Can weak/Daeef Ahadeeth be used as proof in Islam?

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem


In this article inshaAllah we will throw light on whether Daeef narrations can be used as proof or not and Some objections raised by the people that justify using weak ahadeeth. This is taken from the works of Shaikh Zubair Ali Zai and its translated by brother Raza Hassan with some useful additions at the end. May Allah reward him abundantly for his efforts, Ameen.


Da’eef Narration: In the principles of Hadith, A Da’eef narration is a form of “Non-Acceptable” and “Mardood (Rejected)” hadith. For example; See, Tayseer Mustalah al-Hadith (Pg 62)

There are some people who say that it is totally permissible to act upon a Da’eef hadith, with regards to Fadhaail-e-A’maal, which is not correct according to the Jumhoor of scholars.

In Ahkaam and Creed (Aqeedah), a Da’eef Hadith is rejected according to all the scholars, but some Scholars declare a Da’eef Hadith to be acceptable to act upon in Fadhaail (vrtues), while accepting it to be Da’eef But they limit it to some conditions:

First Condition:It should not be very weak; it should not be the narration of Liars, Fabricators, and those who make very big mistakes.[There is a consesus on this condition.]

Second Condition: It should be in accordance to the general evidence.

Third Condition: When acting upon it one should not believe that the action is well-founded or proven. [See: Al-Qaul al-Badee Fi Fadhal al-Salat Alal Habeeb al-Shafee’ Pg 258]

Fourth Condition: The one acting upon it should believe that this Hadith is Da’eef. [Tabiyeen al-Ajab bima warad fi Fadhail rajab by Ibn Hajr, Pg 72]

Fifth Condition: It should mention a good deed for which there is a basis in sharee’ah.

Sixth Condition: This Da’eef Hadith should not be regarding the explanation of a Sahih hadith.[See: Hukam al-Amal bil Hadith Al-Da’eef fi Fadhaail al-A’maal by Abu al-Yasar Ashraf bin Sa’eed Al-Misri (pg 55)]

To act upon these conditions, It is necessary to do the research on its chain, and the Takhreej of Hadith, when the research is done, and the above conditions are fulfilled, only then a Da’eef hadith will be taken.

The second group of scholars is not in favor of acting upon weak ahadith whether they are in Aqaaid-o-Ahkaam, or Fadhaail-o-Manaqib, and the research of this group is correct and closer to the truth. Because this is proven from the Quraan, Ahadeeth, and the Jumhoor of Scholars. Imaam Muslim, in the muqaddimah of his book, has given several proves for the invalidity of Da’eef ahadeeth in Fadhaail. Whereas the other view، of making the exception of Weak ahadeeth in Fadhaail, is not supported by any verse of the Quraan or any Saying of the Prophet.

The following are the proofs of this group who reject the Da’eef ahadeeth in Fadhaail as well as Ahkaam:


Proof from the Quran:

There are doubts in a weak hadeeth being proven. Meaning we do not know for sure that this hadeeth is proven from the Prophet (peace be upon him) or not, And Allah The Exalted has said:

“And follow not that of which you have no knowledge. Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those one will be questioned (by Allah).” [Al-Isra: 36]


Proof from the hadeeth:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “What is lawful is evident and what is unlawful is evident, and in between them are the things doubtful which many people do not know. So he who guards against doubtful things keeps his religion and honour blameless, and he who indulges in doubtful things indulges in fact in unlawful things, just as a shepherd who pastures his animals round a preserve will soon pasture them in it.” [Saheeh Muslim: Bk 10, H. 3882]

Since, a Da’eef hadeeth has doubt in it, therefore, according to this hadeeth, the one who acts upon it ends up acting upon Haraam things. So we should follow this hadeeth and leave the doubtful things aside.


Proof from Sahaba (RA) and Scholars:


From the athaar of the well respected scholars from this group, here comes there references, from which it gets proven that these scholars did not take evidence from Da’eef ahadith.

1. It is narrated from the Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abdullah bin Abbaas (radiallah anhu) that he would not agree to even listen to the Mursal narrations.[See: Muqaddimah Muslim H. 21, & Al-Nakat ala Kitaab Ibn as-Salaah: 2/553]

This means that Abdullah bin Abbas (radiallah anhu) did not use to accept the Mursal narrations, even if they were in Fadhaail.

2. Imam Muslim once said (the summary of which is): A Da’eef hadith is not acceptable in any condition, whether it is regarding Ahkaam, or Targheeb-o-Tarheeb (Fadhaail etc). [Ref: Mudaddimah Sahih Muslim Vol 1, Pg 185, 186 with the Sharh of al-Nawawi 127_ 123/1]

3. Hafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said: The meaning of what Imam Muslim has said in the Muqaddimah of his book is that even in the ahadith of Targheeb-o-Tarheeb (Fadhaail), the ahadith should be narrated from those narrators who narrate the narrations of Ahkaam (meaning Trutworthy narrators). [Sharh Illal al-Tirmidhi Vol 1, Pf 74]

4. Imam Sa’d bin Ibraheem said: “Only the Siqqah narrators should narrate a Hadith from the Prophet (peace be upon him).” [Muqaddimah Sahih Muslim published by Darul-Salam: 31]

From this saying we come to know that Imam Sa’d bin Ibraheem did not used to take evidence form the Weak, and non-trustable narrators.

5. Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi said that it is not permissible to act on the basis of a weak hadeeth at all, whether with regard to virtuous deeds or otherwise… See Tadreeb al-Raawi, 1/252.

6. Abu Ishaaq Ibraheem bin Eesa al-Talqani once narrated a Munqati’ hadith of Fadhaail to Imam Abdullah bin al-Mubarak, and he rejected it while criticizing it. [See: Muqaddimah Sahih Muslim Pg 11]

7. Ibn Lahi’ah narrated a hadith that Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever sleeps after ‘Asr and loses his mind, let him blame no one but himself.”

Marwaan bin Muhammad al-Tatri (Siqqah) said: I saw in Ramadan that, Imam Layth bin Sa’d went to sleep after ‘Asr, so I asked him: “O Abul Haarith! Why do you sleep after ‘Asr? while Ibn Lahi’ah has narrated to us from the sanad of Aqeel, from Makhool, that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever sleeps after ‘Asr and loses his mind, let him blame no one but himself.”

Imam Layth replied: Whatever is beneficial for me, I cannot leave it for the narration of Ibn Lahi’ah from Aqeel. [Al-Kaamil by Ibn Adi Vol 4, Pg 1463]

So we came to know that, Even Imam Layth bin Sa’d did not use to take evidence from Da’eef hadith even if it was the issue of Fadhaail.

8. Imam Yahya bin Sa’eed used to consider the Mursal ahadith of Imam Zuhri and Qatadah to be nothing, by saying: “Huwa bi manzilah ar-reeh” They are like the air. [Al-Maraseel by Ibn Abi Haatim Pg 3]

This means that even Imam Yahya bin Sa’eed did not use to take evidence from Weak ahadith.

9. Imam Yahya bin Ma’een said: The Mursal narrations of Zuhri are nothing.[Al-Maraseel by Ibn Abi Haatim Pg 3]

So even Imam Yahya bin Ma’een did not consider da’eef ahadith as Hujjah.

10. Imam Ibn Hibban said: One who mentions a Da’eef hadith, and a narration which does not even exist, both are equal in ruling. (meaning the existence or non-existence of a Da’eef hadith is equal) [Kitab al-Majroheen 328/1]

11. Imam Abu Haatim Ar-Raazi and Imam Abu Zur’ah Ar-Raazi once had a discussion on the issue of raising hands in Witr. Imam Abu Haatim mentioned a Hadith, so Imam Abu Zur’ah criticized the narrator Layth bin Abi Saleem present in this hadith. Imam Abu Haatim mentioned a second Hadith, so Imam Abu Zur’ah criticized the narrator Ibn Lahi’ah of this narration, Abu Haatim mentioned a third narration, so Abu Zur’ah criticized the narrator “Awf” in it, later when Imam Abu Haatim asked Abu Zur’ah for the daleel of not-raising the hands, so he mentioned the (Sahih) hadith of Anas that the prophet (peace be upon him) did not use to raise his hands in any dua except the dua of Istisqaa, after hearing this reply, Abu Haatim got speechless. [See: Taarikh Baghdad Vol 2, Pg 76]

We come to know that Imam Abu Zur’ah did not use to take evidence from Da’eef ahadith even in Fadhaail.

12. Similarly, Imam Shu’bah also used to reject all the Da’eef ahadith. [See: Tahdheeb al-Kamaal]

13. Imaam Ibn Hazm says in ‘al-Milal’, “and it is not permissible with us that we say as these ahaadeeth say (i.e. those weak and fabricated narrations), or to trust in them, or to take anything from them.”

14. Imaam ibn Taymiyyah says, ‘and it is not permissible to rely in the Sharee’ah upon da’eef ahaadeeth which are not saheeh or hasan.

15. The great Scholar of the present century, Shaikh Ahmed Muhammad Shaakir (rahimahullah), who was a great and famous scholar of Hadith, said:

According to me, it is obligatory, in all conditions, to describe the weakness of a weak hadith, because not mentioning its weakness can cause the other person to think that this Hadith is Sahih, especially when the person saying it is from the Scholars of Hadith, whose sayings are to be trusted upon. And that there is no difference in taking a Da’eef hadith in Ahkaam and Fadhaail, In fact there is no evidence for anyone to accept any other hadith from the prophet (peace be upon him), except those which are proven as Sahih or Hasan.[Sharh Alfiyah al-Suyooti Pg 84]

16. Shaikh Naasir ud-Deen Albani (rahimahullah) said:

“From East to the West of the world, we advice all our Muslims brothers to leave the Da’eef ahadith totally, and turn towards the Sahih and proven ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), because it contains the regardlessness from Da’eef narrations, and it has the riddance of any lie on our Prophet (peacebe upon him)” [Muqaddimah Sahih al-Jaami Vol 1, Pg 56]

For more details, please read the book, “Hukm al-Amal bil-Hadith Al-Da’eef fi Fadhaail A’maal” by Abu Yasar Ashraf bin Sa’eed al-Misri, also read the article of Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, which he has written on this issue, it is present in his book, “Fataawa Shaikhul Islaam (65/18)”

The saheeh proven reports from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) offer us sufficient evidence that we have no need to act on the basis of weak hadeeths.

The Muslim must strive to find out which ahaadeeth are sound (saheeh) and which are weak (da’eef), and be content to act on the basis of the sound reports.
Answers to the Objections


First Objection:

One of our Brothers (May Allah preserve him and guide him), said to me that a Da’eef hadith is acceptable in Fadhaail, because the Scholars/Muhadditheen did not completely reject them, but they took evidence from them in the issues of Fadhaail.

This is his evidence for accepting the weak ahadith.


The reason why Muhadditheen have narrated weak ahadith in their books, is not because they used them in the issues of Fadhaail, rather it is not proven from any of them to do that. If you don’t agree, then let me also tell the reader that those Muhadditheen who mentioned these da’eef ahadith in their books, among them there are also many Da’eef ahadith which are related to Ahkaam and Creed, so would you say that Muhadditheen did not reject those ahadith also which are related to ahkaam, so they are also permissible to act upon? Obviously not!

This proves that they did not collect ahadith to follow them in Fadhaail, but there is some other reason.

The correct reason why Muhadditheen have collected Da’eef ahadith is given below:

Most of the scholars, while collecting the ahadeeth they did not care about the authenticity, they would first collect all the possible ahadith, and then later do research on it, and put rulings on each hadith.

Hafidh Ibn Hajrsaid: “When the scholars used to mention the ahadith with their Chains (of narrators), they used to think that they now have relieved them from the obligation of narrating ahadith. wallahu a’lam”. [ref: Lisaan al-Mizaan Vol 3, Pg 75]

From this we come to know that, besides Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and Muwatta Imam Malik, other books contain Weak and Mawdoo’ ahadith after narrating which, the scholars have relieved them from their responsibility.

They did not narrate these weak hadiths, to take evidence from them, or to follow them, they only narrated them for the sake of narrating or to free themselves from the obligation.

Many Scholars also wrote the weak ahadith, so that they could warn the people about them and refrain from them afterwards.

For Example:

Imam Abul Waleed said: “Once, when Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal and Yahya bin Ma’een went to Abdur-Razzaq bin Hammam in Yemen to gain knowledge from him, one day Imam Ahmed saw Yahya bin Ma’een writing fabricated ahadith.

Imam Ahmedsaid: “You know that these ahadith are fabricated then why are you writing them??”

Ibn Ma’een said: I know that these ahadith are fabricated, but I am only writing them so that, if tomorrow someone comes and joins them with authentic chains, I would be able to tell him that, “you are narrating a lie, because it is narrated with this weak or fabricated chain.”.


Imam Sufyan Thawri said: “I write the ahadith for three purposes,and one of them is to know about the weak narrators (so that he may refrain from them after-wards, or warn the people about them).” [Ref: Al-Ta’deel wal Tajreeh 390/1]

Imam Awzaa’i said: “Just like you learn about the practicable actions, you should also learn about the non-practicable actions.” [Ref: Al-Ta’deel wal Tajreeh 390/1]

From all the above sayings of Muhadditheen, we came to know that Scholars did not preserve the Weak ahadith becuase they wanted to follow them in Fadhaail, but they preserved them for other reasons which are mentioned above.

More references can be read in this article inshaAllah:


Second Objection:

Imaam Ahmed considered it permissible to act upon a weak hadeeth.Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal said: “When it is narrated to us pertaining to Halaal wal Haraam we are strict. And when it is narrated to us pertaining to Fadaa’il al-A’maal (the rewards and excellence of actions) then we are lenient.” [Al-Kifayah by al-Khateeb: Pg 134]


Firstly: This saying is not proven from Imaam Ahmed with an authentic chain. The chain of this saying of Imaam Ahmed is severely weak due to the narrator, Abul Abbas Ahmed bin Muhammad as-Sijzi, and Abu Abdullah al-Naufli. [See: Lisaan al-Mizaan: 1/253, 252 & 1/167]

The summary is that this saying is not proven from Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal that he used to act lenient with regards to the ahadeeth of Fadhaail al-A’maal.


al-Allaamah Ahmad Shaakir says,’and as for what Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal and Abdurrahmaan bin Mahdi, and Abdullaah bin al-Mubaarak said, “when it is narrated to us pertaining to Halaal wal Haraam we are strict. And when it is narrated to us pertaining to Fadaa’il al-A’maal (the rewards and excellence of actions) then we are lenient.” -then they mean, according to what I find to be most convincing – and Allaah knows best – that the leniency was in their taking the hasan hadeeth, that which does not reach the level of saheeh. Because the convention of distinguishing between the Saheeh and Hasan was not present at their time…rather many of the early scholars did not describe a hadeeth except by it being saheeh or da’eef only.’ [‘al-Baa’ith al-Hatheeth’ (pg.101) of Ahmad Shaakir.]

So what is clear is that the term hasan was not present at that time, and a great deal of what these scholars used to narrate in terms of fadaa’il was of the level of what the later scholars called hasan.

So the opinion from the above mentioned scholars is to leave acting by the weak hadeeth in totality, except where there is a consensus of the Islamic scholars on the issue at hand, and Allaah knows best. And as for the claims of some that Imaam Ahmad amongst others of the early scholars allowed weak ahaadeeth to be used in Sharee’ah rulings then that has no firm basis as mentioned above.

And especially in this day and age, when so many innovations and misunderstandings about Religion are present, many of them having their roots in these da’eef ahaadeeth, it becomes even more essential to narrate only authentic ahaadeeth as part of the process of purifying the understanding of the Religion.

Imaam ibn Taymiyyah says, ‘and Ahmad bin Hanbal or others like him from the Imaams did not rely upon this type of ahaadeeth in the Sharee’ah. And the one who relates from Ahmad that he used to rely upon the weak ahaadeeth, which are not saheeh or hasan, has erred.’

So the narrations from him that he would act upon a da’eef hadeeth when there was nothing else present in the texts on that subject, or nothing that contradicted that da’eef hadeeth, does not mean that Imaam Ahmad used them as proof in the Sharee’ah. Allaah knows best. [al-Qaa’idah al-Jaleelah’ (pg.82) of ibn Taymiyyah]


Third Objection:

The same Brother, in order to prove the permissibility of acting on weak ahadith, gave an evidence by saying that:

Imaam Bukhaari compiled the greatest collection of sahih hadith which is known as Sahih Bukhari. But he also compiled a number of other books in which he included WEAK hadith, such as in Adab al-Mufrad. Imam Bukhari was aware those hadith were weak but he still included them in those books, because they were not intended for fiqh and rulings rather they were intended for adab and encouraging fadhail. End Quote


The Brother in his comment, somehow, without knowing, has already answered his objection himself.

If it was permissible according to Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) to narrate and practice weak ahadith in Fadhaail,then why didn’t he do it in his Sahih Bukhari?? Why he only included Sahih ahadith in his book? He did not narrate a single Da’eef hadith of Fadhaail in his book!! This is a proof that Imam Bukhari did not used to take evidence from Da’eef ahadith in Fadhaail.

Now remains the question, Why Imam Bukhari narrated weak ahadith in Adab al-Mufrad??so the answer is that, he didn’t narrate those weak ahadith in Adab al-Mufrad to follow them in Fadhaail, rather he narrated those weak ahadith in Adab al-Mufrad because he did not put those strict conditions on his other books, as he put in Sahih Bukhari. He narrated all the ahadith in Sahih Bukhari after doing a great deal of research, but he did not do that in his other books, he was lenient in his other works. That’s why he didn’t care narrating weak ahadith in Adab al-Mufrad, as other scholars did.

If it would have been permissible according to Imam Bukhari to follow weak ahadith in Fadhaail, then he surely would have mentioned them in his Sahih Bukhari. Also, there are many incidences, where Imam Bukhari has weakened the ahadith of Fadhaail, which proves that Imam Bukhari did not take evidence from Weak ahadith even in Fadhaail.

Even if for the sake of argument, we agree that Imam Bukhari did believe in following Weak ahadith in Fadhaail, then still the aforementioned six conditions for a Da’eef hadith to be accepted will be followed, as said by the other group of scholars.
Fourth Objection:

The Brother again said:

Also one of the greatest mufasireen of this Ummah is Imam ibn Kathir rahimahullah. He compiled one of the greatest commentary of the Quran known as tafsir ibn Kathir in which only authentic sources are used. However Imam ibn Kathir also wrote other books, in which he used WEAK hadith. An example is the history book Al-Bidaya wa Nihaya. The Imam used weak hadith because its allowed to do so for history, adab and generally encouraging virtue


The Brother has either said this, without any information of Al-Bidaya wal Nihaya, or he has said it based on his desire Because this is not what Imam Ibn Kathir has done in his Tafsir or History. All the ahadith that Imam Ibn Kathir has narrated in his Tafsir and History, are either authentic according to him, or he has mentioned their weakness after narrating them without taking any evidence from them.

If the Brother thinks that what He has said is true, then why couldn’t he show any example from his history book, where he agreed that a certain Hadith is Weak and still took evidence from it?

I am sure, he won’t find any such example in it. Inshallah. Because Imam Ibn Kathir never took evidence from Weak ahadith. For your information, Imam Ibn Kathir has written a full book on the principles of Hadith called, “Ikhtisaar Uloom al-Hadith”, and in this huge book, he has mentioned several times that a Da’eef hadith is not permissible to act upon, but he didn’t mention even a single time saying that a Da’eef hadith is acceptable in Fadhaail.

Imagine, a man writing a full book on Usul ul-Hadith, and doesn’t mention the very important principle in it. Is it possible??
Fifth Objection:

Brother then, Quoted a sayinng of Imam Nawawi proving his stance:

The famous hadith scholar and jurist, Imam al-Nawawî writes in the introduction to his Forty Hadith: “Scholars agree that weak hadith which speak merely about the virtues of deeds can be cited.”


I agree, with my Brother that this saying is proven from Imam Nawawi. But I would also like to remind him that Imam Nawawi is among those first group of scholars who consider it permissible to act upon a Da’eef hadith in Fadhaail, but those scholars also put those six conditions which I have mentioned above in order for a Da’eef hadith to be accepted. so If you claim to follow Imam Nawawi, then you can’t just follow any Da’eef hadith in Fadhaail, that hadith have to fulfil those conditions for it to be permissible. Please read the conditions again.

The more correct view on Da’eef ahadith is that, they are not permissible to act upon whether they are in Aqaaid, or Fadhaail.

Jamaal ud-Deen Qaasmi has narrated the first madhab on this issue, by saying that:

“Whether it is Ahkaam or Fadhaail, a Da’eef hadith will not be accepted, Ibn Atheer an-Naas has narrated it in Ayoon al-Athar from Imam Ibn Ma’een (the teacher of Imam Bukhari), and has attributed to Abu Bakr bin Al-Arabi in Fathul Mugheeth.

This is also the view of Imam Ibn Hazm, and Imam Ibn Taymiyyah.

so It is proven from the Majority of scholars and scholars that are ven greater than Imam Nawawi, to reject the Da’eef hadith in Fadhaail as well.

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