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    The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

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    by Mufti Muntasir Zaman @ Hadith & Fiqh Discussions

    Pause for a moment, and ask yourself: what are the greatest accomplishments of the Muslim civilization? At first thought, a number of things will probably come to mind, ranging from mathematics to medicine to architecture—perhaps even coffee.
    [1] But unfortunately we tend to overlook one of the greatest accomplishments, if not the greatest: the isnād system. That a person, till this day, can attribute a hadīth to the Prophet and then follow it with a list of authorities reaching back successively to the source is what scholars as early as Abū Bakr al-Thaqafī (d. 309 AH)[2] described as an exclusive accomplishment of the Muslim civilization.[3]

    The word sanad (lit. base)[4] refers to the chain of transmitters leading to the text of a hadīth while isnād refers to the mentioning of the chain.[5] Majority of scholars, however, use both terms interchangeably.[6] Al-Bukhārī (d. 256 AH), for instance, mentions, “Makkī ibn Ibrahīm—Yazīd ibn Abī ‘Ubayd Allāh—Salamah: I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, ‘Whoever lies about me should prepare his abode in the fire.’”[7] In this example, the names leading to the text form the sanad of the hadith.[8]

    The usage of isnād began simultaneously with the transmission of the Prophet’s hadiths. Companions like Abū Salamah al-Makhzūmī (d. 3 AH),[9] and Ja‘far ibn Abī Tālib (d. 8 AH),[10] who passed away during the Prophet’s lifetime,[11] transmitted hadiths citing the Prophet as their source.[12] Furthermore, Companions who were preoccupied with their daily responsibilities would take turns to attend the gathering of the Prophet. When the present partner would relate the day’s teachings to the absent partner, he would obviously preface his words with “The Prophet said so and so.”[13] The shortness of the chain*, i.e. direct transmission from the Prophet, makes this first rudimentary usage of isnād unnoticeable. During this time, transmitters were not required to disclose their sources. That is why we find Companions like Anas ibn Mālik, who lived during the Medinan period, relate incidents from the Meccan period without citing their sources.[14] This was not an issue because even the thought of lying about the Prophet was inconceivable to the Companions.[15]

    Shortly after the Prophet’s demise, the Companions exercised caution vis-à-vis hadiths,[16] with Abū Bakr spearheading the initiative.[17] When al-Mughīrah ibn Shu‘bah narrated a hadith about a grandmother’s share of inheritance, Abū Bakr asked for corroboration, which Muhammad ibn Maslamah duly provided.[18] ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb also asked Abū Mūsā al-Ash‘arī for corroboration when he narrated the hadith about seeking permission thrice for entering a person’s house; in this case, Abū Sa‘īd al-Khudrī stood in his support.[19]

    The assassination of ‘Uthmān ibn ‘Affān (Allāh be pleased with him) in 35 AH, later described as the strife (Fitnah), marks a major shift in the course of Islamic history.[20] Until the events that led to the tragic incident, there was considerable stability throughout the Muslim world.[21] Driven by a thirst to bolster their political and theological views,[22] people thereafter began to fabricate hadiths, which prompted scholars to exercise even further caution. Recounting this delicate phase, Ibn Sīrīn (d. 110 AH) explains, “In the early period, no one would ask about isnād. But when the strife[23] occurred people would say, “Name for us your sources.”[24] It is understood from Ibn Sīrīn’s words that the practice of citing one’s source, or isnād, for a hadīth existed before the Fitnah, but was not a requirement—it was within the discretion of a transmitter.[25]

    During the first century AH, the isnād system had fully developed and formed part and parcel of the transmission of hadiths.[26] Until a hadith was supported by an isnād, it held no weight in the sight of Hadīth scholars.[27] In this respect, ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Mubārak (d. 181 AH) made the proverbial remark, “Isnād is part of religion. Were it not for isnād, a person could say whatever he wanted. If you ask him, ‘Who told you this?’ He cannot reply.”[28] Sufyān al-Thawrī (d. 161 AH) said, “Isnād is the weapon of a believer. When he is not equipped with his weapon, how will he combat?”[29] The emphasis scholars placed on isnād in the field of Hadīth had rippling effects on other disciplines, like Qur’ānic exegesis, jurisprudence, history, and poetry. The leading exegete, Ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī (d. 310 AH), for instance, when quoting an opinion on the commentary of a verse, couples it with a chain of transmission that traces back to the source.[30] The extent this emphasis permeated even the most mundane subjects is at times unbelievable. A collection of stories about love entitled “Masāri‘ al-‘Ushshāq” where the author, Abū Muhammad al-Sarrāj (d. 500 AH), painstakingly cites lengthy chains of transmission is a case in point.[31]

    An argument has been put forward for the usage of isnād before the advent of Islām, in an attempt to negate the notion that it is an exclusively Islāmic accomplishment. To this end, examples are adduced from pre-Islāmic poetry,[32] Jewish scripture[33] and Hindu literature.[34] These examples, however, are not substantive; there is a stark contrast between the isnāds employed in these examples and how Muslims used isnāds. The fifth century Andalusian polymath, Ibn Hazm (d. 458 AH), explains what is meant by the exclusivity of isnād among Muslims.[35] From six forms of transmission, he writes, three are exclusive to Muslims. The third form deserves particular attention, “Transmission from the Prophet via reliable narrators, each disclosing the name and lineage of the informant, and each of known status, person, time, and place.”[36] More simply put, Muslims may not have been the first to use isnād per se—for argument’s sake—but they were definitely the first to give it value by providing unbroken chains and documenting detailed accounts of the narrators, better known as the field of al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl (accreditation and criticism). After all, what use is a list of narrators when nothing is known about them save their names? The Muslim civilization is truly unrivalled in its documentation of the biographical information of Hadīth transmitters. Aloys Sprenger (d. 1893 CE), the celebrated Western academic and critic of Islam, could not help but acknowledge this unparalleled accomplishment. He writes:

    The glory of the literature of the Mohammedans is its literary biography. There is no nation, nor has there been any which like them has during twelve centuries recorded the life of every man of letters. 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.[37]

    Before concluding, it will be beneficial to address two issues. First, as the science of Hadīth developed, a hadīth was identified with its isnād and not its text (matn). [38] The growth of isnāds was a natural outcome of transmission: assuming one Companion imparted a hadith to five students who in turn did the same, etcetera, the number of routes would have increased exponentially. Through the process of transmission, therefore, the number of isnāds multiplied without an increase in the number of texts.[39] Consequently, when ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mahdī said, “I know thirteen hadīths via al-Mughīrah ibn Shu‘bah from the Prophet regarding wiping on the socks,”[40] he was referring to a single text transmitted through thirteen different channels.[41] Keeping this technicality in mind will allow us to understand what scholars meant when they described the staggering number of hadīths they knew, such as al-Bukhārī’s memorization of one-hundred thousand authentic hadiths[42] or Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s compilation of his Musnad from a pool of seven-hundred thousand hadīths.[43] Furthermore, apart from Prophetic hadiths, included in these large numbers are the statements of the Companions and Successors.[44] Second, simply citing a chain of transmission for a report, be it a hadith or otherwise, does not necessitate its authenticity. This is more so in the case of books like Ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī’s Tārīkh al-Umam wa al-Mulūk—a primary source for subsequent historians—where the author gathers all available reports as transmitted to him and then consigns the responsibility of analyzing the chains of transmission to the reader.[45] But at the same time, it should be remembered that the isnād system, as Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī (d. 1933 CE) would often remind his students, was formally instituted to prevent the inclusion of extra-Islamic material, not to remove established Islamic teachings.[46]
    | Likes AabiruSabeel, Little_Lion, Aisha, Abz2000, noraina liked this post
    The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet



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    Re: The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

    I need to bump this to make up for the satire article i mistakenly posted as real initially.
    The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet













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    Re: The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet


    Source: https://bukhari2013.files.wordpress....4/05/sanad.pdf

    brother @najimuddin for the link.


    Also worth listening:





    The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

    تَقَـبَّـلَ اللهُ مِنَّـا وَمِنْـكُم

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    Re: The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

    The unbroken chain of Shaikh Ayman for the Holy Qur'an:

    The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

    تَقَـبَّـلَ اللهُ مِنَّـا وَمِنْـكُم

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    Re: The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

    The continuous chains of the recitation of Holy Qur'an. Click on the picture to enlarge.

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    Re: The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet



    If you apply this strict criteria of this Isnad System , the all available scriptures of this world (except Islam) will never even fare to the level of Islamic weak, daif hadiths.
    Last edited by talibilm; 11-22-2017 at 04:17 AM.
    | Likes AabiruSabeel liked this post
    The Isnād System: An Unbroken Link to The Prophet

    My Sect : No Sect

    My Aqeedha : Aqeedha of Sahabas as in http://legacy.quran.com/112

    Just a Muslim with Glorious Quran and (hadith) sunnah as my guide as in verse 41:33 '' And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, "Indeed, I am of the Muslims."


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