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Solecism and Mistake in Hadith

The narrators were not satisfied with narrating the hadith according to meaning, but allowed themselves to cite hadith in a perverted way, finding no harm then in correcting its solecism and rectifying its error.

The Moroccan scholar Ibn Abd al-Barr, n his book Jami’ bayan al-’ilm wa fadlih,167 says:
Al-Walid ibn Muslim related to us saying: I heard al-Awza’i saying: No harm is there in rectifying solecism and error in hadith. He also said: I heard al-Awza’i saying: Arabicize the hadith as the people (addressed by it) were Arabs.

It is reported that Jabir said: I asked ‘Amir i.e. al-Shi’bi, and Abu Ja’far (i.e. Muhammad ibn Ali) and al-Qasim (i.e. Ibn Muhammad), and ‘Ata’ (i.e. Ibn Abi Rabah) about that relating hadith and perpetrating solecism... shall I relate it as I heard or should I Arabicize it? They replied: No, you have to Arabicize it!

Yahya ibn Mu’in said: No objection is there to anyone rectifying his hadith according to the Arabic Language.

Al-Nadr ibn Shummayl is reported to have said: Hushaym was a solecist, so I clothed for you his hadith with a nice garment – i.e. Arabicization. Ali ibn al-Hasan related saying: I said to Ibn al-Mubarak: When noticing any solecism in the hadith should I rectify it? He replied: Yes, since the people (Arabs) were never committing grammatical mistakes! But solecism is only on our part.

This matter was broached by al-Imam Ibn Faris in a treatise calling it Ma’khadh al-’ilm, when he said:168 “Some people claim that if any narrator committing a grammatical mistake when relating any hadith, it would be impermissible for the hearer to report from him but only in the same way he heard from him. Some others said: Rather, the hearer should relate it, if being aware of the Arabic Language grammar, in an Arabicized, correct, rectified manner, on the basis of an evidence accepted by us. That is, the fact that the Messenger of Allah (may God’s peace and benediction be upon him and his Progeny) was verily the most eloquent of all the Arabs with the best Arabic tongue ... besides being protected by Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, against error.

Thus being the case, so it would be more proper to relate his hadith as rectified and free from any solecism or grammatical mistake.

Our Shaykh Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Qattan used to record the hadith with its mistakes exactly as he heard it, with writing a note on the margin of his book: “he said so”, indicating that it is narrated in this way, with saying: And the correct hadith is so and so. This is verily the best of whatever I heard in this respect. Beside many other examples.


167. See vol.I, pp.78-81.

168. Tawjih al-nazar, pp.308, 309.

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

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