A Traditional Hadith Curriculum

Originally posted in The Islamic studies Blog, By Al-asiri.

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi in Jami’ li Akhlaq al-Rawi and Ibn al-Salah, in his Muqaddimah, recommend the following curriculum which has been approved, expanded, and commented upon by al-Nawawi in al-Taqrib, al-Suyuti in Tadrib al-Rawi, al-Iraqi in his Alfiyyah, al-Sakhawi in Fath al-Mughith, and Zakariyah al-Ansari in Fath al-Baqi

[ ] Commence by studying the sahih works of al-Bukhari and Muslim with care and attention.

*Al-Ansari and al-Sakhawi both state (perhaps from their teacher Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani) that al-Bukhari takes precedence due to the extreme care he took in extrapolating rulings, which is the greatest objective in studying hadiths, and its superiority over other collections in soundness.

*Al-Sakhawi added that al-Bukhari should be studied first unless called to Sahih Muslim by necessity, such as its narrator (Teacher of the book) being the only one who has it and one fears his dying, as the narrators of Sahih al-Bukhari are many.

[ ] Thereafter, one should study the sunan works of Abu Dawud, 

[ ] al-Nasa’i
[ ] and al-Tirmidhi.

*Al-Ansari and al-Sakhawi state the same justifications here, either from each other or taken from their teacher Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, namely that Abu Dawud takes precedence because of the great number of ahadith al-ahkam that it includes;

[ ] Thereafter al-Nasa’i as it trains one in hidden defects (‘ilal);

[ ] Then al-Tirmidhi due to the care he gives in indicating the hadiths in each chapter and section as well as indicating the gradings of each hadith. All this should be done by mastering precision and understanding their meanings.

[ ] Within this group, one must not neglect al-Bayhaqi’s Sunan al-Kubra, completed in 432 when the author was 48, ‘for we know not its like in its field’ as Ibn al-Salah said, who adds a caution not to be decieved by naysayers.

*Al-Nawawi said one should be devoted to it, as nothing has been written like it, and al-Suyuti agreed.

*Al-Sakhawi said that one must not limit oneself from it (by sufficing with the aforementioned sunan works) due to its comprehensiveness in most of the ahadith al-ahkam.

*Ahmad Shakir said in al-Ba’ith al-Hathith that it is the biggest book in legal hadiths (it has almost 22,000 narrations).

*Al-Sakhawi added that its true place should precede all of the other sunan works (i.e. Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, al-Tirmidhi, etc.), coming in rank only after al-Sahihayn, but they take precedence only due to being earlier.

*I might add that al-Dhahabi considered it to be one of the four masterpieces a scholar cannot do without, alongside al-Muhalla by Ibn Hazm, al-Mughni by Ibn Qudamah, and al-Tamhid by Ibn Abd al-Barr.

*Taj al-Din al-Subki said no other book had been written with such classification, arrangement, and quality.

*It includes most (if not all) of the hadiths found in al-Bukhari and Muslim, as well as many of those in Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’i, and al-Tirmidhi.

*The claim that al-Bayhaqi was unaware of al-Nasa’i and al-Tirmidhi is unfounded, because al-Bayhaqi refers to their narrations within his book, as Najm Abd al-Rahman Khalaf mentions in his book ‘al-Mawarid’ on al-Bayhaqi’s sources.

*Khalaf also includes, among hundreds of al-Bayhaqi’s sources: al-Bazzar, Ibn Khuzaymah, Abu ‘Awanah, al-Tahawi’s Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar, al-Daraqutni, Musnad Abu Hanifah, Musnad al-Shafi’i, Musnad Abu Dawud al-Tayalisi, Musnad al-Humaydi, Ibn Abi Shaybah, Ishaq b. Rahuwayh, Musnad Ahmad, Musnad al-‘Adani, Musnad al-Darimi, al-Musaddad, Musnad Abu Ya’la al-Mawsili, and many more.

*Scott Lucas argues that al-Bayhaqi cemented and sealed the hadith canon, and his choices were honoured by succeeding scholars.

[ ] Al-Khatib added Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah 

[ ] And al-Suyuti further added Ibn Hibban to this group, as did al-Sakhawi

[ ] who also included Abu ‘Awwanah, 

[ ] Musnad al-Darimi, 

[ ] Musnad/Sunan al-Shafi’i, 

[ ] Sunan al-Kubraby al-Nasa’i because of the additions that it includes,

[ ] Sunan Ibn Majah, 

[ ] Sunan al-Daraqutni, and 

[ ] Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar by al-Tahawi.

[ ] Then one should move on to the remaining musnad works that a scholar of hadith needs, such as Musnad Ahmad.

[ ] Al-Sakhawi also added Abu Dawud al-Tayalisi,

[ ] Ibn Humayd,

[ ] al-Humaydi,

[ ] al-‘Adani,

[ ] al-Musaddad,

[ ] Abu Ya’la, and 

[ ] al-Harith b. Abi Usamah, whose hadiths are higher than the aforementioned musnad works due to his living earlier.

[ ] Thereafter, move on to the musannaf works, beginning with Malik’s Muwatta.

*Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said that al-Muwatta is the predecessor for this type (i.e. musannaf works) and thus it is necessary to start with it.

[ ] Al-Suyuti adds Abd al-Razzaq 

[ ] and Ibn Abi Shaybah to this group, as does al-Sakhawi.

*Al-Sakhawi mentioned that musannaf works are of a lower ranking due to the majority of their contents being non-connected hadiths such as murasil.

[ ] One should then study ‘ilal al-hadith, headed by the works of Ahmad

[ ] and al-Daraqutni.

[ ] Al-Sakhawi added Ibn ‘Uyaynah,

[ ] Ibn al-Madini,

[ ] Muslim’s al-Tamyiz,

[ ] Ibn Abi Hatim (whom he ranks with Ahmad and al-Daraqutni) with its commentary by Ibn Abd al-Hadi,

[ ] al-Tirmidhi with Ibn Rajab’s commentary, and other works.

[ ] Alongside this one should study the ‘ilm al-rijal works, the best of which are al-Bukhari’s Tarikhal-Kabir

[ ] and Ibn Abi Hatim’s al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil.

[ ] Al-Khatib ranks alongside these the views of Yahya b. Ma’in.

[ ] Finally, do not forget to study works on the precise spelling of names, the most complete of which is al-Ikmal by Ibn Makula.

[ ] Al-Nawawi added that Ibn al-Athir’s Nihayah fi Gharib al-Hadith as well as hadith commentaries should be relied upon throughout studying all of the above.

[ ] Ibn al-Salah concludes that every time one passes a problematic name or difficult word, one must research it and study it.

One should follow the path of the early masters, who would memorise hadith with chains little by little, as few as two a day, reviewed day and night, in order to have complete mastery in the end.


Shaykh Ashraf Ali At-thanawi & His Methods of Self-Rectification In The light of Modern Science

Mawlana ASHRAF ALI THANVI (1873-1943)

Ali Thanvi, referred to by many South Asian Muslims as ‘Physician of the Muslims’ [Hakim al-ummat] (blogger: correct translation would be sage) and ‘Reformer of the Nation’ [Mujaddid al-Millat], is a towering figure of Islamic revival and reawakening of South Asia in the Twentieth-Century.

Thanvi was an eminent Muslim theologian, a Sufi mystic, and a prolific author of numerous Islamic texts.

His followers claims that his distinguishing mark and guiding principle was his remarkable sense of balance and straightforwardness–a trait manifested in his speeches, writings, and training of scholars and Sufis.

Thanvi is posited by his followers as a reformer of the masses, an exemplary spiritual guide [shaykh], a successful author, a spiritual jurist, an intellectual sage, and a fortifier of Islamic tradition.

The most famous books of Ashraf Ali Thanvi include the famous “Behishti Zaiver” and “Tarbiyyat-ul-Shalik”

His views are identified by the three titles:

a) Personality Theory
b) Causes and Classification of Disease
C) Treatment or Therapies

(a) Personality Theory: According to Thanvi, a child is born with innocent nature. He learns good and bad things from his environment. Three types of “Nafs” are developed in his personality: (I) Nafs Ammara (turning to evil), (ii) Nafs Lavvama (cursing after sin) and (iii) Nafs Mutmainna (following divines).

(b) Causes and Classification of Diseases:Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi explains the causes of mental diseases as follows:

Causes: When a human being becomes detached from religion and goes away from God it makes him worthless. This also removes distinction between good and bad; greed and material gain becomes all-important goal of one’s life in the world. This worldly gain and greed expose one to mental diseases.

According to the Maulana, there are two forces within a human being: constructive force and destructive force. He lays great emphasis on training of the child so as to strike balance between the two forces. In the early days, parents especially mother plays greater role while bringing up the child on right lines. Wrong training spoils him making him prone to mental diseases.

Kinds of Mental Diseases: 

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi divided the mental diseases two categories:
Organic and functional disturbances or diseases.

The organic diseases may be cured by medicines but the functional or psychological diseases are to be cured by individual and group therapies. In the individual therapy, the disturbed individual is made to understand his own self-known as right path. Maulana Thanvi cured thousands of persons suffering from organic and functional disturbances through his therapy. He simply provided the reading material and inspired the individuals to develop an insight to communicate with Allah directly.

For the group therapy, Maulana Thanvi invited his patients to his “Khanqah” to stay with other members of the group and assigned them different responsibilities. As they lived together in a group, they were trained and guided to live a normal life.

C) Thanvi’s Therapy Approaches: Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi believed in individual potentialities and qualities of human beings. Before asking an individual to come down for therapy or treatment, he made it absolutely clear that his therapeutic techniques do not lead to the following:

-Miracle and “Kashf”

-Guarantee for forgiveness on the day of judgment

-Promise of material gain or better prospects in life

-Automatic cure through counselor’s attention

-Possibility of action without will

-Promise or surely for inner experiences

Maulana Thanvi emphasized the importance of the patient’s own will and effort in the cure of disease or illness. The counselor (pir) only assists the patient to understand causes of the disease and overcome adverse factors while organizing his own self. The patient should have full faith and confidence in the counselor and do as advised.

Kinds of Therapies: Ashraf Ali Thanvi divided his therapies into two kinds: 

(I) Reading therapy,
(ii) Communication therapy

(I) Reading Therapy: Reading therapy is individual therapy. At the start of treatment session, Ashraf Thanvi asked his patient to write down his problem believing that a strong psychological link existed between the patient and the therapist. This association was developed through an exchange of letters. The patient must be conscious of his anxiety and explain his trouble in writing.

The therapist believed that some individuals needed direct guidance and counseling. After reading the contents of patient’s letter, he put some questions to satisfy and prepare his (patient) for treatment.

More often that not, Maulana Thanvi provided reading material out of religious scholar’s books to his patients. He never failed to let those read and received verses of the Holy Quran.

Reading therapy depends upon the faith in ALLAH. Based on Muslim Philosophy, the reading therapy believes that man is a whole unit. He has a definite purpose of life. His primary concern is fulfilling this aim. All directed towards definite goals of life. These are to purify one’s soul and seek His pleasure and gratification.

(II) Communication Therapy: In this therapy, Maulana Thanvi invited patients to his Khanqah “Imdadia” where people always gathered together. The Maulana used to sermonize on a certain topic which the patients had to listen intently and act upon as advised. He thought the sermon was the best spiritual group therapy. The patients uttered again and again what they heard. Remaining near to the therapist was important for effective treatment.

This way of treatment applied to those who fully believe in religion. Belief relates to purity of thought, uprightness of character, nearness to ALLAH and commitment.

Source : http://islamandpsychology.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/muslims-in-psychology.html?m=1

10 Rules of Bad Studying

Excerpted from A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)

by Barbara Oakley, Penguin, July, 2014

Avoid these techniques—they can waste your time even while they fool you into thinking you’re learning!

1. Passive rereading:

Sitting passively and running your eyes back over a page. Unless you can prove that the material is moving into your brain by recalling the main ideas without looking at the page, rereading is a waste of time.

2. Letting highlights overwhelm you:

Highlighting your text can fool your mind into thinking you are putting something in your brain, when all you’re really doing is moving your hand. A little highlighting here and there is okay—sometimes it can be helpful in flagging important points. But if you are using highlighting as a memory tool, make sure that what you mark is also going into your brain.

3. Merely glancing at a problem’s solution and thinking you know how to do it.

This is one of the worst errors students make while studying. You need to be able to solve a problem step-by-step, without looking at the solution.

4. Waiting until the last minute to study.

Would you cram at the last minute if you were practicing for a track meet? Your brain is like a muscle—it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.

5. Repeatedly solving problems of the same type that you already know how to solve.

If you just sit around solving similar problems during your practice, you’re not actually preparing for a test—it’s like preparing for a big basketball game by just practicing your dribbling.

6. Letting study sessions with friends turn into chat sessions.

Checking your problem solving with friends, and quizzing one another on what you know, can make learning more enjoyable, expose flaws in your thinking, and deepen your learning. But if your joint study sessions turn to fun before the work is done, you’re wasting your time and should find another study group.

7. Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems.

Would you dive into a pool before you knew how to swim? The textbook is your swimming instructor—it guides you toward the answers. You will flounder and waste your time if you don’t bother to read it. Before you begin to read, however, take a quick glance over the chapter or section to get a sense of what it’s about.

8. Not checking with your instructors or classmates to clear up points of confusion.

Professors are used to lost students coming in for guidance—it’s our job to help you. The students we worry about are the ones who don’t come in. Don’t be one of those students.

9. Thinking you can learn deeply when you are being constantly distracted.

Every tiny pull toward an instant message or conversation means you have less brain power to devote to learning. Every tug of interrupted attention pulls out tiny neural roots before they can grow.

10. Not getting enough sleep.

Your brain pieces together problem-solving techniques when you sleep, and it also practices and repeats whatever you put in mind before you go to sleep. Prolonged fatigue allows toxins to build up in the brain that disrupt the neural connections you need to think quickly and well. If you don’t get a good sleep before a test, NOTHING ELSE YOU HAVE DONE WILL MATTER.

Four Essential Parts to Ta’lim (Islamic Education)

“Ta’lim (Educating Muslims about Islamic knowledge) is a very broad concept that encompasses many entities, which are all necessary… thus when it has a broad-spectrum and divisions within it, which are all required, and scholars are only fulfilling the responsibilities of only one division, then has this obligation of ta’lim reached its aim and is it absolved?

Most definitely this is a weakness you will agree upon. Whatever the case, you must admit to your deficiency.

So now isn’t it important to absolve this issue? Without a doubt it is very necessary.

What I am saying is, Ta’lim is a very broad concept, and all the parts of this concept are required [for the Muslim community by Shari’ah].

Now let us understand the different areas [of ta’lim], some are in my head at this moment, I inductively present to you four main divisions of ta’lim [translator: which can be further divided into subdivisions]:

1 – Delivering speech/sermon publicly
2 – Teaching
3 – Privately advising people (amr bil ma’roof bi khitaab al-khaas)
4 – Writing

Religious scholars should focus on these 4 areas.

These are easily achieved [in the first two points] when you teach in front of students, and when you speak in front of the general masses.

And when you selectively approach individuals or groups and advise them privately (the third point is achieved).

What I mean by ‘selectively’ is where your influence can have a positive outcome, because advice is not gladly accepted everywhere and sometimes it has a confrontational effect and in consequence enmity between the individual increases and not everyone can tolerate that.

If someone is able to tolerate opposition whilst advising him then SubhaanAllah! He should carry on. However it is important not to be harsh and ruthless when advising but be gentle. If confrontations persist, then carry on tolerating. But if you cannot tolerate this, then stop trying to advise him selectively and just advise him generally without any details.

Basically, advise people where you sense your influence.

Sadly, this practice of amr bil ma’roof is completely ignored today. Father and son, Teacher and student, Spiritual Mentor and votary, employer and employee and wife and husband all seldom advise each other. Moreover these are such connections through which humans take influence and give inspirations.
This is a very big religious error, which we will be questioned about.

So these are three points explained.

The fourth point is writing. When a situation arises they will be a need for scholars to write. This does not necessarily mean every scholar of the community becomes a professional writer or speaker, but it does mean that according to the needs of the community, a number of scholars should be proficient and talented in writing and speaking.”


Shaykh Mawlana Ashraf ali Thanwi Rahimahullah (May Allahs mercy Descend upon his soul), Huqooq wa Faraaidh Page 114, as cited by Mufti Zayd Nadwi in Adaab Taqreer wa Tasnif pg 19, Ashrafiyyah Multan, Shaban 1415

Concerning the avoidance of “English Education” in 19th century Muslim India

An Important Reflection of a Muse

Taṣawwuf, Psuedo-Ṣūfīs and Bidʻah!

By Sayyid Mahbūb Rizwī
Translated by Prof. Murtaz ḤusaynF. Qurayshī

This blame has gained notoriety against the ulema of India, particularly against the ulema of Deoband, that, by issuing a fetwa against the acquirement of the English education, they prevented the Muslims from acquiring it, wherefore the Muslims lagged behind other communities in in the field of worldly progress. But this blame is baseless, because the ulema were against only that curriculum which might lead the Muslims towards atheism and irreligion. This danger was being felt in Aligarh itself. Accordingly, to obviate it, an independent Department of Theology was established there, and when Maulana Muhammad Qasim’s son-in-law, Maulana Abd Allah Ansari, was invited to head it, the Dar al-Ulum promptly accepted this invitation. Maulana Abd Allah Ansari graced this post till the end of his life and after him, his son, Maulana Ahmed Mian Ansari, was appointed on this…

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