Studies in Hadith and Islamic Law

Imām Abū Hanīfah and The Statement of Imām al-Bukhārī “Some People Say”: Between Fact and Fiction


Translator’s Preface

In recent times, there has been great confusion between two distinct concepts: Ikhtilāf [legitimate disagreement] and Khilāf [illegitimate disagreement]. Many misinformed people, for lack of Suhbah (companionship) of nicetraditional scholars and spiritual guides, read the differences of the Salaf and misinterpreted their Ikhtilāf as Khilāf. Undoubtedly, the Sahābāh (may Allah be pleased with them) were the most united group of individuals to have walked the earth, yet they differed with each other in their verdicts and opinions while remaining within the boundaries of Ikhtilāf. Conversely, the divergences of deviant groups like the Khawārij, Shī‘a and Mu‘tazila in relation to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘a are considered Khilāf, as there is no scope for academic tolerance in issues related to the fundamentals of religion.

In a similar light, we regard the mutual disagreements between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘a as Ikhtilāf, not Khilāf. Abu ‘l-Baqā’ al-Kafawī [d. 1094 AH] writes:

Ikhtilāf is when there are numerous paths leading to one specific destination. As for Kihlāf, it is two separate paths leading to separate destinations.[1]

Thus, the differences between Imām Mālik [d. 179 AH] and Imām Ibn Abī Dhi’b [d. 159 AH], or between Imām Muhammad al-Dhuhalī [d. 258 AH] and Imām al-Bukhārī [d. 256 AH], will be regarded as Ikhtilāf, as they adopted different routes with the intention of reaching one particular destination.

An example of Ikhtilāf misconstrued as Khilāf is the differences that ensued between Imām al-Bukhāri and the Ahl al-Ra’y in a handful of issues wherein the former alluded to the opinions of the Ahl al-Ra’y with the statement “and some people say.” Unfortunately, this mutual disagreement has become a pretext for vilifying Imām Abū Hanīfa [d. 150 AH] and his illustrious students, who were at the forefront of the Ahl al-Ra’y, with the allegation that they showed disregard for textual proofs. In response to this misunderstanding, many treatises and books were written.

In his introduction to one such work, Kashf al-Iltibās, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah [d. 1997 CE] has presented a brilliant analysis of the topic. He first explains the uniqueness of the chapter-headings of Sahīh al-Bukhārī, after which he shows the role of the Hanafīs in the academic development of Imām al-Bukhārī. He also proves that, although there were many issues of disagreement between them, there are an equal number or more issues of agreement. In addition, he discusses various treatises written on this topic. Finally, he summarizes a study conducted by Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd Mahmūd on the differences between the Ahl al-Hadīth and Ahl al-Ra’y, in particular that of Imām al-Bukhārī and Imām Abū Hanīfa.

In view of the importance of his research, particularly in today’s times, we felt it appropriate to translate this brilliant analysis for the benefit of non-Arabic speaking readers. We have employed an idiomatic translation of some of the passages to make this work more reader-friendly. For the sake of brevity, several passages that were not directly related to the topic were omitted. Moreover, in the summary of Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd’s study, which covers all twenty-four issues according to his count, only one example was presented, as the purpose of this translation is to present an analysis of this topic, not of addressing the issue itself for which relevant treatises may be consulted.

May Allah make this a means of dispelling doubts concerning the mutual differences of our noble predecessors, Âmīn.

Muntasir Zaman


The Statement of Imām al-Bukhārī “Some People Say” Between Fact and Fiction[2]

By Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah

      Translated by Muntasir Zaman

All praises belongs to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon the most honorable of prophets and messengers, our master, Muhammad, and upon all of his family and companions, and all those who followed them in righteousness from amongst the predecessors and successors, until the Day of Judgment.

To proceed:

This feeble slave, ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah, says:

This is a prologue to the treatise, Kasfh al-Iltibās ‘ammā ’Awradahū al-Imām al-Bukhārī ‘alā Ba‘d al-Nās (Dispelling Confusion over what Imām al-Bukhāri Objected to against “Some People”) by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Ghunaymī al-Maydānī al-Dimashqī [d. 1297 AH].

This prologue will cover the following topics:

  • The chapter headings of Sahīh al-Bukhārī
  • The educational upbringing of al-Bukhāri upon the Hanafī Madhhab
  • List of issues wherein Imām al-Bukhāri agreed with the Hanafī Madhhab
  • Books that have been written on the statement of Imām al-Bukhārī, “and some people say”
  • Study by a contemporary scholar on this topic
  • The biography of ‘Allāmah al-Ghunaymī and finally the text of Kashf al-Iltibās.[3]

Chapter Headings of Sahīh al-Bukhārī

The luminary of the Ummah, Imām Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī [d. 256 AH], given the title of “Amīr al-Mu’minīn” (leader of the believers) amongst the people of Hadīth, compiled his unique work, al-Jāmī‘ al-Musnad al-Sahīh al-Mukhtasar min ’Umūri Rasūlillah wa Sunanihī wa ’Ayyāmihī. May Allah reward him the best of rewards on behalf of the Muslims and the Sunnah of the noblest messenger.

In this book, Imām al-Bukhārī displayed his amazing command over Hadīth and its sciences. In addition, he displayed his juristic insight–which distinguished him from the rest of the scholars of Hadīth–in the chapter headings of his book and titles of its chapters, for he was courageous in what others cowered from. Thus, he set chapters for his book, in the titles for which he put down his Fiqhand his understanding of Hadīth according towhere his Ijtihād led him. Consequently, in his Fiqh andthe titles of his discussions, he agreed with some leading Imāms and disagreed with others. In both situations, he had – as our teacher, Muhammad Badr-e ‘Âlam[4] [d. 1385 AH] mentions:

Transcended limits and produced miracles in the placing of the chapter headings. None of the earlier scholars preceded him in that nor have the latter scholars been able to imitate him. Thus, he opened that door and closed it himself.

He placed under every chapter heading relevant verses of the Qur’ān and would sometimes exhaust them. He highlighted peripheral rulings [al-Furū’] and the manner of deducing them from Hadīth, while alluding to his preferred views. He marked the sources of Fiqhin the Qur’ān, nay, rather he established them from it, and showed the way of affiliating with the Qur’ān such that the correlation of Fiqh, Hadīth and Qur’ān became apparent.

Due to his lofty Ijtihād, his precision in matters of Ijtihād and expounding upon them in the chapter headings, it has been said, “Truly, the Fiqh of Imām al-Bukhārī is in his chapter heading”. Hence, in the chapter headings there are various sciences of Fiqh, its principle and theology, which he alluded to with utmost brevity and conciseness, to which very few are guided. This is for a number of reasons, amongst which are…[5]

Thereafter, our teacher explained those reasons and objectives of Imām al-Bukhārī in roughly four pages, such a discussion that you will not find with anyone else. He continues:

In brief, his chapter headings perplexed the intellect and bewildered the minds and sight. How wonderful is the saying, “Decoding the symbols and secrets he placed in the chapters has exhausted the most learned of scholars.”[6]

Thus, Imām al-Bukhārī displayed his Fiqhand Ijtihād in the chapter headings of his book, which, according to my count, totals to 3261 chapters.

In many of the chapter headings and titles, Imām al-Bukhārī had subtly refuted whoever opposed his view in those issues and chapters without mentioning any names. Afterwards, commentators would clarify these in their respective places, as you can see in Fath al-Bārī, ‘Umdah al-Qārī, Irshād al-Sārī and Fayď al-Bārī.

In approximately twenty-five places, after mentioning the chapter heading, He says, “and some people say.” It is commonly believed without evidence that Imām al-Bukhārī intends by this statement Imām Abū Hanīfa. However, as many scholars explain, this is not a general rule. Imām Muhammad Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī [d. 1352 AH] mentions in his commentary, Fayď al-Bārī, under Imām al-Bukhārī’s statement “Chapter: al-Rikāz…and some people say”:

Know that this is the first place the author [Imām al-Bukhārī] used this statement. Contrary to common belief, he does not intend Imām Abū Hanīfa in all of these places. Even though in this particular instance he intended Imām Abū Hanīfa, in other instances he intended ‘Īsā ibn Abān, al-Shāfi‘ī and Muhammad [ibn Hasan al-Shaybānī]. Moreover, the author does not always use this [the statement “and some people say”] for refutation. I have seen him say, “some people,” and thereafter, he would prefer that opinion and occasionally he would be indecisive.

The author expressly mentions Imām Mālik by his name, as well as Imām al-Shāfi‘ī because over here by ‘Ibn Idrīs’, al-Shāfi‘ī is intended. He took the name of Imām Ahmad only in two places and the name of Ibn Ma‘īn in one place.[7]

Furthermore, in al-‘Arf al-Shadhī [commentary of Sunan al-Tirmidhī], Imām Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī mentions:

Al-Rikāz is the first issue wherein Imām al-Bukhārī objected to Imām Abū Hanīfa. He uses the statement “and some people say” in 22 places. However, he does not intend Imām Abū Hanīfa in all of these instances, because at times he would mention [“and some people say”], after which he would prefer that opinion, as he did in Sūrah al-Rahmān. Sometimes he intends Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, ‘Īsā ibn Abān, Zufar ibn al-Hudhayl or al-Shāfi‘ī.[8]

Keep in mind that in his upbringing, Imām al-Bukhārī learned Fiqh according to the Hanafī Madhhab, which was prevalent in those lands i.e. Bukhārā and its surrounding areas. Hāfiż al-Dhahabī [d. 748 AH] writes in Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, under the biography of Imām al-Bukhārī:[9]

Muhammad [Abū Ja‘far ibn Abī Hātim al-Bukhāri, the scribe of Imām al-Bukhāri] says, “I heard my father saying, ‘When he was young, Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl [al-Bukhārī] would frequent the gathering of Abū Hafs -al-Kabīr- Ahmad al-Bukhārī. One day I heard Abū Hafs say, ‘This [Imām al-Bukhārī] is an intelligent youngster; I expect him to gain prominence and fame.”

Under the biography of Abū Hafs [al-Kabīr] al-Bukhārī [d. 217 AH], Hāfiż al-Dhahabī further writes:

Ahmad ibn Hafs, the erudite scholar, the jurist, the leading authority of Transoxiana, Abū Hafs al-Bukhārī al-Hanafī, the jurist of the East, father of the learned scholar [Abu Hafs al-Saghīr], leader of the Hanafis, Abū ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Hafs, the jurist. He travelled and accompanied Muhammad ibn Hasan [al-Shaybānī] for some time and excelled in legal reasoning [al-Rā’y]. He heard from Wakī‘ ibn al-Jarrāh, Abū ‘Usāmah, Hushaym ibn Bashīr, Jarīr ibn ‘Abd al-Hamīd and other scholars of that generation.

He mentions, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings be upon him) in a dream and he was wearing a Qamīŝ. On his side was a woman crying, so he told her, “Do not cry. When I pass away then you may cry.” Abū Hafs mentions, “I could not locate anyone who could interpret my dream until Ismā‘īl, the Father of al-Bukhārī, told me, ‘[its interpretation is that] The Sunnah will continue to remain established.’ Abū Hafs was born in the year 150 AH and passed away in the 217 AH. Narrations from him are scarce.

After narrating a Hadith through the transmission of Abū Hafs, Hāfiż al-Dhahabī continues:

His son, Imām Abū ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Hafs, the Muftī and scholar of Bukhārā, studied Fiqh under his father and by him the people of Bukhārā learned Fiqh. He lived approximately until 270 AH.

Abū ‘Abd Allah ibn Mandah mentions:

He was the scholar of the people of Bukhārā or their senior. He travelled and heard from Abū ‘l-Walīd al-Tayālisī, al-Humaydī, Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn and others. He accompanied al-Bukhārī in the acquisition of knowledge for some time. He authored Kitāb al-’Ahwā’, al-Ikhtilāf and al-Radd ‘alā ‘l-Lafʐiyyah. He was reliable, prominent, scrupulous, abstinent, pious and an upholder of the Sunnah. The leadership of the scholars of Bukhārā reached its peak at him and many Imāms learned Fiqh under him.

Ibn Mandah concludes, “He passed away in Ramaďān, 264 AH.”[10]

The quotation ends here alongside this excerpt from al-Fawā’id al-Bahiyya by ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Laknawī [d. 1304 AH], who quoted it from Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’.

Hāfiż ibn Hajar [d. 852 AH] writes in Hady al-Sārī [prologue to Fath al-Bārī], under the chapter “Imām al-Bukhārī: his lineage, birth, upbringing and formative Hadith studies”:

Muhammad ibn Abī Hātim, the scribe of al-Bukhārī mentions that al-Bukhāri says, “When I reached the age of sixteen I memorized the works of Ibn al-Mubārak and Wakī‘ and I became familiar with the speech of these people i.e. the people of legal reasoning [Ashāb al-Ra’y].”[11]

A similar statement is recorded in Tārikh Baghdād of al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī [d. 463 AH], under the biography of Imām al-Bukhārī.[12]

Thus, Imām al-Bukhārī learned the Fiqhof Imām Abū Hanīfa, which was prevalent in his hometown. He studied the works of Ibn al-Mubārak and Wakī‘, who were Hanafīs from the students of Imām Abū Hanīfa. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that his deep insight into Fiqh, delving into intricate issues and allusion to subtle and amazing understandings of texts all stem from his formative study of Fiqh under the Hanafī jurists of his hometown, in addition to his God-given, amazing and unique intelligence. We have seen above the praise of his teacher, the Imām of the Hanafīs, the jurist of the East, Abū Hafs al-Kabīr and his expectation of Imām al-Bukhārī to gain prominence and fame, and indeed, it [his expectation] had transpired.

Our teacher, Muhammad Badr-e ‘Âlam, writes in his prologue to the book of his teacher, [Anwar Shāh] al-Kashmīrī, Fayď al-Bārī:

Undoubtedly, Imām al-Bukhārī was a Mujtahid. As for what is commonly thought of him being a Shāfi‘ī, that is because he concurred with Imām al-Shāfi‘ī in well-known issues. Otherwise, his concurrence with Imām al-A‘żam -Abū Hanīfa- is no less. [13]

At the end of the indexes that he wrote for Fayď al-Bārī, our teacher [Badr-e ‘Âlam] has prepared a separate index explaining the abundant concurrence of Imām al-Bukhārī in his juristic rulings with Imām Abū Hanīfa. He writes:

Hereunder is an index of the chapters in which al-Bukhārī agreed with the Hanafi Imams in the disputed peripherals, either explicitly or by building [an argument] on it, and a third type in which his opinion was uncertain, which I included to the category of agreement because it is a possible interpretation of his speech. I did not include in the count of his agreement that which the scholars have agreed upon, and I sufficed with discussing his agreements from the first type only, so refer to their details in those chapters.

I hope from Allah (Glorified is He) that I become the one who developed this methodology and invented this method; I say this without boasting. I only intended thereby to announce the end of the injustice of those who claim that the Hanafis have no share in the science of Hadith. These are their vain aspirations, so they should know that the likes of al-Bukhārī concurred with the jurisprudence of the Hanafis in many of the chapters, and if somebody claimed that his agreements were no less than what he disagreed with him in, he will not, if Allah wills, be lying. The following is an illustration of this claim, so whoever wishes let him take account and not be frightened.

    • From the chapter on al-Tahārah (cleanliness): The issue of left over water, left over water of a dog, touching the private part or a female, explanation of the word “al-Mulāmasah,” wiping the head, impurity of semen, consecutiveness in making Wuďū’, a pregnant woman does not menstruate, consideration of colorsin menstruation
    • From the chapters on Salāh: Making up missed prayers in sequence, Tarjī‘ [repetition] in Adhān, people of knowledge and virtue are more deserving to lead the prayer, a Muqtadī will make Salām simultaneously with the Imām, the obligation of making Takbīr [saying Allāhu Akbar] and commencing Salāh; and in this chapter is the issue of a standing person following a sitting person in prayer
    • Method of praying Salāh al-Khawf: Chapter on praying Salāh al-Khawf on foot or riding
    • From the chapters of Witr:Witr and the night prayer are two distinct prayers, Witr is obligatory, Witr is three Raka‘āt
    • From the chapters of Salāh al-Kusūf (lunar eclipse): [each Rak‘ah of] Salāh al-Kusūf contains one Rukū‘
    • From the chapters of al-Taqsīr: Combining between two prayers.
    • From the chapter of using the hand in Salāh for an action related to Salāh: Chapter of placing a cloth [to make Sajdah on it]
    • From the book of al-Janāiz: Children of the polytheists, correct place of putting the Khirqah,  chapter on performing Salāh al-Janāzah, at the Muŝallā [field] and Masjid
    • From the book of Zakāh: Chapter on giving goods as Zakāh, chapter on the person who hasto give a bint Makhāď [two year old she camel] as Zakāh [but does not possess one]
    • From the chapter of Sadaqah al-Fiţr: Chapter on Sadaqah al-Fiţr upon the slave and others from the Muslims
    • From the book of Hajj: The issue of placing a condition on Hajj, refer to the chapters of al-Muhsar [restricted after donning Ihrām], chapter on a non-Muhrim hunting game and gifting it, chapter on a Muhrim who is gifted a wild donkey, chapter on applying fragrance at the time of donning Ihrām
    • From the book of fasting: Chapter on [using a] moist or dry Miswāk
    • From Buyū‘[trade]: Chapter on selling food prior to taking possession, chapter on purchasing on behalf of someone without his permission
    • From the book of al-Shuf‘ah[preemption]: Chapter on presenting al-Shuf‘ah to the one deserving of it
    • From freeing [a slave] and its virtue: Chapter on freeing [a share of ] a slave without owning wealth
    • From the book of gifting: Chapter on saying, “I gave you this slave girl for Khidmah” and the difference between Khidmah…
    • From the book of Tafsīr: Chapter on the verse “If you fear (an enemy then pray) on foot or riding”, chapter on the verse “As for those who sell the covenant of Allah…”, issue of passing a judgment based on an oath and one witness
    • From the book of marriage: Chapter: A father or anyone else is not allowed to give a virgin or non-virgin in marriage without her consent
    • From the chapter of al-Li‘ān: Section on carrying out al-Li‘ān in the Masjid
    • From the chapter of hunting and slaughtering: Chapter on taking Allah’s name on the animal, al-Qasāmah
    • From the book of laws: Chapter on those who have judged and carried out al-Li‘ān in the Masjid
    • From the book of refuting the al-Jahmiyya: Chapter on what has been mentioned regarding the creation of the heavens and the earth[14]

Thus, Imām al-Bukhārī (may Allah have mercy on him) is Hanāfi in his juristic upbringing – as we have seen earlier – and a jurist, Hadīth scholar and Mujtahid in the prime of his youth. Accordingly, it should not come as a surprise that he differed with those before him, be they Hanafīs or anyone else, in many issues or a few issues. These twenty-five issues are nothing in comparison to the 3283 chapters, which comprise of issues manifold more, in which his conclusions concurred with the conclusions of those before him, among the Hanafīs and others.

If we conceptually regard him to be a Hanafī, like Imām Abū Yūsuf, Imām Muhammad, Imām Zufar ibn Hudhayl and others, from the prominent Hanafī jurists [then there is no problem even though he differed with Imām Abū Hanīfa]. This is because these leading Hanafī giants, who developed and studied under Imām Abū Hanīfāh and followed him or concurred with him in most juristic issues, have also disagreed with him on numerous issues, as any student of Hanafī Fiqh or one who read the Muwatta’ of Imām Muhammad knows.

It should not come as a surprise that the juristic conclusions of Imām al-Bukhāri differ from that of the Hanafīs and others in some or many issues, because the proof that is most appealing to a particular Mujtahid will not necessarily appeal in a similar fashion to other Mujtahids. Therefore, these twenty-five issues should be looked at in a similar light even though it will become evident by reading this treatise, Kashf al-Iltibās,by ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Ghunaymī, that many of these issues are such that other Mujtahid Imāms who are followed have concurred with Imām Abū Hanīfa.

Treatises Written on the Statement of al-Bukhārī “And Some People Say”

This statement of Imām al-Bukhārī [“and some people say”], which is commonly thought to be an allusion to Imām Abū Hanīfa, drove a number of latter day Indian and Arab Hanafī scholars to compile numerous treatises on the subject. They explained the places wherein Imām al-Bukhārī used this statement, distinguished what has been accurately and inaccurately attributed to Imām Abū Hanīfa, and answered the issues on which Imām al-Bukhārī criticized Imām Abū Hanīfa.

The Treatise, Kashf al-Iltibās

Thus, the learned scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Ghunaymī al-Maydānī al-Dimashqī (may Allah have mercy upon him), compiled this treatise, Kasfh al-Iltibās ‘ammā ’Awradahū al-Imām al-Bukhārī ‘alā Ba’dh al-Nās (Dispelling Confusion over What Imām al-Bukhāri Produced Against “Some People”). He did not mention the reason for its compilation; however, as it is apparent from the title, it relates to those twenty-five issues wherein Imām al-Bukhārī after mentioning the chapter heading says, “and some people say.” As far as I know, he was the first to compile, discuss and answer these issues in a separate treatise. He passed away in 1298 AH so Allah knows best whether this treatise was compiled a few years before that. In this treatise, contrary to some Indian scholars who compile treatises without mentioning their names, he has mentioned his name.

The Treatise, Ba‘ď al-Nās fī Daf‘ al-Waswās

An Indian scholar wrote a treatise on this topic in response to the criticism of Imām al-Bukhārī entitled “Ba‘ď al-Nās fī Daf‘ al-Waswās.” The name of the author is not written on the treatise. It was published in Kanpūr by Matba‘ Niżāmī in the year 1308 AH. Thereafter, it was published for a second time in the year 1309 AH attached to the beginning of the second volume of Sahīh al-Bukhāri with the footnotes of the learned scholar Shaykh Ahmad ‘Alī Sahāranpūrī [d. 1297 – may Allah have mercy on him]. Some say it was the compilation of Shaykh Ahmad ‘Alī al-Sahāranpūrī while others say it was the compilation of the learned scholar Shaykh Muhammad Qāsim al-Nanowtawī [d. 1297 AH]. However, in his book “Hayāt al-Muhaddith Shams al-Haq al-‘Ażīm Abādī”,Shaykh Mahmūd ‘Uzayr highly doubts the attribution of this treatise to these two illustrious personalities. Hence, Allah knows best who authored it. Thereafter, it was continuously printed alongside Sahīh al-Bukhārī; it was also printed separately.

The Treatise, Raf‘ al-Iltibās ‘an Ba‘ď al-Nās

After both of its prints were published: separately and alongside [Sahīh al-Bukhārī] with the footnotes of Shaykh Ahmad ‘Alī al-Sahāranpūrī, the treatise “Ba‘ď al-Nās fī Daf‘ al-Waswās” was responded to by a treatise titled “Raf‘ al-Iltibās ‘an Ba‘ď al-Nās”, which was printed in the year 1311 AH by Matba‘ al-Fārūqī in Delhi. The name of the author is not written on the cover. However, it is famous in scholarly circles that it was written by Shams al-Haq ‘Ażīm Abādī [d. 1329 AH] may Allah have mercy on him, author of ‘Awn al-Ma‘būd ‘alā Sunan Abī Dāwūd, with the instruction of his teacher, Muhammad Nadhīr Husayn al-Dihlawī.

The Treatise, Īqāż al-Ĥawās fī mā Qāl Ba‘ď al-Nās

Thereafter, a treatise entitled “Īqāż al-Ĥawās fī mā Qāl Ba‘ď al-Nās” was published in the beginning of a collection of juristic treatises. It was published, as it is written on the cover, by Matba‘ Noulkishour Press in Lahore in the year 1321 AH. He is a Hanafī as it is evident from his writing and commentary on the issues therein.

The Study of a Contemporary Scholar

In recent times, the proficient scholar Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd Mahmūd ‘Abd al-Majīd al-Shāfi‘ī conducted an excellent study on this topic, in his book, al-Ittijāhāt al-Fiqhiyya ‘Inda ’Aŝhāb al-Hadīth fi ‘l-Qarn al-Thālith al-Hijrī, may Allah reward him.

He concludes his book with a lengthy chapter in 187 pages. An overview of the entire chapter is provided below:

Chapter Five: Issues of Dispute between the Partisans of Hadīth [Ahl al-Hadīth and the Partisans of Reason [Ahl al-Ra’y], Study, Comparison and Compilation. It comprises of an introduction and two subchapters: the first subchapter discusses disputed issues between Ibn Abī Shaybah and Abū Hanīfa, and the second subchapter discusses disputed issues between al-Bukhārī and the Ahl al-Ra’y. (Pages 453-640)

He completed the introduction and a detailed analysis and refutation of the 125 issues on which Ibn Abī Shaybah criticized Abū Hanīfa in 123 pages. (Pages 453-576)

Thereafter, he discusses in the second subchapter, which comprises of 64 pages, the issues of dispute between al-Bukhārī and the Ahl al-Ra’y. He analyzes each of the twenty-five issues -or twenty-four according to his count- in which Imām al-Bukhārī objects with the statement, “and some people say”. He also mentions the views of the four schools of thought and other Mujtahids.

I felt it appropriate to briefly mention his analysis -although it is lengthy- because he has presented an inclusive analysis of this subject. His discussion is not merely a presentation and explanation of the issues wherein Imām al-Bukhārī used the statement, “and some people say.” On the other hand, in his treatise, Kash al-Iltibās, ‘Allāmah al-Ghunaymī al-Maydānī has very briefly explained these issues and clarified some of the words therein. Further, his discussion on Fiqh, manner of deduction and other opinions is not comprehensive.

Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd Mahmūd in his book, al-Ittijāhāt al-Fiqhiyya writes:

We have seen in the previous section how Ibn Abī Shaybah exclusively directed his criticism to Imām Abū Hanīfa. As for Imām al-Bukhārī, his dispute was with the people of legal reason [Ahl al-Ra’y] in general; sometimes it is directed to Imām Abū Hanīfa and other times to some of his students. Hence, he does not explicitly mention the name or attributes of the opposition, but alludes to them with “and some people say”.

Imām al-Bukhārī used this statement several times in his Sahīh alluding to the Ahl al-Ra’y and pointing out their contradictions. There is no doubt that his differences with the Ahl al-Ra’y are not confined to these issues. Rather, he disagreed with them on many other issues and mentioned in his Sahīh the view he preferred without mentioning with whom he differed. In some instances, he penned separate works on such issues, like the issue of lifting the hands before and after Rukū’, and the issue of reciting behind the Imām.

The following are issues wherein Imām al-Bukhārī stated his view and indirectly refuted the Ahl al-Ra’y without mentioning them:

  • Essence of wine and what fits its description…
  • Prerequisites of a city for Jumu‘a prayer…
  • Quantum of Zakāh for farms and fruits…
  • Divorce prior to marriage…
  • Divorce by an intoxicated, compelled or angry person…

There are many other examples, which can be located among the disputed issues, some of which I have mentioned in the previous section. It is important to note that Imām al-Bukhārī presenting his view does not necessarily mean he is deliberately refuting the Ahl al-Ra’y; it is only a possibility. The only direct refutation of the Ahl al-Ra’y that can be attributed to him is where he uses the statement “and some people say” or refutes them with separate treatises. This is our first concern as it gives us a clear picture of Imām al-Bukhārī’s methodology of refutation and his stance on the differences of the Ahl al-Ra’y such that he could not remain silent due to their opposition, in his opinion, of the texts.

It is important to note that the issues in which Imām al-Bukhārī criticized the Ahl al-Ra’y are far less than that of Ibn Abī Shaybah, because in many of his [Ibn Abī Shaybah’s] criticisms, Imām Abū Hanīfa’s opinion was strong, substantiated and agreed by other scholars among whom is al-Bukhārī. Consequently, it was necessary for Imām al-Bukhārī to reassess those issues and direct his criticism accordingly.

Moreover, Imām al-Bukhārī’s approach differed from that of his teacher [Ibn Abī Shaybah] in that the former adequately presented the views of the Ahl al-Ra’y alongside their proofs, within the capacity of compilation as his Sahīh wascompiled to gather authentic narration and deduce juristic rulings from them without presenting the various juristic views and their refutation.

The issues in which Imām al-Bukhārī alluded to the Ahl al-Ra’y with the statement “and some people say” are as follows:

  1. From the book of Zakāh: al-Rikāz [buried treasure] its essence and ruling
  2. From the book of gifting: When a person tells another, “I give you this slave girl for Khidmah”, will this be classified as a gift or lending?
  3. From the book of gifting: When a person tells another, “I mounted you on this horse”, will this be classified as a gift or lending?
  4. From the book of testimony: Status of the testimony of a slanderer
  5. From the book of bequests: Ruling regarding the confession of a debt by a dying person for his heir
  6. The book of divorce: Chapter on al-Li‘ān: punishment of a mute when he accuses by gesture or writing
  7. From the book of oaths: Essence of al-Nabīdh
  8. From the book of coercion: The transaction and gifting of a person under coercion
  9. From the book of coercion: If it is said, “either you consume wine or I will kill your father”

      10-24.   The book of stratagems.

We are certain that Imām al-Bukhārī wrote the chapter on stratagems in refutation of the Ahl al-Ra’y. In this chapter he repeats the statement “and some people say” fourteen times. Let us now analyze these issues in detail:[15]


Ruling Regarding the Confession of a Debt by a Dying Person for His Heir

Imām al-Bukhārī writes:

Chapter on the verse of the Qur’ān “after any bequest which was made or debt”:

It is reported that Shurayh, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz, Tā’ūs,‘Atā’ and Ibn ’Udhaynah have permitted the dying person to confess a debt. Hasan mentions, “The most worthy day to give in charity is the last day in the world and the first day in the hereafter.” Ibrāhīm and Hakam mention, “[If a dying person] absolves an heir of a debt, he will be absolved. Rāfi‘ ibn Khadīj had bequeathed that his Fazārī wife not be questioned regarding the goods of the house. Hasan mentions, “When a [master] says to his slave ‘I have already freed you’ it will take place.” Sha‘bī mentions, “When a wife says, ‘my husband repaid my debt, and I took possession of it’ it will be valid.

And some people say, “His confession is invalid due to the suspicion that he intends on harming the other heirs.” Thereafter, they exercised Istihsān and said, “His confession of Wadī‘a, Biďā‘a and Muďāraba is valid.”

Whereas the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Beware of suspicion! For suspicion is the greatest of lies.” Moreover, it is impermissible to take the wealth of the Muslims because the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) has mentioned, “The sign of a hypocrite is when he is given a trust he breaks it.” Further, Allah mentions, “Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due.” Thus, Allah has not exempted anyone, be it an heir or someone else.”

Imām al-Bukhāri presented this chapter heading to prove the unconditional validity of the confession of a debt by a dying person, whether the one for whom he has confessed is an heir or non-heir. He bases his conclusion on the manner Allah placed a will and debt on the same level, in the verse “after any bequest which was made or debt” since Allah placed them before Mirāth [inheritance] without distinction. Moreover, a bequest to an heir is invalid due to the Hadīth “There is no bequest for an heir.” Therefore, confession of a debt will remain general, including an heir and non-heir.

As for the Ahl al-Ra’y, they deduce the invalidity of a dying person’s confession of a debt for an heir from the same Hadīth mentioned above[16], because in some of its chains the following addition is narrated “Know! There is no bequest for an heir or confession of a debt.” They also deduce from the report of Ibn ‘Umar in this regard. Further, the rights of the heirs are established in the wealth of a dying person during his illness. Accordingly, he is not permitted to give anything to the heirs because by giving some instead of others, he has taken the rights of the remaining heirs. That is why it is permissible for the dying person to confess a debt when the remaining heirs affirm it, as they have forfeited their rights.

Despite the addition “or confession of a debt” from which the Hanafīs deduce their opinion being an anomalous [Shādhdh] and marginal addition, Imām Mālik held a similar view when the confessor is accused [of intending harm to the remaining heirs]. ‘Allāmah ‘Aynī related that Shurayh and Hasan ibn Sālih have said, “The confession of a dying person for his heir is invalid except for the dowry of his wife” and [he related that Sufyān] al-Thawrī said, “The dying person’s confession for an heir is unconditionally invalid” and that is the opinion of Imām Ahmad.

The Ahl al-Ra’y differentiate between the confession of a debt and that of Wadī‘ah etc., because the basis of the former is on obligation (Luzūm) whereas the basis of the latter is on trust (‘Amānah), and there is a stark contrast between the two. This is their explanation, but it is unsatisfactory. By obligation, they intend its repayment (‘Adā’uhū) and liability (Ďamānuhū). As for a trust, there is no liability; therefore, if he were to die without confessing, it will be lost without a substitute.

Nevertheless, in this issue, the Ahl al-Ra’y are not the only ones holding this opinion. Ibn al-Qayyim writes:

The dying person’s confession of a debt for an heir is invalid according to the vast majority, due to suspicion [of intending harm to the remaining heirs].


Before concluding this section, we will summarize our observations as follow:

  1. Imām al-Bukhārī’s objective in his criticism of the Ahl al-Ra’y was more to show their inconsistencies and disprove them by citing the consequences of their views, rather than show their opposition of Hadīth. He did not accuse them of opposing Hadīth except in the issue of taking back a gift. The differences in most of these issues stem from a difference in understanding, interpretation and estimation [in exercising Ijtihād in the text] or giving preference or reconciling between the texts.
  1. It is incorrect to count the stratagems [Hiyal] that Imām al-Bukhārī has taken the Ahl al-Ra’y to task for, from the stratagems ascribed to them besides those related to Zakāh and preemption. Even in the case of Zakāh and preemption, the criticism is directed to Imām Abū Yūsuf and those who followed him. Excluding these two instances, the views of the Hanafīs are not stratagems even though they paved the way of stratagems for those who wish.
  1. Imām al-Bukhārī’s academic discussion on these issues reveals the distinction of the scholars of Hadīth in relation to an instinctive approach that is concerned with objectives (Maqāsid) and goals (Niyyāt), and grants them the force of influence in statements and contracts, without sufficing on the fulfilment of outward prerequisites.
  1. It is evident from the method of dispute opted by Imām al-Bukhārī that he was more influenced by Ishāq ibn Rāhwayh than Abū Bakr ibn Abī Shaybah and both of them were his teachers. May Allah have mercy on them All, and all praises belong to Allah.[17]

The study of Dr. ‘Abd al-Majīd Mahmūd ends here.

In conclusion, this academic debate amongst these illustrious personalities, in whatever form it may have taken, only increases them in veneration and reverence in our hearts. They are the pivots of sacred knowledge and the foundations of Dīn. It is incorrect to deduce from their mutual differences or their statements against another a reason for partiality towards one group or bigotry against another by venting hate, animosity and enmity towards either one.

The Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he does not oppress him nor does he belittle him. Each one undertakes to support Dīn and strengthen knowledge within his capacity. We ask Allah to grant them a seat of honor near Him, and to shower them with his blessing, assistance and pleasure in lieu of their efforts and in compensation of their actions, as He is Most Generous.


[1] Al-Kafawī, al-Kulliyyāt, 61

[2] The title of this article was given by the translator.

[3] As we mentioned in the preface, this section of the prologue was not translated

[4] He is the erudite scholar, the skilled and insightful Hadīth scholar, Shaykh Muhammad Badr-e ‘Âlam al-Mīrthī al-Hindī thereafter, al-Madanī [d. 1385 AH]. This is an excerpt from his prologue to the book of his teacher, al-Imām Muhammad Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī, Faiď al-Bāri ‘alā Sahīh al-Bukhārī [1:40-44] under the chapter “Dhikru Tarājimi Sahīh al-Bukhārī wa Kashfī Rumūzihā”.

[5] Badr-e ‘Alam, Prologue to Fayď al-Bārī, 40-44:1

[6] Ibid

[7] Al-Kashmīrī, Fayď al-Bārī, 53:3

[8] Al-Kashmīrī, al-‘Arf al-Shadhī, 289

[9] Al-Dhahabī, Siyar ‘A’lām al-Nubalā’, 425:12

[10] Ibid, 157:10

[11] Ibn Hajar, Hady al-Sārī, 193/478:2

[12] Al-Baghdādī, Tarīkh Baghdād, 7:2

[13] Badr-e ‘Alam, Prologue to Fayď al-Bārī, 58:1

[14] Badr-e ‘Alam, Footnotes on Fayď al-Bārī, 45-46:4

[15] As was mentioned in the preface, only one example will be presented.

[16] “There is no bequest for an heir.”

[17] ‘Abd al-Majīd Ittijāhāt al-Fiqhiyya ‘Inda ’Aŝhāb al-Hadīth fi ‘l-Qarn al-Thālith al-Hijrī, 577-640


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Studies in Hadith and Islamic Law


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