Chapter Five- Gradings of Hadith According to the Shia – Section one: Gradings of hadith according to the Akhbari Shia

Section Four – The Four Hundred Principal Sources
October 1, 2021
Chapter One – Mujmal (general) Tawthiq between al Hilli and al Khu’i – 1.1 Tawthiq of a narrator on account of him being one of the teachers of al Najjashi in his work Rijal al Najjashi
October 12, 2021

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Chapter Five

Gradings of Hadith According to the Shia

Hereunder there are two sections:

Section one: Gradings of hadith according to the Akhbari Shia

Section two: Gradings of hadith according to the Usuli Shia


Chapter Five

Gradings of Hadith according to the Shia

As has passed already, the categorization of hadith according to the Shia into Sahih, Hassan, Muwaththaq, and Da’if was a result of their interaction with the Ahlus Sunnah and being influenced by them, coupled with their motive to restore confidence in some of their narrations. Even though in doing so they have trodden the part of deceit and obfuscation, and even though they fumbled in this science, the basis of which was laid by, and the pillars whereof were enforced by, the great scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah. This is not withstanding that the Shia ideology demands avoiding the Ahlus Sunnah and practicing upon that which opposes them.

The Shia are nothing but imitators of the Ahlus Sunnah in this science. They have not presented anything new other than what is specific to their dogma; to the extent that even the examples which they have cited, they have taken from the books of the Ahlus Sunnah. They were unable to present new examples from their side besides at a few rare occasions. Previously, we have already cited some evidences which support our viewpoint from their credible sources. This was in the discussion about the inception of the science of hadith by the Shia, so refer to it, for it is a very crucial discussion.

Here I just want to remind you of the statement of their scholar al Hurr al ‘Amili (d. 1104 A.H.) who says:


والاصطلاح الجديد موافق لاعتقاد العامة واصطلاحهم، بل هو مأخوذ من كتبهم كما هو ظاهر بالتتبع وكما يفهم من كلام الشيخ حسن وغيره، وقد أمرنا الأئمة عليهم السلام باجتناب طريقة العامة وقد تقدم بعض ما يدل على ذلك في القضاء في أحاديث ترجيح الحديثين المختلفين وغيرها

The new terminology is in accordance with the belief of the commonality [the Ahlus Sunnah] and their nomenclature, as is clear after empirical study, and as is understood from the speech of al Sheikh Hassan and others. And the Imams have ordered us to avoid the way of the commonality, and some aspects which allude to this have passed under the discussion about how to judge in narrations and give preference between two conflicting reports and elsewhere.[1]


The Gradings of Hadith according to the Akhbari Shia

Muhy al Din al Gharifi says:


وقد شجب الأخبار يون تنويع الحديث، وعدّوه من البدع التي يحرم العمل بها. وبسطوا البحث في إبطاله، وإثبات صحة جميع أخبار كتبنا الأربعة ، بل جميع الأخبار التي نقلوها عن الكتب المعتبرة، لأنها محفوفة بقرائن تفيد الوثوق بصدورها عن المعصوم. وقد استدل الشيخ يوسف البحراني على ذلك بستة وجوه، وقال: إلى غير ذلك من الوجوه التي أنهيناها في كتاب المسائل إلى اثني عشر وجهاً، وطالب الحق المنصف تكفيه الإشارة، والمكابر المتعسف لا ينتفع ولوبألف عبارة، كما استدل عليه الشيخ محمد بن الحسن الحر باثنين وعشرين وجهاً في الفائدة التاسعة التي عقدها لإثبات صحة أحاديث جميع الكتب التي جمع منها كتابه وسائل الشيعة، وحكم بوجوب العمل بها أجمع. وعلى هذه الوتيرة جرى الفيض الكاشاني في كتابه الوافي. وجميع ما ذكروه يتلخص في دعويين: الأولى : احتفاف جميع الأخبار التي يستدل بها في الشريعة بقرائن تفيد الوثوق والقطع بصدورها عن المعصوم (ع) ، فهي حجة بأجمعها ، فيبطل تنويعها ، لأن مقتضاه عدم حجية بعضها ، كضعيف السند. الثانية : انحصار الحجة من الأخبار لدى قدماء فقهائنا بما احتف بتلك القرائن ، فيكون التنويع بلحاظ رجال السند من الحادثات والبدع التي يحرم العمل بها

The Akhbaris[2] have bemoaned the categorization of hadith and have considered it to be an innovation which is impermissible to implement. They have at length discussed the invalidity of it, and have established the authenticity of all the narrations which come in our four books,[3] in fact all the narrations which they have transmitted from their reliable books. This is because they are surrounded by indicators which smack off confidence that they originated from the infallible. Hence, al Sheikh Yusuf al Bahrani has substantiated this in six different ways and has said, “And many more ways which we have culminated at twelve. And for a seeker of the truth even an indication is enough, and for an arrogant and obstinate person not even a thousand statements will suffice.”[4] Likewise al Sheikh Muhammad ibn al Hassan al Hurr has substantiated this with twenty-two evidences under the ‘Ninth Note’ which he has established to prove the authenticity of all the narrations of the books which he has collected in his book Wasa’il al Shia; he has ruled that it is obligatory to practice upon all of them. Similar is the approach of al Fayd al Kashani in his book al Wafi.[5] And whatever they have mentioned can be condensed in two claims:

The first claim: All the narrations which are used as evidence in Shari’ah enjoy contextual indicators which suggest their authenticity and categoricity about them originating from the infallible. Hence, they are all are evidence and therefore it is invalid to categorize them. For that would demand that some of them are not evidence material, like a narration with a weak chain of transmission.

The second claim: Evidence being confined according to our early jurists to only those narrations which are surrounded by such indicators. Hence, categorizing the narrations as per the transmitters of the chain is an innovation and an invention practicing upon which is impermissible.[6]


And al Hurr al ‘Amili says in Wasa’il al Shia:


للصحيح عند القدماء وسائر الأخباريين ثلاثة معان، أحدها: ما علم وروده عن المعصوم. وثانيها: ذلك، مع قيد زائد، وهو عدم معارض أقوى منه بمخالفة التقية ونحوها. وثالثها: ما قطع بصحة مضمونة في الواقع أي: بأنه حكم الله ولو لم يقطع بوروده عن المعصوم. وللضعيف عندهم ثلاثة معان مقابلة لمعنى الصحيح: أحدها: ما لم يعلم ووروده عن المعصوم بشئ من القرائن. وثانيها: ما علم وروده وظهر له معارض أقوى منه وثالثها: ما علم عدم صحة مضمونة في الواقع لمخافته للضروريات ونحوها

Sahih according to the early scholars, and all the Akhbaris has three meanings:

    1. That which is known to have originated from the infallible.
    2. The same, but with an additional clause, i.e. the absence of a stronger contradicting report due to Taqiyyah and similar reasons.
    3. A narration the content whereof can be categorically confirmed in reality, i.e. that it is the ruling of Allah, even though its origination from the Imam is unknown.

And Da’if has three meanings, which are the opposites of the meanings of al Sahih.

    1. That which is not known to have originated from the Imam through any indicators.
    2. That which is known to have originated from him, but is opposed by a stronger narration.
    3. A narration the content whereof is known categorically to be invalid, due to it opposing the categorical aspects or for similar reasons.[7]


In conclusion, the Akhbari Shia have no knowledge of the science of hadith terminology. For they embrace with acceptance everything that has come from their Imams in their reliable books of hadith. In fact, they consider every hadith, including its wording, its diacritical marks, the sequence of the words and the letters to all be established by way of mass transmission.

These four books of hadith emerged in the fourth and fifth centuries. And their authors believed in the authenticity of whatever they included in them. The Shia thereafter for close to three centuries were not different from the Akhbaris and their leanings. And the first person to introduce hadith terminology and clarify its various gradings in their dogma was al Hassan ibn al Mutahhar al Hilli, known as al ‘Allamah, who died in 726 A.H.[8]


NEXT⇒ Section Two – The Gradings of Hadith According to the Usuli Rawafid

[1] Wasa’il al Shia, 30/259.

[2] The Twelver Imami Rawafid are made up of two groups:

  1. The Akhbaris: They accept all the narrations and reports which feature in their books, especially in their four early books: al Kafi, al Istibsar, Man la Yahduruhu al Faqih, and al Tahdhib. The Imami Shia were upon this methodology up until the mid-seventh century wherein one of their scholars Ibn Tawus wrote a book regarding hadith terminology which he plagiarized from the Ahlus Sunnah. He was thereafter followed by his student who is titled al ‘Allamah al Hilli (d. 726 A.H.), whom Ibn Taymiyyah had refuted in his monumental work Minhaj al Sunnah. Thereafter the Shia followed and embraced what was introduced by Ibn Tawus and his student al Hilli. They, thus, became known as the Usulis.
  2. The Usulis: They aver that not everything in their books is credible and, thus, subject their narrations to investigation and scrutiny. They did not do so out of their love to follow the truth or to live according to the authentic Sunnah, rather they did so to counter the criticism of the Ahlus Sunnah of their belief in the interpolation of the Qur’an and many such problematic beliefs and ideas which are abundantly found in their books.

Most of the Rafidah in our time are from the Usuli group and from the Akhbaris there remains a fringe minority in Bahrain. And the dispute between the two groups still continues unabated.

Some of the scholars of the Akhbaris are: al Kulayni the author of al Kafi, Ibn Babawayh al Qummi the author of Man la Yahduruhu al Faqih, al Mufid the author of Awa’il al Maqalat, al Hurr al ‘Amili the author of Wasa’il al Shia, al Kashani the author of al Wafi, al Nuri al Tabarsi the author of Mustadrak al Wasa’il, Muhammad Husayn Al Kashif al Ghita’ the author of Asl al Shia wa Usuluha.

And some of the Usuli scholars are: Al Tusi the author of al Istibsar and Tahdhib al Ahkam, and al Murtada to who or to whose brother the book Nahj al Balaghah is attributed. And from the contemporaries some of their scholars are: Khomeini, al Khu’i, Muhsin al Hakim, Shari’at Madari, amongst others.

[3] Al Kafi, Man la Yahduruhu al Faqih, Tahdhib al Ahkam, and al Istibsar.

[4] Al Hada’iq al Nadirah, 1/15, 24.

[5] Al Wafi, 1/11.

[6] Qawa’id al Hadith, 16, 17 of Muhy al Din al Musawi al Gharifi.

[7] Wasa’il al Shia, 30/273, 274.

[8] Diya’ al Riwayah, p. 23.