Bi ismilahir rahmanir raheem
Madhhabs of the Imams of Hadith
What is the position of the Great compilers of hadith in matters of
In other words, did Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim (aswell as ibn Majah,
al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisai and Abu Dawood) follow a school or were
they themselves mujtahids?
Ibn al-Subki included al-Bukhari and Muslim among the Shafi`is while Ibn
Abi Ya`la included them among the Hanbalis.
In truth, al-Bukhari was neither Shafi`i nor Hanbali but a Mujtahid Mutlaq
with his own madhhab, which did not survive him as he was uninterested in
other than his Sahih for a school, and the Sahih is truly a complex and
concise fiqh manual. (It is therefore misleading to characterize the Six
Books only as Kutub Zahir al-Riwaya - "the books of the external aspects
of narration" cf. M. `Abd al-Latif Farfur in his Tarikh al-Fiqh
Muslim was al-Bukhari's close student and probably followed his Madhhab,
but he was definitely a Mujtahid murajjih i.e. s.o. with full knowledge of
Ijma` and Khilaf, competent to evaluate all the pre-existing juridical
conclusions of the Schools of the Companions and Tabi`in and choose the
most correct in his view.
Al-Tirmidhi was also al-Bukhari's close student and a Mujtahid Murajjih
and comparatist of the first rank whose method and school, like
al-Bukhari, is developed in his book - the Sunan - not only in the
chapter-titles like al-Bukhari, but in the bodies of the chapters
themselves and in more explicit terms than his teacher. See `Itr's
masterpiece _Al-Imam al-Tirmidhi wa al-Muwazana Bayna Jami`ihi wa Bayn
It is important to realize the huge debt these two owe to their teacher
al-Bukhari. Our teacher Nur al-Din `Itr - Allah keep him in his best
care - told us that without Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari, neither
Muslim nor al-Tirmidhi would have made one step here nor there, and
without Zayn al-Din al-`Iraqi, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani would have gone
Abu Dawud was a student of Imam Ahmad whose madhhab he followed.
Al-Nasa'i was without doubt a Shafi`i.
I do not know the madhhab of Imam Ibn Majah.
As anyone can see, it is meaningless to simply say of the above scholars
that they were of the vague "school of ahl al-Hadith" as that purported
school no more existed, as a unit, than the vague "school of ahl al-Ra'y".
Those appellations split into infinite varieties and branches between each
major imam and the next, whereas the eponymous Schools - such as the fiqh
of each Sahabi, that of each Tabi`i, that of the Four Imams and their
contemporaries - do show internal cohesiveness in method and terminology.
What is true and accurate is that the Two Shaykhs and the compilers of the
Sunan were "Ahl al-Hadith" because they focussed _primarily_ on hadith and
its sciences, whereas their counterpart, Ahl al-Ra'y - such as Imams
Malik, Abu Hanifa and their students - emphasized jurisprudence over
Imam al-Shafi`i, by the grace of Allah, united with near-perfection the
two currents and so did his students such as al-Muzani and Abu Thawr. That
is why Ulema such as `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Mahdi could not find enough
words to praise his intelligence; and you will find that the vast majority
of the Imams of hadith and hadith masters after his time follow the
Shafi`i madhhab, beginning with al-Daraqutni, Ibn Abi Hatim and his
father, al-Baghawi, Ibn Khuzayma, Ibn Hibban, al-Khatib, and others. Even
al-Tabari, Dawud al-Zahiri, and Ibn Hazm began as Shafi`is. WAllahu a`lam.
PS See also http://sunnah.org/history/Scholars/Default.htm for the
biographies of the Four Imams and Imam al-Bukhari.
Blessings and peace on the Prophet , his Family, and all his Companions,
and may Allah be well-pleased with their excellent Followers; and the
Mujtahid Imams of the past; and the pious, Godwary Ulema; and the
righteous Awliya; and our Shuyukh in the Most Distinguished Naqshbandi
Path, especially the Imam of Tariqa and Ghawth of creatures Khwaja Baha'
al-Din Naqshband, Muhammad al-Uwaysi al-Bukhari; and Sultan al-Awliya',
the teacher of our teacher, Sayyidi `Abd Allah al-Fa'iz al-Daghistani; and
our beloved Shaykh, the light of our eyes, Mawlana al-Shaykh Muhammad
Nazim al-Haqqani; and the rest of our Masters and the Siddiqiyyun. Amin.
GF Haddad ©
Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.