Home > Ahlehadees/Salafi., Knowledge (iLm), Sayings and Actions of Salaf as Saalih, Sunnah, Why did the Imâms Differ? > Ahle hadeeth and Ahlur Rai [جماعة أهل الحديث و أهل الرأي]

Ahle hadeeth and Ahlur Rai [جماعة أهل الحديث و أهل الرأي]


Ahle hadeeth means the follower of Hadeeth. Ahlur Rai means the follower of Rai (human wisdom). Those who seek solutions of all problems of life on the basis of the holy Quran and saheeh Hadeeth are known as Ahle hadeeth. On the other hand… those who take solutions of the problems of life from Fiqhi Usool i.e. the formulas of practical laws made by any earlier scholar, they, according to Shah Waliullah, are known as Ahlur Rai. They do not seek Hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and Athar of Sahaba  in making solutions to any problem, rather they try to solve it by making comparison with any Fiqhi decision or any Fiqhi principle given by an earlier Mujtahid Faqeeh and bring out its various branches and sub-branches with the help of Qias i.e. analogical method.(a) In this way, they follow in about all steps the Usool-i-Fiqh designed by their Imam or Faqeeh. As a result, in many cases they give preference the Rai of a person above saheeh Hadeeth.


On the other hand,

the Ahle hadeeth, in every case gives preference to the decision of the holy Quran and saheeh Hadeeth above others and rejects the person’s Rai which opposes the Hadeeth. They do not appraise the Quran and Hadeeth on the basis of Rai, but they appraise Ray on the basis of the Quran and Hadeeth. They give preference to Wahi (revelation) above Rai i.e. human wisdom and consider Rai as explanatory for Wahi. They do not reject Hadeeth on different pleas, at the time when they find any Rai of self or any person they follow contradicts to the Hadeeth; rather they bow before the decision of Hadeeth in all respect. The Ahle hadeeth believes in Ijtihad and considers it permissible to do by all competent Ulama of all ages. They believe in such type of Ijtihad or Rai and Qias which are based on the holy Quran, saheeh Hadeeth and Ijma-i-Sahaba.


For this reason Imam Malik, Shafe‘ii, Ahmad, Ishaque, Imam Bukhari and others, the best Faqeehs and Mujtahids of the Ummah are called Ahle hadeeth, not Ahlur Rai. On the other hand, due to lack of sufficient collections of Hadeeth, Imam Abu Haneefah (Rahimahullah) became more dependants on personal Rai and Qias, for which he was reckoned as Imam of Ahlur Rai i.e. the leader of the followers of Rai. As the world famous historian and social scientist of Morocco Abdur Rahman Ibnu Khaldoon (732-802 A.H.) says,

[The wave of logic also touched the scholars of Ahle Sunnah).As a result, the Fiqh became divided into two main streams by the name of ‘Ahle hadeeth’ and ‘Ahlur Rai’.

One of these was the Tareeqah of the followers of Rai and Qiyas. They were mostly the inhabitants of Iraq.

The second one is the Tareeqah of Ahle hadeeth. They were the inhabitants of Hijaz (Makkah-Madina).

Very few numbers of Hadeeth were there in Iraq. For which they devoted to Qiyas more and they also acquired proficiency in this regard. Therefore, they have been regarded as Ahlur Rai i.e. the followers of Rai. The leader of this group was Abu Haneefah in whose name a Mazhab has been set up]. (b)


This is to note that this is Iraq where the fabrication of Hadeeth has begun first.

Hinting to this, Imam Ibnu Shihab Zuhri (50-124 A.H.) says,

A hadeeth of a half cubit, issued from here, becomes one cubit in length when comes back from Iraq.


Imam Malek (93-179 A.H.) has termed Iraq as a ‘factory of hadeeth adulteration’ . That is one saheeh Hadeeth after much additions and subtractions is circulated from here adulteratedly.(c)


Imam Abu Haneefah (Rahimahullah) was the inhabitant of the city of Kufa in Iraq and his chief disciples were from there. For this reason his followers are named as Hanafee, Kufi, Ahlur Rai, Ahlul Kufa, Ahlul Iraq etc.


(a) Shah Waliullah, Hujjatullahil Baligah (Cairo: 1322 A.H.) P. 1/129; To know in details, see the discussion in the chapter ‘Difference between Ahlul Hadeeth and Ahlur Rai’ P.1/118-122.

(b) Abdur Rahman Ibnu Khaldoon, Tareekh (Bairut: Muassasatul A‘lami, n.d.) Muqaddamah P. 1/446.

(c) Dr. Mustafa Saba‘ii, As-Sunnah (Bairut: Al-Maktabul Islami, 4th edition 1405/1985) P. 79.


[Source: From the book: Ahle hadeeth movement; What and Why? by Dr. Muhammad Asadullah Al-Ghalib, pg, 21-23 ]

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