Weak, Saheeh, Hasan, Mawdhoo, Fabricated Ahadith Explained

Q: I have learnt that some hadith are weak and some are more reliable. Does this mean that some hadith are not to be followed/complied with? If you follow a hadith that is "weak" will you obtain the rewards as stated in the hadith. Why is it that some hadith are weak and some strong? How does a layperson distinguish? If the distinction is made merely on chain of narrators, are we entitled to judge the narrators? What are the authentic books of hadith?

A: Hadith can be categorized with regards to its authenticity into basically 4 types, 1) Sahih (authentic), 2) Hasan (sound), 3) Dha’eef (weak), 4 ) Dha’eef Jiddan (very weak), and 5) Mawdhoo (fabricated)

The first 2 types can be used as proofs for establishing the various laws in Shari’ah. The third (weak) can be used (with a few conditions attached) to establish virtues for any specific deed or person. (This is accepted by the vast majority of the Muhadditheen).

There are three conditions for the permissibility of practicing upon a weak Hadith; a) It must not be very weak, b) It must be regarding something that has already been authentically established to be a part of Deen, c) One should not have total conviction in its authenticity. The Ulama have stated that Istihbaab (preference) can be established from a weak Hadith. (al-Ajwibatul Faadhilah; al-Qawlul Bade; Tadreebur-raawi), and if one practices upon it, it is hoped that he will receive the reward mentioned therein.

Allaamah Sakhawi (RA) has mentioned in his book ‘al-Qawlul Badee’ (pg.473), ‘There are 3 views regarding weak narrations, a) It cannot be accepted at all, b) It will be accepted if there are no other Ahaadith to substantiate that particular chapter / topic, and c) It will be accepted for virtues of deeds and not for the various laws in Shari’ah.’ Allaamah Sakhawi further states, ‘And this (third view) is the view of the majority.’

Moulana Abdul-Hayy Laknawi (RA) further comments regarding the credibility of these 3 views in his book, ‘al-Ajwibatul Faadhilah’ (pg.53). He says regarding the first view, ‘It is a weak view.’ And regarding the second view, ‘It is an absurd exploitation’. And regarding the third view, ‘It is the straight path.’

No. 5 (fabrications) cannot be used for anything besides for the purpose of explaining to somebody it’s classification. It cannot be quoted in any lecture, book, etc. with the intention of inspiring people through its contents. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘He who lies (about a speech) of mine should prepare his abode in the fire.’ (Bukhari Hadith107)

Hence, the Ulama have deduced that it is Haraam (forbidden) for one to quote any fabricated Hadith without explicitly mentioning its fabrication. As for no.4 (very weak, which is also referred to by the words, ‘very unreliable’), because of it being so weak, the Ulama have attached it to Mawdhoo (fabricated) Ahaadith. So, they share the same law as mentioned above. (For further reference, see Sharh Nukhbatul Fikar of Haafiz ibn Hajar; Tadreeburraawiy of Haafiz Suyooti and; Al-Ajwibatul fadhilah of Ml. Abdul Hayy Laknawiy)

The reason for some Ahaadith being weak, some strong and some being classified as fabrications is due to the variation in the credibilities of the narrators in each chain. The task of checking and verifying the status of each narrator of every Hadith one quotes is quite difficult. Only those that are equipped with the intricacies of the science of ‘Jarh wal Ta’deel’ are eligible to do so. Others that know the Arabic language and have a brief understanding of Usool-ul-Hadith (principles of Hadith) are able to read and check how the Ulama of classical times have graded any particular Hadith, thereby relying on their classification of a Hadith.

This is practically impossible for anyone who does not posses any of the above, knowledge of science of ‘Jarh wal Ta’deel’ or the Arabic language together with a brief understanding of Usool-ul-Hadith (sciences of Hadith). Hence, the layman as well as others, should be cautious in whatever he attributes to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). The Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) used to turn pale when narrating Ahaadith from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) for the fear of erring and effectively attributing something to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) which he did not mention, as was the practice of many of the Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) namely, Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radhiallaahu Anhu), Anas ibn Maalik (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and others. But, alas! Nowadays, we quote Hadith upon Hadith without this thought ever crossing our minds that possibly we have attributed a statement to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) which he did not utter!

As for the authentic books of Ahaadith, the list of those boks that are authentically attributed to their respective authors will never stop. When we say ‘authentic compilations’, we mean that the authors of these compilations are authentic and that the attribution of those compilations to those particular authors is correct. However, this does not necessitate that every Hadith therein is authentic, except where the author has stated otherwise. The possibility of weak narrations being found in some compilations is always prevalent and undisputed. However, hereunder is a list of some compilations concerning which the Ulama have stated that all or majority of their narrations are authentic, without underming the other numerous authentic collections of Hadith.

Sahih Bukhari, al-Adabul Mufrad (by Imaam Bukhari), Sahih Muslim, Muwatta Imaam Maalik, Sahih ibn Khuzaymah, Sahih ibn Hibbaan, al-Muntaqa by Imaam Ibnul Jaaruwd, al-Mukhtaarah by Imaam Dhiyaa-ud-Deen al-Maqdisiy, Riyaadhul-saaliheen by Imaam Nawawiy, Fourty Ahaadith by Imaam Nawawiy, Part1 of every chapter of Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh.

Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Source: Moulana Muhammad ibn Moulana Haroon Abbassommar

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