Part 5: The Hasan Hadeeth: Its definition and usage with the Scholars of Hadeeth

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The Hasan Hadeeth:

Definition: A report that fulfils the conditions of a Saheeh hadeeth except that one of its narrators or some of them are lesser than their counterparts in a Saheeh hadeeth in terms of precision (الضبط) yet that does not remove it from being used as an evidence in terms of its authenticity. And it is referred to as Hasan li-dhaatihi (الحسن لذاته).

More explanation of the terms: 

So it meets the conditions of Saheeh hadeeth in terms of:

  1. Its chain of narration (isnaad) leads back to the Prophet (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam). The chain of narration is connected all the way back to the Prophet (salallaahu`alaihi wassallam).
  2. The narrators are trustworthy.
  3. It is free from contradicting any narrations stronger than it.
  4. It is free from subtle or hidden defects.

What remains therefore is the condition of precision (ضبط) – and this is the distinguishing feature of this category. So the narrator in a hadeeth hasan is lesser in terms of precision than a narrator in a hadeeth saheeh. And this hadeeth is known by various terms applied to its narrators, such as:

  • Sudooq (truthful)
  • Laa b’as bihi (no problem with him)
  • Laysa bihi ba’s (with him there is no problem)
  • Thiqatun yukhti (reliable but makes mistakes)
  • Sudooq lahu awhaam (truthful but has errors)

Example: Ibn Qattaan in his Ziyaadah `ala Sunan Ibn Maajah (2744) from the route of Yahyaa Ibn Sa`eed from (عن) Amr Ibn Shu`ayb from his father from his grandfather that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said: “It is disbelief for a man to attribute himself to someone other than his father knowingly or to deny his connection to his father, even subtly.” Its isnaad is hasan.

In the chain of narration there is `Amr Ibn Shu`ayb Ibn Muhammad Ibn `Abdillaah Ibn `Amr Ibn al-`Aas. Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr said about him in at-Taqreeb (2/72): Sudooq. Due to this the hadeeth is rendered Hasan. 

Ibn Hajr stated in Nukhbatul-Fikr fee Mustalahi Ahlil-Athar with its explanation by the same author in Nuzhatun-Nadhr (p.29): “The aahaad narration transmitted by a reliable narrator, complete in precision, with a connected chain of narration, without hidden defects and without being contradictory, then that is a hadeeth saheeh li-dhaatihi (authentic in its own right) but if the precision [of a narrator in the chain] is lacking then it is hasan li-dhaatihi.”

When we define a hasan hadeeth, we do so assuming that it is hasan li-dhaatihi because that is was is intended by a hasan hadeeth. As for a hadeeth that is referred to as hasan li-ghayrihi then that is a weak hadeeth in its origin but it is raised to the level of hasan due to the gathering together of a number of routes of transmission.

Ruling of the Hadeeth Hasan: 

Its ruling is the same as the hadeeth saheeh in evidence even if it is lesser than saheeh in strength [as far as the isnaad is concerned]. For this reason it is considered as a proof with the scholars, and they act upon it – likewise the vast majority of the hadeeth scholars consider it to be a proof, except a few in opposition from the harsh ones. And there were some who were too lenient and considered the hasan to be saheeh.

Example of a hadeeth hasan:

Imaam at-Tirmidhee said: Qutaibah narrated to us that Ja`far Ibn Sulaimaan ad-Duba`ee narrated to us from Abu `Imraan al-Jawnee from Abu Bakr Ibn Abee Moosaa al-Ash`aree who said: I heard my father whilst he was in the presence of the enemy say: Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassalam) said: ((إِنَّ أَبْوَابَ الْجَنَّةِ تَحْتَ ظِلاَلِ السُّيُوفِ)) “Indeed the gates of Paradise are beneath the shade of swords.” Imaam at-Tirmidhee said regarding this hadeeth: It is hasan ghareeb. It is ruled as hasan because the four narrators are reliable (thiqaat) except Ja`far Ibn Sulaimaan ad-Duba`ee who is hasan in hadeeth (as cited by Ibn Hajr in Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb 2/96), so the hadeeth drops from saheeh to hasan.

The saying of the scholars: “This hadeeth has a saheeh isnaad” or “it has a hasan isnaad”:
  1. The saying of the muhadditheen: “This hadeeth has a saheeh isnaad” rather than their saying: “This hadeeth is saheeh.”
  2. Likewise their saying: “This hadeeth has a hasan isnaad” rather than their saying: “This hadeeth is hasan.”

This is because a hadeeth may have a saheeh isnaad or a hasan isnaad but not so the text (matn) of the hadeeth due to it contradicting what is stronger or it having a hidden defect. So it is as if the muhaddith when he says: “This hadeeth is saheeh” he is taking on the responsibility for us that the hadeeth has met all the five conditions of authenticity. However, if he says: “This hadeeth has a saheeh isnaad” then he is taking on the responsibility for us that the hadeeth has met three of the conditions, those being: a connected chain of narration, reliability of the narrators, and their precision. As for the absence of contradicting other stronger narrations, or the absence of hidden defects, then he does not take on that responsibility because it is not established/verified with him. However if a trusted and relied upon scholar of hadeeth limits himself to saying, “This hadeeth has a saheeh isnaad” and there is no mention of any hidden defect, then it is taken as being saheeh in text also because the origin is the absence of hidden defects and contradictions.

The meaning of the statement of at-Tirmidhee and others, “Hadeeth Hasan Saheeh.”

This term seems problematic at first glance because a hasan hadeeth falls short of being saheeh. So how does one gather between the two terms when it is known that they are of different degrees? The scholars have explained the intent of Tirmidhee in his usage of this terminology with several explanations. The best of those sayings is that which is mentioned by Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr and As-Suyootee agreed with it, and is summarised as follows:

  1. If the hadeeth has two chains of narration or more, then the meaning is: It is hasan in a chain, and saheeh in another chain.
  2. If there is only one chain of narration, then the meaning is: It is hasan with one group of scholars, and saheeh with another group of scholars.

So it is as if the author is pointing towards the fact that there is differing amongst the scholars in the ruling upon this hadeeth, or that he is undecided between which which ruling it most deserves.

Categorisation of Al-Baghawee of the hadeeth in “Al-Masaabeeh“:

Imaam Al-Baghawee used his own specific terminology in this work of his. He refers to any hadeeth in Bukhaaree or Muslim as saheeh; whilst any hadeeth in the four Sunan he refers to as hasan. This terminology is not in agreement with that which is utilised by the general body of the muhadditheen. This is because in the four Sunan there are hadeeth that are saheeh, hasan, da`eef and munkar. For this reason Ibnus-Salaah and An-Nawawee made mention of this matter.

The full name of the book is Masaabeeh as-Sunnah – the author gathered in it hadeeth taken from the two Saheehs, the four Sunan and the Sunan of ad-Daarimee. Al-Khateeb At-Tabreezee (d. 741) increased upon it and refined it, and re-classified many of the hadeeth and named it Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh. It has between 4,500 and 5,945 ahadeeth.

At-Tirmidhee and the Hadeeth Hasan:

The Jaami` of At-Tirmidhee (well known as Sunan at-Tirmidhee) is the origin of the usage of hasan – and he is the one who popularised this term in his book by using it plentifully.


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