Advice for Beginning Students of Hadith

15 Sep

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


14 responses to “Advice for Beginning Students of Hadith

  1. Tariq al-Timimi

    September 16, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Thank you for that, al-Asiri, and 100% spot-on. The irony is when you have scholars who severely criticise Sh. al-Judai’s positions on some far’i matters, e.g. music or beard, and yet wholeheartedly recommend his ta`sili books.

    On the subject of Tahrir ‘Ulum al-Hadith, I can tell you that I have witnessed him deliver the content of that entire book over five long days without once referring to a single piece of paper. (On him being a mujtahid in the science, you may know he has a huge five-volume book on ‘Ilal al-Hadith – still expanding). And as for usul al-fiqh, he let it slip on the last occasion I saw him that he has a detailed book on usul in the pipeline; as for Taysir, then it’s simply a primer.

    And of course, anyone familiar with Sh. al-Judai’s books knows that they are thorough and rigorous. One thing, which I think is worthy of reflecting on, is his willingness to ‘sit’ on a piece of research (a book, e.g. his book on ‘Awrat or his book on free-mixing and female employment or his PhD thesis on riba, for years, even decades at times), in order to review, appraise and reconsider its content – and consult other experts and scholars. There’s no desperation or rush for these things to come out, it’s an extremely deliberate process (and rightly so), wallahu a’lam.

    • Al-Asiri

      September 16, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Thank you, ya Tariq, for your informative contribution. You may be pleased to know that, whilst there are some strong critics of shaykh Abdullah among the senior scholarly elite of Sa’udiyyah, the younger generation (those under 50) are privately enthusiastic of his work.

      I have heard some scholars several times now highlight shaykh Abdullah’s mastery of both ‘ulum al-hadith and usul al-fiqh. Mastering these two sciences is, as I’m sure you are aware, a rare and difficult feat. His mastery of hadith is explicit and well-known (and envied in some quarters dare I say). Tahrir is heavily relied-upon by discerning students of hadith in Madinah and al-Azhar. His mastery of usul al-fiqh, however, whilst not as well-known, is implicit in the presentation of his arguments in his books and treatises. It really is impressive.

      Deliberation with publications is wise and only increases my admiration for the man. The fruit that is finally harvested is much the sweeter for it. I have personally found it hard to disagree with his propositions due to their strength and clarity, in addition to his objectivity. We look forward to the publication of his ‘pipeline’ works.

      A friend of mine from Manchester told me several years ago that shaykh Abdullah regularly teaches his book(s) in Leeds. Is still the case? If so, how frequent are such sessions?

      • Aspiring Taalib

        October 17, 2016 at 9:07 am

        As Salamu alaikum Akhi,

        I’m sure you are very busy, and it has been an absolute pleasure to read through your website filled with actual knowledge, and the manhaj of the muhaditheen that you employ in their justness when critiquing works.
        Would I be able to get in contact with you another way, have some questions which may not be suitable for the web.

        And just a small question here; what is the controversy of Sh. Abdullah and al-Maalibaree; I am currently studying under a Shaykh who is compiling a modern sharh on Buloogh al-Maraam; and May Allah Reward him in his Tahqeeq and Shuruh and his mastery of hadith; however he seems to really dislike the above two

      • Al-Asiri

        October 19, 2016 at 6:50 pm

        Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah and may Allah bless you in your studies!

        You would be hard-pressed to find a shaykh who is without critics. Some criticism may be justified, whilst much tends to stem from envy or ignorance.

        So people might hear that shaykh Abdullah permits music and, khalas, that’s it – he’s to be avoided. Few would even bother to objectively read his research to see how he came to his views.

        People used to say all sorts about Abu Hanifah to the point that he developed a bad reputation in some circles. Only when people met and conversed with him or his students would their preconceived prejudices dissipate.

        The ‘ulama have written about how contemporaries often criticise each other and that such criticism can be taken with a pinch of salt. Famous examples being Malik and Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hajar and al-‘Ayni, etc.

        The thing with al-Juday’, al-Mallibari, and their ilk (such as shaykh Hatim al-‘Awni) is that they are quite original and unafraid to put their neck out on issues that concern them. They get criticised, but the next generations are the ones who will determine whether or not to accept what they produce.

      • Al-Asiri

        October 19, 2016 at 6:51 pm – please don’t share

      • Saad

        March 27, 2017 at 12:46 pm

        As Salamu Alaikum, our dear brother, al-Azeez

        I was wondering of your opinion on Alfiyyah of Iraqi vs Suyuti, which is generally better, and especially for memorisation?

        Look forward to your answer

        أحسن الله اليكم

      • Al-Asiri

        August 20, 2018 at 7:25 am

        Wa ‘alaykum al-salam. Sorry about the delay. My family and I have been very unwell alhamdu lillah. I prefer al-Iraqi’s due to al-Sakhawi’s sharh.

  2. Tariq al-Timimi

    September 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Sh. ‘Abdullah holds a weekly tafsir class in Leeds (I think he’s up to Surat al-Nisa?) – this is accessible via Skype (mcircle1; to resume around 10/Oct, begins around 7pm), and intermittent courses throughout the year. I think he’ll be holding an advanced hadith one fairly soon.

    • itqan

      September 29, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

      Tahrir is excellent for a student who wants to review ulum al hadith in a non conventional method. He deviates from the normal tartib in
      Mustalah books and adopts a more tatbiqi based approach rather than tandhiri. His practical suggestions and tips on takhrij in all its degrees, throughout the kitab, are invaluable. Although his maqsad is to present mustalah from the kalam of the mutaqaddimin he doesn’t neglect the side of the muta’akkhirin and often highlights the mistakes and shortcomings of the mu’asirin.
      He also has tafsil and tafsir of the kalam of the a’immah of hadith which isn’t always easy to find.

      The section on ilal and jarah wa ta’dil are particularly refreshing. He has emphasised and demonstrated the fact that ilm al ilal is accessible through applying oneself and mastering certain dhawabit with tul al mumarasah and all the other shurut.

      That being said one needs to apply full ta’anni in whole heartedly accepting all jawanib(riwayat al mubtadi’ and jahalah etc) discussed by the shaykh and others like him. Anyone mushtaghil with ilm hadith knows how versatile it is – (in the ‘amal of those practicing it) and how much personal ijtihad it has received from hundreds, qualified and unqualified. These jawanib then have a direct effect in tashih and tadh’if and remain ijtihadi.

      Brother tariq and brother asiri could you please email me I need to ask something

      • Al-Asiri

        September 30, 2016 at 3:45 pm

        وعليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

        Thank you for highlighting some of the features of the work. Let’s hope our comments inspire others to see it out for study.

        We are living in a blessed age (at least with regards to quantity) with regard to research in the Islamic sciences. Some efforts, such as those of Shaykh Abdullah, are truly pioneering. Let’s pray that the next generation builds upon what has gone before.

        I will email you in sha Allah.

  3. sahaabi786

    September 22, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Dowland this app to get Ml Taha Karaan’s 2016 sharh on Sahih Bukhari. Search for M_T_K.

    There are about 32 sessions.

    Ml Taha Karaan is the rector of DUAI in Cape Town

    • Al-Asiri

      September 30, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      Ma sha Allah what a great link to share. Shaykh Taha is a man of great erudition so these classes should be excellent.

      • Waleed

        March 24, 2017 at 2:12 am

        Where can tahrir be purchased? I wanted it, along with the shaykh’s muqaddimaat, and taysir. I live in Canada so it is hard to find. Where is it available in the UK?

      • Al-Asiri

        March 27, 2017 at 10:59 am

        I’m not sure about Canada or the UK as I’m more familiar with local bookstores in the Middle East.


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