THE COMPILER OF the Hadith work, Al-Mustadrak, is Abû ʿAbdullâh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdullâh Al-Ḥâkim. He committed to memory a great number of narrations and is an acknowledged critic of narrations, in addition to authoring a number of compilations. He was born in the year 321 h and passed away in the year 405 h.
The name of his book is Al-Mustadrak ʿala Al-Ṣaḥîḥayn. Mustadrak means “inclusion” or “perception” of a ḥâdîth that were missed by the Ṣaḥîḥayn, that is, the Ṣaḥîḥ (authenticated) compilations of Bukhâri and Muslim.
Al-Mustadrak itself means something that was followed-up.
The Condition of the Composer and Methodology of His Book
Al-Ḥâkim, may Allah have mercy on him, said, in his introduction:
A contingent of the people of knowledge in this city and other cities have requested that I compose a book that contains or includes all the a ḥâdîth that are narrated with narrations that Muhammad ibn Ismâʿîl [Bukhâri] and Muslim ibn Al-Ḥajjâj [Muslim] consider as strong narrations.
Ibn Al-Ṣalâ ḥ, the well-known Hadith scholar said:
Al-Ḥâkim took care to gather authentic a ḥâdîth in his book, and these a ḥâdîth are either a ḥâdîth at the level established by Bukhâr and Muslim, or a ḥâdîth that he deems authentic even though they may not attain to the level of Bukhâr.
Al-Mustadrak and Scholarly Opinion
Scholarly opinion regarding Al-Ḥâkim’s methodological approach in his book varies.
- Ibn Al-Ṣalâ ḥ said: “He (Al-Ḥâkim) is too easy in his criteria of authenticity for a ḥâdîth. His conditions are too lenient. It is, therefore, best for us to be moderate about accepting his rulings. We should be prepared to adjudge a ḥâdîth he has rated ṣaḥîḥ as ḥasan a ḥâdîth (a second grade of reliable a ḥâdîth).”
- Al-ʿIrâqi said of Al-Ḥâkim’s Al-Mustadrak that the latter’s claim to have only included in his book ṣaḥîḥ a ḥâdîth not found in either Bukhâri and Muslim is undermined by the inclusion of many a ḥâdîth that are, in fact, present in either Bukhâri or Muslim, such as the ḥadîth on the authority of Abû Saʿîd Al-Khûdri, that the Prophet ﷺ said: Write nothing from me save the Quran.This ḥadîth is also narrated by Muslim. Muslim has narrated this ḥadîth in the chapter of “Al-Zuhd” (Asceticism).He notes that Al-Dhahabi gathered in his book The Summary of Al-Mustadrak many of the a ḥâdîth that are in Al-Mustadrak and also in Bukhâri and Muslim.
- In addition, Al-ʿIrâqi also said that Al-Ḥâkim, when he states, ‘I have gathered the a ḥâdîth of the narrators of Bukhâri and Muslim,’ he means by this the caliber of narrators that Bukhâri and Muslim chose, not the exact people they chose.
- Ibn Ḥajar comments on this statement of Al-ʿIrâqi. He states:
The works of Al-Ḥâkim show that when Al-Ḥâkim narrated a ḥadîth that had the same narrators as those used by Bukhâri and Muslim, he would say: ‘Ṣaḥîḥ, and up to the standard of Bukhâri, Muslim, or both of them.’
When the ḥadîth had one or more narrators that were not specifically used in Bukhâri or Muslim, then he would simply state: ‘An authentic chain of narrations,’ without declaring it to be up to the standard of the former two compilers.
An example of this occurs when Al-Ḥâkim narrates a ḥadîth in the chapter of “Al-Tawba” (Repentance). He states that the Prophet ﷺ said: Mercy is not stripped away from anyone but those of Hellfire [meaning that such is a characteristic of people in life destined for this condemned end]. Al-Ḥâkim says of this ḥadîth that it has an authentic chain of narrators. Abû ʿUthmân (one of the narrators of this ḥadîth) is not Abû ʿUthmân Al-Nahdi. Rather, he is another Abû ʿUthmân. Had he been Al-Na ḥdi, then this ḥadîth would have attained the criteria of Bukhâri and Muslim [and been duly noted as such by Al-Ḥâkim]. This shows that Al-Ḥâkim only judged that a ḥadîth reached the criteria of Bukhâri and Muslim if all the narrators themselves were used by Bukhâri and Muslim.
Al-Ḥâkim sometimes mistakenly adjudged some a ḥâdîth as attaining the criteria of Bukhâri and Muslim, though some of their narrators were not used by Bukhâri or Muslim. This, however, occurred by way of mistake on the part of Al-Ḥâkim, as an unintentional error rather than as a part of his method of classification. And Allah knows best.”
Scholarly Opinion on the Ahadith of Al-Mustadrak
Abû ʿAbdullah Al-Dhahabi, a well-known scholar of Hadith, the author of many well-known books, the most famous of which are his Târîkh Al-Islâm, The History of Islam, and Siyar Aʿlâm Al-Nubalâ’, Biographical Sketches of the Noble Scholars, both of which assess Hadith narrators, states:
I heard the scholar Al-Mâlîni say: ‘I read the book Al-Mustadrak through and through, and I did not find a single ḥadîth in it that reached the criteria of Bukhâri or Muslim.
Al-Dhahabi commented on this statement of Al-Mâlîni, saying:
This is an extreme opinion that is belied by the reality of Al-Ḥâkim’s book. Nor is Al-Mâlîni qualified enough to make this judgment. Rather, Al-Mustadrak has a large number of ḥadîth that reach the criteria of both Bukhâri and Muslim, and he also has a large number of ḥadîth that reach the criteria of one or the other of them.
Indeed, a little less than a third of the a ḥâdîth in Al-Mustadrak attain the criteria of both or one of them. An additional fourth of the book contain a ḥâdîth that do not reach the criteria of Bukhâri or Muslim, but which are nevertheless authentic. The remainder of the book contains strange and doubtful a ḥâdîth. Al-Dhahabi gathered these doubtful a ḥâdîth into a separate compilation of its own.
Furthermore, he asserts that Al-Ḥâkim’s book is beneficial—enough to compose a summarized version of Al-Ḥâkim’s book Al-Mustadrak, which he himself states is in need of revision and editing.
Ibn Ḥajar states, commenting on this statement of Al-Dhahabi:
This is a general statement that needs to be further specified and clarified. It is more accurate to say that Al-Mustadrak can be divided into parts and every part can be further subdivided.
The first part are the a ḥadîth that have the exact same narrators that Bukhâri and Muslim use. It has no defects in the chain or transmitters or in its Texts. Nor is there any ḥadîth in Al-Mustadrak that fulfills this criteria save that Bukhâri and Muslim have the same ḥadîth, or one that is close to it in meaning, or at least a ḥadîth that fulfills the same purpose.[Basically, Bukhâri and Muslim gathered all the a ḥâdîth that reach their criteria, leaving out only a ḥâdîth that had a repetitive meaning or a few exceptions.]
The second division, and this comprises the majority of the book, is made up of a ḥâdîth that have narrators that are used by Bukhâri and Muslim, although they did not use them for establishing the authenticity of a ḥadîth. They used them only to affirm other narrators, but not to stand on their own. Most of these a ḥâdîth are authentic; however, it is not proper to say they reach the criteria of Bukhâri and Muslim, since, in fact, they did not use them as their principal narrators. Al-Ḥâkim usually claims that these a ḥâdîth are at the criteria level of Bukhâri and Muslim, but they are not. Hence, the critique of Al-Ḥâkim’s claims are valid when it comes to equating these a ḥâdîth to the standard of Bukhâri and Muslim, but the critique that these a ḥâdîth are not ṣaḥîḥ is invalid.
The third section are a ḥâdîth that have narrators that are not to be found anywhere in Bukhâri or Muslim, nor does Al-Ḥâkim claim that they are at the criteria level of Bukhâri or Muslim, except on rare, mistaken occasions. He rates these a ḥâdîth as authentic. Yet most of these a ḥâdîth are weak. This is why scholars have criticized him as being too lenient in his judging of his a ḥâdîth.
Some scholars have excused Al-Ḥâkim for the leniency and mistakes in his book in terms of his judgment regarding Hadith authenticity. About this Ibn Ḥajar says:
These mistakes occurred in Al-Ḥâkim’s book because he first compiled a rough draft [known in Arabic as a musawwadah]. Then he passed away before going through the book and editing it. About halfway through the second volume of his book, I have found written in this place:
Here ends the dictation of Al-Ḥâkim.
Thus what comes after this, Al-Ḥâkim must have acquired through ʿijâza (authorization [in some second-hand form], not through [direct] listening [to a shaykh], for the mistakes in the dictated parts of the book are far less than the ones taken by ʿijâzah.
Follow On Works Based on Al-Mustadrak
As stated previously, Al-Dhahabi summarized Al-Mustadrak and added his own judgment of the a ḥâdîth in it. He also gathered, not all, but just its very weak a ḥâdîth into a separate composition.
The scholar, Ibn Al-Mulaqqin compiled a concise biography of all the narrators of Al-Mustadrak, along with the biography of other narrators, in his book called Ikmâl Tahdhîb Al-Kamâl, Completion of the Digest of ‘the Completion.’
Ibn Ḥajar organized Al-Mustadrak’s a ḥâdîth into alphabetical order based on the beginning words of each ḥadîth. Ibn Al-Mulaqqin also wrote a summary of Al-Mustadrak, printed in six volumes (meaning he excerpted from Al-Mustadrak the a ḥâdîth that he deemed important).