Hadith terminology (Arabic: ? ) muala? al-?ad?th) is the body of terminology in Islam which specifies the acceptability of the sayings (hadith) attributed to the Prophet Muhammad other early Islamic figures of significance, such as Muhammad's family and/or successors. Individual terms distinguish between those hadith considered rightfully attributed to their source or detail the faults of those of dubious provenance. Formally, it has been defined by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani as: "knowledge of the principles by which the condition of the narrator and the narrated are determined." This page comprises the primary terminology used within hadith studies.
Ibn al-Salah said, "A hadith, according to its specialists, is divided into ?a ("authentic"), ?asan and ?af." While the individual terms of hadith terminology are many, many more than these three terms, the final outcome is essentially determining whether a particular hadith is ?a and, therefore, actionable, or ?af and not actionable. This is evidenced by al-Bulqini's commentary on Ibn al-Salah's statement. Al-Bulqini commented that "the terminology of the hadith specialists is more than this, while, at the same time, is only ?a and its opposite. Perhaps what has been intended by the latter categorization (i.e. into two categories) relates to standards of religious authority, or lack of it, in general, and what will be mentioned afterwards (i.e. the sixty-five categories) is a specification of that generality."
?a (?) is best translated as "authentic".Ibn Hajar defines a hadith that is ?a lithatihi – "?a in and of itself" – as a singular narration (ahaad; see below) conveyed by a trustworthy, completely competent person, either in his ability to memorize or to preserve what he wrote, with a mutta?il ("connected") isn?d ("chain of narration") that contains neither a serious concealed flaw (?illah) nor irregularity (sh?dhdh). He then defines a hadith that is ?a lighairihi – "?a due to external factors" – as a hadith "with something, such as numerous chains of narration, strengthening it."
Ibn Hajar's definitions indicate that there are five conditions to be met for a particular hadith to be considered ?a:
A number of books were authored in which the author stipulated the inclusion of ?a hadith alone. According to Ahl al-Sunna, this was only achieved by the first two books in the following list:
?asan ( meaning "good") is used to describe hadith whose authenticity is not as well-established as that of ?a hadith, but sufficient for use as supporting evidence.
Ibn Hajar defines a hadith that is ?asan lithatihi – "?asan in and of itself" – with the same definition a ?a hadith except that the competence of one of its narrators is less than complete; while a hadith that is ?asan ligharihi ("?asan due to external factors") is determined to be ?asan due to corroborating factors such as numerous chains of narration. He states that it is then comparable to a ?a hadith in its religious authority. A ?asan hadith may rise to the level of being ?a if it is supported by numerous isn?d (chains of narration); in this case that hadith would be ?asan lithatihi ("?asan in and of itself") but, once coupled with other supporting chains, becomes ?a ligharihi ("?a due to external factors").A hadith which a scholar of hadith reports from his shaikh whom he has apparently heard hadith from at an age conducive to that, and likewise each shaikh having heard from his shaikh until the isn?d reaches a well known Companion, and then the Messenger of Allah. An example of that is: Abu 'Amr 'Uthman ibn Ahmad al-Samak narrated to us in Baghdad: al-?asan ibn Mukarram narrated to usUthman ibn 'Umar narrated to us: Yunus informed us from al-Zuhri from ?Abdullah ibn Ka?b ibn M?lik from his father Ka'b ibn Malik who sought from ibn Abi Hadrad payment of a debt the latter owed the former while in the mosque. Their voices became raised to the extent that they were heard by the Messenger of Allah. He exited only by lifting the curtain of his apartment and said, 'O Ka?b! Relieve him of his debt,' gesturing to him in way indicating by half. So he Ka?b said, 'Yes,' and the man paid him." To clarify this example I have given: my having heard from Ibn al-Samak is apparent, his having heard from al-?asan ibn al-Mukarram is apparent, likewise Hasan having heard from 'Uthman ibn 'Umar and 'Uthman ibn 'Umar from Yunus ibn Yazid - this being an elevated chain for 'Uthman. Yunus was known [for having heard from] al-Zuhri, as was al-Zuhri from the sons of Ka'b ibn Malik , and the sons of Ka'b ibn Malik from their father and Ka'b from the Messenger as he was known for being a Companion. This example I have made applies to thousands of hadith, citing just this one hadith regarding the generality [of this category].
The early scholar of hadith, Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Hakim, defines a musnad (? meaning "supported") hadith as:
A hadith which a scholar of hadith reports from his shaikh whom he has apparently heard hadith from at an age conducive to that, and likewise each shaikh having heard from his shaikh until the isn?d reaches a well known Companion, and then the Messenger of Allah. An example of that is:
Abu 'Amr 'Uthman ibn Ahmad al-Samak narrated to us in Baghdad: al-?asan ibn Mukarram narrated to usUthman ibn 'Umar narrated to us: Yunus informed us from al-Zuhri from ?Abdullah ibn Ka?b ibn M?lik from his father Ka'b ibn Malik who sought from ibn Abi Hadrad payment of a debt the latter owed the former while in the mosque. Their voices became raised to the extent that they were heard by the Messenger of Allah. He exited only by lifting the curtain of his apartment and said, "O Ka?b! Relieve him of his debt," gesturing to him in way indicating by half. So he Ka?b said, "Yes," and the man paid him.
To clarify this example I have given: my having heard from Ibn al-Samak is apparent, his having heard from al-?asan ibn al-Mukarram is apparent, likewise Hasan having heard from 'Uthman ibn 'Umar and 'Uthman ibn 'Umar from Yunus ibn Yazid - this being an elevated chain for 'Uthman. Yunus was known [for having heard from] al-Zuhri, as was al-Zuhri from the sons of Ka'b ibn Malik, and the sons of Ka'b ibn Malik from their father and Ka'b from the Messenger as he was known for being a Companion. This example I have made applies to thousands of hadith, citing just this one hadith regarding the generality [of this category].
A musnad hadith should not be confused with the type of hadith collection similarly termed musannaf, which is arranged according to the name of the companion narrating each hadith. For example, a musnad might begin by listing a number of the hadith, complete with their respective sanads, of Abu Bakr, and then listing a number of hadith from Umar, and then Uthman ibn Affan and so on. Individual compilers of this type of collection may vary in their method of arranging those Companions whose hadith they were collecting. An example of this type of book is the Musnad of Ahmad.
Mutta?il () refers to a continuous chain of narration in which each narrator has heard that narration from his teacher.
?af (?) is the categorization of a hadith as "weak". Ibn Hajar described the cause of a hadith being classified as weak as "either due to discontinuity in the chain of narrators or due to some criticism of a narrator." This discontinuity refers to the omission of a narrator occurring at different positions within the isn?d and is referred to using specific terminology accordingly as discussed below.
Discontinuity in the beginning of the isn?d, from the end of the collector of that hadith, is referred to as mu?allaq ( meaning "suspended"). Mu?allaq refers to the omission of one or more narrators. It also refers to the omission of the entire isn?d, for example, (an author) saying only: "The Prophet said..." In addition, this includes the omission of the isn?d except for the companion, or the companion and successor together.
Mursal (? meaning "hurried"): if the narrator between the Successor and Muhammad is omitted from a given isn?d, the hadith is mursal, e.g., when a Successor says, "The Prophet said ..." Since Sunnis believe in the uprightness of all Sahaba, they do not view it as a necessary problem if a Successor does not mention what Sahaba he received the hadith from. This means that if a hadith has an acceptable chain all the way to a Successor, and the successor attributes it to an unspecified companion, the isn?d is considered acceptable. There are, however, different views in some cases: If the Successor is a young one and it is probable that he omitted an elder Successor who in turn reported from a companion. The opinion held by Imam Malik and all Maliki jurists is that the mursal of a trustworthy person is valid, just like a musnad hadith. 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 (the absence of the link between the successor and the Prophet), 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." Others reject the mursal of a younger Successor.
A hadith described as munqa?i? ( meaning "disconnected") is one in which the chain of people reporting the hadith (the isn?d) is disconnected at any point. The isn?d of a hadith that appears to be mutta?il but one of the reporters is known to have never heard hadith from his immediate authority, even though they lived at the same time, is munqa?i?. It is also applied when someone says "A man told me...".
Munkar (? meaning "denounced") - According to Ibn Hajar, if a narration which goes against another authentic hadith is reported by a weak narrator, it is known as munkar. Traditionists as late as Ahmad used to simply label any hadith of a weak reporter as munkar.
Muarib ( meaning "shaky") - According to Ibn Kathir, if reporters disagree about a particular shaikh, or about some other points in the isn?d or the matn, in such a way that none of the opinions can be preferred over the others, and thus there is irreconcilable uncertainty, such a hadith is called muarib.
An example is the following hadith attributed to Abu Bakr:
"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."
The hadith scholar Al-Daraqutni commented: "This is an example of a muarib hadith. It is reported through Abu Ishaq, but as many as ten different opinions are held regarding this isn?d. Some report it as mursal, others as muttasil; some take it as a narration of Abu Bakr, others as one 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 muarib."
A hadith that is maw () is one determined to be fabricated and cannot be attributed to its origin. Al-Dhahabi defines maw as a hadith the text of which contradicts established norms of the Prophet's sayings, or its reporters include a liar.
There are several factors which may motivate an individual to fabricate a narration:
In hadith terminology, a hadith is divided into two categories based, essentially, upon the number of narrators mentioned at each level in a particular isn?d. Consideration is given to the least number of narrators at any level of the chain of narration; thus if ten narrators convey a hadith from two others who have conveyed it from ten, it is considered ?aziz, not mashhur.
The first category is mutawatir ( meaning "successive") narration. A successive narration is one conveyed by narrators so numerous that it is not conceivable that they have agreed upon an untruth thus being accepted as unquestionable in its veracity. The number of narrators is unspecified. A hadith is said to be mutawatir if it was reported by a significant, though unspecified, number of narrators at each level in the chain of narration, thus reaching the succeeding generation through multiple chains of narration leading back to its source. This provides confirmation that the hadith is authentically attributed to its source at a level above reasonable doubt. This is due to its being beyond historical possibility that narrators could have conspired to forge a narration. In contrast, an ahaad hadith is a narration the chain of which has not reached a number sufficient to qualify as mutawatir.
Hadiths can be mutawatir in both actual text and meaning:
The second category, ahaad (? meaning "singular") narration, refers to any hadith not classified as mutawatir. Linguistically, hadith ahad refers to a hadith narrated by only one narrator. In hadith terminology, it refers to a hadith not fulfilling all of the conditions necessary to be deemed mutawatir.Hadith ahad consists of three sub-classifications also relating to the number of narrators in the chain or chains of narration:
An ?aziz (?) hadith is any hadith conveyed by two narrators at every point in its isn?d (chain of narrators).
A gharib (?) hadith is one conveyed by only one narrator.Al-Tirmidhi's understanding of a gharib hadith, concurs to a certain extent with that of the other traditionists. According to him a hadith may be classified as gharib for one of the following three reasons:
There are differing views as to the level of knowledge achieved by each of the two primary categories mutawatir and ahaad. One view, expressed by Ibn Hajar and others, is that a hadith mutawatir achieves certain knowledge, while ahad hadith, unless otherwise corroborated, yields speculative knowledge upon which action is mandated. A second view, held by Dawud al-Zahiri, Ibn Hazm and others – and, reportedly, the position of Malik ibn Anas – is that hadith ahad achieves certain knowledge as well. According to Ibn Hazm, narration conveyed by a single, upright narrator conveying from another of a similar description until reaching the Prophet mandates both knowledge and action."
Different terms are used for the origin of a narration. These terms specify whether a narration is attributed to Muhammad, a companion, a successor or a latter historical figure.
Ibn al-Salah said: "Marfo? () refers to a narration attributed specifically to the Prophet [Muhammad]. This term does not refer to other than him unless otherwise specified. The category of marfu? is inclusive of narrations attributed to the Prophet regardless of their being muttasil, munqati? or mursal among other categories." There are differing views as to the level of knowledge achieved by each of the two primary categories mutawatir and ahaad. One view, expressed by Ibn Hajar and others, is that a hadith mutawatir achieves certain knowledge, while ahad hadith, unless otherwise corroborated, yields speculative knowledge upon which action is mandated. A second view, held by Dawud al-Zahiri, Ibn Hazm and others - and, reportedly, the position of Malik ibn Anas is that hadith ahad achieves certain knowledge as well. According to Ibn Hazm, "[t]he narration conveyed by a single, upright narrator conveying from another of a similar description until reaching the Prophet mandates both knowledge and action."
According to Ibn al-Salah, "Mawquf () refers to a narration attributed to a companion, whether a statement of that companion, an action or otherwise."
Ibn al-Salah defined maqtu` () as a narration attributed to a Tabi'i (a successor of one of Muhammad's companions), whether it is a statement of that successor, an action or otherwise. In spite of the linguistic similarity, it is distinct from munqati?.
As in any Islamic discipline, there is a rich history of literature describing the principles and fine points of hadith studies. Ibn Hajar provides a summation of this development with the following:
Works authored in the terminology of the people of hadith have become plentiful from the Imams, both old and contemporary:
- From the first of those who authored a work on this subject is the Judge, Ab? Mu?ammad al-R?mahurmuz? in his book, al-Muhaddith al-Faasil, however, it was not comprehensive.
- And al-Hakim, Ab? Abd Allah an-Naysaburi, authored a book, however, it was neither refined nor well arranged.
- And following him, Aboo Nu'aym al-Asbahaanee, who wrote a mustakhraj upon the book of the later, (compiling the same narrations al-Hakim cited using his own isn?d). However, some things remain in need of correction.
- And then came al-Khatib Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, authoring works in the various disciplines of the science of hadith a book entitled al-Kifaayah and in its etiquettes a book entitled al-Jami? Li ?Adab ash-Sheikh wa as-Saami?. Scarce is the discipline from the disciplines of the science of hadith that he has not written an individual book regarding, as al-Hafith Abu Bakr ibn Nuqtah said: "Every objective person knows that the scholars of hadith coming after al-Khatib are indebted to his works." After them came others, following al-Khateeb, taking their share from this science.
- al-Qadi 'Eyaad compiled a concise book naming it al-?Ilmaa'.
- Ab? Hafs al-Mayyaanajiyy authored a work giving it the title Ma Laa yasu al-Muhaddith Jahluhu or That Which a Hadith Scholar is Not Allowed Ignorance Of. There are numerous examples of this which have gained popularity and were expanded upon seeking to make plentiful the knowledge relating to these books and others abridged making easy their understanding.
- This was prior to the coming of the memorizer and jurist Taqiyy ad-Deen Aboo 'Amrin 'Uthmaan ibn al-Salah 'Abd ar-Rahmaan ash-Shahruzuuree, who settled in Damascus. He gathered, at the time he had become a teacher of hadith at the Ashrafiyyah school, his well known book, editing the various disciplines mentioned in it. He dictated it piecemeal and, as a result, did not succeed in providing it with an appropriate order. He occupied himself with the various works of al-Khatib, gathering his assorted studies, adding to them from other sources the essence of their benefits. So he combined in his book what had been spread throughout books other than it. It is due to this that people have focused their attention upon it, following its example. Innumerable are those who rendered his book into poetry, abridged it, sought to complete what had been left out of it or left out any extraneous information; as well as those who opposed him in some aspect of his work or supported him.