Madhab and Sahih Ahadeeth

Assalaamu Alaikum, Hazrat.

Someone told me about the Mazhab(Madhab) and that the Imams have said that in future if anyone will find the correct Hadith(Sahih) against my Fiqh matter (Madhab Fiqh),then you will throw Madhab in to the wall and Take Sahih Hadith. It is my Madhab – All imams have said this. Ex: Some people say that Namaz related hadeeths, on hanafi madhabb is weak hadeeths, then Why do we Take these. Why not Take the hadeeth in Sahih kithab like Sahih Bukahari…. Is this correct or not .. Please explain this for me.

Wa Alaikum As Salaam,

الجواب و بالله التوفيق

What has been mentioned is totally wrong. No Imam of Fiqh said, ‘If anyone will find a correct hadith (Sahih) against my Madhab (Fiqh), then ‘throw the Madhab (Fiqh) into the wall and take the Sahih hadith. It is my Madhab’. To attribute such a statement to any Imam of Fiqh is falsehood and an insult to the Imam. Instead of the above, the Imams have used statements like the following:

1) Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R) said, ‘When a hadith is found to be Sahih (authentic), then that is my adopted position’. (Hashiya of Ibn Abidin vol.1 pg. 63)

2) Imam Malik bin Anas (A.R) said, ‘Indeed I am only a human, I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions, all that agrees with the Book and Sunnah, accept it, and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it’. (Jami Bayan Al Ilm Wa Fadhilihi – Ibn Abd Barr vol.1 pg. 775)

3) Imam Ash-Shafi (A.R) is reported to have said, ‘Every hadith on the authority of the Prophet (S.A) is also my view, even if you do not hear it from me’. (Siyar Alam An-Nubala vol.10 pg. 35)

4) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal is reported to have said, ‘Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allah, is on the brink of destruction’. (Manaqib Imam Ahmad – Ibn Al Jawzi)

These, along with other similar statements have been narrated from these pious Imams. Such statements of the Imams show their intense love and devotion to following the way of the Prophet (S.A). They were not individuals who imposed themselves and their opinions on others, nor were they personalities who strove to be leaders and wanted fame. Their statements show the attributes of humbleness and humility which they possessed. Although they were from among the greatest scholars of hadith who lived at their times and were from the three pious generations which the Prophet (S.A) gave glad tidings about, yet they never thought that it was an insult to their knowledge to utter such statements. All the four Imams were teachers of the likes of Imams Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and others; some directly and others indirectly. Their status in the field of hadith was very high and lofty. They were from among the greatest Mujtahids in Fiqh and Hadith and were held by the masses, both scholars and non-scholars, as the grand masters of Islamic sciences. It was for these reasons the Ummah (in its majority) from their time until today, have always followed them and placed reliance upon their rulings and verdicts as given in their respective Madhab. Statements which have been mentioned by these Imams that inform others to practice upon Sahih hadith if they found them, in no way means that they did not know Sahih Hadith or their Madhab did not contain Sahih hadith. To suggest this is to cast aspersion upon such righteous personalities and to lay doubts upon their Madhahib which is not permissible.

They also were great Muhadithin who learnt ahadith directly from the Tabi’een scholars. They had full knowledge of the different categories of ahadith and knew very well the status of each. After all, a Mujtahid cannot become a Mujtahid without having such knowledge. As such, from the collections which they had, they chose the best and most authentic ones which had gained the highest level of acceptance to apply in their Madhab.

It must be understood that each of the great Traditionists in the past which include the likes of Imams Bukhari, Muslim and others, as well as those before them, had formulated their own rules and principles for the acceptance and non-acceptance of ahadith, and also graded a hadith in a different manner from each other. Therefore, it occurred that a hadith was graded as Sahih by one Muhadith, but it was considered weak by another. Each expert scholar had justifiable reasons for grading a hadith in a certain way, which was based on the principles which he had set for himself. Even among scholars of hadith like Imams Bukhari and Muslim, there were big differences among them in the classification of many ahadith even though they were both teachers and students to one another.

As such, it is wrong for one to take what Imam Bukhari states about a hadith and then apply it to a narration which has been used in the Madhab of any of the Imams of Fiqh. If one wants to be fair, then he should look to see what that Imam has mentioned about that particular hadith and why he accepted it. It is highly possible that what was considered weak by Imam Bukhari would have been accepted as Sahih by another Hadith scholar, since each of the Muhaditheen (traditionists) formulated their guidelines for the acceptance and non-acceptance of Ahadith.

Having said this, it should be understood that Sahih ahadith are not confined to Sahih Al Bukhari alone. Instead, they have been mentioned in all books of ahadith by the respective authors and compilers of ahadith. Just as you will find Sahih hadith in Sahih Bukhari, in the same manner, you will find them in Sahih Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood, Nasaii, Ibn Majah and Muwatta of Imam Malik. You will also find Sahih ahadith with better Isnaad in the books of Imam Abu Hanifa, Shafi and Ahmad bin Hanbal. All other renowned books of ahadith written by other traditionists are filled with a great amount of Sahih ahadith. Therefore, it is totally wrong to look at Sahih Al Bukhari as the criteria to determine what is Sahih and what is not from the ahadith.

Some people make blanket statements about the Madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R) and say that there are weak hadith. This is totally wrong and far from the truth. A close look and an examination of the evidences Imam Abu Hanifa uses from the ahadith shows that his Madhab is based on very authentic ahadith of the Prophet (S.A).

With respect to the statements used by the Imams of Fiqh, it is to be noted that these directives were given to their students whom they knew were great scholars of hadith and also Mujtahids in the field of Fiqh. These statements by the Imams of Fiqh were not addressed to lay people and non-specialists in Fiqh and hadith.

While explaining the statement of Imam Ash Shafi (A.R) in which he said, ‘When a hadith is found to be Sahih (authentic), then that is my adopted position’, the great scholar Imam An Nawawi writes, ‘What Imam Ash Shafi said does not mean that everyone who sees a Sahih hadith should say ‘this is the Madhab of Ash Shafi’, applying the purely external or apparent meaning of his statement. What he said most certainly applies only to such a person who has the rank of Ijtihaad in the Madhab. It is a condition for such a person that he be firmly convinced that either Imam Shafi was unaware of the hadith or he was unaware of its authenticity. And this is possible only after having researched all the books of Imam Shafi and similar books of the companions of Imam Shafi, those who took knowledge from him and others similar to them. This is indeed a difficult condition to fulfill’. (An Nawawi – Sharh Al Muhadhab)

That which Imam An Nawawi has mentioned, is the same message conveyed by all other Imams in their respective statements. In other words, the address was not given to the lay man or common Muslims. Instead, it was given to those who had achieved the rank of Ijtihaad in the respective Madhab. Having reached the rank of a Mujtahid, it means that the scholar would have to investigate and research the books and works of the Imam in full details, and having gone through the proofs used by the Imam, the Mujtahid must be convinced that the Imam of the Madhab was either unaware of the hadith or unaware of its authenticity. As can be clearly seen, this task is extremely difficult for even the scholars, far less for the lay person.

The Imams knew their students and the great abilities they possessed in the field of Ijtihaad. They knew very well that their students were expert hadith scholars who were deep rooted in the field of Fiqh and Tafseer of the Quran, as well as the other sciences of Islam which are necessary for a Mujtahid. Hence, it is for this reason, they addressed them in this way, and implored them to use their abilities and skills to research and investigate.

While explaining the statement of Imam Abu Hanifa in which he said, ‘When a hadith is found to be Sahih, then that is my adopted position’, the great jurist of the Madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa, Ibn Abideen Shami wrote, ‘It is not hidden that this (address) is for one qualified to examine the texts and has knowledge of its non-abrogated from its abrogated’. (Hashiya Ibn Abideen)

With respect to the statement that ‘some Namaz (Salaah) related hadees on hanafi Madhab is weak hadees’, this is totally incorrect. This statement is normally used by those who oppose the Madhab of Imam Abu Hanifa and are totally ignorant of the proofs and evidences used by Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R). Further to this, such individuals do not take the time to do a proper research and investigation into the ahadith used by Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R) as evidences in the Madhab. A careful study into the ahadith used as evidences in the Hanafi Madhab shows that they are strong, reliable and authentic narrations which have been investigated by expert scholars of hadith before they were accepted.

Imam Abu Hanifa himself was an expert in the field of hadith and possessed great knowledge of the science of hadith and its narrators, and was a very strong/reliable narrator of hadith. While writing about him, the great expert scholar of hadith, Imam Yahya bin Ma’een (died 233 A.H) who was a great Muhadith and expert in the subject of Rijaal (critical analysis of the narrators of Ahadith) and the teacher of Imam Bukhari and others, said the following about Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R), ‘He is Thiqa (reliable) and trustworthy, and I have never heard anyone who regards him to be a weak narrator’. (Khairat Al Hisaan)

Imam Yahya bin Saeed Al Qattan, the great Muhadith and expert in the science of ‘Rijaal’, who was the teacher of Imam Ahmad, Ali bin Madeeni and others, learnt directly from Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R). While speaking about Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R), he said: ‘By Allah! We sat in the company of Imam Abu Hanifa and learnt Ahadith from him. Each time I looked at his face, I could see that he was a person who feared Allah’. (Al Muwaffaq)

The great Imam of Hadith, Abdullah bin Mubarak (A.R) (died 181 A.H) was one of the greatest Muhadith and teacher to many great scholars of hadith like Imam Ahmad, Yahya bin Ma’een and others. He is unanimously regarded as the Ameerul Mu’mineen in the field of Ahadith, and Imams Bukhari and Muslim have narrated many Ahadith from him. Though he was so great in knowledge, he became a special student of Imam Abu Hanifa and remained with him for a long time. While speaking about Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R), he said: ‘He (Imam Abu Hanifa) was amongst those who knew the most Ahadith of Rasulullah (S.A) and had studied Ahadith from many teachers’. Abdullah bin Mubarak used to encourage people to follow Imam Abu Hanifa and would say, ‘We have been to many scholars of Hijaz and Iraq but have never found a class more blessed and more beneficial than that of Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R)’. (Manakib Kurdi vol.1 pg. 103)

Abdullah bin Mubarak also said, ‘Imam Abu Hanifa excelled people in his memory for Ahadith, Fiqh, his knowledge, his trustworthiness, and his sheer piety’. (Jami Bayan Al Ilm – Taqleed A’immah). Ibn Mubarak (A.R) further said, ‘Imam Abu Hanifa had the deepest understanding of Islam and I have never seen any other with a deeper understanding than him’. (Khairaat Al Hisaan)

These are only a few statements of some of the greatest Scholars of hadith about Abu Hanifa. They all testified that he was one of the greatest Scholars of Hadith. He was sound, trustworthy and reliable and was not a weak narrator of hadith. It is totally impossible to imagine that an Imam of this Calibre would use weak Ahadith as evidences for his Madhab.

While writing this, the great Scholar Dr. Mustafa wrote the following in his book, ‘As Sunnah Wa Makaanatuha Fi At Tashree Al Islam’:

‘Imam Abu Hanifa stipulated strict conditions for a narration to be accepted –very difficult conditions indeed, but he only did so because fabrication in Hadith became a widespread phenomenon. While accepting the authenticity of a hadith, he only accepted those Ahadith that were famous and widespread, and came from trustworthy people. In this regard, he was more careful and strict than even the Scholars of Hadith, which is why he deemed many Ahadith to be weak, which in the view of Scholars of Hadith, were authentic and accepted.’

This statement shows clearly that Imam Abu Hanifah did not use weak Ahadith as evidence in his Madhab.

With respect to the other statement, ‘Why don’t we take the hadith in Saheeh Kitab like Sahih Al Bukhari?’

To answer this, it is important for you to know that Sahih Al Bukhari is not the only book which contains Sahih ahadith. In fact, there are hundreds of other compilations which contain thousands of Sahih Ahadith. These books were written by Traditionalists who lived before Imam Bukhari, during his time and after his time. They were expert Traditionalists who compiled their own books and accepted Ahadith based on their own principles and classifications. Because of their lofty rank in the field of Ahadith, we find that such Traditionalists did not depend upon Imam’s Bukhari collection or his classification of Ahadtih. They did their own works and classified Ahadith as Sahih, Hasan, Dha’eef etc. based upon their in-depth knowledge of the science of hadith and its narrators. Therefore, Ahadith found in Sahih Al Bukhari does not mean that they are the only Sahih Ahadith on any given topic.

It also does not mean that Ahadith that contradict those mentioned in Sahih Al Bukhari are weak. It’s only after thorough investigation and research, one can arrive at such a conclusions. It must be remembered that each Muhadith formulated his own rules and guidelines for the acceptance and non-acceptance of Ahadith. Because of this, one will find that what one Muhadith (Traditionalist) has considered to be accepted, was not accepted by another Muhadith and vice versa.

The Imams of Fiqh also had their own rules and guidelines for accepting ahadith. Therefore, that which was chosen and accepted by the Imams of Fiqh in their respective Madhahib had already gone through the process of scrutinization and thorough investigation by the Imams and their companions. It was after such examination and inspection, the Imams accepted Ahadith to be the basis and proofs for their rulings and opinions which had already fulfilled the criterion which they had made. As such, the classification and grading of Ahadith by those who came after them from the Traditionalists like Imam Bukhari and others, has no bearing on the works of the Imams of Fiqh.


Imam Bukhari, as a Mujtahid in the field of Hadith, formulated his own guidelines and rules in accepting Ahadith, and so, he accepted what he wanted; rejected what he did not want and adopted his opinions in the matters of Fiqh. His own teachers and students differed from him in the rules he formulated, and accepted Ahadith which he did not accept. So, even among those who were close to him from among his teachers and students, held different opinions regarding the Ahadith he did not accept.


Therefore, it is totally wrong for one to look at the Ahadith in Sahih Al Bukhari and then conclude that everything besides that is weak or wrong and that what he has narrated is the only sound (Sahih) hadith or opinion on a particular matter.

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan.