Some scholars have written that the name of Imam Nasai's book is 'Al-Mujtaba' or 'Al-Mujtana'. However, it is known as 'Al-Sunan Al-Sughra'. These three names are justified because it appears from the background story of the compilation. The story goes like this that Imam Nasai wrote a book named 'Al-Sunan' and presented it to the Emir of Ramallah. He questioned him whether all the tradition of the book are correct. Imam Nasai's reply was in negative. So, he ordered him to compile a book that contains only authentic traditions. Thus, Imam Nasai took out all the traditions from his book and named the new collection as ' Mujtaba' (selected ones). Also, it is right to call it as 'Al-Mujtana' since it also means 'selected'. This collection was named as 'Al-Sunan Al-Sughra' because it was a summary of the previous one. However, when it is called simply Sunan Nasai or if some scholar says that Imam Nasai narrates so and so, then it implies to this 'Al-Sunan Al-Sughra'. 'Al-Sunan Al-Sughra' was included in the Sihah Sittah (six most authentic books of Hadith). It is noteworthy that Imam Zahabi is of the opinion that it is Ibnus Sunni who has selected Sahih Ahadith from 'Al-Sunan Al-Sughra' and compiled 'Al-Mujtaba'. .
Position of Sunan Nasai in Sihah Sittah
The authors of books on Asmaur Rijal (biographies of the narrators) have placed Sunan Nasai on fifth position and it is commonly known. But, Imam Zahabi has written the ranking of Jami'ut Tirmizi is lesser than that of Sunan Abu Dawood and Sunan Nasai. It implies that Sunan Nasai is on the fourth position. Some Moroccan scholars have given it superiority even on Sahih Bukhari, but this is rare stand and what generally known is that Sunan Nasai holds the fifth position.
Numbers of the Traditions
The total number of traditions in this book is 5761 and most of them are authentic. Therefore, some people have called it as Sahih.
Sunan Nasai in the Eyes of Great Scholars
Abul Hasan Musiri says: "Whenever I looked it to the traditions I found that those narrated by Imam Nasai are nearer to authenticity than the traditions of others."
Hafiz Ibn Rashid has introduced Nasai with these words: "Sunan Nasai is an excellent book among Sunan as per its order and compilation. It assembled the patterns of Imam Bukhari and Muslim. Also, it contains descriptions of the points where some fault has occurred."
Muhammad bin Mu'awiyah Ahamr says: "Sunan Nasai is authentic and only some traditions are having faults, but Imam Nasai has not mentioned its weak points. The collection of traditions named with Al-Mujtaba is entirely perfect.
Most traditions of Sunan Nasai are perfect, therefore some people have regarded it as Sahih. Otherwise, all the traditions of Nasai are not Sahih. Nevertheless, the weak traditions in Sunan Nasai are less in number in comparison to other Sunan books.
Method of Sunan Nasai & Characteristics
(1) It surpasses other book as per its order and style of compilation
(2) Imam Nasai also mentions one Hadith under different chapter like Imam Bukhari.
(3) On the pattern of Imam Muslim, he writes different chains of a tradition and points out the differences in the wordings.
(4) He discusses the weak points of tradition and their reasons. Imam Nasai is known for expertise about secret weak points of narrations.
(5) If there is some confusion in the name, nickname or something else then he states it. He verified whether the narrator met his teacher or not, whether the Hadith is Muttasil or Mursal. At places, he elucidates the meaning of difficult words.
Commentaries and Notes on Sunan Nasai
Sunan Nasai was not given so homage which it deserves. There is no comprehensive commentary written on the book. However, there are some notes and commentaries:
(1) Al-Im'aan fi Sharh Sunan Al-Nasai (Sheikh Abul Hasan Ali bin Abdulah Ansari Undulusi)
(2) Sharh Ibnul Mulaqqan (Ibnul Mulaqqan has written commentary of the traditions of Sunan Nasai which are not mentioned in Sahihain, Sunan Abu Dawood and Tirmizi)
(3) Zahrur Ruba (Imam Suyuti)
(4) The notes and comments of Sheikh Abul Hasan bin Abdul Hadi Sindhi
(5) The notes and comments of Sheikh Muhammad Ataullah Hanif Bhojyani
Translated and partly prepared by:
Mufti Obaidullah Qasmi, Maulana Afzal Qasmi, Mufti Muhammadullah Khalili Qasmi