What is the ruling of practising dha’if hadith? Can it be practised in an absolute manner or are there certain conditions in doing so?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The issue of whether it is permissible to practice and use dhaif hadith as hujjah has become a polemic among scholars. Hence, we state the following:
The Definition of Dha’if Hadith
Lexically: dhaif is sifah mushabbahah and the antonym of the word strong. While dha’if technically means:
وَهُو ما لمْ يَجْمَع صِفةَ الصَحيحِ أَو الحَسَنِ
A dha’if hadith is a hadith which does not fulfil the requirement of sahih or hassan hadith
[See: Tadrib al-Rawi fi Syarh Taqrib al-Nawawi, 109]
It can be divided into two which are light dha’if whereby the status may be elevated to become hassan lighairihi (حسن لغيره) by the presence of syawahid (الشواهد) or mutaba’at (المتابعات) and heavy dha’if which martabat may not be elevated. [See: ‘Ulum al-hadith Asiluha wa Mu’asiruha, 162]
Among the reasons of hadith becoming heavy dha’if is when scholars of hadith categorized the hadith as such due to loss of ‘adalah (العدالة) in one of the narrators or more.
After learning the definition, then we should see the scholars’ opinions on the issue of practicing them or using them as hujjah:
The Ruling of Practicing Dha’if Hadith or Using it as Hujjah
The scholars have differing opinion on stating whether dha’if hadith is permitted to be used as a hujjah on rulings or practiced in fadhail al-‘amal (benefits of practices) or otherwise. [See: Syarah al-Manzhumah al-Baiquniyyah, 64-66]
First: Dha’if hadith is a hujjah in an absolute manner on two conditions:
- The hadith is not very weak
- There is no other hadith in the whole chapter
This is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik bin Anas, Imam al-Syafi’e. Imam Ahmad and many more.
Second: Dha’if hadith cannot be practiced or used as hujjah in ruling matters and fadhail al-‘Amal. This is the opinion of Yahya bin Ma’in, al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Hazm and many more.
Third: Dha’if hadith may only be practiced in fadhail al-‘Amal and cannot be used as hujjah in rulings. This is the opinion of majority of the scholars, but they set some conditions to practice dha’if hadith. Among them are:
- It is not very weak
- There is an origin for the practice
- One does not have the i’tiqad when practising it that the Prophet PBUH did so
- Only practices them on matters pertaining to fadhail al-‘amal only
Tarjih: After analysing the opinion of the scholars on this, we are inclined towards the permissibility to practice dha’if hadith, but at the same time it is followed by certain conditions or dhawabit (guidelines) as stated by the jumhur (majority of the scholars) in the third opinion. This is also the opinion of Imam al-Nawawi RA and Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari.
Lastly, may Allah SWT give us the correct understanding in practising all practices so that we will be in line with what Allah SWT and the Prophet PBUH want. Ameen.