Why were weak hadiths narrated though they were known to be weak?

Details of the Question

- Why did hadith scholars narrate some hadiths though they knew that they were very weak?
- How useful or harmful would it be if those weak hadiths were removed from religious books?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- There are several reasons why (hadith) scholars included weak hadith narrations in their books. 

Some of those reasons can be listed as follows:

a) The scholars narrated weak hadiths to show that they were weak. For, not everybody can know that a hadith is weak. A person can act based on such a hadith that he hears or reads thinking that it is sound. Others can also decree that such a hadith that they hear or read is sound. Those who see the seal “weak” on it will not be deceived by it.  

b) It is an accepted principle among scholars that it is permissible to act based on weak hadiths related to virtuous deeds. Hadith scholars included those narrations in their books so as not to deprive people of this thawab.

c) It does not mean that the meaning of every weak hadith is wrong. However, there are some hesitations whether this knowledge came from the Prophet or not. When the scholars wrote those weak hadiths whose meanings were good, they wanted to teach that good knowledge in them. For instance, “لولاك “, “كنت كنزا مخفيا" hadith narrations are narrations whose meanings are sound but whose chains of narrators are weak.  

d) There are different evaluations about the narrators included in the chain of narrators of a hadith about one or more narrators being reliable or not. Those who regarded the narrators reliable regarded that hadith as sound and included it in their books; those who did not regard them as sound included it in their books to show that it was not sound.

- If those hadiths were removed from the religious books, the following harms could occur:

a) We would play into the hands of those who oppose hadiths. They would use it against hadiths. 

b) One version of the same hadith with different chains of narrators could be sound and another version could be weak. When you removed that hadith because it was weak, you would remove the original sound hadith text.

c) A lot of nice and true information included in the weak hadiths to be removed from the Islamic literature would disappear.

d) We have no resource except the books written by the previous scholars to determine whether a hadith is weak or sound. The studies about the state of the narrators, chains of narrators and narrations were done a long time ago.

Many sound hadith collections including Bukhari and Muslim were formed.  

Many books were written about weak and fabricated hadiths.

It is impossible to determine the state of even one narrator without referring to the previous resources.  

Therefore, the information related to sound (sahih), hasan, weak and fabricated hadiths is included in the resources of hadith literature. Is it necessary to discover America again?

e) In our opinion, instead of eliminating weak hadiths, the best thing to do is to classify sound hadiths meticulously in a way that could be reached easily in the form of a “sound hadith encyclopedia”; thus, it will be a great service for the people, most of whom are not investigators, living today.  

- More detailed information regarding the issue can be given as a result of more detailed research when there is enough time.

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