About the Book
This is the first ever English translation in four volumes of the Sahih Muslim, one of the six most authentic collections of the traditions of Holy Prophet of Islam (May peace be upon him), with exhaustive notes and commentary based on authentic original sources and brief biographical sketches of major Hadith narrators. The traditions of the Prophet are next in importance to the Holy Qur’an, it is in fact, the authentic commentary of Holy Qur’an, for whatever the Holy Prophet said was divinely inspired as the Holy Qur’an says:
“He (the Prophet) does not speak of his own accord but what is revealed to him”. (iii,3-4).
Thus, besides the Qur’an, it is in the utterances and deeds of the Holy Prophet, in his approval and disapproval and in his implied suggestions that one can find the true meaning and real significance of the Will of Allah. The Holy Qur’an declares the sacred life of the Prophet as a model pattern for the Muslims.
The most distinguishing feature of the translation and the explanatory notes of this work is that the translator has observed great care in adhering to the path of the old orthodox scholars and has at the same time tried to incorporate the modern researches in different field of knowledge which are valid from the Islamic point of view. This work thus combines in itself the authenticity and the correctness of old scholarship and the modern style.
Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and the Holy Qur’an are, no doubt, two separate entities, but they are both so closely allied that we cannot conceive of their independent existence. It is through Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that the Holy Qur’an has been vouchsafed to us, and it is in his august personality that we find its visible expression.
He it is Who sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religions (ix 34).
The verse bears clear testimony to the fact that the fountain-head of True Guidance and True Religion is the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him) since he has been entrusted with the responsibility of showing to the people the path of Righteousness and the path of Salvation, as desired by the Lord. He is the trusted Messenger of Allah on earth, and it is through him that mankind has been able to know His Will with all its major and minor implications.
We have been told in clear terms that the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) neither said anything nor did anything of his own accord; whatever he aid and whatever he did emanated from the Lord:
He does not speak of his own desire (liii.8).
Say: I follow only that which is revealed to me from my Lord (vii.203). All the utterances and deeds of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) are thus divinely inspired, and in them alone can one find the true meaning and the real significance of the Will of Allah.
Mere transmission of the Book of Allah to the’ people faithfully and sincerely does not exhaust the Prophet’s duties. On him also lies the responsibility of explaining the real purport of the Qur’anic teachings and then giving them a visible shape, so that mankind may see, along with the injunctions of Allah, the process of their transformation into reality and the outward forms in which they are to be crystallised. Words alone, however powerful and however pointed, cannot be fully comprehended unless these conjure before our minds definite forms and shapes. Similarly, precepts, however valuable, can be best understood only when these are illustrated by living examples.
It is indeed a boundless favour of Allah to humanity that, along with His message, He also sent to us His Messengers to elaborate and elucidate it, and then transmute it into practical reality under His direct guidance.
And We have sent unto thee the Admonition that thou mayest expound unto mankind that which hath been revealed to them (xvi.44).
As a final dispenser of the Message of Allah, the Prophet alone is best fitted and, therefore, divinely authorised to determine the meanings of the Holy Qur’an, to unfold before humanity the deep wisdom contained in it, and then, on the basis of this wisdom, to purify the souls of the people and elevate them to the highest pinnacle of morality and God-consciousness.
Assuredly Allah conferred a favour on the believers when He raised unto them an Apostle from among themselves, reciting to them His revelations and, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom (iii. 163).
Reciting Lord’s revelations, purifying the souls of the people, teaching the Book and the wisdom lying in it-these are the different aspects of the prophetic ministry and nothing falls outside the orbit of Allah’s revelation.
Whatever the Apostle commands you, accept; and whatever he forbids you, avoid (lix.7)
What this verse implies is that the commands and prohibitions of the Prophet are not to be treated in the spirit in which are taken the wise sayings of sages or philosophers or the verdicts of rulers. The words and the deeds of the Prophet are, indeed, the perfect expressions of the highest wisdom ever conceivable, but this alone does not completely fulfil the demands of belief in prophethood. The basic point in this belief is that one should affirm with full confidence that it is Allah Who speaks through the Prophet whatever he utters by way of spiritual guidance or practical legislation, and thus follow him in every walk of life with a view to achieving the love of the Lord and salvation in this world and the world to come. The Prophet is no doubt human, but his leadership is divinely inspired and none can be called a Muslim who does not accept this basic doctrine of the Holy Qur’an.
Say (O Muhammad): If you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Forgiving, a Dispenser of Mercy (iii,31).
It is by following Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that we can achieve the cherished goal of winning Allah’s• favour.
The question arises: Did the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) utter not a word besides what was revealed to him by the Lord in the form of the Qur’an? The answer obviously is: No. He did also explain the contents of the Divine revelations. He gave practical demonstration of their significance by leading his life according to them, and was thus instrumental in moulding the lives of his Companions after his own pattern of life. He did all this, of course, under Divine inspiration.
This is why the Holy Qur’an has been declared as a Guide and a Light and the Prophet’s noble life as a model for the Muslims:
Indeed, there has come to you from Allah a Light and a Book Luminous (v. 15).
Verily in the Apostle of Allah you have the best example for everyone who looks forward towards Allah and the Day of Judgment (xxxiii.21).
It is only from the Holy Qur’an and the authentic record of the ahadith that we can obtain full view of this model. Thus, next to the Holy Qur’an the hadith the second source of the Islamic Law of social and personal behaviour, cause the commandments of the Holy Prophet are as binding on the believers as the Commands of Allah.
Whenever Allah and the Apostle have decided a matter, it is not for a faithful man or woman to follow a course of their own choice (xxxiii.36) Some of the misguided people suggest that the commands of the Holy prophet (may peace be upon him) were valid only during his lifetime, and that now when he is no more amongst us, we need follow only the injunctions of the Holy Qur’an and treat the hadith as an account of the past which has some allusions to the life of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him), having no practical value as a code of life. These so-called pseudo-reformers little realise at a denial of the eternal validity of the Sunnah amounts to a denial of the Holy Quran’s claim that the prophethood of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is not time-bound; it is universal and the Prophet’s words and deeds are the timeless expression of the Will of Allah.
Say: O mankind! surely I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, of Him Whose is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He: so believe in Allah and His Messenger, the ummi Prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you may be guided aright (vii. 158).
Muhammad (may peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah for the hole of mankind; no new prophet is to be raised after him. His prophethood is thus both universal and eternal. It is, therefore, an integral part of one’s faith in the prophethood of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) that his words and deeds should always be taken as one of the two most reliable sources of right guidance. The Code of Divine Guidance, which does not regard Muhammad (may peace be upon him) as the supreme guide from the Lord, cannot in any way be relied upon in Islam. One could seek this guidance directly from the Holy Prophet during his lifetime, but now it is the authentic traditions that serve this purpose admirably well.
Right from the time of the Companions down to this day, there has been a consensus of opinion among the Muslims that whatever is transmitted to us from the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) on the authority of reliable transmitters of ahadith is the valid explanation and enunciation of Allah’s Commands and the opinion of anyone else is subservient to it. It is acceptable only if it conforms to the sayings or the deeds of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him), but if it conflicts with a hadith, it must be outright rejected.
The hadith, which in the religious sense stands for the report of the actions or approval or disapproval of the Prophet, has always been a subject of keen interest for the Muslims since the time of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). His Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), who were mostly Arabs, had a wonderful memory and could immaculately retain whatever they saw in the Prophet’s life or whatever they heard from him. Some of them even put these down in Sahifahs which were later on read by them to their students. They left for us a large number of Sahifahs, for example of Sahifah Sadiqah compiled by Hadrat ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr b. al-As, Sahifah of Hadrat ‘Ali, hadith collection of Hadrat Rafi’ b. Khadij, Hadrat Jabir b. ‘Abdullah, Hadrat Samurah b. Jundab, Hadrat Abu Huraira, Hadrat’ Abdullah b. ‘Abbas, Hadrat’ Abdullah b. Mas’ud, and Sahifah of Hammam bin Munabbih (may Allah be pleased with all of them). These are the blessed names of some of those Companions who kept a record of the Prophet’s utterances and addresses, judgments and verdicts on different issues and his actions and deeds in all sets of circumstances.
The study of the records of the ahadith and the life-history of those who maintained them proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the preservation of the hadith was not an after-thought, conceived long after the death of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). It started right during his lifetime and was continued immediately after him with full earnestness and religious fervour, because it had to serve eternally as the fountain-head of right guidance.
Sprenger, who claims to have been the first to submit the sources of the life of Muhammad to a critical scrutiny, says:
It is generally believed that the traditions were preserved during the first century of the Hijrah solely by memory. European scholars, under the erroneous impression that haddathana (he informed us) is the term by which the traditions are usually introduced, are of the opinion that none of the traditions contained in the collection of al-Bukhari had been written down before him ..... This appears to be an error. Ibn ‘Amr and other Companions of Muhammad (may peace be upon him) committed his sayings to writing and their example was followed by many of the Tabi’un.’
Side by side with the collection of ahadith was initiated their critical Scrutiny; so that the genuine traditions may be sifted from the concocted ones. et that there are numberless spurious ahadith did not in the least escape attention of the muhaddithun, as European critics naively seem to suppose. e contrary, the critical science of hadith was initiated by the necessity of erning between authentic and spurious, and the very Imams Bukhari and muslim, not to mention the Tesser traditionists, are direct products of this critical attitude. The existence, therefore, of false ahadith does not prove anything against the system of hadith as a whole-no more than a fanciful tale from the Arabian Nights could be regarded as an argument against the authenticity of any historical report of the corresponding period.
The traditionists and the jurists have formulated sound principles in the light of which the genuineness of the hadith can be fully established. These principles relate to both parts of the hadith: Isnad (chain of transmission) and Matn (text). The trustworthiness of those through whom the hadith is transmitted, i.e. Isnad, can be reliably judged with the help of Asma al-Rijal, a science which critically scrutinises the lives of the narrators of the ahadith. Those who understood this work showed perfect impartiality and honesty, thoroughness and minuteness and objectivity in recording the details of their life. Similarly, laws were also framed to test the genuineness of the text. The reliability of a narrator may be taken as an external evidence, and criticism of the text may be treated as an internal evidence for establishing the authenticity of a hadith. A hadith which admirably stands this thorough search and scrutiny and is proved to be authentic is a part and parcel of Divine injunctions and is binding on a believer.
These ahadith have been compiled in different books, amongst which Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Nasa’i, Muwatta of Imam Malik, Musnad of Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad of Abu Dawud alTayalisi are important. The first six of these compilations are known as Sihah Sittah, the six Sahihs, i.e. the six genuine and reliable collections. The collections by Bukhari and Muslim are particularly held in high esteem. They are known as the two Sahihs (al-Sahihain). The ahadith which are recognised as absolutely authentic are included in these two excellent compilations.
Even of these two, Bukhari’s occupies a higher position in comparison to Muslim’s.
One may pertinently ask why it is that Muslim’s rather than Bukhari’s Sahih has been selected by me for translation into English.
I fully subscribe to the view of the Muhaddithin that, after the Holy Qur’ an, Bukhari’s Sahih is the most reliable Book of Islamic Shariah. Muslim’s Sahih comes next to it. However, in certain respects the latter is considered superior to the former. Imam Muslim strictly observed many principles of the science of hadith. which had been slightly ignored by his great teacher Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on both of them). Imam Muslim considered only such traditions to be genuine and authentic as had been transmitted to him by an unbroken chain of reliable authorities and were in perfect harmony with what had been related by other narrators whose trustworthiness was unanimously accepted and who were free from all defects.
Moreover, Imam Bukhari, while describing the chain of narrators, sometimes mentions their kunya and sometimes gives their names. This is particularly true in case of the narrators of Syria. This creates a sort of confusion, which Imam Muslim has avoided.
Imam Muslim takes particular care in according the exact words of the narrators and points out even the minutest difference in the wording of their reports.
Imam Muslim has also constantly kept in view the difference between the two well-known modes of narration, Huddathana (he narrated to us) and Akkbarana (he informed us). He is of the opinion that the first mode is used only when the teacher is narrating the hadith and the student is listening to it, while the second mode of expression implies that the student is reading the hadith before the teacher. This reflects his utmost care in the transmission of a hadith.
Imam Muslim has taken great pains in connecting the chain of narrators. He has recorded only that hadith which, at least, two reliable tabi’in (successors) had heard card from two Companions and this principle is observed throughout the subsequent chain of narrators.
All these considerations are there, but the reason of my choice for the translation of Muslim’s Sahih is that Bukhari’s is a difficult book In that the different portions of ahadith are fragmented into parts, and these are put down under different headings according to their importance from the point of view of Fiqh. Unless one has thorough grounding in the study of hadith and has a strong background of religious knowledge, one is not likely to grasp fully and appreciate the compilation of Imam Bukhari.
Imam Muslim has, on the other hand, recorded the ahadith in their. integrated forms. This is quite essential and highly useful for those who have a meagre knowledge of the hadith or who have just started its study.
The full name of Imam Muslim is Abu’l-Husain ‘Asakir-ud-Din Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi. “Muslim,” as his nasba shows, belonged to the Qushayr tribe of the Arabs, an offshoot of the great clan of Rabi’ a. He was born in Naisabur (Nishapur) in 202/817 or 206/821. His parents were religiously minded persons and as such he was brought up in a pious atmosphere. This left such an indelible impression on his mind that he spent the whole of his life as a God-fearing person and always adhered to the path of righteousness. He was in fact a saint of high calibre. His excellent moral character can be well judged ~ ill the simple fact that he never indulged in backbiting, a very common human failing.
Imam Muslim travelled widely to collect traditions in Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, where he attended the lectures of some of the prominent traditionists of his time: Ishaq b. Rahwaih, Ahmad b. Hanbal, ‘Ubaydullah al-Qawariri, Qutaiba b. Sa’id, ‘Abdullah b. Maslama, Harmalah b. Yahya, and others.
Having finished his studies, he settled down at Nishapur. There he came into contact with Imam Bukhari, and was so much impressed by his vast knowledge of hadith and his deep insight into it that he kept himself attached to him up to the end of his life. He was an ardent admirer of another great teacher of hadith, Muhammad b. Yahya al-Dhuhali and attended his lectures regularly, but when the difference of opinion between Muhammad b. Yahya and Imam Bukhari, on the issue of the creation of the Holy Qur’an, sharpened into hostility, Imam Muslim sided with Imam Bukhari and abandoned Muhammad b. Yahya altogether. He was thus a true disciple of Imam Bukhari.
He wrote many books and treatises on hadith, butthe most important of his works is the collection (Jami’) of his Sahih. Some of the commentators of ahadith are of the opinion that in certain respects it is the best and most authentic work on the subject. Imam Muslim took great pains in collecting 300,000 traditions, and then after a thorough examination of them retained only 4,000, the genuineness of which is fully established.
He prefixed to his compilation a very illuminating introduction, in which he specified some of the principles which he had followed in the choice of his material.
Imam Muslim has to his credit many other valuable contributions to different branches of hadith literature, and most of them retain their eminence even to the present day. Amongst these Kitab al-Musnad-al Kabir ‘Ala al-Rijal, Jami’Kabir, Kitab al-Asma’ uia’l-Kuna, Kitab al-Ilal, Kitab al-Wijdan are very important.
Imam Muslim had a very wide circle of student, who learnt hadith from him. Some of them occupy a very prominent position in Islamic history, e.g. Abu Hatim Razi, Musa b. Harun, Ahmad b. Salama, Abu ‘Isa Tirmidhi, Abu Bakr b. Khuzaima, Abu ‘Awana, and Hafiz Dhahabi.
Imam Muslim lived for fifty-five years in this world. Of this short span of his life he spent most of his time in learning hadith, in its compilation, in its teaching and transmission. He always remained absorbed in this single pursuit and nothing could distract his attention from this pious task. He died in 261/ 875, and was buried in the suburbs of Nishapur.
A few words may be said about the translation of this magnificent book, which comprises the sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). Translation is itself a very difficult task, and it becomes still more difficult when difference in the genius of two languages is immeasurably vast. The Arabic language is rich, colourful and vigorous, and is best fitted to express thoughts and concepts with more conciseness than the Aryan language, because of the extraordinary flexibility of its verbs and nouns. English, on the other hand, is essentially a language of under statement. Moreover, every language is a framework of symbols expressing its peoples particular sense of life-values and the particular way of their perception of reality. No good translation can, therefore, be successfully attempted unless the translator is able to produce within himself the conceptual symbolism of the language in question. Mere translation of words conveys no more than the outer shell, and thus misses the original beauty of the words translated. The problem becomes insurmountably difficult, when we take into consideration the fact that it is not the matter of translating a book of Arabic into English but translating the words of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). He was divinely inspired and was thus gifted with a very chaste mode of expression, the like of which is not to be found in human history. The translation of his words and expressions is, therefore, bound to remain but a distant and faulty echo of the original meaning and spirit.
I do not claim for myself competence in either of the two languages, Arabic or English, the one translated from and the other translated into. The lamentable fact that not even one complete book out of the whole lot of Sihah Sittah has been translated into English tempted me to take this great responsibility on my not-competent shoulders, with the hope that more competent scholars would be the lead and, with their better knowledge and acumen, render into English other hadith collections, and thus wash the blame of gross negligence on the art of the Muslim society.
While translating Sahih Muslim it has been my constant endeavour to give as literal and as faithful a rendering as is consistent with tolerable English.
Accuracy, rather than literary embellishment, has been my aim throughout.
A word may be added about the notes. I have as far as possible avoided theological discussions and tried to explain the meaning of the hadith in the light of the expositions made by eminent Muhaddithin. I have taken great care to follow them both in letter and spirit, since, I believe, they are alone competent to speak with authority on this subject.
I have, at every step, cited the authority so that anyone interested in the detailed study of the point at issue can look into it. Wherever it is found that a hadith is capable of interpretation, its interpretation is given, but that too on the authority of an eminent scholar of hadith literature. Interpretations are there, but at no point have these been made an apology to the Western thought and western mind; that would have been a distortion of the sayings of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him), and is a highly dangerous and objectionable end. It undermines the very basis of belief in Allah and His Prophet (may peace be upon him).
The outcome of my humble labour is before Allah and men. If there is any merit discernible in it, it is absolutely due to the unbounded Grace and Mercy the Merciful Allah, but for all acts of omission and commission I alone am responsible.
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