Separating Wheat from Chaff

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And true virtue is what crit­ics can­not help but acknowl­edge” goes the pop­u­lar adage.[1] A case in point is where the renowned Ori­en­tal­ist Aloys Sprenger (d. 1893 CE) hum­bles his pen to write, “There is no nation, nor has there been any which like them [Mus­lims] has dur­ing twelve cen­turies record­ed the life of every man of let­ters.”[2] The exclu­siv­i­ty of Mus­lims vis-à-vis the isnādimage sys­tem, as explained ear­li­er, lies in their detailed eval­u­a­tions of the trans­mit­ters who form the chains of trans­mis­sion, bet­ter known as al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl (lit. crit­i­cism and accred­i­ta­tion). In this arti­cle, we will briefly out­line the ori­gins and devel­op­ment, basic nomen­cla­ture, pro­ce­dures, and rel­e­vant lit­er­a­ture in the sci­ence of al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl (hence­forth nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism).

To ensure the accu­rate trans­mis­sion of the Prophet’s teach­ings, the sci­ence of nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism inher­ent­ly involves an expo­si­tion of a narrator’s per­son­al details. [3] Dis­clos­ing a narrator’s faults for a greater need can be jus­ti­fied by vers­es from the Qur’ān,[4] the prac­tice of the Prophet (peace and bless­ings be upon him),[5] and the high­er objec­tives of Islam­ic law.[6] Since this per­mis­sion was grant­ed as an excep­tion, it is lim­it­ed to dis­clos­ing rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion that has a direct bear­ing on trans­mis­sion.[7] Con­se­quent­ly, when a narrator’s sta­tus can be made appar­ent by high­light­ing one flaw, it is unlaw­ful to men­tion a sec­ond.[8]

Nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism began ear­ly in Islam­ic his­to­ry.[9] Among the Com­pan­ions, the names of ‘Umar, ‘Alī, Ibn ‘Abbās, and ‘A’ishah (Allāh be pleased with them) fea­ture promi­nent­ly among the first group of nar­ra­tor crit­ics.[10] This prac­tice was then inher­it­ed by the sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tion of senior Suc­ces­sors, such as Sa‘īd ibn al-Musayyab (d. 94 AH),[11] ‘Amir al-Sha‘bī (d. 103 AH), and Ibn Sīrīn (d. 110 AH).[12] Like oth­er Islam­ic dis­ci­plines, the mate­r­i­al on nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism dur­ing the first cen­tu­ry is fair­ly min­i­mal. This owes itself to the fact that trans­mit­ters at the time were either Com­pan­ions, who were col­lec­tive­ly upright, or senior Suc­ces­sors, among whom were rel­a­tive­ly few impugned trans­mit­ters.[13]

From the mid sec­ond cen­tu­ry, nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism began to take form as a dis­tinct sci­ence with an increase in the num­ber of expert crit­ics and the for­mu­la­tion of nar­ra­tor cat­e­go­riza­tion.[14] Apart from an apoc­ryphal report attrib­uted to ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib,[15] the ear­li­est extant trans­mit­ter cat­e­go­riza­tion belongs to ‘Abd al-Rah­mān ibn Mahdī (d. 198 AH) whose tri­par­tite clas­si­fi­ca­tion is as fol­lows: (1) an expert pro­lif­ic mem­o­riz­er; there is no dis­agree­ment regard­ing him (2) who errs but major­i­ty of his nar­ra­tions are authen­tic; his nar­ra­tions will not be aban­doned (3) whose nar­ra­tions are pre­dom­i­nant­ly mis­takes; his nar­ra­tions will be aban­doned.[16] In the fol­low­ing cen­tu­ry, Mus­lim ibn al-Hajjāj (d. 261 AH) cat­e­go­rized nar­ra­tors into three class­es[17] and Abū ‘Īsā al-Tir­mid­hī (d. 279 AH) into four but with­in a sim­i­lar frame­work.[18] These three schol­ars laid the foun­da­tion of sys­tem­at­ic nar­ra­tor cat­e­go­riza­tion and assess­ment for those who fol­lowed. [19]

Ear­ly nar­ra­tor crit­ics used var­i­ous expres­sions to either crit­i­cize or approve nar­ra­tors, with­out any uni­ver­sal prin­ci­ple gov­ern­ing the appli­ca­tion of these expres­sions. A crit­ic would describe a nar­ra­tor with an expres­sion he believed would best reflect his sta­tus. [20] There­fore, when Yahyā ibn Maī‘n (d. 233 AH), for instance, describes a nar­ra­tor with the phrase ‘la ba’s bihī’ (lit. there is no issue with him) its indi­ca­tion would not nec­es­sar­i­ly be the same had it come from anoth­er crit­ic, say, Ahmad ibn Han­bal (d. 241 AH). [21] Inher­it­ing this rich, albeit scat­tered, her­itage of nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism from his pre­de­ces­sors, Ibn Abī Hātim al-Rāzī (d. 327 AH) set out to orga­nize these expres­sions in a coher­ent form.[22] The fol­low­ing chart illus­trates his ren­di­tion of these expres­sions: [23]

Expres­sions of Accred­i­ta­tion
1.     Reli­able, or expert, or pre­cise [thiqah, or mutqin, or thabt ][24] Nar­ra­tions can be adduced in legal dis­course
2.     Truth­ful, his place is of truth, or no prob­lem [sadūq, mahal­luhū al-sidq, lā ba’s bihī] Nar­ra­tions will be record­ed and exam­ined
3.     Ven­er­a­ble [shaykh] Nar­ra­tions will be record­ed and exam­ined, but sta­tus is below the sec­ond cat­e­go­ry
4.     Suit­able in Hadīth [sālih al-hadīth] Nar­ra­tions will be record­ed for con­sid­er­a­tion
Expres­sions of Crit­i­cism
1.     Lenient in Hadīth [layyin al-hadīth] Nar­ra­tions will be record­ed and exam­ined for con­sid­er­a­tion
2.     Not strong [laysa bi qawī] Like the first in writ­ing of nar­ra­tions, but low­er sta­tus
3.     Weak in Hadīth [da‘īf al-hadīth] Below the sec­ond, and nar­ra­tions will be con­sid­ered
4.     Aban­doned in Hadīth or unre­li­able in Hadīth or liar [matrūk al-hadīth, dhāhib al-hadīth, kad­hd­hāb] Unre­li­able, and nar­ra­tions will not be record­ed

Schol­ars after al-Rāzī expound­ed and built upon his cat­e­go­riza­tion, such as Ibn al-Salāh (d. 643 AH),[25] al-Dha­habī (d. 748 AH),[26] al-‘Irāqī (d. 806 AH),[27] Ibn Hajar (d. 852 AH),[28] al-Sakhāwī (d. 902), [29] and al-Suyūtī (d. 911 AH).[30]

Before pass­ing a judg­ment, a crit­ic would have to take a range of issues into con­sid­er­a­tion: a narrator’s per­son­al­i­ty, nar­ra­tions, teach­ers, beliefs, trav­els, etc.[31] But in a nut­shell, the most impor­tant areas which drew the inter­est of crit­ics, and which formed the basis for oth­er cri­te­ria, are a narrator’s integri­ty (‘adālah) and reten­tion (dabt).[32] There are a num­ber of meth­ods crit­ics employed to gauge a narrator’s integri­ty and reten­tion, but for the sake of brevi­ty, we will look at four com­mon meth­ods. [33]

The first, and most obvi­ous, method was to observe the activ­i­ties or study the doc­u­ment­ed life of a nar­ra­tor.[34] The sec­ond method was to ask a nar­ra­tor ques­tions relat­ed to his hadiths like the time and/or place he heard them or the descrip­tion of his infor­mant. ‘Āmir al-Khaz­zāz, for instance, was caught red hand­ed when he told a ques­tion­er that he heard from ‘Atā ibn Abī Rabāh in the year 124 AH—more than a decade after ‘Atā’ had passed away.[35] The third method was to exam­ine a nar­ra­tor. This was car­ried out by pre­sent­ing him unfa­mil­iar or altered nar­ra­tions (talqīn al-rāwī).[36] Depend­ing on how a nar­ra­tor react­ed to such nar­ra­tions, a crit­ic could gauge his alert­ness, or the lack there­of.[37] Alter­na­tive­ly, a crit­ic could engage a nar­ra­tor in a dis­cus­sion and there­by exam­ine his sta­tus as a trans­mit­ter.[38] It was through this method Ahmad ibn Muham­mad al-Waz­zān real­ized that al-Nadr ibn Salamah was a liar. [39] The fourth method was to ana­lyze the source texts (usūl) of a nar­ra­tor. For exam­ple, Abū Zur‘ah explains that he con­sult­ed the source texts of Suwayd ibn Sa‘īd and con­clud­ed that they are authen­tic; when he nar­rates from mem­o­ry, how­ev­er, he is unre­li­able. [40]

The eval­u­a­tions of these crit­ics were doc­u­ment­ed in var­i­ous books for schol­ar­ly ref­er­ence. The poroso­pograpi­cal lit­er­a­ture is vast—based on regions, schools of thought, field of study, etc.—and deserves an inde­pen­dent study. For the pur­pose of the present arti­cle, we can cat­e­go­rize the bio­graph­i­cal works of nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism into three broad cat­e­gories: reli­able trans­mit­ters, weak trans­mit­ters, and a com­bi­na­tion of both groups.[41] Extant lit­er­a­ture on reli­able trans­mit­ters[42] include Ibn Hibbān’s (d. 354 AH) al-Thiqāt[43] and Ibn Shāhīn’s (d. 385 AH) Tārīkh Asmā’ al-Thiqāt.[44] Extant lit­er­a­ture on weak trans­mit­ters include al-Bukhārī’s al-Du‘afā’ al-Saghīr, Ibn Hibbān’s al-Majrūhīn[45] and Ibn ‘Adī’s (d. 365) al-Kāmil fī Du‘afā’ al-Rijāl.[46] Extant lit­er­a­ture that com­pris­es trans­mit­ters of both groups include al-Bukhārī’s al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr[47] and Ibn Abī Hātim al-Rāzī’s (d. 327 AH) al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl.[48] A rich resource for nar­ra­tor eval­u­a­tions is the su’ālāt genre (Q&A), which have con­tri­bu­tions from lead­ing author­i­ties like Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn[49] and ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī (d. 234 AH).[50]

These crit­ics were, after all, human and there­fore prone to error.[51] With this in mind, lat­er schol­ars iden­ti­fied a num­ber of fac­tors that may have played a role in influ­enc­ing a critic’s judg­ment, such as vary­ing ten­den­cies,[52] pos­si­ble bias,[53] and region­al dif­fer­ences.[54] Be it as it may, it goes with­out say­ing that these schol­ars left an unpar­al­leled exam­ple of impar­tial­i­ty. [55] When it came to a mat­ter of trans­mis­sion, ‘Alī ibn al-Madīnī (d. 234 AH) had no qualms in reveal­ing his father’s weak­ness,[56] and Zayd ibn Abī ’Unaysah (d. c.125 AH) open­ly declared his brother’s inabil­i­ty to nar­rate.[57] They were unwill­ing to com­pro­mise their stan­dards of fair­ness even for a blank check, so to speak. When asked to remain silent about a doubt­ful indi­vid­ual in lieu of a hand­some sum of wealth, ‘Affān ibn Mus­lim al-Saf­fār (d. 220 AH) refused to accept the bribe despite his impov­er­ished state.[58] At this point, it is jus­ti­fied to echo the sen­ti­ments of the poet al-Faraz­daq (d. 110 AH), “These are my fore­fa­thers,  so now bring me their likes.”[59]

[1] Al-‘Askarī, Dīwān al-Ma‘ānī, vol.1, p.72.

[2] Sprenger, For­ward to A Bio­graph­i­cal Dic­tio­nary of Per­sons Who Knew Moham­mad, vol.1, p.1. He then writes, “If the bio­graph­i­cal records of the Musalmans were col­lect­ed, we should prob­a­bly have accounts of the lives of half a mil­lion of dis­tin­guished per­sons, and it would be found that there is not a decen­ni­um of their his­to­ry, nor a place of impor­tance which has not its rep­re­sen­ta­tives.” There is a degree of exag­ger­a­tion in these fig­ures, but there is no doubt that the Mus­lim civ­i­liza­tion is peer­less in this accom­plish­ment. See: Abū Ghud­dah, Lamahāt, p.163.

[3] Imāms al-Ghazālī (d. 505 AH) and al-Nawawī (d. 676 AH) explain six instances where speak­ing about the faults of oth­ers is law­ful and at times even nec­es­sary. The fourth instance is to cau­tion oth­ers from the evils of an indi­vid­ual, which includes nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism. See: al-Ghazālī, Ihyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, vol.3, pp.152–153; al-Nawawī, Riyād al-Sāli­hīn, pp.425–426.

[4] Such as the verse, “O you who believe, if a wicked per­son brings you any news, exam­ine it care­ful­ly, lest you should harm some peo­ple in igno­rance and after­wards you may have to repent for what you did” [Surat al-Hujurāt, verse 6].

[5] Al-Baghdādī, al-Kifāyah, p.35; Ibn al-Salāh, Ma‘rifat Anwā‘ ‘Ilm al-Hadīth, p.389; al-Suyūtī, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.5, pp.543–544; al-‘Umarī, Buhūth fī Tārīkh al-Sun­nah al-Mushar­rafah, pp.91–92. For instance, once while seat­ed with his com­pan­ions, he cau­tioned them of some­one by say­ing, “What a mis­er­able mem­ber of the com­mu­ni­ty.” See: al-Bukhārī, al-Jāmi‘ al-Mus­nad al-Sahīh, vol.8, p.13.

[6] Al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, pp.30–31, pp.34–39; al-Baghdādī, al-Kifāyah, p.37 ff.

[7] Al-Lak­nawī, al-Raf‘ wa al-Tak­mīl, p.11 ff.

[8] Al-Sakhāwī, Fath al-Mughīth, vol.4, p.359.

[9] In a trea­tise enti­tled “Dhikr Man Yu‘tamad Qawluhū fi al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl,” al-Dha­habī lists the nar­ra­tor crit­ics begin­ning from the end of the Companion’s age until his day. Notwith­stand­ing his omis­sion of a num­ber of key fig­ures, he man­aged to gath­er the names of 715 crit­ics divid­ing them into 22 class­es. In his sem­i­nal work al‑I‘lān bī al-Taw­bīkh, al-Sakhāwī sum­ma­rized the above trea­tise and added names of schol­ars until his day; a total of 210 fig­ures. See: al-Sakhāwī, al‑I‘lān bī al-Taw­bīkh, p.320 ff. Both lists can be found in the four trea­tise col­lec­tion “Arba‘ Rasā’il fī ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth” of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fat­tāh Abū Ghud­dah. Tāj al-Dīn al-Sub­kī (d. 771 AH) enu­mer­ates the pro­lif­ic mem­o­riz­ers (huf­fāż), start­ing with Abū Bakr (Allāh be pleased with him) and con­clud­ing with al-‘Alā’ī (d. 761 AH); a total of 212 fig­ures. See: al-Sub­kī, Tabaqāt al-Shāfi‘iyyah al-Kubrā, vol.1, pp.314–318. Note that none of these lists were intend­ed to be exhaus­tive. See: Abū Ghud­dah, Pref­ace to Dhkir Man Yu‘tamad Qawluhū, pp.163–166. For a list of names that could have been added, see: Abū Gud­dah, Pref­ace to al-Mutakallimūn fī al-Rijāl, p.84–85. Anoth­er ben­e­fi­cial read is Scott Lucas’ analy­ses of sev­en lists and three tabaqāt pre­sen­ta­tions of Hadīth crit­ics. See: Lucas, Con­struc­tive Crit­ics, pp.113–126.

[10] For reports on their nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism, see: Ibn ‘Adī, al-Kāmil fī Du‘afā’ al-Rijāl, pp.166–171. Ibn ‘Adī fur­ther men­tions the names of ‘Abd Allāh ibn Salām, ‘Ubā­dah ibn al-Sāmit, and Anas ibn Mālik. When read­ing these reports, it is impor­tant to note that the word ‘khad­ha­ba,’ which gen­er­al­ly means to lie, can also mean to err. See: Ibn Manżūr, Lisān al-‘Arab, vol.1, 709; al-Zabīdī, Tāj al-‘Arūs, vol.4, p.129. Al-Hākim men­tions the fol­low­ing four Com­pan­ions: Abū Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Alī, and Zayd ibn Thābit. See: al-Hākim, Ma‘rifat ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth, p.52.

[11] On the vow­eliza­tion of al-Musayyab, see: Ibn Khal­likān, Wafayāt al‑A‘yān, vol.2, p.378; al-Nawawī, Tahd­hīb al-Asmā’ wa al-Lughāt, vol.1, p.219.

[12] Ibn ‘Adī, al-Kāmil fī Du‘afā’ al-Rijāl, pp.172, 177, 179. Ibn ‘Adī goes on to enu­mer­ate a num­ber of oth­ers from this gen­er­a­tion. Ibn Rajab al-Han­balī writes that the first nar­ra­tor crit­ic was Ibn Sīrīn (Sharh ‘Ilal al-Tir­mid­hī, vol.1 p.355) while al-Dha­habī writes that it was al-Sha‘bī (Dhikr man Yu‘tamad, p.172). Since these crit­ics were all work­ing around the same time, it is under­stand­able why lat­er schol­ars would arrive at dif­fer­ent con­clu­sions. Nev­er­the­less, this dif­fer­ence is in respect to those who pro­ceed­ed the Com­pan­ions, as al-Dha­habī explains.

[13] Al-Dha­habī, Dhikr Man Yu‘tamad Qawluhū, p.173; al-Sakhāwī, al‑I‘lān bī al-Taw­bīkh, p.320. This should not lead one to think that the era of the Suc­ces­sors was void of weak trans­mit­ters. Yes, there were unre­li­able nar­ra­tors, but they were few in com­par­i­son to sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions. By way of illus­tra­tion, we can look at al-Bukhārī’s book on weak trans­mit­ters enti­tled “al-Du‘afā’ al-Saghīr.“ From a total of 418 entries, he includ­ed only 79 Suc­ces­sor entries—that is, 19%—keeping in mind that most of these entries are for junior Suc­ces­sors. See: al-Hasanī, Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, vol.1, pp.385–388.

[14] Al-Dha­habī, Dhikr Man Yu‘tamad Qawluhū, p.175; al-Sakhāwī, al‑I‘lān bī al-Taw­bīkh, p.320.

[15] A quadri­par­tite nar­ra­tor cat­e­go­riza­tion sup­pos­ed­ly for­mu­lat­ed by ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib goes as fol­lows: ‘Alī was asked about the hadiths of inno­va­tion and con­tra­dic­to­ry reports in cir­cu­la­tion, so he replied, “Indeed peo­ple are in pos­ses­sion of [the fol­low­ing types of reports] truth and false­hood, abroga­tor and abro­gat­ed, gen­er­al and spe­cif­ic, per­spic­u­ous and intri­cate, and pre­served and flawed.” After stat­ing that fab­ri­ca­tion began dur­ing the Prophet’s life­time, ‘Alī men­tions four cat­e­gories of nar­ra­tors: (1) a Hyp­ocrite who know­ing­ly lies about the Prophet (2) one who heard the Prophet but did not retain prop­er­ly and there­fore erred (3) one who heard a rul­ing from the Prophet but did not hear the lat­er abro­ga­tion (4) one who does not lie about Allah or His Prophet and retained what he heard prop­er­ly. He then says that the words of the Prophet were some­times mis­un­der­stood by the lis­ten­er, and that the Com­pan­ions would antic­i­pate for vil­lagers to come and ask the Prophet so they can also ben­e­fit. See: al-Sharīf, Nahj al-Balāghah, p.229–231; al-Qāsimī, Qawā‘id al-Tahdīth, p.162.

There are prob­lems with both the trans­mis­sion and con­tent of this report. First, it fea­tures in Nahj al-Balāghah, a col­lec­tion of say­ings attrib­uted to ‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib. Either ‘Alī ibn al-Husayn al-Mur­tadā (d. 436 AH) or his broth­er Muham­mad ibn al-Husayn al-Radī (d. 406 AH) is accused of fab­ri­cat­ing the reports found there­in. Regard­less of who com­piled the book, as al-Dha­habī explains, the prob­lem­at­ic con­tent is suf­fi­cient proof to negate its attri­bu­tion to ‘Alī. See: al-Dha­habī, Mīzān al‑I‘tidāl, vol.3, p.124, no.5827; Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’, vol.17, pp.286/589. Sec­ond, Rashīd Ridā (d. 1935 AH) men­tions eight rea­sons why the con­tent of this report is flawed. For instance, there is a clear anachro­nis­tic usage of tech­ni­cal terms (e.g. naskh, ‘ām, and muhkam). Fur­ther­more, this is obvi­ous­ly a par­ti­san attempt to cast doubt on the integri­ty of major­i­ty of the Com­pan­ions. See: Ridā, al-Manār, vol.34, pp.621–624.

It is worth adding that the tri­par­tite clas­si­fi­ca­tion cit­ed on the author­i­ty of ‘Ali in Usūl al-Shāshī, a Hanafī primer on legal the­o­ry, appears to be a para­phrase of the above report. See: al-Shāshī, Usūl al-Shāshī, pp.422–423.

[16] Mus­lim, al-Tamyīz, p.179. As a side note, the title of the giv­en ref­er­ence is al-Tamyīz (lit. to dis­tin­guish) because the author dis­tin­guish­es there­in errors from accu­rate trans­mis­sion. See: al-Hasanī, Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, vol.1, p.65.

[17] Mus­lim, Intro­duc­tion to al-Mus­nad al-Sahīh, pp.5–7. His tri­par­tite clas­si­fi­ca­tion is: (1) reli­able trans­mit­ters in whose trans­mis­sion there is no severe dis­agree­ment (2) a low­er class who are of virtue and truth­ful, but are not rec­og­nized with out­stand­ing mem­o­ry and pre­ci­sion (3) accused trans­mit­ters and those whose nar­ra­tions for the most part are detestable or errors. See: al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, p.292. For an impor­tant clar­i­fi­ca­tion on this cat­e­go­riza­tion, see: ‘Awwāmah, Pref­ace to Musan­naf Ibn Abī Shay­bah, vol.1, pp.102–105/Dirāsāt al-Kāshif, pp.188–192. In al-Tamyīz, Mus­lim speaks of three types of nar­ra­tors in respect to mem­o­riza­tion: (1) the pro­lif­ic mem­o­riz­er whose mem­o­ry is bril­liant and who avoids what is to be avoid­ed (2) the lax trans­mit­ter whose mem­o­ry fails— by erring or fal­ter­ing in response to altered hadiths (talqīn) (3) whose focus is mem­o­riz­ing hadith texts with­out their chains of trans­mis­sion there­by being neg­li­gent in mem­o­riz­ing the tra­di­tion; he errs there­after by attribut­ing them to the incor­rect source. See: Mus­lim, al-Tamyīz, p.170.

[18] See: Ibn Rajab al-Han­balī, Sharh ‘Ilal al-Tir­mid­hī, vol.1, pp.396, 435.

[19] Al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, pp.291–293.

[20] Al-‘Umarī, Buhūth, pp.95–96; al-‘Awnī, al-Man­haj al-Muq­tarah, p.246 ff.

[21] For an impor­tant clar­i­fi­ca­tion on Ibn Ma‘īn’s usage of this phrase, see: ‘Awwāmah, Dirāsāt al-Kāshif, pp.70–72.

[22] Ibn al-Salāh, Ma‘rifat Anwā‘ ‘Ilm al-Hadīth, p.121; al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, p.290, 294.

[23] Al-Rāzī, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, vol.2, p.32. By plac­ing a num­ber of terms in one cat­e­go­ry does not neces­si­tate that they are equal in indi­ca­tion. For exam­ple, the terms thiqah and mutqin are placed in one cat­e­go­ry, but are not equal. See: ‘Awwāmah, Foot­notes on Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.4, pp.178–179. He sub­stan­ti­ates the cat­e­go­riza­tion of these expres­sions from a report where ‘Abd al-Rah­mān ibn Mahdī is asked, “Is Abū Khal­dah reli­able?” and he replies, “He is truth­ful and trust­wor­thy, but Sufyān and Shu‘bah are reli­able.” See: al-Rāzī, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, vol.2, p.37.

[24] See foot­note no.1 in: al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, p.295.

[25] Ibn al-Salāh, Ma‘rifat Anwā‘ ‘Ilm al-Hadīth, pp.121–127.

[26] Al-Dha­habī, Mizān al‑I‘tidāl, vol.1, p.4.

[27] Al-‘Irāqī, Alfiyy­at al-Hadīth, no.326–349.

[28] Ibn Hajar, Nuzhat al-Nażar, pp.133–134. It should be not­ed that the six class cat­e­go­riza­tion out­lined in the intro­duc­tion to his al-Taqrīb is spe­cif­ic to that book and should not be extend­ed else­where. See: ‘Awwāmah, Intro­duc­tion to al-Taqrīb, p.26.

[29] Al-Sakhāwī, Fath al-Mughīth, vol.2, p.277.

[30] Al-Suyūtī, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.4, pp.181–202. See: al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, pp.295–296; al-Lak­nawī, al-Raf‘ wa al-Takmīl, pp.129 f.

[31] Abū Ghud­dah, Lamahāt min Tārīkh al-Sun­nah wa ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth, p.84.

[32] Al‑A‘żamī, Man­haj al-Naqd ‘ind al-Muhad­dithīn, p.20.

[33] See: al-Lāhim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, pp.43, 47, 62, 77.

[34] See, for instance, Ibn Ma‘īn, Ma‘rifat al-Rijāl, vol.1, p.66/ vol.2, p.31.

[35] Al-‘Uqaylī, Kitāb al-Du‘afā’, vol.3, p.30. Al-Dha­habī said, “He is a liar if he did this inten­tion­al­ly. But if he was con­fused with ‘Atā’ ibn al-Sā’ib, he will be aban­doned for poor mem­o­ry.” See: al-Dha­habī, Mizān al‑I‘tidāl, vol.2, p.360. For anoth­er exam­ple, see: al-Bagdādī, Tārīkh Baghdād, vol.8, p.184.

[36] On the usage of this form of exam­i­na­tion, see: al-Sakhāwī, Fath al-Mughīth, vol.2, pp.137–140. Ibn Hajar writes that it is per­mis­si­ble to shuf­fle the chain or text of a hadith to exam­ine a nar­ra­tor on con­di­tion that it is done only for the required time. See: Ibn Hajar, Nuzhat al-Nażar, p.96.

[37] See the exam­ple of Thābit al-Bunānī in: al-Rāzī, al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl, vol.2, p.449. Shu‘bah ibn al-Hajjāj had a habit of test­ing nar­ra­tors in this man­ner. See: Ibn Hajar, al-Nukat, vol.2, p.866.

[38] While describ­ing the 33rd chap­ter of his book Ma‘rifat ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth, al-Hākim writes, “This chap­ter per­tains to hadith dis­cus­sions and dis­tin­guish­ing there­by. And through dis­cus­sions a truth­ful nar­ra­tor can be rec­og­nized from one who is not, because a per­son who is reck­less dur­ing [hadīth] dis­cus­sions will be reck­less in nar­rat­ing hadīths.” See: al-Hākim, Ma‘rifat ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth, p.140.

[39] Ibn Hib­bān, al-Majrūhīn, vol.2, p.394.

[40] Abū Zur‘ah, Kitāb al-Du‘afā’ (As’ilat al-Bardha‘ī), vol.2, p.409. Also see: al-Baghdādī, Tārīkh Baghdād, vol.14, p.307.

[41] Al-‘Umarī, Buhūth fī Tārīkh al-Sun­nah al-Mushar­rafah, p.99.

[42] Ahmad al-‘Ijlī’s (d. 261 AH) work, famous­ly known as al-Thiqāt, is not spe­cif­ic to reli­able trans­mit­ters con­trary to what the pop­u­lar title would have its read­ers assume. The cor­rect title of the book, in light of a sixth cen­tu­ry man­u­script and quotes from author­i­ta­tive schol­ars, is “al-Tārīkh.” See: al-‘Awnī, al-‘Unwān al-Sahīh li al-Kitāb, pp.71–74.

[43] It appears that Ibn Hib­bān incor­po­rat­ed major­i­ty, if not all, of the entries of al-Bukhārī’s al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr into both his al-Tiqāt and al-Majrūhīn. See: al-‘Arabī, al-Farā’id ‘alā Maj­ma‘ al-Zawā’id, pp.92, 256.

[44] Ear­ly lit­er­a­ture on the Tārīkh genre was pre­dom­i­nant­ly based on occur­rences (e.g. al-Tabarī’s Tārīkh) and less so on entries (e.g. al-Bukhārī’s Tārīkh). Dur­ing the sixth cen­tu­ry, how­ev­er, there was a shift in inter­est and the Tārīkh genre began to see a new trend of work­ing with entries; per­haps an influ­ence from Hadīth stud­ies. See: Ma‘rūf, Intro­duc­tion to Tārīkh al-Islām, p.89.

[45] Shaykh ‘Abd Allāh al-Ghumārī states that Ibn Hib­bān authored two dis­tinct works on unre­li­able trans­mit­ters, al-Majrūhīn, which is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble, and al-Du‘afā’. He owned a copy of al-Du‘afā’, which var­ied com­plete­ly from the oth­er work, in his per­son­al library until it got lost while mail­ing it to his broth­er Ahmad. See: ‘Awwāmah, Foot­notes on Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.3, p.82.

[46] Al-Dha­habī used al-Kāmil as a foun­da­tion for Mizān al‑I‘tidāl, which in turn formed the basis of Ibn Hajar’s Lisān al-Mīzān. Ibn Hajar incor­po­rat­ed an adden­dum to Mizān al‑I‘tidāl authored by his teacher al-‘Irāqī. And Shaykh Hātim al-‘Awnī fur­ther authored a use­ful adden­dum to Lisān al-Mīzān.

[47] Al-Bukhārī’s book should not be under­stood as a con­ven­tion­al work on nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism. Yes, he eval­u­ates a small num­ber of trans­mit­ters by the way, but over­all it is only a bio­graph­i­cal dic­tio­nary. This can be seen from the cor­rect title of the book “al-Tabaqāt wa al-Tārīkh” as men­tioned by al-‘Askarī (d. 382 AH). See: ‘Awwāmah, Foot­notes on Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.5, p.542/Majālis fi Qawli­hī Ta‘ālā, p.229; al-‘Askarī, Tashīfāt al-Muhad­dithīn vol.1, p.116/vol.2, p.629. Con­trast this with Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rah­mān al-Mu‘allimī’s obser­va­tion, “It is al-Bukhārī’s prac­tice to cite a report in al-Tārīkh only to demon­strate the weak­ness of its trans­mit­ter.” See: al-Mu‘allimī, Foot­notes on al-Fawā’id al-Majmū‘ah, p.180; cf. al-‘Arabī, al-Farā’id ‘alā Maj­ma‘ al-Zawā’id, p.65. Also see the com­ment attrib­uted to al-Bukhārī in: al-Miz­zī, Tahd­hīb al-Kamāl, vol.18, p.265; cf. al-Dirīs, al-Hadīth al-Hasan, vol.1, pp.406–415.

[48] On al-Rāzī’s book, see al-Mu‘allimī’s pref­ace, sec­tion tā onwards; al-‘Umarī, Buhūth, p.151; Dick­in­son, The Devel­op­ment of Ear­ly Sun­nite Crit­i­cism, p.30.

[49] For instance, Su’ālāt Ibn al-Junayd li Yahyā ibn Ma‘īn.

[50] For instance, Su’ālāt Ibn Abī Shay­bah li ‘Alī Ibn al-Madīnī.

[51] See: al-Juday‘, Tahrīr ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth, pp.525–527. In view of the strin­gent con­di­tions to qual­i­fy for nar­ra­tor crit­i­cism, it is no won­der that the num­ber of expert crit­ics are so few. See: al-Biqā‘ī, al-Nukat al-Wafiyyah, vol.1, p.290.

[52] Al-Dha­habī places nar­ra­tor crit­ics into three class­es: (1) staunch in crit­i­cism and rig­or­ous in accred­i­ta­tion [accred­i­ta­tion from this class will be read­i­ly accept­ed while their crit­i­cism will require cor­rob­o­ra­tion] (2) lenient (3) bal­anced. He simul­ta­ne­ous­ly cites exam­ples of each class. See: al-Dha­habī, Dhikr Man Yu‘tamad, p.172; al-Lak­nawī, al-Raf‘ wa al-Tak­mīl, p.122.

[53] This can be an out­come of fac­tors like being con­tem­po­raries, per­son­al dis­agree­ment, and con­flict­ing the­o­log­i­cal or jurispru­den­tial views. Tāj al-Dīn al-Sub­kī offers a unique treat­ment of the sub­ject in Tabaqāt al-Shāfi‘iyyah al-Kubrā (vol.2, p.9), draw­ing in part from Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr’s Jāmi‘ Bayān al-‘Ilm wa Fadli­hī (vol.1 pp.1187 ff.). al-Subkī’s sec­tion was lat­er pub­lished sep­a­rate­ly by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fat­tāh Abū Ghud­dah in Arba‘ Rasā’il fī ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth (p.19), as usu­al with ben­e­fi­cial foot­notes. Also see: Ibn Daqīq al-‘Id, al-Iqtirāh fī Bayān al-Istilāh, p.436 f.; Abū Ghud­dah, Mas’alat Khalq al-Qur’ān wa Atharuhā fī Sufūf al-Ruwwāh wa al-Muhad­dithīn wa Kutub al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl [cf. Lucas, Con­struc­tive Crit­ics, pp.198–201].

[54] A prime exam­ple is dis­crep­an­cies due to region­al dif­fer­ences between the Mashāriqah and Maghārib­ah. In a research paper on the sub­ject, Shaykh Ibrāhīm al-Ghumārī exam­ines errors on the part of some Mashriqī schol­ars in eval­u­at­ing Maghribī trans­mit­ters. He begins with a the­o­ret­i­cal dis­cus­sion where he, inter alia, enu­mer­ates the caus­es for these dis­crep­an­cies, such as unfa­mil­iar­i­ty with maghribī script and dete­ri­o­ra­tion of man­u­scripts due to late receipt. He then fol­lows it by pre­sent­ing five case stud­ies there­by con­clud­ing the paper. See his trea­tise enti­tled “Namād­hij min Awhām al-Nuqqād al-Mashāriqah fī al-Ruwwāh al-Maghārib­ah.”

[55] See: al-Baghdādī, Sharaf Ashāb al-Hadīth, p.41; cf. Ibn al-Wazīr, al-‘Awāsim wa al-Qawāsim, vol.2, p.399.

[56] See: Ibn Hib­bān, al-Majrūhīn, vol.1, p.507.

[57] See: al-‘Ijlī, al-Tārīkh, vol.1, p.20. On the state­ment of Abū Dāwūd, “My son ‘Abd Allāh is a liar,” see: al-Mu‘allimī, al-Tankīl, vol.2, p.516 ff.

[58] Al-‘Ijlī, al-Tārīkh, vol.1, p.336; ‘Awwāmah, Adab al-Ikhtilāf, p.104; al-Nad­wī, Sulaymān, Tahqīq Ma‘nā al-Sun­nah, pp.116–117.

[59] Al-Faraz­daq, al-Dīwān, p.360.