Ruling on Acting on Weak Hadiths

In Islam, there is no dispute among the scholars that Qur’an and hadiths are the primary sources of Islamic law.  All issues related to the religion, particularly theology and legal rulings, must be in accordance to these two vital sources.  Any type of ruling, worship or belief that has no basis in the Qur’an or hadiths is rejected in Islam.  There is no dispute when it comes to the content of the Qur’an, however, hadiths have been scrutinized throughout Islamic history by scholars of hadith in an attempt to separate the authentically narrated reports of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) from the unauthentic.  While the Qur’an was untouchable with regards to tampering, mainly due to it being compiled in one book within the lifetime of the companions, the hadiths have come under attack throughout history by various people trying falsely to attribute statements and actions to the Prophet for personal and worldly reasons.  Some examples of these reasons include: promoting one’s own ideology, giving one’s own tribe superiority over others, hypocrites tampering with the religion to destroy it from within, and even some righteous people who did it with the intention of promoting good in society and forbidding evil.

The scholars of hadith took on the task to thoroughly research the chain and the text of every hadith they came across and identify elements within it which can help determine to the masses whether a particular hadith is reliable or not.  They categorized the grading of hadiths into four main categories: sahih (authentic), hasan (good), da’if (weak), and mawduu’ (fabricated).  They have sub-categories underneath them as well but these four are the general categories under which hadiths are placed.  There is a consensus with the scholars when it comes to not acting in any way or form with regards to mawduu’ (fabricated) hadiths.  However, when it comes to da’if (weak) hadiths, there is a difference of opinion “concerning the relating of and acting in accordance with weak hadith.”[1]

Shaykh Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo points out that there are three opinions on this matter:[2]

  1. The first opinion states that weak hadith may be used with virtually no restrictions on their use.  This opinion has been attributed to Ahmad and Abu Dawood.
  2. The second opinion states that weak hadith may be acted upon given certain conditions…This is the view of a large number of scholars, in fact, it is the majority view.
  3. The third opinion states that weak hadith are never to be acted upon.

Afterwards, Shaykh Zarabozo delves into the arguments of each opinion by those who held those opinions and concludes that the strongest opinion is the third one.  According to him the first opinion is a misunderstanding and the scholars of the past who held that position were not referring to hadiths which are today classified as da’if (weak).  Rather, he suggests, they were referring to hasan (good) level hadiths.  He uses quotes of Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Shaatibi to back his claim.[3]

As for the second opinion, this is the opinion of the majority of the scholars.  They allowed acting on it provided the following four conditions as stated by Ibn Hajr:[4]

  1. The hadith in question must not be very weak…[it may] only have minor defects.
  2. The hadith is taken as subservient to the confirmed sources, that is the Qur’an and accepted hadith.  Therefore, it may not be used to establish something that has no basis in the confirmed sources.
  3. The reward that is stated in the hadith should not be expected…deed should be done more out of safety and a hope for some type of reward.
  4. The doer of the act should not make the act public so that no one else may act upon that hadith and think something is sanctioned while it is not sanctioned or so that no ignorant people might see the person doing the act and think that the act is an authentic sunnah.

Ibn al-Salah al-Shahrazuri in his famous work on the introduction of the sciences of hadith also pointed out about this second opinion:

“This applies in topics other than the characteristics of God (He is exalted) and legal rulings concerning the permitted and forbidden, and so forth.  It is valid, for instance, for sermons, stories, the descriptions of the rewards associated with the performance of various religious acts…and the hadith on other matters having no connection to legal rulings and theological issues.”[5]

Shaykh Zarabozo’s reasons for rejecting this opinion as well, in summary, are as follows:[6]

  1. He states, “this is based on the presumption that virtuosity of acts somehow differs from laws in the religion of Islam.  There is no reason or proof for that presumption…statements concerning the virtuousness of an act must be based on the same types of evidence as any other deed in Islam.”[7]
  2. Weak hadiths are doubtful in nature and there is acceptable number of hadiths available and there is no need to refer to these doubtful hadiths.  Muslims should act according to knowledge and not conjecture.
  3. People who narrate such hadiths do not assure to make sure that it is not very weak; rather, they even narrate fabricated hadiths using the logic provided in this opinion that it is permissible as long as it is related to virtuous acts.  This understanding makes people too lax and they are not careful in determining if a hadith actually qualifies to be used for this purpose.  Thus, this view is not being put into practice with its proper conditions as stated by those scholars who hold this view.
  4. It is not easy to distinguish weak hadiths from very weak hadiths for even the scholars and is a very tedious task.

The third opinion, which Shaykh Zarabozo considers as the strongest, is that one should not act in accordance to any type of weak hadith no matter what be it subject matter.  He suggests that this is the opinion of Yahya ibn Maeen, Abu Haatim, Abu Zakariya al-Naisaboori, Abu Zarah, al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Hibban, al-Khattabi, al-Shawkani, Sideeq Hasan Khan, Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi, Ahmad Shaakir, Subhi al-Saalih, Ibn Uthaymeen, al-Albaani, and others.[8]  Mohammad Hashim Kamali states, “A weak or da’if hadith does not constitute a shar’i proof (hujjah) and is generally rejected.”[9]  Among the reasons listed by Shaykh Zarabozo for this opinion to be the strongest include:[10]

  1. Due to the numerous hadiths of authentic nature, there is no need to turn to these doubtful hadiths.
  2. There are strict warnings against attributing something to the Prophet which he did not say.  The companions use to start sweating when they narrated hadiths out of fear that they may attribute a lie to the Prophet.  As for some of the statements of the Prophet himself in this regard, following are a few examples:
    1. One of the worst lies is to claim falsely to be the son of someone other than one’s real father, or to claim to have had a dream one has not had, or to attribute to me what I have not said.” (Bukhari)
    2. Whoever falsely attributes something to me shall take his seat in the Fire.” (Bukhari)
    3. Telling lies about me is not like telling lies about anyone else. Whoever tells lies about me deliberately let him take his place in Hell.” (Bukhari)
    4. Whoever narrates a hadeeth from me that he thinks is false is one of the liars.” (Muslim)
    5. Beware of the hadith related on my authority, except for what you are knowledgeable of.” (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Abu Shaiba)[11]
  3. In the terminology of hadith scholars, a weak hadith is basically a type of hadith in which there is a great possibility that the Prophet never made that statement and most likely it has not been properly preserved.  And “Allah has promised to preserve the sunnah.  Obviously, the preservation of the sunnah must imply that Allah will preserve it in such a way that the Muslim scholars can distinguish what is preserved from what is not preserved.  With respect to weak hadith, the evidence in front of the scholars is that they are not preserved.”[12]

A final point to mention about this issue is that some of the scholars, such as Ibn al-Salah al-Shahrazuri, had indicated that when “you want to relate a weak hadith without an isnad, do not use, ‘The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said such and such,’ or similar phrases that definitively indicate that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said the words.  Instead, you should say for it, ‘It is related from the Messenger of God (Peace be upon him), such and such,’ ‘We read from him such and such,’…or something similar to that.”[13]  They said this in order to avoid attributing something to the Prophet which he did not say.  However, Shaykh Zarabozo makes a good point in that most people nowadays, due to lack of knowledge, are not able to determine through such phrases that the hadith is weak, hence, it is necessary to explicitly point out that the hadith is weak.


  1. Kamali, Mohammad Hashim.  Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.  Cambridge:  The Islamic Texts Society, 2003.
  2. Al-Shahrazuri, Ibn al-Salah. An Introduction to the Science of the Hadith. Trans. Dr. Eerik Dickinson.  Reading: Garnet Publishing Limited, 2006.
  3. Zarabozo, Jamaal al-Din M.  Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi. vol. 1.  Denver:  Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations, 2008.

[5] Al-Shahrazuri, pg. 80

[11] Sahih according to Al-Albaani, as cited in Ibid, pg. 86

[13] Al-Shahrazuri, pg. 80

Above is mostly a summary of Sh. Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo’s writing on the topic.

Ruling on Sitting Briefly Before Getting up after the First or Third Rak’ah in the Salah – Shaykh Al-‘Uthyameen

Translator’s Note: This is known in Arabic as Jalsat ul Al-Istiraahah (The Sitting of Rest)

There are three opinions on this issue among the scholars:

First: It is definitely recommended.

Second: It is not recommended at all.

Third: It is dependent on the condition of the person.  If he finds it difficult to stand immediately after [the second prostration], then he should sit.   However, if he does not find it difficult, then he should not sit.  The author of Al-Mughni said, “This opinion combines the two [opposite] opinions and is the middle position between them.”  And the author mentioned in the page following it [a statement] from ‘Ali bin Abu Talib that he said, “Verily, it is from the sunnah of the obligatory prayer that when a person gets up to stand in the first two rak’ahs [after the second prostration] that he not place his hands on the ground unless he is a very old man and cannot do so.” (Reported by Al-Athram)

Then the author [of Al-Mughni] said:

“The hadith of Malik ibn Al-Huwayrith which states that when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) raised his head from the second prostration, he would sit [briefly] and then would support himself on the ground [with his hands before getting up] possibly did so because he found it difficult to stand due to his old age.  He (pbuh) is reported to have said [in his later life], “I have become heavy, so do not compete with me in bowing and prostration.” (Abu Dawud)

And this is the opinion that I incline towards in the end [as well].  This is because Malik bin Al-Huwayrith came [and met] the Prophet (pbuh) when he (pbuh) was preparing for the Battle of Tabuk.  During that time, the Prophet (pbuh) had grown old and began to become weak [due to old age].  It is reported from Aisha that she said, “When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) grew bulky and heavy he would observe (most of his Nafl) prayers sitting.” (Muslim)  Hafsah [another wife of the Prophet (pbuh)] is reported to have said, “Never did I see the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) observing supererogatory prayer sitting till one year before his death when he would observe Nafl prayer in a sitting position.” (Muslim)

All of the above reports show that the Hadith of Malik ibn Al-Huwayrith about relying on the ground or something else [with one’s hands after a brief sitting of rest to get up after the second prostration] is only done when there is a need for it.


Hanbali Ruling on a Man’s Beard

The beard is one of those issues about which the Muslim scholars differed. Some view growing it as obligatory, which is the majority position, while others consider it only recommended. Unfortunately, in some places people tend to judge others’ choices in this regard. We must remember that as long as there is a legitimate difference of opinion on an issue among the Muslim scholars, we must never make it a focus of contention in the community.

The following is what the official position of the Hanbali school of law is on the subject of a man’s facial hair.

According to Hanbalis, it is prohibited for a man to shave his beard, and it is disliked for him to take more than a fist length from his beard. And the sunnah is for him to strongly trim his mustache, such that it is not quite totally shaved, but trimmed very short to the point that the skin beneath is clearly visible.

So in other words, the relied upon position (mu’tamad) of the school when it comes to the mustache and beard is as follows:

  • Growing more than a fist length beard = Sunnah (recommended)
  • Trimming what is more than a fist length = Mubah (permissible)
  • Trimming what is less than a fist length = Makrooh (disliked)
  • Totally shaving the beard = Haram (prohibited)
  • Short trimming of mustache = Sunnah (recommended)
  • Totally shaving the mustache = Makrooh (disliked)

The above information can be found in Hanbali texts:

  1. Dalil al-Talib
  2. Nayl al-Maarib, which is an explanatory text for Dalil al-Talib
  3. Al-Rawdh al-Murbi’

There is also a discussion on this topic here.

Hanbali Ruling on Isbal (Clothes Below the Ankles)

The position of the Hanbali Madhhab (and the majority of scholars) is that it is disliked and not prohibited for men to have their garment below the ankles. If it is done out of pride, then it becomes prohibited.

This was stated by Imam Ibn Qudamah (r), Imam Ibn Muflih (r), and other Imams of the Madhhab. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (r) seemed to prefer the view that it is permissible and not disliked. But the correct opinion in the Madhhab is that it is disliked (Makruh).

[Kashaf al-Qina’ and Tashih al-Furu’]


The Hanbali Madhhab Facebook Page

Ruling on Wiping Over Modern Socks in the Hanbali School

It is well-known that many Hanbali scholars today allow wiping over modern cotton socks. As examples, you can view this link and this link for more information. Sh. Kareem Helmy al-Hanbali even wrote a detailed research paper defending the opinion. Sh. Abdul Wahid al-Hanbali has also strongly argued for its permissibility.

However, not all Hanbali scholars today believe that wiping over modern cotton socks is allowed. Examples include the Hanbali scholar at Al-Azhar University Sh. Muhammad Sayyid al-Hanbali and Sh. Faris Falih. The latter recently wrote a piece in Arabic on his Facebook page briefly explaining why he believes that it is not permissible to wipe over modern cotton socks according to the Hanbali school. I have not come across a Hanbali defense for this position in the English language, therefore, I decided to provide a translation of his post below.

Ruling on Wiping Over Modern Socks in the Hanbali School

By Sh. Faris Falih

There are two specific words and their features to consider in this discussion: khuff (الخف) and jawrab (الجورب). This is because the features of a jawrab and its rulings are based on the features of a khuff and its rulings. So let’s define them.

Khuff: It is whatever covers [the feet] up to the ankles. Most of it is made up of leather or something similarly thick like it.

Jawrab: It is whatever is worn on the feet in the form of khuff but is made from something other than leather. Its covering is made up of wool and is used to keep warmth.

Imam Ahmed required certain conditions for it to be considered valid to wipe over the khuff. The right of the jawrab to be wiped over is based on the rulings related to the khuff, because the Hanbalis consider the jawrab to be the same as khuff in its ruling and description through qiyaas (analogical deduction).

There are two conditions that we need to focus on:

Condition 1 – The socks must be thick enough and completely cover the feet so that nothing from them can be seen

What does it mean to be ‘thick’? It means that the socks are firm and evidently infused thickly in their weaving.

Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmed, said, “I asked my father about the khuff without a heel.” He replied, “It is not permitted to wipe over it if anything from the foot shows. He doesn’t wipe over them unless they are these thick jawrab that are worn with shoes and they remain standing firm on the leg.” Abdullah then asked, “What if they do not stand firm on the leg?” Imam Ahmed replied, “They are not wiped over unless they are like khuff.” [Masa’il Abdullah 125]

Notice how Imam Ahmed described the jawrab with the attribute of thickness. There is no doubt that modern socks are not thick enough nor is their weaving thick enough.

Certainly, when it came to wiping, the Prophet (pbuh) associated the jawrab with a jurmooq, a type of overshoe worn over the khuff to protect it from mud and the like. All of these words [jawrab, khuff, jurmooq] had the same meaning as that of a khuff [for them]. However, if we compared the modern leather khuff with the modern sock, then we would certainly see a huge difference between the two. Therefore, it is more appropriate [to consider that] the khuff in their times was thicker and the jawrab was related to it [in its similarity].

Condition 2 – It is possible to walk continuously in them

The companions of Imam Ahmed (Ashaab) required the possibility of walking in them as a condition even if they are the type not usually worn, for example, socks made up of glass, wood, iron, etc. They also included felt, which is [thickly] woven using wool and [animal] hair. The strongest inference that can be derived from this stipulation is that due to the clarity of the thin glass, there is no harm if the foot can be described. Based on this, some have understood that the Ashaab did not intend thickness [by mentioning glass] but transparency. However, this does not mean that they allowed the glass to be thin.

Wiping is only permitted when one is able to walk in them according to custom, because [this shows] it is possible to do so due to the [thick] nature of its weaving. Qadhi Abu Ya’la said, “Analogical deduction (qiyaas) of the school allows wiping over them [the jawrab] because the khuff [similarly] covers and one is able to walk in them. It resembles leather.

I say: Anything that resembles leather, then one is able to wipe over it. Modern socks, however, do not resemble leather in terms of thickness at all.

What does it mean to be possible to walk in them?

It is said in the Hanbali fiqhi text الرعاية الكبرى that, “It is possible to walk in them as much as a traveler who would repeatedly use them [while traveling] due to need. If he is unable to continuously walk in them, then you cannot call it a need, thus, it would not be related to [the rulings of] concession.

It is not possible to walk repeatedly while wearing modern socks according to custom except in the house or mostly on carpets. If a person was required to continuously walk in them while on travel due to need on other surfaces, it would not work.

Imam Ahmad said, “The wiping of the people over the jawrab is only due to the position of khuff with them. It takes the status of a khuff on a person’s foot. He goes and comes while wearing it.” Imam Ahmed here explicitly says that they take ‘the position of khuff‘ and then describes the walking as ‘he goes and comes.’

Extracted Issues From the Above Discussion

Absence of the permissibility of wiping over modern socks due to the following two reasons:

1 – They do not resemble the khuff in any way especially with regards to their thickness. We have explicit text [from the school] that indicates that the jawrab must be similar to the khuff in meaning and status.

2 – It is not possible to continuously walk in them according to custom due to their thinness.

It should be noted, however, that Ibn Taymiyyah did not require the socks to be thick. He permitted wiping over thin jawrab. It is a [valid] ijtihadi issue.

We have presented the Hanbali school’s position on the modern sock and we do not make it binding on anyone.

Hanbali Ruling on a Muslim Who Does Not Pray

The relied-upon opinion among the Hanbali school regarding the disbelief (kufr) resulting from abandoning prayer has two scenarios:

First Scenario: If a person abandons prayer while denying its obligation. If the person is knowledgeable, their act is considered an act of disbelief. Similarly, if they are ignorant but aware of its obligation, it is deemed an act of disbelief. If they are ignorant and unaware of its obligatory nature, they are not considered disbelievers, especially if the textual evidence is not clear to them.

Second Scenario: If a person abandons prayer out of negligence and laziness. In this case, disbelief is not attributed to them unless certain conditions are met:

  1. The first condition is that the Imam or his deputy calls them to perform the prayer.
  2. The second condition is that the individual obstinately refuses to pray, meaning they intentionally refrain from performing it until the time for the next prayer becomes tight [i.e. about to run out] and they still refuse to pray. For example, if they are called to perform the Dhuhr prayer, they refrain from it until the time for the Asr prayer becomes tight yet they still refuse to pray.
  3. The third condition is that they are given a chance for three days to repent.
  4. The fourth condition is that they are pressured and are repeatedly called to pray. It means that the individual should be consistently reminded or prompted to pray and they should feel the constriction or discomfort caused by this persistent reminder.

Other points to keep in mind:

  • Disbelief due to abandoning prayer is not universally applicable to all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence.
  • The specific conditions outlined by the Hanbali school need to be considered to determine whether the act constitutes disbelief. If any of these conditions are not met, the person is judged to remain within the fold of Islam.
  • Even according to the stance of Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, a person is not considered disbelieving unless they completely cease praying, not praying even once or twice. Therefore, this would not apply to someone who prays only on Fridays, only at work, or only during Ramadan. The abandonment of prayer must be comprehensive to apply.
  • As for the other three schools, Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafi’i, those who neglect prayer out of laziness are not deemed disbelievers.