All praise is due to Allah, who has completed his divine messages and way of life on us, and have further showered us with his numerous gifts by guiding us to the straight path. I am therefore grateful for the gift of Islam, and if it was not for any other gifts accompanying it, and they are many, it would have been more than sufficient.
I also bear witness with all my mind, heart and soul, and with every breath and heartbeat, that there is no one or a thing worthy of devotion, absolute love, supremacy, sovereignty, my subservience other than Allah SWT, known also , by God, Dio, Jehovah, Eebbe. The creator of the Universe and the laws that bind it and break it, the originator of life, and the repeater of it's sequence, the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, The God of the atheists and believers alike, the Just, and fair, who sees all and who has set aside a day for his creatures judgment, so the good among men are rewarded and the evil doers are punished.
I pray and seek a befitting place for our Messenger and Prophet Muhammad SAWS, his companions, family and for anyone who follows his footstep seeking the pleasure of Allah SWT ALONE.
The most trustable source is the Noble Quraan, while the best guidance toward the Quraan came from Muhammad SAWS, the worst of matters are transformations in faith, because, every transformation, is introducing an innovation which is diverging from the original path, which in turn will eventually will lead to the doorsteps of hell.
The credit of what we know of Allah SWT goes to the prophets in general, and to our Prophet Muhammad SAWS in particular, so since knowing Allah SWT is the utmost need humans have, to know his messenger and his sayings comes as the most important endeavor we must seek, and there is no better place to start than the science of the Hadeeth, which is a meticulous compilation of the actions and sayings of the prophet by his family members, in laws and the closest of his companions.
The best of behaviors and the wisest of words that we value today, have all emanated from our Prophet Muhammad SAWS, and in following his footsteps, we are indeed responding to the call of Allah SWT
" Whatever (matter, idea, law, suggestion, way of doing things) brought forth to you by the prophet, accept it, and fulfill it. And whatever (matter, idea, law, suggestion, way of doing things) he has warned you about, abstain form it"
" And Muhammad was not but a mere messenger, before him many messengers came to pass, therefore, if he dies, or is killed, are you going to go back to your old ways (of lifestyle)? whoever goes back to the old ways, is not harming Allah with anything, and Allah will surely reward, the grateful ( among his creatures, who respond to his call) "
Now that we have stressed the importance of the deliverer of our faith and the Quraan , it goes without saying that the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad SAWS are of utmost importance second to the Holy Quraan, as his actions and sayings are the practical application of the Quraan. Ayesha, the wife of the Prophet may Allah be pleased with her, who was the source of great part of the Hadeeth, and the teacher of the companions, said of the prophet SAWS " His Character was the Quraan" in other words, he lived as an embodiment of the message of Allah SWT to be emulated by mankind. He has therefore set the real standard of decent behavior, and the criterion of morality and right and wrong in all matters of life and in every sphere of interest we have, for all peoples and for all times. His message is therefore binding and eternal.
Based on the above, I humbly begin putting together the case for the importance of the existence Hadeeth, the drivers for the appearance of the hadeeth, the men of the Hadeeth, and the sciences of the hadeeth.
The following is a quick edited survey of the Hadeeth that I have contributed as an answer to MAD MAC, which is relevant to be a starter in this thread, as we will go beyond the surface this time around to treat this topic the best way possible as a service to Allah SWT and in search of his pleasure Alone.
The Prophet Muhammad SAWS spent 23 years delivering the message of Allah to the people of Allah in Arabia. His companions who have known him and his opponents alike respected him in a way no man was ever respected in History.
Prophet Mohammed SAWS, since his childhood was known for honesty, within his tribe , the Qureish, they called him Mohammed Al Ameen, or the honest. At age 40 when he suddenly the revelations came to him with the message of Islam, it caused great anguish among his closest relatives and tribe alike. Because his message was compromising the position of their predominant and highly regarded tribe among the Arabs. In a sense, the message was similar to a southern white fighting for the rights of the blacks in the 1800's can you imagine the uproar he could have caused?
In those 23 years of active Dawa (Preaching) of Islam and political and military life, his companions, listened and memorized his sermons and speeches, short and long. A father would narrate it to his children and so on. So while he lived there was no problem with authentication as he was alive and no one has attempted to make up stories. During his life, the prophet warned that anyone who falsifies a hadeeth is securing his permanent place in Hell. For that reason, the companions took great pains in not reporting a Hadeeth that they doubted its authenticity.
After his death, the Muslims saw the importance of compilation of the Hadeeth and a meticulous system of collection was set up for the collection and classification of the Hadeeths. This process grew into a new Islamic science in its own right called the sciences of the Hadeeth (al Cadl- wal- Tajreex, cilmul- isnaad, Al taraajum etc) These are sciences that set qualification standards of credibility for narrators of the Hadeeeths, ISNAAD, or the science of referencing, which was born with the Hadeeth science, and the AL Taraajum, which are the biographies of the reporters of the hadeeth, their genealogy, geography of their lands, cultures and everything related to the reporters of the hadeeth as a measure to qualify there assertions and motives.
As we will learn in this thread, the Muslim scholars went great lengths to ascertain the authenticity of the hadeeths for fear that imposters would make up hearsay hadeeth and they have actually created some. Because the product in question was the word of the holy Prophet SAWS to be transmitted to human kind, Islamic scholars invented the due-diligence and credit and background check system employed by the financial and the law enforcement industry today for the purpose of authentication.
Topics to be discussed in this thread:
1. Definition of hadeeth,
2. Classification and glossary,
3. Methods of narration.
4. Biographies of Narrators
5. Science of Referencing (ISNAAD)
Today, we will cover
1. Definitions for starters
Linguistically, the meaning of (Hadeeth) is from the Arabic word HADATHA, or news, incident, event etc.
Hadeeth ( News) linguistically is antonym with (Qadeem) past, old, history,
Also, in the Arabic, the young kids are known as (Axdaath) new age ( not to be confused with new age religion).
The word Hadeeth in the religious context is reserved to all the news that were reported from the Prophet Mohammed SAWS. So the news needs verification. And the verifications of the story is the science of the Hadeeth. If the same rigorous method of cross, contextual, integrity, background, environment, etc verification is applied to Newsweek and Time Magazines, ( The contemporary Hadeeths), for example, they would not stand a chance in publishing a single issue, why you may ask, and the answer to that question leads to the next Chapter.
Types of Hadeeths
1. Category one : Saheeh (Correct)
A Hadeeth of this category enjoys the highest credibility, it is used in the Sharia as an augmentation of the explanation of the Quraan. Denial of a Hadeeth in this category is a grave sin and it can lead to Kufr.
This Category has many variations of Correctness, and ahadeeth to be ranked Sahih, or Correct must meet all of the criteria's of correctness, ( Political Correctness, is not considered in Islam). As an introductory survey, we will mention three of the elements of correctness for an example.
1. Correct in terms of the line of narration (ISNAAD)
2. Correct in terms of the anthology ( Method of collection) Similar to police evidence collection methods ( Remember the Simpson Case?)
3. Correct in terms of the text itself (MATN).
So as you can deduce, a hadeeth can be correct in terms of line of narration and compilation, but still may fail the textual integrity, in this case we call this hadeeth a defective Hadeeth ( maa' lool), failing to reach Sahih level, but still may qualify for other category as we will visit.
If on the other hand the hadeeth is textually correct, but the line of narration has a gab in the linkage of narrators, we call this hadeeth Broken chain hadeeth ( Munqadie).
If the hadeeth is compiled in a way different than the standard methods employed by the scolars ( Jumhur), then, that hadeeth does not enjoy the Saheeh category and we will visit the terminologies in the days to come in ShaAllah.
A hadeeth can further be Correct (Saheeh) for its own contents self support, ( This is like a travel document for a refugee, not a passport for a citizen) we call this category ( Saheeh li thaatih).
A Hadeeth can further be correct for the support of another Hadeeth only ( Saheeh li gheirih), or the Hadeeth can serve both roles.
In another category, the hadeeth can be saheeh on the conditions set by the compilers ( saheeh alaa shardeyhimaa), the compilers are Bukhaari and Muslim.
And the last category of this quick survey is the (Correct-but-Odd) category, (saheeh ghareeb), meaning the hadeeth has qualified for the saheeh category but was reported by only one narrator with top credibility clearance.
Criteria For the Classification of The Hadeeth
The following Five Criteria are used to classify a hadeeth to be a Saheeh
1. Al Sanad ( Chain of narrators ), The chain is continuous, no missing links.
2.Adaalah, (Narrators Character, must be flawlessly perfect, in terms of piety, credibility, courage, generosity, wisdom and good judgment) If this stringent condition is applied in politics, no US president or any other world leader today can fulfill such requirement.
3. Al Dhabd, ( meaning that the narrator have memorized the hadeeth beyond question, or recorded it in a tablet, and is able to recollect it with consistency whenever requested. This condition implies that he is mentally sharp, serious in delivering responsibilities. ( President Ronald Reagan would not have made it to the Whitehouse with his famous "I Do Not Recall" )
4. Cadam Al Shuduud, (A Hadeeth must not be an odd hadeeth) , Shuduud means that a narrator who is sufficiently credible provides a hadeeth that contradicts another hadeeth narrated by a more credible narrator, in terms of degree of their respective memorization competencies, lingusitic compprehension abilities ( Not failing their SAT) etc. ( This is analogous to two officers with different levels of security clearance presenting testimony to a judge to support a point of view. The testimony of the officer with the higher level of clearance supercedes the testimony of the lower clearance level officer)
5. Cadam Al E' laal. (Free of any defective characteristic that compromises the hadeeth's credibility ( for example there is a mismatch in the names of the narrators, like saying, Ronald Kennedy reported this hadeeth from John Reagan), so although this hadeeth may have met other stringent requirements, it clearly has a defect (E'llah) although when closely viewed may not present serious infringement of the rules, if we patiently reconstruct the sequence, like ( Ronald Reagan reported form John Kennedy).
So Any Hadeeth that passes those criteria with flying colors is called Saheeh in general terms, because, there is more to calling a hadeeth saheeh than this survey of ours can cover.
Category Two. The Hassan hadeeth
Hassan Hadeeth is not as flawless as the Correct ( Saheeh) hadeeth we have discussed above, but is nevertheless a reliable hadeeth that passed key Non-Fatal error criteria to qualify for applicability with caution, this is like the yellow light when driving, you have to proceed with caution, relying on Quraan as a check, but still leveraging its value on areas were other more reliable hadeeths are not available. ( This is like physicists relying on a theory until they find a better explanation) This Category though, is much more reliable than the next category of the Daciif, weak hadeeth.
Al Tirmidhi , One of the major compilers of the Hadeeths has defined the Hassan Category as follows : Any hadeeth , whose narrators:
1. Character is not a Questionable issue , while some of the narrators in the chain may be known to be forgetful in some past narrations , but have never lied knowingly at any point in their lives ever.
2. The Stature of this narrator do not rise to the level of the reporters of the Saheeh category in the above five scoring criteria ( Meaning, they have lower level clearance ), yet, the narrators meets some minimum acceptability standard (beyond scope of this brief survey) to be considered a reliable hadeeth.
Final Category is the (Daeef ) category ( Weak hadeeth) any hadeeth who fails in the above two categories is Weak, A weak hadeeth is not advised to be followed or applied in any legal issue nor settle an ambiguity in faith matters nor business law dsiputes. Unfortunately, Many of the Hadeeths floating and causing confusion in the Muslim world belong to this last category, which promts the attack on the Sunnah and Hadeeth and. This type of hadeeth, is the kind of evidence a Judge will not hesitate to throw out of his court.
courtesy: of brother Nur