By Christopher Melchert
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Extra resources for Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Makers of the Muslim World)
Indd 42 05/06/2006 11:32:48 HADITH 43 tantes, who did not know which hadith reports were well attested and therefore risked relying on spurious ones. Another reason for the relative neglect of Ahmad’s Musnad is its inconvenient bulk. Medieval estimates of its extent range from thirty to forty thousand hadith. Modern printed versions and extant manuscripts contain about 27,600. The first modern edition of the Musnad, printed in Cairo in the 1890s, comprises six volumes, some 3,000 pages, of small print.
The names were as tedious for medieval non-specialists to read as they are for present-day ones, which is why books aimed at a general audience usually omit them. For example, they are omitted from Riyad al-salihin (The gardens of the pious) by al-Nawawi (died 676/1277). A prominent Syrian mufti described this collection to me as the single best collection of hadith for a pious Muslim family to keep in the house, for it is so full of good advice. Nawawi was a great hadith authority and expected his readers to trust that he had not made up his material.
Nawawi was a great hadith authority and expected his readers to trust that he had not made up his material. What do the names tell us? indd 46 05/06/2006 11:32:49 HADITH 47 they transmitted verbatim) and too careful not to distort what they had heard from the Seal of the Prophets to have changed a word. The last two hadith reports above would have to have come from the Prophet on two different occasions, as would Bukhari’s two versions with and without an oath. This is not what the medieval tradition maintained.