teacher and student


Is the Sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim) is 100% Sahih?

Is it true that the Sahihayn is 100% Sahih and that Imam Nawawi and Ibn Kathir - also Suyuti - agreed with this claim?

Al-Nawawi in his introduction to Sharh Sahih Muslim (1:20) said:

innama yaftariqu al-sahihan ʿan ghayrihima min al-kutub fi kawni ma fihima sahihan la yahtaju ila al-nazari fih.

"The two Sahihs differ from all other books only in respect to the fact that what is in them is sahih and does not require investigation."

Ibn al-Salah said in ʿUlum al-Hadith, chapter on the Sahih Hadith (Dar al-Fikr ed. p. 29): ma infarada bihi al-Bukhari aw Muslimun mundarijun fi qabili ma yuqtaʿu bi sihhatihi... siwa ahrufin yasiratin takallama ʿalayha baʿdu ahli al-naqdi min al-huffaz kal-Daraqutni wa ghayrih, wa hiya maʿrufatun ʿinda ahli hadha al-sha'n.

"Whatever only al-Bukhari or only Muslim narrates enters into the category of what is definitely sahih... except a few letters which some of the expert critics objected to, such as al-Daraqutni and others - and these are known to the specialists."

(He said this after stating that what they agree upon is definitely sahih for the Umma.)

In his al-Taqrib (p. 70) and Sharh Sahih Muslim (1:20), Imam al-Nawawi objected to the terms "definitely sahih" (maqtuʿun bi sihhatihi) while granting all that is in the Sahihayn the level of "strongly presumed [sahih] until it becomes mutawatir" (yufidu al-zanna ma lam yatawatar) as is the rule with all sahih lone-narrated (ahad) hadiths.

But Ibn Kathir said in his chapter on the Sahih Hadith of his al-Baʿith al-Hathith (p. 45): "I am with Ibn al-Salah in his conclusion and directives, and Allah knows best."

And al-Suyuti in Tadrib al-Rawi cites Ibn Kathir's words verbatim then states (Dar al-Kalim al-Tayyib ed. 1:145): "And this is also my choice and none other."

This is because of the standing of the two Sahihs in the Umma. For none of the past Imams in all Islam ever declared explicitly and rightly that all they had gathered in their respective books was sahih except al-Bukhari and Muslim, and the verifying experts have confirmed this claim.

Al-Suyuti in Tadrib al-Rawi also states (1:143): "Shaykh al-Islam said: 'What al-Nawawi mentioned in Sharh Sahih Muslim is based on the perspective of the majority (al-aktharin); as for that of the verifying authorities (al-muhaqqiqun), then no. For the verifying authorities also agree with Ibn al-Salah.'"

By "Shaykh al-Islam" al-Suyuti means the spotless Hafiz and immaculate Imam, Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalani, in his book al-Nukat ʿala Ibn al-Salah.

Similarly, in my posting on the lone-narrated hadith last year I quoted Ibn Hajar's words from his Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikar to the effect that the foremost hadith expert's examination of and familiarity with any given ahad hadith may take him to the conclusion that it is qatʿi al-thubut - categorically established as sahih, i.e. in effect of mutawatir-like authenticity - unlike the feel of the rest of the scholars with regard to the same hadith.

Al-Suyuti then goes on to quote in detail - mostly from Hady al-Sari - the refutations of Ibn Hajar to al-Daraqutni's criticism, showing that, in effect, the latter fails to invalidate the view of the Sahihayn as 100% sahih.

They are all Sahih, but not all of them reach the same high degree of Sahih. This is in essence what al-Dhahabi said in al-Muqiza (p. 80) concerning the few narrators of the Sahihayn whose grading was questioned: "The narration of one such as those, does not go below the rank of hasan which we might call the lowest rank of the Sahih."

Shaykh Abu Ghudda comments in the margin: "This is an explicit confirmation that al-Bukhari and Muslim did not confine themselves, in the narrations of their respective books, only to narrate hadiths that have the highest degree of Sihha." Then again in his appendix (p. 144) he states: "Our Shaykh, the ʿAllama Ahmad Shakir - Allah have mercy on him - stated: "The truth without doubt among the verifiers of those who have knowledge of the sciences of hadith... is that the hadiths of the two Sahihs are all Sahih and there is not in a single one of them a cause for true [technical] disparagement or weakness. What al-Daraqutni and others criticized is only on the basis that it did not reach the high criterion which each of them defined in their respective books. As for the soundness (sihha) of the hadiths in themselves, then both of them lived up to it."

Dr. Badiʿ al-Sayyid al-Lahham in his edition of Ibn Kathir's al-Baʿith al-Hathith (p. 44-45) also closes the discussion on the topic of the Sahihayn with the same words but without attributing them to Shakir.

Abu Ghudda concludes (p. 145): "All these texts show that most of what is in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim is of the highest degree of the Sahih, and that some of what is in them is not of the highest degree of the Sahih."

More to the point, our teacher Dr. Nur al-Din ʿItr said in his manual Manhaj al-Naqd fi ʿUlum al-Hadith (3rd ed. p. 254): "The ruling concerning the hadiths of the two Sahihs is that they are all Sahih."

So all those mentioned above - Ibn al-Salah, al-Nawawi, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar, al-Suyuti, Ahmad Shakir, Abu Ghudda, ʿItr, al-Lahham - agreed on the fact that all of what is in al-Bukhari and Muslim is Sahih, and the Muhaqqiqun such as Ibn al-Salah, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar, and al-Suyuti, consider all the hadiths contained in them "qatʿi al-sihha" i.e. of the same probative force as mutawatir hadith. Further examination of the positions of the hadith masters might add more names to this distinguished list but this is a start.

As for the other objections in the follow-up I am responding to, they are mostly allusive. I hope the poster will try and quote with more precision - with respect to text as well as sourcing - the issues he wishes to raise. Then, insha Allah, we might proceed with each of these questions one by one and give each issue its due right.


GF Haddad ©




latest update: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
* living ISLAM – Islamic Tradition *