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Canons for Evaluation of Hadith


A Hadith consists of two parts; its text called Matn and its chain of narrators called Isnad. Comprehensive and strict criteria were separately developed for the evaluation of Matn and Isnad. Matn is regarded the internal and Isnad is regarded as the external text of Hadith. A Hadith was accepted as authentic and recorded into a text only when it met both these criteria independently.

Criteria for Evaluation of Isnad

1. The name, nickname, title, parentage and occupation of the narrator should be known.

2. The original narrator should have stated that he heard the Hadith directly from the Holy Messenger.

3. If a narrator referred his Hadith to a narrator, the two should have lived in the same period and have had the possibility of meeting each other.

4. He should have been known as a pious and virtuous person.

5. He should not have been accused to having told a lie, given a false evidence or committed a crime.

6. He should have not spoken against other reliable persons.

Criteria for Evaluation of Matn

1. The text should have been stated in a plain and simple language.

2. A text in a non-Arabic style or couched in indecent language was rejected.

3. A text prescribing heavy punishment for minor sins or high reward for small virtues was rejected.

4. A text contrary to the basic teachings of the Quran was rejected.

5. A text contrary to basic reason, logic and known principle of human society was rejected.

6. A text inconsistent with historical facts was rejected.

Along with these generally accepted criteria, each scholar then evolved and practiced his own set of specific criteria to further ensure the authenticity of Hadith.
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