General comment on the book Sunan an-Nasaa’i as-Sughra and what it contains of da‘eef reports
Imam an-Nasaa’i is Ahmad ibn Shu‘ayb ibn ‘Ali ibn Sinaan ibn Bahr al-Khurasaani an-Nasaa’i, who was known by the kunyah Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan or as an-Nasaa’i, after a city in Korasan that is called Nasa.
He was born in 215 AH and died in 303 AH.
His book as-Sunan as-Sughra is known as al-Mujtaba or al-Mujtana, but the former is more correct and more well-known. The scholars differed concerning it: is it an abridged version that he himself compiled, as Ibn al-Atheer, Ibn Katheer, al-‘Iraqi and al-Sakhkhaawi said, or is it an abridged version prepared by his student Abu Bakr ibn as-Sunni, as is the view of adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Naasir ad-Deen ad-Dimashqi?
The number of hadeeths in as-Sunan as-Sughra is 5774.
Some scholars gave the title as-Saheeh to Sunan an-Nasaa’i, including Abu ‘Ali an-Nisapoori, Ibn ‘Adiy, ad-Daaraqutni, Ibn Mandah and al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi, because of the stringent conditions of Imam an-Nasaa’i and his careful examination of hadeeths. But this opinion cannot be accepted from the one who suggested it, because the number of da‘eef hadeeths in his Sunan is approximately five hundred, according to the verdict of Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allah have mercy on him). The number differs according to the ruling of the scholar who is examining the book. We see that Imam Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) criticised those who said that the hadeeths in Sunan an-Nasaa’i were saheeh, and he criticised those who said that the conditions of an-Nasaa’i were more stringent than the conditions of Imam Muslim (may Allah have mercy on him), as he said:
“The opinion of al-Haafiz Abu ‘Ali ibn as-Sakan and also of al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi concerning the book as-Sunan by an-Nasaa’i, that it is saheeh, is debatable. And (their opinion that) his conditions concerning the narrators were more stringent than the conditions of Muslim is not a given, because his narrators include men who are unknown (majhool), in that they themselves or their level of trustworthiness and accuracy is unknown; they also include majrooh narrators (i.e., those whose reports are rejected because of flaws in their character etc). And it contains hadeeths that are da‘eef, mu‘allal and munkar (types of weak hadeeths), as we have pointed out in al-Ahkaam al-Kabeer.”
Al-Baa‘ith al-Hatheeth fi Ikhtisaar ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth, p. 44
as-Sunan as-Sughra contains the fewest da‘eef hadeeths among the six books after the Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari and Muslim); there is not a single mawdoo‘ (fabricated) hadeeth in it.
al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said: To sum up, the book of an-Nasaa’i contains the fewest da‘eef hadeeths and majrooh narrators among the books after the Saheehayn .
End quote from an-Nukat ‘ala Kitaab Ibn as-Salaah, 1/484
There are many commentaries on an-Nasaa’i’s as-Sunan as-Sughra, among the most famous of which is the commentary of as-Suyooti which is entitled Zahr ar-Raba ‘ala’l-Mujtaba. There is also a commentary on it by Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi as-Sindi. And there is an audio commentary on as-Sunan by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbaad (may Allah preserve him). One of the most comprehensive commentaries is Dhakheerat al-‘Uqbah fi Sharh al-Mujtaba by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Aadam ibn Moosa al-Ithiyobi (may Allah preserve him), which is contemporary and has been published in forty volumes! The first five volumes of it have been published by Dar al-Mi‘raaj in Riyadh and the rest of its volumes were published by Dar Aal Baroom in Makkah al-Mukarramah; it is also available on the Internet on the al-Maktabah al-Wafqiyyah website and elsewhere.
And Allah knows best.