Rafed English

Being Self-Decisive is no Condition for Correct Hadith

Al-Hafiz Ibn Salah says:529

"When they say: "This is a correct hadith' this means that its sanad (chain of transmitters) being attached to the other afore-mentioned attributes, and for its veracity it is no condition to be decisive in itself... as some of the traditions were reported singly by one reliable narrator, and could not be among the akhbar which were approved unanimously by the Ummah.

Also when they say about a hadith to be not sahih, this never means its being false decisively in itself, as it may be true in fact, but the fact intended is that its isnad could not be proved correct according to the stated condition. In his Fatawa he (Ibn al-Salah) says: The Imams say: Among the traditions there are some whose isnad being sahih but text is not sahih, and some whose isnad is not sahih but text is sahih, or those whose isnad is sahih and text (matn) is sahih, or those whose isnad is unknown and text is unknown, or those whose isnad is weak and text is weak.530
Al-Zayn al-Iraqi (d.806H) in his Alfiyyah,531 writes:

When the traditionists say: "This hadith is sahih', they want to say — as it seems through the appearance of isnad — that its veracity is not decisive by itself, due to possibility of inadvertence and forgetfulness on the part of the thiqah.532 This being the sahih upon which concurred men of knowledge contrarily to those holding that khabar al-wahid necessitating knowledge through the visible exterior. And so also when they say: "This hadith is weak,' they mean: The conditions of veracity were not seen in it, not due to its being false in itself as the liar may tell truth and be free from many errors. He also said: Anything whose origin is correct should not necessarily be sahih. In al-Qawati’ al-Sam'ani writes: The correct hadith cannot be recognized through the narration of trustworthy narrators alone, but this can be done through perception, knowledge, perseverance on hearing and study .

They also said: Veracity of the hadith never obligates its being decisive in itself, because of possibility of inadvertence and forgetfulness on the part of the thiqah. Al-Nawawi, in al-Taqrib, attributed it to the majority and investigators that they said: It signifies conjecture if not being mutawatir. In his exposition of Muslim he said: This is the case with the ahad, and no difference is there between the Two Shaykhs and others.

The traditionists do not care much for the mistakes in texts and say: Whenever the sanad be correct the matn (text) should be correct.


529. Ulum al-hadith, which was known as Muqaddimat Ibn al-Salah, who was called by men of hadith with the title 'al-Shaykh'. He died in 643 H.

530. See p.19.

531. Fath al-mughith bi Sharh Alfiyyat al-hadith, p.12.

532. Let's give an example for this: The hadith reported from the Prophet on his returning to al-Madinah from the Battle of Uhud, after commanding the Muslims to line up behind him, when he said: "Arrange your rows so as to praise my Lord". Then he concluded it by saying: O God, the killer of the infidels to whom the Scripture was sent, God of truth. This hadith was reported by Ahmad and al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-mufrad, with al-Nasa'i and others. In its regard al-Dhahabi said: Despite cleanness of its isnad, it is disregarded, and I am afraid it being fabricated. The books of hadith are replete with such narrations.

Adapted from: "Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah" by: "Mahmud Ali Riyyah"

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