The Reality of Sahih (Authentic) Hadith outside Bukhari & Muslim

The following paragraphs discredit the erroneous claim of some individuals: that only the narrations of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are authentic. This rebuttal is summarized in five points.

An Outdated Misconception

Firstly, in the fourth century of Islam, there existed a deviated sect which – like some individuals today- claimed that besides the ahadith of Sahihain, all other narrations are unacceptable. This false accusation was the reason for which Imam Abu Abdillah Muhammad ibn Abdillah Al-Hakim Al-Naisaburi (rahimahullah) compiled his famous work entitled: “Al-Mustadrak ‘alas Sahihain’’, in which he endeavored to compile those ahadith that fulfill the criteria of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim but were not included therein.

In his introduction, Imam Al-Hakim (rahimahullah) says: “Neither of them (i.e. Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) or Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) have stated that there exists no other authentic narrations besides what they have chosen”. [Al Mustadrak, vol.1 pg.2]

When commenting on the criteria laid down by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim (rahimahumallah), the scholars generally rely upon their own scrutiny of the respective books (i.e. Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). The reason for this is that very little has being explained by the authors themselves. For example, Imam Al- Bukhari (rahimahullah) has not written an introduction to his book, wherein he would have mentioned his criterion for accepting ahadith as sahih, or as to what would be his methodology in his book. This naturally leads to difference of opinion among the scholars.

However, there can be no difference of opinion when “the man speaks for himself”, as is the case in the topic under discussion.

Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) said: “I have memorized one hundred thousand authentic ahadith.” [Tazkiratul Huffadh – vol.2 pg.556]

Interestingly, he only included nine thousand and eighty two of them (including repetitions) in his Al-Sahih! (Refer: Hadyus Saari, pg.653)

Imam Al-Isma’ili (rahimahullah) has quoted Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) as saying: ‘’I have only cited sahih (authentic) ahadith in this book (i.e. Sahih Al-Bukhari) However, the amount of sahih ahadeeth that I omitted there from is much more.’’ [Hadyus Saari pg.9]

Imam Ibrahim ibn Ma’qal Al-Nasafi (rahimahullah) reports that Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) said:“I have only quoted authentic ahadith in my book, and I excluded many other authentic narrations for the fear of monotony.” [ibid pg.9; Tarikh Dimashq vol.55 pg.54

Imam Abu Bakr al Hazimi (rahimahullah) states, ‘Imam Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) never intended to encompass every authentic narration.’ [Shurutul A-immah]

Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) has made a similar statement in his book Sahih Muslim, “Chapter on Tashahhud”: “I haven’t quoted every single authentic narration in this book.“ i.e, there are many authentic narrations that are not included therein.

Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) is also reported to have said: “I haven’t ever claimed that those narrations which are excluded from my Sahih are weak. My only claim is that the ahadith contained in my book are authentic.” [Fathul Mugheeth, vol.1 pg. 54]

These quotations clearly explain the reality; that there exists many authentic narrations outside of the Sahihain.

The many types of Sahih Hadith

Secondly, Hafiz Ibn Salah (rahimahullah) and others have classified the Sahih ahadith in to seven categories:

1) Those ahadith that appear in both, Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. (Muttafaq ‘Alaih)

2) Those ahadith that appear only in Sahih al Bukhari.

3) Those that appear only in Sahih Muslim.

4) Those that match the criteria of both, Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, but are not found therein.

5) Those that match the criteria of Sahih al Bukhari only and are not found therein.

6) Those that match the criteria of Sahih Muslim only and are not found therein.

7) Those that do not fit the description of any one of the above, but were classified authentic by some reliable Muhaddithun.

[Muqaddimah ibn Salah pg.27; Tadribur Rawi pg.73 and Sharh Nukhbah pg.64]

In light of the above, the last four types of ahadith do not appear in the Sahihain. Despite that, they are still considered as authentic.
Added to this is the fact that Imam Al-Hakim (rahimahullah) has cited ten types of Sahih ahadith, many of which are not included in the Sahihain. [Tadribur Rawi pgs.85-86]

More Books that contain only Sahih Hadith

Thirdly, many Muhaddithun have compiled books which they ensured contained only authentic narrations.

Undoubtedly many of their narrations are not found in the Sahihain.

Some of these compilations are:

a) Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik (rahimahullah)

b) Sahih ibn Khuzaimah

c) Sahih ibn Hibban

d) Al Mukhtarah of Imam Diyaudeen al Maqdisi (rahimahullah) and others.

The General Practice of the Scholars

Fourthly, the practice of all the Muhaddithun throughout time also confirms the prevalence of authentic ahadith outside of the Sahihain. In this regard, countless Muhaddithun have classified various ahadith (that do not appear in Sahihain) as Sahih.

Books such as the following clearly substantiate this:

a) Al-Targheeb wa Tarheeb of Hafidh Al-Mundhiri (rahimahullah)

b) Riyadu Saliheen of Imam Al-Nawawi (rahimahullah)

c) Majma’uz Zawaid of ‘Allamah Al-Haithami (rahimahullah)

d) Nasbur Rayah of ‘Allamah Al-Zaila’ee (rahimahullah)

e) Fathul Bari of Hafidh Ibn Hajar Al-’Asqalani (rahimahullah)

Imam Bukhari Himself

Fifth and Lastly, there are several ahadith that are not in the sahihain which Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) was asked to comment on. Many of them have been classified as sahih by Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) himself! (Examples can be found in Al-‘Ilalul Kabeer of Imam Tirmidhi (rahimahullah)


These five points points are sufficient to prove the fallacy of the claim that: there exists no Sahih hadith outside of the Sahihain (Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).

Therefore, if any particular madhab (school of fiqh) substantiates its viewpoint with a narration outside of the Sahihain, there should be no objection as long as the narration is suited for that purpose.

One who demands otherwise is quite far off from reality, since the Imams of the four famous schools of fiqh actually lived before the existence of the Sahihain!

Note: The purpose of this article is not to disparage these two most authentic books of hadith.

The Sahihain will always enjoy the rank of being “the most authentic books that were ever authored by man”.

The motive is just to clarify a reality that seemed clouded to many contemporaries.

May Allah Ta‘ala guide us all.

Sheikh Mohammed ibn Moulana Haroon Abasoomer
Lecturer in the Faculty of Hadith