According to the reference to a particular authority
The following principal types of hadith are important:
Marfu‘ – “elevated”: A narration from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), e.g. a reporter (whether a Companion, Successor or other) says, “The Messenger of Allah said …” For example, the very first hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari is as follows: Al-Bukhari === Al-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 migrated.”
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 following:
“We were commanded to …”
“We were forbidden from …”
“We used to do …”
“We used to say/do … while the Messenger of Allah was amongst us.”
“We did not use to mind such-and-such…”
“It used to be said …”
“It is from the Sunnah to …”
“It was revealed in the following circumstances: …”, speaking about a verse of the Qur’an.
Maqtu‘– “severed”: A narration from a Successor, e.g. Muslim reports in the Introduction to his Sahih that Ibn Sirin (d. 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 ahadith.6
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
According to the links in the isnad
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 hadith: 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-established.”9
The term musnad is also applied to those collections of ahadith which give the ahadith of each Companion separately. Among the early compilers of such a Musnad were Yahya 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 sinners.”
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 are:
(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 reasoning: “The one who reports a musnad hadith leaves you with the names of the reporters for further investigation and scrutiny, whereas the one who narrates by way of Irsal, being a knowledgeable and trustworthy person himself, has already done so and found the hadith to be sound. In fact, he saves you from further research.”14
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 hadith.15
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 narration.16
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 fine.”17
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, they (21) 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, 9:122). This concerns those who set off to seek knowledge, and then return to those who remained behind in order to teach them.”22 Al-Hakim then remarks, “This verse shows that the acceptable knowledge is the one which is being heard, not just received by way of Irsal.”23
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 unknown; 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 above.
According to the number of reporters in each stage of the isnad
Mutawatir & Ahad
Depending on the number of the reporters of the hadith in each stage of the isnad, i.e. in each generation of reporters, it can be classified into the general categories of mutawatir (“consecutive”) or ahad (“single”) hadith.
A mutawatir hadith is one which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.29
Al-Ghazali (d. 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 negligible.31
Examples of mutawatir practices are the five daily prayers, fasting, zakat, the Hajj and recitation of the Qur’an. Among the verbal mutawatir ahadith, the following has been reported by at least sixty-two Companions from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), and has been widely-known amongst the Muslims throughout the ages: “Whoever invents a lie and attributes it to me intentionally, let him prepare his seat in the Fire.” Ahadith related to the description of the 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 migh 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 mashhur.36
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
According to the manner in which the hadith is reported
Mudallas hadith & Tadlis
Different ways of reporting, e.g. (he narrated to us), (he informed us), (I heard), and (on the authority of) are used by the reporters of hadith. The first three indicate that the reporter personally heard from his shaikh, whereas the mode can denote either hearing in person or through another reporter.
A mudallas (“concealed”) hadith is one which is weak due to the uncertainty caused by tadlis. Tadlis (concealing) refers to an isnad where a reporter has concealed the identity of his shaikh. Ibn al-Salah describes two types of tadlis:
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 isnad.
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 hisshaikh 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- Mudallisin: 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- Walid. Those who are disparaged due to another reason apart from tadlis; their ahadith are rejected, even though they admit of hearing them directly. Exempted from them are reporters such as Ibn Lahi’ah, the famous Egyptian judge, whose weakness is found to be of a lesser degree. Ibn Hajar gives the names of 152 such reporters.40
Tadlis, especially of those in the last three categories, is so disliked that Shu’bah (d. 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 feature:
use of the phrase sami’tu (I heard);
the expression “stand and pour water for me so that I may illustrate the way my 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.
According to the nature of the text and isnad
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 words.”45
According to Ibn Hajar, if a narration which goes against another authentic hadith isreported by a weak narrator, it is known as munkar (denounced).46 Traditionists as late as Ahmad used to simply label any hadith of a weak reporter as munkar.47 Sometimes, a hadith is labelled as munkar because of its contents being contrary to general sayings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Al-Khatib (d. 463) quotes al-Rabi’ b. Khaitham (d. 63) as saying, “Some ahadith have a light like that of day, which we recognise; others have a darkness like that of night which makes us reject them.”
He also quotes al-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 reject.”48
Ibn Kathir quotes the following two ahadith in his Tafsir, the first of which is acceptable, whereas the second contradicts it and is unreliable:
(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 reliablereporter 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 another.
A reporter found to be in the habit of intentional idraj is generally unacceptable and considered a liar.54 However, the traditionists are more lenient towards those reporters who may do so forgetfully or in order to explain a difficult word.
According to a hidden defect found in the isnad or text of a hadith
Before discussing ma’lul (defective) ahadith, a brief note on mudtarib (shaky) and maqlub (reversed) ahadith would help in understanding ma’lul.
According to Ibn Kathir, if reporters disagree about a particular 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 says, “This is an example of a mudtarib hadith. It is reported through Abu Ishaq, but as many as ten different opinions are held about this isnad: some report it as mursal, others as muttasil; some take it as musnad of Abu Bakr, others as musnad of Sa’d or ‘A’ishah. Since all these reports are comparable in weight, it is difficult to prefer one above another. Hence, the hadith is termed as mudtarib.”56
As an example of idtirab in the text, Rafi’ b.Khadij said that the Messenger of Allah (mayAllah 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 rentingfor gold and silver?” He replied, “It does notmatter 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 testtheir 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 topics.
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
According to the reliability and memory of the reporters
The final verdict on a hadith, i.e. sahih (sound), hasan (good), da’if (weak) or maudu’ (fabricated, forged), depends critically on this factor.
Among the early traditionists, mostly of the first two centuries, ahadith were classified into two categories only: sahih and da’if; 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 acceptable:
“Each reporter should be trustworthy in his religion; he should be known to be truthful in his narrating, to understand what he narrates, to know how a different expression can alter the meaning, and report the wording of the hadith verbatim, not only its meaning. This is because if he does not know how a different expression can change the whole meaning, he will not know if he has changed what is lawful into what is prohibited. Hence, if he reports the hadith according to its wording, no change of meaning will be found at all. Moreover, he should be a good memoriser if he happens to report from his memory, or a good preserver of his writings if he happens to report from them. He should agree with the narrations of the huffadh (leading authorities in Hadith), if he reports something which they do also. He should not be a mudallis, who narrates from someone he met something he did not hear, nor should he report from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) contrary to what reliable sources have reported from him. In addition, the one who is above him (in the isnad) should be of the same quality, [and so on,] until the hadith goes back uninterrupted to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) or any authority below him.”66
Ibn 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 reporting.68
The following grading is given for sahih ahadith only:
(i) those which are transmitted by both al- Bukhari and Muslim;
(ii) those which are transmitted by al-Bukhari only;
(iii) those which are transmitted by Muslim only; 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 traditionists.69
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 categories:
(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 (irregularities).71
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 grandfather;
(ii) ‘Amr b. Shu’aib — his father — his grandfather;
(iii) Muhammad b. ‘Amr — Abu Salamah — Abu Hurairah.
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
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 traditionists.77
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 thedocument 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 fabrication:83
(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 Christians 84 which were wrongly attributed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
FURTHER BRANCHES OF MUSTALAH AND RIJAL AL-HADITH (classification of hadith and their reporters)
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 narrations.
1. Knowledge of i’tibar (“consideration”), mutaba’ah (“follow-up”) and shawahid (“witnesses”). Traditionists are always in search of strengthening support for a hadith which is reported by one source only; such research is termed i’tibar. If a supporting narration is not found for a particular hadith, it is declared as fard mutlaq (absolutely singular) or gharib. For example, if a hadith is reported through the following isnad: Hammad 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 (“witness”).85
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 isnad.
13. Knowledge of contradictory ahadith.
14. Knowledge of additions made to an isnad (i.e. by an inserting the name of an additional reporter).
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 reporters.
19. Knowledge of reporters similar in age reporting from each other.
20. Knowledge of brothers and sisters among reporters.
21. Knowledge of fathers reporting from their sons.
22. Knowledge of sons reporting from their fathers.
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 general.
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 traditionists.
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. Yazid.
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 physique.
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 reporters.
39. Knowledge of trustworthy reporters who became confused in their old age.
40. Knowledge of contemporaries in a certain period.
41. Knowledge of free slaves (mawali) amongst the reporters.
42. Knowledge of the homelands and home towns of reporters
Allah knows the best!
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