Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Matan and Sanad Criticisms in Evaluating the Hadith

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Matan and Sanad Criticisms in Evaluating the Hadith

Article excerpt


Knowledge on the classification (mustalah) and sciences (ulum) of the al-Hadith that has long existed is the platform for religious scholars to debate the preservation and safeguarding of the originality and authenticity of the Prophet's SAW hadith. The topic is to determine whether to accept or reject the circumstances surrounding the chain of narrators (sanad) and the text of the hadith (matan). The evaluation of a hadith is made based on the sanad and matan criticisms. What is the relationship between these two aspects and to what degree does the role and significance of these two aspects affect the evaluation of a hadith, notwithstanding the criteria needed by parties that intend to evaluate the hadith? Hence, these are some of the questions that reflect the issues in this article. This brief study on the writings by experts in the field has produced a few latent points that can be summarised as; the criticisms of the sanad and matan had begun since the time of the Prophet's SAW companions although criticisms on the matan took preference and dominance due to the need at that moment in time. In the context of evaluating the hadith, both these aspects need to be jointly criticized and not in a separate context. At times, the hadith might have been authenticated based on the sanad, nevertheless criticism of the matan would still be initiated to ascertain that the text of the hadith is safe from contradictory facts or void of any hidden flaws.

Keywords: evaluating the hadith, sanad criticism, matan criticism, hadith scholar

1. Introduction

According to al-A'zhomi (1990, p. 10), what is assumed as the current method of criticizing the sanad is actually the outcome or findings of criticisms on sanad by former religious scholars. This is because scholars of the al-Jarh wa al-Ta 'dil would not have been able to ascertain the status of a narrator; whether he is accepted or rejected, trustworthy or otherwise, carefully safeguards the hadith or is forgetful and froth with mistakes, unless the scholars have studied the narrated texts of the hadith by comparing the matan of their hadith with the matan of other narrators, including views from the logical aspect. Hence, narrators who adduced the matan of the hadith that is incongmous, contradictory and froth with mistakes would have the hadith rejected. Comparisons between narratives and logical criticisms are matan criticisms, which are a part of the methodology of sanad criticism.

2. Objectives of the Study

The article is written with the intention of explaining the close relationship between sanad criticism and matan criticism of the hadith because without the matan criticism, the sanad criticism would be incomplete. In fact, the methodology of sanad criticism creates the realization of the matan criticism.

3. Evaluating the Hadith, Matan Criticism and Sanad Criticism

Classification of the hadith (mustolah al-hadith) is actually knowledge concerning the evaluation of the hadith. The classification is initiated in order to determine whether a sanad or matan of a hadith is to be accepted or rejected. Based on the definition of mustolah al-hadith, the evaluation of a hadith could mean "a process to understand and determine whether a hadith is accepted or rejected and explain the decision with its justifications". "To explain the decision along with its justifications", means to explain the findings of the process pertaining to whether the hadith is accepted or rejected and giving reasons for the decision in a transparent manner.

To evaluate the hadith does not mean to find fault or dishonour the hadith of the Prophet SAW but rather to ensure that the hadith did actually originate from the Prophet SAW or otherwise. It is only intended to differentiate between an authenticated or unauthenticated hadith.

Hence, based on the definition of evaluating a hadith, matan and sanad criticisms could be similarly defined as, "a process to determine if a matan or sanad of a hadith is accepted or rejected and to explain the decisions and the reasons for the decision". …

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