Hadith-al-Thaqalayn (حديث الثقلين) is a topic of fierce debate between Shia and Sunni Muslims. The interpretation of this narration has enormous ramifications in theology and virtually every fundamental branch in Islam. Did the Prophet ﷺ merely recommend his Ummah to take care of his Ahlulbayt, or was it a statement with far more significance – one to hold onto select members of his Ahlulbayt for guidance along with the Quran, after which they would never go astray?
In order to distinguish the truth, we will consult Sunni traditions and examine them to discern which is the most most reliable. In order to do so, we have examined the tradition in almost all of the major and reliable books of the Sunnis to ensure we are not neglecting any tradition we ought to consider. We will also only consult books they agree are proof and accept their author as reliable.
This particular piece is not designed to conclusively prove the Shia interpretation of Hadith al-Thaqalayn , but rather to examine some of the common variants and discern which is the most reliable.
Part one: An explanation as to why we have variants of this tradition.
Part two: An assessment of the Hadith contained in Sahih-Muslim.
Part three: An examination of two Hasan chains of the tradition containing ‘If you hold onto them, you will never go astray’
Part four: An examination of two further additional chains that can also arguably be regarded to be Hasan [though opinions are justly disputed] .
Part five: The additional corroborating chains
Part six: Conclusion
Part One: An explanation as to why we have variants of this tradition.
There are generally two main versions of Hadith al-Thaqalayn. There is one version which all go back to Zayd bin Aqram, who in all of the versions of this particular Hadith, first complains about his very advanced age, his trouble in remembering the words of the Prophet and forgetting a number of things he once heard. A second version goes through far more unique chains of narrators, and of those many chains there are two that can be graded as Hasan as per orthodox Sunni Rijal standards. This is the version that is most widely reported, and contains the words ‘If you hold onto that/them you will never go astray’. The second version also often includes the word ‘and they will never separate/deviate from each other until they meet me at the Pond (of Kauthar). There is a third version, which includes ‘any they will never separate until they meet me at the pond of Kauthar’.
One may therefore ask – why do we have these variants? The reality is, the version contained in Saheeh Muslim and one or two other sources all go back to Zayd when he first complains of his notable decline of memory and very advanced age. In section two, we will analyse how this effected his ability to narrate Hadith al-Thaqalayn, and why there is compelling evidence that this demonstrates a valid explanation why he did not include certain statements the vast majority of other narrators have included . It is worthy of note, those other narrations sometimes include him as the primary narrator, which may have been when he was younger. Some may argue that Zayd in his advanced age and when he underwent a notable decline in memory narrates the most reliable version, but that others only transmit the general meaning of it, and that is why we find variants.
This is an invalid explanation. Many of the other traditions include the words ‘ And if you hold onto that/them you will never go astray’. This is a statement in and of its own significance, rather than a mere summary of the version in Saheeh-Muslim.
Part Two: An assessment of the Hadith contained in Sahih-Muslim
According to the sciences of Hadith as stipulated by Sunni scholars, what has generally been agreed on is that for a tradition to be authentic [Saheeh], then there must be an uninterrupted chain (without hidden narrators) , all of the individuals in the chain must be truthful and upright, and they must also have good memory and retention. One of the distinction between a Saheeh tradition and a Hasan tradition is in the retentive abilities and memory of the particular individuals in the chain. If there is one individual who is considered truthful, but may have a defect in that he may make a mistake, or if there is a problem in his memory, the chain is usually graded Hasan. This is unless the memory defect is so severe that the individual is not regarded to be reliable in Hadith.
We cite this here because this is particularly relevant to the version of Hadith al-Thaqalayn contained in Saheeh-Muslim. The primary narrator of the tradition is an otherwise reliable companion according to the Sunni school of thought: Zayd bin Aqram. One may thus ask on what basis can it be claimed he is the weak link in the chain, when it is well known that anyone who saw or met the Prophet ﷺ is considered automatically reliable and truthful so long as they did not openly apostate, but outwardly remained Muslim? The reality is, we appeal to the human aspect of Zayd ibn Aqram, and not his reliability or character. One may be truthful, but old age and poor memory can make one say a thing which is not entirely accurate, not out of a desire to mislead, but rather because the companions were human , after all. We hope our Sunni readers can accept they fell sick, grew old, developed problems in their memory and what naturally comes with reaching a very advanced age.
We now turn our attention to the narration in Saheeh-Muslim  :
“I went with Husayn ibn Saburah and `Umar ibn Muslim to Zayd ibn Arqam. After taking our seats, Husayn said to him: “O Zayd, you have been granted great virtue. You saw Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, heard his speech, joined him on expeditions and performed salah behind him. Indeed Zayd, you have encountered a great amount of goodness! Narrate to us O Zayd some of that which you have heard from Nabi salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.” Zayd said: “O my nephew, I have reached old age, my time has passed a very long time ago and I have forgotten some of that which I had memorised regarding Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam…Therefore accept from me that which I narrate to you and what I do not then do not burden me with narrating it.”
As we can see, Zayd ibn Aqram states that he has reached a very old age, and this is emphasised with him directly saying he is old, and that his time ‘passed a very long time ago’. He then explicitly complains about his memory and states ‘therefore accept from me what i narrate, and what i do not then do not burn me”. In fact, an authentic tradition from Sunan ibn Majah  demonstrates the extent of this memory loss:
Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Laila said: We said to Zaid bin Arqam: ‘Tell us a Hadith from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).’ He said: ‘We have grown old and have forgotten, and (narrating) Ahadith from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) is difficult (not a simple matter).'”
Once more, Zayd ibn Aqram complains about forgetting a number of things he had once known, and that he has grown old. He testifies that in his very advanced age, narrating from the Prophet is difficult. Given his poor memory, we wish to refer to you the words and general positions of the Sunni scholars on those who have had a change in memory:
Ibn Kathir in ‘al-Bath al-Hathith’  said while speaking about people whose memory became weak due to different reasons (fear; illness; problem): “Whoever heard from such (narrators) before their change, his narrations are accepted, and if someone heard after, or there is a doubt (if he heard after or before) his reports are not accepted“.
Hafidh al-Iraqi in ‘Hafidh al-Alai ‘al-Mukhtalatin’  said: “Ruling regarding those who changed in their memory (ikhtilat), his reports in such state are not accepted“.
It has also been proven that Zayd ibn Aqram, the companion, is clearly at the highest level of being ‘trustworthy’ in Sunni Rijal, however, two conditions here have been fulfilled: [A] It has been proven he suffered from notable memory defects due to old age. [B] It has been proven that this version of Thaqalayn is narrated from him only when he first explicitly complains about the decline of his memory and very advanced age.
We wish to point out that it may now be debated as to whether Zayds memory would reach a standard to not accept a report of his in this state. We know that this would cause debate, and so we do not want to push forward the idea his account in this state is to be rejected. Rather, there are compelling grounds to render this tradition as Hasan, rather than a Saheeh, on account of the poorer memory of Zayd in his old age. It can not be claimed that in a very advanced age, when Zayd himself complained of the notable decline of his memory, that his retention and memory was on the level of a Saheeh narrator. While we can respect (but strongly disagree) on the notion that anyone who saw the Prophet and died outwardly as a Muslim is trustworthy, we feel that one can not extend this to justify superhuman attributes and being immune to the effects of old age. Thus, all of the versions of this tradition which all go back to Zayd are to be rendered as Hasan according to a fair, reasoned, and objective analysis.
Part three: An examination of the traditions containing ‘If you hold onto them, you will never go astray’
This is the version of the Hadith which is the most widely narrated, and includes the statement “If you hold onto them/that, you will never go astray”. There are far more unique chains of transmission, and two versions of this Hadith that can be considered to be at least Hasan by orthodox standards in Sunni Rijal, and not subjective online standards of refutation websites made by non-scholars. Unfortunately, these online websites have spread lie for decades declaring that this version of the tradition is weak and only found in Tirmidhi and Mustadarak al-Hakim. We will demonstrate this is nothing short of a lie and they are deceiving their readers. This is one of the sicknesses we see with these online movements; they ignore what does not suit them, weaken what they wish, and when they wish.
This tradition is contained in the Musnad of Ibn Rahwayh and Ibn Asim [5 – 5.1]
“The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “I have left behind over you (al-Thaqalayn) that which if you hold fast to it you will never go astray: the Book of Allah – one end of which is in the Hand of Allah and the other in your hands– and my Ahl al-Bayt.”
Chain: Sulayman b. ‘Ubayd Allah al-Ghilani – Abu ‘Amir – Kathir b. Zayd – Muhammad b. ‘Umar b. ‘Ali – his father – ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him:
حدثنا سليمان بن عبيد الله الغيلاني، حدثنا أبو عامر، حدثنا كثير بن زيد، عن محمد بن عمر بن علي، عن أبيه، عن علي رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال :إني تركت فيكم ما إن أخذتم به لن تضلوا :كتاب الله، سببه بيد الله، وسببه بأيديكم، وأهل بيتي.
Verdict of Sunni scholars of Hadith regarding the above:
(1) Shu’ayb Arnaut states regarding the above tradition: إسناده حسن [The chain is Hasan [good]] (2) Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani states: هذا إسناد صحيح [The chain is Saheeh] (3) Ahmad B. Abu Bakr b.Ismail Al Busri states : رواه إسحاق بسند صحيح [The chain is Saheeh] (4) Ali b. Husam al-Din al-Muttaqi al-Hindi states: ابن راهويه وابن جرير وابن أبي عاصم والمحاملي في أماليه وصححه [Narrated by (Ishaq) Ibn Rahwayh, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi ‘Asim, and by al-Muhamali in his Amali, and he (al-Muhamali) declared it Saheeh]
The only narrator that is not absolutely Thiqah in the chain is Kathir ibn Zayd has been given Tawthiq by Ibn ‘Ammar al-Musili and Ibn Hibban in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, viii, 300 and is classed as ‘Saduq (truthful) and makes mistakes’ (but reliable and accepted in Hadith) by Ibn Hajar. TSN online refutation website has also graded this tradition as ‘Hasan’. Thus, nothing more needs to be mentioned regarding this.
Another tradition which mirrors the above is the following contained in Musnad Ahmad: `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad — (his father) Ahmad ibn Hambal — (1) al-Aswad ibn `Amir — (2) Sharik — (3) al-Rukayn —(4) al-Qasim ibn Hassan — from Zayd ibn Thabit that Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said:
حدثنا عبد الله حدثنى احمد بن حنبل حدثنا الاسود بن عامرثنا شريك عن الركين عن القاسم بن حسان عن زيد بن ثابت قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم انى قد تركت فيكم ما ان اخذتم به لن تضلوا بعدى الثقلين احدهما اكبر من الاخر كتاب الله حبل ممدود من السماء الى الارض و عترتى اهل بيتى وانهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا على الحوض
Break down the chain of narrators:
Al-Aswad ibn ‘Amir
Tawthiq by Ibn al-Madini, Ibn Hajar and al-Suyuti. Mentioned by Ibn Hibban in al-Thiqat.
(1) al-Dhahabi said: “Al-Bukhari uses him as a witness, and Muslim narrates from him in mutaba’at. Al-Nasai and others rely upon him as a hujjah. ” and Dhahabi said: ” I (al-Dhahabi) say: Sharik was hasan al-hadith (i.e. his ahadith are hasan). He was an Imam, a jurist, a prolific hadith narrator. He was not as precise as Hammad b. Zayd. Al-Bukhari has used him as a witness, Muslim has narrated mutaba’at reports from him, and Yahya b. Ma’in declared him thiqah (trustworthy) … His ahadith are in the hasan categories. “ (2) Imam Al Hakim writes: “(Imam) Muslim has relied upon Sharik b. ‘Abd Allah as a hujjah, and he is to be relied upon as a hujjah ” (3) Ibn Hajar-Al-Asqalani writes: “Sharik b. ‘Abd Allah al-Nakha’i al-Kufi al-Qadi, (resided) first at Wasit and then Kufah, Abu ‘Abd Allah: Saduq (very truthful), made a lot of mistakes. His memory deteriorated since he became the judge in Kufah. He was just, excellent, a great worshipper of Allah, and he was severe against the people of bid’ah ” (4) Imam al-‘Ijli states: “Sharik b. ‘Abd Allah al-Nakha’i, the judge, Kufi: Thiqah (trustworthy), and he was hasan al-hadith (i.e. his ahadith are hasan). ”
He developed a memory problem when he became the judge of Kufah. Before this period, he was a completely accurate narrator. We find that (5) Imam Ibn ‘Adi writes: “The overwhelming majority of his ahadith are sahih and accurate (from his shuyukh). As for the repugnancy in his ahadith, that occurred only due to his poor memory ”
(1) Is considered thiqah by Ahmad, Ibn Mu’in, al-Nasa’i, Ibn Hibban and Ibn Hajar  (2) al-Rukayn is relied upon as a hujjah by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh  (3) Shaykh al-Arnaut has graded the chain of an independent report by al-Rukayn as being ‘Saheeh upon the standard of (Imam) Muslim’
Al-Qasim ibn Hassan:
(1) Imam Ibn Shahin again states: “ Al-Qasim b. Hassan who narrated from Zayd b. Thabit is thiqah (trustworthy). Ahmad b. Salih said so”  (2) Mentioned by Imam Ibn Hibban among the thiqah (trustworthy) narrator  (3) Imam al-‘Ijli states: “Al-Qasim b. Hassan, a Kufi Tabi’i: Thiqah (trustworthy)”  (4) Imam Dahabi writes: “Al-Qasim b. Hasan al-‘Amiri: He narrated from Zayd b. Thabit and some others, and al-Rukayn b. al-Rabi’ and al-Walid b. Qays narrated from him. He was declared thiqah (trustworthy)”  (5) Imam Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311 H) famous for only choosing to include authentic narrations in his collection has relied upon this chain in his Sahih: وحدثني الركين بن الربيع عن القاسم بن حسان عن زيد بن ثابت عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم and Shaykh Dr. al-A’zami, in his tahqiq of the above chain “The chain is Saheeh” 
As-Suyuti writes:” Ibn Khuzaymah is more authentic on the whole than Ibn Hibban because Ibn Khuzaymah investigated his narrations very thoroughly, to the degree that he refused to accept a narration if there existed the slightest doubt about its authenticity. “Al-Thahabî states: “Imam Ibn Khuzaymah was one of the great imams who had insight when it came to rijâl (the science of determining the reliability of narrators).”
Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani regards Kathir ibn Zayd as ‘Maqbul’ and his hadith are accepted: القاسم بن حسان العامري الكوفي مقبول من الثالثة د سv [Taqrib al-Tahdheeb] 
Worthy of note here the famous Salafi scholar al-Albani has declared this chain as Hasan in Silsilah Ahadith Sahihah p.357.
Verdict on the two traditions:
We thus have two traditions which undoubtedly would reach the ‘Hasan’ category and come from unique chains. One goes to Ali ibn Abi Talib, and the other to Zayd bin Thabit. We would like to make a case that this tradition would therefore be strengthened by the multiple chains and thus be deemed as one of the grades of ‘Saheeh’. The following excerpt from Kitab Ma’rifat Anwa’ ‘Ilm al-hadith by Ibn al-Salahal-Sharhrazuri , one of the most influential works of hadith in history according to many Sunni scholars of hadith states:
“If the transmitter of a hadith lags behind the grade of those who are retentive and exact, yet is widely known for veracity and respectability -and in addition to that his hadith was related through more than one line of transmission – the strength of the hadith is reinforced from both sides and that lifts his hadith from the grade of fair to the grade of sound”.
An instance of this is the hadith of Muhammed b. ‘Amr from Abu Salama from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of God [peace be upon him said: “Were it not that i would be imposing a burden on my Community, i would have ordered them to clean their teeth with a took-stick before every prayer”. Muhammed b.Amar b. Alqamawas renewed for veracity and piety, but he lacked exactitude. So some regard him as weak on account of his poor retention , while others deemed him reliable because of his veracity and augustness. Thus his hadith from this standpoint is only fair. When the circumstance that the hadith is related through other lines of transmission was combined with that, our fears about his poor retention vanished and that slight shortcoming was mended. So this Isnaad was established as sound [saheeh] and the hadith attained the level of the sound hadith. God knows best.
Indeed, there is a stronger claim for the ahadith present here which come from two Hasan chains to be elevated to one of the grades of Saheeh than in the example given above. Not only do we have a chain of narrators which are graded Hasan at the very least, and even Saheeh by notable and respected scholars of Rijal, but we also have another unique route of transmission, which is also of a Hasan nature. The only problem with the second tradition is of the memory of Sharik, however, the multiple routes any fear of poor retention on the part of Sharik should be mended, and thus the hadith is one of the grades of a Saheeh.
Part four: An examination of two further additional chains that can also arguably be regarded to be Hasan [though opinions are justly disputed] .
Had we only presented the previous three sections, it would have been sufficient to prove the superiority and greater reliability of the tradition bearing the phrase ‘if you hold onto that/them you will never go astray’. However, we would like to bring in two more supplementary chains that could arguably also be graded as Hasan. Even if one does not use these as primary evidence, they can surely be used as supportive evidence.
First supplementary and supporting chain
- Abdul-Malik bin Muhammad bin `Abdullah al-Qurashi -> Yahya bin Hammad -> abu `Awanah -> al-A`mash -> Habib bin abi Thabit -> `Amir bin Wathilah abu al-Tufayl -> Zayd bin Arqam. [Baladhuri , Ansab]
The only real weak link in the above chains are al-A’mash and Habib bin Abi Thabit. Despite being regarded as ‘Thiqah’ and trustworthy narrators, those narrators of Bukhari and Muslim, they are accused of Tadlees, and opinion remains divided as to what to do when someone performs Tadlees. However, if we consult the opinion of Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani on this issue, which is a popular one among orthodox-Sunni’s, Tadlis is in five categories. The second category Ibn Hajar states is those who performed Tadlis frequently, but the scholars generally accept their traditions even if they use an ‘Ananah’. This would mean according to a good contingent of Sunni opinion, and ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, al-A’mash is accepted , and regarded Thiqah and his traditions deemed connected. Thus, the only real question here is Habib bin Abi Thabit, who is again regarded as Thiqah and is among the narrators of Bukhari and Muslim . He is in the third category of those who perform Tadlis, and some scholars agree on accepting his narrations and others do not. Bukhari and Muslim may require him to first admit hearing from the individual, rather saying ‘from’. However, this is up for dispute and debate and there is a division of opinion in this regard.
Habib bin abi Thabit has even been used in Saheeh Muslim many times as a witness, whereby a tradition is narrated through another chain including him to support it. Even considering this, an attempt would be made to reject this tradition because Baladhuri himself is regarded not to have any explicit praise for him and may be in some circles regarded as Majhool. However, we know Baladhuri’s books on history are some of the most famous we have in existence, side by side with Tabari’s, and indications show he merely included reports of everything he heard on a particular situation. In addition, what Baladhuri is quoting with a chain has been quoted with Hasan chains as well as through an incredible number of routes by many other respected scholars of hadith. This quashes the notion he fabricated it. If one was to argue that he fabricated the chain, the reality is, a similar chain is already present in other book of scholars. If he wanted to fabricate a chain to make it strong, he could have certainly picked a stronger one.
Second supplementary and supporting chain
Muhammad ibn `Ali al-Shaybani — Ahmad ibn Hazim al-Ghifara — Abu Nu`aym —Kamil Abu al-`Ala’ — Habib ibn Abi Thabit — Yahya ibn Ja`dah — from Zayd ibn Arqam [Mustadrak Al Hakim]:اخبرنى محمد بن على الشيبانى بالكوفة ثنا احمد بن حازم الغفارى ثنا ابو نعيم ثنا كامل ابو العلاء قال سمعت حبيب بن ابى ثابت يخبر عن يحيى بن جعدة عن زيد بن ارقم رضى الله عنه قال خرجنا مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم حتى انتهينا الى غدير خم فامر بدوح فكسح فى يوم ما اتى علينا يوم كان اشد حرا منه فحمدالله و اثنى عليه وقال يا ايها الناس انه لم يبعث نبى قط الا عاش نصف ما عاش الذى كان قبله وانى اوشك ان ادعى فاجيب وانى تارك فيكم ما لن تضلوا بعده كتاب الله عز و جل ثم قام فاخذ بيد على رضى الله عنه فقال يا ايها الناس من اولى بكم من انفسكم فقالوا الله و رسوله اعلم…من كنت مولاه فعلى مولاه
The only apparent weak link here is the Thiqah narrator – Habib ibn Abi Thabit. He is only considered weak because of Tadlis, and is a narrator of Bukhari and Muslim and also used as a witness by Imam Muslim. He is regarded as someone who performs Tadlis of the third category, which means opinion is divided whether to deem the report fully connected or not. A number of Sunni scholars would thus, take this tradition from him, or at least take him as a corroborating witness, though others may not. If they did take take him, this tradition would be at least Hasan, if not more. We would also like to note here that Habib ibn Abi Thabit in the first supplementary supporting chain states that Amir bin Wathilah abu al-Tufayl was between him and Zayd bin Aqram. However in the second chain, he states it is Yahya ibn Ja’dah. It would be questionable to assume in both cases there was a hidden narrator between him and Zayd ibn Aqram. We know he had met the individuals he was narrating from, and had known them. However, we will admit this is up for debate, though an additional chain of this nature only strengthens the already compelling case of the two established Hasan traditions.
Part five: The additional corroborating chains and conclusion.
Not only do we have an authentic narration containing the words ‘ if you hold onto that/them you will never go astray’, we also have presented arguably two more supporting chains that can be used as supportive evidence. Now we will present only some (for sake of brevity) of the large number of unique chains which all contain the word ‘if you hold onto them, you will never go astray’ to remove any doubt that this was indeed, by any fair assessment of evidence, words we should act upon as having come from the Messenger of Allah.
1. Abd Allah ibn Ahmad — (his father) Ahmad ibn Hambal — Ibn Numayr — `Abd al-Malik Abu Sulayman — `Atiyyah — from Abu Sa`id al-Khudri that Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: حدثنى ابى ثنا ابن نمير ثنا عبدالملك يعنى ابى سليمان عن عطية عن ابى سعيد الخدرى قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم انى تركت فيكم الثقلين احدهما اكبر من الاخر كتاب الله حبل ممدود من السماء الى الارض و عترتى اهل بيتى ال انهما لن يفترقا حتى يردا على الحوض: [Musnad Ahmad] Note: There are numerous chains which go through Atiyyah, but for sake of brevity we have included only one.
2. Nasr ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Kufi — Zayd ibn al-Hasan — Ja`far ibn Muhammad — his father (al-Baqir) — from Jabir ibn `Abd Allah who said:حدثنل نصر بن عبدالرحمان الكوفى قال حثنا زيد بن الحسن عن جعفر بن محمد عن ابيه عن جابر بن عبدالله قال رءيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فى حجته يوم عرفة وهو على ناقته القصواء يخطب فسمعته يقول يا ايها الناس انى تركت فيكم ما ان اخذتم به لن تضلوا كتاب الله و عترتى اهل بيتى [Tirmidhi]
3.. Ahmad ibn Mansur — Dawud ibn `Amr — Salih ibn Musa ibn `Abd Allah — `Abd al-`Aziz ibn Rafi` — Abu Salih — from Abu Hurayrah that Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: [ حدثنا احمد بن منصور ثنا داود بن عمرو ثنا صالح بن موسى بن عبدالله حدثنى عبدالعزيز بن رفيع عن ابى صالح عن ابى هريرة قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم انى قد خلفت فيكم اثنين لن تضلوا بعدهما ابدا كتاب الله و نسبى و لن يفترقا حتى يردا على الحوض قال الشيخ لا نعلمه يروى عن ابى هريرة الا بهذا الاسناد و صالح لين الحديث] Musnad Al Bazzar
4. Al-Husayn ibn `Ali ibn Ja`far — `Ali ibn Thabit — Su`ad ibn Sulayman — Abu Ishaq — al-Harith — from `Ali that Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: حدثنا الحسين بن على بن جعفر ثنا على بن ثابت ثنا سعاد بن سليمان عن ابى اسحاق عن الحارث عن على قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم انى مقبوض وانى قد تركت فيكم الثقلين يعنى كتاب الله و اهل بيتى و انكم لن تضلوا بعدهما و انه لن تقوم حتى يبتغى اصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم كما يبتغى الضالة فلا توجد-الحديث ضعيف [Musnad Al Bazzar]
5. Abu Bakr ibn Ishaq and Da`laj ibn Ahmad al-Sajzi — Muhammad ibn Ayyub — al-Azraq ibn `Ali — Hassan ibn Ibrahim al-Kirmani — Muhammad ibn Salamah ibn Kuhayl – (his father) Salamah ibn Kuhayl — Abu al-Tufayl ibn Wathilah — that Zayd ibn Arqam radiya Llahu `anhu said: حدثنا ابو بكر بن اسحاق ودعلج بن احمد السجزى قالا انبانا محمد بن ايوب ثنا الازرق بن على ثنا حسان بن ابراهيم الكرمانى ثنا محمد بن سلمة بن كهيل عن ابيه عن ابى الطفيل بن واثلة انه سمع زيد بن ارقم رضى الله عنه يقول نزل رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم بين مكة والمدينة عند شجرات خمس دوحات عظام فكنس الناس ما تحت الشجرات ثم راح رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم عشيه فصللى ثم قام خطيبا فحمد الله و اثنى عليه وذكر ووعظ فقال ما شاء الله ان يقول ثم قال ايها الناس انى تارك فيكم امرين لن تضلوا ان اتبعتموهما وهما كتاب الله و اهل بيتى عترتى ثم قال اتعلمون انى اولى بالمؤمنين من انفسهم ثلاث مرات قالوا نعم فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم من كنت مولاه فعلى مولاه [Mustadrak Al-Hakim]
There are many other chains.
Part six: Conclusion
We have been objective, and analysed the corpus of tradition pertaining to this matter in some depth. Not only have we been transparent, but we have given evidence accepted by orthodox Sunni scholars in our assessments of the traditions and their reliabilities. Thus, we believe what has presented can firmly establish the following conclusions:
A. The most logical reason for the variant in the Hadith between the two main versions can be attributed to the decline in the memory of Zayd ibn Aqram, who retained some of what was said, but did not mention other statements. Owing to his memory, the Hadith that come from him on this issue when he narrated as a very old man with notable memory defects can not be graded anything above a ‘Hasan’.
B. There are two chains which both each at least a ‘Hasan’ category, and strengthen each other and thus elevate the tradition containing the statement ‘if you hold onto it/that/them you will never go astray’ into one of the categories of the Saheeh.
C. There are two further supplementary chains with reliable narrators, but one or two of the Thiqah narrators may perform Tadlees. However, the authenticity of such narrators is up for dispute and a fair number would authenticate these traditions, or use them as supporting evidence in light of the ‘Hasan’ traditions.
D. Traditions containing the phrase ‘if you hold onto that/them’ are present in a significant number of other chains, from unique chains of transmission, collected by several other Hadith compilers. If we were to count the chains it would amount to a very large number, and perhaps we will do this for a future project. We have presented a fair number to conclusively prove corroboration.
Therefore , we conclude that the most authentic version of the hadith (collecting all of the authentic statements) would be as follows: ““The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “I have left behind over you al-Thaqalayn which if you hold fast to it you will never go astray: the Book of Allah – one end of which is in the Hand of Allah and the other in your hands– and my Ahl al-Bayt. They will never separate until they meet me at the pool of Kauthar. I remind you in the name of Allah of my Ahlulbayt, I remind you in the name of Allah of my Ahlulbayt, I remind you in the name of Allah of my Ahlulbayt.”
 Sunan ibn Majah, Book 1, Hadith 26 / ENG: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 25 (Darrusalam)
 Ibn Kathir in ‘al-Bath al-Hathith’ (page 668, Maktabatul Maarif)
 Hafidh al-Iraqi in Hafidh al-Alai ‘al-Mukhtalatin’ p 7.
 Abu Bakr b. Abi ‘Asim, Ahmad b. ‘Amr b. al-Dhahhak b. Mukhlid al-Shaybani, Kitab al-Sunnah (al-Maktab al-Islami; 1st edition, 1400 H) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 2, pp. 644-645, # 1558
[5.1] Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Hajar al-‘Asqalani, al-Matalib al-Aliyah bi Zawaid al-Masanid al-Thamaniyyah (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah; 1414 H) [annotator: Prof. Shaykh Habib al-Rahman al-A’zami], vol., 4, p. 65, # 3972
 Musnad Ahmad vol. 5 pg. 181, 182
 [Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Ahmad b. ‘Uthman al-Dhahabi, Tarikh al-Islam wa Wafiyat al-Mashahir wa al-A’lam (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi; 1st edition, 1407 H) [annotator: Dr. ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Salam Tadmuri], vol. 11, p. 169]
 [Muhammad b. Ahmad b. ‘Uthman al-Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah; 1st edition, 1419 H) [annotator: Zakariyyah ‘Umayrat], vol. 1, p. 170]
 [Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-’Ilmiyyah; 1st edition, 1411 H) [annotator: Mustafa ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Ata], vol. 1, p. 65, # 45]
 [Ahmad b. ‘Ali b. Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Taqrib al-Tahdhib (Beirut: Dar al-Maktabah al-‘Ilmiyyah; 2nd edition, 1415 H) [annotator: Mustafa ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Ata], vol. 1, p. 417, # 2795]
 [Abu al-Hasan Ahmad b. ‘Abd Allah b. Salih al-‘Ijli al-Kufi, Ma’rifat al-Thiqat (Madinah: Maktabah al-Dar; 1st edition, 1405 H), vol. 1, p. 453, # 727]
 [Abu Ahmad ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Adi al-Jirjani, al-Kamil fi Dhu’afa al-Rijal (Dar al-Fikr li al-Taba’at wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’; 3rd edition, 1409 H), vol. 4, p. 22, # 888/8]
 [Al-Kashif, i, 313; Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, ii, 286; Taqrib al-Tahdhib, i, 252.]
 [See Abu al-Husayn Muslim b. al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naysaburi, Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi) [annotator: Muhammad Fuad ‘Abd al-Baqi], vol. 3, p. 1685, # 2136 (11)]
 [Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurtubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnaut], vol. 4, p. 69, # 16696]
 [Abu Hafs ‘Umar b. Shahin, Tarikh Asma al-Thiqat (Dar al-Salafiyyah; 1st edition, 1404 H), p. 189, # 1148]
 [”Abu Hatim Muhammad b. Hibban b. Ahmad al-Tamimi al-Busti, Kitab al-Thiqat (Hyderabad: Majlis Dairat al-Ma’arif al-‘Uthmaniyyah; 1st edition, 1398 H), vol. 7, p. 335”
 [Abu al-Hasan Ahmad b. ‘Abd Allah b. Salih al-‘Ijli al-Kufi, Ma’rifat al-Thiqat (Madinah: Maktabah al-Dar; 1st edition, 1405 H), vol. 2, p. 210, # 1495]
 [Shams al-Din Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. Ahmad b. al-Dhahabi al-Dimashqi, al-Kashif fi Ma’rifat Man Lahu Riwayat fi al-Kutub al-Sittah (Jeddah: Dar al-Qiblah li al-Thaqafat al-Islamiyyah; 1st edition, 1413 H), vol. 2, p. 127, # 4506]
 Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani ,Taqrib al-Tahdib , P449.
 Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani d Ibn Hajar stated in his Nukhba