al-Kutub as-Sittah: Origins

al-Kutub as-Sittah (ٱلْكُتُب ٱلسِّتَّة), in English The Six Books, are The Six Books of Ḥadīth compiled by 6 individual Muḥaddithūn, each emerging from different lands. They contain a total of around 34,348 Aḥādīth, including repetitions.

Herein, we’ll be looking into the origin of where each of these books were produced, basing it off of the birth-place of the author. Keep it mind that it is completely possible that they could’ve & most likely finished compiling them in a different land.

Map of al-Kutub as-Sittah (based on compilers birth-place)

[1] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (صحيح البخاري): Compiled by Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī, who was from Bukhārā, Uzbekistan — contains around 7,563 Aḥādīth. It is considered the most authentic book after The Qurʼān. Imām al-Bukhārī was born in 194/810 & passed away in 256/870 (raḥimahullāh). It is said that he started compiling this work at the age of 16 years old, then finally finishing at the age of 32; a period of 16 years in total. He also compiled his at-Tārīkh al-Kabīr during this period.

[2] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (صحيح مسلم‎): Compiled by Muslim ibn al-Ḥajjāj, who was from Nīshāpūr, Irān — contains around 7,500 Aḥādīth. It is considered the most authentic book of Ḥadīth after Imām al-Bukhārī’s Ṣaḥīḥ, their books grouped together are termed “aṣ-Ṣaḥīḥayn” (The Two Ṣaḥīḥs). Imām Muslim was born in 206/821 & passed away in 261/875 (raḥimahullāh). He was a student & companion of Imām al-Bukhārī.

[3] Sunan Abū Dāwūd (سنن أبي داود): Compiled by Abū Dāwūd as-Sijistānī, who was from Sijistān (present-day Sistān), Irān — contains around 5,274 Aḥādīth. It is considered to be the highest book of degree within the Kutub as-Sittah after the Ṣaḥīḥayn. Imām Abū Dāwūd was born in 202/817 & passed away in 275/889 (raḥimahullāh). He was a student of Imām al-Bukhārī & close companion of Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal.

[4] Sunan an-Nasā’ī (سنن النسائي‎): Compiled by Aḥmad ibn Shu`ayb ibn Alī ibn Sīnān an-Nasā’ī, who was from Nasā, Türkmenistan — contains around 5,270 Aḥādīth. Imām an-Nasā’ī was born in 214/829 & passed away in 303/915 (raḥimahullāh). He was a student of Isḥāq ibn Rāhwayh, who was also the teacher of Imām al-Bukhārī.

[5] Jāmiʿ at-Tirmidhī (جامع الترمذي): Compiled by Muḥammad ibn ‛Īsá ibn Sawrah ibn Mūsá ibn aḍ-Ḍaḥḥāk at-Tirmidhī, who was from Tirmidh, Uzbekistan — contains around 4,400 Aḥādīth. Imām at-Tirmidhī was born in 209/824 & passed away in 279/892 (raḥimahullāh). He was a student of Imām al-Bukhārī, Imām Muslim, & Imām ad-Dārimī.

[6] Sunan ibn Mājah (سُنن ابن ماجه): Compiled by Muḥammad ibn Yazīd ibn Mājah ar-Rabʻī al-Qazwīnī, who was from Qazwīn, Irān — contains around 4,341 Aḥādīth. Imām ibn Mājah was born in 209/824 & passed away in 273/886 (raḥimahullāh). He was a student of Imām Abū Bakr ibn Abī Shaybah.

May Allāh have mercy upon these great Muḥaddithūn for their large contributions to the religion of Islām & allow them all to enter Jannah behind The Prophet ﷺ together.

All praise is due to Allāh, may His peace & blessings be upon our final Prophet Muḥammad, his family, his companions, & all those who follow him in guidance.

Ṣafīullāh Labīb ibn Salīm ʿAbd al-Malik
2nd of Jumādā al-ʾŪlā 1443 – 6th of December 2021

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