This is the final installment in the series on following the hadith and following a Madhab. The aim was to select some brief quotes and arguments from Shaykh Muhammad Awwamah’s ‘Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif’ and present them in a way which would benefit the common reader interested in the matter. The original book from which these posts were taken has much more detailed arguments which can be referred to, the aim here was to just give an outline. We hope this series has been of benefit and has helped in removing any doubts which may have risen in the minds of the sincere seekers of truth out there. Wassalam
Doubt: If the Imams of the Madhahib knew the sunnah why then do some of them deduce a ruling from a weak hadith, which is opposed by an authentic hadith with another Imam. Does this not show that this Imam of the madhab did not know the Sahih hadith?
Answer: The Imams had a vast and deep understanding of the sunnah, which can be seen by all those who study their biographies, but regarding the doubt that they may have used weak hadith certain things must be noted.
The Evidences Mentioned In The Books Of The Madhabs May Not Be Evidences That The Imam Used
The hadith that the jurists (fuqaha) present in their books as evidences for the madhab are not necessarily the exact same evidences that the Imam of the Madhab himself based his ruling on. Yes they may be the same in many instances, but this cannot be applied to everything that has been deduced by the Imam. Thus in the books which mention the evidences for a madhab you will find: the ruling that is mentioned is of the Imam, but the evidence is a hadith that the author found in agreement to what the Imam judged, so he cited it as a proof, and the Imam may have had a different proof that only Allah knows.
This principle applies most of all to the Hanafi madhab, because Imam Abu Hanifah did not himself record his fiqh and evidences, as was the same to a certain extent with the other Imams who did not record all their evidences. Therefore the hadith that you find in al-Hidayah of al-Marghinani al-Hanafi for example and Sharh al-Risalah of Ibn Abi Zaid al-Qairawani al-Maliki and alMajmu Sharh al-Muhadhab of al-Shirazi al-Shafi and al-Mughni of Ibn Qudamah al-Hanbali and others, many of the ahadith cited in these works are not those that were used to deduce the ruling by the Imam of the Madhab himself.
A Misunderstanding Which Leads To Harbouring Bad Opinion Of The Madhabs
The lack of comprehending the previous point has caused some to harbour a bad opinion of the madhahib for when they checked the hadith mentioned in the books they may see the scholars of hadith classifying many of the hadith as: ‘fabricated, weak or not known in a marfu form’.
Thus the they think that these ahadith are from the deductions of the Imam of the Madhab himself, which then leads to the doubt of: ‘How can we accept the leadership in religious matters and Ijtihad for someone who deduces from fabricated and weak narrations, and attributes to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) the statement which are actually the words of a companion (sahabi) of follower (tabiee)?’.
The Imams Had Their Own Chains For The Hadith, Some Of Which Have Not Reached Us
The jurist (faqih) may cite an evidence which is the evidence of the Imam himself, and it is reported in a hadith book of the later hadith scholars who came after the time of the Imams of the schools of law, such as the 4 Sunan, Masanid, Mujam works etc. The hadith scholar adjudges it to be weak based on its chain of narration, or perhaps even fabricated, thus it cannot be acted upon with this chain of narration.
However at the same time that this hadith has been reported by the Imam with his own specific chain of narration which is Sahih or can be relied upon, but this Sahih chain is not mentioned in the hadith collection you have in front of you.
So someone comes along in the twentieth century and analyses the hadith from the route of the muhaddithin in their books, and finds that the hadith cannot be relied upon, so he will hurry to criticize and find fault with the ruling in the madhab which is based on this hadith. But if he looks in the works of the Imams he will find that the very same hadith has reached us with a Sahih or Hasan chain of narration.
Example Of A Hanafi Ruling Which Has A Sahih Chain From The Imam But Was Only Discovered Later
An example to illustrate the above point is the following: Al-Marghinani mentions in al-Hidayah (4:139) with its commentary Fath al-Qadir the hadith:
“Ward off the legal punishments (hudud) due to doubts”.
He mentions that it is marfu, it was referenced by al-Zaylai in Nasb al-Rayah (3:333) in a mawquf form from Sayyidina Umar, Muadh ibn Jabal, Uqbah bin Amir, and in the chain of narration to them is Ibn Abi Farukh, and he is abandoned as a narrator, and from al-Zuhri, and he is follower (Tabi) whose words are not a proof.
Due to this weakness Ibn Hazm attacked these narrations in al-Muhalla, but the was refuted by Kamal Ibn al-Hummam in Fath al-Qadir, for he established for the hadith its meaning from another hadith mentioned in the two Sahih’s that:
“He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to Maiz: perhaps you (only) kissed, perhaps you (only) touched, perhaps you (only) winked/signalled”.
The fine point Ibn al-Hummam is making here is that the first hadith which is supposedly weak is supported in meaning by this second hadith where the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is trying to ward off implementing the legal punishment. Thus Ibn al-Hummam established the authenticity of the first narration from the same meaning implicit in the second.
The Authentic Chain For This Hadith Found With Imam Abu Hanifah Although The Well Known Chains For It Are Weak, And Was Missed By Many Hadith Specialists
The hadith mentioned by al-Marghinani which al-Zaylai declared weak in marfu form is however narrated by Imam Abu Hanifah in his Musnad (p.32), its chain of narration being:
“From Miqasam from Ibn Abbas that he said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said…”.
Miqasam is trustoworthy (thiqah), he was declared trustworthy by Ahmad bin Salih al-Misri, al-Ijli, Yaqub bin Sufyan and al-Darqutni.
There is no other Sahih chain of narration for this hadith except this one of Imam Abu Hanifah. So from this example we learn that the Imams had their own specific chains of narrations which are not often referred to when referencing ahadith. So look at this example and take note. The Hafidh of hadith al-Zaylai could not not find this Sahih chain, and Ibn al-Hummam who was a great hadith scholar himself did not abandon the position of his madhab just because he couldn’t find a Sahih chain for this narration, rather he tried to look and see if there was anything which could be used as a proof for the position of the Imam, he did not abandon the position of the madhab as some nowadays would have done, but rather stuck the madhab and in the end was borne out as being correct.
Ibn Taymiyyah Mentions The Imams Had Sahih Chains For Hadith Which Over Time Have Reached Us As Weak
Also there are hadith which the Imams of the madhabs knew during their time and had Sahih chains of narration for, but later on only reached us with a weak chain, this was stated by Ibn Taymiyyah where he said in ‘Raf al-Malam’ (p.18):
“The Imams that came before the gathering of these books were more knowledgeable of the sunnah than the later scholars by far, because much of what reached them and was Sahih for them has only reached us from a majhul (unknown narrator), or cut off chain of narration, or has not reached us at all”
So from these words of Ibn Taymiyyah it becomes clear that the hadith that we think is weak in actual fact may have reached the Imams of the madhab with a sahih chain of narration, so how can we possibly leave the ruling of the madhab because of our lack of research around this or complete knowledge of it.
The Imams May Cite A Proof With Explicit And Clear Wording Even Though It Is Individually Weak But Is Supported By Other Evidences
Sometimes the the scholars of fiqh may mention a hadith as a proof for the ruling of the madhab, the find that there is hadith which is individually weak but has a clear wording and meaning related to the issue, so they cite it, even though there is other stronger evidences but less clear in its wording, but possessing the same meaning.
However the scholar of hadith finds it not to be the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) but that of a Tabiee, so they think that the ruling no longer applies, even though the proof is definitely established.
For example some have deduced for the Dhuhr and Asr prayers being silent the hadith: ‘The prayers of the day are silent’ despite it having no basis in terms of being the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), but rather it is the statement of some of the Tabieen such as Mujahid, Abu Ubaidah, Abdullah bin Masud as was stated by Hafidh al-Zaylai in Nasb al-Rayah and al-Sakhawi in Maqasid al-Hasanah (p.265-266). But this does not negate the ruling as it is established from a hadith in al-Bukhari that Khabbab Ibn Aratt was asked:
“Would the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) recite in the Dhuhr and the Asr? He said: Yes. We said: How did you know this? He said: By the movement of his beard (Allah bless him and give him peace).”
So the narration is weak in of itself but strong due to other outside supporting narrations which indicate to the meaning of the hadith being established.
The conclusion is that the weak hadith and its like that we see in books of Fiqh amongst them are those which are the proofs of the Imam himself or they are mostly the deductions of the author. And its weakness does not necessitate the weakness of the ruling built upon it, for it may have support from Quran and Sunnah.
Aslong As A Hadith Is Not Fabricated Then It May Be Strengthened By The Quran Or A General Principle
Some of the Imams were of the view that a hadith may have a weak chain but that it could be strengthened by an evidence outside of hadith such as a verse of the Quran or a general Shariah principle. This is important as a researcher may just limit himself looking for chains of transmission, and not realise that the hadith is regarded as being authentic not because of its chain alone but by being strengthened by something outside of the hadith literature. Imam al-Suyuti mentioned in ‘Tadrib al-Rawi’ (p.25):
“Abul Hasan Ibn al-Hassar said in Taqrib al-Madarik Ala Muwatta Malik: A jurist (faqih) may know the authenticity of the hadith if its chain does not contain a liar: by its being in agreement with a verse from the book of Allah, or some of the principles of the sacred law (shariah), this causes him to accept it and act upon it”
Weak Hadith Are Preferable To Analogy (Qiyas)
The final point is that some of the Imams were of the view that basing a ruling upon a weak hadith was preferable to resorting to analogy (qiyas). Thus this would explain some instances wherein the Imam may have based a ruling upon a weak hadith.