The Importance of this Study!
Is the authentic Sunnah considered as Revelation?
The Sunnah (including the sayings, actions and approvals of the Prophet) is the second of the two revealed Fundamental Sources of Islam (along with the Qur’an).
What are the primary parts of a Hadeeth?
Every Hadeeth has two parts: Matn (text, or words which are reported) Isnaad (chain of narrators/reporters through whom the text is transmitted).
Why is the Isnaad Important?
“The Isnaad is part of the Deen; had it not been for the Isnaad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked.” [Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak (d. 181AH)]
Why is there a need for Verification of the Isnaad?
(a) Due to omission of a reporter (link) in the chain (for one reason or another)
(b) Due to deliberate fabrication of Ahaadeeth by various sects which appeared amongst the Muslims, in order to support their deviations.
Acceptance or Rejection of a Hadeeth based upon its Narrators:
“They would not ask about the Isnaad. But, when the fitnah (trouble, turmoil…) happened, they said: Name to us your men. So, the narrations of the Ahlus-Sunnah would be accepted, while those of the Ahlu-l-Bid’ah would not be accepted. [Muhammad Ibn Seereen (d. 110AH)]
General overview of the Sciences of Hadeeth.
- al-Mutoon (Matn) – The Texts of Ahaadeeth
- ash-Shurooh (Sharh)– Explanations of the Ahaadeeth
- al-Mustalah – Technical Classifications of the Hadeeth
- at-Takh-reej/ar-Rijaal – Extraction and Identification of the Sources of Hadeeth; Identification and Critical Classification of the Narrators of Hadeeth (Rijaal).
Brief History of Mustalah al-Hadeeth
The First Stage (Oral Transmission)
As time passed, more reporters were involved in each Isnaad, and hence the need for a more systematic approach to the acceptance or rejection of Hadeeth. This system or science related to the rules and principles of classification of Hadeeth is what is known as Mustalah al-Hadeeth. In the initial stage this information was transmitted by the scholars orally.
The Second Stage (Scattered Writtings)
Later these rules and principles were written down (systematically), but in scattered writings – along with other sciences such as al-Fiqh, Usool al-Fiqh, Hadeeth… – in such books as ar-Risaalah and al-Umm [Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee (d.204AH)], the Introduction to Saheeh Muslim [Imaam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj (d.261AH)], and al-Jaami’ [Imaam at-Tirmidhee (279AH)]
The Third Stage (Independent/Specialized Works)
As time went on and the various sciences developed – in the 4th Century of the Hijrah - the scholars began to author books for each science independently. One of the first to author a comprehensive book on the subject of al-Mustalah was Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Abdur-Rahmaan ar-Raama-hur-muzee (d.360AH), with his book al-Muhaddith al-Faasil baina ar-Raawee wa-l-Waa’ee.
Many important books were written during this stage, including the books of al-Haakim an-Naisaabooree (d.405H), al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (d.463H), al-Qaadee ‘Iyaadh (d.544H), etc. Then, in the 7th Century of the Hijrah, a book was written which came to be the standard reference for thousands of scholars and students of Hadeeth until today: Uloom al-Hadeeth (which is known today as Muqaddimah Ibn Salaah) by Abu ‘Amr ‘Uthmaan ibn Abdur-Rahmaan ash-Shah-razooree [known as Ibn Salaah (d.643H)]
Many notable works were produced later – based upon the Muqaddimah of Ibn Salaah
Including: Taqreeb an-Nawaawee [an-Nawawee (d.676H)]; Tadreeb ar-Raawee [as-Suyootee (d.911H)]; Ikhtisaar Uloom al-Hadeeth [Ibn Katheer (d.774)]; at-Taqyeed wa-l-Eedaah [al-'Iraaqee (d.806H)]; an-Nukat ala Kitaab Ibn Salaah [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaanee (d.852H)];
The various books of al-Mustalah primarily deal with the classification of Hadeeth based upon various considerations, including:
Reference to a Particular Authority: [Marfoo' - Mawqoof -Maqtoo']
Reference to the Links in the Isnaad: [Muttasil, Munqati', Mu'allaq...]
Reference to the number of reporters in every stage: [Mutawaatir, Aahaad]
Reference to the manner in which the Hadeeth is reported: ['An, Haddathanaa..]
Reference to the Nature of the Text or Chain: [Ziyaadah ath-Thiqah, Shaadh, Mudraj]
Reference to the Hidden Defects in the Text or Chain: [Mu'allal: Maqloob, Mudtarib]
Reference to the Reliability and Memory of the Reporters: [Saheeh, Hasan, Da'eef...]
The knowledge of the principles and rules by which the condition/state of the Isnaad (chain of narrators) and the Matn (Text) may be known, in reference to its acceptance or rejection.
Its Subject Matter
The Sanad (chain of narrators) and the Matn (Text) as regards its acceptance or rejection.
The distinction between the Ahadeeth which are authentic and those which are weak.
(1) Linguistically: Something new
(2) Technically: That which is attributed to the Prophet – from his words, actions or approvals.
(1) Linguistically: News/Information
(a) It is the same as al-Hadeeth
(b) Something reported from other than the Prophet
(c) Including that which is reported from the Prophet or others
(1) Linguistically: Remains/Remnants of something
(a) It is the same as al-Hadeeth
(b) The sayings and actions reported from the Sahaabah and Taabi’een.
(a) Attributing or ascribing the Hadeeth to the one who said it – by way of a chain of narrators
(b) The actual chain of narrators that extends back to the text; and this meaning is the same as Sanad.
(1) Linguistically: The Support/Prop (upon which something rests)
(2) Technically: The actual chain of narrators that extends back to the text.
(1) Linguistically: Something solid, which is raised up from the earth.
(2) Technically: The actual speech/words that the chain of narrators ends with.
(1) Linguistically: That which has been attributed to someone.
(a) Every book whose narrations are separately arranged according to the Sahaabee who reported it.
(b) That hadeeth which is traced back to the Prophet (marfoo’) with an unbroken chain (muttasil).
(c) It may also refer to the Sanad (chain).
The one who narrates the hadeeth with its chain of narrators.
One who is engaged with the science of hadeeth – Riwaayatan (classification of the hadeeth and the narrators) and Diraayatan (the texts of the hadeeth and its explanations) – having knowledge of a great many texts of hadeeth and narrators.
(a) The same as al-Muhaddith
(b) One who is of a higher standard – such that what he knows at every level of narrators is more than what he does not know.
He who has knowledge comprehending almost all of the ahaadeeth, whereas only a few might escape him.
‘Ilm ar-Rijaal deals with examination, inspection and scrutinizing the Biographies of the reporters/narrators of Hadeeth for authenticating/favorable remarks (Ta’deel), or disparaging/unfavorable remarks (Jarh) about the character (‘Adaalah) of the narrators and their accuracy (Dabt) in reporting – in order to determine the reliability and acceptability of what they have reported from the Prophet.
Examples of such remarks, in descending order of authentication, are:
Imaam (leader), Haafiz (preserver) (Saheeh – Authentic)
Thabt – Thiqah (reliable, trustworthy) (Saheeh – Authentic)
Yukh-tee (makes mistakes) (Da’eef or Hasan Li-Ghairi-hi -…)
Da’eef (weak) (Da’eef – Weak)
Matrook (abandoned by the scholars of Hadeeth) (Da’eef Jiddan – Very Weak)
Khadh-dhaab (liar, used to fabricate ahaadeeth) (Mawdoo’ – Fabricated)
Note: In the case of conflicting remarks – from the same scholar or from two or more different scholars – all remarks have to be reviewed carefully with consideration of: the reason given for the unfavorable remark; the seriousness of the particular criticism; the authenticity of the chain by which the critical remarks are transmitted; the eras of the critics whose remarks conflict; differences in the usage of the various technical terms by different scholars; the strictness or leniency of the scholar or scholars whose comments are under consideration…etc.
The scholars have been classified into three general categories here: Muta’annit, Muta-thabbit (extremely critical, strict) Mu’tadil, Munsif (balanced, fair) Mutasaahil (lenient, easy going).
Outline of the general catagories of Hadeeth
-Relating to the number of narrators/reporters at each level of the chain
- Al-Khabar al-Mutawaatir (consecutive)
- Al-Khabar al-Aahaad (single, isolated): al-Mash-hoor (famous), al-Azeez (rare, strong), al-Ghareeb (scarce, strange)
-Relating to the Acceptance or Rejection of a particular hadeeth
- al-Khabar al-Maqbool (acceptable reports): as-Saheeh (sound, authentic), al-Hasan (good); Saheeh Li-Ghairi-hi (due to the support of other narrations), Hasan Li-Ghairi-hi (due to the support of other narrations)
- al-Khabar al-Mar-dood (rejected reports): ad-Da’eef (weak)…
- Reasons why a hadeeth may be rejected:
—A Break in the chain of narrators: al-Mu’allaq (hanging, suspended), al-Mursal (hurried), al-Munqati’ (broken, cut off), al-Mu’dal (weakened)
Critical remarks concerning the narrators [Dabt (accuracy) or ‘Adaalah(character)]: al-Mawdoo’ (fabricated, forged), al-Matrook (abandoned), …
Al-Jahaalah bi-l-Raawee (A narrator whose credibility is not confirmed)
–Relating to the Source or Authority from whom the Hadeeth is related
al-Hadeeth al-Qudsee (reported from Allah), al-Marfoo’ (elevated, raised up), al-Mawqoof (stopped, suspended), al-Maq-too’ (severed, cut off)
-Other Categories of Hadeeth which may be Acceptable or Rejected
al-Musnad (supported); al-Muttasil (continuous)
Classification of Hadeeth With Reference to a Particular Authority
Linguistically: Raised up, Elevated
Technically: That which has been ascribed or attributed to the Prophet
Linguistically: Stopped, suspended
Technically: That which has been ascribed or attributed to the Sahaabah; it may also be used to refer to those after the Sahaabah, if restricted by such saying as: Mawqoof az-Zuhree (a saying of Ibn Shihaab az-Zuhree).
Some types of narrations appear to be mawqoof, while, in fact, they take the ruling of marfoo’ [raised up to the Prophet].
Linguistically: Severed, cut off
Technically: That which has been ascribed or attributed to the Taabi’een or those who came after them.
Classification of Hadeeth With Reference to the Links in the Isnaad
[In consideration of whether the chain is broken (munqati’) or unbroken (muttasil)]
Linguistically: That which has been attributed to someone.
(a) That hadeeth which is traced back to the Prophet (marfoo’) with an unbroken chain (muttasil).
(b) Every book whose narrations are separately arranged according to the Sahaabee who reported it.
It’s Ruling (Hukm): It could be Saheeh, and it could be Da’eef.
Munqati’ Linguistically: Cut off, detached, non continuous
Technically: The (hadeeth) whose Isnaad is not connected (non-continuous), without consideration of how or where the break(s) occurs. This definition includes all types of broken chains. However, many of the scholars use it to refer specifically to broken chains other than: Mursal (a break at the end), Mu’allaq (a break at the beginning) or Mu’dal (two consecutive missing links) [full definitions follow].
It’s Ruling (Hukm): It is Da’eef (weak).
Linguistically: Set free, hurried
Technically: The (hadeeth) whose narrator(s) is missing – at the end of the Isnaad, after the Taabi’ee; for example, a Taabi’ee says: ‘Qaala Rasoolu-llah…’
It’s Ruling (Hukm): There are three (3) opinions:
(a) Da’eef Mardood (weak, rejected). This is the opinion of the majority of scholars of Hadeeth, as well as many of the scholars of Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and Usool (Fundamentals of Jurisprudence) - due to ignorance of the status of the missing link who could very well be other than a Sahaabee (companion).
(b) Saheeh Hujjah (authentic, proof), with the condition that the narrator who reports from the Prophet (at the point of the missing link) is Thiqah (reliable), and that he is known not to leave out the person he reports from except that the missing person is Thiqah (reliable) also. This is the opinion of Abu Haneefah, Maalik, and the more well known opinion of Ahmad. They say that it is not possible that a reliable Taabi’ee would attribute something to the Prophet unless he heard it from a reliable source.
(c) Maqbool (acceptable), if supported by other factors [The opinion of ash-Shaafi’ee ..]
It is the ahaadeeth reported from the Companions, which they have not heard directly from the Prophet nor witnessed – due to their young age, late acceptance of Islam, or being absent from the Prophet.
It’s Ruling (Hukm): Saheeh Hujjah (authentic, proof), according to the majority of scholars – since a Sahaabee rarely narrates from other than another Sahaabee, and if they narrated from a Taabi’ee they would say so clearly; otherwise, the failure to mention the name of the Sahaabee whom he heard from is not detrimental since all of the Sahaabah are reliable trustworthy reporters.
Linguistically: Hanging, suspended
Technically: The (hadeeth) which has one or more consecutive narrators deleted from the beginning of it’s Isnaad (chain) [from the point of the collector, like al-Bukhaaree, etc.].
It’s Ruling (Hukm): Mardood (rejected), since it is missing one of the conditions of Qubool (acceptance), i.e. a connected chain of narrators (ittisaal as-sanad), due to the deletion of one or more narrators, whose condition (or reliability) is unknown.
Linguistically: Perplexing, weakened, disabled
Technically: The (hadeeth) which has two or more consecutive narrators deleted from it Isnaad (chain of narrators) – at any point of the chain, except the beginning (Mu’allaq) or the end (Mursal).
It’s Ruling (Hukm): Da’eef (weak). It is weaker than the Mursal and Munqati’- due to the increase in the number of missing narrators from the Isnaad.
Classification of Hadeeth According to the Number of Reporters at each Stage of the Chain
Linguistically: That which is consecutive, or comes in succession.
Technically: That which is reported by such a large number of people that it would be impossible – under normal conditions – to conspire to forge or fabricate it.
Its Conditions (Shuroot):
(a) That it be reported by a very large number of people (which is not agreed upon)
(b) That its large number of reporters is found in every level of the chain
(c) That under normal circumstances, it would be impossible to conspire to forge the report
(d) That its basis be derived from something known by the senses: sight, hearing, touching…
It’s Ruling (Hukm): al-Ilm ad-Darooree (Yaqeenee) Certain knowledge is derived from it, which a person is obligated to accept just as if he/she had actually witnessed it. There is no need to seek out the status of the chain of reporters.
Its Divisions (Aqsaam):
(a) al-Mutawaatir al-Lafzee (in the actual wording); the one whose wording and meaning are Mutawaatir,
(b) Al-Mutawaatir al-Ma’nawee (in the meaning only); like the hadeeth of raising the hands in supplication, punishment in the grave, the fountain of the Prophet on the Day of Resurrection, building a masjid for the sake of Allah…
Linguistically: It is the plural of one (ahad)
Technically: That which does not fulfill all the conditions of the Mutawaatir.
Its Ruling (Hukm) al-Ilm an-Nadharee Knowledge which requires investigation [to confirm its authenticity or its indications].
Linguistically: Well-known, famous
Technically: That which is reported by three or more people at every level in the chain, while not fulfilling the conditions for Mutawaatir.
Its Ruling (Hukm): Neither of the two types of Mash-hoor is necessarily described as Saheeh (authentic) or Da’eef (weak); it may be Saheeh, Hasan, Da’eef or even Mawdoo’
Linguistically: Rare or Strong
Technically: That which is reported by no less than two narrators at every level of the chain [even if it exceeds two at some of the levels in the chain of narrators]. An example of a Hadeeth Azeez: None of you is a believer (perfectly) until I am more beloved to him than his father, his child and all of mankind. [Bukhaaree, Muslim].
Its Ruling (Hukm): It is not necessarily described as Saheeh (authentic) or Da’eef (weak); it may be Saheeh, Hasan, Da’eef or even Mawdoo’
Linguistically: Single, Alone; or far from one’s relatives
Technically: That which has been reported by a single narrator at one or more levels of the chain of narrators. Another Name for the Ghareeb Hadeeth is al-Fard
Its Ruling (Hukm): It could be Saheeh or Da’eef, though more often than not, it is weak.
Classification of Hadeeth According to the Manner In Which the Hadeeth is Reported
Linguistically: It is derived from at-Tadlees, i.e.: hiding the defect of a product from the
Technically: Hiding the defect in the chain of narrators to improve its appearance.
(a) Tadlees al-Isnaad: It has a number of definitions from the earlier scholars, including:
–The narrator reports from his teacher [whom he has heard some hadeeth from]
other hadeeth which he has not heard directly from his teacher;
but he has actually heard it through a third party –
and he uses an expression (such as Qaala: he said or ‘An: from)
which gives the impression – without actually saying it –
that he has heard it directly from his teacher.
–The narrator reports from a contemporary scholar [whom he may or may not have met]
Hadeeth which he did not hear from him,
Using an expression (such as Qaala: he said or ‘An: from so-and- so)
Giving the impression – without actually saying it –
That he has actually heard it directly from that contemporary scholar.
[Some scholars view this second definition as al-Mursal al-Khafee]
Tadlees at-Tasweeyah: It is a sub-type, of Tadlees al-Isnaad.
It is when a narrator reports a hadeeth from a weak reporter – who is the link in the chain between two reliable reporters, and both of the reliable reporters have met each other [leaving open the possibility of one of them narrating from the other]. Here, the first narrator deletes the weak reporter – who is in between the two reliable ones – and reports the hadeeth as though one of the reliable reporters heard it directly from other, which gives the appearance that the chain of narrators is Saheeh. While in fact, the reliable reporter heard it from a weak reporter, who in turn heard it from a reliable reporter. Therefore, the chain would be considered Da’eef.
(b) Tadlees ash-Shuyookh
This is when a narrator reports a hadeeth which he has actually heard from his teacher, then mentions his teacher with a name, Kunyah, title, description which he is not well known by, in order to hide his true identity.
The Ruling (Hukm) Concerning the Reports from those who practiced at-Tadlees:
First Opinion: All of their narrations are rejected, even if they make it clear that they heard that particular hadeeth from the teacher whom they are reporting from.
Second Opinion: There should be a distinction made between the reports or narrations that the Mudallis makes clear that he has heard it from his teacher [to be accepted]; and those for which he uses expressions that do not make it clear [to be rejected]. This is the correct opinion.
Classification of Hadeeth According to the Nature of the Text and Isnaad
Shaadhdh [see also Mah-fooz]
Linguistically: it means infiraad: the odd one in the group
Technically: That which is narrated by a reliable (maq-bool) narrator, in contradiction to what is narrated by those who are more reliable than him.
Its Ruling (Hukm): It is classified as a weak hadeeth – rejected.
Its opposite is Mahfooz (the preserved or correctly memorized narration), that which is narrated by a more reliable narrator in contradiction to a less reliable narrator.
Munkar [see also Ma’roof]
Linguistically: That which is rejected or repudiated, as opposed to that which is accepted.
Technically: It has been defined in a number of ways. The following are two:
(a) The hadeeth whose chain of narrators contains a narrator who makes serious mistakes (Fah-sha al-Ghalat), innumerable instances of unmindfulness (Kath-ratu al-Ghaf-lah), or openly displays evil or immoral behavior (Zuhoor al-Fisq).
(b) The hadeeth which is reported by a weak (da’eef) narrator – in contradiction to that which is reported by a reliable narrator (thiqah).
Its Ruling (Hukm): It is classified as a very weak hadeeth (da’eef jiddan) – rejected.
Its opposite is Ma’roof (the approved or accepted narration), that which is narrated by a reliable (thiqah) narrator in contradiction to what is narrated by a weak (da’eef) narrator.
Linguistically: that which has been entered into something else and joined to it.
Technically: That isnaad (chain of narrators) whose order has been changed; or the matn (text) which has had something added to it – which is not part of it – without any indication of separation.
Its Ruling (Hukm): It is forbidden to do it (Idraaj), except in the case of explaining a word as az-Zuhri used to do.
Classification of Hadeeth According to a Hidden Defect in the Isnaad or Text of a Hadeeth
Linguistically: it is derived from id-tiraab: disturbance (of a system), disorder, confusion; shaking.
Technically: That which has been reported in (a) contradictory narrations [which do not allow for reconciliation], while each narration is (b) of equal strength [such that no one of them can be given preference over the other(s)]. Both of these factors must be present for a hadeeth to be considered Mud-tarib.
Linguistically: reversed, turned upside down
Technically: Exchanging an expression for another in the isnaad or matn, by advancing or putting back.
Classification of Hadeeth According to the Reliability and Memory of the Reporters
Linguistically: The opposite of sick/defective: Healthy, Sound.
Technically: That which has been reported with (1) a connected chain of narrators (Ittisaal as-sanad); through narrators – from the beginning of the chain until the end – who are known to be (2) trustworthy/of good character (‘Adl) and (3) accurate/precise memory (Daabit); being free of (4) contradicting those who are more reliable (Shaadhdh); and free of any (5) hidden defect (‘Illah Qaadihah) which affects the authenticity of the hadeeth – though it appears to be free of any defect.
Its Ruling: It is Obligatory to act upon it according to the consensus of the scholars …
Linguistically: Good, handsome, beautiful.
Technically: That which fulfills the five (5) conditions of a Saheeh Hadeeth, i.e.:(1) Ittisaal as-sanad; (2) ‘Adl and (3) Daabit; not being (4) Shaadhdh; nor having any (5) ‘Illah Qaadihah - except that the accuracy/precision of one or more of its narrators is of a lesser standard than the narrators of a Saheeh Hadeeth.
Its Ruling: It is the same as for the Saheeh, except that it is less than the Saheeh in strength.
The Sub-divisions of Saheeh and Hasan As-Saheeh li-Ghairi-hi (Raised up to Saheeh, due to support from other narrations) This is a hadeeth which is Hasan on its own merit, and then is reported by another chain of narrators similar to it in strength – or stronger – which supports it and raises it to the level of Saheeh.
Its Ruling It may be used as a proof in religious matters.
Al-Hasan li-Ghairi-hi (Raised up to Hasan, due to support from other narrations)
This is a hadeeth which is originally Da’eef, but due to other chains of narrators reporting the same matn (text) literally or in meaning – it is strengthened and considered Hasan li-Ghairi-hi.
Its Ruling It may be used as a proof in religious matters.
Linguistically: Opposite of the strong: Weak
Technically: That which does not fulfill the conditions of the Saheeh nor the Hasan hadeeth – due to the absence of one or more of its conditions. And just as there are levels of the Saheeh, there are levels of the weak – the weaker the narrators, the weaker it becomes, ranging through: Da’eef (Weak), Da’eef Jiddan (Very Weak), Waahee (Baseless) Munkar (Weak and contradicting something more authentic), and Mawdoo’ (Fabricated), the worst of the rejected reports.
Its Ruling: Some of the great scholars, amongst them Imaams al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, Ibn Ma’een and Ibn Hazm, hold that the weak hadeeth is rejected outright and not to be acted upon as it is not knowledge.
–Others hold that it may be acted upon if conditions are met – and then only with regards to encouragement for doing good or avoiding evil. The conditions, as explained by Ibn Hajr are:
(a) That its weakness is not severe
(b) That it falls under something general already established in the Sharee’ah, and
(c) That it is not considered to be something established or as having come from the Prophet
Classification of Hadeeth According to the Reliability and Memory of the Reporters (cont’d)
Linguistically: That which is put down. It is named as such due to its lowly status.
Technically: It is Kadhib (a lie), Mukh-talaq (invented), Mas-noo’ (manufactured) which is then attributed to the Prophet.
Its Ruling: Scholars have agreed that it is not permissible to narrate it except that it is accompanied with clear mention of it being a fabrication. This is due to the hadeeth reported by Muslim in the introduction to his book (Saheeh Muslim): Whoever narrates from me that which he thinks (knows) that it may be a lie, then he is one of the two liars [one has fabricated it, and the other passes it on to others].
How is the Fabricated Hadeeth Known?
(a) Al-Iqraar: Confession
(b) That which is equivalent to a confession:
(c) Qareenah fi ar-Raawee: An indication in the Narrator
(d) Qareenah fi al-Marwee: An indication in the narration.
Reasons For Fabrication and the Types of People Who Did It
(a) Seeking Nearness to Allah (at-Taqarrub ila Allah) [and His Reward].
(b) To Support their Madh-hab (al-Intisaar lil-Madh-hab)(School of Thought).
(c) To Disgrace/Attack Islaam (at-Ta’an fi al-Islaam).
(d) Seeking to Flatter/Earn the Favor of the Rulers (at-Tazalluf ila al-Hukkaam).
(e) Seeking to Earn a Living (at-Takassub wa Talab ar-Rizq) (Livelihood).
(f) Seeking Fame, Notoriety (Qasd ash-Shuh-rah).