This is from the Rand Report:
“Let us look at the parameters of Al Bukhari’s claim. If we allow one single hour to process each hadith he would have had to work non-stop for about seventy years. Each hadith would have had to be traced back to the Prophet through a long transmission chain each link of which had to be closely examined, with each chain consisting of six or seven individuals of successive generations, all but one of whom were dead. Yet he is said to have completed this work in sixteen years. Was it physically possible for Al-Bukhari to have examined that many hadith? The answer is no.”
Whoever wrote this either does not know what he is talking about or is being deliberately deceptive (im being very nice). When al-Bukhari mentions the huge numbers of hadith (600,000) he clearly means chains. The total number of hadiths (authentic and weak) that are in the major books not counting repetitions and variant versions is somewhere over 10,000. If a person studied 5 hadiths a day (not an outrageous number at all), he would have covered all those hadiths within 5 yrs.
If we take al-Hafiz as-Suyuti as an example, we find his marwiyaat (i.e. the stuff he had narrations for), for example, numbered 300,000 (counting by chains). When you consider that obviously the number of chains accessible in the Age of Riwayah (Narration) would logically have been much more it is to be accepted that the Imams of the Age of Riwayah had more hadiths.
Al-Bukhari mentions 600,000 from which he chose the hadiths of his sahih. Abu Dawud mentions that he chose the hadiths of his sunan out of 500,000. Ahmad chose the hadiths of his musnad out of abt 1 million he had recorded/learned/memorized. Other major huffaz also had huge comparable numbers. at the same time, we find them mentioning these huge numbers we see in their books and their statements they placed only a fraction of those numbers. Either they were all conspiring to pull the wool over our eyes (very hard to do since it would have to have been a mass conspiracy of 1000’s of muhaddithin) or they were referring to the chains.
Anyone who studies their statements will find over and over again that they frequently refer to each new chain as an individual hadith. Thats why we find a number of statements from all these early huffaz all indicating that the total number of authentic hadiths (w/o repetition is 4,000-5,000).
Additionally, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Shaykh al Albani during the course of his life covered well over 100,000 chains. So these numbers are not in the least bit outrageous. As for al-Bukhari having to have studied all the narrators, so what? He wrote a book called at-Tarikh al-Kabir. It literally does mention pretty much the overwhelming majority of narrators who come up in chains of hadiths. If you dont believe me, try it and see. Take any hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari and look at its narrators and see if you find an entry for them in at-Tarikh al-Kabir.
In summary, whoever wrote this is in clear error. At best, he is ignorant and at worse (and more likely), this is vile, false propoganda to cause the Muslims to doubt their religion.
(I will follow in sha Allah with a post on the number of authentic hadiths)