Some people believe it is not correct to question scholars about the authenticity of Hadith they narrate. They think it is bad Adab (disrespectful), is this approach correct?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

It is not bad Adab to question a scholar about Hadith authenticity. No genuine scholar will be offended by questions about the authenticity of Hadith. Even if a scholar did take offence, our priority is our beloved Prophet ﷺ. We will seek to protect the Sunnah of the holy Prophet ﷺ even if it upsets the closest people to us. Since no person is closer to us than the blessed Prophet ﷺ.

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ، حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ وَالِدِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ

(Sayidina) Anas (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘None of you believes until I am more beloved to him than his parents, children and all of mankind’. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 15).

Muslims must order their priorities correctly. After our love and devotion to Allah (Most High), no one is more important to us than our beloved Prophet ﷺ. It is very important to respect scholars and people of knowledge. However, that respect cannot take priority over protecting the Sunnah of our Prophet ﷺ.

If a scholar takes offence to being questioned about a Hadith he has mentioned, then he is contradicting the way of Ahl al-Sunnah. And if you give priority to the sensibilities or feelings of your Shaykh or the people around you, over your devotion to the Holy Prophet ﷺ then you must recognise that you have gone far astray. Why are you prioritising any person over the very person you claim to love most?

Imam Ibn Salah spoke of this in his Muqadimah. He narrates the concern the Hadith scholars had regarding protecting the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and how it was given precedence over great scholars.

عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرِ بْنِ خَلَّادٍ قَالَ: قُلْتُ لِيَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيدٍ: أَمَا تَخْشَى أَنْ يَكُونَ هَؤُلَاءِ الَّذِينَ تَرَكْتَ حَدِيثَهُمْ خُصَمَاءَكَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ؟ فَقَالَ: لَأَنْ يَكُونُوا خُصَمَائِي أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِنْ أَنْ يَكُونَ خَصْمِي رَسُولَ اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – يَقُولُ لِي: لِمَ لَمْ تَذُبَّ الْكَذِبَ عَنْ حَدِيثِي؟
مقدمة ابن الصلاح

Abu Bakr bin Khallad said to Yahya bin Saeed (al-Qattaan), are you not afraid that the people whose Hadith narrations you have rejected will be your adversaries in the presence of Allah (Most High) on the day of Judgment? So he replied, for them to be my adversaries is preferable to me than the Messenger of Allah ﷺ being my adversary. Saying, ‘Why did you not protect my Hadith from lies.’ (Imam Ibn al-Salah, Marifatu Anwaa’ Uloom al-Hadith).

This statement of Imam Yahya al-Qattan was narrated by many other leading Hadith scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah. Amongst them; Imam Ibn Katheer (al-Baith al-Hatheeth), Imam al-Iraqi (al-Taqyeed wa al-Idaah), Imam al-Sakhaawi (Fath al-Mugheeth), Imam al-Sayuti (Tadreeb al-Raawi).

As well as the serious concern of prioritising scholars over the Holy Prophet ﷺ, there are many other issues with deeming questioning Hadith authenticity to be disrespectful to scholars. Firstly, such people tend not to say the same regarding the Holy Quran. If a scholar were to misquote the Holy Quran, they would seek to correct the error. So is it disrespectful to protect the blessed Sunnah but not disrespectful to protect the Holy Quran. Why do such people deem the Sunnah to be so unimportant? This is a clear contradiction.

Secondly, they themselves will question Hadith authenticity at times. They will state that certain narrations are fabricated. Thus, they will not hold to this principle they mentioned. Since, these narrations may be found in the books of great scholars. So, if it is bad Adab or disrespectful to question their teachers regarding Hadith authenticity, is it not bad Adab to question some of the great scholars of the past?

This and other misguided expressions of respect for scholars or teachers is incredibly damaging. It can be detrimental to one’s relationship with Allah Most High, the Holy Quran and our beloved Prophet ﷺ. Therefore, one should follow the way of the Sahabah and the classical scholars of Islam. Those who did not deem it disrespectful to questions scholars regarding religious matters.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (31.10.2022)

See also:
Referencing Hadith correctly

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