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When A Hadeeth Become Saheeh ?

February 18, 2010

These are the notes collected from ‘Usool al-Hadeeth’ class conducted by shaykh Bilal Philips (and attended by me !!! *wink* )  :

A hadeeth must meet the five criteria in order to be accepted according to Islamic Law as a source of legal ordinance. Ibn as-Salaah defined the hadeeth saheeh as follows :

” A hadeeth saheeh is one which has a continuous isnaad, made up of trustworthy narrators narrating from trustworthy narrators, which is found to be free from any irregularities or defects.” [Al – Mooqizah, p.24]

1. Ittisal as-Sanaad – Continuity of The Chain Of Transmitters :

The chain of narrators are or transmitters, who are relating the matter (text), has to be unbroken for the hadeeth to be considered. That is none of the transmitters must be missing from the chain and each narrator, Raawee, has to have met the transmitters directly preceeding him as well as the one directly following him.

2. ‘Adaalah – Integrity

The integrity of the narrators is the second key condition for a hadeeth to be considered valid. By integrity mean that the narrator was a practicing Muslim and was not known to have done any of the major (forbidden things). If he was a known liar he is classified as khaththaab and the hadeeth that he has transmitted is classified as da’eef. These are the conditions verified through the references of the biographical science of hadeeth known as Kutub ar-Rijaal.

3. Dabt – Accuracy

The accuracy of the text is determined by two factors either of which is sufficient by itself.

a. Dabt-as-Sadr – Soundness of Memory

Each narrator must be known for his ability to memorise and repeat with a high degree of accuracy. If a narrator had a tendency to repeat hadeeth in a number of different ways such a hadeeth is qualified as Mudtarib (confused) and any other hadeeth that he narrates will be classified as Da’eef. When the narrators level of accuracy is mediocre  but the other conditions for authenticity are fulfilled, the hadeeth is classified as hasan.

b. Dabt al-Kitaabah – Written accuracy

Each narrator who does not fulfill precondition ”a” , must be known for recording his hadeeth in books accurately and his narrations only be from his books, these two preconditions ( a, b) are also verified by Kutub ar-Rijaal (books on Biographies of narrators).

4. Ghayr Shaathth – Conformity

It is critical that the hadeeth conform to similar hadeeths narrated on the same topic whose chains are stronger. If the text of a hadeeth contradicts that of another well-known text whose chain of narration is stronger, or it is conflict with a group of other narrators of a similar status, it is classified as shaathth (errant), which is one of the categories of hadeeth da’eef.

5. Laa ‘Illah – Absence of Hidden defect

The hidden defect is one that causes the hadeeth to appear to be sound and only become evident after deep investigation.

For a hadeeth to be considered sound (saheeh) it has to be free of hidden defects. A hadeeth with hidden defects is called ma’lool or mu’allal. Ibn al- madeenee (d. 324 AH) said that a defect can only be revealed if all the isnaads of the hadeeth  are coallated. Only a few hadeeth scholars compiled books on this topic, among them, Ibn Abee Haatim ar-Razee (d. 327) , al-Khallaal (d. 311) and ad-Daaraqutnee (d. 385).

Ruling Of  Hadeeth Saheeh :

A hadeeth that fulfills all the five conditions of sihhah is referred to as a ‘ hadeeth Saheeh’ . Such a hadeeth can be used to establish points of Islaamic law and if it is not abrogated, it must be accepted and applied. The ruling of a hadeeth saheeh can only be superceded by that of another hadeeth saheeh stronger than it.


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