By Abu Usmah Ayyub Ibn Moulana Muhammad
Question: If a man claims to be following the Fiqh of Imam Bukhari, will he not be on the straight path?
Answer: Before we commence with the answer to this question, it should be known that the scholars have differed with regards to the Fiqh of many of the famous Muhadditheen, and more specifically with regards to Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim. Whilst some Shafi’ scholars list them amongst the Shafi’s, apparently they were Mujtahidin, who performed Ijtihad within the framework of the madhahib of the Imams.
Moulana Sarfaraz, on Page 129 of ‘Al-Kalam al-Mufid’, quotes ‘Allamah ‘Al-Al-Subki as stating in Tabaqat Ash-Shafi’iyyah, Vol. 2 p. 83 about Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah): “Our Shaikh, Imam Dhahabi (rahimahullah) used to say: Imam Abu Dawud learnt Fiqh from Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and remained with him for a period of time.” Moulana Sarfaraz also quotes with reference to its original sources, that Imam Ibnul Qayyim, ‘Allamah Isma’il Basha Baghdadi and Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah have mentioned that Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) was a Hanbali.
This kind of Ijtihad is Ijtihad of the second category.
Degrees and Categories of the Fuqaha
The scholars have differed in as far as categorizing the Fuqaha. The following is an example: `Allamah Shamsuddin Mujammar Ibn Sulaiman, better known as Ibn Kamal Basha writes in one of his booklets:
It is essential for a Mufti who is a Muqallid (i.e. not a Mujtahid) to know the condition of the one whose opinion he uses to pass judgement. We do not mean that he should know his name, lineage and where he comes from, as that is of no avail to him. Rather, we mean his calibre of knowledge in “Riwayah” (i.e. Hadith, etc.), his status in “Dirayah” (i.e. expertise in Fiqh), and his category amongst the Fuqaha, so that he (i.e. the Muqallid) may have enough insight into distinguishing between the various scholars who may differ, and he may also have sufficient ability to recognize the preponderant view (i.e. the one declared stronger in proof by the Fuqaha) amongst two conflicting views. We therefore state:
“Verily the Fuqaha are divided into seven categories (in the following order):
1) The category of the Mujtahidin – i.e. those who perform Ijtihad in the Shari`ah, such as the four Imams in Fiqh, and those who treaded their path in building the fundamental principles for extracting subsidiary laws from the four main sources (of viz. the Qur’n, , Ijma` and Qiyas). They do not make Taqlid of anyone, neither in subsidiary laws, nor in principles.
2) The category of those who perform Ijtihad within the madhhab (of a Mujtahid), such as Abu Yusuf and Muhammad (rahimahullah) the two students of Imam Abu Hanifah. They had the ability to extract laws from the basic sources (of Shar`ah) in accordance with the principles laid down by their teacher (Imam Abu Hanifah). They differed with him in subsidiary laws, but made Taqlid of him in the fundamental principles.
3) The category of those who perform Ijtihad in laws regarding which there exists no narration (statement) from the authority of the madh-hab, such as Al-Khassaf (d. 261 A.H.), Abu Ja’far at-Tahawi (d. 321 A.H.), Abul Hasan Al-Karkhi (d. 340 A.H.), Shamsuddin Al-Hulwani (d. 456 A.H.), Shamsul A-immah As-Sarakhsi (d. 500 A.H.), Fakhrul Islam Al-Bazdawi (d. 482 A.H.), Fakhrul Islam Qadi Khan (d. 593 A.H.) and others who do not have the capacity to differ with the Imam, not as far as principles, and nor as far as subsidiary laws. However, they extract laws regarding which there is no narration from him, in accordance with the principles that he (the Imam) had laid, and fundamentals that he had expounded.
4) The category of the ‘Abut-Takhrij’ from amongst the Muqallidin, such as Imam Ar-Razi Al-Jassas (d. 370 A.H) and his like. They do not have the ability to perform Ijtihad at all. They however, possess extensive knowledge about the principles, and have accurately mastered the sources. Thus they have the power to elaborate/specify the meanings of such ambiguous statements and laws, narrated from the authority of the madh-hab or one of his disciples, that may be understood in two different ways or may have two differing possible meanings …
5) The category of the ‘Ashabut-Tarjih’ of the Muqallidin, such as Abul Hasan Al-Quduri (d. 428 A.H), the author of ‘Al-Hidayah’ (d. 593 A.H) and their like. Their task is to preponderate one opinion (within the madh-hab) over others by (the following examples of categorical) statements like: this (view) is preferred, this one is more correct as far as narration, this is clearer, this is more analogical, this is easier for the people, etc.
6) The category of those Muqallidin who have the ability to differentiate between the stronger, the strong, the weak, the Zahir-ur-riwayah, the Zahirul-Madh-hab, and the rare narrations; such as the authors of the authorized texts (of Fiqh) such as: ‘Kanz’, ‘Al-Mukhtar’, ‘Al-Wiqayah’, ‘Al-Majma`’, etc. Their task is to abstain from quoting rejected opinions and weak narrations in their books.
7) The category of those Muqallidin who do not possess the ability of any of the above-mentioned. They cannot distinguish the incorrect from the correct, neither the left from the right. They only gather facts that they come across. They are similar to the person gathering wood during the (darkness of the) night, (as he cannot see what he picks up, whether it is a stick or a snake). Woe unto those who follow them.”
Note: Studying the above categories brings to light that the madhahib were not the work of mere individuals, but the joint effort of numerous experts in their respective fields of expertise. This is precisely what preserved these madhahib.
Some contend that they may have even been qualified to be of the first category of Ijtihad like that of the four Imams.
`Allamah Yusuf Al-Binnori says: “I said in the past, and say again: “These illustrious Imams, the compilers of the “Sihah” (Books of authentic Ahadtih), such as the Imams: Bukhari, Muslim and others had specific inclinations within the intricacies of Fiqh, Ijtihad and other complex masa’il, either on the basis of Fiqh and Ijtihad or because of following their respective Imams. In this way they selected one view in issues wherein the Fuqaha differed. Thereafter, when they compiled (their respective books of Hadith), they gathered in it whatever conformed to their own madhahib of Fiqh; whereby (the effect of) their Fiqh extended to Hadith; and they omitted the rest that did not conform to their practice. (This applies to all the compilers) except those who took upon themselves the task of presenting the Ahadith that conformed to the practices of both views, such as Imam Tirmidhi in most instances, Ibn Abi Shaibah and Imam `Abdur-razzaq in their Musannafs, Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, and others…”” [Ma’arif al-Sunan]
Thus, the selection of Ahadith generally made by a Muhaddith in chapters pertaining to the laws of (which are minimal in comparison to the major part of their books), were those that conformed to his madh-hab of Fiqh. Therefore, it will be correct to say that the Ahadith mentioned in his book conformed to his practice, while it will be equally incorrect to say that these Ahadith – as presented by the Muhaddith without any further details – constitute the basis of his practice.
After having insight into the above, we return to the question under discussion, the gist of which is: Can I make Taqlid of Imam Bukhari (or any of the illustrious compilers of the books of Hadith)? (We discuss this question under the assumption that they were Mujtahidin of the first degree).
The answer is in the negative for the following reasons:
Firstly, amongst the conditions for making of a particular Imam, is that:
a) his entire madh-hab must have been compiled and available,
b) his principles of extracting laws from the original sources of (Usul-al-Fiqh) must also be available,
c) he should have left behind someone, who had studied “Fiqh” at his hands and understood his complete concept of extracting Masaa-il from the sources, etc.
None of the above-mentioned conditions are found with these illustrious scholars of Hadith. How would it ever be possible for any one of these conditions to be found when these illustrious Muhaddith specialized and spent their entire lives in the field of “protecting the Hadtih (i.e. the words thereof) of our beloved Rasulullah ﷺ ” (known as the science of hadith), and not in the field of extracting masaa-il (laws) there-from (known as the science of Fiqh). They were known by their students and by all the scholars that followed, as Muhaddithins and not as Fuqaha.
Difference Between a Muhaddith and a Faqih
A Muhaddith is one whose life is devoted to preserving the sacred Hadith of Rasulullah. For this, he exerts himself in gathering the Ahadth – whether by memory as in the case of the Mutaqaddimin (i.e. early scholars), or by script as in the case of the latter scholars. He also gathers their chains of narration, and is meticulous about every vowel, letter, and dot in the words of the Hadith. He also studies and scrutinizes the chains of narration and the life-story of each narrator. Basically, he engages himself in the study of the various sciences relating to the preservation and recording of the Noble Ahadith of Raslullah. Each one of the above sciences is an independent field of study. Some of them may further be subdivided into numerous other branches. The Muhaddith should have a basic understanding of the principles relating to all of the above sciences as well as a comprehensive grasp of the field he specializes in. The Muhaddith have thus been categorized into numerous groups, with some having super-specialized in one or two branches of the field of Hadith.
A Faqih (jurist) on the other hand is one whose life is devoted to understanding the purport of the sacred words of Rasulullah ﷺ, and acquiring proficiency in it. In order to achieve this, he should possess a basic understanding of the various sciences of Hadith as well. He also gathers Ahadtih and extracts common meanings from them. He has the ability to explain the apparent contradictions that are found in the Ahadith and untie their knots. He has a deep understanding of the Qur’an and is well-versed in the various sciences of the Arabic language as well. He also possesses knowledge of the statements of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), and has a comprehensive understanding of the principles of analogy.
The Muhaddith were always in larger numbers than the Fuqaha. And those who managed to excel in both were even less. Shaikh `Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah) writes: “And those who gathered between “Riwayah” (i.e. the science of Hadith) and “Dirayah” (i.e. the science of Fiqh) were very few. Hafiz Ar- Ramahurmuzi narrates in his book ‘Al-Muhaddithul Fasilu Bainar-Rawi wal Wa’i on page 60, from Anas Ibn Sirin (rahimahullahl who stated: “I came to Kufah and saw four thousand people seeking Hadith, and four hundred who were studying Fiqh.”
This is because of the complexity of Fiqh which is based on (vast) knowledge and deep understanding of the book of Allah, the Sunnah and the statements of Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), etc. It also requires one to have the capacity to gather the various proofs, and preponderate between them; and to possess a deep insight into the different purports within the Arabic language as regards “Balghah”, “Majaz”, “Haqiqah” “Kinayah”, etc.
There is no doubt about the ease in mere narrating for that person whose mind is focused on memorizing, absorbing and narrating only. It is for this reason that more people devoted themselves to specializing in “Riwayah.” Whilst the Mujtahid is one who has comprehensive knowledge of both the above fields and others as well, the term Fuqaha is also utilized with reference to the Mujtahidin.
A few examples are given hereunder, to elucidate the difference between a Muhaddith and a Faqih:
1) Muhammad Ibn `Abdullah Ibnul-Hakam was asked. Who is a Faqih? He replied. “The person who extracts one principle from the Qur’an or Sunnah in which he was not preceded by anyone, then divides that principle into one hundred branches.” The person asked. Who is it that has such power? In reply he said: “Muhammad bin Idris Ash-Shafi’i” (this was the name of Imam Shafi’i rahimahullah).
2) At times, Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) would be asked about a mas’alah (ruling) whilst in the presence of his teacher, Imam A`mash (rahimahullah) – the famous and renowned Tabi’i (one who learnt from Sahabah) and scholar of Hadith and Qira’at – in the following manner: “What do you state about the following …”. He would give a reply according to his deductions concerning the mas’alah (ruling). Imam A`mash would then enquire from him the substantiation for his answer. The following is an example of how he used to reply: “You narrated to us from Abu Salih who narrated from Abu Hurairah, and from Abu Wa’il who narrated from `Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud from Abu Iyas from Abu Mas’ud Al-Ansari that Rasulullah ﷺ said:
He who indicates towards a good deed, shall receive the like reward as the one who carried it out.
and you narrated to us from Abu Salih from Abu Hurairah that a man said to Raslullah: O Rasul of Allah! I was performing Salah in my home when a man came to me, so I felt pleasure in that. Raslullah ﷺ replied to him:
For you are two rewards, the reward of secrecy, and the reward of publicity…
And you narrated to us from Hakam from Abul Hakam, from Hudhaifah from Raslullah ﷺ …; and you narrated to us from Abuz-Zubair from Jabir from Rasulullah; and you narrated Yazid ar-Raqqashi from Anas from Raslullah ﷺ…”.
Imam A`mash would then exclaim: “Enough! You wish to narrate to me in one moment what I narrated to you in 100 days. I was not aware that you have practical application to all these Ahadith. O Fuqaha! You are the physicians and we (the Muhaddithin) are the dispensers. And you, O man (speaking to Imam Abu Hanifah) have gathered both sides.
3) Muhammad Ibn Samm`ah narrates; ‘Isa Ibn Aban (a famous Muhaddith and well-known scholar) used to perform Salah with us (in the masjid where Imam Muhammad Ibnul Hasan rahimahullah – the student of Imam Abu Hanifa and the third highest authority of the Hanafi madh-hab – used to perform Salah and thereafter have discussions on Fiqh). I used to invite him to come to Muhammad Ibnul Hasan rahimahullah (to learn from him). He would say in reply: “These are people who contradict Hadith.” ‘Isa (rahimahullah) was a scholar who had memorized a substantial amount of Hadith.
“One morning he performed Fajr Salah with us, and it happened to be the very same day Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) was going to conduct his discourse. I did not allow him to leave until he (also) sat in the gathering. At the close (of the discussion), I took him to Imam Muhammad (rahimahullah) and said: “This is the son of your brother (in Islam) Aban Ibn Sadaqah, the scribe. He is brilliant, and has the knowledge of Hadith. I invited him to you but he refused saying that we contradict Hadith.” Imam Muhammad addressed him and said: “O my son! What do you see us contradicting in Hadith? Do not bear witness against us until you hear from us”. So Imam ‘Isa (rahimahullah) asked him questions relating to twenty-five chapters of Hadith, and in each chapter, Imam Mummad answered (narrating to him the Ahadith of these subjects) and would inform him of all those Ahadith that have been abrogated, with proof and evidence.
Ibn Aban turned to me and said: “There was a barrier between myself and (divine light), which has now been lifted! I was not aware that there existed a man in Allah’s kingdom like this, who He has disclosed for the people.” ‘Isa (rahimahullah) then accompanied Imam Muhammad and did not separate from him, until he became a faqih by him.”
The above examples draw a vivid picture of the difference between a Faqih and a Muhaddith. A Muaddith preserves the Ahadith of Rasulullah, and a Faqih extracts the Deen of Allah Ta`ala from them. Thus, in practice, the Faqih ought to be followed. It is for this reason that Sufyan Ibn `Uyaynah (rahimahullah), an illustrious scholar of Hadith, used to say:
“Submitting to the Fuqaha is safety in Deen”
Imam `Ali Ibn Al-Ja`d relates about the famous Muhaddith among the Tabi’in, Zuhair Ibn Mu`wiyah that a man came to him (to learn). He asked him: “Where do you come from (i.e. where have you been learning previously)?” The man replied: “…from Abu Hanifa.” Imam Zuhair remarked: “Your going to Abu Hanifa for one day is more beneficial for you than staying with me for one month.”
It has also been narrated about `Abdullah Ibn Wahb (rahimahullah), one of the most eminent students of Imam Malik and an outstanding scholar of , that he said: “I met (i.e. studied under) three hundred and sixty `Ulama’. Had it not been for Imam Malik and Imam Laith Ibn Sa`d, I would have gone astray in knowledge.”
He is also reported to have stated: “Every student of Hadith who does not have an Imam (guide/leader) in Fiqh is astray. Had it not been for Imam Malik and Laith, we would have been astray.”
He once said: In `Ilm, we followed four: two in Egypt and two in Madinah: Laith Ibn Sa`d and `Amr Ibn Al-Harith in Egypt, and Malik and Al-Majishun in Madinah. Had it not been for them, we would have been astray.”
It is probably for this reason that Ibn `Abdil Barr (d: 423 A.H.) wrote: “As for studying Hadith in the manner that students of today study it, without obtaining some knowledge of Fiqh and contemplating its meanings (properly), this is Makruh according to a group of the `Ulama.’”
Secondly, only a fraction of the Ahadith mentioned in their books pertain to “Ahkam” (laws). Most of them relate to other subjects that are generally dealt with in the books of Hadith (such as history, the signs of Qiyamah, the lifestyle and noble conduct of Rasulullah, virtues of various deeds, warnings and punishments for bad deeds, etc). If we compare this to the innumerable laws that were extracted by the Fuqaha, it becomes clear that each fraternity served the cause of `Ilm in their respective fields of expertise, and each of them is an authority within his own field only.
Finally, Shaikh Muhammad ‘Awwamah states: “Thus to make and to follow them (the scholars of Hadith) in their Fiqh is not preferred to the Taqlid of the Fuqaha: Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ash-Shafi and Ahmad. Instead the Taqlid of these (scholars of Fiqh) is preferred to the Taqlid of those (Muhaddithin). The statement of Imam Tirmidhi, a great Muhaddith himself and the compiler of one of the canonical collections, who said:
The Fuqaha are more knowledgeable about the meanings of Hadith.
“This is a clear matter in which there lies no obscurity.” It thus becomes clear that the claim of following the Fiqh of Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) is based on ignorance.
[Taken from the book Who are the Blind Followers?]