Suhaib Hasan
Al-Quran Society

Author:Dr. Suhaib Hasan
Editorial, Foreword & Appendix: Usama Hasan
Cover design:Zaynah Na’eem

(c) 1994.

ISSN: 0952-7834


Al-Quran Society,
101 Belmont Road,
London N17 6AT.


A. “The Study of Al-Quran” Correspondence
Course (Lessons 1-20).

B. Understanding Islam Series.
1. The Muslim Creed
2. Faith in Predestination
3. The Many Shades of Shirk
4. An Introduction to the Qur’an
5. An Introduction to the Sunnah
6. The Role of the Mosque in Islam
7. Why do we Pray?
8. The Rights and Duties of Women in Islam

C. General.
Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble
The Truth about Ahmadiyyat (a refutation of
Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with
reference to Sunan Ibn Maja.
The Crumbling Minarets of Spain.
An Introduction to the Science of Hadith.

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071 249 5175

An Introduction to the Science of Hadith


Some commonly-quoted ahadith 2


A brief history of Mustalah al-Hadith 5
Mustalah al-Hadith (the Classification of Hadith) 6
Rijal al-Hadith (the study of the reporters of Hadith) 8

According to the reference to a particular authority 10
According to the links in the isnad 11
According to the number of reporters in
each stage of the isnad 19
According to the manner in which the hadith is reported 22
According to the nature of the text and isnad 24
According to a hidden defect found in the
isnad or text of a hadith 27
According to the reliability and memory of the reporters 31


APPENDIX: Verdicts on the ahadith mentioned in
the Foreword 42 50


All Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet
Muhammad, and on his family and companions.

We have undoubtedly sent down the Reminder, and
We will truly preserve it.
(Al-Qur’an, Surah al-Hijr, 15:9)

The above promise made by Allah is obviously
fulfilled in the undisputed purity of the
Qur’anic text throughout the fourteen centuries
since its revelation. However, what is often
forgotten by many Muslims is that the above
divine promise also includes, by necessity, the
Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace), for it is the
practical example of the implementation of the
Qur’anic guidance, the Wisdom taught to the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) along with the Scripture, and neither the
Qur’an nor the Sunnah can be understood
correctly without recourse to the other.

Hence, Allah preserved the Qur’an from being
initially lost by the martyrdom of its
memorisers, by guiding the Rightly-Guided
Caliphs, endorsed by the consensus of the
Messenger’s Companions (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace and may He be pleased with
them), to compile the ayat (signs, miracles,
“verses”) of the Qur’an into one volume, after
these had been scattered in writing on various
materials and in memory amongst many faithful
hearts. He safeguarded it from corruption by
its enemies: disbelievers, heretics, and false
prophets, by enabling millions of believers to
commit it to memory with ease. He protected its
teachings by causing thousands of people of
knowledge to learn from its deep treasures and
convey them to the masses, and by sending
renewers of His Deen at the beginning of every

Similarly, Allah preserved the Sunnah by
enabling the Companions and those after them
(may Allah be pleased with them) to memorise,
write down and pass on the statements of the
Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) and the descriptions of his Way, as well
as to continue the blessings of practising the
Sunnah. Later, as the purity of the knowledge
of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah caused
the Muslim nation to produce outstanding
individuals of incredible memory-skills and
analytical expertise, who journeyed tirelessly
to collect hundreds of thousands of narrations
and distinguish the true words of precious
wisdom of their Messenger (may Allah bless him
and grant him peace) from those corrupted by
weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous
liars, and from the statements of the enormous
number of ‘ulama’, the Companions and those who
followed their way, who had taught in various
centres of learning and helped to transmit the
legacy of Muhammad (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) – all of this achieved through
precise attention to the words narrated and
detailed familiarity with the biographies of the
thousands of reporters of Hadith. Action being
the best way to preserve teachings, the renewers
of Islam also revived the practice of the
blessed authentic Sunnah.

Unfortunately however, statements will continue
to be attributed to the Prophet (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace) although the person
quoting them may have no idea what the people of
knowledge of Hadith have ruled regarding those
ahadith, thus ironically being in danger of
contravening the Prophet’s widely-narrated stern
warnings about attributing incorrect/unsound
statements to him. For example, here are some
very commonly-quoted ahadith, which actually
vary tremendously in their degree of
authenticity from the Prophet (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace):

1) “Surah al-Ikhlas is worth a third of the
2) The hadith about the Ninety-Name Names of
3) Allah says, “I was a hidden treasure, and I
wished to be known, so I created a creation
(mankind), then made Myself known to them, and
they recognised Me.”
4) Allah says, “Were it not for you (O
Muhammad), I would not have created the
5) When Allah completed creation, He wrote in a
Book (which is) with Him, above His Throne,
“Verily, My Mercy will prevail over My Wrath.”
6) Allah says, “Neither My heaven nor My earth
can contain Me, but the heart of My believing
slave can contain Me.”
7) “He who knows himself, knows his Lord.”
8) “Where is Allah?”
9) “Love of one’s homeland is part of Faith.”
10) “I have left amongst you two things which,
if you hold fast to them, you will never stray:
the Book of Allah, and my Sunnah.”
11) “I have left among you that which if you
abide by, you will never go astray: the Book of
Allah, and my Family, the Members of my House.”
12) The hadith giving ten Companions, by name,
the good tidings of Paradise.
13) “If the iman (faith) of Abu Bakr was weighed
against the iman of all the people of the earth,
the former would outweigh the latter.”
14) “I am the City of Knowledge, and ‘Ali is its
15) “My companions are like the stars:
whichever of them you follow, you will be
16) “The differing amongst my Ummah is a mercy.”
17) “My Ummah will split up into seventy-three
sects: seventy-two will be in the Fire, and one
in the Garden.”
18) Prophecies about the coming of the Mahdi
(the guided one), Dajjal (the False Christ, the
Anti-Christ) and the return of Jesus Christ son
of Mary.
19) Description of punishment and bliss in the
grave, for the wicked and pious people
20) Intercession by the Prophet (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace), and the believers
seeing Allah, on the Day of Judgment.
21) “Paradise is under the feet of mothers.”
22) “Paradise is under the shade of swords.”
23) “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every
24) “Seek knowledge, even if you have to go to
25) “The ink of the scholar is holier than the
blood of the martyr.”
26) “We have returned from the lesser Jihad to
the greater Jihad (i.e. the struggle against the
evil of one’s soul).”

The methodology of the expert scholars of Hadith
in assessing such narrations and sorting out the
genuine from the mistaken/fabricated etc., forms
the subject-matter of a wealth of material left
to us by the muhaddithun (scholars of Hadith,
“traditionists”). This short treatise is a
humble effort to introduce this extremely wide
subject to English readers. The author has
derived great benefit from the outstanding
scholarly work in this field, Muqaddimah Ibn al-

A brief explanation of the verdicts from the
experts in this field on the above ahadith is
given in the Appendix.

We ask Allah to accept this work, and make it
beneficial to its readers.




The Muslims are agreed that the Sunnah of the
Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace) is the second of the two revealed
fundamental sources of Islam, after the Glorious
Qur’an. The authentic Sunnah is contained
within the vast body of Hadith literature.1

A hadith (pl. ahadith) is composed of two parts:
the matn (text) and the isnad (chain of
reporters). A text may seem to be logical and
reasonable but it needs an authentic isnad with
reliable reporters to be acceptable; ‘Abdullah
b. al-Mubarak (d. 181 AH), one of the
illustrious teachers of Imam al-Bukhari, said,
“The isnad is part of the religion: had it not
been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have
said whatever he liked.”2

During the lifetime of the Prophet (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) and after his
death, his Companions (Sahabah) used to refer to
him directly, when quoting his sayings. The
Successors (Tabi’un) followed suit; some of them
used to quote the Prophet (may Allah bless him
and grant him peace) through the Companions
while others would omit the intermediate
authority – such a hadith was later known as
mursal. It was found that the missing link
between the Successor and the Prophet (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) might be one
person, i.e. a Companion, or two people, the
extra person being an older Successor who heard
the hadith from the Companion. This is an
example of how the need for the verification of
each isnad arose; Imam Malik (d. 179) said, “The
first one to utilise the isnad was Ibn Shihab al-
Zuhri” (d. 124).3 The other more important
reason was the deliberate fabrication of ahadith
by various sects which appeared amongst the
Muslims, in order to support their views (see
later, under discussion of maudu’ ahadith). Ibn
Sirin (d. 110), a Successor, said, “They would
not ask about the isnad. But when the fitnah
(trouble, turmoil, esp. civil war) happened,
they said: Name to us your men. So the
narrations of the Ahl al-Sunnah (Adherents to
the Sunnah) would be accepted, while those of
the Ahl al-Bid’ah (Adherents to Innovation)
would not be accepted.”4

A brief history of Mustalah al-Hadith

As time passed, more reporters were involved in
each isnad, and so the situation demanded strict
discipline in the acceptance of ahadith; the
rules regulating this discipline are known as
Mustalah al-Hadith (the Classification of

Amongst the early traditionists (muhaddithin,
scholars of Hadith), the rules and criteria
governing their study of Hadith were meticulous
but some of their terminology varied from person
to person, and their principles began to be
systematically written down, but scattered
amongst various books, e.g. in Al-Risalah of al-
Shafi’i (d. 204), the Introduction to the Sahih
of Muslim (d. 261) and the Jami’ of al-Tirmidhi
(d. 279); many of the criteria of early
traditionists, e.g. al-Bukhari, were deduced by
later scholars from a careful study of which
reporters or isnads were accepted and rejected
by them.

One of the earliest writings to attempt to cover
Mustalah comprehensively, using standard (i.e.
generally-accepted) terminology, was the work by
al-Ramahurmuzi (d. 360). The next major
contribution was Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al-Hadith by al-
Hakim (d. 405), which covered fifty
classifications of Hadith, but still left some
points untouched; Abu Nu’aim al-Isbahani (d.
430) completed some of the missing parts to this
work. After that came Al-Kifayah fi ‘Ilm al-
Riwayah of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463) and
another work on the manner of teaching and
studying Hadith; later scholars were considered
to be greatly indebted to al-Khatib’s work.

After further contributions by Qadi ‘Iyad al-
Yahsubi (d. 544) and Abu Hafs al-Mayanji (d.
580) among others, came the work which, although
modest in size, was so comprehensive in its
excellent treatment of the subject that it came
to be the standard reference for thousands of
scholars and students of Hadith to come, over
many centuries until the present day: ‘Ulum al-
Hadith of Abu ‘Amr ‘Uthman Ibn al-Salah (d.
643), commonly known as Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah,
compiled while he taught in the Dar al-Hadith of
several cities in Syria. Some of the numerous
later works based on that of Ibn al-Salah are:

An abridgement of Muqaddimah, Al-Irshad by al-
Nawawi (d. 676), which he later summarised in
his Taqrib; al-Suyuti (d. 911) compiled a
valuable commentary on the latter entitled
Tadrib al-Rawi.
Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al-Hadith of Ibn Kathir (d.
774), Al-Khulasah of al-Tibi (d. 743), Al-
Minhal of Badr al-Din b. Jama’ah (d. 733), Al-
Muqni’ of Ibn al-Mulaqqin (d. 802) and Mahasin
al-Istilah of al-Balqini (d. 805), all of
which are abridgements of Muqaddimah Ibn al-
Al-Nukat of al-Zarkashi (d. 794), Al-Taqyid wa
‘l-Idah of al-‘Iraqi (d. 806) and Al-Nukat of
Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852), all of which
are further notes on the points made by Ibn al-
Alfiyyah al-Hadith of al-‘Iraqi, a rewriting
of Muqaddimah in the form of a lengthy poem,
which became the subject of several
commentaries, including two (one long, one
short) by the author himself, Fath al-Mughith
of al-Sakhawi (d. 903), Qatar al-Durar of al-
Suyuti and Fath al-Baqi of Shaykh Zakariyyah
al-Ansari (d. 928).

Other notable treatises on Mustalah include:

Al-Iqtirah of Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id (d. 702).
Tanqih al-Anzar of Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-
Wazir (d. 840), the subject of a commentary by
al-Amir al-San’ani (d. 1182).
Nukhbah al-Fikr of Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani,
again the subject of several commentaries,
including one by the author himself, one by
his son Muhammad, and those of ‘Ali al-Qari
(d. 1014), ‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Munawi (d. 1031)
and Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Sindi (d.
1138). Among those who rephrased the Nukhbah
in poetic form are al-Tufi (d. 893) and al-
Amir al-San’ani.
Alfiyyah al-Hadith of al-Suyuti, the most
comprehensive poetic work in the field.
Al-Manzumah of al-Baiquni, which was expanded
upon by, amongst others, al-Zurqani (d. 1122)
and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (d. 1307).
Qawa’id al-Tahdith of Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi
(d. 1332).
Taujih al-Nazar of Tahir al-Jaza’iri (d.
1338), a summary of al-Hakim’s Ma’rifah.

Mustalah al-Hadith

Mustalah books speak of a number of classes of
hadith in accordance with their status. The
following broad classifications can be made,
each of which is explained in the later

According to the reference to a particular
authority, e.g. the Prophet (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace), a Companion, or a
Successor; such ahadith are called marfu’
(elevated), mauquf (stopped) and maqtu’
(severed) respectively .

According to the links in the isnad, i.e.
whether the chain of reporters is interrupted
or uninterrupted, e.g. musnad (supported),
muttasil (continuous), munqati’ (broken),
mu’allaq (hanging), mu’dal (perplexing) and
mursal (hurried).

According to the number of reporters involved
in each stage of the isnad, e.g. mutawatir
(consecutive) and ahad (isolated), the latter
being divided into gharib (scarce, strange),
‘aziz (rare, strong), and mashhur (famous).

According to the manner in which the hadith
has been reported, such as using the words ‘an
(“on the authority of”), haddathana (“he
narrated to us”), akhbarana (- “he informed
us”) or sami’tu (“I heard”). In this category
falls the discussion about mudallas
(concealed) and musalsal (uniformly-linked)

[Note: In the quotation of isnads in the
remainder of this book, the first mode of
narration mentioned above will be represented
with a single broken line thus: —. The
three remaining modes of narration mentioned
above, which all strongly indicate a clear,
direct transmission of the hadith, are
represented by a double line thus: ===.]

According to the nature of the matn and isnad,
e.g. an addition by a reliable reporter, known
as ziyadatu thiqah, or opposition by a lesser
authority to a more reliable one, known as
shadhdh (irregular). In some cases, a text
containing a vulgar expression, unreasonable
remark or obviously-erroneous statement is
rejected by the traditionists outright without
consideration of the isnad: such a hadith is
known as munkar (denounced). If an expression
or statement is proved to be an addition by a
reporter to the text, it is declared as mudraj

According to a hidden defect found in the
isnad or text of a hadith. Although this
could be included in some of the previous
categories, a hadith mu’allal (defective
hadith) is worthy to be explained separately.
The defect can be caused in many ways; e.g.
two types of hadith mu’allal are known as
maqlub (overturned) and mudtarib (shaky).

According to the reliability and memory of the
reporters; the final judgment on a hadith
depends crucially on this factor: verdicts
such as sahih (sound), hasan (good), da’if
(weak) and maudu’ (fabricated, forged) rest
mainly upon the nature of the reporters in the

Rijal al-Hadith

Mustalah al-Hadith is strongly associated with
Rijal al-Hadith (the study of the reporters of
hadith). In scrutinising the reporters of a
hadith, authenticating or disparaging remarks
made by recognised experts, from amongst the
Successors and those after them, were found to
be of great help. Examples of such remarks, in
descending order of authentication, are:
“Imam (leader), Hafiz (preserver).”
“Reliable, trustworthy.”
“Makes mistakes.”
“Abandoned (by the traditionists).”
“Liar, used to fabricate ahadith.”5

Reporters who have been unanimously described by
statements such as the first two may contribute
to a sahih (“sound”, see later) isnad. An isnad
containing a reporter who is described by the
last two statements is likely to be da’if jiddan
(very weak) or maudu’ (fabricated). Reporters
who are the subject of statements such as the
middle two above will cause the isnad to be
da’if (weak), although several of them relating
the same hadith independently will often
increase the rank of the hadith to the level of
hasan (good). If the remarks about a particular
reporter conflict, a careful verdict has to be
arrived at after in-depth analysis of e.g. the
reason given for any disparagement, the weight
of each type of criticism, the relative
strictness or leniency of each critic, etc.

The earliest remarks cited in the books of Rijal
go back to a host of Successors, followed by
those after them until the period of the six
canonical traditionists, a period covering the
first three centuries of Islam. A list of such
names is provided by the author in his thesis,
Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference
to Sunan Ibn Majah, at the end of chapters IV, V
and VI.

Among the earliest available works in this field
are Tarikh of Ibn Ma’in (d. 233), Tabaqat of
Khalifa b. Khayyat (d. 240), Tarikh of al-
Bukhari (d. 256), Kitab al-Jarh wa ‘l-Ta’dil of
Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327) and Tabaqat of Muhammad
b. Sa’d (d. 320).

A number of traditionists made efforts
specifically for the gathering of information
about the reporters of the five famous
collections of hadith, those of al-Bukhari (d.
256), Muslim (d. 261), Abu Dawud (d. 275), al-
Tirmidhi (d. 279) and al-Nasa’i (d. 303), giving
authenticating and disparaging remarks in
detail. The first major such work to include
also the reporters of Ibn Majah (d. 273) is the
ten-volume collection of al-Hafiz ‘Abd al-Ghani
al-Maqdisi (d. 600), known as Al-Kamal fi Asma’
al-Rijal. Later, Jamal al-Din Abu ‘l-Hajjaj
Yusuf b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mizzi (d. 742)
prepared an edited and abridged version of this
work, punctuated by places and countries of
origin of the reporters; he named it Tahdhib al-
Kamal fi Asma’ al-Rijal and produced it in
twelve volumes. Further, one of al-Mizzi’s
gifted pupils, Shams al-Din Abu ‘Abdullah
Muhammad b. Ahmad b. ‘Uthman b. Qa’imaz al-
Dhahabi (d. 748), summarised his shaikh’s work
and produced two abridgements: a longer one
called Tadhhib al-Tahdhib and a shorter one
called Al-Kashif fi Asma’ Rijal al-Kutub al-

A similar effort with the work of al-Mizzi was
made by Ibn Hajar (d. 852), who prepared a
lengthy but abridged version, with about one-
third of the original omitted, entitled Tahdhib
al-Tahdhib in twelve shorter volumes. Later, he
abridged this further to a relatively-humble two-
volume work called Taqrib al-Tahdhib.

The work of al-Dhahabi was not left unedited; al-
Khazraji (Safi al-Din Ahmad b. ‘Abdullah, d.
after 923) summarised it and also made valuable
additions, producing his Khulasah.

A number of similar works deal with either
trustworthy reporters only, e.g. Kitab al-Thiqat
by al-‘Ijli (d. 261) and Tadhkirah al-Huffaz by
al-Dhahabi, or with disparaged authorities only,
e.g. Kitab al-Du’afa’ wa al-Matrukin by al-
Nasa’i and Kitab al-Majruhin by Muhammad b.
Hibban al-Busti (d. 354).

Two more works in this field which include a
large number of reporters, both authenticated
and disparaged, are Mizan al-I’tidal of al-
Dhahabi and Lisan al-Mizan of Ibn Hajar.



The following principal types of hadith are

Marfu’ – “elevated”: A narration from the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), e.g. a reporter (whether a Companion,
Successor or other) says, “The Messenger of
Allah said …” For example, the very first
hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari is as follows: Al-
Bukhari === Al-Humaidi ‘Abdullah b. al-Zubair
=== Sufyan === Yahya b. Sa’id al-Ansari ===
Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Taymi === ‘Alqamah b.
Waqqas al-Laithi, who said: I heard ‘Umar b. al-
Khattab saying, while on the pulpit, “I heard
Allah’s Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace) saying: The reward of deeds depends
on the intentions, and every person will get the
reward according to what he has intended; so
whoever emigrated for wordly benefits or for a
woman to marry, his emigration was for what he

Mauquf – “stopped”: A narration from a Companion
only, i.e. his own statement; e.g. al-Bukhari
reports in his Sahih, in Kitab al-Fara’id (Book
of the Laws of Inheritance), that Abu Bakr, Ibn
‘Abbas and Ibn al-Zubair said, “The grandfather
is (treated like) a father.”

It should be noted that certain expressions used
by a Companion generally render a hadith to be
considered as being effectively marfu’ although
it is mauquf on the face of it, e.g. the

“We were commanded to …”
“We were forbidden from …”
“We used to do …”
“We used to say/do … while the Messenger of
Allah was amongst us.”
“We did not use to mind such-and-such…”
“It used to be said …”
“It is from the Sunnah to …”
“It was revealed in the following
circumstances: …”, speaking about a verse of
the Qur’an.

Maqtu’- “severed”: A narration from a Successor,
e.g. Muslim reports in the Introduction to his
Sahih that Ibn Sirin (d. 110) said, “This
knowledge (i.e. Hadith) is the Religion, so be
careful from whom you take your religion.”

The authenticity of each of the above three
types of hadith depends on other factors such as
the reliability of its reporters, the nature of
the linkage amongst them, etc. However, the
above classification is extremely useful, since
through it the sayings of the Prophet (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) can be
distinguished at once from those of Companions
or Successors; this is especially helpful in
debate about matters of Fiqh.

Imam Malik’s Al-Muwatta’, one of the early
collections of hadith, contains a relatively
even ratio of these types of hadith, as well as
mursal ahadith (which are discussed later).
According to Abu Bakr al-Abhari (d. 375), Al-
Muwatta’ contains the following:

600 marfu’ ahadith,
613 mauquf ahadith,
285 maqtu’ ahadith, and
228 mursal ahadith; a total of 1726

Among other collections, relatively more mauquf
and maqtu’ ahadith are found in Al-Musannaf of
Ibn Abi Shaibah (d. 235), Al-Musannaf of ‘Abd al-
Razzaq (d. 211) and the Tafsirs of Ibn Jarir (d.
310), Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327) and Ibn al-Mundhir
(d. 319).7



Al-Hakim defines a musnad (“supported”) hadith
as follows:

“A hadith which a traditionist reports from
his shaikh from whom he is known to have
heard (ahadith) at a time of life suitable
for learning, and similarly in turn for
each shaikh, until the isnad reaches a well-
known Companion, who in turn reports from
the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace).”8

By this definition, an ordinary muttasil hadith
(i.e. one with an uninterrupted isnad) is
excluded if it goes back only to a Companion or
Successor, as is a marfu’ hadith which has an
interrupted isnad.

Al-Hakim gives the following example of a musnad

We reported from Abu ‘Amr ‘Uthman b. Ahmad
al-Sammak al-Baghdadi === Al-Hasan b.
Mukarram === ‘Uthman b. ‘Amr === Yunus —
al-Zuhri — ‘Abdullah b. Ka’b b. Malik —
his father, who asked Ibn Abi Hadrad for
payment of a debt he owed to him, in the
mosque. During the ensuing argument, their
voices were raised until heard by the
Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace), who eventually lifted the
curtain of his apartment and said, “O Ka’b!
Write off a part of your debt” – he meant
remission of half of it. So he agreed, and
the man paid him.

He then remarks,

“Now, my hearing from Ibn al-Simak is well-
known, as is his from Ibn Mukarram; al-
Hasan’s link with ‘Uthman b. ‘Amr and the
latter’s with Yunus b. Zaid are known as
well; Yunus is always remembered with al-
Zuhri, and the latter with the sons of Ka’b
b. Malik, whose link to their father and
his companionship of the Prophet (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) are well-

The term musnad is also applied to those
collections of ahadith which give the ahadith of
each Companion separately. Among the early
compilers of such a Musnad were Yahya b. ‘Abd al-
Hamid al-Himmani (d. 228) at Kufah and Musaddad
b. Musarhad (d. 228) at Basrah. The largest
existing collection of ahadith of Companions
arranged in this manner is that of Imam Ahmad b.
Hanbal (d. 241), which contains around thirty
thousand ahadith. Another larger work is
attributed to the famous Andalusian traditionist
Baqi b. Makhlad al-Qurtubi (d. 276), but
unfortunately it is now untraceable.

Mursal, Munqati’, Mu’dal, & Mu’allaq

If the link between the Successor and the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) is missing, the hadith is mursal
(“hurried”), e.g. when a Successor says, “The
Prophet said …”.

However, if a link anywhere before the Successor
(i.e. closer to the traditionist recording the
hadith) is missing, the hadith is munqati’
(“broken”). This applies even if there is an
apparent link, e.g. an isnad seems to be
muttasil (“continuous”) but one of the reporters
is known to have never heard ahadith from his
immediate authority, even though he may be his
contemporary. The term munqati’ is also applied
by some scholars to a narration such as where a
reporter says, “a man narrated to me …”,
without naming this authority.10

If the number of consecutive missing reporters
in the isnad exceeds one, the isnad is mu’dal
(“perplexing”). If the reporter omits the whole
isnad and quotes the Prophet, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, directly (i.e. the link
is missing at the beginning, unlike the case
with a mursal isnad), the hadith is called
mu’allaq (“hanging”) – sometimes it is known as
balaghah (“to reach”); for example, Imam Malik
sometimes says in Al-Muwatta’, “It reached me
that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him
and grant him peace) said …”

Example of a munqati’ hadith

Al-Hakim reported from Muhammad b. Mus’ab === al-
Auza’i — Shaddad Abu ‘Ammar — Umm al-Fadl
bint al-Harith, who said: I came to the
Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) and said, “I have seen in a
vision last night as if a part of your body was
cut out and placed in my lap.” He said, “You
have seen something good. Allah Willing,
Fatimah will give birth to a lad who will be in
your lap.” After that, Fatimah gave birth to al-
Husain, who used to be in my lap, in accordance
with the statement of the Messenger of Allah
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace). One
day, I came to the Messenger of Allah (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) and placed al-
Husain in his lap. I noticed that both his eyes
were shedding tears. He said, “Jibril came to
me and told me that my Ummah will kill this son
of mine, and he brought me some of the reddish
dust of that place (where he will be killed).”

Al-Hakim said, “This is a sahih hadith according
to the conditions of the Two Shaykhs (i.e.
Bukhari & Muslim), but they did not collect it.”
Al-Dhahabi says, “No, the hadith is munqati’ and
da’if, because Shaddad never met Umm al-Fadl and
Muhammad b. Mus’ab is weak.”11

Example of a mu’dal hadith

Ibn Abi Hatim === Ja’far b. Ahmad b. al-Hakam Al-
Qurashi in the year 254 === Sulaiman b. Mansur
b. ‘Ammar === ‘Ali b. ‘Asim — Sa’id —
Qatadah — Ubayy b. Ka’b, who reported that the
Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) said, “After Adam had tasted
from the tree, he ran away, but the tree caught
his hair. It was proclaimed: O Adam! Are you
running away from Me? He said: No, but I feel
ashamed before You. He said: O Adam! Go away
from My neighbourhood, for By My Honour, no-one
who disobeys Me can live here near Me; even if
I were to create people like you numbering
enough to fill the earth and they were to
disobey Me, I would make them live in a home of

Ibn Kathir remarks, “This is a gharib hadith.
There is inqita’, in fact i’dal, between Qatadah
and Ubayy b. Ka’b, may Allah be pleased with
them both.”12

Authenticity of the Mursal Hadith

There has been a great deal of discussion
amongst the scholars regarding the authenticity
of the Mursal Hadith (pl. Marasil), since it is
quite probable that a Successor might have
omitted two names, those of an elder Successor
and a Companion, rather than just one name, that
of a Companion.

If the Successor is known to have omitted the
name of a Companion only, then the hadith is
held to be authentic, for a Successor can only
report from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) through a Companion; the
omission of the name of the Companion does not
affect the authenticity of the isnad since all
Companions are held to be trustworthy and
reliable, by both Qur’anic injunctions and
sayings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace).

However, opinions vary in the case where the
Successor might have omitted the names of two
authorities (since not all the Successors were
reliable in matters of Hadith). For example,
two widely-differing positions on this issue

(i) the Marasil of elder Successors such as
Sa’id b. al-Musayyab (d. 94) and ‘Ata’ b. Abi
Rabah (d. 114) are acceptable because all their
Marasil, after investigation, are found to come
through the Companions only. However, the
Marasil of younger Successors are only
acceptable if the names of their immedeiate
authorities are known through other sources; if
not, they are rejected outright.
(ii) the Marasil of Successors and those who
report from them are acceptable without any
investigation at all. This opinion is supported
by the Kufi school of traditionists, but is
severely attacked by the majority.

To be precise in this issue, let us investigate
in detail the various opinions regarding the
Mursal Hadith:

1) The opinion held by Imam Malik and all Maliki
jurists is that the Mursal of a trustworthy
person is valid as proof and as justification
for a practice, just like a musnad hadith.13
This view has been developed to such an extreme
that to some of them, the mursal is even better
than the musnad, based on the following

“the one who reports a musnad hadith leaves
you with the names of the reporters for
further investigation and scrutiny, whereas
the one who narrates by way of Irsal, being
a knowledgeable and trustworthy person
himself, has already done so and found the
hadith to be sound. In fact, he saves you
from further research.”14

2) Imam Abu Hanifah (d. 150) holds the same
opinion as Malik; he accepts the Mursal Hadith
whether or not it is supported by another

3) Imam al-Shafi’i (d. 204) has discussed this
issue in detail in his al-Risalah; he requires
the following conditions to be met before
accepting a mursal hadith:

(i) In the narrative, he requires that one of
the following conditions be met:

that it be reported also as musnad through
another isnad;
that its contents be reported as mursal
through another reliable source with a
different isnad;
that the meaning be supported by the sayings
of some Companions; or
that most scholars hold the same opinion as
conveyed by the mursal hadith.

(ii) Regarding the narrator, he requires that
one of the following conditions be met:

that he be an elder Successor;
that if he names the person missing in the
isnad elsewhere, he does not usually name an
unknown person or someone not suitable for
reporting from acceptably; or
that he does not contradict a reliable person
when he happens to share with him in a

On the basis of these arguments, al-Shafi’i
accepts the Irsal of Sa’id b. al-Musayyab, one
of the elder Successors. For example, al-
Shafi’i considers the issue of selling meat in
exchange for a living animal: he says that Malik
told him, reporting from Zaid b. Aslam, who
reported from Ibn al-Musayyab that the Messenger
of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) forbade the selling of meat in exchange
for an animal. He then says, “This is our
opinion, for the Irsal of Ibn al-Musayyib is

4) Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241) accepts mursal
and (other) da’if (weak) ahadith if nothing
opposing them is found regarding a particular
issue, preferring them to qiyas (analogical
deduction). By da’if here is meant ahadith
which are not severely weak, e.g. batil, munkar,
or maudu’, since Imam Ahmad classified ahadith
into sahih and da’if rather than into sahih,
hasan and da’if, the preference of most later
traditionists. Hence, the category da’if in his
view applied to ahadith which were relatively
close to being sahih, and included many ahadith
which were classed as hasan by other scholars.18
Overlooking this fact has caused
misunderstanding about Imam Ahmad’s view on the
place of da’if ahadith in rulings of Fiqh and in
matters of Fada’il al-A’mal (virtues of various
acts of worship).

5) Ibn Hazm (d. 456) rejects the Mursal Hadith
outright; he says that the Mursal is
unacceptable, whether it comes through Sa’id b.
al-Musayyib or al-Hasan al-Basri. To him, even
the Mursal which comes through someone who was
not well-known to be amongst the Companions
would be unacceptable.19

6) Abu Dawud (d . 275) accepts the Mursal under
two conditions:
that no musnad hadith is found regarding that
issue; or
that if a musnad hadith is found, it is not
contradicted by the mursal hadith.20

7) Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327) does not give a
specific opinion about the Mursal Hadith.
However, he did collect an anthology of 469
reporters of hadith, including four female
reporters, whose narratives were subjected to
criticism due to Irsal. This collection is
known as Kitab al-Marasil.

8) Al-Hakim (d. 405) is extremely reluctant to
accept the Mursal Hadith except in the case of
elder Successors. He holds, on the basis of the
Qur’an, that knowledge is based on what is heard
(directly), not on what is reported
(indirectly). In this regard, he quotes Yazid
b. Harun who asked Hammad b. Laith:

“O Abu Isma’il! Did Allah mention the Ahl
al-Hadith (scholars of Hadith) in the
Qur’an?” He replied, “Yes! Did you not
hear the saying of Allah,

If a party from every expedition remained
behind, they21 could devote themselves to
studies in religion and admonish the people
when they return to them, that thus they
may guard themselves (against evil)’
(Qur’an, 9:l22).

This concerns those who set off to seek
knowledge, and then return to those who
remained behind in order to teach them.”22

Al-Hakim then remarks, “This verse shows that
the acceptable knowledge is the one which is
being heard, not just received by way of Irsal.”23

9) Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 462) strongly
supports the view of those who reject the Mursal
except if it comes through an elder Successor.
He concludes, after giving a perusal of
different opinions about this issue,

“What we select out of these sayings is
that the Mursal is not to be practised, nor
is it acceptable as proof. We say that
Irsal leads to one reporter being
ambiguous; if he is ambiguous, to ascertain
his reliability is impossible. We have
already explained that a narration is only
acceptable if it comes through a reporter
known for reliability. Hence, the Mursal
should not be accepted at all.”24

Al-Khatib gives the following example, showing
that a narrative which has been reported through
both musnad and mursal isnads is acceptable, not
because of the reliability of those who narrated
it by way of Irsal but because of an
uninterrupted isnad, even though it contains
less reliable reporters:

The text of the hadith is: “No marriage is valid
except by the consent of the guardian”; al-
Khatib gives two isnads going back to Shu’bah
and Sufyan al-Thauri; the remainder of each
isnad is:

Sufyan al-Thauri and Shu’bah — Abu Ishaq —
Abu Burdah — the Prophet.

This isnad is mursal because Abu Burdah, a
Successor, narrates directly from the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
However, al-Khatib further gives three isnads
going back to Yunus b. Abi Ishaq, Isra’il b.
Yunus and Qais b. al-Rabi’; the remainder of the
first isnad is:

Yunus b. Abi Ishaq — Abu Ishaq — Abu Burdah
— Abu Musa — the Prophet.

The other two reporters narrate similarly, both
of them including the name of Abu Musa, the
Companion from whom Abu Burdah has reported. Al-
Khatib goes on to prove that both al-Thauri and
Shu’bah heard this hadith from Abu Ishaq in one
sitting while the other three reporters heard it
in different sittings. Hence, this addition of
Abu Musa in the isnad is quite acceptable.25

10) Ibn al-Salah (d. 643) agrees with al-Shafi’i
in rejecting the Mursal Hadith unless it is
proved to have come through a musnad route.26

11) Ibn Taimiyyah (d. 728) classifies Mursal
into three categories. He says, “There are some
acceptable, others unacceptable, and some which
require further investigation:
if it is known that the reporter does so (i.e.
narrates by Irsal) from reliable authorities,
then his report will be accepted;
if he does so from both classes of
authorities, i.e. reliable and unreliable, we
shall not accept his narration (on its own,
without further investigation), for he is
narrating from someone whose reliability is
all such mursal ahadith which go against the
reports made by reliable authorities will be
rejected completely.”27

12) Al-Dhahabi (d. 748) regards the Mursal of
younger Successors such as al-Hasan al-Basri, al-
Zuhri, Qatadah and Humaid al-Tawil as the
weakest type of Mursal.28

Later scholars such as Ibn Kathir (d. 744), al-
‘Iraqi (d. 806), Ibn Hajar (d. 852), al-Suyuti
(d. 911), Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Wazir (d. 840),
Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi (d. 1332) and Tahir al-
Jaza’iri (d. 1338) have given exhaustive
discussions about this issue, but none of them
holds an opinion different to those mentioned


Mutawatir & Ahad

Depending on the number of the reporters of the
hadith in each stage of the isnad, i.e. in each
generation of reporters, it can be classified
into the general categories of mutawatir
(“consecutive”) or ahad (“single”) hadith.

A mutawatir hadith is one which is reported by
such a large number of people that they cannot
be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them

Al-Ghazali (d. 505) stipulates that a mutawatir
narration be known by the sizeable number of its
reporters equally in the beginning, in the
middle and at the end.30 He is correct in this
stipulation because some narrations or ideas,
although known as mutawatir among some people,
whether Muslims or non-Muslims, originally have
no tawatur. There is no precise definition for
a “large number of reporters”; although the
numbers four, five, seven, ten, twelve, forty
and seventy, among others, have all been
variously suggested as a minimum, the exact
number is irrelevant (some reporters, e.g. Imams
of Hadith, carry more weight anyway than others
who are their contemporaries): the important
condition is that the possibility of coincidence
or “organised falsehood” be obviously

Examples of mutawatir practices are the five
daily prayers, fasting, zakat, the Hajj and
recitation of the Qur’an. Among the verbal
mutawatir ahadith, the following has been
reported by at least sixty-two Companions from
the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), and has been widely-known amongst the
Muslims throughout the ages:
“Whoever invents a lie and attributes it to me
intentionally, let him prepare his seat in the
Fire.” Ahadith related to the description of
the Haud Kauthar (the Basin of Abundant
Goodness) in the Hereafter, raising the hands at
certain postures during prayer, rubbing wet
hands on the leather socks during ablution,
revelation of the Qur’an in seven modes, and the
prohibition of every intoxicant are further
examples of verbal mutawatir ahadith.32

A hadith ahad or khabar wahid is one which is
narrated by people whose number does not reach
that of the mutawatir case. Ahad is further
classified into:

Gharib, ‘Aziz & Mashhur

A hadith is termed gharib (“scarce, strange”)
when a only a single reporter is found relating
it at some stage of the isnad. For example, the
saying of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace),
“Travel is a piece of punishment” is gharib;
the isnad of this hadith contains only one
reporter in each stage: Malik — Yahya b. Abi
Salih — Abu Hurairah — the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace). With
regard to its isnad, this hadith is sahih,
although most gharib ahadith are weak; Ahmad b.
Hanbal said, “Do not write these gharib ahadith
because they are unacceptable, and most of them
are weak.”33

A type of hadith similar to gharib is fard
(“solitary”); it is known in three ways:
(i) similar to gharib, i.e. a single person is
found reporting it from a well-known Imam;
(ii) the people of one locality only are known
to narrate the hadith;
(iii) narrators from one locality report the
hadith from narrators of another locality, such
as the people of Makkah reporting from the
people of Madinah.34

If at any stage in the isnad, only two reporters
are found to narrate the hadith, it is termed
‘aziz (“rare, strong”). For example, Anas
reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) said,
“None of you (truly) believes until I become
more beloved to him than his father, his son,
and all the people.”

Two reporters, Qatadah and ‘Abdul ‘Aziz b.
Shu’aib, report this hadith from Anas, and two
more reporters narrate from each of them:
Shu’bah and Sa’id report from Qatada, and
Isma’il b. Ulayyah and ‘Abd al-Warith from ‘Abd
al-‘Aziz; then a group of people report from
each of them.35

A hadith which is reported by more than two
reporters is known as mashhur (“famous”).
According to some scholars, every narrative
which comes to be known widely, whether or not
it has an authentic origin, is called mashhur.
A mashhur hadith might be reported by only one
or two reporters in the beginnning but become
widely-known later, unlike gharib or ‘aziz,
which are reported by one or two reporters in
the beginning and continue to have the same
number even in the times of the Successors and
those after them. For example, if only one or
two reporters are found narrating hadith from a
reliable authority in Hadith such as al-Zuhri
and Qatadah, the hadith will remain either
gharib or ‘aziz. On the other hand, if a group
of people narrate from them, it will be known as

According to al-‘Ala’i (Abu Sa’id Khalil Salah
al-Din, d. 761), a hadith may be known as ‘aziz
and mashhur at the same time. By this he means
a hadith which is left with only two reporters
in its isnad at any stage while it enjoys a host
of reporters in other stages, such as the saying
of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace),
“We are the last but (will be) the foremost on
the Day of Resurrection.”

This hadith is ‘aziz in its first stage, as it
is reported by Hudhaifah b. al-Yaman and Abu
Hurairah only. It later becomes mashhur as
seven people report it from Abu Hurairah.37


Mudallas hadith & Tadlis

Different ways of reporting, e.g. (he narrated
to us), (he informed us), (I heard), and (on the
authority of) are used by the reporters of
hadith. The first three indicate that the
reporter personally heard from his shaikh,
whereas the mode U can denote either hearing in
person or through another reporter.

A mudallas (“concealed”) hadith is one which is
weak due to the uncertainty caused by tadlis.
Tadlis (concealing) refers to an isnad where a
reporter has concealed the identity of his
shaikh. Ibn al-Salah describes two types of

a) tadlis al-isnad. A person reports from his
shaikh whom he met, what he did not hear from
him, or from a contemporary of his whom he did
not meet, in such a way as to create the
impression that he heard the hadith in person.
A mudallis (one who practises tadlis) here
usually uses the mode (“on the authority of”) or
(“he said”) to conceal the truth about the
b) tadlis al-shuyukh. The reporter does mention
his shaikh by name, but uses a less well-known
name, by-name, nickname etc., in order not to
disclose his shaikh’s identity.38

Al-‘Iraqi (d. 806), in his notes on Muqaddimah
Ibn al-Salah, adds a third type of tadlis:
c) tadlis al-taswiyyah. To explain it, let us
assume an isnad which contains a trustworthy
shaikh reporting from a weak authority, who in
turn reports from another trustworthy shaikh.
Now, the reporter of this isnad omits the
intermediate weak authority, leaving it
apparently consisting of reliable authorities.
He plainly shows that he heard it from his
shaikh but he uses the mode “on the authority
of” to link his immediate shaikh with the next
trustworthy one. To an average student, this
isnad seems free of any doubt or discrepancy.
This is known to have been practised by Baqiyyah
b. al-Walid, Walid b. Muslim, al-A’mash and al-
Thauri. It is said to be the worst among the
three kinds of tadlis.39

Ibn Hajar classifies those who practised tadlis
into five categories in his essay Tabaqat al-
Those who are known to do it occasionally,
such as Yahya b. Sa’id al-Ansari.
Those who are accepted by the traditionists,
either because of their good reputation and
relatively few cases of tadlis, e.g. Sufyan
al-Thauri (d. 161), or because they reported
from authentic authorities only, e.g. Sufyan
Ibn ‘Uyainah (d. 198).
Those who practised it a great deal, and the
traditionists have accepted such ahadith from
them which were reported with a clear mention
of hearing directly. Among these are Abu ‘l-
Zubair al-Makki, whose ahadith narrated from
the Companion Jabir b. ‘Abdullah have been
collected in Sahih Muslim. Opinions differ
regarding whether they are acceptable or not.
Similar to the previous category, but the
traditionists agree that their ahadith are to
be rejected unless they clearly admit of
their hearing, such as by saying “I heard”;
an example of this category is Baqiyyah b. al-
Those who are disparaged due to another
reason apart from tadlis; their ahadith are
rejected, even though they admit of hearing
them directly. Exempted from them are
reporters such as Ibn Lahi’ah, the famous
Egyptian judge, whose weakness is found to be
of a lesser degree. Ibn Hajar gives the
names of 152 such reporters.40

Tadlis, especially of those in the last three
categories, is so disliked that Shu’bah (d. 170)
said, “Tadlis is the brother of lying” and “To
commit adultery is more favourable to me than to
report by way of Tadlis.”41


A musalsal (uniformly-linked) isnad is one in
which all the reporters, as well as the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace), use
the same mode of transmission such as ‘an,
haddathana, etc., repeat any other additional
statement or remark, or act in a particular
manner while narrating the hadith.

Al-Hakim gives eight examples of such isnads,
each having a different characteristic repeated

use of the phrase sami’tu (I heard);
the expression “stand and pour water for me so
that I may illustrate the way my shaikh
performed ablution”;
haddathana (he narrated to us);
amarani (he commanded me);
holding one’s beard;
illustrating by counting on five fingers;
the expression “I testify that …”; and
interlocking the fingers.42

Knowledge of musalsal helps in discounting the
possibility of tadlis.


Shadhdh & Munkar

According to al-Shafi’i, a shadhdh (“irregular”)
hadith is one which is reported by a trustworthy
person but goes against the narration of a
person more reliable than him. It does not
include a hadith which is unique in its contents
and is not narrated by someone else.43 In the
light of this definition, the well-known hadith,
“Actions are (judged) according to their
intentions”, is not considered shadhdh since it
has been narrated by Yahya b. Sa’id al-Ansari
from Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Taimi from ‘Alqamah
from ‘Umar, all of whom are trustworthy
authorities, although each one of them is the
only reporter at that stage.44

An example of a shadhdh hadith according to some
scholars is one which Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi
transmit, through the following isnad:

‘Abdul Wahid b. Ziyad — al-A’mash — Abu
Salih — Abu Hurairah === the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace):
“When one of you offers the two rak’ahs
before the Dawn Prayer, he should lie down
on his right side.”

Regarding it, al-Baihaqi said,

“‘Abdul Wahid has gone against a large
number of people with this narration, for
they have reported the above as an act of
the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace), and not as his saying; ‘Abdul
Wahid is alone amongst the trustworthy
students of al-A’mash in narrating these

According to Ibn Hajar, if a narration which
goes against another authentic hadith is
reported by a weak narrator, it is known as
munkar (denounced).46 Traditionists as late as
Ahmad used to simply label any hadith of a weak
reporter as munkar.47 Sometimes, a hadith is
labelled as munkar because of its contents being
contrary to general sayings of the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace). Al-Khatib
(d. 463) quotes al-Rabi’ b. Khaitham (d. 63) as

“Some ahadith have a light like that of
day, which we recognise; others have a
darkness like that of night which makes us
reject them.”

He also quotes al-Auza’i (d. 157) as saying,

“We used to listen to ahadith and present
them to fellow traditionists, just as we
present forged coins to money-changers:
whatever they recognise of them, we accept,
and whatever they reject of them, we also

Ibn Kathir quotes the following two ahadith in
his Tafsir, the first of which is acceptable,
whereas the second contradicts it and is

(i) Ahmad === Abu Mu’awiyah === Hisham b.
‘Urwah — Fatimah bint al-Mundhir —
Asma’ bint Abi Bakr, who said, “My mother
came (to Madinah) during the treaty Quraish
had made, while she was still a polytheist.
So I came to the Prophet (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace) and said to him,
‘O Messenger of Allah, my mother has come
willingly: should I treat her with
kindness?’ He replied, ‘Yes! Treat her
with kindness’.”

(ii) Al-Bazzar === ‘Abdullah b. Shabib ===
Abu Bakr b. Abi Shaibah === Abu Qatadah al-
‘Adawi — the nephew of al-Zuhri — al-
Zuhri — ‘Urwah — ‘A’ishah and Asma’,
both of whom said, “Our mother came to us
in Madinah while she was a polytheist,
during the peace treaty between the Quraish
and the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless
him and grant him peace). So we said, ‘O
Messenger of Allah, our mother has come to
Madinah willingly: do we treat her kindly?’
He said, ‘Yes! Treat her kindly’.”

Ibn Kathir then remarks:

“This (latter) hadith, to our knowledge is
reported only through this route of al-
Zuhri — ‘Urwah — ‘A’ishah. It is a
munkar hadith with this text because the
mother of ‘A’ishah is Umm Ruman, who was
already a Muslim emigrant, while the mother
of Asma’ was another woman, as mentioned by
name in other ahadith.”49

In contrast to a munkar hadith, if a reliable
reporter is found to add something which is not
narrated by other authentic sources, the
addition is accepted as long as it does not
contradict them; and is known as ziyadatu thiqah
(an addition by one trustworthy).50 An example
is the hadith of al-Bukhari and Muslim on the
authority of Ibn Mas’ud: “I asked the Messenger
of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), ‘Which action is the most virtuous?’ He
said, ‘The Prayer at its due time’.” Two
reporters, Al-Hasan b. Makdam and Bindar,
reported it with the addition, “… at the
beginning of its time”; both Al-Hakim and Ibn
Hibban declared this addition to be sahih.51


An addition by a reporter to the text of the
saying being narrated is termed mudraj
(interpolated).52 For example, al-Khatib relates
via Abu Qattan and Shababah — Shu’bah —
Muhammad b. Ziyad — Abu Hurairah — The
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), who said,
“Perform the ablution fully; woe to the heels
from the Fire!”

Al-Khatib then remarks,

“The statement, ‘Perform the ablution
fully’ is made by Abu Hurairah, while the
statement afterwards, ‘Woe to the heels
from the Fire!’, is that of the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
The distinction between the two is
understood from the narration of al-
Bukhari, who transmits the same hadith and
quotes Abu Hurairah as saying, “Complete
the ablution, for Abu ‘l-Qasim (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) said: Woe to
the heels from the Fire!”.”53

Such an addition may be found in the beginning,
in the middle, or at the end, often in
explanation of a term used. Idraj
(interpolation) is mostly found in the text,
although a few examples show that such additions
are found in the isnad as well, where the
reporter grafts a part of one isnad into

A reporter found to be in the habit of
intentional idraj is generally unacceptable and
considered a liar.54 However, the traditionists
are more lenient towards those reporters who may
do so forgetfully or in order to explain a
difficult word.


Before discussing ma’lul (defective) ahadith, a
brief note on mudtarib (shaky) and maqlub
(reversed) ahadith would help in understanding


According to Ibn Kathir, if reporters disagree
about a particular shaikh, or about some other
points in the isnad or the text, in such a way
that none of the opinions can be preferred over
the others, and thus there is uncertainty about
the isnad or text, such a hadith is called
mudtarib (shaky).55

For example with regard to idtirab in the isnad,
it is reported on the authority of Abu Bakr that
he said, “O Messenger of Allah! I see you
getting older?” He (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) replied, “What made me old are
Surah Hud and its sister surahs.” Al-Daraqutni

“This is an example of a mudtarib hadith.
It is reported through Abu Ishaq, but as
many as ten different opinions are held
about this isnad: some report it as mursal,
others as muttasil; some take it as musnad
of Abu Bakr, others as musnad of Sa’d or
‘A’ishah. Since all these reports are
comparable in weight, it is difficult to
prefer one above another. Hence, the
hadith is termed as mudtarib.”56

As an example of idtirab in the text, Rafi’ b.
Khadij said that the Messenger of Allah (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade the
renting of land. The reporters narrating from
Rafi’ give different statements, as follows:

(i) Hanzalah asked Rafi’, “What about renting
for gold and silver?” He replied, “It does not
matter if it is rent for gold and silver.”
(ii) Rifa’ah — Rafi’ — the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace), who said,
“Whoever owns a piece of land should cultivate
it, give it to his brother to cultivate, or
abandon it.”
(iii) Salim — Rafi’ — his two uncles —
the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), who forbade the renting of farming land.
(iv) The son of Rafi’ — Rafi’ — the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace), who
forbade the renting of land.
(v) A different narration by Rafi’ from the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), who said, “Whoever owns a piece of land
should either cultivate it or give it to his
brother to cultivate. He must not rent it for a
third or a quarter of the produce, nor for a
given quantity of the produce.”
(vi) Zaid b. Thabit said, “May Allah forgive
Rafi’! I am more aware of the hadith than he;
what happened was that two of the Ansar
(Helpers) had a dispute, so they came to the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), who said after listening to their cases,
‘If this is your position, then do not rent the
farms.’ Rafi’ has only heard the last phrase,
i.e., ‘Do not rent the farms’.”

Because of these various versions, Ahmad b.
Hanbal said,

“The ahadith reported by Rafi’ about the
renting of land are mudtarib. They are not
to be accepted, especially when they go
against the well-established hadith of Ibn
‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave
the land of Khaibar to the Jews on
condition that they work on it and take
half of the produce.”57


A hadith is known as maqlub (changed, reversed)
when its isnad is grafted to a different text or
vice versa, or if a reporter happens to reverse
the order of a sentence in the text.

As an example relating to the text, in his
transmission of the famous hadith describing the
seven who will be under the shelter of Allah on
the Day of Judgment, Muslim reports one of the
categories as, “a man who conceals his act of
charity to such an extent that his right hand
does not know what his left hand gives in
charity.” This sentence has clearly been
reversed by a reporter, because the correct
wording is recorded in other narrations of both
al-Bukhari and Muslim as follows: “… that his
left hand does not know what his right hand
gives …”58

The famous trial of al-Bukhari by the scholars
of Baghdad provides a good example of a maqlub
isnad. The traditionists, in order to test
their visitor, al-Bukhari, appointed ten men,
each with ten ahadith. Now, each hadith (text)
of these ten people was prefixed with the isnad
of another. Imam al-Bukhari listened to each of
the ten men as they narrated their ahadith and
denied the correctness of every hadith. When
they had finished narrating these ahadith, he
addressed each person in turn and recounted to
him each of his ahadith with its correct isnad.
This trial earned him great honour among the
scholars of Baghdad.59

Other ways in which ahadith have been rendered
maqlub are by replacement of the name of a
reporter with another, e.g. quoting Abu Hurairah
as the reporter from the Prophet (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace) although the
actual reporter was someone else, or by reversal
of the name of the reporter, e.g. mentioning
Walid b. Muslim instead of Muslim b. Walid, or
Ka’b b. Murrah instead of Murrah b. Ka’b.60

Ma’lul or Mu’allal

Ibn al-Salah says, “A ma’lul (defective) hadith
is one which appears to be sound, but thorough
research reveals a disparaging factor.” Such
factors can be:
(i) declaring a hadith musnad when it is in fact
mursal, or marfu’ when it is in fact mauquf;
(ii) showing a reporter to narrate from his
shaikh when in fact he did not meet the latter;
or attributing a hadith to one Companion when it
in fact comes through another.61

Ibn al-Madini (d. 324) says that such a defect
can only be revealed if all the isnads of a
particular hadith are collated. In his book al-
‘Ilal, he gives thirty-four Successors and the
names of those Companions from whom each of them
heard ahadith directly. For example, he says
that al-Hasan al-Basri (d. 110, aged 88) did not
see ‘Ali (d. 40), although he adds that there is
a slight possibility that he may have seen him
during his childhood in Madinah.62 Such
information is very important, since for
example, many Sufi traditions go back to al-
Hasan al-Basri, who is claimed to report
directly from ‘Ali.

Being a very delicate branch of Mustalah al-
Hadith, only a few well-known traditionists such
as Ibn al-Madini (d. 234), Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi
(d. 327), al-Khallal (d. 311) and al-Daraqutni
(d. 385), have compiled books about it. Ibn Abi
Hatim, in his Kitab al-‘Ilal, has given 2840
examples of ma’lul ahadith about a range of

An example of a ma’lul hadith is one transmitted
by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, who
reports the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) as saying,

“Allah created the land on Saturday; He
created the mountains on Sunday; He created
the trees on Monday; He created the things
entailing labour on Tuesday; He created the
light (or fish) on Wednesday; He scattered
the beasts in it (the earth) on Thursday;
and He created Adam after the afternoon of
Friday, the last creation at the last hour
of the hours of Friday, between the
afternoon and night.”63

Regarding it, Ibn Taimiyyah says,

“Men more knowledgeable than Muslim, such
as al-Bukhari and Yahya b. Ma’in, have
criticised it. Al-Bukhari said, ‘This
saying is not that of the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace), but
one of Ka’b al-Ahbar’.”64


The final verdict on a hadith, i.e. sahih
(sound), hasan (good), da’if (weak) or maudu’
(fabricated, forged), depends critically on this

Among the early traditionists, mostly of the
first two centuries, ahadith were classified
into two categories only: sahih and da’if; al-
Tirmidhi was to be the first to distinguish
hasan from da’if. This is why traditionists and
jurists such as Ahmad, who seemed to argue on
the basis of da’if ahadith sometimes, were in
fact basing their argument on the ahadith which
were later to be known as hasan.65

We now examine in more detail these four
important classes of ahadith.


Al-Shafi’i states the following requirement in
order for a hadith which is not mutawatir to be

“Each reporter should be trustworthy in his
religion; he should be known to be truthful
in his narrating, to understand what he
narrates, to know how a different
expression can alter the meaning, and
report the wording of the hadith verbatim,
not only its meaning. This is because if
he does not know how a different expression
can change the whole meaning, he will not
know if he has changed what is lawful into
what is prohibited. Hence, if he reports
the hadith according to its wording, no
change of meaning will be found at all.
Moreover, he should be a good memoriser if
he happens to report from his memory, or a
good preserver of his writings if he
happens to report from them. He should
agree with the narrations of the huffaz
(leading authorities in Hadith), if he
reports something which they do also. He
should not be a mudallis, who narrates from
someone he met something he did not hear,
nor should he report from the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace)
contrary to what reliable sources have
reported from him. In addition, the one
who is above him (in the isnad) should be
of the same quality, [and so on,] until the
hadith goes back uninterrupted to the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) or any authority below him.”66

Ibn al-Salah, however, defines a sahih hadith
more precisely by saying:

“A sahih hadith is the one which has a
continuous isnad, made up of reporters of
trustworthy memory from similar
authorities, and which is found to be free
from any irregularities (i.e. in the text)
or defects (i.e. in the isnad).”

By the above definition, no room is left for any
weak hadith, whether, for example, it is
munqati’, mu’dal, mudtarib, maqlub, shadhdh,
munkar, ma’lul, or contains a mudallis. The
definition also excludes hasan ahadith, as will
be discussed under that heading.

Of all the collectors of hadith, al-Bukhari and
Muslim were greatly admired because of their
tireless attempts to collect sahih ahadith only.
It is generally understood that the more
trustworthy and of good memory the reporters,
the more authentic the hadith. The isnad: al-
Shafi’i — Malik — Nafi’ — ‘Abdullah b.
‘Umar — The Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace), is called a “golden isnad”
because of its renowned reporters.67

Some traditionists prefer Sahih al-Bukhari to
Sahih Muslim because al-Bukhari always looked
for those reporters who had either accompanied
or met each other, even if only once in their
lifetime. On the other hand, Muslim would
accept a reporter who is simply found to be
contemporary to his immediate authority in

The following grading is given for sahih ahadith

(i) those which are transmitted by both al-
Bukhari and Muslim;
(ii) those which are transmitted by al-Bukhari
(iii) those which are transmitted by Muslim
those which are not found in the above two
collections, but
(iv) which agree with the requirements of both
al-Bukhari and Muslim;
(v) which agree with the requirements of al-
Bukhari only;
(vi) which agree with the requirements of Muslim
only; and
(vii) those declared sahih by other


Al-Tirmidhi means by hadith hasan: a hadith
which is not shadhdh, nor contains a disparaged
reporter in its isnad, and which is reported
through more than one route of narration.70

Al-Khattabi (d. 388) states a very concise
definition, “It is the one where its source is
known and its reporters are unambiguous.”

By this he means that the reporters of the
hadith should not be of a doubtful nature, such
as with the mursal or munqati’ hadith, or one
containing a mudallis.

Ibn al-Salah classifies hasan into two

(i) one with an isnad containing a reporter who
is mastur (“screened”, i.e. no prominent person
reported from him) but is not totally careless
in his reporting, provided that a similar text
is reported through another isnad as well;
(ii) one with an isnad containing a reporter who
is known to be truthful and reliable, but is a
degree less in his preservation/memory of hadith
in comparison to the reporters of sahih ahadith.

In both categories, Ibn al-Salah requires that
the hadith be free of any shudhudh

Al-Dhahabi, after giving the various
definitions, says, “A hasan hadith is one which
excels the da’if but nevertheless does not reach
the standard of a sahih hadith.”72 In the light
of this definition, the following isnads are
hasan according to al-Dhahabi:

(i) Bahz b. Hakam — his father — his
(ii) ‘Amr b. Shu’aib — his father — his
(iii) Muhammad b. ‘Amr — Abu Salamah — Abu

Reporters such as al-Harith b. ‘Abdullah, ‘Asim
b. Damurah, Hajjaj b. Artat, Khusaif b. ‘Abd al-
Rahman and Darraj Abu al-Samh attract different
verdicts: some traditionists declare their
ahadith hasan, others declare them da’if.73

Example of a hasan hadith

Malik, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim
reported through their isnads from ‘Amr b.
Shu’aib — his father — his grandfather, that
the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) said,
“A single rider is a devil (i.e. disobedient),
two riders are two devils, but three makes a
travelling party.”

Al-Tirmidhi declares this hadith to be hasan
because of the above isnad, which falls short of
the requirements for a sahih hadith.74

Several weak ahadith may mutually support each
other to the level of hasan

According to the definitions of al-Tirmidhi and
Ibn al-Salah, a number of similar weak ahadith
on a particular issue can be raised to the
degree of hasan if the weakness found in their
reporters is of a mild nature. Such a hadith is
known as hasan li ghairihi (hasan due to
others), to distinguish it from the type
previously-discussed, which is hasan li dhatihi
(hasan in itself). Similarly, several hasan
ahadith on the same subject may make the hadith
sahih li ghairihi, to be distinguished from the
previously-discussed sahih li dhatihi.

However, in case the weakness is severe (e.g.,
the reporter is accused of lying or the hadith
is itself shadhdh), such very weak ahadith will
not support each other and will remain weak.
For example, the well-known hadith,
“He who preserves forty ahadith for my Ummah
will be raised by Allah on the Day of
Resurrection among the men of understanding”,
has been declared to be da’if by most of the
traditionists, although it is reported through
several routes.75

Da’if (U!Y)

A hadith which fails to reach the status of
hasan is da’if. Usually, the weakness is one of
discontinuity in the isnad, in which case the
hadith could be mursal, mu’allaq, mudallas,
munqati’ or mu’dal, according to the precise
nature of the discontinuity, or one of a
reporter having a disparaged character, such as
due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes,
opposition to the narration of more reliable
sources, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity
surrounding his person.

The smaller the number and importance of
defects, the less severe the weakness. The more
the defects in number and severity, the closer
the hadith will be to being maudu’ (fabricated).76

Some ahadith, according to the variation in the
nature of the weakness associated with its
reporters, rank at the bottom of the hasan grade
or at the top of the da’if grade. Reporters
such as ‘Abdullah b. Lahi’ah (a famous judge
from Egypt), ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Zaid b. Aslam,
Abu Bakr b. Abi Maryam al-Himsi, Faraj b.
Fadalah, and Rishdin b. Sa’d attract such types
of varying ranks as they are neither extremely
good preservers nor totally abandoned by the


Al-Dhahabi defines maudu’ (fabricated, forged)
as the term applied to a hadith, the text of
which goes against the established norms of the
Prophet’s sayings (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace), or its reporters include a liar,
e.g. the forty ahadith known as Wad’aniyyah or
the small collection of ahadith which was
fabricated and claimed to have been reported by
‘Ali al-Rida, the eighth Imam of the Ithna
‘Ashari Shi’ah.78

A number of traditionists have collected
fabricated ahadith separately in order to
distinguish them from other ahadith; among them
are Ibn al-Jauzi in al-Maudu’at, al-Jauzaqani in
Kitab al-Abatil, al-Suyuti in al-La’ali al-
Masnu’ah fi ‘l-Ahadith al-Maudu’ah, and ‘Ali al-
Qari in al-Maudu’at.

Some of these ahadith were known to be spurious
by the confession of their inventors. For
example, Muhammad b. Sa’id al-Maslub used to
say, “It is not wrong to fabricate an isnad for
a sound statement.”79 Another notorious
inventor, ‘Abd al-Karim Abu ‘l-Auja, who was
killed and crucified by Muhammad b. Sulaiman b.
‘Ali, governor of Basrah, admitted that he had
fabricated four thousand ahadith declaring
lawful the prohibited and vice-versa.80

Maudu’ ahadith are also recognised by external
evidence related to a discrepancy found in the
dates or times of a particular incident.81 For
example, when the second caliph, ‘Umar b. al-
Khattab decided to expel the Jews from Khaibar,
some Jewish dignitaries brought a document to
‘Umar apparently proving that the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace) had
intended that they stay there by exempting them
from the jizyah (tax on non-Muslims under the
rule of Muslims); the document carried the
witness of two Companions, Sa’d b. Mu’adh and
Mu’awiyah b. Abi Sufyan. ‘Umar rejected the
document outright, knowing that it was
fabricated because the conquest of Khaibar took
place in 6 AH, whereas Sa’d b. Mu’adh died in 3
AH just after the Battle of the Trench, and
Mu’awiyah embraced Islam in 8 AH, after the
conquest of Makkah!82

The author, in his Criticism of Hadith among
Muslims with reference to Sunan Ibn Majah, has
given more examples of fabricated ahadith under
the following eight categories of causes of

(i) political differences;
(ii) factions based on issues of creed;
(iii) fabrications by zanadiqah (enemies-within
spreading heretical beliefs);
(iv) fabrications by story-tellers;
(v) fabrications by ignorant ascetics;
(vi) prejudice in favour of town, race or a
particular imam;
(vii) inventions for personal motives;
(viii) proverbs turned into ahadith.

Similar to the last category above is the case
of Isra’iliyat (“Israelite traditions”),
narrations from the Jews and the Christians84
which were wrongly attributed to the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace).


The above-mentioned classification of ahadith
plays a vital role in ascertaining the
authenticity of a particular narration. Ibn al-
Salah mentions sixty-five terms in his book, of
which twenty-three have been discussed above.
Two further types not included by Ibn al-Salah,
mu’allaq and mutawatir, have been dealt with
from other sources. The remaining forty-two
types follow in brief, which help further
distinguish between different types of

1) Knowledge of i’tibar (“consideration”),
mutaba’ah (“follow-up”) and shawahid

Traditionists are always in search of
strengthening support for a hadith which is
reported by one source only; such research is
termed i’tibar. If a supporting narration is
not found for a particular hadith, it is
declared as fard mutlaq (absolutely singular) or
gharib. For example, if a hadith is reported
through the following isnad: Hammad b. Salamah –
— Ayyub — Ibn Sirin — Abu Hurairah — the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), research would be done to ascertain
whether another trustworthy reporter has
narrated it from Ayyub; if so, it will be called
mutaba’ah tammah (full follow-up); if not, a
reporter other than Ayyub narrating from Ibn
Sirin would be sought: if so, it will be called
mutaba’ah qasirah (incomplete follow-up).

Whereas mutaba’ah applies to the isnad, i.e.
other narrations from the same reporters, a
narration which supports the text (meaning) of
the original hadith, although it may be through
a completely different isnad, is called a shahid

2) Afrad (singular narrations).

3) The type of character required in an
acceptable reporter.

4) The way a hadith is heard, and the different
ways of acquiring ahadith.

5) How a hadith is written, and punctuation
marks used.

6) The way a hadith is reported.

7) The manners required in traditionists.

8) The manners required in students of Hadith.

9) Knowledge of a higher or lower isnad (i.e.
one with less or more reporters respectively).

10) Knowledge of difficult words.

11) Knowledge of abrogated ahadith.

12) Knowledge of altered words in a text or

13) Knowledge of contradictory ahadith.

14) Knowledge of additions made to an isnad
(i.e. by an inserting the name of an additional

15) Knowledge of a well-concealed type of
mursal hadith.

16) Knowledge of the Companions.

17) Knowledge of the Successors.

18) Knowledge of elders reporting from younger

19) Knowledge of reporters similar in age
reporting from each other.

20) Knowledge of brothers and sisters among

21) Knowledge of fathers reporting from their

22) Knowledge of sons reporting from their

23) Knowledge of cases where e.g. two reporters
report from the same authority, one in his early
life and the other in his old age; in such cases
the dates of death of the two reporters will be
of significance.

24) Knowledge of such authorities from whom
only one person reported.

25) Knowledge of such reporters who are known
by a number of names and titles.

26) Knowledge of unique names amongst the
Companions in particular and the reporters in

27) Knowledge of names and by-names (kunyah).

28) Knowledge of by-names for reporters known
by their names only.

29) Knowledge of nicknames (alqab) of the

30) Knowledge of mu’talif and mukhtalif (names
written similarly but pronounced differently),
e.g. Kuraiz and Kariz.

31) Knowledge of muttafiq and muftariq (similar
names but different identities), e.g. “Hanafi”:
there are two reporters who are called by this
name; one because of his tribe Banu Hanifah; the
other because of his attribution to a particular
Madhhab (school of thought in jurisprudence).

32) Names covering both the previous types.

33) Names looking similar but they differ
because of the difference in their father’s
names, e.g. Yazid b. al-Aswad and al-Aswad b.

34) Names attributed to other than their
fathers, e.g. Isma’il b. Umayyah; in this case
Umayyah is the mother’s name.

35) Knowledge of such titles which have a
meaning different from what they seem to be,
e.g. Abu Mas’ud al-Badri, not because he
witnessed the battle of Badr but because he came
to live there; Mu’awiyah b. ‘Abdul Karim al-
Dall (“the one going astray”), not because of
his beliefs but because he lost his way while
travelling to Makkah; and ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad
al-Da’if (“the weak”), not because of his
reliability in Hadith, but due to a weak

36) Knowledge of ambiguous reporters by finding
out their names.

37) Knowledge of the dates of birth and death
of reporters.

38) Knowledge of trustworthy and weak

39) Knowledge of trustworthy reporters who
became confused in their old age.

40) Knowledge of contemporaries in a certain

41) Knowledge of free slaves (mawali) amongst the

42) Knowledge of the homelands and home towns of

Verdicts on the ahadith mentioned in the

1) Mutawatir, as declared by many scholars,
including Ibn Taimiyyah, al-Suyuti, Najm al-Din
al-Iskandari (d. 981) and al-‘Ijlouni (d. 1162).
About this hadith, al-Daraqutni said, “It is the
most authentic one regarding the virtues of any
surah.” It is related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and
2) The following is the sahih hadith of al-
Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn
‘Asakir: “Verily, Allah has Ninety-Nine Names
which if a person safeguards them, he will enter
the Garden.” In some narrations of this hadith
found in al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and
others, the names are listed at the end;
however, at least three different listings are
given, e.g. one list being, “He is Allah,
besides whom there is no other deity, the
Merciful, the Compassionate, …, the
Forbearing” while another is “Allah, the Unique,
the Absolute, …, the One who has nothing like
unto Him.” It is agreed that these latter
narrations are da’if, and this is why al-Bukhari
and Muslim did not include them in their Sahihs.
Al-Tirmidhi says in his Sunan, “This (version of
the) hadith is gharib; it has been narrated
from various routes on the authority of Abu
Hurairah, but we do not know of the mention of
the Names in the numerous narrations, except
this one.” Ibn Taimiyyah says, “Al-Walid (one
of the narrators of the hadith) related the
Names from (the saying of) one of his Syrian
teachers … specific mention of the Names is
not from the words of the Prophet (may Allah
bless him and grant him peace), by the agreement
of those familiar with Hadith.”87 Ibn Kathir
says in his Tafsir, under verse 180 of Surah al-
A’raf, that these narrations are mudraj. Ibn
Hajar takes a similar view in his commentary on
Sahih al-Bukhari. Various scholars have given
different lists of 99 Names from their study of
the Qur’an and Sunnah, including Ja’far al-
Sadiq, Sufyan b. ‘Uyainah, Ibn Hazm, al-Qurtubi,
Ibn Hajar and Salih b. ‘Uthaimin.
3) Ibn Taimiyyah says, “It is not from the
words of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace), and there is no known isnad
for it, neither sahih nor da’if”; al-Zarkashi
(d. 794), Ibn Hajar, al-Suyuti and others agreed
with him. Al-Qari says, “But its meaning is
correct, deduced from the statement of Allah, I
have not created the Jinn and Mankind, except to
worship Me, i.e. to recognise/know me, as Ibn
‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) has
explained.” These statements are mentioned by
al-‘Ijlouni, who adds, “This saying occurs often
in the words of the Sufis, who have relied on it
and built upon it some of their principles.”88
4) Al-‘Ijlouni says, “Al-Saghani (d. 650) said:
Maudu’. I say: But its meaning is correct,
even if it is not a hadith.” no. 2123. ‘Ali al-
Qari says, “But its meaning is correct, for al-
Dailami has related from Ibn ‘Abbas as marfu’:
‘that Jibril came to me and said: O Muhammad!
Were it not for you, the Garden would not have
been created, and were it not for you, the Fire
would not have been created’, and in the
narration of Ibn ‘Asakir: ‘Were it not for you,
the world would not have been created’.” Al-
Albani also quotes al-Saghani’s verdict, and
comments on al-Qari’s words thus, “It is not
appropriate to certify the correctness of its
meaning without establishing the authenticity of
the narration from al-Dailami, which is
something I have not found any of the scholars
to have addressed. Personally, although I have
not come across its isnad, I have no doubt about
its weakness; enough of an indication for us is
that al-Dailami is alone in reporting it. As
for the narration of Ibn ‘Asakir, Ibn al-Jauzi
also related it in a long marfu’ hadith from
Salman and said, ‘It is maudu’, and al-Suyuti
endorsed this in al-La’ali.”89
5) Sahih – related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
6) Al-‘Ijlouni says, “Al-Ghazali mentioned it in
Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din with the wording, Allah says,
“Neither My heaven nor My earth could contain
Me, but the soft, humble heart of my believing
slave can contain Me.” Al-‘Iraqi said in his
notes on Al-Ihya’, “I do not find a basis (i.e.
isnad) for it”, and al-Suyuti agreed with him,
following al-Zarkashi. Al-‘Iraqi then said,
“But in the hadith of Abu ‘Utbah in al-Tabarani
there occurs: … the vessels of your Lord are
the hearts of His righteous slaves, and the most
beloved to Him are the softest and most tender
ones.” Ibn Taimiyyah said, “It is mentioned in
the Israelite traditions, but there is no known
isnad from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and
grant him peace) for it.” Al-Sakhawi said in Al-
Maqasid, following his shaykh al-Suyuti in Al-
La’ali, “There is no known isnad from the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) for it, and its meaning is that his heart
can contain belief in Me, love of Me and gnosis
of Me. But as for the one who says that Allah
incarnates in the hearts of the people, then he
is more of an infidel than the Christians, who
specified that to Christ alone. It seems that
Ibn Taimiyyah’s mention of Israelite tradition
refers to what Ahmad has related in Al-Zuhd from
Wahb b. Munabbih who said that Allah opened the
heavens for Ezekiel until he saw the Throne, so
Ezekiel said, ‘How Perfect are You! How Mighty
are You, O Lord!’ So Allah said, ‘Truly, the
heavens and the earth were too weak to contain
Me, but the soft, humble heart of my believing
slave contains Me’.” He also quoted from al-
Zarkashi’s writing that one of the scholars said
that it is a false hadith, fabricated by a
renegade (from the religion), and that it is
most-often quoted by a preacher to the masses,
‘Ali b. Wafa, for his own purposes, who says at
the time of spiritual rapture and dance, “Go
round the House of your Lord.” He further said
that al-Tabarani has related from Abu ‘Utbah al-
Khawlani as marfu’, “Truly, Allah has vessels
from amongst the people of the earth, and the
vessels of your Lord are the hearts of his
righteous slaves, and the most beloved of them
to Him are the softest and most tender ones”; in
its isnad is Baqiyyah b. al-Walid, a mudallis,
but he has clearly stated hearing the hadith.”90
Al-Albani rates this last hadith mentioned as
7) Al-Nawawi said, “It is not established.” Ibn
Taimiyyah said, “Maudu’.” Al-Sam’ani said, “It
is not known as marfu’, but it is quoted as a
statement of Yahya b. Mu’adh al-Razi.” Al-
Suyuti endorsed al-Nawawi’s words, and also
said, “This hadith is not authentic.” Al-
Fairozabadi said, “It is not a Prophetic
statement, although most of the people think it
is a hadith, but it is not authentic at all. In
fact, it is only related in the Israelite
traditions: O Man! Know yourself: you will
know your Lord.” Ibn al-Gharas said, after
quoting al-Nawawi’s verdict, “… but the books
of the Sufis, such as Shaykh Muhi al-Din Ibn
‘Arabi and others, are filled with it, being
quoted like a hadith.” Ibn ‘Arabi also said,
“This hadith, although it is not proved by way
of narration, is proved to us by way of Kashf
(‘unveiling’, while in a trance).”92 Regarding
this methodology, al-Albani says,
“Authenticating ahadith by way of Kashf is a
wicked innovation of the Sufis, and depending
upon it leads to the authentication of false,
baseless ahadith … This is because, even at
the best of times, Kashf is like opinion, which
may be right or wrong – and that is if no
personal desires enter into it! We ask Allah to
save us from it, and from everything with which
He is not pleased.”93
8) Sahih. Related by Malik in Al-Muwatta’, al-
Shafi’i in Al-Risalah (p. 110, Eng. trans.) and
Muslim (1:382; Eng. trans. 1:272). This was
the first of two questions which the Prophet
(may Allah bless him and grant him peace) put to
a slave-girl to test her faith, the second one
being, “Who am I?” She answered, “Above the
heaven” and “You are the Messenger of Allah”
respectively, to which he said, “Free her, for
she is a believer.” Her first answer, which is
found in the Qur’an (67:16-17, the word fi can
mean ‘above/on’, as in 6:11, 20:71 & 27:8),
means that Allah is above and separate from His
creation, not mixed in with it, the erroneous
belief which leads to worship of creation.
9) Maudu’, as stated by al-Saghani and others.
Scholars differ as to whether its meaning is
correct or not, in what way, and to what extent.94
It is sometimes used to justify divisive, anti-
Islamic nationalism and patriotism!
10) Sahih. Related by Malik as
mursal/mu’allaq/balaghat (depending on choice of
terminology), and related twice as musnad by al-
Hakim. The meaning of the hadith is contained
in the Qur’an, in the mention of the Book and
Wisdom (2:129, 2:151, 2:231, 3:164, 4:113, 33:34
& 62:2); al-Shafi’i says, “I have heard the
most knowledgeable people about the Qur’an say
that the Wisdom is the Sunnah” (Al-Risalah, Eng.
trans., p. 111).
11) Sahih. Related by al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn
Abi ‘Asim, al-Hakim, al-Tabarani, al-Dailami and
al-Tahawi.95 The phrase Ahl al-Bayt (members of
the house) refers: (i) primarily to the
Prophet’s wives (may Allah bless him and grant
him peace), from the clear context of the
relevant verse of the Qur’an (33:33); (ii) to
‘Ali, Fatimah, Hasan & Husain, from the “hadith
of the garment” (cf. Sahih Muslim, Book of the
Virtues of the Companions). It is imbalanced
and unjust to exclude either of these categories
from the hadith.
12) A sahih hadith related by Abu Dawud, al-
Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah & Ahmad, and well-known
amongst the people. The fullest narration is,
“Abu Bakr will be in the Garden; ‘Umar will be
in the Garden; ‘Uthman will be in the Garden;
‘Ali will be in the Garden; Talhah will be in
the Garden; al-Zubair will be in the Garden;
‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Auf will be in the Garden;
Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas will be in the Garden; Sa’id
b. Zaid will be in the Garden; Abu ‘Ubaidah b.
al-Jarrah will be in the Garden.”
13) Related by Ishaq b. Rahawaih and al-Baihaqi
with a sahih isnad as a statement of ‘Umar. It
is also collected by Ibn ‘Adi and al-Dailami
from Ibn ‘Umar as marfu’, but in its isnad is
‘Isa b. Abdullah, who is weak. However, it is
strengthened by another narration of Ibn ‘Adi,
and also supported by the hadith in the Sunan
that a man saw in a dream that Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace) was weighed
against Abu Bakr, and was found to be heavier;
then Abu Bakr was weighed against everyone else
14) Related by al-Hakim, al-Tabarani and others.
It is also related by al-Tirmidhi with the
wording, “I am the House of Wisdom, and ‘Ali is
its Door”. Al-Daraqutni labelled the hadith as
mudtarib, both in isnad and text; al-Tirmidhi
said it is gharib and munkar; al-Bukhari said
that it has no sahih narration; Ibn Ma’in said
that it is a baseless lie. Similar dismissals
of the hadith are reported from Abu Zur’ah, Abu
Hatim and Yahya b. Sa’d. Al-Hakim declared the
original hadith as sahih in isnad, but Ibn al-
Jauzi regarded both versions as maudu’, and al-
Dhahabi agreed with him. Several of the later
scholars, including Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Ibn
Hajar al-Makki and al-Suyuti declared it hasan
due to its various routes of narration. Al-
‘Ijlouni says, “… none of this devalues the
consensus of the Adherents to the Sunnah from
the Companions, the Successors and those after
them, that the best of the Companions overall is
Abu Bakr, followed by ‘Umar …”, and quotes
this view from Ibn ‘Umar and ‘Ali himself, as
recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari.97 Al-Albani
declares the hadith to be maudu’.98
15) A da’if or maudu’ hadith, as stated by Ahmad
b. Hanbal, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Bazzar and many
others. Ibn Hazm states that not only is the
isnad unsound, but the hadith cannot be true for
two further reasons: (i) the Companions were
not infallible, and hence made mistakes, so it
would be wrong to say that following any of them
leads to guidance; (ii) the comparison with the
stars is wrong, for not every star guides one
through every journey! There is a different,
authentic comparison with the stars given in
Sahih Muslim: the Prophet (may Allah bless him
and grant him peace) said, “The stars are the
custodians of the sky, so when the stars depart,
there will come to the sky what is promised for
it (i.e. on the Day of Judgment). I am the
custodian of my Companions, so when I depart,
there will come to my Companions what is
promised for them (i.e. great trials and
tribulations). My Companions are the custodians
for my Ummah, so when my Companions depart,
there will come to my Ummah what is promised for
it (i.e. schisms, spread of innovations, etc.).”
(4:1961, Eng. trans. IV:1344)
16) No isnad exists for this hadith: al-Subki
(d. 756) said, “It is not known to the scholars
of Hadith, and I cannot find an isnad for it,
whether sahih, da’if, or maudu’.” It, along
with the previous one, is often used to justify
the following two extremes: (i) blind following
of the views of men, with no reference to the
Qur’an and Sunnah; (ii) conveniently following
whichever scholar holds the easiest view, or
that most agreeable to one’s desires, again
without reference to the fundamental sources.
17) Numerous narrations of this hadith are found
in the collections of Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi,
Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, Ahmad and others: they
vary in being sahih, hasan, or da’if, but the
hadith is established. Among those who have
authenticated this hadith are al-Tirmidhi, al-
Hakim, al-Shatibi, Ibn Taimiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim,
al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar and al-‘Iraqi.
Most narrations mention the splitting-up of the
Jews and the Christians into seventy-one or
seventy-two sects, all being in the Fire except
one, prior to mention of the Muslims dividing
even more. In some of the narrations, the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) describes the Saved Sect variously as
“the Jama’ah (community, congregation, main
body)”, “the largest body (al-sawad al-a’zam)”
and “that which follows what I and my Companions
are upon.” The hadith does not mean that the
majority of Muslims will be in the Hellfire, for
most of them (“the masses”) are not involved in
intentional, divisive innovation; further,
mention of the Fire does not necessarily imply
that the seventy-two sects will remain there
forever, or that those sects are disbelievers.
18) Although the Mahdi is not mentioned
explicitly in the collections of al-Bukhari and
Muslim, numerous sahih ahadith, which are
mutawatir in meaning, speak of the coming of the
Mahdi, a man named Muhammad b. ‘Abdullah and a
descendant of the Prophet (may Allah bless him
and grant him peace) through Fatimah, who will
be the Leader (Imam, Khalifah) of the Muslims,
rule for seven years and fill the world with
justice and equity after it had been filled with
tyranny and oppression. He will also fight the
Dajjal along with Jesus son of Mary. The
author, in his The Concept of the Mahdi among
the Ahl al-Sunnah, has named 37 scholars who
collected ahadith about the Mahdi with their own
isnads and 69 later scholars who wrote in
support of the concept, compared to 8 scholars
who rejected the idea.
The ahadith prophesying the Dajjal (False
Christ), a one-eyed man who will have miraculous
powers and will be followed by the Jews, and the
return of Jesus Christ son of Mary (peace be
upon them), who will descend in Damascus and
pray behind the Mahdi, kill the Dajjal at the
gate of Lod in Palestine, break the Cross, kill
the Pig, marry and have children and live for
forty years before dying a natural death, are
mutawatir in meaning. They have been collected
by al-Bukhari and Muslim, as well as other
19) Mutawatir in meaning, and collected by al-
Bukhari, Muslim and others.
20) Mutawatir in meaning, and collected by al-
Bukhari, Muslim and others. Mention of the
inadmissibility of intercession on the Day of
Judgment in the Qur’an, e.g. 2:48 2:123, must be
understood in the light of other verses, e.g.
20:109 and sahih ahadith. The reward of seeing
Allah for the believers is referred to in the
Qur’an, e.g. 75:22-23 and 83:15. These ahadith
and those of the previous two categories were
generally rejected by the classical Mu’tazilah
(Rationalists), as well by those influenced by
them today, on one or more of the following
bases: (i) they contradict the Qur’an (in their
view); (ii) they contradict Reason (in their
view), and (iii) they are ahad, not mutawatir,
and hence not acceptable in matters of belief (a
flawed argument). Hence, the scholars who wrote
the ‘aqidah (creed) of the Ahl al-Sunnah
included these concepts in it, to confirm their
denial of the wrong ideas of the Mu’tazilah.
Other authentic ahadith rejected by the
Mu’tazilah are many, and include those
describing the Prophet’s Mi’raj (ascension to
the heavens), which are again mutawatir in
21) The hadith with this wording is da’if, but
its meaning is contained in the hadith of Ibn
Majah and al-Nasa’i that a man came to the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! I
intend to go on a (military) expedition, but I
have come to ask your advice.” He said, “Is
your mother alive?” He said, “Yes.” He said,
“Then stay with her, for the Garden is under her
feet.” This latter hadith is declared to be
sahih by al-Hakim, al-Dhahabi and al-Mundhiri.99
22) A sahih hadith, collected by al-Bukhari,
Muslim and others.
23) This hadith has many chains of narration on
the authority of more than a dozen Companions,
including twenty Successors apparently reporting
from Anas alone. They are collected by Ibn
Majah, al-Baihaqi, al-Tabarani and others, but
all of them are da’if, according to Ahmad b.
Hanbal, Ishaq b. Rahuwaih, Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-
Bazzar and others, although some scholars
authenticated a few of the chains. Al-Baihaqi
said that its text is mashhur while its isnad is
da’if, while al-Hakim and Ibn al-Salah regarded
it as a prime example of a mashhur hadith which
is not sahih. However, it is regarded by later
scholars of Hadith as having enough chains of
narration to be strengthened to the level of
hasan or sahih, a view which is stated by al-
Mizzi, al-‘Iraqi, Ibn Hajar, al-Suyuti and al-
24) This additional statement is found in a few
of the (weak) narrations of the previous hadith,
and is declared as maudu’ by Ibn Hibban, Ibn al-
Jauzi, al-Sakhawi and al-Albani.101
25) Mentioned by al-Manjaniqi in his collection
of ahadith of older narrators reporting from
younger ones, on the authority of al-Hasan al-
Basri. Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said that it is
maudu’ as a narration from the Prophet (may
Allah bless him and grant him peace), but that
it is a statement of al-Hasan al-Basri.102
26) Related as marfu’ by al-Baihaqi with a da’if
isnad, according to al-‘Iraqi. Ibn Hajar said
that it is actually a saying of Ibrahim b. Abi
‘Ablah, a Successor.103

*NB: The scholars of Hadith agree that a da’if
or maudu’ hadith must not be attributed to the
Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace), e.g. by saying, “The Prophet said: …”,
even if the meaning is considered to be correct
or if it is actually the saying of a Muslim
scholar, for that would be a way of lying about
the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him


1 Ar. Sunnah: Way, Path, Tradition, Example.
See An Introduction to the Sunnah by Suhaib
Hasan (Understanding Islam Series no. 5,
published by Al-Quran Society), for Qur’anic
proofs of revelation besides the Qur’an, the
importance of the Sunnah, and a brief history of
the collections of Hadith. See also Imam al-
Shafi’i’s al-Risalah for the authoritative
position of the Sunnah (Eng. trans., pp. 109-
2 related by Imam Muslim in the Introduction to
his Sahih – see Sahih Muslim (ed. M.F. ‘Abdul
Baqi, 5 vols., Cairo, 1374/1955), 1:15 & Sahih
Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawi (18 vols. in 6, Cairo,
1349), 1:87. The existing English translation
of Sahih Muslim, by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, does
not contain this extremely valuable
3 Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi, Al-Jarh wa l-Ta’dil (8
vols., Hyderabad, 1360-1373), 1:20.
4 Sahih Muslim, 1:15. See Suhaib Hasan,
Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference
to Sunan Ibn Maja (Ta Ha publishers / Al-Quran
Society, London, 1407/1986), pp. 15-17 for
discussion of this statement of Ibn Sirin.
5 Remarks like these are exceptions from the
basic Islamic prohibition of backbiting (ghibah)
another Muslim, even if the statement is true.
Such exceptions are allowed, even obligatory in
some cases, where general benefit to the Muslim
public is at stake, such as knowing which
ahadith are authentic. See e.g. Riyad al-
Salihin of al-Nawawi, Chapter on Backbiting, for
the justification for certain types of
backbiting from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
6 Muhammad Adib Salih, Lamahat fi Usul al-Hadith
(2nd ed., al-Maktab al-Islami, Beirut, 1389), p.
7 Tahir b. Ahmad al-Jaza’iri, Taujih al-Nazar
ila Usul al-Nazar (Maktaba ‘Ilmiyyah, Madinah,
N.D.), p. 68.
8 Muhammad b. ‘Abdullah al-Hakim, Ma’rifah ‘Ulum
al-Hadith (ed. Mu’azzam Husain, Cairo, 1937), p.
9 ibid.
10 Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, Tadrib al-Rawi (ed.
A.A. Latif, 1st ed., Cairo, 1379/1959), 1:197.
11 Al-Dhahabi, Talkhis al-Mustadrak (printed with
Mustadrak al-Hakim, 4 vols., Hyderabad), 3:176.
12 Abu ‘l-Fida’ ‘Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir, Tafsir
al-Qur’an al-Azim (4 vols., Cairo, N.D.), 1:80.
13 Yusuf b. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, Tajrid al-
Tamhid lima fi l-Muwatta’ min al-Asanid (Cairo,
1350), 1:2.
14 ibid.
15 al-Suyuti, 1:198.
16 For the discussion in detail, see al-Shafi’i,
al-Risalah (ed. Ahmad Shakir, Cairo, 1358/1940,
pp. 461-470; English translation: M. Khadduri,
2nd ed., Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 1987,
pp. 279-284, where the mursal hadith has been
translated as “interrupted tradition”).
17 al-Suyuti, 1:199; Muhammad b. Mustafa al-
Ghadamsi, Al-Mursal min al-Hadith (Darif Ltd.,
London, N.D.), p.71.
18 Ibn al-Qayyim, I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in (2nd ed., 4
vols. in 2, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1397/1977),
19 Ibn Hazm, Al-Ihkam fi Usul al-Ahkam (Matba’ah
al-Sa’adah, Cairo, 1345), 2:135.
20 Al-Hazimi, Shurut al-A’immah al-Khamsah (ed.
M.Z. al-Kauthari, Cairo, N.D.), p. 45.
21 According to the different interpretations of
this verse, “they” here could refer to those who
stay behind, or those who go forth.
22 al-Hakim, p. 26.
23 ibid.
24 Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Al-Kifayah fi ‘Ilm al-
Riwayah (Hyderabad, 1357), p. 387.
25 ibid., pp. 411-413.
26 Zain al-Din al-‘Iraqi, Al-Taqyid wa ‘l-Idah
Sharh Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah (al-Maktabah al-
Salafiyyahh, Madinah, 1389/1969), p. 72
27 Ibn Taymiyyah, Minhaj al-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah
fi Naqd Kalam al-Shi’ah wa ‘l-Qadariyyah (al-
Maktabah al-Amiriyyah, Bulaq, 1322), 4:117.
28 Al-Dhahabi, Al-Muqizah (Maktab al-Matbu’at al-
Islamiyyah, Halab, 1405), p. 40.
29 al-Jaza’iri, p. 33.
30 ibid.
31 Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Sharh Nukhbah al-Fikr
(ed. M. ‘Aud & M.G. Sabbagh, Damascus,
1410/1990), pp. 8-9.
32 al-Jaza’iri, p. 49; Muhammad b. Isma’il al-
Amir al-San’ani, Taudih al-Afkar (2 vols. ed.
M.M. ‘Abdul Hamid, Cairo, 1366), 2:405.
33 al-San’ani, 2:409.
34 al-Hakim, pp. 96-102.
35 al-San’ani, 2:455.
36 al-‘Iraqi, p. 268.
37 al-San’ani, 2:406.
38 al-‘Iraqi, p. 96.
39 ibid.
40 Ibn Hajar, Tabaqat al-Mudallisin (Cairo,
1322), p. 7f.
41 al-‘Iraqi, p. 98.
42 al-Hakim, pp. 30-34.
43 ibid., p. 119.
44 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al-Hadith (ed.
Ahmad Shakir, 2nd imp., Cairo, 1951), p. 57.
45 al-Suyuti, 1:235; M. A. Salih, p. 260.
46 al-San’ani, 2:3.
47 ibid., 2:6.
48 al-Khatib, p. 431.
49 Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, 4:349.
50 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar, p. 62.
51 al-Suyuti, 1:248.
52 al-Hakim, p. 39.
53 al-‘Iraqi, p. 129f.
54 al-Suyuti, 1:274.
55 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar, p. 72.
56 ibid.
57 Ibn ‘Abdul Barr, Al-Tamhid, 3:32, as quoted by
Luqman al-Salafi, Ihtimam al-Muhaddithin bi Naqd
al-Hadith, p. 381f.
58 Ibn Kathir, Ikhtisar, p. 88.
59 ibid., p. 87.
60 Shams al-Din Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-
Sakhawi, Fath al-Mughith Sharh Alfiyyah al-
Hadith li ‘l-‘Iraqi (Lucknow, N.D.), 1:278.
61 ‘Uthman b. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Dimashqi Ibn al-
Salah, ‘Ulum al-Hadith (commonly known as
Muqaddimah, ed. al-Tabbakh, Halab, 1350), p.
62 ‘Ali b. ‘Abdullah b. Ja’far Ibn al-Madini,
Kitab al-‘Ilal, p. 58. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani
mentions that the Imams of Hadith have agreed
that al-Hasan al-Basri did not hear a single
word from ‘Ali.
63 Sahih Muslim, 4:2149 (English transl.,
IV:1462, Sharh Nawawi, 17:133).
64 Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu’ Fatawa (37 vols., ed.
‘Abd al-Rahman b. Qasim & his son Muhammad,
Riyad, 1398), 18:18f. Ibn Taimiyyah mentions
that Imam Muslim’s authentication of this hadith
is supported by Abu Bakr al-Anbari & Ibn al-
Jauzi, whereas al-Baihaqi supports those who
disparaged it. Al-Albani says that it was Ibn
al-Madini who criticised it, whereas Ibn Ma’in
did not (the latter was known to be very strict,
both of them were shaikhs of al-Bukhari). He
further says that the hadith is sahih, and does
not contradict the Qur’an, contrary to the
probable view of the scholars who criticised the
hadith, since what is mentioned in the Qur’an is
the creation of the heavens and the earth in six
days, each of which may be like a thousand
years, whereas the hadith refers to the creation
of the earth only, in days which are shorter
than those referred to in the Qur’an (Silsilah
al-Ahadith as-Sahihah, no. 1833).
65 al-Dhahabi, p. 27.
66 al-Shafi’i, p. 370f (Eng. trans., pp. 239-
67 al-Dhahabi, p. 24.
68 al-Nawawi, Muqaddimah, p. 14.
69 al-Tibi, al-Husain b. ‘Abdullah, al-Khulasah
fi Usul al-Hadith (ed. Subhi al-Samarra’i,
Baghdad, 1391), p. 36.
70 ibid., p. 38.
71 al-Nawawi, Muqaddimah, p. 43.
72 al-Dhahabi, p. 26.
73 ibid., pp. 32-33.
74 al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no.
75 al-Jaza’iri, p. 149.
76 al-Sakhawi, 1:99.
77 al-Dhahabi, pp. 33-34.
78 ibid., p. 36.
79 al-Sakhawi, 1:264.
80 ibid., 1:275.
81 al-Nawawi, Taqrib, 1:275.
82 see Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Manar al-Munif fi ‘l-
Sahih wa ‘l-Da’if (ed. A.F. Abu Ghuddah, Lahore,
1402/1982), pp. 102-105 for a fuller discussion.
Ibn al-Qayyim mentions more than ten clear
indications of the forgery of the document,
which the Jews repeatedly attempted to use to
deceive the Muslims over the centuries, but each
time a scholar of Hadith intervened to point out
the forgery – such incidents occurred with Ibn
Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310), al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
(d. 463) and Ibn Taimiyyah (d. 728), who spat on
the document as it was unfolded from beneath its
silken covers.
83 Suhaib Hasan, Criticism of Hadith, pp. 35-44.
84 The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him
peace) allowed such narrations, but they are not
to be confirmed nor denied, except for what is
confirmed or denied by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
See e.g. An Introduction to the Principles of
Tafseer of Ibn Taimiyyah (trans. M.A.H. Ansari,
Al-Hidaayah, Birmingham, 1414/1993), pp. 56-58.
85 ibid., p. 156.
86 see Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah.
87 Fatawa Ibn Taimiyyah, 6:379-382.
88 Isma’il b. Muhammad al-‘Ijlouni, Kashf al-
Khafa’ (2 vols. in 1, Cairo/Aleppo, N.D.), no.
89 Al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Da’ifah, no.
90 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 2256.
91 Sahih al-Jami’ al-Saghir, no. 2163; Silsilah
al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, no. 1691.
92 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 2532; Al-Da’ifah, no.
93 Al-Da’ifah, no. 58.
94 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 1102; Al-Da’ifah, no.
95 Al-Sahihah, no. 1761.
96 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 2130.
97 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 618.
98 Da’if al-Jami’ al-Saghir, nos. 1410, 1416.
99 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 1078; Al-Da’ifah, no.
100 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 1665; Sahih al-Jami’ al-
Saghir, nos. 3913-4.
101 Al-Da’ifah, no. 416; Da’if al-Jami’ al-
Saghir, nos. 1005-6.
102 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 2276.
103 Kashf al-Khafa’, no. 1362.

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