Memorisation and compilation of Hadith

Chapter No.: 

In above lines we have seen that Ahaadith were well documented and preserved in written form during the period of Sahaabah. There were so many compilations of written Hadith with distinguished Sahaabah like Hadhrat Abu Hurairah, Jaabir bin Abdullah, Abdullah bin Umru, Ibne al Aas (RA). With all this, the main field of interest for Sahaabah remained the learning and memorisation of Hadith by heart. In this field also, as in others, they were unparalleled. Learning and memorising of Hadith became the predominant aim of their lives. Their memory power was also exceptional.

Memory Power of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA)

Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) is well known as a great narrator of Hadith. Once Marwan, the Khalifah from Banu Ummayah doubted the memory power of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA), so he wanted to test Abu Hurairah (RA). He called him one day and started asking him Hadith. Marwan had already told Abu-al-Za’za to sit behind a curtain and write all the Ahaadith which Abu Hurairah (RA) would narrate. It is said that he wrote about four hundred Ahaadith. After a year Marwan again called Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (RA) asked him to narrate the same Ahaadith which he had narrated the previous year. He again made Abu al Za’za to sit behind the curtain for the same purpose as before. Abu al Za’za says that Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated the same Ahaadith and there was not a difference of even a single word from what he had narrated the previous year. (Imam Bukhari in Kitab al-Kuni)

Memorisation of Hadith and the Muhadditheen after Sahaabah

A great number of students of Sahaabah called Taabaeen and their students called Taba-Taabaeen dedicated their lives for the learning and memorising of Hadith. Their memory power was also miraculous. It is mentioned that Hadhrat Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal had memorised seven lakh Ahaadith by heart. About Imam Bukhari it is well known that he was remembering two lakh Ahaadith out of which one lakh were Sahih, authentic. Imam Abu Zara and Imam Rahuia were also amongst distinguished Hufaaz of Hadith.

Clarification of a Confusion

When we look at all the authentic Hadith books available, we don’t find more than ten thousand Ahaadith after adding all the Ahaadith in these books. Nowadays when people read that such and such person knew two lakh Ahaadith and such and such person knew seven lakh Ahaadith, they get confused as to where are those Ahaadith and how was that possible. Here, one should remember that Muhadditheen used to allot a number to a Hadith as per its chain of transmission and not as per the text or Matan of that Hadith. So, for example, if a Hadith reached to a Muhaddith through ten chains he would label them as ten Ahaadith and not one, though the text of all the ten Ahaadith is same. It is said that the Hadith إنما الأعمال بالنيات “Indeed deeds are as per intention” has been received by some Muhadditheen through seven hundred chains of transmission. So these Muhadditheen would count this one Hadith as seven hundred instead of one.

Memory Power of Imam Zahri (RA)

Hisham bin Abdul Malik was a ruler from Ummayah Dynasty. Once he wanted to test Imam Ibne Shahab Zahri. He called him and requested him to write some Ahaadith for his son; Imam Zahri agreed and wrote about four hundred Ahaadith. After one month Hisham called Zahri again and told him that he had accidentally lost that document and requested him to write them again. Imam Zahri gladly agreed and again wrote the same four hundred ِAhaadith. It is said that there was not a difference of even a single word between the two.

Memorisation of Hadith—A Routine

Ibne Asaakar quotes Ismaiel bin Ubaidah Muhaddith as saying: “We should memorise Hadith in the same way as we memorise Qur’an”

About Ibne Khuzaimah, Zahbi used to say: “Ibne Khuzaimah used to memorise Hadith related to Fiqh the similar way as Qari memorises Qur’an” (Tadveen-ul-Hadith)

Protection of Hadith—Written and Memorised

We have proved in earlier lines beyond any doubt that Ahaadith were well documented in written form during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) later on and with the Sahaabah. But, to protect Hadith, only written form was not relied upon. Some people are of the opinion that written form is most authentic, it may be right but if it is not combined with memorised form, there can be many problems as is evident by the following examples.

Aaloo Instead of Alif, Laam, Raa

Hadhrat Thanvi (RA) writes that one a person who had not read the Qur'an from any teacher, started reading himself and was very happy when he read the initial words of one of the Surahs of Qur'an, Aalif, Laam, Raa as Aaloo. For pronouncing a word correctly listening is also important, as in English language 'K' is silent in 'Knife', one who has not heard, will pronounce 'k' as well.

Saf’eenah Instead of Siqayah

An Aalim while reciting Surah Yousuf recited a word Siqayah as Safeenah and also tried to defend his recitation. Had there not been thousands of Hufaaz of Qur'an you can understand what would have been fate of the written Quran.

There are hundreds of such examples where the readers committed mistakes while reading and memorisers corrected them and ensured safety of words of Qur'an and Hadith.

Compilation of Hadith and Taabaeen

Efforts oh Umar bin Abdul Aziz (RA)

Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz (RA), well known Khalifah of Muslims after Khulfa-e-Raashideen, wrote a letter to a famous Muhaddith of his time as quoted in Sahih Bukhari:

"Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote to Abu Bakr bin Hazam that he should keep an eye on the Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and write them because I fear fading away of knowledge (of hadith) and death of Ulema and you should not accept any narration except that of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and you spread knowledge and don't sit until all those know who do not know. Knowledge does not get wasted until it is kept hidden." (Sahih Bukhari)

Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote similar letters to other Muhadditheen and then sent their compilations to various places.

Humam bin Munabbah and Written Hadith

Humam bin Munabbah was contemporary of Hadhrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz and he wrote a voluminous book of Ahaadith from Hadhrat Abu Huriarah (RA). This compilation reached to Hadhrat Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal through Muamir bin Rashid and Abdul Rehman bin Humam bin Huamam bin Naafea. Imam Ahmad accommodated it in his Musnad. Two hand written copies of this compilation have been found in the libraries of Berlin and Damascus. Dr. Hamidullah of Paris has done a good research work on these compilations. (Aatharul- Hadith by Dr. Khalid Mehmood).

Imam Zahri and Written Hadith

Salih bin Keesan writes:

"I and Zahri together collected Ahaadith, then we decided to write them and we wrote all that what we heard is from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Afterwards we decided to write the narrations of Sahaabah, but I said that I would not write as that was not Sunnah, Zahri said that it is also Sunnah and he wrote, he succeeded and I wasted". (Musannaf Abdul Razzaq)

Some of other Hadith Books of First Century Hijrah

1. Kitab Khalid bin Maidan.

2. Kutb. Hasan Bisri.

3. Kutb.Muhammad-al-Baqar.

4. Kutb. Makhool Shami.

5. Kitab Hakam bin Utba.

6. Kitab Syed bin Jusain.

7. Kitab Abu-al-Aaliya.

8. Kitab. Umar bin Abdul Aziz.

9. Kitab Bashir bin Nuhaik.

Some Hadith Books of Second Century Hijrah

1. Mota Imam Maalik.

2. Jamia Sufiyan Thouri.

3. Jamia Moamer bin Rashid.

4. Kitab Abdul Rehman-al-Auzaaee.

5. Kitab-u-Zuhd- Abdullahb bin Mubarak.

6. Kitab Yahya bin Abi Kathir.

7. Jamia Sufiyan bin Uyainiya.

8. Kitab-ul-Aather- Imam Abu Hanifah.

9. Musannaf Abdul Razaq bin Humam.

10. Kutb. Imam Shaafee.

(Authority of Sunnah by Justice Taqi Uthmaani)