The Use of Weak Ahadith to Encourage Virtuous Deeds


by Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi | Translated and Abridged, with slight modifications, by Suha Abu Shakra

3889675988_a0874ae3ee_oQuestion:

Many preachers, reformers, and scholars frequently use ahadith (pl. of hadith) known even to novice students of knowledge as being weak. When critiqued, such people claim that weak hadith can be referred to when encouraging virtuous deeds, deterring people from doing wrong and encouraging them to do what is right. What is the legal opinion on this?

Answer:

The practice of citing weak ahadith to encourage virtuous deeds (fadā`il al-a`māl) has become so widespread that some people assume that this practice is agreed upon by hadith scholars. This notion is undoubtedly flawed, however, because a large number of hadith researchers affirmed that weak hadith should not be used to promote virtuous deeds nor any other category of good deeds.

It must also be noted that those who do allow for the use of weak hadith in fadā`il al-a`māl place important conditions on their use so they are not held at the same status as authentic narrations. Also, scholars who have a deep-rooted understanding of Islamic law (Sharī`ah) should never need to resort to using weak ahadith because the wealth of authentic ahadith is more than sufficient.

Regarding the opinion that permits the use of weak hadith, Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi makes the following points:

First: This opinion is not agreed upon amongst hadith scholars, as there are a number of well-respected scholars who reject the application of weak hadith in fadā`il al-a`māl or any other field of Islamic practice. These include Yahya Ibn Mu`īn, and a number of other scholars; it appears to also be the opinion of Imam Al-Bukhari, who employed very strict criteria for accepting hadith. Imam Muslim, who held the same opinion, actually condemned narrators of weak and rejected ahadith in the introduction to his Sahih, and censured them for abandoning authentic narrations. This is also the opinion that al-Qādi Abu Bakr Ibn Al-`Arabi, and Abu-Shama (the former heads of the Maliki and Shafi’i juristic schools of thought), leaned towards; it was also the opinion of Ibn Hazm, and others.

Second: If the meaning sought to be conveyed can be extracted from authentic or acceptable ahadith, then it is pointless to cite weak ahadith. Allah has sufficed us with what is superior so we don’t need that which is deficient; and rarely do we find a religious, moral, or instructional meaning that is not addressed by authentic or acceptable narrations. Yet, some people find it easier to use weak hadith unreservedly because they lack the drive to search for and review authentic narrations, and because of their limited scope of knowledge.

Third: Weak hadith should not be attributed to the Prophet ﷺ using definitive terms. The author of Al-Taqrīb said in his explanation: “If you narrate a weak hadith without the chain of transmitters, don’t say, ‘The Prophet ﷺ said such and such,’ or use similar definitive language, but rather, [say] that such and such was narrated about him, or that such and such reached us about him… or similar passive forms of narration…” Thus, the practice of many preachers and orators who begin a weak hadith by saying, “The Prophet said,” is unacceptable and rejected.

Fourth: Muslim scholars who permitted the use of weak hadith to promote good and warn against evil  did not leave the door wide open to allow citing every weak hadith. Rather, they placed three conditions that regulate the use of weak hadith:

  1. That the hadith not be very weak.
  2. That the hadith be within the scope of an authentic legal principle that is applied and accepted in either the Qur’an or Sunnah.
  3. That its weakness, not authenticity, be realized when applying it.

Thus, none of the Muslim scholars permitted the narration of weak ahadith indiscriminately, but rather, stipulated those three conditions. We also cannot overlook the most important condition of all; the hadith should address fadā`il al-a`māl and not lead to a legal ruling.

In my opinion, there should be two more conditions added to the list above:

  1. That it not include exaggeration or embellishment such that it defies logic, Islamic law or rules of the Arabic language. Hadith scholars have stated clearly that a weak hadith can be recognized through clues in the narrators or the narration.
  2. That it not contradict another piece of legal evidence that is stronger than it.

Allah knows best.

From www.qaradawi.net (original source: IslamOnline).

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32 Comments

  1. S says:

    I’ve heard that “Heaven lies under the feet of the mother” is a weak hadith. Yet I hear many scholars using this. Please clarify.

    • Rashid Majid says:

      Hi there,

      Yes it is weak and a lot of ignorant people giving dawah use this and do not even mention that it is weak, there are 2 reasons.

      1. because they forgot to mention it is weak ( rare)
      2. because they heard somebody use the hadeeth too but unlike yourself they didnt bother to check whether it is weak.

      Just be careful about people who use weak hadith and don’t take everything at face value. Weak hadith is a form of fabrication and bidah. So just stick to that which is strong and confirmed to be on the safe side and don’t buy any hadeeth no matter how nice it sounds.

      Salam

  2. MuslimahCA says:

    SubhanAllah, this was a issue that i was having with some folks.

    JazakhAllahu kheiran to the shaykh and thanks for translating Suha.

  3. ANMB says:

    ASA. JAK for this.

    I have enjoyed reading the following resources to better understand the madhaahib methods and differences for deriving rulings, as well as methodological differences between muhadatheen and fuqahah:

    (((((SORRY NO LINKS)))))))

    * * *

    I also find it interesting that most people are unaware that the Hanbali madhaab frequently rely on weak hadith for their rulings – and even though KSA Scholars are “Salafi” in creed – they are Hanbali in fiqh!, as even stated by Sheikh al-Albani (ra); but the other mahdaahib don’t.

    • Osman says:

      I am not an expert on the Hanbali madhab, but from a hadith perspective, something should be made clear about Imam Ahmed and his era. The earlier generations of hadith scholars like Imam Ahmed only classified hadith as Sahih and Daeef (Weak). The later generations, after Imam al Bukhari, began to classify hadith as Saheeh, Hasan, and Daeef. So what we know today as Hasan li ghayrihi (which can be summed up as weak hadith supporting one another to elevate to the status of hasan) was not used by Imam Ahmed. So when he cited a weak hadith in his day as evidence in fiqh would be understood today as hasan, and all the hadith scholars and fuqaha agree on using hasan hadeeth in fiqh.

      Allah knows best.

      • ANMB says:

        JAK for the clarification. I just find it very interesting the various methodologies of deriving rulings between the madhaahib; and even the differences between the fuqahah and the muhadatheen related to the rules of verification of the “Sunnah”.

      • ANMB says:

        ASA. Regarding the Hanbali madhaab fiqh methods, and that Imaam Hanbal accepted weak hadith, as the following excerpt from “Evolution of Fiqh” explains the Sources of Law for Hanbali fiqh:

        1. Qur’an – There was no difference

        2. Sunnah – Likewise the Prophet (sws) occupied the number two position among the fundamenetal principles used by the founder [Imaam Ahmed] of this school in the deduction of laws. His only stipulation was taht it be marfoo’, i.e. attributed directly to the Prophet (sws).

        3. Ijmaa’ of the Sahabah – Imaam Ahmad recongized the consensus of opinion of the Sahabah, and placed it in the third position among the fundamentals principles. However, he discredited the claims of ijmaa’ outside the era of the Sahabah as being inaccurate, due to the vast number of Scholars and their wide diffusion throughout the Muslim empire. In his opinion, ijmaa’ after the era of the Sahaabah was impossible.

        4. Individual Opinions of the Sahabah – If a problem arose in an area where the Sahaabah had expressed conflicting opinions, Ahmad, like Malik, would give credence to all the various individual opinions. Because of that, there developed withing the madhaab many instances of multiple rulings for individual issues.

        5. Hadeeth Da’eef (weak hadith) – For a ruling on a case where none of the previous four principles offered a ready solution, the Imaam prefered to use a weak hadeeth rather than applying his own deductive reasoning (qiyaas). However, this was on the condition that the weakness of the hadeeth was not due to the fact that one of it’s narrators was classified as a faasiq (degenerate), or a kadh-dhaab (liar).

        6. Qiyaas – As a last resort, that is when no other major principle could be directly applied, Ahmad would reluctantly apply the principle of qiyaas and deduce a solution based on one or more of the previous principles.

        Main Studies of Hanbali Madhaab – Imam Ahmed’s main students were his own two sons, Saalih (died 873 CE), and ‘Abdullah (died 903 CE). Imaam Bukharee and Muslim, compilers of the most outstanding collections of hadith, were among the great scholars of hadeeth who studied under Imaam Ahmad.

        Followers of the Hanbali Madhaab – The majority of the followers of this madhaab can now be found in Palestine and Saudi Arabia. It’s survival in Saudi Arabia, after almost completely dying out elsewhere in the Muslim world, is due to the fact that the founder of the so called Wahhabee revivalist movement, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab, had studied under the scholars of the Hanbali madhaab, and thus it unofficially became the fiqh madhaab of the movement. When ‘Abdul-Azeez ibn Sa’oud captured most of the Arabian peninsula and established the Saudi dynasty, he made the Hanbali madhaab the basis of the kingdom’s legal system.

        Main Reasons for Conflicting Rulings -
        1. Word Meanings,
        2. Narrations of hadeeths – b) weak narrations of hadeeths – there were cases where some jurists based their rulings on hadeeths which were in fact de’eef (weak and unreliable), because they were unaware of the unreliability of those hadeeths or because they took the position that a weak hadeeth was to be preferred to their qiyaas (analogical deduction). [such as Imaam Ahmad, ra]

        And I also checked with a local Fuqahah, about this topic, and learned that in the collection of “Musnad Ahmed”, 1/4 of his hadith are in fact mawdoo’. And If you want the details, then it is a longer post.

        JAK. ASA.

  4. Mohammed says:

    Imam Ahmed said, “when we narrate on the subject of halal and haram we are severe/harsh, and when we narrate on Fadail and other’s like it we are leniant” (Khatib in Kifayah).
    Same was the opinion of the following scholars: Mulla ‘Ali Qari (al-Mawdu’at), Imam Nawawi (Arba’in), Imam Suyuti, ‘Allama Iraqi (Sharh al-Fiyah al-Hadith), ‘Allama Ibn al-Hummam (Fathul Qadir), ‘Allama Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (Sharh Arba’in), Hafidh Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani (At-Tadrib of Imam Suyuti), Hafidh as-Sakhawi (al-Qawl al-Badi’), Abu Zakariya al-’Anbari (al-Hakim), Imam Ibn Mahdi (Madkhal of Bayhaqi), and Many More.

    Even in Ahkam it’s given precedence over qiyas, as the famous statement of Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Ahmed recorded by Ibn Hazm, “Weak hadith is more beloved to us than opinions of men”

    Only a handful of scholars didn’t take weak ahadith in any matters, while the majority have definitly relied on them, not to mention it’s usage in Ahkam.

    Mohammed

    • Osman says:

      The usage of weak hadith in Ahkaam has many many conditions, and only a few types of weak hadith are considered in law such as mursal, mudallas, and those from a narrator with a slightly weak memory.

      Again, the fact that 2 weak hadith that have the same meaning may elevate to the status of hasan should be understood well, so people don’t misunderstand that a weak hadith can be used without very strict criteria in law.

      As an example of the usage of weak hadith, Imam Ahmed would use a weak hadith as evidence if it was well known that a companion gave a fatwa with the same ruling as found in the weak hadith.

  5. hm says:

    i love being muslim but i can’t help but to say that i’m embarassed of being muslim when i see other muslims’ comments online. it’s one of the most despicable sights and i’m ashamed that the blogosphere is corrupted by muslim verbal filth. i’m not just talking about this post but all the others. we have mini-scholars rushing to dish out the first e-fatwa and hurrying to correct others unnecessarily. don’t get me wrong, i’m grateful for being a muslim but i just expect better of others behavior, at the least, digitally! I wish there were more regulations on this website in particular. anyway, i still love this website and its wealth of resources but all of this makes me very sad. i went a long time without typically reading people’s remarks below but now i have no idea but i always scroll down to read other comments. its my nafs.

    • Zubair Khan says:

      We’re really sorry about that. We try our best to moderate comments as wisely as possible, however we’re severely short staffed. We will try to be more careful inshaAllah on what kind of comments we approve.

      Thank you,
      Webbmaster

  6. Sami says:

    One problem I face very frequently is that I listen to islamic lectures and read articles in preparation for khutbahs and lectures but often times the authenticity is not stated and some times the source is not stated. What would you reccomend for daees?

  7. Umer says:

    Assalam-o-Alaikum

    Can anyone give some common examples of weak ahadith? Is it important for us to check whether each hadith that we listen to or read somewhere is not weak?

    • ANMB says:

      WAS. There are some mentioned in the foreword (and explained in the appendix) of a book by Sheikh/Dr. Hasan Suhaib, “An Introduction to Science of Hadith” (London).

      And there are also discussions related to specific hadith being weak, such as:

      1. The hadith naming the 99 Names of Allah (which list the actual names) as discussed in the above book, as well as by Sheikh Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo; in addition to Sheikh/Dr. `Umar Al-Ashqar from the book “Asmaa was-Sifaat fee Mu’taaqidi Ahl Sunnati wal Jam’aat

      2. The recitation of Suratul Kahf on Friday
      An Excerpt from the Book, Ahkaamul Jumu’a
      By: Shaykh Yahya Al-Hajoori, May Allah preserve him

      3. “100 Fabricated Hadith” by Sheikh Faisal > Abdullah Faisal
      The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who tells a lie on me intentionally, let him take his seat in the Hellfire” (Bukhari volume 1, No. 107). Whenever a person quotes a fabricated hadith knowingly, he or she is guilty of lying on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Fabricated ahadith stunt the spiritual growth of the Muslim Ummah. This book is a compilation and refutation of one hundred of the most famous and lethal fabricated ahadith in the Muslim world today. Shaikh Abdullah Faisal was born in 1963 and raised in Jamaica. He embraced Islam at the age of 16. He studied Arabic and Islamic studies for one year in Guyana, South America and then went on for further studies at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, There, he studied for eight years and graduated in 1991. Among his Shaikhs are: Abdul-Hakim Quick, Abdullah Tuwayjiree, Abdul-Wahab Tarairi, Shaikh Ibn Jibreen and Naasir Umar.

  8. Raashid says:

    If Imam Bukhari was against the use of weak ahadith, why would he have written Al-Adabul Mufrad, with a lot of weak ahadith?

  9. Raashid says:

    Imam Nawawi says: “The Scholars of Hadith have accepted the consideration of weak Sanads and the narration of those Hadith which are not Mawdhoo’ and the acting upon them in those matters which are not regarding the Characteristics of Allah and are not establishing a Hukm”[v]. Imam Sakhawi says that acting upon weak Hadith in Fadhaail is the view of the majority[vi]. This is what Ibn Hajr Makki has established[vii], and also what Mulla Ali Qari has clearly stated[viii]. The reason for this is mentioned by Ibn Hajr Makki who says: “If this Dha’eef Hadith was authentic in reality, then all is well, as it was acted upon, and if it was unauthentic, there is still no problem, as acting upon it did not establish an unestablished act or forbid a permissible act or take away the right of someone else (as this was already done through other proofs)”

  10. Raashid says:

    A resolution to this effect was passed by the Saudi board of research and Fatwa which says: “Weak Hadith can be accepted and acted upon in the superiority of actions if it is not extremely weak and if the action is not being established by the particular Hadith”[xii].
    The basis for this view of these scholars is the action of their predecessors and their statements to this effect. It has been narrated from AbdurRahman Ibn Mahdi, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Abdullah Ibn Mubarak by Shaykh Iraqi Khateeb Baghdaadi and others that they said: “When we narrate regarding Halal and Haram, we are very strict, but when we narrate regarding the Fadhaail, we are lenient”[xiii]. Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah as well as others have defined the leniency referred to by these Imams in the following words: “Ahmad has said: ‘When we narrate regarding the rewards and punishments, we are lenient.’, which means that we narrate such Hadith even if the narrators include such whose narrations are not otherwise accepted”[xiv].
    The reason for this leniency is also explained by Shaykhul Islam in his Fataawa, where he says:
    “The view of the scholars with regards to the accepting of Dha’eef Hadith in Fadhaail does not imply that the Dha’eef Hadith alone can establish that a particular action is like by Allah, as being liked (Istihbab) is also a legal ruling (Hukm Shar’ee), and hence can only be esablished by legal proof (Daleel Shar’ee). And whoever claims that Allah likes a particular act or dislikes it, without legal proof, has tried to establish something in the religion that Allah has not given permission for, as if he had established something to be Halal or Haram. This is why the scholars have differed in opinion with regards to the liked (mustahabb) in the same way as they differed in other matters. As a matter of fact, it is a pillar of the religion.
    What it does imply is that if the action is such that it has been established that it is among those which Allah likes or dislikes, by the means of a verse, Hadith or Ijma’ (consensus), such as reciting the Qur’an, glorifying Allah, supplicating to Him, giving charity, being kind etc. or on the other hand lying, decieving etc., then such Hadith which further encourage or specify a reward for these Mustahabb actions or discourage or specify a punishment for a disliked (Makruh) action, can be narrated, even if they are Dha’eef, as long as they are not Mawdhoo’. The meaning of acting upon such Hadith would be to expect that reward upon doing that deed or fear that punishment upon committing that sin.[xv]”

  11. Mehran says:

    What is wrong with our ummah? People aren’t perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Stop attacking each other. We are brothers and sisters in faith. Let’s start acting like it.

  12. ANMB says:

    Another fatawah from Sheikh/Dr. Muzammil Siddique on using weak ahadith:

    Fatawah Title: May People Act According to a Weak Hadith?

    Question: Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum.

    What is the value of a weak hadith? Is it appropriate to quote a weak hadith to support a religious opinion or matter?

    Jazakum Allah khayran.

    Date: 11/Jan/2010

    Name of Counsellor: Sheikh/Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi

    Topic: Sciences of Hadith

    Answer: Wa`alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

    All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

    Dear brother in Islam, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.

    First of all, we’d like to state that the science of Hadith is very deep and intricate. Therefore, only one who has the necessary qualifications and expertise in Hadith should engage in discussions of them. Scholars of Hadith should verify and check the authenticity of hadiths circulated by laymen and common people in order to explain what is acceptable and what is not.

    In his response to the question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America states:

    Generally, in Islamic law, only the authentic (sahih) and good (hasan) hadiths are used in deriving the rules. The weak (da`if) hadiths have no value for the purpose of Shari`ah. However, the scholars of hadith sometimes differ among themselves in the determination of whether some hadiths are weak or not. The scholars have sometimes used weak hadiths for moral and spiritual (fada’il) matters. It is important that when one uses a weak hadith for any reason, one should explain it to the people that this is weak hadith and that it is being used for this particular reason.

    We must also keep in mind that according to the scholars of hadith (muhaddithin,) the hadiths are counted according to their chains of narrators (isnad) and not according to the texts (matn). Thus one text of a hadith is often found reported through many chains of reporters. Normally the authenticity or weakness of the hadith is checked, not on the basis of its text, but on the basis of its chain (isnad) only. The weakness in a hadith could be due to the lack of continuity in the chain of transmitters or due to the lack of integrity (`adalah) of its narrators. There are various categories of weak hadiths depending on what part of the chain of transmitters was interrupted and what lack of integrity is detected in a transmitter or transmitters of that particular hadith. It is also possible that a hadith is weak according to one narration (i.e. chain of transmission), but its text is found in another better and more sound narration. Thus the judgment in this matter requires a thorough knowledge of the hadith literature and methodology.

    source: islamonline (dot) net

  13. ANMB says:

    ASA. Related to my comments about Imam Ahmad using weak ahadith – there is a nice explanation in the book by Sheikh/Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, “Evolution of Fiqh”, which are a good primer to elaborated research papers by Sheikh/Dr. Mustafa Ahmed (specialty in Historical Development of Fiqhi Schools for both Sunni/Shi’a) in which he explains the methodological differences between the schools, as well as between the Fuqaha and muhadatheen for rules of verification of the Sunnah.

    Related to discussions of sanad and matn, there is an introduction to the paper online related to “Hadith Textual Criticism: A Reconsideration *” by Mohsen Haredy which is interesting as well.

    I then found an article entitled “Al-Albani’s [ra] Revolutionary Approach to Hadith” by Stephanie Lacroixe, explained that he opined that KSA Scholars are “Salafi in creed and Hanbali fiqh in their faataawah, and they are following a madhaab.

    I then was curious as to the method that Albani used, because there are many refutations to his reclassification of Bukhari/Muslim hadith, and other books of his, based on his methods used. So I then found an article that analyzes the different approach used by Albani:

    “Al-Albani’s method is clear. He first analyzes the isnad of a particular hadith. An unreliable isndd means that the hadith is unreliable. Accordingly, al-Albani does not feel compelled to interpret a hadith, which, in his view, has an unreliable isndd, as interpretation is an aspect of authentification. However, he does interpret hadlths that have reliable isndds, when their matns do not correspond to the matn?, of other reliable isndds. Al-Albani’s assessment
    of the hadith in question [related to sacrificing a one year old sheep as discussed in the paper as an example] as weak is contrary to the opinion of prominent hadith scholars such as Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani.”*”

    from page 156
    Nāṣiruddīn al-Albānī on Muslim’s Ṣaḥīḥ: A Critical Study of His Method, by Kamaruddin Amin © 2004 BRILL.

    So, I am curious as to the differences between the muhaditheen in classification; and why Imam Hanbal used weak hadith more than the other madhaab.

    JAK.

  14. ANMB says:

    ASA. Another booklet is by Sheikh Faisal entitled, “100 Fabricated Hadith” that is interesting.

    Description below:
    The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who tells a lie on me intentionally, let him take his seat in the Hellfire” (Bukhari volume 1, No. 107). Whenever a person quotes a fabricated hadith knowingly, he or she is guilty of lying on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Fabricated ahadith stunt the spiritual growth of the Muslim Ummah. This book is a compilation and refutation of one hundred of the most famous and lethal fabricated ahadith in the Muslim world today. Shaikh Abdullah Faisal was born in 1963 and raised in Jamaica. He embraced Islam at the age of 16. He studied Arabic and Islamic studies for one year in Guyana, South America and then went on for further studies at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, There, he studied for eight years and graduated in 1991. Among his Shaikhs are: Abdul-Hakim Quick, Abdullah Tuwayjiree, Abdul-Wahab Tarairi, Shaikh Ibn Jibreen and Naasir Umar.

  15. Aysha Khanom says:

    Salaam,

    A good post mash’Allah. I have been to several past lectures where speakers have quoted weak hadith, and then justify it, by saying that it is sufficient to use a hadtih if it is to encourage virtuous deeds.

    At the surface of it, it seems to make sense, but if we were to apply this to a larger scale, then regardless of what benefit some weak hadith may hold initially, it could lead to potential harm.

    Its usually how I assess these matters and has worked for me so far, by assessing whether such claims or points can be applied globally, if it cannot, then I usually avoid it.

    Aysha

  16. ANMB says:

    ASA. I found another article related to this topic:

    On the Da’eef (weak) Ahaadeeth and Passing Rulings Based on Them

    by Brother Abû Rumaysah

    Many of the early scholars held the firm opinion that to act upon, or derive rulings from a hadeeth which has been declared to be weak, by the scholars of hadeeth is unacceptable. Their reasoning being that Islaam has no need of anything weak, and the authentic material of Islaam will suffice for all time, the da’eef hadeeth amounting only to a conjecture which has the possibility of being correct.

    I quote from the introduction of ‘The Prophets Prayer Described’ of Shaykh al-Albaanee, “…this is because I hold that the authentic ahaadeeth are sufficient, leaving no need for anything weak, for the latter does not amount to anything except dhann (conjecture, suspicion), and incorrect conjecture at that; as the Exalted says: “…and conjecture is of no use against the truth.” And now the following quotes will show the position of the early Scholars of Hadeeth on this issue: Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee [1] says in his ‘Risaalah’ (394-403: #1090-1105),

    ‘[#1090] Surely, the greatest of liars is he who ascribes to me that which I did not say, and who claims to have dreamt what he did not dream, and who claims that he is the son of someone other than his own father.

    [#1091] Whoever ascribes to me that which I did not say, will surely have to occupy his seat in the fire [of hell]

    [#1092] Surely, whoever tells untruths about me, will have a house built for him in the fire [of hell].

    [#1093] Whoever tells untruths about me is surely seeking for himself a resting place in the fire [of hell]. The Messenger of Allah began to say that while he was wiping the ground with his hand.

    [#1094] From Abu Hurayra, “You may report about the Children of Israel and there is no blame (haraj). Report about (/from) me, but do not tell untruths about me.”

    [#1095] This is the most emphatic hadeeth ever transmitted from the Messenger of Allah on this matter. We have relied on it as well as on others (ahaadeeth or evidences) in not accepting any report (hadeethan) except from a trustworthy [transmitter], and that we know the truthfulness of those who transmitted the hadeeth since it was begun till its end is reached.

    [#1096] If someone would say: What evidence is there in this hadeeth for what you have stated?

    [#1097] It would be said: Knowledge surely has made it certain that the Prophet would never, in any circumstances, order anyone to lie about the Children of Israel, nor about anyone else. So when he has permitted reporting about (al-hadeetha ‘an) the Children of Israel, it was not accepting untruthfulness about the Children of Israel that he has permitted, but he only has permitted accepting that from whom reported it, whose truthfulness or untruthfulness is not known.”

    Imaam Muslim states in the introduction to his saheeh, under the chapter heading, “the weak ahaadeeth are to be discarded and only authentic ahaadeeth are to be narrated,”

    “To proceed, may Allaah have mercy upon you. If it were not from the evil practice that we have seen from many who take upon themselves the position of Muhaddith, in their leaving the obligation to discard the weak ahaadeeth and munkar narrations and to suffice with only the authentic ahaadeeth – well known and transmitted from reliable narrators, well known for their truthfulness and trustworthiness. After knowing and admitting with their tongues that much of what they fling at the ignorant is to be rejected and is transmitted by unsatisfactory narrators whose narrations are censured by the scholars of hadeeth like Maalik, Yahya bin Sa’eed al-Qattaan and others….. And know may Allaah have mercy upon you, that what is obligatory upon everyone who is able to distinguish between authentic and weak narrations and between the suspect and reliable narrators, is that he should narrate therefrom except that known to be authentic and have trustworthy narrators…”

    Imaam ibn Rajab al-Hanbali [2] says, ‘and it is clear from what Muslim mentions in the introduction to his book (i.e. Saheeh Muslim), that it is necessary that the ahaadeeth to do with Targheeb wat Tarheeb (encouragement and discouragement) are not narrated except from those that ahkaam (rules and regulations) are narrated [meaning the authentic ahaadeeth]‘

    al-Allaamah Jamaal ud-Deen al-Qaasimee narrates from a group of the Imaams of hadeeth that they did not accept acting by a weak hadeeth at all, like ibn Ma’een, al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Maaliki, ibn Hazm and others. [3]

    Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi[4] said, while commenting on the hadeeth, “the halaal is clear and the haraam is clear”,

    “…. What I have [as the reason] regarding that, and Allah knows best, is that which we have transmitted from Ahmad ibn Hanbal that he permits weak ahaadeeth regarding al-wara` (abstaining from doubtful matters). May Allah be pleased with al-Bukhaaree who did not see for the heart to hold to, nor for the religion to be connected through–nothing except the authentic [ahaadeeth], and that is our position. If we were to incline to the position of Ahmad; then holding to da’eef ahaadeeth cannot be [accepted] except in lessons/admonishment which soften the heart, but as for the basis (usul) there is no way to [accept] that.” [5]

    Ibn Hazm [6] says in ‘al-Milal’, “and it is not permissible with us that we say as these ahaadeeth say (i.e. those weak and fabricated narrations), or to trust in them, or to take anything from them.”

    ibn Taymiyyah says, ‘and it is not permissible to rely in the Sharee’ah upon da’eef ahaadeeth which are not saheeh or hasan. But Ahmad bin Hanbal and other scholars considered it permissible to report with regards to Fadaa’il al-A’amaal (rewards and excellences of actions) that which they did not know to be affirmed, when it is known that it is not a lie. And that is because when the action is known to be legislated with a Sharee’ah evidence, it is possible that the reward be a fact. And not one of the Imaams said that he considered it to be permissible to make something obligatory or recommended based upon a da’eef hadeeth.’[7]

    Then ibn Taymiyyah says, ‘and Ahmad bin Hanbal or others like him from the Imaams did not rely upon this type of ahaadeeth in the Sharee’ah. And the one who relates from Ahmad that he used to rely upon the weak ahaadeeth, which are not saheeh or hasan, has erred.’

    So the narrations from him that he would act upon a da’eef hadeeth when there was nothing else present in the texts on that subject, or nothing that contradicted that da’eef hadeeth, does not mean that Imaam Ahmad used them as proof in the Sharee’ah. Allaah knows best.

    al-Allaamah Ahmad Shaakir says,’and as for what Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal and Abdurrahmaan bin Mahdi, and Abdullaah bin al-Mubaarak said, “when it is narrated to us pertaining to Halaal wal Haraam we are strict. And when it is narrated to us pertaining to Fadaa’il al-A’maal (the rewards and excellence of actions) then we are lenient.” – then they mean, according to what I find to be most convincing – and Allaah knows best – that the leniency was in their taking the hasan hadeeth, that which does not reach the level of saheeh. Because the convention of distinguishing between the Saheeh and Hasan was not present at their time…rather many of the early scholars did not describe a hadeeth except by it being saheeh or da’eef only.’[8]

    So what is clear is that the term hasan was not present at that time, and a great deal of what these scholars used to narrate in terms of fadaa’il al-amaal was of the level of what the later scholars called hasan.

    So the opinion from the above mentioned scholars is to leave acting by the weak hadeeth in totality, except where there is a consensus of the Islamic scholars on the issue at hand, and Allaah knows best. And as for the claims of some that Imaam Ahmad amongst others of the early scholars allowed weak ahaadeeth to be used in Sharee’ah rulings then that has no firm basis as mentioned above. [9]

    And especially in this day and age, when so many innovations and misunderstandings about Religion are present, many of them having their roots in these da’eef ahaadeeth, it becomes even more essential to narrate only authentic ahaadeeth as part of the process of purifying the understanding of the Religion.

    The preceding was with regards to acting upon the da’eef hadeeth, as regards to using the da’eef hadeeth in certain Islamic sciences like in the Hadeeth science in which the weak ahaadeeth are used to support or strengthen other ahaadeeth, then this has been done and is being done by all of the Scholars of Hadeeth.

    For those that follow the opinion that acting upon a da’eef ahaadeeth is permissible, it would be good to mention the three conditions for acting upon a da’eef ahaadeeth as laid out by Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee:

    1) Upon that which they all agree, that it should not be very weak so that it excludes that only narrated by a liar, one accused of lying and one who makes serious mistakes.

    2) That is falls under a general proof already present – which excludes that which is invented having no basis.

    3) That acting upon it the person does not think that it is something established – in order that he does not attribute to the Prophet what he did not say.[10]

    We can see from these condition the following: The first principle lays out the obligation to make known the weak ahaadeeth from the authentic, even in Fadaa’il al-Amaal. Something which many people who follow this opinion do not do, not only that but many of the scholars who follow this opinion today are not even capable of discerning whether the hadeeth they are quoting contains the types of weaknesses indicated above!

    The second principle establishes that in reality the person is not acting by the weak hadeeth but rather by the general proof already present. [11]

    FOOTNOTES

    1.He is the Mujtahid Imaam and the Mujaddid of his time, Muhammad bin Idrees ash-Shaafi’ee. He studied under a galaxy of prominent Imaams, amongst them Imaam Maalik.
    2.’Sharh at-Tirmidhee’ (2/112).He is the exemplary Imaam and great Mujtahid scholar, ibn Rajab al Hanbali, a student of both ibn Taymiyyah and ibn al-Qayyim amongst others.
    3.’Qawaa’id al-Hadeeth’ (pg. 113) of al-Qaasimee.
    4.’Aridat al-Ahwadhee Sharh Sunan at-Tirmidhee’ (5/201)
    5.Quoted from Abu Ghuddas introduction to al-Muhasibi’s ‘Risalah al-Mustarshideen’ (pp58) where he states that he has abridged the quote from ibn al-Arabi.
    6.He is the great Imaam who championed the Dhaahiree School of thought and wrote many invaluable treatise, amongst them his ‘Muhalla’ in usul al-fiqh, and ‘Milal wa Nahl’ on different sects. He died in the year????
    7.’al-Qaa’idah al-Jaleelah’ (pg.82) of ibn Taymiyyah
    8.’al-Baa’ith al-Hatheeth’ (pg.101) of Ahmad Shaakir.
    9.So what would the author of ‘al-Albani Unveiled’ say about the position of all these scholars, would he label them all as ignorant as well, as he has done in his amazing ‘scholarly’ work?!
    10.As mentioned by his student as-Sakhaawi in his
    11.The quotes are taken from the introductions of ‘Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer’, ‘Tamaam al-Minna’, ‘Silsilah ad-Da’eefah’ (Vol. 1) of al-Albaanee, with the exception of the quotes of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee and ibn al-Arabi.

  17. ANMB says:

    Excellent paper!

    The Authentication of Hadith: Redefining Criteria
    Israr Ahmad Khan
    Israr Ahmad Khan is an associate professor in the Department of Qur’an and Sunnah
    Studies, International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

    Muslim scholars deserve appreciation for their invaluable contribution toward preserving the hadith literature’s authenticity. However, much more needs to be done to further strengthen its authenticity. Such great hadith authorities as Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 AH), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH), al-Darimi (d. 255 AH), al-Bukhari (d. 256 AH), Muslim (d. 261 AH), Ibn Majah (d. 273 AH), Abu Da’ud (d. 275 AH), al-Tirmidhi (d. 279 AH), al-Nasa’I (d. 303 AH), al-Darqutni (d. 385 AH), and al-Bayhaqi (d. 457 AH) did their best to identify original, authentic, and valid versions of the hadiths, mainly through verifying the chain of narrators (sanad). However, they did not check the text (matn) with the same zeal. This remains the case today, even to the extent that scrutinizing the text scrutiny is considered forbidden. While further verification of hadiths is still needed, this “closed door” toward verifying the text’s validity must be opened. The present article represents an attempt to redefine the criteria for checking the texts and then applying these criteria to certain selected hadiths recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.1

    The Historical Background

    The science of hadith verification can be traced back to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (d. 13 AH), who would not accept a hadith narrated by a single Companion unless another Companion confirmed it. In this way, he sought to avoid the possibility of intentional or unintentional error.2 This approach continued under `Umar ibn al-Khattab (d. 23 AH),3 who once told to Abu Musa that he was extraordinarily careful about narrating hadiths from the Prophet (saw).4 Scholars from among the Companions hesitated to accept hadiths without further verification.5 It seems that they adopted this careful approach due to the explosive situation after `Uthman ibn `Affan’s murder in 35 AH and the ensuing civil war between the troops loyal to `Ali ibn Abu Talib (d. 40 AH) and Mu`awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (d. 60 AH). This situation was exploited by people with vested interests who fabricated hadiths concerning Ali’s legitimacy. 6 The ulama did their best to verify traditions attributed to the Prophet (saw).7

    Al-Bukhari (d. 256 AH) selected traditions for his Sahih from approximately 600,000 hadiths8; Muslim (d. 261 AH) selected hadiths for his Sahih from around 300,000 reports.9 Their hadith compilations were followed by many others, all of which have one common feature: they authenticate the hadith by authenticating the chain (sanad ). No hadith work in which the reports were recorded on the basis of text verification in addition to chain authentication can be identified. Scattered comments and observations on certain hadiths from the angle of texts are attributed to some scholars. However, serious efforts are missing from the legacy.

    Al-Shafi`i (d. 204 AH) appears to be the first scholar who raised the issue of checking the hadith’s text. Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 AH) also decreed hadiths unacceptable by looking at their texts. But these two scholars’ contribution is very limited. The former referred to the possibility that a hadith already declared to be authentic from the angle of its chain might be defective if its text appeared to contradict the Prophet’s (saw) overall mission or if it contrasted with other highly authentic traditions reported by extraordinarily respected reporters.10 Ibn al-Jawzi seems to have been inclined to talk about a hadith’s content only after declaring its chain defective. His Al-Mawdu`at bears witness to this approach. He does not seem to be brave enough to declare a report weak or fabricated merely because its content is unusual and contradicts many established standards. Ibn Qayyim (d. 751 AH) also stated categorically in his Al-Manar al-Munif fi al-Sahih wa al-Da`if that certain traditions are unacceptable merely due to some problems in the text. The latest addition to this field is Misfir al-Dumayni’s doctoral thesis “Maqayis Naqd Mutun al-Sunnah.”

    Criteria for Checking the Text

    Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi (d. 198 AH) opines that identifying a deficiency in the traditions requires life-long experience and inspiration. He looks at a critic of traditions as a jeweler who, on the basis of his expertise and experience, easily differentiates between genuine and non-genuine materials.11 Although this view may not, in essence, be contested, considering one’s inspiration as a standard to determine a hadith’s authenticity is to allow subjectivity to enter the process. There should be clear guidelines and well defined principles on how to check the text’s authenticity. In this case, the objective criteria are the Qur’an, highly authentic traditions, sound reason, established historical facts, and moderation. The following discussion is based on applying these criteria to selected examples.

    The Qur’an

    People vary from one another in their approaches and viewpoints when deciding about specific matters. Such differences can be sorted out and settled only with the help of universally established standards. In judging a given hadith’s nature, scholars may differ from one another. In such situations, the first criterion to be looked at is the Qur’an, the revealed speech of Allah (as opposed to the thoughts of a human mind). In its own words, the Qur’an is the God-given “criterion” (al-Furqan) that reveals what is right and what is wrong.12 As the Qur’an tells us, Allah revealed two things to the Prophet (saw): the Qur’an and its bayan (interpretation).13 Since his hadiths and Sunnah interpret the Qur’an, his words and practices symbolize the interpretation. Given this, both the Qur’an and the interpretation should compliment, and be in perfect harmony with, each other. If any component of the interpretation (i.e., hadith) conflicts with the Qur’an, it must be rejected as unacceptable, even if it is attributed to the Prophet (saw). The Qur’an not only guides, but also mediates all disputes (4:59).

    Qur’an 4:59 exhorts the Muslims to make Allah and His Prophet (saw) the judge of their disputes. Hadith compilations are not free from controversy in terms of their contents. Since the Qur’an represents Allah’s authority, the hadith’s contents can be checked against it. If there is no conflict, the hadith should be declared authentic. If there is an insurmountable conflict, it should be declared unreliable.

    ‘A_ISHAH_S APPROACH. `A’ishah (d. 57 AH) identified flaws in certain hadiths. Some examples are given below. (Space constraints do not allow many quotations.)

    Once the Prophet (saw) said: “One who was called to account (on the Day of Judgment) was punished.”14 `A’ishah found this contrary to Qur’an 84:7-8: “As for him whose record shall be placed in his right hand, he will, in time, be called to account with an easy accounting.” She expressed her concern to the Prophet (saw), who satisfied her by saying: “That is the easy reckoning; but he who was questioned is bound to be doomed.”15

    In this account, her concern shows that no hadith should contradict the Qur’an. After the Prophet’s (saw) death, she commanded the Muslims’ respect not only as a “mother of the believers,” but also as a repository of knowledge. People consulted her on many things, particularly on matters related to the Prophet’s (saw) words. For example, someone asked her: “Is Ibn Umar’s report – the Prophet (saw) said: ‘They (the dead) hear what I say’ – true?” She replied that it was not and told him what the Prophet (saw) had really said: (‘They know what I say is true’), and in the end recited “Verily, you cannot make the dead hear” (27:80) and “You cannot make those hear who are in graves” (35:22).16 By quoting the Qur’an, she made it clear that the Prophet (saw) cannot say anything against the Qur’an.

    more from: i-epistemology (dot) net

  18. Nobody says:

    Assalamu alaykum

    Doesn’t Imam Nawawi say in his 40 hadith that you can use daeef to inspire hopoe and fear?

    Assalamu alaykum
    nobody

  19. Ibrahim says:

    Imam Bukhari used weak Ahadith in his book Al-Adab AlMufrad. There are just as many Shuyukh, if not more who allow the use of weak ahadith for targhib. This doesnt mean of course that there unbridled restriction & anyone can use them. There are conditions & the people using them must be certified scholars. The conditions are:
    1 – That the weakness must not be very strong (ghayr shadid). This excludes those ahadith singly recorded by liars or those accused of lying, and those who make gross mistakes.
    2 – That there be a general legal basis for it. This excludes what is invented and has no legal basis to start with.
    3 – That one not think, while practicing on the basis of it, that it has been established as true (an la ya`taqida thubutahu). This is in order that no words which the Prophet did not (verifiably) say be attributed to him.” (From the Epilogue of hafiz al-Sakhawi’s
    “al-Qawl al-badi` fi al-salat `ala al-habib al-shafi`”
    [The Admirable Doctrine Concerning the Invocation upon the Beloved Intercessor]
    Muhaditheen & shuyukh who have allowed their usage:
    1- Nawawi
    2- Ibn al-Salah
    3- Sufyan al-Thawri
    4- Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
    5- Ibn `Uyaynah
    6- Ibn al-Mubarak
    7- Ibn Mahdi
    8- Ibn Ma`een (forgery specialist)
    9- al-Khatib al-Baghdadi in ‘al-Kifayah’, chapter entitled:
    “strictness with regard to ahadith pertaining to rulings
    and leniency with regard to those pertaining to virtuous actions”
    10- Bukhari as proven by his use of them in ‘al-Adab al- mufrad’
    11- Ali al-Qari (forgery specialist)
    12- Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani.
    13- Ibn Abd al-Barr in ‘al-Isaba’.
    14- Ibn al-Qayyim in ‘I`lam al-muwaqqi`een’.
    15- Sakhawi
    16- Abu Sa`eed al-`Ala’i (forgery specialist).
    17- Abu Dawud.
    18- Hanafi school.

  20. mikhail says:

    a nice response to those who follow their elders rigorously rather than the usul!!

  21. Lina Haddad says:

    I am a Muslim and have always bene told that Bukhari’s hadith collection is the most authentic; however, I have read references on this site indicating various bukhari hadiths as being fabricated! Isn’t ISlam supposed to be easy for all of mankind to understand? If so, then why are there so many disputes about what is a weak or true hadith? This is deeply troubling for me. One can make the case that everything in our deen is untrue eventually! How can one not go astray with so many scholars disputing such thing?!

    • hiba says:

      I understand your confusion sister, but The Quran is very clear about the haraam and halaal and The Quran can not be changed as it is promised by Allah(S.W.T), so don’t worry if there are a few hadith that maybe weak, The Quran will always be the same.

  22. Qasim says:

    Why can’t u use weak narrations? the scholars of the past use to openly use them as it helped them come to the conclusion of many issues..

  23. Joynal says:

    How can we reject weak hadith then it is as ifwr are rejecting the sahaba who narrated it also saying of out prophet pbuh I understand becouse it is clarified as weak then we ca use it for virtues etc the scolars that say this they got the evidence for it .

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