HIS TRAVELS, TEACHERS AND WORKS
He began travelling to gain narrations of hadith before he even reached 20. Having travelled to places known for being rich in knowledge such as Aleppo, Kufah, Damascus, Baghdad and Egypt, he studied under many scholars of his time, including: Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal, Yahya Ibn Ma’in, Ibn al-Madini, Abdullah ibn Maslamah al-Qa’nabi and Imam At-Tayalisi. He grew up to become a scholar in Hadith, its Defects (‘Ilal) and its Understanding (Fiqh).
Amongst the books he authored are:
– Masa’il al-Imam Ahmad
– An-Nasikh wal-Mansukh
SUNAN ABI DAUD
A ‘sunan’ is a book that compiles sunnahs, which are hadiths that contain rulings (hukm). The hadiths in a Sunan typically are categorised based on judicial headings. Imam Abu Daud is known most for his
Sunan. From the 500,000 hadiths that he has memorised, he filtered and selected only 4800 of them to be part of his Sunan. After completing it, he reread and revised its content over the span of 40 years. He also showed it to his teacher, Imam Ahmad, who approved of it. Imam al-Khattabi mentioned that the Sunan of Abu Daud is better than the two Sahih books of Imam al-Bukhari and Muslim in terms of its arrangement and focus on fiqh.
In a letter to the people of Makkah, he described his Sunan as such:
1. Under each heading, he would only include one or two of the most authentic hadiths known to him.
2. He ensured that the Sunan was short – under each topic, he wound include no more than one or two hadiths, and if the hadith was lengthy, he would only narrate the portion of the hadith that
touches on the related ruling.
3. He would not cite a hadith that has a narrator who is agreed upon to be not narrated from (matruk).
4. If he were to narrate a munkar hadith (a hadith with an explicit mistake) – which are very few – he would point it out and explain its status.
5. He included as much sunnahs of the prophet as possible. If he did not include a certain sunnah, it means that that sunnah is weak.
6. He would point out if there were any major issues in any hadith; if he did not do so, then the hadith is considered as accepted and can be cited.
7. He would mostly mention hadiths that are well-known – that is with more than one narration
8. Some hadiths had discontinuation in the chain of narrators, be it obvious or hidden (with tadlis). He would only include such hadiths if there are no better hadiths under that specific heading.
9. He would mention some hadiths that have a defect in them, only to highlight that such hadiths should be neglected.
10. He limited the book to contain only hadiths that include rulings, or hukms (sunnahs; hence the name Sunan)
The inclusion of weak (dhaif) hadith in Sunan Abi Daud
In contrast to Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, Abu Daud intentionally included several weak hadiths in his Sunan. The reason behind this methodology were mainly due to the fact that:
– His method in writing this book was to compile all hadiths that included juridical rulings that were held by at least a scholar – this is similar to the method of Imam at-Tirmidhi.
– He is of the view that weak (dhaif) hadiths are stronger than the opinions of scholars and analogy (qiyas).
– If the status of the hadith is very weak, he would mention it in his book to bring its status to the attention of readers. If he didn’t address the matter, he either overlooked or had previously mentioned it earlier in his Sunan.
His Students and Passing
Imam Abu Daud had several notable students who learned from him. This includes, Imam at-Tirmidhi, Imam an-Nasa’i and Ibn al-‘Arabi. He passed away in 275 Hijri, at the age of 73. He was buried in Basrah, Iraq, alongside Sufyan at-Thauri.