History and Importance of Hadith

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Methods used by Muhadditheen (Compilers of Ahadith) to ensure the authenticity of Ahadith
  • The compilers of six authentic books applied a very strict criterion in selecting the Ahadith for their books. They did not accept any Hadith that did not meet the set criteria. They checked the chain of narrators as well as the text.

  • Every Hadith is divided into two parts, the first part is the Sand (chain of narrators) and the second is the Matn(text of Hadith). This is explained through the following Hadith,  Muhammd bin Al Muthanna reported from Abdul Wahab from Ayub from Abu Killabah, from Malik that the Prophet said, “Pray as you have seen me offering  prayer”. (Agreed upon)

  •  The first part which mentions the chain of transmitters is the Sanad and the second part which the body or text is the matn. The Muhaddithun assessed both parts of the Hadith scrupulously.

Rules adopted to check authenticity of the chain of narrators (Isnaad)

  1. For the Sanad, the chain of narrators were carefully studied through the art of Asma-Ur-Rijal (Names of Men), their biographies were collected and investigated in detail.

  2. They ensured that the narrator was pious, noble, honest and well-reputed person.

  3. Even if the transmitter had ever cheated anyone or even lied to anyone in the matter of joke, the Hadith was rejected.

  4. They also ensured that the narrator had good memory and had preserved what he had heard.

  5. A narrator actually met the other narrator and in this way the chain of narration went right back to the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

  6. The narrator was physically, mentally and intellectually fit to understand the full importance and impact of all what he had heard.

  7. Each transmitter must have known the transmitter before him, and also the transmitter after him.

  8. The last person in the chain of narration was a companion of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) who had himself either heard. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) spoke the particular words or seen him performing the action quoted in the Hadith.

  9. The chain of narration from beginning to the end had un-interrupted continuity.

Rules adopted to check authenticity of the Matn(Tex of Hadith)

  1. The compilers ensured that the text of Hadith was not in conflict with the content, spirit, philosophy or the commandments of the Holy Quran in any manner.

  2. It was not in conflict with the content of a Hadith which had already stood the test of reliability / authenticity or the consensus (Ijma) of the community. For example the Hadith will not be accepted if it says to offer four daily prayers.

  3. It was not against the historical facts already established and proved.

  4. It was not against the dictates of reason, logic, rationale common sense or the laws of nature. For instance , “brushing teeth increses wisdom”.(Fabricated)

  5. The matn should have pure Arabic as the Prophet,s language was pure and perfect. 

  6. It did not, in any way, hurl accusation at the family of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and caliphs. 

  7. The Hadith which promised a high reward for a small virtue, or severe punishment for the slightest fault was rejected.

In short Hadith researchers paid critical attention to the science of biographies and criticism (Asma’ al Rijal) of the hadith narrators in each generation. And so, narrators of hadith (isnad) were subjected to severe tests and were graded according to varying degrees of reliability and genuineness depending upon their character, religious reputation and orientation, depth of knowledge, and the soundness and accuracy of their memories.

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