taken from www.islamreligion.com
The recording of the hadeeth of the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, began during the time of the Prophet himself. Al-Baghdaadi records a number of hadeeth that show that the Prophet explicitly allowed the recording of his hadeeth. Here are some examples:
1. Al-Daarimi and Abu Dawood in their Sunans (books) recorded that Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As stated that they used to record everything they heard from the Prophet. They were warned against doing so as, it was argued, the Prophet was a human being who may be angry at times and pleased at others. Abdullah stopped writing his hadeeth until they could ask the Prophet about this issue. The Messenger of God told him:
“Write [my hadeeth], by the One in whose hand is my soul, nothing comes out [the Prophet’s mouth] except the truth.”
That is, whether he was angry or pleased what he spoke was always the truth.
2. Al-Bukhari, in his Sahih (book), recorded that Abu Hurairah said, “One can find none of the Companions of the Messenger of God relating more hadeeth than I, except Abdullah ibn Amr because he used to record the hadeeth while I did not do so.”
3. Al-Bukhari recorded that a person from Yemen came to the Prophet on the day of the Conquest of Mecca and asked him if he could get the Prophet’s speech recorded, and the Prophet approved and told someone:
“Write it for the father of so and so.”
4. Anas narrated the statement, “Secure knowledge by writing it.” This hadeeth has been related by a number of authorities but mostly with weak chains. There is a dispute concerning whether or not it is actually a statement of the Prophet or of some Companion. However, according to al-Albani, the hadeeth, as recorded by al-Haakim and others, is authentic.
There is no question, therefore, that the recording of hadeeth began during the lifetime of the Messenger of God himself. This practice of writing hadeeth continued after the death of the Messenger of God. Al-Azami, in his work Studies in Early Hadeeth Literature, has listed and discussed some fifty Companions of the Prophet who had recorded hadeeth. Note the following:
Abdullah B. Abbas (3 B.H.-68 A.H.)… He was so eager for knowledge that he would ask as many as 30 Companions about a single incident… It seems he wrote what he heard and sometimes even employed his slaves for this purpose… The following derived hadeeth from him in written form: Ali b. Abdullah ibn Abbas, Amr b. Dinar, Al-Hakam b. Miqsam, Ibn Abu Mulaikah, Ikrimah… Kuraib, Mujahid, Najdah… Said b. Jubair.
Abdullah B. Umar B. al-Khattab (10 B.H.-74 A.H.). He transmitted a large number of ahadeeth, and was so strict in relating them that he did not allow the order of a word to be changed even though it would not have altered the meaning… He had books. One Kitab [book] which belonged to Umar, and was in his possession, was read to him by Nafi several times… The following derived hadeeth from him in written form: Jamil b. Zaid al-Tai… Nafi client of ibn Umar, Said b. Jubair, Abd al-Aziz b. Marwan, Abd al-Malik b. Marwan, Ubaidullah b. Umar, Umar b. Ubaidullah …
Al-Azami also compiled a list, discussing each personality individually, of forty-nine people of “the first century successors” who recorded hadeeth. Al-Azami goes on to list eighty-seven of “the scholars covering the late first and early second centuries” who recorded hadeeth. Then he lists “from the early second century scholars” 251 people who collected and recorded hadeeth. Thus al-Azami has produced a list of 437 scholars who had recorded hadeeth and all of them lived and died before the year 250 A. H. Many of them are from before the time of Umar ibn Abdul Azeez, who has been wrongly credited with having been the first person to ask for the collection of hadeeth. The story of Umar ibn Abdul Azeez has actually been misunderstood and it does not mean that no one collected hadeeth before him.
To quote al-Azami, “Recent research has proved that almost all of the hadeeth of the Prophet was [sic] written down in the life of the companions, which stretched to the end of the first century.” This last statement is partially based on al-Azami’s own research in which he has mentioned many Companions and Followers who possessed written hadeeth. Elsewhere, he himself writes,
I have established in my doctoral thesis Studies in Early Hadeeth Literature that even in the first century of the Hijra many hundreds of booklets of hadeeth were in circulation. If we add another hundred years, it would be difficult to enumerate the quantity of booklets and books which were in circulation. Even by the most conservative estimate they were many thousands