Rafed English

The Weak Hadith

The weak (da’if) hadith is that which does not possess the characteristics of the sahih or hasan ones, and its weakness differs in the same way as the veracity of the sahih.

In Sharh Muslim al-Nawawi writes: Its kinds are: al-mawdu’ (composed), al-maqlub (inverted), al-shadhdh (odd), al-munkar (disapproved), al-mudtarib (confused) and other kinds referred to in ilm al-hadith.

Some of the ulama’ hold that it can be acted according to it in respect of virtuous deeds, but this was prohibited by great religious authorities (imams).

In al-Adab al-Shar’iyyah527 Ibn Muflih says:

It is reported from al-Imam Ahmad that it is impermissible to act according to the weak hadith in regard of virtues and recommendable acts (mustahabbat).

Al-Shaykh Taqi al-Din (Ibn Taymiyyah) commented on the notion held by the ulama’ to act according to the weak hadith in virtuous deeds, by saying: To act according to it means that the self wishes for that reward (thawab) or fears from that chastisement. The example for this can be found in the temptation and intimidation through the Israeliyyat, dreams, words of the predecessors and ulama’ and events of the world beside other things that can never be used to establish a legal judgement, either a recommendable one or other than this. However, it can be mentioned in cases of temptation and intimidation, regarding what it considered good or abominable through legal evidences, the act that can be of benefit not detriment, whether this be in itself true or false.
One of the eminent ulama’ commented on al-Imam Ahmad's statement "It is impermissible to act according to the weak hadith in respect of the virtues and mustahabbat" by saying: "May God be pleased with Ahmad, what an expansive knowledge and accurate understanding has he ... as his call to act according to the weak hadith and be lenient toward narrating it paved the way for ghuluww (excess) in religion and increasing the constraining rituals (ibadat) that contradict and are incompatible with the easiness of Islam, till making some of them to be among the rites of this Din, though most of people were negligent in establishing the ordinances (fara’id) and abiding by the obligatory duties. As a consequence to this, the succeeding compiler reported from Taqi al-Din his view of approving the Israeliyyat, dreams and superstitions. The rituals and virtues decisively determined in the Book and Sunnah are quite sufficient for the Ummah, and would that many are there who be committed and heedful to them."

Al-Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki said: “It is impermissible to act according to the weak traditions at all,” which is verily a right notion.528


527. Al-Adab al-Shar'iyyah, vol. II, pp.313, 314.

528. Al-Manar Journal, vol. XXXI, p.128.

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

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