AL-HAKIM AL-NAYSABURI

by Dr. G.F. Haddad

Al-Hkim, Muhammad ibn `Abd Allh ibn Muhammad ibn Hamdyah, Ab `Abd Allh al-Dabb al-Tamhn al-Naysabr al-Shfi`, also known as Ibn al-Bayyi` (321-405). The Imm, hadth Master, expert in hadth criticism, and Shaykh of hadth Masters. He took hadth from about two thousand authorities in Khursn, Iraq, Transoxiana and elsewhere. Among the most prominent of the Masters who narrated hadth from him are his own teacher al-Draqutn - who declared him stronger in hadth than Ibn Mandah, - al-Bayhaq, al-Qushayr, and others.
Ab Hazim said that al-Hkim was peerless in his time in Khursn, the Hijz, al-Shm, Iraq, Rayy, Tabaristn, and Transoxiana. His fame became widespread with lightning speed in his own lifetime. Al-Dhahab said: "I saw an incredible thing, which is that the muhaddith of al-Andalus Ab `Umar al-Talamank copied al-Hkim's book `Ulm al-Hadth ("The Sciences of Hadth") in the year 389 from a shaykh which he named, from another narrator, from al-Hkim."
Al-Hkim belongs to the second generation of the Ash`ar school, having taken al-Ash`ar's doctrine at the hands of his students, among them Ab Sahl al-Su`lk. He took tasawwuf from al-Sulam's grandfather and teacher Ab `Amr ibn Nujayd, Ab al-Hasan al-Bshanj, Ab Sa`d Ahmad ibn Ya`qb al-Thaqaf, Ab Nasr al-Saffr, Ab Qsim al-Rz, Ja`far ibn Nusayr, Ab `Amr al-Zujj, Ja`far ibn Ibrhm al-Hadhdh', and Ab `Uthmn al-Maghrib.
Al-Hkim said: "I drank water from Zamzam and asked Allh for excellence in writing books". He authored the following works among others:
        Al-Abwb ("The Chapters")
        Al-Aml ("The Dictations")
        Aml al-`Ashiyyt ("Night Dictations")
        Fad'il al-Shfi` ("The Immense Merits of al-Shfi`")
        Faw'id al-Nusakh ("Benefits of the Copies")
        Faw'id al-Khursniyyn ("Benefits of the People of Khursn")
        Al-Ikll f Dal'il al-Nubuwwa ("The Diadem: The Marks of Prophethood")
        Al-`Ilal ("The Defects of Hadth")
        M Tafarrada bi Ikhrjihi Kullu Whidin min al-Immayn ("Reports Found Only in al-Bukhr or Only in Muslim")
        Al-Madkhal il `Ilm al-Sahh ("Introduction to the Science of Sound Reports")
Ma`rifat Anw` `Ulm al-Hadth ("Knowledge of the Different Types of the Hadth Sciences")
Al-Mustadrak `al al-Sahhayn ("Supplement for What is Missing From al-Bukhr and Muslim")
Muzakk al-Akhbr ("Verified Reports")
Al-Sahhn ("The Two Books of sahh Hadths")
        Al-Talkhs ("The Summary")
        Tarjim al-Musnad `al Shart al-Sahhayn ("The Reports of Ahmad's Musnad That Match the Criteria of the Two Books of Sahh")
        Tarjim al-Shuykh ("Biographies of the Shaykhs")
        Trkh `Ulam' Ahl Naysabr ("History of the Scholars of Naysabr"), etc.
It is narrated that a man of letters named Ab al-Fadl al-Hamadhn came to Naysabr where he acquired a following and was named Bad` al-Zamn ("Wonder of the Age"), whereupon he became self-infatuated. If he heard someone recite a hundred verses of poetry but once, he was able to recite them back from memory, starting from the end and back to the beginning. One day he criticized someone for saying: "So-and-so the memorizer of hadth," exclaiming: "Memorizing hadth! Is it worthy of mention?" When he heard of this, al-Hkim sent him a book of hadth and challenged him to memorize it in a week. Al-Hamadhn returned the book to him and said: "Who can memorize this? 'Muhammad son of So-and-So and Ja`far son of So-and-So reported from So-and-So' - It is filled with all sorts of different names and terms!" Al-Hkim said: "Therefore know yourself, and understand that to memorize such as this is beyond your sphere."
Al-Hkim's Mustadrak was criticized by the hadth scholars due to the number of mistakes and inaccuracies found in it. Al-Sakhw in al-I`ln wal-Tawbkh and others mention that he declares many forged reports to be rigorously authentic - up to 100 according to some authorities - not to mention weak ones, instead of clinging to his own expressed precondition that only reports with chains of the rank of al-Bukhr's and Muslim's would be retained. For example, he narrates in the Mustadrak from Ibn `Abbs that Allh revealed to the Prophet
I have killed seventy thousand [in punishment] for [the murder of] Yahy ibn Zakariyya and I will kill seventy thousand times seventy thousand [in punishment] for [the murder of] your daughter's son al-Husayn.
Al-Hkim said this report has a sound chain while al-Dhahab added: "By the criterion of Muslim" but Ibn Hibbn said this hadth is untraceable (l asla lahu), al-Dhahab himself rejected its matn as munkar in the Siyar while Ibn Kathir similarly declared it "highly anomalous" (gharb jiddan) in al-Bidya. [1]
Al-Dhahab went to excess in regretting that al-Hkim had compiled the Mustadrak in the first place. [2] His classing al-Hkim "among those who are lenient, like al-Tirmidh" [3] does not apply to al-Hkim in absolute terms but only to his grading of narrations in the Mustadrak, which the Scholars pointed out he compiled in his old age, intending to revise it, a task left unfinished beyond the first volume. [4] This is proven by the fact that al-Hkim's mistakes are fewer in the first volume of the Mustadrak, as shown by al-Dhahab's own minimal corrections there. "Outside of the Mustadrak," Shaykh Mahmd Mamdh said, "his positions are as strict as those of any of the meticulous Imms of hadth" [5] In fact, al-Hkim often criticizes al-Bukhr and Muslim for narrating hadths from narrators who have been questioned. [6] More accurately, the criterion of soundness (sihha) for both al-Hkim and al-Dhahab includes the narrations others classified as merely fair (hasan). [7]
Al-Kattn in al-Risla al-Mustatrafa described the Mustadrak as consisting half of sound narrations per the criteria of al-Bukhr and Muslim or of either one, a quarter of sound narrations that do not meet their criteria, and a quarter of unsound narrations including forgeries. Among the takhrj commentaries on the Mustadrak are al-Dhahab's Talkhs al-Mustadrak, al-Suyt's Tawdh al-Madrak f Tashh al-Mustadrak, a work by Burhn al-Dn al-Halab, and others such as the recent Tanbh al-Whim by Ramadn `Al Muhammad.
Another criticism is al-Hkim's alleged Sh`sm. Al-Dhahab once names him "one of the oceans of knowledge although a little bit Sh`" (`al tashayyu`in qallin fh), another time "al-Hkim the Sh`," and another time "a famous Sh`" (sh`iyyun mashhr), [8] an echo of Ibn al-Jawz's barb: "Al-Hkim was Sh`-leaning (mutashayyi`) and this is a flagrant trait of his." [9] Ibn al-Subk rejects the label of Sh` as baseless because Ibn `Askir includes al-Hkim among the Ash`ars, who consider the Sh`s innovators. Yet this label is still branded as a blemish today at the hands of those who oppose his positions if they weaken theirs, and those who oppose him for being a follower of al-Ash`ar, or for being a Sf.

The first hadth of the Prophet MHMD upon him blessings and peace - al-Hkim narrated in his Ma`rifat `Ulm al-Hadth is:

May Allh make radiant the face of one who heard one of my sayings and then carried it to others. It may be that one carries understanding without being a person of understanding; it may be that one carries understanding to someone who possesses more understanding than he. [10]

On the 3rd of Safar 405 al-Hkim went into the bath, came out after bathing, said "Ah" and died wearing but a waist-cloth before he had time to put on a shirt Al-Hasan ibn Ash`ath al-Qurash said: "I saw al-Hkim in my dream riding a horse in a handsome appearance and saying: 'Salvation.' I asked him: `Al-Hkim! In what?' He replied: 'Writing hadth.'" [11]



[1] See Ibn Hibbn, al-Majrhn (2:215), al-Khatb, Trkh Baghdd (1:142), al-Hkim (1990 ed 2:319, 2:648, and 3:195), Fayd al-Qadr (1:205), Tadhkirat al-Huffz (1:77 gharb), Mzn (sv. Qsim ibn Ibrhm al-Hshim), and Siyar (Risla ed 4:342-343).
[2] "It would have been better if al-Hkim had never compiled it"! As mentioned by Dr. Bashshar `Awwad Ma`rf in his doctoral thesis al-Dhahab wa Manhajuhu f Kitbihi Trkh al-Islm.
[3] In Dhikr Man Yu`tamadu Qawluhu fl-Jarh wal-Ta`dl (p. 172).
[4] Cf. al-Sakhw, Fath al-Mughth (1:36) and Mamdh, Raf` al-Minra (p. 153 n. 1).
[5] Ibid.
[6] Shaykh `Abd Allh Sirj al-Dn said in Sharh al-Manzma al-Bayqniyya (p. 47): "Al-Suyt said in al-Tadrb [Egyptian ed p. 72] that Ibn al-Salh excepted the hadths that attracted criticism [from his statement that all that is in the two Sahhs is definitely sahh]. These are the hadths which al-Draqutn and others have criticized, 210 narrations as the hfiz Ibn Hajar said, 32 shared by al-Bukhr and Muslim, while al-Bukhr alone has 78 and Muslim alone 100."
[7] For a critique of al-Dhahab's statement about al-Tirmidh's leniency see `Itr's masterpiece al-Imm al-Tirmidh.
[8] "Al-Dhahab likes to fuss over whomever he suspects of tashayyu`." Al-Ghumr, al-Mudw (5:424). Al-Dhahab goes so far - in the Siyar (10:627) - as to claim that al-Hkim leans to the Karrmiyya!
[9] Ibn al-Jawz, al-Muntazam (8:269).
[10] A mass-transmitted (mutawtir) hadth narrated from the following Companions:
 (1) Zayd ibn Thbit by al-Tirmidh (hasan in the printed eds), Ab Dwd, Ibn Mjah, Ahmad, al-Drim, al-Shfi` in his Risla (1102), al-Tabarn in al-Kabr (4891-4892, 4925, 4994), Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jmi` Bayn al-`Ilm (1:175 184), al-Rmahurmuz in al-Muhaddith al-Fsil (p. 64), Ibn Ab `Asim in al-Sunna (p. 45 94), al-Khatb in Sharaf Ashb al-Hadth (p. 24) and al-Faqh wa al-Mutafaqqih (2:71), al-Tahw in Sharh Mushkil al-Athr (2:232=4:282 1600), and Ibn Hibbn (1:270 67, 2:454 680), all with sound chains as stated by al-Arna't and others;
 (2) Jubayr ibn Mut`im by Ibn Mjah, Ahmad, al-Drim, al-Tabarn in al-Kabr (1541-1544), Ab Ya`l in his Musnad (1:347 7413), al-Hkim (1:87= 1990 ed 1:162), al-Qud` in Musnad al-Shihb (1421), al-Tahw in Sharh Mushkil al-Athr (2:232= 4:282 1601), al-Khatb in Sharaf Ashb al-Hadth (p. 18), and Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jmi` Bayn al-`Ilm (1:184-187 195-197), all with weak chains because of Muhammad ibn Ishq who is a concealer in his narrative chains (mudallis), cf. al-Haytham (1:139);
 (3) Anas by Ibn Mjah, Ahmad, al-Tabarn in al-Awsat, and Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jmi` Bayn al-`Ilm (1:187-189 198-199) with weak chains - as stated by al-Haytham (1:138-139) - the collected force of which raise the hadth to the grade of fair;
 (4) Ab Sa`d al-Khudr by al-Bazzr with a chain of trustworthy narrators except for Sa`d ibn Bzigh who may be unknown as stated by al-Haytham (1:137);
 (5) Ab al-Dard' by al-Drim and al-Tabarn in al-Kabr with a very weak chain because of `Abd al-Rahmn ibn Zayd ("ibn Zubayd al-Ym" in al-Drim) as stated by al-Haytham (1:137);
 (6) `Umayr ibn Qatda al-Layth by al-Tabarn in al-Kabr with a chain containing one narrator whose state is unsure as mentioned by al-Haytham (1:138);
 (7) al-Nu`mn ibn Bashr by al-Tabarn in al-Kabr with a very weak chain because of `Is al-Khabbt and by al-Hkim (1:88=1990 ed 1:164) with a sound chain as confirmed by al-Dhahab and as indicated by al-Haytham (1:138);
 (8) Jbir and  (9) Sa`d ibn Ab Waqqs by al-Tabarn in al-Awsat with weak chains as stated by al-Haytham (1:138-139);
 (10) Ibn Mas`d by al-Tirmidh with two chains (hasan sahh), Ibn Mjah, Ahmad, Ab Ya`l in his Musnad (5126, 5296), al-Shfi` in his (1:14), al-Baghaw in Sharh al-Sunna (1:233-234), al-Khatb in al-Kifya (p. 29, p. 173) and Sharaf Ashb al-Hadth (p. 18-19, p. 26), al-Bayhaq in Ma`rifat al-Sunan (1:15-16, 1:43) and Dal'il al-Nubuwwa (6:540), Ab Nu`aym in Trkh Asbahn (2:90) and al-Hilya (7:331) where he graded it sahh, al-Hkim in Ma`rifat `Ulm al-Hadth (p. 322), Ibn `Abd al-Barr in Jmi` Bayn al-`Ilm (1:178-182 188-191), Ibn Hibbn (1:268 66, 1271-272 68-69) with three fair chains according to al-Arna't, one of them with the wording "Allh have mercy on someone who hears a hadth from me then conveys it..."
Al-Kattn in Nazm al-Mutanthir adds the following Companion-narrators of this hadth:
 (11) Bashr ibn al-Nu`mn;
 (12) Mu`dh ibn Jabal;
 (13) Ab Qirfsa;
 (14) Rab`a ibn `Uthmn al-Taym;
 (15) Ibn `Umar;
 (16) Zayd ibn Khlid al-Juhan;
 (17) `A'isha; (18) Ab Hurayra; and
 (19) Shayba ibn `Uthmn.
Al-Tirmidh's version does not mention the last sentence while al-Shfi`'s adds "and guard them from delusion." This is the first narration in al- Ajurr's book al-Shar`a. On the variant wordings of this important hadth also see `Abd al-Fatth Ab Ghudda's al-Rasl al-Mu`allim (p. 55-56).
[11] Tabyn (p. 226-229); Mzn (3:608 7804, 3:551 7544); Siyar (13:97-106 3714); Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya al-Kubr (4:155-171 329).