In the nomenclature of the majority of the Hadith specialists, a Hadith means:
It is the reported speech of the Messenger of Allah, whether this is: (a) explicit (sarih) or ( implicit (hukmi). It is also the action of the Messenger of Allah, also split into the two categories, and also what someone did or said in front of the Messenger of Allah, but the Messenger of Allah did not condemn that action or what was said, but, in fact remained silent and established it through his action. This is also split into two categories, as mentioned
Sarih means that a companion of the Messenger of Allah clearly states that, “I heard the Messenger of Allah state that…” / “I saw the Messenger of Allah doing…” / “such and such a person or a person did such and such a thing or said such and such a thing, but the Messenger of Allah never disapproved of that” ; or a companion or their successor(s) or anyone reports, stating explicitly that: “the Messenger of Allah has said that…” or states that: “It has been transmitted from the Messenger of Allah that he said …”
Hukmi means that any companion who does not transmit anything from the earlier books (such as from the People of the Book) informs of anything in which there is no room for ijtihad – exercising personal judgement. For example, the companion informs us about events about the Prophets; or informs about events that shall happen in the future such as battles, wars and the trials and tribulations that shall inflict the Ummah; informing about the fright of the Day of Judgement; or inform about a specific reward or punishment for an action, as a companion cannot inform about these things without having heard it from the Messenger of Allah. Hukmi also means that a companion does something in which there is no room for ijtihad; they must have seen the Messenger of Allah do it, thus, following the Messenger of Allah the companions have done it. Moreover, a companion states that, “In the blessed era of the Messenger of Allah, people used to do such and such..” this is also Hukmi as it is quite apparent that the Messenger of Allah must have known about their action, as revelation still continued. If that action was impermissible, then the Messenger of Allah must certainly have been informed about it through revelation, and thence, prohibited the companion(s) from doing so.
Hadith can also be defined as to include the reported speech, action or taqreer (tacit approval – what was said or done in front of a companion, and the latter did not condemn it). A companion is such a noble personality, who was blessed with being in the company of the Messenger of Allah, while the companion is in the state of Iman, and also passed away in that state (of Iman).
Hadith also means the reported speech, action or taqreer of the successors to the companions of the Messenger of Allah – the Tabi’un. A successor (Tabi’i) is such a noble personality, who was blessed with being in the company of a companion of the Messenger of Allah, in the state of Iman, and also passed away in the state of Iman.
After knowing the above definitions as mentioned by Hadrat Shaikh ‘Abd al-Haq “Muhaddith-e-Dehlwi”, Hadith can be categorised into three types:
1. The chain explicitly or implicitly goes to the Messenger of Allah. This is called marfu’ – ‘the raised-chain’.
2. The chain explicitly or implicitly goes to a Companion. This is called mawquf – the ‘halted-chain’.
3. The chain explicitly or implicitly goes to a Successor. This is called maqtu’ – the ‘broken-chain’.
From the point of view of authenticity (proof of genuineness or otherwise) there are many kinds of aHadith, but we shall confine ourselves to mention and examine only three kinds of aHadith which are common among the masses, namely
(1) Hadith-e-Sahih or Accurate
(2) Hadith-e-Hasan or good and reliable and
(3) Hadith-e-Daeef or weak and of doubtful origin.
SAHIH is that which contains these four qualities
(a) The authenticity of which is assured by the contiuance of the chain of Reporters or Narrators (Ravis) is unbroken or uninterrupted from the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon Him) to the Compiler or Last Reporter (Ravi). This means that there should be no gap in the chain of reporters, one connected with the following or next reporter till the last reporter.
( Each reporter or narrator of the Hadith must be a person of righteous moral excellence in all his sayings and deeds in all walks of life. No transgressor (Fasiq) or one whose autecedents or past career is hidden and unknown cannot be accepted as an authentic or qualified Ravi or Reporter of the Hadith
© All the reporters must possess healthy retentive memory, without becoming weak on account of illness or senility
(d) The Hadith reported by him must not be rare or of an uncommon or peculiar nature. It must bear the mark of common or natural occurrence or in other words it must not be against well known Hadith called Hadith-e-Mash’hoorah.
HASAN: By this kind of Hadith is meant that its Narrator or reporter may ot possess the qualities required of a Ravi of Sahih Hadith; his righteousness (Taqva) or memory not be of the execllent level or which has been imparied on account of sickness, senility or some accident.
DAEEF: The Narrator of such a Hadith is not righteous or whose memory is not strong and healthy and reliable.