After Islaam had spread to the Middle East, India, North Africa and the narration of hadeeth had become widespread, there arose people who began to invent hadeeths. To combat this development, caliph Umar ibn Abdul-Azeez (reign 99 to 101 A.H. 718 to 720 C.E.) ordered the scholars to compile the traditions of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam).
The scholars had already begun composing books containing biographical data on the various narrators of hadith in order to expose the lairs and fabricators. Abu Bakr ibn Hazm (d. 120 A.H./737C.E.) was among those directed by the caliph to compile the hadith. Caliph Umar requested him to write down all the hadith of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and of Umar ibn Al-Khattab and to pay particular attention to gathering the hadiths of Amrah bint Abdir-Rahman, who was at that time the most respected custodian of the narrations of Aishah.
Sa'd ibn Ibrahim and Ibn Shuiab az-Zubair were also requested to compile books and az-Zuhri became the first compiler of hadith to record the biographies of the narrators with particular reference to their character and honesty. In this period the systematic compilation of hadiths was begun on a fairly wide scale.
However, among the students of the companions, many recorded hadiths and collected them in books. The following is a list of' the top 12 narrators of hadiths among the Prophet's Companions and their students who had their narration in written form.
Abu Hurayrah (5374) : Nine of his students were recorded to have written hadiths from him.
Ibn Umar (2630): eight of his students wrote down hadiths from him.
Anas ibn Malik (2286): sixteen of his students had hadiths in written form from him.
Aishah bint Abi Bakr (221 0): three of her students had her hadiths in written form.
Ibn Abbas (1660): nine of his students recorded his hadith in books Jabir ibn Abdullaah (1540): fourteen of his students wrote down his hadiths.
Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (1170): none of his students wrote.
Ibn Mas'ood (748): none of his student wrote.
Abdullaah ibn Amr ibn al-As (700): seven of his students had his hadith in written form.
Umar ibn al-Khattab (537): he recorded many hadith in official letters.
Ali ibn Abi Talib (536): eight of his students recorded his hadith in writing.
Abu Moosa al-Ash'ari (360); some of his hadith were in the possession of Ibn Abbaas in written form.
Al-Barra' ibn Aazib (305): Was known to have dictated his narrations.
Of Abu Hurayrah's nine students known to have written hadeeth, Hammaam ibn Munabbih's book has survived in manuscript form and has been edited by Dr. Muhammad Hameedullah and published in 1961 in Hydrabad, India.
Era of the Tabi'ut-Tabi'een (2nd Century)
In the period following that of the Tabi'oon, the badeeths were systematically collected and written in texts. One of the earliest works was al-Muwatta composed by Maalik ibn Anas. Other books of hadeeth were also written by scholars of Malik's time by the likes of al-Awzaaee who lived in Syria, Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak of Khusasaan, Hammaad ibn Salamah of Basrah and Sufyaan ath-Thawree of Kufa. However, the only work which survived from that time is that of Imaam Maalik. It could be said that in this period the majority of the hadeeths were collected in the various centres of Islaam.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited