See here for part four.
Questioner: [Is the ḥadīth] about Ṣalātut-Tasbīḥ authentic or not?
Al-Albaani: The scholars have differed greatly over the ḥadīth about it, it has been said that it is authentic and that it is fabricated, and in between these two [opinions] are different levels. What I hold to be the stronger opinion, following on from some of the Ḥuffāẓ well-known for their precision in their checking of the Prophet’s ḥadīths ﷺ, like al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Nāṣir ad-Dimashqī who was a contemporary of al-Ḥāfiẓ aḏ-Ḏhahabī ad-Dimashqī, [so al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Nāṣir ad-Dimashqī] has a book in which he gathered the different paths of the ḥadīths about Ṣalātut-Tasbīḥ. And it will become clear to whoever studies it and studies the paths of this prayer or the paths of the ḥadīth of Ṣalātut-Tasbīḥ that the ḥadīth is authentic based upon all of its chains of narration. As for the individual chains of narration then there isn’t a ḥadīth among them about which it can be said that it is authentic [ṣaḥīḥ], indeed [there isn’t a ḥadīth among them about which it can be said that it is] ḥasan li-ḏhātihī.
The authenticity came about through all of the chains of narration taken into account together. And this is the reason why the scholars have differed so greatly over it.
So you have Ibn al-Jawzī and with him Ibn Taymiyyah and others who held that this ḥadīth was fabricated, not meaning by that that the chain of narration itself was fabricated, because some of its isnāds are in Sunan Abū Dāwūd and other collections and they don’t include anyone who has been accused as such, nor do they have anyone who was a [confirmed] fabricating liar, in fact the isnād does not even have anyone who was [even simply] accused of lying or fabricating, what they do have are those whose memorisation has been criticised.
But Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn Taymiyyah looked at the wording of the ḥadīth and found that it was strange [gharīb] in its wording and also strange in the excellence given to this prayer even if only performed once a year, so they said that a ṣalāh like this has no resemblance to the well-known prayers mentioned in the authentic ḥadīths, and so for this reason they inclined towards it being fabricated.
And those who didn’t go as far as to say that it was fabricated [yet who still didn’t agree with it] looked at the apparent paths of narration and the isnāds—that is if they had collected and come across all of them, [again that is] if they had, because I am doubtful that they did that—because whoever did [actually] do that did not [then go on to] say that it was fabricated or weak. [These others] took a look at a few of its individual chains of narration and then said that the ḥadīth was weak.
As for those who reported it and said that it was authentic, they took into consideration all of its paths of narration and saw that the ḥadīth principle which the ḥadīth scholars laid down in the Science of Ḥadīth—i.e., that a weak ḥadīth is strengthened if it is reported through many paths of narration—they [went and] looked at this numerousness and found a not insignificant amount of isnāds that were [of a level] sound enough to strengthen the ḥadīth based on all such paths. So they held that the ḥadīth was strong, with some saying it was ḥasan and others that it was ṣaḥīḥ.
So therefore the difference between those [scholars] who call the ḥadīth ḥasan and those who say it is ṣaḥīḥ is not a fundamental difference since both of them are of the opinion that the ḥadīth is established, and following on from that that acting on it is legislated.
And this ruling is supported by the fact that ʿAbdullah ibn al-Mubārak may Allaah be pleased with him used to pray it. ʿAbdullah ibn al-Mubārak was one of the Imāms of the Muslims and one of the Shaikhs of the Imām of the Sunnah Imām Aḥmad, may Allaah have mercy on him. So if he didn’t have the opinion that the ḥadīth was established he wouldn’t have worshipped Allaah with this prayer which has that peculiarity in its form and manner. A peculiarity which led Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn Taymiyyah to say that it was fabricated, but their ruling [that it was fabricated], as we mentioned earlier, was not about the isnāds of this ḥadīth, [they were not saying] that they all consist of fabricating liars, no.
So all of what I have mentioned reassures me in concluding that the ḥadīth is established from the Prophet ﷺ and that based upon that a Muslim should do it once every day, and if he can’t then every week, and if he can’t then once a month, and if he can’t then once a year, and if he can’t then at the very least, once in his lifetime.
This is my opinion about Ṣalātut-Tasbīḥ.
And it crossed my mind now that I should add something further to clarify what has preceded, so I say: it is true that there is no equivalent to the peculiarity in the manner in which this prayer is performed, but after the ḥadīth has been found to be established based upon what I mentioned earlier, the ḥadīth should not be called defective based upon this peculiarity. Because we know that there is a prayer, authentically established by agreement of the scholars of ḥadīth even though it also differs from the regular prayers: I am referring to the eclipse prayer.
So there was a solar eclipse in the time of the Prophet ﷺ and it so happened to occur on the day when Ibrāhīm, the Prophet’s son ﷺ, passed away. One of the customs of the Age of Ignorance [Jāhiliyyah] was that they would say that an eclipse would occur because a great person had died. So when the solar eclipsed coincided with the death of Ibrāhīm ibn an-Nabiyy ﷺ they said that the eclipse was because he had passed away.
So the Prophet ﷺ gave a sermon among them and said that, ‘O People! Verily the sun and the moon are two of Allaah’s Signs. They do not eclipse due to the death of anyone or his birth, so when you see it then pray and give charity and supplicate,’ then he ﷺ prayed two rakʿahs bowing twice in each rakʿah—and here is the point: in each rakʿah he ﷺ bowed two times.
So this manner [of prayer] opposed all of the regular, known prayers, whether obligatory or optional, because all of them are distinct in having only one bowing and two prostrations … in one rakʿah there is one bowing and two prostrations. As for this [eclipse] prayer it differed from all of the other prayers, because he ﷺ prayed two rakʿahs and in each one there were two rukūs and two sajdahs—so is it thereafter correct to say that this ḥadīth is irregular [shāḏ] or munkar because it goes against the general form of all the [other] prayers?
We say no, as long as the ḥadīth about it is ṣaḥīḥ then it is an act of worship that Allaah ordained for His Slaves during an eclipse, so we should pray as he ﷺ used to pray.
So based upon [all of] this I say: this shows even if by way of comparison that even if Ṣalātut-Tasbīḥ differed from the other known, regular prayers, the eclipse prayer also differed in some aspects from those same prayers but that was not seen as a defect in it and it remains an ordained act of worship until the Day of Judgement.