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The Kutub al-Sittah (Arabic: الكتب السته) are six (originally five) books containing collections of hadith (sayings or acts of the prophet Muhammad) compiled by six Sunni Muslim scholars in the ninth century CE. They are sometimes referred to as Al-Sihah al-Sittah, which translates as "The Authentic Six". They were first formally grouped and defined by Ibn al-Qaisarani in the 11th century, who added Sunan ibn Majah to the list. Since then, they have enjoyed near-universal acceptance as part of the official canon of Sunni Islam.
Not all Sunni Muslim jurisprudence scholars agree on the addition of Ibn Majah. In particular, The Malikis and Ibn al-Athir consider al-Mawatta' to be the sixth book. The reason for the addition of Ibn Majjah's Sunan is that it contains many Hadiths which do not figure in the other five, whereas all the Hadiths in the Muwatta' figure in the other Sahih books.
- Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam Bukhari (d. 256 AH, 870 CE), includes 7.275 ahadith
- Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 261 AH, 875 CE), includes 9,200 ahadith
- Sunan Abu Dawood, collected by Abu Dawood (d. 275 AH, 888 CE), includes 4,800 ahadith
- Jami al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 279 AH, 892 C.E)
- Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa'i (d. 303 AH, 915 CE)
The first two, commonly referred to as the Two Sahihs as an indication of their authenticity, contain approximately seven thousand ahadith altogether if repetitions are not counted, according to Ibn Hajar.
According to the Cambridge History of Iran: "After this period commences the age of the authors of the six canonical collections of Sunni hadith, all of whom were Persian, except Imam Malik. The authors of the six collections are as follows:
- Muhammad b. Isma'il al-Bukhari, the author of the Sahih Bukhari, which he composed over a period of sixteen years. Traditional sources quote Bukhari as saying that he did not record any hadith before performing ablution and praying. Bukhari died near Samarqand in 256/869–70
- Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Naishapuri, who died in Nishapur in 261/874–5 and whose Sahih Muslim is second in authenticity only to that of Bukhari
- Abu Dawood Sulaiman b. Ash'ath al-Sijistani, a Persian but of Arab descent, who died in 275/888–9.
- Muhammad b. 'Isa al-Tirmidhi, the author of the well-known as Sunan al-Tirmidhi, who was a student of Bukhari and died in 279/892–3
- Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Nasa'i, who was from Khurasan and died in 303/915–16
- Ibn Majah al-Qazwini, who died in 273/886–7
School of thought
Most of the scholars of Kutubh al-Sittah Were Shafi'i or Hanbali, and there was a great debate among scholars whether they were mujtahid or muqallid, In the case of Imam Bukhari And Imam Muslim they were mujtahid. Most of the scholars were mujtahid except the case of Imam Abu Dawood, who followed Imam Hanbal, though the scholars of Kutub al-Sittah scholars were Shaf'i or Hanbali. The Hanafi School of thought is most dominant. Hanafi's dominant mostly in Asian Countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. Most of the Hanfis are dominated by non-muslim country like India. Shaf'i and Hanbal Madhab is are prevalent in Muslim Countries[Middle East], dominating the Arabian Peninsula [KSA]. Though People Of Saudi Arabia, Palestine And Other Middle Eastern Countries consider to follow the way of prophet over the 4 imams and the closest way of salah according to hadith are the way Imam Shaf'i Or Imam Hanbal. If certain fiqh rules of Imams go against the Hadith [Sayings Of Prophet] they are to be rejected. People Of Arab And Other Middle East Countries say that Hadith are Sayings of Prophet Muhammad [Peace Be Upon Him] and consider themselves to follow the way of prophet not the way of Imam, As The feature of infallibility is only for prophet not for the imams. We should morely follow the way of prophet rather than the Imam as they may do mistakes and we may end up doing their mistakes all life. So we should clinge to Hadith Of Prophet And Ijtima Of Scholars
- Ignác Goldziher, Muslim Studies, vol. 2, pg. 240. Halle, 1889–1890. ISBN 0-202-30778-6
- Scott C. Lucas, Constructive Critics, Ḥadīth Literature, and the Articulation of Sunnī Islam, pg. 106. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2004.
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- S. H. Nasr (1975), “The religious sciences”, in R. N. Frye, the Cambridge History of Iran, Cambridge University Press.