What is the Grading of the Hadith of Great Majority (Al-Sawad al-‘Adham)?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I have read that this and similar hadiths mentioning the majority ( السواد الاعظم) are weak.

إِنَّ أُمَّتِي لَنْ تَجْتَمِعَ عَلَى ضَلاَلَةٍ فَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمُ اخْتِلاَفًا فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِالسَّوَادِ الأَعْظَمِ

Verily, my nation will not unite upon misguidance. If you see differences, you must follow the great majority. [Ibn Maja]

Can you tell me if this is true and if there were scholars who saw this hadith as strong?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Hadith of Great Majority (Al-Sawad al-‘Adham)

This hadith has been reported by Ibn Maja, in the Book of Tribulations (Fitan) under the chapter, The Great Majority.

It has been narrated by Abbas ibn Uthman al-Dimishqi, he narrates from Walid ibn Muslim, he narrates from Mu’an Ibn Rifa’a al-Salami, he narrated from Abu Khalaf al-Al-‘Ama, he said, I heard Anas bin Malik (Allah be pleased with him) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) say, ‘My nation will not unite on misguidance, so if you see them differing, follow the great majority.’” [Ibn Maja]

Grading of the Hadith

Ibn Kathir judged this narration to be weak in Bidayat al-Nihaya. Ibn al-Qaysarani said in Dhakirat al-Huffaz that the chain contains two weak narrators: Mu’an’ Ibn Rifa’a al-Salami and his teacher, Abu Khalaf al-Al-‘Ama, whose name is Hazim Ibn ‘Ata, is regarded discarded (matruk) as recorded by Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal. ‘Ibn Ma’in has accused him of lying.  The narration was recorded in Ibn’ Adi’s compilation of weak narrations known as Al-Kamil fi al-Du’afa’. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani analyzed the various chains of authority in Muwafaqat al-Khubar al-Khabar and found them all to be weak. However, Al-Arna’ut stated in his verification of Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’ that the multiple chains strengthened each other enough to make it credible, and some scholars accepted it as it is.

In summary, although the above hadith has weak narrators, it has been reported through multiple chains which strengthen each other via several other chains. Also, parts of the above narration are supported by various authentic hadiths recorded in hadith books which have a similar meaning to the hadith in question. Below are a few:

Supporting Hadith

Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the  Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Follow the great majority (al-Sawad al-Adham), because whoever separates, leaves unto the fire” reported by ibn Maja from Anas Ibn Malik [Mishkat al-Masabih]

Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Verily, Allah will not let my nation agree upon misguidance. The hand of Allah is over the united community.” [Tirmidhi]

Imam Tirmidhi said, “The interpretation of the united community, according to the scholars, are the people of fiqh, knowledge, and hadith.

This hadith is graded as authentic (sahih).

Who are the Great Majority (Al-Sawad al-Adham)?

The scholars say the great majority are the companions; some say every learned person who follows the Book of Allah Most High and sunna, and some say what the majority of the adherents of Muslims follow in the tenets of belief. Some say a group of the Imams of the mujtahid’ ulama.’ Some say the majority of Muslims who follow a leader (Imam).

[Al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Fi Sharh al-Mishkat al-Masabih; Ibn Kathir, Al-Biday Wal-Nihaya; ‘Iraqi, Takhrij Ahadith al Baydawi; Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’ hadith verified by Shuayb al-Arna’ut]

In sum, the ‘great majority’ whom we are commanded to follow are the companions, the followers (tabi’un), followers of the followers (tab al-Tabi’un), and the later scholars who followed them. They are the great majority and a united community.

Related Answers
The End of Times: Isolating Oneself, Sticking to the Majority, and Protection from the Dajjal – SeekersGuidance

Why not begin your search for knowledge by signing up for a course on SeekersAcademy (seekersguidance.org)

[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani     

Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied in the UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey.

He started his early education in the UK. He went on to complete hifz of the Quran in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then traveled to Karachi, Pakistan.

He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh, and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK, where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.

He currently resides in the UK with his wife. His personal interest is the love of books and gardening.