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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.
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