Ata B. Al-Sa'ib B. Yazeed's Hadith Inserted Posthumously In The Sahih Of Al-Bukhari?

M S M Saifullah & Muhammad Ghoniem

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

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: ... Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed ... 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 "Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed".

1. Did Al-Bukhari Say Ata Bin As-Saib Bin Yazeed "Unreliable"?

There is no such name mentioned in Kitab al-Du`afa al-Saghir at all! Al-Bukhari could not have "rejected" the traditions from a non-existent narrator.

The closest name is `Ata bin al-Sa'ib bin Zayd. Al-Bukhari says about him:

276 - `Ata' Ibn al-Sa'ib Ibn Zayd al-Thaqafi, also called Ibn al-Sa'ib al-Kufi.

`Abd Allah Ibn Abi Awfa told us and he narrated the hadith. `Abd Allah Ibn Abi al-Aswad said, from Abu `Abd Allah al-Bajali: He died in 136 AH. Yahya al-Qattan said: I never heard anyone criticize `Ata' Ibn as-Sa'ib's old hadith. Yahya was told: Is what Sufyan and Shu`bah narrated sahih ? He said: Yes, except two hadiths that Shu`bah heard in his later days [Arabic: bi'akharah].[1]

In the footnotes we read:

276 - He changed in his late days and his memory became bad. Ahmed said: Whoever hear of him early in his life, it is sahih, and whoever heard from him of late, it does not count. Yahya said: He does not count as an evidence. Ahmed Ibn Khaythamah narrated from Yahya: His hadith is weak baring what was transmitted by Shu`bah and Sufyan. Ahmed Ibn Hanbal said: `Ata' Ibn as-Sa'ib is thiqah, a pious man, and whoever heard from him early is sahih, he used to read through the Qur'an every night. Abu Hatim said: His rank is that of truthfulness before he got confused. Al-Nasa'i said: thiqah in his old hadith but he changed [in his later days] and his narrations through Shu`bah, al-Thawri and Hammad Ibn Zayd is fine [consolidated?]. [refer to al-Mizan 70/3 and al-Kabir 465/6][2]

Al-Bukhari elaborates in his Kitab al-Tarikh al-Kabir:

3000 - `Ata' Ibn al-Sa'ib Ibn Zayd, Abu Yazid, al-Thaqafi. It is also said: Ibn as-Sa'ib Ibn Malik al-Kufi. `Abd Allah Ibn Abi al-Aswad said, from Abu `Abd Allah al-Bajali: He died in 136 AH or so. Yahya al-Qattan said: I never heard anyone criticize `Ata' Ibn as-Sa'ib's old hadith. Yahya was told: Is what Sufyan and Shu`bah narrated sahih? He said: Yes, except two hadiths. Shu`bah said: I heard them in his late days [Arabic: bi'akharah].[3]

Ibn Hajar in his Taqrib al-Tahdhib said:

191 - `Ata' Ibn al-Sa'ib, Abu Muhammad, also called Abu as-Sa'ib, al-Thaqafi al-Kufi, truthful but got confused.... [4]

Al-`Ijli said:

He is a tabi'i [student of the Companions] and his hadith are permissible... whoever heard from him in the early part then those hadith are sahih [e.g., Sufyan al-Thawri heard from him early] but whoever heard from him later in his life then those hadith are shaky.[5]

`Ata was a narrator who early in his life was accurate and reliable. As he grew older he would make mistakes in the transmission of hadith. This is why al-Bukhari included him in Kitab al-Du`afa. Again, al-Bukhari has neither condemn `Ata as "unreliable" and nor it is said that he is "rejected"; rather al-Bukhari had differentiated the hadiths that `Ata narrated when he young (and reliable) and older (and committed mistakes). His hadiths are also found in Abu Dawud, al-Nasa'i, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah. Therefore, the hadith scholars have said, if somone heard from him when he was younger then those hadith are correct.

2. Traditions Of `Ata bin al-Sa'ib bin Zayd In The Sahih Of Al-Bukhari

Al-Bukhari narrated only one hadith through `Ata bin al-Sa'ib bin Zayd.

The word 'Al-Kauthar' means the abundant good which Allah gave to him (the Prophet Muhammad). Abu Bishr said: I said to Sa`id, "Some people claim that it (Al-Kauthar) is a river in Paradise." Sa`id replied, "The river which is in Paradise is one item of that good which Allah has bestowed upon him (Muhammad)." [Kitab al-Riqaaq, No. 6092]

The isnad bundle of this hadith is depicted below.

Al-Bukhari also narrated same hadiths through Ja`far bin Iyyas as shown in the isnad bundle that have isnad independent of `Ata bin al-Sa'ib bin Zayd.

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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. 88.

[2] ibid.

[3] Muhammad Ibn Isma`il al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tarikh al-Kabir, 1986, Volume VI, Mu'assasat al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyah: Beirut (Lebanon), p. 465.

[4] Ahmed Ibn `Ali Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Taqrib al-Tahdhib, Volume II, 1960, Al-Maktabat al-`Ilmiyyah: Al-Madinah, p. 22.

[5] Ahmed Ibn `Abdullah Ibn Salih Abu al-Hassan al-`Ijli, Tarikh al-Thiqat, 1984 Edition, Dar al-Kutub al-`Ilmiyyah: Beirut (Lebanon), No. 1128.

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