Overview of Mustadrak Hakim (and Its Talkhees') Authenticity
Al-Dhahabî & the Mustadrak of al-Hâkim An overview by Dr. Bashshâr `Awwâd Ma`rûf
[From the introduction to his critical edition of al-Tirmidhî’s al-Jâmi` al-Kabîr published by Dâr al-Jayl, Beirut]
The book al-Mustadrak `alâ al-Sahîhayn by `Abd Allah al-Hâkim al-Naysâbûrî (d. 403 AH) is an encyclopedic work, well known among scholars. Its author claims that he has found authentic hadîth left out by the two authorities – al-Bukhârî and Muslim – though it actually contains some objectionable material. Al-Dhahabî writes in his biographical encyclopedia entitled Siyar A`lâm al-Nubalâ’ “Biographies of Outstanding Personalities”:
“The Mustadrak contains a lot of hadîth that conform to the conditions of authenticity of both (al-Bukhârî and Muslim) as well as a number of hadîth conforming to the conditions of either one of them. Perhaps the total number of such hadîth comprises a third of the book or less. A lot of the book is comprised of hadîth that appear on the surface to be on the conditions of one or both of them, but that have hidden within them subtle but substantial defects. A portion of the book contains chains of transmission that are good and acceptable. This is about a fourth of the book. The rest of the book is comprised of rejected and extremely strange hadîth. At the same time, there are about one hundred hadîth that the heart declares to be false...”
Al-Dhahabî, when he first embarked upon the study of hadîth, prepared abridgements of a number of books, one of which was the Mustadrak. It has become the habit of scholars today working in the field of hadîth, when compiling them and determining their authenticity, to say things like: “It is authenticated by al-Hâkim and al-Dhahabî concurs.” In doing so, they are referring to al-Dhahabî’s Talkhîs, his abridgement of the Mustadrak that is often published along with it in its margins.
We see this as a serious misunderstanding that must be pointed out. We do not know from where this idea came or how it got started. When al-Dhahabî abridged the book, it was not his intention to discuss the authenticity or the inauthenticity of its hadîth. He merely speaks about some of most serious errors made by al-Hâkim’s in his book, mentioning them along with his abridgement, as is his habit when he abridges any book.
There are three reasons why we know this:
First, al-Dhahabî says in Siyar A`lâm al-Nubalâ’ (17/176): “It is a useful book. I had made an abridgement of it that is in considerable need of work and editing.”
This statement is one of the clearest proofs that he merely abridged the Mustadrak and did not critically review al-Hâkim’s rulings. Otherwise, what does he mean when he says it “...is in considerable need of work and editing”?
Secondly, we find that in his other books, al-Dhahabî, clearly states his disagreement with rulings that al-Hâkim’s gives in the Mustadrak in places where al-Dhahabî, in his Talkhîs, either reiterates al-Hâkim’s ruling or remains silent.
For example, when speaking about Mu`âwiyah b. Sâlih in Mîzân al-I`tidal (4/135), he writes: “He is among those narrators whom Muslim accepts but not al-Bukhârî. You can see al-Hâkim relating this narrator’s hadîth in his Mustadrak and say: ‘This is according to the conditions of al-Bukhârî.’ He repeatedly makes this mistake.”
However, when the same statement comes up in his Talkhîs, he says nothing about it. Whoever compares the rulings found in the Talkhîs with those that al-Dhahabî makes in his other writings will find that there is considerable disagreement.
Thirdly, when al-Dhahabî writes in his Talkhîs “according to the conditions of al-Bukhârî and Muslim” or writes “authentic”, he is merely giving al-Hâkim’s ruling as found in the Mustadrak. He is not expressing his own viewpoint. Therefore, we cannot attribute these opinions to al-Dhahabî himself.