“Oh my Lord Advance me in knowledge.” (Qur’an 20:114)
الْحَمْدُ ِللهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِيْنَ وَلاَ عُدْوَانَ إِلاَ عَلَى الظَّالِمِيْنَ, وَأَشْهَدُ أَنْ لا إله إلا الله وَحْدَهُ لا شَرِكَ لَهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُوْلُهُ وَصَفِيُّهُ مِنْ خَلْقِهِ وَخَلِيْلُهُ بَلَّغَ الرِّسَالَةَ وَأَدَّى الأَمَانَةَ وَنَصَحَ الأُمَّةَ وَكَشَفَ اللهُ بِهِ الغُمَّةَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ وَسَلَّمَ
ABOUT THE STANDARDS OF HADITH
The standards and criteria for accepting and rejecting hadith in the Ibadhi School of law are not different from those laid down by the four surviving Sunni schools commonly known as the Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanafi and Hanbali – they are the same and common. But the fact that there has been a shortcoming in the implantation of those principles, explains why we sometimes come into a strong clash of opinions as to whether a particular hadith is authentic or not.
We, in the Ibadhi School, though regarding the genuineness of sanad (chain of narrators) of a hadith as one basic condition for its acceptability, yet do not strictly authenticate it on the basis of its sanad being sound only, an extensive study of its matn (text) must be run to avoid four major incompatibilities, namely:
The contradiction between the hadith and the Qur-an.
The contradiction between two hadiths one of which is authentic or more authentic.
The contradiction between the hadith and the consensus held by all Islamic denominations.
The contradiction between the hadith and the human logic and observation.
But, again, for a hadith to be regarded as contradictory or contrary to one of these things, it is further stipulated that it is impossible to reconcile them. In case it is possible to do so by either giving them one common interpretation or by giving to each of them a meaning suitable to it, here the defect of contradiction is considered to not exist anymore.
Generally speaking, we have five major conditions, related to the sanad, for a hadith to be accepted as an authentic one, and four conditions pertaining to its matn (text) as will be explained in a future article insh’Allah. The sanad-related conditions are:
1) Itsalu al-sanad (The connectedness of the chain of transmitters). That is the chain of the narrators must be coherent in that every one narrator must receive it directly from the narrator before him without the existence of a gap between any of them.
2) ‘Adalatu al-Ruwat. The word Ruwat is a plural form of the word Rawi which means a narrator, whereas, the word‘Adalatu literally means: justice, fairness, equitability, equitableness, impartiality, unbiasedness, straightness, straightforwardness, uprightness, honesty. However, in this technical sense, it is used with a particular reference to four qualities:
A) Being a Muslim. No account by a non-Muslim is accepted. We do not take our religion from the Non Muslims. This is a huge point of departure from other schools of jurisprudence when it comes to ascertaining the veracity of the hadith literature.
B) Attaining the age of puberty (Baligh). The narration by children under the age of puberty is rejected.
C) Mental healthiness. Any narrative related by the crazy and all those who suffer from a mental disorder is regarded as null and void.
D) Reliability in terms of being religious and pious. People who are engaged in the commitment of major sins, consistently practicing minor ones, or doing trivial, silly things which render them unrespectable, are disqualified.
3) Al-Dhabtu al-Taam. That is a narrator should be reliable in that he must have enough knowledge in the Arabic language to understand the hadith properly when receiving it and must have a strong memory capability to recall it when handing it down to another narrator as correctly as related to him. The quality of al-Dhabtu al-Taam falls into two categories:
A) Dhabtu sadri. Literally, means: “hearty apprehension”, which is the memorization by heart where a narrator can store a hadith in his brain and tell it whenever he wants to do so without any difficulty or hardship in recalling it.
B) Dhabtu al-Kitab. This refers to the documentation of ahadith. That is a narrator writes it down from the time he hears it from the narrator before him, and when handing it down to another he should read it from the book which he wrote it in. (This point is very fundamental to the Ibadhi school because other approaches show laxity in this regard.)
4) Adamu al-shudhudh. Literally, the Arabic word ‘adamu, means the absence, while the word shudhudh means: abnormality, deviation, irregularity, or perversity. In its technical concept, the word al-shudhudh is taken to refer to a hadith narrated by a reliable narrator but has gone contrary to the narration by another narrator who is more reliable than he. In this, the former is referred to as hadith shaadh (a kind of inauthentic hadith), whereas the latter is referred to as hadith mahfudh being classified with the authentic ones. In a nutshell, being free from the contradiction of narration between the less reliable and the more reliable is another necessary condition for a hadith to be accepted. Otherwise, in a situation like this, only the narration of the more reliable will be regarded.
5) Adamu al-‘illa. The meaning of the word ‘Adamu, has been previously explained. As for the word illa, literally means blemish, stain, defect, flaw, fault, shortcoming, imperfection. A hadith is said to have ‘illa when seemingly it is authentic, but it contains a certain defect or a shortcoming hiding only to be realized later after deep research and consideration. The illa might be in the sanad or the matn of a hadith or both. Only the men and women of high knowledge, often the specialists, are capable of detecting the illa.
These are basic conditions that all Islamic schools, including the Ibadhi School, generally agree on. The question that arises here is that: if people hold a unanimous consensus on the validity of these principles why then they disagree on accepting and rejecting some accounts and traditions – why not apply these principles to the hadith when studying them, whichever goes parallel with the principles is accepted and whichever contradicts them or one of them is refuted? Why not take this position? Instead, you will many times find that while there are those who accept a certain tradition, for example, there are many others who reject the same tradition on the grounds that it is not authentic. It seems a more analytical survey is needed to discover the reasons behind that.
From the respected Shaykh Juma Al-Mazrui (May Allah continue to bless him and benefit us by him).
To be continued in the article no. 2 insh’Allah.