Musalsal Aḥadīth and Ijāzah ʿĀmmah – Mawlana Ayūb al-Surtī

Introduction to Musalsal Aḥadīth and Ijāzah ʿĀmmah

In a speech that he delivered at Darul Qasim College on June 18, 2023, Shaykh Ayyūb al-Surtī shared with the students in attendance his unbroken chain for what is known as al-Ḥadīth al-Musalsal bi-ʾl-Awwaliyyah. A musalsal ḥadīth is one in which the transmission at each level of the chain (or, in a significant, consecutive portion of it) shares some common characteristic. One example of this is a ḥadīth in which each narrator states that his teacher transmitted the ḥadīth to him while holding his beard. Another example is a ḥadīth in which each narrator states that he entered upon his teacher, who fed him a date, and then transmitted the ḥadīth to him.  In the case of al-Ḥadīth al-Musalsal bi-ʾl-Awwaliyyah, the common attribute is that this particular ḥadīth was the first ḥadīth each narrator heard from the narrator above him. In order to maintain this continuity, teachers will often make this the first ḥadīth they transmit to their students.[1]

Second, Shaykh Ayyūb granted ijāzah ʿāmmah (general certification) to students in attendance who are formally studying, or have studied, ḥadīth, as well as faculty. This ijāzah grants recipients permission to transmit all the books that the Shaykh has received ijāzah in from his teachers, including the Ṣiḥāḥ Sittah, Sharḥ Maʿānī al-Āthār, and dozens of other books.[2]


Introductory Remarks by Shaykh Amīn Kholwādia

Al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum,

Jazākum Allāhu Khairan for coming out on this Sunday morning. You probably missed your Sunday brunch, but you’re getting a better brunch here inshāʾAllāḥ. Alḥamdulillāh, we are honored and privileged to have our great shaykh, Mawlāna Ayyūb al-Surtī, who has been in England for many decades. He served my hometown, Gloucester, so he knows my whole family, māshāʾAllāh. But more than that, the honor for me is that his father, Qārī Bande Ilahi, was my tajwīd teacher when I was doing ḥifz, so we go way back māshāʾAllaḥ. So, it’s a pleasure of mine, and a pleasure of Darul Qasim College that hazrat is here.


Speech Delivered by Shaykh Ayyūb al-Surtī

 The following is a translation of a speech delivered by Shaykh Ayyūb al-Surtī at Darul Qasim College on June 18, 2023. It has been lightly edited for flow and readability.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين، سيدنا ونبينا ومولانا محمد وآله وصحبه أجمعين، أما بعد:


I sit here in front of you as a student of knowledge, from a young age up to now. I have no additional merit [over you] other than the fact that my beard has turned white. You are, māshāʾAllah, young and full of potential; may Allah bless you, your affairs, your knowledge, and your actions. Allah gave me the ability fifty years ago to learn the Arabic language and the instrumental sciences, including syntax, morphology, linguistics, and literature. Then, He gave me the ability to learn fiqh, ḥadīth, tafsīr, and other sciences. Alḥamdulillāh, I sat with my teachers and studied the Ṣiḥāḥ Sittah in two years; the first year in Gujrāt in southern India, where there is a large institution called al-Jāmiʿah al-Islāmiyyah, in the village of Dābhel. It’s a small, humble village near Shaykh Amīn’s village, which is called Mākhingā. My village is called Intālwa. These villages are all close to each other, and they are all simple and extremely small.


There [al-Jāmiʿah al-Islāmiyyah], I studied the entirety of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Jāmiʿ al-Tirmidhī with my teacher, the eminent Shaykh Muḥammad Ayyūb al-Aʿẓamī, who was a student of ʿAllāmah Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī (may Allah have mercy on him), an erudite scholar with an incredible memory. He would read books once and be able to recall what they said. He is an authority who holds great importance. Shaykh ʾAllāmah Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī  studied under Shaykh al-Hind Maḥmūd Ḥasan al-Deobandī (may Allah have mercy on him), who studied under his teacher, Shaykh Muḥammad Qāsim al-Nānotwī, the founder of Dārul ʿUlūm Deoband, who studied under his teacher Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Mujaddidī al-Muhājir al-Madanī (may Allah have mercy on him), who studied under his teacher, Shaykh Muḥammad Isḥāq al-Muhājir al-Makkī (may Allah have mercy on him), who studied under his maternal grandfather, Shaykh ʿAbd a-ʿAzīz al-Dihlawī (may Allah have mercy on him), who studied under the ḥadīth scholar Imām Shāh Walī Allāh (may Allah have mercy on him), who was born in 1114 AH and passed away in 1176 AH. In 1144 AH, he traveled to the Ḥijāz, to al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah and Makkah al-Mukarramah, where he studied the noble ḥadīth, which he then brought back to India, after which he devoted all his time to teaching the books of ḥadīth. He gained a following of students and students’ students, forming a chain to the present day, a period of 300 years or 3 generations, Alḥamdulillāh. Through his barakah, the science of ḥadīth gained prominence around the world; not just in India, not just in Asia, but across the entire world, Alḥamdulillāh.


Secondly, I studied the Ṣiḥāḥ Sittah at the institute Maẓāhir al-ʿUlum Sahāranpūr in 1972 CE with my teachers Shaykh Muḥammad Yūnus al-Jawnpūrī (may Allah have mercy on him), Shaykh Muḥammad ʿĀqil (may Allah eternalize his legacy), and others. I also met Shaykh Muḥammad Zakariyyā al-Kandehlawī, and I covered with him three treatises of Shāh Walī Allāh al-Muḥāddith al-Dihlawī, which are called the Musalsalāt, [whose full title is] al-Faḍl al-Mubīn fī-ʾl-Musalsal min Ḥadīth al-Nabī al-Amīn, al-Nawādir,[3] and [one more work].[4]


Now, I will first read to you al-Ḥadīth al-Musalsal bi-ʾl-Awwaliyyah, which I heard from my teacher Shaykh Muḥammad Yūnus al-Jawnpūrī (may Allah have mercy on him), and likewise from my  teacher’s teacher, Shaykh Muḥammad Zakariyyā al-Kandehlawī (may Allah have mercy upon him), who transmit it through their chains to ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAmr b. al-ʿĀṣ (may Allah be pleased with them), who said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘The Most Merciful shows mercy to the merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth, and the One in the heavens will be merciful to you’”. This is a ḥadīth that is musalsal bi-ʾl-awwaliyyah,[5] which Imām Abū Dawūd, Imām Tirmidhī, and other scholars of ḥadīth transmit. Its distinguishing feature is that each student says, “I recited this ḥadīth to my teacher first, then other aḥādīth.” This continues for 12 generations, ending at Sufyān b. ʿUyaynah (may Allah have mercy on him), who passed away at the end of the second century, in 198 AH.


This is a great specialty and an honor for the Ummah of Muḥammad ﷺ, how it gathered and preserved the sayings of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, down to the description of how they were learned. Thus, the religion is preserved in its spirit and its entirety through the Noble Qurʾān and the aḥādīth of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Not a single piece of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺwas lost, nor the statements and actions of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). Nothing was lost. All their actions are preserved; all the actions of the Prophet ﷺ are preserved, to the point that if he sometimes did an action and sometimes did not, some of the Ṣaḥābah would do it and others would not, and the Sunnah lies in both. For example, raising the hands when going into rukūʿ and rising from it is sunnah; he did it, and he likewise omitted it. As a result, the Ṣaḥābah transmitted both raising the hands and not raising them. Likewise, is the case for all issues. Alḥamdulillāh our Sharīʿah is protected from deviation, misguidance, omission, deficiency, and flaws. May Allah ﷻ give us the ability to do what He loves and is pleased with, and to act according to His pure Sharīʿah.


Next, per your request, I will read one ḥadīth [from Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī].

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، الحمد لله وكفى، وسلام على عباده الذين اصفى، أما بعد:


Through a continuous chain from me to Amīr al-Muʾminīn [fī al-Ḥadīth] Abū ʿAbdillāh Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl b. Ibrāhīm al-Juʿfī al-Bukhārī (may Allah have mercy on him), [I narrate to you that] he said, “[This is a] Chapter Regarding How Revelation to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ Began, and the Statement of Allah, ‘Indeed, we have revealed to you as we revealed to Nūḥ and the prophets after him’”. Through [the same chain, I transmit to you that] he (may Allah have mercy on him) said:


al-Ḥumaydī narrated to us, he [al-Ḥumaydī] said:

Sufyān narrated to us, he [Sufyān] said:

Yaḥyā b. Saʿīd al-Anṣārī narrated to us, he [Yaḥyā] said:

Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Taymī told me that he heard

ʿAlqmah b. al-Waqqāṣ al-Laythī saying, I heard

ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (may Allah be pleased with him) saying on the minbar, I heard

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying:


“Certainly, deeds are by intentions, and each person will earn according to his intention: so, whoever migrated [from Makkah to Madīnah] for the sake of acquiring worldly wealth or for the sake of a woman he wanted to marry, then his migration is towards the things for which he migrated.”[6]


Imām al-Bukhārī (may Allah have mercy on him) narrated this ḥadīth in seven places; this is the first place. In this place, he omitted one sentence. Perhaps he omitted it himself, or his teacher, Shaykh al-Ḥumaydī, did so. You are aware that there is a second, additional sentence here [referring to the omitted sentence that was just mentioned]: “So whoever migrated for the pleasure of Allah ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ, then his migration is for Allah and His Messenger. And whoever migrated for the sake of acquiring worldly wealth or for the sake of a woman he wanted to marry, then his migration is towards the things for which he migrated.”[7]


Imām al-Bukhārī mentioned this ḥadīth for the first time, and in the beginning of the Ṣaḥīḥ for the purpose of rectifying intentions. The student and the teacher should correct their intentions [and intend] to study the book and the knowledge of the religion solely for the sake of Allah’s ﷻ pleasure, not for any worldly purpose or earning any worldly gains; but rather, because Allah ﷻ is pleased with the fact that he is acquiring knowledge of the religion. This means that he acts according to it and teaches others so that they can know and act upon the Sharīʿah of Muḥammad ﷺ. May Allah ﷻ give us all the ability to do what He loves and pleases Him.


Al-Salāmu ʿAlaykum wa-Raḥmat Allāh wa-Barakātuh.

[1] This paragraph was adapted from an explanation shared by Mawlānā Bilāl ʿAlī Anṣārī, the Chair of the Department of Ḥadīth at Darul Qasim College, as well as al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar’s discussion of musalsal aḥādīth in his Nuzhat al-Naẓar.

[2] This paragraph was taken from an explanation shared by Mawlānā Bilāl ʿAlī Anṣārī.

[3] The full title is al-Nawādir min Aḥādīth Sayyid al-Awāʾil wa-ʾl-Awākhir.

[4] The third treatise is titled, al-Durr al-Thamīn fī Mubashshirāt al-Nabī al-Amīn.

[5] See introduction for explanation.

[6] The formatting and translation of the chain of narration and the ḥadīth is adapted from Ghassan Abdul-Jabbar’s Bukhari.

[7] This translation is adapted from Ghassan Abdul-Jabbar’s Bukhari.