the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
It is correct that Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî discusses this hadîth in al-Talkhîs al-Habîr.
The following is what he says about it [al-Talkîs al-Habîr (1/134-135 # 97)]:
It is narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever wipes over the nape of his neck is saved from the neck-chain.”
Abû Muhammad al-Juwaynî quotes it and then says: “The scholars of hadîth do not look favorably upon its chain of transmission There has been disagreement as to whether the practice is a Sunnah or a nicety.”
However, the Imam [al-Haramayn] counters this by saying – as we summarize – that the students [of al-Shâfi`î] had no need to disagree about the ruling when the hadîth that indicates it is weak.
Al-Qâdî Abû al-Tayyib says: “There is nothing established in the Sunnah to support it.”
Al-Qâdî Husayn says: “There is nothing in the Sunnah to support this practice.”
Al-Fawrânî says: “There is no narration to support it.”
Al-Ghazâlî quotes this hadîth in al-Wasît and then Ibn al-Salâh comments on it saying: “This hadîth is unknown from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is rather the statement of one of the Pious Predecessors.”
Al-Nawawî says in [al-Majmû`] Sharh al-Muhadhdhab: “This hadîth is fabricated. These are not the Prophet’s words.”
In another place, he writes, “There is nothing authentic related about this from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is not Sunnah. Rather, it is an innovation. Al-Shâfi`î did not mention it, nor did the majority of the students. It was only mentioned by Ibn al-Qâs and a small minority. Ibn al-Ruf`ah raised the objection that al-Baghawî, who is a leading hadîth scholar, considered it to be a preferable act. However, there is no basis for declaring it a preferable act except a report from the Prophet or a Companion, since there is no place for analogical reasoning in this matter.”
Perhaps, al-Baghawî relied in this matter on what Ahmad and Abû Dâwûd narrated from Talhah b. Masraf from his father that his grandfather saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) wipe over his head until he reached the ociput and the nape of the neck. However, this has a weak chain of transmission, as we have already discussed.
As for the person from the Pious Predecessors that Ibn al-Salâh mentions, perhaps he is referring to what Abû `Ubayd relates in Kitâb al-Tahûr from `Abd al-Rahmân b. Mahdî from al-Mas`ûdî from al-Qâsim b. `Abd al-Rahmân from Mûsâ b. Talhah who said: “Whoever wipes the nape of his neck along with his head is protected from the neck-chain on the Day of Resurrection.” It is possible to say that though it is a chain of transmission that stops at a Companion, it has the strength of a hadîth that goes back to the Prophet, since it is not something that can be said on the basis of personal opinion. This would make it mursal.
[This is the entry for this hadîth, quoted in full from al-Talkhîs al-Habîr as published by Maktabah Nizâr al-Bâz, first edition – Mecca and Riyadh: 1997]
Ibn Hajar does not mention the strength of the chain of transmission for Mûsâ b. Talhah’s statement. It is weak, since it contains the narrator al-Mas`ûdî who was known to confuse his narrations.
The claim that Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî declared the hadîth is authentic is a false claim, as the above quote from al-Talkhîs al-Habîr establishes.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today