The era of the best of generations khayr-al-qurun (i.e. the first three generations of Muslims), gave way to the era of falsehood and fabrications, as foretold by Allahs Messenger (PBUH). (At that time,) people began fabricating hadiths willfully. This is why many hadith scholars compiled books focusing only on fabricated hadiths (in order to expose them as unauthentic). Inspired by their vested interests, many of the fabricators used to concoct false hadiths. Consequently, whatever differences do occur in the accepted narrations will still be considered minimal (compared to what the situation could have been). Ibn Lahi'a says, There was a person who was once a leader of the Khawarij (a deviated sect). He later received divine guidance to repent for all his wrongdoings. He advised, "Before you accept a hadith, make sure you study the conditions of its narrators. When we (the Khawarij) wanted to propagate something, we used to fabricate a narration accordingly.
Hammad ibn Salama (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the statement of a Raafidi (a member of the Shiite Twelver sect): Whenever any proposals used to be passed in our gatherings, we would fabricate a hadith accordingly. Masih ibn Jahm narrates the incident of an innovator who, when he repented, taking an oath, said: We had fabricated many baseless narrations which you narrated from us, and we used to consider leading you astray to be a meritorious act.
The hadith scholars have recorded many similar statements. Hafiz ibn Hajar (may Allah be pleased with him) has made particular mention of such incidents in his book Lisan.
The fabricators themselves have confessed to concocting hadiths. Some of these fabricators used to fabricate solely for what they called the preservation of their ideology such as the Raadis, the Khawaij, etc. This is why the hadith scholars have laid down, among other principles, the rule stating that if a person is known to have inclinations to the Rafidi sect, his narrations regarding the household [ahl al-bayt] of Allahs Messenger (PBUH) will not be accepted.
Hammad ibn Zayd said, The hypocrites have fabricated fourteen thousand hadiths. One of them was Abd al-Karim ibn AbI al-Awja, who was hung in the time of the Abbasi, Caliph Mahdi. While he was being hung he said, I had fabricated four thousand hadiths in which I had made many unlawful things lawful and vice versa.
Some people used to fabricate hadiths merely to appease a king or a leader.
One of the categories of hadith which has come under criticism by the Imams includes the hadiths of the Sufis and the Preachers. The Sufis, having good thoughts of all and sundry, readily accepted all types of narrations. Considering such narrations to be authentic, they used to transmit them to others. Since the Sufis were regarded as reliable people, the others in turn accepted their narrations. Imam Muslim (may Allah be pleased with him) has dealt with this topic extensively in the introduction to his Sahih.
Taken From the Book "The Differences of the Imams"
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