Introduction to Hadith Studies Thu, Fri 10:15-11:30 Iftikhar Zaman Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Winter 2005 Office Hours: Thu 11:45-1:15, 1:45-3:15 Office: SS287 Course Description: The controversy over the "sources" of early Islamic history (the first three centuries of Islam) is one of the most celebrated in the field. "Sources" refers primarily and in the first instance to "hadith"—texts about the Prophet. Hadith and evaluating hadith provided a dominant model for all kinds of knowledge among Muslims at least for the first few centuries of Islam and arguably, up until the early 20th century when Muslims had to first encounter the West as equals on the intellectual plane. This course reviews the literature on evaluating the authenticity of hadiths in the tradition of Islamic scholarship. As a counterpoint, we will take a brief look at recent attempts by Western scholars to revaluate the hadith literature. Course Objectives and Approach: The methods of classical Muslim scholars to judge the reliability of hadiths are complex. At the same time, whoever takes even a few steps in the study of Islam (whether in Islamic history, or debates on what Islam should be) has to deal with hadith. Impatient with the classical methods, lacking the time and training to come to a considered stance on the hadith material, the student of Islamics faces a bewildering array of methodological choices on how to interpret hadith with almost no preparation. There are some features in the hadith literature the study of which has led modern Western scholars to the network of concerns that dominate discussion among them. Studying the way the classical discipline treats these features will prepare the student to appreciate the functional importance of the otherwise abstract and dry issues of traditional Islamic hadith criticism. Then, a brief glance at modern developments will identify the defining elements of each of the two academic discourses. By the end of the course the student should come away with an ability to understand the pivotal issues when he/she listens to modern and classical debates on hadith (and the related concept of sunna). The Scope of the Course: The Islamic discipline of hadith criticism is sophisticated enough that this course can only be a survey. I shall use the works of modern Western scholars only as a counterpoint to emphasize the "pressure points" in the classical Islamic disciplines. Within the Islamic disciplines, I will focus on the aspect of authenticity (establishing the reliability of texts) although we will be forced to turn the issue of meaning repeatedly (identifying what a text, once established as reliable, should mean in our understanding of Islam) as it cannot be disentangled from the issue of authenticity. Grades and Requirements for doing well in this course: DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO READ THE ASSIGNED READINGS CAREFULLY AND REPEATEDLY BEFORE EACH CLASS. This course demands that the student interact directly with the works of scholars who collected hadiths and analyzed their significance. If the student does not read the texts and come to class with questions, understandings and misunderstandings, there is no point in taking this course. The instructor will email questions on every reading to the students. On Thursday morning there will be a quiz to award the students for having read the material and tried to answer the questions on it. Thursday class will continue with a detailed discussion of the emailed questions. Then, there will be a quiz on Friday on those same readings: this quiz will test comprehension of the issues the email questions raised and that were discussed on Thursday. These two types of quizzes will be 66% of the grade. The final exam will be 34% of the grade. How To Read For This Class And Prepare For It: Please reads this carefully: I will test you on it! Most of us read passively. We assume that the author is going to give us information that we will try to understand and store in our memories for a time when we will need it. Or, we read reactively, with suspicion: we assume that this is a non-Muslim writing about Islam and he will try to distort the data and confuse us about Islam. In this course I would like us to go beyond both passive reading and reactive reading. We shall try to view each one of these authors as an individual living in this world with all the limitations that human beings have. When an author paints a picture we dislike, we shall try to ignore and suppress our distaste for a bit while we identify the colors with which he has painted this picture and the techniques that have gone into it. Then, when we return to our taste, we will know exactly what we like or dislike about the picture and why we like it or dislike it. HOW TO PREPARE FOR CLASS: This is a three unit course. That means that students should attend three hours of classes and spend six hours outside class preparing for class. To do well in this course you will have to start each week's reading well in advance of the class. You will have to read each reading a few times, and think about it between each re-reading. There are questions at the end of each reading. Buy a notebook and write down your answers to each question. Each Thursday class will begin with a multiple choice quiz based on the assigned readings and the emailed questions: it will assume that you have read the assigned readings carefully and repeatedly. After the quiz I will call on students randomly to read out what they have written and we will discuss the answers you have written. Then on Friday, there will be a multiple choice quiz based both on the readings and on the discussion on Thursday. This quiz will assume you have understood the readings fully. The Final will be based on the readings, on the discussion in the tutorials and on the lectures. HOW TO READ: For every reading, first look at the title, the date of publication, the name of the author, the name of the book from which the selection is. Look at the title of the chapter or the section. If there are any subsections in the reading, look at their titles. Read the introductory and concluding paragraphs of the reading and of its subsections if there are any. Browse through the whole reading to get an idea of the types of things the author is saying--where he starts from, where he is going to, how does he get there. Spend fifteen minutes to half an hour on this. Then start reading. Read to the end. Then browse through the whole article again. Try to construct an outline of the entire reading. Read it again. Do not worry about whether you agree with the author or disagree with him. Look at what he is trying to say and how he says it. He is telling a story--what are the important components in the story. He is painting a picture: what are the colors he uses. What are the critical elements in his story. Week1: Introduction The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the classical Islamic discipline of hadith study: its history, its literature and the problems it deals with. This is a vast field and scholars in this tradition continue to produce original and significant works in it to this day.1 Thus, I would like to use the time of this class to focus on learning this tradition. However, to introduce the student to the need for an education in this tradition, I have included two excerpts from works of modern Western scholars describing what they think Muslim scholars feel about hadith. With apologies to both these scholars, I will demonstrate how totally out of touch with this tradition they are. This does not detract from these specific scholars—they are indeed quite competent and, in my estimation, quite sincere—Western scholars are unable to get beyond a simplistic journalistic understanding when they try to describe the approach of Muslims scholarship to hadith. While they will spend volumes describing fine distinctions between the work of Western scholars, when they come to Muslim scholarship, it takes a few strokes to paint the picture. For us this is important because the work on hadith in English is either written within the Western academic tradition, or it is written in response to it and in the arena defined and delimited by it. It is important to throw this all behind for a bit and look directly at the tradition on its own terms. Otherwise we run the risk of putting ourselves in the position of the person accused of beating his wife who was asked "What was the date on which you last beat your wife? Please respond just by giving me a date!" The third reading for this week is a collection of excerpts from the Muqaddimah of Ibn Salah. IMPORTANT: After each reading I have included a series of questions. Please buy a notebook and write down the answers to these questions and bring them to class on Thursday. Class on Thursday will begin with a quiz based on these questions. The quiz should be easy for anyone who has completed the assigned readings and has tried to answer these questions. After the quiz on these readings I will call on students to read the answers they have written to the questions at the end of each reading. Friday class will begin with a second quiz. This quiz will be: based on these same readings and questions, but it will assume you have understood them well. So, while the Thursday quiz ("reading quiz") will typically have four silly answers to each MCQ and one correcft answer, the Friday quiz ("comprehension quiz") will have a number of partially correct answers and only one actually correct answer. My lecture on Friday will assume you have read, understood and digested the assigned readings: it will assume readings, it will not review them. I will begin with a survey of the tradition and we will study only the tradition until the last few weeks of this course. In the final few weeks we will return to a brief look at Western academic views on hadith. 1 This is despite the fact that conventional modern (i.e. "Western") academia is absolutely in the dark about this scholarly tradition. John Burton is a leading authority on hadith among Western scholars today. His book entitld on An Introduction to the Hadith is --a popular introductory text in academic (college-level) courses on the subject. Goldziher can be taken as the founding father of hadith study in Western academia. Burton's approving quote of Goldziher with the words "There is little to quarrel with…" is especially important since it clearly shows that the modern Western academic is comfortable that at the very least he has understood the Muslim understanding of the sunna. This is useful to him later when he will reject it all as being of no use for historical study of Islam—since, as far as the Western academic is concerned, this will be a considered rejection of the tradition and not simply a matter of having dismissed the tradition out of hand. An Introduction to the Hadith John Burton Questions: As Goldziher describes it: 1. What do Muslims think the hadith attempts to preserve—what exactly is its scope? 2. What have Muslims understood as the sources for hadith? List all the sources. Herbert Berg is a young academic who received his PhD in the last ten years or so and now teaches at a University in the USA. This excerpt is from Chapter 2 of a book which is a revised form of his doctoral dissertation. Berg's description of Muslim scholars' view of hadith is important because it can safely be taken to represent what Western academics are comfortable with as an accurate description of the major features of Muslim scholarship on hadith. The Development of Exegesis in Early Islam The Authenticity of Muslim Literature from the Formative Period Herbert Berg EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY PRESS John Burton, 1994 Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh Set in Linotron Trump Medieval by Koinonia Ltd, Bury, and printed in Great Britain by Redwood Books, Trowbridge, Wiltshire (The excerpt is from the Introduction, pg. x.) There is little to quarrel with in Goldziher's resume of what Muslims have generally understood by the term Sunna: The Prophet's pious followers have reverently repeated the enlightening sayings of the master and have endeavoured to preserve for the edification and instruction of the community everything that he said, both in public and in private, regarding the practice of the religious obligations prescribed by him, the conduct of life in general, and social behaviour, whether in relation to the past or the future. When the rapid succession of conquests led them to distant countries, they handed on these hadiths of the Prophet to those who had not heard them with their own ears, and, after his death, they added many salutary sayings which were thought to be in accord with his sentiments and could, therefore, in their view, legitimately be ascribed to him, or of whose soundness they were in general convinced. Chapter 2: Hadith Criticism The assumption of most Muslim scholars has been that the hadith material, at least that contained in the classical canonical collections, is authentic. Canonical status is conferred upon al-Jami' al-sahih of Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari (d. 256/870) and al-Jami' al-sahih of Abu al-Husayn Muslim ibn alHajjaj (d. 261/875), and, to a lesser degree, upon the Kitab al-sunan of Sulayman ibn al-Ash'ath Abu Da'ud al-Sijistanl (d. 275/889), al-Jamic al-sahih of Abu 'Isa Muhammad al-Tirmidhl (d. 279/892-3), the Kitab alsunan of Ahmad ibn Shu'ayb al-Nasa'i (d. 303/915), and the Kitab al-sunan of Abu cAbd Allah Muhammad ibn Yazld al-Rabaci al-Qazwinl ibn Majah (d. 273/887). To these six collections are occasionally added other works, most notably the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241/855), but these others have not quite achieved the same degree of authority. And, while these six works are not immune from criticism, it is generally believed that among them they contain an authentic, authoritative, and fairly complete record of the words and deeds of Muhammad. Although, many Western scholars have not been as generous in their assessment of the material in them, most Muslims continue to feel that the rigorous analysis to which the transmitters of it were subjected by these collectors assures its authenticity. TRADITIONAL SUNNI MUSLIM ACCOUNT1 For Muslims, transmitting the words and deeds of Muhammad is as old as Islam itself. The Qur'an orders Muslims to follow the example of the Messenger2 and so from the very beginning the Companions (sahaba) concerned themselves with following the sunna (conduct or custom) of the Prophet, which was embodied in hadiths (reports or anecdotes) narrating his words and deeds. Muhammad is thought to have taken some pains to ensure the use and dissemination of his sunna.3 Generally, the Umayyad caliph cUmar II (d. 101/720) is credited with having ordered the first collection of hadith material in an official manner, fearing that some of it might be lost.4 Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm (d. 120/737) and Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 124/742), known simply as Ibn Shihab or al-Zuhri, are among those who compiled hadiths at cUmar II's behest. This delay, nearly a century, in having the hadiths recorded resulted from reservations expressed by Muhammad and especially the first four Caliphs to commit to written form anything other than the Qur'an, lest it be confused with the Qur'an. cUmar I is the primary locus for many accounts about hadith collection. He is portrayed as desiring to initiate this project but as unwilling to do so, fearing that Muslims might then neglect the Qur'an. The movement to finally record hadlths initiated by cUmar II and Ibn Shihab, though begun somewhat haphazardly, culminated with the six canonical collections after having received impetus from the establishment of the sunna as the second source of law in Islam, particularly through the efforts of the famous jurist Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafci (d. 204/820). The actual text of the hadith is known as the matn. For a matn to be recognized as an authentic record of one of Muhammad's acts or sayings, it needs to have attached to it the list of the people who were transmitters (muhaddiths) of the matn. This isnad, or chain of authorities, provides the name of the 1 For an account of Shi'i hadith collection, see Kohlberg, "Shi'i Hadith," pp. 299-307. 2 For example, "There is for you in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful model" (Qur^an 33:21) and "Obey Allah and the Messenger so that you might be shown mercy" (Qur'an 3:132) have been interpreted by Muslims to mean that the sayings and actions of Muhammad are binding upon the lives of Muslims. 3 Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p. 5. The distinctions between hadiths and sunna "have long been theoretical," at least for Muslims. Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p. 2. However, scholars have quite different theories of what constitutes sunna at different times and to different Muslims. See pages 13-4 and 32-4. 4 This bears a suspicious resemblance to the first collection of the Qur'an instigated by cUmar I (d. 23/644), who feared that some of the Qur'an might be lost. eyewitness of the actual event, the person to whom s/he related the event, the person to whom this muhaddith related the matn, and so forth until the hadith was recorded. The isnad portion of the hadith was an early standard practice as well, according to Muslim interpretation of the sources. To Muhammad ibn Sirin (d. 1 10/728) is attributed the following remark: They (sc. the traditionalists) were not used to inquiring after the isnad, but when the fitna (= civil war) occurred they said: Name us your informants. Thus if these were ahl as-sunna (= the people of the catholic Muslim community) their traditions were accepted, but if they were ahl al-bidac, their traditions were not accepted.5 For most Muslim scholars, this fitna is the one following the assassination of the third caliph, cUthman (d. 35/656). And so, the regular use of isnads for hadiths, is thought to have begun shortly after 35 A.H. (656 C.E.). This date then also marks the beginning of hadith study as a science in the Muslim community. The implication of Ibn Sirin's statement is that wellmeaning but misguided or even unscrupulous people fabricated or altered hadiths for political, dogmatic, or personal reasons. Muslims freely admit this. But, according to traditional accounts, these vast numbers of obviously false and doubtful hadlths were eliminated in the painstaking process of producing the classical collections. In the third/ninth century, the sifting out of these spurious hadiths focussed largely on the isnad. That is to say, the compilers systematically examined each of the transmitters of every hadith (though often the examination ignored the first level of transmitters, the Companions, who were thought of as being above charges of falsification). Analysis focussed on the transmitter's date and place of birth, familial connections, teachers, students, journeys, moral behaviour, religious beliefs, literary output, and date of death. This allowed compilers to determine not only reliability (thiqat), but also the contemporaneity and geographical proximity of transmitters juxtaposed within the isnad, in an attempt to ascertain whether they could have come in contact. In addition to this biographical analysis (cilm al-rijat), the cohesion (ittisal) of the isnad was examined. The continuity of the isnad was evaluated for missing or unknown muhaddiths or for not reaching back to Muhammad and stopping at a Companion or Successor. In addition, the number of simultaneous transmitters was tallied. A hadith with numerous transmitters at every level of the isnad (mutawatir) was deemed to be beyond doubt of forgery, while one with three or more at each level (mashhur), one with just one at a particular level (gharib), or one with one transmitter at each level (fard) was considered binding but with less weight. On these three bases, a particular hadith would be classified as sahih (sound or 5 Juynboll, trans., "Muslim's Introduction to his Sahih," p. 277. authentic), hasan (good), dacif (weak), or saqim (spurious).6 So Muslims have never suggested that forgery of hadiths was not a problem in early Islam. What they do claim is that the forgeries have been eliminated and that that which has been preserved is, on the whole, the actual words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad.7 Moreover, since criticism of hadiths in the Muslim world has focussed on their isnads,8 dating of a particular hadith is done by ascription. That is, a prophetic hadith came into circulation during the life of Muhammad, and one that terminates with a Companion was probably born in the first few decades after the death of the Prophet. The method of criticism and the conclusions it has reached have not changed significantly since the third/ninth century. Even much of modern Muslim scholarship, while continuing to debate the validity or authenticity of individual hadiths or perhaps the hadiths of a particular transmitter, employs the same methods and biographical (or rijal) materials.9 6 Azami, Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature, pp. 43-4. The terminology does vary somewhat from scholar to scholar. As a result, biographical dictionaries were produced containing an entry for each transmitter. One of the best examples of these is al-Tabaqat al-kubra of Muhammad ibn Sacd (d. 230/ 844), which has some 4,300 entries. 7 There have, of course, been Muslim scholars who have felt free to label as spurious a large number of even the accepted hadiths. The best-known of these scholars are probably the early dogmatic theologians, the Mu'tazila. But by and large, they have formed the exception to the rule. 8 Isnads were not always the sole criteria for authenticity. The mains were also analyzed, and rejected when they contradicted any of: the Qur'an, a mutawatir hadith, the consensus (ijmac) of the community, the tenets of Islam, or common sense -- at least according to Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, pp. 1136. An example that he cites from al-Khatib's Al-Sunna qabla al-tadwin, pp. 242-7 has, in fact, only a few pages on matn criticism. It might be more accurate to say that questions about the matn provoked criticism of the isnad. 9 For a modern textbook on Muslim hadith criticism see, for example, 'Atar, Manhaj al-naqd fi 'ulum alhadith. The question of authenticity of the hadith material is of course debated in the Muslim world. Reformers see in the strict adherence to hadith the epitome of taqlid -- for them, slavish imitation of the past. Some reformers echo Western scholars when they highlight the relatively late written records of hadiths, the assumption of the collective righteousness of the companions, the universally admitted problem of fabrication of at least some hadiths, and the paraphrasing (and hence distortion) of hadith during transmission. The scepticism of the reformers is challenged by orthodox theologians, such as those Questions: 1. Look up the word "canon" in a dictionary. Berg says that Muslim scholars accord "canonical status" to certain books. What could he mean by this? 2. If a Muslim scholar finds a hadith in one of the "canonical collections" what, according to Berg, are all the things the Muslim scholar will feel justified in saying about that hadith? 3. In Berg's view, how much of the Prophet's life do Muslims feel is preserved in the texts six books? 4. According to Berg, what is the Muslim view about when the hadith began to be recorded? 5. What is the difference between scholars and Muslims regarding the sunna and hadith (I am not asking for detail, just name the difference)? 6. What is the word Muslims use for the transmitter of a hadith? 7. Upon the death of cUthman in 35 A.H. people began to fabricate or alter hadiths. When does Berg think that Muslim scholars feel that these false "hadiths" eliminated? 8. What is the technical term that Muslim scholars use for "reliability" of a scholar? 9. According to Berg, what is the basis of Muslim scholars' decision to label a hadith as more or less sound? 10. According to Berg, what do Muslim scholars consider taqlid to be? 11. Berg feels that Muslim reformers are skeptical about the authenticity of hadith. What are the bases of the skepticism of the reformers? of al-Azhar in Egypt, using the traditional arguments. For discussions of relatively recent discussions of hadith analysis in the Muslim world, particularly Egypt and Pakistan, see Juynboll, The Authenticity of the Tradition Literature and Brown, Rethinking tradition in Modern Islamic Thought. The seventh century author Ibn Salah gathered together the conclusions of hadith scholars of the centuries preceding him in a "Prologue" that captured the attention of the ummah. Since his work most works on the principles of hadith criticism use the format and order of his work as a skeleton. He has divided up his subject matter into 65 "disciplines" in the knowledge of hadith. Below is a translation of the first "discipline"—how to learn sound hadiths. The Muqaddimah of Ibn Salah Abu cAmr cUthman ibn cAbd al-Rahman alShahrazuwriy, (commonly known as "Ibn Salaah") d. 642. 1. THE FIRST OF THE DISCIPLINES OF HADITH: KNOWLEDGE OF SOUND HADITHS 1. Know, God grant me and you knowledge, that hadiths scholars divide hadiths into sahiyh [sound], hasan and daciyf [weak]. The sahiyh hadith is one that goes all the way back to the Prophet with a continuous chain of narration consisting of one narrator that is just (caadil), and has control of the material he conveys (daabit), to another such just narrator who has control of the material he conveys until the end of the chain of narration—provided that the hadith is neither atypical (shaadhdh) nor does it have a hidden defect (cillah). These conditions are to exclude the: mursal hadith [that does not go back all the way to the Prophet], the munqatic hadith [that is narrated through a chain of narration missing one link], the mucdal hadith [that is narrated through a chain of narration missing more than one link] the shaadhdh hadith [that is atypical], and the hadith that has a damaging cillah [hidden defect] in it. 2. So this is the hadith which will be judged sahiyh without any disagreement among hadith scholars. Sometimes scholars will disagree about the soundness of a hadith because they disagree about the presence of these qualities in a hadith or because they disagree about some of these conditions—as they do about the condition that a sound hadith must go all the way back to the prophet [must not be mursal]. 3. When the scholars say "This is a sound [sahiyh]hadith" this means that its chain of narration is continuous with all these aforementioned qualities; it is not necessary that the hadith be certainly true in point of fact since there are sound hadiths reported on the authority of a single narrator and which the ummah has not accepted unanimously.1 In this same way, when they say "This hadith is not sound" this is not a definite statement that the hadith is false in point of fact, since it is possible that it actually be true. The point is only that its chain of narration is not sound according to the above conditions. God only knows best. 1 This is reference to a principle that it cannot be that a time come upon the ummah that the truth cannot be found anywhere in the ummah. A corollary of this then, is that all the knowledgeable among the entire ummah cannot gather together in error. Ibn Salah will use this principle repeatedly in this section: that when the knowledgeable among the ummah have accepted a hadith, a set of hadiths, a hadith work or a number of hadith works as sound, then their unanimity is guarantor of their decision being correct. 4. IMPORTANT NOTES: NOTE 1: The sahiyh hadith can be unanimously sound or it can be sound with disagreement, as I have just mentioned. It can be mashhuwr or ghariyb or between the two. In addition, the degree to which a hadith is sound will vary according to the strength in which a hadith has the above mentioned qualities that make a hadith sound. There is an uncountable number of types of the sound hadith—this is why we believe that it is better to avoid declaring an isnad or a hadith to be the soundest of all isnads or hadiths. Despite this a group of leading scholars of hadith (a'immah) have entered these deep waters and have made mutually contradictory decisions about this. So, we have been told that Ishaq ibn Rahawayh said: "The soundest of all chains of narrations is Zuhri from Salim from his father [cAbdullah ibn c Umar]." The same thing has come to us from Ahmad ibn Hanbal. We have been told from cAmr ibn cAli al-Fallas that he said: "The soundest of all hadiths is Muhammad ibn Siriyn from cAbiydah from c Ali. The same thing has come to us from cAli ibn al-Madiyni and others also. Then some identify the narrator narratng from Muhammad as Ayyuwb al-Sakhtiyaani while others make it Ibn cAwn. And among the things I have from Yahya ibn Maciyn is that he said: "The best isnad is Acmash from Ibrahim from cAlqamah from c Abdullah [ibn Mascuwd]. And we have been told from Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah that he said: "The soundest of all isnads is from c Ali ibn al-Husayn from his father [Husayn] from cAli [ibn Abi Talib]." And we have it from Abu cAbdullah al-Bukhari, the author of the Sahiyh that he said: "The soundest of all hadiths is Malik from Nafic from Ibn cUmar." And the leading scholar [imam] Abu Mansuwr cAbd al-Qahir ibn Tahir al-Tamiymi built on this and said that the greatest isnad is Shafici from Malik from Nafic from Ibn c Umar. As evidence for this he said refers to the consensus among the hadith folk that there was no one greater than Shafici among the narrators relating from Malik (God be pleased with them all). God only knows best. 5. NOTE 2: When we find a hadith with a sound isnad among the smaller collections of hadith that we narrate or in some other place, and we cannot find it in either of the two sound books [Bukhari or Muslim], nor do we find any of the leading hadith scholars having declared it to be sound in any of their reliable and well-known writings, we cannot presume to definitely judge it to be sound. In our days it has become impossible to independently identify sound hadiths just by looking at the isnads because every hadith we find in these books has some narrator on whom the author had relied who does not have the qualities of memory and control and mastery that are required in a sound hadith. So in identifying the sound hadith and the hasan hadith the matter ends up on having to rely on the explicit statements of leading hadith scholars in their well known and reliable works regarding which we can be sure that there has been no deliberate modification or corruption because they are so well known. The major purpose, then, of the isnads that are passed on is to maintain the continuity of the chain of narration with which has been especially granted to this ummah. 6. NOTE 3: The first to compose a book limited to only sound hadiths was Bukhari: Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismaciyl al-Jucfiy by clienthood. Then he was followed by Abu al-Husayn Muslim ibn al- Hajjaj al-Qushayri of the Banu Qushayr. While Muslim narrated hadiths from Bukhari and learned from him, he also participated with Bukhari in narrating hadiths from most of his teachers. The books of these two authors are the soundest of all books after the Respected Book of God. As for what had been related to us from Shafici that he said: "I don't know of any book on the surface of the earth more correct than the book of Malik [the Muwatta]." Others narrate this with slightly different words. He [Shafici] only said this before Bukhari and Muslim had written their books. Then, the book of Bukhari is the more sound and has the more scholarly benefit to it. It has been related to us that Abu cAli the Hafiz of Nishapur, the teacher of the Hakim Abu c Abdullah the Hafiz, said: "There is no book more sound than the book of Muslim ibn Hajjaj." There is nothing wrong with this and other such statements of the scholars of the West who prefer Muslim's book over Bukhari's if they mean that Muslim's book is better because he has included only sound hadiths in it, for after his Prologue these is nothing but sound hadiths related one after another with nothing mixed with the hadiths as in Bukhari's book where he has included statements in his chapter titles without isnads that meet the standards he has maintained in his Sahiyh. But this does not imply that Muslim's book is better than Bukhari's in terms of soundness itself. If, however, these statements are to mean that Muslim's book is sounder in its hadiths than Bukhari's, then we deny this. God only knows best. 7. NOTE 4: These two authors have not covered all the sahiyh hadiths in their books and they did not intend to do so. So, we have it from Bukhari that he said: "I have only included sound hadiths in my book and I have left out [many] sound hadiths to not tire te reader by making my book too long." It has been related to us from Muslim that he said: "I have not included here (i.e. in his book the Sahiyh) every hadith that is sound in my opinion. I have only included hadiths that they have agreed upon." I say, God only knows best, that he had only included those hadiths in his book which, in his opinion, had in them those qualities that are unanimously agreed upon as required in a sound hadith—even though some scholars disagree about the presence of these qualities in some hadiths. 8. In addition, Abu cAbdullah al-Akhram had said: "There are very few verifiable hadiths that both Bukhari and Muslim have missed," that is, in their two books. But one could say that they are not few at all since the Mustadrak `ala al-sahiyhayn of Abu cAbdullah al-Hakim is a large book which contains many hadiths which they have missed. There are problems in some of them, but even after taking this into account he has managed to collect many sound hadiths. He has reported a total of 7257 sound hadiths including repeated hadiths. It has also been said that he has 4000 hadiths after ignoring repeated hadiths, but perhaps this count includes the sayings and reports of the companions and the successors. Also, perhaps this count considers a single text reported by two chains of narration to be two hadiths. 9. Then, to add to his knowledge of the sound hadiths in the two books, the student should take hadiths that are in the famous and reliable hadith collections of leading hadith scholars such as Abu Dawud al-Sijistani, Abu cIysa al-Tirmidhi, Abu cAbd al-Rahman al-Nasaa'iy, Abu Bakr ibn Khuzaymah, Abu al-Hasan al-Dara Qutani and others, provided that there is an explicit statement of their being sound in the book. It is not enough that a hadith is present in the books of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'iy and all those scholars who collected both sound hadiths and other hadiths in their books. It is enough that a hadith be in the books of those who have taken upon themselves only to include sound hadiths in their collections, such as the book of Ibn Khuzaymah. Similarly, it is enough to judge a hadith sound for it to be in one of the books that have been derived from ["are a takhriyj"] applying the standards that Bukhari and Muslim have maintained in their books: such as the books of Abu cUwanah al-Isfar'iyni, and Abu Bakr al-Ismaciyli and Abu Bakr al-Burqaaniy and others who have completed incomplete hadiths and added commentary to many of the hadiths of the two sound books. There is a lot of this kind of material in Abu cAbdullah alHumaydi's Kitab al-jamc bayn al-sahiyhan. 10. Abu Abdullah al-Hakim, the Hafiz, paid special attention to add to the number of sound hadiths in the two sound book and he gather all this together in a book he called al-Mustadrak in which he included hadiths that were in neither of the two sound books and that he felt met their conditions and were narrated by people whose hadiths the two sound books already included, or hadiths that met the condition of either Bukhari or of Muslim. But, he is rather free in applying the conditions of soundness and quick to judge a hadith sound. It is best to take the path of moderation in judging him so we would say that if he judges a hadith to be sound and other leading scholars don't do so, then if it isn't sahiyh it is hasan and can be brought in as evidence in debate and can be put into practice until we see a weakness that forces us to declare it weak. This is also pretty much the judgment about the hadiths of Sahiyh of Ibn Hibbaan al-Busti. 11. NOTE 5: The authors of the books derived according to the conditions of the books of Bukhari or Muslim2 (God be pleased with them) did not take it upon themselves to derive hadiths that had the exact wordings of the hadith as reported in the two books with no addition or deletion. They report those hadiths through chains of narration that bypassed Bukhari or Muslim in an attempt to report the hadiths through a higher [brief] isnad, so there is some difference in words in some of their reports. Similarly those hadiths that other authors such as Bayhaqi's Sunan Kubra and Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi's Sharh al-sunnah, report in their independently composed books regarding which they say "Bukhari (or Muslim) have narrated this hadith"—one should take them to mean no more than that Bukhari (or Muslim) have narrated the text of the hadith with the possibility that there be a difference in words. Sometimes there can also be some difference in meaning since I have found examples of this in which there is some such difference in meaning. When this is how things are, you would not be justified in copying a hadith from these books and saying that the hadith is like this in Bukhari (or Muslim) unless you either compare the words of the hadith with the original texts or the author explicitly states: "Bukhari has narrated this hadith with these words." Yes, you would be justified stating this in the case of the books that are abridgments of the two sound books, 2 An author of a work "derived" (mustakhraj) from Bukhari's Sahih for example, would begin with a text that Bukhari has reported through a certain chain of narration. The author of the derived work would report that same text from a chain of narration in which he would bypass Bukhari and would "connect" to Bukhari's own chain of narration by reporting the hadith from the same person from whom Bukhari reports it. since their authors copy the words of the two sound books or of one of them. Humaydi alAndalusi's book al-Jamc bayn al-sahiyhayn is different since, as I have said, it contains some additional words that complete some hadiths so an indiscriminating person would copy something from it and attribute it to the two sound books or to one of them and he would be wrong since that addition might not even exist in either of the two sound books. Finally, these derived books have two benefits to them: one is that they present higher isnads, and the other is that they add to our knowledge of sound hadiths because they establish the soundness of the additional words or completions of some hadiths that are not in the original but they narrate them through the chains of narration that have been confirmed as sound in the two sound books or in one of them. 12. NOTE 6: The hadiths that both Bukhari and Muslim narrate through connected chains in their books are the hadiths that we can judge sound without any doubt. But one needs to consider separately hadiths that are mucallaq, that is, hadiths that are reported through chains of narration from which one or more of the narrators has been dropped from the beginning of the isnad. Usually you find this kind of hadith in Bukhari: it is rare indeed in Muslim's book. We should say that those mucallaq hadiths are sound in the eyes of the author in which the author attributes the words definitely to the person he quotes at beginning of the isnad. For example, where he says something like: "The Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace..." or "Ibn Abbas said…" or "Mujahid said…" or " cAffaan said…" or "Qacnabiy said…" or "Abu Hurayrah narrated…." All these places represent his decision that the person he is quoting actually said what he reports him as saying and narrating. The author of the hadith collection would never permit himself to use these kinds of words unless he was persuaded that the narrator to whom he was attributing these words directly had actually said those words. Then, if the person the author quotes is from the generations after that of the Companions, the decision that the hadith is sound rests on the isnad being continuous between the person being quoted and the Companion. 13. But places where the author does not use a word that definitely attributes the text to the person he quotes do not at all represent any decision by the author that the text is soundly attributed to the person he quotes. This would be in words like: "It is narrated from the Prophet that …" or "It is narrated from so and so that …" or "In this issue there is a hadith from the Prophet that …." These words and words like them can also be used in reporting a weak hadith. Despite this, the fact that the author reports this hadith in his Sahiyh constitutes a suggestion that stands to reason and one tends to credit, that there is a basis in fact to it. God only knows best. 14. After all this, there is very little in this material that does not fulfill the criterion of soundness. There is some such material in Bukhari's book in the titles to the chapters of his book and not in the text of his book and in the midst of the content of the book as indicated by the title he gave it: al-Jaamic al-sahiyh al-musnad al-mukhtasar min umuwr rasuwlillaahi sallallaahu calayhi wa sallama wa sunanihi wa ayyaamihi [the comprehensive, sound and brief book of hadiths that go back all the way to the Prophet reporting about him and his exemplary ways of doing things and the significant events of his life]. General statements such as "I have only included sound hadiths in my book al-Jaamic" must be interpreted within the bounds we have described. Similarly Hafiz Abu Nasr al-Wayiliy al-Sajizi's general statement "The jurists are agreed that if a person were to swear: 'May my wife be divorced if it is not true that all that is narrated from the Prophet in Bukhari's book is established from the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) and he actually said it' there is no doubt that his oath would be sound and his wife would remain in her condition within the bounds of his wedlock" or Abu cAbdullah alHumaydi's statement in his book al-Jamc bayn al-sahiyhayn "These are the only two leading scholars from the past from whom we have found a clear statement that all that they have gathered is sound"—all such statements refer to the text of the book and its substance not to the chapter titles and similar things, since in these latter places there is definitely some material that is not of this quality. An example is Bukhari's statement "Chapter about what had been mentioned regarding the thigh. It has narrated from Ibn Abbas and Jurhud and Muhammad ibn Jahsh from the Prophet, God bless him and send peace upon him, "The thigh is among the parts of the body that one must hide." Or, Bukhari's statement in the beginning of the first of the chapters about bathing "Bahz ibn Hakiym said, from his father, from his grandfather, from the Prophet, God bless him and send peace on him, 'Allah is the most deserving of modesty." This definitely does not meet Bukhari's standards of soundness and this is why Humaydi does not record it in his Jamc bayn al-sahiyhayn. So be aware of this: it is both important and not immediately apparent. God only knows best. 15. NOTE 7: When it turns out that one knows sound hadiths through the reports that the leading scholars have narrated in those of their works that take up the task of clarifying this, as we have already said, one needs to point out the types of the sound hadith in this respect. So, the first type is the sound hadith that both Bukhari and Muslim have narrated. The second is the sound hadith that Bukhari alone has reported and Muslim has not reported. The third type is the sound hadith that Muslim alone has reported and Bukhari has not narrated. The fourth type is the sound hadith that fulfills the criteria of both Bukhari and Muslim but they have not narrated. The fifth type is the sound hadith that fulfills the criteria of Bukhari but he has not reported it. The sixth type is the sound hadith that fulfills the criteria of Muslim but he has not reported it. The seventh type is the hadith that is sound according to other leading scholars but does not fulfill the criteria of either Bukhari or Muslim. So these are the major types of the sound hadith. The highest among them is the first type about which you often hear hadith folk saying: "Sahiyh mutaffaq calayh" (sound and agreed upon). They say this in these general words and the mean that Bukhari and Muslim are agreed upon it, not that the entire ummah is agreed upon it. Nevertheless, the agreement of these two results in the ummah being agreed upon it since the ummah has accepted what they have agreed upon. 16. This type of the sahiyh hadith is definitely sound and leads to deduced, certain knowledge. Those who would deny this argue that in its essence a sound hadith can lead to more than probably knowledge and the ummah has only accepted it is because the ummah is required to act on probably knowledge—and probable knowledge can err. I used to incline towards this and think that this was a strong argument but then it became clear to me that the position I have mentioned first is the correct one. This is because the probably opinion of an inerrant person cannot err. This is why ijmaac on an issue decided on by ijtihaad is certain evidence—and most of the ijmaac of scholars is just like this. This is a valuable and useful point. It also shows that if only Bukhari, or only Muslim has narrated a hadith, nevertheless one can say that it is sound with certainty since the ummah has accepted the books of each on of them, as we have explained regarding the two books—excepts for a few things that the Huffaz amongst hadith critics have such as Dara Qutani and others have criticized, and which are well known amongst the knowledgable. God only knows best. 17. NOTE 8: The previous discussion shows that today the way to know sound hadiths and hasan hadiths is by studying the two sound books and other reliable books. So if someone is, according to his school of thought, at the level at which it is appropriate for him to base his practice on hadith or use hadiths as evidence in debates about religious issues, and he wishes to use hadith for practice or as evidence, then he should turn to a primary manuscript that he himself or someone he relies upon has compared with a number of primary manuscripts narrated through a number of different types of chains of narration so that by means of this comparison—along with the fact that these books we have mentioned and the books after them have become too well known for someone to try to modify or corrupt—he feel confident on the material that these manuscripts all record. Questions: Note: Read this selection keeping in mind the format in which Ibn Salah is presenting this material. He has not presented all the material in these pages in a uniform manner. Some is the main text, some consists of notes. Understand what Ibn Salah has said keeping in mind where in the structure of his article the things he has said occur. Answer all the questions below with respect to Ibn Salah's opinion: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. What is Ibn Salah telling us in this entire selection? What is it that makes a hadith sound? Hint: Answer this question carefully try to capture the nuance of Ibn Salah's entire position in your answer. What are the qualities required in a sound hadith? In para 3 Ibn Salah places a limit on the amount we can rely on the judgment of hadith scholar that a hadith is sound. How does paara 16 modify this limit? After presenting his definition of a sound hadith Ibn Salah tells us that this definition is agreed upon. In what sense, however, is this definition "agreed upon?" What is the special status of the works of Bukhari and Muslim and why do they have this status? Do the remaining four of the six books participate in this status? If a scholar finds a hadith in one of the "canonical collections" what are all the things that one can justifiably say about that hadith? What pieces of evidence does Ibn Salah present to show that Bukhari's book and Muslim's do not contain all the sound hadiths that exist? Having understood what Ibn Salah has said, how much of the Prophet's life, do you think, is preserved in the texts of the two sound books, or in the six sound books? What are the two ways in which hadiths can be "used" and who can use them? Can there be anything other than sound hadiths in the Sahih of Bukhari or that of Muslim? What is the point of learning isnads today? What is ths benefits of works "derived" (mustakhraj) from the two sound works of hadith? When is it possible to consider the presence of a hadith in a certain book to be evidence of it being sound? Ibn Salah considers various ways of rankming hadiths and issues decision about them. Make a list of all the methods by which one can rank hadiths as more or less sound—whether Ibn Salah feels they are justified or not.