Cause of Compilation
Imam Mulsim described the reason of compilation himself in the foreword of the book saying: "A person wished to acquire the teachings of Hadith regarding the fundamentals of religion, practices, reward and punishment etc, so he expressed his desire to Imam Muslim and requested him to compile a book that contains all these things without repetitions. Also, Imam Muslim was grieved at seeing people not differentiating between true and false traditions. So, Imam Muslim started this work and completed it in a span of fifteen years.
Numbers of Traditions
It is said that the number of traditions in Sahih Muslim is twelve thousand. And, with the deletion of repetitions it decreases to four thousand. Sheikh Fuwad Abdul Baqi has numbered Sahih Muslim and according to him the number of it is 3034.
Method of Compilation
Imam Muslim has compiled his Sahih on the order of 'book and chapter'. But in view of the thickness of the book, he did not write their titles. Later, the scholars of Hadith have classified it into chapters or sections with their titles. Among all these classifications, the classification of Imam Nawawi is the best.
Imam Muslim did not rely chiefly on his personal findings but consulted the great scholars of his age, as he himself says: "I did not record the Hadith that was reliable to me, but I only recorded the traditions that were agreed upon by scholars." Also, he would present all traditions to Hafiz Abu Zur'ah Razi and reject the ones about which Hafiz Abu Zur'ah indicated any defect and choose the ones which were sanctioned by Hafiz Abu Zur'ah. He says: "Whatever traditions I put in this collection are with proof and whatever I rejected are also with proof. I compiled this book selecting Ahadith from a pile of three hundred thousand traditions. He paid so exclusive attention to the compilation that he himself stated: "If the scholars of Hadith will keep on writing Ahadith for two years then also they will have to depend on this book."
Position of Sahih Muslim among Sihah Sittah
Sahih Muslim is the second among the six most authentic books of Hadith. It is believed to be second collection of truest Hadith after Sahih Bukhari. Some scholars have preferred it on Bukhari. Generally, the scholars of Maghrib (Morocco) gave preference to Sahih Muslim over Sahih Bukhari as Abu Ali Neshapuri said: "There is no book more authentic than Sahih Muslim." But, Hafiz Ibn Hajar thinks that this quotation does not mean that Sahih Muslim better than Sahih Bukhari, but it only says that both are equally authentic and perfect. Briefly, the fact is that in the sense of authenticity and accuracy Sahih Bukhari is superior, while in the sense of excellent compilation, less repetitions and much sources Sahih Muslim excels.
Some Characteristics of Sahih Muslim
Sahih Muslim is distinguished among other collections of tradition because of below mentioned reasons:
(1) Better compilation
(2) Fluent style
(3) Paying exclusive attention to 'Riwayah Bil Lafz' (narrating exact wordings)
(4) Distinguishing between 'Haddasana' and 'Akhbarana' (two different ways of narration)
(5) Recording the exact words of narrators
(6) Switching to chains of narrations with shortening them
His Ideology about 'Mu'an'an' Traditions
The traditions which are narrated with the word 'A'n' are called 'Mu'an'an'. Imam Muslim has accepted the 'Mu'an'an' traditions of the narrators who were not Mudallis (the narrator who narrates from the teacher of his teacher instead of narrating from his teacher) provided that the period of the narrator and the narrated is same and their meeting is possible. He, in the foreword of his book, sternly objected to those who conditioned that a 'proof of meeting' is compulsory.
Some commentaries of Sahih Muslim
The number of commentaries and annotations exceeds twenty. Here are the names of some well known ones:
(1) Ikmalul Muallim fi Sharh Muslim (Qazi E'yaz)
(2) Siyanah Sahih Muslim (Ibnus Salah)
(3) Al-Minhaj fi Sharh Sahih Muslim bin Hajjaj (Al-Nawawi)
(4) Al-dibaj ala Sahih Muslim bin Hajjaj (Al-Suyuti)
(5) Fathul Mulhim (Shabbir Ahmad Usmani)
Translated and partly prepared by:
Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Maulana Afzal Qasmi, Mufti Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi