Category Archives: Uncategorized

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 :