As we can see in the above tradition in Sahih Muslim, not only Ahlul-Bayt has been put beside the Qur’an, but also it has been mentioned three times by the Prophet (S).
Despite the fact that the author of Sahih Muslim and many other Sunni traditionists have recorded the above tradition in their authentic books, it is regrettable that the majority of Sunnis are unaware of its existence at the best, or deny it at the worst. Their counter argument is that the most reliable tradition in this regard is the one recorded by al-Hakim in his al-Mustadrak, on the authority of Abu Huraira, attributing to the Messenger of Allah saying: "I leave amongst you two things that if you follow or act upon, you will not go astray after me: The Book of God and my Sunnah (traditions)."
On tracing the source of this report of Abu Huraira which states "Qur’an and Sunnah,”we found out that it has NOT been recorded in any of the six authentic Sunni collections of the traditions (Sihah Sittah). Not only that, but also al-Bukhari, al-Nisa’i, and al-Dhahabi and many others rated this report (Qur’an and Sunnah) as weak because of its weak Isnad. It should be noted that although the book of al-Hakim is an important Sunni collection of traditions, yet it is ranked inferior to the six major Sunni books. This is while Sahih Muslim is in the second rank among the six Sunni collections of traditions.
al-Tirmidhi reported that the "Qur’an and Ahlul-Bayt”version of the tradition is traced to 30+ companions. Ibn Hajar al-Haythami reported that he knows of 20+ companions witnessed that also. This is while the "Qur’an and Sunnah”version reported by al-Hakim has only one source! Thus we must conclude that the "Qur’an and Ahlul-Bayt”version is much more reliable. Moreover al-Hakim has also mentioned the "Qur’an and Ahlul-Bayt”version in his book (al-Mustadrak) through several chain of authorities and confirmed that the "Qur’an and Ahlul-Bayt”version of the tradition is authentic based on the criteria of al-Bukhari and Muslim.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: "I am leaving for you two precious and weighty Symbols that if you adhere to BOTH of them you shall not go astray after me. They are, the Book of Allah, and my progeny, that is my Ahlul-Bayt. The Merciful has informed me that These two shall not separate from each other till they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."
1. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, pp 662-663,328, report of 30+ companions, with reference to several chains of transmitters.
2. al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, Chapter of "Understanding (the virtues) of Companions, v3, pp 109,110,148,533 who wrote this tradition is authentic (Sahih) based on the criteria of the two Shaikhs (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
3. Sunan, by Daarami, v2, p432
4. Musnad, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v3, pp 14,17,26,59, v4, pp 366,370-372, v5, pp 182,189,350,366,419
5. Fadha’il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p585, Tradition #990
6. al-Khasa’is, by al-Nisa’i, pp 21,30
7. al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami, Ch. 11, section 1, p230
8. al-Kabir, by al-Tabarani, v3, pp 62-63,137
9. Kanz al-Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Chapter al-Iti’sam bi Habl Allah, v1, p44.
10. Tafsir Ibn Kathir (complete version), v4, p113, under commentary of verse 42:23 of Qur’an (four traditions)
11. al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, by Ibn Sa’d, v2, p194, Pub. by Dar Isadder, Lebanon.
12. al-Jami’ al-Saghir, by al-Suyuti, v1, p353, and also in v2
13. Majma’ al-Zawa’id, al-Haythami, v9, p163
14. al-Fateh al-Kabir, al-Binhani, v1, p451
15. Usdul Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahaba, Ibn al-Athir, v2, p12
16. Jami’ al-Usul, Ibn al-Athir, v1, p187
17. History of Ibn Asakir, v5, p436
18. al-Taj al-Jami’ Lil Usul, v3, p308
19. al-Durr al-Manthoor, al-Hafidh al-Suyuti, v2, p60
20. Yanabi al-Mawaddah, al-Qundoozi al-Hanafi, pp 38,183
21. Abaqat al-Anwar, v1, p16