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Overview of Shari’a, Sunnah and the Science of Hadith  - Part 6

Classification of Hadiths

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Classification of Hadiths

As state earlier the two fundamental sources of Islamic doctrine and practice are the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Muslims regard the Holy Quran as the primary source of their religion. The Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (sws) is known through Hadiths which are statements, narrations etc. of different people including commoners to nobles regarding teachings of the Holy Prophet or his sayings or actions on differents occassion. There are hundreds of thousands of statements and not all of them are treated authentic or applicable to us. Hadiths merely give us historical background and knowledge of sunnah and different sects rely on different collections of Hadiths. Unlike the Quran, Hadith is not considered infallible.

Different scholars have classified Hadiths in different ways. This is done usually according to the reference to a particular authority, the names and links of the narrators in the isnad, the number of reporters in each stage of the isnad, the manner in which the hadith is reported, the nature of the text and isnad, a latent defect found in the isnad or text of a hadith, the authenticity and reliability of the memory of the reporters etc. 

According to Hafiz Ibne Hajar’s Balaghul Maram Hadiths are classified according to their reliability as follow:

  1. Sahih: These are unbiased Hadith narrated by honest, pious, God fearing and trustworthy persons of sound character and dependable memory and staunch faith in Islam with utmost conviction for their veracity.
  2. Hasan: These Hadith narrated by persons of the above-mentioned qualification but having memory and conviction slightly below the above category.
  3. Zaif: These Hadith are not considered quite reliable for different reasons such as qualification of different narrators in the chain of narrators cannot be established beyond doubt.
  4. Maqlub: When a contradictory Hadith is found or two or more narrations on the same subject are at considerable variance.
And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the
Scripture was, nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo!
thou verily dost guide unto a right path, 
042.052 


Hadiths are statements, narrations etc. of different people
including commoners to nobles regarding teachings of the 
Holy Prophet or his sayings or actions on differents occassion.
There are hundreds of thousands of statements and not all of them are treated authentic or applicable to us. Hadiths merely give us historical background and knowledge of sunnah and different sects rely on different collections of Hadiths .

According to the abovementioned book Hadiths are also classified as,
  1. Mutwatir: It is that Hadith which has been narrated by many times by many trustworthy persons from generation to generation and about which all doubts have been dispelled.
  2. Akhbar Ahad: It is that Hadith which has been narrated by fewer trustworthy persons at all times than Mutwatir and its source is not in doubt.
  3. Mashhur: It is that Akhbar Ahad that is narrated by three or more reliable persons at all times.: 
 For detailed discussion please see the following web site.
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/scienceofhadith/atit.html
An Introduction to the Science of Hadith
Suhaib Hassan, Al-Quran Society, London


 
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