of al-Bukhaaree's Saheeh in the literature is not, of course,
unrivalled. Another Saheeh was being compiled almost simultaneously,
which was considered its superior by some, its equal by others,
and second to it by most. This was the Saheeh of Abul-Husayn
'Asaakir ad-Deen Muslim Ibn al-Hajjaaj Ibn Muslim al-Qushayree
an-Neesaabooree known as Imaam Muslim.
his nisbah shows, Muslim belonged to the Qushayr tribe of
the Arabs, an offshoot of the mighty clan of Rabee'ah. His
tribe had taken an important part in the history of Islaam
after the death of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam).
Haydah of Qushayr is mentioned in the Isaabah as one of the
companions, while Qurra Ibn Hubayrah, another Qushayree, was
appointed by the Prophet (sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) as
walee in charge of the alms of his people. Ziyaad Ibn Abdur-Rahmaan
al-Qushayree is said to have killed a vast number of Byzantine
troopers at the Battle of the Yarmook, in which he lost one
of his legs.
the great Islaamic conquests, various families of Qushayrees
migrated from Arabia and settled in the new provinces, some
in the west, and others in the east. Kulthoom Ibn 'Iyaad and
his nephew Balj Ibn Bishr, who had served as governors of
Africa and Andalus (Spain) respectively, settled down in a
district near Qurtuba, Andalus (Cordoba, Spain). Another Qushayree
family made their residence at nearby al-Beera, Andalus (Elvira,
Spain). Others headed east, and settled in Khurasaan. Among
them was one Zuraarah, who served as provincial governor for
a time. His son 'Amr, and grandson Humayd Ibn 'Amr, settled
down at Neesaaboor. From them our author was probably descended:
the son of al-Hajjaaj, who was himself a hadeeth scholar of
no mean repute.
little is known about Muslim's early life. It is said that
he was born in 202 A.H. / 817 C.E., and that having learnt
and excelled in the usual disciplines at a precocious age,
focussed his attention on hadeeth. In its pursuit he travelled
widely, visiting all the important centres of learning in
Persia, Iraq, Syria and Egypt. He attended the lectures of
most of the great hadeeth scholars of his day, including Ishaaq
Ibn Raahawayh, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, 'Ubaydullaah al-Qawaarifee
Shuwayh Ibn Yoonus, 'Abdullaah Ibn Maslamah, and Hamalah Ibn
Yahyaa. He settled down at Neesaaboor, earning a living from
a small business, and devoted the remainder of his time to
the service of the Prophetic Sunnah. He died in the year 261
A.H. / 874 C.E.
character is said to have been admirable. His fearless loyalty
to the truth is shown by his persistence in associating with
al-Bukhaaree despite the political pressures brought to bear
on the latter. Like al-Bukhaaree, he adhered to the usual
Islaamic ethic of refusing to speak ill of anyone.
al-Bukhaaree too, he wrote a good number of books and treatises
on hadeeth, and on related subjects. Ibn anl-Nadeem mentions
five books by him on the subject. Haajee Khaleefah adds the
names of many other works by him in the same field. In his
Saheeh he examined a third of a million ahaadeeth, from which
he selected only about four thousand, which the hadeeth scholars
unanimously regarded as sound.
al-Bukhaaree, Muslim regarded a hadeeth as Saheeh only when
it had been handed down to him through a continuous isnaad
of known and reliable authorities, was compatible with other
material established in this way, and was free from various
types of deficiency. He adopted a threefold classification
there were those which had been related by narrators who were
straighforward and steadfast in their narrations, did not
differ much in them from other reliable narrators, and did
not commit any palpable confusion in their reports.
there were traditions whose narrators were not distinguished
for their retentive memory and steadfastness in narrations.
there were the ahaadeeth narrated on the authority of people
whom all or most hadeeth scholars declared were of questionable
reliability. According to Imaam Muslim, the first group makes
up the bulk of his book; the second is included as corroborative
of the first, while the third is entirely rejected.
Saheeh Muslim's Book of Tafseer is neither complete nor systematic,
the work is not considered a comprehensive collection (Jaami')
like that of Imaam al-Bukhaaree. Despite this, Imaam Muslim
strictly observed many principles of the science of hadeeth
which had been to some extent neglected by al-al-Bukhaaree.
He draws a distinction between the terms akhbaranaa and haddathanaa,
and always uses the former in connection with the traditions
which had been recited to him by his own teachers, assigning
the latter to what he had in turn read out to them. He was
more strict and consistent than al-Bukhaaree in pointing out
the differences between the narrations of the various narrators,
and in stating their character and other particulars. He also
showed greater acumen in the arrangement of traditions and
their asaaneed in his work, and in presenting the different
versions of a single tradition in one place. He added a long
introduction, in which he explained some of the principles
which he had followed in the choice of materials for his book;
and which should be followed in accepting and relating traditions.
completing his Saheeh Imaam Muslim presented it to Abu Zar'ah
of Rayy, a hadeeth scholar of great repute, for his comments.
Abu Zar'ah inspected it closely, and Muslim deleted everything
which he thought was defective, and retained only such traditions
as were declared by him to be genuine.
carefully compiled by Muslim, and proof-read by Abu Zar'ah
the Saheeh has been acclaimed as the most authentic collection
of traditions after that of al-Bukhaaree, and superior to
the latter in the details of its arrangement. Some hadeeth
scholars hold it to be superior to the work of al-Bukhaaree
in every respect.
Muslim, a number of other scholars also compiled Saheeh collections.
These include Ibn Khuzaymah (died 311 A.H. / 923 C.E.), Abu
Haatim Muhammad Ibn Hibbaan (died 354 A.H. / 965 C.E.), and
others. None of them, however, ever gained the recognition
and popularity which the Muslim community has accorded the
definitive achievements of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.