Whether Sufyaan Ath-Thawri and Al-A‘mash were Mudallis reporters
Fatwa No: 354358

Question

Assalaamu alaikum shaykh. I want to know whether Sufyaan Ath-Thawri and Al-A‘mash were Mudallis according to the Hadith scholars. If yes, then why are narrations which they narrated accepted in Sahih Al-Bukhaari and Muslim but rejected elsewhere while other hadiths like that of the narration of Maalik Ad-Daar of a man coming to the Prophet's grave is rejected bacause of the Tadlees of Al-A‘mash?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The chains of narration transmitted by a reporter who is classified as Mudallis (a narrator who pracices Tadless) by the majority of Hadeeth scholars are investigated and verified only if he is known for frequent Tadlees (concealment - when a narrator narrates from his Shaykh whom he met, what he did not hear from him in such a way as to create the impression that he heard the hadeeth in person. A Mudallis usually uses the mode "on the authority of" or "he said" to conceal the truth about the chain of narration) and famous for it. Imaam Muslim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated this in the introduction to his Saheeh, saying, “Rather, the scholars only tried to verify that the narrator of the hadeeth actually heard it from the one on whose authority he narrated it if the narrator was one of those reporters who were known for practicing Tadlees and were famous for it. In that case, they would look for proof indicating that he had actually heard it from his narrators and try to verify it so as to remove the defect of Tadlees.

This is why the Hadeeth scholars did not investigate the chains of narration transmitted by many of the reporters who were described as Mudallis because they scarcely practiced Tadlees or were not known for it; rather, they practiced Tadlees once or twice or a few times and Hadeeth scholars knew of that and identified it and thus avoided such reports. The basic principle is that the reports of such narrators are accepted unless there is a defect in the hadeeth itself entailing verifying and investigating their chains of narration; scholars of Hadeeth may classify these chains of narration as defective due to the ‘An’anah (when a narrator reports the narration by saying 'on the authority of so and so' not describing exactly in what form it was transmitted to him).

Among the reporters who were described as Mudallis were Sufyaan Ath-Thawri and Al-A‘mash, as their Tadlees was established by critics; however, they practiced Tadlees a few times only and were not known for it. Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him listed Sufyaan Ath-Thawri and Al-A‘mash as second-grade Mudallis. (He classified those who practiced Tadlees into five categories.) He wrote, “Second category: those whom Imaams tolerated their Tadlees and cited their reports in the Saheeh because of their good reputation and relatively few cases of Tadlees in their reports.” [Ta‘reef Ahl At-Taqdees]

As for the report of Maalik Ad-Daar, it was cited by Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah in his Musannaf. It reads:

“Abu Mu‘aawiyah narrated to us on the authority of Al-A‘mash on the authority of Abu Saalih on the authority of Maalik Ad-Daar, who was ‘Umar's treasurer, ‘People suffered from drought during the time of ‘Umar, so a man came to the grave of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and said, 'O Messenger of Allah; invoke (Allah) for rain for your Ummah (community), for they are being destroyed.' Then, in a dream, he was told, 'Go to ‘Umar and give him the greetings of Salaam and tell him that they will be watered.' And it was said to him: 'You must be clever, you must be clever!' The man went and told ‘Umar, so he wept and said, 'O my Lord, I spare no effort except in what escapes my power!'’”  

Shaykh Al-Albaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him classified this report as weak in his book At-Tawassul: Anwaa‘uh wa Ahkaamuh. He underlined that the reason for classifying it as inauthentic as far as the chain of narration is concerned is that Maalik Ad-Daar was a reporter whose trustworthiness and (strength of) memory were not known, and these are two fundamental conditions that must be met in every authentic chain of narration, as established in Hadeeth terminology.

Shaykh Al-Albaani also underlined that the text of this report is Munkar (denounced) as it included asking the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to invoke Allah to bless his people with rain after his death! This was a new juridical case that was not addressed in earlier ahaadeeth, and none of the early scholars among the righteous predecessors held that it is permissible to ask the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to invoke Allah for us after his death. Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the previous Prophets of Allah never prescribed supplicating angels, Prophets, or the pious or seeking their intercession after their death or in their absence...” [Al-Qaa‘idah Al-Jaleelah, pp. 19-20]

Hence, there is a creed-related problematic aspect in this report's Matn (text). Scholars of Hadeeth would investigate such reports thoroughly and were rather strict regarding them. This was the common practice of Hadeeth scholars in this regard; they investigated the chains of narration of such reports and declared them defective due to the odd Matn (and if it were not for this odd Matn, they would not have considered them defective) such as the case with the defect of ‘An'anah of Al-‘Amash in this report. We have underlined above that the basic principle is that the chains of narration transmitted by Al-‘Amash are not considered disconnected or broken unless there is a reason calling for further investigation of the connectivity of the chain of narration.

Allah knows best.

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