Can I Reject a Ḥadīth because I feel that it contradicts ‘Intellect’/‘Reason’? Or I feel that it contradicts the Principles and Objectives of Sharī‘ah?
By (Muftī) Muadh Chati, assistant Muftī
Bismillāhir Raḥmānir Raḥīm,
Indeed, the Aḥādīth of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam hold a sacred place in the hearts of Muslims. The Aḥādīth are considered a primary source of Sharī‘ah and contain essential commands and advices that construct the edifice of Sharī‘ah.
Recently, claims have been made by reformists that it is permissible to reject a noble Ḥadīth if one feels that it contradicts one’s intellect or one feels that it contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah.
For example, these reformists have claimed that the narration found in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī that purports that one wing of a fly contains an illness while the other contains a cure contradicts the intellect. This is despite the fact that it does not contradict the intellect at all, in fact, many modern-day cures contain remnants of the disease itself, as is the case with anti-venom; it is made using venom.
Some reformists have claimed that the narration narrated in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī that purports that Mūsā ‘Alayh al-Salām placed his clothes on a stone that ran away, contradicts the principles of Sharī‘ah as it involves an unclothed Prophet running after his clothes. This is despite the fact that this does not contradict the principles of Sharī‘ah at all, in fact, the Qur’ān informs us of the story of Ādam ‘Alayh al-Salām and Hawā ‘Alayhā al-Salām, which contains similar elements to this narration.
These claims of rejecting Aḥādīth on the assumption that they contradict the intellect or the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah are claimed to be validated by statements of the scholars of the past such as Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH).
In the coming article, we intend to discuss two issues:
- Can a narration be labelled as a fabrication if I feel that it is contradictory to intellect/reason?
- Can a narration be labelled as a fabrication if I feel that it contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah?
Note: in order to gain a better grasp of this article, readers are advised to read the entire article.
Can a narration be labelled as a fabrication if I feel that it is contradictory to ‘intellect’/‘reason’?
The Role of the Intellect/Reason in Sharī‘ah
An intellectual person is able to comprehend that his eyes, ears, nose, and other limbs have limitations. Human beings do not have the ability to see in the dark, nor do they have the ability to hear certain sound frequencies, and nor are they are able to smell certain odors. It then makes sense to state that if all the faculties of our body are confined by boundaries, then our intellect must also have a limit.
If this is coupled with the fact that we have been obliged to follow the commandments of the noble Sharī‘ah, whatever they may be, we are able to deduce that we are required to follow the commandments of Sharī‘ah regardless of whether they fall within the limitations of our intellect or outside of the limitations of our intellect.
If the Sharī‘ah were to be based exactly in accordance to our intellect, there would be no aspect of faith/belief (Ῑmān) and the Sharī‘ah would inevitably serve the dictates of our innate self (nafs). The Sharī‘ah was sent in order to free each individual from the grasps of his innate self (nafs), it was not sent to become subservient to the innate self (nafs).
Imām al-Bazdawī Raḥimahullah (d.482 AH) writes:
وَأَنَّ الْعَقْلَ لَا يَنْفَكُّ عَنِ الْهَوَى فَلَا يَصْلُحُ حُجَّةً بِنَفْسِهِ بِحَالٍ
“And the intellect/reason is not free from desires (hawā), thus it alone can never serve as evidence”
We are required to follow the commandments and dictates of Allah and His Messenger Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam; this is regardless of whether their commandments gain the support of our feeble intellect or the support of capricious scientific research.
As ‘Allāmah al-Qurṭubī Raḥimahullah (d.671 AH) explains:
إِنَّ اللهَ سُبْحَانَهُ لَمْ يَبْنِ أُمُوْرَ الدِّيْنِ عَلَى عُقُوْلِ الْعِبَادِ وَلَمْ يَعِدْ وَلَمْ يُوْعِدْ عَلَى مَا تَحْتَمِلُهُ عُقُوْلُهُمْ وَيُدْرِكُوْنَهَا بِأَفْهَامِهِمْ بَلْ وَعَدَ وَأَوْعَدَ بِمَشِيْئَتِهِ وَإِرَادَتِهِ وَأَمَرَ وَنَهَى بِحِكْمَتِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ كُلَّمَا لَا تُدْرِكُهُ الْعُقُوْلُ مَرْدُوْدًا لَكَانَ أَكْثَرَ الشَّرَائِعِ مُسْتَحِيْلًا
“Indeed, Allah, The Exalted, did not base the matters of Dīn upon the intellect of the servants, and He did not promise or warn in accordance to what their intellects expect and understand, rather, he promised and warned according to His liking, and He commanded and prohibited with His wisdom. And if everything that the intellect does not comprehend were to be rejected, then the majority of the Sharī‘ah would be made redundant”
The same applies to scientific discoveries; they are dependent upon research and investigations, the findings of which may change from time to time. Our Sharī‘ah is neither dependent nor confined by the discoveries of the modern-age. As ‘Allāmah Khaṭtābī Raḥimahullah (d.388 AH) explains:
وَلَيْسَ بِنَا حَاجَةٌ مَعَ قَوْلِ الرَّسُوْلِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الصَّادِقُ الْمَصْدُوْقُ الَّذِيْ يَأْتِيْهِ الْوَحْيُ بِأَسْرَارِ الْغَيْبِ إِلَى الْإِسْتِشْهَادِ بِأَقَاوِيْلِ أَهْلِ الطِّبِّ الَّذِيْنَ إِنَّمَا وَصَلُوْا إِلَى مَا وَصَلُوْا إِلَيْهِ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ بِمُقَدَّمَاتِ التَّجَارِبِ وَالْإِمْتِحَانِ وَمِنْ قَوْلِ أُسْتَاذِهِمْ بِقُرَاطَ فِيْ أَوَّلِ كِتَابِهِ: التَّجْرِبَةُ خَطَرٌ
“We have no need to present with the statement of the Prophet Sallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam – the truthful, the accepted, the one to whom the revelation brought secrets of the unseen – as support, the statements of doctors, who have only acquired what they have acquired from their knowledge through experimentation and investigation, and in the words of one of their peers, Hippocrates, at the start of his book (titled Aphorisms): ‘experimentum periculosum’ (experiments are deceitful)”
It is our belief that because our intellect is limited, that which benefits us can only be determined by our Creator – Whose knowledge is limitless.
Imām al-Shāṭibī Raḥimahullah (d.790 AH) writes:
قَدْ عُلِمَ بِالتِّجَارِبِ وَالْخِبْرَةِ السَّارِيَةِ فِي الْعَالَمِ مِنْ أَوَّلِ الدُّنْيَا إِلَى الْيَوْمِ أَنَّ الْعُقُوْلَ غَيْرُ مُسْتَقِلَّةٍ بِمَصَالِحِهَا اسْتِجْلَابًا لَهَا أَوْ مَفَاسِدِهَا اسْتِدْفَاعًا لَهَا
“Indeed, it has been known through experience and normative understanding in the universe, from the beginning of the world until today, that the intellect is not independent in knowing that which is beneficial for it; so that it may acquire it, or [in knowing] that which is harmful for it; so that it may refrain from it”
Shāh Waliullah al-Muḥaddith al-Dehlawī Raḥimahullah (d.1176 AH) writes:
النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَوْثَقُ عِنْدَنَا مِنْ عُقُوْلِنَا
“The Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam is more reliable to us than our intellect”
Of course, this is not to say that the human intellect and reason have no place in Sharī‘ah. It is possible for a person to recognise the existence and greatness of Allah the Almighty through his intellect and reason.
Scholars including the likes of Ibn Abīal-Dunyā Raḥimahullah (d.281 AH), Ibn Ḥibbān Raḥimahullah (d.354 AH), al-Ghazālī Raḥimahullah (d.505 AH), Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH), Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī Raḥimahullah (d.606 AH), and Imām al-Shāṭibī Raḥimahullah (d.790 AH) have written on the incredible gift from Allah, that is, the human intellect and reason.
However, the human intellect has its limits, it cannot be used to supersede and override the indisputable commands of Allah and the authentic commands of His Messenger Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam. Accordingly, our approach to the human intellect and reason should be balanced.
The Malikī scholar, Zayn al-Dīn Ibn al-Munayyir Raḥimahullah (d.695 AH) said:
مَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّ الْأَحْكَامَ كُلَّهَا تَعَبُّدِيَّةٌ لَا مَجَالَ لِلْقِيَاسِ فِيْهَا أَلْحَقَهُ بِجُحُوْدِ الْجَبْرِيَّةِ وَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهَا قِيَاسِيَّةٌ مَحْضَةٌ أَلْحَقَهُ بِتَهَوُّرِ الْمُعْتَزِلَةِ وَالْحَقُّ فِي التَّوَسُّطِ “وَكَانَ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ قَوَامًا”
“If one considers the rulings [of Sharī‘ah] to be entirely literal in which there is no scope for intellectual reasoning, then this shall lead him to the denial perpetrated by the al-Jabariyyah sect (a deviant sect), and if one considers them (the rulings of Sharī‘ah) to be completely [based upon] intellectual reason, then this shall lead him to the mistakes perpetrated by the al-Mu‘tazilah sect (a deviant sect), and the correct [approach] is a middle-path/moderation; [Allah the Almighty says], ‘And they are steadfast in the middle [path]’”
A balanced approach towards human intellect and reason in Sharī‘ah may be understood with a parable presented by a renowned scholar. Consider three individuals leaving their homes with the intention of climbing a steep mountain. Each of the three individuals possesses a horse. The first individual considers a horse a critical asset, thus he rides his horse from his home until he reaches the mountain, after reaching the mountain; he begins to climb the steep mountain while riding his horse, almost immediately, both the horse and the rider fall of the mountain. The second individual considers a horse a useless asset, accordingly, instead of riding the horse, he begins to walk from his home towards the mountain, however, when he reaches the mountain, he is too exhausted to climb the mountain. The third individual has a balanced approach towards the horse, he knows that while the horse has its capabilities, it also has its limitations, thus he rides the horse until he reaches the mountain, he then dismounts from the horse and begins to climb the mountain on foot. He succeeds in climbing the mountain.
The third individual succeeds in climbing the mountain because he used his horse at the correct juncture and left his horse at the correct juncture, while the first individual relied entirely upon his horse, such that he used the horse at an incorrect juncture, and the second individual did not valorize his horse at all.
We cannot reject the tenets of our religion and the authentic Aḥādīth if we ‘feel’ that they contradict our reasoning or intellect.
The irresolute/fickle morals, ethics, opinions, and beliefs of the modern society cannot be made a standard for the resolute and firm principles of Islām. The modern society considers correct today what it considered incorrect yesterday and it will consider correct tomorrow what it considers incorrect today. Similarly, the modern society considers absurd today what it considered comprehensible yesterday and it will consider comprehensible tomorrow what is considers absurd today.
Can I use my Intellect/Reason to reject Aḥādīth?
Recently, we have seen a wave of attacks hurled at the noble Aḥādīth of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam. Individuals claiming to be championing a supposed ‘voice of reason’ have forced their intellect and reasoning onto the noble Prophetic narrations, thus rejecting narrations that supposedly contradict their intellect and reasoning.
Using the statements of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) and others, these individuals are claiming that it is possible for every individual to reject Aḥādīth.
In explaining what is meant by the notion of when a text of Ḥadīth contradicts intellect, modernists and Islamic reformists take great pleasure in quoting another statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH):
وَكُلُّ حَدِيْثٍ رَأَيْتَهُ يُخَالِفُ الْعُقُوْلَ أَوْ يُنَاقِضُ الْأُصُوْلَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ مَوْضُوْعٌ فَلَا تَتَكَلَّفْ اعْتِبَارَهُ
“And every Ḥadīth that you see contradicting the intellect or breaking the principles [of Sharī‘ah], then know that it is fabricated, so do not exert yourself in considering it”
‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah (d.904 AH) explains:
الرِّكَّةُ فِي الْمَعْنَى كَأَنْ يَكُوْنَ مُخَالِفًا لِلْعَقْلِ ضَرُوْرَةً أَوْ اسْتِدْلَالًا وَلَا يَقْبَلُ التَّأْوِيْلَ بِحَالٍ نَحْوَ الْإِخْبَارِ عَنِالْجَمْعِ بَيْنَ الضِّدَّيْنِ وَعَنْ نَفْيِ الصَّانِعِ وَقِدَمِ الْأَجْسَامِ
“Feebleness in the meaning, such as it being contradictory to the intellect logically or calculatedly, and it does not accept reconciliation in any way, such as a narration that informs of two opposites coming together or it rejects a creator or it informs that the bodies are pre-eternal (all of which contradict the intellect)”
‘Allāmah al-Suyūṭī Raḥimahullah (d.911 AH) explains:
أَنْ يَكُوْنَ مُخَالِفًا لِلْعَقْلِ بِحَيْثُ لَا يَقْبَلُ التَّأْوِيْلَ
“…that it contradicts the intellect in a manner that it cannot be reconciled”
It is clear from the quotes above that when Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) mentioned that a Ḥadīth may be labeled as fabricated if it contradicts the intellect, he was not referring to Aḥādīth that contradict the understandings and morals of the fickle modern-day society, rather, he was referring to Aḥādīth that contradict basic logic. For example, if the words of a supposed Ḥadīth were to claim that Allah does not exist, or that 1 + 1 = 3, then this supposed Ḥadīth would be rejected.
This is supported by the fact that Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) mentions this statement after quoting a fabricated narration that claims that Allah the Almighty created Himself (this is logically impossible as the created cannot be a creator). Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) also precedes the above-mentioned statement with the words:
لِأَنَّ الْمُسْتَحِيْلَ لَوْ صَدَرَ عَنِ الثِّقَاتِ رُدَّ
“…because if a logically impossible (Mustahil – such as a supposed narration claiming that Allah does not exist) statement were to be made by reliable narrators, it would be rejected”
As for when a Ḥadīth heralds a meaning of miracles or other concepts that the intellect cannot comprehend or fathom, then such a Ḥadīth cannot be impetuously rejected.
It is for this reason that a leading scholar of Ḥadīth of our time, Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah, may Allah preserve him, explains:
الْعَقْلُ السَّلِيْمُ الشَّرْعِيُ الْخَالِيْ مِنْ شَوَائِبِ الْهَوَى وَالْإِنْحِرَافِ ولوثات الثقافة المعاصرة والمادية الملحدة وَإِلَّا كَانَ الدِّيْنُ أُلْعُوْبَةً لِكُلِّ ذِيْ هَوًى وَضَلَالَةٍ تَحْتَ شِعَارِ التَّمَسُّكِ بِمِثْلِ هَذِهِ النُّصُوْصِ وَنَحْنُ نَعِيْشُ هَذِهِ الْمَفَاهِيْمَ الْآنَ!!
“The intellect (that is considered in the field of Ḥadīth) is one that is sound, bound by Sharī‘ah, and free from the clamours of desire and heresy and the contamination of the modern society and the atheistic environment, otherwise, the Dīn would become a play for every deviant and misguided person under [the pretense] of holding firm to such statements (that mention that intellect plays a role in Ḥadīth), and we are now living in the time of such thoughts!”
To reiterate, the irresolute/fickle morals, ethics, opinions, and beliefs of the modern society cannot be made a standard for the resolute and firm principles of Islām. The modern society considers correct today what it considered incorrect yesterday and it will consider correct tomorrow what it considers incorrect today. Similarly, the modern society considers absurd today what it considered comprehensible yesterday and it will consider comprehensible tomorrow what is considers absurd today.
Can a narration be labeled as a fabrication if I feel that it contradicts the principles and objectivesof Sharī‘ah?
We have acquired our Aḥādīth through chains of narrations. These chains of narrations were rigorously scrutinized by the Ḥadīth scholars of the past who analysed the intricate details of a chain of narration in order to deduce whether a narration is sound, apocryphal, or fabricated. At times, masterful Ḥadīth scholars of the past scrutinized a narration based upon the fact that the text of the narration contradicts a fundamental and bonafide principle of Sharī‘ah. However, this was a delicate task, undertaken by a privileged few, as performing this daunting task required one to have profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth. It was in no way permitted for the laity.
Islamic reformists have made an attempt to allow the layman to also engage in criticism of a narration based upon whether its text is in conformity with the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah or not. This is despite the fact that a layman does not even have basic knowledge of Sharī‘ah, never mind the delicate and complex knowledge required to make such precarious decisions.
Modernists and Islāmic reformists take great pleasure in quoting statements of scholars such as Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH), Al-Ḥāfiẓ al-Ya‘murī Raḥimahullah (d.734 AH); et al. who have mentioned that if a narration contradicts the principles and objectivesof Islām, then it may be rejected even if the chain of narration is sound.
However, what they fail to realize is that the early scholars who ruled certain Aḥādīth to be fabricated based upon the text of the Ḥadīth contradicting the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah did so through profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth.
If an individual wishes to assess whether a coin is genuine or counterfeit, he ensures to take it to a specialist, within seconds the specialist would be able to determine whether or not the coin is genuine due to his profound knowledge of coins. In the same manner, beyond their meticulous examination of the chains of narration, some of the early scholars of Ḥadīth were gifted with an ability to deduce whether a narration is authentic by looking at the text of the narration due to their profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth. Profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah in this context means that the knowledge of Sharī‘ah and the sciences of Ḥadīth were embedded and ingrained within them such that they could at will recite hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth with their chains of narration from memory.
We shall soon demonstrate this with examples from the lives of some of these scholars of Ḥadīth.
When Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) said:
وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الْحَدِيْثَ الْمُنَكَرَ يَقْشَعِرُّ لَهُ جِلْدُ الطَّالِبِ لِلْعِلْمِ وَيَنْفَرُّ مِنْهُ قَلْبُهُ فِي الْغَالِبِ
“And know! That a rejected Ḥadīth, the skin of a seeker of noble knowledge trembles from it, and, in most cases, his heart turns away from it”
The scholars of the sciences of Ḥadīth stepped in to explain that this is definitely not for everyone. Thus, Imām al-Biqā‛ī Raḥimahullah (d.885 AH) relates in his Al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah, the majority of which is taken from Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah (d.882 AH)’s lectures delivered on Al-Tabṣirah wa’l-Tadhkirah, with regards to the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) recorded above:
الطَّالِبُ لِلْعِلْمِ أَيْ الْكَثِيْرُ الْمُخَالَطَةِ لِأنْفَاسِ الرَّسُوْلِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمُتَمَكِّنُ مِنَ السَّنَدِ الشَّدِيْدُ الْمُمَارَسَةِ لِلشَّرِيْعَةِ الْعَارِفُ بِالْمَقْبُوْلِ مِنَ الْمَرْدُوْدِلَا كُلُّ طَالِبٍ
“‘Seeker of noble knowledge’ – i.e. [Ibn al-Jawzῑ is referring to] one who has perpetually engrossed himself with the breaths (Aḥādīth) of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, and he is an expert in the chains of narration, and he has extraordinary mastery with the principles of Sharī‘ah, and he is able to distinguish accepted from unaccepted, not every seeker [of noble knowledge]”
Effectively, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah (d.882 AH) ruled out the possibility for those who do not have profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah to use Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH)’s statement as a conduit to reject Aḥādīth. We shall soon explain what we mean by profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah in this context.
‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah (d.904 AH) explains the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH) as follows:
وَعَنَى بِذَلِكَ الْمُمَارِسَ لِأَلْفَاظِ الشَّرْعِ الْخَبِيْرَ بِهَا وَبِرَوْنَقِهَا وَبَهْجَتِهَا
“And he (Ibn al-Jawzī) intends by this (a seeker of sacred knowledge): one who is perpetually engrossed in the texts of Sharī‘ah, and he has profound knowledge of them (the texts of Sharī‘ah) and their essence and objectives”
Ibn al-‘Ajamī Raḥimahullah (d.1086 AH) comments under the statement of Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah (d.597 AH):
طَالِبُ الْعِلْمِ: الْمُمَارِسُ لِأَلْفَاظِ الشَّرْعِ حَتَّى يَحْصُلَ مَلَكَةً قَوِيَّةً وَهِمَّةً رَاسِخَةً يُفَرِّقُ بِهَا بَيْنَ الْمَوْضُوْعِ وَغَيْرِهِ
“Seeker of knowledge: i.e. one who is perpetually engrossed in the texts of Sharī‘ah such that he has achieved an incredible ability and firm prowess such that he may distinguish with it between fabricated and non-fabricated”
After establishing that criticism of a narration based upon the text of the narration was reserved for those who had deeply profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth, let us demonstrate what denotes profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp of Ḥadīth through the lives of the scholars who heralded this quality.
The Benchmark forProfound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and an incredible grasp on Ḥadīth through the lives of the scholars of the past
Imām Al-Layth Ibn Sa’d Raḥimahullah (d.175 AH)
قِيْلَ لِلَّليْثِ أَمْتَعَ اللهُ بِكَ إِنَّا نَسْمَعُ مِنْكَ الْحَدِيْثَ لَيْسَ فِيْ كُتُبِكَ فَقَالَ أَوَكُلُّ مَا فِيْ صَدْرِيْ فِيْ كُتُبِيْ؟ لَوْ كَتَبْتُ مَا فِيْ صَدْرِيْ مَا وَسِعَهُ هَذَا الْمَرْكَبُ
“It was said to Layth ibn Sa’d, ‘May Allah reward you, indeed we hear from you Aḥādīth that are not in your books’, so he responded, ‘Is everything that is in my heart in my books? If I were to write everything that is in my memory, then it would not fit inside this ship’”
Imām Yaḥyā ibn Ma‘īn Raḥimahullah (233 AH)
Muḥammad ibn Naṣr al-Ṭabarī Raḥimahullah said:
دَخَلْتُ عَلَى يَحْيَى بْنِ مَعِيْن فَوَجَدْتُ عِنْدَهُ كَذَا وَكَذَا سِفْطًا يَعْنِيْ دَفَاتِرًا وَسَمِعْتُهُ يَقُوْلُ قَدْ كَتَبْتُ بِيَدَيَّ أَلْفَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ
“I visited Yaḥyā ibn Ma’īn and found by him such and such amounts of parchments, i.e. books, and I hear him say, ‘Indeed, I have written with these two hands of mine, a million narrations”
Imām Isḥāq Ibn Rāhwayh Raḥimahullah (d.238 AH)
Abū Dāwūd al-Khaffāf Raḥimahullah said:
سَمِعْتُ إِسْحَاقَ بْنَ رَاهْوِيْه يَقُوْلُ لَكَأَنِّيْ أَنْظُرُ إِلَى مِئَةِ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍفِيْ كُتُبِيْ وَثَلَاثِيْنَ أَلْفًا أَسْرُدُهَا
“I heard Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh say, ‘Indeed, it is as though I am looking at 100,000 narrations in my books and 30,000 [narrations] I am able to recite”
Al-Khaffāf then states:
وَأَمْلَى عَلَيْنَا إِسْحَاقَ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ مِنْ حِفْظِهِ ثُمَّ قَرَأَهَا عَلَيْنَا فَمَا زَادَ حَرْفًا وَلَا نَقْصَ حَرْفًا
“Isḥāq dictated 11,000 narrations to us from his memory, he then read them out to us [again] without adding or removing a single letter”
Abū Yazīd Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā ibn Khālid Raḥimahullah said:
سَمِعْتُ إِسْحَاقَ بْنَ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ الْحَنْظَلِيَّ يَقُوْلُ فِيْ سَنَةِ ثَمَانِ وَّثَلَاثِيْنَ وَمِائَتَيْنِ “أَعْرِفُ مَكَانَ مِائَةِ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ كَأَنِّيْ أَنْظُرُ إِلَيْهَا وَأَحْفَظُ مِنْهَا سَبْعِيْنَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ مِنْ ظَهْرِ قَلْبِيْ صَحِيْحَةٍ وَأَحْفَظُ أَرْبَعَةَ آلَافِ حَدِيْثٍ مُزَوَّرَةٍ فَقِيْلَ مَا مَعْنَى حِفْظِ الْمُزَوَّرَةِ؟ قَالَ إِذَا مَرَّ بِيْ مِنْهَا حَدِيْثٌ فِي الْأَحَادِيْثِ الصَّحِيْحَةِ فَلَيْتُهُ مِنْهَا فَلْيًا
“I heard Isḥāq ibn Ibrāhīm al-Hanẓalī (Isḥāq in Rāhwayh) say in the year 238 AH, ‘I know the locations of 100,000 narrations (this number includes Āḥādīth with different chains of narration as well as the statements of the Ṣaḥābah) as though I am looking at them, and I have memorized 70,000 narrations from them that are authentic and they are in the crevices of my heart, and I know 4000 fabricated narrations’, it was asked of him, ‘What do you mean by memorising fabricated narrations?’ He replied, ‘When I come across a [fabricated] narration from [my tomes of] authentic narrations, then I swiftly remove it”
Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal Raḥimahullah (d.242 AH)
A contemporary of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (d.242 AH), Abū Zur’ah al-Rāzī Raḥimahullah:
كَانَ ابْنُ حَنْبَلَ يَحْفَظُ أَلْفَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ
“[Aḥmad] ibn Ḥanbal had memorized a million narrations (this number includes Āḥādīth with different chains of narration and the statements of the Ṣaḥābah)”
Imām al-Bukhārī Raḥimahullah (d.256 AH)
Muḥammad ibn Khamīrwayh Raḥimahullah said:
سَمِعْتُ مُحَمَّدَ بْنَ إِسْمَاعِيْلَ يَقُوْلُ “أَحْفَظُ مِائَةَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ صَحِيْحٍ وَأَحْفَظُ مِائَتَيْ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ غَيْرِ صَحِيْحٍ
I heard Muḥammad ibn Ismā’īl say, ‘I have memorized 100,000 authentic narrations(this number includes Āḥādīth with different chains of narration and the statements of the Ṣaḥābah), and I have memorized 200,000 inauthentic narrations’”
‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Asim al-Baykandī Raḥimahullah states:
قَدِمَ عَلَيْنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيْلَ قَالَ فَاجْتَمَعْنَا عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ بَعْضُنَا سَمِعْتُ إِسْحَاقَ بْنَ رَاهْوِيْه يَقُوْلُ كَأَنِّيْ أَنْظُرُ إِلَى سَبْعِيْنَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ مِنْ كِتَابِيْ فَقَالَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيْلَ أَوْ تَعْجَبُ مِنْ هَذَا؟! لَعَلَّ فِيْ هَذَا الزَّمَانِ مَنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى مِائَتَيْ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ مِنْ كِتَابِهِ وَإِنَّمَا عَنَى بِهِ نَفْسَهُ
“Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl came to us, so we gathered by him, then some of us said, ‘I heard Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh say, “It is as though I am looking at 70,000 narrations from my books”’, so Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl said, ‘Are you amazed by this?! It is possible that there is someone in this age who is looking at 200,000 narrations in his book’ – referring to himself”
Imām Muslim ibn Ḥajjāj (d.261 AH)
Al-Husayn ibn Muḥammad al-Māsarjisī states:
سَمِعْتُ مُسْلِمًا يَقُوْلُ صَنَّفْتُ هَذَا “الْمُسْنَدَ الصَّحِيْحَ” مِنْ ثَلَاثِ مِائَةِ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ مَسْمُوْعَةٍ
“I heard Muslim [ibn al-Ḥajjāj] say, ‘I wrote this ‘al-Musnad al-Ṣaḥīḥ’ from 300,000 narrations [that I have] heard’”
Imām Abū Zur‘ah al-Rāzī Raḥimahullah (d.264 AH)
Abū ‘Abdillah ibn Mandah relates from Abul ‘Abbas Muḥammad ibn Ja‘far ibn Ḥamkawayh that he said:
سُئِلَ أَبُوْ زُرْعَةَ عَنْ رَجُلٍ حَلَفَ بِالطَّلَاقِ أَنَّ أَبَا زُرْعَةَ يَحْفَظُ مِائَتَيْ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ هَلْ حَنَثَ؟ فَقَالَ لَا ثُمَّ قَالَ أَبُوْ زُرْعَةَ أَحْفَظُ مِائَتَيْ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ كَمَا يَحْفَظُ الْإِنْسَانُ “قُلْ هُوَ اللهُ أَحَدٌ”
“Abū Zur‘ah was asked about a man who has taken an oath that his wife shall be divorced if it is untrue that Abū Zur‘ah has memorized 200,000 narrations, that will his divorce take place? So he replied, ‘I have memorized 200,000 narrations like how a person has memorized Qul Huwallahu Aḥad (Surah Ikhlās)”
Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal Raḥimahullah (d.241 AH) said:
صَحَّ مِنَ الْحَدِيْثِ سَبْعُ مِائَةِ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ وَكَسْرٌ وَهَذَا الْفَتَى يَعْنِيْ أَبَا زُرْعَةَ قَدْ حَفِظَ سِتَّ مِائَةِ أَلْفٍ
“700,000 Aḥādīth (this number includes Āḥādīth with different chains of narration as well as the statements of the Ṣaḥābah) and a little more from the Āḥādīth are authentic, and this youngster (Abū Zur‘ah) has memorized 600,000 Aḥādīth”
Imām Abū Dāwūd Raḥimahullah (d.275 AH)
Al-Fallās Raḥimahullah states:
سَمِعْتُ أَبَا دَاوُدَ يَقُوْلُ أَسْرُدُ ثَلَاثِيْنَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ وَلَا فَخْرَ وَفِيْ صَدْرِيْ اثْنَا عَشَرَ أَلْفًا لِعُثْمَانَ الْبَرِّيْ مَا سَأَلَنِيْ عَنْهَا أَحَدٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْبَصْرَةِ فَخَرَجْتُ إِلَى أَصْبَهَانَ فَبَثَثْتُهَا فِيْهِمْ
I heard Abū Dāwūd say, ‘I [can] recite 30,000 narrations and there is no arrogance [in this] and in my heart there are 12,000 narrations of ‘Uthmān Al Birrī that none from the people of Baṣrah have asked me about, so I went to Aṣbahān and I narrated these narrations to them”
Abū Bakr ibn Dāsah Raḥimahullah states that he heard Abū Dāwūd Raḥimahullah (d.275 AH) say:
كَتَبْتُ عَنْ رَسُوْلِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَمْسَ مِائَةِ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ انْتَخَبْتُ مِنْهَا مَا ضَمَنْتُهُ هَذَا الْكِتَابِ يَعْنِيْ كِتَابَ “السُّنَنِ”
“I have written 500,000 narrations of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, and I extracted from them that which I have placed in this book, i.e. the Sunan”
Abū ‘Imrān Aḥmad ibn Naṣr al-Khaffāf (d.299 AH)
Al-Ḥākim Raḥimahullah said:
سَمِعْتُ الصَّبْغِيُّ غَيْرَ مَرَّةٍ يَقُوْلُ كُنَّا نَقُوْلُ إِنَّ أَبَا عِمْرَانَ يَفِيْ بِمُذَاكَرَةِ مِئَةِ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ
“I heard Al-Ṣabghī say more than once, ‘We used to say that Abū‘Imrān can recite 100,000 narrations’”
Abū Muḥammad ‘Abdān (d.306 AH)
Abū‘Alī al-Ḥāfiẓ Raḥimahullah said:
فَأَمَّا عَبْدَانُ فَكَانَ يَحْفَظُ مِئَةَ أَلْفِ حَدِيْثٍ
“As for ‘Abdan, he had memorized 100,000 narrations (this number includes Āḥādīth with different chains of narration and the statements of the Ṣaḥābah)”
Imām Ali ibn Umar al-Daruqutnī Raḥimahullah (d.385 AH)
Abū Bakr al-BirqānīRaḥimahullah states:
كَانَ الدَّارِقُطْنِيُّ يُمْلِيْ عَلَيَّ الْعِلَلَ مِنْ حِفْظِهِ
“Al-Dāruqutnī dictated ‘Al-‘Ilal’ to me from his memory”
The book ‘Al-‘Ilal’ contains well over 15,000 narrations.
A corollary principle understood from the above examples is that it is not possible to issue a ruling upon a narration simply based upon the fact that its text contradicts the principles and objectivesof Sharī‘ah until one has memorized equivalent to that which the scholars mentioned above had memorized; this would be a minimum of 100,000 Aḥādīth with their chains of narration. Only then could one claim that he has the right to deduce whether a narration is fabricated simply by looking at the text of the narration.
Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Daqīq al-‘Ῑd Raḥimahullah (d.702 AH) writes:
وَكَثِيْرًا مَّا يَحْكُمُوْنَ بِذَلِكَ– أَيْ بِالْوَضْعِ– بِاِعْتِبَارِ أُمُوْرٍ تَرْجِعُ إِلَى الْمَرْوِيِّ وَأَلْفَاظِ الْحَدِيْثِ وَحَاصِلُهُ يَرْجِعُ إِلَى أَنَّهُ حَصَلَتْ لَهُمْ لِكَثْرَةِ مُحَاوَلَةِ أَلْفَاظِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ هَيْئَةٌ نَفْسَانِيَّةٌ وَمَلَكَةٌ قَوِيَّةٌ يَعْرِفُوْنَ بِهَا مَا يَجُوْزُ أَنْ يَكُوْنَ مِنْ أَلْفَاظِ النُّبُوَّةِ وَمَا لَا يَجُوْزُ
“And many times, they (the early scholars of Ḥadīth) issue this ruling, i.e. of fabrication, in consideration of matters related to the texts of the narration and the words of the narration, and the conclusion of this returns to the fact that due to perpetual engrossment with the words of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam, they have acquired an innate nature and extraordinary ability through which they are able to recognise that which could be the Prophetic word and that which cannot”
Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah (d.748 AH) has also echoed these sentiments in his abridgement of Al-Iqtirah, Al-Mūqiẓah; he explains that recognizing whether a Ḥadīth contradicts the principles of Sharī‘ah (Al-Qawā’id) is reserved for those who have rigorously acquainted themselves with the Aḥādīth of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam such that their expertise in Ḥadīth is like the expertise of a certified gemologist in gemstones.
Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī Raḥimahullah (d.795 AH) writes while commentating upon a narration:
وَإِنَّمَا تُحْمَلُ مِثْلُ هَذِهِ الْأَحَادِيْثِ – عَلَى تَقْدِيْرِ صِحَّتِهِ – عَلَى مَعْرِفَةِ أَئِمَةِ الْحَدِيْثِ الْجَهَابِذَةِ النُّقَّادِ الَّذِيْنَ كَثُرَتْ مُمَارَسَتَهُمْ لِكَلَامِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَكَلَامِ غَيْرِهِ وَلِحَالِ رُوَاةِ الْحَدِيْثِ وَنَقْلَةِ الْأَخْبَارِ وَمَعْرِفَتِهِمْ بِصِدْقِهِمْ وَكَذِبِهِمْ وَحِفْظِهِمْ وَضَبْطِهِمْ فَإِنَّ هَؤُلَاءِ لَهُمْ نَقْدٌ خَاصٌّ يَخْتَصُّوْنَ بِمَعْرِفَتِهِ كَمَا يَخْتَصُّ الصَّيْرَفِيُّ الْحَاذِقُ بِمَعْرِفَةِ النُّقُوْدِ جَيِّدِهَا وَرَدِيْئِهَا
“And indeed, narrations such as this – if authentic – are based upon the knowledge of the meticulous and assiduous Imāms of the Prophetic narration, whose engagement with the narrations of the Prophet Ṣallallāhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam and the narrations of others (such as the Ṣaḥābah and Tābi‘ūn) is intense, as well as their engagement with the status of the narrators of Ḥadīth and the recorders of the narrations, as well as their knowledge of the truthfulness and untruthfulness [of the narrators of Ḥadīth], and the memory and recollection [of the narrators of Ḥadīth], for indeed, these [Imāms] have a specialised method of criticism that only they are capable of, just as a certified money-exchanger specialises in the knowledge of coins; in recognizing the reliable [coins] from the counterfeit [coins]”
It was for this reason that Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Alā’ī Raḥimahullah (d.761 AH) said:
الْحُكْمُ عَلَى الْحَدِيْثِ بِكَوْنِهِ مَوْضُوْعًا مِنَ الْمُتَأَخِّرِيْنَ عَسِرًا جِدًّا لِأَنَّ ذَلِكَ لَا يَتَأَتَّى إِلَّا بَعْدَ جَمْعِ الطُّرُقِ وَكَثْرَةِ التَّفْتِيْشِ…وَهَذَا بِخِلَافِ الْأَئِمَّةِ الْمُتَقَدِّمِيْنَ الَّذِيْنَ مَنَحَهُمُ اللهُ التَّبَحُّرَ فِيْ عِلْمِ الْحَدِيْثِ وَالتَّوَسُّعِ فِيْ حِفْظِهِ كَشُعْبَةَ وَيَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيْدِ الْقَطَّانِ وَعَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ مَهْدِيْ وَنَحْوِهِمْ ثُمَّ أَصْحَابِهِمْ مِثْلِ أَحْمَدَ بِنْ حَنْبَلَ وَعَلِيِّ بْنِ الْمَدِيْنِيِّ وَيَحْيَى بْنِ مَعِيْنَ وَإِسْحَاقِ بْنِ رَاهْوِيْه وَطَائِفَتِهِمْ ثُمَّ أَصْحَابِهِمْ مِثْلِ الْبُخَارِيِّ وَمُسْلِمٍ وَأَبِيْ دَاوُدَ وَالتَّرْمِذِيِّ وَالنَّسَائِيِّ وَكَذَلِكَ إِلَى زَمَنِ الدَّارِقُطْنِيِّ وَالْبَيْهَقِيِّ مِمَّنْ لَمْ يَجِيْئ بَعْدَهُمْ مُسَاوٍ لَهُمْ بَلْ وَلَا مُقَارِبٍ
“To rule a narration as fabricated is extremely difficult for the later scholars, as such a ruling cannot be placed except after gathering all of the chains of narration and after constant investigation…and this is in contradiction to the earlier scholars, those whom Allah blessed with profound knowledge of the field of Ḥadīth and a vast [ability] in memorising [the narrations], such as Shu‘bah, Yaḥyā ibn Sa‘īd Al Qaṭtān, ‘Abdal-Raḥmān ibn Mahdī, and others like them, then their companions, such as Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī, Yaḥyā ibn Ma‘īn, Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh, and their group, then their companions, such as Al-Bukhārī, Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, Tirmidhī, like this until the age of Al-Daruquṭnī and Al-Bayhaqī, who were from amongst those whom none came after them that were capable of equaling them or coming close to them”
The early scholars – who were afforded this privilege of being able to deduce whether a narration is fabricated or not by looking at its text due to their profound knowledge of Sharī’ah – had not only memorised hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth, they had even memorized the wordings of the chain of narration. Consider the following example:
قَالَ خَلْفُ (بْنُ سَالِمٍ الْمَخْرَمِيُّ) سَمِعْتُ سُفْيَانَ بْنَ عُيَيْنَةَ يَقُوْلُ نَا عَمْرُو بْنُ دِيْنَارٍ يُرِيْدُ حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرٌو بْنُ دِيْنَارٍ فَإِذَا قِيْلَ لخَلَف قُلْ حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرٌو قَالَ لَا أَقُوْلُ لِأَنِّيْ لَمْ أَسْمَعْ مِنْ قَوْلِهِ “حَدَّثَنَا” ثَلَاثَةَ أَحْرُفٍ لِكَثْرَةِ الزِّحَامِ وَهِيَ حَ دَّ ثَ
“Khalaf (Sālim al-Mukharrimī) said, ‘I heard Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah say, ‘To us ‘Amr ibn Dīnār’, intending by this ‘Narrated to us ‘Amr ibn Dīnār’, thus when it was asked of him (i.e of Khalaf), ‘[Why don’t you] say, “Narrated to us ‘Amr”’, he replied, ‘I will not say [that] for indeed I did not hear from his (Sufyān ibn ‘Uyanah’s) statement ‘Narrated to us’ three letters; ح د ث (which translates to: Narrated) due to a loud noise”
The dedication and engrossment of the scholars of the past in memorizing and narrating Aḥādīth may be understood from the story of Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān al-Bāgandī Raḥimahullah (d.312 AH). ‘Umar ibn Aḥmad al-Wā‘iẓ Raḥimahullah states:
قَامَ أَبُوْ بَكْرٍ الْبَاغَنْدِيُّ لِيُصَلِّيَ فَكَبَّرَ ثُمَّ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ لُوَيْنُ فَسَبَّحْنَا بِهِ فَقَالَ “بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيْمِ الْحَمْدُ لِلهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ”
“Abū Bakr al-Bāgandī stood up to perform Salah, he read aloud the Takbīr, then said, ‘Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān Luwayn has narrated to us’, so we began to recite the Tasbīḥ (in order to alert him of the mistake), and so he began to read, ‘Bismillāhir Raḥmānir Raḥīm Alḥamdulillāhi Rabbil ‘Ālamīn’”
It was through this incredible engrossment with Ḥadīth that these few eminent scholars of the past developed profound knowledge of Sharī‘ah and its principles. Their entire days and nights were dedicated to Aḥādīth.
In conclusion, the notion of issuing a ruling on a narration based upon when the text of the narration is contradicting a principle of Sharī‘ah was a privilege reserved only for a few selected scholars of Islām, whose knowledge of Sharī‘ah was of the caliber that we have demonstrated above.
Was it easy for the scholars of the past to deduce whether a narration contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah?
Even during the age of these privileged scholars of Islām, to issue a ruling of fabrication upon the authenticity of a narration because it contradicts the principles and objectivesof Sharī‘ah was not an easy task.
The authoritative scholar, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajr al-‘Asqalānī Raḥimahullah (d.882 AH), writes:
وَهَذَا الْفَنُّ أَغْمَضُ أَنْوَاعِ الْحَدِيْثِ وَأَدَقِّهَا مَسْلَكًا وَلَا يَقُوْمُ بِهِ إِلَّا مَنْ مَنَحَهُ اللهُ تَعَالَى فَهْمًا غَايِصًا وَاطِّلَاعًا حَاوِيًا وَإِدْرَاكًا لِمَرَاتِبِ الرُّوَاةِ وَمَعْرِفَةٍ ثَاقِبَةٍ وَلِهَذَا لَمْ يَتَكَلَّمْ فِيْهِ إِلَّا أَفْرَادُ أَئِمَّةِ هَذَا الشَّأْنِ وَحُذَّاقِهِمْوَإِلَيْهِمُ الْمَرْجَعُ فِيْ ذَلِكَ لِمَا جَعَلَ اللهُ فِيْهِمْ مِنْ مَعْرِفَةِ ذَلِكَ وَالْإِطِّلَاعِ عَلَى غَوَامِضِهِ دُوْنَ غَيْرِهِمْ مِمَّنْ لَمْ يُمَارِسْ ذَلِكَ
“And this field (the field of Al ‘Ilal) is the most complex of the fields of Ḥadīth, and the most delicate to approach, and none have stood up to it except those whom Allah the Almighty blessed with a deep understanding, encompassing research, knowledge of the categories of narrations, and sagacious intellect. It is for this reason that none spoke in this [field] except a few of the scholars of Ḥadīth and its most intelligent personalities, and reliance is upon them in this field, due to that which Allah had given to them from the knowledge of this [field] and research upon its intricacies, none besides them from amongst those who have not acquired this”
There are examples of early scholars who criticized the text of a narration based upon their understanding of the narration (as they felt that it contradicted the principles and objectivesof Sharī‘ah) but were then refuted by other early scholars of their caliber who understood the correct meaning of the Ḥadīth and found no qualms in its connotations.
[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’, (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāir al-Islāmiyyah, 2002),pg.180, v.4 – entry: Sulayman ibn Harim]
[See: Ḥāfiẓ al-Zayla‘ī Raḥimahullah, ‘Naṣb al-Rāyah’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Rayyān, 1997), pg.174, v.4]
[See: Ḥāfiẓ al-DhahabīRaḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assash al-Risalah, 1984), pg.98, v.16]
[See: Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Mīzān al-I’tidāl’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah,), pg.101, v.2 – entry: Zayd ibn Wahab]
[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘Lisān al-Mīzān’, (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāir al-Islāmiyyah, 2002), pg.222, v.1 – entry: Abān ibn Sufyān]
[See: Al-Jawraqānī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Abāṭīl wal-Manākīr wal-Ṣiḥāḥ wal-Mashāhīr’, (India: Idarah al-Buhuth, 1983), pg.80, v.1]
[See: ‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi Rahimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat ‘Ala Ibn al-Salah’, (Riyad: Adwa al-Salaf, 1998), pg.270, v.2]
[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Bārī’, (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Ṣalafiyyah), pg.16, v.7]
[See: Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Bārī’, (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Ṣalafiyyah), pg.401, v.13]
Accordingly, memorization of Aḥādīth alone is not enough; rather, one is also required to have an expert understanding of the teachings of Sharī‘ah and the Aḥādīth that he has memorised.
‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī Raḥimahullah (d.234 AH) said:
التَّفًقُّهُ فِيْ مَعَانِي الْحَدِيْثِ نِصْفُ الْعِلْمِ
“Understanding of the meanings of Ḥadīth is half of knowledge”
In conclusion, determining whether a Ḥadīth contradicts the principles and objectives of Sharī‘ah was solely reserved for those illustrious scholars of the past whose knowledge of Sharī‘ah was so profound, that they could at will recite hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth with their chain of narration; the likes of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal Raḥimahullah (d.241 AH), Imām Al-Bukhārī Raḥimahullah (d.256 AH), et al. These scholars were also blessed with an incredible understanding of the Aḥādīth that they had memorized.
As for the guidelines presented by the likes of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah Raḥimahullah (d.751 AH) in his Al-Manār al-Munīf and Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzi Raḥimahullah (d.606 AH) in his Al-Maḥṣūl for recognizing a fabricated narration, then these guidelines are no different to Fiqh Maxims (Al-Qawāid al-Fiqhiyyah), in the sense that a narration cannot be labeled a fabrication simply based upon these guidelines just as a Fatwā cannot be issued based upon Fiqh Maxims (Al-Qawāid al-Fiqhiyyah), rather, the rulings of the expert scholars of the past must be followed.
Thus, a claim that a certain Ḥadīth should be rejected because it contradicts the principles and objectivesof Islām may be refuted with the question; exactly how many Aḥādīth have you memorized with their chains of narration for you to claim that you have knowledge of the principles and objectivesof Sharī‘ah?
Above, we have demonstrated the role of the intellect/reason in Sharī‘ah and the role of the intellect/reason in the noble Aḥādīth. We have shown that the scholars did not at all permit rejecting Aḥādīth that herald an element of miracles.
We have also shown that criticising the authenticity of a narration based upon the fact that the text of the narration contradicts the principles and objectivesof Sharī‘ah such that it cannot be the Prophet word was an incredibly delicate task, which only a select few privileged scholars were able to do. We are required to follow their rulings.
Indeed, the scholars of Ḥadīth emphasized incredible precaution before labeling a narration as a fabrication. This precaution was burgeoned when the chain of narration contained reliable narrators, in such a case – when the narrators of the narration are all reliable – only the elite scholars of the past could criticize the authenticity of the narration.
We end with a quote from the Yemeni scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu‘allimī Raḥimahullah (d.1386 AH), who said:
وَالْحَقُّ أَنَّهُ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِي عُلَمَاءِ الْأُمَّةِ الْمَرْضِيِّيْنَ مَنْ يَرُدُّ حَدِيْثًا بَلَغَهُ إِلَّا لِعُذْرٍ يَحْتَمِلُهُ لَهُ أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ عَلَى الْأَقَلِّ
“And indeed, the reality is that there was none from the accepted scholars of the past who labelled a narration that reached him as a fabrication except that he did so due to a reason that, at the very least, the majority of the scholars would accept [as a valid reason]”
Every individual must ask himself; if the illustrious scholars of the past – who were of the calibre that we have demonstrated above (i.e. hundreds of thousands of Aḥādīth flowed at their fingertips) and whose days and nights were spent in the sciences of the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth – have authenticated a Ḥadīth, how can a person in this day and age claim that the Ḥadīth is fabricated? Only if an individual has memorised the number of Aḥādīth that they had memorised could one come even close to making such a claim.
These perspicacious and astute scholars, the likes of Imām al-Bukhari Raḥimahullah (d.256 AH) and Imām Muslim Raḥimahullah (d.261 AH), did not simply dedicate a portion of their life to the field of Ḥadīth; they dedicated their entire lives to the field of Ḥadīth. Indeed, a person’s Ῑmān remains protected by relying on the deductions and rulings of these meticulous and accepted scholars of the past. Following the ramblings and isolated opinions of the iconoclasts of today can only lead to misguidance.
May Allah guide us and protect us.
[Imām Al-Bazdawī Raḥimahullah, ‘Uṣūl al-Bazdawī’, (Karachi: Mīr Muḥammad Kutub Khānāh, n.a), pg.323]
[‘Allāmah al-Qurṭubī, ‘Kitāb al-Tadhkirah bi-Aḥwāl al-Mawtā wa-Umūr al-Ākhirah’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1431 AH), pg.644, v.2]
[‘Allāmah Khaṭtābī, ‘A‘lām al-Ḥadīth’, (Makah: Jami‘ah Ummul Qurā, 1406 AH), pg.1126 v.3]
[Imām al-Shāṭibī, ‘Al ‘Itiṣām Bi al-Kitāb wa’l- Sunnah’, (n.a: Maktabah al-Tawḥīd, n.a), pg.57, v.1]
[Shāh Waliullah al-Muḥaddith al-Dehlawī, ‘Hujjatullah al-Bāligah’, (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 2005), pg.30, v.1]
 [‘Allāmah al-Zarkashī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ’, (Cairo: Wuzārah al-Awqāf, 1992), pg.27, v.5]
[Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Mawḍū’āt Minal Aḥādīth al-Marfū’āt’, (Riyāḍ: Aḍwā Al Salaf, 1997), pg.151, v.1]
[‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Mugīth’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1436 AH), pg.128, v.2]
[‘Allāmah Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyāḍ: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.434, v.3] [Also see: al-Biqa‘ī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah’, (Riyad: Maktabah al-Rushd), pg.578, v.1] [Also see: Ibn al-Mulaqqin, ‘Al-Muqnῑ‘’, (Makah: Jami‘ah Ummul Qurā, 1403 AH), pg.114]
[See: Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah (may Allah preserve him), ‘Footnotes upon Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyāḍ: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.434, v.3]
[Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Mawḍū’āt Minal Aḥādīth al-Marfū’āt’, (Riyāḍ: Aḍwā Al Salaf, 1997), pg.150, v.1]
[Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Awwāmah (may Allah preserve him), ‘Footnotes upon Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.559, v.2]
[Ibn al-Jawzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Mawḍū’āt Min al-Aḥādīth al-Marfū’āt’, (Riyāḍ: Aḍwā Al Salaf, 1997), pg.146, v.1]
[Al-Biqā‛ī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah’, (Riyad: Maktabah al-Rushd, 2007), pg.578 v.1] [Shaykh Aḥmad Ma‘bad ‘Abdal-Karīm, ‘Al-Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Irāqī wa-Atharuhu Fil Sunnah’, (Riyad: Aḍwā al-Salaf, 2004), pg.1999 v.5]
[‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Mugīth’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 1436 AH), pg.128, v.2]
[Ibn al-‘Ajamī, ‘Footnotes upon Tadrīb al-Rāwī’, (Riyad: Dār al-Minhāj, 2016), pg.432, v.3]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah Al Risālah, 1985), pg.153 v.8]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Mizzī Raḥimahullah, ‘Taḥdhīb al-Kamāl’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1992), pg.548, v.31]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Jāmi‘ Li Akhlāq al-Rāwī wa-Ādāb al-Sāmi‘’, (Beirut: Dār al-Garb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.381, v.2]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Jāmi‘ Li Akhlāq al-Rāwī wa-Ādāb al-Sāmi‘’, (Beirut: Dār al-Garb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.381, v.2]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Jāmi‘ Li Akhlāq al-Rāwī wa-Ādāb al-Sāmi‘’, (Beirut: Dār al-Garb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.381, v.2]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‛lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.187 v.11] [Ibn al-Jawzī, ‘Manāqib al-Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal’, (Giza: Dār Hijr, n.a), pg.73]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.415 v.12]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.416 v.12]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.565 v.12]
[Ḥāfiẓ Al Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.68 v.13] [See: ‘Allamah Tāj al-Subkī, ‘Ṭabqāt al-Shāf‘iyyah’, (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.a), pg.65, v.1]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tārīkh Baghdād’, (Beirut: Dāral-Garb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.41, v.12]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.383 v.9]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tārikh Baghdād’, (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.78, v.10]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.561 v.13]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.169 v.14]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1985), pg.454 v.16]
[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Daqīq al-‘Ῑd, ‘Al-Iqtirāḥ’, (Jordan: Dāral-‘Ulūm Lin Nashr wal-Tawzī’, 2007), pg.311-312][‘Allāmah Sakhāwī Raḥimahullah, ‘Fatḥ al-Mugīth’, (Riyad: Dāral-Minhāj, 1436 AH), pg.128, v.2]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Mūqiẓah’, (Beirut: Dāral-Bashā’ir al-Islāmiyyah, 1405 AH), pg.37][Also see the parable presented by: Ḥāfiẓ al-Mughlaṭāy, ‘Iṣlāḥ Kitāb Ibn Ṣalāḥ’, (Cairo: Al-Maktabah al-Islāmiyyah, 2007), pg.143]
[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī Raḥimahullah, ‘Jāmi‘al-‘Ulūm wal-Ḥikam’, (Beirut:Mu’assasah al-Risālah, 1999), pg.105, v.2] [Also see: Shaykh Aḥmad Shākir, ‘Footnotes on Ṣaḥiḥ Ibn Ḥibbān’, (Egypt: Dāral-Ma‘ārif), pg.221, v.1]
[Ḥāfiẓ Al-‘Alā’ī, ‘Al-Naqd al-Ṣarīḥ Limā U’turiḍa ‘Alayh Min Aḥādīth al-Maṣābīḥ – Majmū’ Rasā’il Ḥāfiẓ Al-‘Alā’ī’, (Cairo: Al-Fārūq al-Ḥadīthiyyah, 2013), pg.72, v.4][See: ‘Allāmah Badr al-Dīn al-Zarkashī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat ‘Alā Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’, (Riyad: Aḍwā al-Salaf, 1998), pg.267, v.2]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Kifāyah Fī ‘Ilm al-Riwāyah’, (n.a: Dār al-Hudā, 2003), v.1, pg.242]
[Al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī Raḥimahullah, ‘Tārikh Baghdād’, (Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 2001), pg.345, v.4]
[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajr Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Nukat ‘Alā Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’, (Ajman: Maktabahal-Furqān, 2003), pg.187, v.2]
[Ḥāfiẓ al-Dhahabī Raḥimahullah, ‘Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’, (Beirut: Mu’assasah Al Risālah, 1985), v.11, pg.48]
[See: Jālāl al-Dīn al-Suyūṭī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Baḥr al-Ladhī Zakhar’, (Madinah: Maktabah al-Ghurabā al-Athariyyah, 1999), pg.874-876, v.2]
[See: Ḥātim al-‘Awnī, ‘Sharḥ Mūqiẓah al-Dhahabī’, (Riyad: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, 1427 AH), pg.62: Fa Innanā La Naḥkum ‘Alayhi Bil Waḍ‘i Illā Bi Qarā’in Qawiyyah Jiddan]
[Shaykh ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Yaḥyā al-Mu‘allimī Raḥimahullah, ‘Al-Anwār al-Kāshifah’, (Makah: Dār ‘Alam Al-Fawā’id, 1434 AH), pg.17]
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