To The Science Of Hadith
Of Mustalah & Rijal al-Hadith: The Classification Of
Hadith & Their Reporters
Awareness, All Rights Reserved.
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.
- 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
- Afrad (singular narrations).
- The type of character required in an acceptable
- The way a hadith is heard, and the different
ways of acquiring ahadith.
- How a hadith is written, and punctuation
- The way a hadith is reported.
- The manners required in traditionists.
- The manners required in students of hadith.
- Knowledge of a higher or lower isnad (i.e.
one with less or more reporters respectively).
- Knowledge of difficult words.
- Knowledge of abrogated ahadith.
- Knowledge of altered words in a text or isnad.
- Knowledge of contradictory ahadith.
- Knowledge of additions made to an isnad (i.e.
by an inserting the name of an additional reporter).
- Knowledge of a well-concealed type of mursal
- Knowledge of the Companions.
- Knowledge of the Successors.
- Knowledge of elders reporting from younger
- Knowledge of reporters similar in age reporting
from each other.
- Knowledge of brothers and sisters among reporters.
- Knowledge of fathers reporting from their sons.
- Knowledge of sons reporting from their fathers.
- Knowledge of cases where e.g. two reporters
report from the same authority, one in his early life and the other in his
old age; in such cases the dates of death of the two reporters will be of
- Knowledge of such authorities from whom only
one person reported.
- Knowledge of such reporters who are known by
a number of names and titles.
- Knowledge of unique names amongst the Companions
in particular and the reporters in general.
- Knowledge of names and by-names (kunyah).
- Knowledge of by-names for reporters known by
their names only.
- Knowledge of nicknames (alqab) of the traditionists.
- Knowledge of mu'talif and mukhtalif (names
written similarly but pronounced differently), e.g. Kuraiz and Kariz.
- Knowledge of muttafiq and muftariq (similar
names but different identities), e.g. "Hanafi": there are two reporters
who are called by this name; one because of his tribe Banu Hanifah; the other
because of his attribution to a particular Madhhab (school of thought in jurisprudence).
- Names covering both the previous types.
- Names looking similar but they differ because
of the difference in their father's names, e.g. Yazid b. al-Aswad and al-Aswad
- Names attributed to other than their fathers,
e.g. Isma`il b. Umayyah; in this case Umayyah is the mother's
- 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.
- Knowledge of ambiguous reporters by finding
out their names.
- Knowledge of the dates of birth and death of
- Knowledge of trustworthy and weak reporters.
- Knowledge of trustworthy reporters who became
confused in their old age.
- Knowledge of contemporaries in a certain period.
- Knowledge of free slaves (mawali) amongst the
- Knowledge of the homelands and home towns of
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