Classification OF Hadith | Asma al-Rijal – Quranmualim


In this course you will learn about the science of CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH which was used by the early compilers of Hadith so that the statements of the Prophet are free of corruption. Immediately the Prophet died many people with false claims came up with statements credited to the Prophet. In order to ascertain the genuine reports about the Prophet one major yardstick used was the Asmā’Rijāl.

Classification OF Hadith | Asma al-Rijal – Quranmualim, classification of hadith, terminology and classification, asma al-Rijal, عِلْمُ الرِّجال

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Classification OF Hadith | Asma al-Rijal – Quranmualim, classification of hadith, terminology and classification, asma al-Rijal, عِلْمُ الرِّجال


In the end of the article we will be able too  Understand the meaning of Asmā’Rijāl Discuss the conditions for accepting a genuine Hadith Highlight the efforts of the companions of the Prophet in the compilation of Hadith


 Meaning of Asmā’Rijāl Literally, Asmā’Rijāl means names of men but in the technical term it means the science for the verification of traditions of Prophet Muhammad. It also means the biography and criticisms of the narrators of Hadith or any such aspects of their life that may be helpful in the determination of their proper identity as well as reliability. Immediately the Prophet died, many people came up with false statement credited to the Prophet but which indeed were aimed at promoting themselves. Some brought materials including products and claimed that the Prophet has approved their consumption. There was therefore the need for careful acceptance of these statements so that wrong traditions are not being accepted as statements of the Prophet. In addition, the character of the reporter both in the private and the public needed to be examined. At the initial stage most companions kept the traditions ofthe Prophet in their memory while some (who were literate) wrote down these statements. The Asmā’Rijāl is therefore the scientific approach towards verification of the traditions brought by any of the companions of the Prophet.

Definition of  Asma’ Rijal and Classification :

Define Asma’ Rijal in CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH. Conditions for Accepting Hadith There were certain conditions that must be fulfilled before any Hadith is accepted as statements of the Prophet. They include:

  1. The CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH should not be at variance with the teachings of the Qur’an or any of the accepted principles of Islam.
  2. The CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH should not be contrary to the well known traditions already accepted in Islam.

iii. The CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH should not be against reason or laws of nature as well as common experience.

iv Any CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH that contain statements which are against the Islamic belief of Prophet hood should be rejected.

v Any Hadith that sings that the praises of any tribe, nation or culture should be totally rejected.

vi Under the principle of Asmā’Rijāl, any Hadith that tends to predict the future should be rejected.

vii Any Hadith that suggests lesser punishment for a big offence or a big punishment for a lesser offence should be totally rejected.

Apart from the above, the early scholars of Hadith took time to scrutinize the personalities of transmitters of Hadith. These are in the areas of their truthfulness, reliability and maturity. In addition, the character of any transmitter of Hadith is also a focus of attention under the science of Asmā’Rijāl. This is to find out if the transmitter for instance is a drunkard, a gambler or an adulterer. The intention was that since the Prophet was a man of impeccable character, any statement credited to him and for which should be a guide to future Muslims must be of doubtless status.

Classification OF Hadith | Asma al-Rijal – Quranmualim, classification of hadith, terminology and classification, asma al-Rijal, عِلْمُ الرِّجال


Discuss four conditions which must be met before CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH is accepted.  Qualification of a Transmitter of Hadith Coming up next are the capabilities of a transmitter of Hadith:   Any transmitter of Hadith must have a place with either the gathering of companions of the Prophet or their contemporaries. These were the people who saw the Prophet and heard him saying certain things at a particular time. They were in the best position to quote the Prophet correctly.

  1. A transmitter of Hadith, if not a companion, must belong to the group of the tābi‘ūn that is those who met the companions of the Prophet even though they did not see the Prophet himself. Theirinteractions with the companions of the Prophet gave them an advantage of getting the correct statement as well as the recording made by the companions of the Prophet. To qualify as a transmitter of Hadith such a person must be a Muslim of pure character as well as sound Islamic background. He must have been a knowledgeable person in the study and memorization of the Qur’an.

 The earliest formal collection of traditions was in the form of Musnad which is preceded by chains of transmitters known as Isnād. To qualify therefore such statement must be traced back to a companion of the Prophet who heard directly from him.  Another qualification of a transmitter is that the statements must be by direct speech such as A told me, saying that B said C had informed him that the Prophet said so and so. To qualify such statements must have an unbroken chain. On the basis of this principle in Asmā’Rijāl, a tradition reported by a single companion (sahābi) of the Prophet was rejected. Another qualification of a transmitter is that he must have a good retentive memory and high qualities of head and heart. He must not be a person of poor memory.

Classification OF Hadith | Asma al-Rijal – Quranmualim, classification of hadith, terminology and classification, asma al-Rijal, عِلْمُ الرِّجال

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE  : Enumerate the qualifications of a transmitter of Hadith. Classification of Hadith Unlike  the Qur’an, which is the word of Allah the Hadith contains statements as well as approvals by the Prophet. The early Muslim scholars have therefore classified the Hadith based on their authenticity. In other words, not all Hadith have the same status and a student of Islamic studies should be able to distinguish between one Hadith and the other both in use as well as in teaching. Following therefore are some of the categories into which CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH:

  1. The Sahīh

This is the authentic Hadith. It is the main classification among the amazing Hadith.  Any Hadith under this class is certifiable and has breezed through all assessments. The reputation of reporters of Hadith in this category is of high status due to high level of scrutiny before accepting the Hadith. One of such collectors was Muhammad b. Ismail Abu Abd Allah Al-Ju’fi popularly known as Imam Al Bukhari. The Hadith in this category are highly rated by Muslims. For instance Al-Bukhari labored for 16 years on the compilation of his sahīh.He likewise looked for the guide of petition before submitting customs to composing. He  was likewise answered to have questioned more than one thousand researchers living  in places so separation as Balkh, Merv, Nisabur, Hijaz, Egypt and Syria.  Another researcher of notoriety in this classification was Abul Hussain Muslim b. Al-Hajjaj who also traveled widely to collect Hadith in Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Muslim had the great opportunity to listen to famous learned men like Ahamad. Hanbal. In addition, Hadith under this category have their chains of narration properly retained and unbroken and they cover various aspect of life.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE  : Explain the meaning of Sahih.

  1. The Hassan

These are the fair traditions although inferior as regards authenticity. In terms of rating it is next to Sahih but not as authentic. Any Hadith under this category is widely accepted because it is next in quality to the first category. The authorities of Hadith in this category are rated very high by scholars of Hadith and this is why the two are regarded as very reliable in the classification of Hadith. The Hassan substance of Hadith are basically indistinguishable with those of Sahih.  The main regions of contrasts are their headings as indicated by topics. Much attention has been paid to the Isnads to the extent that any minor break in them renders such Hadith unacceptable. The Hadith in this class spread points in the region of Islamic philosophy like the five columns  of Islam, marriage, law of legacy, pre-goal, and choice.

Classification OF Hadith | Asma al-Rijal – Quranmualim, classification of hadith, terminology and classification, asma al-Rijal, عِلْمُ الرِّجال

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 2 Explain the relationship between the Sahih and Hassan types of Hadith.

iii. The Da’if

This is basically a weak Hadith which makes it unreliable and unacceptable. In the categorization, any Hadith that is termed Da‘īf is not to be taken as an authentic statement of the Prophet. According to Doi, the Da‘īf traditions are divided further based on the degree of their weaknesses either in the report (ruwwāt) or in the text (matn). These are:

  1. Muallaq Tradition: This is tradition in which one of two transmitters are omitted in the beginning of their Isnad . In other words, a broken chain of transmission.
  2. Maqtū‘u Tradition: These are those traditions or statement of the Prophet singularly reported by a Tabi‘i that is a man of second category after the Prophet.
  3. Munqatic Tradition: These are generally broken traditions and statements of the Prophet. They are unreliable.
  4. Mursal Tradition: These are the incomplete traditions in the Isnād of which a companion (sahabi) is omitted e.g. “a tabi’i says the prophet said…”
  5. .Musahhaf Tradition: These are the traditions which have mistake in the words or letter of the Isnād or the Matn.
  6. Shadh Tradition: These are the traditions with a reliable chain of reporters but their meanings are contrary to other similarly attested traditions narrated by the majority of transmitters.
  7. Mawdū‘u Tradition: These are the outright fabricated and untrue traditions.


The science of scrutiny in CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH, otherwise known as Asmā’Rijāl, is a very important study in the science of Hadith. As we have learnt in this unit, many statements would have been credited to the Prophet by selfish and mischief makers. It was therefore this study that has given every Muslim the joy that what we have today recorded as Hadith of the Prophet have undergone several scientific scrutinies.


We have learnt in this unit the various methods of ascertaining the authenticity of Hadith of the Prophet which makes it an acceptable document for the use of Muslims on religious as well as research efforts. Unlike the Qur’an, CLASSIFICATION OF HADITH is a man-made effort and should therefore, be properly tested so that statements that were not directly from the Prophet were not smuggled into it.


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