Chapter One – Section One: The Origins of the Sciences of Hadith Amongst the Ahlus Sunnah.

Prefatory Chapter
October 1, 2021
Section Two – The Origins of the Science of Hadith Amongst the Rawafid
October 1, 2021

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Chapter One

The Origins of the Sciences of Hadith between the Ahlus Sunnah and the Rawafid


This chapter comprises of two sections:

Section One: The Origins of the Sciences of Hadith Amongst the Ahlus Sunnah.

Section Two: The Origins of the Sciences of Hadith Amongst the Shia.


Section One

The Origins of the Sciences of Hadith Amongst the Ahlus Sunnah


Every nation has something which it prides itself on in its past and in its present, whether it be in the field of academics on in any other field.

From the many fields wherein the Muslim Ummah surpassed all others during its golden era, and wherein it vanquished all the nations of the world, is the academic field with its various branches.

The most important of these branches, to which the scholars of Islam lent much importance, were the sciences related to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The Muslim Ummah has, since the era of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lent the Qur’an importance which is unmatched in the entire world. That is in terms of its transmission from Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, its compilation, its documentation, and its memorization. Also in terms of writing it meticulously, interpreting it, expounding on its sciences and the various readings in which it can be read, to the extent that all of this has been recorded in thousands of books.

Furthermore, because the Pristine Sunnah qualifies the absolute of the Qur’an, clarifies its equivocal, details its vague, specifies its general, etc., the Ahlus Sunnah realized its value and its stature, and hence laid down very intricate academic principles to ensure its preservation. As a result, the science of Hadith terminology and its principles came into existence, a science which history despite its longevity, since Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala created the earth and its inhabitants till now, has not known the likes of; a science which founded principles for the authentication of narrations and the verification of attributing them to their advancers.

One of the Orientalists has very aptly said, and the truth is always that to which even the enemies attest, “Let the Muslims be proud of the sciences of their Hadith.”

So, the Ahlus Sunnah are the people who enjoy this feat. They are the erectors of this eternal structure and the key holders of its various palaces. Why not, when they are the heirs of the Prophets ‘alayhim al Salam and their vicegerents, the bearers of the Shari’ah, the custodians of the religion, and the protectors of the Din. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala reward the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah with the best of rewards.

The initial traces of this science of the Ahlus Sunnah—the experts of this phenomenon— appeared at a very early stage. In fact, it would be apt to aver that it started during the era of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam due to the injunction of the Qur’an which demands that we should verify the reports that reach us, check the integrity of those who report them, and that we should not be hasty in passing rulings before confirming their veracity. Hence, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:


يا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done regretful.[1]


The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, thus, exercised caution and acted stringently in the matter of narrations in order to preserve the Din and protect the Shari’ah.[2] In their transmission of the Hadith of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam they abided by such principles of transmission which later formed the basis of this science in subsequent times. They implemented the principles of the Qur’anic method which is based on the impermissibility of lying, on rejecting the narration of a liar, deeming integrity to be a prerequisite for the acceptance of the report of a narrator, verification in every matter, and the impermissibility of transmitting a false narration. They also mitigated the transmission of narrations, verified their authenticity and meticulously narrated them, as well as critiqued them by juxtaposing them against the texts of the Shari’ah and its principles.

Similarly, this science developed mixed with other sciences like the science of Fiqh (jurisprudence), and there was no specific and comprehensive book written regarding it until the fourth century. Whatever had appeared before that, were snippets and scattered statements and segments regarding certain issues which came along within discussions of jurisprudence and the principles of Shari’ah. This is discernible in al Risalah of al Shafi’i (d. 204 A.H.). Thus, in his books al Risalah and al Umm, al Shafi’i elaborated on issues like drawing evidence from the Sunnah, the narration of a lone narrator being proof, the requisite of memorization in a narrator, the accepting of the narration of a Mudallis, one who intentionally omits the narrator above him, if he explicitly states that he heard it from the link above, etc.

We will also find scattered aspects of this science in the statements and the writings of Yahya ibn Ma’in (d. 233 A.H.), ‘Ali ibn al Madini (d. 234 A.H.), Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Numair (d. 234 A.H.), Ahmed ibn Hambal (d. 241 A.H.), Abu Jafar al Makhrami (d. 242 A.H.), al Bukhari (d. 256 A.H.), Muslim (d. 261 A.H.), al ‘Ijli (d. 261 A.H.), al Tirmidhi (d. 279 A.H.), and al Nasa’i (d. 303 A.H).

Thereafter, in the beginning of the fourth century some scholars decided to gather the various discussions on hadith and its principles in a book. Hence:

  1. Abu Muhammad, al Hassan ibn ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Khallad al Ramahurmuzi (d. 360 A.H.) authored the book: al Muhaddith al Fasil bayn al Rawi wa al Wa’i. He was the first scholar to author a book exclusively dedicated to the science of Hadith. He managed to put together all the issues which were at his disposal, but he did not cover all its discussions and aspects, as is the case with any initial work. Subsequent to that, other books were authored and completed what he had missed.
  2. Ma’rifah ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) of al Hakim Abu ‘Abdullah al Naysaburi (d. 405 A.H.).
  3. Al Madkhal Ila Kitab al Iklil (published) of al Hakim as well.
  4. Al Kifayah fi ‘Ilm al Riwayah (published) of al Khatib al Baghdadi (d. 463 A.H.).
  5. Al Jami’ li Akhlaq al Rawi wa Adab al Sami’ (published) of al Khatib as well.
  6. Al Ilma’ ila Ma’rifah Usul al Riwayah wa Taqyid al Sama’ (published) of al Qadi ‘Iyad (d. 544 A.H.).
  7. Ma la Yasa’ al Muhaddith Jahlah (published) of Abu Hafs al Miyanji ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul Majid (d. 580 A.H.).
  8. ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) Ibn al Salah Abu ‘Amr, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Abdur Rahman (d. 643 A.H.). This book is famously known as the Muqaddimah Ibn al Salah and therein he has elucidated on sixty-five different categories of Hadith.


Then, after Ibn al Salah the era of rendering in poetry, abridging, commentating, annotating and adding on begun. Here under is a list of the books of this era:

  1. Irshad Tullab al Haqa’iq (published) of al Nawawi (d. 676 A.H.). In this book he condensed the Muqaddimah of Ibn al Salah.
  2. Al Taqrib wa al Taysir li Ma’rifah Sunan al Bashir al Nadhir (published) of al Nawawi as well. This is an abridged version of the aforementioned.
  3. Aqsa al Amal wa al Sul fi Ulum Ahadith al Rasul (published) of Shihab al Din al Khubi, Abi ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Khalil (d. 693 A.H.). This is a poem which consists of one thousand six hundred verses.
  4. Al Iqtirah fi Bayan al Istilah (published) of Ibn Daqiq al ‘Id (d. 702 A.H.).
  5. Rusum al Tahdith fi ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) of Ibrahim ibn ‘Umar al Ja’bari (d. 732 A.H.).
  6. Tadhkirah al Sami’ wa al Mutakallim fi Adab al ‘Alim wa al Muta’allim (published) of Ibn Jama’ah, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim (d. 733 A.H.).
  7. Al Manhal al Rawi fi Mukhtasar ‘Ulum al Hadith al Nabawi (published) of Ibn Jama’ah as well; therein he abridged the Muqaddimah of Ibn al Salah.
  8. Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) of Sharaf al Din, Hassan ibn Muhammad (d. 743 A.H.).
  9. Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) of Ibn Kathir (d. 774 A.H.).
  10. Al Nukat ‘ala Muqaddimah Ibn al Salah (published) of Badr al Din al Zarkashi, Muhammad ibn Bahadur (d. 794 A.H.).
  11. Mahasin al Istilah wa Tadmin Ibn al Salah (published) of al Bulqini, Siraj al Din, ‘Umar ibn Raslan (d. 805 A.H.). This is his annotations upon the Muqaddimah of Ibn al Salah.
  12. Al Taqyid wa al Idah lima Utliqa wa Ughliqa min Kitab Ibn al Salah (published) of Zayn al Din al ‘Iraqi (d. 805 A.H.). This is his finer points on the Muqaddimah of Ibn al Salah.
  13. Al Tabsirah wa al Tadhkirah (published) of al ‘Iraqi as well. This is a rendition of the Muqaddimah of Ibn al Salah in poetry, and is popularly known as the Alfiyyah of al ‘Iraqi.
  14. Sharh al Tabsirah wa al Tadhkirah (published) of al ‘Iraqi as well. It is a commentary of the poem enlisted above.
  15. Tanqih al Anzar fi ‘Ulum al Athar (published with its commentary Tawdih al Afkar) of Muhammad ibn al Wazir al San’ani (d. 840 A.H.)
  16. Nukhbat al Fikr fi Mustalah Ahl al Athar (published) of Ibn Hajar al ‘Asqalani (d. 852 A.H.).
  17. Nuzhat al Nazr fi Tawdih Nukhbat al Fikr (published) of Ibn Hajar as well. This is the commentary of his
  18. Al Nukat ‘ala Kitab Ibn al Salah (published) of Ibn Hajar as well.
  19. Al Nukat al Wafiyyah bima fi Sharh al Alfiyyah (published) of al Biqa’i (d. 885 A.H.).
  20. Fath al Mughith fi Sharh Alfiyyah al Hadith (published) of al Sakhawi (d. 902 A.H.). This is a commentary of the Alfiyyah of al ‘Iraqi.
  21. Alfiyyah al Suyuti (published) of al Suyuti (d. 911 A.H.).
  22. Tadrib al Rawi fi Sharh Taqrib al Nawawi (published) of al Suyuti as well.
  23. Fath al Baqi ‘ala Alfiyyah al ‘Iraqi (published) of Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al Ansari (d. 925 A.H.).
  24. Qafw al Athar fi Safwah ‘Ulum al Athar (published) of Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al Halabi al Hanafi (d. 971 A.H.).
  25. Mustalahat Ahl al Athar ‘ala Sharh Nukhbat al Fikar (published) of Mulla ‘Ali al Qari (d. 1014 A.H.).
  26. Al Yawaqit wa al Durar fi Sharh Sharh Nukhbat al Fikar (published) of al Munawi (d. 1031 A.H.).
  27. Zafar al Amani fi Sharh Mukhtasar al Jurjani (published) of Abu al Hassanat, Muhammad ‘Abdul Hayy al Laknawi (d. 1304 A.H.).
  28. Al Manzumah al Bayquniyyah (published) of ‘Umar ibn Muhammad al Bayquni (d. 1080 A.H.). This is poem which consists of thirty-four verses.
  29. Bahjat al Nazr bi Sharh Sharh Nukhbat al Fikar (published) of Abu al Hassan, al Saghir Muhammad ibn Sadiq ibn ‘Abdul Hadi al Sindi al Madani (d. 1138 A.H.). This is commentary of Nuzhat al Nazr Sharh Nukhbat al Fikar.
  30. Tawdih al Afkar li Ma’ani Tanqih al Anzar (published) of Muhammad ibn Ismail al San’ani (d. 1182 A.H.).
  31. Manhaj Dhawi al Nazr fi Sharh Manzumah ‘Ilm al Athar (published) of Muhammad Mahfuz ibn ‘Abdullah al Turmusi (d. 1329 A.H.). This is a commentary on the Alfiyyah of al Suyuti.
  32. Qawa’id al Tahdith min Funun Mustalah al Hadith (published) of Jamal al Din al Qasimi (d. 1332 A.H.).
  33. Tawjih al Nazr Ila Usul al Athar (published) of Tahir al Jaza’iri al Dimashqi (d. 1338 A.H.).
  34. Qawa’id fi ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) of Zafar Ahmed al ‘Uthmani al Thanwi (d. 1394 A.H.).
  35. Al Manhal al Hadith fi ‘Ulum al Hadith (published) of Muhammad ‘Abdul ‘Azim al Zurqani (d. 1948 A.H.).


There are many contemporary books as well regarding Hadith terminology like: al Manhaj al Hadith fi ‘Ulum al Hadith of Muhammad al Sammahi, al Wasit fi ‘Ulum wa Mustalah al Hadith of Muhammad Abu Shuhbah, Taysir Mustalah al Hadith of Mahmud al Tahhan, and Manhaj al Naqd fi ‘Ulum al Hadith of Nur al Din ‘Itr, etc.

This is a brief glimpse of the development of the sciences of Hadith by the Ahlus Sunnah. From the above it is evident that the first scholar to author a book regarding it was al Ramahurmuzi (d. 360), i.e. his book: al Muhaddith al Fasil Bayn al Rawi wa al Wa’i. Although there were books authored before him, but they were books dedicated to scattered topics, as has passed, whereas this book was the most comprehensive books in its time. Thereafter this science expanded tremendously in the times that followed.

We also learnt that this science originated since the first era of Islam and continued to endure side by side with the pristine Sunnah of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam till this day as its protector and guardian against any lies, forgeries, fraud, distortion; owing to which that would be attributed to Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which he did not say or that would make its way into the Din which is not actually part of it. Hence, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, by way of this science and all its accompanying sciences protected his Din and his Shari’ah in general, and the Hadith of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam more specifically.[3]


NEXT⇒ Section Two – The Origins of the Science of Hadith Amongst the Rawafid

[1] Surah al Hujurat: 6.

[2]  See some examples of this in our treatise: Nash’ah al Jarh wa al Ta’dil ‘ind Ahlus Sunnah.

[3] See: Nuzhat al Nazr of Ibn Hajar, its introduction; Tadrib al Rawi, 1/15; Qawa’id al Tahdith, p. 6; Qafw al Athar, 1/40; ‘Ulum al Hadith Asiluha wa Mu’asiruha, p. 14.