Types of Hadith

Hadith refers to the sayings or narrations of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ’s speech, his deeds, acts of approval & disapproval (verbal or by way of action) about something.

Hadith, in general, is made up of three basic components:

ISNAD (Sequence of Reporters) – This is the chain of narrators through which the Hadith has spread.
TARAF (Introductory Text) – This is the beginning of the text which refers to the actions or characteristics of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
MATN (Content) – This is the main text of the Hadith, or the actual speech of the Prophet ﷺ.

The following are the five basic categorisations of Hadith:

1) According to Reference to a Particular Authority
2) According to the Links of Isnad (Sequence of Reporters)
3) According to the Number of Reporters
4) According to Nature of Matn and Isnad
5) According to Authenticity of Correspondents

1) According to Reference to a Particular Authority

Qudsi: meaning “Divine”. These were sent directly from Allah to the Prophet ﷺ, who then passed it on to his companions
Marfu`: meaning “Elevated”. These were directly heard from the Prophet ﷺ by His companions.
Mauquf: meaning “Stopped”. It is a kind of command which was directly given by Prophet ﷺ to his companions who forwarded it.
Maqtu`: meaning “Severed”. It is a form of Instruction which cannot be traced back to the Prophet ﷺ, but to one of his companions, who explained it in their own words

2) According to the Links of Isnad (Sequence of Reporters)

Musnad: meaning “Supported”. Reported by a well known companion of the Holy Prophet ﷺ, although the final narrator might not have been with him at that time.
Muttasil: meaning “Continuous”. The one with undisturbed Isnad (Sequence of Reporters) which only goes back to a companion or successor.
Mursal: meaning “Hurried”. A Hadith quoted by one of the following generations directly in the name of the Prophet without the name of any of the Companions being mentioned.
Munqati`: meaning “Broken”. Hadiths which have one or more than one narrators missing, but not consecutively.
Mu`adal: meaning “Perplexing”. Hadiths with two or more narrators missing successively.
Mu`allaq: meaning “Hanging”. Hadiths in which one or more narrators are not known at the beginning of the sanad (Sequence of Reporters) or none of the narrators are known.

3) According to the Number of Reporters

This can be is divided into two groups:
Mutawatir: meaning “Consecutive”. Hadith being reported by such a large number of rightful companions that it is agreed upon as authentic.
Ahad: meaning “Isolated”. Hadith which has been narrated by a countable number of people.

Ahad has been further categorised into three sub-types:
Mash’hur: meaning “Famous”. Hadith which is related by more than two individuals from each generation.
Aziz: meaning “Rare yet Strong”. Hadith having only two reporters in its Isnad (Sequence of Reporters).
Gharib: meaning “Strange”. Saying of Holy Prophet ﷺ with only one narrator in its Isnad (Sequence of Reporters).

4) According to Nature of Matn and Isnad

Munkar: meaning “Denounced”. Hadith which contradicts an authentic Hadith and belongs to a weak narrator.
Mudraj: meaning “Interpolated”. Hadith with some additional words to the authentic Hadith by its narrator.

5) According to Authenticity of Correspondents

Sahih: meaning “Sound”. Hadith reported by a trustworthy reporter known for his truthfulness, knowledge, correct way of narrations etc.
Hasan: meaning “Good”. Hadith whose reporters are known and have solid character but weak memory.
Da`if: meaning “Weak”. Hadith ranking under Hasan (good) because of a shortcoming in the Isnad (Sequence of Reporters).
Maudu`: meaning “Fabricated”. Hadith having wording opposite to the confirmed Prophetic traditions.

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