Category Archives: Hadith

Types of Hadith collections (An introduction to Hadith part III )

Over centuries of inquiry and learning, the genres of Hadith compilation have diversified. This was due to shifts in the conditions and, consequently, necessities of society. Personally, I do not regard the advent of such classification as a form of expansion in this field. It is rather the organizing of information for various consumers. What concerns a Judge in deriving matters of the Deen does not necessarily concern the average citizen. It is thus important to learn the history and development of the various fields in Islam to give a more holistic understanding of the religion.

There are generally 11 genres of Hadith collections:

1. The Sahifah

These are the earlier collections of Hadith, written down by the companions during the lifetime of the Prophet Pbuh, or by their followers amongst the Tabi’in. Some of these collections are also considered Rasa’il (refer to no. 3).

Examples are the Sahifah of Abu Hurairah, which he taught and handed down to his student Hammam ibn Munabbih, as well as the Sahifah al-Sadiqah (as named by its author) by Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘As.

2.The Ajza’ (sing. Juzu‘)

There are 2 definitions to this category. The first refers to collections of traditions passed down on the authority of a single Sahaba or Tabi’in, which were then further developed into Musnads (refer to no. 5). The second refers to a collection of Ahadith pertaining to a single subject e.g, “Intention”.

3. The Rasa’il (sing. Risalah)

Similar to the Ajza’ are the Rasa’il – except that the Rasa’il are more specific in terms of subject matter. They are collections of Ahadith pertaining to one of the following 8 topics:

  1. Aqidah (beliefs)
  2. Ahkam (law)
  3. Ascetics, Mysticism or Piety
  4. Adab (Etiquette)
  5. Tafsir
  6. Tarikh or Seerah (History)
  7. Fitan (sing. Fitnah, meaning crises)
  8. Al-Manaqib and Al-Mathalib (the virtues and flaws of people and places)

The Rasa’il are also known as Kutub (books), of which many works by As-Suyuti and Ibn Hajar belong to.

4. The Sunan

The Sunan are collections of Ahadith that pertain solely to category (ii) of Rasa’il – law. Examples of this would be the works of Abu Daud, Nasa’I and Tirmizi.

5. The Musannaf

These are collections of Ahadith that pertain to most, or all of the categories of Rasa’il. Examples of this are the books of the Shaikhayn – Bukhari and Muslim, as well as the Muwatta‘ of Imam Malik.

6. The Jami’

A more complete version of the Musannaf is the Jami’, whereby all the topics in Rasa’il are addressed in entirety. For example, Sahih Muslim is considered a Musannaf but not a Jami’ like that of Imam Bukhari, because Sahih Muslim does not include traditions relating to all chapters of the Qur’an.

There is perhaps only one collection that fulfils this criterion. Originally known as Al-Jami’ Al-Musnad Al-Sahih Al-Mukhtasar min Umur al-Rasul wa Sunanihi wa Ayyaamihi, it has been popularized with a more simple name, Sahih Bukhari.

7. The Musnad

These are Ahadith collected based on the final authorities to whom they are related. For example, the Musnads of Abu Daud Tayalisi and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. This term was later used, in a more generic sense, to describe collections of reliable and sound Ahadith. The collectors of such traditions, however differ slightly in their method of arrangement. In some, the Ahadith are arranged according to their Isnad in alphabetical order. In others, the Ahadith are arranged based on the Thiqah (reliability) of the people in the Isnad, relative to when they embraced Islam and which events they took part in with the Prophet pbuh.

8. The Mu’jam

These are collections of Ahadith arranged in alphabetical order, on various bases. For example the geographical and biographical dictionaries of Yaqut are called Mu’jam al-Buldan and Mu’jam Udaba‘ respectively. If a Musnad was arranged in alphabetical order it becomes a Mu’jam. The Ahadith in the aforementioned are arranged according to the Shuyukh they were taken from in alphabetical order, regardless of their content. Examples of this are some works by At-Tabarani, Ibrahim ibn Isma’il and Ibn Al-Qani’.

9. The Mustadrak

Mustadraks are in a sense continuations of previous works. This happens when Ahadith that conform to the criteria of a certain work but were previously not included. The initial absence of these Ahadith are merely because the original collector unknowingly missed them out. An example is the Mustadrak Al-Hakim, which is a collection of Ahadith that fulfill the criteria Bukhari and Muslim.

10. The Mustakhraj

Similar to the Mustadrak, the Mustakhraj is another form of expansion to already established collections. This is when a later compiler finds new chains to previously recorded Ahadith. An example is the Mustakhraj of Abu Nu’aym Isfahani, in which he collected fresh isnads to Ahadith in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim.

11. The Arba’in (p. Arba’iniyyat)

Popularized by Imam Nawawi, this genre consists a collection of 40 Hadith of special interest to the writer. Another famous compiler of the Arba’in is Shah Wali Ad-Dihlawi.

[ abridged from ]

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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Hadith


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An introduction to Hadith (part II)

“فربَّ حامل الفقه لا فقه له, و ربّ حامل الفقه إلى من هو أفقه منه….”
“.. perhaps the one who passes the message does not comprehend it, and perhaps he will pass it to one who understands better..” (Hadith)

In a previous entry some weeks back was a very brief explanation of what a Hadith consists of and its various degrees of authenticity. It is best for a Muslim to have even the vaguest idea of what a Hadith is to guide him along the way – though this does not automatically make him a scholar. This is an error that many of us make and few are aware of.

In order to understand the requirements of the Sahih, for example, one must inquire the history of the Islamic oral tradition – the conditions in which it thrived, as well as its developments over centuries and centuries of civilization. It is mainly the ever-changing state of Muslims that has driven this field to become what we see today. The demand for precision and authenticity rose to a critical height as Islam spread over wide expanses of cultures, ethnicities and former beliefs.

According to the Muhadditheen (scholars of Hadith) the history of the Islamic oral tradition is generally divided into 7 eras. Each era has a certain nature of development. For example, the collections of Bukhari and Muslim did not appear until the 3rd era, which is roughly 3-4 centuries after the Prophet’s (Pbuh) death. This is because they were dependent on the developments of the preceding era, where the foundations of ‘Ulum al-Hadeeth were laid down. Examples of this are Al-Jarh wa At-Ta’deel and ‘Ilal Al-Hadeeth the inception of these owing to scholars like Shuhbah ibn Al-Hajjaj, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Mahdi and Imam Al-Zuhri. It is also in this second era that Imam Ash-Shafi’ee wrote his famous treatise on Usul al-Fiqh titled Al-Risalah, in which he also explains various criterions of accepting Hadith.

This entry will only focus on the first era. The rest will be explained in consequetive entries, insha-Allah.

The first era begins with the death of the Prophet (Pbuh) and ends simultaneously with the closure of the 4 Rightly Guided Caliphs’ honourable reign. The companions were all extremely cautious about expressively attributing anything to the Prophet (Pbuh). Because all of them have had direct experience with the Prophet (Pbuh) himself, their actions could be justified and directly traced back to him, where it mattered.

Where narrations were required, the companions were very strict and highly skeptical about Ahadith that they have never heard of before (and rightly so, because they spent the most time with the Prophet pbuh). In such a situation, they would require an oath or a witness to verify that the narration was true – even if it was between the 4 Khulafa’ themselves. An example of such an incident was when Sayyidina ‘Ali (r.a) accepted Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s (r.a) oath on the hadith, “Whomsoever performs ablution and then proceeds to perform 2 Raka’ah, Allah will forgive his sins”. This does not, in any way, allude to any inadequacy on Abu Bakr’s part. It only goes to show the strictness of the Sahaba at the time. The ones who were most stringent were the 4 companions themselves.

Relating to this, it should also be noted that not all Hadith is meant for public consumption. The Prophet (Pbuh) is very wise and gives specific advice to specific people. This means that one’s state, faith and piety are all precursors to the level of knowledge on which such advice is given. This is most common amongst the Ghareeb Hadith. An example is a Hadith narrated by Mu’az ibn Jabal, where the Prophet (Pbuh) said, “whoever proclaims ‘la ilaha illa Allah with a sincere heart, Allah will prevent him from falling into the fire”. Mu’az then asked the Prophet (Pbuh) if he could spread this to the others, which the Prophet (Pbuh) forbade him from doing, for fear that it might be misunderstood, and people would neglect their deeds upon hearing it.

And Allah knows.

Terms explained:

Al-Jarh wa At-Ta’deel : literally means ‘discrediting and accrediting’ – also known as ‘Ilm al-Rijal, meaning ‘knowledge of men’. This is a form of biographical evaluation used in discerning authenticity.

‘Ilal al-Hadeeth : literally means ‘flaws in Hadeeth’, a field first established by Imam Al-Zuhri, a renowned collector of Seerah (history).

Usul al-Fiqh: literally means ‘the origins of Fiqh’, focused on jurisprudence, and the methodology of deriving laws from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Ghareeb: Ahadith with only a single narrator at a point of transmission.

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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Hadith


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An introduction to Hadith (Part I)

this entry is merely the tip of the iceberg, written with the intention to give a general idea of this area of study. For further, in-depth information, do seek out an ‘alim on the subject.

[caution: this article contains many Arabic terms.]

The study of Hadith is one of the most extensive and excruciatingly detailed fields of study in Islam. It emphasizes greatly on verification and authenticity, and a lot of investigation has gone into the collections of Hadith that we see today. What is generally accepted amongst the Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaah are the Sunan Sittah (the 6 books of Sunnah, also known as Kutub as-Sihah), which comprises the Hadith collections of Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Nasa’i, Imam Abu Daud, Imam Ibn Majah and Imam Tirmidzi. These are collections of what are generally ranked as Sahih.

What most Muslims are unaware of, is that there are actually thousands of similar Hadith collections, owing to the fact that there are numerous categories of Hadith. This is also known as Mustalah al-Hadith (the categories of Hadith) which is mainly studied for judicial reasons. When the need for a new ruling on a certain matter arises, a stronger Hadith is preferable to be used as a basis to the ruling. Of course, complimentary to this, one is required to know other fields of study in relation to jurisprudence (e.g Usul al-Fiqh, Hadith al-Ahkam, Tarikh at-Tashri’ and so on) as well as other fields pertaining to the study of Hadith itself (e.g Ma’rifah al-Sahabah, al Nasikh wal Mansukh, Tabaqah at-Tabi’in to name a few).

Suffice to say, whether a Hadith is Sahih, Hasan or Dha’eef is mainly the concern of the Mujtahidun, or any council that’s concerned with the legal provisions of the Muslim society. For the general public (like you and I) to fuss over such matters, we will first have to study in-depth the above fields (as well as a long list of other subjects that were not mentioned) and master them.

Of course, it is always useful to know the basic, technical terms used in this field – purely for personal understanding and development. Some commonly used terms in relation to Hadith are as follows: –

Firstly, a Hadith generally comprises an Isnad (الإِسْنَاد ), a Matn (مَتْن ) and a Rawi(رَاوٍ ) .

The term I will be using here is Khabr (literally meaning news), because every Hadith is generally a form of relayed news via a chain of transmitters. For example, we may have:

حدثنا عثمان بن أبي شيبة, ثنا معاوية بن هشام, ثنا سفيان, عن أسامة بن زيد, عن عثمان بن عروة, عن عروة, عن عائشة, قالت: قال رسول الله (صلى الله عليه و سلم): ((إنّ الله و ملائكته يصلون على ميامن الصفوف)) – رواه ابن ماجه

We were informed by ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah, followed by Mu’awiyyah ibn Hisham, followed by Sufyan, from Usamah ibn Zayd, from ‘Uthman ibn ‘Urwah, from ‘Urwah, from ‘Aishah, who said, the Prophet (Pbuh) said, “verily Allah and His Angels send their blessings upon the dextropositioned rows” Reported by Ibn Majah

The names ‘Uthman ibn Abi Shaybah, all the way to ‘Aishah, are what we call the Isnad. These are the people in the chain of narrators concerned with passing on the Khabr. The actual content of the khabr is purely what was mentioned by the Prophet (pbuh) – “verily Allah … dextropositioned rows” – and this is called the Matn. The Rawi, on the other hand, is the person who collected and reported the Hadith, which is in this case, Ibn Majah.

There are also some very commonly used terms we encounter when reading Hadith, such as:

Sahih (صحيح )

This literally means correct, and is a Hadith of unquestionable authenticity. There are 5 requirements for a Hadith to be Sahih:

  1. The chain of narration has to be continuous, i.e, no person in the chain is skipped or hidden.
  2. The condition of the narrators must be stable at the time of transmission. Meaning, they have to be Muslim, matured, rational and not possess any questionable or doubtful character (e.g notorious sinners or apostates)
  3. The narration has to be precise – and, if not written down prior to the transmission, this requires a strong memory.
  4. It must not be in conflict with any other Daleel (source of reference, namely the Qur’an and Sunnah)
  5. There must not be any inadequacies in the narration (e.g slurs or imposed accents)

If a Hadith does not meet these 5 criteria, it will fall under either Hassan or Dha’eef, depending on how many requirements it fails to fulfil.

Hasan (حسن )

This is the second tier of Hadith, whereby every criteria of Sahih is met except for (c.) the matter of precision (according to the Muhaddith Ibn Hajr). However, because it is a midpoint between Sahih and Dha’eef, there are slight variations as to where exactly that midpoint lies. This definition is the most commonly used one. If a Hasan Hadeeth can be backed by another Hasan Hadeeth of similar content, it may be raised to Sahih.

Some collections of Hasan Hadith include Sunan Tirmidzi, Sunan Abi Daud and Sunan Daraqutni.

Dha’eef ( ضعيف )

There are many, many reasons for a Hadith to be Dha’eef (literally meaning weak). It could be due to a questionable personality in the chain of narration, or missing narrators, or a conflict with other narrations, or simply not enough transmitters at any point of narration, and so forth. Each reason is categorized by the nature of defect, ranked according to different degrees of severity, and given respective names to identify with. For example Mu’allaq, Mursal, Mu’dhal and Munqati’ are all used to describe different scenarios in which narrators are missing from the chain.

It should be noted here, however – that if under certain conditions a Dha’eef Hadith is backed by other narrations with similar content, it may be raised to Hasan.

Muttafaq ‘Alaih (مُتَّفَق عَلَيه )

Literally meaning “agreed upon”, this is a Hadith that has been collected by the Shaykhain (the two Shaykhs, namely Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim), with both narrations quoting the same Matn (content) and Isnad (chain of narrators), and both narrations collected as Sahih. If the Hadith is of the same Matn but taken from different chains of transmission, it is not Muttafaq ‘alaih, it is instead said to be akhrajahu ash-shaykhain (collected by the Shaykhain).

Mutawatir (مُتَوَاتِر )

This is a category of Hadith whereby there are many narrators at each level of transmission. There has been a difference of opinion of the minimum number of narrators for a Hadith to be Mutawatir, but the general opinion is 10. There are also other requirements for a Hadith to be Mutawatir. For example, the conditions of transmission and the state of the narrators must be so that it is impossible for them to connive in misrepresenting the narration. Also, the Hadith must be something physically experienced, thus it should begin with “we heard…” or “we saw…” and so on. A popular example of this would be Hadith Jibreel.


And Allah knows.

(for a continuation of this article click here)

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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Hadith



On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (R.A) from the Prophet (PBUH), who said:

“Allah (mighty and sublime is He) says:

‘Fasting is Mine and it is I Who give reward for it. (A man) gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for My sake.’ Fasting is like a shield, and he who fasts has two joys: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets his Lord. The change in the breath of the mouth of him who fasts is better in Allah’s estimation than the smell of musk”

[Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’I and Ibn Majah]

some recommendations of conduct and etiquette for fasting are (this is an abridged translation from Imam ash-Shafie’s Fiqh al-Manhaji) :

a. taking Sahur (pre-dawn meal) and delaying it – as well as hastening the Iftar (the breaking of fast). the Prophet (pbuh) said, “my Ummah  persists in goodness as long as they hasten the Iftar and delay the sahoor.”

b. abstaining from negative talk – this includes swearing, cursing, lying, backbiting, etc. in accordance to the hadith where the Prophet (pbuh) said,”whoever does not abandon false speech and his acting upon it, Allah has no use for his abandonment of his food and drink’

c. avoiding acts that deliberately (and substantially) depletes the body’s nourishment e.g cupping or any act that requires drawing blood from the body.

d. engaging in more suprerogatory acts. the Prophet (pbuh) was once asked,’o Messenger of Allah! which (type of) charity is preferred?’ the Prophet (pbuh) answered,’charity in Ramadhan’.

also, according to imam Al-Haddad, it is best to begin your mental and physical (e.g schedule arrangements to maximize time for ‘ibadah) preparations some time before the fasting actually starts.

Blessed Rejab to all.



Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Fiqh, Hadith, Qur'an, Ramadan


What we seek;


“Oh Allah,

I seek Your Counsel by Your Knowledge,

And I ask You from Your Immense Favour,

For Verily You are able while I am not,

And verily You know while I do not,

and You are the Knower of the unseen.

Oh Allah,

If You know this affair to be good for me

In my relation to my religion, my life, and end,

Then decree and facilitate it for me,

And bless me with it.

And if You know this affair to be ill for me

Towards my religion, my life, and end,

Then remove it from me and remove me from it,

And decree for me what is good wherever it be,

And decree for me what is good wherever it be,

And decree for me what is good… wherever it be,

And make me satisfied with such.”


This is the English translation of the Dua Al Istikharah ; which means The supplication to seek what is good. This is recited after the Istikharah prayer, which is a non-obligatory prayer that we perform when we are faced with tough decisions, stress, and such. I think many of us are familiar with it (: i obtained this translation from – Mishary recites the Dua so beautifully here.

Don’t stop asking for Allah’s guidance – we need it more than anything.

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Posted by on January 16, 2011 in Arabic, Fiqh, Hadith, Ramadan, Spirituality, Uncategorized