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The Classification of Hadeeth

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Classification according to the link in the isnad: (i.e. whether the chain of reporters is interrupted or uninterrupted) They are.....

  • 1-Musnad (supported)
  • 2-muttasil (continuous)
  • 3-Munqati’ (broken)
  • 4-mu’allaq (hanging)
  • 5-Mu’dal (perplexing)
  • 6-mursal (hurried).

1- Musnad (supported)
Al-Hakim defines a Musnad (supported) Hadeeth as follows:
“A Hadeeth which a narrator reports from his teacher from whom he is known to have heard Hadeeth at a time of life suitable for learning, and similarly in turn for each teacher, until the Sanad reaches a well-known Companion, who in turn reports from the Prophet .

Muhammed b. Abdullah al-Hakim, Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al-Hadeeth (Cairo - 1937) p.17

Al-Hakim gives the following definition of a Musnad Hadeeth:
We reported from Abu ‘Amr ‘Uthman b. Ahmed al-Sammak al-Baghdadi --- Al-Hasan b.Mukarram --- Uthman b. Amr ---  Yunus --- al-Zuhri --- Abdullah b. Ka’b b. Malik --- from his father, who asked Ibn Abi Hadrad for a payment of a debt he owed to him, in the mosque. During the ensuing argument, their voices were raised until heard by the Messenger of Allaah , who eventually lifted the curtain of his appartment and said, “O Ka’b! Write off a part of your debt” - he meant remission of a part of it. So he agreed and the man paid off.

Al-Haakim then remarks,
“Now my hearing from Ibn al-Simak is well-known, as is from Ibn Mukarram; al-Hasan’s link with Uthman b. Amr and the latter’s with Yunusb. Zaid are known as well. Yunus is always remembered with az-Zuhree, and the latter with the sons of Ka’b b. Malik, whose link to their father and his companionship of the Prophet  are well-established.”

Muhammed b. Abdullah al-Hakim, Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al-Hadeeth (Cairo - 1937) p.17

The term musnad is also applied to those collections of ahadith which give the Hadeeth  of each Companion separately. Among the early compilers of such a Musnad were Yahya b. ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Himmani (d. 228) at Kufah and Musaddad b. Musarhad (d. 228) at Basrah. The largest existing collection of ahadith of Companions arranged in this manner is that of Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241), which contains around thirty thousand ahadith. Another larger work is attributed to the famous Andalusian

Mursal  - Munqati’ - Mu’dal  - Mu’allaq

If in the Sanad of a perticular Hadeeth, the link between the Successor (Tabi’ee) and the Prophet  is missing, the Hadeeth is Mursal (hurried), eg. when a Successor (Tabi’ee) says, “The Prophet said .....”

However, if a link anywhere before the Successor (i.e. closer to the Muhaddith recording the Hadeeth) is missing, the Hadeeth is Munqati’ (broken). This applies even if there is a apparent link (e.g. The Sanad is continuous but one of the narrators is known to have never heard Hadeeth from his immidiate authority, even though he may be his contemporary). The term Munqati’ is also applied by some scholars to a narration such as, where a reporter says, “a man narrated to me ....”, without naming his authority.

Jalal ad-Din al-Suyuti, Tadrib al-Raawi (Cairo - 1379/1959). 1:197

If the number of consequtive missing reporters in the Sanad exceeds one, the Sanad is Mu’dal. If the reporter omits the whole Sanad and quotes the Prophet  directly the Hadeeth is called Mu’allaq (hanging) It is sometimes known as balaghah (to reach); eg. Imaam Maalik sometimes says in al-Muwatta’, “It has reached me that the Messenger of Allaah said ......”.

To Summarize

The Muhaddith > Link A 2 >
Link B
3 >
Link C
4 >
Link D
A Sahabee  >
Link E
The Prophet 

If Link E is missing, the Sanad (chain) is Mursal.
If Link B or C is missing, the Sanad (chain) is Munqati’.
If both Link B and C are missing, the Sanad (chain) is Mu’dal.
If Links B, C, D and E all are missing, the Sanad (chain) is Mu’allaq

Example of a Munqati’ Hadeeth
Al-Hakim reported from Muhammad b. Mus’ab --- al-Auza’i --- Shaddad Abu ‘Ammar ---  Umm al-Fadl bint al-Harith, who said: I came to the Messenger of Allaah  and said, “I have seen in a vision last night as if a part of your body was cut out and placed in my lap.” He said, “You have seen something good. Allah Willing, Fatimah will give birth to a lad who will be in your lap.” After that, Fatimah gave birth to al-Husain, who used to be in my lap, in accordance with the statement of the Messenger of Allah . One day, I came to the Messenger of Allah  and placed al-Husain in his lap. I noticed that both his eyes were shedding tears. He said, “Jibril came to me and told me that my Ummah will kill this son of mine, and he brought me some of the reddish dust of that place (where he will be killed).”

Al-Hakim said, “This is a sahih Hadeeth according to the conditions of the Two Shaykhs (i.e. Bukhari & Muslim), but they did not collect it.” Al-Dhahabi says, “No, the hadith is munqati’ and da’if, because Shaddad never met Umm al-Fadl and Muhammad b. Mus’ab is weak.”

 Al-Dhahabi, Talkkis al-Mustadrak (printed with Mustadrak ai-Hakim 4 vols. Hyderabad), 3:176

Example of a Mu’dal Hadeeth
Ibn Abi Hatim --- Ja’far b. Ahmad b. Al-Hakam Al-Qurashi in the year 254 --- Sulaiman b. Mansur b. ‘Ammar  --- ‘Ali b. ‘Asim --- Sa’id --- Qatadah --- Ubayy b. Ka’b, who reported that the Messenger of Allah  said, “After Adam had tasted from the tree, he ran away, but the tree caught his hair. It was proclaimed: O Adam! Are you running away from Me? He said: No, but I feel ashamed before You. He said: O Adam! Go away from My neighbourhood, for By My Honour, no-one who disobeys Me can live here near Me; even if I were to create people like you numbering enough to fill the earth and they were to disobey Me, I would make them live in a home of sinners.”

Ibn Kathir rernarks, “This is a gharib hadith. There is inqita’, in fact I‘dal, between Qatadah and Ubayy b. Ka’b, may Allah be pleased with them both.”

 Abu 'I-Fida' 'Imad al-Din Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’aan al-Azim (4 vols., Cairo, N.D.). 1:80

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