Sunan ibn Mājah & It’s Significance

Sunan ibn Mājah (سنن ابن ماجه) compiled by Imām Muḥammad ibn Yazīd ibn Mājah al-Qazwīnī (d. 273 AH) is one of the popular and most authoritative books of Ḥadīth, being from the last of al-Kutub as-Sittah. Due to it being the last of the six, some people may tend to believe that the book is weak, unreliable, or doesn’t hold much importance, but rather it holds a great status in Ḥadīth literature and righfully earned it’s spot within al-Kutub as-Sittah. This book has received high praise from various scholars of Ḥadīth due to it’s special approach and the fact that it includes Ṣaḥīḥ Aḥādīth that are not found in the other three books of Sunan nor aṣ-Ṣaḥīḥayn of Imām al-Bukhārī رحمه الله (d. 256 AH) and Imām Muslim رحمه الله (d. 261 AH).1

Imām ibn Mājah رحمه الله said: “I showed this transcript (i.e., his Sunan) to Abū Zurʾah ar-Rāzī. He checked it and said, ‘I believe that if people lay their hands on this book, all or most of the other great compiled works will become unnecessary.'”2 After his reading, Abū Zurʾah ar-Rāzī رحمه الله (d. 264 AH) also said: “I read the book compiled by Abū ʿAbdullāh ibn Mājah and I did not find there but few Aḥādīth whose authenticity is questionable.” He then went on to mention them, being only less than 20 Aḥādīth.3 These words of Abū Zurʾah ar-Rāzī رحمه الله turned out to be true, as several other compilations of Ḥadīth were surpassed by the Sunan of Imām ibn Mājah رحمه الله. With respect to soundness and strength, other works such as Sunan ad-Dārimī4 and Sunan ad-Dāraquṭnī5 are superior to the Sunan of Imām ibn Mājah رحمه الله, but they did not gain the same popularity.6

During the early period of this work’s existence, scholars considered the major collections of Ḥadīth to be five, the Sunan of Imām ibn Mājah رحمه الله not being from them. They then realized that the Sunan of Imām ibn Mājah رحمه الله is very useful and strong in terms of Fiqh and that it included many Aḥādīth that are not in al-Muwaṭṭaʾ of Imām Mālik رحمه الله (d. 179 AH), thus resulting in them eventually including it amongst the major collections of Ḥadīth and becoming the sixth.7 Another reason for it being included amongst the five is what’s been mentioned by al-Ḥāfiẓ ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī رحمه الله (d. 852 AH) in his book an-Nukat,8 in which he said: “ibn Ṭāhir (the first to count Sunan ibn Mājah amongst the five) and others counted Sunan ibn Mājah as the sixth collection as opposed to al-Muwaṭṭaʾ because al-Muwaṭṭaʾ contains fewer fully-connected additions to the Ḥadīth of the five collections whereas Sunan ibn Mājah contains more. Therefore, the intention of the scholars (and Allāh knows best) in choosing Sunan ibn Mājah was to maximize the number of Aḥādīth.”9

From just some of the special qualities of this book is it’s amount of narrations that it shares with the other five books and the narrations that are exclusive to it. There are 3,002 Aḥādīth in Sunan ibn Mājah that also exist in the other five, and this strengthens those Aḥādīth due to there being an increase in the number of different chains of narration. It has 1,339 Aḥādīth that are not found in the other five books, and 482 of them are considered Ṣaḥīḥ. Muḥaddithūn have compiled these Aḥādīth as Zawā’id (additions), which elevates the status of Sunan ibn Mājah to the position of being from the the sixth of the six books.10

May Allāh have mercy upon Imām ibn Mājah and accept his efforts.

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.


Footnotes:

[1] Biographies of the Imams of Hadith, Page 31 (E-Da`wah Committee).
[2] Tahdhīb al-Kamāl 1/173.
[3] Muqaddimah Sunan ibn Mājah, Page 33 (Dār as-Salām).
[4] Sunan ad-Dārimī (سنن الدارمي): Compiled by ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān ad-Dārimī as-Samarqandī, who was from Samarqand, Uzbekistan — contains around 3,546 Aḥādīth & Athār. It is also called Musnad ad-Dārimī. Imām ad-Dārimī passed away 280 AH.
[5] Sunan ad-Dāraquṭnī (سنن الدارقطني): Compiled by ʿAlī ibn ʿUmar ad-Dāraquṭnī, who was from Dār al-Quṭn, ʿIrāq — contains around 4,750 Aḥādīth. Imām ad-Dāraquṭnī passed away 385 AH.
[6] Muqaddimah Sunan ibn Mājah, Page 42 (Dār as-Salām).
[7] Muqaddimah Sunan ibn Mājah, Page 47 (Dār as-Salām).
[8] an-Nukat ʿalá Kitāb ibn aṣ-Ṣalāḥ wa Nukat al-ʿIrāqī (النكت على كتاب ابن الصلاح ونكت العراقي): Compiled by Aḥmad ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, who was from Cairo, Egypt — consists of up to 6 volumes. It is notes of al-Ḥāfiẓ ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī upon the book ʿUlūm al-Ḥadīth by Imām ibn aṣ-Ṣalāḥ, more commonly known as Muqaddimah ibn aṣ-Ṣalāḥ.
[9] See article: al-Muwaṭṭaʾ & it’s reason for not being from al-Kutub as-Sittah.
[10] Muqaddimah Sunan ibn Mājah, Page 50 (Dār as-Salām).


Ṣafīullāh Labīb ibn Salīm ʿAbd al-Malik
21st of Jumādá ath-Thānī 1444