About the Book
Abu Dawud is most important fundamental work
of Hadith. The Sunan contains 4800 traditions selected from a mass of 50,000. It is one of six Important and authentic
collections (Saha-i-Sitta) of the Prophetic traditions. Dawud, following the practice of his time travelled far and wide to collect Hadith and visited Hijaz, Iraq, Khurashan, Egypt, Syria, Nishapur,
Merv and Isfahan for the purpose. His proficiency in Hadith is accepted. His Sunan naturally, is replete with
legal traditions; it also indicates his point of view on various questions and
his acumen in ijtihad.
life and Work. His name was Sulaiman. His
genealogy is as follows: Sulaiman b al-Ash’ath b. Ishaq b. Bashir b. Shaddad
b. ‘Amr b. ‘Imran. There is
me difference of
opinion amongst historians about his genealogy. His great- grandfather “Imran
is reported to
have participated in the Battle of Siffin on the side
of Ali and was martyred in the Same battle.
Abu Dawad was born at Sijistan in 202 A.H. He
belonged to Azd, a well-known Arab tribe. Hence he is
called al-Azdi His native city Sijistan
was a famous town in Khurasan. It was situated in the
vicinity of Makran and Sindh
opposite to Hirat.
He heard Hadlth from about three hundred
persons who were his teachers (shuyukh). The
eminent of them are as follows: Ahmad b. Hanbal.vlshaq
b. Rahwaih, Abu Thaur, Yahya b. Ma’in, Hisham b. ‘Abd al-Malik al-Tayaltsl, Abii Bakr b. bi Shaibah and ‘Uthman b. Abu Shaibah. He had a large number of disciples. Here give a
few illustrious names: Abu Bakr b. Abu Dawud, Abn ‘Ali Muhammad b Ahmad b. “Amr
ul-Lu’lu”, Abu Sa’id Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ziyad b. Bishr, alias
n al-A’rabi, Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Bakr b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Razzaq al- Tammar al-Basri, alias Ibn Dasah,
Abu ‘Isa al-Tirmidhi, Abu ‘Abd
al-Rahman al-Nasa’I Abu ‘Amr
Ahmad b. Abu ‘Isa Ishaq b Musu
b Sa’Id al-Ramli These are
the transmitters of his Sunan.
Some of the
transmitters of his other books are: ‘Abd Allah
Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Basri, Abu Bakr
Ahmad b. Sulaimau al-Najjar ,Ismai’il
b. Muhammad al-Saffar.
Although Imam Abu Dawud was
born at Sijistan , he spent the greater. part of
his life at Basrah which was a seat of learning in
his day. He widely ‘travelled throughout the world for collecting Hadith. Many times he visited Baghdad, and,
journeyed to Hejaz, Iraq: Khurasan, Egypt. Syria, al-Jazirah, Nisbapur
Imam Abu Dawud had a strong
memory anti a penetraring mind. His retaining power
was recognised by the doctors of Hadith of
his time. Alongside
of his memory also well versed in the Criticism of Hadith. He was expert in distinguishing the sound traditions
from the weak, defective, and spurious ones. Four person’s
are reported to have earned their Game for the criticism of Hadith:
Imam al-Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Abu Dawud
and Imam -al-Nasa ‘I Imam Abu Dawud
the period when the Muslim world was full of eminent scholars. He attained
so-much command over Hadith that great masters of his time
recognised his eminence and distinction amongst contemporary scholars of Hadith, He was
considered Imam al-Muhaddihin
of his time.
Besides his expertise in Hadith he Was also a great jurist. He had keen insight in fiqh and ijtihad.
Some scholars are of opinion that Imam Abu Dawud
had the most prominent position in fiqh and ijtihad amongst
the doctors of Hadith after Imam al-Bukhari.
He was so much inclined towards jurisprudence that Abu Ishaq
al-Shirazi has included him alone in Tabaqat
al-Fuqaha’ from amongst the authors of the
six canonical collections of Hadith. This
is the reason why he has collected only legal traditions (ahadith al-akkam) in his Sunan.
There is a dispute over the
school of law to which he belonged. Abu Ishaq al- Shirazi considers him a Hanball
jurist, for he was a disciple of Ahmad b. Hanbal and
agreed with him on a number of questions. But other scholars regard him as a Shafi’I jurist.
Imam Abu Dawud
was a religious man. He led pious and ascetic life. He devoted most of his time
to worship, devotion and remembrance of Allah. He renounced pleasure in worldly
things. He always kept away from the company of Sultans, courtiers
.and men of rank and dignity. Once he was asked by the Governor of Basrah to give his sons a prominent seat in the circle of Hadith. But Imam Abu Df.wud did not accept
this request of him and replied that there was no distinction between high and
low in learning T;1adith from
Imam Abu Dawud
died on Friday, 16 Shawwal 275 at the age of seventy-two years. ‘Abbas b. ‘Abd al-Wahid led the
Funeral prayer. We do not find any details about his descendants His
biographers have made a mention of the name of his son Abu Bakr
h. Abu Dawud, who was his disciple and an eminent
doctor of Hadith.
His works are:
(I) Kittab al-Radd ‘Ala Ahl al-Qadar
(2) Kitab af-Masa’il
(4) Kitab al-Marasil
(5) Sunan Abu; Dawud
Sunan Abu Dawud . This is
one of the six canonical collections of Traditions of the Prophet (Sihah Sittah), It contains 4800 select Traditions. Imam Abu Dawud completed it in Baghdad in 241 A.H. The
collections of Hadith before Sunan Abu Dawud were
compiled on the pattern of the type known as Jawami-(sing. Jami’) and Musanid (sing.
Musnad). They contained traditions relating
to various subjects. e.g. ahkam (law). tafsir (exegesis), qasas (stories), akhbar (history),
mawa’iz; (homilies). adab (general behaviour). The distinctive
quality of this book is that Imam Abu Dawud collected only legal
traditions (akham) in it and omitted others. In
his epistle to the people of Mecca, he said: “I have collected only legal
traditions in the Sunan (i.e,
Sunan Abu Dawud). They do not include traditions relating to asceticism and merits of
deeds The four thousand and eight hundred traditions
contained in it relate to legal questions.
Abu; Dawud is an important collection of Hadith. Most of the scholars have assigned it the third
position among the six collections of Hadith
compiled by Imam al-Bukhari
and Imam Muslim, Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal appreciated
it very much when it was presented to him after its completion. We give below a
few statements .of some scholars of Hadith about the worth of this collection.
Zakariya b. Yahva al-Saji
said: “The Qur’an is the foundation of Islam and Sunan Abu D’awud is
said: “There is
no need of acquaintance of anything after acquiring the knowledge of the Quran and of Sunan Abu Dawud,”
Muhammad b Makhlad said:
“When Abu Dawud presented
the Sunan to the people after its compilation,
the scholars of Hadith considered it a book worthy
of being followed like the Qur’an.”
Al-Khattabi said: ‘Sunan Abu: Dawud is an excellent book. No such
unpralleled work has been produced so far in
religious sciences, It has gained popularity among people. It has a decisive position among various classes of scholars and
jurists. All have equally benefited from it. The people of Iraq, Egypt, Maghrib and of
most of the countries depend upon it.”
said: “Abu Dawud was an eminent doctor of Hadith, and an outstanding scholar. No one has compiled a book like
remarked: Sunan Abu Dawud is considered to be a famous and popular work among scholars.”
Abu Dawud himself said: “The knowledge of any book other than
it is not necessary
after the Qur’an,
There is no harm if a person’ does not possess the know-ledge of any book
except of these two books”
Characteristics. (1) The most outstanding feature of this book is that it contains
legal traditions, No ether book contains such a large number of traditions as it contains on law.
(2) It is a meritorious-work with regard to fiqh and derivation of rules, for Imam
Abu Dawud was as eminent jurist.
(3) The traditions it contains were generally
followed by Companions, Successors, and their followers. It is a basic source
of knowledge about the legal points of view held by Malik,
Sufyan al-Thauri, and al-Auza’i. It serves as an arbiter for disagreement among jurists.
(4) It takes a special care of sound, strong,
continuous and those traditions which are traced back to the Prophet (may peace
be upon him). These traditions have been selected from five lakhs by Imarn Abu Dawud. He himself said
about these traditions in his Risalah
“The Sunan contains 4800 traditions All of them are entirely or nearly sound. I have tried to the best of my
knowledge and belief to transmit sound, rather most sound, traditions in this
book. I always preferred those
traditions which were superior ill respect of the chain of narrators. I narrate
the mursal traditions when musnad and muttasil traditions are not available,
for marasil are also recognised as
authentic by early jurists like-Malilc
al-Thauri and al-Auza’i.
Al-Shafi’I and Ahmad b. Hanbal
have criticised them. In my opinion, they are authentic and reliable in the
absence of musnad and muttasil traditions. but I do not
consider them as they are (i.e musnad and
muttasil). I have not included in it any
tradition which has been unanimously rejected by scholars. Similarly.
I have refrained from narrating traditions from those narrators who have been
rejected by doctors of Hadith. I do not take into
consideration munkar (unusual) and da’if(weak) traditions But In the absence of sound traditions on a
subject I have transmitted them after
describing the reasons of their weakness and rejection Where I have kept
silence with regard to those tr au it ions whose chains are not
considered to be sound. they should be considered to be sound and reliable Similarly, I have taken much care of
collecting in it the traditrons which
are well known and those which have been generally followed and practised by
the people, instead of trans-
milling rare and obscure (gharib and shadhdh) traditions,”
At another place he has said:
“In this Sunan I have mentioned sound,
quasi-sound and those traditions which are approximately sound. If any tradition is seriously
weak, I have pointed out its weakness clearly. The traditions of which I have said nothing are genuine
Some of the traditions which are not seriously weak are more
sound than others.”
(5) Sometimes Imam Abu Dawud
mentions many chains and many texts through one chain and one text, and gives
the wordings of each
(6) No collection of Hadith is free from repetition of traditions. Imam Abu Dawud has avoided this repetition as far as possible in his Sunan”. He has neglected variety of chains and condensed the lengthy traditions He
has repeated a tradition when some- thing new is found in it.
(7) Besides exhaustiveness and comprehensiveness of
the traditions we find an excellent order and synthesis of the material!
(8) The Sunan contains also a thulathi (a chain comprising three narrators) tradition.
(9) The Sunan presents a detailed
description of the names of the narrators, and of their surnames, indication of
their trustworthiness or unreliability, and elucidation cf.rhe soundness and weakness of the
Tradition! of Sunan Abu Dawad. Abu Dawud
has stated that this collection of traditions (i.e. the Sunan) contains four traditions which are sufficient for a
man to follow religion. These are as follows:
(i) Deeds are to be judged only by intentions.
(ii) Part of a man’s good
observance of Islam is that he leaves alone what does not concern-him.
(iii) A believer does not become a
perfect believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.
What is lawful is clear and what
is unlawful is clear, but between them are certain doubtful things.
These traditions are concerned with important things
of life. The first relates to the validity of deeds and rituals; the second
pertains to the precious moments of life; the third deals with the rights of
man; and the fourth removes the doubts that arise from disagreement of the
of Sunan Abu Dawud. Seven disciples of Imam Abu Dawud have trans- mitted the Sunan from him. Four of them are well known; hence four copies of the
Sunan have been in circulation
among the people. These disciples are:
(1) Abu Bakr
Muhammad b. Bakr b. Muhammad b. ‘Abd
al-Razzaq al-Tammar al-Basri,
alia’ Ibn Dasah.
(2) Abu Sa’ld Ahmad b.
Muhammad b. Ziyad b Bishr, alias
(3) Abu ‘Ali Muhammad b. Ahmad b. ‘Amr al-La’lu’ al-Basri.
(4) Abu ‘Isa Ishaq b Musa b Sa’id
The copy prepared by al-Lu’lu’
is generally popular in this subcontinent and in most of the cities and in the
east of Arabia. This is considered to be the most authentic version, for Imam
Abu Dawud dictated it in the last part of his life in
375 A.H. Al-Mundhiri
has made an abridgment
of this copy and mentioned the names of
the books in which the traditions contained in the Sunan are found. Ibn Rislan, al-’Iraqi, Ibn al-Q’ayyim, al-Sindhi and al-Suyuti have written
commentaries of this copy of the Sunan. Al-Suyuti has observed that al-Lu’lu’s
varsion is the most authentic one.
The second copy was prepared by Ibn Dasah.
His version is the most perfect of all versions of the Sunan. It was popular in al-Maghrib,
This copy is similar to the copy prepared by al-Lu’lu’.
The difference between the two is of the order of chapters The
copy of Ibn Dasah contains
a number of traditions which are not-found in al-Lulu·s
version. Al Khattabi, the
commentator of Sunan Abu Dawad had this copy while writing its commentary.
He narrated is traditions directly from Ibn Dasah.
KITAB AL-MANASIK AL-HAJI
KITAB AL-KHARAJ WAL-FAI’ WAL-IMRAH
KITAB AL-AIMAN WA AL-NUDHUR
KITAB AL-KAHANAH WA AL-TATAYYUR
KITAB AL-HURUF WA AL-QIRA’AT
KITAB AL-FITAN WA AL-MALAHIM
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