The Classification of Hadith (Mustalah al-Hadith)
Hadith of the Week
“There are two blessings of which many people are wronged: health and free time.”
- Bukhari relates this hadith with two sanads.
- This hadith is related with two sanads (chains). One is through four people and the other is with three people. He mentions the shorter one first.
- This hadith is sahih.
Mustalah al-Hadith (continued)
The ultimate purpose of Mustalah al-Hadith is to see if a hadith is accepted or not accepted.
A hadith is classified based on the sanad. There are two types of sanad:
I. Mutawatir (consecutive) – a chain that has a large number of people in each tabaqah (stage) of that chain all relating the same hadith
Example: “Verily actions are judged by their intentions…”
i. This hadith has many, many narrations at every tabaqah. The tabi`in heard it from the sahabah. The tabi`in related it to their tabi`in. Therefore, this hadith will be narrated by several different people, but their sanad converges back to the same tabaqah of people.
ii. The Qur’an has come to us through such a process. The same Qur’an was transferred to a large number of people, which was then transferred to a larger number of people, to a larger number of people.
a. Tawatur lafDhi (literally) – everybody reported the same exact wording (ex. Qur'an)
b. Tawatur ma`nawiyy (in meaning) – different versions of the statement, but the meaning is the same.
i. Example: In one narration, “The example of the believer is like the example of the body…sleeplessness and fever.” And in another narration, “…fever and sleeplessness.”
II. AaHaad (plural of aHad) – anything other than mutawatir; it has only a few number of people at each level. There is a disagreement amongst scholars about how many are to be at each level in order for the hadith to be considered mutawatir. There are three types:
a. Mash-hur (common) – a hadith that is related by three to nine people and did not reach tawatur in any part of the chain
i. Example: “The Muslim is one whom Muslims are safe from his verbal and physical abuse.”
b. `Aziz (strong, rare, supported) – a hadith that was related by two people in any tabaqaha of the chain
i. Example: “None of you is a true believer until I am dearer to him than his children, his parents, and everybody else.”
c. Gharib (strange) – a hadith that was related by only one person at every tabaqah.
i. Example: “Verily actions are judged by their intentions…“ – `Umar ibn al-Khattab
Mainly, mustalah al-Hadith is not concerned with Mutawatir, simply because there is no need to study the chains of narration in this level of hadith. It is mainly concerned with ahadith that are aaHaad. It is divided into two categories:
I. Maqbul (accepted)
II. Mardud (rejected)
I. Sahih (authentic)
a. Sahih li dhatihi (authentic in and of itself)
b. Sahih li ghayrihi (authentic by another hadith) – a hadith in this section consists of one weak hadith, and one strong hadith that supports it.
II. Hasan (sound)
a. Hasan li dhatihi (sound in and of itself)
b. Hasan li ghayrihi (sound by another hadith)
III. Da`if (weak)
MawDu` (fabricated) – this is NOT a hadith, it is abrogated3
Notes taken by Mohammad Mertaban