Usage of Weak Ahadeeth in Encouragement towards Good and Discouragement from Evil
In the present day climate it is often opined that the usage of Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth is forbidden in Islam and there is a genuine move amongst certain circles to purge the Hadeeth collection of Weak (Da’ef) narrations. Although the opinions and Fatawa of certain Scholars (of the past and present) can be presented in support of this position (of discouragement) towards the usage of Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth, nevertheless there exists an overwhelming majority of Islamic Scholars (from Salaf & Khalaf) who not only permitted its usage but their publications contained these (i.e. Weak Narrations) in abundance.
Furthermore from the opinions and practises of the Ulama of the past we can also glean that usage of Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth is preferred over Qiyas (deduction/analogy) and in matters where no Authentic Narration exists.
In this small endeavour Insha’Allah the opinion of Ulama who have permitted such a usage will be listed along with famous works which have historically contained Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth.
It may be argued by some that shouldn’t Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth be avoided anyways? The answer is that if it was good enough for the Masters of Hadeeth, Kibar Ulama and Muhadeetheen to use it and no attempt was made to purge the Hadeeth collection of their existence, then why should it be attempted by us? The actions of Ulama (of the past) will make it clear that it is not a crime to use weak Ahadeeth, provided that rules set forth by the Muhadeetheen are followed.
Finally we present the examples of Imam Bukhari (RA) in “Al Adab Al Mufrad” and Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s book “Alkalimut-Tayyib” which both contains many weak Ahadeeth the case in point being that Ameerul-Muhadetheen Imam Bukhari (RA) was the Master of Hadeeth and clearly knew the difference between Authentic (Saheeh) and Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth YET he chose to use the later in a book of Fadhail (virtues); Al Adab Al Mufrad is read, taught and practised by the Ummah for generations with the full knowledge that it contains Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth, although attempts have been made to “purge” the book from its Weak (Da’ef)Ahadeeth but the original manuscript is still widely available and used. Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s book “Alkalimut-Tayyib” has been revised by Shaykh Al-Albani (RA) as “Saheeh (Authentic) Alkalimut-Tayyib” & “Da’ef (Weak) Alkalimut-Tayyib”, nevertheless the original manuscript remains in vogue.
Usage of Weak Hadeeth in Injunctions when nothing Authentic is found (First Case):
Before discussing the subject at hand, it would be prudent to record the opinion of Ulama over the permissibility of usage of Weak Ahadeeth in matters of Ahkaam (Injunctions).
Istadlaal from weak Ahadeeth is permissible (over Qiyas) in injunctions as long as:
a)The weakness is not extreme or severe i.e. liars and fabricators are not present in the chain
b) There is no other strong evidence present
Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) [80AH -148AH] and the Hanafiyah:
1)Weak Narration from Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) is superior to Qiyas.
Source: Almuhalla Li Ibn Hazm (RA) (3/61)
2)The Hadeeth concerning laughing aloud during Salah is weak as per the consensus of Muhadeetheen, yet Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) preferred it to Qiyas
Source: A’alamal Mawqieen (1/31-32)
3) The hadeeth stating “Most menstrual cycles are 10 days” is weak as per the consensus of Muhadeetheen, yet Hanafees have preferred it to Qiyas
Source: A’alamal Mawqieen (1/31-32)
4) The hadeeth stating “There is no Meh’r (dowry) less then 10 Dirhams” is weak as per the consensus of Muhadeetheen, yet Hanafees have preferred it to Qiyas
Source: A’alamal Mawqieen (1/31-32)
5) Imam Ibn Himaam (RA) states that Istadlaal from weak
Source: Fathul-Qadeer-Babun-Nawafil (2/139)
Imam Malik (RA) [93AH -179AH] and Malikiyah:
1)Mursal (which is weak according to Jamhoor of Muhadeetheen) of a trustworthy person is valid as proof and as justification for a practice, just like a musnad hadith.
Source: Yusuf b. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, Tajrid al- Tamhid lima fi l-Muwatta’ min al-Asanid (Cairo, 1350), 1:2.
Imam Shaf’ae (RA) [150AH -204AH] and Shaffiyyah:
1) He has discussed this issue in detail in his al-Risalah; he requires the following conditions to be met before accepting a mursal hadith:
1. In the narrative, he requires that one of the following conditions be met: that it be reported also as musnad through another isnad; that its contents be reported as mursal through another reliable source with a different isnad;that the meaning be supported by the sayings of some Companions; or that most scholars hold the same opinion as conveyed by the mursal hadith.
2. Regarding the narrator, he requires that one of the following conditions be met: that he be an elder Successor; that if he names the person missing in the isnad elsewhere, he does not usually name an unknown person or someone not suitable for reporting from acceptably; or that he does not contradict a reliable person when he happens to share with him in a narration
Source: For the discussion in detail,
see Al-Shafi’i, al-Risalah (ed. Ahmad Shakir, Cairo, 1358/1940, pp. 461-470;\ English translation: M. Khadduri, 2nd ed., Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1987, pp. 279-284, where the mursal hadith has been translated as “interrupted tradition”).
2) On the basis of these arguments, Al-Shafi’i accepts the Irsal of Sa’id b. al-Musayyab, one of the elder Successors. For example, al- Shafi’i considers the issue of selling meat in exchange for a living animal: he says that Malik told him, reporting from Zaid b. Aslam, who reported from Ibn al-Musayyab that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade the selling of meat in exchange for an animal. He then says, “This is our opinion, for the Irsal of Ibn al-Musayyib is fine.”
Source: al-Suyuti, 1:199; Muhammad b. Mustafa al- Ghadamsi, Al-Mursal min al-Hadith (Darif Ltd., London, N.D.), p.71.
3) Ibnul Qayyim (RA) [691AH 751 AH] has related that Weak Hadeeth is superior to Qiyas according to Imam Shaf’ae (RA)
Source: A’alamal Mawqieen (1/32)
Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal (RA) [150AH -204AH] and Hanabila:
1) He accepts mursal and (other) da’if (weak) ahadith if nothing opposing them is found regarding a particular issue, preferring them to qiyas (analogical deduction).
Source: A’alamal Mawqieen (1/31)
2)In the most Authentic text of Hanbali Madhab (Al-Mughni) it states “In the case ofNawafil (optional acts of worship) and Fadhail(Virtues deeds) the condition of Authenticity of Hadeeth is not present.
Source: Al-Mughni (2/88)
Imam Auzai [89AH -157AH]:
1)Imam Dhahabi has recorded that Imam Awzai (RA) did Istadlaal from Maqtoo’aat (disconnected) and Maraseel of people of Shaam (Syria)
Source: Sair Aalamun-Nubula (7/114)
Imam Abu Dawud (RA) [202AH -275AH]:
1)Hafidh Mundhari (RA) writes that Imam Abi Dawud(RA) used to include weak narrations in the chapters where he couldn’t find any Authentic Narrations because in his opinion weak Ahadeeth are superior to Qiyas
Source: Tadreebur Rawi
Imam Ibnul Hazm [384AH -456AH]:
1)In Almuhalla Ibn Hazm (RA) discussed the matter of Qunoot before Ruku and brings the Hadeeth with the chain of Hasan Ibn Ali (RA) and then writes, “Although this Hadeeth is not worthy of Istadlaal, however since we have not found any other Hadeeth from Rasul-ullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) in this regard therefore we adopt it”
Source: Almuhalla Li Ibn Hazm (RA) (3/61)
Usage of Weak Hadeeth in Injunctions with caution (Second Case):
This is adopted by almost everyone as explained by Imam Nawawi in Al-Adhkaar while expounding on various forms of acting on Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth.
Imam Nawawi (RA) [631AH -676AH]:
It is permissible to act (with caution) on such matters which are borne out of Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth e.g. Karaha (Offensiveness) in certain matters pertaining to business transactions etc.
In the Commentary of the statement (above) Ibn Ailaan (RA) has given the example of Karaha (Offensiveness) in doing Wudhu with Water which has been warmed using the heat of the sun, and this is based upon the Hadeeth of Aisha (RA) which is weak.
Usage of Weak Hadeeth clarifying ambiguous text (Third Case):
If a verse of the Qur’aan or Authentic narration can have multiple meanings and a weak Narration gives credence to one of the meanings then the Ulama have permitted the usage of Weak (Da’ef) Ahadeeth in clarifying it.
Usage of Weak Hadeeth in Encouragement towards Good and Discouragement from Evil (Al-Targheeb Wa Al-Tarheeb) (Fourth Case):
It is the Consensus of the Ulema that weak hadiths can be narrated and put into practice in Islam according to according to Al-Bayhaqî,Ibn `Abd al-Barr,Al-Nawawî,Ibn Taymiyya, Al-Qârî, and `Alawî ibn `Abbâs al-Mâlikîin his manual Al-Manhal al-Lat.îf fî Ma`rifat al-H.adîth, provided certain conditions are met.
Source: Al-Bayhaqî, Dalâ’il al-Nubuwwa (1:33-34); Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhîd (1:127); al-Nawawî, al-Majmû` (5:63), Irshâd T.ullâb al-H.aqâ’iq (p. 107-108), Sharh. S.ah.îh. Muslim (introduction), and al-Adhkâr (introduction p. 5) cf. Ibn `Allân, al-Futûh.ât al-Rabbâniyya (1:84); Ibn Taymiyya, Sharh. al-`Umda (1:171), Majmû` al-Fatâwâ (18:26, 18:65-66), and Miswaddat âl Taymiyya (p. 233, 246, 461); al-Qârî, Sharh. al-Shifâ’ (2:91) and Mirqât al-Mafâtîh. (2:381); `Itr, Manhaj al-Naqd (p. 291-296) and Us.ûl al-Jarh. wal-Ta`dîl (p. 140-143)
Abdullah Ibn Abi Mubarak (RA) [118AH -181AH]:
One may narrate from [a weak narrator] to a certain extent or those hadiths pertaining to good conduct (adab), admonition (maw’iza), and simple living (zuhd).”
Narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim in Muqaddimat al-Jarh. wal-Ta’dil (2:30) and cited by Ibn Rajab in Sharh. ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhi (1:73).
Imam Bukhari (RA) [194AH -256AH]:
1)Imam Bukhari (RA) has compiled Adab Al-Mufrad which contains many weak Narrations to the point where some scholars have declared some narrations as fabricated; some of the chapters in the book contain no Authentic narrations at all.
Allamah Shaykh Abdul-Fattah Abu-Ghuddah has discussed the chains of transmissions of Adab Al-Mufrad in detail in his commentary “Fadhlullah As-Samad”
2) Even in Saheeh Bukhari while discussing the Hadeeth, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.” Hafidh Ibnul Hajr Asqalani (RA) comments in Fathal Bari, “Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Rahman Tafawi is Munfarid in the narration of this Hadeeth, perhaps Imam Bukhari (RA) has shown leniency in the matter because this Hadeeth is about Al-Targheeb Wa Al-Tarheeb.
Source: Fathul-Bari Kitabur-Raqaiq
The full Hadeeth is as follows:
Narrated Mujahid (RA) : ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (RA) said, “Allah’s Apostle (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.”
Imam Muslim (RA) [206AH -261AH]:
1) The correct position of Imâm Muslim in the introduction to his Sahîh whih is that he forbade the use of forgers and other abandoned narrators, not of truthful weak ones, in conformity with the position of Ahmad and the rest of the Salaf.
Source: Cf. al-Nawawî, Sharh. S.ah.îh. Muslim (introduction), Ibn al-Qayyim, I`lâm al-Muwaqqi`în (1:31), al-Sakhâwî, al-Qawl al-Badî` (p. 474), and `Itr, notes on Ibn Rajab’s Sharh. `Ilal al-Tirmidhî (1:75-76).
2) Muslim also says: “The sound reports from the trustworthy (thiqât) narrators and those whose reliability is convincing are more than that we should be forced to transmit reports from those who are not trustworthy and whose reliability is not convincing.
” The difference is clear between saying we are not forced to use weak narrators and saying that one absolutely cannot transmit from them.
A proof of this is his use of the weak narration from `Â’isha: “Treat people according to their ranks” and the fact that his strictness in narrators drops a notch or two in the hadîths of raqâ’iq or fad.â’il al-a`mâl in the Sahîh., as in the case of Shaddâd ibn Sa`îd Abû Talhâ al-Râsibî or al-Walîd ibn Abî Walîd.
Source: The claim of a handful of authors such as al-Qâsimî in Qawâ`id al-Tah.dîth (p. 94) or `Ajâj al-Khat.îb in Us.ûl al-H.adîth (p. 231) that Ibn al-`Arabî and Ibn Ma`în were opposed to the use of weak h.adîths in absolute terms, stems from good faith in Ibn Sayyid al-Nâs, al-`Irâqî, al-Sakhâwî, and al-Suyût.î’s claims to that effect.
Imam Ibn Arabi [XXX]:
The correct position of Ibn al-`Arabî is as he states himself regarding a certain weak h.adîth: “Its chain is unknown, but it is preferable to put it into practice…”
Source: Ibn al-`Arabî, `Ârid.at al-Ah.wadhî (10:205) cf. Fath. al-Bârî (10:606) as cited by Muh.ammad `Awwâma in his marginalia on al-Qawl al-Badî` (p. 472).
Imam Yahya Ibn Ma’een [XXX]:
1) Ibn Sayyidun-Naas (RA) has recorded the opinion of Imam Yayha Ibn Maeen (RA) about the usage of Weak Hadeeth
2)Hafidh Sakhawi (RA)has mentioned those Imam Yahya Ibn Ma’een amongst those who did hold the lenient position of usage of weak Ahadeeth in Fadhail
Imam Abu Shama Maqdisi (RA) [XXX]:
1) Shaykh Tahir Aljazairi (RA) has recorded the comments of Imam Abu Shama Maqdisi (RA) from his book “AlBaes Ala Inkaar Al-Bida Wal Hawadis” in which with reference to a Majlis of Hafidh Ibn Asakar Dimashqi (RA) three Ahadeeth about Rajab are mentioned and then Imam Abu Shama Maqdisi (RA) says, “I wish Hafidh Ibn Asakar Dimashqi (RA) had not mentioned these Ahadeeth as it is tantamount to giving credence to Munkar Ahadeeth but he has adopted the path of a group of Muhadetheen who are lenient when it comes to Ahadeeth pertaining to Fadhail
Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani (RA) [661AH -728AH]:
Al-Haafidth Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalani, sometimes referred to as the Ameer Al-Muslimeen in Al-Hadeeth, said: “There are three conditions that must be fulfilled in order to use the weak Hadeeth: –
(a)It is well accepted thatthe weakness should only be slight.This will help to exclude hadeeths reported by liars or accused reporters who are known to commit big mistakes.
(b)The weak Hadeeth should be used under already well-established principles and should not bring in ideas of its own.
(c) When a weak Hadeeth is used (after it fulfills the above two conditions), it should not be believed to be said by the Messenger of Allah (Sallao Alaihe Wassallam), lest we refer to him (Sallao Alaihe Wassallam) with that which he did not say.
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) [661AH -728AH]:
Ibn Taymiyya said in his book “Al-qaida al-jaleela fit- tawwasuli wal-waseela”, with commentary of Dr. Rabi’a bin Hadi ‘Umayr al-Mudkhali, professor in the Islamic University of Madinah al-Munawwara, Page 162, para 478:
“But Ahmad ibn Hanbal and other scholars permitted the narration [of hadith] regarding the virtues of good what is not established [as authentic] as long as it is not known that it is a lie.”
(laakinna Ahmad ibn Hanbal wa ghayruh min al-’ulama jawwazu an yurwa fee fada’il al-’aamal maa lam yu’lam annahu thaabit idha lam yu’lam annahu kadhib.)
Shaykhul Islam’s book“Alkalimut-Tayyib” contains many weak Ahadeeth which Al-Albani (RA) has himself divided into “Saheeh Alkalimut-Tayyib” & “Da’ef Alkalimut-Tayyib” proving that it contains weak Ahadeeth in the first place!
Imam Nawawi (RA) [631AH -636AH]:
Nawawî and Al-`Irâqî’s sole conditions (for using Weak Hadeeth) were that:
1) The hadith be related to good deeds (fad.â’il al-a`mâl)
without bearing on legal rulings and doctrine and
2) The hadith not be forged.
Source: Al-Bayhaqî, Dalâ’il al-Nubuwwa (1:33-34); Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhîd (1:127); al-Nawawî, al-Majmû` (5:63), Irshâd T.ullâb al-H.aqâ’iq (p. 107-108), Sharh. S.ah.îh. Muslim (introduction), and al-Adhkâr (introduction p. 5) cf. Ibn `Allân, al-Futûh.ât al-Rabbâniyya (1:84); Ibn Taymiyya, Sharh. al-`Umda (1:171), Majmû` al-Fatâwâ (18:26, 18:65-66), and Miswaddat âl Taymiyya (p. 233, 246, 461); Al-Qârî, Sharh. al-Shifâ’ (2:91) and Mirqât al-Mafâtîh. (2:381); `Itr, Manhaj al-Naqd (p. 291-296) and Us.ûl al-Jarh. wal-Ta`dîl (p. 140-143)
Imam Shawkani (RA) [XXX]:
1) Although Imam Shawkani (RA)’s statement Alfawaidul Majmoowa categorically prohibits acting on a weak Hadeeth YET in Nailul-Awtaar we find his statement, “Although Ahadeeth about excessive Nawafil during Maghrib and Esha are weak yet collectively they are strong particularly for Fadhail (of Aamaal)
Source: Nailul-Awtaar (3/60)
2) Imam Shawkani (RA)’s book Tuhaftuz-Zakireen is filled with weak Ahadeeth
Imam Jawzi (RA) [XXX]:
1) Imam Jawzi (RA)’s books such as “Dhummul Hawwa”,“Talbees Iblees”,Rousul Qawareer” and many other contain weak Ahadeeth and Imam Ibn Taymiyyah has collectively said this about Ibn Asakar (RA), Ibn Jawzi (RA), Abu Naeem (RA) & Khateeb (RA)
Imam Mundhari (RA) [XXX]:
In his book At-Targheeb Wa Al-Tarheeb many weak Ahadeeth are mentioned and Hafidh started them with “Rowi” indicating their weakness and his knowledge of their weakness, yet he chooses to include them in the book.