Is there any hadith which emphasizes the virtue of memorizing one hadith and that the reward is equivalent to what is given to the prophets AS?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
As a Muslim, we are held responsible by Allah SWT to convey and spread His religion according to our own capabilities. This is because the duty of da’wah is a duty of the past Prophets AS as well as our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Besides, the most important thing in da’wah apart of relaying the message of the Quran is the spread of the saying of the Prophet PBUH to all mankind. This is in accordance with what is told by the Prophet PBUH himself which is:
- Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
بَلِّغُوا عَنِّي وَلَوْ آيَةً
"Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence”
Sahih al-Bukhari (3461)
Syeikh al-Mubarakfuri upon commenting on this hadith said that this hadith calls us to convey a verse of the Quran even if it is short. This hadith may also be understood as the Prophet PBUH’s call to convey his sayings. [Refer: Tuhfah al-Ahwazi, 7/360]
Referring to the question asked, we would like to cite first the text of the hadith meant in the question:
- It is said that the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ حَفِظَ عَلَى أُمَّتِي حَدِيثًا وَاحِدًا كَانَ لَهُ كَأَجْرِ أَحَدٍ وَسَبْعِيْنَ نَبِيًّا صِدِّيقًا
“Whoever among my ummah memorizes a hadith, then for him is the reward of the 71 true Prophets”
Among the scholars who evaluated this hadith are:
- Imam al-Zahabi (748h) stated that this hadith is fabricated and it is prohibited (haram) for us to spread it except with the purpose of stating that it is undoubtedly fabricated. May Allah unfavored its creator. Moreover, its sanad is not sahih (unauthentic). What is clear here is the hadith is further impaired by Rizam al-Kazzab (a person who spreads lots of lies). [Refer: Tazkirah al-Huffaz, 4/26]
- Imam Ibn al-Mulaqqin (804h) also stated this hadith as fabricated. [Refer: al-Badr al-Munir, 7/278]
- Syeikh al-Albani also views this hadith as fabricated while citing the opinions of Imam al-Zahabi and Imam Ibn al-Mulaqqin. [Refer: Silsilah Ahadith al-Dhaifah, 3/315]
Referring to the above opinions, we are also of the view that the stated hadith is not sahih and it is prohibited (haram) for us to spread it except with the purpose of explaining that it is a fabrication. There is also a hadith which emphasizes on memorizing 40 hadiths through various narrations. However, Imam al-Nawawi as well as the huffaz of hadith view that the hadith is weak (dhaif) although it is narrated through various narrations. This can be found in Mukadimah Imam al-Nawawi in his book Hadith 40. [Refer: al-Wafi fi Syarh al-Arbain al-Nawawiyyah, 8]
To conclude, the stated hadith is not sahih (unauthentic) and it is prohibited (haram) for us to spread it except with the purpose of explaining that it is a fabrication. In addition, the duty of conveying the hadith of the Prophet PBUH is a noble duty, but one should always verify on whatever he relays from the Prophet PBUH is authentic. Lastly, may Allah SWT give us strength in spreading the hadith of the Prophet PBUH as well as practising his teachings. Ameen.