Isma`il B. Aban's Hadith Inserted Posthumously In The Sahih Of Al-Bukhari?

M S M Saifullah & Muhammad Ghoniem

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First Created: 5th August 2000

Last Modified: 7th September 2003

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It is interesting to note that Bukhari wrote a book about the narrators (Zuafa-us-sagher). What is even more interesting is that Bukhari's book condemns several narrators including: ... Ismail bin Aban ... as unreliable. However, the Hadith-collection of Bukhari in the its modern form actually includes many traditions narrated by these very individuals! Obviously, these traditions, which Bukhari rejected, were inserted in his book following his death.

a narrator called "Ismail bin Aban".

1. Did Al-Bukhari Say Ismail bin Aban "Unreliable"?

Isma`il bin Aban is in Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir where al-Bukhari says that he is matruk (abandoned) in hadith.

16 - Isma`il Ibn Aban, from Hisham Ibn `Urwah: His hadith is abandoned, his kunyah is Abu Ishaq, he is Kufan.[1]

The footnotes provide further information about this narrator:

16 - Isma`il Ibn Aban al-Ghanawi al-Kufi [i.e., the Kufan] al-Khayyat [i.e., the taylor] with a double y in some copies of Al-Mizan and in Al-Taqrib wa al-Tahdhib and in Al-Kabir it is al-Hannat with nun. Ahmad abandoned him. Ibn Hibban said: He used to attribute fabricated hadith to the trustworthy. Muslim and al-Nasa'i said: His hadith is abandoned. Al-Nasa'i once said: He is not trustworthy.[2]

Perhaps a solace for missionaries. No! What is interesting is that it is true that there is also a narrator in Sahih al-Bukhari called Isma`il bin Aban but it is not the same as the abandoned narrator mentioned in Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir. The full name of the narrator from Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir is Isma`il bin Aban al-Ghanawi al-Kufi whereas in the Sahih the name is Isma`il bin Aban al-Waraq al-Azadi (who is thiqah or trustworthy), so they are two different people.

In the two consecutive entries in Ibn Hajar's Taqrib al-Tahdhib we get a complete clarification about these narrators.

470 - Isma`il Ibn Aban al-Warraq al-Azdi, Abu Ishaq or Abu Ibrahim. He is Kufan and trustworthy [thiqah]. He was criticized/accused of becoming a shi`ah....

471 - Isma`il Ibn Aban al-Ghanawi al-Khayyat al-Kufi, Abu Ishaq, his hadith is abandoned and was accused of fabrication....[3]

Isma`il bin Aban al-Waraq al-Azadi is present in the isnads of six hadiths in Sahih. They are in Kitab al-Jumu`ah, No. 870; Kitab al-Hajj, No. 1944; Kitab al-Tafseer al-Qur'an, No. 4349; Kitab al-Tibb, No. 5267; Kitab al-Riqaaq, No. 6050 and Kitab al-Fara'id, No. 6230.

To sum up the discussion on Isma`il bin Aban, the Christian missionaries got confused between the names and hence the resulting mistake. Obviously they never consulted Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir or al-Bukhari's Sahih. So, we move over to the next person.

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[1] Muhammad Ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir, 1976 (1396 H), Dar al-Wa`y, p. 16.

[2] ibid.

[4] Ahmad Ibn `Ali Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Taqrib al-Tahdhib, Volume I, 1960, Al-Maktabat al-`Ilmiyyah: Al-Madinah, p. 65.

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