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THE ENORMOUS STATURE OF THE EARLIER HADITH MASTERS Question If a Hadith in Tirmidhi has been declared hasan sahih by Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah) but declared weak by contemporary ‘Ulama after scrutinising the chain. Which ruling would be given preference to? Answer In general, the view of the earlier Hadith masters holds more weight than the latter ones. It’s a grave mistake of several contemporaries, that they belittle and undermine the views of the earlier scholars. Be that in any field. This needs no substantiation, but to further prove this serious mistake of many in our era, and with the intention of their reformation, I have quoted the following: 1. ‘Allamah Sakhawi has quoted Hafiz ‘Alaiy (rahimahumallah) to have said: ‘The earlier (mutaqaddimun) Hadith masters were divinely blessed by Allah Ta’ala with in-depth knowledge of Hadith, and exemplary memorisation of the same. Like the following Imams: Shu’bah, Yahya Al-Qattan, Ibn Mahdi and their like. Followed by their students, like Ahmad Ibn Hambal, Ibnul Madini, Ibn Ma’in, Ibn Rahuyah and others in that bracket. Followed by their students, who are the likes of: Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasai up to the era of Daraqutni and Bayhaqi (rahimahumullah). None after them are equal or even near to them.’ (Fathul Mughith, vol. 2 pg. 102.) 2. ‘Allamah Dhahabi (rahimahullah) writes: ‘Be fair, and do not look at these Masters (the earlier ones) lightly, or even belittle them. Don’t think that they are like the Muhaddithun of our times (‘Allamah Dhahabi lived in the the 8th century). Never! Actually there is none among the senior Hadith Masters of our era who can match those (earlier) Masters in their knowledge… It’s not just about me and you..!’ (Tadhkiratul Huffaz, pg. 627-628) 3. He writes in another place: ‘I have certainty on the fact that the latter day scholars (muta-akhirun) have no hope of reaching [the level of the] earlier scholars (mutaqaddimun).’ (Tadhkiratul Huffaz, pg. 948. Also see Atharul Hadith, pg. 69) 4. Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) states: ‘One’s self is more inclined towards the views of the earlier Masters (mutaqaddimun). (Lisanul Mizan, no. 2859. Also see Ma’alim Irshadiyyah) See similar sentiments of Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) in Talkhisul Habir, vol. 2 pg. 131. 5. Mulla ‘Ali Qari (rahimahullah) says: ‘There is no comparison between the earlier (mutaqaddimun) scholars and the latter (muta-akhiru) scholars. Not in knowledge, or in practice, intellect, virtue, research and in-depth study.’ (Mirqat; See footnotes on Ar-Raf’u wat takmil, pg. 45) The above quotes are sufficient to open the eyes of any sincere person. One should be wary of disrespecting our seniors. Lastly, it should be noted that difference among these seniors, among themselves is tolerated and is in fact common place. Therefore at times, one may find a latter day Muhaddith preferring one of these conflicting views over another. And Allah Ta’ala Knows best, Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar (source: Hadith Answers)