By Sh. Mann’a al-Qatan | Translated by Ustadh Jamal Diwan
As Salamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
Bismillah was-salaatu was-salamu ‘ala rasoolillah
I wanted to share with you all a rough translation of a section that I read recently from Sh. Manna’ al-Qattan’s book on ‘Uloom al-Hadith. The section is very short, but gives a good idea of the differences between the scholars surrounding the issue of acting upon weak hadiths.
The Sheikh* says in the section entitled “Acting Upon Weak Hadiths.”
The basic premise regarding weak hadiths is that they are rejected and not acted upon. Which is the opposite of what is done with authentic and good hadiths. But the scholars have researched and discussed the topic of the possibility of acting upon weak hadiths and their views in the matter have differed. In this issue there are three main views.
1. A group of the researchers of the ‘ulema are of the opinion that weak hadiths are not acted upon without exception, regardless of whether they are in beliefs, or legal rulings, or encouraging and warning, or righteous deeds. This is what has come to us regarding Yahya ibn Ma’in, al-Bukhari, Muslim, ibn al-‘Arabi the scholar of the Malikis, Abu Shama al-Muqaddasi from the scholars of the Shafi’s, and Ibn Hazm.
2. It is also related from many of the scholars the allowance of acting upon weak hadiths without exception IF there is nothing else related in that area of discussion. This is what has come to us from Abu Hanifa, ash-Shafi’i, Malik, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. But it must be noted that the da’eef hadith according to Ahmad is that which is opposite to the sahih in the terminology of the early scholars.
3. Some of the scholars separated the stated opinions in regards to acting upon weak hadiths. They thereby allowed it in encouraging/motivating and warning as well as in righteous deeds, while at the same time disallowing it in regards to beliefs and legal rulings.
These two groups allowed acting upon weak hadiths with three conditions:
1. The weakness of the hadith cannot be severe (there are many subcategories regarding weak hadiths)
2. The hadith must be encompassed by a principle which is accepted and acted upon.
3. The person should not believe when they are acting by the hadith that it is a clear-cut, founded matter, but rather be cautious regarding it.
I am sharing this first and foremost so that I memorize it. Secondly as a reminder to my brothers and sisters that the din has areas in which there is no disagreement and areas in which there is allowed and respected disagreement. If on this matter of acting by weak hadiths in certain cases is something you have accepted or rejected then know that there are various views on the matter and don’t let it cause a barrier between you and your brothers/sisters, rather keep your eyes on the big picture and keep moving.
This is by no means the end say on this matter and as stated before is only something very brief on the topic. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, and don’t forget a brother (and his wife) in your dua.
*Sh. Mann’a al-Qatan is, perhaps, one of the most important figures in contemporary Islamic studies. He has written a large number of texts that, if mastered, provide a solid foundation, and introduction, to many Islamic sciences. Some of his more popular books are the one mentioned in this article and:
1. ‘Ulom al-Quran
2. al-Madkhal ila al-Shari’ah al-Islamiyyah
His books are known for their simplistic and accessible style, modern tone and removal of many unwarranted discussions and polemics that waste the student’s time and busy him with unneeded discussions and disputes. After completing Sh. Qattan’s texts one does not feel an allegiance to a certain school, thought or trend. On the contrary, one feels a great desire to benefit others and a renewed strength towards articulating faith in a balanced fashion that serves to unite the Muslims and benefit others. His approach is representative of the majority of scholars, institutions and centers of learning today:
1. absence of fanaticism (towards a current group or thought
2. respect for classical Islamic scholarship while recognizing the need for a contemporary approach and presentation by making the writing easy and style simple to follow
3. taking time to teach with proofs and points that benefit the student’s language, comprehension and respect for the science. This is contrary to the Mutun
system which, as Ibn Khaldun and others noted, fails to develop appreciated language, nor depth of thought, but relegates the student to simple lines that are memorized and regurgitated upon request. [Footnote added by Ust. Suhaib Webb]
May Allah reward him, bless him and grant us tawfiq to benefit from his work and efforts.