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Hadith collection 1 (definitions)

Author : Muhammad Ali Mahdawi Rad
Subject : Hadith collection
Translator : Ahmad Rezwani
Editor : Mahdi Baqi


25 May 2010
Hadith Sciences 1

Abstract

Following a presentation of definitions for hadith, its synonymous and cognate terms, its lexical and terminological senses, and regarding hadith as reporting the words, deeds, and tacit approvals of the infallible, the author proceeds to discuss the term khabar (“narration, report”), its lexical and terminological senses, its semantic relation to hadith as well as the meaning of athar (“deeds, precedents”) and sunna (“tradition, custom, model practice”). The article treats of sunna in cultures, in the historical perspective as well as the views held by scholars of the principles of jurisprudence (usuliyyun), jurists (fuqaha´), and traditionalists (muhaddithun).

Key Words

hadith, khabar, athar, sunna.



Body

Definitions

Talking about ḥadīth, the way it is reported, its transfer to the later generations, and the quality of its compilation and recording is among important researches that, despite the voluminous literature available, there are still many ambiguities and dark angles to be clarified. Before talking about compilation and dissemination of ḥadīth, it seems more fitting to give a definition of this word and its derivatives.

literal meaning of hadīth

In the earliest dictionaries, ḥadīth has been defined as: The new and fresh of everything; shābbun ḥadathun (the adolescent boy), shābbatun ḥadathatun (the adolescent girl).[1]

Aḥmad b. Fārs says:

Ha-da-tha possesses a single root that denotes appearing and disappearing. It is said that something was not apparent, it became apparent. The same is true with ḥadīth, too; as it is an utterance that is made gradually and word after word.[2]

Ibn Manẓūr has stated:

Hadīth is what the speaker utters; and it is to this meaning that the word of Allah has been interpreted in the āya, ﴾When the Prophet confided in one of his wives a matter [ḥadithan],...﴿ (Al-Qur'an, 66:3) , which is simply meant as speech (kalām).[3]

Similarly, al-Ṭurayḥī considers ḥadīth lexicologically equivalent to kalām and writes:

They call kalām as ḥadīth for it comes about little by little.[4]

The late Ayatollah Māmqānī has explained it as follows:

Thus, ḥadīth is the coming into existence of something that had not existed; so, ḥadīth is the opposite of qadīm (preexistent). It seems what has been pointed out in a tradition by the phrase, īyyākum wa muḥaddithāt al-umūr means, according to Ibn al-Fāris, as what has not been identified or existed in the Qur'an, the Sunna, and the consensus of the scholars.[5]

Al-Fayyūmī has put it as follows:

Ḥadīth applies to sayings and narrations.[6]

This confirms what some scholars have asserted in that the Arabs of Jāhiliyya used to call their popular days as (al-aḥādīth), since on those days many things happened, reported, and narrated.[7] Some of the contemporary researchers have concluded, upon giving a detailed report about sayings of the philologists, that:

This word means the formation of what did not exist. This genesis and formation is true whether it is in essence or substance, in saying or action.... Thus, ḥadīth is whatever that comes up by mentioning, relating, and reporting it; hence attention is paid in the new meaning of ḥadīth to that which newly comes up and reported.[8]

Therefore, ḥadīth which for its primary devisal has been interpreted as "the new of everything", and "the coming into being of something that did not exist", has ultimately been applied to the mere speech (kalām).

Idiomatic meaning of hadīth

Scholars and traditionists have defined ḥadīth in various forms. Al-Shahīd al-Thānī (ra) has said, following stating that khabar and ḥadīth are equivalent:

What is meant by ḥadīth is khabar, whether it is the saying of the Prophet (S.A.W.) or that of the Imam (A.S.), the saying of a companion or that of a successor, or scholars, or the righteous or their associates; and that is true for their deeds and statements. This meaning is more popular in application and more compatible with most of its literal meaning.[9]

This definition of ḥadīth, as it is asserted, is founded on its literal meaning. The Sunnī scholars and traditionists have often defined ḥadīth this way and regarded khabar as equivalent to it. Al-Siyūṭī has quoted the scholars and traditionists as saying in respect to the definition of ḥadīth:

Ḥadīth means the sayings, deeds, and the statements of the Prophet (S.A.W.), the companions and their successors (tābi‘īn), etc. and the experts of ḥadīth have viewed it as equivalent to khabar; thus, khabar and ḥadīth are both applied to marfū‘ (elevated), mawqūf (stopped), and maqṭū‘ (severed).[10]

Among the Sunnī scholars, of course, other definitions for ḥadīth have also been mentioned, and some differences proposed between khabar and, ḥadīth. Al-Siyūṭī further adds to what he said above:

And it is said that ḥadīth applies to what has been related from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), and khabar to what has been related from others. Thus, those who were engaged in traditions were called muḥaddith and the reporters of historical events and issues were called akhbārīs, and so forth.[11]

Some of the Sunnī researchers believe that in the beginning, ḥadīth used to be applied only to the sayings of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and after his holiness' demise its meaning has extended to what has been quoted from the Prophet (S.A.W.), including his sayings, deeds, and statements.[12]

Ibn Ḥajar said:

In the terminology of shar‘ (religious law), reporting of whatever is attributed to the Prophet (S.A.W.) is called ḥadīth and this is apparently verses the Qur'an that is qadīm, (preexistent).[13]

In the beginning of his small treatise, al-Wajīza, Shaykh al-Bahā'ī defines ḥadīth as follows:

Ḥadīth is an utterance that relates the words, deeds, and the statements of the Infallible Imams (A.S.).[14]

This definition has been criticized. It is said that this definition is neither comprehensive nor exclusive. On one hand, the ḥadīth that is non-literally transmitted does not fall within this definition, so it is not comprehensive; on the other hand, it would embrace the words of many of the former jurists which they have literally brought up in their legal works with the omission of the sanad and in the form of fatāwā (legal judgment), such as ‘Alī b. Bābway's Sharāyi‘, Al-Ṣadūq's Al-Muqni‘ and Al-Hidāya, and al-Shaykh's Al-Nihāya, etc. So it is not exclusive.

Shaykh al-Bahā'ī (ra) has said in the end of his speech:

It is not unlikely that ḥadīth is the "sayings" of the Infallible or the "relation" of their sayings, actions, and statement.[15]

Mīrzā-yi Qummī - May Allah be pleased with him - has defined ḥadīth as follows:

The relation of the sayings, actions, and the statements of the Infallible is called ḥadīth.[16]

Similarly, the late Ayatollah Māmaqānī has said the following after giving an account of the various viewpoints:

A group of the scholars have said that ḥadīth idiomatically means reporting the sayings, actions, and the statements of the Infallible.[17]

This may be regarded as the most renowned, the clearest, and the soundest definition that the Shā‘a scholars and traditionists have dealt with.

tradition

Giving an account of the events and incidents is called tradition (khabar). It involves reporting whatever that can be reported. Khalīl b. Aḥmad Farāhīdī says:

Khabar is reporting, which can be made plural as akhbār.

Al-Zubaydī says:

The philologists and the experts of idiomatic expressions have maintained that khabar literally means something that takes place, something that is related from others. The literati have added that khabar is that which is likely to be essentially true or false.[18]

However, it can be said that Al-Zubaydī's definition is not accurate; it is not that khabar is ad hoc report of others. Rather, it is conventionally and philologically applied to what the reporters relate about themselves, too; for, akhbār means i‘lām (announcement); and so 'ālim is called as khabīr. Therefore, whoever makes another one aware of something he has informed him either of himself or of others.[19]

Now, let's see what relation khabar by the meaning of "report" has with ḥadīth. Formerly, we quoted Shahīd al-Thānī as regarding the two as synonym. Other traditionists have asserted this synonymy. Ibn al-Ḥajar says: "To experts of tradition, khabar and ḥadīth are synonymous."

Some of the contemporary scholars have also asserted this issue:

In the terminology of traditionists, khabar is synonymous with ḥadīth; although in many instances in other sciences, khabar is meant as versus inshā’ (creation). Also, traditionists are descried as akhbārī by the former meaning; namely, those who have been fully engaged in khabar and ḥadīth and adopted that as their life career.[20]

Let's now take a close look at what we brought up here. The truth is that khabar and ḥadīth have no basic difference in respect to their literal and general use. Abū al-Baqā‘ Ayyūb b. Mūsā Ḥusaynī writes:

Ḥadīth is the noun form of the verb taḥdīth which has meant ikhbār (to inform) and later on has been applied to reporting the sayings, actions, and statements of the Prophet (S.A.W.).[21]

As we said before, this meaning had been quite known in the jāhilī literature; they used to call the "famous days" as "al-aḥādīth"[22], and the narrators of historical events as akhbāriyūn.[23]

‘Allāma Shaykh ‘Abd al-Nabī Kāzimī writes;

The earlier generations of traditionists – both Sunnī and Shī‘a – used to call the historians and all those who, like themselves, collected akhbār (reports) irrespective of what they were like, as akhbārīs.[24]

What establishes this issue is that what had first been written down was more on the sīra (the lifestyle) of the Prophet (S.A.W.). Taking a historical look into the development of "compilation [of ḥadīth]) in the history of Islam would clarify that these writings gradually divided into separate fields, with the traditionists later on acquiring their independent title. Thus, the two were defined as follows:

Ḥadīth is that which has been reported from the Infallible – the prophet and the Imams.

And khabar is that which has been narrated from others.

Similarly, it is said:

Ḥadīth is that which is reported from the Infallible and khabar is general, so every khabar is a ḥadīth but not vice versa.[25]

Obviously, the traditionists have employed these definitions in recent centuries primarily for explaining such trends and the way these titles and definitions developed.[26]

Nevertheless, it is evident that the traditionists have frequently applied ḥadīth and aḥādīth as khabar and ikhbār and named their compilations of traditions after the latter. Examples such as Qāḍī Nu‘mān's (d. 376/986) Sharḥ al-Akhbār, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Ṭūsī's (known as the Shaykh al-Ṭā’fa) Al-Istibṣār fī mā Akhtalafa min al-Akhbār, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-Sabzawārī's (d. 7th/13th) Jāmi‘ al-Akhbār, ‘Allāma Majlisī 's Malādh al-Akhyār fī Sharḥ-i Tahdhīb al-Akhbār etc., all signify the above fact.

It is also to be added here that for centuries, akhbārī versus ‘uṣūlī have represented the two trends of knowledge in Islamic culture and the way the sources of Islamic thought is looked at. It is evident that the application of these two words to these two trends has been widespread after the eleventh/sixteenth century. However, some scholars have, with reference to some texts related from previous centuries, considered it probable that these two terms date back to as early as at least the time of ‘Allāma Ḥillī (ra).

This issue is confirmed by the following statement.

As for akhbārīs from among the Imamīs, they do not stress on the uṣūl and furū‘ of religion, unless on the single traditions related fro the Imams (A.S.). The uṣūlīs among them are persons such as Abī Ja‘far al-Ṭūsī, etc.[27]

athar

Athar, like khabar, has been abundantly talked about, and the scholars and traditionists are not unanimous about it. Literally, it means the trace of everything left behind [e.g., footprint]. When the Arabs would say, dhahabtu fī athar-i fulānun, it means, "I followed him; placed my foot in his footprint and went on". Athar al-ḥadīth means that someone relates from some others and recount what they left behind [from among their sayings].

Al-Ma’āthira means the hereditary honors and dignities, since they have been recounted generation after generation and throughout ages, etc.[28] Thus, the definitions of athar given by the scholars and the traditionists are not far from its literal meaning. Now, let's take a look into the definitions and how they came up:

The most prevalent definition of athar is that which has been related from the companions (Ṣaḥāba). Al-Tahānawī writes:

Āthār is applied to the deeds of the Ṣaḥāba.[29]

Jamāl al-Dīn Qāsimī has defined it as follows:

Athar is that which is quoted from the Ṣaḥāba; which is also rightfully applicable to the sayings of the Prophet (S.A.W.).[30]

This definition, as mentioned before, seems to be the most prevalent definition of athar and dates back to a long time ago, but is not accurate and sound enough.

Al-Zubaydī says:

The footprint of anything as well as a tradition (khabar) is called athar, whose plural is āthār. That is why it is said that "such and such is the bearer (ḥamala) of āthār, i.e., a traditionist. The pioneers among the traditionists have distinguished between khabar and athar, stating that khabar is that which is related from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and athar is that narrated from the Ṣaḥāba and those who have been known as such. Abū Bakr Sa‘īd b. ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Alī al-Ṭūsī al-Nayshābūrī (b. 413/1022) and Muḥammad b. Hayāj b. Mubādir are among the āthārīs (traditionists) of al-Anṣār.[31]

Searching into the works of the Sunnī scholars would reveal that, as we said before, this definition of athar is an ancient one; but the scholars are not unanimous about it. Dr. Nūr al-Dīn ‘Atir, a contemporary Arab ḥadīh researcher, has stated:

Jurists of Khurāsān regarded athar as exclusive to mawqūf, i.e., what was related from the Ṣaḥāba, and others viewed khabar as exclusive to what was related from the Prophet (S.A.W.); but as trustfully agreed upon by traditionists, athar can be applied to all that were mentioned above since they have been adopted from the phrase athartu ḥadīth, meaning "I related that tradition".[32]

It has been on this basis that Ibn-i Ḥajar has named his book on terminology of ḥadīth as "Nukhba al-Fikr fī Muṣṭalaḥ al-Athar", and Al-Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Arāqī has called himself as "Atharī", i.e., a traditionist in his long poem, "Alfiya", saying:

"Thus says ‘Abd al-Raḥīm b. al-Ḥasan al-Atharī,

"One who is hopeful of his Omnipotent Lord."

Al-Ṭabarī, the great traditionist and exegete of the fourth/tenth century named his outstanding book on ḥadīth as "Tahdhīb al-Āthār wa Tafṣīl-i Ma‘ānī al-Thābit ‘an Rasūl Allah min al-Akhbār". There is no need for further examples, as there are many other works by the ancients named in this way.

And finally, the punctilious writer, Ṣubḥī Ṣāliḥ is also worth being quoted here as saying:

"There is no tenable reason as to consider athar as specific to what has been related from the Ṣaḥāba or the Tābi‘īn (those who followed the Companions)."[33]

What we brought up so far have been definitions given by the Sunnī scholars concerning athar. However, some of the Shī‘a scholars and traditionists, such as Shaykh al-Bahā’ī (ra) and Shahīd al-Thānī (ra), maintain that these two (i.e., athar and ḥadīth) are homogeneous. The latter has said:

Athar comprises both ḥadīth and khabar and both of them may be called as athar, but not vice versa.[34]

The eminent philosopher and traditionist, Mīr Dāmād, writes:

"Among our scholars – may Allah be pleased with them – there are those who have regarded this title solely as applying to that which had been related from the Imams (A.S.); the scholarly jurist, Najm al-Dīn (ra) has often done so in his writings. However, the chief of the Shī‘a traditionists [Shaykh al-Ṭūsī] (ra) has considered the title "the sound āthār" as applied to the aḥādīth belonging to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his rightful successors (awṣiyā).[35]

What is implied from the scholars' writings and the titles of the books written in the earlier centuries of the history of Islam testifies to the fact that athar and ḥadīth are synonymous. Similarly, by āthār the scholars have always meant the aḥādīth related from the Infallible (A.S.). These terms, even if found among the Shī‘ī works, are novel. In the language and the traditions of the Imams (A.S.), the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s aḥādīth have sometimes been referred to as athar.[36]

Shaykh al-Mufīd (ra) has frequently applied athar and āthār to ḥadīth and aḥādīth.[37] Qāḍī Abū Ḥanīfa Nu‘mān b. Muḥammad (d. 367/977) has named one of his works about the traditions concerning the Imamate of the Imams (A.S.) by the title "Al-Iqtiṣār bi Ṣaḥīḥ al-Āthār fī al-Naṣṣ ‘alā al-A’imma al-Athnā ‘Ashar"; and Abū ‘Abd Allāh Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. ‘Ayyāsh al-Jawharī has done the same with his "Muqtaḍib al-Athar fī al-Naṣṣ ‘alā ‘Adad al-A’imma al-Athnā ‘Ashar", and so forth. These all confirm what Dr. Nūr al-Dīn ‘Atir has said in this respect:

"To the traditionists, the three labels ḥadīth, khabar, and athar have similar meaning."[38]

According to what we said so far, it can be maintained now that in recent centuries various conjectures have been made in the writings of "Muṣṭalaḥ al-Ḥadīth" concerning the difference among the above labels, of which there has nothing been said in the writings of the earlier generations.

Sunna

One other term whose meaning is to be clarified here is Sunna (tradition). This term has adopted varied definitions from various points of view.

Sunna in cultures

Sunna is synonym to procedure, practice and the general approach. Al-Zuhrī has defined it as follows:

"Sunna is said to be the normal procedure, either good or evil."

Following is what the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has said in this respect:

"Whoever enacts a good practice, would acquire rewards for it plus the rewards [equal to the rewards] of those who would act on it until the Day of Resurrection…"

It is also stated that:

"Sunna is said to be a firm and appropriate procedure."[39]

Sunna from the viewpoint of the uṢūlīs

Uṣūlīs regard Sunna as a collection of the sources of legislation and define it as one of the sources of Islamic thought and legislation. Their definition of Sunna is as follows:

"Sunna includes the sayings, deeds, and statements of the Prophet (S.A.W.)."[40]

‘Allāma Mawlā ‘Abd Allāh b. Muḥammad Bushrawī al-Khorāsānī has given the following definition of Sunna:

"The sayings, deeds, and statements of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Imams (A.S.) are [called] Sunna."

The great jurist and uṣūlī of the thirteenth/eighteenth century, Mirzā al-Qummī, defines it as follows:

"Sunna includes the sayings, deeds, and statements of the Infallible (A.S.)."

Many of the uṣūlīs have not dealt with the definition of Sunna, perhaps because they have clearly known what it meant. From what we said so far and from the definitions of the Shī‘a uṣūlīs, we can clearly learn that there is almost a unanimity in the definition of Sunna.[41] While listing the musnad of the rulings, Muḥaqiq al-Ḥillī has said concerning Sunna:

"As for Sunna, it has three parts: words, deeds, and statements…"[42]

‘Allāma Māmaqānī writes:

"We had better say in definition of Sunna that the words, deeds, and statements of the person who is not admitted to be a liar are called Sunna, in case they are neither Qur'anic nor ordinary, and whatever that gives accounts of these three is called khabar and ḥadīth.[43]

As we remember now, we found in some of the previous definitions that Sunna was applied to the sayings of the Infallible as well as to their deeds and statements; thus, it can be said that by this definition Sunna is less general than ḥadīth, since in this case Sunna is what is entitled as the deeds, words, and the statements of the Infallible and can be attributed to these noble figures; that is to say sound and secure from falsehood.

Sunna as viewed by the jurists

Jurists have occasionally contrasted Sunna with bid‘a (innovation), defining it as follows:

"Bid‘a is that which is not homogeneous with Sunna and is in conflict with the principles of sharī‘a."[44]

Hence, Sunna means whatever that can be implied as obligatory by sharī‘a. This meaning can apparently be inferred form some traditions, too. Imam al-Bāqir (A.S.) has been quoted as saying:

"Rinsing the mouth (maḍmaḍa) and drawing up water through the nostrils (istinshāq) are neither obligatory, nor Sunna; what is compulsory is that you wash the exterior"[45]

Shaykh al-Ṭūsī (ra) has explained this tradition as follows:

"It means that these two are not applied as 'traditional' (Sunnatī) so that they can not be ignored."[46]

And Shaykh Ḥurr al-‘Āmilī (ra) has expounded it as follows:

"What is meant by Sunna is that whose necessity (wujūb) is implied from tradition, and this meaning of Sunna has been introduced in narrations."[47]

Sunna vs. bid‘a has been frequently used in traditions, too. The Prophet (S.A.W.) said:

"Little work in accordance with the Sunna is better that plenty of work mixed up with bid‘a."[48]

However, what is used most frequently by the jurists is Sunna by the meaning of preference (istiḥbāb); thus, the following definition is given for it:

"The proper practice to be followed in religion which has not been obligatory [to follow] is called Sunna."

This meaning of the Sunna is widespread in traditions and the words of the jurists. In books of ḥadīth and jurisprudence, there are chapters under the title of istiḥbāb in which the narrations containing the word Sunna by the meaning of istiḥbāb are reported and discussed.

Samā‘a said he asked from Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S.) concerning Maḍmaḍa and istinshāq, he answered:

"These two are preferable; if you forget to do them while performing ablution (wuḍū), there is no need [to start all over] to do them."[49]

Zarāra quotes Imam al-Bāqir (A.S.) as saying:

"Maḍmaḍa and istinshāq are not part of ablution."[50]

Shaykh Ḥurr al-Āmilī (ra) has explained this as follows:

"Shaykh al-Ṭūsī (ra) says: 'That is to say they are not among its obligations, but among its preferable [rituals]."[51]

Imam al-Ṣādiq (A.S.) from his forefathers on the authority of Imam Ali (A.S.):

"Sunna is of two kinds: obligatory (wājib), whose observance leads to guidance and whose ignorance causes misleading; and preferable (mustaḥab) whose performance is rewarding, but ignoring it and engaging in other practices is a misdemeanor."[52]

It is evident that the jurists have given the definition of Sunna in accordance to the subject of jurisprudence, and since jurisprudence deals with discussing and inquiring into the legal rulings of people concerning the obligations, preferences, prohibitions, repugnance, and permissibility, they have defined Sunna in such a way that it would be compatible with these rulings.

Sunna in view of the traditionists

The traditionists' definition of Sunna is more inclusive and widespread. This comprehensive definition is precisely in line with the goal that the traditionists have been pursuing in compilation of collected works and akhbār in relation to the Infallible Imams (A.S.). Dr. Sha‘bān Muḥammad Ismā‘īl has written:

In their reports and transmissions of Sunna, the traditionists have sought to identify and learn about the sīra of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). They attempted to introduce the Prophet (S.A.W.) as a good exemplar and a noble paradigm for the Muslims to follow in all their life affairs and positions, their social and individual do's and don'ts. Thus, it is said that Sunna, by definition, is whatever that is ascribed to the Prophet (S.A.W.), including his deeds, sayings, statements, and his moral and outward characteristics before and after his mission (bi‘tha).[53]

In view of the traditionists, this explanation of Sunna is accurate and well-founded. A glance at the titles and chapters of the ḥadīth collections and the contents of the transmissions indicates that the traditionists have had such impressions of Sunna as given in the aforementioned definition. These titles include, Jawāmi Ādāb al-Nabī, Bābin fīha Sunan-i Amīr al-Mu’minīn (A.S.), Kanz al-‘Ummāl fī Sunan al-Aqwāl wa al-Af‘āl, etc.[54]

It is to be added now that what we are going to deal with in this study is the very meaning of Sunna which is somehow consistent with ḥadīth in terms of applicability [rather that conceptuality]. What is being talked here is the compilation of traditions, narrations, and reports that depict the deeds, sayings, statements, dictates, dispositions, and life of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and the Infallible Imams (A.S.).

a historical look at the word "Sunna"

In conclusion, we would now deal with the development of the concept of Sunna and its semantic transformation, with reference to two issues:

1. We said that Sunna literally means "a customary and precedential procedure". Some scholars believe that Sunna has primarily been used in this meaning. In the beginning, Sunna has meant:

"The religious way that the Prophet (S.A.W.) pursued in his purified sīra."

Therefore, ḥadīth has been a general concept and applied to the narration of the sayings, and actions of that noble figure. One of the researchers who has stated the semantic difference between ḥadīth and Sunna, goes on to say:

"It is in light of the semantic dichotomy of ḥadīth and Sunna that I understood the statements of the traditionists who used to say: "This ḥadīth contradicts the Sunna," or "Such and such a person is leading in hadīth and leading in Sunna and leading in both of them together.[55] Strangely enough, these two terms have sometimes been interpreted in a way that they seem to be two entities that support each other, and that understanding one would contribute to the understanding of the other. That is why Ibn Nadīm points out a book called Kitāb al-Sunan bi Shawāhid al-Ḥadīth. It is implied here that ḥadīth is used as a witness in the exposition of Sunna.[56]

Nevertheless, if this term had – by any reason –been allegedly common among the earlier scholars, it is unlikely that it is consistent with the wordings of the traditions. When the Prophet (S.A.W.) enjoined people to follow the Sunna, and said to them:

"Take heeds of the Sunna; little practice by Sunna excels over much practice by bid‘a."

Or, he said:

"Those who resort to my Sunna at the time of disunity among my umma will be granted the reward of a hundred martyrs."[57]

Did he really mean enjoining them to follow his [personal] deeds and actions and resort to his own manners and conducts?! It seems much unlikely to be so.

2. Al-Shaykh al-Mufīd (ra), in his book on uṣūl – which only a summary of it is regretfully in existence – has said on the evidences of legal rulings and the references of legislation:

"Let it be known that the legal rulings are based on three things: 1. Divine Book, 2. the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s Sunna, and 3. the sayings of the Imams (A.S.) after the Prophet (S.A.W.)."[58]

Was Sunna a term used by the Shaykh (ra) by the specific meaning of relating traditions from the Prophet (S.A.W.)? Some scholars have implied from his words as follows:

"Since the Shaykh (ra) has regarded the sayings of the Infallible Imams (A.S.) as second to the Sunna, it can be implied that Sunna in his view is specific to the traditions related from the Prophet (S.A.W.)."[59]

This is a point that can be implied from the words of the Shaykh in support of what we said in respect to Sunna; nevertheless, whether this term has been used specifically to refer to the actions, sayings and the statements of the Prophet (S.A.W.) or not, is to undergo extended historical surveys. What we brought up here so far includes definitions of such terms as ḥadīth, khabar, athar, and Sunna from various points of view. Nevertheless, there are other definitions in this regard in other sources that may be referred to by the respected readers.[60]



[1] Al-‘Ayn, III, 177.

[2] Maqā’īs al-Lugha, II, 177.

[3] Lisān al-‘Arab, III, 76; Majma‘ al-Bayān, I, 474.

[4] Majma‘ al-Baḥrayn, I, 371. (Published by Bonyād-i Bi‘that).

[5] Miqyāth al-Hidāya, I, 56. See also, Majma‘ al-Baḥrayn, I, 370; Al-Nihāya, I, 350; Maqā'īs al-Lugha, II, 36.

[6] Al-Miṣbāḥ al-Munīr, I, 124.

[7] ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭlaḥaḥū, 4 quoted from Futūḥ al-Buldān, 39.

[8] Al-Taḥqīq fī Kalamāt al-Qur'an, II, 17-18.

[9] Al-Ra'āya fī ‘Ilm al-Dirāya, 50.

[10] Marfū‘ is a ḥadīth attributed to the Prophet (S.A.W.), mawqūf is that which is narrated from a companion, and maqṭū‘ is the ḥadīth related from a successor. Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth, ‘Ulūmahū wa Muṣṭalaḥaḥū, 28.

[11] Tadrīb al-Rāwī, I, 23; See also, al-Ra'āya fī ‘Ilmal-Dirāya, 50.

[12] Al-Itajāhāt al-Fiqhīyya ‘ind Aṣḥāb al-Ḥadīth fī al-Qarn al-Thālith al-Hijrī, 12-13.

[13] Fatḥ al-Bārī fī Sharḥ-i Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, I, 173.

[14] Al-Wajīza fī al-Dirāya (Turāthinā, No. 32/412).

[15] Ibid.

[16] Qawānīn al-Uṣūl, 409.

[17] .Abd Allāh al-Māmaqānī, Miqbās al-Hidāya, I, 57.

[18] Tāj al-‘Arūs, XI, 125.

[19] Sometimes khabar is used versus inshā’ (creation). In the beginning of his discussion, Shahīd al-Thānī (ra) has talked about this meaning of khabar in detail. It is to say that this meaning is altogether out of our discussion here.

[20] 'Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth wa Aḥkāmahū, 19.

[21] Al-Kulliyāt, 170.

[22] Futūḥ al-Buldān, 39; ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭalaḥaḥū, 4.

[23] Al-Ra'āya fī ‘Ilm al-Dirāya, 50

[24] Takmila al-Rijāl, I, 114.

[25] Miqyās al-Hidāya, I, 66-58; ’Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth, ‘Ulūmahū wa Muṣṭalaḥaḥū, 28.

[26] Cf. Miqyās al-Hidāya, I, 58 ff. which has compiled all the things that has been said and can be said about the difference of these two words or their synonyms.

[27] Ma‘ālim al-Dīn, 19, quoted from ‘Allāma Ḥillī's Al-Nahāya (manuscript); also see: ‘Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth wa Aḥkāmuhū, 19.

[28] Al-‘Ayn, VIII, 237; Tartīb al-‘Ayn, 37.

[29] Kashshāf-i Iṣṭilāḥāt al-Funūn, I, 95.

[30] Qawā‘id al-Taḥdīth, 62.

[31] Tāj al-‘Arūs, X, 13.

[32] Manhaj al-Naqd fī ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth, 28.

[33] ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭalaḥaḥū, 11. It is to be pointed out here, however, that the contemporary Sunnī catalogers have often listed what has been related from the Prophet (S.A.W.) under the title "Al-Aḥādīth", and what has been narrated from the Ṣaḥāba under the title “‘Unwān al-Āthār ".

[34] Al-Ri‘āya fī ‘Ilm al-Dirāya, 50; Nahāya al-Dirāya fī Sharḥ al-Wajīz li al-Shaykh al-Bahā'ī, 82.

[35] Al-Rawāshiḥ al-Samāwiya, 38.

[36] Al-Iḥtijāj, II, 162; Baḥār al-Anwār, LXXVIII, 216.

[37] For an example, see:Al-Irshād, I, 319, 320, 330; II, 169.

[38] Manhaj al-Naqd fī ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth, 28.

[39] Tahdhīb al-Luqa.

[40] Al-Wāfiya, 157.

[41] For the definition of the uṣūlīs, see: Uṣūl al-Fiqh al-Islāmī, II, 450; Al-Ittijāhāt al-Fiqhiya ‘ind Aṣḥāb al-Ḥadīth fī al-Qarn al-Thālith al-Hijrī, 12-13.

[42] Al-Mu‘tabar, I, 28.

[43] Miqyās al-Ḥidāya, I, 69.

[44] Irshād al-Fuḥūl, 31; Al-Uṣūl al-‘Āmma al-Fiqh al-Muqārin, 121; Al-Nahāya fī Gharīb al-Ḥadīth wa al-Athat, I, 107.

[45] Al-Tahdhīb, I, 78; Al-Istibṣār, I, 67.

[46] Al-Istibṣār, I, 67.

[47] Wasā'il al-Shī‘a, I, 431, published by: Mu'assisata Āl al-Bayt li Iḥyā-'i al-Turāth.

[48] Baḥār al-Anwār, ??, 261. (See the entire chapter.)

[49] Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, I, 430.

[50] Al-Tahdhīb, I, 78; Al-Istibṣār, I, 67.

[51] Wasā'il al-Shī‘a, I, 431.

[52] Baḥār al-Anwār, II, 264.

[53] Dirāsāt Ḥawl al-Qur'an wa al-Sunna, 86; also see: Irshād al-Fuḥūl, 33; and Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth, Ulūmahū wa Muṣṭalaḥahū, 19.

[54] Baḥār al-Anwār, XVI, 194; XVI, 1; LXXVI, 66; IXL

[55] Also cf. what has been said about some earlier traditionists: [e.g.:] "Sufyān al-Thawrī is leading in ḥadīth but not in Sunna, Awzā‘ī is leading in Sunna but not in ḥadāth, and Mālik b. Ans is leading in both ḥadīth and Sunna." – Ibn Manzūr, Mukhtaṣar-i Tārīkh-i Damishq, XVI, 32.

[56] ‘Ulūm al-Ḥadīth wa Muṣṭalaḥahū, 6. Also see: Al-Ittijāhāt al-Fiqhiya ‘ind Aṣḥāb al-Ḥadīth fī al-Qarn al-Thālith al-Hijrī, 14; Al-Fihrist, 285.

[57] Baḥār al-Anwār, II, 261.

[58] Mukhtaṣar-i Kitāb-i Uṣūl al-Fiqh (Muṣannafāt al-Shaykh al-Mufīd, al-Mujallad al-Tāsi‘), 7.

[59] Naẓarāt fī Turāth al-Shaykh al-Mufīd, 193.

[60] Cf., Al-Ittijāhāt al-Fiqhīya ‘ind Aṣḥāb al-Ḥadīth, 12; Dirāsāt Ḥawl al-Qur'an wa al-Sunna, 80; Al-Uṣūl al-‘Āmma li al-Fiqh al Muqārin, 141; Tawthīq al-Sunna fī al-Qarn al-Thānī al-Ḥijrī, 12; Kashshāf Iṣṭilāḥāt al-Funūn, I, 703; Miqyās al-Ḥidāya, I, 68; Al-Sunna Qabl al-Tadwīn, 21; ….


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