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By: Dr. Umar Muhammad Noor

Original link: http://umarmnoor.blogspot.com/2012/03/al-bukhari-beramal-dengan-hadis-dhaif.html

Translated By: Fajri M. Muhammadin



This article was inspired by a question given to me: did Imam Al-Bukhari act upon dha’if hadith? This question rose because a group of people stated that Al-Bukhari prohibited (some even said ‘declared as haram’) to act upon dha’if hadith. Such an opinion is not new, but is found upon an assumption which has yet to be tested.[1] I am intrigued to discuss this issue not to defend or refute anybody, but rather to explain one of the method used by the ‘ulama of the mutaqaddimin which is often unclear and therefore prone to be misunderstood.

To answer this question, I invite you to read the Sahih al-Bukhari while realizing that this book is not a mere “compilation of ahadith which are sahih”. If that were so, it would have been useless for Al-Bukhari to spend 16 years of his life to just make a book which “only” compiles ahadith which are sahih without explaining the legal rulings and lessons that could be taken from them. Whoever reads this book thoroughly would see that this is a masterpiece of hadith science containing various sciences, especially fiqh and ijtihad. Therefore, to answer this question, I invite us all to observe Al-Bukhari’s amali practice in making hujjah in order to observe whether he uses dha’if hadith as hujjah.

Fiqh Al-Bukhari and Hadith Muallaq

The ‘Ulama said: “فقه البخاري في تراجمه” (i.e. Fiqh al-Bukhari is found in the chapter titles).[2] Therefore, those who wish to study the ijtihad practice of Al-Bukhari must focus on the titles of the chapters in this book.

And, those who observe these titles will find that the hujjah of fiqh al-Bukhari at least consists of two forms of hadith: hadith muallaq which are at the beginning of the chapters and the sahih hadith which are arranged at the contents of the chapters. The hadith in the second category, i.e. those in the contents of the chapters, are the main ahadith which’s authenticity (sahih-ness) are guaranteed by Imam Al-Bukhari and will not be discussed in this article. I will only analyze the hadith muallaq which, according to Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr, are not always sahih or even sometimes are weak.[3]

When we study these hadith muallaq, we must realize that not all of them were mentioned as hujjah. In fact, some of them are mentioned to refute others by mentioning the ‘illah contained in the hadith. Therefore, I will attempt to carefully examine every dha’if hadith muallaq mentioned by Al-Bukhari and see whether he used them as hujjah. To avoid subjectiveness and weakness of my own understanding, I refer to the opinion of Ibn Hajr regarding every hadith that I mention. This is because, in my opinion, Ibn Hajr is the most capable ‘ulama regarding the study of hadith muallaq.[4]


My short observation shows that Al-Bukhari is very thorough in choosing his hujjah. He always endeavors to the furthest extent possible to use only sahih hadith as hujjah, but he is open to the possibility of acting on dha’if hadith if there are certain external aspects  (قرائن خارجية)  to support it. He does not only use dha’if hadith for fadhailamal, but also for some legal issues. However, the use of these weak hadith are very minimum compared to the sahih hadith that he uses.

This article is too short to elaborate all my findings, and part of them may be still open to refutations or alternative interpretations from those who disagree. Therefore, I will only mention a few cases which, in my opinion, are very clear to prove my conclusion.

1. Al-Bukhari acts upon dha’if hadith if its content is supported by other ahadith which are similar to it.

For example, Al-Bukhari said in Kitab alZakah:

وَقَالَ طَاوُس : قَالَ مُعَاذ لِأَهْلِ الْيَمَنِ ائْتُونِى بِعَرْضٍ ثِيَابٍ خَمِيصٍ أَوْ لَبِيسٍ فِى الصَّدَقَةِ ، مَكَانَ الشَّعِيرِ وَالذُّرَةِ أَهْوَنُ عَلَيْكُمْ ، وَخَيْرٌ لأَصْحَابِ النَّبِىِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِالْمَدِينَةِ .

And Tawus said: Mu’adh said to the people of Yemen: “give me large clothes for zakah, to replace wheat and corn, as it is easier for you and better for the companions of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Madinah.”  

He mentioned this hadith to support his opinion regarding the permissibility of using items other than gold and silver as zakah. This opinion coincides with the position of the Hanafi madhhab. Ibn Rushayd said: “Al-Bukhari concurs with the Hanafis on this matter, although he often differs with them. It is the dalil that brings him to this position.”[5]

If we examine further, the sanad of this hadith is actually munqaṭi (broken) because Tawus ibn Kisan did not meet Muadh ibn Jabal. Ibn Hajr said:

هَذَا التَّعْلِيق صَحِيحُ الْإِسْنَادِ إِلَى طَاوُس ، لَكِنَّ طَاوُسًا لَمْ يَسْمَعْ مِنْ مُعَاذ فَهُوَ مُنْقَطِع ، فَلَا يُغْتَرُّ بِقَوْلِ مَنْ قَالَ ذَكَرَهُ الْبُخَارِيّ بِالتَّعْلِيقِ الْجَازِمِ فَهُوَ صَحِيحٌ عِنْدَهُ لِأَنَّ ذَلِكَ لَا يُفِيدُ إِلَّا الصِّحَّة إِلَى مَنْ عُلِّقَ عَنْهُ ، وَأَمَّا بَاقِي الْإِسْنَادِ فَلَا ، إِلَّا أَنَّ إِيرَادَهُ لَهُ فِي مَعْرِضِ الِاحْتِجَاجِ بِهِ يَقْتَضِي قُوَّتَهُ عِنْدَهُ ، وَكَأَنَّهُ عَضَّدَهُ عِنْدَهُ الْأَحَادِيثُ الَّتِي ذَكَرَهَا فِي الْبَابِ .

“This ta’liq is authentic up to Tawus, but Tawus did not hear from Mu’adh, therefore it is munqaṭi. Therefore, do not be deceived by those who say that Al-Bukhari mentions it with sighat jazm meaning that this hadith is authentic to him, but actually such statement only means that it is authentic only up to the person in the ta’liq (i.e. Tawus); however the sanad as a whole is not authentic. However, he mentions this hadith as hujjah to show that the content of this hadith is strong. Perhaps he sees that the content of this hadith is supported by the ahadith mentioned in this chapter.”[6]

Previously, this hadith is also declared as munqaṭi by Imam al-Shafi’i, but he accepted its content because he believes that Tawus really knows about this matter. Al-Shafi’i said: “Tawus knows the matter of Mu’adh although he never met him directly, because –to my knowledge—he has met with numerous students of Mu’adh in Yemen.”[7]

2. Al-Bukhari acts upon dha’if hadith if its contents coincides with acts which are agreed upon by all of the ‘ulama.

Al-Bukhari said:

وَيُذْكَر أَنَّ النَّبِيّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَضَى بِالدَّيْنِ قَبْل الْوَصِيَّة

“It is said that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ ruled that debts must be paid before wills.”

Al-Bukhari mentioned this hadith to support his opinion that paying debts of the deceased shall be done first before carrying out the deceased’s will. While the sanad of this hadith is weak, but he used it as hujjah due to another aspect of this hadith, i.e. the ‘ulama agrees upon practicing this hadith.

Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr said:

هَذَا طَرَف مِنْ حَدِيث أَخْرَجَهُ أَحْمَد وَالتِّرْمِذِيّ وَغَيْرهمَا مِنْ طَرِيق الْحَارِث وَهُوَ الْأَعْوَر عَنْ عَلِيّ بْن أَبِي طَالِب قَالَ : ” قَضَى مُحَمَّد صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّ الدَّيْن قَبْل الْوَصِيَّة ، وَأَنْتُمْ تَقْرَءُونَ الْوَصِيَّة قَبْل الدَّيْن ” لَفْظ أَحْمَد وَهُوَ إِسْنَاد ضَعِيف ، لَكِنْ قَالَ التِّرْمِذِيّ : إِنَّ الْعَمَل عَلَيْهِ عِنْد أَهْل الْعِلْم ، وَكَأَنَّ الْبُخَارِيّ اِعْتَمَدَ عَلَيْهِ لِاعْتِضَادِهِ بِالِاتِّفَاقِ عَلَى مُقْتَضَاهُ ، وَإِلَّا فَلَمْ تَجْرِ عَادَته أَنْ يُورِد الضَّعِيف فِي مَقَام الِاحْتِجَاج بِهِ ، وَقَدْ أَوْرَدَ فِي الْبَاب مَا يُعَضِّدهُ أَيْضًا

“This is a part of a hadith reported by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi, and others, through Harith Al-A’war from Ali ibn Abi Talib: ‘Muhammad ﷺ decreed that debts (are to be paid) before (executing) wills, but you read it wills before debt.’ This is the lafadh of Ahmad. It has a weak sanad, but Al-Tirmidhi said that the amal of this hadith is valid according to the people of knowledge. It is as if Al-Bukhari uses this hadith due to the support of a consensus (of the ‘ulama) regarding its content. Otherwise, it is not his practice to use dha’if hadith as hujjah. He also mentions in this chapter other things that support it.[8]

It is interesting that Ibn Hajr noted that it is not Al-Bukhari’s practice to use dha’if hadith, but he sometimes does it if some requirements as fulfilled as per my conclusion above. This also supports the conclusion that Al-Bukhari never prohibits acting out of dha’if hadith, but in fact sometimes does it as per the majority of the fuqaha.

3. Al-Bukhari sometimes acts upon dha’if hadith if its contents explain or interpret the contents of other hadith.

Some of you may disagree with me and argue that this category falls under Hasan Lighayrih. However, in my opinion such position is very week. If this hadith is really hasan lighayrih according to Al-Bukhari (and I doubt that he has the same concept of hasan lighayrih as understood by the mutaakhirin), he would not have narrated it with sighat tamrid. On the contrary, he would use sighat jazm as he usually does with other hadith.

For example, Al-Bukhari says:

وَيُذْكَر عَنْ أَبِي حَسَّان عَنْ اِبْن عَبَّاس أَنَّ النَّبِيّ صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ يَزُور الْبَيْت أَيَّام مِنًى

“It was mentioned by Abu Hassan from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet ﷺ made ziyarah (meaning tawaf ziyarah/ifadah) on the days of Mina.”

According to Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr, the purpose of Al-Bukhari mentioning this hadith was to reconcile two contradictory narrations, i.e. the narration of Ibn Umar and Jabir saying that the Prophet ﷺ did tawaf ifadah during the day, and Abu Zubayr from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet ﷺ did it at night. This narration of Abu Hasan reconciles these two hadith and concludes that the Prophet ﷺ did both (i.e. tawaf during day and night) because he did tawaf multiple times during mabit in Mina.

Ibn Hajr said: “So what is referred to in the hadith of Jabir and Ibn Umar is the first day. And the hadith of Ibn Abbas is for the other days (of Mina).[9] He also said: “there is a mursal hadith that supports this Abu Hassan narration. It was reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah from Ibn Uyaynah: Ibn Tawus told me from his father: that Prophet ﷺ did tawaf every night.”[10]

Therefore, it is clear that Al-Bukhari used this hadith as hujjah in a matter of law. Meanwhile, if we observe the sanad of this hadith, it is weak. His teachers, such as Ibn Al-Madini and Ahmad bin Hanbal, deny this hadith because nobody narrated this from Qatadah other than Hisham. It seems that Al-Bukhari’s view on this hadith does not depart far from his two teachers. Ibn Hajr said:[11]

وإنَّما مَرَّضَه البُخاريُّ لِشِدَّةِ غَرابَتِهِ

“Al-Bukhari mentions it with sighat tamrid because it is very munkar.”

Opinion of the Jumhur

This basically is the little that I can share due to limitation of space, as my findings are actually more extensive than this. It can be concluded that Al-Bukhari never prohibited or declare as haram to act out of dha’if hadith as long as the contents are supported by various external aspects. At least, this is what Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr concludes in his sharh towards these hadith muallaq.

Al-Bukhari’s position, by all means, does not lower his status as the highest rank hadith scholar, rather it displays it further both in hadith and fiqh. This is because his position is none other than the majority of the ‘ulama among the hadith experts and fiqh experts from the ‘ulama of the tabi’in, his teachers, contemporaries, and students, and a majority of ‘ulama today.

This is a reminder to us so that we always perceive the ‘ulama objectively and not subjectively (i.e. only seeing them in a way that supports us and our views). May Allah grant all of us wisdom in seeing the truth. Wallaahu a’lam bissawab.


[1] Such an opinion has been noted by Shaykh al-Qasimi in “Qawa’id Al-Tahdith” p.113. He said: “What is apparent is that such is the madhhab of Al-Bukhari and Muslim (i.e. not acting upon dha’if hadith, altogether). Showing that such is Al-Bukhari’s conditions in his Sahih…..”

[2] Muqaddimah of Fath al-Bari, p. 17.

[3] For a more detailed discussion on this matter by Ibn Hajr, please refer to the Muqaddimah of Fath al-Bari on p.24 onwards.

[4] His book titled Taghliq al-Ta’liq proves this. To the extent of my knowledge, there is no other kitab discussing the hadith of Al-Bukhari as comprehensive as this book.

[5] Fath Al-Bari 3/392.

[6] Ibid 3/393.

[7] Al-Umm 2/12.

[8] Fath Al-Bari 5/462.

[9] Fath Al-Bari 3/716.

[10] Ibid. 3/717.

[11] Taghliq Al-Ta’liq.