بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Importance of understanding the Terminologies of Imams of Jarah and Ta’deel

It is extremely important to know what a muhaddith imam of jarah and ta’deel means by different terminologies, especially when the same terminology is used by other imams to mean differently. We will try to give examples:

  1. Imam Abu Haatim Al-Raazi saying هو علي يدي عدل (Huwa ‘Ala Yadai ‘Adal)

This has been erroneously understood by some, including Ibn Hajr and Al-‘Ainee Al-Hanafi’s teacher Al-Iraaqi, to mean that these are words of ta’deel(commendation) by Imam Abu Haatim. However, these are words used by Imam Abu Hatim to mean the narrator is weak. Infact Ibn Hajar himself said:

و ظن بعضهم انها من الفاظ التوثيق و لم يصب

“Some people think that these are words for commendation, but that is not correct” (Tahtheeb Al-Tahtheeb p 142 v 9)

قوله علي يدي عدل معناه قرب من الهلاك

i.e. “these words mean that the narrator is on the verge of destruction” (ibid p 144 v 9)

Perhaps this was due to presence of the word عدل ‘adl, which is synonymous with thiqa (trustworthy). But Ibn Hajr’s student Al-Shakhawi explains:
“our sheikh ibn hajr said: Imam Al-Iraqi took them as words for commendation (ta’deel), which is is incorrect, as these are words of disparage (jarah) in the termnology of Abu Hatim. Actually, the King of تبع Tubba’, had a soldier called ‘Adl. Whenever the king wanted someone killed, he would hand him over to ‘Adl and he would execute the damned person. And hence it became a proverb for anyone of whom hope was lost to say “هو علي يدي عدل he is at the hands of ‘Adl” to mean he is gone.” (Fath Al-Mugheeth v1 pp377-8)
Infact even if we look closely to what Abu Hatim himself says, it can be seen that it only means jarah (disparage):

ضعيف الحديث ليس بقوي هو علي يدي عدل

“Weak in Hadith, not strong, he is at the hands of ‘Adl” (Al-Jarah Wa Al-Ta’deel by his son Ibn Abi Haitm v3 p 103)

(See Sharh Alfaadh Al-Tajreeh Al-Naadirah Aw Qaleelah Al-Isti’maal by Dr Sa’di Al-Hashimi v1 p37-43)

2) Al-Haithami saying رجاله رجال الصحيح (the narrators of this chain arethe narrators of Al-Saheeh [Al-Bukhari])and رجاله كلهم موثوقون (all the narrators of this chain have been commended ).

It is taken by some contemporaries to mean that the narration itself has been authenticated by Al-Haithami rahimahullah. But this is incorrect. Infact Imam Al-Zaila’ee Al-Hanafi rahimahullah said:

لا يلزم من كون الراوي محتجا به في الصحيح انه اذا وجد في اي حديث كان ذالك الحديث علي شرطه

“If a narrator has been used by (Imam Al-Bukhari) in Al-Sahih, it does not mean that if that narrator is found in any other (outside the Sahihs of Imams Al-Bukhari and Muslim) hadith, that that hadith itself becomes authentic fulfilling the strict condotions of Shahi Al-Bukhari” (Nasb Al-Raiyah v1 p 342)
The same has been said by ibn hajr in Al-Nukat and Ibn Abdil Hadi in Al-Saarim Al-Manki p 256,259. [Of course, the narrator maybe thiqa but there maybe gaps in the chain i.e. narraotrs not having met each other. In another case the narrator may be thiqa but mudallis and hence may narrate with clarity in Al-Saheeh but without it elsewhere. Or he maybe thiqa but oppose others even more thiqa or those who are greater in number than himself etc.–Abu Maryam]


[Adapted for Shaikh IrshadulHaq Al-Atharee’s ‘Aulana Sarfaraz Safdar Apni Tasaneef Kai Ainay main (Urdu)’ p 35-44, Idarah Al-‘Uloom Al-Athariyyah, Faisalabad, Pakistan]

This shows that the student must pay close attention to what a Muhaddith is saying and be well versed in the usage of terminology before arriving at a conclusion. Similarly ليس بشيء by ibn Ma’een, منكر الحديث by Ahmed, etc have different meanings than when the same are used by others.

3) Difference between Salih صالح and Salih Al-Hadith صالح الحديث

For example Imam Abu Hatim Al-Razi said about Ja’far bin Maimoon that he is Salih (good and pious). However some contemporaries took it to mean that Imam Abu Hatim is crediting his hadith, which is incorrect. Imam Ibn Hajr said:

وقول الخليلي : إنه شيخ صالح أراد به في دينه لا في حديثه لأن من عادتهم إذا أرادوا وصف الراوي بالصلاحية في الحديث قيدوا ذلك ، فقالوا : صالح الحديث . فإذا أطلقوا الصلاح ، فإنما يريدون به في الديانة . والله أعلم .

“Khalili’s saying that he is a good sheikh (شيخ صالح) is intended to mean he is Saalih (good) in his religion and peity, not in his narration of reports. Because the muhadditheen’s (traditionalists) practice is that when they wanted to describe a narrator with respect to his goodness in (narrating the) hadith, they would be more specific and say: Saalih Al-Hadith (good in hadith). But when they would not be specific and speak about goodness in general terms, they would only intend his goodness n piety and religion” (Al Nukat ‘ala muqaddimah ibn salah v 2 p 280)

[Adapted from Tanqih Al-Kalam fi Ta’yeed Taudheeh Al-Kalam [fi Wujoob Fatihah Khalf Al-Imam] (Urdu) p 179-180 by Sheikh IrshadulHaq Al-Atharee]

Translator (Tarjuman):
Similarly, in the narrative on Al-Khalil bin Murrah, it is mentioned that

الخليل بن مرة الضبعى البصري.

كان من الصالحين. قال أبو زرعة: شيخ صالح.
وقال البخاري: منكر الحديث.
وقال أبو حاتم: ليس بقوى

.
So Abu Zur’ah Al-Raazi said he is a Salih Shaikh and others also testified to his piety, but when compared to what the other imams said it is obvious that the goodness is with respect to his character and peity and not his ability to narrate accurately (Meezan by Al-Dhahbi v 1 p 667)

Similarly in the narrative on Abu ‘Aith, ‘Ufair bin Mi’daan [ibid v3 p83]

عفير بن معدان الحمصى المؤذن، أبو عائذ.

قال أبو داود: شيخ صالح ضعيف الحديث.
وقال أبو حاتم: يكثر عن سليم، عن أبي أمامة بما لا أصل له.
وقال يحيى: ليس بشئ.
وقال – مرة: ليس بثقة.
وقال أحمد: منكر الحديث، ضعيف.
Here again, Abu Dawood speaks about the narrator, describes him as Salih Shaikh, but follows up by saying that he is Da’if al-hadith, hence clarifying that a narrator maybe weak despite being pious (or an Imam from among the Imam of Muslims).

The converse is also true. See for example:

وقال حنبل بن إسحاق: سمعت أبا عبد الله يقول: يحيى بن إسحاق أبو زكريا السيلحيني، شيخ صالح ثقة، سمع من الشماميين، ومن ابن لهيعة، وهو صدوق. ((تاريخ بغداد)) 14/158.

Here Imam Ahmad has described Yahya b Ishaq as a salih sheikh but despite that, he follows that by defining him as thiqa (trustworthy). [Tarikh Baghdad by Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi v14 p158]

This again underscores the importance of knowing the difference between similar terminologies. Here we can see that one terminology means commending a narrator in his ‘adala (general uprightness) and the other in his dhabt (ability to transmit correctly a narration).

4) The difference between حديث صحيح (‘Authentic hadith’) and صحيح الاسناد (‘authentic chain’)

There is a difference as most later writers on the science of hadith terminology pointed out in their works. And the example in part (2) of Al-Haithami is a particular point in case. Ibn Qayyim, the famed student of Ibn Taymiyyah (another great scholar of hadith in later times) said in his book Al-Sawaiq Al-Mursalah 2/395 [publisher Maktabah Al-Riyadh]:

أنَّ أهل العلم بالحديث لم يزالوا يقولون: صح عن رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلّم- وذلك جزم منهم بأنه قاله ولم يكن مرادهم ما قاله بعض المتأخرين إنَّ المراد صحة السند لا صحة المتن ، بل هذا مراد من زعم أنَّ أحاديث رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلّم- لا تفيد العلم، وإنما كان مرادهم صحة الإضافة إليه وأنه قاله، كما يجزمون بقولهم قال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلّم-، وأمر ونهى وفعل رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلّم-، وحيث كان يقع لهم الوهم في ذلك يقولون يذكر عن رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلّم- ويروى عنه ونحو ذلك، ومن له خبرة بالحديث يفرق بين قول أحدهم ” هذا حديث صحيح” وبين قولهم “هذا إسناد صحيح”، فالأول جزم بصحة نسبته إلى رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلّم- والثاني شهادة بصحة سنده وقد يكون فيه علة أو شذوذ فيكون سنده صحيحا في نفسه

“The scholars of the science of hadith have always said ‘It has been authentically reported from the Propher sallallaho’alaihiwasallam’ (Sahha ‘Anhu); and this is doubtless affirmation from them that the Prophet sallallaho’alaihiwasallam said that, contrary to what some latecomers thought that this means authenticating the chain only and not the text. Instead such a saying [that this means authenticating the chain only and not the text] can only come from one who claims that the ahadith of Rasool ‘alaihisalam donot result in [the listener having attained] knowledge [but just unsure thoughts that these may have been his words]. Instead they (the scholars of hadith) say ‘It has been authentically reported from him’ to mean that the saying is his, sallallaho’alaihiwasallam and that he said that. And this why they insist that ‘He said’, or ‘He ordered’ or He forbade’ or ‘He did’ etc. But, when they have uncertainity that the Prophet sallallaho’alaihiwasallam said that, they would just say [using passive instead of active voice] ‘It is reported from him or he is reported to have said’ etc.
Whoever has experience in this science, then he differentiates between حديث صحيح (‘Authentic hadith’) and صحيح الاسناد (‘authentic chain’). The first is a doubtless affirmation to the authenticity of these words having been said by the Prophet sallallaho’alaihiwasallam and the second is only an affirmation that the chain itself is correct and authentic, while it is possible that the text may have defects like oddness (shuzooz: i.e. trustworthy narrators reporting differently from those who are even more trustworthy or against what is narrated by those who are greater in number than him and are as trustworthy as himself) or other defects [‘illah: for example the memory of the trustworthy narrator became weak later and it is not possible to say whether he heard the hadith and narrated after or before memory loss etc.: Abu Maryam]”

Hence a chain maybe correct, but still if it has some defect or a muhaddith is unsure of its authenticity, he would only affirms its chain, which does not necessitate authentication of the hadith itself.

[adapted from: Mauqif Abil Hasan min Akhbaar Al-Ahaad by Sh Rabi bin Hadi Al-Madkhali]

5) Difference between Ghareeb غريب when used by Al-Zaila’ee and others:

Hafidh Al-Zaila’ee Al-Hanafi rahimahullah, the student of ‘Ala Al-Din Ibn Al-Turkamani did the famous search (Takhrij) for the sources of narraions found in the Hanafi fiqh handbook ‘Al-Hidaya’. Imam Ibn Hajar summarize his famous ‘Al-Diraya fi takhrij ahadith al-hidaya’ from Al-Zaila’ee’s book called ‘Nasb Al-Raya’. However, Al-Zaila’ee has a special usage for the term Ghareeb:

قال الشيخ الألباني في الضعيفة (2/44) عن حديث (من صلى خلف عالم تقي فكأنما صلى خلف نبي):
((لا أصل له، وقد أشار لذلك الحافظ الزيلعي بقوله في نصب الراية (2/26): (غريب)
وهذه عادته في الأحاديث التي تقع في (الهداية) ولا أصل لها،فيما كان من هذا النوع: (غريب).
فاحفظ هذا فإنه اصطلاح خاص به))
Shaikh Albani rahimahullah said in Al-Da’eefah:
Whenever Al-Zaila’ee finds a narration in Al-Hidaya which has no basis (fabricated), then he says ‘Ghareeb’, which is a terminology used by him exclusively.
(Al-Da’eefah v 2 p 44)It is well known that ghareeb when used by other scholars is applied to mean the fard (singular) type of ahad reports, i.e. only a single reporter in the chain of narration with none of his contemporaries sharing that narration from a common teacher. This is what Al-Tirmidhi means when he says:

غريب لا نعرفه الا من هذا الوجه
‘Ghareeb, we do not know it except by this route.’ This agrees with the standard dfinition of ghareeb.

PS: A fard hadith may still be authentic. Tawatur and ahad are innovated definitions, in the context they are used today and have nothing to do with authenticity of a narration.

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