In the Name of Allaah…
The following message has been making its rounds in a number of email lists and message boards this year:
THE BEST REPLY TO THOSE WHO SAY “JAZAK’ALLAHU KHAIR”?
“Wa Antum fa Jazakumullahu khayran” which means “And you too, May Allah reward to with good.”
When Usayd ibn Hadayr رضي الله عنه said to the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa salam): “O Messenger of Allah جزاك الله خيرا (Jazak’allahu khayran)!” The Prophet said: ” وَأَنْتُمْ فَجَزَاكُمُ اللَّهُ خَيْرًا (Wa Antum Fa Jazakumullahu khayran.. And you too, May Allah reward you too with good)!”
[Albaani has said that the Hadeeth is Saheeh in al-Saheeha 3096, al-Ta’leeqaatul hisaan al Saheeh ibn Hibbaan 6231]
I have responded (at least three times) with the following reply:
Take your knowledge from the scholars, not unqualified or unknown writers on the internet.
I read Shaykh Al-Albaanee’s discussion of the hadeeth (Saheehah #3096), which includes detailed mention of the defects of the hadeeth, and its not clear to me that the hadeeth is even acceptable. [This is updated below.] Nor did he say anything about this being a legislated response to “jazaak Allaahu khayran”.
Secondly, we don’t take just any conversation that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was engaged in and then derive legislated responses to phrases. If this hadeeth is authentic, then he responded with what he wanted to say at that time, not intending to legislate that wording as a fixed answer for “jazaak Allaahu khayran.”
How do we know this? Well, we are Salafee. We simply look to the Companions, the Taabi’oon, and the imaams of the Salaf and the scholars of Islaam to see if anyone understood this. This is a foreign concept to me. I don’t know of anyone who ever mentioned this. Nor did my shaykh, Muhammad Baazmool, when he answered a question on the topic. [see this]
In the age of databases, we cannot allow just anyone to search “jazaak Allaahu khayran” and start deriving rulings from any results that pop up!
Our scholars took the time to write books about the manners of speech, like Ibn Abee Shaybah, al-Bukhaaree, al-Bayhaqee, and other scholars of the Sunnah included a section on manners in their larger books of Sunnah. I don’t know of anyone who ever said this. So I lean towards believing its just a result of the “Shaamilah” [database] scholar era, or the “Shaykh Google” era, where people use databases who are not qualified to work with the evidences they find.
While ignorant people have electronic access to volumes of hadeeth sources, will we allow our Deen to be subject to whatever rulings they derive from hadeeth, even if it means creating new Sunnahs that our Salaf never heard of?! The concept is disastrous, and may Allaah protect us.
Be warned of saying something you have no Salaf for!
And Allaah knows best.
[End of earlier response]
And now I would like to add some important points regarding the authenticity of the quoted report:
 While all of the chains are individually flawed, the hadeeth is authentic, as the different chains can be used to collectively strengthen each other. [Detailed mapping of the chains in Arabic] This is the conclusion of Shaykh Al-Albaanee in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah (#3096), as quoted.
 Imaam Al-Bukhaaree knew about this hadeeth and did not use it to establish the claimed Sunnah of responding to “jazaak Allaahu khayran” with “wa antum fa jazaakum Allaah khayran” in his al-Adab al-Mufrad. He collected the hadeeth in his Taareekh (8/349). In addition, Imaam at-Tabaraanee and Haafith al-Bayhaqee also reported this hadeeth, yet neither of them used it to establish this assumed “Sunnah” practice in their books of supplications.
 Shaykh Al-Albaanee himself was devoted to reviving abandoned Sunnahs, and yet he did not mention anything about this during his discussion of the hadeeth, nor was it known to be his practice to respond to “Jazaak Allaahu khayran” in such a specified way.
 The hadeeth shows the Sunnah of responding to kindness with kindness, not that it legislates a specified response for the phrase “Jazaak Allaahu khayran.”
 After further searching, I still have not found any scholar of the past or present who made such a claim of specification.
Thus, I once again stress the need to understand the sources of our Religion, the Quran and the Sunnah, as our Salaf understood them, and not how anyone with a hadeeth database tries to apply them. And Allaah knows best.
Written by: Moosaa Richardson