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Research on Sciences of Hadith

In this regard he said: The mujtahid leaders (imams) differed in opinion regarding being prolific or unprolific in this art. About Abu Hanifah, it is said that he narrated 17 traditions, and Malik approved of those traditions he recorded in his Muwatta’ which numbered about 300 ones, while Ahmad ibn Hanbal reported in his Musnad 50 thousand traditions.739 Those who narrated less among them have done so for evading the attacks that they faced on this way, and the defects they encountered, particularly the sarcasm that was launched by the majority of people. So this led them to abandon adopting the traditions and ways of isnad that causing them to face such campaigns, which when increasing would lead to diminish their narrations due to weakness in ways of transmission. The narrations of al-Imam Ahmad were only decreased when he became strict in the provisions of (accepting) the riwayah, tolerance, and weakness in the narration of the positive hadith when it be opposed by the psychological reaction,740 as a result of which he started to diminish his narrations. That should not be seen as if he had forsaken reporting of hadith deliberately, but due to the reasons cited before, while others showed more leniency in the provisions, as a consequence of which their traditions were so numerous, since everyone had his own opinion.

He further said:741 Not all the companions were competent to issue fatawa (verdicts), nor the teachings of religion were taken from them all, but these characteristics were appertaining only to the holders of the Qur’an, who being aware of its abrogating (nasikh) and abrogated (mansukh), mutashabih (allegorical) and muhkam (clear, decisive), and all other indications, in the way they learnt it from the Prophet or from those who heard it from him, who were called al-qurra’ (reciters), i.e. who used to recite the Book since the Arabs were illiterate at that time.


739. Refer to my previous commentary on the Muwalta' and Musnad Ahmad.

740. That means to submit the matter to the psychological, environmental and social temperament.

741. Op. cit., p.446. For this reason Abu Hanifah never approved or adopted whatever verdicts reported by Abu Hurayrah and Anas ibn Malik and Samurah ibn Jundab, for several reasons, among which their not being among men of verdict (casutsts). Refer to my book Shaykh al-mudirah.

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

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