Mustalah Al-Hadith (Classification Of 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
- 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 (Arabic) 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
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