DID AL-BUKHARI ACT UPON DHA’IF HADITH?
By: Dr. Umar Muhammad
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. 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
The ‘Ulama said: “فقه البخاري في تراجمه”
(i.e. Fiqh al-Bukhari is found in the chapter titles).
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.
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.
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
to support it. He does not only use dha’if
hadith for fadhail ‘amal, 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
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 al–Zakah:
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
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.”
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.”
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.”
2. Al-Bukhari acts
upon dha’if hadith if its contents coincides with acts which are agreed upon by
all of the ‘ulama.
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
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 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.
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). 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
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:
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.
 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…..”
Muqaddimah of Fath al-Bari, p. 17.
For a more detailed discussion on this matter by Ibn Hajr, please refer to the
Muqaddimah of Fath al-Bari on p.24 onwards.
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.