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The mu`allaqât or ‘hanging narrations’ of Sahîh al-Bukhârî

Published: 27/08/2011 05:31:00 PM GMT
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Please explain to me about the mu`allaqât of Sahîh al-Bukhârî. I heard that some of these hadîth are inauthentic. Is this true?

Answered by

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

A hadîth in Sahîh al-Bukhârî is described as mu`allaq – a “hanging narration” – if the one or more of the narrators are deleted from the beginning of the hadîth’s chain of transmission. This is the definition given by Ibn al-Salâh in al-Muqaddimah fî `Ulûm al-Hadîth.

[By the “beginning of the chain of transmission”, we mean the narrators closest to al-Bukhârî himself. The chain of transmission is said to begin with its most recent narrator and end with the Prophet (peace be upon him).]

The mu`allaqât in Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim are hadîth which do not necessarily live up to the strict conditions imposed by the authors of those works for the recording of hadîth in their respective compilations.

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî has discussed the mu`allaqât in Sahîh al-Bukhârî and the various verdicts that pertain to them in a number of his writings, including Hadî al-Sârî and Ta`lîq al-Ta`lîq. However, possibly his clearest and most concise treatment of this topic is to be found in al-Nukat `alâ Kitâb Ibn al-Salâh, wherein he divides the mu`allaqât into two categories:

1. Mu`allaq narrations that are recorded elsewhere in Sahîh al-Bukhârî with complete chains of transmission. These narrations are not problematic.

2. Mu`allaq narrations that are not found elsewhere in Sahîh al-Bukhârî with complete chains of transmission. These narrations take two different forms:

A. The assertive form:

The narration is related in the active voice; for instance: “So-and-so said…” This is known as “a narration in the assertive form”.

A mu`allaq narration presented in the assertive form is authentically attributed to the narrator to whom it is being attributed. All of the narrators whom al-Bukhârî refrained from mentioning are reliable narrators. All that remains to analyze are those narrators whose names are still being mentioned in the chain of transmission. When the remainder of the chain of transmission is analyzed, it may be found to conform to al-Bukhârî’s conditions of authenticity, it may fall short of those conditions but still be authentic, or it may be weak. In the case where it is weak, this will only be on account of some break in the chain of transmission.

B. The defective form:

The narration is related in the passive voice; for instance: “It is mentioned that so-and-so said…” This is known as “a narration in the defective form”.

Few of these hadîth conform to al-Bukhârî’s conditions of authenticity. In the few cases where their chains of transmission do conform to his standards, we find that he presents them in this fashion on account of the fact that their texts have been paraphrased.

Some of these hadîth are authentic without meeting with al-Bukhârî’s strict standards of authenticity. Others are of a good grade. Some of these narrations are weak, but are supported and strengthened by other factors. Finally, there are narrations that are weak and unsupported by other factors. In this case, al-Bukhârî states outright that the narration is weak.

In al-Nukat `alâ Kitâb Ibn al-Salâh, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî presents examples for all of these possibilities.

Source: Islam Today




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