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Hadith: Things You Should Know – 3

بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم

InshaAllah today we’ll discuss a little about the “Classification of Hadith”.

As time passed, more reporters were involved in each isnad, and so the situation demanded strict discipline in the acceptance of Ahadith; the rules regulating this discipline are known as Mustalah al-Hadith (the Classification of Hadith).

One of the earliest writings to attempt to cover Mustalah comprehensively, using standard (i.e. generally-accepted) terminology, was the work by Al-Ramahurmuzi (d. 360).

Before proceeding towards the classification we should know about some basic component of Hadith which can be shown by simple flow chart:

Mustalah al-Hadith (Classification of Hadith)

Mustalah books speak of a number of classes of Hadith in accordance with their status. The following broad classifications can be made, each of which is explained in the later sections:

  • According to the reference to a particular authority,

e.g. the Prophetﷺ, a Companion, or a Successor; such Ahadith are called Marfu’ (elevated), Mauquf (stopped) and Maqtu’ (severed) respectively .

  • According to the links in the Isnad, i.e. whether the chain of reporters is interrupted or uninterrupted,

e.g. Musnad (supported), Muttasil (continuous), Munqati’ (broken), Mu’allaq (hanging), Mu’dal (perplexing) and Mursal (hurried).

  • According to the number of reporters involved in each stage of the Isnad,

e.g. Mutawatir (consecutive) and Ahad (isolated), the latter being divided into Gharib (scarce, strange), ‘Aziz (rare, strong), and Mashhur (famous).

  • According to the manner in which the Hadith has been reported, such as using the (Arabic) words ‘an (“on the authority of”), Haddathana (“he narrated to us”), Akhbarana (- “he informed us”) or sami’tu (“I heard”).
  • According to the nature of the Matn and Isnad,

e.g. an addition by a reliable reporter, known as Ziyadatu Thiqah, or opposition by a lesser authority to a more reliable one, known as Shadhdh (irregular).

  • According to a hidden defect found in the Isnad or text of a Hadith. Although this could be included in some of the previous categories, a hadith mu’allal (defective hadith) is worthy to be explained separately. The defect can be caused in many ways; e.g. two types of hadith mu’allal are known as maqlub (overturned) and mudtarib (shaky).
  • According to the reliability and memory of the reporters; the final judgment on a Hadith depends crucially on this factor: verdicts such as Sahih (sound), Hasan (good), Da’if (weak) and Maudu‘ (fabricated, forged) rest mainly upon the nature of the reporters in the isnad.

Hadith: Things You Should Know – 2

بسم اللہ الرحمن الرحیم

Parts Of Hadith (حدیث):

A Hadith is composed of two parts:

  • The Matan متن (text)
  • The Isnad اسناد (chain of reporters)

A Text or Matan is the saying of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Sanad is the chain ofreliable reporters to be acceptable.

‘Abdullah b. al-Mubarak, one of the illustrious teachers of Imam al-Bukhari, said:

“The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked.”

During the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and after His death, His Companions (Sahabah) used to refer to him directly, when quoting his sayings. The Successors (Tabi’un) followed suit; some of them used to quote the Prophet ﷺ through the Companions while others would omit the intermediate authority – such a hadith was later known as mursal. It was found that the missing link between the successor and Prophet Muhammdﷺ might be one person, i.e. a Companion, or two people, the extra person being an older successor who heard the Hadith from the Companion. This is an example of how the need for the verification of each isnad arose. Imam Malik said:

“The first one to utilise the isnad was Ibn Shihab al- Zuhri”

The other more important reason was the deliberate fabrication of Ahadith by various sects which appeared amongst the Muslims, in order to support their views. Ibn Sirin, a successor, said: “They would not ask about the isnad. But when the fitnah (trouble, turmoil, esp. civil war) happened, they said: “name to us your men”. So the narrations of the Ahl al-Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah) would be accepted, while those of the Ahl al-Bid’ah (Adherents to Innovation) would not be accepted.”

Let me explain by giving an example for better understanding.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Musa said (told us) Hanadzlah ibn Abi Sufyan from Ikrimah bin Khalid from Ibn ‘Umar , may Allah be pleased with them said:

Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca). To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

The blue part in above Hadith is the isnad, and the green part is the matn.

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