Ahidith began to be put down in writing even during the era of the Prophet (saw) but these Ahlidith were no better than compilations by individuals. Their purpose was just to put them down in writing, with no regard for order or sequence. Later, during the caliphate of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz (99 AH-101 AH), the state undertook this task but most of the works in this field were the products of individual labor. During the second century of the Hijra calendar, famous books like Muwatt2 of Imh mlik and Musnad of Imam Shaffi were prepared but the third stage of recording Aluidith, known as the Golden Age, came only in the third century AH. Many a collection was made in this age. These included the Six Books (Kutub Sittah), popularly known as the Sound Six (Sahah Sittah), Sunan of Ibn MSjah being one of them and considered the last of them.
Sunan Ibne maja began to be included in the Six Books by the end of the fifth century AH. Since then, in every succeeding age, it kept on growing in value and importance. With respect to soundness and strength, Sunan Ad- Dlirimi, Sunan Ad-DlirQutni and other books of Sumn were superior to Suwn Ibn Mrijah but they did not gain popularity like Sunan ibn Mjah.
It is to be noted that Sunan is a technical term used by scholars of Hadith sciences to denote a book of AMdith relating to legal rulings, from the Chapters of Purification (Abwihut-Tahirah wa Sunanha) down to the Chapter on Wills (Kitibul-Wasaia) in the same order as followed in books of Islamic jurisprudence.
How important and useful the Sunan ibn majah is, can also be guaged by the fact that when Ibn majah showed his work to Imh Abu Zarah, the latter remarked: If this book reached the public, all or most of the existing Jmimi would cease to be used. The words of Imh Abu Zarah proved to be true to the last letter. Several Jawimi, Musnads and Sunan were eclipsed by Ibn Majahs Sunan.
The book, As-Sunan by imam Ibn Majah was an excellent and beneficial work that stunned the scholars of his time. He himself said about the book: "I showed this book to Abu Zurah Razi. He checked it and said, I think if people lay their hands on this book, all or most of other great compiled works will become unnessary.
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Hafiz Abi Abdullah ibn-e-Maja