Islam religion
Monday, 28 March 2011

What's saheeh hadeeth? isnaad ?

Praise be to Allaah.

The phrase “saheeh hadeeth” may refer to one of two things:

In general terms it includes those which are mutawaatir (narrated from so many by so many in each stage of transmission that it is inconceivable that they could all have agreed upon a lie), saheeh li dhaatihi (sound in and of itself), saheeh li ghayrihi (sound because of corroborating evidence) and hasan (good).

Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said:

Most of the scholars of hadeeth do not differentiate between hasan and saheeh.

 End quote

 from al-Nukat (1/480).

a saheeh hadeeth is one which is narrated by men of good character, who are known for their good memories and precision, with a continuous isnaad, and is not odd or faulty.

If the precision is lacking and is not complete, then it is hasan li dhaatihi (hasan in and of itself). If it has a number of isnaads, then it is saheeh li ghayrihi (saheeh because of corroborating evidence).

See Nakhbat al-Fikr by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him).

The muhaddithoon state that the saheeh hadeeth which is most likely attributable to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is the hadeeth which fulfils all of the five following conditions:

1 – Good character of all its narrators


2 – Good memory and precision on the part of narrators with regard to what they are narrating.


3 – Continuous isnaad from beginning to end, meaning that each narrator heard the hadeeth from the one before him.


4 – The hadeeth is free from any oddness in its isnaad or text. What is meant by “odd” is anything in which the narrator narrates something that contradicts the narration of a sounder narrator.


5 – The hadeeth is free from faults in its isnaad and text. A “fault” is a subtle problem that undermines the soundness of the hadeeth, which can be detected only by the well versed scholars of hadeeth.

The definition of these conditions came about as the result of the later imams studying the words of the scholars of hadeeth and their applications.

Hence you may find things in the words of the earlier scholars which point to these conditions.

For example: Imam al-Shaafa’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Risaalah (370-371):

Evidence cannot be established on the basis of a report narrated by a few unless several factors are present, such as:

The one who narrated it is trustworthy in his religious commitment, known to be truthful in his speech, understanding what he narrates, and knowledgeable about the wording and possible interpretation of the hadeeth; and he should be one of those who can narrate the hadeeth exactly as he heard it, not based on the meaning but with the exact wording, because if he if narrated on the basis of meaning and not with the exact wording, and he does not have knowledge of possible interpretations, he may inadvertently change what is halaal into haraam. But if he narrates it exactly, there is no fear that it may be changed.

And he should know the hadeeth very well, if he is narrating from memory or he should take get care of his book if he is narrating from his book. If he checks what he knows with the scholars of hadeeth, he should be in agreement with them, and he should not be mudallis, i.e., one who narrates from one who met (a narrator) but did not hear it from him, or who narrates from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) something that contradicts the narration of authentic scholars from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The same must be true for the narrators who came before him (in the isnaad), who narrated it to him, until the hadeeth ends with an uninterrupted chain all the way back to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or to the one who narrated it from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). End quote.

If all these conditions are met then a hadeeth is saheeh according to scholarly consensus, as was narrated by Ibn al-Salaah (may Allaah have mercy on him).

See: al-Muqaddimah fi ‘Uloom il-Hadeeth (8) and al-Dhahabi in al-Mooqidah, (24).

Some of the scholars did not list all these conditions:

Imam Maalik and Abu Haneefah accepted mursal hadeeth, which is compromising the condition of having a continuous isnaad all the way to the source of the hadeeth.

Some scholars accepted mudallas hadeeth even if the narrators did not state that they heard it.

Al-Dhahabi said in al-Mooqidah (24): The scholars of hadeeth added a condition that the hadeeth should be free from any oddness or fault. This is subject to further discussion according to the principles of the fuqaha’, because many of what may be considered as faults are not accepted as such by them.

See: Tadreeb al-Raawi (1/68-75, 155).

What is meant is that the scholars’ differences with regard to classing ahaadeeth as saheeh are due to two reasons:

1 – Their differences regarding some of the conditions of soundness. That is because those who compromised on some of these conditions were bound to class as saheeh reports that others did not class as saheeh.

2 – Their differences in applying these conditions to a specific hadeeth. They may differ as to the good character of some narrators or whether the isnaad is uninterrupted and so on.

It should be noted that these conditions are based on evidence from sharee’ah and evidence based on reason. These conditions are not just a ritualistic procedure, rather they are rational and serve a clear purpose. They are no less than the result of the efforts of thousands of scholars and the result of the tremendous efforts of the earlier scholars of hadeeth during the long years when the books of hadeeth were being compiled in the first three centuries and those who came after them.

Anyone who wishes to know more may read the book by al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi entitled al-Kifaayah fi ‘Ilm al-Riwaayah

What is the difference between a saheeh hadeeth and a hadeeth whose isnaad is saheeh?.

We talked about the conditions of a saheeh hadeeth .let's see What is the difference between a saheeh hadeeth and a hadeeth whose isnaad is saheeh?.

The fourth and fifth conditions are among the most precise of conditions and the most difficult for the critic, because proving them required intense research and precision, bringing together all the isnaads and narrations of the hadeeth, as well as extensive experience in the sciences of hadeeth and specialization in criticism. Hence many of the later muhadditheen chose to err on the side of caution in their verdicts, and they limited their studies to checking the outward appearance of the isnaad to check whether it met the first three conditions, so if a specific isnaad met these three conditions they would say “a saheeh isnaad”, so as to alert the reader to the fact that they were only verifying that it met the first three conditions, and not the fourth and fifth, so that the reader would be aware of what this muhaddith meant.

Al-Haafiz ibn al-Salaah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

When they say “This hadeeth has a saheeh isnaad or a hasan isnaad” instead of “this is a saheeh hadeeth or a hasan hadeeth”, that is because it may be said that this hadeeth has a saheeh isnaad but it is not saheeh per se because it is shaadhdh (odd) or mu’allal (faulty). End quote.

Muqaddimah fi ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth (p. 23)

Ibn Katheer says:

The fact that the isnaad is deemed to be saheeh or hasan does not necessarily mean that the same applies to the text, because it may be shaadhdh (odd) or mu’allal (faulty). end quote.

Ikhtisaar ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth (p. 43).

Al-‘Iraaqi said in his Alfiyyah:

The ruling that the isnaad is saheeh or hasan does not necessarily apply to the text. End quote.

Al-Tabsirah wa’l-Tadhkirah (1/107).

Nevertheless, there may be an exception to this differentiation if it is known that a particular imam does not make this distinction between the two terms “a saheeh isnaad” and “a saheeh hadeeth” in his terminology. An imam – especially if he is one of the earlier scholars – may say “a saheeh isnaad” when he means that the hadeeth itself is saheeh, and that it meets all five conditions.

Al-Haafiz Ibn al-Salaah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

But a reliable scholar may say in his book “it has a saheeh isnaad” and not mention any ‘illah (fault), or criticize it, so it may be understood that he deems it to be saheeh in and of itself, because the absence of any ‘illah (fault) or qaadih (flaw) is the basic principle. And Allaah knows best. End quote.

Muqaddimah fi ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth (p. 23).

Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

It seems to me that the correct view is that a distinction should be made between the one who differentiates when describing hadeeth as saheeh, stating it in either specific or general terms, and the one who does not do so.

The one who is known from studying his books to make this distinction should be viewed accordingly, so when he speaks in general terms it should be understood as referring to both the isnaad and the matn, and when he speaks in specific terms it should be understood as referring to the isnaad only.

And it maybe said concerning the one who is known to describe hadeeth only in specific terms all the time what we quoted above. End quote.

Al-Nukat ‘ala Ibn al-Salaah (1/474).

And Allaah knows best.

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