Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith
- Suhayb Hasan
- 1. Foreward
- 2. Section A: Introduction
- 3. Section B: The Classification of Hadith
- 3.1. According to the Reference to a Particular Authority
- 3.2. According to the Links in the Isnad
- 3.3. According to the Number of Reporters in Each Stage of the Isnad
- 3.4. According to the Manner in which the Hadith is Reported
- 3.5. According to the Nature of the Text and Isnad
- 3.6. According to a Hidden Defect Found in the Isnad or Text of a Hadith
- 3.7. According to the Reliability and Memory of the Reporters
- 4. Section C: Further Branches of Mustalah and Rijal al-Hadith
- 5. APPENDIX: Verdicts on the Ahadith Mentioned in the Foreword
All Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, and on his family and companions.
"We have undoubtedly sent down the Reminder, and We will truly preserve it."
The above promise made by Allah is obviously fulfilled in the undisputed purity of the Qur'anic text throughout the fourteen centuries since its revelation. However, what is often forgotten by many Muslims is that the above divine promise also includes, by necessity, the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), for it is the practical example of the implementation of the Qur'anic guidance, the Wisdom taught to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) along with the Scripture, and neither the Qur'an nor the Sunnah can be understood correctly without recourse to the other.
Hence, Allah preserved the Qur'an from being initially lost by the martyrdom of its memorisers, by guiding the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, endorsed by the consensus of the Messenger's Companions (may Allah bless him and grant him peace and may He be pleased with them), to compile the ayat (signs, miracles, 'verses') of the Qur'an into one volume, after these had been scattered in writing on various materials and in memory amongst many faithful hearts. He safeguarded it from corruption by its enemies: disbelievers, heretics, and false prophets, by enabling millions of believers to commit it to memory with ease. He protected its teachings by causing thousands of people of knowledge to learn from its deep treasures and convey them to the masses, and by sending renewers of His Din at the beginning of every century.
Similarly, Allah preserved the Sunnah by enabling the Companions and those after them (may Allah be pleased with them) to memorise, write down and pass on the statements of the Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the descriptions of his Way, as well as to continue the blessings of practising the Sunnah. Later, as the purity of the knowledge of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah caused the Muslim nation to produce outstanding individuals of incredible memory-skills and analytical expertise, who journeyed tirelessly to collect hundreds of thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of precious wisdom of their Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) from those corrupted by weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of the enormous number of ulama, the Companions and those who followed their way, who had taught in various centres of learning and helped to transmit the legacy of Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) - all of this achieved through precise attention to the words narrated and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of Hadith. Action being the best way to preserve teachings, the renewers of Islam also revived the practice of the blessed authentic Sunnah.
Unfortunately however, statements will continue to be attributed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) although the person quoting them may have no idea what the people of knowledge of Hadith have ruled regarding those ahadith, thus ironically being in danger of contravening the Prophet's widely-narrated stern warnings about attributing incorrect/unsound statements to him. For example, here are some very commonly-quoted ahadith, which actually vary tremendously in their degree of authenticity from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace):
- "Surah al-Ikhlas is worth a third of the Qur'an."
- The hadith about the Ninety-Name Names of Allah.
- Allah says, "I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognised Me."
- Allah says, "Were it not for you (O Muhammad), I would not have created the universe."
- When Allah completed creation, He wrote in a Book (which is) with Him, above His Throne, "Verily, My Mercy will prevail over My Wrath."
- Allah says, "Neither My heaven nor My earth can contain Me, but the heart of My believing slave can contain Me."
- "He who knows himself, knows his Lord."
- "Where is Allah?"
- "Love of one's homeland is part of Faith."
- "I have left amongst you two things which, if you hold fast to them, you will never stray: the Book of Allah, and my Sunnah."
- "I have left among you that which if you abide by, you will never go astray: the Book of Allah, and my Family, the Members of my House."
- The hadith giving ten Companions, by name, the good tidings of Paradise.
- "If the iman (faith) of Abu Bakr was weighed against the iman of all the people of the earth, the former would outweigh the latter."
- "I am the City of Knowledge, and 'Ali is its Gate."
- "My companions are like the stars: whichever of them you follow, you will be guided."
- "The differing amongst my 'Ummah is a mercy."
- "My 'Ummah will split up into seventy-three sects: seventy-two will be in the Fire, and one in the Garden."
- Prophecies about the coming of the Mahdi (the guided one), Dajjal (the False Christ, the Anti-Christ) and the return of Jesus Christ son of Mary.
- Description of punishment and bliss in the grave, for the wicked and pious people respectively.
- Intercession by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and the believers seeing Allah, on the Day of Judgment.
- "Paradise is under the feet of mothers."
- "Paradise is under the shade of swords."
- "Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim."
- "Seek knowledge, even if you have to go to China."
- "The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr."
- "We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the greater Jihad (i.e. the struggle against the evil of one's soul)."
The methodology of the expert scholars of Hadith in assessing such narrations and sorting out the genuine from the mistaken/fabricated etc., forms the subject-matter of a wealth of material left to us by the muhaddithun (scholars of Hadith, 'traditionists'). This short treatise is a humble effort to introduce this extremely wide subject to English readers. The author has derived great benefit from the outstanding scholarly work in this field, Muqaddimah Ibn As-Salah.
A brief explanation of the verdicts from the experts in this field on the above ahadith is given in the Appendix.
We ask Allah to accept this work, and make it beneficial to its readers.
Section A: Introduction
The Muslims are agreed that the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the second of the two revealed fundamental sources of Islam, after the Glorious Qur'an. The authentic Sunnah is contained within the vast body of Hadith literature.1
A hadith (pl. ahadith) is composed of two parts: the matn (text) and the isnad (chain of reporters). A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic isnad with reliable reporters to be acceptable; 'Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181H), 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."2
During the lifetime of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) 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 (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) 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 the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) 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 (d. 179H) said, "The first one to utilise the isnad was Ibn Shihab az-Zuhri (d. 124H)."3 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 (see later, under discussion of maudu' ahadith). Ibn Sirin (d. 110H), 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 Ahlus-Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah) would be accepted, while those of the Ahlul-Bid'ah (Adherents to Innovation) would not be accepted."4
A Brief History of Mustalah al-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).
Amongst the early traditionists (muhaddithin, scholars of Hadith), the rules and criteria governing their study of Hadith were meticulous but some of their terminology varied from person to person, and their principles began to be systematically written down, but scattered amongst various books, e.g. in Ar-Risalah of ash-Shafi'i (d. 204H), the introduction to the Sahih of Muslim (d. 261H) and the Jami' of at-Tirmidhi (d. 279H); many of the criteria of early traditionists, e.g. al-Bukhari, were deduced by later scholars from a careful study of which reporters or isnad were accepted and rejected by them.
One of the earliest writings to attempt to cover Mustalah comprehensively, using standard (i.e. generally-accepted) terminology, was the work by ar-Ramahurmuzi (d. 360H). The next major contribution was Ma'rifah 'Ulum al-Hadith by al-Hakim (d. 405H), which covered fifty classifications of Hadith, but still left some points untouched; Abu Nu'aym al-Isbahani (d. 430H) completed some of the missing parts to this work. After that came Al-Kifayah fi 'Ilm ar-Riwayah of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463H) and another work on the manner of teaching and studying Hadith; later scholars were considered to be greatly indebted to al-Khatib's work.
After further contributions by Qadhi 'Iyad al-Yahsubi (d. 544H) and Abu Hafs al-Mayanji (d.580H) among others, came the work which, although modest in size, was so comprehensive in its excellent treatment of the subject that it came to be the standard reference for thousands of scholars and students of Hadith to come, over many centuries until the present day: 'Ulum al-Hadith of Abu 'Amr 'Uthman ibn As-Salah (d. 643H), commonly known as Muqaddimah Ibn As-Salah, compiled while he taught in the Dar al-Hadith of several cities in Syria. Some of the numerous later works based on that of Ibn As-Salah are:
- An abridgement of Muqaddimah, Al-Irshad by an-Nawawi (d. 676H), which he later summarised in his Taqrib; As-Suyuti (d. 911H) compiled a valuable commentary on the latter entitled Tadrib ar-Rawi.
- Ikhtisar 'Ulum al-Hadith of Ibn Kathir (d. 774H), Al-Khulasah of at-Tibi (d. 743H), Al-Minhal of Badr ad-Din ibn Jama'ah (d. 733H), Al-Muqni' of Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 802H) and Mahasin al-Istilah of al-Balqini (d. 805H), all of which are abridgements of Muqaddimah Ibn As-Salah.
- An-Nukat of az-Zarkashi (d. 794H), At-Taqyid wa'l-Idah of al-'Iraqi (d. 806H) and An-Nukat of Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani (d. 852H), all of which are further notes on the points made by Ibn As-Salah.
- Alfiyyah al-Hadith of al-'Iraqi, a rewriting of Muqaddimah in the form of a lengthy poem, which became the subject of several commentaries, including two (one long, one short) by the author himself, Fath al-Mughith of as-Sakhawi (d. 903H), Qatar al-Durar of as-Suyuti and Fath al-Baqi of Shaykh Zakariyyah al-Ansari (d. 928H).
Other notable treatises on Mustalah include:
- Al-Iqtirah of Ibn Daqiq al-'Id (d. 702H).
- Tanqih al-Anzar of Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Wazir (d. 840H), the subject of a commentary by al-Amir as-San'ani (d. 1182H). Nukhbah al-Fikr of Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, again the subject of several commentaries, including one by the author himself, one by his son Muhammad, and those of 'Ali al-Qari (d. 1014H), 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Munawi (d. 1031H) and Muhammad ibn 'Abdul-Hadi as-Sindi (d. 1138H).
- Among those who rephrased the Nukhbah in poetic form are at-Tufi (d. 893H) and al-Amir as-San'ani. Alfiyyah al-Hadith of as-Suyuti, the most comprehensive poetic work in the field.
- Al-Manzumah of al-Bayquni, which was expanded upon by, amongst others, az-Zurqani (d. 1122H) and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (d. 1307H).
- Qawa'id at-Tahdith of Jamal ad-Din al-Qasimi (d. 1332H).
- Tawjih an-Nazar of Tahir al-Jaza'iry (d. 1338H), a summary of al-Hakim's Ma'rifah.
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 Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), a Companion, or a Successor; such ahadith are called marfu' (elevated), mawquf (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 words 'an ("on the authority of"), haddathana ("he narrated to us"), akhbarana ("he informed us") or sami'tu ("I heard"). In this category falls the discussion about mudallas (concealed) and musalsal (uniformly-linked) ahadith.
[Note: In the quotation of isnad in the remainder of this book, the first mode of narration mentioned above will be represented with a single broken line thus: --. The three remaining modes of narration mentioned above, which all strongly indicate a clear, direct transmission of the hadith, are represented by a double line thus: ===]
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 reliableone, known as shadhdh (irregular). In some cases, a text containing a vulgar expression, unreasonable remark or obviously-erroneous statement is rejected by the traditionists outright without consideration of the isnad: such a hadith is known as munkar (denounced). If an expression or statement is proved to be an addition by a reporter to the text, it is declared as mudraj (interpolated).
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.
Mustalah al-Hadith is strongly associated with Rijal al-Hadith (the study of the reporters of hadith). In scrutinising the reporters of a hadith, authenticating or disparaging remarks made by recognised experts, from amongst the Successors and those after them, were found to be of great help. Examples of such remarks, in descending order of authentication, are:
- "Imam (leader), Hafidh (preserver)."
- "Reliable, trustworthy."
- "Makes mistakes."
- "Abandoned (by the traditionists)."
- "Liar, used to fabricate ahadith."5
Reporters who have been unanimously described by statements such as the first two may contribute to a sahih ("sound", see later) isnad. An isnad containing a reporter who is described by the last two statements is likely to be da'if jiddan (very weak) or maudu' (fabricated). Reporters who are the subject of statements such as the middle two above will cause the isnad to be da'if (weak), although several of them relating the same hadith independently will often increase the rank of the hadith to the level of hasan (good). If the remarks about a particular reporter conflict, a careful verdict has to be arrived at after in-depth analysis of e.g. the reason given for any disparagement, the weight of each type of criticism, the relative strictness or leniency of each critic, etc.
The earliest remarks cited in the books of Rijal go back to a host of Successors, followed by those after them until the period of the six canonical traditionists, a period covering the first three centuries of Islam. A list of such names is provided by the author in his thesis, Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with Reference to Sunan Ibn Majah, at the end of chapters IV, V and VI.
Among the earliest available works in this field are Tarikh of Ibn Ma'in (d. 233H), Tabaqat of Khalifah ibn Khayyat (d. 240H), Tarikh of al-Bukhari (d. 256H), Kitab al-Jarh wa't-Ta'dil of Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327H) and Tabaqat of Muhammad ibn Sa'd (d. 320H).
A number of traditionists made efforts specifically for the gathering of information about the reporters of the five famous collections of hadith, those of al-Bukhari (d. 256H), Muslim (d. 261H), Abu Da'wud (d. 275H), at-Tirmidhi (d. 279H) and an-Nasa'i (d. 303H), giving authenticating and disparaging remarks in detail. The first major such work to include also the reporters of Ibn Majah (d. 273H) is the ten-volume collection of al-Hafiz 'Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi (d. 600H), known as Al-Kamal fi Asma' ar-Rijal. Later, Jamal ad-Din Abu'l-Hajjaj Yusuf ibn 'Abdur-Rahman al-Mizzi (d. 742H) prepared an edited and abridged version of this work, punctuated by places and countries of origin of the reporters; he named it Tahdhib al- Kamal fi Asma' ar-Rijal and produced it in twelve volumes. Further, one of al-Mizzi's gifted pupils, Shams ad-Din Abu 'Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn 'Uthman ibn Qa'imaz adh-Dhahabi (d. 748H), summarised his Shaykh's work and produced two abridgements: a longer one called Tadhhib at-Tahdhib and a shorter one called Al-Kashif fi Asma' Rijal al-Kutub as-Sittah.
A similar effort with the work of al-Mizzi was made by Ibn Hajr (d. 852H), who prepared a lengthy but abridged version, with about one-third of the original omitted, entitled Tahdhib at-Tahdhib in twelve shorter volumes. Later, he abridged this further to a relatively-humble two-volume work called Taqrib at-Tahdhib.
The work of adh-Dhahabi was not left unedited; al- Khazraji (Safi ad-Din Ahmad ibn 'Abdullah, d. after 923H) summarised it and also made valuable additions, producing his Khulasah.
A number of similar works deal with either trustworthy reporters only, e.g. Kitab ath-Thiqat by al-'Ijli (d. 261H) and Tadhkirah al-Huffaz by adh-Dhahabi, or with disparaged authorities only, e.g. Kitab ad-Du'afa' wal-Matrukin by an-Nasa'i and Kitab al-Majruhin by Muhammad ibn Hibban al-Busti (d. 354H).
Two more works in this field which include a large number of reporters, both authenticated and disparaged, are Mizan al-I'tidal of adh-Dhahabi and Lisan al-Mizan.
Section B: The Classification of Hadith
According to the Reference to a Particular Authority
The following principal types of hadith are important:
Marfu' - "elevated": A narration from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), e.g. a reporter (whether a Companion, Successor or other) says, "The Messenger of Allah said ..." For example, the very first hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari is as follows: Al-Bukhari === Al-Humaydi 'Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr === Sufyan === Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Ansari === Muhammad ibn Ibrahim at-Taymi === 'Alqamah ibn Waqqas al-Laythi, who said: I heard 'Umar ibn al- Khattab saying, while on the pulpit, "I heard Allah's Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying: 'The reward of deeds depends on the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended; so whoever emigrated for wordly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he migrated.' "
Mawquf - "stopped": A narration from a Companion only, i.e. his own statement; e.g. al-Bukhari reports in his Sahih, in Kitab al-Fara'id (Book of the Laws of Inheritance), that Abu Bakr, Ibn 'Abbas and Ibn az-Zubair said, "The grandfather is (treated like) a father."
It should be noted that certain expressions used by a Companion generally render a hadith to be considered as being effectively marfu' although it is mauquf on the face of it, e.g. the following:
"We were commanded to ..."
"We were forbidden from ..."
"We used to do ..."
"We used to say/do ... while the Messenger of Allah was amongst us."
"We did not use to mind such-and-such..."
"It used to be said ..."
"It is from the Sunnah to ..."
"It was revealed in the following circumstances: ...", speaking about a verse of the Qur'an.
Maqtu' - "severed": A narration from a Successor, e.g. Muslim reports in the introduction to his Sahih that Ibn Sirin (d. 110H) said, "This knowledge (i.e. hadith) is the Religion, so be careful from whom you take your religion."
The authenticity of each of the above three types of hadith depends on other factors such as the reliability of its reporters, the nature of the linkage amongst them, etc. However, the above classification is extremely useful, since through it the sayings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) can be distinguished at once from those of Companions or Successors; this is especially helpful in debate about matters of fiqh.
Imam Malik's Al-Muwatta', one of the early collections of hadith, contains a relatively even ratio of these types of hadith, as well as mursal ahadith (which are discussed later). According to Abu Bakr al-Abhari (d. 375H), Al-Muwatta' contains the following:
600 marfu' ahadith, 613 mawquf ahadith, 285 maqtu' ahadith, and 228 mursal ahadith; a total of 1726 ahadith.6
Among other collections, relatively more mawquf and maqtu' ahadith are found in Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah (d. 235H), Al-Musannaf of 'Abdur-Razzaq (d. 211H) and the tafasir of Ibn Jarir (d. 310H), Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327H) and Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 319H).7
According to the Links in the Isnad
Musnad - Al-Hakim defines a musnad ("supported") hadith as follows:
"A hadith which a traditionist reports from his shaykh from whom he is known to have heard (ahadith) at a time of life suitable for learning, and similarly in turn for each shaykh, until the isnad reaches a well-known Companion, who in turn reports from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)." 8
By this definition, an ordinary muttasil hadith (i.e. one with an uninterrupted isnad) is excluded if it goes back only to a Companion or Successor, as is a marfu' hadith which has an interrupted isnad.
Al-Hakim gives the following example of a musnad hadith: We reported from Abu 'Amr 'Uthman ibn Ahmad as-Sammak al-Baghdadi === Al-Hasan ibn Mukarram === 'Uthman ibn 'Amr === Yunus --- az-Zuhri ---'Abdullah ibn Ka'b ibn Malik --- his father, who asked Ibn Abi Hadrad for payment of a debt he owed to him, in the mosque. During the ensuing argument, their voices were raised until heard by the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who eventually lifted the curtain of his apartment and said, "O Ka'b! Write off a part of your debt" - he meant remission of half of it. So he agreed, and the man paid him.
He then remarks, "Now, my hearing from Ibn as-Simak is well-known, as is his from Ibn Mukarram; al-Hasan's link with 'Uthman ibn 'Amr and the latter's with Yunus ibn Zayd are known as well; Yunus is always remembered with az-Zuhri, and the latter with the sons of Ka'b ibn Malik, whose link to their father and his companionship of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) are well-established." 9
The term musnad is also applied to those collections of ahadith which give the ahadith of each Companion separately. Among the early compilers of such a Musnad were Yahya ibn 'Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (d. 228H) at Kufah and Musaddad ibn Musarhad (d. 228H) at Basrah. The largest existing collection of ahadith of Companions arranged in this manner is that of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241H), which contains around thirty thousand ahadith. Another larger work is attributed to the famous Andalusian traditionist Baqi ibn Makhlad al-Qurtubi (d. 276H), but unfortunately it is now untraceable.
Mursal, Munqati', Mu'dal, & Mu'allaq - If the link between the Successor and the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is missing, the hadith is mursal ("hurried"), e.g. when a Successor says, "The Prophet said ...".
However, if a link anywhere before the Successor (i.e. closer to the traditionist recording the hadith) is missing, the hadith is munqati' ("broken"). This applies even if there is an apparent link, e.g. an isnad seems to be muttasil ("continuous") but one of the reporters is known to have never heard ahadith from his immediate authority, even though he may be his contemporary. The term munqati' is also applied by some scholars to a narration such as where a reporter says, "a man narrated to me ...", without naming this authority.10
If the number of consecutive missing reporters in the isnad exceeds one, the isnad is mu'dal ("perplexing"). If the reporter omits the whole isnad and quotes the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, directly (i.e. the link is missing at the beginning, unlike the case with a mursal isnad), the hadith is called mu'allaq ("hanging") - sometimes it is known as balaghah ("to reach"); for example, Imam Malik sometimes says in Al-Muwatta', "It reached me that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said ..."
Example of a munqati' hadith
Al-Hakim reported from Muhammad b. Mus'ab === al-Awza'i --- Shaddad Abu 'Ammar --- 'Umm al-Fadl bint al-Harith, who said: "I came to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said, 'I have seen in a vision last night as if a part of your body was cut out and placed in my lap.' He said, "You have seen something good. Allah Willing, Fatimah will give birth to a lad who will be in your lap." After that, Fatimah gave birth to al-Husayn, who used to be in my lap, in accordance with the statement of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). One day, I came to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and placed al- Husayn in his lap. I noticed that both his eyes were shedding tears. He said, 'Jibril came to me and told me that my 'Ummah will kill this son of mine, and he brought me some of the reddish dust of that place (where he will be killed).' "
Al-Hakim said, "This is a sahih hadith according to the conditions of the two shaykhs (i.e. Bukhari & Muslim), but they did not collect it." Adh-Dhahabi says, "No, the hadith is munqati' and da'if, because Shaddad never met 'Umm al-Fadl and Muhammad ibn Mus'ab is weak."11
Example of a mu'dal hadith
Ibn Abi Hatim === Ja'far ibn Ahmad ibn al-Hakam al-Qurayshi in the year 254H === Sulayman ibn Mansur ibn 'Ammar === 'Ali ibn 'Asim --- Sa'id --- Qatadah --- Ubayy ibn Ka'b, who reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "After Adam had tasted from the tree, he ran away, but the tree caught his hair. It was proclaimed: 'O Adam! Are you running away from Me?' He said: 'No, but I feel ashamed before You.' He said: 'O Adam! Go away from My neighbourhood, for By My Honour, no-one who disobeys Me can live here near Me; even if I were to create people like you numbering enough to fill the earth and they were to disobey Me, I would make them live in a home of sinners.' "
Ibn Kathir remarks, "This is a gharib hadith. There is inqita', in fact i'dal, between Qatadah and Ubayy ibn Ka'b, may Allah be pleased with them both."12
Authenticity of the Mursal Hadith
There has been a great deal of discussion amongst the scholars regarding the authenticity of the Mursal Hadith (pl. Marasil), since it is quite probable that a Successor might have omitted two names, those of an elder Successor and a Companion, rather than just one name, that of a Companion.
If the Successor is known to have omitted the name of a Companion only, then the hadith is held to be authentic, for a Successor can only report from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through a Companion; the omission of the name of the Companion does not affect the authenticity of the isnad since all Companions are held to be trustworthy and reliable, by both Qur'anic injunctions and sayings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
However, opinions vary in the case where the Successor might have omitted the names of two authorities (since not all the Successors were reliable in matters of Hadith). For example, two widely-differing positions on this issue are:
(i) the Marasil of elder Successors such as Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab (d. 94H) and 'Ata' ibn Abi Rabah (d. 114H) are acceptable because all their Marasil, after investigation, are found to come through the Companions only. However, the Marasil of younger Successors are only acceptable if the names of their immedeiate authorities are known through other sources; if not, they are rejected outright.
(ii) the Marasil of Successors and those who report from them are acceptable without any investigation at all. This opinion is supported by the Kufi school of traditionists, but is severely attacked by the majority.
To be precise in this issue, let us investigate in detail the various opinions regarding the Mursal Hadith:
- The opinion held by Imam Malik and all Maliki jurists is that the Mursal of a trustworthy person is valid as proof and as justification for a practice, just like a musnad hadith.13 This view has been developed to such an extreme that to some of them, the mursal is even better than the musnad, based on the following reasoning: "The one who reports a musnad hadith leaves you with the names of the reporters for further investigation and scrutiny, whereas the one who narrates by way of Irsal, being a knowledgeable and trustworthy person himself, has already done so and found the hadith to be sound. In fact, he saves you from further research."14
- Imam Abu Hanifah (d. 150H) holds the same opinion as Malik; he accepts the Mursal Hadith whether or not it is supported by another hadith.15
- Imam ash-Shafi'i (d. 204H) has discussed this issue in detail in his ar-Risalah; he requires the following conditions to be met before accepting a mursal hadith:
(i) In the narrative, he requires that one of the following conditions be met: that it be reported also as musnad through another isnad; that its contents be reported as mursal through another reliable source with a different isnad; that the meaning be supported by the sayings of some Companions; or that most scholars hold the same opinion as conveyed by the mursal hadith.
(ii) Regarding the narrator, he requires that one of the following conditions be met: that he be an elder Successor; that if he names the person missing in the isnad elsewhere, he does not usually name an unknown person or someone not suitable for reporting from acceptably; or that he does not contradict a reliable person when he happens to share with him in a narration.16
On the basis of these arguments, ash-Shafi'i accepts the Irsal of Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab, one of the elder Successors. For example, ash- Shafi'i considers the issue of selling meat in exchange for a living animal: he says that Malik told him, reporting from Zayd ibn Aslam, who reported from Ibn al-Musayyab that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade the selling of meat in exchange for an animal. He then says, "This is our opinion, for the Irsal of Ibn al-Musayyib is fine."17
- Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241H) accepts mursal and (other) da'if (weak) ahadith if nothing opposing them is found regarding a particular issue, preferring them to qiyas (analogical deduction). By da'if here is meant ahadith which are not severely weak, e.g. batil, munkar, or mawdu', since Imam Ahmad classified ahadith into sahih and da'if rather than into sahih, hasan and da'if, the preference of most later traditionists. Hence, the category da'if in his view applied to ahadith which were relatively close to being sahih, and included many ahadith which were classed as hasan by other scholars.18 Overlooking this fact has caused misunderstanding about Imam Ahmad's view on the place of da'if ahadith in rulings of Fiqh and in matters of Fada'il al-A'mal (virtues of various acts of worship).
- Ibn Hazm (d. 456H) rejects the Mursal Hadith outright; he says that the Mursal is unacceptable, whether it comes through Sa'id ibn al-Musayyib or al-Hasan al-Basri. To him, even the Mursal which comes through someone who was not well-known to be amongst the Companions would be unacceptable.19
- Abu Dawud (d. 275H) accepts the Mursal under two conditions: that no musnad hadith is found regarding that issue; or that if a musnad hadith is found, it is not contradicted by the mursal hadith.20
- Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327H) does not give a specific opinion about the Mursal Hadith. However, he did collect an anthology of 469 reporters of hadith, including four female reporters, whose narratives were subjected to criticism due to Irsal. This collection is known as Kitab al-Marasil.
- Al-Hakim (d. 405H) is extremely reluctant to accept the Mursal Hadith except in the case of elder Successors. He holds, on the basis of the Qur'an, that knowledge is based on what is heard (directly), not on what is reported (indirectly). In this regard, he quotes Yazid ibn Harun who asked Hammad ibn Layth: "O Abu Isma'il! Did Allah mention the Ahlul-Hadith (scholars of Hadith) in the Qur'an?" He replied, "Yes! Did you not hear the saying of Allah, 'If a party from every expedition remained behind, they21 could devote themselves to studies in religion and admonish the people when they return to them, that thus they may guard themselves (against evil).' [Al-Qur'an, 9:122] This concerns those who set off to seek knowledge, and then return to those who remained behind in order to teach them."22 Al-Hakim then remarks, "This verse shows that the acceptable knowledge is the one which is being heard, not just received by way of Irsal."23
- Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 462H) strongly supports the view of those who reject the Mursal except if it comes through an elder Successor. He concludes, after giving a perusal of different opinions about this issue, "What we select out of these sayings is that the Mursal is not to be practised, nor is it acceptable as proof. We say that Irsal leads to one reporter being ambiguous; if he is ambiguous, to ascertain his reliability is impossible. We have already explained that a narration is only acceptable if it comes through a reporter known for reliability. Hence, the Mursal should not be accepted at all."24
Al-Khatib gives the following example, showing that a narrative which has been reported through both musnad and mursal isnad is acceptable, not because of the reliability of those who narrated it by way of Irsal but because of an uninterrupted isnad, even though it contains less reliable reporters:
The text of the hadith is: "No marriage is valid except by the consent of the guardian"; Al- Khatib gives two isnad going back to Shu'bah and Sufyan ath-Thawri; the remainder of each isnad is:
Sufyan ath-Thawri and Shu'bah --- Abu Ishaq --- Abu Burdah --- the Prophet.
This isnad is mursal because Abu Burdah, a Successor, narrates directly from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). However, al-Khatib further gives three isnad going back to Yunus ibn Abi Ishaq, Isra'il ibn Yunus and Qais ibn ar-Rabi'; the remainder of the first isnad is:
Yunus ibn Abi Ishaq --- Abu Ishaq --- Abu Burdah --- Abu Musa --- the Prophet.
The other two reporters narrate similarly, both of them including the name of Abu Musa, the Companion from whom Abu Burdah has reported. Al- Khatib goes on to prove that both ath-Thawri and Shu'bah heard this hadith from Abu Ishaq in one sitting while the other three reporters heard it in different sittings. Hence, this addition of Abu Musa in the isnad is quite acceptable.25
- Ibn As-Salah (d. 643H) agrees with ash-Shafi'i in rejecting the Mursal Hadith unless it is proved to have come through a musnad route.26
- Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H) classifies Mursal into three categories. He says, "There are some acceptable, others unacceptable, and some which require further investigation: If it is known that the reporter does so (i.e. narrates by Irsal) from reliable authorities, then his report will be accepted; if he does so from both classes of authorities, i.e. reliable and unreliable, we shall not accept his narration (on its own, without further investigation), for he is narrating from someone whose reliability is unknown; all such mursal ahadith which go against the reports made by reliable authorities will be rejected completely."27
- Adh-Dhahabi (d. 748H) regards the Mursal of younger Successors such as al-Hasan al-Basri, az-Zuhri, Qatadah and Humayd at-Ta'wil as the weakest type of Mursal.28 Later scholars such as Ibn Kathir (d. 744H), al-'Iraqi (d. 806H), Ibn Hajar (d. 852H), as-Suyuti (d. 911H), Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Wazir (d. 840H), Jamal ad-Din al-Qasimi (d. 1332H) and Tahir al-Jaza'iri (d. 1338H) have given exhaustive discussions about this issue, but none of them holds an opinion different to those mentioned above.
According to the Number of Reporters in Each Stage of the Isnad
Mutawatir & Ahad
Depending on the number of the reporters of the hadith in each stage of the isnad, i.e. in each generation of reporters, it can be classified into the general categories of mutawatir ("consecutive") or ahad ("single") hadith.
A mutawatir hadith is one which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.29
Al-Ghazali (d. 505H) stipulates that a mutawatir narration be known by the sizeable number of its reporters equally in the beginning, in the middle and at the end.30 He is correct in this stipulation because some narrations or ideas, although known as mutawatir among some people, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, originally have no tawatur. There is no precise definition for a "large number of reporters"; although the numbers four, five, seven, ten, twelve, forty and seventy, among others, have all been variously suggested as a minimum, the exact number is irrelevant (some reporters, e.g. Imams of Hadith, carry more weight anyway than others who are their contemporaries): the important condition is that the possibility of coincidence or "organised falsehood" be obviously negligible.31
Examples of mutawatir practices are the five daily prayers, fasting, zakat, the Hajj and recitation of the Qur'an. Among the verbal mutawatir ahadith, the following has been reported by at least sixty-two Companions from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and has been widely-known amongst the Muslims throughout the ages: "Whoever invents a lie and attributes it to me intentionally, let him prepare his seat in the Fire." Ahadith related to the description of the Hawd Kawthar (the Basin of Abundant Goodness) in the Hereafter, raising the hands at certain postures during prayer, rubbing wet hands on the leather socks during ablution, revelation of the Qur'an in seven modes, and the prohibition of every intoxicant are further examples of verbal mutawatir ahadith.32
A hadith ahad or khabar wahid is one which is narrated by people whose number does not reach that of the mutawatir case. Ahad is further classified into: Gharib, 'Aziz & Mashhur.
A hadith is termed gharib ("scarce, strange") when a only a single reporter is found relating it at some stage of the isnad. For example, the saying of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), "Travel is a piece of punishment" is gharib; the isnad of this hadith contains only one reporter in each stage: Malik --- Yahya ibn Abi Salih --- Abu Hurayrah --- the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). With regard to its isnad, this hadith is sahih, although most gharib ahadith are weak; Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, "Do not write these gharib ahadith because they are unacceptable, and most of them are weak."33
A type of hadith similar to gharib is fard ("solitary"); it is known in three ways:
- similar to gharib, i.e. a single person is found reporting it from a well-known Imam;
- the people of one locality only are known to narrate the hadith;
- narrators from one locality report the hadith from narrators of another locality, such as the people of Makkah reporting from the people of Madinah.34
If at any stage in the isnad, only two reporters are found to narrate the hadith, it is termed 'aziz ("rare, strong"). For example, 'Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "None of you (truly) believes until I become more beloved to him than his father, his son, and all the people."
Two reporters, Qatadah and 'Abdul-'Aziz ibn Shu'ayb, report this hadith from 'Anas, and two more reporters narrate from each of them: Shu'bah and Sa'id report from Qatadah, and Isma'il ibn Ulayyah and 'Abdul-Warith from 'Abdul-'Aziz; then a group of people report from each of them.35
A hadith which is reported by more than two reporters is known as mashhur ("famous"). According to some scholars, every narrative which comes to be known widely, whether or not it has an authentic origin, is called mashhur. A mashhur hadith might be reported by only one or two reporters in the beginnning but become widely-known later, unlike gharib or 'aziz, which are reported by one or two reporters in the beginning and continue to have the same number even in the times of the Successors and those after them. For example, if only one or two reporters are found narrating hadith from a reliable authority in Hadith such as az-Zuhri and Qatadah, the hadith will remain either gharib or 'aziz. On the other hand, if a group of people narrate from them, it will be known as mashhur.36
According to Al-'Ala'i (Abu Sa'id Khalil Salah ad-Din, d. 761H), a hadith may be known as 'aziz and mashhur at the same time. By this he means a hadith which is left with only two reporters in its isnad at any stage while it enjoys a host of reporters in other stages, such as the saying of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), "We are the last but (will be) the foremost on the Day of Resurrection."
This hadith is 'aziz in its first stage, as it is reported by Hudhayfah ibn Al-Yaman and Abu Hurayrah only. It later becomes mashhur as seven people report it from Abu Hurayrah.37
According to the Manner in which the Hadith is Reported
Mudallas Hadith & Tadlis
Different ways of reporting, e.g. (he narrated to us), (he informed us), (I heard), and (on the authority of) are used by the reporters of hadith. The first three indicate that the reporter personally heard from his shaykh, whereas the mode can denote either hearing in person or through another reporter.
A mudallas ("concealed") hadith is one which is weak due to the uncertainty caused by tadlis. Tadlis (concealing) refers to an isnad where a reporter has concealed the identity of his shaykh. Ibn As-Salah describes two types of tadlis:
- tadlis al-isnad: A person reports from his shaykh whom he met, what he did not hear from him, or from a contemporary of his whom he did not meet, in such a way as to create the impression that he heard the hadith in person. A mudallis (one who practises tadlis) here usually uses the mode ("on the authority of") or ("he said") to conceal the truth about the isnad.
- tadlis ash-shuyukh: The reporter does mention his shaykh by name, but uses a less well-known name, by-name, nickname etc., in order not to disclose his shaykh's identity.38 Al-'Iraqi (d. 806H), in his notes on Muqaddimah Ibn As-Salah, adds a third type of tadlis:
- tadlis at-taswiyyah: To explain it, let us assume an isnad which contains a trustworthy shaykh reporting from a weak authority, who in turn reports from another trustworthy shaykh. Now, the reporter of this isnad omits the intermediate weak authority, leaving it apparently consisting of reliable authorities. He plainly shows that he heard it from his shaykh but he uses the mode "on the authority of" to link his immediate shaykh with the next trustworthy one. To an average student, this isnad seems free of any doubt or discrepancy. This is known to have been practised by Baqiyyah ibn al-Walid, Walid ibn Muslim, al-A'mash and ath-Thawri. It is said to be the worst among the three kinds of tadlis.39
Ibn Hajar classifies those who practised tadlis into five categories in his essay Tabaqat al-Mudallisin: Those who are known to do it occasionally, such as Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Ansari. Those who are accepted by the traditionists, either because of their good reputation and relatively few cases of tadlis, e.g. Sufyan ath-Thawri (d. 161H), or because they reported from authentic authorities only, e.g. Sufyan Ibn 'Uyaynah (d. 198H).
Those who practised it a great deal, and the traditionists have accepted such ahadith from them which were reported with a clear mention of hearing directly. Among these are Abu'z-Zubair al-Makki, whose ahadith narrated from the Companion Jabir ibn 'Abdullah have been collected in Sahih Muslim.
Opinions differ regarding whether they are acceptable or not.
Similar to the previous category, but the traditionists agree that their ahadith are to be rejected unless they clearly admit of their hearing, such as by saying "I heard"; an example of this category is Baqiyyah ibn al-Walid. Those who are disparaged due to another reason apart from tadlis; their ahadith are rejected, even though they admit of hearing them directly. Exempted from them are reporters such as Ibn Lahi'ah, the famous Egyptian judge, whose weakness is found to be of a lesser degree. Ibn Hajar gives the names of 152 such reporters.40
Tadlis, especially of those in the last three categories, is so disliked that Shu'bah (d. 170H) said, "Tadlis is the brother of lying" and "To commit adultery is more favourable to me than to report by way of Tadlis."41
A musalsal (uniformly-linked) isnad is one in which all the reporters, as well as the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), use the same mode of transmission such as 'an, haddathana, etc., repeat any other additional statement or remark, or act in a particular manner while narrating the hadith.
Al-Hakim gives eight examples of such isnad, each having a different characteristic repeated feature:
- use of the phrase sami'tu (I heard);
- the expression "stand and pour water for me so that I may illustrate the way my shaykh performed ablution";
- haddathana (he narrated to us);
- amarani (he commanded me);
- holding one's beard;
- illustrating by counting on five fingers;
- the expression "I testify that ...";
- and interlocking the fingers.42
Knowledge of musalsal helps in discounting the possibility of tadlis.
According to the Nature of the Text and Isnad
Shadhdh & Munkar
According to ash-Shafi'i, a shadhdh ("irregular") hadith is one which is reported by a trustworthy person but goes against the narration of a person more reliable than him. It does not include a hadith which is unique in its contents and is not narrated by someone else.43 In the light of this definition, the well-known hadith, "Actions are (judged) according to their intentions", is not considered shadhdh since it has been narrated by Yahya ibn Sa'id al-Ansari from Muhammad ibn Ibrahim at-Taymi from 'Alqamah from 'Umar, all of whom are trustworthy authorities, although each one of them is the only reporter at that stage.44
An example of a shadhdh hadith according to some scholars is one which Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi transmit, through the following isnad:
'Abdul-Wahid ibn Ziyad --- al-A'mash --- Abu Salih --- Abu Hurayrah === the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): "When one of you offers the two rak'ahs before the Dawn Prayer, he should lie down on his right side."
Regarding it, al-Bayhaqi said, "'Abdul-Wahid has gone against a large number of people with this narration, for they have reported the above as an act of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and not as his saying; 'Abdul-Wahid is alone amongst the trustworthy students of al-A'mash in narrating these words."45
According to Ibn Hajar, if a narration which goes against another authentic hadith isreported by a weak narrator, it is known as munkar (denounced).46 Traditionists as late as Ahmad used to simply label any hadith of a weak reporter as munkar.47 Sometimes, a hadith is labelled as munkar because of its contents being contrary to general sayings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Al-Khatib (d. 463H) quotes ar-Rabi' ibn Khaytham (d. 63H) as saying, "Some ahadith have a light like that of day, which we recognise; others have a darkness like that of night which makes us reject them."
He also quotes al-Awza'i (d. 157H) as saying, "We used to listen to ahadith and present them to fellow traditionists, just as we present forged coins to money-changers: whatever they recognise of them, we accept, and whatever they reject of them, we also reject."48
Ibn Kathir quotes the following two ahadith in his Tafsir, the first of which is acceptable, whereas the second contradicts it and is unreliable:
- Ahmad === Abu Mu'awiyah === Hisham ibn 'Urwah --- Fatimah bint al-Mundhir --- Asma' bint Abi Bakr, who said, "My mother came (to Madinah) during the treaty Quraish had made, while she was still a polytheist. So I came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said to him, 'O Messenger of Allah, my mother has come willingly: should I treat her with kindness?' He replied, 'Yes! Treat her with kindness.' "
- Al-Bazzar === 'Abdullah ibn Shabib === Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah === Abu Qatadah al- 'Adawi --- the nephew of az-Zuhri --- az-Zuhri --- 'Urwah --- 'A'ishah and Asma', both of whom said, "Our mother came to us in Madinah while she was a polytheist, during the peace treaty between the Quraysh and the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). So we said, 'O Messenger of Allah, our mother has come to Madinah willingly: do we treat her kindly?' He said, 'Yes! Treat her kindly.' "
Ibn Kathir then remarks: "This (latter) hadith, to our knowledge is reported only through this route of az-Zuhri --- 'Urwah --- 'A'ishah. It is a munkar hadith with this text because the mother of 'A'ishah is 'Umm Ruman, who was already a Muslim emigrant, while the mother of Asma' was another woman, as mentioned by name in other ahadith."49
In contrast to a munkar hadith, if a reliable reporter is found to add something which is not narrated by other authentic sources, the addition is accepted as long as it does not contradict them; and is known as dhiyadatu thiqah (an addition by one trustworthy).50 An example is the hadith of al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ibn Mas'ud: "I asked the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), 'Which action is the most virtuous?' He said, 'The Prayer at its due time'." Two reporters, al-Hasan ibn Makdam and Bindar, reported it with the addition, "... at the beginning of its time"; both al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban declared this addition to be sahih.51
An addition by a reporter to the text of the saying being narrated is termed mudraj (interpolated).52 For example, al-Khatib relates via Abu Qattan and Shababah --- Shu'bah --- Muhammad ibn Ziyad --- Abu Hurayrah --- The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who said, "Perform the ablution fully; woe to the heels from the Fire!"
Al-Khatib then remarks, "The statement, 'Perform the ablution fully' is made by Abu Hurayrah, while the statement afterwards, 'Woe to the heels from the Fire!', is that of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). The distinction between the two is understood from the narration of al-Bukhari, who transmits the same hadith and quotes Abu Hurayrah as saying, 'Complete the ablution, for Abu 'l-Qasim (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: 'Woe to the heels from the Fire!' ' "53
Such an addition may be found in the beginning,in the middle, or at the end, often in explanation of a term used. Idraj (interpolation) is mostly found in the text, although a few examples show that such additions are found in the isnad as well, where the reporter grafts a part of one isnad into another.
A reporter found to be in the habit of intentional idraj is generally unacceptable and considered a liar.54 However, the traditionists are more lenient towards those reporters who may do so forgetfully or in order to explain a difficult word.
According to a Hidden Defect Found in the Isnad or Text of a Hadith
Before discussing ma'lul (defective) ahadith, a brief note on mudtarib (shaky) and maqlub (reversed) ahadith would help in understanding ma'lul.
According to Ibn Kathir, if reporters disagree about a particular shaykh, or about some other points in the isnad or the text, in such a way that none of the opinions can be preferred over the others, and thus there is uncertainty about the isnad or text, such a hadith is called mudtarib (shaky).55
For example with regard to idtirab in the isnad, it is reported on the authority of Abu Bakr that he said, "O Messenger of Allah! I see you getting older?" He (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied, "What made me old are Surah Hud and its sister surahs." Al-Daraqutni says, "This is an example of a mudtarib hadith. It is reported through Abu Ishaq, but as many as ten different opinions are held about this isnad: some report it as mursal, others as muttasil; some take it as musnad of Abu Bakr, others as musnad of Sa'd or 'A'ishah. Since all these reports are comparable in weight, it is difficult to prefer one above another. Hence, the hadith is termed as mudtarib."56
As an example of idtirab in the text, Rafi' ibn Khadij said that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade the renting of land. The reporters narrating from Rafi' give different statements, as follows:
- Hanzalah asked Rafi', "What about renting for gold and silver?" He replied, "It does not matter if it is rent for gold and silver."
- Rifa'ah --- Rafi' --- the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who said, "Whoever owns a piece of land should cultivate it, give it to his brother to cultivate, or abandon it."
- Salim --- Rafi' --- his two uncles --- the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who forbade the renting of farming land.
- The son of Rafi' --- Rafi' --- the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who forbade the renting of land.
- A different narration by Rafi' from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who said, "Whoever owns a piece of land should either cultivate it or give it to his brother to cultivate. He must not rent it for a third or a quarter of the produce, nor for a given quantity of the produce."
- Zayd ibn Thabit said, "May Allah forgive Rafi'! I am more aware of the hadith than he; what happened was that two of the Ansar (Helpers) had a dispute, so they came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who said after listening to their cases, 'If this is your position, then do not rent the farms.' Rafi' has only heard the last phrase, i.e., 'Do not rent the farms.' "
Because of these various versions, Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, "The ahadith reported by Rafi' about the renting of land are mudtarib. They are not to be accepted, especially when they go against the well-established hadith of Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave the land of Khaybar to the Jews on condition that they work on it and take half of the produce."57
A hadith is known as maqlub (changed, reversed) when its isnad is grafted to a different text or vice versa, or if a reporter happens to reverse the order of a sentence in the text.
As an example relating to the text, in his transmission of the famous hadith describing the seven who will be under the shelter of Allah on the Day of Judgment, Muslim reports one of the categories as, "a man who conceals his act of charity to such an extent that his right hand does not know what his left hand gives in charity." This sentence has clearly been reversed by a reporter, because the correct wording is recorded in other narrations of both al-Bukhari and Muslim as follows: " ... that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives ... "58
The famous trial of al-Bukhari by the scholars of Baghdad provides a good example of a maqlub isnad. The traditionists, in order to test their visitor, al-Bukhari, appointed ten men, each with ten ahadith. Now, each hadith (text) of these ten people was prefixed with the isnad of another. Imam al-Bukhari listened to each of the ten men as they narrated their ahadith and denied the correctness of every hadith. When they had finished narrating these ahadith, he addressed each person in turn and recounted to him each of his ahadith with its correct isnad. This trial earned him great honour among the scholars of Baghdad.59
Other ways in which ahadith have been rendered maqlub are by replacement of the name of a reporter with another, e.g. quoting Abu Hurayrah as the reporter from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) although the actual reporter was someone else, or by reversal of the name of the reporter, e.g. mentioning Walid ibn Muslim instead of Muslim ibn Walid, or Ka'b ibn Murrah instead of Murrah ibn Ka'b.60
Ma'lul or Mu'allal
Ibn As-Salah says, "A ma'lul (defective) hadith is one which appears to be sound, but thorough research reveals a disparaging factor." Such factors can be:
- declaring a hadith musnad when it is in fact mursal, or marfu' when it is in fact mawquf;
- showing a reporter to narrate from his shaykh when in fact he did not meet the latter or attributing a hadith to one Companion when it in fact comes through another.61
Ibn al-Madini (d. 324H) says that such a defect can only be revealed if all the isnad of a particular hadith are collated. In his book al-'Ilal, he gives thirty-four Successors and the names of those Companions from whom each of them heard ahadith directly. For example, he says that al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110H, aged 88) did not see 'Ali (d. 40H), although he adds that there is a slight possibility that he may have seen him during his childhood in Madinah.62 Such information is very important, since for example, many Sufi traditions go back to al-Hasan al-Basri, who is claimed to report directly from 'Ali.
Being a very delicate branch of Mustalah al-Hadith, only a few well-known traditionists such as Ibn al-Madini (d. 234H), Ibn Abi Hatim ar-Razi (d. 327H), al-Khallal (d. 311H) and ad-Daraqutni (d. 385H), have compiled books about it. Ibn Abi Hatim, in his Kitab al-'Ilal, has given 2840 examples of ma'lul ahadith about a range of topics.
An example of a ma'lul hadith is one transmitted by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, who reports the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) as saying, "Allah created the land on Saturday; He created the mountains on Sunday; He created the trees on Monday; He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday; He created the light (or fish) on Wednesday; He scattered the beasts in it (the earth) on Thursday; and He created Adam after the afternoon of Friday, the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, between the afternoon and night."63
Regarding it, Ibn Taymiyyah says, "Men more knowledgeable than Muslim, such as al-Bukhari and Yahya ibn Ma'in, have criticised it. Al-Bukhari said, 'This saying is not that of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), but one of Ka'b al-Ahbar.' "64
According to the Reliability and Memory of the Reporters
The final verdict on a hadith, i.e. sahih (sound), hasan (good), da'if (weak) or mawdu' (fabricated, forged), depends critically on this factor.
Among the early traditionists, mostly of the first two centuries, ahadith were classified into two categories only: sahih and da'if; at-Tirmidhi was to be the first to distinguish hasan from da'if. This is why traditionists and jurists such as Ahmad, who seemed to argue on the basis of da'if ahadith sometimes, were in fact basing their argument on the ahadith which were later to be known as hasan.65
We now examine in more detail these four important classes of ahadith.
Ash-Shafi'i states the following requirement in order for a hadith which is not mutawatir to be acceptable:
"Each reporter should be trustworthy in his religion; he should be known to be truthful in his narrating, to understand what he narrates, to know how a different expression can alter the meaning, and report the wording of the hadith verbatim, not only its meaning. This is because if he does not know how a different expression can change the whole meaning, he will not know if he has changed what is lawful into what is prohibited. Hence, if he reports the hadith according to its wording, no change of meaning will be found at all. Moreover, he should be a good memoriser if he happens to report from his memory, or a good preserver of his writings if he happens to report from them. He should agree with the narrations of the huffadh (leading authorities in Hadith), if he reports something which they do also. He should not be a mudallis, who narrates from someone he met something he did not hear, nor should he report from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) contrary to what reliable sources have reported from him. In addition, the one who is above him (in the isnad) should be of the same quality, [and so on,] until the hadith goes back uninterrupted to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) or any authority below him."66
Ibn As-Salah, however, defines a sahih hadith more precisely by saying: "A sahih hadith is the one which has a continuous isnad, made up of reporters of trustworthy memory from similar authorities, and which is found to be free from any irregularities (i.e. in the text) or defects (i.e. in the isnad)."
By the above definition, no room is left for any weak hadith, whether, for example, it is munqati', mu'dal, mudtarib, maqlub, shadhdh, munkar, ma'lul, or contains a mudallis. The definition also excludes hasan ahadith, as will be discussed under that heading.
Of all the collectors of hadith, al-Bukhari and Muslim were greatly admired because of their tireless attempts to collect sahih ahadith only. It is generally understood that the more trustworthy and of good memory the reporters, the more authentic the hadith. The isnad: ash-Shafi'i --- Malik --- Nafi' --- 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar --- The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), is called a "golden isnad" because of its renowned reporters.67
Some traditionists prefer Sahih al-Bukhari to Sahih Muslim because al-Bukhari always looked for those reporters who had either accompanied or met each other, even if only once in their lifetime. On the other hand, Muslim would accept a reporter who is simply found to be contemporary to his immediate authority in reporting.68
The following grading is given for sahih ahadith only:
- those which are transmitted by both al-Bukhari and Muslim;
- those which are transmitted by al-Bukhari only;
- those which are transmitted by Muslim only - those which are not found in the above two collections; but
- which agree with the requirements of both al-Bukhari and Muslim;
- which agree with the requirements of al- Bukhari only;
- which agree with the requirements of Muslim only; and
- those declared sahih by other traditionists.69
At-Tirmidhi means by hadith hasan: a hadith which is not shadhdh, nor contains a disparaged reporter in its isnad, and which is reported through more than one route of narration.70
Al-Khattabi (d. 388H) states a very concise definition, "It is the one where its source is known and its reporters are unambiguous."
By this he means that the reporters of the hadith should not be of a doubtful nature, such as with the mursal or munqati' hadith, or one containing a mudallis.
Ibn As-Salah classifies hasan into two categories:
- one with an isnad containing a reporter who is mastur ("screened", i.e. no prominent person reported from him) but is not totally careless in his reporting, provided that a similar text is reported through another isnad as well;
- one with an isnad containing a reporter who is known to be truthful and reliable, but is a degree less in his preservation/memory of hadith in comparison to the reporters of sahih ahadith.
In both categories, Ibn As-Salah requires that the hadith be free of any shudhudh (irregularities).71
Adh-Dhahabi, after giving the various definitions, says, "A hasan hadith is one which excels the da'if but nevertheless does not reach the standard of a sahih hadith."772 In the light of this definition, the following isnad are hasan according to adh-Dhahabi:
- Bahz ibn Hakam --- his father --- his grandfather;
- 'Amr ibn Shu'ayb --- his father --- his grandfather;
- Muhammad ibn 'Amr --- Abu Salamah --- Abu Hurayrah.
Reporters such as al-Harith ibn 'Abdullah, 'Asim ibn Damurah, Hajjaj ibn Artat, Khusayf ibn 'Abdur-Rahman and Darraj Abu as-Samh attract different verdicts: some traditionists declare their ahadith hasan, others declare them da'if.73
Example of a Hasan Hadith
Malik, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim reported through their isnad from 'Amr ibn Shu'ayb --- his father --- his grandfather, that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "A single rider is a devil (i.e. disobedient), two riders are two devils, but three makes a travelling party."
At-Tirmidhi declares this hadith to be hasan because of the above isnad, which falls short of the requirements for a sahih hadith.74
Several Weak Ahadith may Mutually Support each other to the Level of Hasan
According to the definitions of at-Tirmidhi and Ibn As-Salah, a number of similar weak ahadith on a particular issue can be raised to the degree of hasan if the weakness found in their reporters is of a mild nature. Such a hadith is known as hasan li ghayrihi (hasan due to others), to distinguish it from the type previously-discussed, which is hasan li dhatihi (hasan in itself). Similarly, several hasan ahadith on the same subject may make the hadith sahih li ghayrihi, to be distinguished from the previously-discussed sahih li dhatihi.
However, in case the weakness is severe (e.g., the reporter is accused of lying or the hadith is itself shadhdh), such very weak ahadith will not support each other and will remain weak. For example, the well-known hadith, "He who preserves forty ahadith for my 'Ummah will be raised by Allah on the Day of Resurrection among the men of understanding", has been declared to be da'if by most of the traditionists, although it is reported through several routes.75
A hadith which fails to reach the status of hasan is da'if. Usually, the weakness is one of discontinuity in the isnad, in which case the hadith could be mursal, mu'allaq, mudallas, munqati' or mu'dal, according to the precise nature of the discontinuity, or one of a reporter having a disparaged character, such as due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes, opposition to the narration of more reliable sources, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity surrounding his person.
The smaller the number and importance of defects, the less severe the weakness. The more the defects in number and severity, the closer the hadith will be to being mawdu' (fabricated).76
Some ahadith, according to the variation in the nature of the weakness associated with its reporters, rank at the bottom of the hasan grade or at the top of the da'if grade. Reporters such as 'Abdullah ibn Lahi'ah (a famous judge from Egypt), 'Abdur-Rahman ibn Zayd ibn Aslam, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Maryam al-Himsi, Faraj ibn Fadalah, and Rishdin ibn Sa'd attract such types of varying ranks as they are neither extremely good preservers nor totally abandoned by the traditionists.77
Adh-Dhahabi defines mawdu' (fabricated, forged) as the term applied to a hadith, the text of which goes against the established norms of the Prophet's sayings (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), or its reporters include a liar, e.g. the forty ahadith known as wad'aniyyah or the small collection of ahadith which was fabricated and claimed to have been reported by 'Ali ar-Rida, the eighth Imam of the Ithna 'Ashari Shi'ah.78
A number of traditionists have collected fabricated ahadith separately in order to distinguish them from other ahadith; among them are Ibn al-Jawzi in al-Mawdu'at, al-Jawzaqani in Kitab al-Abatil, as-Suyuti in al-La'ali al-Masnu'ah fi'l-Ahadith al-Mawdu'ah, and 'Ali al-Qari in al-Mawdu'at.
Some of these ahadith were known to be spurious by the confession of their inventors. For example, Muhammad ibn Sa'id al-Maslub used to say, "It is not wrong to fabricate an isnad for a sound statement."79 Another notorious inventor, 'Abdul-Karim Abu'l-Awja, who was killed and crucified by Muhammad ibn Sulayman ibn 'Ali, governor of Basrah, admitted that he had fabricated four thousand ahadith declaring lawful the prohibited and vice-versa.80
Mawdu' ahadith are also recognised by external evidence related to a discrepancy found in the dates or times of a particular incident.81 For example, when the second caliph, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab decided to expel the Jews from Khaybar some Jewish dignitaries brought a document to 'Umar apparently proving that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had intended that they stay there by exempting them from the jizyah (tax on non-Muslims under the rule of Muslims); the document carried the witness of two Companions, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh and Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. 'Umar rejected the document outright, knowing that it was fabricated because the conquest of Khaybar took place in 6H, whereas Sa'd ibn Mu'adh died in 3H just after the Battle of the Trench, and Mu'awiyah embraced Islam in 8H, after the conquest of Makkah.82
The author, in his Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference to Sunan Ibn Majah, has given more examples of fabricated ahadith under the following eight categories of causes of fabrication:83
- political differences;
- factions based on issues of creed;
- fabrications by zanadiqah (enemies within spreading heretical beliefs);
- fabrications by storytellers;
- fabrications by ignorant ascetics;
- prejudice in favour of town, race or a particular imam;
- inventions for personal motives;
- proverbs turned into ahadith.
Similar to the last category above is the case of Isra'iliyat ("Israelite traditions"), narrations from the Jews and the Christians84 which were wrongly attributed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
Section C: Further Branches of Mustalah and Rijal al-Hadith
The above-mentioned classification of ahadith plays a vital role in ascertaining the authenticity of a particular narration. Ibn As-Salah mentions sixty-five terms in his book, of which twenty-three have been discussed above. Two further types not included by Ibn As-Salah, mu'allaq and mutawatir, have been dealt with from other sources. The remaining forty-two types follow in brief, which help further distinguish between different types of narrations.
- Knowledge of i'tibar ("consideration"), mutaba'ah ("follow-up") and shawahid ("witnesses"). Traditionists are always in search of strengthening support for a hadith which is reported by one source only; such research is termed i'tibar. If a supporting narration is not found for a particular hadith, it is declared as fard mutlaq (absolutely singular) or gharib. For example, if a hadith is reported through the following isnad: Hammad ibn Salamah - -- Ayyub --- Ibn Sirin --- Abu Hurayrah --- the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), research would be done to ascertain whether another trustworthy reporter has narrated it from Ayyub; if so, it will be called mutaba'ah tammah (full follow-up); if not, a reporter other than Ayyub narrating from Ibn Sirin would be sought: if so, it will be called mutaba'ah qasirah (incomplete follow-up). Whereas mutaba'ah applies to the isnad, i.e. other narrations from the same reporters, a narration which supports the text (meaning) of the original hadith, although it may be through a completely different isnad, is called a shahid ("witness").85
- Afrad (singular narrations).
- The type of character required in an acceptable reporter.
- The way a hadith is heard, and the different ways of acquiring ahadith.
- How a hadith is written, and punctuation marks used.
- The way a hadith is reported.
- The manners required in traditionists.
- The manners required in students of hadith.
- Knowledge of a higher or lower isnad (i.e. one with less or more reporters respectively).
- Knowledge of difficult words.
- Knowledge of abrogated ahadith.
- Knowledge of altered words in a text or isnad.
- Knowledge of contradictory ahadith.
- Knowledge of additions made to an isnad (i.e. by an inserting the name of an additional reporter).
- Knowledge of a well-concealed type of mursal hadith.
- Knowledge of the Companions.
- Knowledge of the Successors.
- Knowledge of elders reporting from younger reporters.
- Knowledge of reporters similar in age reporting from each other.
- Knowledge of brothers and sisters among reporters.
- Knowledge of fathers reporting from their sons.
- Knowledge of sons reporting from their fathers.
- Knowledge of cases where e.g. two reporters report from the same authority, one in his early life and the other in his old age; in such cases the dates of death of the two reporters will be of significance.
- Knowledge of such authorities from whom only one person reported.
- Knowledge of such reporters who are known by a number of names and titles.
- Knowledge of unique names amongst the Companions in particular and the reporters in general.
- Knowledge of names and by-names (kunyah).
- Knowledge of by-names for reporters known by their names only.
- Knowledge of nicknames (alqab) of the traditionists.
- Knowledge of mu'talif and mukhtalif (names written similarly but pronounced differently), e.g. Kurayz and Kariz.
- Knowledge of muttafiq and muftariq (similar names but different identities), e.g. "Hanafi": there are two reporters who are called by this name; one because of his tribe Banu Hanifah; the other because of his attribution to a particular Madhhab (school of thought in jurisprudence).
- Names covering both the previous types.
- Names looking similar but they differ because of the difference in their father's names, e.g. Yazid ibn al-Aswad and al-Aswad ibn Yazid.
- Names attributed to other than their fathers, e.g. Isma'il ibn Umayyah; in this case Umayyah is the mother's name.
- Knowledge of such titles which have a meaning different from what they seem to be, e.g. Abu Mas'ud al-Badri, not because he witnessed the battle of Badr but because he came to live there; Mu'awiyah ibn 'Abdul Karim ad-Dall ("the one going astray"), not because of his beliefs but because he lost his way while travelling to Makkah; and 'Abdullah ibn Muhammad ad-Da'if ("the weak"), not because of his reliability in hadith, but due to a weak physique.
- Knowledge of ambiguous reporters by finding out their names.
- Knowledge of the dates of birth and death of reporters.
- Knowledge of trustworthy and weak reporters.
- Knowledge of trustworthy reporters who became confused in their old age.
- Knowledge of contemporaries in a certain period.
- Knowledge of free slaves (mawali) amongst the reporters.
- Knowledge of the homelands and home towns of reporters.86
APPENDIX: Verdicts on the Ahadith Mentioned in the Foreword
- Mutawatir, as declared by many scholars, including Ibn Taymiyyah, as-Suyuti, Najm ad-Din al-Iskandari (d. 981H) and al-'Ijlouni (d. 1162H). About this hadith, ad-Daraqutni said, "It is the most authentic one regarding the virtues of any surah." It is related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.
- The following is the sahih hadith of al-Bukhari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn 'Asakir: "Verily, Allah has Ninety-Nine Names which if a person safeguards them, he will enter the Garden." In some narrations of this hadith found in at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and others, the names are listed at the end; however, at least three different listings are given, e.g. one list being, "He is Allah, besides whom there is no other deity, the Merciful, the Compassionate, ..., the Forbearing" while another is "Allah, the Unique, the Absolute, ..., the One who has nothing like unto Him." It is agreed that these latter narrations are da'if, and this is why al-Bukhari and Muslim did not include them in their respective Sahih. At-Tirmidhi says in his Sunan, "This (version of the) hadith is gharib; it has been narrated from various routes on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, but we do not know of the mention of the Names in the numerous narrations, except this one." Ibn Taymiyyah says, "Al-Walid (one of the narrators of the hadith) related the Names from (the saying of) one of his Syrian teachers ... specific mention of the Names is not from the words of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), by the agreement of those familiar with hadith."87 Ibn Kathir says in his Tafsir, under verse 180 of Surah al-A'raf, that these narrations are mudraj. Ibn Hajar takes a similar view in his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari. Various scholars have given different lists of 99 Names from their study of the Qur'an and Sunnah, including Sufyan ibn 'Uyaynah, Ibn Hazm, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Hajar and Salih ibn 'Uthaymin.
- Ibn Taymiyyah says, "It is not from the words of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and there is no known isnad for it, neither sahih nor da'if."; Al-Zarkashi (d. 794H), Ibn Hajar, as-Suyuti and others agreed with him. Al-Qari says, "But its meaning is correct, deduced from the statement of Allah, I have not created the Jinn and Mankind, except to worship Me, i.e. to recognise/know me, as Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) has explained." These statements are mentioned by al-'Ijlouni, who adds, "This saying occurs often in the words of the Sufis, who have relied on it and built upon it some of their principles."88
- Al-'Ijlouni says, "As-Saghani (d. 650H) said: Mawdu'. I say: But its meaning is correct, even if it is not a hadith." no. 2123. 'Ali al-Qari says, "But its meaning is correct, for ad-Daylami has related from Ibn 'Abbas as marfu': 'that Jibril came to me and said: O Muhammad! Were it not for you, the Garden would not have been created, and were it not for you, the Fire would not have been created', and in the narration of Ibn 'Asakir: 'Were it not for you, the world would not have been created.' " Al-Albani also quotes as-Saghani's verdict, and comments on al-Qari's words thus, "It is not appropriate to certify the correctness of its meaning without establishing the authenticity of the narration from ad-Daylami, which is something I have not found any of the scholars to have addressed. Personally, although I have not come across its isnad, I have no doubt about its weakness; enough of an indication for us is that ad-Daylami is alone in reporting it. As for the narration of Ibn 'Asakir, Ibn al-Jawzi also related it in a long marfu' hadith from Salman and said, 'It is mawdu', and as-Suyuti endorsed this in al-La'ali."89
- Sahih - related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
- Al-'Ijlouni says, "Al-Ghazali mentioned it in Ihya' 'Ulum ad-Din with the wording, Allah says, 'Neither My heaven nor My earth could contain Me, but the soft, humble heart of my believing slave can contain Me.' Al-'Iraqi said in his notes on Al-Ihya', 'I do not find a basis (i.e. isnad) for it', and as-Suyuti agreed with him, following az-Zarkashi. Al-'Iraqi then said, 'But in the hadith of Abu 'Utbah in at-Tabarani there occurs: ... the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of His righteous slaves, and the most beloved to Him are the softest and most tender ones.' Ibn Taymiyyah said, 'It is mentioned in the Israelite traditions, but there is no known isnad from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) for it.' As-Sakhawi said in al-Maqasid, following his Shaykh as-Suyuti in al-La'ali, 'There is no known isnad from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) for it, and its meaning is that his heart can contain belief in Me, love of Me and gnosis of Me. But as for the one who says that Allah incarnates in the hearts of the people, then he is more of an infidel than the Christians, who specified that to Christ alone. It seems that Ibn Taymiyyah's mention of Israelite tradition refers to what Ahmad has related in az-Zuhd from Wahb ibn Munabbih who said that Allah opened the heavens for Ezekiel until he saw the Throne, so Ezekiel said, 'How Perfect are You! How Mighty are You, O Lord!' So Allah said, 'Truly, the heavens and the earth were too weak to contain Me, but the soft, humble heart of my believing slave contains Me'.' He also quoted from az-Zarkashi's writing that one of the scholars said that it is a false hadith, fabricated by a renegade (from the religion), and that it is most-often quoted by a preacher to the masses, 'Ali ibn Wafa, for his own purposes, who says at the time of spiritual rapture and dance, 'Go round the House of your Lord.' He further said that at-Tabarani has related from Abu 'Utbah al-Khawlani as marfu', 'Truly, Allah has vessels from amongst the people of the earth, and the vessels of your Lord are the hearts of his righteous slaves, and the most beloved of them to Him are the softest and most tender ones'; in its isnad is Baqiyyah ibn al-Walid, a mudallis, but he has clearly stated hearing the hadith."90 Al-Albani rates this last hadith mentioned as hasan.91
- An-Nawawi said, "It is not established." Ibn Taymiyyah said, "Mawdu'." As-Sam'ani said, "It is not known as marfu', but it is quoted as a statement of Yahya ibn Mu'adh ar-Razi." As-Suyuti endorsed an-Nawawi's words, and also said, "This hadith is not authentic." Al-Fairozabadi said, "It is not a Prophetic statement, although most of the people think it is a hadith, but it is not authentic at all. In fact, it is only related in the Israelite traditions: O Man! Know yourself: you will know your Lord." Ibn al-Gharas said, after quoting an-Nawawi's verdict, "... but the books of the Sufis, such as Shaykh Muhy ad-Din ibn 'Arabi and others, are filled with it, being quoted like a hadith." Ibn 'Arabi also said, "This hadith, although it is not proved by way of narration, is proved to us by way of Kashf ('unveiling', while in a trance)."92 Regarding this methodology, al-Albani says, "Authenticating ahadith by way of Kashf is a wicked innovation of the Sufis, and depending upon it leads to the authentication of false, baseless ahadith ... This is because, even at the best of times, Kashf is like opinion, which may be right or wrong - and that is if no personal desires enter into it! We ask Allah to save us from it, and from everything with which He is not pleased."93
- Sahih. Related by Malik in al-Muwatta', ash-Shafi'i in ar-Risalah (p. 110, Eng. trans.) and Muslim (1:382; Eng. trans. 1:272). This was the first of two questions which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) put to a slave-girl to test her faith, the second one being, "Who am I?" She answered, "Above the heaven" and "You are the Messenger of Allah" respectively, to which he said, "Free her, for she is a believer." Her first answer, which is found in the Qur'an (67:16-17, the word fi can mean 'above/on', as in 6:11, 20:71 & 27:8), means that Allah is above and separate from His creation, not mixed in with it, the erroneous belief which leads to worship of creation.
- Mawdu', as stated by as-Saghani and others. Scholars differ as to whether its meaning is correct or not, in what way, and to what extent.94 It is sometimes used to justify divisive, anti-Islamic nationalism and patriotism!
- Sahih. Related by Malik as mursal/mu'allaq/balaghat (depending on choice of terminology), and related twice as musnad by al-Hakim. The meaning of the hadith is contained in the Qur'an, in the mention of the Book and Wisdom (2:129, 2:151, 2:231, 3:164, 4:113, 33:34 & 62:2); Ash-Shafi'i says, "I have heard the most knowledgeable people about the Qur'an say that the Wisdom is the Sunnah." [Ar-Risalah, Eng. trans., p. 111]
- Sahih. Related by at-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Abi 'Asim, al-Hakim, at-Tabarani, ad-Daylami and at-Tahawi.95 The phrase Ahlul-Bayt (members of the house) refers: (i) primarily to the Prophet's wives (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), from the clear context of the relevant verse of the Qur'an (33:33); (ii) to 'Ali, Fatimah, Hasan & Husayn, from the "hadith of the garment" (cf. Sahih Muslim, Book of the Virtues of the Companions). It is imbalanced and unjust to exclude either of these categories from the hadith.
- A sahih hadith related by Abu Da'wud, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah & Ahmad, and well-known amongst the people. The fullest narration is, "Abu Bakr will be in the Garden; 'Umar will be in the Garden; 'Uthman will be in the Garden; 'Ali will be in the Garden; Talhah will be in the Garden; az-Zubayr will be in the Garden; 'Abdur-Rahman ibn 'Awf will be in the Garden; Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas will be in the Garden; Sa'id ibn Zayd will be in the Garden; Abu 'Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah will be in the Garden."
- Related by Ishaq ibn Rahawaih and al-Bayhaqi with a sahih isnad as a statement of 'Umar. It is also collected by Ibn 'Adi and ad-Daylami from Ibn 'Umar as marfu', but in its isnad is 'Isa ibn Abdullah, who is weak. However, it is strengthened by another narration of Ibn 'Adi, and also supported by the hadith in the Sunan that a man saw in a dream that Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was weighed against Abu Bakr, and was found to be heavier; then Abu Bakr was weighed against everyone else ...96
- Related by al-Hakim, at-Tabarani and others. It is also related by at-Tirmidhi with the wording, "I am the House of Wisdom, and 'Ali is its Door.". Ad-Daraqutni labelled the hadith as mudtarib, both in isnad and text; at-Tirmidhi said it is gharib and munkar; al-Bukhari said that it has no sahih narration; Ibn Ma'in said that it is a baseless lie. Similar dismissals of the hadith are reported from Abuz-Zur'ah, Abu Hatim and Yahya ibn Sa'd. al-Hakim declared the original hadith as sahih in isnad, but Ibn al-Jawzi regarded both versions as mawdu', and adh-Dhahabi agreed with him. Several of the later scholars, including Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ibn Hajar al-Makki and as-Suyuti declared it hasan due to its various routes of narration. Al-'Ijlouni says, "... none of this devalues the consensus of the Adherents to the Sunnah from the Companions, the Successors and those after them, that the best of the Companions overall is Abu Bakr, followed by 'Umar ...", and quotes this view from Ibn 'Umar and 'Ali himself, as recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari.97 Al-Albani declares the hadith to be mawdu'.97
- A da'if or mawdu' hadith, as stated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn 'Abdul-Barr, al-Bazzar and many others. Ibn Hazm states that not only is the isnad unsound, but the hadith cannot be true for two further reasons: (i) the Companions were not infallible, and hence made mistakes, so it would be wrong to say that following any of them leads to guidance; (ii) the comparison with the stars is wrong, for not every star guides one through every journey! There is a different, authentic comparison with the stars given in Sahih Muslim: the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "The stars are the custodians of the sky, so when the stars depart, there will come to the sky what is promised for it (i.e. on the Day of Judgment). I am the custodian of my Companions, so when I depart, there will come to my Companions what is promised for them (i.e. great trials and tribulations). My Companions are the custodians for my 'Ummah, so when my Companions depart, there will come to mi Ummah what is promised for it (i.e. schisms, spread of innovations, etc.)." (4:1961, Eng. trans. IV:1344)
- No isnad exists for this hadith: as-Subki (d. 756H) said, "It is not known to the scholars of hadith, and I cannot find an isnad for it, whether sahih, da'if, or mawdu'." It, along with the previous one, is often used to justify the following two extremes: (i) blind following of the views of men, with no reference to the Qur'an and Sunnah; (ii) conveniently following whichever scholar holds the easiest view, or that most agreeable to one's desires, again without reference to the fundamental sources.
- Numerous narrations of this hadith are found in the collections of Abu Da'wud, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, Ahmad and others: they vary in being sahih, hasan, or da'if, but the hadith is established. Among those who have authenticated this hadith are at-Tirmidhi, al-Hakim, ash-Shatibi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, adh-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar and al-'Iraqi. Most narrations mention the splitting-up of the Jews and the Christians into seventy-one or seventy-two sects, all being in the Fire except one, prior to mention of the Muslims dividing even more. In some of the narrations, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) describes the Saved Sect variously as "the Jama'ah (community, congregation, main body)", "the largest body (as-sawad al-a'zam)" and "that which follows what I and my Companions are upon." The hadith does not mean that the majority of Muslims will be in the Hellfire, for most of them ("the masses") are not involved in intentional, divisive innovation; further, mention of the Fire does not necessarily imply that the seventy-two sects will remain there forever, or that those sects are disbelievers.
- Although the Mahdi is not mentioned explicitly in the collections of al-Bukhari and Muslim, numerous sahih ahadith, which are mutawatir in meaning, speak of the coming of the Mahdi, a man named Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah and a descendant of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) through Fatimah, who will be the Leader (Imam, Khalifah) of the Muslims, rule for seven years and fill the world with justice and equity after it had been filled with tyranny and oppression. He will also fight the Dajjal along with Jesus son of Mary. The author, in his The Concept of the Mahdi Among the Ahlus-Sunnah, has named 37 scholars who collected ahadith about the Mahdi with their own isnad and 69 later scholars who wrote in support of the concept, compared to 8 scholars who rejected the idea. The ahadith prophesying the Dajjal (False Christ), a one-eyed man who will have miraculous powers and will be followed by the Jews, and the return of Jesus Christ son of Mary (peace be upon them), who will descend in Damascus and pray behind the Mahdi, kill the Dajjal at the gate of Lod in Palestine, break the cross, kill the pig, marry and have children and live for forty years before dying a natural death, are mutawatir in meaning. They have been collected by al-Bukhari and Muslim, as well as other traditionists.
- Mutawatir in meaning, and collected by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.
- Mutawatir in meaning, and collected by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others. Mention of the inadmissibility of intercession on the Day of Judgment in the Qur'an, e.g. 2:48 2:123, must be understood in the light of other verses, e.g. 20:109 and sahih ahadith. The reward of seeing Allah for the believers is referred to in the Qur'an, e.g. 75:22-23 and 83:15. These ahadith and those of the previous two categories were generally rejected by the classical Mu'tazilah (Rationalists), as well by those influenced by them today, on one or more of the following bases: (i) they contradict the Qur'an (in their view); (ii) they contradict Reason (in their view), and (iii) they are ahad, not mutawatir, and hence not acceptable in matters of belief (a flawed argument). Hence, the scholars who wrote the 'aqidah (creed) of the Ahlus-Sunnah included these concepts in it, to confirm their denial of the wrong ideas of the Mu'tazilah. Other authentic ahadith rejected by the Mu'tazilah are many, and include those describing the Prophet's Mi'raj (ascension to the heavens), which are again mutawatir in meaning.
- The hadith with this wording is da'if, but its meaning is contained in the hadith of Ibn Majah and an-Nisa'i that a man came to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said, "O Messenger of Allah! I intend to go on a (military) expedition, but I have come to ask your advice." He said, "Is your mother alive?" He said, "Yes." He said, "Then stay with her, for the Garden is under her feet." This latter hadith is declared to be sahih by al-Hakim, adh-Dhahabi and al-Mundhiri.98
- A sahih hadith, collected by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.
- This hadith has many chains of narration on the authority of more than a dozen Companions, including twenty Successors apparently reporting from Anas alone. They are collected by Ibn Majah, Al-Bayhaqi, At-Tabarani and others, but all of them are da'if, according to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishaq ibn Rahuwayh, Ibn 'Abdul-Barr, Al-Bazzar and others, although some scholars authenticated a few of the chains. Al-Bayhaqi said that its text is mashhur while its isnad is da'if, while Al-Hakim and Ibn As-Salah regarded it as a prime example of a mashhur hadith which is not sahih. However, it is regarded by later scholars of hadith as having enough chains of narration to be strengthened to the level of hasan or sahih, a view which is stated by al-Mizzi, al-'Iraqi, Ibn Hajar, as-Suyuti and al-Albani.99
- This additional statement is found in a few of the (weak) narrations of the previous hadith, and is declared as mawdu' by Ibn Hibban, Ibn al-Jawzi, as-Sakhawi and al-Albani.100
- Mentioned by al-Manjaniqi in his collection of ahadith of older narrators reporting from younger ones, on the authority of al-Hasan al-Basri. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said that it is mawdu' as a narration from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), but that it is a statement of al-Hasan al-Basri.101
- Related as marfu' by al-Bayhaqi with a da'if isnad, according to al-'Iraqi. Ibn Hajar said that it is actually a saying of Ibrahim ibn Abi 'Ablah, a Successor.102
*NB: The scholars of hadith agree that a da'if or mawdu' hadith must not be attributed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), e.g. by saying, "The Prophet said: ...", even if the meaning is considered to be correct or if it is actually the saying of a Muslim scholar, for that would be a way of lying about the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).