An Introduction To The Science Of Hadith

The Classification Of Hadith: According To The Nature Of The Text And Isnad

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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 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 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:

  1. 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'."

  2. 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 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.

   Islamic Awareness Hadith `Ulum According To The Nature Of The Text And Isnad

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