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Science of Hadith (An Introduction)

SECTION A: INTRODUCTION

The Muslims are agreed that the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (S) is the second of the two revealed fundamental sources of Islam, after the Glorious Qur'an. The authentic Sunnah is contained within the vast body of Hadith literature.

A hadith (pl. ahadith) is composed of two parts: the matn (text) and the isnad (chain of reporters). A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic isnad with reliable reporters to be acceptable; 'Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak (d. 181 AH), one of the illustrious teachers of Imam al-Bukhari, said:

“The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said whatever he liked.”

During the lifetime of the Prophet (S) and after his death, his Companions (Sahabah) used to refer to him directly, when quoting his saying. The Successors (Tabi'un) followed suit; some of them used to quote the Prophet (S) through the Companions while others would omit the intermediate authority - such a hadith was .later known as mursal. It was found that the missing link between the Successor and the Prophet (S) might be one person, i.e. a Companion, or two people, the extra person being an older Successor who heard the hadith from the Companion. This is an example of how the need for the verification of each isnad arose. Imam Malik (d. 179) said, "The first one to utilize the isnad was Ibn Shihab al Zuhri" (d. 124). The other more important reason was the deliberate fabrication of ahadith by various sects which appeared amongst the Muslims, in order to support their views (see later, under discussion of maudu' ahadith). Ibn Sirin (d. 110), a Successor, said, "They would not ask about the isnad: But when the fitnah (trouble, turmoil, esp. civil war) happened, they said: Name to us your men. So the narrations of the Ahl al¬Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah) would be accepted, while those of the Ahl al-Bid 'ah (Adherents to Innovation) would not be accepted. " Buy this Book

A brief history of Mustalah al-Hadith

As time passed, more reports 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 Hadith).

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'l (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 by them.

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 'lim 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. (continued on page 13) Buy this Book

 

 

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