Salams apologies for the long delay, ill try to post regularly Inshallah, a lot has happened since I last posted alhumdulillah.
Doubt: The founders of the madhabs may have missed many of the hadith that we know of today.
This is one of the claims made by those who argue against the hanafi madhab, we have met brothers in our town who say that the Abu Hanifah did not know all of the hadith, and that Sahih al-Bukhari was compiled after him, as if there were no other Imams of hadith who were hanafi’s who came after Abu Hanifah, and had not memorized the whole of the 6 books.
Also one thing needs to be pointed out, no scholar can encompass all of the sunnah, not even Hafidh Ibn Hajar, Imam al-Nawawi, or even Sheikh al-Albani (May Allah have mercy upon all of them) as Imam Ibn Taymiyyah said in Raf al-Malam p.17:
“Whoever thinks that every sahih hadith has reached everyone of the Imams, or a single one of them, then he is mistaken.”
Imams al-Shafi also stated something similar in his al-Risalah p42-43 aswell as Imam al-Biqai in al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah p.26/b
Therefore it is not possible for anyone to claim for himself or others that he has collated all of the sunnah, and it does not necessitate that the Imam who knows most hadith is more deserving of being followed as someone maybe more proficient than others at deriving the rulings from the hadith, as has been mentioned before, memorization is one thing and understanding the content of the hadith is another.
If it is said: the hadith of Ahkam are 100 or more , how is the above statement correct? The answer is that the number refers to the ahadith clearly specific to ahkam, and they do not deny that everything from the Prophet (s) is a source from which we can derive many rulings related to Halal and Haram. To the extent that some have derived from the hadith “O Abu Umair what did the Nughair do” 400 points of benefits, many of which relate to ahkam and the majority to adab. See Fath al-Bari (10:584) and Tartib al-Idariyyah of Sayyid Abd al-Hayy al-Kattani (2:150)
Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (r) was the first man to accept Islam and the closest companion of the Prophet (s), and the most knowledgeable of the companions, but along with this only a very little has come to us from his narrations which would suggest that he is a scholar from the scholars of the sahaba, let alone give the impression that he is the most knowledgeable of the companions. This is also the case with Sayyidina Umar, Uthman and Ali and also a large number of Tabieen and their students.
This is also the case with Imam Malik, who as it is reported in Tartib al-Madark (1:121) said:
“I wrote 100,000 hadith with my own hands”
Rather Allamah al-Zurqani in his commentary on the Muwatta (1:7) reports that Imam Malik narrated 100,000 hadith, but look at the Muwatta and see how many of these 100,00 hadith are contained in it. And this is likewise the case with Imam al-Shafi’s works which do not contain a large amount of material to suggest that he was a muhaddith.
The reason for this is that their focus was upon fiqh, deducing rulings, establishing usul al-fiqh more than narrating, and not because that they did not possess copious knowledge but that they had much knowledge but did not teach it all, this was also the case with Abu Hanifah.
As Al-Zabidi in Uqud al-Jawahir al-Munifah (1:31) says:
“Yahya bin Nasr said: I entered upon Abu Hanifah in a house full of books, I asked what are these? He said: These are hadith, I have only narrated a small amount of it that will be benefited from..”
Mulla Ali al-Qari in his Manaqib (2:474) mentions that Abu Hanifah mentioned 70 odd thousand hadith, and selected al-Athar from 40,000 hadith.
Ibn Hajar al-Haitami in al-Khairat al-Hisan (p.23) reports that al-Zaranjari said:
“Imam Abu Hafs al-Kabir ordered the number of Imam Abu hanifahs sheikhs to be counted, they reached 4,000 from the Tabieen.”
Note: Many people who have made these claims about the Imams knowledge of hadith do not actually go about to check the works of Imam Abu Hanifah or the Hanafi Imams to see whether or not they knew the hadith that they are talking about. Sheikh Muhammad Awwamah al-Madani in Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif (p.165) mentions that he heard some people of knowledge saying that Abu Hanifah did not know the hadith: ‘There is no prayers except with the fatihah of the book’ despite the fact that it is reported by him in his well known Musnad which has been published many times.
Even if someone does go through all the books of the Imams and does not find the exact hadith it is still not possible for him to negate the knowledge of the hadith that he is looking for from the Imam, as when you search for a sahih hadith in al-Bukhari and Muslim and do not find it is not possible for you to negate the knowledge of that hadith for al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Also more importantly to negate for the Imams the knowledge of some hadith is to accuse someone of something without having full knowledge of the facts, it is more befitting for an intelligent muslim to accuse himself and blame himself for lack of research and understanding rather than to accuse the noble Imams of lack of knowledge of something which you claim to know, and what is more beautiful than what is reported by Imam al-Baihaqi in Manaqib al-Shafi (2:154) from Imam Ahmad:
“Hammad bin Ahmad al-Basri said: I was with Ahmad bin Hanbal and we were discussing the issue, a man said to Ahmad: O Abu Abdullah there is no authentic hadith regarding it! He –Ahmad said: Even if there is no authentic hadith with regards to it, there is the opinion of al-Shafi, and his proof is the most established thing with regards to it.”
Then Imam Ahmad followed his words and mentioned to the man an incident that occurred between him and al-Shafi which was a proof that if al-Shafi had an opinion then it was necessary that he had a proof from the sunnah for it, but this proof may not be known.