Main: Muhammad Nāsir Uddīn Al-Albāni
Translation: Taher Bin Syed Noor
The Twelfth Principle: Abstaining from acting on weak Hadith in Fadha’il Al-A’maal (The virtues of deeds)
It has become famous amongst many of the people of knowledge and their students, that weak Hadiths are permissible to be acted upon in Fadha’il al-A’maal [The virtues of deeds], and they think that there is no difference of opinion in this. How not? When An-Nawawi even declared Ijma’ [consensual agreement] on this principle in more than one book from amongst his works.
But regarding to what he has stated requires to be thought over.
This is since the difference of opinion in this, is in fact very well known.
And verily some of the scholarly researchers are of the view that weak Hadith are not to be acted upon unrestrictedly under no condition, neither in pertaining to rulings nor in Fadha’il.
Sheikh Al-Qāsimi said in ‘Qawā’id al-Tahdeeth’ [p. 94]
‘‘Ibn Sayyid al-Nās relayed this view in ‘‘Uyoon al-Athar’ from Yahyā bin Ma’een. And it is attributed to Abu Bakr bin al-‘Arabi also in ‘Fathul Mugeeth.’ It is the explicit position of Bukhari and Muslim too, and the position of Ibn Hazm.” End quote
I say [Sheikh Al-Albāni]: And I hold this to be the true in which there is no doubt due to several matters:
That the weak Hadith informs of inferior assumption , and that is not to be acted upon by agreement. And whomsoever brings out acting upon weak hadith in Fadha’il al-A’maal, then he has no choice but to bring a proof, and how far, far are they from that.
I understand from their statement ‘’In Fadha’il Al-A’maal’’ meaning the action itself which has its legislation affirmed and holds a proof established in the Sharia.
And alongside this action is a weak Hadith, naming a specific reward for the one who does such action, so in this example, this is acted upon in Fadha’il al-A’maal, since the issue is not in the act itself being legislated rather it is in the explanation of such rewards, specifically giving the one acting upon this action, hope to attain such reward.
And some scholars held this aforementioned view such as Sheikh ‘Ali al-Qāri.
He said in ‘Al-Mirqaah’,[2/381]
“His saying: The weak Hadith is acted upon in Fadha’il even if it was not enfolded by an Ijma’ as relayed by al-Nawawi.
The position of virtues of actions is affirmed only either by the Book or the Sunnah.” End quote
And upon this, acting upon it is permissible, if the legislation of the deed itself is affirmed for it, unlike that which has no proof established for it.
However, I believe, that the majority of the speakers that hold such position do not want this meaning along with its clarity.
This is because we see them acting upon weak Hadith with which it does not affirm what it encompasses from the action itself from an authentic Hadith.
For example, al-Nawawi and the author [Sayyid Sābiq] held the view it was highly recommended that the one standing [for the prayer] should respond to the two sayings of ‘Qad qaamat il-salah’ by saying,
إقامها الله وأدامها
“Allah has established it and maintained it.”
And the Hadith brought forward in this matter is unauthentic as will be explained in its place.
This statement does not have its legislation affirmed in anything other than this weak Hadith. And with this, they have made that to be recommended yet recommended is a ruling from the five rulings which cannot be affirmed except with an evidence with which it is a proof.
And how many number of matters are there which have been legislated for the people and made recommended to them with weak Hadith, which do not have any foundation which can encompass for them to be acted upon in the authentic Sunnah.
And this place does not have more room to give more examples upon this, so suffice for us what I have mentioned from this example. And in this book, are many examples which will be informed about in their respective places if Allah wills.
What is important here is that those who disagree with us know that acting upon weak Hadith in Fadha’il al-A’maalisn’t allowed unrestrictedly in the view of those who permit it.
And al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr said in ‘Tabyeen al-‘Ajab’ [pp. 3-4],
“It has become famous that the people of knowledge are lenient in quoting Hadith in Fadha’il al-‘A’maal, even if there is some weakness in them so long as it is not fabricated.
And it is befitting to take some conditions beforehand, that the one acting upon such Hadith knows it is weak, and that this Hadith does not become famous so that the one acting upon the weak Hadith legislates in the religion that which was not legislated.
Or some of the ignorant individuals see it, so they think it is part of the authentic Sunnah.
And these meanings were clarified by the teacher, Abu Muhammed bin ‘Abd al-Salaam and others.
And the individual should be warned that he falls under the statement of the Messenger,
“Whoever narrates from me a Hadith and he sees it as a lie then he is one of the two liars.”
So, what is the case of the one acting on such lie?
And there is no difference between acting upon Hadith in rulings or Fadha’il al-A’maal, all of it is divine legislation.”End quote
These are the three conditions in order to make acting upon such action permissible
- That the Hadith is not fabricated [Mawdu’]
- The one performing such deed knows it is weak
- This act is not made famous by acting upon it
And with sadness, we see even many of the virtuous people of knowledge, over those lenient individuals, who held these conditions. So, they act upon these Hadith without recognising its authenticity from its weakness.
And if they understood its weakness they can’t recognise its level of weakness.
So, is it easier or harder to prevent acting upon it?
And then they make acting upon such deed widespread as if the Hadith was authentic!
And for this reason, many acts of worship have come about around the Muslims which are not authentic. And these unauthentic narrations have turned them away from the authentic narrations, those which have been brought forth with affirmed authentic chains.
Then, these conditions give greater weight to the position we hold. Since the masses do not want the meaning by which I have stated above. Because this does not pre-requisite in itself anything from these conditions as is not hidden.”
It seems to me that al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr holds it to be impermissible to act on weak Hadith from the most likely meaning of his previous statement “There is no difference between acting upon Hadith in rulings or in Fadha’il al-A’maal, all of it is divine legislation.”
And this is the truth, since the weak Hadith, that which does not have anything to support it, carries it to be a lie. Rather at most it can be a fabricated lie. And some scholars defined this from the Messenger’s statement,
‘’And he sees it to be a lie.’’
Meaning from the apparent, it is as such.
And due to this, Ibn Hajr commentated on this with his statement ‘’So what about the one who acts upon it?!”
And this is supported by what was preceded from the statement of Ibn Hibban in the eleventh principle: [http://darhadith.com/pubs/ruling-on-weak-hadith/]
“And anyone who is in doubt as to whether what he is narrating is authentic or inauthentic falls under this narration.”
And we say as Ibn Hajr said “So what about the one who acts upon it?!”
And this is an explanation of the objective from the remarked statement of Ibn Hajr.
As for supporting that what he wanted [in his conditions] was the fabricated Hadith, as was done by some of the Sheikhs of Aleppo in this present age. Then that is a matter with which there is no difference between rulings and Fadha’il al-A’maal. And this is very far from the context of Ibn Hajr’s speech since it is regarding the weak Hadith and not the fabricated Hadith as is not hidden.
And this does not negate what we have mentioned that Ibn Hajr mentioned some conditions to acting upon weak Hadith as thought by that Sheikh, because we say:
Ibn Hajr stated these to those [individuals] mentioned, those who overlook the indication of these Hadith in Fadha’il al-A’maal so that they are not fabricated.
So, it is as if he is saying “If you see that [it is permissible to narrate weak Hadith in Fadha’il al-A’maal], then it is befitting that you restrict yourselves to these conditions.” And this is, as I have done in this twelfth principle.
And it is not evident that Ibn Hajr was with them on the permissibility of acting upon these conditions. Especially, since at the end of his statements he declares he is in opposition to them as we have conveyed.
In summary, the saying that acting upon weak Hadith in Fadha’il Al-A’maal is not permissible, this statement is the most fitting explanation. Since it is a contradiction to the fundamental principle [that Hadith have to be authentic to be acted upon] and has no proof for itself.
And without exception, the one who holds its permissibility, is to preserve with a keen eye the aforementioned conditions and to abide by them in his actions.
And Allah is the one who affirms to good.
And from the corruption of the statement which opposes the predominant view, is that it pulls the opposition to disregard all other areas to his saying in the rulings of the Shari’a, even in fact in Aqeedah.
And I have many examples of that, however one example suffices for now.
There is a Hadith that commands the praying person to take a step forward if he does not have a Sutrah.
Al-Bayhaqi and al-Nawawi are from those who explained its weakness yet allowed it to be acted upon in opposition to their Imam, al-Shāfi’ee.
And the discussion regarding their sayings will come when speaking upon that matter in the mentioned Hadith.
And whomsoever wishes to have an explanation in more detail in this important research then he may look to the introduction of ‘Saheeh Targheeb’ [1/16-36]
Al-Albani. M., Tamām al-Minnah fi al-Ta’leeq ‘ala Fiqh al-Sunnah, 2nd edn., Amman, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Dār al-Rāyah li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’, 1408 AH , http://ia801305.us.archive.org/34/items/FP0045/0045.pdf, (accessed February 2018) pp. 34-38.
Footnotes Abu Bakr ibn Al-Arabi, the great scholar of the Ahlus Sunnah during Islamic Spain, not to be confused with Muhy-uddin Ibn Arabi without the Alif-Laam. The five rulings in Usool al-Fiqh – Wajib, Mustahhab, Mubaah, Makruh, Haram – Respectively meaning, Obligatory, Recommended, Permissible, Detested, Forbidden.  The sentence structure has been altered in order to preserve the objective meaning of the author’s speech and not merely his words.