What is the definite number of companions who reported hadiths?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
The scholars held different views regarding the number of the Companions who reported the ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam. Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar in the introduction to his book Al-Isaabah, quoted from Imaam Abu Zurʻah Ar-Raazi that their number was over 100,000 male and female Companions. However, Ibn Hajar himself stated that their number did not amount to one-tenth of this number. He said, while addressing the names of the Companions:
“ʻIzz Ad-Deen ibn Al-Atheer compiled a book entitled Usd Al-Ghaabah in which he included many of the earlier books. However, he mixed the Companions with non-Companions and did not point out many mistakes in those books. Later, Al-Haafith Abu Abdullaah Ath-Thahabi sorted out the names in his book and added to them. He marked those who were mistakenly mentioned and those who could not have been Companions. Still, he did not cover all of them, nor did he get even close. After investigation, I collected many names that were not in his book, so I compiled an extensive book in which I distinguished the Companions from others. Nevertheless, all these efforts did not result in listing even one-tenth of the number stated by Abu Zurʻah Ar-Raazi.” [Al-Isaabah]
Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadi in his book Al-Jaami’ Li-Akhlaaq Ar-Raawi, cited another view on the authority of Abu Zurʻah Ar-Razi about the number of the Companions who reported the ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, and directly heard from him. He wrote:
“Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Jaami’ Ar-Raazi said, 'I heard someone ask Abu Zurʻah, 'Is it not true that the number of the reported ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is four thousand?' He exclaimed, 'And who said that?! Verily, this can only be said by zanaadiqah (plural of zindeeq, i.e. a hypocrite who outwardly shows that he is a Muslim while he does not believe inwardly)! Who could possibly be able to count the exact number of the ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam? The number of the Companions at the time of his death reached 114,000 who heard from him and reported from him.' The man asked, 'O Abu Zur'ah! Where were all those?' Abu Zurʻah replied, 'They were the people of Madeenah, the people of Makkah, and those living between them, and the Bedouins, and those who witnessed the Farewell Hajj with him. All those who saw him and heard from him are his Companions.” [Al-Jaamiʻ li-Akhlaaq Ar-Raawi]
Opposing these two views of Abu Zurʻah, there is another scholarly view cited by Al-Haafith Ath-Thahabi on the authority of Al-Haakim that suggests that their number was four thousand, and he commented on it stating that it was 1500 Companions. Ath-Thahabi said, “Al-Haakim stated that the number of the Companions who narrated ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, was 4000. I (Ath-Thahabi) believe that perhaps 1500 Companions narrated from him; their number would never reach 2000. I believe that the Companions mentioned in this book of mine is 8000, most of whom are not Companions (i.e. their companionship is not authentically proven).” [Tajreed Asmaa' As-Sahaabah]
Hence, it is difficult to know the exact number of the Companions who narrated ahaadeeth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, given the difference of opinion among the scholars in this regard, especially knowing that the scholars also differed regarding the number of the Companions who died before the death of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam.
Allaah knows best.
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