When Scholars Differ Over The Reliability Of A Narrator, Part 2


In the case of jarh (discrediting), it is necessary, as already noted in the previous post, that a reference is made to the grounds or causes of jarh. People tend to vary in their assessment of what they may regard to be a valid ground of jarh, but even here it has been a tendency towards avoidance of detail in specifying the grounds of jarh.

Who Is/Isn’t Discredited

The scholars have often made brief statements that “so-and-so is weak (da’eef) or abandoned (matrook)” and the like without giving much detail. Brief comments of this type often fell short of explaining or specifying the grounds of jarh, but they succeeded nevertheless in casting doubt on the reliability of their subjects.

Scrutinising Those Lower In The Chain

The higher links in the chain of transmission, who were closer to the source, were given greater credibility and recognition than lower links. The scholars of hadeeth thus tended to scrutinise reports by their contemporaries or narrators of later generations more stringently compared to, for example, narrators who belonged to the taabi’oon or even the taabi’ taabi’oon (1).

What Is A Valid Ground For Discrediting A Narrator?

Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdaadee has a chapter in Al-Kifaaya in which he elaborates on what is not suitable nor valid to be considered as a ground for jarh (2). Below are some of the reasons why scholars may/may not discredit a narrator:

Bid’ah

Pursuit of pernicious innovation (bid’ah) and indulgence in capricious opinion (hawaa) also counted as grounds of al-jarh (discrediting). When a narrator of hadeeth became known for these, or known for fraudulent dealings and dishonesty in financial transactions, his reports did not fail to be downgraded or abandoned (3).

Forgetfulness

When someone narrates a hadeeth and subsequently forgets what he narrated, this does not amount to jarh (discrediting) of himself and the hadeeth he had narrated is also not effected by his forgetfulness. This is the position of the majority of the scholars of hadeeth, with the exception of the Hanafees.

Charging A Fee

As for a narrator who charges a fee for transmitting hadeeth, some scholars of hadeeth have considered this as a ground of jarh (discrediting). Ibn As-Salaah confirmed this and wrote that Imaam Ahmad and Aboo Haatim Ar-Raazee have also held the same view. According to a minority view attributed to some scholars, charging a fee in this case is like charging a fee for teaching the Quraan, which is not objectionable, especialy for someone who may be in need of earning a fee (4).

These grades were mostly followed by earlier scholars, but some degree of laxity in their application had been noted in the words of later ages.

Footnotes:

(1) Uloom Al-Hadeeth of Ibn As-Salaah, p. 136

(2) Al-Kifaaya of Al-Baghdaadee, p. 109 & Uloom Al-Hadeeth of Ibn As-Salaah, p. 106

(3) Al-Kifaaya of Al-Baghdaadee, p. 156

(4) Uloom Al-Hadeeth of Ibn As-Salaah, p. 119

[See “Hadeeth Studies” by Mohammad Hasim Kamali Pp. 80-95 for more info.]

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5 Responses to “When Scholars Differ Over The Reliability Of A Narrator, Part 2”

  1. Are you learning this from a teacher or are these notes from the book mentioned above?

    • They’re notes from the book mentioned… I strongly advice all to purchase and read through the book.

      • Asalamualaikum. Ur notes says it from page 80 to 95. Will u be uploading all of those pages?

        • Wassalaamu ‘alaykum,

          These three posts were abridged from page 80-95 from the aforementioned book.

          These notes are the authors exact words but from scattered paragraphs throughout those pages as the author spoke a bit here and a bit there, and the info was spread throughout the 15 pages. So I just took out snippets, rearranged the info to make it easier to read and put subheadings in…

  2. okay barakaAllaahu feek.

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