Is this Hadith suitable for quoting?
زر غبا تزدد حبا
And could you clarify please why the Muhaddithun have such divergent views on this Hadith?
Yes this Hadith is suitable for quoting.
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As you have pointed out, this Hadith is well debated among the Scholars.
It is reported by several Sahabah (radiyallahu’anhum) with chains, most of which have been considered weak.
Several Imams, including Abu Nu’aym and Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalani (rahimahumallah) have actually written separate treatises gathering all the chains for this Hadith.
(Targhib, Hadith: 3798 & Al-Maqasidul Hasanah, Hadith: 537)
‘Allamah Sakhawi (rahimahullah) concludes that collectively these chains do acquire sufficient strength. Hafiz Ibn Tulun (rahimahullah) also agrees on this.
(Al-Maqasidul Hasanah, Hadith: 537 & As-Shadharah, Hadith: 471)
Therefore some Muhaddithun have declared this as sound due to corroboration (hasan li ghayrihi)
(Mukhtasar Maqasidul Hasanah, Hadith: 508)
In fact, Imam Mundhiri (rahimahullah) has declared certain chains as sound too (hasan). ‘Allamah Haythami (rahimahullah) ruled one chain of Tabarani as good (jayyid).
(Targhib, Hadith: 3798 & Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.8 pg.175. Also see Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 4555)
Note: The fact that Imam Bazzar (rahimahullah) said: ‘There is no authentic (sahih) chain for this Hadith’ does not contradict the above, as pointed out by Imams: Mundhiri, Sakhawi and Ibn Tulun (rahimahumullah).
The reason for this is that the above Muhaddithun have not mentioned any one particular chain to be technically sahih. They have agreed that it reaches a level of authentic lower than sahih. i.e, Hasan (sound). A Hadith of this grade is considered reliable, and not weak.
Also see Shaykh ‘Awwamah’s footnotes on Tadribur Rawi, vol.5 pg.106.
Reasons for the divergent views
In general one should understand that the field of Hadith grading is indeed prone to such divergence. See a detailed article here.
Among the possible reasons in this case could be:
a) The fact that some Muhaddithun were commenting on certain chains and not the more stronger ones, based on what was available to them at that time. Whereas others may have had access to the more reliable chains.
b) It could also be that those who came later on, were able to gather all the various -albeit- weak chains, and then conclude on their collective strength, whereas others didn’t manage to gather so many of these chains and they therefore maintained their grading of it being weak.
Such occurrences are common in this field, and is no cause for alarm.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar