Weak Hadiths in Bukhari?
by Shaykh Gibril F. Haddad
Ibràhïm ibn Ma‘qil said: I heard Muhammad ibn Ismà‘ïl al-Bukhàrï say: “I was with Ishàq ibn Ràhuyah when a man said: ‘Why don’t you compile an epitome (mukhtasar) of the prophetic ways?’ This stayed with me, and was the reason why I compiled this book (the Sahïh).” Al-Dhahabï said: “It has been narrated through two firm channels of transmission that al-Bukhàrï said: ‘I extracted this book from about 600,000 (sound) hadïths, and I compiled it over sixteen years, and I made it a plea for what lies between myself and Allàh.’”  Al-Firabrï said: Muhammad ibn Ismà‘ïl said to me: “I never included in the Sahïh a hadïth except I made a major ablution (ghusl) and prayed two rak‘at beforehand.”
Al-Nawawï said: “The scholars have agreed that the soundest of all hadïth compilations are the two Sahïhs of al-Bukhàrï and Muslim, and their vast majority have agreed that the soundest and most beneficial of the two was al-Bukhàrï’s.” He continued: “The totality of its hadïths are 7,275 with the repetitions and about 4,000 without.”
In his Kitàb al-Tatabbu‘, al-Dàraqutnï argues for the weakness of 78 hadiths in al-Bukhàrï, 100 in Muslim, and 32 in both based on isnàd and matn criticism.
Al-Nawawï said: “The two Sahïhs differ from all other books only in respect to the fact that what is in them is sahïh and does not require investigation.”  Ibn al-Salàh said: “Whatever only al-Bukhàrï or only Muslim narrates enters [also] into the category of what is definitely sahïh... except a few letters which some of the expert critics objected to, such as al-Dàraqutnï and others – and these are known to the specialists.”  He said this after stating that what they agree upon is “definitely sahïh” (maqtu‘un bisihhatihi) for the Umma. Imàm al-Nawawï objected to the terms “definitely sahïh” while granting all that is in the Sahïhayn the level of “strongly presumed [sahïh] until it becomes mutawàtir” (yufïdu al-zanna ma lam yatawàtar) as is the rule with all sahïh lone-narrated (àhàd) hadïths.  But Ibn Kathïr differed: “I am with Ibn al-Salàhin his conclusion and directives, and Allàh knows best.” Al-SuyþtïinTadrïbal-RàwïcitesIbnKathïr’swordsverbatim then states: “And this is also my choice and none other.”  This is because of the standing of the two Sahïhs in the Umma and because none of the past Imàms in Islàm ever declared explicitly and rightly that all they had gathered in their respective books was sahïh except al-Bukhàrï and Muslim, and the verifying experts have confirmed their claim. Al-Suyutï also states:
Shaykh al-Islàm said: “What al-Nawawï mentioned in Sharh Sahïh Muslim is based on the perspective of the majority (al-aktharïn); as for that of the verifying authorities (al-muhaqqiqun), then no. For the verifying authorities also agree with Ibn al-Salàh.” 
By “Shaykh al-Islàm” al-Suyutï means the spotless Hàfiz and immaculate Imàm Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalànï and his book al-Nukat ‘alà Ibn al-Salàh.  Al-Suyutï goes on to quote in detail – mostly from Hadï al-Sàrï – the refutations of Ibn Hajar to al-Dàraqutnï’s criticism, showing that, in effect, the latter fails to invalidate the view of the Sahïhayn as 100% sahïh.
The fact is that they are all sahïh but not all of them reach the same high degree of sahïh. This is in essence what al-Dhahabï concluded concerning the few narrators of the Sahïhayn whose grading was questioned: “The narration of one such as those, does not go below the rank of hasan which we might call the lowest rank of the sahïh.” Shaykh Abu Ghudda comments in the margin:“This is an explicit confirmation that al-Bukhàrï and Muslim did not confine themselves, in the narrations of their respective books, only to narrate hadïths that have the highest degree of sihha.” Then again in his appendix (p. 144) he states:
Our Shaykh, the ‘AllàmaAhmad Shàkir – Allàh have mercy on him – stated: “The truth without doubt among the verifiers of those who have knowledge of the sciences of hadïth... is that the hadïths of the two Sahïhs are all sahïh and there is not in a single one of them a cause for true [technical] disparagement or weakness. What al-Dàraqutnï and others criticized is only on the basis that it did not reach the high criterion which each of them defined in their respective books. As for the [criterion of] soundness (sihha) of the hadïths in themselves, then both of them lived up to it.
Dr. Badï‘ al-Sayyid al-Lahhàm in his edition of Ibn Kathïr’s al-Bà‘ith al-Hathïth (p. 44-45) also closes the discussion on the topic of the Sahïhayn with the same words but without attributing them to Shàkir. Abþ Ghudda concludes (p. 145): “All these texts show that most of what is in Sahïhal-Bukhàrï and Sahïh Muslim is of the highest degree of the sahïh, and that some of what is in them is not of the highest degree of the sahïh.” More to the point, our teacher Dr. Nþr al-Dïn ‘Itr said in his manual Manhaj al-Naqdfï ‘Ulum al-Hadïth: “The ruling concerning the hadïths of the two Sahïhs is that they are all sahïh.”  All those mentioned above – Ibn al-Salàh, al-Nawawï, al-Dhahabï, Ibn Kathïr, Ibn Hajar, al-Suyutï, Ahmad Shàkir, Abu Ghudda, ‘Itr, al-Lahhàm – agreed on the fact that all of what is in al-Bukhàrï and Muslim is sahïh, and, apart from al-Nawawï’s duly recorded dissent, the muhaqqiqun such as Ibn al-Salàh, Ibn Kathïr, Ibn Hajar, and al-Suyutï consider all the hadïths contained in them maqtu‘un bisihhatihi i.e. of the same probative force as mutawàtir hadïth. Further examination of the positions of the major hadïth Masters might add more names to this distinguished list.
The questions are sometimes asked (1) whether all the Ulema of Hadïth agree that all the hadïths in al-Bukhàrï and Muslim are sahïh or (2) if there are any scholars who consider them to contain some weak narrations, and (3) whether one who believes that “the Sahïhayn are not 100% sahïh” is an innovator. As was just shown, some of the greatest hadïth authorities such as Ibn al-Salàh, Ibn Kathïr, and al-Suyþtï answered yes to the first question. Imàm al-Haramayn (Ibn al-Juwaynï) said that if a man swore on pains of divorce that all that is in al-Bukhàrï and Muslim is sahïh his marriage would be safe.  But Imàm al-Dàraqutnï said a small number may not reach that level so the answer to the second question has to be yes. Yet the objections were refuted one by one by Ibn Hajar at the beginning of Fath al-Bàrï and Imàm al-Nawawï at the beginning of Sharh Sahïh Muslim.  The short formula “whether the Sahïhayn are or not 100% sahïh” remain strenuous and misleading, for the Umma far and wide–meaning the Consensus of the Fuqahà’ generation after generation–have been satisfied that they are.
This conclusion excludes the chainless, broken-chained reports, or unattributed reports sometimes adduced by al-Bukhàrï in his chapter-titles or appended to certain narrations. An example of the latter is the so-called “suicide hadïth” – one of al-Zuhrï’s unattributive narrations (balàghàt) which is actually broken-chained and therefore weak. It does not meet the criteria of hadïth authenticity used by the lesser and greater hadïth Masters, much less that of al-Bukhàrï who mentioned it only to show its discrepancy with two other chains whose versions omit the attempted suicide story, and Allàh knows best. 
The above conclusion is proof that the position that everything that is found in the two Sahïhs is rigorously sound refers only to full-chained reports positively attributed to the Prophet e, and Allàh knows best.
M.M. Azami writes: “Al-Bukhàrï did not claim that what he left out were the spurious, nor that there were no authentic traditions outside his collection. On the contrary, he said: ‘I only included in my book al-Jàmi‘ those that were authentic, and I left out many more authentic traditions than this to avoid unnecessary length.’ He had no intention of collecting all the authentic traditions. He only wanted to compile a manual of hadïth according to the wishes of his shaykh Ishàq ibn Ràhuyah, and his function is quite clear from the title of his book Al-Jàmi‘, al-Musnad, al-Sahïh, al-Mukhtasar, min umur Rasul Allàh wa Sunanihi, wa ayyàmih (“The Compendium of Sound Narrations Linked Back With Uninterrupted Chains and Epitomized of the Matters of the Messenger of Allàh, His Ways, and His Times”). The word al-mukhtasar, epitome, itself explains that al-Bukhàrï did not make any attempt at a comprehensive collection.” Studies in Early Hadïth Literature (p. 304-305). This should be understood by those who ask: “If hadïth x is not in al-Bukhàrï nor Muslim then how can it be authentic?”
Narrated by al-Khatïb, al-Jàmi‘ li Akhlàq al-Ràwï (2:270-271 #1613).
Al-Nawawï, Introduction to his Sharh Sahïh Muslim (1:20): “Innamà yaftariqu al-Sahïhàni ‘an ghayrihimà min al-kutub fï kawni mà fïhimà sahïh an là yuhtàju ilà al-nazari fïh.”
Ibn al-Salàh, ‘Ulum al-Hadïth, chapter on the sahïh hadïth (Dàr al-Fikr ed. p. 29): “Mà infarada bihi al-Bukhàrï aw Muslimun mundarijun fï qàbili mà yuqta‘u bisihhatihi... siwà ahrufin yasïratin takallama ‘alayhà ba‘du ahli al-naqdi min al-huffàzkal-Dàraqutnï wa ghayrih, wa hiya ma‘rþfatun ‘inda ahli hàdha al-sha’n.”
Al-Nawawï, Taqrïb wal-Taysïr (p. 70) and Sharh Sahïh Muslim (1:20).
Ibn Kathïr, chapter on the sahïh hadïth of his al-Bà‘ith al-Hathïth (p. 45).
Al-Suyþtï, Tadrïb al-Ràwï (Dàr al-Kalim al-Tayyib ed. 1:145).
Tadrïb al-Ràwï (1:143).
See also Ibn Hajar’s words from his Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikar to the effect that the foremost hadïth expert’s examination of and familiarity with any given àhàd hadïth may take him to the conclusion that it is qat‘ï al-thubþt – categorically established as sahïh, i.e. in effect of mutawàtir-like authenticity – unlike the feel of the rest of the scholars with regard to the same hadïth.
Al-Dhahabï, al-Muqiza (p. 80).
‘Itr, Manhaj al-Naqd fï ‘Ulþm al-Hadïth (3rd ed. p. 254).
See Siràj al-Dïn’s commentary on the Bayquniyya.
In our own time Nàsir al-Albànï, his arch-enemies the Ghumàrï Shaykhs and Hasan al-Saqqàf, and their respective camps agreed–for once–upon the position that there are some da‘ïf hadïths in them, which tends to confirm that, in real terms, the answer to the third question would tend to be yes unless the speaker is a hadïth Master of impeccable Sunnï belief sufficiently knowledgeable of the art to form an independent confirmation or invalidation, and Allàh knows best.
Cf. Fath (12:359-360), Abu Shuhba, al-Sïra al-Nabawiyya (1:265-266), Musà Shahïn, Fathal-Mun‘im (2:337), al-Albànï in Difà‘ ‘an al-Hadïth wal-Sïra (p. 41-42), and Sa‘d al-Mirsafi in Hadïth Bid’ al-Wahï fil-Mïzàn (p. 75-85).