بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Khabar – Classification of ‘Aḥādīth I
As discussed in the previous lesson, the term khabar refers to a report attributed either to the Prophet ﷺ, his Companions or both. In this section, we will explore the different categories of reports in terms of how many people have narrated them and the implication on the grading of such narrations, if any.
Khabar can be divided in to two primary categories:
1. Khabar Mutawātir: A narration which has been narrated by a large number that cannot be quantified.
2. Khabar ‘Āḥād: A narration which has been narrated by a fixed number, a small number.
Khabar Mutawātir – الخبر المتواتر
Definition: Mutawātir is the active participle (اسم فاعل) of the word tawātur (تواتر). Linguistically it means for something to follow one after the other; succession, such as raindrops that follow in succession. Technically it means a report that has been narrated by so many people that it would be inconceivable to suggest that all these people could have come together and concocted such a lie.
In light of this definition, a mutawātir narration is a ḥadīth or a khabar, which many narrators have reported in every single ṭabaqāh. A ṭabaqāh refers to one of the generations of narrators. In ḥadīth sciences, the first three generations are considered to be subject to analysis, as after these generations, ḥadīth at large had been preserved and transmitted on a mass level. These ṭabaqāt refer to the generation of the Companions, their successors (التابعين), and finally those who succeeded the تابعين known as the تبع التابعين. Otherwise referred to the three holy generations. Thus, the intellect dictates that, if so many narrators have reported the same narration in each one of these generations then it would be impossible to assume that all these narrators have agreed to fabricate this report.
Conditions pertaining to khabar mutawātir: It is clear from the discussion surrounding the definition that a report will not be considered as mutawātir unless it fulfils the following four conditions:
1. Many people narrate it. There are various opinions as to what is the least number required for a report to be considered mutawātir. It seems that the preferable opinion is ten.
2. That these many narrators have reported it in each one of the three generations.
3. That it is impossible to assume all of them could have perpetuated such a lie.
4. That the report has been transmitted, narrator to narrator, generation to generation through ḥis (حس). Ḥis (حس)means that each narrator has transmitted to the next physically, that they have physically heard the report from their teacher and then physically transmitted that report to their own student in a similar fashion. Such as them saying; سمعنا (we have heard) or رأينا (we have seen).
The ruling of mutawātir: The mutawātir report gives the benefit of ‘ilm yaqīnī (العلم اليقيني), otherwise known as ‘ilm ḍarūrī (العلم الضروري): i.e. it gives the benefit of certainty such that one is compelled to accept it as the truth and there is no room to deny it or reject it whatsoever. Thus, any report that is considered to be mutawātir must be accepted and acted upon.
Types of mutawātir: A mutawātir report can be divided into two further categories:
1. Mutawātir Lafẓī – المتواتر اللفظي: Where the actual wordings of the report as well as the meaning is transmitted.
a. For example: The narration, من كذب عليّ متعمدا فليتبوأ مقعده من النار – “Whom so ever attributes a lie to me intentionally, then let him set up residence in the Fire.” Over seventy Companions have narrated this report, and more in the following generations.
2. Mutawātir Ma’nawī – المتواتر المعنوي: Where the meaning has been mass transmitted, but the wording may differ in different reports.
a. For example: The narrations regarding raising the hands during supplication. Approximately, a hundred narrations have been reported regarding it. However, all differ in wording. The individual reports cannot be considered to be mutawātir, nonetheless the action of raising the hands during supplication have indeed been reported as mutawātir.
Availability of mutawātir: A good number of mutawātir narrations have been preserved including the following:
· Narrations regarding the ḥawḍ (الحوض)
· Narrations regarding wiping over the khuff (الخف)
· Narrations regarding raising the hands in prayer
However, in comparison to khabar ‘āḥād, the numbers are extremely low.
Famous books regarding ‘akhabār mutawātirah: From amongst some of the books that have been compiled on this category, I have listed some below:
· الأزهار المتناثرة في الأخبار المتواترة – By Suyūṭī
· قطف الأزهار – Also by Suyūṭī
· نظم المتناثر من الحديث المتواتر – By Muhammad bin Ja’far Kattānī
Khabar ‘Āḥād – الخبر الآحاد
Definition: Linguistically ‘āḥād is synonymous to wāḥid – the number one. Thus, a khabar wāḥid is what is narrated by one person. Technically, it is that report which does not fulfil the conditions of mutawātir.
The ruling of ‘āḥād: The ‘āḥād report gives the benefit of ‘ilm naẓarī (العلم النظري): i.e. it has not yet reached certainty, but is subject to further investigation, after which it may indeed give the benefit of certain knowledge (العلم اليقيني).
Khabar ‘Āḥād can be divided into three further categories:
1. Mash-hūr – المشهور – Three narrators in at least one generation
2. ‘Azīz – العزيز – Two narrators in at least one generation
3. Gharīb – الغريب – One narrator in at least one generation
With the permission of Allah, we will discuss these categories further in the next lesson.
Hope that was beneficial.
May Allah the Exalted accept it from you and I both.