Rules Governing the Criticism of Hadeeth

The Classification of Hadeeth - According to the nature of the text itself

Shadhdh (aloof) and munkar (rejected)

According to al-Shafi'i, a shaddhh hadith is one which is reported by a trustworthy person but goes against the narration of a person more authentic than him. It does not include a hadith which is unique in its contents and is not narrated by someone else. In the light of this definition, the well-known hadith,

"Actions are (judged) according to intentions", is not considered shadhdh since it has been narrated by Yahya b. Sa'id al-Ansari from Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Taimi from 'Alqama from 'Umar, all of whom are trustworthy authorities, although each one of them is the only reporter at that stage.

According to Ibn Hajar, if a narration which goes against another authentic hadith is reported by a weak narrator, it is known as munkar.

Traditionists as late as Ahmad used to simply label any hadith of a weak reporter as munkar.

Sometimes, a hadith is labelled as munkar because of its contents being contrary to general sayings of the Prophet. Al-Khatib (d. 463) quotes al-Rabi' b. Khaitham as saying

  "Some ahadith have a light like that of a day which is known to us. Some ahadith have darkness like that of night which makes us reject it." He also quotes al-Auza'i as saying, "We used to listen to ahadith and present them to fellow traditionists just as we present forged coins to a money-exchanger: whatever they recognise of them, we accept, and whatever they reject of them, we also reject."

Ibn Kathir quotes the following two ahadith in his Tafsir, the first of which is acceptable, while the second contradicts it and is unreliable:

(i) Ahmad === Abu Mu'awiya === Hisham b. 'Urwa --- Fatima bint al-Mundhir --- Asma' bint Abi Bakr, who said, "My mother came (to Madina) during the treaty Quraish had made, while she was still a polytheist. So I came to the Prophet and said to him, 'O Messenger of Allah, my mother has come willingly: should I treat her with kindness?' He replied, 'Yes! Treat her with kindness'."

(ii) Al-Bazzar === 'Abdullah b. Shabib === Abu Bakr b. Abi Shaiba === Abu Qatada al-'Adawi --- the nephew of al-Zuhri --- al-Zuhri --- 'Urwa --- 'A'isha and Asma', both of whom said, "Our mother came to us in Madina while she was a polytheist, during the peace treaty between the Quraish and the Messenger of Allah. So we said, 'O Messenger of Allah, our mother has come to Madina willingly. Do we treat her kindly?' He said, 'Yes! Treat her kindly'."

Ibn Kathir then remarks:

  "This (latter) hadith, to our knowledge is reported only through this route of al-Zuhri --- 'Urwa --- 'A'isha. It is a munkar hadith with this text because the mother of 'A'isha is Umm Ruman, who was already a Muslim emigrant, while the mother of Asma' was another woman as mentioned by name in other ahadith."

In contrast to a munkar hadith, if a reliable reporter is found to add something which is not narrated by other authentic sources, his addition is normally accepted as long as it does not contradict them; such an addition is known as ziyada thiqa (an addition by one trustworthy).

An addition by a Companion to the saying of the Prophet is termed mudraj (added). For example, al-Khatib relates via Abu Qattan and Shababa --- Shu'ba --- Muhammad b. Ziyad --- Abu Huraira --- The Prophet, who said,

  "Perform the ablution fully; woe to the heels from the Fire!"

Al-Khatib then remarks,

  "The statement, 'Perform the ablution fully' is made by Abu Huraira, while the statement afterwards, 'Woe to the heels from the Fire!', is that of the Prophet. The distinction between the two is understood from the narration of al-Bukhari, who transmits the same hadith and quotes Abu Huraira as saying, "Complete the ablution, for Abul Qasim said, 'Woe to the heels from the Fire!'."

Such an addition may be found in the beginning, in the middle, or at the end, in explanation of a term used. Idraj (addition) is mostly found in the text, although a few examples show that such additions are found in the isnad as well, where the reporter grafts a part of one isnad to another.

A reporter found to be in the habit of intentional idraj is generally unacceptable and considered a liar. However, the traditionists are more lenient towards such reporters who may do so forgetfully or in order to explain a difficult word.

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