14th December 2004, 05:09
Article on history of ahadith
Following is an article I received via email. Not that I agree with every bit of it. But there is some rather useful info in it.
A Brief Overview of the History of Hadith Literature from the Age of the Companions until the Present Day
Sunday Dec. 5th 2004
The Scholars of the Ummah, from the time of the Companions until the present day, have taken great care to preserve and convey the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã). And in every age, as new challenges appeared, sincere scholars arose who met those challenges. It is not possible to do justice to this broad topic in a short amount of time and this is by no means to be taken as a thorough discussion of the topic, but rather, it should be regarded merely as what it is: a brief overview.
The Great Effort of the Companions (ÑÖæÇä Çááå Úáíåã) to Learn the Sunnah
The Companions used to give great concern to sitting with the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) to hear his hadiths and learning from him as much as possible. Of course, while some of them were independently wealthy and were able to devote themselves entirely to learning from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), others had to work in order to meet their needs. However, they would not let this prevent them from learning from Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã). For this reason we find, for example, that ‘Umar made an arrangement with an Ansari neighbor of his. Each of them would take turns sitting with the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) on alternating days, and then he would return and relate to the other all that he had missed that day as has been mentioned in a long hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari. Still, other Companions were young and unmarried, having few worldy obligations, allowing them to devote their time to learning from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), at the head of them Abu Hurayrah.
Writing of Hadith During the Lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã)
Muslim reports in his Sahih through the route of Hammam from Zayd ibn Aslam from Ata’ ibn Yasar Abu Sa’id al-Khudri that Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) said, “Do not write from me, and whoever has written from me other than the Qur’an, then let him erase it.”
Although this hadith is in Sahih Muslim, it is one of the few hadiths of Sahih Muslim which was criticized by some of the scholars of hadith. While it has come from this particular route from Abu Sa’id from the statement of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), however Abu Nadhrah and Abul-Mutawakkil have narrated it from Abu Sa’id in mawquf form from the words of Abu Sa’id himself. Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud both chose the opinion that this is the correct version of this hadith. And al-Khatib al-Baghdadi mentioned this opinion without making a decisive conclusion as to which is correct. And the opinion chosen by al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud is what is correct, and Allah knows best.
However, even if this hadith is authentic, then it should be regarded as abrogated. A number of scholars have stated that the wisdom behind this prohibition was so that the Qur’an would not get confused with other than it when the revelation was still new and the Companions were still new to Islam. However, later, when that was no longer feared, the prohibition was lifted.
And there are a number of authentic hadiths that show the permission of writing.
Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud report that on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) delivered a sermon. A man from Yemen called Abu Shah asked the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) to have that sermon written for him so the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) ordered that a copy of that sermon be written for Abu Shah.
And Abu Dawud reports with a sahih isnad that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As used to write down everything he would hear from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) that he desired to preserve or to memorize, so some of the Companions prohibited him saying, “He is a human being, he speaks when he is pleased and when he is angry.” So ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr refrained from writing until he mentioned this to Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), so Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) pointed to his mouth and said, “Write, for by the one in whose hand is my soul, nothing comes forth from it except for the truth.”
And it is for this reason that Abu Hurayrah said, “There is no one from the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) with more hadiths from Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) than me, except for ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr, for he used to write, and I did not write.” [Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud]
This statement may seem problematic as there is no doubt that many more hadiths have been recorded in the books of hadith from Abu Hurayrah than from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr. However, this is due to a number of causes. Abu Hurayrah devoted himself to teaching, giving fatawa, and narrating hadith, while ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr used to perform a great deal of worship by day and night – prayer, recitation of Qur’an, and fasting – which would have occupied most of his time. Furthermore, Abu Hurayrah lived in al-Madinah and, while ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr accompanied the armies that conquered Syria and Egypt and eventually took Egypt as his place of residence. In that time period, many of the Tabi’in would travel to Madinah to hear hadiths while that was not really the case with other cities. In fact, according to al-Bukhari in at-Tarikh al-Kabir, over 800 of the Tabi’in heard hadiths from Abu Hurayrah, and there was no one else from the Companions who had anywhere near that number of students.
The Concern of the Companions for Conveying the Hadith
A number of Companions who were young in the lifetime of the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) devoted themselves to attaining knowledge and then passed it on to the following generations.
And there is no doubt that this is from the tarbiyyah that they received from Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), the greatest of teachers and guides. “And the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.”
From amongst the many statements of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) encouraging attainment of knowledge is the hadith “Whoever takes a path seeking knowledge, Allah makes easy for him a path to Paradise.” [Muslim]
And he did not just encourage them to learn the Sunnah, but to pass it on as well, as he said, “May Allah brighten the face of the person who hears what I say and retains it, then convey it to others.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, ibn Majah, and at-Tirmidhi who said, “Hasan Sahih.”]
And he also warned against lying upon him, saying “Whoever lies against me intentionally, then let him take his seat in the Hell-Fire.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and many others]
This hadith has been narrated from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) by over fifty Companions, which is an indication of the great effect that this severe warning had on this great generation as there are few hadiths that were narrated by as many Companions as this hadith.
And so after Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), the Companions used to take great caution in narrating hadiths. When ‘Umar was the Khalifah, he would threaten those who who narrated hadiths that he did not recognize to bring a witness for their hadith, otherwise he would have them beaten. And this was not because he doubted their trustworthiness, but by taking great caution to verify every aspect of the Sunnah, it was protected from error entering into it.
From the narrators who lived long after the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) and were able to narrate many hadiths are Abu Hurayrah, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, Anas ibn Malik, and ‘A’isha bint Abi Bakr, may Allah be pleased with all of them.
There were others among the wives of the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) who narrated hadiths from him such as Umm Salamah, but ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated the most out of any female Companions. This is perhaps part of the wisdom in making ‘A’isha the wife of the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã). She was shown to him as his wife in a dream, and so it was that Allah showed him that he should marry her. He married her when she was six years old and she came to his house at the age of nine – and we know that memory is good at young age and can retain better. She was exceptionally bright and lived for over 40 years after the death of the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) and she had many students. Being in the house of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), she saw what others did not see and heard that which others did not hear. And thus, she was able to preserve and convey very important aspects from the Sunnah. And this is a sufficient sign that Allah is the one ensuring the preservation of the Sunnah as it was by His Revelation to Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) that ‘A’isha was in a position to play this essential role in the preservation of our religion.
And some other Companions who narrate a great number of hadiths are ibn ‘Abbas, Jarir ibn ‘Abdillah, and Abu Sa’id al-Khudri. And this is not intended as a comprehensive list.
Then, in the generation of the Tabi’in, a number of important developments were made. The writing of hadith increased, and whoever desires to know more concerning this should refer to Shaykh Azami’s book, Studies in Early Hadith Literature, which he wrote as his doctoral thesis.
The Beginnings of Criticism of the Narrators
In the time of the Companions, there was no question of the trustworthiness and precision of the narrators of hadiths as the Companions heard directly from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) and then took great caution in conveying what they heard. However, in the time of the Tabi’in, the issue of narrators making errors or not being trustworthy began to appear for the first time.
And so it was that the scholars of hadith developed what has come to be known as the science of al-Jarh wat-Ta’dil. This is the science of examining the narrations of different narrators to make a determination about their reliability. This science developed gradually and expanded as the need grew.
Perhaps the first scholar to truly devote himself to this - critique of the narrators - was a scholar from the senior Atba’ at-Tabi’in, Shu’bah ibn al-Hajjaj (died in 160 H). Amongst his students who took this knowledge from him were ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Mahdi (135-198 H) and Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Qattan (120-198 H).
Then this knowledge passed to their students from the generation after the Atba’ at-Tabi’in, at the head of them Ahmad ibn Hanbal (164-241 H), Yahya ibn Ma’in (158-233 H), and ‘Ali ibn al-Madini (161-235 H). Then their students took it from them.
The students of these scholars would write their statements about narrators and gather them together, however, there were no scholars who authored books on this subject until the coming of Imam Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Bukhari (194-256 H). He was a student of ‘Ali ibn al-Madini. He wrote his tremendous book, at-Tarikh al-Kabir. Had he not written any other work, this one would have been sufficient to secure his position as an Imam in the field of hadith, and he was just twenty years old when he wrote it! All the works written in this field after it are dependant upon it. And then after him, the scholars followed this sunnah hasanah, devoting many books to the biography and critique of the narrators of hadith, and all of them were dependant in great part on the word ok al-Bukhari.
Travelling to Gather Hadith
It has already been mentioned that many of the scholars from the Tabi’in travelled to Madinah to hear hadith. In fact, this practice started with the Companions themselves. Some of them would travel to other cities to meet other Companions just for the purpose of confirming hadiths they had heard from Allah’s Messenger. However, it was in the time of the Atba’ at-Tabi’in that the scholars started to do a great deal of traveling for the purpose of seeking hadith. And the most important of the scholars who set this example was Ma’mar ibn Rashid al-Azdi (96-154 H). Imam Ahmad said concerning him that he sought knowledge more than anyone else in his time and he also said concerning him that he was the first one to journey – meaning: he was the first to travel to many lands and spend years in travel through various lands to hear hadiths.
The reason for this travelling to different lands was in order to hear more hadith, because the Companions had spread to the various Islamic lands after the Conquests that took place in their time in order to teach the people Islam, so you would find some hadiths were known in one land but not in another or vice versa. So travelling for the purpose of gathering hadith gradually increased until the time of the Imam Ahmad and his generation came and it was the established practice. Imam Ahmad did not marry until he was forty years old because all of his time and effort was devoted to travelling to seek hadith. And this was the case with many of the scholars.
The Writing of Hadith Books
The practice of writing books of hadith concerning certain topics started all the way in the first century of the Hijrah, but these books were usually small books about various topics. As was mentioned before, writing of hadiths started in the time of the Companions but in the beginning, their writings were more like personal notebooks than books that are authored for people to read and study. Their purpose was to serve as records of the hadiths a person had learned and wished to preserve and memorize.
As time progressed, more comprehensive books were written. We will only discuss certain select important books. Those who want to know more about the books of hadith should see Studies in Early Hadith Literature as well as Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature, both by Dr. Azami.
Amongst those books is:
Muwatta’ of Imam Malik (93-179 H)
n It is the first important book of hadith that has been passed down to our time.
n His student ash-Shafi'ee said that his is the most authentic book after the book of Allah (this was before al-Bukhari and Muslim's books were compiled)
n Along with Sahih al-Bukhari, it is the book which has the most commentaries, which is an indication of the great importance that scholars have given this book.
n It is organized by chapters devoted to fiqh. It is a reference point for the fiqh of Imam Malik, which is one of the reasons it has been given so much importance.
n It contains mostly hadiths from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã), but there are also many narrations of statements of scholars from the Companions and the Tabi’in of Madinah. Imam Malik was from al-Madinah and did not travel much to learn the hadiths of the scholars of other lands.
n His book is typical of the books that were written by the scholars of his time, in that they covered a number of fiqh topics while still being brief.
Al-Musannaf of Abdur-Razzaq as-San’ani (126-211 H)
n He was a student of Ma’mar ibn Rashid.
n His is a very large and comprehensive book devoted to gathering together hadiths from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) as well as narrations from the scholars of the Companions and the Tabi’in.
n It is also devoted mostly to fiqh topics
Al-Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (154 – 241 H)
n His book is one of the greatest if not the greatest hadith book ever written!
n It contains about 28,000 hadiths.
n He said to his son Abdullah, describing the purpose of this book, “I wrote this book to be an Imam (i.e. a guide and a reference point) for the Muslims, so whenever they disagree about the hadiths of Allah’s Messenger (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) they can refer to it...
n Not everything in al-Musnad is authentic. Many of the hadiths in it were criticized by Ahmad himself. It was his wish to put in it all the hadiths that were mash-hoor (i.e. popular/well known, not necessarily sahih), because sometimes the opinions of the scholars may vary about what is authentic.
n It is a tremendous reference. His statement about the purpose of the book indicates that he wanted to encompass all of the sunnah. This does not mean that every hadith that is authentic is in his Musnad. However, you will not find an authentic hadith the basis of which is not related in the hadiths of al-Musnad.
n Many scholars from his contemporaries wrote Musnads. The purpose was to encompass all that had been narrated from the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) and preserve it.
n The Musnad books were organized by the Companion who was narrating hadiths.
Al-Jami’ as-Sahih of al-Imam al-Bukhari (194-256 H)
n We will inshaaAllah be discussing his book in great detail next week
n His book was the first book that was complied with intention to bring together sahih hadith only.
n It was not his intent to encompass all the authentic hadiths.
n He wrote it at the suggestion of his shaykh, Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Handhali, more popularly known as Ishaq ibn Rahuyah or Ishaq ibn Rahawayh.
As-Sahih of Imam Abul Husayn Muslim ibn Hajjaaj (204-262 H)
n He was the student of al-Bukhari
n He followed his example in writing a book devoted to authentic hadiths
n Both his book and the book of Imam al-Bukhari are organized by chapters. The gather together the chapters of fiqh as well as other topics such as Zuhd.
Al-Jami’ of at-Tirmidhi (279 H)
n His book is more popularly known as Sunan at-Tirmidhi.
n The organization of his book is similar to the previous two books.
n He was perhaps the most devoted of all of Imam al-Bukhari’s students.
n In terms of topics covered, his book is similar to the previous book.
n In addition to gathering together hadiths, he also brings the fiqh of the Salaf – the scholars of ahl al-hadith – concerning the topics touched upon in his book.
n Furthermore, he grades the hadiths.
n Some later scholars have said that he's mutasahil(i.e. he was lax in authenticating hadiths that are not authentic. This is based on misunderstandings of his terminology on the part of those who made these claims. Later scholars use the term hasan to mean that hadiths is from the second level of authentic hadiths. However, one who studies the terminology of at-Tirmidhi will find that he uses the term hasan sahih for hadiths he regards as authentic, and that he uses the term hasan to indicate other factors related to science of the hadith, and this is not the place to clarify that.
n He discusses his methodology that he used in writing his book in al-‘Ilal as-Saghir which is included at the end of his al-Jami’.
As-Sunan of Imam Abu Dawud (died 275)
n He was one of the closest students of Imam Ahmad
n He wrote a letter describing the methodology he used in writing his Sunan which I have translated and it should be referred to for more information about his Sunan.
As-Sunan of An-Nasa'i (215 – 303 H)
n He has two books: As-Sunan Al-Kubraa and As-Sunan Al-Mujtabaa. The second is summarized from the first and it is half its size. It is the one that is popularly referred to as Sunan an-Nasa’i or as-Sunan as-Sughraa.
n Imam an-Nasa’I devotes a great deal of effort to mentioning various routes of certain hadiths to clarify the mistakes of narrators and it is a tremendous reference for that.
n Some scholars even said he was more knowledgeable than Imam Muslim (concerning sciences of hadith).
The third century (200’s H) was the Golden Age for the Sciences of Hadith. After that, decline began. There were many scholars who came in the 300’s such as Ibn Khuzaymah, ibn Hibban, al-Haakim. Each of them wrote books for the purpose of gathering authentic hadiths only. However, they were lax in grading hadiths Sahih.
In this period of decline, the understanding of the sciences of Ahl al-Hadith declined as people began entering more and more into ‘Ilm al-Kalam and turning away from the beneficial knowledge of the Salaf.
As a result scholars eventually became forced to write books about ulum al-hadith because the students of hadith themselves were starting to get mixed up concerning matters that were important for them to know. Some important books written in this time were Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al-Hadith by al-Hakim and al-Muhaddith al-Fasil of ar-Ramahurmuzi.
Also, Imam al-Khattabi (388 H) wrote the first commentaries on hadith books in this time period, Ma’alim as-Sunan, which is a commentary on summarized Sunan Abi Dawud, and then he A’lam al-Hadith, popularly known as A’lam as-Sunan, a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari.
He mentioned in his introduction to Ma’alim as-Sunan the reason for writing his book. The reason was that he found in his time that the people of hadith devoted their time to gather hadith for the purpose of competing in one another so they focused on gathering gharib (strange) hadiths that no one ever heard of - because they're weak narrations coming from the mistakes of narrators. They became so occupied with this that they started to neglect that which was most important – being able to distinguish between sahih and dha'if. This also lead them to neglect the importance of understanding the hadiths and applying their knowledge. On the other hand, there were the people of fiqh who were not concerned with gathering hadiths to begin with, so they knew only a few hadiths and their effort was devoted to debating issues of fiqh based on argumentation, not based on knowledge of the sunnah.
So he saw for the first time there was a need for commentaries explaining the Prophetic Hadiths whereas the previous generations learned the hadiths and their fiqh directly from their shaykhs as they travelled seeking hadiths. However, due to the decline of knowledge, he saw a need for a book to aid the students in learning the fiqh of hadiths due to their ignorance concerning it.
In this time period, ‘ilm al-kalam – which has its origins in the philosophy of the Greeks such as Aristotle – started to spread and influence people's knowledge and understanding. The Mu'tazilah had started spreading their ‘aqidah which was based on logic and argumentation not Qur'an and Sunnah (i.e. ‘ilm al-kalam).
In the previous generation, the generation of Imam ash-Shafi’i and Ahmad and the followers of scholars like them, the scholars of Ahl al-Hadith did not enter into ‘ilm al-kalam at all.
However, in this century, when the knowledge of Ahl al-Hadith concerning their own field became weak, they started to turn to ‘ilm al-kalam to respond to the Mu’tazilah. So you find in this time the Ash’ari and Maturidi madh-habs started to spread amongst Ahl al-Hadith. The basis of both these madh-habs was in the writings of ibn Kullab. He was a contemporary of Imam Ahmad who declared him an innovator because of his involvement in ‘ilm al-kalam. Yet, in the century following that of Imam Ahmad, the majority of the scholars were following the way of ibn Kullab! And so ‘ilm al-kalam began to effect all the Islamic sciences, including, ‘ulum al-hadith.
There was another way in which ‘ilm al-kalam influenced ‘ulum al-hadith: through usul al-fiqh. The people of kalam started to enter things into the field of usul al-fiqh that were not from the way of the Salaf. And some of those alien concepts were entered into the sciences of hadith.
14th December 2004, 05:09
Re: Article on history of ahadith
Al-Hafidh ad-Daraqutni (385 H)
n He was the last of the great early scholars of hadith.
n He was from the few people of his time who stayed away from ‘ilm al-kalam, but as al-Hafidh adh-Dhahabi said, “But rather, he was a Salafi.” Meaning: he followed the way of the Salaf. This is true not just of his ‘aqidah but his approach to the sciences of hadith.
After him there came many other great hadith scholars such as al-Bayhaqi, but none of them were of the same level as the likes of an-Nasa’i, al-Bukhari, and Ibn al-Madini and other early scholars!
For that reason, those early scholars of hadith must be taken as the point of reference.
Imam ibn as-Salah (643 H)
n He wrote a book concerning ‘ulum al-hadith which became the foundation for all such books written after him.
n While it is an excellent and influential book, it contains certain fundamental methodological errors as ibn as-Salah ws influenced indirectly by ‘ilm al-kalam through the influence of usul al-fiqh.
n So this influenced all the scholars who came after him, and subsequent generations were not as knowledgably as generations of the Salaf.
There were still tremendous scholars such as In Kathir, adh-Dhahabi, ibn ‘Abdil Hadi, ibn Rajab, and ibn Hajar but gradually over time, the knowledge of hadith started to die and be neglected although there were still some notable scholars.
In our age, Shaykh al-Albani came and he really revived interest in the sciences of hadith. His many works devoted to the sciences of hadith lead to a renaissance in the study of hadith and a level of interest that has rarely been seen. Islamic universities from Morocco to Indonesia all devoted separate colleges for specialization in the sciences of hadith. And in general, the Colleges of Hadith have seen more students than any of the other colleges because of the profound level of interest in this area.
Despite that, Shaykh al-Albani is not at the level of knowledge as Abu Hatim, Abu Zur’ah, al-Bukhari or the other Imams of the Salaf. There are still some mistakes in regards to methodology that is used by later scholars of hadith.
To illustrate the difference:
There is a hadith reported by Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that his father, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, asked the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) if a person can sleep while in a state of janabah, the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) said “Yes, if he makes wudu.” [Al-Bukhari]
Many scholars have derived from this hadith that it is wajib to perform wudhu’ before sleeping if in a state of janabah.
And so it is that it has been reported from ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) used to make wudhu’ before sleeping while he was junub. This was narrated from A'isha by a number of narrators, among them: Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abdir-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, ‘Urwah ibn az-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam, and al-Aswad.
As for the narrations of Abu Salamah and ‘Urwah, they have been reported by Muslim and al-Bukhari, and the narration of al-Aswad has been reported by Muslim.
There is another narration concerning this issue that some scholars have relied upon to say that the order is merely recommended to fulfill and that it is permissible to sleep without performing wudhu’ when junub. It is narrated by Abu Ishaq from al-Aswad that ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, said that the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) used to sleep while junub without touching water.
This hadith is reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, ibn Majah, and at-Tirmidhi.
After relating this hadith, at-Tirmidhi states, “And more than one has narrated from al-Aswad from ‘A’isha that the Prophet (Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) used to make wudhu’ before sleeping – meaning: - when he was junub.”
Imam at-Tirmidhi then states, “And this is more sahih than the narration of Abu Ishaq from al-Aswad. And they regard this as a mistake from Abu Ishaq”
And an-Nasa’i has clarified this contradicition in the narrations as well in as-Sunan al-Kubraa.
In discussing this hadith, ibn Rajab states in Fath al-Bari (1/362):
“And this hadith is amongst those that the Imams of Hadith from the Salaf agreed in rejecting from Abu Ishaq; from them: Isma’il ibn Abi Khalid, Shu’bah, Yazid ibn Harun, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Abu Bakr al-Athram, al-Jawzajani, at-Tirmidhi, and ad-Daruqutni.
And ibn ‘Abdil-Barr quotes from Sufyan that he said, ‘It is a mistake.’
And he attributed it to the book of Abu Dawud, and what is present in his book is that this statement is from Yazid ibn Harun, not from Sufyan.
And Ahmad ibn Salih al-Misri al-Hafidh stated, ‘It is not permissible for this hadith to be narrated.’
Meaning: It is certainly a mistake, so it is not permissible to narrate it without clarifying its ‘illah.
As for the later fuqaha’, than many of them looked at the trustworthiness of its narrators, so they thought it authentic, and these ones think that every hadith that is narrated by a trustworthy narrator is sahih. And these ones do not comprehend the fine points of ‘ilm ‘ilal al-hadith.”
It should be noted that the presentation of this hadith given by Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i in their books is indicative that they consider this hadith a mistake as well, although they did not explicitly say that.
Many of the great scholars from the later scholars of hadith have graded this hadith sahih. And this is due to the influence of the scholars of usul al-fiqh on the books of ‘Ulum al-Hadith that have been written and studied by the later scholars.
The Usuliyyin developed their principles based on “logical arguments” without having practical knowledge of hadith and the realities that existed in the era of narrating hadiths that would lead to mistakes. So they would say, “It is possible that these are two different hadiths that al-Aswad narrated from ‘A’isha. And Abu Ishaq is a reliable narrator from the greatest of narrators, whose narrations are relied upon by al-Bukhari and Muslim in as-Sahihayn. So his hadith must be accepted.”
However, one who studies the narrations of this hadith from Abu Ishaq, it becomes clear he was narrating it relying on his memory by its meaning and then distorted the meaning.
These early scholars of hadith LIVED the narration of hadiths. So they developed their approach to critique of hadiths based on the realities that existed that influenced the narration of hadiths. Since they had experience with the reality of how hadiths were narrated, they knew the causes that lead narrators, even reliable ones, to make mistakes. And based on this knowledge, they could identify the signs that a narrator had made a mistake in narrating a hadith.
Grading this hadith sahih is problematic from another perspective as well. The basis upon which these scholars graded this hadith sahih was that the books of al-Jarh wat-Ta’dil have recorded that these early scholars of hadith critiqued the narrators of this hadith and said that they were reliable narrators, including Abu Ishaq. It is not logical to accept the judgments of these scholars concerning the narrators of hadiths and at the same time reject their judgments on the hadiths themselves!
This is because the judgments of these scholars was based on their judgments on the hadiths themselves. After studying the hadiths of a narrator and identifying his authentic narrations and his mistakes, they would make a judgment concerning the narrator based on their study of his narrations. So if one were to reject their judgments on the hadiths and say that they are not reliable, he would have to reject their statements concerning the narrators.
And the methodology of the later scholars in grading hadith is to examine the judgments of the early scholars on the narrators and then to pass a judgment on their narrations. So to use the results that these scholars reached to reject the basis of those results is not logical.
The important lesson that can be taken from this example is that we must accept and submit to the judgments of the early scholars of hadith, as they are the experts in this field, and no one else reaches their level of knowledge concerning hadith. And this is why al-Hafidh ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Abi Hatim said, “When the people of hadith agree upon something, then their consensus is a hujjah (proof).”
As for us coming all these centuries after them, then it is necessary for us to study their works and understand their methodology for grading hadiths. Then when we come to hadiths they may have disagreed about or concerning which we cannot find a judgment from them, we can reach a proper conclusion.
And certainly, we love all of the great scholars of this Ummah that came in the later centuries, however, they are not as knowledgeable as Ahmad, al-Bukhari, an-Nasa’i, ad-Daraqutni and the other Imams of Hadith from the Salaf, so we return to their words and rely on their judgments in these matters.
And there are a few scholars from the later generations that have brought light to the importance of referring to the scholars of the Salaf. One of them is al-Hafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, who was a student of Imam ibn al-Qayyim and many other scholars of his time. And from our own era, there is al-‘Allamah ash-Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Yahya al-Mu’allimi.
 This was delivered as an introductory lecture to the class Glimpses of Light from Sahih al-Bukhari and is by no means comprehensive concerning this topic. And it is not possible to do this tremendous topic justice in a short article or lecture. Hence, many important developments in the history of the hadith literature and the role of many important scholars has been left out. And this is not due to its lack of importance, but because this topic is deserving of far greater effort than that which someone the likes of me is able. Wallahul Musta’an.
This article was compiled from the notes of some of those who attended the lecture, may Allah reward them for their efforts.
 As stated by ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari.
 Cited by ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah.
 In Taqyid al-‘Ilm.
 See the biography of Ma’mar ibn Rashid in Tahdhib al-Kamal.
 Those who can read Arabic should refer to al-Mubarakpuri’s introduction to Tuhfah al-Ahwadhi and al-Hittah of al-‘Allamah Siddiq Hasan Khan, amongst many other rich references concerning this topic in the Arabic language.
 Its hidden weakness.
 From the contemporary scholars who rejected this hadith as dha’if, following the ruling of the early scholars is Shaikh Muqbil ibn Hadi al-Wadi’i.
 For example, see all the narrations of this hadith in as-Sunan al-Kubraa of an-Nasa’i and Musnad of Imam Ahmad.
Imaam al-Asbahaanee (d.535H) - raheemahullaah - said: "The sign of Ahlus-Sunnah is that they follow the Salafus-Saalih and abandon all that is innovated and newly introduced into the Deen." [Al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil Mahajjah 1/364]
Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taymeeyah raheemahullaah Said: “It is not for anyone to place for the ummah a person calling to his path showing loyalty or enmity because of that path other than The Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Was-Sallam).
And it is not permissible to place for them speech, show loyalty or enmity because of it other than the speech of Allaah and His messenger (Sallallaahu ‘Alaihi Was-Sallam) and that which The Ummah has united upon.
Rather, this is what the people of innovation do who place for themselves a person or some speech and they divide with it the ummah, showing loyalty or enmity upon that person or that kalaam or that attribute. [Majmoo’ alF-Fataawa vol20/p124]