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Classifications of Hadith


A number of classifications of hadith have been made. Five of these classifications are shown in the figure [below], and are briefly described subsequently

1: According to the reference to a particular authority

Four types of hadith can be identified.

o Qudsi - Divine; a revelation from Allah (SWT); relayed with the words of the Prophet (PBUH).

o Marfu - elevated; a narration from the Prophet (PBUH), e.g. I heard the Prophet (PBUH) saying ...

o Mauquf- stopped: a narration from a companion only, e.g., we were commanded to ...

o Maqtu' - severed: a narration from a successor.

2: According to the links of Isnad - interrupted or uninterrupted

Six categories can be identified.

o Musnad - supported: a hadith which is reported by a traditionalist, based on what he learned from his teacher at a time of life suitable for learning; similarly - in turn - for each teacher until the isnad reaches a well known companion, who in turn, reports from the Prophet (PBUH).

o Mutassil - continuous: a hadith with an uninterrupted isnad which goes back only to a companion or successor.

o Mursal - hurried: if the link between the successor and the Prophet (PBUH) is missing, e.g. when a successor says "The Prophet said...".

o Munqati - broken: is a hadith whose link anywhere before the successor (i.e., closer to the traditionalist recording the hadith) is missing.

o Mu'adal - perplexing: is a hadith whose reporter omits two or more consecutive reporters in the isnad.

o Mu'allaq - hanging: is a hadith whose reporter omits the whole isnad and quotes the Prophet (PBUH) directly (i.e., the link is missing at the beginning). o

3: According to the number of reporters involved in each stage of Isnad

Five categories of hadith can be identified:

o Mutawatir - Consecutive: is a hadith which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.

o Ahad - isolated: is a hadith which is narrated by people whose number does not reach that of the mutawatir. It is further classified into:

o Mash'hur - famous: hadith reported by more than two reporters.

o Aziz - rare, strong: at any stage in the isnad, only two reporters are found to narrate the hadith.

o Gharib - strange: At some stage of the Isnad, only one reporter is found relating it.

4: According to the nature of the text and isnad

o Munkar - denounced: is a hadith which is reported by a weak narrator, and whose narration goes against another authentic hadith.

o Mudraj - interpolated: an addition by a reporter to the text of the hadith being narrated.

5: According to the reliability and memory of the reporters

This provides the final verdict on a hadith - four categories can be identified:

o Sahih - sound. Imam Al-shafi'i states the following requiremetts for a hadith, which is not mutawatir, to be acceptable "each reporter should be trustworthy in his religion; he should be known to be truthtul in his narrating, to understand what he narrates, to know how a different expression can alter the meaning, and to report the wording of the hadith verbatim, not only its meaning".

o Hasan - good: is the one where its source is known and its reporters are unambiguous.

o Da'if - weak: a hadith which fails to reach the status of hasan. Usually, the weakness is: a) one of discontinuity in the isnad, in which case the hadith could be - according to the nature of the discontinuity - munqati (broken), mu'allaq (hanging), mu'dal (perplexing), or mursal (hurried), or b) one of the reporters having a disparaged character, such as due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes, opposition to the narration of more reliable sources, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity surrounding his person.

o Maudu' - fabricated or forged: is a hadith whose text goes against the established norms of the Prophet's sayings, or its reporters include a liar. Fabricated hadith are also recognized by external evidence related to a discrepancy found in the dates or times of a particular incident.