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.