by another mursal report from a different follower who takes from people different than who the first narrator relies on.
    2. The report agrees with a statement from another sahabi.
    3. Agrees with the jurisdict verdicts of most of the scholars.


At the same time, there is a statement of Imam Shafi that the mursal narrations from Syed Ibn Musayib are hasan.  He met the most number of sahabi and was one of the main sources of knowledge and founder when the Madinah school of fiqh was established.

Imam Shafi most likely studied the reports of Syed ibn Musayib and found that they had supporiting evidence which were complete reports. And hence his general statement of mursal reports of Syed ibn Musayib is accepted.  He was not making an exception, rather, he was stating his observation of the mursal reports of Syed ibn Musayib.

We can see from this analysis that Imam Shafi was very strict regarding what narrations and reports are acceptable.  He broke ranks with many scholars with his strictness regarding hadith.  He demonstrated that this was the approach of the earlier generations of the sahabah and tabi’ien.  The main thing that he did is that he showed that the contemporary scholars of his time were straying from the classical approaches towards usool ul fiqh/hadith.

The conclusion concerning mursal reports is that there is too much information missing.  From a specialist outside of the field, it may seem like the missing information is not significant.  However, experts within the field say that this missing information is too important to fully accept the hadith without additional information.  These narrations are the strongest of the weak hadith.

There are those who accept mursal reports, from the Hanafi, Hanbali schools and others.  We will discuss this next class.




2010-11-28 Class Notes

Vast majority of scholars reject mursal hadith, this has become a standard approach of the scholars of hadith, it is in the standard category of weak hadith. The strongest among the weak hadith is the mursal hadith.

In the early years, it was a trend to accept mursal hadith.

What should you do, if you are a scholar of hadith and a fiqh scholar, and your madhab has accepted some mursal hadith?

Each madhab has standard books of fiqh, scholars have gone through the hadith in these books. In the Hanafi madhab, there is book called nasb al raayah fee takhreej ahadeeth alhidaayah (نصب الراية في تخريج أحاديث الهداية) which is an analysis of the hadith in Al-Hidaya by al-Marghinani (المرغناني) by Al-Zayla’i (الزيلعي) This book is also known as al Hidaya.

The Al Hidaya is  a standard book of fiqh in the Hanafi madhab. Recently there has been an updated translation in English. It was also a foundation for Fath al qadeer (فتح القدير) by Ibn al Humaam.

Each madhab has an example like this. And if someone from this madhab studied this book, what would you do with the mursal hadith in your standard fiqh book? If you wear your fiqh hat, it is acceptable, if you wear your hadith scholarship hat, it is weak.

It is important that such a person be from the madhab. But what do you do if you are in an age of taqleed? Even at the height of taqleed, some scholars still did not do taqleed.

Nawawi took a standard book called المهذب -- a standard text in the Shafi’i madhab and wrote a commentary on it, called al Majmoo bi sarh al Mahthab --(المجموع بسرح المهذب). It was published in 25 volumes. Nawawi’s hadith background is more intensive and he gave preference to hadith scholarship over the fiqh scholarship. If the opinion is based on weak opinion, he rejected this opinion. Al Zaylai does not critique the fiqh opinions, he simply comments on the authenticity of each hadith.

Reconciliation of fiqh and hadith scholarship is very simple, the fiqh scholars were not strong in hadith scholarship and we should reject opinion that is based on weak hadith.

Examples of mursal hadith that cause the reconciliation issues.

Laughing while in prayer, does this invalidate your prayer? There is ijma’ that it does. But for Hanafi’s, it also invalidates his wudu.

Al-A’mash narrates a hadith called Al-Nakha’ee, about a blind man that fell into a well, and some of the Sahabah saw this, cracked up in the middle of prayer, and the Prophet (SAWS) ordered them to re-do their wudu and their prayer. It was narrated by Hassan Al-Basri, Al-Nakhaee, Al-Zuhri, Abul ‘Aaliyah. So all of these reports are mursal reports -- all these people were from the tabi’een.

Sheikh discussed an example from the Boulder mosque when somebody said Aamin after the word dhauleen which was not in Surah Fatiha, and half the mosque laughed at this incident.

Imam Shafi’ee does not accept this hadith. Should he accept this mursal hadith?

Among the mursal reports, there are some of the tabi’een from whom we should definitely not accept mursal reports.

There are some people who take knowledge and fail to distinguish from people who are qualified and those who are not qualified. Some of the tabieen are known to narrate from anyone.

Az Zuhri had large number of teachers and some of them were not reliable. He used to narrate from all of them. Mursal reports of Az-Zuhri are considered to be the weakest of the mursal reports. Hasan al Basri is another example, his mursal reports are considered to be very weak.

Az-Zuhri has reports with complete chains, he is a trustworthy narrator. He had some unique aspects such as the number of his teacher. However his mural reports we do not accept. Hasan al-Basri is also a trustworthy narrator but not at the same level as Az-Zuhri.

Said ibn Musaib’s mursal reports are very strong. As-Shaabi’s mursal reports are also considered strong.

Zaylai points out not only are the reports mursal but the other chains are very weak??  That is the reason why other madhabs reject this hadith of the blind man.

In the Hanafi school, there are many who reject the opinion of Imam Hanafi.

There is an authentic narration from Jaabir, which is reported as marfoo’ (statement of the prophet) and also as a statement of Jabr, the statement is that laughing in prayer nullifies the prayer but not the wudu.

Another criticism is that they are not consistent on how they deal with mursal reports. Sometimes they reject it and sometimes they accept it.

Another classic example of such a mursal hadith: “There is no riba between a Muslim and Daarul Harbee (a resident of a land that is fighting the Muslims in the areas of fighting).”

This hadith is used that we can take mortgages and bank loans and so on. Abu Hanifa mentions that it is acceptable to take riba from a harbee in daar al harb not give the ribaa to them. People twist this to interpret it as permission to borrow in countries like the USA, but they are misinterpreting it -- it only covers taking wealth, not accepting riba.

Imam Malik, Shafi, Ahmed, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn hasan ash-Shaibani, reject this hadith and reject this principle. Ones who are applying it now, as is often times, people are looking back for opinions, they can trace this opinion back to abu Hanifah but this is not even a dominant opinion in his school.

NO scholar of hadeeth accepts this hadith. There are books written about where Abu Yusuf and Muhammad bin Shaibani differed with Imam Abu Hanifah.

Another example:
There’s also the question of using the fur or the skin of the dead animal. If an animal is carrion, can you use the skin (goat or sheep dies by itself), can you use it’s fur?

Abu Dawood, an-Nasai and at-Tirmidhi report from Abdullah Ibn ‘3ukaim that, “the letter of Messenger reached us and it said you should not use fur of a carrion even by tanning it.” So this hadeeth al Bayhaqi and al-Khattabi said this is a mursal hadeeth, however it is accepted as an authority and followed by Imam Ahmed in a well known opinion from him and also an opinion of Imam Malik that he follows it. They consider it strongest because this letter was sent a few months before he (saw) passed away.

Imam Shafi’i, who was stricter in accepting mursal hadeeth, he reject this and instead he applies the hadeeth of Maymuna, where Prophet told her that it’s tanning made it pure.

Abu Hanifah also rejects this hadeeth and applies the hadeeth of Maymuna. If this hadeeth is accepted, then it makes sense that this hadeeth might abrogate the hadeeth of Maymuna. So if you accept this hadeeth, then you could argue as Ahmed did and Imam Malik did that this hadeeth abrogates the hadeeth of Maymuna. The other hadeeth of Maymuna is reported in Bukhari and Muslim. Previous hadeeth by Abdullah in 3ukaim from the point of Uloom ul hadeeth, it’s definitely weak.

Another example: Perfoming Wudu one right after the other:
Musnad Ahmed and Sunnan abi Dawood from Khalid Ibn ma3dan, that the Prophet (saw) saw someone praying and on the top of his foot there was a small spot (size of dirham) with no water on it and the Prophet told him to go back and repeat his wudu. The chain is broken between Khalid ibn Ma3dan and the wives of the Prophets as he never met them. Imam Malik and Ahmed use this hadeeth as an evidence to do wudu in the right order and to do it one right after the other.

Another example: Aqeeqah for boys and girls
Another hadeeth, mursal report, causing this kind of difference of opinion, narration of Ikrimah when Prophet (saw) did aqeeqah of hasan and hussein, he only slaughtered one sheep in both cases. Anything interesting about this narration? Ikrimah is not one of the companions of Prophet and he narrated this in mursal form but Imam Malik accepts it. All the other scholars accept the hadeeth of bukhari where it says for boys it’s two sheep and 1 sheep for girls.

Another example: Teaching verses of the Quran as a Mahr
Is it permissible to accept as a Mahr, the condition that the husband will teach the wife the surahs of the Qur’an.  There is a narration of the prophet that “this could not be a mahr for anyone after you”. Narration in Sunan Sa3ed ibn Mansour. This hadith is mursal and is used by at-Tahawi and others from Hanafi madhab, that it is not acceptable as mahr to teach someone the quran.

Imam Malik rejected the mursal report of the blind men about laughing in prayers. And there other times he accepts mursal reports.

Biggest criticism when it comes to madhabs is inconsistency  
Inconsistencies in Maliki and Hanafi madhab is that sometimes they reject musnad hadith, but accept mursal reports.  

Imam Shafiee while reporting some of his debates once he said to the a person he was debating, you ask evidence from me for evidence hat we should not accept mursal hadith, and you contradict by rejecting even the musnad hadith that we should follow.

Goal is to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah. If there is some weaknesses in madhab, then the scholars in the madhab should strive to correct the errors in their madhab.

An analogy could be differences between a general doctor and a specialist, and if the general doctor does not yield to the specialist then you will cause harm to the patient. The specialist in our case is the scholar of hadith, and the general doctor is the fiqh scholar. The data in the database has to be correct before baising your opinions. You go to scholars of hadith for hadith, you go to specialist in qiraat for discussion of qiraat, we take their qiraat, but we dont rely blindly on their hadith opinions.

Imam Malik was a scholar of hadith, however he has some hadith views that are in disagreement with other scholars of hadeeth, such as accepting mursal hadith. When we study the other scholars, then we find out that there is possibility of too much information missing in mursal reports. We place it in a category where we look for corroborating evidence and if we do not find it, then we will put it in the category of rejecting  the opinions.

One of the first person was Khatib Al Baghdadi in fifth century hijri, to recognize the differences between the fiqh scholars and hadith scholars when it comes to grading the hadeeth.

The fuqaha were in their own vacuum, the muhadatheen had their own fiqh, madhab ahl al hadeeth.

Imam Shafiee was very closely aligned to madhab ahl al hadeeth.  His points are very consistent with the ways the scholars of hadith were writing. More so than other schools. But the shafiee scholars differed in application of Risalah from Imam Shafiee

Imam Ahmed had some more flexible opinions. Hanbali madhab and Shafiee madhab are more closely aligned to the scholars of the hadith.

Imam Ahmed is of the opinion that he would rather follow a weak hadith as opposed to following personal opinion.





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