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A Letter Regarding The Science of Criticism and Praise in the Field of Hadeeth Literature

Taken from http://www.dkh-islam.com

 

‘Ilm ur-Riwayah: Risalah fil-Jarh wa Ta’deel

By al-Hafiz al-Munthiri, compiled by Abu Sima’ Majid bin Muhammad bin Abu al-Layl

 

A Letter Regarding Al-Jarh And At-Ta`deel: A Fatwa (Ruling) Regarding Hadith Terminology
From Al-Hafiz Al-Munthiri
[Taken from the third treatise in: “The narrators that al-Hafiz al-Munthiri mentioned al-Jarh and at-Ta`deel about in his book at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb” compiled by Abu Sima’ Majid bin Muhammad bin Abu al-Layl.]

A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF AL-HAFIZ AL-MUNTHIRI

In Tathkiratul-Hufaaz, Al-Hafiz Ath-Thahabi, may Allah have mercy with him, said:

“Al-Munthiri: ‘Abdul-‘Azim Ibn ‘Abdul-Qawwi, Ibn ‘Abdullah, Ibn Salaamah, Ibn Sa‘d. Al-Hafiz al-Kabir, al-Imam ath-Thabit, Shaykh al-Islam, Zaki ad-Deen, Abu Muhammad al-Munthiri, ash-Shaami, then, al-Misri.

He was born during the beginning of Sha‘baan in the year 581H. He learned to recite the Qur’an, Arabic studies, fiqh and then he sought knowledge in this field (hadith) and became proficient in it. He heard from …”

Then he listed a number of Shaykhs and the various cities in Muslim lands to which he traveled to listen to them and learn from them, as well as mentioning some of his books. Among the most famous were his abridged Sahih Muslim and abridged Abu Dawud.

Then he listed some of the important Hufaaz who learned from al-Hafiz al-Munthiri, and that he held an important teaching position in Cairo.

Ath-Thahabi said: “Ash-Sharif ‘Izz ad-Deen said: ‘Our Shaykh Zaki ad-Deen was unequalled in ‘uloom al-hadith regarding its various branches, knowledgeable of the sahih, the weak, the deficient, and the various routes. He was profound in knowing its rulings, meanings, and conflicting issues. He was proficient in the rare narrations of hadith, precise pronunciation of hadith, and their various wordings. He was an Imam, a proof, firm, cautious, precise in speech and reliable in narration, who when an excerpt was read before him, he could expound on its may benefits.’” End quote.

Al-Hafiz al-Munthiri is reported to have passed away in the year 656H, may Allah have mercy with him and exalt his rank.

Then it should be mentioned, that al-Hafiz al-Munthiri, with all of his great attributes as mentioned above, was know to be lenient in his grading of hadiths. This is most noted in his great and invaluable precious work: At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb. For those interested in researching this last point further in Arabic, it is recommend that they read the details that Shaikh Nasir, may Allah have mercy with him, mentioned in his introduction to Saheeh at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb.]

What follows is the translation of the text, the headings were added and bracketed.

In then Name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful, and may Allah mention our master Muhammad, his family and his Companions.

The Questions

What do the master scholars, and the noble Imams, say about these expressions– which are used by the Imams of hadith regarding narrators – for example:

Yahya bin Ma`in, may Allah have mercy upon him says: “He is salih in hadith.” And Abu Hatim says: “His hadiths are written, but he is not used as a proof.” And the saying of Ahmad bin Hanbal: “He is trustworthy.” Another says: “He is truthful.”

So is their saying: “Trustworthy” the same as their saying: “His hadiths are written.”?

And what is the meaning of their saying: “His hadiths are written, but he is not used as a proof.”?

And what is the distinction between their saying: “He is not used as a proof” and “He is abandoned in hadith.”?

And, when one of them says: “So-and-so is trustworthy” and another says: “He is nothing” whose saying is taken among them?

If it is said that: “He is nothing” is taken over one who said: “He is trustworthy”, then we have seen narrators in the Six Books upon which the scholars of Islam depend about whom such disagreement occurred.

For example: Muhammad bin Ishaq. For Shu`bah and Sufyan said about him: “The Commander of the Believers in Hadith” – according to what Ibn Mahdi reported from them. And Malik bin Anas and Yahya bin Sa`id have both criticized him.

Yahya bin Ma`in was asked about him, and he said: “Trustworthy, and he is not a proof” and another time he said: “He is truthful, but he is not a proof. The proof is only in `Ubaidullah bin `Umar, and Malik bin Anas.”

Ahmad bin Hanbal said about him: “If a man said: ‘Indeed Muhammad bin Ishaq is a proof’ then he is not correct, but he is trustworthy.’”

And Ya`qub bin Shaibah said: “I asked Yahya bin Ma`in, saying: ‘How is Muhammad bin Ishaq according to you?’ He said: ‘He is not that in my view’ and he did not indicate that he was reliable, he indicated that he was weak. But he did not say that he was very weak. So I said: ‘So you feel something in yourself regarding his truthfulness? He said: ‘No. He was truthful.’”

So how should these statements be understood considering that he is in reports in the depended upon books? And Ibn `Adi said:

“If Ibn Ishaq did not have any virtue except that he turned the kings away from preoccupation with books that are of no benefit to preoccupation with the Maghazi (military expeditions) of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa alaa aalihi wa sallam) and his advent and the beginning of creation, this would be a virtue in which Ibn Ishaq preceded others. Then, those who came after him authored (concerning the Maghazi,etc.) and they did not reach the station of Ibn Ishaq in it. And I searched his many hadiths and I did not find any that could be certainly graded as weak, and maybe he erred or made a mistake in one thing then another. And the reliable ones and the Imams did not hold back from relating from him, and there is no harm in him.”

These are the expressions used by Ibn `Adi about him. And this disagreeing causes confusion.

Similarly, with Shabaabah bin Sawwaar. Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others among the Imams recorded narrations of his in their books. While Abu Hatim said about him: “He is truthful, his hadiths are written, and he is not used as a proof.”

‘Abdur-Rahman bin Yusuf bin Khiraash said: “Ahmad bin Hanbal was not pleased by him.”

It was said to Yahya bin Ma`in: “Is Shabaabah liked more to you, or al-Aswad bin ‘Aamir?” So he said: “Shababah.” And he also said: “He is truthful.”

Ibn Sa`id said: “He was trustworthy, salih al-amr in hadith, except that he was a Murji’.”

This Shabaabah has been reported from, by Ishaq bin Rahuyah, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Yahya bin Ma`in, Abu Khaithamah, Ahmad bin Sinan Al-Qattaan, and personalities other than them.

So what does this disagreement about him mean? Upon whose saying does one depend? How is criticism of a person accepted without explanation, and when is such criticism without explanation cut off? What is the reason for accepting the criticism of these Imams without explanation while leaving [the opinion of] other than them?

And is the differences among these Imams the same as differences among the fuqaha’? If the answer is yes, then it is said that disagreement results from ijtihaad, while this contains nothing but reports, for a person can not be truthful and a liar at the same time. And it is said about a group of reporters that “they are nothing” while we find their hadiths in al-Bukhari, Muslim and others. So what is the meaning of their saying: “So-and-so is nothing”? And do these expressions have some meaning other than the apparent one? And is their saying: “So-and-so is a proof” the same as their saying: “He is truthful”?

Like Shujaa` bin al-Waleed Abu Qais as-Sakuni [this is a mistake from the publisher or copier, it should be Shujaa` bin al-Waleed bin Qais as-Sakuni]. Abu Hammaam al-Waleed bin Shujaa`, Ahmad bin Hanbal, Muslim bin Ibrahim, Yahya bin Ma`in, Abu `Ubaid Al-Qaasim bin Sallaam, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Numayr, Ishaq bin Rahuyah, ‘Ali bin Al-Madini, and others among the Imams report from him.

Abu Hatim said concerning him: “`Abdullah bin Bakr as-Sahmi is more beloved to me than Shujaa` bin al-Waleed, and he is a shaykh, he is not that strong, and his hadith is not used as a proof.”

Abu Bakr Al-Marwazi said: “I asked Ahmad bin Hanbal: ‘Is Shujaa` bin al-Waleed trustworthy?’ He said: ‘I hope that he is truthful, for some of the righteous have sat with him.’”

Waki‘ said: “I heard Sufyan saying: ‘There is no one in al-Kufah who worships more than him.’”

Hanbal bin Ishaq said: “Abu ‘Abdullah [al-Imam Ahmad] said: ‘He was a righteous shaykh, truthful, we write from him.’ He said: ‘Yahya bin Ma`in met him one day so he said: ‘O liar! So the shaykh said to him: ‘Either I am a liar, or Allah will destroy you.’”

And it has been reported that Yahya bin Ma`in also said about him: “He is trustworthy.”

And Ahmad bin Hanbal said: “No harm in him.”

So look at these differences about him, yet al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmithi, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah record narrations from him.

How can this be done by these Imams who are taken as an example while it has been stipulated regarding hadith that it be “a report of a just precise narrator from a just, precise narrator reaching to Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam)” as Ibn as-Salah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said in his book on ‘Ulum al-Hadith, as well as others besides him.

And if this stipulation is not that which is treaded upon by those who know the condition of the two Shaykhs [al-Bukhari and Muslim], and perhaps you – may Allah reward you – may explain the condition of the two Sahihs [of al-Bukhari and Muslim] so that the benefit may be complete – if Allah wills – by your blessing. So provide clarity with what you have of knowledge. May Allah benefit the Muslims by you. And may he grant you the company of the pure and righteous. Amin, Amin.

And may Allah make mention of Muhammad, the Unlettered Prophet, and his family and all his Companions. And may he grant the most complete, abundant peace.

The Answers

So the Shaykh, the Imam, al-Hafiz, al-`Allamah Zaki ad-Deen, Abu Muhammad `Abdul-`Azim bin Abdul-Qawwi bin `Abdullah al-Munthiri ash-Shafi`i, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote in response to the questions mentioned:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and may Allah make mention of Muhammad and his family and grant complete peace.

As to what follows, praising Allah, the High, the Great, and sending salah upon the best of his creation Muhammad, the Noble Prophet, and his family and his Companions and his followers who are worthy of preference and eminence.

The Levels Of al-Jarh and at-Ta`deel According to Ibn Abi Hatim

I have seen what you have indicated – may Allah make the benefit taken from you all to be continuous and may He guard you in the most excellent manner, and may He cause you to always take the most beautiful of positions. And I have besought from Allah (subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa) earnestly that He encompass all of us with the blessings from the Chief of the Messengers, may Allah make mention of him and his family and grant him peace as well as them.

So here I mention before that, what shall be an answer to some of what you have mentioned, and a facilitation for some of it, hoping from Allah for firmness upon what is correct in speech and action, and seeking refuge in him from errors and slips, for whatever He wishes, He does.

Al-Hafiz Abu Muhammad al-Qasim bin al-Hafiz `Ali bin al-Hasan ad-Dimashqi informed us in his letter to me in which he said: “Al-Hafiz Abu Tahir Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ahmad informed us in his letter to me from the port of Alexandria saying: ‘`Abu Maktum `Isa bin al-Hafiz Abu Tharr `Abd bin Ahmad al-Harawi informed us, by permission, saying: “My father related to me, saying: ‘Abu `Ali Hamd bin `Abdullah al-Asbahaani related to us saying: “Al-Imam Abu Muhammad `Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Hatim Muhammad bin Idris al-Hanzali said: ‘I found that the expressions about al-jarh and at-ta`deel are of different levels:

A. Levels of at-Ta`deel
  1. When they say about someone that he is trustworthy, or mutqin, thabt (precise, reliable), then he is one whose hadiths are used as a proof.
  2. When they say “he is truthful” or, “his place is truthfulness” or “no harm in him” then he is one whose hadiths are written, and he is to be looked into, this is the second rank.
  3. When they say: “Shaykh” then he is of the third rank, his hadiths are written, and he is looked into, but he is lower than the second.
  4. When they say: “salih al-hadith” then his hadiths are written for i‘tibaar (the expressions they contain).
B. Levels of al-Jarh
  1. When they reply about a man: “feeble in hadith” then he is among those whose hadiths are written and looked into for i`tibaar.
  2. When they say: “he is not strong” then he is like the first level regarding writing his hadiths, yet he is lower than him.
  3. When they say: “weak in hadith” then he is less than the second, his hadiths are not disregarded, rather they are used for i`tibaar.
  4. When they say: “abandoned in hadith” or “thaahib al-hadith” or “liar” then his hadiths are dropped, his hadiths are not written, and this is the fourth level.’”

This is what Ibn Abi Hatim mentioned about what he found regarding their expressions.

Is Their Saying: “A Proof” Stronger Than Their Saying: “Trustworthy”

Yahya bin Ma`in said about Muhammad bin Ishaq: “Trustworthy, but he is not a proof” it appears that his view is that being trustworthy is less than being a proof. And this contradicts what is mentioned from most of them about that.

The Response of Ad-Daraqutni About Their Saying: “So-and so- is feeble” and about one who has many mistakes

Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin Muhammad bin Ma`mar al-Baghdadi informed us in ad-Dimashq saying: “Al-Wazeer al-Ajl Abu al-Qaasim `Ali bin Naqeeb an-Nuqabaa’ Abu al-Fawaaris Tiraad bin Muhammad az-Zainabi informed us, saying: ‘Abu al-Qasim Isma`il bin Mas`adah al-Jurjani informed us – and ash-Shaykh Abu al-Fadhl Ja`far bin `Ali al-Muqri’ informed us, and the wording is his, saying: “Al-Hafiz Abu Taahir Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Ahmad informed us saying: ‘Al-Hafiz Abu Nasr Al-Mu’taman bin Ahmad as-Saaji informed us saying: “Abu al-Qaasim Isma`il bin Mas`adah informed us saying: ‘I heard Abu al-Qaasim Hamzah bin Yusuf as-Sahmi al-Hafiz saying: “I asked Abu al-Hasan ad-Daraqutni, saying to him: ‘When it is said: “So-and-so is feeble” what is meant by that?’ He said: ‘He is not dropped and abandoned in hadith, but he was criticized with something that does not drop his attribute of being just.’ And I asked him about one who has many mistakes. He said: ‘If they told him about that and he returned from that, then he is not dropped, and if he did not return, then he is dropped.’”

Al-Aseel Abu al-Muzaffar `Abdur-Raheem bin al-Hafiz Abu Sa`d `Abdul-Karim bin al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Muhammad bin al-Imam Abu al-Muzaffar Mansur bin Muhammad as-Sam`aani informed us in his letter to me from Khurasaan saying: “Al-Imam Abu Bakr ‘Ubaydullah bin Ibrahim at-Taftazaani informed me in Nasa’ in Shawwal of the year 544H saying: ‘Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Jurjaani informed me saying: “Abu Shurayh Isma`il bin Ahmad ash-Shaashi informed us: ‘Abu al-Hasan `Ali bin Muhammad al-Maydaani informed us saying: “Abu Sa`d Abdur-Rahman bin al-Hasan bin Alayyik informed us” – so he mentioned issues which he asked the Ustaath, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim bin Muhammad al-Isfaraa’eeni about, among them:

“When one hears from his shaykhs that a person is not trustworthy in hadith, or he sees that in the books of the Huffaz, is he to judge by their criticism in taqleed of them? And is he of those who backbite or not.”

The reply: “When he hears it from his shaykhs then that is jarh, and not taqleed in his jarh. Because this is his proof and his evidence. He does not judge by something that he finds in the books, unless that is something he heard from individuals among the people of hadith.”

The Disagreements of The People Of Knowledge About the Ta`deel of Men And Grading them Weak

The Shaykhs Abu Hafs `Umar bin Ma`mar bin Muhammad al-Baghdadi, and Abu al-Hasan `Ali bin Nasr al-Waasiti, and Abu al-Fadhl Muhammad bin Yusuf an-Nu`maani – and the wording is his – informed us saying: “Abu al-Qaasim `Abdul-Malik bin Abu Sahl related to us saying: ‘Abu `Aamir Mahmud bin al-Qaasim and Abu Bakr al-Ghawrja informed us saying: “Abu Muhammad al-Jaraahi informed us: ‘Abu al-Abbas bin Mahbub informed us:

“Al-Imam Abu `Isa Muhammad bin `Isa at-Tirmithi informed us saying: ‘The Imams among the people of knowledge differed in grading men weak, just like they differed in other areas of knowledge.’” This is the end of his statement.

1. Their Disagreements About Accepting The Report Of an Innovator

The people of knoweldge differed in the case of the people of innovations like the Qadariyyah, the Rawaafidh, and the Khawaarij.

  1. A group of them said: “Their hadiths are not used as a proof altogether.”
  2. Some of them held the view of accepting the reports of the people of desires who were not known to consider as lawful lying or bearing witness for those who agreed with them for what they did not witness.
  3. A group followed the view of accepting the non-caller among the people of desires. As for the caller, then his narrations are not to be used as a proof.
  4. Some of them [followed the view] that his hadiths are accepted when they do not contain anything that supports their innovation.
2. Their Differences Over The Necessary Number For Verification Or Disparagement

They also differed over setting conditions on the number of those praising and disparaging, and witnesses and reporters.

  1. A. So some of them made a number of them a condition.
  2. B. Some of them said they are not subject to a condition, even though when bearing witness, it is better to give precedence to the number of those who praise.
  3. C. Some of them said: It is a condition for testimony, but not for narrators. Because the number is not a condition for accepting information. So it can not be a condition for narrators, contrary to testifying witnesses, for in the case of accepting testimony and judging accordingly there are conditions. So it is a condition in testimony.
3. Their Differences over accepting Explanative and Vague Criticism

They also differed over the criticism, when what the criticism is not explained.

  1. Among them are those who said: The crticism is not accepted without explanation.
  2. Among them are those who said: The critic does not need to explain except when it is general and the criticism would not be recognized. But when the criticism is known then it does not need to be explained.
Muhammad bin Ishaq in the View of the People of Knowledge

The Imams have discussed him a great deal in two ways: praise and censure. As for al-Bukhari and Muslim, they did not use him as a proof at all in their Sahihs. Muslim only recorded some hadiths of his as follow up narrations, not foundational narrations.

In this way al-Bukhari also did not record anything it all from him as a foundation. He only mentioned him in supporting narrations, following their custom regarding those whose hadiths are not used as a proof. As al-Bukhari did with Abu Az-Zubair Al-Makki, Suhail bin Abi Saalih and their like. And as Muslim did with `Ikrimah the freed slave of Ibn `Abbas, Shareek bin `Abdullah al-Qaadhi and their like.

Abu Bakr Ahmad bin ‘Ali al-Khateeb said: “More than one of the scholars have refrained from using narrations of Ibn Ishaq as proof for various reasons: Among them that he was accused of Shi‘i tendancies and the topic of qadr, and he committed tadlees in his narrations. As for his truthfulness, it is not enough to defend him.”

Sulaiman bin Dawud said: “Yahya bin Sa`id Al-Qattaan said to me: ‘I testify that Muhammad bin Ishaq lies.’” He said: “I said: ‘How do you know?’ He said: ‘Wuhaib bin Khaalid said to me: “Indeed he lies.” He said: ‘I said to Wuhaib: “How do you know?” He said: “Malik bin Anas said to me: ‘I testify that he lies.’ I said to Malik: How do you know? He said: Hishaam bin ‘Urwah said to me: “I testify that he lies.” I said to Hishaam: “How do you know?” He said: “He narrated from my wife Faatimah bint al-Munthir. But she came to me when she was nine years old, and no man saw her until she met Allah.”

`Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal said: “So my father narrated hadiths of Ibn Ishaq and said: ‘As for Hishaam’s rebuke of him, perhaps he came and sought persmision from her and she permitted him’ – and I think he said – ‘and did not inform him.’”

Imam Ahmad said another time: “It is possible that such hearing occurred when she went out to the Masjid or, she went out and he heard her. And Allah knows best.”

‘Ali bin al-Madeeni said: “What Hishaam said is not a proof. Perhaps he visited his wife when he was a boy and heard from her.”

So whoever avoided using the narrations of Ibn Ishaq it is to be understood that he abandoned him due to the issue of qadr or Shi’i tendencies, or due to tadlees in the case of those who held the view that this was disparaging. Or, it could have been due to this or other criticisms concerning him, even though this may not be a proof to him for rejecting his hadiths. But it may have created a doubt which prevented him from using him as a proof, and this has been indicated by the two Hafiz’s Ahmad bin Ibrahim al-Jurjaani and Ahmad bin ‘Ali al-Khatteeb.

For those who used his narrations as proof, then it implies that he did not see that innvoation was a preventive factor, nor tadlees. As for the story of Hishaam, it has been replied to. And, [they would have determined] that the criticism regarding him is not clarified and is not of consequence in his view. And also, that which came from one person – while he made the number a condition – then it was not of consqeunce in his view. And Allah azza wa jall knows best.

Shabaabah bin Sawwaar in the View of the People of Knowledge

Al-Bukhari and Muslim used his narrations in their Sahihs and three of the Imams narrated from him, and some of them criticized him. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal said: “I have abandoned him, I do not report from him due to irja’.” They said: “O Abu ‘Abdullah! What about Abu Mu‘aawiyah?” He said: “Shabaabah was a caller.”

The narration of Shabaabah that he reports from Shu‘bah concerning ad-dubba’ [gourd: but it means a type of container made from gourd used for khamr] was mentioned to ‘Ali bin al-Madini, so he said: “What are we able to do about this one – meaning Shabaabah – he was a shaykh, truthful, except that he expressed the view of irja’, and a man who heard from another man a thousand or two thousand [hadiths] is not to be rejected because he narrated a [single] gharib hadith.”

Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Jurjaani said: “That which is that rejected regarding him is the error, perhaps he narrated it from memory.” [In al-Kaamil, al-Jurjaani, who is Ibn `Adi, said: “Just as `Ali bin al-Madeeni said: ‘That which is rejected regarding him is the error…’”]

They said to Abu Zur‘ah about Abu Mu‘aawiyah: “He had the view of irja’?” He said: “Yes! He used to call to it.” They said: “The same for Shabaabah bin Sawwaar?” He said: “Yes.” They said: “He recanted from that?” He said: “Yes! He said: Faith is speech and action.’”

So this is Imam Ahmad making it clear that he only abandoned him because he was a caller to irja’. And this is ‘Ali bin al-Madeeni who did not see that his saying of irja’ and his lone narrations were applicable in his case, and error is something that almost no one is exempt from. So whoever used his narrations as a proof, then he saw that irja’, calling to it, and having lone narrations, were things that did not destroy him, especially when it has been reported that he recanted from irja’.

Whoever did not use his narrations as proof, then it is because he saw that these were barriers against using him, and this resulted in his doubt about him, and halting from using him as a proof, as preceded. And Allah azza wa jall knows best.

Are the Disagreements of the Muhaditheen in Jarh and Ta`deel Similar to The Disagreements of the Fuqaha’ in Issues of Fiqh?

The disagreement of these people is like the disagreement of the fuqaha’, all of that is determined through ijtihaad. So in the case of the judge, when he is given damaging testimony about a person, he makes ijtihaad with whether that is applicable or not. Like that, the muhaddith, when he wants to use the narrations of a person as proof, and criticism about him is conveyed to him, he makes ijtihaad with it, determining whether it is applicable or not. The criticisms about him may be a disparagement in his view, depending on the explanation of the criticism or the lack thereof, or depending upon the condition of the numbers, as is the case with the faqih. There is no difference whether the criticizer is informing the muhaddith himself or reporting to him from someone else by his route, and Allah azza wa jall knows best.

Shujaa` bin al-Waleed In The View of the People of Knowledge

As for Shujaa` bin al-Waled Abu Badr, al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahihs, and a group of authors used him as proof. His condition with respect to worship and righteousness is well known.

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal said, in a story mentioning him: “He would only say to us: ‘Sulaiman bin Mihraan mentioned it’ and he did not say: ‘Al-A`mash’ and ‘Mugheerah mentioned it’ and “Sa‘eed bin Abi ‘Arubah mentioned it’ and he would almost never say to us: ‘It was narrated to us’ Then after that he used to say: ‘So and so narrated to us, and Musa bin ‘Uqbah informed us.’ While earlier he would not say anything to us but ‘he mentioned it.’”

Waki‘ bin al-Jarraah was asked about Abu Badr Shujaa` bin al-Waleed, so he said: “He was our neighbor here. We do not know of him to be with ‘Ata’ bin as-Sa’ib nor with al-Mugheerah.” While others besides him mentioned that he narrated from them. He was criticized for the narration of the hadith of Salman al-Farsi, may Allah be pleased with him, about hatred of the ‘Arabs and it is a munkar hadith. [“O Salmaan! Do not hate me and leave your religion” “And how would I hate you O Messenger of Allah! While it is by you that Allah has guided us?” “By hating the ‘Arabs you would be hating me.” Musnad At-Tayalisi, Ahmad At-Tirmithi, al-Hakim]

And the hadith of Shareek from Abu Husain about the pebbles and their munaashidah [“Indeed the pebbles supplicate to Allah against the one who removes them from the Masjid” Abu Dawud, al-Bayhaqi and others.] is taken from him in marfu‘ form while it is mawquf.

So for the one who used his hadiths as a proof, he did not see that any of this prevented using his narrations as a proof. It is possible that it be said that he mentioned his hearing [a narration] after that, so he is clear in narrating the hadith, or that a reporter may be being zealous one time, so he gave a chain, and not as concerned another time, so he did not give a chain, and he did not mention a person one time, while he mentioned him another, as circumstances dictated.

Whoever refrained from using his narrations as proof, then that was a result on his part of that shortcoming, even if the criticism was not affirmed in his case. Still, he stopped short of using him because of that. And Allah azza wa jall knows best.

What Is the Meaning of Their Statement: “So And So Is Nothing”?

As for their saying: “so-and-so is nothing” and they say another time: “His narrations are nothing” then he is to be looked into. So if the one that this is said about has been graded trustworthy and used as a proof by some one other than the one saying this, then it implies that he means that none of his narrations are used as a proof, but to him, his narrations are written for i`tibaar, as supporting witnesses, and other than that.

If the one they say that about is well know to be weak and there is none among the Imams found to consider his case as good, then that implies that his hadiths are not to be used as a proof nor for i`tibaar nor as supporting witnesses. This is akin to matrook [abandoned]. And Allah azza wa jall knows best.

The Criteria of the Two Shaykhs

As for the criteria of the Two Shaykhs, it has been mentioned by the Imams about al-Bukhari and Muslim that it has not been reported from either one of them that he said: “I stipulated that I record in my book what agrees with such and such criteria,” that is only known from probing into their books and pondering over what they recorded.

There are various replies to this matter from the Imams, some of them said it is the musnad hadith whose chain is connected by the report of a just, precise narrator from a just, precise narrator until its end.

And if it is said to him: “He reported in the Sahih from so-and-so” and, “such and such has been said about him?” He says: He is a just, precise narrator in the view of the one who used him as a proof in his Sahih, and what has been said concerning him is responded to with similar to that which we have previously mentioned, and Allah azza wa jall knows best.

The last of it is: praise to Allah as He deserves to be praised, and His Salawaat upon His chosen one from His creation, Muhammad, His Prophet and His worshipper, and upon his family and his Companions after him, and may He grant them peace most abundantly. And Allah is the one who suffices us, and He is the best Disposer of Affairs.

That is the end of the letter.