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The Kutub al-Sittah are six (originally five) books containing collections of hadith  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.

 

Muslim scholars through the ages of the intellectual and scholarly History of Islam made golden efforts to render the contents of these books into clear meanings that suit the interpretation of the pious predecessors from those who saw and took knowledge and training from Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) directly; known as the sahaaba (may Allah be pleased with all of them). The sahaaba generally are the best people after the Prophets (peace be upon them) and the most learned people whose knowledge about Islam was untainted with whimsical desires. Their explanations of the Prophet’s Sunnah are pristine and free from any misguidance. Second in degree to them were the taabi’uun (those who saw the sahaaba and learned from them) and those after them (Tabi taabi’uun), these represent the “best generation” of Muslims. The explanation of these three groups form a paramount content of the books of commentary to the Six Canonical Books of Hadith.

 

Opinions of well learned scholars who have reached the degree of ijtihad (the highest degree of jurisprudential discretion) were also considered. This later group of scholars consist of those who carried out the effort of explaining the six books of hadith.

 

The epoch that extends from 4th century to the 11th century hijri witnessed some popular explanations of the books of hadith. Among such scholars whose works were classical in this direction was:

 

Imam Abu Sulaiman Al-Khattaabi (died:338 A.H). he wrote commentary for sunan Abi Daawud in a book he called: “ Ma’aalim As-Sunan

 

There was al-Haafith Ibn Abdul Barr (died: 463. A.H) who commented on hadiths in his book called: “ al-istithkaar” ,written according to Imam Maalik’s (may Allah have mercy on him) methodology of hadiths.

 

There came also Imam Muhyiddeen An-Nawawi (died:676.A.H) and wrote his commentary of sahih Muslim. His book is known as “Al-Minhaj Fi Sharh Sahih Muslim Ibn Al-Hajjaaj

 

Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani (died: 852, A.D) wrote a classic commentary on Sahih Bukhari, a unique commentary of its type. He named it Fathul-Baari; Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari.  Al-Qaadi Badruddeen Al-Aini (died:855) also had a commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari named as:” Umdatul-Qaari Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari

 

Also, in the 14th century A.H, a lot of efforts were also witnessed of scholars towards explaining the six books of hadith. The learned scholar of Morocco; sheikh Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Saalim al-majlisi (died: 1302 A.H) had a commentary on sahih Bukhari called: “Nahrul-Jaari (flowing river) in the commentary of sahih Bukhari”.

 

Sheikh Ja’far Ibn Idrees Al-Kattaani (died: 1321A.H) had uncompleted commentaries on Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abi Daawud, Jaami At-Tirmidhi.

 

Famous Egyptian scholars such as Sheikh Hasan Al-Adawi al-Maaliki (died: 1303) had a five-volume explanation of sahih Bukhari in a book he called: “An-Nuur Saari min Faid Sahih Bukhari”. Dr. Musah Shaheen of Egypt also had a commentary on Sahih Muslim called: “ Fat’h Al-Mun’em. He spent 20 years in authoring this book.

 

Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Badraan of Damascus (died:1346) had a commentary on Sunan An-Nasaa’i

 

The efforts of scholars in this field of Islamic science cannot be enumerated here. There are a number of such works ranging from volumes of books to single books.

 

In contemporary times, scholars in many parts of the Muslim world continue to offer explanations and commentaries on the traditions of the six books of hadith due to their importance and what is imbedded in them of authentic knowledge. The works of contemporary scholars such as Sheikh Naasiruddeen Al-Baani stands unique in contemporary times. Sheikh Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad Al-badr; a renowned scholar and a lecturer at the Islamic University  of Madina and who also teaches at the Prophet Mosque (Masjid An-Nabawi) had a recorded explanation of the six books of hadith (see:http://al-abbaad.com/). Muslim Scholars continue to exert relentless efforts towards this lofty objective.

 

 

 

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