Suhaib Hasan
Al-Quran Society

Author:Dr. Suhaib Hasan
Editorial, Foreword & Appendix: Usama Hasan
Cover design:Zaynah Na'eem

(c) 1994.

ISSN:     0952-7834


Al-Quran Society,
101 Belmont Road,
London N17 6AT.


A.    "The  Study  of  Al-Quran"  Correspondence
Course (Lessons 1-20).

B.   Understanding Islam Series.
     1. The Muslim Creed
     2. Faith in Predestination
     3. The Many Shades of Shirk
     4. An Introduction to the Qur'an
     5. An Introduction to the Sunnah
     6. The Role of the Mosque in Islam
     7. Why do we Pray?
     8. The Rights and Duties of Women in Islam

C.   General.
     Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble
     The Truth about Ahmadiyyat (a refutation of
      Criticism  of  Hadith among  Muslims  with
reference to Sunan Ibn Maja.
     The Crumbling Minarets of Spain.
     An Introduction to the Science of Hadith.

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    An Introduction to the Science of Hadith


Some      commonly-quoted      ahadith 2

A  brief  history  of  Mustalah  al-Hadith 5
Mustalah al-Hadith (the Classification  of Hadith) 6
Rijal al-Hadith (the study of the reporters of Hadith) 8

According to the reference to a particular authority  10
According  to  the  links  in  the  isnad 11
According  to the number of  reporters  in
each stage of the isnad  19
According to the manner in which the hadith is reported 22
According  to the nature of the  text  and isnad 24
According to a hidden defect found in  the
isnad or text of a hadith     27
According to the reliability and memory of the reporters 31


APPENDIX:  Verdicts on the ahadith mentioned  in
the Foreword        42 50


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.
        (Al-Qur'an, Surah al-Hijr, 15:9)

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 Deen at the beginning of  every

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):

1)  "Surah  al-Ikhlas is worth a  third  of  the
2)  The  hadith about the Ninety-Name  Names  of
3)  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."
4)   Allah  says,  "Were  it  not  for  you   (O
Muhammad),   I  would  not  have   created   the
5) When Allah completed creation, He wrote in  a
Book  (which  is)  with Him, above  His  Throne,
"Verily, My Mercy will prevail over My Wrath."
6)  Allah says, "Neither My heaven nor My  earth
can  contain  Me, but the heart of My  believing
slave can contain Me."
7) "He who knows himself, knows his Lord."
8) "Where is Allah?"
9) "Love of one's homeland is part of Faith."
10)  "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."
11)  "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."
12)  The hadith giving ten Companions, by  name,
the good tidings of Paradise.
13) "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."
14) "I am the City of Knowledge, and 'Ali is its
15)   "My   companions  are  like   the   stars:
whichever  of  them  you  follow,  you  will  be
16) "The differing amongst my Ummah is a mercy."
17)  "My  Ummah will split up into seventy-three
sects:  seventy-two will be in the Fire, and one
in the Garden."
18)  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.
19)  Description of punishment and bliss in  the
grave,   for   the  wicked  and   pious   people
20) Intercession by the Prophet (may Allah bless
him  and  grant  him peace), and  the  believers
seeing Allah, on the Day of Judgment.
21) "Paradise is under the feet of mothers."
22) "Paradise is under the shade of swords."
23)  "Seeking  knowledge is a  duty  upon  every
24)  "Seek knowledge, even if you have to go  to
25)  "The ink of the scholar is holier than  the
blood of the martyr."
26)  "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 al-

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


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
b.   al-Mubarak  (d.  181  AH),   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. 179) said, "The
first one to utilise the isnad was Ibn Shihab al-
Zuhri"  (d.  124).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. 110), a Successor, said, "They  would
not  ask  about the isnad.  But when the  fitnah
(trouble,  turmoil,  esp. civil  war)  happened,
they  said:   Name  to  us  your  men.   So  the
narrations  of  the Ahl al-Sunnah (Adherents  to
the  Sunnah) would be accepted, while  those  of
the  Ahl  al-Bid'ah  (Adherents  to  Innovation)
would not be accepted."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

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 Al-Risalah of al-
Shafi'i (d. 204), the Introduction to the  Sahih
of  Muslim (d. 261) and the Jami' of al-Tirmidhi
(d.   279);   many  of  the  criteria  of  early
traditionists, e.g. al-Bukhari, were deduced  by
later  scholars  from a careful study  of  which
reporters  or isnads 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
al-Ramahurmuzi   (d.  360).   The   next   major
contribution was Ma'rifah 'Ulum al-Hadith by al-
Hakim    (d.    405),   which   covered    fifty
classifications of Hadith, but still  left  some
points  untouched;  Abu Nu'aim  al-Isbahani  (d.
430) completed some of the missing parts to this
work.   After that came Al-Kifayah fi  'Ilm  al-
Riwayah  of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d.  463)  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 Qadi  'Iyad  al-
Yahsubi  (d.  544) and Abu Hafs  al-Mayanji  (d.
580) 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  al-Salah  (d.
643), commonly known as Muqaddimah Ibn al-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 al-Salah are:

  An abridgement of Muqaddimah, Al-Irshad by al-
  Nawawi (d. 676), which he later summarised  in
  his  Taqrib;   al-Suyuti (d. 911)  compiled  a
  valuable  commentary  on the  latter  entitled
  Tadrib al-Rawi.
  Ikhtisar  'Ulum  al-Hadith of Ibn  Kathir  (d.
  774),  Al-Khulasah of al-Tibi  (d.  743),  Al-
  Minhal of Badr al-Din b. Jama'ah (d. 733), Al-
  Muqni' of Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 802) and Mahasin
  al-Istilah  of  al-Balqini (d.  805),  all  of
  which  are abridgements of Muqaddimah Ibn  al-
  Al-Nukat of al-Zarkashi (d. 794), Al-Taqyid wa
  'l-Idah of al-'Iraqi (d. 806) and Al-Nukat  of
  Ibn  Hajar al-'Asqalani (d. 852), all of which
  are further notes on the points made by Ibn al-
  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  al-Sakhawi (d. 903), Qatar al-Durar of al-
  Suyuti  and  Fath al-Baqi of Shaykh Zakariyyah
  al-Ansari (d. 928).

Other notable treatises on Mustalah include:

  Al-Iqtirah of Ibn Daqiq al-'Id (d. 702).
  Tanqih  al-Anzar of Muhammad  b.  Ibrahim  al-
  Wazir (d. 840), the subject of a commentary by
  al-Amir al-San'ani (d. 1182).
  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.  1014), 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Munawi (d.  1031)
  and  Muhammad  b.  'Abd al-Hadi  al-Sindi  (d.
  1138).   Among those who rephrased the Nukhbah
  in  poetic form are al-Tufi (d. 893)  and  al-
  Amir al-San'ani.
  Alfiyyah  al-Hadith  of  al-Suyuti,  the  most
  comprehensive poetic work in the field.
  Al-Manzumah of al-Baiquni, which was  expanded
  upon  by, amongst others, al-Zurqani (d. 1122)
  and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (d. 1307).
  Qawa'id  al-Tahdith of Jamal al-Din  al-Qasimi
  (d. 1332).
  Taujih  al-Nazar  of  Tahir  al-Jaza'iri   (d.
  1338), a summary of al-Hakim's Ma'rifah.

Mustalah al-Hadith

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

  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),   mauquf  (stopped)   and   maqtu'
  (severed) respectively .

  According  to  the links in  the  isnad,  i.e.
  whether  the chain of reporters is interrupted
  or  uninterrupted,  e.g.  musnad  (supported),
  muttasil   (continuous),  munqati'   (broken),
  mu'allaq  (hanging), mu'dal  (perplexing)  and
  mursal (hurried).

  According to the number of reporters  involved
  in  each  stage  of the isnad, e.g.  mutawatir
  (consecutive) and ahad (isolated), the  latter
  being  divided into gharib (scarce,  strange),
  'aziz (rare, strong), and mashhur (famous).

  According  to the manner in which  the  hadith
  has been reported, such as using the 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)

[Note:   In  the  quotation  of  isnads  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 reliable one,  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

  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

Rijal al-Hadith

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), Hafiz (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. 233),  Tabaqat  of
Khalifa  b.  Khayyat  (d. 240),  Tarikh  of  al-
Bukhari (d. 256), Kitab al-Jarh wa 'l-Ta'dil  of
Ibn  Abi  Hatim (d. 327) and Tabaqat of Muhammad
b. Sa'd (d. 320).

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.
256),  Muslim (d. 261), Abu Dawud (d. 275),  al-
Tirmidhi (d. 279) and al-Nasa'i (d. 303), giving
authenticating   and  disparaging   remarks   in
detail.   The first major such work  to  include
also the reporters of Ibn Majah (d. 273) is  the
ten-volume collection of al-Hafiz 'Abd  al-Ghani
al-Maqdisi (d. 600), known as Al-Kamal fi  Asma'
al-Rijal.   Later,  Jamal al-Din  Abu  'l-Hajjaj
Yusuf  b.  'Abd  al-Rahman  al-Mizzi  (d.   742)
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'  al-Rijal and  produced  it  in
twelve  volumes.   Further,  one  of  al-Mizzi's
gifted   pupils,  Shams  al-Din  Abu   'Abdullah
Muhammad  b.  Ahmad b. 'Uthman  b.  Qa'imaz  al-
Dhahabi  (d. 748), summarised his shaikh's  work
and  produced  two abridgements:  a  longer  one
called  Tadhhib al-Tahdhib  and  a  shorter  one
called  Al-Kashif  fi Asma' Rijal  al-Kutub  al-

A  similar effort with the work of al-Mizzi  was
made  by  Ibn  Hajar (d. 852),  who  prepared  a
lengthy  but abridged version, with  about  one-
third  of the original omitted, entitled Tahdhib
al-Tahdhib in twelve shorter volumes.  Later, he
abridged this further to a relatively-humble two-
volume work called Taqrib al-Tahdhib.

The work of al-Dhahabi was not left unedited; al-
Khazraji  (Safi  al-Din Ahmad b.  'Abdullah,  d.
after  923) summarised it and also made valuable
additions, producing his Khulasah.

A  number  of  similar works  deal  with  either
trustworthy reporters only, e.g. Kitab al-Thiqat
by  al-'Ijli (d. 261) and Tadhkirah al-Huffaz by
al-Dhahabi, or with disparaged authorities only,
e.g.  Kitab  al-Du'afa' wa  al-Matrukin  by  al-
Nasa'i  and  Kitab al-Majruhin  by  Muhammad  b.
Hibban al-Busti (d. 354).

Two  more  works in this field which  include  a
large  number  of reporters, both  authenticated
and  disparaged,  are Mizan  al-I'tidal  of  al-
Dhahabi and Lisan al-Mizan of Ibn Hajar.
                    SECTION B



The  following  principal types  of  hadith  are

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-Humaidi 'Abdullah b.  al-Zubair
===  Sufyan  ===  Yahya b. Sa'id  al-Ansari  ===
Muhammad  b.  Ibrahim al-Taymi ===  'Alqamah  b.
Waqqas al-Laithi, who said: I heard 'Umar b. 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

Mauquf - "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 al-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

  "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.  110)  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.  375),  Al-
Muwatta' contains the following:

     600 marfu' ahadith,
     613 mauquf ahadith,
     285 maqtu' ahadith, and
      228  mursal  ahadith;   a  total  of  1726

Among  other collections, relatively more mauquf
and  maqtu' ahadith are found in Al-Musannaf  of
Ibn Abi Shaibah (d. 235), Al-Musannaf of 'Abd al-
Razzaq (d. 211) and the Tafsirs of Ibn Jarir (d.
310),  Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327) and Ibn al-Mundhir
(d. 319).7



Al-Hakim  defines a musnad ("supported")  hadith
as follows:

  "A  hadith which a traditionist reports from
  his  shaikh  from whom he is known  to  have
  heard  (ahadith) at a time of life  suitable
  for  learning,  and similarly  in  turn  for
  each shaikh, 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

  We  reported from Abu 'Amr 'Uthman b.  Ahmad
  al-Sammak   al-Baghdadi  ===   Al-Hasan   b.
  Mukarram  === 'Uthman b. 'Amr === Yunus  ---
  al-Zuhri --- 'Abdullah b. Ka'b b. 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 al-Simak is well-
  known,  as  is  his from Ibn  Mukarram;  al-
  Hasan's  link with 'Uthman b. 'Amr  and  the
  latter's  with Yunus b. Zaid  are  known  as
  well;  Yunus is always remembered  with  al-
  Zuhri, and the latter with the sons of  Ka'b
  b.  Malik,  whose link to their  father  and
  his  companionship of the Prophet (may Allah
  bless  him  and grant him peace)  are  well-

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 b. 'Abd al-
Hamid  al-Himmani (d. 228) at Kufah and Musaddad
b.  Musarhad  (d. 228) at Basrah.   The  largest
existing  collection  of ahadith  of  Companions
arranged in this manner is that of Imam Ahmad b.
Hanbal  (d.  241), which contains around  thirty
thousand  ahadith.   Another  larger   work   is
attributed to the famous Andalusian traditionist
Baqi   b.  Makhlad  al-Qurtubi  (d.  276),   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-
Auza'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-
Husain,  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-
Husain 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."
Al-Dhahabi says, "No, the hadith is munqati' and
da'if, because Shaddad never met Umm al-Fadl and
Muhammad b. Mus'ab is weak."11

Example of a mu'dal hadith

Ibn Abi Hatim === Ja'far b. Ahmad b. al-Hakam Al-
Qurashi  in the year 254 === Sulaiman b.  Mansur
b.  'Ammar  ===  'Ali  b. 'Asim  ---  Sa'id  ---
Qatadah --- Ubayy b. 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

Ibn  Kathir  remarks, "This is a gharib  hadith.
There is inqita', in fact i'dal, between Qatadah
and  Ubayy  b.  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

(i)  the  Marasil  of elder Successors  such  as
Sa'id  b. al-Musayyab (d. 94) and 'Ata'  b.  Abi
Rabah  (d. 114) 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:

1) 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

  "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

2)  Imam  Abu  Hanifah (d. 150) holds  the  same
opinion  as Malik; he accepts the Mursal  Hadith
whether  or  not  it  is  supported  by  another

3)  Imam al-Shafi'i (d. 204) has discussed  this
issue  in  detail in his al-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

On  the  basis  of  these arguments,  al-Shafi'i
accepts  the Irsal of Sa'id b. al-Musayyab,  one
of  the  elder  Successors.   For  example,  al-
Shafi'i  considers the issue of selling meat  in
exchange for a living animal: he says that Malik
told  him,  reporting from Zaid  b.  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

4)  Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241) 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  maudu', 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).

5)  Ibn  Hazm (d. 456) rejects the Mursal Hadith
outright;   he   says   that   the   Mursal   is
unacceptable, whether it comes through Sa'id  b.
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

6)  Abu Dawud (d . 275) 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

7)  Ibn  Abi  Hatim (d. 327)  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.

8)  Al-Hakim (d. 405) 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
b. Harun who asked Hammad b. Laith:

  "O  Abu  Isma'il! Did Allah mention the  Ahl
  al-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)'
  (Qur'an, 9:l22).

  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

9)   Al-Khatib  al-Baghdadi  (d.  462)  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 isnads 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 isnads going back  to  Shu'bah
and  Sufyan  al-Thauri; the  remainder  of  each
isnad is:

  Sufyan al-Thauri 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  isnads
going  back  to Yunus b. Abi Ishaq,  Isra'il  b.
Yunus and Qais b. al-Rabi'; the remainder of the
first isnad is:

 Yunus b. 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 al-Thauri  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

10) Ibn al-Salah (d. 643) agrees with al-Shafi'i
in  rejecting  the Mursal Hadith  unless  it  is
proved to have come through a musnad route.26

11)  Ibn  Taimiyyah  (d. 728) 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
  all  such mursal ahadith which go against  the
  reports  made by reliable authorities will  be
  rejected completely."27

12)  Al-Dhahabi (d. 748) regards the  Mursal  of
younger Successors such as al-Hasan al-Basri, al-
Zuhri,  Qatadah  and  Humaid  al-Tawil  as   the
weakest type of Mursal.28

Later scholars such as Ibn Kathir (d. 744),  al-
'Iraqi  (d. 806), Ibn Hajar (d. 852),  al-Suyuti
(d. 911), Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Wazir (d. 840),
Jamal  al-Din al-Qasimi (d. 1332) and Tahir  al-
Jaza'iri   (d.   1338)  have  given   exhaustive
discussions about this issue, but none  of  them
holds  an  opinion different to those  mentioned


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

Al-Ghazali (d. 505) 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

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   Haud   Kauthar  (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 b.  Abi
Salih  ---  Abu  Hurairah --- 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  b.
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:
(i)  similar to gharib, i.e. a single person  is
found reporting it from a well-known Imam;
(ii)  the people of one locality only are  known
to narrate the hadith;
(iii)  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  b.
Shu'aib, report this hadith from Anas,  and  two
more   reporters  narrate  from  each  of  them:
Shu'bah  and  Sa'id  report  from  Qatada,   and
Isma'il b. Ulayyah and 'Abd al-Warith from  'Abd
al-'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  al-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

According  to al-'Ala'i (Abu Sa'id Khalil  Salah
al-Din, d. 761), 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 Hudhaifah b. al-Yaman  and  Abu
Hurairah  only.   It  later becomes  mashhur  as
seven people report it from Abu Hurairah.37


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   shaikh,
whereas the mode U 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
shaikh.   Ibn  al-Salah describes two  types  of

a)  tadlis al-isnad.  A person reports from  his
shaikh  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
b) tadlis al-shuyukh.  The reporter does mention
his  shaikh  by name, but uses a less well-known
name,  by-name, nickname etc., in order  not  to
disclose his shaikh's identity.38

Al-'Iraqi  (d. 806), in his notes on  Muqaddimah
Ibn al-Salah, adds a third type of tadlis:
c)  tadlis al-taswiyyah.  To explain it, let  us
assume  an  isnad which contains  a  trustworthy
shaikh  reporting from a weak authority, who  in
turn  reports  from another trustworthy  shaikh.
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
shaikh  but  he uses the mode "on the  authority
of"  to link his immediate shaikh 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
b.  al-Walid, Walid b. Muslim, al-A'mash and al-
Thauri.   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-
   Those  who  are  known to do it occasionally,
   such as Yahya b. 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
   al-Thauri (d. 161), or because they  reported
   from  authentic authorities only, e.g. Sufyan
   Ibn 'Uyainah (d. 198).
   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 'l-
   Zubair al-Makki, whose ahadith narrated  from
   the  Companion Jabir b. '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 b. al-
   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. 170)
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  isnads,
each  having a different characteristic repeated

  use of the phrase sami'tu  (I heard);
  the expression "stand and pour water for me so
  that  I  may  illustrate  the  way  my  shaikh
  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.


Shadhdh & Munkar

According to al-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 b. Sa'id  al-Ansari
from  Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Taimi 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 al-Tirmidhi
transmit, through the following isnad:

  'Abdul Wahid b. Ziyad --- al-A'mash ---  Abu
  Salih --- Abu Hurairah === 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-Baihaqi 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

According  to  Ibn Hajar, if a  narration  which
goes   against  another  authentic   hadith   is
reported  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. 463) quotes al-Rabi' b. Khaitham (d. 63)  as

  "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-Auza'i (d. 157) 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

Ibn  Kathir quotes the following two ahadith  in
his  Tafsir,  the first of which is  acceptable,
whereas  the  second  contradicts  it   and   is

  (i)  Ahmad  === Abu Mu'awiyah === Hisham  b.
  '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'."

  (ii)  Al-Bazzar === 'Abdullah b. Shabib  ===
  Abu  Bakr b. Abi Shaibah === Abu Qatadah al-
  'Adawi  --- the nephew of al-Zuhri  ---  al-
  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 Quraish
  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  al-
  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 ziyadatu 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  b.  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  b.  Ziyad  --- Abu  Hurairah  ---  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 Hurairah, 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  Hurairah 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

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.


Before discussing ma'lul (defective) ahadith,  a
brief   note  on  mudtarib  (shaky)  and  maqlub
(reversed)  ahadith would help in  understanding


According  to Ibn Kathir, if reporters  disagree
about  a particular shaikh, 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

  "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'  b.
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:

(i)   Hanzalah asked Rafi', "What about  renting
for  gold and silver?"  He replied, "It does not
matter if it is rent for gold and silver."
(ii)   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."
(iii)   Salim --- Rafi' --- his two  uncles  ---
the  Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant  him
peace), who forbade the renting of farming land.
(iv)  The son of Rafi' --- Rafi' --- the Prophet
(may  Allah bless him and grant him peace),  who
forbade the renting of land.
(v)   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."
(vi)   Zaid  b. 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  b.
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  Khaibar  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 Hurairah
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  b. Muslim instead of Muslim b. Walid,  or
Ka'b b. Murrah instead of Murrah b. Ka'b.60

Ma'lul or Mu'allal

Ibn  al-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:
(i) declaring a hadith musnad when it is in fact
mursal, or marfu' when it is in fact mauquf;
(ii)  showing  a  reporter to narrate  from  his
shaikh  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. 324) says that such a  defect
can  only  be  revealed if all the isnads  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. 110, aged 88) did not
see 'Ali (d. 40), 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. 234), Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi
(d.  327),  al-Khallal (d. 311) and al-Daraqutni
(d. 385), 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

An example of a ma'lul hadith is one transmitted
by  Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, 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 Taimiyyah says,

  "Men  more  knowledgeable than Muslim,  such
  as  al-Bukhari  and  Yahya  b.  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


The  final  verdict  on  a  hadith,  i.e.  sahih
(sound),  hasan (good), da'if (weak)  or  maudu'
(fabricated, forged), depends critically on this

Among  the  early traditionists, mostly  of  the
first  two  centuries, ahadith  were  classified
into  two categories only: sahih and da'if;  al-
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.


Al-Shafi'i  states the following requirement  in
order for a hadith which is not mutawatir to  be

  "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  huffaz
  (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  al-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:  al-
Shafi'i  ---  Malik --- Nafi' ---  'Abdullah  b.
'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

The following grading is given for sahih ahadith

(i)  those  which are transmitted  by  both  al-
Bukhari and Muslim;
(ii)  those  which are transmitted by al-Bukhari
(iii)  those  which  are transmitted  by  Muslim
those  which  are  not found in  the  above  two
collections, but
(iv)  which agree with the requirements of  both
al-Bukhari and Muslim;
(v)  which  agree with the requirements  of  al-
Bukhari only;
(vi) which agree with the requirements of Muslim
only; and
(vii)    those   declared   sahih    by    other


Al-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.  388)  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   al-Salah   classifies   hasan   into   two

(i)  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;
(ii) 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 al-Salah requires  that
the    hadith   be   free   of   any    shudhudh

Al-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."72  In the light
of  this  definition, the following  isnads  are
hasan according to al-Dhahabi:

(i)  Bahz  b.  Hakam  ---  his  father  ---  his
(ii)  'Amr  b.  Shu'aib --- his father  ---  his
(iii)  Muhammad b. 'Amr --- Abu Salamah ---  Abu

Reporters such as al-Harith b. 'Abdullah,  'Asim
b. Damurah, Hajjaj b. Artat, Khusaif b. 'Abd al-
Rahman  and Darraj Abu al-Samh attract different
verdicts:   some  traditionists  declare   their
ahadith hasan, others declare them da'if.73

Example of a hasan hadith

Malik,   Abu  Dawud,  al-Tirmidhi  and  al-Hakim
reported  through  their  isnads  from  'Amr  b.
Shu'aib --- 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."

Al-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 al-Tirmidhi  and
Ibn  al-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  ghairihi  (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 ghairihi, 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

Da'if (U!Y)

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 maudu' (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 b. Lahi'ah (a  famous  judge
from  Egypt), 'Abd al-Rahman b. Zaid  b.  Aslam,
Abu  Bakr  b.  Abi  Maryam  al-Himsi,  Faraj  b.
Fadalah, and Rishdin b. Sa'd  attract such types
of  varying ranks as they are neither  extremely
good  preservers  nor totally abandoned  by  the


Al-Dhahabi  defines maudu' (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  al-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-Jauzi in al-Maudu'at, al-Jauzaqani in
Kitab  al-Abatil,  al-Suyuti  in  al-La'ali  al-
Masnu'ah fi 'l-Ahadith al-Maudu'ah, and 'Ali al-
Qari in al-Maudu'at.

Some  of these ahadith were known to be spurious
by  the  confession  of  their  inventors.   For
example,  Muhammad  b. Sa'id al-Maslub  used  to
say, "It is not wrong to fabricate an isnad  for
a   sound   statement."79    Another   notorious
inventor,  'Abd  al-Karim Abu 'l-Auja,  who  was
killed and crucified by Muhammad b. Sulaiman  b.
'Ali,  governor of Basrah, admitted that he  had
fabricated   four  thousand  ahadith   declaring
lawful the prohibited and vice-versa.80

Maudu'  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  b.  al-
Khattab  decided to expel the Jews from Khaibar,
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 b. Mu'adh  and
Mu'awiyah  b.  Abi Sufyan.  'Umar  rejected  the
document   outright,   knowing   that   it   was
fabricated because the conquest of Khaibar  took
place in 6 AH, whereas Sa'd b. Mu'adh died in  3
AH  just  after  the Battle of the  Trench,  and
Mu'awiyah  embraced Islam in  8  AH,  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

(i) political differences;
(ii) factions based on issues of creed;
(iii)  fabrications by zanadiqah (enemies-within
spreading heretical beliefs);
(iv) fabrications by story-tellers;
(v) fabrications by ignorant ascetics;
(vi)  prejudice  in favour of town,  race  or  a
particular imam;
(vii) inventions for personal motives;
(viii) 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


The  above-mentioned classification  of  ahadith
plays   a   vital   role  in  ascertaining   the
authenticity of a particular narration.  Ibn al-
Salah mentions sixty-five terms in his book,  of
which  twenty-three have been  discussed  above.
Two  further types not included by Ibn al-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

1)    Knowledge  of  i'tibar  ("consideration"),
mutaba'ah     ("follow-up")     and     shawahid

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 b. Salamah -
--  Ayyub --- Ibn Sirin --- Abu Hurairah --- 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

2)  Afrad (singular narrations).

3)    The  type  of  character  required  in  an
acceptable reporter.

4)  The way a hadith is heard, and the different
ways of acquiring ahadith.

5)   How  a  hadith is written, and  punctuation
marks used.

6)  The way a hadith is reported.

7)  The manners required in traditionists.

8)  The manners required in students of Hadith.

9)   Knowledge of a higher or lower isnad  (i.e.
one with less or more reporters respectively).

10)  Knowledge of difficult words.

11)  Knowledge of abrogated ahadith.

12)   Knowledge of altered words in  a  text  or

13)  Knowledge of contradictory ahadith.

14)   Knowledge of additions made  to  an  isnad
(i.e.  by an inserting the name of an additional

15)   Knowledge  of  a  well-concealed  type  of
mursal hadith.

16)  Knowledge of the Companions.

17)  Knowledge of the Successors.

18)   Knowledge of elders reporting from younger

19)   Knowledge  of  reporters  similar  in  age
reporting from each other.

20)   Knowledge  of brothers and  sisters  among

21)   Knowledge of fathers reporting from  their

22)   Knowledge  of  sons reporting  from  their

23)  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.

24)   Knowledge  of such authorities  from  whom
only one person reported.

25)   Knowledge of such reporters who are  known
by a number of names and titles.

26)   Knowledge  of  unique  names  amongst  the
Companions  in particular and the  reporters  in

27)  Knowledge of names and by-names (kunyah).

28)   Knowledge of by-names for reporters  known
by their names only.

29)   Knowledge  of  nicknames  (alqab)  of  the

30)   Knowledge of mu'talif and mukhtalif (names
written  similarly but pronounced  differently),
e.g.  Kuraiz and Kariz.

31)  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).

32)  Names covering both the previous types.

33)   Names  looking  similar  but  they  differ
because  of  the  difference in  their  father's
names,  e.g.  Yazid b. al-Aswad and al-Aswad  b.

34)    Names  attributed  to  other  than  their
fathers,  e.g. Isma'il b. Umayyah; in this  case
Umayyah is the mother's name.

35)   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 b. 'Abdul Karim  al-
Dall  ("the  one going astray"), not because  of
his  beliefs but because he lost his  way  while
travelling to Makkah;  and 'Abdullah b. Muhammad
al-Da'if  ("the  weak"),  not  because  of   his
reliability  in  Hadith,  but  due  to  a   weak

36)  Knowledge of ambiguous reporters by finding
out their names.

37)   Knowledge of the dates of birth and  death
of reporters.

38)    Knowledge   of   trustworthy   and   weak

39)   Knowledge  of  trustworthy  reporters  who
became confused in their old age.

40)   Knowledge of contemporaries in  a  certain

41)  Knowledge of free slaves (mawali) amongst the

42)  Knowledge of the homelands and home towns  of

    Verdicts on the ahadith mentioned in the

1)   Mutawatir,  as declared by  many  scholars,
including Ibn Taimiyyah, al-Suyuti, Najm  al-Din
al-Iskandari (d. 981) and al-'Ijlouni (d. 1162).
About this hadith, al-Daraqutni said, "It is the
most authentic one regarding the virtues of  any
surah."  It is related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and
2)   The  following is the sahih hadith  of  al-
Bukhari, Muslim, al-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  al-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 Sahihs.
Al-Tirmidhi says in his Sunan, "This (version of
the)  hadith  is gharib;  it has  been  narrated
from  various  routes on the  authority  of  Abu
Hurairah,  but we do not know of the mention  of
the  Names  in  the numerous narrations,  except
this  one."  Ibn Taimiyyah 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  Ja'far  al-
Sadiq, Sufyan b. 'Uyainah, Ibn Hazm, al-Qurtubi,
Ibn Hajar and Salih b. 'Uthaimin.
3)   Ibn  Taimiyyah 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. 794), Ibn Hajar, al-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
4)  Al-'Ijlouni says, "Al-Saghani (d. 650) said:
Maudu'.   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  al-
Dailami  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 al-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  al-Dailami,   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  al-Dailami is alone in reporting  it.   As
for  the  narration of Ibn 'Asakir, Ibn al-Jauzi
also  related  it in a long marfu'  hadith  from
Salman  and  said, 'It is maudu', and  al-Suyuti
endorsed this in al-La'ali."89
5) Sahih - related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
6) Al-'Ijlouni says, "Al-Ghazali mentioned it in
Ihya' 'Ulum al-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 al-Suyuti agreed with  him,
following  al-Zarkashi.   Al-'Iraqi  then  said,
"But  in the hadith of Abu 'Utbah in al-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 Taimiyyah 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."  Al-Sakhawi said in Al-
Maqasid, following his shaykh al-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  Taimiyyah's mention of Israelite  tradition
refers to what Ahmad has related in Al-Zuhd from
Wahb b. 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  al-
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 b. 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 al-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 b. al-Walid, a mudallis,
but he has clearly stated hearing the hadith."90
Al-Albani  rates this last hadith  mentioned  as
7) Al-Nawawi said, "It is not established."  Ibn
Taimiyyah said, "Maudu'."  Al-Sam'ani said,  "It
is  not known as marfu', but it is quoted  as  a
statement  of  Yahya  b. Mu'adh  al-Razi."   Al-
Suyuti  endorsed  al-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 al-Nawawi's verdict, "... but the  books
of  the  Sufis, such as Shaykh Muhi  al-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
8)  Sahih.  Related by Malik in Al-Muwatta', al-
Shafi'i in Al-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.
9)  Maudu', as stated by al-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!
10)     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);   al-Shafi'i says, "I have  heard  the
most  knowledgeable people about the Qur'an  say
that the Wisdom is the Sunnah" (Al-Risalah, Eng.
trans., p. 111).
11)  Sahih.  Related by al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad,  Ibn
Abi 'Asim, al-Hakim, al-Tabarani, al-Dailami and
al-Tahawi.95  The phrase Ahl al-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 & Husain, 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.
12)  A  sahih hadith related by Abu  Dawud,  al-
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;  al-Zubair will be in  the  Garden;
'Abd  al-Rahman b. 'Auf will be in  the  Garden;
Sa'd  b. Abi Waqqas will be in the Garden; Sa'id
b.  Zaid will be in the Garden; Abu 'Ubaidah  b.
al-Jarrah will be in the Garden."
13)  Related by Ishaq b. Rahawaih and al-Baihaqi
with a sahih isnad as a statement of 'Umar.   It
is  also  collected by Ibn 'Adi  and  al-Dailami
from  Ibn  'Umar as marfu', but in its isnad  is
'Isa  b. 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
14) Related by al-Hakim, al-Tabarani and others.
It  is  also  related  by al-Tirmidhi  with  the
wording, "I am the House of Wisdom, and 'Ali  is
its Door".  Al-Daraqutni labelled the hadith  as
mudtarib,  both in isnad and text;   al-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 Abu Zur'ah, Abu
Hatim and Yahya b. Sa'd.  Al-Hakim declared  the
original hadith as sahih in isnad, but  Ibn  al-
Jauzi regarded both versions as maudu', and  al-
Dhahabi  agreed with him.  Several of the  later
scholars, including Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani,  Ibn
Hajar  al-Makki and al-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 maudu'.98
15) A da'if or maudu' hadith, as stated by Ahmad
b.  Hanbal, Ibn 'Abd al-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 my Ummah what is promised for
it (i.e. schisms, spread of innovations, etc.)."
(4:1961, Eng. trans. IV:1344)
16)  No  isnad exists for this hadith:  al-Subki
(d.  756) said, "It is not known to the scholars
of  Hadith, and I cannot find an isnad  for  it,
whether  sahih,  da'if, or maudu'."   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.
17) Numerous narrations of this hadith are found
in  the  collections of Abu Dawud,  al-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 al-Tirmidhi,  al-
Hakim, al-Shatibi, Ibn Taimiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim,
al-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 (al-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.
18)   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 b. '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  Ahl  al-Sunnah, has named 37  scholars  who
collected ahadith about the Mahdi with their own
isnads  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
19)  Mutawatir in meaning, and collected by  al-
Bukhari, Muslim and others.
20)  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  Ahl   al-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
21)  The hadith with this wording is da'if,  but
its  meaning is contained in the hadith  of  Ibn
Majah  and  al-Nasa'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, al-Dhahabi and al-Mundhiri.99
22)  A  sahih  hadith, collected by  al-Bukhari,
Muslim and others.
23) 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-Baihaqi, al-Tabarani and others,  but
all  of  them are da'if, according to  Ahmad  b.
Hanbal, Ishaq b. Rahuwaih, Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-
Bazzar   and  others,  although  some   scholars
authenticated  a few of the chains.   Al-Baihaqi
said that its text is mashhur while its isnad is
da'if,  while al-Hakim and Ibn al-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, al-Suyuti and  al-
24)  This additional statement is found in a few
of the (weak) narrations of the previous hadith,
and is declared as maudu' by Ibn Hibban, Ibn al-
Jauzi, al-Sakhawi and al-Albani.101
25)  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
maudu'  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.102
26) Related as marfu' by al-Baihaqi with a da'if
isnad,  according to al-'Iraqi.  Ibn Hajar  said
that  it is actually a saying of Ibrahim b.  Abi
'Ablah, a Successor.103

*NB:  The scholars of Hadith agree that a  da'if
or  maudu' 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


1  Ar.  Sunnah:  Way, Path, Tradition,  Example.
See  An  Introduction to the  Sunnah  by  Suhaib
Hasan   (Understanding  Islam  Series   no.   5,
published  by  Al-Quran Society),  for  Qur'anic
proofs  of  revelation besides the  Qur'an,  the
importance of the Sunnah, and a brief history of
the  collections of Hadith.  See also  Imam  al-
Shafi'i's   al-Risalah  for  the   authoritative
position  of the Sunnah (Eng. trans.,  pp.  109-
2  related by Imam Muslim in the Introduction to
his  Sahih  - see Sahih Muslim (ed. M.F.  'Abdul
Baqi,  5 vols., Cairo, 1374/1955), 1:15 &  Sahih
Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawi (18 vols. in 6, Cairo,
1349),  1:87.  The existing English  translation
of  Sahih  Muslim, by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi,  does
not     contain    this    extremely    valuable
3  Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi, Al-Jarh wa l-Ta'dil (8
vols., Hyderabad, 1360-1373), 1:20.
4   Sahih  Muslim,  1:15.   See  Suhaib   Hasan,
Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference
to  Sunan  Ibn Maja (Ta Ha publishers / Al-Quran
Society,  London,  1407/1986),  pp.  15-17   for
discussion of this statement of Ibn Sirin.
5 Remarks like these are exceptions from the
basic Islamic prohibition of backbiting (ghibah)
another Muslim, even if the statement is true.
Such exceptions are allowed, even obligatory in
some cases, where general benefit to the Muslim
public is at stake, such as knowing which
ahadith are authentic.  See e.g. Riyad al-
Salihin of al-Nawawi, Chapter on Backbiting, for
the justification for certain types of
backbiting from the Qur'an and Sunnah.
6 Muhammad Adib Salih, Lamahat fi Usul al-Hadith
(2nd ed., al-Maktab al-Islami, Beirut, 1389), p.
7  Tahir  b. Ahmad al-Jaza'iri, Taujih  al-Nazar
ila  Usul  al-Nazar (Maktaba 'Ilmiyyah, Madinah,
N.D.), p. 68.
8 Muhammad b. 'Abdullah al-Hakim, Ma'rifah 'Ulum
al-Hadith (ed. Mu'azzam Husain, Cairo, 1937), p.
9 ibid.
10 Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, Tadrib al-Rawi (ed.
A.A. Latif, 1st ed., Cairo, 1379/1959), 1:197.
11 Al-Dhahabi, Talkhis al-Mustadrak (printed with
Mustadrak al-Hakim, 4 vols., Hyderabad), 3:176.
12 Abu 'l-Fida' 'Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir, Tafsir
al-Qur'an al-Azim (4 vols., Cairo, N.D.), 1:80.
13 Yusuf b. 'Abdullah Ibn 'Abdul Barr, Tajrid al-
Tamhid  lima fi l-Muwatta' min al-Asanid (Cairo,
1350), 1:2.
14 ibid.
15 al-Suyuti, 1:198.
16 For the discussion in detail, see al-Shafi'i,
al-Risalah  (ed. Ahmad Shakir, Cairo, 1358/1940,
pp.  461-470;  English translation: M. Khadduri,
2nd ed., Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1987,
pp.  279-284, where the mursal hadith  has  been
translated as "interrupted tradition").
17  al-Suyuti, 1:199;  Muhammad b.  Mustafa  al-
Ghadamsi,  Al-Mursal min al-Hadith (Darif  Ltd.,
London, N.D.), p.71.
18 Ibn al-Qayyim, I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in (2nd ed., 4
vols.  in  2,  Dar al-Fikr, Beirut,  1397/1977),
19 Ibn Hazm, Al-Ihkam fi Usul al-Ahkam (Matba'ah
al-Sa'adah, Cairo, 1345), 2:135.
20  Al-Hazimi, Shurut al-A'immah al-Khamsah (ed.
M.Z. al-Kauthari, Cairo, N.D.), p. 45.
21 According to the different interpretations of
this verse, "they" here could refer to those who
stay behind, or those who go forth.
22 al-Hakim, p. 26.
23 ibid.
24 Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Al-Kifayah fi 'Ilm al-
Riwayah (Hyderabad, 1357), p. 387.
25 ibid., pp. 411-413.
26  Zain  al-Din al-'Iraqi, Al-Taqyid wa 'l-Idah
Sharh  Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah (al-Maktabah  al-
Salafiyyahh, Madinah, 1389/1969), p. 72
27 Ibn Taymiyyah, Minhaj al-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah
fi  Naqd  Kalam al-Shi'ah wa 'l-Qadariyyah  (al-
Maktabah al-Amiriyyah, Bulaq, 1322), 4:117.
28 Al-Dhahabi, Al-Muqizah (Maktab al-Matbu'at al-
Islamiyyah, Halab, 1405), p. 40.
29 al-Jaza'iri, p. 33.
30 ibid.
31 Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Sharh Nukhbah al-Fikr
(ed. M. 'Aud & M.G. Sabbagh, Damascus,
1410/1990), pp. 8-9.
32  al-Jaza'iri, p. 49;  Muhammad b. Isma'il al-
Amir  al-San'ani, Taudih al-Afkar (2  vols.  ed.
M.M. 'Abdul Hamid, Cairo, 1366), 2:405.
33 al-San'ani, 2:409.
34 al-Hakim, pp. 96-102.
35 al-San'ani, 2:455.
36 al-'Iraqi, p. 268.
37 al-San'ani, 2:406.
38 al-'Iraqi, p. 96.
39 ibid.
40  Ibn  Hajar,  Tabaqat  al-Mudallisin  (Cairo,
1322), p. 7f.
41 al-'Iraqi, p. 98.
42 al-Hakim, pp. 30-34.
43 ibid., p. 119.
44  Ibn  Kathir,  Ikhtisar 'Ulum al-Hadith  (ed.
Ahmad Shakir, 2nd imp., Cairo, 1951), p. 57.
45 al-Suyuti, 1:235;  M. A. Salih, p. 260.
46 al-San'ani, 2:3.
47 ibid., 2:6.
48 al-Khatib, p. 431.
49 Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, 4:349.
50 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar, p. 62.
51 al-Suyuti, 1:248.
52 al-Hakim, p. 39.
53 al-'Iraqi, p. 129f.
54 al-Suyuti, 1:274.
55 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar, p. 72.
56 ibid.
57 Ibn 'Abdul Barr, Al-Tamhid, 3:32, as quoted by
Luqman al-Salafi, Ihtimam al-Muhaddithin bi Naqd
al-Hadith, p. 381f.
58 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar, p. 88.
59 ibid., p. 87.
60  Shams al-Din Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Rahman  al-
Sakhawi,  Fath  al-Mughith  Sharh  Alfiyyah  al-
Hadith li 'l-'Iraqi (Lucknow, N.D.), 1:278.
61 'Uthman b. 'Abd al-Rahman al-Dimashqi Ibn al-
Salah,   'Ulum  al-Hadith  (commonly  known   as
Muqaddimah,  ed.  al-Tabbakh, Halab,  1350),  p.
62  'Ali  b.  'Abdullah b. Ja'far Ibn al-Madini,
Kitab  al-'Ilal, p. 58.  Ibn Hajar  al-'Asqalani
mentions  that the Imams of Hadith  have  agreed
that  al-Hasan  al-Basri did not hear  a  single
word from 'Ali.
63   Sahih   Muslim,  4:2149  (English  transl.,
IV:1462, Sharh Nawawi, 17:133).
64  Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu' Fatawa (37 vols.,  ed.
'Abd  al-Rahman  b.  Qasim & his  son  Muhammad,
Riyad,  1398),  18:18f.  Ibn Taimiyyah  mentions
that Imam Muslim's authentication of this hadith
is  supported by Abu Bakr al-Anbari  &  Ibn  al-
Jauzi,  whereas  al-Baihaqi supports  those  who
disparaged it.  Al-Albani says that it  was  Ibn
al-Madini  who criticised it, whereas Ibn  Ma'in
did not (the latter was known to be very strict,
both  of  them were shaikhs of al-Bukhari).   He
further says that the hadith is sahih, and  does
not  contradict  the  Qur'an,  contrary  to  the
probable view of the scholars who criticised the
hadith, since what is mentioned in the Qur'an is
the creation of the heavens and the earth in six
days,  each  of  which may be  like  a  thousand
years, whereas the hadith refers to the creation
of  the  earth only, in days which  are  shorter
than  those referred to in the Qur'an  (Silsilah
al-Ahadith as-Sahihah, no. 1833).
65 al-Dhahabi, p. 27.
66  al-Shafi'i, p. 370f (Eng. trans.,  pp.  239-
67 al-Dhahabi, p. 24.
68 al-Nawawi, Muqaddimah, p. 14.
69  al-Tibi, al-Husain b. 'Abdullah, al-Khulasah
fi   Usul  al-Hadith  (ed.  Subhi  al-Samarra'i,
Baghdad, 1391), p. 36.
70 ibid., p. 38.
71 al-Nawawi, Muqaddimah, p. 43.
72 al-Dhahabi, p. 26.
73 ibid., pp. 32-33.
74 al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no.
75 al-Jaza'iri, p. 149.
76 al-Sakhawi, 1:99.
77 al-Dhahabi, pp. 33-34.
78 ibid., p. 36.
79 al-Sakhawi, 1:264.
80 ibid., 1:275.
81 al-Nawawi, Taqrib, 1:275.
82  see Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Manar al-Munif fi  'l-
Sahih wa 'l-Da'if (ed. A.F. Abu Ghuddah, Lahore,
1402/1982), pp. 102-105 for a fuller discussion.
Ibn  al-Qayyim  mentions  more  than  ten  clear
indications  of  the forgery  of  the  document,
which  the Jews repeatedly attempted to  use  to
deceive the Muslims over the centuries, but each
time a scholar of Hadith intervened to point out
the  forgery - such incidents occurred with  Ibn
Jarir  al-Tabari (d. 310), al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
(d. 463) and Ibn Taimiyyah (d. 728), who spat on
the document as it was unfolded from beneath its
silken covers.
83 Suhaib Hasan, Criticism of Hadith, pp. 35-44.
84 The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) allowed such narrations, but they are not
to be confirmed nor denied, except for what is
confirmed or denied by the Qur'an and Sunnah.
See e.g. An Introduction to the Principles of
Tafseer of Ibn Taimiyyah (trans. M.A.H. Ansari,
Al-Hidaayah, Birmingham, 1414/1993), pp. 56-58.
85 ibid., p. 156.
86 see Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah.
87 Fatawa Ibn Taimiyyah, 6:379-382.
88 Isma'il b. Muhammad al-'Ijlouni, Kashf al-
Khafa' (2 vols. in 1, Cairo/Aleppo, N.D.), no.
89 Al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da'ifah, no.
90 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 2256.
91 Sahih al-Jami' al-Saghir, no. 2163;  Silsilah
al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no. 1691.
92 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 2532;  Al-Da'ifah, no.
93 Al-Da'ifah, no. 58.
94 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 1102;  Al-Da'ifah, no.
95 Al-Sahihah, no. 1761.
96 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 2130.
97 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 618.
98 Da'if al-Jami' al-Saghir, nos. 1410, 1416.
99 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 1078;  Al-Da'ifah, no.
100 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 1665;  Sahih al-Jami' al-
Saghir, nos. 3913-4.
101 Al-Da'ifah, no. 416;  Da'if al-Jami' al-
Saghir, nos. 1005-6.
102 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 2276.
103 Kashf al-Khafa', no. 1362.


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