Fabricated Hadiths (3)

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In part one the author defined the fabrication of Hadith and gave a brief historical background on the emergence of this phenomenon. In part two he listed the types of fabrication with the causes of each type. In this part, he highlights the efforts of Muslim scholars and the tools they applied to sift through hadiths and eliminate the fabricated ones.

Signs of Wad` (Fabrication) in Hadiths

On the basis of the methods of matn (textual) criticism1developed by Muslim scholars of Hadith, the following signs were considered indicators of the occurrence of fabrication:

  1. Disproportionately high rewards for small good deeds or disproportionately severe punishments for ordinary sins
  2. Laudation of persons, tribes, and particular places
  3. Detailed prophecies of future events with dates
  4. Remarks by the Prophet that do not match his prophetical position, or expressions that may not be suitable for him (Siddiqi 201, Shabbir 83-4)
  5. Non-Arabic style or structure
  6. Fanciful statements that the Prophet could not have made
  7. Statements claimed to have been made by the Prophet in the presence of many Companions, but which are not reported by any of them
  8. Phraseology that resembles that of the Sufi masters (Ibn Al-Qayyim 50-100)

Means of Eliminating Fabrication

  1. Examining the character of the narrator. In order to be considered reliable, Hadith transmitters must possess personal integrity and must be able to provide flawless isnads for their hadiths.
  2. Making a textual comparison. This method was applied to make cross comparisons between the hadiths, for example, comparing the hadiths of different students of the same scholar. In Ibn Hibban’s Al-Majruhin there is an interesting example to illustrate a good practice of this method. Ibn Ma`in went to `Affan, a student of Hammad ibn Salamah, to hear from him the books of Hammad. `Affan asked Ibn Ma`in whether he heard those books from any other students of Hammad or not. Ibn Ma`in replied, “I have heard these books from seventeen students of Hammad before coming to you.” `Affan said, “By Allah I am not going to read these books to you.” Ibn Ma`in answered that by spending a few dirhams he would go to Basrah and hear them from another student of Hammad. He went to Basrah to Musa ibn Isma`il, another pupil of Hammad. Musa asked him, “Have you not heard these books from anybody else?” He said, “I have heard them completely from seventeen students of Hammad and you are the eighteenth one.” Musa asked him what he was going to do with all these readings and Ibn Ma`in replied, “Hammad ibn Salama committed mistakes and his students added more mistakes to his. So I want to distinguish between the mistakes of Hammad and those of his students. If I find all the students of Hammad committing a certain mistake unanimously, then the source of the mistake is Hammad. If I find the majority of Hammad’s students say something, and some of them go against them, then this mistake was committed by that particular student of Hammad. In this way I make a distinction between the mistakes of Hammad and those of his students.”
  3. Comparing the statements of a single scholar at different times. This method of criticism was applied to check whether the transmitter added something to the hadith or if it remained the same as he transmitted it before.
    `A’ishah asked `Urwah to go to `Abdullah ibn `Umar and ask him about a hadith of the Prophet. Following `A’ishah’s request `Urwah met `Abdullah ibn `Umar and asked him about the hadith of the Prophet. `Abdullah ibn `Umar reported to `Urwah the hadith about how knowledge will be taken away from earth. `Urwah returned to `A’ishah and narrated this hadith to her. She was discontented about this hadith. After one year or so, she said to `Urwah, “`Abdullah ibn `Umar has come back, go to him and ask him about hadiths of the Prophet and ask him about this particular hadith.” `Urwah went and asked about this hadith. He came back to `A’ishah and told her that `Abdullah ibn `Umar had repeated the same hadith once again. Upon this `A’ishah said, “I think he must be correct, as he has not added anything to it and neither has he shortened it” (A`zami 55).
  4. Comparing written documents with a hadith transmitted from memory. According to the Hadith scholars (muhaddithun), the information gained from books is more authentic and accurate than what is based on one’s memory. Once Sufyan transmitted a hadith from Ibn Mas`ud with regard to raising one’s hand while beginning ruku`(bowing). Yahya ibn Aadam said that he checked the book of `Abdullah ibn Idris and did not find this hadith. Commenting on this, Al-Bukhari said, “This is correct, because the book is more accurate in the eyes of scholars; for example, a man sometimes narrates a hadith and then goes through the books. In the case of difference the version in the book will be accepted as accurate” (A`zami 56).
  5. Comparing the hadith with related verses of the Qur’an and other hadiths.

Literature on Fabricated Hadiths (Al-Mawdu`at):

Early works on fabricated hadiths include the following:

  • Tadhkirat al-Mawdu`at by Abu Al-Fadl Muhammad ibn Tahir Al-Maqdisi
  • Al-Mawdu`at min Al-Ahadith Al-Marfu`at by Abu `Abdullah Al-Jawzaqani, also called Al-Abatil
  • Al-Mawdu`at Al-Kubra of Ibn Al-Jawzi. Later it was abridged by As-Suyuti in his
  • Al-La’ali’ Al-Masnu`a fi Al-Ahadith Al-Mawdu`a and by Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Salim As-Saffarini in his Ad-Durar Al-Masnu`at fi Al-Ahadith Al-Mawdu`at
  • Tahdhir Al-Khawas min Akadhib Al-Qussas by As-Suyuti
  • Al-Mughni `n Al-Hifz wa Al-Kitab by `Umar ibn Badr Al-Mawsili
  • Ahadith Al-Qussas by Ibn Taymiyyah
  • Al-Manar Al-Munif fi As-Sahih wa Ad-Da`if by Ibn Al-Qayim
  • Tanzih Ash-Shari`a Al-Marfu`a `an Al-Ahadith Ash-Shani`a al-Mawdu`a by Ibn `Arraq Al-Kinani
  • Tadhkirat Al-Mawdu`at by Muhammad Tahir Al-Fatani
  • Al-Asrar Al-Marfu`ah fi Al-Akhbar Al-Mawdu`a by `Ali Al-Qari
  • Al-Fawa’id Al-Majmu`a fi Al-Ahadith Al-Mawdu`at by Ash-Shawkani (Nasr 112-14)

To these sources one can add the contemporary study of Al-Albani titled Silsilat Al-Ahadith Ad-Da`ifa wa Al-Mawdu`a.


  • A`zami, M. M. Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature. Indianapolis: American Trust Publication, Islamic Teaching Center, 1977.
  • Ibn Al-Qayyim. Al-Manar Al-Munif fi As-Sahih wa Ad-Da`if, 5th impr., Ed. `Abd Al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah. Halab: Maktab Al-Matbu`at Al-Islamiyah, 1994.
  • Nasr, As-Sidiq Bashir. Dawabit Ar-Riwayah `inda Al-Muhaddithin. Tripoli, 1992.
  • Shabbir, Mohammed. The Authority and Authenticity of Hadith as a Source of Islamic Law. New Delhi, 1982.
  • Siddiqi, Muhammad Zubayr, Hadith Literature: Its Origin, Development, and Special Features; Calcutta University Press, 1961.

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