Part 4: Hadeeth Science and Literature: Conditions of a Saheeh Hadeeth; Definitions: Musnad, Musannaf, Mu’jam, Sunan, Jaami’, etc.

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2.0 The Accepted Report

Books hadeeth

The categories of the accepted report (al-khabr al-maqbool):

The two major categories of an accepted report are: Saheeh (“sound”) and Hasan (“good”). Each of these is further divided, such that we have four categories:

  1. Saheeh li-dhaatihi (“sound” by itself without requiring support)
  2. Saheeh li-ghairihi (“sound” due to support of other chains and narrations)
  3. Hasan li-dhaatihi (“good” by itself without requiring support)
  4. Hasan li-ghairihi (“good” due to support of other chains and narrations)

Each of these has their own detailed definitions.

2.1 As-Saheeh (the “sound” narration):

Definition: a) Linguistically “saheeh” means that which is sound and healthy free from poor health and sickness and deficiency. b) In the sciences of hadeeth it refers to that narration which has a connected chain of narration back to its source, with reliable/trustworthy narrators at every level of the chain of narration, who are precise/accurate in what they narrate, whilst at the same time it does not contradict a report reported by stronger narrators, and without there being any hidden defects.

2.2 More detailed definition of the Saheeh report:

So for a report to be considered “saheeh” it must meet five conditions:

  1. Itiśāl as-Sanad: (A fully connected chain of narration): This means that each narrator in the chain of narration took directly from the one before him, and he in turn took the narration directly from the one before him and so on from the beginning of the sanad (chain of narration) till its end.
  2. `Adālatur-Ruwāt: (Trustworthiness/reliability of the narrators): That every narrator can be described (after research) to be a Muslim, adult, free from major sins (and one who does not commit sins openly), and the narrator cannot be one who possesses bad manners and hateful habits (ghairu makhroom al-maroo’ati). So the narrator should be known for piety (taqwaa), free from shirk, open sins, and innovations (bid`ah). See “Nuzhatun-Nadhr” p.51.
  3. Dabt ar-Ruwāt: That every narrator in the chain is precise and accurately reports what he took from the narrator before him. This can be done in two ways: a) either accurately reporting what has been memorised (dabt aś-śadr) or, b) accurately reporting what he has written down (dabt al-kitāb).
  4. `Adam ash-Shudhoodh: (absence of contradiction of that which is stronger): Meaning that the hadeeth cannot contradict another hadeeth that has been reported by narrators that are more trustworthy and greater in precision.
  5. `Adam al-`Illah: (absence of hidden defects): This is where there maybe a subtle hidden defect that deems the hadeeth as being inauthentic – whilst on the surface it may seem sound.

If any one or more of these conditions (shuroot) is absent then the hadeeth cannot be considered as “saheeh”.


Dabt aś-śadrThat he memorises by heart to such accuracy that he is able to recall whenever he wishes precisely what he heard from his sheikh (i.e. his teacher).

Dabt al-kitāb: This is where a narrator has written down precisely the hadeeth or reports that he had heard [directly] from his sheikh and his sheikhs- and his written words are preserved/protected from mistakes and additions that could have been added. This can be done by verifying his writing with his shaikhs or with other relied upon writings.

2.3 Example of a saheeh hadeeth – showing that the conditions have been met:

Bukhārī reports in his “Saheeh” (6367) saying:

حَدَّثَنَا مُسَدَّدٌ، حَدَّثَنَا الْمُعْتَمِرُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبِي قَالَ، سَمِعْتُ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يَقُولُ كَانَ نَبِيُّ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْهَرَمِ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ فِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَاتِ ‏”‏‏.‏

Musaddad narrated to us, who said: Mu`tamir narrated to us, who said: I heard my father say: I heard Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallaahu `anhu) saying: Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) would say:

“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and the inability of old age, and I seek refuge with You from the punishment of the grave, and I seek refuge with You from the afflictions and trials of life and death.”

So this hadeeth has met all of the necessary conditions for it to be declared as saheeh:

  1. Its chain of narration (the isnaad) leads back to the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam): Anas Ibn Maalik heard from the Prophet: Sulaimaan Ibn Tarkhaan (who is the father of Mu`tamir) heard directly from Anas; And Mu`tamir heard directly from his father; And Musaddad related directly from Mu`tamir; and Imām al-Bukhaaree related it directly from his sheikh who is Musaddad. So the isnaad is connected.
  2. Both trustworthiness and accuracy of transmission of the report is established from all of the narrators: a) Anas Ibn Maalik (radiyallaahu `anhu) is a Companion and the trustworthiness of all the Companions is established by the Qur’aan, Sunnah and ijmaa` without further investigation. b) Sulaimaan Ibn Tarkhaan, the father of Mu`tamir: Reliable/trustworthy worshipper (thiqatun `aabid) c) Mu`tamir: Reliable (thiqah). d) Musaddad Ibn Musar-had: Reliable, expert memoriser (thiqatun haafidh). e) Muhammad Ibn Ismaa`eel Al-Bukhaaree, the author of the “Saheeh”: Tremendous memoriser, the leader of the faithful in the field of hadeeth (jabalul-hifdh, ameerul-mu’mineen fil hadeeth).
  3. (Precision, see point 2)
  4. This hadeeth does not oppose any narration that is stronger than it.
  5. It carries no hidden defects.

For this reason Imaam Al-Bukhaaree included this narration in his “Saheeh”.

If a hadeeth is declared “ghairu saheehin” then it means that the five conditions or at least some of them have not been fulfilled.

2.4 The responsibility of a Muslim towards a Hadeeth Saheeh:

The ruling of acting upon a Saheeh narration: It is obligatory (waajib) to act upon a narration that is saheeh – and that is the consensus (ijmaa`) of the scholars of Hadeeth and Sunnah, as well as all those who opinion is of worth from the scholars of usool and fiqh. It is a proof in the religion and it is not permitted for a Muslim to leave off acting upon it. It is accepted in both `aqeedah and other rulings by consensus.

2.5 The first of those to compile the Prophet’s Hadeeth:

The first person to compile and gather together the noble Prophetic narrations was Muhammad Ibn Muslim Ibn `Ubaidillaah Ibn Shihaab Az-Zuhree al-Madanee (d. 124AH rahimahullaah). Saalih Ibn Kaysaan (rahimahullaah) said:

“Myself and Zuhree came together to seek knowledge. We said: Let us pen down the Sunan, so we wrote that which was narrated from the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam).

Then Zuhree said: ‘Let us write down narrations from his Companions for that is Sunnah.’ I said: ‘It is not Sunnah so let us not write that.’ So Zuhree wrote and I did not – and he was successful and I lost out.”

(Narrated by Ibn Sa`d in his “At-Tabaqaat”; Abu Nu`aym in “Al-Hilyah” and Al-Khateeb in “Taqyeedul-`Ilm”.)

When the noble Khaleefah, `Umar Ibn `Abdul-`Azeez (d.102H, rahimahullaah) feared that knowledge would disappear by the death of those who carried it, he sent Abu Bakr Ibn Muhammad Ibn `Amr Ibn Hazm to gather the hadeeth of Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam), saying to him:

“Look to what is from the hadeeth of Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) and Sunnah and write them down for I fear the loss of knowledge and the passing away of the scholars.”

(Reported by Ibn Sa`d and Al-Khateeb and ad-Daarimee in his “Sunan”)

He also said:

“Take from Ibn Shihāb for you will not find anyone more knowledgeable of the Sunnah that has passed than him.”

Then after Zuhree, during the second century, there occurred the gathering of the Prophetic Hadeeth under chapter headings by the likes of Ibn Juraij (d.150H), Hushaym, Imaam Maalik (d.179H), Ma`mar (153H), Ibn al-Mubaarak (181H) and others.

Thereafter the gathering of hadeeth continued with vigor through various methods: Masānīd (plural of Musnad), Musannafāt (plural of Musannaf), the Sihāh (plural of Saheeh), the Jawāmi` (plural of Jāmi`), the Mustakharajāt (plural of Mustakhraj). As-Suyootee said in his “Alfiyah”, p. 8:

“The first to gather the hadeeth and athar was Ibn Shihaab when commanded to do so by `Umar; The first to gather the narrations under chapter headings was a group in their time such as Ibn Juraij, Hushaim, Mālik, Ma`mar and the son of Al-Mubārak.”

2.6 Definitions of authorships and works in hadeeth:

Musnad (pl. Masānīd): A book wherein the author places the ahaadeeth under the names of the Companions who narrate them without giving consideration to the topic that is related to the hadeeth; e.g. “Musnad Imaam Ahmad” – and authenticity and weakness of narrations is not considered in these compilations.

Musannaf (pl. Musannafāt): An authorship wherein the compiler gathers ahaadeeth which are marfoo` (ascribed to the Prophet), mawqoof (ascribed to the Companions) and maqtoo` (ascribed to the taab`een); meaning that it contains the Prophetic ahaadeeth, the sayings of the Companions and the sayings of the Taabi`een and the Salaf. The narrations are ordered under subject headings such as: Purification, Prayer, etc. – and it is not necessary that the narrations are authentic. Examples are the Musannafs of Abu Bakr Ibn Abee Shaybee (235H) and Abdur-Razzaaq As-San`aanee (211H).

Saheeh (pl. Sihāh): A compilation wherein the author intends to gather what is authentic from the ahādeeth and to avoid what is weak and inauthentic. These authors compile their works under subject headings, such as the “Saheehs” of Al-Bukhāree (d. 256H), Muslim (d. 261H) and Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311H).

Sunan (sing. Sunnah): These are hadeeth books compiled in accordance to subject headings – the authors did not limit themselves to only authentic narrations – rather they would include in their writings weak and inauthentic narrations too, such as the “Sunan” collections of An-Nasā’ee (d. 303H), Ibn Mājah (d. 273H) and Abu Dāwood (d. 275H).

Mu`jam (pl. Ma`ājim): Here the authors gather on the basis of the narrations reported by the Sahābah or their sheikhs wherein an author will bring the narrations reported by each sheikh or each Companion one by one – without looking at the subject matter or authenticity; e.g. the work “Al-Awsat” of At-Tabarānee. He gathered narrations in it under the headings of his sheikhs. In his work “Al-Kabeer” he gathered what was easy for him of narrations under the heading of each Companion and what he narrated.

Jāmi` (pl. Jawāmi`): A book wherein the author mentions every subject under its own chapter heading: `aqeedah, various types of worship (salāh, siyām, zakāt, etc), manners, conduct, biographies, tafseer, etc – example: “Al-Jāmi` as-Saheeh” of Al-Bukhāree (d.256H) and “Al-Jāmi`” of At-Tirmidhee (d. 279H).

Mustakhraj (pl. Mustakharajāt): The author takes a book of hadeeth and brings independent chains of narrations for the same ahādeeth from himself that are other than those brought by the author of the original compilation – so he comes together with the original author in his sheikh or someone further up in the chain of narrations. There are benefits in these compilations as mentioned by As-Suyootee in “At-Tadreeb” (p.115-116) such as: he may come across a shorter chain of narration between the original author and the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam); or he may come across a narration with added information that the original author did not have in his narration; also additional chains strengthen the authenticity a of a hadeeth. E.g. “Al-Mustakhraj” of Abu Bakr Al-Ismā`īlī on “Saheeh Al-Bukhāree”; “Al-Mustakhraj” of Abu `Awānah Al-Isrāfīyīnee (d. 316H) on “Saheeh Muslim”; “Al-Mustakhraj” of Abu Nu`aym Al-Asbahānee (d. 430H) on both Bukhāree and Muslim.

Mustadrak: A book wherein the author gathers ahādeeth that he holds belong to another book due to those ahādeeth meeting the conditions set by the original author, such as “Al-Mustadrak `Alas-Saheehayn” by Abu Abdullāh Al-Hākim (d. 405H).


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