A Brief History Of Mustalah Al-Hadith (Classification Of 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
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
- 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-
- 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
- Taujih al-Nazar of Tahir al-Jaza'iri (d.
1338), a summary of al-Hakim's Ma'rifah.
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