Hadeeth: Rules for Acceptance and Transmission
The Condition for the Acceptance of Hadeeth
A Hadith must meet the following five criteria in order to be accepted in Islamic law as a
source of legal ordinance:
1. Continuity of the chain of transmitters (ittisal assanad):This chain of transmitters has to be unbroken in order for the Hadith to be acceptable. That is, none of the transmitters must be missing from the chain of narrators.
Furthermore, each transmitter must also have heard the Hadith in question directly from the transmitter before him. Knowledge of this is verified with the help of the biographical sciences of the science of Hadith.
2. The integrity ('adalah) of the transmitters:The integrity of the transmitters is established in terms of their out- ward observance of Islam. In other words, it is ascertained that they practice what is required of them by Islam and they are not known to engage in the doing of things which are forbidden. Again this precondition is verified through the biographical sciences of Hadith.
3. Soundness of memory of the transmitters:It must be verified through the biographical sciences of Hadith that each transmitter has a sound memory or that his books were accurate and that he only transmitted directly from his books.
4. Conformity of the Hadith:It is important that the Hadith conform with similar Hadiths on the same topics which are stronger than it. This conformity should be both in the chain of transmitters and the text. Non-conformity in the chain of transmitters for example, might be if one of the transmitters in the chain is different than in a stronger version of the same Hadith. Non-conformity in text would imply divergence in the meaning of this Hadith with one which is stronger.
5. The absence of defects ('illah) in the Hadith:A defect ('illah) in Hadith is defined as a hidden defect in the Hadith which takes away from its authenticity. A Hadith which has such a defect is one which appears to be free from defect at first while after investiga- tion it is discovered that it has a certain defect which would not be apparent without investigation. The defect can be in the chain of transmitters or in text or both.
Classification of Hadeeth
There are two distinct types of Hadith:
A. The recurrent Hadith (al-Hadith al-mutawatir):This type of Hadith is decisive in its certainty (qat'i thubut). There is no doubt that it actually came down from the Prophet (peace be upon him). There are four conditions which must be present for a Hadith to be of this category:
B. The non-recurrent Hadith (al-Hadith al-ahad):Any Hadith which is not recurrent (mutawatir) is called non-recurrent ('ahad). This category is divided into three sub-groupings according to the number of narrators of the Hadith:
** The non-recurrent Hadith is sub-divided into three more classifications regarding the beginning of the chain of transmitters:
** The non-recurrent Hadith is broken into three classifications regarding their acceptance as a source of Islamic Law:
C. Weakness in the Hadith due to lack continuity in the chain of transmitters.
D. Weakness in the Hadith due to lack of integrity ('adalah) in narrators.
4.1. Mudallas is the chain of "forged" transmitters.
This is a Hadith which the transmitter has transmitted from some other transmitter whom he has met but under whom he did not study, yet regarding whom he transmitted the Hadith in a way implying that he heard from him.
4.2. Forged regarding teachers (mudallas ash-shuyukh).
This is a Hadith in which the transmitter calls his teacher (shaikh) by nicknames other than the names by which he is well known.
4.3. Forged regarding the naming of transmitters (mudallas at-tasiyah).
This is a Hadith which is transmitted by a weak transmitter between trustworthy transmitters who met each other with the weak transmitter between them having deleted, so as not to be deleted.
E. Weakness due to the inaccuracy of the memories of the transmitters:
F. If the weakness is due to non-conformity of a Hadith then it is called "odd" (shadhdh).
G. Weakness in a Hadith because of a "defect" ('illah).In this case the Hadith is called "defective" (mu'all).
It has to be stressed that in Islamic Law only authentic (sahih) and good (hasan) Hadiths are used in deriving ordinance.