Muslims will often pull out the “weak hadith” card in order to avoid having to deal with any incriminating evidence that exposes Muhammad for the charlatan that he was.
However, those Muslims who raise this objection are either exposing their dishonesty or ignorance of the consensus of Islamic scholarly opinion concerning the use of so-called “weak” narrations (called daif in Arabic).
In the first place, a narrative classified as weak means that it actually passed the test, being deemed reliable enough to be included within the Islamic corpus. For a more detailed discussion we recommend viewing the following discussion by noted Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf, “The hadith is weak (daief) brother!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COrxzfd5d2k.
Secondly, the majority of Muslim scholars agreed that weak narrations could be employed to encourage good deeds and good behavior, but not to establish legal rulings (though not all hadith scholars accepted this last point). Pay attention to all the authorities that the following Muslim scholar lists in confirmation of this view:
- a) From the Epilogue of hafiz al-Sakhawi’s
“al-Qawl al-badi` fi al-salat `ala al-habib al-shafi`”
[The Admirable Doctrine Concerning the Invocation upon the Beloved Intercessor]
Shaykh al-Islam Abu Zakariyya al-Nawawi (rad.ia-LLahu `anhu) said in the ‘Adhkar’:
“The ulama among the experts in hadith and the experts in law and others have said: it is permissible and (also) recommended that the religious practice (al-`amal) concerning good deeds and good character (al-fadâ’il), encouragement to good and discouragement from evil (al-targhib wa al-tarhib) be based (even) on weak hadith (bi al-hadith al- da`îf) as long as it is not forged (mawdu`)…
As for legal rulings (ahkâm) such as what is permitted and what is forbidden, or the modalities of trade, marriage, divorce and other than that: one’s practice is not based upon anything other than sound (sahih) or fair (hasan) hadith, except as a precaution in some matter related to one of the above, for example, if a weak hadith was cited about the reprehensibility (karahat) of certain kinds of sales or marriages. In such cases what is recommended (al-mustahabb) is to avoid such sales and marriages, but it is not obligatory (la yajib).”
I say: It has been reported from Imam Ahmad that one may practice on the basis of the weak hadith if there is no other hadith to that effect and also if there is no hadith that contradicts it. In one narration he is reported to say: “I like weak hadith better than men’s opinions.”
Ibn Hazm has similarly mentioned that all Hanafi scholars unanimously agree that the school of Abu Hanifah (rad.ia-LLahu `anhu) holds that weak hadith is preferable to opinion (ra’y) and analogy (qiyâs). Ahmad was asked about someone finding himself in a country with, on the one hand, a memorizer of hadith (sâhib hadîth) who does not know the sound from the unsound, and, on the other, an authority in opinion (sâhib ra’y): who should he consult? He replied: “Let him consult the memorizer of hadith sâhib hadîth and not the authority in opinion (sâhib ra’y).”…
Abu `Abd Allah Ibn Mandah reported from Abu Dawud, the author of the ‘Sunan’ and a student of Imam Ahmad, that Abu Dawud used to cite the chain of transmission of a weak hadith if he did not find other than it under that particular heading (bâb), and that he considered it stronger evidence than authorized opinion (ra’y al-rijâl).
What emerges from this is that there are three diverging views:
– No practice is based on weak hadith whatsoever (mutlaqan);
– Practice is categorically (mutlaqan) based upon it if no other evidence is found under the same heading;
– The majority of the scholars (al-jumhur) hold that it can be used as basis for practicing good deeds and achieving good character (yu`malu bihi fi al-fadâ’il) but not for legal rulings (dûna al-ahkâm). And God is the Granter of success.
- b) Translated from Muhammad Zaki Ibrahim in “Usul al-wusul”
(Cairo: Azhar, 1984):
If not proven to be forged, in which case there is absolutely no truth in it, the hadith da`îf (weak), although the pillars of veracity in it are not complete, nevertheless retains a part of truth.
Imam Nawawi said:
“The ulama among the muhaddithun…” [as quoted by Sakhawi above].
I say: This is the principle adopted by the hadith master (hafiz) Ibn al-Salah, as well as what we know of the imams of hadith science among the early generations (salaf) such as Sufyan al-Thawri, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Ibn `Uyaynah, Ibn al- Mubarak, Ibn Mahdi, and Ibn Ma`în… Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi devoted a chapter to that topic in his ‘Kifayah’.
End of translated excerpts…
I recapitulate the list of hadith masters who accept the use of hadeeth da`îf at the very least for religious practice related to ethics (fada’il al-a`mal) and in some cases even for legal rulings (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and the entire Hanafi school), according to the above three sources (Sakhawi, Ibrahim, Keller):
2- Ibn al-Salah
3- Sufyan al-Thawri
4- Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
5- Ibn `Uyaynah
6- Ibn al-Mubarak
7- Ibn Mahdi
8- Ibn Ma`een (forgery specialist)
9- al-Khatib al-Baghdadi in ‘al-Kifayah’, chapter entitled:
“strictness with regard to ahadith pertaining to rulings
and leniency with regard to those pertaining to virtuous actions”
10- Bukhari as proven by his use of them in ‘al-Adab al- mufrad’
11- Ali al-Qari (forgery specialist)
12- Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani.
13- Ibn Abd al-Barr in ‘al-Isaba’.
14- Ibn al-Qayyim in ‘I`lam al-muwaqqi`een’.
16- Abu Sa`eed al-`Ala’i (forgery specialist).
17- Abu Dawud.
18- Hanafi school…
It is the Consensus of the Ulema that weak hadiths can be narrated and put into practice in Islam according to al-Bayhaqî, Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Nawawî, Ibn Taymiyya, al-Qârî, and `Alawî ibn `Abbâs al-Mâlikî in his manual al-Manhal al-Lat.îf fî Ma`rifat al-H.adîth, provided certain conditions are met. Ibn al-Sâlah, al-Nawawî and al-`Irâqî’s sole conditions were that
(1) the hadith be related to good deeds (fad.â’il al-a`mâl)
without bearing on legal rulings and doctrine and
(2) the hadith not be forged…
The dissents reported from Imâm Muslim, Ibn Hazm, and Ibn al-`Arabî are inaccurate. The correct position of Imâm Muslim in the introduction to his Sahîh. is that he forbade the use of forgers and other abandoned narrators, not of truthful weak ones, in conformity with the position of Ahmad and the rest of the Salaf.
Muslim also says: “The sound reports from the trustworthy (thiqât) narrators and those whose reliability is convincing are more than that we should be forced to transmit reports from those who are not trustworthy and whose reliability is not convincing.” The difference is clear between saying we are not forced to use weak narrators and saying that one absolutely cannot transmit from them.
A proof of this is his use of the weak narration from `Â’isha: “Treat people according to their ranks” and the fact that his strictness in narrators drops a notch or two in the hadîths of raqâ’iq or fadâ’il al-a`mâl in the Sahîh, as in the case of Shaddâd ibn Sa`îd Abû Talhâ al-Râsibî or al-Walîd ibn Abî Walîd.
The correct position of Ibn al-`Arabî is as he states himself regarding a certain weak hadîth: “Its chain is unknown, but it is preferable to put it into practice…” As for Ibn Hazm’s statement against the use of weak narrations in absolute terms: he elsewhere states preferring the use of weak hadîth over the use of juridical opinion (ra’î), as does Ibn al-`Arabî himself. (GF Haddad and Muhammad Sarkisian, Validity of Weak Hadith http://www.livingislam.org/n/vwh_e.html; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Therefore, don’t be duped by Muhammadan propagandists since one can appeal to weak hadith to prove one’s position, especially when it is corroborated by verses from the Quran and/or other narrations deemed to be sound.