The Soundest Chains of Hadith Narrators

One task I often encourage is to extensively study the strongest chains of narration. Below is a brief summary (and a work in progress) to aid students. Not all the chains of each rank are listed, just the more famous examples.

I suggest reading their biographies in Tahdhib al-Kamal, and summarising the conclusions in one’s own words. To this, one can add which tabaqa they are in according to Ibn Hajar in Taqrib al-Tahdhib. Finally, research these chains in Tuhfah to see which hadiths they have produced and where they can be found.

The Highest Rank

According to al-Bukhari, the strongest chain is:

  • Malik – Nafi’ – ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar (5:569-596, entries 8321-8401)

This is the so-called ‘Golden Chain’ and has produced about 81 narrations. The best narrator from Malik is al-Shafi’i by the consensus of the scholars, according to Ibn al-Salah.

According to Ahmad b. Hanbal and Ishaq (b. Rahuwayh or Rahuwyah), the strongest chain is:

  • Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri – Salim b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar – ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar (5:104-176, entries 6798-7018)

This is another Madinan route to Ibn ‘Umar, whose narrations are fundamental to the transmission of the Sunnah. This one has produced about 221 narrations. Both chains are considered the best Hijazi/Madinan routes, and combined have produced at least 302 narrations, which are the foundations of the Sunnah.

According to Ali al-Madini, Sulayman b. Harb,  ‘Amr b. ‘Ali al-Fallas, and others, the soundest chain is actually:

  • Muhammad b. Sirin — ‘Abidah b. ‘Amr — ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (7:102-106, entries 10232-10239)

Ibn al-Madini preferred ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Awn from Ibn Sirin whilst Sulayman b. Harb preferred Ayub al-Sakhtiyani from Ibn Sirin. This chain is notable for being the most respected Caliphal transmission, although only 8 narrations come by this way.

According to Yahya b. Ma’in, ‘Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak, and al-Nasa’i, the soundest chain is:

  • Ibrahim al-Nakha’i — ‘Alqamah — ‘Abd Allah b. Mas’ud (6:362-374, entries 9410-9462)

This chain has two main routes. Yahya b. Ma’in preferred al-A’mash from Ibrahim (6:364-375, entries 9417-9439), producing 23 narrations, whereas ‘Abd Allah b. al-Mubarak, Waki’ b. al-Jarrah, and al-Nasa’i preferred the route from Ibrahim as from Mansur b. Mu’tamir from Ibrahim (6:378-383, entries 9450-9460) especially via Sufyan al-Thawri.

This chain is by far the most renowned Iraqi route, producing around 50 narrations, and was even respected by the people of Hijaz such as Malik, notable for their lack of regard for Iraqi transmissions in general. Notable too, is that this route is the main transmission for Abu Hanifah’s fiqh. 

Ibn al-Mubarak used to say that the ones who spoiled the Kufan hadiths were al-A’mash and Abu Ishaq

(قال ابن المبارك : إنما أفسد حديث أهل الكوفة : أبو إسحاق، والأعمشه)

This is because he was described as a mudallis (one who hides links in his hadith chains). In Tahdhib al-Kamal, al-A’mash is described as doing tadlis on over 20 of his teachers, one case more than 100 times. al-Dhahbi said of him in ‘al-Ruwat al-Thiqat al-Mutakallam fihim:’ that he is a proof and preserver although he hid his weak teachers in his chains

(سُلَيْمَان بن مهْرَان الْأَعْمَش حجَّة حَافظ لَكِن يُدَلس عَن الضُّعَفَاء)

In Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s Sharh ‘Ilal al-Tirmidhi, ‘Ali b. al-Madini is reported to have said that al-A’mash has a lot of mistakes

(الأعمش كثير الوهم) p.647 in Nur al-Din ‘Itr’s edition. 

The chains above are widely reported to be the soundest chains and are highly regarded with universal esteem. However, academic honesty dictates that one must be critical and investigate every single chain for every single hadith.

The Second Rank

al-Zuhri — ‘Ali b. al-Husayn — al-Husayn — ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (Ibn Abi Shaybah)

al’-A’raj — ‘Ubayd Allah b. Abi Rafi’ — ‘Ali b. Abi Talib 

Yahya b. Sa’id al-Qattan — Sufyan al-Thawri — Sulayman al-Taymi — al-Harith b. Swayd — ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (Ahmad and Yahya b. Ma’in)

Shu’ba — Qatada — Sa’id b. al-Musayyib — Any Sahabi!

‘Abd al-Rahman b. al-Qasim — al-Qasim b. Muhammad — A’isha (Ibn al-Madini)

‘Ubayd Allah b. ‘Umar b. Hafs b. ‘Asim — al-Qasim b. Muhammad — A’isha (Ibn Ma’in and al-Nasa’i)

al-Zuhri — ‘Urwah — A’isha

Abu Zinad ‘Abd Allah b. Dhakwan — Salim — ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar (Ibn Ma’in)

Yahya b. Sa’id al-Qattan — ‘Ubayd Allah b. ‘Umar — Nafi’ —  ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar (Ahmad says ‘Ubayd Allah is better than Malik and Ayyub from Nafi’, and Abu Hatim al-Razi says Yahya is best from him)

Hammad b. Zayd — Ayub al-Sakhtiyani — Nafi’ — ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar (Ahmad)

Hammad b. Zayd — Ayub al-Sakhtiyani — Muhammad b. Sirin — Abu Hurayrah (Ibn al-Madini)

Sulayman b. Harb — Ayub al-Sakhtiyani — Muhammad b. Sirin — Abu Hurayrah (Ibn al-Madini)

Abu Zinad ‘Abd Allah b. Dhakwan — al-A’raj — Abu Hurayrah (al-Bukhari)

Ma’mar — Hammad — Abu Hurayrah

Yahya b. Abi Kathir — Abi Salama b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Awf — Abu Hurayrah

Ibn Abi ‘Arubah — Qatadah — Anas b. Malik

Malik — al-Zuhri — Anas b. Malik

Hammad b. Salamah — Thabit — Anas b. Malik

Ibn Jurayj — ‘Ata — Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah

Sufyan b. ‘Uyaynah — ‘Amr b. Dinar — Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah

al-Zuhri — ‘Ubayd Allah b. ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Utbah b. Mas’ud — Ibn ‘Abbas — ‘Umar b. al-Khattab

Burayd b. ‘Abd Allah — (his grandfather) ‘Abu Burdah  — (his father) Abu Musa al-Ash’ari

The Third Rank

al-Layth b Sa’d – Zuhayr (Abu Khaythama) — Abu Zubayr (Muhammad b. Tadrus) —Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah

Simak (Abu Mughirah) — ‘Ikramah — ‘Abd Allah b al-‘Abbas

Abu Bakr b. ‘Ayyash — Abu Ishaq al-Sabi’i (‘Amr b. ‘Abd Allah) — al-Bara’

al-‘Alla’ b. ‘Abd al-Rahman — (his father) ‘Abd al-Rahman — Abu Hurayrah

Suhayl b. Abi Salih — (his father) Abu Salih — Abu Hurayrah

When the hadith scholars mention the second and third ranks, they mean that they are still highly authenticated, but that if there is an apparent conflict, the hadiths of the higher ranks take precedence, due to the narrators’ precision mastery.

Note that ‘Ikramah is in this rank and he is a controversial figure due to his affiliation with the Khawarij. al-Dhahbi mentions this in al-Mizan al-I’tidal, entry #5716 (v.3, p.93). Al-Bukhari relied upon him because he believed that the Khawarij wouldn’t lie as for them lying is a sin and sin is kufr. Muslim and Malik mostly avoided ‘Ikramah’s narrations except in a few instances.

As an aside, it is interesting that earlier Muslim scholars accepted innovators such as al-Khawarij to a degree for several reasons which I won’t go into now. You have figures such as ‘Imran b. Hittan, another Khariji, whose narrations are used by al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, and al-Nasa’i. Abu Dawud said that from the people of desires (i.e. innovators), none are more correct in hadith than the Khawarij

(قال أبو داود : ليس في أهل الأهواء أصح حديثا من الخوارج ، ثم ذكر عمران بن حطان ، وأبا حسان الأعرج.).

As you might have noticed, many of these chains of transmission are family routes from grandfather to grandson and so on. One question for students is, why do you think this is so?


Posted by on October 20, 2018 in Hadith/Sunnah


Mukhtasar Tuhfat al-Muhtaj

N.B. I haven’t posted for a while, partly due to various illnesses in myself and my family. Prayers please!

One of the most difficult books in the Shafi’i school also happens to be one of the most highly regarded: Tuhfat al-Muhtaj of Ibn Hajar al-Haythami. It’s difficulty makes it almost inaccessible in parts for all but the most grounded shaykhs of the madhab.

This difficulty may be in part due to the short space of time in which it was written, without the extended lengths of time that aid in refinement and clarification. My guess is that the work was written in a first edition/draft (it was completed in less than a year) and then taken and spread from Makkah worldwide by the shaykhs multitude of students before a revision could be made.

Elsewhere, I have mentioned and recommended the four volume abridgement, by Mustafa b. Hamid b. Hasan b. Sumayt, which was published in Tarim. Don’t let the poor quality of the binding and paper deceive you! This is a magnificent book by a truly brilliant young scholar of the madhab.

His approach in the abridgement is as follows:

Summarising the research of Ibn Hajar at the end of each investigation, and substituting difficult phrases, where necessary for clarification, with expressions from the other commentaries and marginal notes, including from Ibn Hajar’s other works such as Fath al-Jawwad, al-Imdad, Sharh al-Ubab, al-Fatawa, etc. When these don’t suffice, he uses clear phrasing of his own coining. The result is a much clearer commentary that gets to the point at hand. In the footnotes, are clarifications of the ore obscure words.

Focusing on the fiqhi issues, rearranging where necessary, whilst removing most of the discussions around usul, grammar, hadith, etc.

Mentioning, in the footnotes, important differences with Khatib, Zakariyya al-Ansari, and the Ramlis, all gleamed from al-Sharwani’s Hashiyah.

Correcting the many typographical errors found in the first printed edition, in 10-volumes with the hashiyatayn of ‘Abd al-Hamid and Ibn Qasim.

It is a truly useful work that I find beneficial, so much so that I now refer to this Mukhtasar over Tuhfah. I highly recommend it to serious students of fiqh.


Posted by on August 22, 2018 in Uncategorized


What Follows the Four?

Dar Ibn Hazm have recently published an excellent edition of Ibn Hazm’s al-Muhalla in 19 volumes. Whilst it’s still early days, it looks like a contender for being the critical edition. Scholars and students alike are currently reviewing it and a proper assessment might take a year or so.

Anyhow, it reminds me of a famous quote by Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, recorded by al-Dhahabi in his Siyar:

‘I have not seen, in all the books of knowledge in Islam, anything comparable to Ibn Hazm’s (1) al-Muhalla nor Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din (Ibn Qudamah)’s (2) al-Mughni.’

al-Dhahabi added:

‘Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din spoke the truth! And the third is al-Bayhaqi’s (3) al-Sunan al-Kabir, and the fourth is Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr’s (4) al-Tamhid. Whoever acquires these (four) volumes, whilst being an intelligent mufti, and persists in reviewing them, then he truly is a scholar.’ (Siyar 18:193)

What they all have in common is an encyclopedic approach to hadith and fiqh, truly striving to arrive at the essence of the Sunnah. Now then, a number of later scholars, after quoting the above, have attempted to extend the list to include other candidates for absolutely essential masterpieces that a scholar cannot do without.

The most obvious candidate for the fifth also happens to be the most commonly cited, namely Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani.

Muhammad al-Shawkani, who was considered to be a mujtahid (independent jurist) was asked why he hadn’t written a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, as other scholars (some of arguably lesser standing) had done, and replied by paraphrasing the hadith: ‘la hijra ba’d al-fath.’ i.e. ‘(There is) no (reward for) migration (to Madinah) after the conquest (of Makkah).’ By this he meant that after Fath al-Bari, no other commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari was necessary, as Ibn Hajar had accomplished all that could be accomplished.

Another book mentioned, though overlooked by al-Dhahabi (perhaps because it is incomplete), is al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhab by al-Nawawi. Ibn Kathir said of it in his entry on al-Nawawi in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that he does not know of any book of fiqh better than it.

Also frequently mentioned are al-Awsat and its abridgement al-Ishraf by Ibn al-Mundhir, both of which were abridged from the lost al-Mabsut. Although both have been published in recent decades, both publications are incomplete (with a substantial amount of volumes from the manuscripts left unedited and unpublished). The sections that have been published, however, leave nobody in doubt about the value of the books and the indisputable mastery of ijtihad that Ibn al-Mundhir had. Ibn Hazm considerd him to be one of the few mujtahid mutlaqs to come after the time of Ahmad b. Hanbal and Ishaq b. Rahuwayh.



Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


Some Advice on How to Study Fiqh

How can one study fiqh in a way that builds mastery?
This is an excellent question. The method of instruction in contemporary fiqh studies (and other Islamic studies) leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, many scholars and students are ignorant of pedagogy, educational psychology, etc. 
Let me explain how this can help with studying al-fiqh al-Shafi’i. Remember that the onus is on the student to do this. 
Review (tiqrar) key concepts (shurut, arkan, ta’rifat) with understanding and memorization. An excellent text to review and memorise key concepts is al-Yaqut al-Nafis, which basically lists ta’rifat, shurut, and arkan. This text is key in Tarim, and some teachers set exams whereby you basically regurgitate the ta’rifat, shurut, and arkan. These three aspects should be at the heart of one’s review and memorization. Schedule your review sessions according to your time. For example, Sundays for ibadah, Mondays for jiniyat, Tuesdays for al-ahwal al-shakhsiya, etc. You should complete the review of a book of fiqh that you’ve studied at least once every four months. 
Have a notebook for each book studying and make diagrams to visualise concepts and actively engage with one’s learning, and review these notes alongside the textual review. An excellent text with which to compare one’s own diagrams and charts is al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah. Some of these could be inspiration for your own diagrams too. ‘Imad ‘Ali Jumu’ah’s Tashjir series is an supurb example of what one should do. He basically takes famous mutun and re-writes them in diagram format.
Seek guidance from teachers about supplementary readings – this is very important as much can be learnt from targeted, focused, extensive readings to widen, and deepen one’s understanding. So read at least one similar book alongside one’s formal text book. For example, whilst reading Minhaj al-Talibin one should at the least also personally read Rawdat al-Talibin issue by issue. These two complement each other beautifully. 
Prepare for the class by reading the forthcoming section of the text (this can help with preparing questions) alongside the commentary at a ratio of 3:1 so that for every hour of formal class you do at least three hours of preparation. So, for example, if you are studying Matn Abi Shuja’ and the next class will be on bab umm al-walad, read the sharh for the section ahead of class from Hashiyat al-Bajuri, al-Iqna’, and Kifayat al-Akhyar. Compare the differences in elucidation. Compile a summarised commentary from all.
Think of taswir of masa’il through practical examples of application. So, as an example for mirath, what is the estate division if the deceased left behind a mother, a son, a daughter, and a wife? Think of your own case and those of others you know.
Understand the ta’lil, where possible, and consider questions arising from that. One of the best texts for this is Nihayat al-Matlab by Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni. So, the ta’lil for washing hands upon waking before putting them in a basin is because the Sahaba’s standard practice was to do istijmar (not istinja’) and they slept naked in the sweaty heat, thus traces of urine or stool may have touched their hands during their sleep. If you do istinja’ and sleep with underwear is the issue of washing hands upon waking up still applicable?
Understand how the issue has been arrived at from the tadlil. Al-Majmu’, al-Bayhaqi’s books, and al-Mu’tamad are excellent for this. I would say for most students they should only memorise the adilla for the contentious issues, not the ones upon which most agree. Be efficient. So, don’t focus on the evidence for the obligation of Ramadan (upon which almost all schools agree, but do on why touching a marriageable member of the opposite sex invalidates your ritual purity.
From your notes and readings, write your own companion book including everything you have covered. This will be a handy reference for masa’il in future. If it’s really good, you can even distribute it to others.
I hope this helps!

Posted by on October 1, 2016 in Uncategorized


Advice for Beginning Students of Hadith

During the Eid break, we had the pleasure of hosting my wife’s uncle Abu Ahmad – a PhD in ‘ulum al-hadith and dean of a university in Riyadh. We only get to see him a couple of times a year but each time is fruitful with wise advice on attaining success in this life and the next.

One discussion we had was on how newly-practicing Muslims can gain a firm grounding in the basics of hadith. He said that he thinks Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id’s sharh on al-Arba’un al-Nawawiyyah is an excellent abridged commentary for beginners to become familiar with the Sunnah. We discussed the authorship of this well-known commentary, with the contenders being Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id (the traditional view), Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (according to Riyadh al-‘Isa and ‘Abd al-Qadir Taha), and Imam al-Nawawi himself. Either way, each one is a great imam of hadith and the work is outstanding.

On the subject of ‘ulum and mustalah al-hadith, he really likes Taysir Mustalah al-Hadith by Mahmud al-Tahan due to its simplicity and organization of material for assisting beginners.

Abu Ahmad emphasized that, ultimately, students at an intermediate level must strive to understand Abdullah al-Juday’s two-volume aptly-titled Tahrir ‘Ulum al-Hadith. He said that no other contemporary book has been written like it. It summarizes the entire field whilst making original contributions with piercing insight. It is a book from which even scholars benefit. He said that shaykh Abdullah is a mujtahid in the field and highlighted his mastery of usul al-fiqh as well.

He added the caveat that, whilst scholars may disagree in furu’ (even in ‘aqa’id – tafwidh an example), they are united on the usul. This touches upon the controversy that surrounds some of Shaykh Abdullah’s published research, which has attracted (somewhat excessive in my view) criticism from some quarters due to its originality in overturning long-held views with reasoning and evidence.


Posted by on September 15, 2016 in Books, Hadith/Sunnah


The Book of Hajj (from The Hadrami Primer)

Hajj is almost upon us, and it is advisable to review the fiqh of Hajj every year before it starts. What follows is a translation and commentary from al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyyah by A. S. Gorin, from a manuscript that will be published in future in sha Allah. The importance of the text has been explained elsewhere in previous posts. In short, it is one of the most important teaching primers of the post-Shaykhayn period of the Shafi’i school, and has attracted a number of important commentaries and glosses. It is still studied accross the Indian Ocean basin and further beyond in Syria and Kurdistan.


H: Ibn Hajar’s commentary from al-Manhaj al-Qawim

T: al-Tarmasi’s gloss on Ibn Hajar’s commentary

B: Ba’Ishn’s commentary from Bushra al-Karim

A: The translator’s commentary

The Book of Hajj and ‘Umrah

They (A: i.e. Hajj and ‘Umrah) are both obligatory. The preconditions for their obligation are:

  1. Islam;
  2. freedom;
  3. legal responsibility;
  4. and ability.

(A: Ability) has five sub conditions:

  1. Availability of provisions and containers; enough for going and returning;
  2. Availability of a vehicle (A: including riding animals and mounts) for one who has two stages between him and Makkah; or a carriage for one who cannot sit on a mount, and for a woman with a partner. A vehicle is not a condition for the one who has less than two stages between him and Makkah whilst able to walk. It is a condition that the aforementioned is in excess of one’s debt, provision for those one must provide for till returning, housing and a servant if needed.
  3. The route is safe.
  4. Presence of food and water in expected places, wherefrom one can purchase with a reasonable price according to place and time. [A: This includes] the feed for one’s riding animal at every stage. Hajj is not obligatory on the woman, unless her husband goes with her, or an unmarriageable kin or trustworthy women.
  5. Ability to remain mounted on the vehicle without great difficulty. Hajj is not obligatory on a blind man unless he finds a guide.

Whoever cannot perform Hajj himself, it is obligatory on him to find one to deputise for him, if he has enough money and finds one who will obey him; except if the distance between him and Makkah is less than the distance for shortening prayer, in which case it is binding on him to perform, in person.

On the Timing of Hajj and Umrah

One may enter the state of pilgrim sanctity for Umrah at any time. [A: However, for] Hajj [A: entering pilgrim sanctity must be done] in its [A: set] months. These are: Shawwal, Dhu al-Qa’dah and the first ten [A:days] of Dhu al-Hijjah. If one enters the pilgrim sanctity for Hajj outside these times, it is considered Umrah. Whoever is in Makkah enters the state of pilgrim sanctity for Hajj from it; and for Umrah from the closest area of al-Hil (A: at Masjid al-Tan’im, known as Masjid A’isha locally).

A non-Makkan must enter the state pilgrim sanctity for Hajj and Umrah from the designated sites. These are:

For (A: people coming from) Tihamah of Yemen: Yalamlam;

for (A: people coming from) Najd: Qarn;

for the people of Iraq: Dhatu ‘Irq;

for the people of Syria, Egypt and North Africa: al-Juhfah (A: near Rabigh);

and for the people of al-Madinah: Dhu al-Hulayfah.

One who passes by the designated sites, intending the rites, then later enters a state of pilgrim sanctity must sacrifice if he does not return to the set site before starting any of the rites. Entering the state of pilgrim sanctity at the designated site is better than from one’s town (H: as this follows the Sunnah).

On the Integrals of Hajj and Umrah

There are five integrals for Hajj:

  1. entering a state of pilgrim sanctity;
  2. standing at Arafah;
  3. circumambulation around the Ka’ba;
  4. traversing between al-Safa and al-Marwa;
  5. shaving one’s hair;

There are four integrals for Umrah:

  1. entering a state of pilgrim sanctity;
  2. circumambulation around the Ka’ba;
  3. traversing between al-Safa and al-Marwa;
  4. shaving one’s hair;

On Pilgrim Sanctity

Pilgrim sanctity is the intention for doing Hajj or Umrah or both. It is considered an absolute state of pilgrim sanctity, which one may change as one wishes (H: to Hajj, Umrah, or both). It is recommended to utter the intention, saying: “I intend Hajj, or Umrah, and I enter a state of pilgrim sanctity for it for Allah, the Exalted.” If one performs Hajj or Umrah on behalf of another, one says: “I intend Hajj or Umrah on behalf of so-and-so, and I enter a state of pilgrim sanctity for it Allah, the Exalted.”

It is recommended to chant the talbiyah with the intention, and to proliferate it, raising one’s voice if male, except on the first instance where one chants quietly.

The talbiyah’s form is: “Ever at Your service, O Allah, ever at Your service. Ever at Your service, You have no partner, ever at Your service. Indeed, All praise, blessings and dominion are Yours. You have no partner.”

One repeats it thrice, and then sends salutations on the Prophet, followed by asking Allah for His pleasure and Paradise, seeking refuge from the Fire. Then, one supplicates for whatsoever one likes. If one in a state of pilgrim sanctity, or another, sees something which delights or displeases one, one says [H: sorrowfully], “Ever at Your service, indeed the (real) life is the life of the Hereafter.”

On Recommended Acts Connected to the Rites

It is recommended to perform a ritual bath for entering a state of pilgrim sanctity, entering Makka, standing at Arafah and Muzdalifah, and stoning on the Appointed Days.

It is recommended to perfume one’s body for pilgrim sanctity, but not one’s clothing, and to wear a mantle and wraparound which are new, or [H: if unavailable] washed, and sandals.

It is recommended to perform two units of prayer, after which one enters into a state of pilgrim sanctity, facing the qiblah at the beginning of one’s commencement.

It is recommended to enter Makkah before the standing [H: at ‘Ararah], and to enter from the north, during the day, walking bare-foot. It is recommended to perform the arrival circumambulation if one is performing Hajj, or Joining, and enters Makkah before the Standing.

On Obligations and Recommended Acts in Circumambulation

The eight obligations of circumambulation are:

  1. Covering one’s nakedness;
  2. purity from ritual impurity;
  3. purity from physical impurity;
  4. keeping the Ka’ba to one’s left;
  5. beginning at the Black Stone;
  6. aligning with it [H: i.e. some of the Black Stone] with all of one’s body;
  7. performing circumambulation even times;
  8. and to be inside the Mosque and outside the Ka’ba, buttress and Hijr.

The recommended acts are:

  1. walking;
  2. greeting the Stone, kissing it and placing one’s forehead on it;
  3. greeting the Yemeni Corner;
  4. reciting the appropriate invocations (however it is not recommended for women to greet and kiss [A: the Black Stone] except in private);
  5. jogging for men in the first three cycles of circumambulation, only if this is followed by walking;
  6. bearing one’s right shoulder [H: only for males];
  7. proximity to the Ka’ba;
  8. performing the cycles in succession;
  9. and performing two units of prayer after it;

On Travering between al-Safa and al-Marwa

The four obligations of traversing are:

  1. beginning the first with al-Safa;
  2. beginning the second with al-Marwah;
  3. walking between them seven times;
  4. and that it is performed after the integral of circumambulation or arrival.

Its recommended acts are:

  1. rising a full height on al-Safa and al-Marwah [H: for males];
  2. reciting the relevant invocations;
  3. supplicating thrice after each time;
  4. and walking at the beginning and end, but running in the middle, the place to do so being well-known [A: signified by green lights].

On Standing at Arafah

The obligation of standing is to be present on the plain of Arafah for a moment, after the zenith on the Day of Arafah; even if passing through or sleeping, on the condition that one is sane. The time [A: to do so] remains till dawn.

Its recommended acts are:

  1. combining the night with the day;
  2. reciting tahlil, takbir, talbiyah, tasbih, Qur’an, salutations upon the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and to cry profusely with these;
  3. facing the Qiblah;
  4. ritual purity;
  5. veiling;
  6. coming out in the Sun;
  7. approaching the rocks for men;
  8. approaching the margins for women;
  9. combining between the two daytime prayers for the traveller;
  10. and delaying al-Maghrib to al-Isha for the traveller to combine them at Muzdalifah.

On Shaving the head

The minimal shaving is to remove three hairs. It is recommended to delay it after stoning the Aqabah pillar, and to begin with the right side of the head, facing the Qiblah, encompassing the whole head for men, and shortening for women.

On the Obligations of Hajj

The six obligations of Hajj are:

  1. staying overnight at Muzdalifah, being there for an hour after the second half of the night (not being obligatory on one who has a valid legal excuse);
  2. stoning the Aqabah Pillar seven times;
  3. stoning the Three Pillars on the Appointed Days, each one seven times,
  4. staying overnight in Mina during the three nights [A: of the Appointed Days], or the first two nights if one wants to exit during the first exit on the second day;
  5. being in a state of pilgrim sanctity from the designated sites;
  6. and performing the farewell circumambulation.

On Staying Overnight and Stoning

It is recommended to stay at the Sacred Grove roofless mosque in Muzdalifah, and to take the pebbles for stoning at Aqabah from there. One stops chanting the talbiyah at the beginning of stoning the Aqabah pillar. It is recommended to say takbir with every [H: throwing of a] pebble.

The time for shaving, stoning the Aqabah pillar, and going-forth circumambulation enters after midnight on the night of sacrifice, and the stoning extends to the end of the Appointed Days. The shaving and circumambulation remain absolutely.

It is recommended to initiate the going-forth circumambulation after stoning the Aqabah pillar. One enters Makkah, performs a circumambulation, and walks between al-Safa and al-Marwa if not performed before, and returns to Mina to stay overnight for the nights of the Appointed Days. One stones the three pillars every day of the Appointed Days after the zenith – each one with seven pebbles.

It is a condition of throwing the seven pebbles that they are thrown one at a time [B: so if one throws the seven together all at once it is only considered one throwing].

[A: it is also a condition that] the stoning is done in sequence on each of the Appointed Days [H: starting with the First Pillar near Masjid al-Khayf, followed by the Medial Pillar, and then the Aqabah Pillar – any other sequence is not considered stoning].

[A: it is also a condition] that [H: the stoning] is done between midday and sunset [H: during the Appointed Days, though this view [A: that it is a condition rather than the best time] is weak [T: following Ibn al-Muqri’s view in Rawd al-Talib. Shaykh al-Islam commented on this in Asna al-Mutalib that this follows al-Isnawi’s view and the consideration of al-Rafi’i in al-Sharh al-Saghir. However, the correct view is that [A: stoning after sunset] is permissible as al-Ghazali stated in al-Wajiz, following a statement of al-Shafi’i and supported by Ibn al-Sabbagh in al-Shamil, Ibn al-Salah, and al-Nawawi in al-Manasik. However, it is impermissible to stone before midday].

[A: it is also a condition] that the stoning is done with stones [H: even if a precious stone, ironstone, crystal, onyx, gold, or silver.]

[A: it is also a condition] that the stoning is done by throwing [H: as it is not sufficient to place to stones on the pillars.]

[A: it is also a condition] that the stoning be done with one’s hands [H: not with, for example, a bow, one’s feet, a slingshot, or with one’s mouth.]

[H: Among] the recommended acts [T: of stoning the pillars] is that it be done with stones the size of beans.

Whoever leaves stoning the Aqabah Pillar or some of the Appointed Days, can rectify it in the remaining performance.

Whoever wants to exit Mina on the second day of the Appointed Days, then it is permissible [H: with no blame, as Allah says, ‘whoever hastens [his departure] on the second day, there is no sin upon him.’ [2:203]].

On Release from Hajj

There are two releases from Hajj. The first occurs with any two of the following three:

  1. stoning at Aqabah;
  2. shaving [H: by removing at least three hairs];
  3. and the going-forth circumambulation.

The second release is achieved with the third [A: i.e. the going-forth circumambulation].

With the first [H: release], all the prohibited acts become permissible except marriage [H: i.e. intercourse], its contract, and foreplay with desire.

With the second release, the remainder [H: are permitted [T: i.e intercourse, foreplay, and marriage contract]].

On the Ways of Performing the Rites

The two rituals [B: i.e. Hajj and Umrah] can be performed [A: together] in [T: only three ways]:

The best is ifrad, if one can do Umrah in the [A: same] year of Hajj, and that is performing Hajj followed by Umrah [H: because the narrations about it are greater].

Then, tamattu’, which is performing Umrah followed by Hajj.

Then, qiran, which is entering a state of pilgrim sanctity simultaneously for both, or [T: entering a state of pilgrim sanctity for] Umrah [H: alone, even if before the Hajj months] then entering a state of pilgrim sanctity for Hajj before the [H: legislated] circumambulation.

One performing tamattu’ must [A: sacrifice] blood with four preconditions:

  1. that one is not from the people of the Sanctuary, and no further from the Sanctuary than the distance permitted for shortening prayer;
  2. entering a state of pilgrim sanctity for Umrah in the months of Hajj;
  3. performed in one year;
  4. and that one does not return to a designated site.

One performing qiran must [A: sacrifice] blood with two preconditions:

  1. that one is not from the people of the Sanctuary;
  2. and that one does not return to a designated site, after entering Makka.

On The Bloods

The [A: sacrificial] blood for [A: committing any of the following]:

  1. tamattu’;
  2. qiran;
  3. not entering a state of pilgrim sanctity from a designated site;
  4. not stoning;
  5. and not staying overnight stay in Muzdalifah and Mina

is a shāh [A: a yearling sheep or a two-year-old goat].

If one is unable [H: to sacrifice, such as not finding an animal which fits the description], one fasts ten days – three during Hajj and seven when one returns to one’s homeland.

On Prohibitions in Pilgrim Sanctity

The following six categories are prohibited during a state of pilgrim sanctity:

  1. It is prohibited for a man to cover his head, or a part of it, and to wear a sewn garment on his body or limb; and for a woman it is prohibited to veil her face or to wear gloves.
  2. Perfuming one’s body or clothes.
  3. Oiling the hair of one’s head or beard.
  4. Removing one’s hair or nails.

If one wears [T: in pilgrim sanctity what one is prohibited to wear, as in the first category], or perfumes [T: as in the second category], or oils one’s hair [T: as in the third category], or touches [A: anyone] with desire, or masturbates [H: with one’s own hand or another’s] and ejaculates, deliberately, knowing and out of choice; then one is obliged [H: to sacrifice blood, in contrast to one who does these forgetfully or in ignorance].

If one removes three or more nails in succession [T: as in the fourth category]; or three or more hairs in succession, even if forgetfully, then one is obliged [A: to slaughter] a sacrificial animal [A: which are discussed below], or feed six paupers, each one with half a sa’, or fast three days.

For every hair or nail [A: removed, one must give a pauper] one mudd, or fast one day. For every two hairs or two nails [A: removed, one must give] two mudds or [A: Fast] two days.

  1. Intercourse: If one has intercourse, deliberately, knowing and out of choice before the first release for Hajj or before finishing Umrah; one’s rites are void and it becomes obligatory to complete and make them up immediately, as well as sacrificing a camel [A: discussed below]. If unable, [A: one must sacrifice] a cow; if unable, seven shāhs [A: yearling sheep or two-year-old goats]; if unable, [A: one must feed the paupers of the Sanctuary with] food of the same value as a camel; if unable, one must fast the number of mudds [A: i.e. one must fast a day for each mudd of food that the value of a camel buys].
  2. Hunting an edible [A: for Muslims] wild [H: beast], or that which is [A: cross] bred from it and another. This is also prohibited inside the Sanctuary on the permissible. It is [A: also] prohibited to cut the moist plants of the Sanctuary and to uproot them, except for cymbopogon [A; lemongrass], thorn plants [H: even if not in one’s path], animal feed, medicine [H: such as colocynth], and crops [H: such as wheat and barley]. It is forbidden to uproot dry grass, but not to cut it.

If one destroys wild game which has its counterpart from cattle, then [A: one must sacrifice] its counterpart [H: in appearance, not in value]. If it does not have a counterpart, one must [A: sacrifice] its value. [A: The value of] an ostrich is a camel; [A: the value of] wild cattle and zebras is a cow; [A: the value of] deer is a shāh [A: a yearling sheep or a two-year-old goat]; [A: the value of] a pigeon is a shāh [A: a yearling sheep or a two-year-old goat].

One has the choice in [A: animals which have a] counterpart between slaughtering its counterpart in the Sanctuary and giving it in charity [H: to the Sanctuary’s paupers]; or giving in charity food of the same value of that counterpart; or fasting the number of mudds [A: one fasts a day for each mudd of food the counterpart buys].

With regards to animals which have no counterpart, like locusts, one has the choice between giving in charity food of the same value of that animal, and fasting the number of mudds [A: one fasts a day for each mudd of food that it buys].

[A: One is obliged] in [A: destroying] a large tree [A: to sacrifice] a yearling cow, and [A: one is obliged] in [A: destroying] a small tree, [H: according to custom, which is] like a seventh [H: approximately] of the large tree, [A: to sacrifice] a shāh [A: a yearling sheep or a two-year-old goat].

One has the choice between slaughtering, giving its value in food, or fasting the number of mudds [A: one fasts a day for each mudd of food that it buys].

[A: One is obliged] in [A: destroying] a very small tree to give its value in food as charity or to fast the number of mudds [A: one fasts a day for each mudd of food that it buys].

On Preventions of Hajj

It is permissible for: parents to prevent their non-Makkan child from entering into a state of pilgrim sanctity for a voluntary Hajj or Umrah, but not for an obligatory [A: Hajj or Umrah]; a husband to prevent his wife from an obligatory and recommended [A: Hajj or Umrah]; and a master to prevent his slave from the obligatory or recommended [A: Hajj or Umrah]. If they [H: i.e. a child, wife, or slave] enter a state of pilgrim sanctity without their [H: i.e. parents, husbands, or masters] permission, they must exit from it.

One who is prevented, or unable to complete, Hajj or Umrah, is released by slaughtering that which suffices as a sacrificial animal, then shaving [A: by cutting at least three hairs], whilst combining of the intention of exiting the state of pilgrim sanctity with these [A: two] acts [H: i.e. sacrificing and shaving]. Whoever is unable to slaughter, feeds [A: paupers] with [A: food equivalent to] the value of a shāh [A: a yearling sheep or a two-year-old goat]. If one is unable, one fasts the number of mudds [A: one fasts a day for each mudd of food that a shāh buys]. A slave is released only with the intention and shaving, and is not obliged to make-up [A: the Hajj or Umrah].

It is permissible to make a condition of release from pilgrim sanctity if one’s provisions become exhausted, or for illness, or another reason.

One who misses standing at Arafah is released by circumambulation, traversing, and shaving. [A: In addition, one must] must make it up, and sacrifice blood like the blood of one doing tamattu’ [A: i.e. a shah, which is yearling sheep or a two-year-old goat]. One slaughters this in the make-up Hajj.

Every obligatory blood must be slaughtered in the Sanctuary, except the blood resulting from impediments. The best place in Hajj is Mina, and the best place in Umrah is on al-Marwah, at any time one wishes, and given to paupers.

On Sacrificial Animals

It [T: i.e. sacrificing [A: during Hajj]] is emphatically recommended. It does not become obligatory except through an oath, or by saying, ‘This is a sacrificial animal,’ or ‘I have made this a sacrificial animal.’

None will suffice except camels, cows, and sheep or goats. The best is a camel, then a cow, then a sheep, then a goat, then a part of a camel. Seven shāhs [A: yearling sheep or two-year-old goats] are better than one camel. The best [H: in terms of colour] is white, then yellow, then tawny, then black-and-white, then black, and then red.

The condition for a camel is that it is five complete years; for a cow or goat that it is two complete years; and for a sheep that it is one complete year.

The animal should not be scabrous, even if a little; with an extreme limp; malnourished; crazy; blind or one-eyed; ill in any way which corrupts the meat; nor must any of its ear be cut off, even if minimal; nor its tongue; nor its udder; nor its rear; nor the outer side of its haunch; nor should all its teeth have gone.

One should intend the sacrifice at the time of slaughtering or before it.

The time for slaughtering begins after sunrise on the Day of Sacrifice, plus the lapse of a time period equal to two units of prayer and two light sermons. This [A: slaughtering period] extends till the end of the Appointed Days.

It is obligatory to give part of its raw meat as charity [H: if it is a voluntary sacrifice]. It is impermissible to sell any of it. An animal sacrificed as an oath must be completely given away in charity. It is detested [H: that one intending sacrifice] removes any of its hair or any other part [H: such as nails and the rest of its body] in the ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah until one sacrifices.

On Cutting a New-born’s Hair and Sacrificing on His Behalf

Sacrificing upon shaving a new-born’s hair is [H: emphatically] recommended like the sacrifice of Hajj. Its timing is from birth until attaining puberty. Thereafter, one may perform it for one’s self.

It is best performed on the seventh day [H: from birth, including the birth day]. If one does not slaughter on it, then [A: sacrifice] on the fourteenth day. If not, then the twenty-first day.

The most complete [A: sacrifice] is two shāhs [A: yearling sheep or two-year-old goats] for a male. One should not break it’s [A: i.e. the sacrificial animal] bones [H: where possible], and should give it away in charity cooked, with sweets. Sending it [H: to the paupers instead of calling them to it] is more complete.

It is recommended to shave the new-born’s head after the slaughtering; and to give in charity it’s weight [H: i.e. the hair of the head] in gold, then in silver; and to rub the infant’s gums with dates or something sweet. It is detested to wipe blood on his [H: i.e. the new-born] head, but there is nothing wrong with saffron.

On Prohibitions Relating to Hair and Similar Matters

It is prohibited to:

  1. dye one’s grey hairs black;
  2. put extensions into one’s hair;
  3. make gaps between one’s teeth;
  4. get a tattoo;
  5. and for a man to have henna without need.

Posted by on September 4, 2016 in Books, Fiqh


Ma’alim al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah

Recently, I’ve been reading the three volume Ma’alim al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 2015) by Salih al-Shami, whom I have mentioned elsewhere. It is proving to be a very useful reference and I am seriously considering teaching from it in future. I would like to bring more attention to this work, beginning with this post.

For those familiar with shaykh Salih, it is the fruit of his life’s work in compiling various zawa’id works which collect hadiths of certain books not available in certain other books. I have previously praised his al-Wafi, which complies all the hadiths of al-Bukhari and Muslim whilst removing the repetitions. Among his other zawa’id books are:

  • al-Jami’ bayn al-Sahihayn (compiling the contents of al-Bukhari and Muslim, currently being taught publicly in our city)
  • Zawa’id al-Sunan ‘ala al-Sahihayn (the hadiths of Abu Dawud, a-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah not available in al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  • Zawa’id al-Muwatta wa al-Musnad (compiling hadiths from Malik and Ahmad not available in the six collections mentioned above)
  • Zawa’id al-Sunan al-Kubra (compiling the hadiths of al-Bayhaqi’s magnificent masterpiece that are unavailable in the above eight collections)
  • Zawa’id Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Mustadrak (compiling the hadiths in these collections not available in the nine collections mentioned above)
  • Zawa’id al-Ahadith al-Mukhtara (compiling the hadiths of al-Maqdisi unavailable in the above twelve collections)

So these six compilations (totalling twenty-two volumes) gather the hadith texts of fourteen of the major collections of hadith. You really would struggle to find a hadith not contained therein. Shaykh Salih has now summarised the above fourteen collections and his own six compilations (with some modifications of his own) into a single three-volume reference, the subject of this post.

Shaykh Salih himself counts the totally of the hadiths (including repetitions) in the fourteen major compilations to be 114,194 in number! He removed the repetitions in his six compilations to bring the number of individual hadiths down to 28,430. These in turn have now been refined and summarised down to 3,921 hadiths in his latest compilation, focusing on the sahih and hasan (in his view) from the above. He mentions that he only includes weak hadiths if they clarify the meaning of a sahih or hasan hadith or if they pertain to virtues and good deeds. He says these amount to no more than 33, and none of them are very weak. He relies on the following editions for his compilation, as well as their editors’ hadith verifications:

  • Al-Albani for the four sunan
  • Husayn Salim Asad al-Darani for al-Darimi
  • Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut for Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Hibban
  • Abd al-Qadir al-Arna’ut for al-Muwatta (from Jami’ al-Usul)
  • Muhammad Mustafa al-A’zami for Ibn Khuzaymah
  • al-Dhahbi for al-Mustadrak (incomplete approach)
  • al-Bayhaqi for himself (incomplete approach)
  • ‘Abd al-Malik for al-Maqdisi

My criticism with this is that each editor has his own methodology and this approach can and does lead to inconsistencies. Not only that, few of these editions are truly critical editions and some hadiths are missing from them. If only he had better reference material and the ability to grade himself! Nevertheless, shaykh Salih is to be commended for such a wonderful effort and knowing his own limitations. His arrangement of the hadiths into various chapters is good and you can usually find a certain familiar hadith where you might expect to find it, with some exceptions. This leads to my main criticism – there is no index! I hope future editions include indices of atraf, narrators, etc. otherwise I fear I might have to compile them myself!

Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying the book and can envisage great possibilities using it in my teaching, with a focus on understanding the content of the hadith, leaving chains and methodology for later levels. I could easily see this in a curriculum before students commence with al-Sahihayn, and Sunan, and the other reference works. I’m still engaging with this work, but do encourage others to acquire copies for their own use too.


Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Books, Hadith/Sunnah