A beautiful explanation by our Hazrat, shaykhul Hadith mawlana Yusuf Motala Saheb damat barakatuhum.
“Many people get very charged up and excited at the mention of many ahadeeth and just cannot resist labelling anything they do not know or agree with as “DHAEEF”, meaning “WEAK”, without even knowing and understanding what the term means and implies especially if it is a narration from “Fazaile Aamal” written by Shaikhul-Hadeeth Molana Zakariyyah Kandhalvi rahimahullah.
Firstly: The literal meaning of hadeeth is a “statement”. Any statement is literally a “hadeeth”. In Islamic literacy , hadeeth is implied to be a statement by or regarding Rasoolullah sallallaho alaihe wasallam.
But in the Quran it also says
هل اتك حديث موسى ..
“Did the hadeeth of Musa (alaihissalaam) reach you?”
It also says
هل اتك حديث ضيف ابراهيم المكرمين
“Did the hadeeth of the honourable guests of Ibraheem (alaihissalaam) reach you?”
This is why in books of haddeth , there are statements or sayings of Rasoolullah sallallaho alaihe wasallam , of sahaabah , of tabi’eens and even people after them.
Secondly. The term saheeh or dhaeef is used to describe the status of the chain of narration and not just the text. Hence in many cases although the chain by which a hadeeth has been narrated is weak but the subject contained therein is sound and supported by other narrations or even Quran.
انما بعثت معلما
“I have been sent as a teacher”, has been classified as dhaeef but the message contained therein is supported by the Quran where Allah says about the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam ,
ويعلمكم ما لم تكونوا تعلمون .
“He teaches you what you did not know”.
So the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam was obviously a teacher as well.
Thirdly-Whether a hadeeth and a narration is saheeh(authentic) or dhaeef (weak) is not an absolute and divine classification but rather the opinion of a muhaddith regarding a particular narration as there is not and cannot be a single narration about which Allah or his beloved prophet have stated that this is saheeh or dhaeef.Hence there are many narrations which are classified as saheeh by one scholars but dhaeef or weak by another.
Fourthly- if a hadeeth is unacceptable and ought to be rejected because it is weak and in Fazaaile Aamal and the author Shaikhul-Hadeeth Molana Zakariyya is criticised for including it in his book , then virtually every other book of hadeeth apart of Bukhari and Muslim will need to be done away with as well, because Sheikh Zakariyyah did NOT make up those narrations but rather just quoted them from other original books of hadeeth compiled over a thousand years ago by great Muhadditheen, like Imam Tirmidhi , Abu Dawood , Ibn Majah etc. They were all considered to be amongst the greatest Muhadditheen ever in the ummah.
So if they thought it permissible and necessary to present dhaeef narrations in their compilations then why have people a thousand years down the line got problems.
So rejecting dhaeef hadeeth merely because they are dhaeef is NOT the way of the pious ancestors -salaf saliheen but against the practice of the salaf-saliheen , as long as they do not contradict the Quran and other saheeh narrations ,and even then sometimes there is a reasonable explanation or interpretation to justify their inclusion in a book to support or prove a point and doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be rejected and ignored altogether.
Athough, preference is given to Quran and then saheeh hadeeth in all matters but many scholars have also stated that,
“A dhaeef hadeeth is still better than no hadeeth” and better than the opinion of someone.
This was also the stand of Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal rahimahumullah.