The Classification Of Hadith: According To The Reference To A Particular Authority

The Classification Of Hadith: According To The Reference To A Particular Authority

The following principal types of hadith are important:

  • Marfu` – “elevated”: A narration from the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), e.g. a reporter (whether a Companion, Successor or other) says, “The Messenger of Allah said …” For example, the very first hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari is as follows: Al-Bukhari === Al-Humaidi `Abdullah b. al-Zubair === Sufyan === Yahya b. Sa`id al-Ansari === Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Taymi === ‘Alqamah b. Waqqas al-Laithi, who said: I heard `Umar b. al-Khattab saying, while on the pulpit, “I heard Allah’s Messenger (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) saying: The reward of deeds depends on the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended; so whoever emigrated for wordly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he migrated.”
  • Mauquf – “stopped”: A narration from a Companion only, i.e. his own statement; e.g. al-Bukhari reports in his Sahih, in Kitab al-Fara’id (Book of the Laws of Inheritance), that Abu Bakr, Ibn `Abbas and Ibn al-Zubair said, “The grandfather is (treated like) a father.” It should be noted that certain expressions used by a Companion generally render a hadith to be considered as being effectively Marfu` although it is Mauquf on the face of it, e.g. the following:”We were commanded to …””We were forbidden from …””We used to do …””We used to say/do … while the Messenger of Allah was amongst us.””We did not use to mind such-and-such…””It used to be said …””It is from the Sunnah to …””It was revealed in the following circumstances: …”, speaking about a verse of the Qur’an.
  • Maqtu`- “severed”: A narration from a Successor, e.g. Muslim reports in the Introduction to his Sahih that Ibn Sirin (d. 110) said, “This knowledge (i.e. Hadith) is the Religion, so be careful from whom you take your religion.”

The authenticity of each of the above three types of hadith depends on other factors such as the reliability of its reporters, the nature of the linkage amongst them, etc. However, the above classification is extremely useful, since through it the sayings of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) can be distinguished at once from those of Companions or Successors; this is especially helpful in debate about matters of Fiqh.

Imam Malik’s Al-Muwatta’, one of the early collections of hadith, contains a relatively even ratio of these types of hadith, as well as Mursal ahadith (which are discussed later). According to Abu Bakr al-Abhari (d. 375), Al-Muwatta’ contains the following:

  • 600 Marfu` ahadith,
  • 613 Mauquf ahadith,
  • 285 Maqtu` ahadith, and
  • 228 Mursal ahadith; a total of 1726 ahadith.6

Among other collections, relatively more Mauquf and Maqtu` ahadith are found in Al-Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaibah (d. 235), Al-Musannaf of `Abd al-Razzaq (d. 211) and the Tafsirs of Ibn Jarir (d. 310), Ibn Abi Hatim (d. 327) and Ibn al-Mundhir (d. 319).7