Hadith being Weak according to some and Authentic according to others

27 Feb 2018 Ref-No#: 375

Assalamu alaikum Respected Mufti,

Why is it that a Hadith is graded weak by some Ulamah whilst the same Hadith is graded sahih by other Ulama? Could example be given to illustrate the point please?

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

The grading of Ahadith is a thing which is mujtahad fihi. This means that since the status of each narrator is not divinely revealed by Allah Ta’ala, scholars had to research and derive their conclusions. Based on what they found, they are bound to differ. What some scholars regarded as a defect, others would overlook. Some were more strict, whereas others were rather lenient. This is understood from the following statement of Imam Tirmidhi (may Allah be pleased with him):

قد اختلف الأئمة من أهل العلم في تضعيف الرجال كما اختلفوا في سوى ذلك من العلم (العلل الصغير للترمذي (ص: (756)

 

“Scholars differed in weakening narrators just as they differed in other aspects of knowledge.” (Al ‘Ilal as-Saghir, 756)

An example is that if nothing is known about a narrator, some scholars will accept him on the basis of ‘Innocent until proven guilty’. However, others would say that we have to prove that he is reliable and has a good memory (then only we can accept narrations from him), and since we dont know anything about him, we cannot accept his narrations.

Similarly, a narration might be weak. However, some scholars might find a corroborating narration which could strengthen this narration and bring it to the status of being hasan (fair).

A famous difference of opinion is whether a narration will be accepted if there is no proof that a contemporary met the person from whom he is narrating. According to Imam Bukhari (may Allah be pleased with him), the narration will not be accepted. There should be proof that the student and teacher met atleast once. However, according to Imam Muslim (may Allah be pleased with him), although it is not proven that they met, since they are contemporaries and there was all the possibility for them to meet, we do not have to look for actual proof to show that they really did meet. Rather, we can accept their narrations without proving that they met. Thus, if a person from Iraq narrates a Hadith from his contemporary who lived in Yemen, but there is no proof that they met, Imam Bukhari (may Allah be pleased with him) will not accept that narration, whereas Imam Muslim (may Allah be pleased with him) will accept it.

Another aspect which caused them to differ, is whether a mursal narration will be regarded as authentic or not. Imam Shafi (may Allah be pleased with him) has placed conditions for accepting those narrations where a tabi’i narrates directly from Nabi (sallallahu alayi wa sallam), whereas the other Imams accept it without any conditions. So, if the conditions are not found, Shafies will regard the narration as weak, whereas other scholars will regard it as authentic.

For many more examples and quotations, you may go through Athr al-Hadith ash-Shariff of Shaykh Muhammad Awwamah (may Allah preserve him)

In short, since scholars differed on the conditions of authenticity, it caused difference to come about on the ruling of the narration.

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