The Companions And The Tabi‘Un



These people constitute the first pure and blessed channel through which the Qur’an and the Sunnah were transmit­ted. God is the All-Trustworthy and Inspirer of Trust. The Qur’an describes Archangel Gabriel as trustworthy and as one obeyed and having power (81:20-21). Prophet Muhammad was renowned for his trustworthiness.

The Qur’an was entrusted to the Companions, who memo­rized and recorded it so that it could be transmitted. This blessed community, praised in the Torah and Gospel, was the living embodiment of almost all laudable virtues and sought only God’s pleasure. In addition to the Qur’an, they absorbed the Sunnah, lived disciplined lives in strict accordance with the Prophet’s example, and exerted all their efforts to both represent and trans­mit it with complete accuracy.

According to Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, scholars define a Companion as “a believer who saw and heard the Messenger at least once and died as a believer.”1 Even though some scholars have stipulated that a “potential” Companion should have lived in the Messenger’s company for one or even two years, most scholars say it is enough to have been present in his radiant atmosphere long enough to derive some benefit.

The Companions varied in rank and greatness. Some believed in the Messenger from the first, and conversions continued until his death. The Qur’an grades them according to precedence in belief and to conversion before and after Makka’s conquest (9:100; 57:10).

The same gradation also was made by the Messenger. For example, he reproached Khalid for offending ‘Ammar, saying: “Don’t bother my Companions.”2 He also frowned at ‘Umar when he annoyed Abu Bakr, and asked: “Why don’t you leave my Companions to me? Abu Bakr believed in me when all of you denied me.” Abu Bakr knelt down and explained: “O Messenger of God, it was my fault.”3

Hakim al-Nisaburi divided them into twelve ranks, and most scholars accept his ranking:

·         The four Rightly Guided Caliphs (Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali), and the rest of the ten who were prom­ised Paradise while still alive (Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam, Abu ‘Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Talha ibn ‘Ubayd Allah, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Sa‘id ibn Zayd).

·         Those who believed prior to ‘Umar’s conversion and met secretly in Arqam’s house to listen to the Messenger.

·         Those who migrated to Abyssinia.

·         The Helpers (Ansar) who swore their allegiance to the Messenger at al-‘Aqaba.

·         The Helpers who swore their allegiance at al-‘Aqaba the following year.

·         The Emigrants who joined the Messenger during the hijra before his arrival in Madina from Quba, where he stayed for a short while.

·         The Companions who fought at Badr.

·         Those who emigrated to Madina between the Battle of Badr and the Treaty of Hudaybiya.

·         The Companions who swore allegiance under a tree during the expedition of Hudaybiya.

·         Those who converted and emigrated to Madina after the Treaty of Hudaybiya.

·         Those who became Muslims after the conquest of Makka.

·         Children who saw the Messenger any time or any place after the conquest of Makka.4

Muslim scholars of the highest rank, whose minds are enlight­ened by scientific knowledge and whose souls are illumined by religious knowledge and practice, agree that Prophets are the greatest members of humanity. Immediately after them come the Companions of the Last Prophet, who is the greatest Prophet.

Although some Companions may have the same rank as previous Prophets in a particular virtue, no one can equal a Prophet in general terms. Some of the greatest saints or schol­ars can compete with or excel some of the Companions in par­ticular virtues. But even a Companion of the lowest rank, such as Wahshi (who killed Hamza), is still greater, in general terms, than all who come after the Companions. All Muslim scholars, Traditionists, theologians, and saints agree upon this.


Relation to Messengership

Prophethood is greater than sainthood, and Messengership is greater than Prophethood. Every Prophet is a saint, but no saint is a Prophet. Although every Messenger is a Prophet, not every Prophet is simultaneously a Messenger. Prophet Muhammad is the last and greatest Prophet and Messenger. The Companions are related directly to his Messengership and connected with him due to his Messengership. All who come after the Prophet, however great they may be, are connected with him on account of sainthood only. Therefore, a Companion is greater than a saint to the degree that Messengership is greater than sainthood (the distance between them cannot be measured).

The Benefits of Company

Nothing can compare with the enlightenment and spiritual exhil­aration gained from a Prophet’s actual presence or company. No amount of reading what an intellectual, especially a spiritual, master has written can benefit you as much as learning directly from a Prophet. Thus the Companions, particularly those who were with him most often and from the very beginning, bene­fited so much that they were elevated from crude, ignorant, and savage desert people to the rank of being humanity’s religious, intellectual, spiritual, and moral guides until the Last Day.

To be a Companion, one would have to go back to the Makka or Madina of the seventh century CE, listen to the Messenger atten­tively and observe him speaking, walking, eating, fighting, praying, prostrating, and so on. Since this is impossible, no one can attain the rank of the Companions, who were endowed with Divine col­oring in the Messenger’s presence.


Islam is based on truthfulness and the absence of lies. The Companions embraced Islam in its original, pristine purity. For them, being a Muslim meant abandoning all previous vices, being purified in the radiant atmosphere of Divine Revelation, and embodying Islam. They would rather die than tell a lie. The Messenger once declared that if apostasy were as repugnant to a person as entering fire, then that person must have tasted the pleasure of belief. The Companions tasted this pleasure and, being sincere Muslims, could not lie, as this was almost as seri­ous as apostasy. We have trouble understanding this point fully, for people in our own time regard lying and deceit as skills, and almost all virtues have been replaced by vices.

The Atmosphere Created by Revelation

The Companions were honored with being the first to receive the Divine Messages through the Prophet. Every day they were giv­en original messages and invited to a new “Divine table” full of the ever-fresh “fruits” of Paradise. Every day they experienced rad­ical changes in their lives, were elevated closer to God’s Presence, and increased in belief and conviction. They found themselves in the verses of the Qur’an, and could learn directly whether or not God approved of their actions.

For example, whenever and wherever Those who are with him are hard against the unbelievers, merciful one to another. You see them bowing, prostrating, seeking blessing from God and good pleasure.

Their mark is on their faces, the trace of prostration (48:29) was revealed, eyes turned primarily to Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali. After all, they were famous for being with the Messenger from the very beginning, their hardness toward unbelievers, their mercy to fellow Muslims, and for frequent and long bowing and pros­tration before God while seeking His good pleasure.

When Among the believers are men who were true to their covenant with God; some of them have fulfilled their vow by death, and some are still awaiting, and they have not changed in the least (33:23) was recited, everyone remembered the martyrs of Uhud, especial­ly Hamza, Anas ibn Nadr, and ‘Abd Allah ibn Jahsh, as well as oth­ers who had promised God to give their lives willingly in His Way.

While God explicitly mentioned Zayd ibn Haritha in: So when Zayd had accomplished what he would of her . . . (33:37),5 He declared in 48:18 that He was well pleased with the believers when they swore fealty to the Messenger under a tree during the expedition of Hudaybiya.

In such a blessed, pure, and radiant atmosphere, the Companions practiced Islam in its original fullness and pristine purity, based on deep perception, profound insight, and knowl­edge of God. So, even an ordinary believer who is aware of the meaning of belief and connection with God, and who is trying to practice Islam sincerely, can grasp some glimpse of the puri­ty of the first channel through which the Sunnah was transmit­ted to the next generation.

The Difficulty of the Circumstances

The reward of a deed changes according to the circumstances in which it is done and the purity of the doer’s intention. Striving in the way of God in such severe circumstances as fear, threats, and shortage of necessary equipment, and purely for His sake, is far more rewarding than the same action performed in a free and promising atmosphere.

The Companions accepted and defended Islam in the sever­est circumstances imaginable. The opposition was very inflexible and unpitying. In Muhyi al-Din ibn al-‘Arabi’s Musamarat al­Abrar, Abu Bakr is reported to have told ‘Ali after the Prophet’s death that the early Companions did not go out except at the risk of their lives—they always feared that a dagger would be thrust at them. Only God knows how many times they were insulted, beaten, and tortured. Those who were weak and enslaved, such as Bilal, ‘Ammar, and Suhayb, were tortured almost to death. Young people like Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas and Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr, were beaten, boycotted, and imprisoned by their families.

Yet none of them ever thought of recanting or opposing the Messenger. For the sake of God, they forsook everything they had—their homes, native lands, and belongings—and emigrated. The believers of Madina welcomed them enthusiastically, pro­tected them, and shared with them everything they had. They fulfilled their covenant with God willingly, sold their goods and souls to God in exchange for belief and Paradise, and never broke their word. This gained them so high a rank in the view of God that no one can attain it until the Last Day.

The severity of circumstances, along with other factors, made the Companions’ belief strong and firm beyond compare. For example, the Messenger once entered the mosque and saw Harith ibn Malik sleeping there. He woke him up. Harith said: “May my father and mother be sacrificed for your sake, O Messenger of God! I am ready to carry out your orders!” The Messenger asked him how he had spent the night. Harith answered: “As a true believ­er.” The Messenger said: “Everything that is true must have a truth (to prove it). What is the truth of your belief?” Harith replied: “I fasted during the day and prayed to my Lord in utmost sin­cerity all night long. Now I am in a state as if I were seeing the Throne of my God and the recreation of the people of Paradise in Paradise.” The Messenger concluded: “You have become an embodiment of belief.”6

The Companions became so near to God that “God was their eyes with which they saw, their ears with which they heard, their tongues with which they spoke, and their hands with which they held.”

The Companions in the Qur’an

Ibn Hazm voices the opinion of many leading scholars: “All of the Companions will enter Paradise.”7 It is possible to find proofs in the Qur’an testifying to this assertion. The Qur’an describes the Companions as follows:

Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Those who are with him are hard toward the unbelievers, merciful to one another. [They kept so long vigils that] you see them bowing, prostrating, seeking blessing, bounty (of forgiveness and Paradise) and good pleasure (of God). Their mark is on their faces, the trace of prostration. This is their likeness in the Torah and in the Gospel: as a seed that puts forth its shoot, and strengthens it, and it grows strong and rises straight upon its stalk, pleasing the sowers, that through them it may enrage the unbelievers. God has promised those of them who believe and do deeds of righteousness forgiveness and a mighty wage [He will reward them in Paradise with the things that neither eyes will ever have seen nor ears heard]. (48:29)

And as:

The Outstrippers, the first Emigrants and Helpers, and those who followed them in doing good—God is well-pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him; He has prepared for them gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to dwell forever; that is the mighty triumph. (9:100)

Abu Hurayra never missed a discourse of the Messenger. He was always with him, and stayed in the antechamber of the Prophet’s Mosque. He suffered hunger almost all the time. Once he went to the Messenger and told him that he had eaten nothing for days. Abu Talha took him as a guest, but unfortu­nately there was little in his house to eat. So, he asked his wife Umm Sulaym to

“. . . put the children to bed early, and put on the table what­ever we have to eat. When we sit at the table, put out the can­dle pretending to make its light brighter. No one sees in the dark whether one is really eating or not. I will act as if I am eat­ing, and thus our guest can satisfy his hunger.” After the dawn prayer, the Messenger turned to them, smiled, and said: “What did you do last night? This verse was revealed concerning you:

Those who made their dwelling in the abode [Madina], and in belief, before them [the Emigrants] love whoever has emigrat­ed to them, not finding in their breasts any need for what they have been given, and preferring others above themselves, even though poverty be their portion. Whoever is guarded against the avarice of his own soul, those—they are the prosperous.” (59:9)8 

We also read of the Companions:

God was well-pleased with the believers when they were swear­ing fealty to you under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down peace, calm and tranquility upon them, and rewarded them with a nigh victory. (48:18)

The Companions swore many oaths of allegiance to the Messenger, promising to protect him and carry, by God’s Will, Islam to ultimate victory as best they could. They kept their promise at the cost of all their belongings and lives. Most were martyred either during the Prophet’s lifetime or while convey­ing Islam throughout the newly conquered lands. It is still pos­sible to find, in almost every part of the Muslim world, tombs where several Companions are buried. They also raised numer­ous scholars in jurisprudence, Traditions, Qur’anic interpreta­tion, as well as in history and the biography of the Prophet. The Qur’an states:

Among believers are those who were true to their covenant with God; some have fulfilled their vow by death, and some are still awaiting, and they have not changed in the least. (33:23)

The Companions in Hadith

The Prophet also praised the Companions and warned Muslims not to attack or insult them. For example, Bukhari, Muslim, and other Traditionists relate from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri that the Messenger warned:

Don’t curse my Companions, don’t curse my Companions. I swear by Him in Whose hand is my life that even if you had as much gold as Mount Uhud and spent it in the way of God, this would not be equal in reward to a few handfuls of them or even to half of that.9

The Companions have such a high value because they accept­ed, preached, and protected Islam in the severest circumstances. Besides, according to the rule that “the cause is like the doer,” the reward gained by all Muslims from that time until the Last Day is being added to the Companions’ record, without taking away any of the doers’ rewards. Had it not been for their efforts to spread Islam wherever they went, no one would know of it or be able to become Muslim. So, all Muslims after the Companions should feel indebted to them and, rather than thinking of criticiz­ing them, should pray for them:

As for those who came after them, they say: “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in belief, and put not into our hearts any rancor toward those who believe. Our Lord, sure­ly You are the All-Gentle, the All-Compassionate.” (59:10)

Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban quote the warning of ‘Abd Allah ibn Mughaffal, which he heard from the Messenger:

Oh God, Oh God! Refrain from using bad language about my Companions! Oh God, Oh God! Refrain from using bad lan­guage about my Companions! Don’t make them the target of your attacks after me! Whoever loves them loves them on account of his love of me; whoever hates them hates them on account of his hatred of me. Whoever hurts them hurts me; whoever hurts me “hurts” God.10

Imam Muslim relates in his Sahih that the Messenger declared:

Stars are means of security for the heaven. When they are scat­tered, what was promised for Heaven befalls it. I am the means of security for my Companions. When I leave the world, what was promised for my Companions will befall them. My Companions are means of security for my nation. When they leave the world, what was promised for my nation will befall it.11

As recorded in Bukhari, Muslim, and other authentic books of Tradition, the Messenger declared:

The best people are those living in my time. Then come those who follow them, and then come those who follow them. Those will be followed by a generation whose witness is some­times true, sometimes false.12

The time of the Companions and the two succeeding gen­erations was the time of truthfulness. People of great righteous­ness and exacting scholars appeared during these first three gen­erations. Later generations contained many who lied and per­jured themselves to reinforce false beliefs or attain worldly aims. It was natural for liars and members of heterodox sects (as it is for biased Orientalists and their Muslim followers) to lie about the Companions and the pure Imams of the two generations succeed­ing them, as they were strongholds of Islam and strengthened its pillars.

Abu Nu‘aym quotes ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar as saying:

Whoever desires to follow a straight path should follow the path of those who passed away: The Companions of Muhammad. They are the best of his Umma, the purest in heart, the deepest in knowledge, and the furthest from any false display of piety. They are a community whom God chose for His Prophet’s com­pany and His religion’s conveyance. Try to be like them in con­duct and follow their way. They are the Companions of Muhammad. I swear by God, the Lord of the Ka‘ba, that they were on true guidance.13

As recorded by Tabarani and Ibn al-Athir, ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, one of the first people to embrace Islam in Makka and sent to Kufa as a teacher by ‘Umar, said: “God looked at the hearts of His true servants and chose Muhammad to send to His crea­tures as a Messenger. Then He looked at the hearts of people and chose his Companions as the helpers of His religion and the viziers of His Prophet.”14 He also said:

You may excel the Companions in fasting, praying, and in striv­ing to worship God better. But they are better than you, for they paid no attention to the world and were most desirous of the Hereafter.15

The Companions Who Excelled in Narrating Traditions

God Almighty created people with different dispositions and potentials so that human social life would be maintained through mutual help and the division of labor. Therefore, some Companions were good farmers, successful tradesmen or businessmen, stu­dents, military commanders, and administrators. Some, especially the Ashab al-Suffa (those who stayed in the antechamber of the Prophet’s Mosque) never missed a teaching of the Messenger and tried to memorize his every word.

These Companions later narrated to people whatever they heard from or saw about the Messenger. Fortunately, they out­lived the others by God’s Will and, together with ‘A’isha, consti­tuted the first, golden channel through which the Sunnah was transmitted. The following is a brief description of their charac­ters and lives:

Abu Hurayra was from Yemeni tribe of Daws. He became a Muslim in the early days of 7 ah at the hands of Tufayl ibn ‘Amr, the chief of his tribe. When he emigrated to Madina, the Messenger was busy with the Khaybar campaign. He joined him in Khaybar. The Messenger changed his name, ‘Abd al-Shams, to ‘Abd al-Rahman, saying: “A man is not the slave of either the sun or moon.”

Abu Hurayra was very poor and modest. One day the Messenger saw him cradling a cat and nicknamed him Abu Hirr (the father or owner of a cat). People soon began to call him Abu Hurayra. However, he liked to be called Abu Hirr, since this title was given to him by the Messenger.16

He lived with his non-Muslim mother. Always praying her conversion, one day he asked the Messenger to pray for this. He did so, and before he lowered his arms, Abu Hurayra ran to his house, so sure was he that the Messenger’s prayer would be accept­ed. When he arrived, his mother stopped him at the door so that she could finish ghusl (total ritual ablution). She then opened the door and declared her conversion. After this, Abu Hurayra request­ed the Messenger to pray that believers should love him and his mother. The Messenger did so.17 Therefore, love of Abu Hurayra is a mark of belief.

This Companion had an extraordinarily keen memory. He slept the first third of night, prayed and did his daily supereroga­tory recitations in the second third, and went over the Traditions he had memorized in order never to forget them in the last third. He memorized more than 5,000 Traditions. He never missed a discourse of the Messenger, sought to learn his Traditions, and was a lover of knowledge.

One day he prayed: “O God, grant me knowledge I will never forget.” The Messenger heard him and said: “O God, amen.”18 On another day, he told the Messenger: “O Messenger of God, I don’t want to forget what I hear from you.” The Messenger asked him to take off his cloak and spread it on the ground. The Messenger then prayed and emptied his hands onto the cloak as if filling them with something from the Unseen. He ordered Abu Hurayra to fold up the cloak and hold it to his breast. After narrating this incident, Abu Hurayra used to say: “I folded it up and held it to my breast. I swear by God that [since then] I have not forgotten anything I heard from the Messenger.”19

Abu Hurayra paid no heed to the world. He usually fasted three or four days successively because of poverty. Sometimes he writhed with hunger on the ground and said to those pass­ing by: Istaqra’tuka, which has a double meaning: “Will you not recite to me some Qur’an?” and “Will you not feed me?”20 Ja‘far Tayyar understood him better than anybody else and took him as a guest.21

Abu Hurayra patiently endured such hardship for the sake of Hadith. To those who sometimes warned him that he was narrat­ing too many Traditions, he replied sincerely: “While my Emigrant brothers were busy in the bazaar and my Helper brothers with farming, I tried to keep my soul and body together to keep com­pany with the Messenger.”22 Sometimes he said: “Were it not for the verse: Those who conceal the clear signs and the guidance that We have sent down, after We have shown them clearly in the Book, they shall be cursed by God and the curses (2:159), I would narrate nothing.”23

Some claim that other Companions were opposed to Abu Hurayra’s narrating. This claim is groundless. Many Companions, among them Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas, Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari, Anas ibn Malik, and Wasila ibn Aslam, narrated Traditions from him. Some asked Abu Ayyub why he narrated from Abu Hurayra despite his earlier conversion, to which he would reply: “He heard from the Messenger many things we did not hear.”24

Many leading Tabi‘un also received numerous Traditions from him, including Hasan al-Basri, Zayd ibn Aslam, Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib (who married Abu Hurayra’s  daughter so that he could benefit from him more), Sa‘id ibn Yasar, Sa‘id al-Makburi, Sulayman ibn Yasar, Sha‘bi (who received Traditions from 500 Companions), Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, and Qasim ibn Muhammad (who is accepted as a link in the chain of Nakshbandi spiritual guides). Hammam ibn Munabbih and Muhammad ibn Munkadir are the most famous of the 800 people who received Traditions from him.25

‘Umar appointed Abu Hurayra as governor to Bahrayn. However, when he made a small amount of wealth by trade during his period of office, ‘Umar had him investigated. Although he was found innocent and requested to return to office, Abu Hurayra declined, saying: “That is enough for me as a governor.”26

Abu Hurayra, despite claims to the contrary by such Orientalists as Goldziher and their Muslim followers like Ahmad Amin, Abu Rayya, and ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Razzaq, was never anti-‘Ali and pro-Umayyad. He should have supported ‘Ali in the inter­nal conflicts so that sedition would be crushed, but chose to remain neutral, for: “Seditions will appear, during which the one who sits [silent] is better than the one who stands [to par­ticipate]; the one who stands is better than him who walks [to participate], and the one who walks is better than him who runs [in them].”27 This hadith might not have been related to the inter­nal conflicts during ‘Ali’s caliphate, but Abu Hurayra thought that it was and so remained neutral.

Abu Hurayra opposed the Umayyad government. He once stood in front of Marwan ibn Hakam and narrated the hadith: “The destruction of my community will be in the hands of a few callow (young) men from the Quraysh.”28 Marwan responded: “May God’s curse be upon them,” pretending not to understand who was meant. Abu Hurayra added: “If you like, I can inform you of their names and characteristics.”

He was frequently heard to pray: “O God, don’t make me live until the sixtieth year.”29 This supplication was so famous that whoever saw Abu Hurayra recalled it. He had heard from the Messenger that some inexperienced, sinful young men would begin to rule the Muslims in 60 AH. He died in 59 AH, and Yazid succeeded his father Mu‘awiya one year later.

There is no proof that ‘A’isha was opposed to Abu Hurayra’s narrating. Both ‘A’isha and Abu Hurayra lived long lives and, except for the following incident, she never criticized his narra­tions. Once when he was narrating Traditions near her room while she was praying, she finished her prayer and came out, only to find that he had left. She remarked: “The Messenger’s Traditions should not be narrated in this way, one after anoth­er,”30 meaning that they should be narrated slowly and distinct­ly so that the listeners could understand and memorize them.

Some claim that Imam Abu Hanifa said: “I don’t take the opinions of three Companions as evidence in jurisprudence. Abu Hurayra is one of them.” This is simply a lie. Allama Ibn Humam, one of the greatest Hanafi jurists, regarded Abu Hurayra as a significant jurist. Besides, there is nothing to prove that Abu Hanifa said that.

Abu Hurayra narrated more than 5,000 Traditions. When gathered together, they make perhaps a volume 1.5 times as long as the Qur’an. Many people have memorized the Qur’an in six months or even quicker. Abu Hurayra had a very keen mem­ory and spent four years with the Messenger, who prayed for the strength of Abu Hurayra’s memory. It would be tantamount to accusing Abu Hurayra of deficient intelligence to claim that he could not have memorized so many Traditions. In addition, all of the Traditions he narrated were not directly from the Messenger. As leading Companions like Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Ubayy ibn Ka‘b, ‘A’isha, and Abu Ayyub al-Ansari narrated from him, he also received Traditions from them.

While Abu Hurayra was narrating Traditions in the presence of Marwan ibn Hakam at different times, the latter had his sec­retary record them written secretly. Some time later, he asked Abu Hurayra to repeat the Traditions he had narrated to him earlier. Abu Hurayra began: “In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate,” and narrated the same Traditions with exact­ly the same wording.31 So, there is no reason to criticize him for narrating so many Prophetic Traditions.

‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas was born four or five years before the Hijra. He had a keen intelligence and memory, and was an inspired man. The Messenger prayed for him: “O God, make him perceptive and well-versed in the religion, and teach him the hidden truths of the Qur’an.”32 During his lifetime, he came to be known as “the Great Scholar of the Umma,” “the Sea” (One Very Profound in Knowledge), or “The Translator (Clarifier) of the Qur’an.”33

He was a very handsome, tall man endowed with great elo­quence. His memory was such that he memorized an 80-couplet poem by ‘Amr ibn Rabi‘a at one reading. Besides his profound knowledge of Qur’anic interpretation, Tradition, and jurispru­dence, he also was well-versed in literature, particularly in pre-Islamic poetry. In his Tafsir, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari relates either a couplet or verse from him in connection with the interpretation of almost each Qur’anic verse.

He was greatly loved by the Companions. Despite his youth, ‘Umar appointed him to his Advisory Council, which consisted of elder Companions. When asked why he had done this, ‘Umar tested their level of understanding of the Qur’an. He asked them to explain:

When comes the help of God, and victory, and you see men entering God’s religion in throngs, then proclaim the praise of Your Lord, and seek His forgiveness; for He is Oft-Returning [in grace and mercy]. (110:1-3)

The elders answered: “It orders the Prophet to praise God and seek His forgiveness when he sees people entering Islam in throngs after the help of God and victory came.” ‘Umar was not satisfied, and so asked Ibn ‘Abbas the same question. He replied: “This sura implies that the death of the Messenger is near, for when people enter Islam in throngs, it means that the mission of Messengership has ended.” ‘Umar turned to the council and explained: “That’s why I include him among you.”34

Ibn ‘Abbas was famous for his deep insight, profound learn­ing, keen memory, high intelligence, perceptiveness, and modesty. When he entered a gathering place, people would stand in respect for him. This made him so uncomfortable that he told them: “Please, for the sake of the help and shelter (you gave the Prophet and the Emigrants), don’t stand for me!” Although one of the most knowledgeable Muslims, he showed great respect to schol­ars. For example, he helped Zayd ibn Thabit mount his horse by holding the stirrup steady and explained: “We have been told to behave like this toward our scholars.” In return, Zayd kissed his hand without his approval and remarked: “We have been told to behave like this toward the Messenger’s relatives.”35

As noted above, Ibn ‘Abbas did not like people to stand for him to show respect. However, when he was buried, something occurred that was as if the dead had stood in respect for him and the spirit beings welcomed him. A voice was heard from beneath the grave: O soul at peace! Return unto your Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing! Enter among My servants! Enter my Paradise! (89:27-30).36

Ibn ‘Abbas brought up many scholars in every branch of religious knowledge. The Makkan school of jurisprudence was founded by him. Such leading Tabi‘un scholars as Sa‘id ibn Jubayr, Mujahid ibn Jabr, and Ikrima acknowledged: “Ibn ‘Abbas taught us whatever we know.” He narrated about 1,600 Traditions.

‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar was the only one of ‘Umar’s nine sons to be called Ibn ‘Umar (the son of ‘Umar). This shows that he had greater worth to be called ‘Umar’s son or to be men­tioned with the name of ‘Umar. Although ‘Umar is the second greatest Companion, ‘Abd Allah may be regarded superior in knowledge, piety, worship, and devotion to the Sunnah. His care in following the Prophet’s example was such that Nafi’, Imam Malik’s tutor, narrates: “While we were descending ‘Arafat, Ibn ‘Umar entered a hole. When he came out, I asked him what he had done there. The Imam answered: ‘While descending ‘Arafat, I was behind the Messenger. He went down into that hole and relieved himself. I felt no need to do that now, but I don’t like to oppose him.’”37 Also, no one ever saw him take more or less than three swallows of water, for he saw the Messenger drink water in three swallows.

Ibn ‘Umar was born in the early years of Islam. He saw his father beaten severely by the Makkan polytheists many times.38 When the Muslims emigrated to Madina, he was about 10 years old. The Messenger did not let him fight at Badr because he was too young. When he was also prevented from fighting at Uhud, he returned home so grief-stricken that he spent the whole night asking himself: “What sin have I committed that they did not include me in the army fighting in the way of the Messenger?”39

Ibn Khalliqan relates from Sha‘bi:

Once in their youth, ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr, his brother Mus‘ab ibn Zubayr, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, and ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar were sitting near the Ka‘ba. They thought that each should ask God for something special in the hope that the prayer would be accepted. Ibn Zubayr prayed: “O God, for the sake of Your Grandeur, Honor, and Majesty, make me a ruler in Hijaz.” Mus‘ab stretched out his arms and prayed: “O God, for the sake of Your Honor, Majesty, and Grandeur, of Your Throne and Seat, make me a ruler in Iraq.” ‘Abd al-Malik raised his hands and prayed: “O God, I ask You to make me a ruler over all the Muslims and secure, through me, Muslim unity even at the cost of some lives.” When ‘Abd Allah prayed, he asked: “O God, don’t take my soul before You guarantee Paradise for me.”40

The prayers of the first three were accepted: ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr ruled for a while in Hijaz and was eventually martyred by Hajjaj the Tyrant, the notorious Umayyad governor. Mus‘ab ruled in Iraq for a short time. ‘Abd al-Malik succeeded his father, Marwan, as caliph and secured Muslim unity, though at the cost of many lives and much bloodshed.

As for Ibn ‘Umar, Imam Sha‘bi remarks: “Whether the Imam’s prayer was accepted or not will be clear in the Hereafter.” Sha‘bi knew something: “Ibn ‘Umar never opposed the Prophet’s descendants or supported the Umayyads. Hajjaj was afraid of him. Once, Hajjaj gave a sermon before the noon prayer that was so long that the noon prayer’s time was almost over. Ibn ‘Umar warned him: ‘O Governor, time is passing without waiting for you to finish your sermon.’ Hajjaj was full of rancor and enmi­ty for Ibn ‘Umar. Finally, during a pilgrimage he found some­one to prick Ibn ‘Umar’s heel with a poisonous spear while he was in pilgrim attire. The poison eventually killed him.”41

‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, one of the first five or six people to embrace Islam, also narrated a considerable number of Traditions. As a youth, he tended the flocks of such Qurayshi leaders as Abu Jahl and ‘Uqba ibn Abi Mu‘ayt. After his conversion, he would no longer be separated from the Messenger. He entered the Prophet’s house without asking to do so and so frequently that people thought he was a family member. During military or non­military expeditions, he carried the Prophet’s water bag, wooden sandals, and mat upon which he slept or sat. Eventually, he became known as “the caretaker of the pattens (sandals, like shoes), couch, and water bag.”42

Ibn Mas‘ud worked some wonders. For example, while he was once being tortured in Makka, he became invisible to his tortur­ers. The Messenger called him “the son of the mother of a slave,” and advised his Companions: “Whoever wants to recite the Qur’an as if it were being revealed for the first time, let him recite it accord­ing to the recitation of the son of the mother of a slave.”43

One day the Messenger asked him to recite some of the Qur’an to him. Ibn Mas‘ud excused himself: “O Messenger of God, shall I recite it to you while the Qur’an is being revealed to you?” However, the Messenger insisted: “I would prefer to hear it from others.” Ibn Mas‘ud began to recite Surat al-Nisa’. When he reached verse 41: How then will it be, when We bring forward from every nation a witness, and bring you as a witness against those?, the Messenger, whose eyes were full of tears, stopped him, saying: “Stop, please. This is enough.”44

Ibn Mas‘ud, who was short and weak, once climbed a tree because the Messenger asked him to do so. Those present laughed at his legs. The Messenger warned them, saying: “Those legs will weigh more than Mount Uhud according to the measure of the Hereafter in the other world.”45

Caliph ‘Umar sent him to Kufa as a teacher and with a letter, in which he said: “O people of Kufa! If I did not prefer you over myself, I would not have sent Ibn Mas‘ud to you.”46 Ibn Mas‘ud lived in Kufa during the caliphate of ‘Umar and trained many scholars. Such great Tabi‘un scholars as Alqama ibn Qays, Aswad ibn Yazid al-Naha’i, and Ibrahim ibn Yazid al-Naha’i grew up in the ethos established by Ibn Mas‘ud. One of the people attending Alqama’s courses asked him who had been his teacher. When Alqama answered that he had learned from ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, and Ibn Mas‘ud, the man responded: “Good! Good!”

Ibn Mas‘ud continued to stay in Kufa during ‘Uthman’s caliphate. However, after ‘Uthman summoned him to Madina to investigate a groundless complaint about him, Ibn Mas‘ud did not want to go back to Kufa, as he was already very old. One day a man ran to him and said: “Last night I dreamed that the Messenger was telling you: ‘They have afflicted you much after me, so come to me.’ You answered: ‘Alright, O Messenger of God. I will not leave Madina any more.’ A few days later Ibn Mas‘ud became ill. ‘Uthman visited him, and the following conversation took place between them:

–         Do you have any complaints?

–         I have many complaints.

–         Of what?

–         Of my sins while going to God.

–         Is there something you desire?

–         God’s mercy.

–         Would you like me to send for a doctor?

–         The “doctor” has made me ill. So, there is nothing the doctor   you will send for can do for me.”

Ibn Mas‘ud spent about 20 years in the company of the Messenger. He narrated approximately 800 Traditions.47

* * *

Besides those four great Companions, ‘A’isha, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah, and Anas ibn Malik are the other Companions who narrated many Traditions.

‘A’isha lived with the Messenger for nine years. She had great talents, a keen intelligence and memory, and a deep insight and perceptiveness. She had a great curiosity to learn new things, and asked the Messenger to explain those matters that she found hard to understand.

Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri lived in the mosque’s antechamber and was always with the Messenger. He lived a long life, and a time came when he was regarded as the most knowledgeable person of Madina.

Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah is the son of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn Haram al-Ansari, who was martyred at Uhud. After the Messenger’s death, he lived in Madina (where he lectured in the Prophet’s Mosque), Egypt, and Damascus. Such leading Tabi‘un scholars as ‘Amr ibn Dinar, Mujahid, and ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah attended his lectures.48 People gathered around him in Damascus and Egypt to learn of the Messenger and his Traditions.

Anas ibn Malik served the Messenger for 10 years in Madina. After the Messenger’s death, he lived a very long life, during which he must have taught the Prophetic Traditions to those around him.

All the Traditions recorded in Kanz al-‘Ummal, including authentic and defectively transmitted ones, number 46,624. Among the Traditionists of early Islamic ages, many people memorized more than 100,000 Traditions, including fabricated ones. Given this fact, it cannot be claimed by the Sunnah’s detractors and doubters that the number of Traditions narrated from certain Companions is too great for them to have memorized and narrated.


In many of the places where the Qur’an praises the Companions, it also mentions the blessed generations following in their way. For example:

The Outstrippers (the first to embrace Islam and excel others in virtue), the first of the Emigrants and the Helpers, and those who followed them in doing good, God is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to dwell forever; that is the mighty triumph. (9:100)

The Tabi‘un, first of all, must be among those praised togeth­er with the Companions. Like them, they were well-pleased with God regardless of whether He sent them good or bad, blessing or misfortune. Conscious of their servanthood before God, they wor­shipped Him in deep respect and reverence.

Like the Companions, they loved Him deeply and trusted Him completely. The Messenger praised them, saying: “Good tid­ings for those who have seen me and believed in me, and good tidings for those who see those who saw me.”49

The Tabi‘un followed in the Companions’ footsteps and showed them due respect. They felt no rancor and enmity against any believer, and wished everyone well:

As for those who came after them, they say: “Our Lord, for­give us and our brothers, who preceded us in belief, and put not into our hearts any rancor towards those who believe. Our Lord, surely You are the All-Gentle, the All-Compassionate.” (59:10)

As described in 9:100, this blessed generation followed the Companions in doing good (ihsan). In addition to meaning respect, being well-wishing and altruistic, it is reported in one hadith that ihsan also means “worshipping God as if you are seeing Him; even if you can not actually see Him, surely He sees you.”50

This generation came at a time when conspiracies and hypocrisy caused great internal dissension. At this critical juncture, they pro­tected, defended, and practiced Islam in deep consciousness and devotion. They became the referents of: Our Lord, in You we trust, to You we turn, and to You is the homecoming (60:4).

Some of them performed 100 rak‘as of nightly prayers, recit­ed the whole Qur’an every two or three days, always did their oblig­atory prayers in congregation in a mosque, always slept (like Masruq) in prostration before the Ka‘ba, and did not laugh loudly during their whole lives.

Uways al-Qarani is generally regarded as the greatest Tabi‘un. Although old enough to have seen the Prophet, he had no oppor­tunity to do so. One day while sitting with his Companions, the Messenger advised them: “If you see Uways al-Qarani, ask him to pray for you.”51 During his caliphate, ‘Umar asked Yemeni pilgrims about Uways. When he was found one year among the pilgrims, ‘Umar requested him to pray for him. Uncomfortable at being identified, Uways was never seen again among people until he was martyred at the Battle of Siffin fighting for ‘Ali.52

There were many illustrious Tabi‘un, among them Masruq ibn al-Ajda’, ‘Ata’ ibn ‘Abi Rabah, Hasan al-Basri, Muhammad ibn Sirin, ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, Qasim ibn Muhammad, and Muhammad ibn Munkadir, who were peerless in knowledge, piety, and righteousness.

Muhammad ibn Munkadir was called al-Bakka’ (the one who cries much), due to his fear of God. Once his mother told him: “O my son, if I had not known you since childhood, I would think you are crying for some sin. Why do you cry so much?” He said that he did so because he was deeply conscious of God’s Majesty, of the terror of the Day of Judgement, and of Hell.53 When asked on his death-bed why he was crying, he replied: “I am afraid I’ll be included in the meaning of the verse: Yet there will appear to them from God that they never reckoned with” (39:47).

Masruq ibn al-Ajda’ worshipped God very earnestly. He used to sleep in prostration before the Ka‘ba. When they suggest­ed that he should lie down during his last illness, he answered: “By God, if someone appeared and told me that God wouldn’t punish me, even then I would continue to pray with the same earnestness as before.”54 He did so because he was following the Prophet, who, when asked by ‘A’isha why he tired himself so much with praying, answered: “Shall I not be a thankful servant?”

Sa‘id ibn Jubayr was a student of Ibn ‘Abbas. He spent the day preaching Islam and the night praying. He fought against Hajjaj on the side of ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kindi. When finally he was seized, the soldiers taking him to Hajjaj spent a night in a monastery in a big forest. Sa‘id wanted to pray in the forest. The soldiers let him, thinking that wild animals would tear him to pieces. The soldiers watched him pray through a window, and saw wild animals gather around him also to watch.

When his captors used torture to force him to swear allegiance to Hajjaj, he always refused: “You are in the wrong, wronging the Prophet’s descendants. I’ll never take the oath of allegiance to you.” Before he was executed, he recited the verse Muslims recite during the animal sacrifice: I have turned my face to Him who originated the Heavens and the Earth, a man of pure faith; I am not of those who asso­ciate partners with God (6:79). When they turned his face away from the prayer direction, he recited: To God belong the East and the West; Wherever you turn, there is the Face of God (2:115). They struck his neck with a sword and from his lips came out: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”55

Such were the people who received the Traditions from the Companions and transmitted them to succeeding generations. Among them, the following few are also worth some fuller mention to recognize that blessed generation more closely:

Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib, the Tabi‘un’s foremost Traditionist, jurist, and Qur’anic interpreter, was born in 15 ah. He met most of the Companions, including ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali. Sa‘id was renowned for his reflection and memory, as well as for his piety, righteousness, and profound devotion. These characteris­tics caused everyone to consider him, even during his lifetime, the greatest Traditionist of his time.

At the early age of around 20, Sa‘id began to give opinions and deliver legal verdicts, just as Hasan al-Basri had done in Basra. The Companions admired him greatly. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar once remarked: “If the Messenger had seen that young man, he would have been very pleased with him.”56

He was extremely careful about performing his daily prayers in congregation in the mosque. He used to say: “I always have said the opening takbir of the daily prayers just after the imam for 50 years.”57 He did not neglect any item of the Sunnah. Once when he was ill and doctors advised him to stay in ‘Aqiq valley for a month, he objected: “Then how can I come to the mosque for the night and dawn prayers?” He was not content to perform the prescribed prayers anywhere except in the Prophet’s Mosque.58

He did not swear allegiance to Caliph Walid. Although Hisham, governor of Madina, had him beaten daily until the stick was broken, he did not yield. When his friends, such as Masruq and Tawus, advised him to give an oral consent to Walid’s caliphate to end the beatings, he always replied: “People do what we do. If we consent, how will we be able to explain this to them?”59

Sa‘id had married Abu Hurayra’s daughter in order to be nearer to him and to improve his knowledge and understanding of Abu Hurayra’s Traditions. When Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik appealed to him that his son Hisham be allowed to marry Sa‘id’s daugh­ter, he refused and, in the face of increasing pressure and threats, offered her to Ibn Abi Wada’, who stayed in the madrasa.60

Imam Shafi‘i considered all of Sa‘id’s Traditions unques­tionably authentic, even if the Companion from whom he had received it was not mentioned. This means that for Imam Shafi‘i, Sa‘id was of the same rank as the Companions in knowl­edge and narration of the Prophetic Traditions. Among those who received Traditions from him, ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah, Qatada, Muhammad al-Baqir (‘Ali’s great-grandson), Zuhri, and Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Ansari are worthy of special mention.

Alqama ibn Qays al-Nakha’i. During the time of the Tabi’un, Basra was honored by, in particular, Hasan al-Basri; Yemen by Tawus ibn Qaysan; Madina by Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib; and Kufa by Alqama ibn Qays al-Nakha’i. Kufa was first enlightened by ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud during ‘Umar’s caliphate, and then directly by ‘Ali, when he moved the caliphate there. This gave Alqama a splen­did opportunity to meet many Companions and to learn about the Messenger’s life and Traditions at first hand.

Alqama is the founder of the Kufa school of Islamic reli­gious sciences. Those who saw him remembered ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, for he followed the latter’s footsteps in prayer, conduct, and in practicing Islam. ‘Amr ibn Shurahbil, among the great scholars who narrated Traditions from Alqama, frequently sug­gested to those near him: “Let’s go to the one who resembles Ibn Mas‘ud the most in conduct and attitudes.”61 Ibn Mas‘ud represented the Messenger wholly. As the Messenger desired to listen to Ibn Mas‘ud recite the Qur’an, so Ibn Mas‘ud liked to listen to Alqama.62

Imam Abu Hanifa, generally accepted as the greatest Muslim jurist and a man famous for his piety and austerity, admired Alqama so much that he would say: “Alqama is probably more profound in [knowledge] of Tradition and jurisprudence than some Companions.”

One day, someone came to Alqama and insulted him great­ly. The illustrious scholar showed no indignation and, after the man had finished, recited the verse: Those who hurt believing men and believing women, without their having earned it, have laid upon themselves calumny and manifest sin (33:58). The man retorted: “Are you a believer?” Alqama answered humbly: “I hope so.”63

Alqama struggled with falsehood in his time, and did not obey the misguided Umayyad administrators. As he received Traditions from hundreds of Companions, many leading figures among his own and succeeding generations narrated from him. Alqama brought up the most illustrious scholars of the Kufan school, people such as Aswad ibn Yazid al-Nakha’i, Ibrahim al­Nakha’i, and Hammad ibn Abi Sulayman, and provided Kufa with a propitious ethos for bringing up Sufyan al-Thawri, Abu Hanifa, and many others.

‘Urwa ibn Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam’s father was one of the ten for whom Paradise was promised while alive. ‘Urwa’s grand­mother was Safiyya, the Prophet’s paternal aunt, and his moth­er was Asma’ bint Abu Bakr, who spent much of her life with ‘A’isha. ‘Urwa can be considered a student of his aunt ‘A’isha. He also was taught by Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib, who was 7 or 8 years his senior.

‘Urwa was one of the seven greatest jurists of his time. He transmitted most of the Traditions narrated by ‘A’isha. He also received Traditions from ‘Ali, ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and many other Companions. Many illustrious figures of succeeding generations, among them Qatada ibn Di’ama, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, Yahya ibn Sa‘id al-Ansari, and Zayd ibn Aslam, narrated from him.

Like his contemporaries, ‘Urwa was extremely pious. For example, one of his feet became infected with gangrene and he had to have it amputated. While it was being amputated with a saw, he did not complain, but only said: We have encountered weariness from this journey of ours (18:62).

When one of his four sons died some time later, he stretched his arms before the Ka‘ba and glorified God, saying: “O God, You gave me four limbs, two arms and two legs, and four sons. You have taken one from both groups and left to me the remaining three. Many thousands of thanks to You!”64 ‘Urwa was certainly included in the meaning of: God is well-pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him (98:8).

Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, known as Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, narrated one-fourth of the Prophetic Traditions coming from the Tabi‘un. His father, Muslim, had struggled against the Umayyads, particularly Hajjaj. As a result, the Umayyad gov­ernment usually kept him under surveillance. He did not, as alleged, support the Umayyads.

Like others honored by God as the most reliable narrators of the Prophetic Traditions, Ibn Shibab al-Zuhri had an extraor­dinarily keen memory. He memorized the Qur’an before he was 7 years old (it took him only 8 days). When he was 18 years old, he began to practice ijtihad (ruling on Islamic religious or legal matters based on principles laid down in the Qur’an and Sunnah). He forgot nothing: “I have betrayed nothing that God put in my heart as a trust.”65

Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri received his first education from Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib, who taught him for 8 years. He was also taught by ‘Ubaydullah ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Utba, one of the sev­en leading jurists of the time. His life was wholly dedicated to Hadith: “I shuttled between Hijaz and Damascus for 40 years for the sake of Hadith.”66

Some accuse him of flattering the Umayyads. This lie is contradicted by historical facts. It is true that he tutored Caliph Hisham’s sons. However, this is not a fault and does not mean that he supported the Umayyads. He should, in fact, be praised for trying to guide the future rulers of the Muslim community to truth.

In his first meeting with Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik reminded him that his father had supported ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr in his dispute with the Umayyads for many years. But Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri never feared to speak the truth to the Umayyad rulers. Some Umayyads alleged that ‘Ali was referred to in:

As for him among them who took upon himself the greater part of it, a mighty chastisement awaits him, coming after: Those who came with slander are a band of you; do not reckon it evil for you; rather it is good for you. Every man of them shall have the sin that he has earned charged to him. (24:11) [This verse was revealed on the occasion of the slander against ‘A’isha.]

This was, of course, a great lie against ‘Ali. Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri openly stated in the Umayyad court that this verse refers to ‘Abd Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, leader of Madina’s hypocrites. When the Caliph frowned, Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri retorted: “May you be left without a father! I swear by God that if a herald were to announce from heaven that God allows lying, I would not lie at all!”67

Although Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri defended ‘Ali to the Umayyads, he was accused of fabricating pro-Umayyad Traditions by Ya‘qubi, a Shi‘ite historian. Abu Ja‘far al-Iskafi, another Shi‘ite historian, made the same claim against Abu Hurayra. According to Ya‘qubi’s false account, Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik had Jerusalem’s Masjid al­Aqsa’ repaired to encourage the Muslims to circumambulate it instead of the Ka‘ba. He asked Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri to fabricate a Tradition to that effect, which (it was claimed) he did: “It is not worth traveling [for prayer] except to the three mosques: Masjid al-Haram, Masjid al-Aqsa’, and my Masjid here [in Madina].”

Earlier in this book, I argued in favor of this Tradition’s authenticity. In fact, Ya‘qubi laid himself open to ridicule through such an unreasonable account, for:

·         No Jewish, Christian, or Islamic history book has record­ed that Masjid al-Aqsa’ has been circumambulated as the Ka‘ba is.

·         The Qur’an extols it and the Muslims therefore revere it; it does not need a fabricated Tradition to secure this reverence.

·         Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik, Caliph ‘Umar, Nur al-Din al-Zangi, and Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi all had it repaired.

·         Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri could not have met ‘Abd al-Malik during his reign and fabricated a hadith for him at a time when his own father (along with ‘Abd Allah ibn Zubayr) was fighting against the caliph.

·         Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri was not a famous Traditionist at this time. He only began to compile the Traditions in a formal manner during the Caliphate of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz.

·         ‘Abd al-Malik was not the sort of man to attempt such an absurd fraud. Before his caliphate, he was very pious, an authority on Traditions, and well-acquainted with the scholars of his generation. Although he did not succeed, as caliph, in retaining his former reputation among schol­ars for piety, he could not have lowered himself so far to fabricate a hadith.

Despite its absurdity, Goldziher used Ya‘qubi’s account to defame Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, the first formal compiler of the Traditions and a narrator of one-fourth of them. “Modern” researchers in the Muslim world, such as Ahmad Amin, ‘Ali Hasan ‘Abd al-Qadir, and Abu Rayya, who are spokesmen for the Orientalists, repeat the same claims.

The science of Hadith is founded on the most secure and sound pillars, and its original sources are there for anyone who wants to study them. Goldziher and his followers, on the other hand, base themselves on folkloric and poetical books, such as ‘Iqd al-Farid and Al-Aghani (Songs), and on books dealing with animals, like Kitab al-Hayawan. These books, and all similar ones, have nothing to do with Hadith and have no scientific approach.

Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri is one of the greatest Hadith authorities. Leading Hadith experts, such as Ibn al-Madini, Ibn Hibban, Abu Khatim, Hafiz al-Dhahabi, and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, agree upon his indisputable authority. He received Traditions from many Companions, and numerous scholars among the first and second generations after the Companions narrated from him.

Among the Tabi‘un are many others worthy of mention, like Aswad ibn Yazid al-Nakha’i, Nafi‘ (who taught Imam Malik, founder of the Maliki legal school), and Tawus ibn Qaysan, who did not sleep for 40 years between the night and dawn prayers. However, the scope of this book does not allow me to go into further detail.

The Companions And The Tabi‘Un

Arabia, 7th century CE

M. Fethullah Gulen

1               Ibn Hajar,  Al-Isaba, 1:7.

2               Ibn Athir, Usd al-Ghaba, 4:132.

3               Bukhari, “Tafsir,” 7:3.

4               Hakim,  Ma‘rifat ‘Ulum al-Hadith, 22-24.

5                    The Messenger  declares: “My Companions are like stars; whomever  of them  you follow, you will be guided to the True Path.” This hadith is explicitly corroborated by the verse: Remember you said to him whom God favored… (33:37) By him whom God favored, the verse refers to Zayd ibn Haritha, the Messenger’s emancipated slave who is not included among the greatest Companions. God orders all Muslims to fol- low the way of those whom He favors: Guide us to the Straight Path, the path of those whom You favored (1:5). This means that  the Companions, especially the greatest among them, are guides by whom one can find the True or Straight  Path. (Tr.)

6               Haythami, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 1:57;  Hindi,  Kanz al-‘Ummal, 13:353.

7               Ibn Hajar, 1:10.

8               Bukhari, “Tafsir,” 59/6.

9               Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 5; Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 221.

10                 Tirmidhi, “Manaqib,” 58; Ibn Hibban, 9:189; Ibn Hanbal,  5:57.  Hurt is used fig- uratively, in the sense of displeasing, offending,  or attracting  the wrath of God to yourself.

11                 Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 207. That is, Heaven is maintained  by the stars’ deli- cate  order.  When  this  order  collapses,  it  means  the  final  destruc-tion   of  the universe. The Prophet  was a means of security for his Companions. Twenty  years after his death, people began slandering the Companions. Their existence, particu- larly of the leading ones, was a means of security for the Muslim nation. After their deaths, misfortune  began to visit the Muslims. (Tr.)

12             Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 212; Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 1.

13             Abu Nu‘aym, Hilya, 1:305.

14             Ibid., 1:375.

15             Ibid., 1:135.

16             Ibn Hajar, 4:202

17             Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 158;  Ibn Sa‘d, 4:328.

18             Hakim,  Mustadrak, 3:508.

19             Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 159;  Ibn Sa‘d, 4:329,  330.

20             Bukhari, “At‘ima,” 1.

21             Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 10.

22             Bukhari, “‘Ilm,” 42; Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 159;  Ibn Sa‘d, 4:332.

23             Ibn Sa‘d, 4:330-1.

24             Hakim, 3:512; Ibn Kathir,  Al-Bidaya, 8:109.

25             Ibn Hajar,  4:205.

26             Ibn Sa‘d, 4:335-6; Ibn Athir, 6:321; Ibn Hajar,  4:210.

27             Bukhari, “Fitan,” 9; Muslim, “Fitan,” 10.

28             Bukhari, “Fitan,” 3; Ibn Hanbal,  2:288.

29             Ibn Kathir,  8:122.

30             Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 160.

31             Hakim, “Mustadrak,”  3:509-10.

32             Bukhari, “Wudu’,” 10; Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 138.

33             Ibn Athir, 3:291.

34             Bukhari, “Tafsir,” 110/3.

35             Ibn Hajar,  2:332.

36             Ibn Kathir,  Tafsir: Surat al-Fajr, verses 27-30;  Haythami, Majma‘, 9:285.

37             Ibn Hanbal,  Musnad, 2:131.

38             Ibn Hisham,  Sira, 1:374.

39             Bukhari, “Maghazi,” 6; Ibn Sa‘d, 4:143.

40             Ibn Khalliqan, Wafayat al-A‘yan, 2:30.

41             Ibn Sa‘d, 4:185-87.

42             Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 27; Ibn Sa‘d, 3:153.

43             Ibn Maja, “Muqaddima,”  11; Hakim, Mustadrak, 2:318; Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba, 2:369.

44             Tirmidhi, “Tafsir al-Qur’an,” 5.

45             Ibn Sa‘d, 3:155.

46             Ibid., 157.

47             Ibn Kathir,  7:183.

48             Ibn Hajar,  1:213.

49             Hakim, Mustadrak, 4:86; Haythami, Majma‘, 10:20; Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, 11:530.

50             Bukhari, “Tafsir,” 31/2;  Abu Dawud, “Sunnah,” 16; Muslim, “Iman,” 5-7.

51             Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 223-24.

52             Ibid.

53             Abu Nu‘aym, Hilya, 3:146.

54             Ibn al-Jawzi, Sifat al-Safwa, 3:15.

55             Abu Nu‘aym, Hilya, 4:291-5; Ibn Kathir,  Al-Bidaya, 9:117.

56             M. ‘Ajjaj al-Khatib,  Al-Sunnah  qabl al-Tadwin, 485.

57             Abu Nu‘aym, Hilya, 1:163.

58             Ibid., 2:172.

59             Ibn Sa‘d, Tabaqat, 5:126.

60             Ibid., 5:138; Dhahabi,  Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala’, 4:234.

61             Ibn Sa‘d, 6:86;  Abu Nu‘aym, 2:98.

62             Ibn Sa‘d, 6:90-91.

63             Ibid., 6:86;  Abu Nu‘aym, 2:100.

64             Abu Nu‘aym, 2:179.

65             Ibid., 3:364; Dhahabi,  Tadhkirat al-Huffaz,  1:109.

66             Ibn Kathir,  9:375.

67             M. ‘Ajjaj al-Khatib,  Al-Sunnah  qabl al-Tadwin, 509-10.

Quranism By Wiki


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quranism (Arabic: قرآنيون‎ Qur’aniyoon) is a school and branches denomination that holds the Qur’an to be the only canonical text in Islam. Quranists reject the religious authority of Hadith and often Sunnah, libraries compiled by later scholars who catalogued narratives of what the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said and done. This is in contrast to mainstream Muslims, Shias and Sunnis, who consider hadith essential for the Islamic faith.[1] Quranism is similar to movements in other religions such as Karaite Judaism, which rejects all books of the Jewish scriptures except for those of the Tanakh, and the Protestant Christian doctrine of Sola scriptura, subscribers to which believe that all that is necessary and good for the Christian life can be found in the sixty-six books of the Protestant Bible.[2]


Quranists may be referred to in various ways, for example Qur’āniyūn / Quraniyoon (Arabic: قرآنيون‎ Qurʾāniyyūn) and ʾAhl al-Qurʾān (أهل القرآن) / Ahle Qur’an, both translating to “Quranites” (which is also used in English), Submitters, and usually by their opponents munkirū al-ḥadīṯ (منكروا الحديث) (i.e. “negators of Hadith” / “hadith rejectors”), or Quranism, or Quran aloners, as well as other terms.[3] Quranists may deride Sunni and Shia Muslims by referring to them as ‘hadithists’ and ‘hadith-followers’.[4]


Quranists generally consider themselves to simply be “Muslims”, a term directly from the Quran. They do not think of themselves as belonging to a sect, like Sunni or Shia, as they do not accept any of the narratives beside the Qur’an, thereby universally rejecting the authoritative status applied to hadith by orthodox Muslims as encoded in the various Sunnahs of the Sunni, Shia and other hadith-following sects in Islam.[5] The extent to which Quranists reject the authenticity of the Sunnah varies, but the more established groups have thoroughly criticised the authenticity of the hadith and refused it for many reasons, the most prevalent being that hadith is not mentioned in the Quran as a source of Islamic theology and practice, was not recorded in written form until more than two centuries after the death of the prophet Muhammed, its perceived internal errors and contradictions, and repudiate fatwas[clarification needed] on a hadith’s authenticity and issues emanating from them.[5]

Because of a lack of authoritative clergy in Quranism, ijtihad (independent reasoning) rather than institutionalised taqleed (imitation) is the most common method in use by Quranists.


Quranist rejection of orthodox Muslim theology

Differences in doctrine between Quranists and orthodox Muslims are extant from minor matters to the core of central beliefs such as the five pillars of Islam. Example areas of difference are:

1. The shahada (statement of faith). The Qur’an only mentions ‘lâ ilâha illallâh’ so in general most Quranist followers, but not all, say ‘lâ ilâha illallâh’ (No God but God) rather than the Sunni lâ ilâha illallâh, Muḥammadur rasûlullâh (no god but God, Muhammad is His Prophet) or Shia lâ ilâha illallâh, Muḥammadur rasûlullâh, wa Ali unwali ullah (no god but God, Muhammad is His Prophet, Ali is God’s regent).

2 A menstruating Quranist woman may perform salat (prayer), enter a mosque and touch a quran, as the quran only forbids menstruating women from sexual intercourse or marrying a new man within the first three menstrual cycles of leaving her husband, the Quran offering no further mention of menstruation-related prohibitions.

3 Concerning prayer Quranists fall into a few categories. There are those who combine 5 prayers into 3 prayers like Shias. There are those who pray 5 times a day like Sunnis. There are those who pray 2 times a day (dawn and dusk to include the times of night closest to these) because the Quran only mentions 2 prayers in the Quran by name and all other teachings on prayer found in the book can be boiled down to just these two times of prayer. There are also the fringe groups who redefine the Arabic term used for prayer (‘salat’ /suh-lot/) as something other than prayer. Some Quranists continue to pray in the orthodox manner while others just incorporate bowing and prostration without following the orthodox formula of movement. Night prayer, often referred to as ‘tahajjud’ /tuh-huh-jjud/ is encouraged in the Quran but not in a specific formula as with the orthodox salat in general. See Quranic references: 17:79, 32:16-17, 51:16-17, 52:49, 73:6, 76:26.

4 Charity (alms) in Islam is often known as ‘zakat’ /zuh-cot/. ‘Zakat’ actually conveys the meanings: purity, goodness and development; [6]. Charity (alms) is correctly defined in Arabic as saduqah /sah-dukah/. Its plural is saduqaat /suh-ducah-t/. Hadithists provide 2.5% of their wealth in a prescribed manner with formulas based on secondary-sources, whilst quranists give the “excess” that they have according to what the Quran states.[7]

5 Circumcision, either male or female, plays no role in Quranist theology, per ayahs 95:4 and 4:119.

6 Orthodox Muslims are encouraged to dress in the way of the prophet Muhammad or his wives. Clothing rules plays no part in Quranist theology other than that the person dress modestly as surah 24:30–31 says. For example hijabs or beards are not necessary.

7 Quranists do not hold that breastfeeding a non-related adult male will make him mahram, whilst some Sunni Muslim scholars have said it does;[8] see rada (fiqh)

8 Quranists generally do not believe in the emergence of the Imam Mahdi or dajjal, since they’re not mentioned in the Quran.

9 Quranists can eat food produced by Christians and Jews, as instructed in surah 5:5. Some believe that animals produced by them still must be slaugthered with a blessing, prayer or praise to God alone before being slaugthered as is shown in 6:138. The Quran forbids that animals die by a blow, so techniques for animal slaugther common in “Judaeo-Christian” western countries are Quranically unlawful. Also Quranists can eat/drink with both hands, as there are no prohibitions on eating with your left hand in the Quran, in contrast to orthodox muslims who generally forbid using the left hand. This is because the right hand is considered cleaner due to the tradition of using the left hand in order to clean oneself after having used the toilet.

10 Many Quranists object to touching the black stone of the kaaba during hajj or umrah, however all Quranists agree that it is not to be accorded any sort of special veneration or respect apart from the rest of the Ka’bah. Hajj according to some Quranists is a 4 month long season. This idea is held mostly by the submitters group [9]. Pre-islamically the hajj was a 3 month season beginning at the end of Ramadan [10] , [11]. These 3 months are the “known months” that the Quran sanctions for the undertaking of pilgrimage. They are known in Arabic as ‘Shawwal’, ‘Dhul-Qi’dah’ and the entire month of ‘Dhul-Hijjah.’ The tradition of only performing pilgrimage during the first 10 days of ‘Dhul-Hijjah’ comes from the literature of hadeeth ascribing this pratice as the preferred practice of the prophet Muhammad (sas).

11. Not all Quranists attend the Friday prayer or believe it to be obligatory, even if they may not object to the practice. The modern Arabic term for Friday among Quranists is commonly understood as ‘day of gathering’, and not just ‘friday.’ The reputable Classical Arabic lexicon by Ibn Mandhur ‘Lisanul-Arab’ states that Friday was originally known to the Arabs as “yawmul-3arubah” and not “yawmul-jumu3ah.” Ibn Mandhur quotes the lexicographer and historian Tha3lab who states that the first one to name Friday by the name yawmul-jumu3ah was the maternal grandfather of the prophet Muhammad (sas) Ka3b bin Lu’ayy. As-Suhayli in his work ‘Al-rawdul-unuf: Land Verdant and Pristine’ states “Ka3b Ibn Lu’ayy was the first person to make friday (yawmul-3arbubah) a gathering. Friday was not called yawmul-jumu3ah until the avent of Islam. He was the fist to call it ‘al-jumu3ah’ or ‘the gathering.’ The tribe of Quraish would gather around him on this day and he would address them and make mention of the advent of the prophet (sas), making them aware that he had sired the prophet (sas) and commanding them to follow him (sas) and to have faith in him (sas).” [12].

Quranist rejection of orthodox Muslim punishments

Major punishments approved and applied by the orthodox Sunni and Shi’a madhabs for over a millennium that Quranists reject include:

  • The death penalty for apostates.
  • Stoning for adultery. Instead, Quranists follow the quran’s prescribed punishment of 100 lashings[5][13] as the Quran does not differentiate between fornicators or adulterers in this punishment, by use of the word ‘Zina’ (Arabic: الزنا ) in surah 24:2. The orthodox Shariah law applies lashings only to fornicators as per the Quran, but stoning to adulterers as per Sunnah;
  • The requirement that the four witnesses of zina must have seen clear penetration during the coitus (though this stringent requirement is rarely applied in practice), as the Quran only requires four witnesses to zina.
  • Death penalty of homosexuals. The Quran mentions no punishment for homosexuality other than in a specific reference to prophet Lut’s community, a punishment which God alone administers. Quranists instead tend to view homosexuality as a sin that is punishable by God alone in the afterlife;


Quranists consider themselves to follow only the Quran.

Liberal movements within Islam include Quranists who interpret Islam as “a belief system committed to the liberal values of a democratic world”[14] under narrow Hudud (Arabic حدود). Other quranists remain orthodox in their approach to human rights and broader in the application of rules and punishments, supporting punishments such as amputation of the hand for theft,[15] cruficixion, amputation and execution of enemies[16]

Most Quranists accept the same Arabic Quran used by other Muslims, with only the minority ‘submitter‘ sect reverting to what they claim is the original Quran by removing ayats 9:128-9 to fit their ‘Quran Code 19‘ theology.

Quranist groups are increasingly translating the Arabic Quran themselves into other languages,[17] because most translations by orthodox Muslim groups contain perceived innovations and mistranslations to fit the orthodox ideology. Orthodox Qurans are replete with bracketed comments — based on the sunnah — throughout the ayats to lead the reader to interpret the Quran by the way of the translator, even though the bracketed comments are absent from the Arabic Quran, and such bracketed comments appear less frequently — if at all — in Quranist translations.

“So far from the Quran alone being the sole rule of faith and practice to Muslims, there is not one single sect amongst them whose faith and practice are based on it alone”.

Edward Sell, 1880[18]

Some Muslims have suggested that the original prohibition against Hadith led to the Golden Age of Islam, as the Quran was able to stand up to critical thinking and questioning; and Muslims were thus schooled to be inquisitive and seek answers to every quandary. They posit that the increased reliance on Hadith, which was allegedly illogical and required the suspension of disbelief, led to the eventual downfall of scholastic pursuits in the religion.[19]

Quranist organisations and branches

The Ahle Qur’an

“Ahle Qur’an” is an organisation formed by Abdullah Chakralawi,[34][35] rely entirely on the chapters and verses of the Qur’an. Chakralawi’s position was that the Qur’an itself was the most perfect source of tradition and could be exclusively followed. According to Chakralawi, Muhammad could receive only one form of revelation (wahy), and that was the Qur’an. He argues that the Qur’an was the only record of divine wisdom, the only source of Muhammad‘s teachings, and that it superseded the entire corpus of hadith, which came later.[36] Ahle Quran scholars may use Tafsir when pursuing the interpretations of the Quran.[37]


Tolu-e-Islam (“Resurgence of Islam”) is an organization based in Pakistan, with followers throughout the world.[38] The movement was initiated by Ghulam Ahmed Pervez, a Qur’anic scholar. In his writings and speeches, he re-interpreted Qur’anic verses with little or no emphasis on hadith.[citation needed] Tolu-e-Islam followers do not reject all hadiths; however, they only accept hadiths which “are in accordance with the Quran or do not stain the character of the Prophet or his companions”.[38] The organization is loosely controlled. The organization publishes and distributes books, pamphlets, and recordings of Pervez’s teachings.[38]

United Submitters International

Although different from other Quranists nowadays in many ways, like having faith that Rashad Khalifa was the Messenger of the Covenant mentioned in chapter 3 verse 81 and chapter 33 verse 7 of the Quran, the term Quranists was closely associated with the late Rashad Khalifa, founder of the United Submitters International. The group popularized the phrase: The Qur’an, the whole Qur’an, and nothing but the Qur’an.[39] After Khalifa declared himself the Messenger of the Covenant, he was rejected by orthodox scholars as an apostate of Islam. Later, he was assassinated in 1990 by a sunni terrorist group. His followers believe that there is a mathematical structure in the Qur’an, based on the number 19.


The most important criticism of Quranist Muslims is that the Quran itself refers to statements by the Prophet, and to other concepts that are not fully explained within the Quran itself such as fasting, praying, and the hajj. The reference to the actions of Prophets are made through out the Quran such as:

لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ۬ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرً۬ا

وَكَذَٲلِكَ جَعَلۡنَـٰكُمۡ أُمَّةً۬ وَسَطً۬ا لِّتَڪُونُواْ شُہَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيۡكُمۡ شَهِيدً۬ا‌

Indeed Allâh conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad SAW) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses (the Qur’ân), and purifying them (from sins by their following him), and instructing them (in) the Book (the Qur’ân) and Al­-Hikmah [the wisdom and the Sunnah of the Prophet (i.e. his legal ways, statements, acts of worship, etc.)], while before that they had been in manifest error. (3:164)

لَقَدۡ مَنَّ ٱللَّهُ عَلَى ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِذۡ بَعَثَ فِيہِمۡ رَسُولاً۬ مِّنۡ أَنفُسِهِمۡ يَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡہِمۡ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ وَيُزَڪِّيہِمۡ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلۡحِڪۡمَةَ وَإِن كَانُواْ مِن قَبۡلُ لَفِى ضَلَـٰلٍ۬ مُّبِينٍ

“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. ” [33:21]

Quranist Muslims are also criticized about how they pick and choose which parts of the Quran they will adhere to. A simple problem being on which verses (Ayah) someone may hold more emphasis on than others and the issue of multiple belief systems within the same Quranist congregation.[40]

Other simple criticism is the Quran was complied as one book after the death of Muhammad by the 3rd Caliphate Uthman ibn Affan during the same time the that hadith literature was being composed by the same scholars and passed unchanged under different Caliphate throughout the Islamic history.[41]

According to mainstream Muslims, the hadith literature is an integral part of the Muslim faith. The 11th century Andalusian Maliki theologian and scholar Ibn Abd al-Barr wrote in his Jami’ Bayan al-‘Ilm wa Fadlihi (Compendium Exposing the Nature of Knowledge and Its Immense Merit):

The Sunna is divided into two types. The first is the consensus transmitted from the masses to the masses. This is one of the proofs that leave no excuse for denial and there is no disagreement concerning them. Whoever rejects this consensus has rejected one of Allah’s textual stipulations and committed apostasy. The second type of Sunna consists in the reports of established, trustworthy lone narrators with uninterrupted chains. The congregation of the ulamas of the Community have said that this second type makes practice obligatory. Some of them said that it makes both knowledge and practice obligatory.

Contemporary scholars such as Gibril Haddad have commented on the apostatic nature of a wholesale denial of the probativeness of the Sunnah according to Sunni Orthodoxy, writing “it cannot be imagined that one reject the entire probativeness of the Sunna and remain a Muslim”.[42] In his essay, “The Probativeness of the Sunna”, Haddad explains that the foundation of Islam is the Qur’an, which cannot be described as God’s word when one unconditionally rejects the probativeness of the Sunna (since the fact that the Qur’an is God’s Word was not established by other than Muhammad’s explicit statement that this was God’s Word and His Book). As this statement is part of the Sunna/Hadith Literature, to say that the Sunna is no proof is no different than a denial of an integral part of the religion according to Haddad. He also quotes from Yusuf ibn abd al-Barr, Ibn Hazm as well as other renowned early traditional scholars such as al-Shafi’i, al-Nawawi, Qadi Ayyad and Ibn Hajar.

The Grand Mufti of Pakistan Muhammad Rafi Usmani has also criticised Quranists in his lecture Munkareen Hadith (refuters of Hadith); he states:

The Qur’aan, which they claim to follow, denies the faith of the one who refuses to obey the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and does not accept his ruling: “But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” [al-Nisa’ 4:65 – interpretation of the meaning]


  1. ^ “The Quranist Path”. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  2. ^ Ahmad, Aziz, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp 14-15
  3. ^
  4. ^ Muqaam-e-Hadith (The Actual Status of Hadith) y G. A. Parwez translated by Aboo B. Rana
  5. ^ a b c Ali, Ratib Mortuza. “Analysis of Credibility of Hadiths and Its Influence among the Bangladeshi Youth”. BRAC University. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ From the Qur’an 2:219: “…They also ask you what to give to charity: say, “The excess.” GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you, that you may reflect”. .
  8. ^ Breastfeeding fatwa causes stir May 2007
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ [http://[pg. 451, Vol. 11, Lisanul-Arab. see:, see entry under the root: شول ]
  11. ^ [pg. 259, Vol. 2, Lisanul-Arab. see:, see entry under the root: حجج ]
  12. ^ [pg. 69, Vol. 8, Lisanul-Arab. see:, see entry under the root: جمع ]
  13. ^ Quran 24:2
  14. ^
  15. ^ 5:38- Quran: Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done—a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)
  16. ^ 5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)
  17. ^ For example, see Yuksel, al-Shaiban, L., & Schulte-Nafe, M., Quran: A Reformist Translation,
  18. ^ Sell, Rev. Edward. “The Faith of Islam”, 1880.
  19. ^ a b Ahmad, Kassim. “Hadith: A Re-evaluation”, 1986. English translation 1997
  20. ^ a b c Latif, Abu Ruqayyah Farasat. The Quraniyun of the Twentieth Century, Masters Assertion, September 2006
  21. ^ “About Us”. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  22. ^ “Muslims’ Unheralded Messenger; Antiterrorism Group Founder Hopes To Rally a Crowd”.’+Unheralded+Messenger%3B+Antiterrorism+Group+Founder+Hopes+To+Rally+a+Crowd&pqatl=google. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  23. ^ Ground Zero Mosque: The Confessions of a Western-Middle-Eastern Muslim Waleed Naf, Waleed Naïf, retrieved 3 May 2011
  24. ^ Aisha Y. Musa. Hadith as Scripture; Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam 2008, ISBN 978-0-230-60535-0.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Jamie Glazov. From Radical to Reformed Muslim., December 04, 2007.
  27. ^ Dr. Shabbir Ahmed. “The Qur’an As It Explains Itself”.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Hamlin, Cyrus. “Among the Turks”, 1878. p. 82
  32. ^ Esposito, John (1998). Islam: The Straight Path. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-19-511234-2.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Ahmad, Aziz, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp 120-121
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b c Bazm-e-Tolu-e-Islam
  39. ^ Hardy, Michael; William Pleasant (1987). The Honorable Louis Farrakhan: A Minister for Progress. New York: New Alliance Publications. p. 44.
  40. ^ Ahmad, Aziz, Islamic Modernism in India and Pakistan 1857-1964, Oxford University Press, 1967, pp 96-104
  41. ^ Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World’s Faiths, Mary Pat Fisher, 1997, page 338, I.B. Tauris Publishers.
  42. ^ (August, 1999), Haddad, Gibril, The Sunna as Evidence: The Probativeness of the Sunna, Living Islam, Accessed 22 Jan 2011.

History Of Hadith By Wiki

History of Hadith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Traditions regarding the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down both orally and written for more than a hundred years after the death of Muhammad in 632. According to Muslims, the collection of hadith or sayings by or about the prophet Muhammad was a meticulous and thorough process that began right at the time of Muhammad. Needless to say hadith collection (even in the written form) began very early on – from the time of Muhammad and continued through the centuries that followed.[1] Thus, Muslims reject any collections that are not robust in withstanding the tests of authenticity per the standards of hadith studies. This article goes through the historical evolution of the hadith literature from its beginning in the 7th century to present day.

Writing in the Pre-Islamic Period

Prior to the advent of Islam, memorization was the primary means of conveyance of information amongst the Arabs.[2] There were, however, some instances of writing present at that time, including promissory notes, personal letter, tribal agreements and some religious literature.[3] There were very few Arabs that could read or write in the beginning of Muhammad‘s era: The majority were unlettered, and according to Sunni traditions, so was Muhammad.[4]

Prophetic Period

According to Ibn Hajar, “During the Prophet’s lifetime and into the time of the Companions and older Followers, the narrations of the Prophet were not transcribed in a systematic manner. This was due to two reasons. The first, was that early on they had been prohibited from doing so, as has been established in Sahih Muslim,[5] lest the hadith become confused with the Quran. The second was due to expansive capability of their ability to memorize and because the majority of them were unable to write.”[6]

A possible explanation of aforementioned hadith is that “the majority of the companions were illiterate with only a few individuals from them able to write. If they were to write, it was unrefined, not conforming to the written alphabet. Thus, the prohibition was due to the fear of erring while writing.”[7] Another is that “the prohibition was of writing the Quran with other than it in one place so as to avoid the two from becoming mixed up confusing the one reading it. As for writing in its entirety having been prohibited, then this was not the case as we see from another hadith, ‘Convey what I say.’ Present within the command to convey is permission to write and record.”[8]

Writing of hadith

Despite this, there are a number of hadith that indicate the permissibility if not encouragement to write down hadith. From them:

  • The hadith of Abd Allah ibn ‘Amr who said, “I used write everything I heard from the Prophet wanting to preserve it. The Quraysh then prohibited me from doing so, saying, ‘Do you write down everything? And the Prophet is human who speaks while angry and pleased?’ So I refrained from writing and then mentioned this to the Prophet. He gestured to his mouth and said, ‘Write, by the one in whose hand is my soul! Nothing emanates from this except the truth.’”[9]
  • A man came to Muhammad and complained about his memory, saying: ‘O Messenger of Allah: We hear many things from you. But most of them slip our minds because we cannot memorize them’. Muhammad replied: Ask your right hand for help.[12] Muhammad meant that he should write down what he heard.
  • When Rafi‘ ibn Khadij asked Muhammad whether they could write what they heard from him, the answer came: Write, no harm!.[13] Another sources quotes Muhammad advising: “Record knowledge by writing.”[14]
  • During the conquest of Mecca, Muhammad gave a sermon. A man from the Yemen, named Abu Shah, stood up and said: “O Allah’s Messenger! Please write down these [words] for me!” Muhammad ordered: “Write for Abu Shah!”[15]
  • Muhammad sent a letter which contained commandments about the blood money for murders and injuries and the law of retaliation to Amr ibn Hizam.[16] This letter was handed down to his great grandson, Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad.[4] Among other things, like some of his letters other head of states[citation needed], some scroll transferred to Abu Rafi was handed down to Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abd Al-Rahman ibn Harith, belonging to the first generation after the Companions.[4]

Ibn Hajar summarized the different ways in which scholars have sought to reconcile those hadith prohibiting the writing of hadith and those permitting it, in the first of which he said, “The reconciliation between the two is that the prohibition was particular to the time in which the Quran was being sent down so that it would not become mixed up with other than it and the permission was during other than that time.”[17]

Post-prophetic period

During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, the Muslim nation had to deal with the rebellion of several apostates. In all likelihood, the apostates began to forge hadiths to suit their purposes. For this reason, Abu Bakr, and his successor, Umar, were very strict in their acceptance of hadiths as authentic, for fear of accepting a forged hadith.[18]

Among Sunnis, Umar ibn al-Khattab is the primary locus for many accounts about hadith collection. He is portrayed by Sunnis as desiring to initiate this project but unwilling to do so, fearing that Muslims might then neglect the Qur’an.[19] Umar is also said by Sunnis that, due to fear and concerns, he sometimes warned people against careless narration of hadith.[4]

Muslim historians say that it was the caliph Uthman (the third caliph, or successor of Muhammad, who had formerly been one of Muhammad’s secretary’s), encouraged Muslims to write down the hadith as Muhammad (in some instances) had encouraged Muslims to do likewise during his lifetime [20][21][22][23]. Uthman’s labors were cut short by his assassination, at the hands of aggrieved people who had come to the capital to seek redressal from the Caliph for the wrongs done by his secretary, Merwan ibn Hakam, on 17 June 656 A.D{[24]}.The Muslim community (ummah) then fell into a prolonged civil war, termed the Fitna by Muslim historians. After the fourth caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was assassinated, control of the Islamic empire was seized by the Umayyad dynasty in 660A.D/40 A.H.{[25]} Illustrating the importance hadith in a written format had earned, Ibn Abbas left behind a camel-load of books, which mostly contain what he had heard from Muhammad and other Sahaba.[4][26]

Of the many companions, Abu Hurairah taught hadith to students, one of whom was Hammam ibn Munabbih. Ibn Munabbih wrote down these hadith, the original manuscripts of which are present even to this day in the libraries of Berlin, Beirut and Damascus.[27]

Starting the first Islamic civil war of the 7th century, those receiving the hadith started to question the sources of the saying, something that resulted in the development of the Isnad.[19] Muhammad ibn Sirin (d. 110/728) stated[19]:

“[the traditionalists] were not used to inquiring after the isnad, but when the fitna occurred they said: Name us your informants. Thus if these were Ahl al-Sunna their traditions were accepted, but if they were heretics, their traditions were not accepted.”

The beginning of systematic hadith collection

The beginning of the systematic collection and compilation of hadith began during the time of the second generation of Muslims, that of the Followers. Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Ubaydullah, commonly known as ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, was a prolific and prominent hadith narrator from the Followers whom Ibn Hajar identified as a tabi’i.[28] According to Ibn Hajar, “Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri was the first to compile hadith at the beginning of the first century after the Migration acting on the order of Umar ibn AbdulAziz. It was after this that the compilation, then the authoring of books of hadith became commonplace, resulting in much good.”[29]

Ummayad rule was interrupted by a second civil war (the Second Fitna), re-established, then ended in 758, when the Abbasid dynasty seized the caliphate, to hold it, at least in name, until 1517 (the last Caliph was Al-Mutawakkil III 1508–1517, in Cairo and not in Baghdad).

Muslim historians say that hadith collection and evaluation continued during the first Fitna and the Umayyad period. However, much of this activity was presumably oral transmission from early Muslims to later collectors, or from teachers to students.

The scholars of the Abbasid period were faced with a huge corpus of miscellaneous traditions, some of them flatly contradicting each other. Many of these traditions supported differing views on a variety of controversial matters. Scholars had to decide which hadith were to be trusted as authentic narrations and which had been invented for various political or theological purposes. For this purpose, they used a number of techniques in hadith studies. In AH 134 (751/752), paper was introduced into the Muslim world.[30]

Generally, Umar II is credited with having ordered the first collection of hadith material in an official manner, fearing that some of it might be lost. Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm and Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri, are among those who compiled hadiths at `Umar II’s behest.[19]

Early written hadith collections

List of collections of hadith, in chronological order:

  1. Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri
  2. Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm
  3. Musannaf of ibn Jurayj — ?-? CE
  4. Musannaf of Ma`mar bin Rashid — ?-? CE
  5. Sahifah Hammam ibn Munabbih — 670–720 CE
  6. Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq al-San`ani — c. 700 CE
  7. Muwatta of Malik bin Anas — 760–795 CE
  8. Sufyan al-Thawri

Canonical texts

The efforts culminated with the six canonical collections after having received impetus from the establishment of the sunna as the second source of law in Islam, particularly through the efforts of the famous jurist Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi’i.[19]

The method of criticism and the conclusions it has reached have not changed significantly since the ninth century. Even much of modern Muslim scholarship, while continuing to debate the validity or authenticity of individual hadiths or perhaps the hadiths of a particular transmitter, employs the same methods and biographical materials.[19]

The classification of Hadith into sahih (sound), hasan (good) and da’if (weak) was firmly established by Ali ibn al-Madini (d. 234 AH).[31] Later, al-Madini’s student Muhammad al-Bukhari authored a collection that he stated contained only sahih hadith.[31] al-Tirmidhi was the first traditionist to base his book on al-Madini’s classification.[31]

Contemporary Analysis

In 1848, Gustav Weil, noted that Muhammad al-Bukhari deemed only 4,000 of his original 300,000 hadiths to be authentic.He was soon followed by Aloys Sprenger, who also suggests that many of the hadiths cannot be considered authentic.[19] However, this demonstrates a limited understanding by Non Muslims, of Bukhari’s criterion for his Sahih. This is clarified by other statements of Bukhari in which he made it clear that he considered all of the hadith in his authentic, but not all authentic hadith are included in his Sahih. Al-Dhahabi quoted Bukhari as saying, “I have memorized one hundred thousand authentic hadith and two hundred thousand that are not authentic.’[32]

Ignaz Goldziher was a large contributor of innovative theories to the West. The subsequent direction the Western debate took, a direction which has focussed on the role of hadiths in the origin and development of early Muslim jurisprudence, is largely due to the work of Joseph Schacht.[19] The Common-Link Theory, invented by Joseph Schacht and widely accepted in modern scholarship, argues that hadith authorities knowingly and purposefully placed traditions in circulation with little care to support these hadiths with satisfactory isnads (chains of transmitters). G. H. A. Juynboll, Michael Cook and other Schachtians subsequently embraced and elaborated upon this theory. In 2006, Fahad A. Alhomoudi in his thesis “On the Common-Link Theory”[33] challenges the accuracy of Schacht’s founding theory. Because of the interconnectedness of Schacht’s many theses about hadith and Islamic law, the findings of Alhomoudi’s thesis did not only challenge the significant Common-Link Theory in legal hadith studies, but also open the door for scholars to question other important theories held by Schacht and his followers with regard to larger issues in Islamic legal history.

The Turkish government’s Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı has commissioned a team of scholars at Ankara University to draft a new compilation of hadith that would omit numerous hadith considered historically inauthentic by these scholars.[34]


1.       ^ Refuting The Argument From Hadith In Which The Prophet Says “Do Not Write Down Anything From Me Except Qur’an”

2.       ^ Abridged from al-Hadith wa al-Muhaddithoon, pg. 39.

3.       ^ Studies in Early Hadith Literature, al-‘Athami, pg. 2.

4.       ^ a b c d e f “When where the traditions recorded?”. Retrieved 2010-03-21.

5.       ^ Sahih Muslim, 42:7147.
Other sources for the hadith:

§  Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3, pgs. 12, 21, 39 and 56

§  Sunan al-Darimi, vol. 1, pgs. 130 and 450

§  Sahih Muslim, vol. 2, pg. 1366, no. 3004

§  al-Nasa’i in Al-Sunan al-Kubraa, vol. 2, pg. 1240, no. 7954 and elsewhere.

6.       ^ Hadi al-Sari, 1:6 according to the page numbering of the Maktabah al-Salafiyah edition.

7.       ^ Ibn Qutaibah in Mukhtalif al-Hadith, pg. 412.

8.       ^ al-Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunnah, vol. 1, pg. 295, al-Maktab al-Islami, Beirut.

9.       ^ Collected in the Musnad of Ahmad (10\15-6\ 6510 and also nos. 6930, 7017 and 1720), Sunan Abu Dawud (Mukhtasar Sunan Abi Dawud (5\246\3499) and elsewhere.

10.    ^ Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, 2.22.

11.    ^ Bukhari, “‘Ilm,” 39.

12.    ^ Tirmidhi, “‘Ilm,” 12.

13.    ^ Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, 10.232.

14.    ^ Darimi, “Muqaddima,” 43.

15.    ^ Abu Dawud, “‘Ilm,” 3; al-Tirmidhi, “‘Ilm,” 12.

16.    ^ Darimi, “Diyat,” 12.

17.    ^ Fath al-Bari, vol. 1, pg. 208).

18.    ^ Siddiqi, Muhammad (1993). Hadith Literature. 32: The Islamic Texts Society. pp. 32. ISBN 0946621381.

19.    ^ a b c d e f g h “PAR246 Hadith Criticism”. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2010-03-21.

20.    ^ ^ Tirmidhi, “‘Ilm,” 12.

21.    ^ ^ Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, 10.232.

22.    ^ ^ Darimi, “Muqaddima,” 43.

23.    ^ ^ Abu Dawud, “‘Ilm,” 3; al-Tirmidhi, “‘Ilm,” 12.

24.    ^ Ameer Ali Syed, A Short History of Saracens

25.    ^ Tabari, vol.ii, p4; cf. Masudi, vol. v, p.14

26.    ^ M. ‘Ajjaj al-Khatib, op. cit. 352.

27.    ^ An Introduction to the Conservation of Hadith – In the light of the Sahifah of Hammam ibn Munabbih by Dr Muhammad Hamidullah, IBT publishers, 2003

28.    ^ Taqrib al-Tahthib, pg. 440, no. 6296, Mu’assasah al-Risalah, Beirut, first edition, 1999.

29.    ^ Fath al-Bari, vol. 1, pg. 208.

30.    ^ Mit-Ejmes[dead link]

31.    ^ a b c “Imaam Tirmidhi’s Contribution – Chapter Four”. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2010-03-21.

32.    ^ Tathkirah al-Huffath, vol. 2, pg. 556.

33.    ^ On the Common-Link Theory, Fahad A. Alhomoudi, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada,Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.

34.    ^ Pigott, Robert (2008-02-26). “Europe | Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts”. BBC News. Retrieved 2010-03-21.

Hadith Studies By Wiki

Hadith Studies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hadith studies (Arabic: علم الحديث ʻulūm al-ḥadīth “hadith science”‎) are a number of religious disciplines used in the study and evaluation of the Islamic hadith by Muslim scholars.[1] It has been described by one hadith specialist, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, as the science of the principles by which the conditions of both the sanad, the chain of narration, and the matn, the text of the hadith, are known. This science is concerned with the sanad and the matn with its objective being distinguishing the sahih, authentic, from other than it. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said the preferred definition is: knowledge of the principles by which the condition of the narrator and the narrated are determined.[2]

The importance of Hadith Studies

A common historical method in Islam, hadith studies consist of a careful examination of the isnad, or chain of transmission accompanying each hadith.The isnad is carefully scrutinized to see if the chain is possible (for example, making sure that all transmitters and transmittees were known to be alive and living in the same area at the time of transmission) and if the transmitters are reliable. The scholars reject as unreliable people reported to have lied (at any point), as well as people reputed to be heedless (and thus likely to misunderstand the saying).

The stature of hadith studies, reflects the centrality of hadith to other religious disciplines. “The science of hadith is from the best of the virtuous sciences as well as the most beneficial of the various disciplines,” said Uthman ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Shahrazuri, commonly known as Ibn al-Salah, in the introduction to his widely influential Introduction to the Science of Hadith. “It is preferred by the noble from amongst men and is tended to by those scholars concerned with verifying the correct from the incorrect and those of complete scholarship; only those who are debased and lowly dislike it. It is the science most pervasive in respect to the other sciences in their various branches, in particular to jurisprudence being the most important of them.”[3]

“The intended meaning of ‘other sciences’ here are those pertaining to religion,” explains Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, “Quranic exegesis, hadith, and jurisprudence. [The science of hadith] became the most pervasive due to the need displayed by each of these three sciences. [The need] hadith has [of its science] is apparent. As for Quranic exegesis, then the preferred manner of explaining the speech of Allah is by means of what has been accepted as a statement of His Prophet. The one looking to this is in need of distinguishing the acceptable from the unacceptable. Regarding jurisprudence, then the jurist is in need of citing as an evidence the acceptable to the exception of the later, something only possible utilizing the science of hadith.”[4]


The term muhaddith refers to a specialist who profoundly knows and narrates hadith, the chains of their narration isnad, and the original and famous narrators. According to the 8th century Imam, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i, a muhaddith is someone who has memorised at least 400,000 narrations along with the chain of narrators for each narration.

In describing the muhaddith, Al-Dhahabi raised the question, “Where is the knowledge of hadith, and where are its people?” Answering his own question, he said, “I am on the verge of not seeing them except engrossed in a book or under the soil.”[5]


After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, his sayings were preserved in both written and memorized form.[6] Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph, began to collect all the hadiths together into one unified volume. He, however, chose to give up the endeavor in order to have the Muslim nation concentrate its efforts more on the Quran.

The Umayyad caliph, Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz also started an effort to collect all the hadiths. Teaching and collecting hadiths was part of a plan of his to renew the moral fiber of the Muslim community. He supported teachers of fiqh, sent educators to ignorant Bedouin tribes, ordered weekly hadith lectures in the Hejaz, and sent our scholars of hadith to Egypt and North Africa. [6]

Umar also ordered the great scholar of Madinah, Abu Bakr ibn Hazm to write down all the hadiths of the Prophet and Umar ibn al-Khattab, particularly those narrated by Aisha. He had these hadiths collected in books which were circulated around the Umayyad Empire. Although these books are lost today, commentaries on them by Ibn al-Nadim reveals that they are organized like books of fiqh, such as the Muwatta of Imam Malik, the first large compilation of hadiths. Imam Malik himself probably followed the general plan of the early books of hadith ordered by Umar. [6]

The classification of Hadith into sahih, sound or authentic; hasan, good; and da’if, weak, was utilized early in hadith scholarship by Ali ibn al-Madini (161–234 AH).[7] Later, al-Madini’s student Muhammad al-Bukhari (810–870) authored a collection, now known as Sahih Bukhari, commonly accepted by Sunni scholars to be the most authentic collection of hadith, followed by that of his student Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj.[8] Al-Bukhari’s methods of testing hadiths and isnads are seen as exemplary of the developing methodology of hadith scholarship.[9]

A concise history of Sunni literature pertaining to hadith studies

As in any Islamic discipline, there is a rich history of literature describing the principles and fine points of hadith studies. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani provides a summation of this development with the following: “Works authored in the terminology of the people of hadith have become plentiful from the Imaams both old and contemporary:

  1. From the first of those who authored a work on this subject is the Judge, Abū Muḥammad al-Rāmahurmuzī in his book, ‘al-Muhaddith al-Faasil,’ however, it was not comprehensive.
  2. And al-Hakim, Abu Abd Allah an-Naysaburi, however, it was neither refined nor well arranged.
  3. And following him, Abu Nu’aym al-Asbahani, who wrote a mustakhraj upon the book of the later, (compiling the same narrations al-Hakim cited using his own sanads.) However, some things remain in need of correction.
  4. And then came al-Khatib Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi, authoring works in the various disciplines of hadith studies 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 hadeeth 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 hadeeth coming after al-Khatib are indebted to his works.’ After them came others, following al-Khatib, taking their share from this science.”
  5. al-Qadi ‘Eyaad compiled a concise book naming it al-Ilmaa’.
  6. Abu Hafs al-Mayanajiy 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.
  7. 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.[10]

The Sanad and the Matn

The sanad and matn are the primary elements of a hadith. The sanad is the information provided regarding the route by which the matn has been reached. It is so named due to the reliance of the hadith specialists upon it in determining the authenticity or weakness of a hadith. The term sanad is synonymous with the similar term isnad. The matn is the actual wording of the hadith by which its meaning is established, or stated differently, the objective at which the sanad arrives at, consisting of speech. [11] The sanad consists of a ‘chain’ of the narrators each mentioning the one from whom they heard the hadith until mentioning the originator of the matn along with the matn itself. The first people who received hadith were the Prophet’s Companions; so they preserved and understood it, knowing both its generality and particulars, and then conveyed it to those after them as they were commanded. Then the generation following them, the Followers, received it and then conveyed it to those after them and so on. Thus, the Companion would say, “I heard the Prophet say such and such.” The Follower would then say, “I heard a Companion say, ‘I heard the Prophet .’” The one after the Follower would then say, “I heard someone say, ‘I heard a Companion say, ‘I heard the Prophet …’’” and so on.[12]

The importance of the sanad

Much has been said about the importance of the sanad by the early religious scholars. For example, according to an early Quranic exegete, Matr al-Warraq, [13] the verse from the Quran, “Or a remnant of knowledge,”[14] refers to the isnad of a hadith.[15] In addition, Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak said, “The isnad is from the religion; were it not for the isnad anyone could say anything they wanted.”[16] According to Ibn al-Salah the sanad originated within the Muslim scholastic community and remains unique to it.[17] Ibn Hazm specified this claim by adding that the connected, continuous sanad is, in fact, particular to the religion of Islam. He elaborated that the sanad was utilized by the Jewish community, however with a break in it of more than thirty generations between them and Moses. Likewise, the Christians limited their use of the sanad to the conveyance of the prohibition of divorce.[18]

The practice of paying particular attention to the sanad can be traced to the generation following that of the Companions based upon the statement of Muhammad ibn Sirin, “They did not previously inquire about the sanad. However, after the turmoil occurred they would say, ‘Name for us your narrators.’ So the people of the Sunnah would have their hadith accepted and the people of innovation would not.”[19] Those who were not given to require a sanad were, in the stronger of two opinions, the Companions of the Prophet, while others, such as al-Qurtubi, include the older of the Followers as well.[20] This is due to the Companions all being considered upright, trustworthy transmitters of hadith such that a mursal hadith narrated by a Companion is acceptable, as the elided narrator, being a Companion, is known to be acceptable. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, stating likewise, cited various evidences for this, from them, the Quranic verse, “And you were the best nation brought about to mankind.”[21] The fitnah referred to is the conflicting ideologies of the Kharijites and the Ghulat that had emerged at the time of the third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan, his assassination and the social unrest of the Kharijites in opposition to the succeeding rulers, Ali and Muawiyah.[22]The death of Uthman was in the year 35 after the migration.[23]

Biographical evaluation

An important discipline within hadith studies is Ilm ar-Rijal, biographical evaluation. It relates to the detailed study of the narrators who make up the sanad. Ilm ar-rijal has as its basis certain verses of the Quran.

Shaykh Muhammad Zakariya al-Kandahlawi has mentioned that Imam Bukhari listed the following as criterion for a muhaddith:

  1. The four things which one must write are:
    1. The blessed ahadith of the Blessed Prophet r and his rulings
    2. The sayings of the Sahaba and the status of each sahabi
    3. The sayings of the Tabieen (i.e., the Salaf-us Salaheen who met the Sahaba, but did not meet the Blessed Prophet). The level of each of the Tabieen. Who amongst them was reliable and who was unreliable
    4. Knowledge of all the narrators who narrate ahadith and their history
  2. The history of the narrators must include four things:
    1. Their Isma-ul-Rijjal (biographies)
    2. Their kunniyaat (nicknames)
    3. Their place of settlement
    4. Their date of birth and date of death (to verify whether this person met the people whom he narrated from)

Discussion of validity

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, clarifies what he feels supports the validity of hadith studies:

There is a basic distinction between Islam and other religions in this regard: Islam is singularly unique among the world religions in the fact that in order to preserve the sources of their religion, the Muslims invented a scientific methodology based on precise rules for gathering data and verifying them. As it has been said, ‘Isnad or documentation is part of Islamic religion, and if it had not been for isnad, everybody would have said whatever he wanted.

I. A. Ahmad writes:[24]

The vagueness of ancient historians about their sources stands in stark contrast to the insistence that scholars such as Bukhari and Muslim manifested in knowing every member in a chain of transmission and examining their reliability. They published their findings, which were then subjected to additional scrutiny by future scholars for consistency with each other and the Qur’an.

Patricia Crone, a skeptic of established Islamic history, has stated:

One of the biggest problems with the method of authentication by isnads is early traditionists were still developing the conventions of the isnad. They either gave no isnads, or gave isnads that were sketchy or deficient by later standards. Scholars who adhered strictly to the latest standards might find themselves rejecting or deprecating what was in fact the very earliest historical material, while accepting later, fabricated traditions that clothed themselves with impeccable isnads“. [25]


1.       ^ An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, translated by Eerik Dickinson, from the translator’s introduction, pg. xiii, Garnet publishing,Reading, U.K., first edition, 2006.

2.       ^ Tadrib al-Rawi, vol. 1, pgs. 38-9.

3.       ^ Ulum al-Hadith by Ibn al-Salah, pg. 5, Dar al-Fikr, ed. Nur al-Din al-‘Itr.

4.       ^ al-Nukat ala Kitab ibn al-Salah, vol. 1, pg. 90.

5.       ^ Tathkirah al-Huffath, by al-Dhahabi, vol. 1, pg. 4, edited under the supervision of Wizarah al-Ma’arif of the High Court of India by al-Muallimee.

6.       ^ a b c Siddiqi, Muhammad Zubayr (1993). Hadith Literature. Oxford: The Islamic Texts Society. pp. 6. ISBN 0946621381.

7.       ^ Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, al-Nukat ala Kitab ibn al-Salah, vol. 1, pg. 263, Maktabah al-Furqan, Ajman, U.A.E., second edition, 2003

8.       ^ Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar Ulum al-Hadith published with explanation al-Ba’ith al-Hathith, vol. 1, pg. 102-3, Maktabah al-Ma’arif, Riyadh, K.S.A., first edition, 1996

9.       ^ Ibid.

10.    ^ Nuzhah Al-Nathr, pg. 45–51; published as al-Nukat, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi. I referred to the explanation of Ali al-Qari, Sharh Sharh Nukhbah al-Fikr, in particular segments of pgs. 143-7 in some instances for clarity. The books mentioned above are all published in the original Arabic, with only Ibn al-Salah’s book, as far as I am aware, being translated into English.

11.    ^ Tadrib al-Rawi, by al-Suyuti vol. 1, pgs. 39–41 with abridgement.

12.    ^ Ilm al-Rijal wa Ahimiyatuh, by Mu’allami, pg. 16, Dar al-Rayah. I substituted the word sunnah with the word hadith as they are synonymous in this context.

13.    ^ Matr ibn Tihman al-Warraq died in the year 119 after the migration; he used to transcribe the Quran (Kitab al-Jami bain Rijal al-Sahihain, vol. 2, pg. 526, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah).

14.    ^ Sorah al-Ahqaf: 4

15.    ^ Reported by al-Khatib al-Bagdadi in Sharaf Ashab al-Hadith, pg. 83, no. 68, Maktabah Ibn Taymiyah. al-Sakhawi also mentioned this narration in Fath al-Mugith, vol. 3, pg. 333, Dar Alam al-Kutub.

16.    ^ Reported by Muslim in the introduction to his Sahih, vol. 1, pg. 9, Dar Taibah. This narration is also mentioned in the translation of ‘An Introduction to the Science of Hadith,’ pg. 183.

17.    ^ Ulum Al-Hadith, pg. 255; this also appears on pg. 183 of the translation.

18.    ^ Summarized from Tadrib Al-Rawi, vol. 2, pg. 143.

19.    ^ Reported by Muslim in the introduction to his Sahih, vol. 1, pg. 8.

20.    ^ See the discussion of this issue in Qurrat Ayn al-Muhtaj by Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Adam, vol. 2, pg. 57-8.

21.    ^ Al-Kifayah, pg. 46, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah photocopied from the Indian print with Muallimi’s verification. The verse mentioned is verse 110 of Surah Aal Imran; the translation of ‘ummah’ is based upon Ibn Kathir’s interpretation of the verse.

22.    ^ This is the explanation provided by al-Qurtubi in al-Mufhim, vol. 1, pgs. 122-3 as quoted in Qurrah Ayn Al-Muhtaj, vol. 2, pg 58.

23.    ^ Al-Bidiyah wa Al-Nihayah, vol. 10, pg. 323, Dar Alam al-Kutub.

24.    ^ Ahmad, I. A. (June 3, 2002), “The Rise and Fall of Islamic Science: The Calendar as a Case Study”, Faith and Reason: Convergence and Complementarity, Al Akhawayn University,, retrieved 2008-01-31

25.    ^ Roman, provincial and Islamic Law, Patricia Crone, pp. 23–34 of the paperback edition.

Hadith Terminology Wiki

Hadith Terminology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hadith terminology (Arabic: muṣṭalaḥ al-ḥadīth; مُصْطَلَحُ الحَدِيْث) is the body of terminology which specify the acceptability of the narrations, hadith, attributed to the Islamic Prophet, Muhammad, as well as other early figures of religious significance. 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 Ahmad ibn ‘Ali Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, a renowned hadith specialist, as: “knowledge of the principles by which the condition of the narrator and the narrated are determined.”[1] This page comprises the primary terminology utilized within hadith studies.

Number of terms

The individual terms are numerous, with Ibn al-Salah including sixty-five in his Introduction to the Science of Hadith and then commenting, “This is the end of them, but not the end of what is possible, as this is subject to further particularization to an innumerable extent.” Al-Bulqini commented on this by saying, “We have added five more categories, making it seventy.”[2] Ibn al-Mulaqqin counted the various types as being “more than eighty”[3] and al-Suyuti included ninety-three in Tadrib al-Rawi. Muḥammad al-Ḥāzimī acknowledged the numerous terms, reaching almost 100 by his own count, saying: “Be aware that the science of hadith consists of numerous types reaching almost 100. Each type is an independent discipline in and of itself and were a student to devote his life to them he would not reach their end.”[1]

Terminology relating to the authenticity of a hadith

Ibn al-Salah said, “A hadith, according to its specialists, is divided into ṣaḥīḥ, ḥasan and ḍaʻīf.”[4]

Ibn al-Salah said, “A hadith, according to its specialists, is divided into ṣaḥīḥ, ḥasan and ḍaʻīf.”[4] 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 ṣaḥīḥ and, therefore, actionable, or ḍaʻīf 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 ṣaḥīḥ 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.”[4]


Ṣaḥīḥ, (صَحِيْح), is best translated as authentic. Ibn Hajar defines a hadith that is ṣaḥīḥ lithatihi, ṣaḥīḥ 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 muttaṣil (connected) isnād (chain of narration) that contains neither a serious concealed flaw (ʻillah) nor irregularity (shādhdh). He then defines a hadith that is ṣaḥīḥ ligharihi, ṣaḥīḥ due to external factors, as a hadith “with something, such as numerous chains of narration, strengthening it.”[5]

This definition of Ibn Hajar illustrates that there are five conditions to be met for a particular hadith to be considered ṣaḥīḥ.

  1. Each narrator in the chain of narration must be trustworthy.
  2. Each narrator must be reliable in his ability to preserve that narration – be it in his ability to memorize to the extent that he can recall it as he heard it, or, that he has written it as he heard it, and has preserved that written document unchanged.
  3. The isnād must be connected, muttasil, in that each narrator could have at least conceivably heard from the previous narrator.
  4. That the hadith, including its isnād be free of an ‘illah or hidden, but detrimental, flaw – such as it being established that two narrators, while having been contemporaries, never, in fact, met thus causing a break in that ‘chain’.
  5. That that hadith be free of irregularity, meaning that it not contradict another hadith better established than it.

A number of books were authored in which the author stipulated the inclusion of only ṣaḥīḥ hadith. According to Ahl al-Sunna, only the first two are considered to have achieved this. They are presented here arranged in descending order according to authenticity:

  1. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī: Considered the most authentic book after the Quran.[6]
  2. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim: Considered the next most authentic book after Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī.[6]
  3. Ṣaḥīḥ ibn Khuzaymah: Al-Suyuti was of the opinion that Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Khuzaymah was at a higher level of authenticity than Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān.[7]
  4. Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān: Al-Suyuti also concluded that Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān was more authentic than Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Ṣaḥīḥain.[7]
  5. al-Mustadrak ʻalā al-Ṣaḥīḥayn, by Hakim al-Nishaburi.[7]
  6. Al-Āhādith al-Jiyād al-Mukhtārah min mā laysa fī Ṣaḥīḥain by Ḍiyāʼ al-Dīn al-Maqdisī, authenticity considered.[8]


Ḥasan, (حَسَن), linguistically means good and there exist somewhat convergent technical definitions, however, in general, it expresses the categorization of a hadith’s authenticity as acceptable for use as a religious evidence, however, not established to the extent of ṣaḥīḥ.

Ibn Hajar defines a hadith that is ḥasan lithatihi, ḥasan in and of itself, with the same definition a ṣaḥīḥ hadith except that the competence of one of its narrators is less than complete, while a hadith that is ḥasan ligharihi, ḥasan due to external factors, is determined to be ḥasan due to corroborating factors, such as numerous chains of narration. He then states that it is comparable to a ṣaḥīḥ hadith in its religious authority. A ḥasan hadith may rise to the level of being ṣaḥīḥ, in spite of its own minor deficiency, due to the support of having numerous chains of narration; in this case that hadith would be ḥasan lithatihi, ḥasan in and of itself, but when coupled with other supporting chains is ṣaḥīḥ ligharihi, ṣaḥīḥ due to external factors.[9]

Related Terms


The early scholar of hadith, Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Hakim, defines a musnad, (مُسْنَد), literally ‘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 isnād 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-Ḥasan ibn Mukarram narrated to us: ʻUthman ibn ‘Umar narrated to us: Yunus informed us from al-Zuhri from ʻAbdullah ibn Kaʻb ibn Mālik 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 Kaʻb! Relieve him of his debt,’ gesturing to him in way indicating by half. So he Kaʻb 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-Ḥasan ibn al-Mukarram is apparent, likewise Hasan having heard from ‘Uthman ibn ‘Umar and ‘Uthamn 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].[10]

The musnad format of hadith collection

A musnad hadith should not be confused with the type of hadith collection similarly termed musnad, 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.


Muttaṣil, (مُتَّصِل), refers to a continuous chain of narration in which each narrator has heard that narration from his teacher.[11]


Ibn Hajar described the cause of a hadith being classified as ḍaʻīf as “either due to discontinuity in the chain of narrators or due to some criticism of a narrator.”[12]

Ḍaʻīf, (ضَعِيْف), 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.”[12] This discontinuity refers to the omission of a narrator occurring at different positions within the isnād and is referred to using specific terminology accordingly as discussed below.

Categories of discontinuity


Discontinuity in the beginning of the isnād, from the end of the collector of that hadith, is referred to as muʻallaq, (مُعَلَّق), literally, ‘suspended’. Muʻallaq refers to the omission of one or more narrators. It also refers to the omission of the entire isnād, for example, (an author) saying only: “The Prophet said…” In addition, this includes the omission of the isnād except for the companion, or the companion and successor together.[12]


Mursal, (مُرْسَل), literally means ‘hurried’. If the narrator between the Successor and Muhammad is omitted from a given isnād, the hadith is mursal, e.g., when a Successor says, “The Prophet said …”[13] 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 isnād is considered acceptable. However, there are 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 form a Sahaba. 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 younger Successor.[13]
Since Shi’a make an individual judgment on each Sahaba, they do not differentiate between a mursal and a munqati isnād.


From the categories of discontinuity is muʻḍal, (Arabic: مُعْضَل‎) or ‘problematic’, which is the omission of two or more consecutive narrators from the isnād .[14]


A munqaṭiʻ, (مُنْقَطِع), hadith, literally ‘broken’, is one in which the isnād of people reporting the hadith is disconnected at any point.[13] The isnād of a hadith that appears to be muttaṣil, 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 munqaṭiʻ. It is also applied when someone says “a man told me”.[13]

Other types of weakness


Munkar, (مُنْكَر), literally means ‘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.[15]


Shādhdh, (شاذّ), literally means ‘anomalous’. According to al-Shafi’i, a shādhdh hadith is one which is reported by a trustworthy person who contradicts the narration of a person more reliable than he is. It does not include a hadith which is unique in its matn and is not narrated by someone else.[15]


Muḍṭarib, (مُضْطَرِب), literally means ‘shaky’. According to Ibn Kathir, if reporters disagree about a particular shaikh, or about some other points in the isnād 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 muḍṭarib.[16]

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 muḍṭarib hadith. It is reported through Abu Ishaq, but as many as ten different opinions are held regarding this isnād. 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 muḍṭarib.[16]


A hadith that is mawḍūʻ, (مَوْضُوْع), is one determined to be fabricated and cannot be attributed to its origin. Al-Dhahabi defines mawḍūʻ as a hadith the text of which contradicts established norms of the Prophet’s sayings, or its reporters include a liar,

Recognizing fabricated hadith

  1. Some of these hadith were known to be spurious by the confession of their inventors. For example, Muhammad ibn Sa`id al-Maslub used to say, “It is not wrong to fabricate an isnād for a sound statement.” Another notorious inventor, `Abd al-Karim Abu ‘l-Auja, who was killed and crucified by Muhammad ibn Sulaiman ibn `Ali, governor of Basra, admitted that he had fabricated four thousand hadith declaring lawful the prohibited and vice-versa.
  2. Mawḍūʻ narrations are also recognised by external evidence related to a discrepancy found in the dates or times of a particular incident. For example, when the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab decided to expel the Jews from Khaybar, some Jewish dignitaries brought a document to Umar apparently proving that the Prophet had intended that they stay there by exempting them from the jizya (tax on non-Muslims under the rule of Muslims); the document carried the witness of two companions, Sa’d ibn Mua’dh and Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. Umar rejected the document outright, knowing that it was fabricated because the conquest of Khaybar took place in 6 AH, whereas Sa’d ibn Mua’dh died in 3 AH just after the Battle of the Trench, and Mu’awiyah embraced Islam in 8 AH, after the conquest of Mecca.

Causes of fabrication

There are several factors which may motivate an individual to fabricate a narration, from them:

  • political differences
  • factions based on issues of creed
  • fabrications by heretics
  • fabrications by story-tellers
  • fabrications by ignorant ascetics
  • prejudice in favour of town, race or a particular leader
  • inventions for personal motives
  • proverbs turned into hadith


A number of hadith specialists[who?] have collected fabricated hadith separately in order to distinguish them from other hadith. From these books are:

Terminology relating to the number of narrators in an isnad

In hadith terminology, a hadith is divided into two categories based, essentially, upon the number of narrators mentioned at each level in a particular isnād.[4]

In hadith terminology, a hadith is divided into two categories based, essentially, upon the number of narrators mentioned at each level in a particular isnād. 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.[17]


The first category is mutawatir, (مُتَواتِر), or a ‘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.[17] 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.

Types of mutawatir

Hadiths can be mutawatir in both actual text and meaning:

1. Mutawatir in wording: It is a hadith whose words are narrated by such a large number as is required for a mutawatir, in a manner that all the narrators are unanimous in reporting it with the same words without any substantial discrepancy.

Example: The hadith of Muhammad: “Whoever intentionally attributes a lie against me, should prepare his seat in the Fire.” This is a mutawatir hadith in its wordings because it has a minimum of seventy four narrators. In other words, seventy four companions of Muhammad have reported this hadith at different occasions, all with the same words. The number of those who received this hadith from the Companions is many times greater, because each of the seventy four Companions has conveyed it to a number of his students. Thus the total number of narrators of this hadith has been increasing in each successive generation, and has never been less than seventy four. All these narrators who now are hundreds in number, report it in the same words without even a minor change. This hadith is therefore mutawatir in its wording, because it cannot be imagined reasonably that such a large number of people have colluded to coin a fallacious sentence in order to attribute it to Muhammad.

2. Mutwatir in meaning: It is a mutawatir hadith, which is not reported by the narrators in the same words. The words of the narrators are different. Sometimes even the reported events are not the same. But all the narrators are unanimous in reporting a basic concept, which is common in all reports. This common concept is also ranked as a mutawatir concept.

Example: On the other hand, it is also reported by such a large number of narrators that Muhammad enjoined muslims to perform two ra’kat in Fajr, four ra’kat in Dhuhr, Asr and Esha, and three ra’kat in the Maghrib prayer, yet the narrations of all the reporters who reported the number of ra’kat are not in the same words. Their words are different, even the events reported by them are different. But the common feature of all the reports is the same. This common feature, namely, the exact number of ra’kat is said to be mutawatir in meaning.


The second category, ahaad, (آحاد), or 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.[17]
Hadith ahad consists of three sub-classifications also relating to the number of narrators in the chain or chains of narration.[17]


The first category is mashhur, (مَشْهُوْر), and refers to a hadith conveyed by three or more narrators but is not considered mutawatir.[17]


`Aziz, (عَزِيْز), is any hadith conveyed by two narrators in any given level of a hadith’s isnād.[17]


A gharib, (غَرِيْب), hadith is one conveyed by only one narrator.[17] 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:

  1. Firstly, a hadith may be classified as gharib since it is narrated from one chain only. Al-Tirmidhi mentions as an example a tradition from Hammad ibn Salamah from Abu ‘Usharai on the authority of his father who enquired from the Prophet whether the slaughtering of an animal is confined to the gullet and throat. The Prophet replied that stabbing the thigh will also suffice.
  2. Secondly, a tradition can be classified as gharib due to an addition in the text, though it will be considered a sound tradition, if that addition is reported by a reliable reporter. The example cited by al-Tirmidhi is a tradition narrated through the chain of Malik (d. 179 A.H.) from Nafi’ (d. 117 A.H.) on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (d. 73 A.H.) who stated that the Prophet declared alms-giving at the end of Ramadan obligatory upon every Muslim, male or female, whether a free person or slave from the Muslims. However, this tradition has also been narrated by Ayyub Sakhtiyani and ‘Ubaid Allah ibn ‘Umar, without the addition “from the Muslims”, hence the above mentioned example due to the addition of “from the Muslims” in the text is classified as gharib.
  3. Thirdly, a tradition may be declared gharib since it is narrated through various chains of transmitters but having within one of its chains an addition in the isnād.

Impact on Islamic Law

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, unless otherwise corroborated, yields speculative knowledge upon which action is mandated.[17] A second view, held by Dawud al-Thahiri, ibn Hazm and others, and reportedly the position of Malik ibn Anas, is that a hadith ahad achieves certain knowledge as well. Ibn Hazm stated, “The narration conveyed by a single, upright narrator conveying from another of a similar description until reaching the Prophet mandates both knowledge and action.” [18]

Terminology pertaining to a narration’s origin

Different terms exist which are utilized to denote the origin of a narration. These terms specify whether a narration is attributed to the Prophet, a companion, a successor or a latter historical figure.


Ibn al-Salah said: “Marfo`, (مَرْفُوْع), refers to a narration attributed to the Prophet specifically. 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.”[19]


According to Ibn al-Salah: “Mawquf, (مَوْقُوْف), refers to a narration attributed to a Companion, whether a statement of that companion, an action or otherwise.”[19]


Ibn al-Salah defined maqtu`, (مَقْطُوْع), as a narration attributed to a Tabi‘un (Successor of Prophet’s Companion), whether a statement of that successor, an action or otherwise. In spite of the linguistic similarity, it is distinct from munqati`.[19]


Syaikhul Hadits Maulana Muhammad Azizul Haq defined Talek Hadith stated only its contents without the names of its narrator. There have many Talek Hadith stated in Sahih al-Bukhari.

A Concise History of Sunni Literature Pertaining to Hadith Terminology

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:

  1. From the first of those who authored a work on this subject is the Judge, Abū Muḥammad al-Rāmahurmuzī in his book, al-Muhaddith al-Faasil, however, it was not comprehensive.
  2. And al-Hakim, Aboo Abd Allah an-Naysaburi, authored a book, however, it was neither refined nor well arranged.
  3. 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 isnād.) However, some things remain in need of correction.
  4. 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.”
  5. al-Qadi ‘Eyaad compiled a concise book naming it al-`Ilmaa’.
  6. Aboo 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.
  7. 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.”[20]


1.       ^ a b al-`Asqalānī, Aḥmad ibn `Alī (in Arabic). al-Nukat Ala Kitab Ibn al-Salah. 1. `Ajman: Maktabah al-Furqan. pp. 81–95.

2.       ^ Ibn al-Salah. ‘Aishah bint ‘Abd al-Rahman. ed (in Arabic). Muqadimah Ibn al-Salah. Cairo: Dar al-Ma’arif. p. 150.

3.       ^ Al-Tathkirah fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith, Dar ‘Ammaar, Jordan, first edition, 1988.

4.       ^ a b c d Muqadimah Ibn al-Salah, by Ibn al-Salah, along with Muhasin al-Istilah by al-Bulqini, edited by ‘Aishah bint ‘Abd al-Rahman, pg. 101, Dar al-Ma’arif, Cairo.

5.       ^ Nuzhah al-Nuthr, published with Al-Nukat by ‘Ali ibn Hasan, pg. 82, Dar ibn al-Jawzi, al-Damam, 6th edition.

6.       ^ a b al-Shahrazuri, `Uthman ibn `Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Salah (1990). `Aishah bint `Abd al-Rahman. ed. al-Muqaddimah fi `Ulum al-Hadith. Cairo: Dar al-Ma’aarif. pp. 160–9.

7.       ^ a b c Tadrib al-Rawi, vol. 1, pg. 148, Dar al-‘Asimah, Riyadh, first edition, 2003.

8.       ^ al-Kattānī, Muḥammad ibn Jaʻfar (2007). Wikisource-logo.svgAl-Risālah al-Mustaṭrafah. (seventh ed.). Dār al-Bashāʼir al-Islamiyyah. pp. 24.

9.       ^ Nuzhah al-Nuthr, published as Al-Nukat, pg. 91–92, Dar ibn al-Jawzi, al-Damam, 6th edition.

10.    ^ Marifah ‘Ulum al-Hadith, by al-Hakim, pg. 17-8, Da’irah al-Ma’arif al-‘Uthmanaiyyah, Hyderabad, India, second edition, 1977.

11.    ^ Nuzhah al-Nuthr, published with Al-Nukat by ‘Ali ibn Hasan, pg. 83, Dar ibn al-Jawzi, al-Damam, 6th edition.

12.    ^ a b c Nuzhah al-Nuthr, published with Al-Nukat, pg. 108, Dar ibn al-Jawzi, al-Damam, 6th edition.

13.    ^ a b c d “The Classification of hadith according to the links in the isnād, by Suhaib Hassan”. 2002-09-16. Retrieved 2010-03-16.

14.    ^ Nuzhah al-Nuthr, published with Al-Nukat by ‘Ali ibn Hasan, pg. 112, Dar ibn al-Jawzi, al-Damam, 6th edition.

15.    ^ a b “The Classification of hadith according to the nature of the text and isnād, by Suhaib Hassan”. 2002-09-16. Retrieved 2010-03-16.

16.    ^ a b “The Classification of hadith according to a hidden defect found in the isnād or text of a hadith, by Suhaib Hassan”. 2002-09-16. Retrieved 2010-03-16.

17.    ^ a b c d e f g h Nuzhah al-Nathar, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, printed with: Al-Nukat Ala Nuzhah al-Nathr, pgs. 51–70, by Ali ibn Hasan ibn Ali, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, Dammam, Saudi Arabia, sixth edition, 1422.

18.    ^ Al-Ba’ith al-Hathith Sharh Ikhtisar Ulum Al-Hadith, Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, vol. 1, pg. 126, Maktabah al-Ma’arif, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, first edition, 1996.

19.    ^ a b c Muqadimah Ibn al-Salah, by Ibn al-Salah, along with Muhasin al-Istilah by al-Bulqini, edited by ‘Aishah bint ‘Abd al-Rahman, pg. 193-5, Dar al-Ma’arif, Cairo.

20.    ^ Nuzhah Al-Nathr, pg. 45–51, published with al-Nukat of Ali ibn Hasan, Dar Ibn al-Jawzi. I referred to the explanation of Ali al-Qari, Sharh Sharh Nukhbah al-Fikr, in particular segments of pgs. 143-7.

Hadith By Wiki


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term ḥadīth (Arabic: حديث‎, play/ˈhædɪθ/[1] or /hɑːˈdθ/[2]) (plural: hadith, hadiths, or aḥādīth) is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[3]

Hadith are regarded by traditional Islamic schools of jurisprudence as important tools for understanding the Quran and in matters of jurisprudence.[4] Hadith were evaluated and gathered into large collections during the 8th and 9th centuries. These works are referred to in matters of Islamic law and history to this day. The two largest denominations of Islam, Shiʻism and Sunnism, have different sets of hadith collections.


In Arabic the word ḥadīth (Arabic: حديث‎ ḥadīṯ IPA: [ħaˈdiːθ]) means ‘a piece of information conveyed either in a small quantity or large’. The Arabic plural is أحاديث ʾaḥādīṯ/aḥādīth (IPA: [ʔaħaːˈdiːθ]). Hadith also refers to the speech of a person. As taḥdīṯ/taḥdīth is the infinitive, or verbal noun, of the original verb form; hadith is, therefore, not the infinitive,[5] rather it is a noun.[6]


In Islamic terminology, the term hadith refers to reports of statements or actions of Muhammad, or of his tacit approval or criticism of something said or done in his presence.[7] Classical hadith specialist Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani says that the intended meaning of hadith in religious tradition is something attributed to Muhammad, as opposed to the Quran.[8] Other associated words possess similar meanings including: khabar (news, information) often refers to reports about Muhammad, but sometimes refers to traditions about his companions and their successors from the following generation; conversely, athar (trace, vestige) usually refers to traditions about the companions and successors, though sometimes connotes traditions about Muhammad. The word sunnah (custom) is also used in reference to a normative custom of Muhammad or the early Muslim community.[7]

Hadith Qudsi

Hadith Qudsi (or Sacred Hadith) is a sub-category of hadith which are sayings of Muhammad. Muslims regard the Hadith Qudsi as the words of God (Arabic: Allah), repeated by Muhammad and recorded on the condition of an isnad. According to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Quran in that the former were revealed in a dream or through revelation and are “expressed in Muhammad’s words”, whereas the latter are the “direct words of God“.

An example of a Hadith Qudsi is the hadith of Abu Hurairah who said that Muhammad said:

When God decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over My wrath.[9]


The two major aspects of a hadith are the text of the report (the matn), which contains the actual narrative, and the chain of narrators (the isnad), which documents the route by which the report has been transmitted.[7] The sanad, literally ‘support’, is so named due to the reliance of the hadith specialists upon it in determining the authenticity or weakness of a hadith.[10] The isnad consists of a chronological list of the narrators, each mentioning the one from whom they heard the hadith, until mentioning the originator of the matn along with the matn itself.

The first people to hear hadith were the companions who preserved it and then conveyed it to those after them. Then the generation following them received it, thus conveying it to those after them and so on. So a companion would say, “I heard the Prophet say such and such.” The Follower would then say, “I heard a companion say, ‘I heard the Prophet.'” The one after him would then say, “I heard someone say, ‘I heard a Companion say, ‘I heard the Prophet…” and so on.[11]


The overwhelming majority of Muslims consider hadith to be essential supplements to and clarifications of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, as well as in clarifying issues pertaining to Islamic jurisprudence. Ibn al-Salah, a hadith specialist, described the relationship between hadith and other aspect of the religion by saying: “It is the science most pervasive in respect to the other sciences in their various branches, in particular to jurisprudence being the most important of them.”[12] “The intended meaning of ‘other sciences’ here are those pertaining to religion,” explains Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, “Quranic exegesis, hadith, and jurisprudence. The science of hadith became the most pervasive due to the need displayed by each of these three sciences. The need hadith has of its science is apparent. As for Quranic exegesis, then the preferred manner of explaining the speech of God is by means of what has been accepted as a statement of Muhammad. The one looking to this is in need of distinguishing the acceptable from the unacceptable. Regarding jurisprudence, then the jurist is in need of citing as an evidence the acceptable to the exception of the later, something only possible utilizing the science of hadith.”[4]


Traditions of the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down mostly orally for more than a hundred years after Muhammad’s death in AD 632. Muslim historians say that Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (the third khalifa (caliph) of the Rashidun Empire, or third successor of Muhammad, who had formerly been Muhammad’s secretary), is generally believed to urge Muslims to record the hadith just as Muhammad suggested to some of his followers to write down his words and actions.[13][14]

Uthman’s labours were cut short by his assassination, at the hands of aggrieved soldiers, in 656. No sources survive directly from this period so we are dependent on what later writers tell us about this period.[15]

By the 9th century the number of hadiths had grown exponentially. Islamic scholars of the Abbasid period were faced with a huge corpus of miscellaneous traditions, some of them flatly contradicting each other. Many of these traditions supported differing views on a variety of controversial matters. Scholars had to decide which hadith were to be trusted as authentic and which had been invented for political or theological purposes. To do this, they used a number of techniques which Muslims now call the science of hadith.[16]

Shia and Sunni differences

Sunni and Shia hadith collections differ because scholars from the two traditions differ as to the reliability of the narrators and transmitters. Narrators who took the side of Abu Bakr and Umar rather than Ali, in the disputes over leadership that followed the death of Muhammad, are seen as unreliable by the Shia; narrations sourced to Ali and the family of Muhammad, and to their supporters, are preferred. Sunni scholars put trust in narrators, such as Aisha, whom Shia reject. Differences in hadith collections have contributed to differences in worship practices and shari’a law and have hardened the dividing line between the two traditions.

Extent and nature of the textual corpus in the Sunni tradition

In the Sunni tradition, the number of such texts is ten thousand plus or minus a few thousand.[17] But if, say, ten Companions record a text reporting a single incident in the life of Prophet, hadith scholars can count this as ten hadiths. So Musnad Ahmad, for example, has over 30,000 hadiths—but this count includes texts that are repeated in order to record slight variations within the text or within the chains of narrations. Identifying the narrators of the various texts, comparing their narrations of the same texts to identify both the soundest reporting of a text and the reporters who are most sound in their reporting occupied experts of hadith throughout the 2nd century. In the 3rd century of Islam (from 225/840 to about 275/889),[18] six hadith experts composed brief works recording a selection of about two- to five-thousand such texts which they felt to have been most soundly documented or most widely referred to in the Muslim scholarly community.[19] The 4th and 5th century saw these six works being commented on quite widely. This auxiliary literature has contributed to making their study the place of departure for any serious study of hadith. In addition, Bukhari and Muslim in particular, claimed that they were collecting only the soundest of sound hadiths. These later scholars tested their claims and agreed to them, so that today, they are considered the most reliable collections of hadith.[20]

Extent and nature of the textual corpus in the Shia tradition

In Shia hadith one often finds sermons attributed to Ali in The Four Books or in the Nahj al-Balagha. Shi’a Muslims do not use the six major hadith collections followed by the Sunni. Instead, their primary hadith collections are written by three authors who are known as the ‘Three Muhammads’.[21] They are: Kitab al-Kafi by Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni al-Razi (329 AH), Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih by Muhammad ibn Babuya and Al-Tahdhib and Al-Istibsar both by Shaykh Muhammad Tusi. Unlike Akhbari Twelver Shi’a, Usuli Twelver Shi’a scholars do not believe that everything in the four major books is authentic.


Hadith studies are a number of methods of evaluation developed by early Muslim scholars in determining the veracity of reports attributed to Muhammad. This is achieved by analyzing the text of the report, the scale of the report’s transmission, the routes through which the report was transmitted, and the individual narrators involved in its transmission. On the basis of these criteria, various classifications were devised for hadith. The earliest comprehensive work in hadith studies was Abu Muhammad al-Ramahurmuzi’s al-Muhaddith al-Fasil, while another significant work was al-Hakim al-Naysaburi‘s Ma‘rifat ‘ulum al-hadith. Ibn al-Salah’s ʻUlum al-hadith is considered the standard classical reference on hadith studies.[7]


By means of hadith terminology, hadith are categorized as ṣaḥīḥ (sound, authentic), ḍaʿīf (weak), or mawḍūʿ (fabricated). Other classifications used also include: ḥasan (good), which refers to an otherwise ṣaḥīḥ report suffering from minor deficiency, or a weak report strengthened due to numerous other corroborating reports; and munkar (denounced) which is a report that is rejected due to the presence of an unreliable transmitter contradicting another more reliable narrator.[22] Both sahīh and hasan reports are considered acceptable for usage in Islamic legal discourse. Classifications of hadith may also be based upon the scale of transmission. Reports that pass through many reliable transmitters at each point in the isnad up until their collection and transcription are known as mutawātir. These reports are considered the most authoritative as they pass through so many different routes that collusion between all of the transmitters becomes an impossibility. Reports not meeting this standard are known as aahad, and are of several different types.[7]

Biographical evaluation

Another area of focus in the study of hadith is biographical analysis (‘ilm al-rijāl, lit. “science of people”), in which details about the transmitter are scrutinized. This includes analyzing their date and place of birth; familial connections; teachers and students; religiosity; moral behaviour; literary output; their travels; as well as their date of death. Based upon these criteria, the reliability (thiqāt) of the transmitter is assessed. Also determined is whether the individual was actually able to transmit the report, which is deduced from their contemporaneity and geographical proximity with the other transmitters in the chain.[23] Examples of biographical dictionaries include: Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi‘s Al-Kamal fi Asma’ al-Rijal, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani’s Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb and al-Dhahabi‘s Tadhkirat al-huffaz.[24]

Quranists or Qur’an alone Muslims view of hadith

Qur’an alone Muslims, also known as Quranists, are Muslims who follow the Qur’an and consider it to be the only sacred text in Islam. They reject the religious authority of hadith and Sunnah.

Western academic scholarship

Early Western exploration of Islam consisted primarily of translation of the Qur’an and a few histories, often supplemented with disparaging commentary. In the 19th century, scholars made greater attempts at impartiality, and translated and commented upon a greater variety of texts. By the beginning of the 20th century, Western scholars of Islam started to critically engage with the Islamic texts, subjecting them to the same agnostic, searching scrutiny that had previously been applied to Christian texts (see higher criticism). Ignaz Goldziher is the best known of these turn-of-the-century critics, who also included D. S. Margoliuth, Henri Lammens, and Leone Caetani. Goldziher writes, in his Mohammedan Studies: “… it is not surprising that, among the hotly debated controversial issues of Islam, whether political or doctrinal, there is not one in which the champions of the various views are unable to cite a number of traditions, all equipped with imposing isnads“.[25] John Esposito notes that “Modern Western scholarship has seriously questioned the historicity and authenticity of the hadith“, maintaining that “the bulk of traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad were actually written much later.” He mentions Joseph Schacht as one scholar who argues this, claiming that Schacht “found no evidence of legal traditions before 722,” from which Schacht concluded that “the Sunna of the Prophet is not the words and deeds of the Prophet, but apocryphal material” dating from later.[26]

Contemporary Western scholars of hadith include: Herbert Berg, Fred M. Donner and Wilferd Madelung. Madelung has immersed himself in the hadith literature and has made his own selection and evaluation of tradition. Having done this, he is much more willing to trust hadith than many of his contemporaries. Madelung said of hadith: “Work with the narrative sources, both those that have been available to historians for a long time and others which have been published recently, made it plain that their wholesale rejection as late fiction is unjustified and that with [not without] a judicious use of them, a much more reliable and accurate portrait of the period can be drawn than has been realized so far.”[27]

Harald Motzki said: “The mere fact that ahadith and asanid were forged must not lead us to conclude that all of them are fictitious or that the genuine and the spurious cannot be distinguished with some degree of certainty.”[27]

Some Muslim scholarshave undergone Western academic training and attempted to mediate between the traditional Muslim and the secular Western view. Notable among these was Fazlur Rahman Malik (1919–1988) who argued that while the chain of transmission of the hadith may often be spurious, the matn can still be used to understand how Islam can be lived in the modern world. Liberal movements within Islam tend to agree with Rahman’s views to varying degrees.


1.       ^ hadith“. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 3rd ed. 2001.

2.       ^ “Hadith”. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. Retrieved 2011-08-13.

3.       ^ Islahi, Amin Ahsan (1989 (tr:2009)) (in Urdu). Mabadi Tadabbur-i-Hadith (translated as: Fundamentals of Hadith Interpretation). Lahore: Al-Mawrid. Retrieved 2 June 2011.

4.       ^ a b Ibn Hajar, Ahmad. al-Nukat ala Kitab ibn al-Salah, vol. 1, pg. 90. Maktabah al-Furqan.

5.       ^ Lisan al-Arab, by Ibn Manthour, vol. 2, pg. 350; Dar al-Hadith edition.

6.       ^ al-Kuliyat by Abu al-Baqa’ al-Kafawi, pg. 370; Mu’assasah l-Risalah. This last phrase is quoted by al-Qasimi in Qawaid al-Tahdith, pg. 61; Dar al-Nafais.

7.       ^ a b c d e “Hadith,” Encyclopedia of Islam.

8.       ^ al-Asqalani, Ahmad ibn ‘Ali (in Arabic). Fath al-Bari. 1. Egypt: al-Matba’ah al-Salafiyyah. pp. 193. ISBN 1902350049.

9.       ^ Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah.

10.    ^ Tadrib al-Rawi, vol. 1, pgs. 39–41 with abridgement.

11.    ^ Ilm al-Rijal wa Ahimiyatih, by Mualami, pg. 16, Dar al-Rayah.

12.    ^ Ulum al-Hadith by Ibn al-Salah, pg. 5, Dar al-Fikr, with the verification of Nur al-Din al-‘Itr.

13.    ^ ^ Tirmidhi, “‘Ilm,” 12.

14.    ^ ^ Collected in the Musnad of Ahmad (10\15-6\ 6510 and also nos. 6930, 7017 and 1720), Sunan Abu Dawud (Mukhtasar Sunan Abi Dawud (5\246\3499) and elsewhere.

15.    ^ Roman, provincial and Islamic law, Patricia Crone, p2

16.    ^ Islam – the Straight Path, John Eposito, p81

17.    ^ See the references and discussion by Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah Thalathatu rasa’il fi ulum al-hadith; risalat abi dawud ila ahl makkata fi wasf sunanihi, pg 36, footnote. Beirut: Maktaba al-Matbu’at al-Islamiyah: 2nd ed 1426/2005.

18.    ^ The earliest book, Bukhari’s Sahih was composed by 225 since he states that he spent sixteen years composing it (Hady al-Sari, introduction to Fath al-Bari, p. 489, Lahore: Dar Nashr al-Kutub al-Islamiya, 1981/1401) and also that he showed it to Yahya ibn Ma’in (pg. 8, ibid.) who died in 233. Nasa’i, the last to die of the authors of the six books, died in 303/915. He probably completed this work a few decades before his death: by 275 or so.

19.    ^ Counting multiple narrations of the same texts as a single text, the number of hadiths each author has recorded roughly as follows: Bukhari (as in Zabidi’s Mukhtasar of Bukhari’s book) 2134, Muslim (as in Mundhiri’s Mukhtasar of Muslim’s book) 2200, Tirmidhi 4000, Abu Dawud 4000, Nasa’i 4800, Ibn Majah 4300. There is considerable overlap amongst the six books so that Ibn al-Athir’s Jami’ al-Usul, which gathers together the hadiths texts of all six books deleting repeated texts, has about 9500 hadiths.

20.    ^ Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah, pg. 160 Dar al-Ma’aarif edition

21.    ^ Momen, Moojan, Introduction to Shi’i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.174.

22.    ^ See:

§  “Hadith,” Encyclopedia of Islam Online;

§  “Hadith,” Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world.

23.    ^ Berg (2000) p. 8

24.    ^ See:

§  Robinson (2003) pp. 69–70;

§  Lucas (2004) p. 15

25.    ^ Ali, Ratib Mortuza. “Analysis of Credibility of Hadiths and Its Influence among the Bangladeshi Youth”. BRAC University. Retrieved 22 February 2012.

26.    ^ Esposito, John (1998). Islam: The Straight Path. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-19-511234-2.

27.    ^ a b The Succession to Muhammad, page xi.

Categories Of Hadith By Wiki

Categories of Hadith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Different categories of hadith (sayings attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad) have been used by various scholars. The muhaddithun (experts in the science of hadith criticism) generally use two terms – taqrīr for tacit approvals, and khabar for sayings and acts ascribed to Muhammad.

The term taqrir implies that that, in the presence of Muhammad, a believer did something, which Muhammad noticed but did not disapprove or condemn. Thus, the act done by a believer acquired tacit approval from Muhammad. It is commonly acknowledged that a khabar can be true or false. The scholars of the science of hadith criticism hold that a khabar and, therefore, a hadith can be a true report or a concoction. It is on the basis of this premise that the Muslim scholars hold that a hadith offers a zannī (inconclusive/probably true) evidence. It is as though a hadith may have many possibilities on the plane of reliability.[1]

Categorization based on reliability

  • Ṣaḥīḥ – transmitted through an unbroken chain of narrators all of whom are of sound character and memory. Such a hadith should not clash with a more reliable report and must not suffer from any other hidden defect.[2]
  • Ḥasan – transmitted through an unbroken chain of narrators all of whom are of sound character but weak memory. This hadith should not clash with a more reliable report and must not suffer from any other hidden defect.[3]
  • Ḍaʻīf – which cannot gain the status of hasan because it lacks one or more elements of a hasan hadith. (For example, if the narrator is not of sound memory and sound character, or if there is a hidden fault in the narrative or if the chain of narrators is broken).[4]
  • Mawḍūʻ – fabricated and wrongly ascribed to Muhammad.[5]
  • Maqlūb – It is that hadith, in two different narrations of which the names of narrators have been changed.

Categorization based on number of narrators

  • Khabar-i mutawatir (also called khabar-i mashhur) – A mutawatir hadith is reported by such a large number of narrators that cannot be perceived to have jointly forged and narrated a tradition about an issue without a compelling force.[6] Sometimes a hadith is believed to be khabar-i mashhur. But a little research reveals that it has been transmitted by a single narrator in each of first three layers in the isnād. Such narratives are reported by a large number of reporters in the third or fourth layer. In the opinion of Amin Ahsan Islahi, all such narratives which are usually termed as khabar-i mutawatir should be thoroughly investigated.[1]
  • Khabar-i wāhid (pl.: akhbār-i āhād)- signifies a historical narrative that falls short of yielding certain knowledge. Even if more than one person reports the narrative, that does not make it certain and conclusive truth except when the number of narrators reporting it grows to the level that the possibility of their consensus on forging a lie is perfectly removed. Most of the hadith literature consists of individual isolated narratives.

Classification by epistemic value

In one of the major works in the science of hadith, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi has divided the individual narratives in the following categories, according to their epistemic value[7]:

  • Ahadith which are clearly genuine and acceptable

1.      The narratives that contain reports testified by the “human intellect” (mimmā tadullu al-‘uqūl ‘alā mūjabihī) and that which are aligned with common sense.

2.      The narratives that are a corollary of the Quranic text and the Sunnah.

3.      The narratives that have been received as acceptable by the ummah as a whole.

  • Ahadith which are clear fabrications

1.      The narratives that offend reason.

2.      The narratives that contradict the Quran and the Sunnah.

3.      The narratives that discuss issues of prime importance in the religion which require absolute certainty.

4.      The individual narratives regarding issues which, by their very nature, demand that they should have been reported by a large number of people are also not acceptable.

According to the Hanafi jurists, in the issues of ‘umūm-i balwā (issues which by nature attract attention of the entire community. For example, the number and form of the Prayer by its position in the religion requires that it should be received, practiced and communicated by the entire generation. Such issues are not left on the choice of few individuals.), the individual narratives carry no weight. In such issues they prefer qiyas and ijtihad over these type of individual narratives.

  • Ahadith whose status is not clear

1.      Narratives that give contradicting directives on a single issue and make it difficult to determine the final command in that regard form the third category. While deciding on the applicability of the directives contained in these type of ahadith, only such narratives should be accepted as valid which correspond to and accord with the wording of the collated narratives, textual evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah.


  1. ^ a b Islahi, Amin Ahsan (1989 (tr:2009)) (in Urdu). Mabadi Tadabbur-i-Hadith (translated as: Fundamentals of Hadith Intrepretation). Lahore: Al-Mawrid. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
  2. ^ Mahmūd Tahhān, Taysīr Mustalih al-Hadīth, (Lahore: Islamic Publishing House, n.d.), 33.
  3. ^ Mahmūd Tahhān, Taysīr Mustalih al-Hadīth, (Lahore: Islamic Publishing House, n.d.), 45.
  4. ^ Mahmūd Tahhān, Taysīr Mustalih al-Hadīth, (Lahore: Islamic Publishing House, n.d.), 62.
  5. ^ Mahmūd Tahhān, Taysīr Mustalih al-Hadīth, (Lahore: Islamic Publishing House, n.d.), 89.
  6. ^ al-Kifāyah fī ‘ilm al-Riwāyah,[Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
  7. ^ al-Kifāyah fī ‘ilm al-Riwāyah, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi

Biographical Evaluation

Biographical evaluation, (Arabic: `ilm al-rijāl; عِلْمُ الرِّجال‎), literally: “knowledge of men”, refers to a discipline of Islamic religious studies within hadith terminology in which the narrators of hadith are evaluated. Its goal is to distinguish authentic hadith from hadith unacceptable in establishing sanctioned religious knowledge or practice.[1] `Ilm ar-rijal is synonymous with what is commonly referred to as al-jarḥ wa al-taʻdīl (discrediting and accrediting) – the criticism and declared acceptance of hadith narrators.[footnote 1][2]

Continue reading “Biographical Evaluation”