Did Imaam Ghazali fabricate some Ahaadith in his book, Ihyaa ?

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Did Imaam Ghazali fabricate some Ahaadith in his book, Ihyaa ?

People have said that there are fabricated ahaadith in ihya ulum uddin. Is this true? People say Imam Ghazzali fabricated them to support sufism. I find that hard to believe. They also say that he uses weak hadith. Please explain the role of weak hadith.  Should we use them or not?

A: The fact that fabricated Ahaadith are quoted in Ihyaa Ulumidddin cannot be refuted. Imam Muhammad Murtadha al-Zabeedi (RA) – the famous and renown commentator of ‘Ihyaa’ has mentioned the following in the forward of his commentary on ‘Ihya’,

Verily the Ahaadith mentioned by the author (Imaam Ghazaaly – RA) vary between those that are unanimously accepted, Sahih (authentic) and Hasan (sound); and of them are some that are weak and some a fabrication though very few.

(Itihaafu saadatil muttaqeen vol.1 pg.38; Ilmiyyah)

For quotations of other Ulama which support the above, refer to the above mentioned reference.

However, the blasphemous accusation of Imaam Ghazzaaly (RA) having fabricated those Ahaadith is definitely incorrect. The proof for this is that these Ahaadith were prevalent even before Imaam Ghazzaaly (RA) was born. The reason for Imaam Ghazaaly (RA) having included such Ahaadith in his most beneficial work, is the fact that he did not know of their fabrication. Shaykh Abdul-Fattaah Abu Ghuddah (RA) states in ‘Atta’aleeqaatul Haafilah’ pg.118,

‘Imaam Ghazzaaly (RA) was unique in regards to the knowledge of Jurisprudence, its principles, Tasawwuf, beliefs, philosophy and others except for the knowledge of Hadith, for verily he did not spare time to master it. And he has mentioned regarding himself in his book, ‘Qaanoonut ta-aweel’ (pg.16), ‘And my knowledge of Hadith is but scanty.’

Shaykh Abdul Fattaah further states another reason for this,

‘Perhaps his excuse for doing that (i.e. including fabrications in Ihyaa) is that he relied on the book, ‘Qootul Quloob’ of Abu Taalib Makki and he mentioned those Ahaadith therefrom.’ (Ibid)

As for the role of weak Ahaadith, Imaam Sakhawi (RA) has mentioned in his book, ‘Al-Qawlul Badee’ (pg.473):

‘Regarding weak narrations there are 3 views,

a) It cannot be accepted at all,
b) It will be accepted if there are no other Ahaadith to substantiate that particular chapter / topic, and
c) It will be accepted for virtues of deeds and not for the different laws in Shari’ah.’

Imam Sakhawi further states:

‘And this (third view) is the view of the majority.

Moulana Abdul Hayy Laknawi (RA) further comments regarding the credibility of these 3 views in his book, ‘Al-ajwibatul faadhilah’ (pg.53). He says regarding the first view,

‘It is a weak view.’

And regarding the second view,

‘It is an absurd exploitation.’

And regarding the third view,

‘It is the straight path.’

So, the answer to your question is, ‘Yes’ a weak Hadith can be used, but only to ascertain a virtue for a specific deed. However, even in doing so there are some conditions that apply. (Refer al-Qawlul Badee and Al-Ajwibatul Faadhila pgs.40-41)

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best