Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah,
Why is the book ‘Fadhaail A’maal’ encouraged to be read when it contains many Ahaadith that are weak and fabricated? And can we narrate these Ahaadith by saying “The Prophet ﷺ said…”?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Shaikh Zakariyya (RA) was a renowned Muhaddith and accepted as such by Ulama of all rankings, Arab and non-Arabs. He compiled many commentaries of ahadith in Arabic, for example Bazlul Majhool, commentary of Abu Dawood and Awjazul Masalik, the commentary of Muatta Imam Malik.
The book- ‘Fazaail A’amaal’ of Sheikhul Hadeeth Moulana Zakariyya Khandhlawi, may Allaah fill his grave with nur, needs no introduction. A compilation of nine kitaabs, (‘Stories of the Sahabah ‘Fazaail of Salaat ‘Fazaail of Tableegh’, ‘Fazaail of Dhikr’, Tazaail of the Quraan’, ‘Fazaail of Ramadaan’, ‘Fazaail of Durood, ‘Fazaail of Sadaqaat’ and ‘Fazaail of Hajj), this book is an encyclopedia of knowledge and lessons for a blissful life. In creating love for the Shariat and respect for its laws, it is one of its kind. Whether aalim-religious scholar- or not, this is a radiant lamp in the hands of those fulfilling the duty of Dawat. It lights up the road ahead, making all obstacles visible so that one may complete this journey of dawat-propagation- faster.
For an aalim, besides providing him with an extensive amount of references in each subject, it is also an aid in understanding the more difficult narrations. It cannot be estimated with what sincerity each word and each letter was written. Whoever has read this kitaab, even once, became its ardent admirer. It is undeniable; this kitaab has changed the lives of thousands.
As Hadhrat Moulana Sayid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi has said: If one were to say, after looking at the spiritual benefits of this kilaab (‘Fazaail A’amaal’), that thousands of people have attained wilaayat-sainthood- through this kitaab, then it will not be exaggerating.
There must have been some reason why this book on the fazaail of these nine a’amaal:-
1) Today has been translated into thirty-one different languages
2) One hundred and forty-five Ulama from twenty- three countries, (Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, England, Africa, America, Canada, Turkey, Japan, Zambia, Sri Lanka, France, Philippines, Cambodia, Kenya, and Portugal) are engaged in the study, verification and translation of ‘Fazaail A’amaal’.
3) In Pakistan and India alone it is published by seventy four different publishers
4) The total number of copies of this kitaab, in various languages, is in the millions.
There is no need to describe how Allaah Ta’ala has accepted these works. Supporters and critics alike are forced to admit, that no other worldly book is read as much as the book under discussion.
The way of the world is such that stones are thrown at every fruit laden tree, the sun with all its radiance lights up the entire world yet its scorching temperatures cannot be endured. In this manner, many factions have raised objections on this book and expressed their disapproval. I am not denying the fact that besides the book of Allaah no other book in this world is free from fault. Many great scholars might have erred in some way or the other but these errors pale in comparison to the multitude of good that their works entail and neither did any faction pay much heed to these errors.
The aim of the book, Fadhaail A’amaal, was not to mention or establish Islamic rulings but to encourage fellow Muslim brothers and sisters to do good deeds. Similar books have been written before in the past on virtues such as Imam Shafee book “Fadhaail-e-Quran” and “Al-Adabul Mufrad” by Imam Bukhari .
A common comment made against Fazaail-e-Amaal is that some narrations of the book is weak and fabricated. There are no fabricated (Mawdoo’) Ahaadith in this book. Moreover, weak narrations are acceptable according to the majority of scholars, unless the narration is regarding to aqeedah and in establishing Shariah rulings.
The objections against Fadhaail A’amaal have been categorized into three types:
1) The doubts that might have arisen in the mind of a true scholar and with a little explanation are quickly cleared. To make such doubts our object of discussion is obviously of no worth as such doubts have no real effect.
2) The objections raised by those factions who judge everything according to their intellect. Those who state that the entire treasury of ahaadeeth is against reason or according to their understanding contradict the Quraan. This is regardless of the authenticity and strength of the hadeeth or whether Ulama have given an adequate explanation.
3) Objections from an ilmi perspective and from a certain standpoint might be relevant. The just of this objection is that, in many instances Sheikhul Hadeeth quoted dhaeef or even fabricated ahaadeeth, thus distorting the fundamental beliefs of Deen.
The answers to these objections have been divided into three points:
1) What is the authenticity of ‘Fazaail A’amaal’ when considering its source?
2) When substantiating or quoting from hadeeth, is it necessary for the hadeeth to be saheeh in the technical sense or will a lesser hadeeth suffice? If so, then to what extent and what was the practice of Ulama of the past?
3) In Targheeb wa Tarheeb besides Quraan and Hadeeth is it permissible to rely on the sayings, actions, stories, dreams and glad tidings of pious saints? If so, then to what extent?
In the first point, it has been proven that those kitaabs which Hadhrat Sheikhul Hadeeth used as reference, besides a few, all are authentic, reliable and accepted amongst Ulama. Those kitaabs which are not reliable, the manner in which they were utilized was clearly explained, not affecting the authenticity of ‘Fazaail A’amaal’ in any way.
In the second point, it has been proven through bounding evidence that, when substantiating or quoting it is not necessary for the hadeeth to be saheeh or hasan in the technical sense but a dhaeefer hadceth will suffice. Whether it is in ahkaam, fazaail- Virtues, manaaqib-status, seeyar-history or Targheeb wa Tarheeb. In ahkaam-laws, the standpoint of all four mathaahib, muhaditheen and thaahiriyah-literalist, has been clarified.
Besides in ahkaam (laws of Shariah), the permissibility of practicing and quoting dhaeef hadeeth has been made clear through the explanations of Ulama, their practice and the consensus of the Ummat. Those Ulama to which impermissibility has been associated, their standpoint is also with that of the majority, strong proof has been given for this, for example Imaam Bukhaari, Imaam Muslim, Yahya bin Muaeen, Abu Bakr bin Arabi, Abu Shamah Maqdasi, Sheikhul Islaam ibn Taimiyyah and Allamah Showkaani are all in agreement with the majority, that besides in ahkaam, dhaeef ahaadeeth are accepted.
Specifically, the practice of Imaam Bukhaari and Imaam Muslim in the ‘Saheehain’ makes this reality clear. Examples of this have been added as well.
The conditions for substantiating from dhaeef hadeeth in fazaail a’amaal have also been made clear through the practice of the muhaditheen and fuqahaa. When discussing the substantiality of dhaeef ahaadeeth, fazaail a’amaal according to them, would refer to those a’amaal which have not been proven through authentic proofs or a hasan hadeeth but rather only its virtue is mentioned in a dhaeef hadeeth. These a’amaal, with a few conditions, are categorized as mustahab- preferable.
Targheeb wa Tarhccb would refer to those a’amaal which have already been established through authentic proofs but a certain virtue is mentioned in a dhaeef hadeeth. According to mtihaditheen and fuqahaa to narrate such dhaeef ahaadeeth is permissible, regardless how dhaeef it might be, provided it is not maudhoo (fabricated).
The usage of dhaeef ahaadeeth in targheeb wa tarheeb and in some instances those ahaadeeth which some have regarded as maudhoo as well, have been noted in the works of famous muhaditheen and critics alike.
The likes of Ibn Jouzi, Munthari, Nawawi, Dhahabi, Ibn Hajar Askalaani, Suyoothi and Ibn Qayim are worth mentioning, who all used extremely dhaeef narrations as proofs in targheeb wa tarheeb. Many examples of this nature have been mentioned.
Therefore if Sheikhul Hadeeth used even the dhaeefest hadeeth for this same purpose, then it is not any different from the practice of the muhaditheen.
In the third point, it has been made clear that for the sake of taking lesson to mention stories of the pious, is not disliked. Rather within the light of Shariah and the teachings of Rasulullah ﷺ is permissible.
Those stories which might have been far-fetched have been plainly stated.
Some critics have objected to the many stories and narratives that were related in ‘Fazaail A’amaal .They deny the occurrence of some of these stories referring to them as a basis for deception and destructive to Deen. We do not claim that every one of these stories is saheeh and neither did Sheikh intend to do so. The main purpose of adding these stories was to add emphasis in taking lesson and this is in complete conformity with Shariah as long as it does not contain anything that could be harmful to aqeedah.
There is no doubt that true stories have a definite effect on the reformation of one’s self. The amount a person gets affected, after looking at the consequences of a certain story is greater then with just general guidance. This is why in the Quraan Kareem numerous stories have been related to take lesson from, “Indeed in their story is a great lesson for the intelligent ones” (Surah Yusuf aayat 111). For this same reason, Nabi ﷺ was also taught to narrate stories, “Narrate stories to them so that may ponder”. That is why Nabi , ﷺ to create awareness and for taking lesson, narrated some stories of the previous nations, which are preserved in the books of hadeeth and history. Most authors of hadeeth in their books have written separate chapters on this topic.
By narrating such hadeeth nothing is made halaal or haraam, which is why Nabi ﷺon condition that no change is made to the Shariah, has given permission to narrate from the Bani Israeel. “Narrate from the Bani Israeel, it is no problem. He who speaks lies against me intentionally, can prepare himself lor Jannnam” (“Musnad Ahmed’ vol 3 p56, ‘Sahee Ibn Habbaan’ voll4pl47)
It is obvious that those stories which Nabi ﷺ has permitted do not have to be established. If it is established then it does not have to be with the same amount of detail that it is being discussed with. Many of those stories which Nabi ﷺ related, was only of that portion which was connected to the topic.
The hadeeth of Ume Zar’ah, which is narrated in ‘Saheehain’ and other major works of hadeeth. What is the origin of this story? The eleven women who were mentioned, what are their names and lineage? Which women said what? These are all unknown. Did Nabi ﷺ himself tell this story, Hadhrat Umul Mu’mineen Aisha R.A. or some other Sahabi? There is difference of opinion regarding this. After reading the entire story one will find that these women made “such statements regarding their husbands that at limes it becomes hard for a student of ‘Bukhaari’ to contain his laughter. The purpose of this story is for lesson; therefore no sane person will have the courage to say that Imaam Bukhaari has filled ‘Sahee Bukhaari’ with shameless tales, or Allaah forbid, a shameless tale has been related in hadeeth. If someone were to make such a statement, it would be a reflection of his filthy inner self.
It becomes known that in narratives and stories there is a great amount of permissibility and leniency. Those stories which Hadhrat Sheikhul Hadeeth related were taken from previous books; firstly to say those stories must be entirely authentic is an absurd request, secondly after giving a reference the relater is free from all responsibility.
For further details, refer to Objection On Fazail – e – A’maal – A Basic Analysis By Shaykh Abdullah Maroofi”
‘Fazaail A’amaal’ and Tableegh Jama’at
It is a misconception that Fazail-e-A’mal is the guide book of Tableegh Jama’at. This book only consists of the virtues of good deeds. The manner and fundamentals of Tableegh Jama’at was not derived from this book, nor is this noble effort dependent on this book to do the work of tableegh. The scholars of this effort thought it necessary to stipulate such a book that would encourage people towards good deeds, and this book served the purpose. It is not compulsory upon each and every person who joins this effort to read this book, as in many parts of the world Riyadu-s-Saliheen and other books of Ahadith are instead read.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)
 Excerpt from Objection On Fazail – e – A’maal – A Basic Analysis By Shaykh Abdullah Maroofi”
This answer was collected from Fatwa-tt.com, which is operated by the Darul Iftaa of Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad and Tobago) under the advice and guidance of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Daamat Barakaatuhum) of South Africa.