I wanted to ask: what have the Scholars you have met and studied under, thought to be the best book to study in Mustalahul Hadith?
I know for example Allamah Fadlul Rahman al Adhami says that Fathul Mugith is the best work on the subject.
What would you think is amongst the best books in this subject and what have you heard from the ‘Ulama of Hadith you have interacted with?
The ‘Ulama general state that as a rule: لا يغني كتاب عن كتاب (No book can substitute another). In other words, each book has its unique specialities.
However, from time to time, there will always be a book that is considered as the leader in its field.
To answer your question specifically, Hadith scholars of the recent times generally prefer two books:
1. Tadribur Rawi of ‘Allamah Suyuti (rahimahullah) Demise: 911 A.H.
2. Fathul Mughith of ‘Allamah Sakhawi (rahimahullah) Demise: 906 A.H.
The difference between the two is that the second one has much more quotations and research from earlier scholars on the topics in the original book (Muqaddimah ibnus salah). It is also important to note that Fathul Mughith is a bit complex as it is in reality a commentary of the Alfiyyah of ‘Iraqi (rahimahullah). Due to this commitment to the poetry, sometimes much effort and time is needed to fully comprehend the discussions.
However, Tadribur Rawi in addition to being written in a much simpler form, it actually includes many related discussions, even though these discussions were not actually discussed in the original (Muqaddimah ibnus Salah).
Therefore, one is kept abreast with more issues in the field of Hadith terminology after reading Tadrib.
My Esteemed Shaykh, Al-Muhaddith Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwamah (hafizahullah) mentioned the following when I asked him about the benefit of Tadrib:
الإمام السيوطي فياض – رحمه الله (Imam Suyuti – the author of Tadribur Rawi- is very generous in imparting excessive knowledge, rahimahullah).
(Also see pg.9 of Shaykh ‘Awwamah’s introduction to Tadribur Rawi)
This aspect of the kitab (it being immaculately comprehensive) is also pointed out by the teacher of Shaykh ‘Awwamah; the Esteemed Syrian ‘Alim, Muhaddith, Mufassir and lover of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam): Shaykh ‘Abdullah Sirajuddin (rahimahullah). He writes:
‘It is from amongst the greatest books on Hadith terminology, and the ones with the most benefit.’
(Sharhul Bayquniyyah, pg.18)
Shaykh ‘Awwamah (hafizahullah) writes in his introduction to Tadribur Rawi:
‘There is no doubt that Tadribur Rawi is a very important contribution to the field of Hadith terminology…’
He writes further:
‘…Tadribur Rawi is on par with Fathul Mughith in them both being a summary of the research of the great scholars before their time. Although none can match Fathul Mughith in the depth of the knowledge and benefit therein.’
(Tadribur Rawi, vol.1 pg.6. Also see pg.14 & pg.18)
Shaykh ‘Abdullah Sirajuddin (rahimahullah) writes:
‘(Fathul Mughith) is the best commentary on the Alfiyyah of ‘Iraqi.’
(Sharhul Bayquniyyah, pg.18)
From the above, it is quite evident that to choose either one is difficult. In essence, one cannot do without both these books. It is crucial to note that both of them, should be studied under the guidance of an expert in the field of Mustalahul Hadith.
Since, my Esteemed teacher, Shaykh ‘Awwamah (hafizahullah) has now published his commentary to Tadribur Rawi (in 5 volumes), I would recommend his edition, especially since -as the Shaykh himself has pointed out- this is the crux of sixty years that Shaykh (hafizahullah) spent in this field. Experience of this level coupled with the immaculate level of his research can never be over emphasised.
May Allah Ta’ala grant Shaykh a long life with complete ‘afiyah and good health, so that we may continue to benefit from his experience and research. Amin.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar