Let's say it this way a-Dahhak ibn Muzaahim al Hilaly الضحاك بن مزاحم الهلالي has reported ahadith on the authority of a whole bunch of sahabah like ibn 'Abbas, Anas ibn Malik, ibn 'Umar, abu Sa'id al-Khudry and abu Hurrairah but he often missed to quote an intermediate. However none (including himself) confirmed him having met any of them. It is rather that many scholars denied his meeting of any of them especially ibn 'Abbas and abu Sai' d al-Khudhry. Scholars such ibn Hebban stated that he rather reported the tafsir views of ibn 'Abbas via the intermediate of Sa'id ibn Jubayr whom he has met in a-Ray (Note that ibn Jubayr also heard tafsur from other sahabah and scholars such as ibn Mas'ud). In other words his status as a-Tabi'iy is rather questionable or a matter of dispute from the perspective that he seemingly met sahabah but didn't study by any of them (at least ibn Hajar quoted a further statement of al-'Ijly denying him being a Tabi'y in his Tahdeeb at-Tahdeeb -see here - but regarding him as trustworthy).
Further there are hair-raising stories about him like he had claimed that he was born in an age (shape of a child) of 16 months and was born having two teeth or that his mother was pregnant with him for 2 years. It was also reported that he used to dislike musk and when people said that the companions of the prophet Allah's prayers and blessings be upon him used to put it on, he replied: We are more knowledgeable then them. (See Qabul al-Akhbar wa Ma'arifati ar-Rijal قبول الأخبار ومعرفة الرجال of al-Ka'aby Volume 1 page 263 here, the narrators who reported this are at least of a middle level of trust). This last report is an issue.
So his biggest defect from the perspective of hadith scholars is his tadlees and irsaal (leaving out a sahabi in the narrator chain) which is of a kind that is hardly acceptable, as it leads to certain doubts and the need of verification. See also What exactly is tadlees?.
Further Yahya ibn Sai'd al-Qattan (and also his teacher Sho'abah) is a well known scholar of hadith whom's knowledge in 'Ilm ar-Rijal is approved by authorities such as Yahya ibn Ma'yn, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and 'Ali ibn al-Madiny who all claimed not to have met a knowledgeable person in this regards such as him. However he is among the hardliners in this topic. So his grading is rather hard, my first impression from some articles about his grading is that he may reject even rather acceptable or even trustworthy narrators for reasons which even ibn Ma'yn or his teacher Sho'abah wouldn't care about.
Further if one reads his (a-Dahhaak's) Jarh and 'Ta'adeel section in the database it is a bit strange that they regard his main grading as trustworthy (From 11 statements of different scholars we may read that Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan regarded him as weak, Sho'abah didn't report from him reported by 'Ali ibn al-Madiny, ibn 'Ady doubts -seemingly the quality of- all of his narrations, al-Bayhaqi - a rather lenient scholar in thus matter- regards his narration as not acceptable as an evidence, ibn Hebban denied him having met any of the sahabah, and ibn Hajar accepting him as sadooq who performed irsaal). As the ruling many scholars defined is to check the statements of scholars and verify the most severe and build a final judgement after that. This rather leads to the conclusion that he should be of a middle or good level of trust: hassan al-Hadith as stated by the contemporary scholar ibn Amin here (*) in best case or sadooq (truthful) -with restrictions- as stated by a-Dhahabi for example, but Allah knows best (I've already found some issues in the database, but sadly reporting mistakes etc. doesn't seem possible).
This would mean that beside his tadlees, his reports may include some errors or differences compared to more reliable narrators.
*: mentioned as the 6th root of the tafsir of ibn 'Abbas. Note that ibn Amin added the information that he studied by different students of ibn 'Abbas and claimed to have heard it from him.
See also Is there a scale or classification for scholars and their qualification of hadith narrators?.
All this has no impact on his approved and confirmed leadership in tafsir. As Sufyan a-Thawry regarded him as one out of four sources of tafsir saying:
In the following I'll translate from Arabic language as these translations are of my own take them carefully.
خُذُوا التَّفْسِيرَ عَنْ أَرْبَعَةٍ سَعِيد بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ وَمُجَاهِدٍ وعكرمة والضحاك بن مزاحم.
Learn tafsir from four: Sa'id ibn Jubayr, Mujaahid, 'Ikrimah and a-Dahhak ibn Muzaahim.
All were students (or students of students) of ibn 'Abbas.
Qualifications and statements from a-Dhahabi's Siyar
Here some examples of his qualification:
In his Siyar A'alaam an-Nubalaa' سير أعلام النبلاء (see here) imam a-Dhahabi stated:
الضحاك بن مزاحم
الهلالي ، أبو محمد ، وقيل أبو القاسم ، صاحب التفسير كان من أوعية العلم ، وليس بالمجود لحديثه ، وهو صدوق في نفسه
A-Dahhak ibn Muzaahim Al-Hilali, Abu Muhammad, and it was said Abu Al-Qasim, the author of the interpretation of the Qur'an (Tafsir) was one of the vessels of knowledge, and he was not of excellence in his hadith, and he is truthful (sadooq) in himself.
This introduction of a-Dhahabi is not really a praise for his hadith reports. It means also that there are some known issues in his reports, be it in his memory, in his accuracy of the reports or of the quotation of narrators he reported from.
A-Dhahabi further gave a short list of people he has reported from (his teachers) saying:
حدث عن ابن عباس ، وأبي سعيد الخدري ، وابن عمر ، وأنس بن مالك ، وعن الأسود ، وسعيد بن جبير ، وعطاء ، وطاوس ، وطائفة .
He reported from ibn 'Abbas, abu Sa'id al-Khudry, ibn 'umar, Anas ibn Malik, al-Aswad, Sa'id ibn Jubayr, 'Ata', Tawwus and many more.
وبعضهم يقول : لم يلق ابن عباس . فالله أعلم .
And some claimed he didn't meet ibn 'Abbas and Allah knows best
A-Dhahabi further reported some qualifications and statements of scholars about him as a narrator (the statements are edited and mixed and not listed in the order of the Siyar):
وثقه أحمد بن حنبل ، ويحيى بن معين ، وغيرهما . وحديثه في السنن ، لا في الصحيحين .
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma'yn, and others trusted him. And his hadith is in the Sunan, not in the two Sahihs.
This briefness about the qualifications of Ahmad and Yahya ibn Ma'yn sounds a bit strange, because both would have left some statements in this regards which were not mentioned. However the statement of Ahmad comes from his son 'Abdullah in the book attributed to his father called al-'Ilal as stated here. Further to be honest imam Muslim quoted him in his Sahih, but only in narrations confirming a predecessor, so you won't find him in a hadith where a new statement was mentioned in the matn (content) (see for example here).
Ibn al-Jawzy even added abu Zura'ah to those regarding a-Dahhaak as trustworthy in his book a-Do'afaa' wal Matrukyn biography #1714.
وقيل : كان يدلس .
And it was said that he practiced tadlees.
قال يحيى القطان : كان شعبة ينكر أن يكون الضحاك لقي ابن عباس قط . ثم قال القطان : والضحاك عندنا ضعيف .
Yahya al-Qattan said: Sho'abah denied that a-Dahhak ever met ibn 'Abbas. Then al-Qattan said: a-Dahhaak by us is da'if.
The first statement was set before a statement indicating Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan's qualification. I preferred to quote his statement here (in fact this is one of your snippets). The first statement also appears in ibn 'Ad'y al-Kamil fi d'afaa' ar-Rijal with a full narrator chain (See here).
وأما أبو جناب الكلبي فروى عن الضحاك ، قال : جاورت ابن عباس سبع سنين .
As for abu Janaab al-Kalbi, he reported from a-Dhhaak that he said: I lived beside ibn 'Abbas seven years.
قلت : أبو جناب ليس بقوي ، والأول أصح .
But I (imam a-Dhahabi) said: Abu Janab is not that strong and the first (statement referring to Sho'abah) is more correct.
The first statement is also present in you snippet! In fact abu Janaab, Yahya ibn abi Hayah يحيى بن أبي حية or Hayiy حيي (first name of his father) al-Kalbi is a weak narrator as you may read in the database, his best grading is sadooq by a rather lesser known authorithy while others even say he is rejected and munkar al-Hadith due to his tadlees. One must say a-Dhahabi was lenient in his grading here.
وروى شعبة عن عبد الملك بن ميسرة ، قال : لم يلق الضحاك ابن عباس ; إنما لقي سعيد بن جبير بالري فأخذ عنه التفسير .
Sho'bah has reported from 'Abudlmalik ibn Maysarah, said: a-Dahhaak didn't meet ibn 'Abbas, but he met Sa'id ibn Jubayr in a-Ray and learnt via him the tafsir.
This was also reported with a full narrator chain by ibn Sa'ad in his at-Tabaqaat and ibn 'Ady in his book below the earlier statement above. Ibn 'Ady added statements of Mashash as-Sualymi مشاش (see in the database), Salam ibn Qutaybah سلم بن قتيبة (see in the database), Yazid ibn Sinan يزيد بن سنان القرشي (see in the database) confirming this.
I don't know of any grading of al-Bukhari on him, in his a-Tareekh al-Kabir al-Bukhari only mentioned some of his biography and didn't leave any qualification (see here).
A few words on his tafsir and the final statement of ibn 'Ady
While ibn 'Ady concludes in his book -see here-:
والضحاك بن مزاحم عرف بالتفسير فأما رواياته، عنِ ابن عباس وأبي هريرة وجميع من روى عنه ففي ذلك كله نظر، وإِنَّما اشتهر بالتفسير.
And a-Dahhak ibn Muzahim is rather known in the subject of tafsir, as for his narrations, from ibn 'Abbas, abu Hurrairah and all those he narrated from, this must be handled with care, but his fame is in at-Tafsir.
However if should trust the qualification of ibn Amin the following students of a-Dahhaak are not reliable even in regards of tafsir:
- Juwaybir ibn Sa'id جويبر بن سعيد who is at least da'if jidan (see here) who reported a lot from him.
- Bishr ibn 'Amarah al-Khat'amy بشر بن عمارة who is at least da'if (see here).
While one could more rely on statements of:
- 'Ali ibn al-Hakam al-Bannaani علي بن الحكم البناني who is indeed trustworthy (see here).
- 'Ubayd Allah ibn Sulayman al-Bahily ibn عبيد الله بن سليمان الباهلي who is sadooq (see here) and on which al-Bagahwy and even more at-Tabari relied in their tafsir books.
- 'Atiyah ibn al-Harith (abu al-Waraaq) al-Hamadani أبو روق عطية بن الحارث who also is sadooq (see here).
See also here
A bit more insight into Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan's methodology of jarh and ta'adeel
First note that Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan sadly as it seems didn't leave a book or papers showing his method for accepting or rejecting hadith narrators or it might have gotten lost. Today it can rather be deduced by analysis of different sources of Jarh and Ta'adeel which include reports of his grading and statements. This is a tough task and fortunately I found a couple of 12 articles discussing his methodology, grading and statements (and those of his student 'Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Mahdi too) for "da'if narrators" based on more than 10 sources such (on alukah starting with this article):
- Tareekh baghdad of al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi
- Tahdeedb at-Tahdeedb of ibn Hajar
- Siyar a'alaam an-Nubalaa' of a-Dhahabi
- al-Jarh wa Ta'adeel of ibn Abu Hatim ar-Razi
- Sharh 'ilal a-Tirmidhi of ibn Rajab
- Sharh 'ilal al-Hadith of al-'Adawi
- Ar-Rafa' wa at-Takmeel of al-Laknawi
- Mizan al-I'tidaal of a-Dhahabi
- Tahdeeb al-Kamaal of al-Mizzi
- A-Du'afaa' al-Kabeer of al-'Uqayli
- Lisan al-Meezaan of ibn Hajar
In the corresponding articles a-Dhahhak nowhere appears as a narrator that Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan actually rejected or stopped reporting from. It is further known that Yahya al-Qattan was very regid in his grading of hadith narrators some statements are even reported from his teacher Sho'abah.
On Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Qattan's severity in his qualifcation and grading
You may read in his biographical note in a-Dhahabi's Siyar, the following statements :
وقال ابن معين : قال لي يحيى بن سعيد : ليس لأحد علي عقد ولا ولاء .
Ibn Ma'yn said: Yahya ibn Sa'id said to me: I am not obliged to anyone by contract or loyalty.
So in his grading he simply doesn't care about the narrator's status when it comes following his principles.
قال عبد الرحمن بن مهدي : اختلفوا يوما عند شعبة ، فقالوا له : اجعل بيننا وبينك حكما . قال : قد رضيت بالأحول - يعني القطان - فجاء ، فقضى على شعبة ، فقال شعبة : ومن يطيق نقدك يا أحول ؟ .
Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi said: One day they differed with Shu’bah, so they said to him: Make a judgment between us and you. He said: I'll be satisfied with Al-Ahwal (the squint)- meaning Al-Qattan - Then he came, his verdict was against the Sho'abah. Sho'abah said: Who can take your criticism, oh ahwal?.
This one of statements which are often cited as an evidence for his severity and him being a hardliner. Another is what ibn Rajab mentioned in Sharh 'ilal a-Tirmidhi شرح علل الترمذي -see here-:
قال يحيى القطان: إن لم أرو إلا عمن أرضى ما رويت عن خمسة، أو نحو ذلك.
Yahya al-Qattan said: If I only narrate from someone whom I accepted (totally without restrictions), I would have narrated from five, or so.
A-Dhahabi also remarked in his Siyar:
قلت : كان يحيى بن سعيد متعنتا في نقد الرجال ، فإذا رأيته قد وثق شيخا ، فاعتمد عليه ، أما إذا لين أحدا ، فتأن في أمره حتى ترى قول غيره فيه ، فقد لين مثل : إسرائيل ، وهمام ، وجماعة احتج بهم الشيخان ، وله كتاب في الضعفاء لم أقف عليه ، ينقل منه ابن حزم وغيره ، ويقع كلامه في سؤالات علي ، وأبي حفص الصيرفي ، وابن معين له .
I said: Yahya bin Sa'id was stubborn in criticizing men, so if you see him trusting a scholar (sheikh), rely on him, but if distrusted (by declaring him weak etc.) someone, be patient with him until you see what others say about that scholar. As he distrusted scholars such as: Israeel, Hammam, and a group that the two sheikhs argue with, and he had a book on the weak narrators, which I have not found, but from which Ibn Hazm and others have transmitted, and his statements fall into the questions of 'Ali, Abu Hafs Al-Sayrafi, and Ibn Ma’yn to him.
After citing a quote of Yahya al-Qattan on ibn 'Uyyanah in his Mizan al-'Itidal in which it was reported that his memory became bad 197 a.H.. A-Dhahabi commented the statement concluding by:
مع أن يحيى متعنت جدا في الرجال وسفيان فثقة مطلقا (Source)
Although Yahya was very stubborn about men, and Sufyan was absolutely trustworthy.
Some insight in his methodology
(Sources Article #9 and Article #2 of the article series on alukah)
Al-Laknawi in his ar-Rafa' wa at-Takmeel quoted him among those he regarded as (stubborn) hardliners which one should be a bit careful, when accepting their negative grading, saying (Source and the following page):
وَمِنْهَا ان يكون الْجَارِح من المتعنتين المشددين فان هُنَاكَ جمعا من ائمة الْجرْح وَالتَّعْدِيل لَهُم تشدد فِي هَذَا الْبَاب فيجرحون الرَّاوِي بادنى جرح ويطلقون عَلَيْهِ مَا لَا يَنْبَغِي اطلاقه عِنْد اولي الالباب فَمثل
هَذَا الْجَارِح توثيقه مُعْتَبر وجرحه لَا يعْتَبر الا اذا وَافقه غَيره مِمَّن ينصف وَيعْتَبر
Among them (reasons to check a judgement of a scholar) is that the offender is one of the hard-liners, for there is a group of imams of the jarh and the ta'deel who are strict in this topic, so they call into question the narrator with the slightest issue call him what should not be said by people of understanding. Such Jarih's (Scholar performing jarh: calling into question the trustworthiness of a narrator) qualification of trust is valid, but his impugn is not considered unless it is agreed upon by someone else who is just and considered.
As stated above he was a hardliner and a small mistake could lead him to the conclusion that a narrator is da'if.
If a narrator reported from his memory and showed differences -indicating his bad memory- in the same report he'd reject him.
He was rather lenient in his qualification for people committing bida'h and following their hawa' as long as they were not known for lying nor for propagation of their "teaching in this regard.
He was severe in reporting from faithful people and worshipers, as he regarded them as people who don't excel or focus on the correctness of the reports. As imam Muslim reported in the introduction of his Sahih:
Muhammad bin Abī Attāb narrated to me, he said Affān narrated to me, on authority of Muhammad bin Yahyā bin Sa’īd al-Qattān, on authority of his father, he said:
‘We do not see the righteous more false in anything than they are regarding Ḥadīth’.
Ibn Abī Attāb said: ‘So Muhammad bin Yahyā bin Sa’īd al-Qattān and I met and I asked him about it and he said on authority of his father: ‘You will not see the people of good (Ahl ul-Khayr) more false in anything than they are regarding Ḥadīth.’ Muslim said: ‘He was saying that falsehood flows upon their tongues although they do not intend to lie’.
- His main focus was the sanad (the transmission chain) as a-Dhahabi reported in his Siyar:
قال محمد بن عبد الله بن عمار : قال يحيى بن سعيد : لا تنظروا إلى الحديث ، ولكن انظروا إلى الإسناد ، فإن صح الإسناد ، وإلا فلا تغتروا بالحديث إذا لم يصح الإسناد .
Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah ibn 'Ammar said: Yahya bin Sa'ad said: Do not look at the hadith, but look at the chain of transmission, for if the chain of transmission is correct, otherwise, do not be deceived by the hadith if the chain of transmission is not sound.
one could also add some more conclusions
## Why Did Yahya Bin Sa'id declare a-Dahhaak ibn Muzahim as a weak narrator of Hadith?
The answer could be as stated in Lisan al-Myzaan لسان الميزان of ibn Hajar, that the reason for this declaration is missing or unknown. As ibn Hajar actually quoted among the narrator's whom's trustworthiness was called in question, but in a chapter in which he introduced by the following words:
فصل في تجريد الأسماء التي حذفتها من الميزان اكتفاء بذكرها في تهذيب الكمال وقد جعلت لها علاماتها في التهذيب ومن كتبت قبالته صح فهو من تكلم فيه بلا حجة أو صورة مخ فهو مختلف فيه والعمل على توثيقه بين كذا ذلك فضعيف على اختلاف مراتب الضعف ومن كان منهم زائد على من اقتصر عليه الذهبي في الكاشف ذكرت له ترجمة مختصرة لينتفع بذلك من لم يحصل له تهذيب الكمال وبالله التوفيق. (Source)
A chapter on stripping the names that I omitted from the scale is sufficient to mention them in Tahdeeb al-Kamal, and I have given them their marks in at-Tahdeeb, and whoever I wrote opposite him is true, then he is the one who spoke about it without argument or brain image, then it is different in it and working to document it between such and such is weak according to different levels of weakness, and whoever among them is extra To whom al-Dhahabi confined himself to in al-Kashif, a short translation was mentioned to him, so that he may benefit from that for whom he has not attained perfect refinement, and may God grant him success.