Praise be to Allah.
The scholars are unanimously agreed that as-Saheehayn (i.e., Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim) are the soundest two books after the Book of Allah, may He be exalted, and they are held in the highest esteem by the Muslims, elite and common folk, scholars and ignorant, as is well known.
The majority of Muslims are also agreed that Saheeh al-Bukhaari is more sound that Saheeh Muslim in terms of scholarship and accuracy.
Abu ‘Amr ibn as-Salaah said:
Their two books are the soundest of books after the holy Book of Allah.
Muqaddimat Ibn as-Salaah, p. 10.
An-Nawawi said: That is according to scholarly consensus.
An-Nukat ‘ala Muqaddimat Ibn as-Salaah, p. 163.
Al-Haafiz said in Muqaddimat al-Fath (p. 8):
The words of Ibn as-Salaah imply that the scholars are agreed on the view that al-Bukhaari is superior in terms of soundness to the book of Muslim, apart from what was narrated from Abu ‘Ali an-Neesaaboori: There is no book under the canopy of heaven that is more sound than the book of Muslim. And it was narrated from some of the Maghrebi shaykhs that the book of Muslim is superior to the book of al-Bukhaari. End quote.
Based on that, we must continue to uphold this status and the high esteem and respect that people have for them both, and it is not permissible under any circumstances to try to sow doubts or cast aspersions upon the hadiths in these books.
These two books are the main references and solid foundations on which the scholars rely to work out the rulings of sharee‘ah, so it is not permissible to cast aspersions on them or say things to sow doubts about them in such a way as to undermine their veracity in people’s minds, whether they are scholars or otherwise.
Rather those who may discuss such matters are senior scholars and specialists in hadith; no one else has the right to indulge in such matters which may undermine the foundations, sow doubts about the fundamentals and stir up confusion.
This is in general terms.
With regard to the details of the matter:
With regard to reports on which the two shaykhs [i.e., al-Bukhaari and Muslim] are agreed, there is no way to suggest that any of these reports are da‘eef (weak), because the ummah is agreed that whatever they agree upon is to be accepted.
Shaykh al-Islam said:
They did not agree upon any hadith but it is undoubtedly saheeh. The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is saheeh. End quote.
Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (18/20).
With regard to other reports, some of the scholars have spoken about that. Most of what is in al-Bukhaari is free of any weakness when thoroughly examined.
With regard to everything other than these few hadiths that have been discussed in this manner, there is consensus among the ummah that it is sound.
Abu ‘Amr ibn as-Salaah said:
With regard to what was narrated only by al-Bukhaari or only by Muslim, it comes under the heading of definitively sound, because the Muslim ummah accepts the book of each of them (and regards their books as being sound and good), in a manner that we have discussed in detail previously, with the exception of a very few hadiths, concerning which some hadith scholars subjected to critiques, and.
In Saheeh Muslim in particular, there are a number of hadiths which some scholars said were weak or problematic, including Abu’l-Hasan ad-Daaraqtni, Abu ‘Ali an-Neesaaboori, Abu’l-Fadl ibn ‘Ammaar, Abu ‘Ali al-Ghassaani, Abu’l-Husayn al-‘Attaar, Abu Mas‘ood ad-Dimashaqi and Abu ‘Abdillah adh-Dhahabi.
In Saheeh al-Bukhaari there are also some such reports, but they are very few, and these few may, upon close examination, turn out to be sound.
See: Kitaab al-Ilzaamaat wa’t-Tatabbu‘ by Abu’l-Hasan ad-Daaraqutni; Meezaan al-I‘tidaal (4/39-40); Muqaddimat al-Fath (344); Sharh Muslim by an-Nawawi (1/27); Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth as-Da‘eefah (1/142; 2/471-475; 5/218).
Ibn as-Salaah said in Muqaddimat Sharh Muslim:
What is said about a few hadiths that they– meaning al-Bukhaari and Muslim – narrated, concerning which some scholars had some reservations, is an exception to what we have mentioned above, because these few hadiths were not unanimously accepted by the scholars. End quote.
This is a prudent approach. Shaykh Muhyi’d-Deen said something different about these reports. He said in Muqaddimat Sharh Muslim: A number of scholars had some reservations concerning some hadiths narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim a number of hadiths which did not meet all the conditions of soundness that al-Bukhaari and Muslim stipulated, and were therefore less sound. ad-Daaraqutni wrote a book about that, and Abu Mas‘ood ad-Dimashqi also wrote a book in which he discussed a few hadiths concerning which he had reservations. Abu ‘Ali al-Ghassaani also wrote a similar book. All of their reservations, or most of them, have been addressed by other scholars.
It says in Muqaddimat Sharh al-Bukhaari: ad-Daaraqutni had some reservations about a few hadiths in al-Bukhaari and Muslim, which he doubted, but this doubt was based on unsound guidelines set out by some hadith scholars that are contrary to the view of most scholars of fiqh, usool and other fields, so we should not pay any attention to that.
When we study the context of these hadiths and examine them in detail, it will become apparent that this criticism is not valid. His comment in Sharh Muslim, “All of their reservations, or most of them, have been addressed by other scholars” is correct. End quote. Muqaddimat al-Fath, p. 344.
Shaykh al-Islam said:
Among that which may be called saheeh is reports that have been classed as saheeh by some scholars of hadith, but others disagreed with that, and said that it is da‘eef, not saheeh, such as some phrases that were narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh, but other scholars disputed their soundness, who were either his equals or a lower or higher standing than him. Such material cannot be deemed as definitively saheeh except on the basis of evidence. One example is the reports which say that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) offered the eclipse prayer (salaat al-kusoof) with three bows [in each rak‘ah] and four bows, and his report differs from what is in al-Bukhaari. This was classed as da‘eef by the well-versed of scholars, who said that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) only offered the eclipse prayer once, on the day that his son Ibraaheem died.
Another example is the hadith in Muslim which says: “Allah created the land on Saturday, He created the mountains on Sunday, He created the trees on Monday, He created hardship on Tuesday, He created light on Wednesday, He created the animals on Thursday, and He created Adam on Friday.”
This was criticized by scholars who were more knowledgeable than Muslim, such as Yahya ibn Ma‘een, al-Bukhaari and others. Al-Bukhaari stated that these were the words of Ka‘b al-Ahbaar.
A number of others regarded this hadith as sound, such as Abu Bakr ibn al-Anbaari, Abu’l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi, and others. Al-Bayhaqi and others agreed with those who classed it as da‘eef.
In Saheeh al-Bukhaari itself there are three hadiths concerning the soundness of which some of the scholars disagreed.
Al-Bukhaari was more skilled and more knowledgeable in the field than Muslim. Moreover, in Saheeh Muslim there are some phrases narrated only by Muslim, which al-Bukhaari refrained from narrating, and which some of the hadith scholars say are da‘eef. Furthermore, those who say that they are da‘eef may be correct, such as the report about the eclipse prayer having three or four bows. Or the version narrated by Muslim may be correct, and this is more often the case.
End quote. Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (18/17-20).
He also said:
When some reports in al-Bukhaari were subjected to criticism, in the majority of cases his view that they were saheeh turned out to be more correct than the view of those who disagreed with him. This is in contrast to Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj, who was criticized with regard to a few of the hadiths he narrated, and it turned out that those who criticised him were fair in their criticism.
Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (1/256).
See: at-Taareekh al-Kabeer (1/413); Sharh Muslim li’n-Nawawi (16/63); Jalaa’ al-Afhaam (248); Irwaa’ al-Ghaleel (3/127); ad-Da‘eefah (2/427).
Dr. ash-Shareef Haatim ibn ‘Aarif al-‘Awni, a member of the Teaching Council at Umm al-Qura University, said:
The scholars have stated that all the hadiths in as-Saheehayn are sound and are to be accepted, apart from a few hadiths that were subject to critique by some senior scholars who were deeply versed in the field of hadith and reached the mujtahid in that field, but apart from these very few reports, all his hadith are regarded as sound and are accepted by the entire ummah.
Based on that, there are two possible scenarios regarding the hadith in Saheeh al-Bukhaari that Shaykh al-Albaani classed as da‘eef:
The first is that the hadith that al-Albaani classed as da‘eef had previously been classed as such by an earlier leading mujtahid scholar. Shaykh al-Albaani’s verdict concerning it may be correct, or it may be wrong and al-Bukhaari’s view is correct.
The second is that the hadith that al-Albaani classed as da‘eef had not previously been classed as such. This cannot be accepted from the shaykh (may Allah have mercy on him), because it is contrary to the consensus of the ummah on regarding that hadith as sound and accepting it. And Allah knows best.
What we want to affirm, in fact, is that we should refrain from discussing such issues, in which it is not appropriate for anyone to indulge except senior scholars of hadith, and the basic principle must be that to continue to do what the scholars have been doing in the past and the present, of accepting the hadiths in as-Saheehayn, and not disputing about any of them, except for a report concerning which a senior scholar had some reservations and more than one of them shared that concern. This is something that rarely happens and it is not good to seek out such reports and ask about them; rather they are known to specialist researchers, if they come across them during their research.
As-Saheehayn are held in high esteem by the senior scholars, which prevents criticism of any report narrated therein or regarding it as da‘eef.
See: Fath al-Baari (11/341); Jaami‘ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hikam (358); as-Silsilah as-Saheehah (2/384).
Based on that, it is not wise to quote any of those hadiths in as-Saheehayn which have been the subject of such discussions, in accordance with the principle mentioned above.
And Allah knows best.
See also the answer to question no. 20153.