Is it permissible to quote weak hadith?

Is it permissible to quote weak hadith?

The Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are the main sources of Islam. The Quran is ‘recited revelation’ (wahi matlu) and the Sunnah is ‘non-recited revelation’ (wahi ghair matlu) as the first can be used in salah while the second cannot.

Hadiths are the sayings, actions, and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad, which have been recorded and compiled by scholars over the centuries. To ensure the reliability of a hadith, its authenticity must be verified through a careful examination of its chain of transmission and its content.

Weak Hadiths, known as “da’if,” are not considered strong evidence due to various reasons, such as issues with the memory of the narrators or breaks in the transmission chain.

Being cautious

The Prophet (ﷺ) said,

“Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then he will surely enter the Hell-fire. (Bukhari)

A weak hadith cannot be quoted as a strong narration or delivered to an audience as a strong narration. In fact, many narrations warn against inventing and spreading lies about the Prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, we should not quote any narration, unless we go to the source and verify its authenticity. When you want to narrate a hadith, make sure it’s authentic. If you are in doubt, and you narrated it to people and they took it, then you will partake in the sin.

Classifications of hadith

In the science of hadith, there are two categories: maqbul (acceptable) narrations which include the classifications of sahih (authentic) and hasan (good), and mardud (rejected) narrations, which include da’if (weak) and mawdu (fabricated).

The conditions that qualify a hadith as sahih (authentic)

  • The chain of narrators must be connected all the way back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) without the names of any narrators missing from the chain
  • All the narrators in the chain must be people of integrity and piety (‘adil)
  • All the narrators in the chain must have precise and strong memories (dabit)
  • The narration should not contain any shudud (narrations contradicting stronger narrations)
  • There must be no ‘Ilal (hidden, damaging defects) in the chain.

The conditions for a hasan hadith

In a hasan hadith a narrator in the chain a narrator may not have complete dabt (precision in memory). However the narration is still authoritative in all the categories of the religion.

What is a weak (da’if) narration?

While accepted narrations meet all or most of the conditions of authenticity, rejected narrations may be missing one or more conditions of authenticity.

 The reason a weak hadith does not meet the conditions for the soundness (sahih) could be that:

1) There is a missing link (itisal) in the sanad (chain of narration).
2) One of the narrators are not ddl (just).
3) A narrator lacks ‘dabit’ (sound memory).
4) There is doubt about a narrator, for instance in regard to their piety.
5) A narrator contradicts more reliable narrators.

Degrees of weakness

All weak narrations do not have the same level of weakness. Some may be considered mildly weak if one of the reliable narrators was known to occasionally make unintentional mistakes due to not remembering accurately from memory. However, if the reputation (adalah) of a narrator is not established, then that is considered a more serious issue. It is even more serious is if there are gaps in the chain of transmission.

Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAwwāmah (may Allah be pleased with him) mentions that the scholars of Al-Jarḥ wat Ta’dil divided da’if hadith into four levels:

  • slightly weak
  • moderately weak
  • severely weak
  • the narrator is labelled as a liar or fabricator

When you cannot use a weak narration

A weak narration is never used when it contradicts a main principle of Islam or is related to matters of aqeedah (theology). One cannot pass a general statement based on only weak narrations.

However if it is in line with the major principles and corroborated by other narrations which are stronger, then a weak hadith may be quoted in certain circumstances.

When you can use a weak narration

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar, may God have mercy on him, summarised the conditions for the permissibility of acting on weak hadiths, which are:

  1. The weakness is not severe, so one should not act on a hadith that is only narrated by liars or those accused of lying or one who is grossly mistaken. A weak narration can be rectified by examining other chain of transmitters. However, if it’s very weak, then nothing can rectify it and therefore, it cannot be relied upon. The chain should not consist of liars and unauthentic narrators. The chain of transmitters have different weights. For instance, a chain may have up to 10 or 20 narrators. However, it depends on the quality of the narrators. If the chains are all weak and the same chain is rotating around with the narrators who are liars, then none of the chains cannot be relied upon. The narration has to be dropped.
  2. The hadith should be in line with the general principles of Islam.
  3. He should not believe that it is proven when acting on it, rather he should believe that he is on the safe side. When we rely on a weak narration, we should not believe that it is an authentic narration. We can classify it as a narration but with no solid evidence that these are the exact words of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Using weak hadith to encourage people to do good or deter them from harm

If a weak narration is about encouraging people to do something good (at-targheeb) or discouraging them from sin (at-tarhib), then it can be used as long as it is in line with the Quran and the general Sunnah. For example:

  • To encourage good such as prayer and charity, etc.
  • To give advice
  • In telling stories
  • To deter from sins
  • other matters already established in Islam

‘Allāmah Ibn aṣ-Ṣalāḥ (may Allah have mercy on him) says:

“According to the people of hadith and others, it is permissible to be lenient in the chains (of hadith) and in narrating all the types of weak narrations, except fabrications, without announcing its weakness…”

In addition, ‘Allamah al-‘Iraqi (may Allah have mercy on him) says in the commentary of his Alfiyyah:

As for ahadith which are not mawdu’ (fabricated), [the scholars] have permitted leniency in their chains, and in narrating them without announcing their weakness, in the categories that are not ahkam (rulings) and ʿaqa’id (belief), rather in at-Targheeb and at-Tarheeb which includes advice and stories and virtues of actions, among others.

Imām Nawawī [d. 676 AH] (Allah have mercy on him) in the Muqaddimah of his book al-Adhkar:

“The scholars from the Muhaddithun and Fuqaha have said: ‘It is permissible and even desirable to act upon weak narrations in fada’il, encouragements, and warnings, if the hadith is not mawdu (fabricated). As for ahkam (rulings), such as halal, haram, the modalities of trade, marriage, divorce, etc., only authentic (sahih and hasan) narrations will be acted upon. However, if it pertains to precaution, such as if a da’if (weak) hadith has been narrated regarding the detestability of certain transactions or marriages, then it would be preferable to abstain from it, although it is not necessary.’”

Shaykh Haytham Tamim Transcribed by Sabeen Sheikh

With excerpts from: https://ulumalhadith.com/the-usage-of-weak-narration/

Do I need a shaykh?
Being deceived by false knowledge

Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.