How to study Hadith

The following works are basic hadith collections

  • Al-Nawawi – Al-Arba’in al-Nawawiyah with the zawa’id of Ibn Rajab (50 ahadith)
  • Al-Bukhari – Al-Adab al-Mufrad (1,300 ahadith approx.)
  • Ibn Hajar – Bulugh al-Maram (1358 ahadith)
  • Al-Nawawi – Riyadh al-Salihin (1936 ahadith)
  • Al-Tirmidhi – Al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyah (400 ahadith approx.)

For the serious student of usul hadith:


  • Taysir Mustalah al-Hadith by Mahmud al-Tahan
  • Nukhbat al-Fikr with Sharh Nuzhat al-Nazr by Ibn Hajar (edited by Nur al-Din ‘Itr)
  • Al-Muwqizah by al-Dhahabi (edited by Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah)
  • Hadith Literature by Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi (ITS edit by Abd al-Hakim Murad)
  • Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature by Mustafa al-A’zami


  • Risalah Abi Dawud to the Makkans
  • Manhaj al-Naqd by Nur al-Din ‘Itr
  • A Textbook of Hadith Studies by Hashim Kamali
  • Bukhari by Ghassan Abdul Jabbar
  • Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah (with Nukbat Ibn Hajar)
  • Al-Sunnah wa Makanatiha by Mustafa al-Siba‘ee
  • Al-Raf’ wa al-Takmil by al-Laknawi (edited by Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah)
  • Hadith by Jonathan Brown
  • Studies in Early Hadith Literature by Mustafa al-A’zami


  • Athar al-Hadith al-Sharif Fi Ikhtilaf al-A’imma al-Fuqaha by Muhammad ‘Awwamah
  • Manhaj al-Naqd/Muqaddimah Kitab al-Tamyiz by Mustafa al-A’zami
  • Tahrir Ulum al-Hadith by Abdullah al-Juday’
  • On Schacht’s Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence by Mustafa al-A’zami
  • The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim by Jonathan Brown
  • Constructive Critics by Scott Lucas
  • The Evolution of a Hadith by Dr. Iftikhar Zaman
  • Analysing Muslim Traditions by Harald Motzki


  • Tadrib al-Rawi by al-Suyuti
  • Ahmad Shakir – Al-Ba’ith al-Hathith
  • Al-Sakhawi – Fath al-Mughith Sharh Alfiyat al-Iraqi

The following contemporary authors also have beneficial works:

  • Sa’id Ahmad Palanpuri
  • Tariq Awadullah
  • Hatim al-Awni

Shaykh Abdullah al-Sa’d offered the following advice during one class for students of hadith:

Ilm al-riwayah begins with al-Bukhari and Muslim whilst listening to recorded commentaries where possible.

Then move onto Bulugh al-Maram because it covers the common hadith related to fiqh and is very valuable in this regard alongside the commentary Subul al-Salam and Al-Basam.

Thereafter move on to al-Muntaqi by Majd b. Taymiya with Nayl al-Awtar Mustalah due to the massive amount of hadith covered (approx. 5,000)

Ilm al-Hadith has a theoretical and a practical aspect. The top of the list in theoretical are Ma’rifat ‘Ulum al-Hadith by al-Hakim and al-Kifayah by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi. One should also study Ibn al-Salah’s book as well as Ibn Rajab’s Sharh al-‘Ilal and Ibn Hajar’s Nukat ‘ala Ibn al-Salah. Al-Mawqizah is another very beneficial book. Sufficiency is found in studying the following in order: Al-Mawqizah, Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah with Nukat Ibn Hajar, Ma’rifat ‘Ulum al-Hadith by al-Hakim, Al-Kifayah by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, and Sharh ‘Ilal by Ibn Rajab.

The practical aspect of ilm al-hadith is found in takhrij works which trace the locations of the hadith to allow one to research and collect all the paths in order to assess the state of the hadith. The best books for this are: Talkhis al-Habir by Ibn Hajar, Al-Zayla’I’s Nasb, Al-Tahqiq by Ibn Abd al-Hadi, and Bayan al-Waham wa al-Ilham by Ibn al-Qattan al-Fasi which is a very valuable book. If one reads these books one finds massive benefit.

Thereafter move onto Jami’ al-Tirmidhi and take notice of how he arrives at his rulings and the terminologies that he uses – a true work of art. Then move onto ‘ilal works, beginning with Muslim’s kitab al-Tamyiz which is excellent.

Thereafter, al-Tirmidhi’s al’-Ilal al-Kabir followed by ‘Ilal al-Daraqutni before Abi Hatim as it is easier – Abu Hatim’s book is difficult.

Then research the chains in al-Muwatta because they are of the highest standard such as:

  • Malik – Nafi – Ibn Umar
  • Hisham b. Urwa – His father – Aisha
  • Zuhri – Abi Salamah b. Abd al-Rahman – Abu Hurayrah
  • Abi Zinad – al-A’raj – Abi Hurayrah

An excellent book in this area is ‘al-Mashur min al-Asanid al-Hadith’ by Adil b. Abd al-Shakur al-Zuraqi. He also has Tabaqat al-Mukthirin. One should research these names in the books of rijal.

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