Methodology Of Imam Al-Tirmidhi In His Classification Of Narrations In Sunan Al-Trimidhi By Shaikh Abdul Aziz Al-Tarefe

Type 1:

This is when Imam Al-Tirmidhi says:

a) Hadith Hasan Sahih
b) Hadith Sahih Hasan
c) Hadith Sahih
d) Hadith Sahih Gharib
e) Hadith Gharib Sahih
f) Hadith Sahih Hasan Gharib
It means he is authenticating the hadith in majority of cases. The highest of these tyoes is “Hasan Sahih” in the majority of the cases, and this is because many of the ahadith about which he says “Hasan Sahih” are found in Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim or in one of them or fulfilling the condtions of both of the Sahihs or one of them, which comes with an authentic and strong chain of narrators. Below the level of Hasan Sahih is “Sahih”.
Similar is his saying “Jayyid” (Good). However he does not use “Jayyid” by itself only, except in the correct place.

His saying “Sahih Gharib Hasan” is rare and he applied it on a few ahadith which are Sahih (authentic) and this is stronger than saying “Gharib Hasan Sahih” as he applied it on less than 10 ahadith some of which are sahih and some contain weakness. This “Gharib Hasan Sahih” is similar to his saying “Sahih Hasan Gharib”

And it becomes apparent to the one who studies “Al Sunan” (of tirmizi) that Imam Al-Trimidhi does not apply “Sahih Gharib” except in the second part of his Al-sunan and mostly on ahadith which are not related to Ahkaam (ahadith on which commandments of Sahree’ah are based). Apparently this is the lowest grade of authentication (tas-heeh) from him and sometimes he has applied it to ahadith which are weakened by other muhadditheen.
Imam Tirmizi uses these and other terminologies for authenticating ahadith. This is the most dominant type and it is clear and there are many examples of this type.

Type 2:

This is the type which has some weakness(Zu’f) in it, on this type Tirmizi apllies the term “Hadithun Hasanun (Hasan Hadith)”. Some people are decieved by this as they think that Imam Tirmizi’s application of “Hasan Hadith” is the same as that used in common terminology of the muhadditheen and this is not so. When Tirmizi applies this terminology he means a weak hadith and not saheeh hadith. Following are proofs for that.

  1. He himself mentioned in his book ‘Ilal “What we mention in this book as a hasan hadith, then we only mean by it the goodness (husn) of its chain of narration apparent to us,i.e. any hadith which does not contain a person accused of lying in its chain, and that the hadith should not be shaaz (odd, i.e. This same narration does not contain words which contradict words of narrators of the same hadith with another chain better or more than the narrators of this hadith )”. This means that Altirmizi refrained from applying “Hasan” on a chain containing a person accused of lying or a hadith that is shaaz, but he did not refrain from applying this terminology on what is less weak than this, but is still weak (Da’eef) and he does not say whether it can be used as evidence or not.
  2. So some great scholars of hadith apply “Hasan” on a hadith to show the uprightness and googness (istiqaamah and husn) of its text even though in terms of its chain of narration is rejectable. This is found in the sayings of the mutaqaddameen.
  3. This is well known for the one who studies thoroughly the methodology of Tirmizi in his Sunan and compares it to the authentication of ahadith other Imaams and their sayings.
  4. Among the evidences is that Tirmizi after saing this hadith is “hasan”, points the weakness of the narration by telling the weakening reason in the hadith or saying that another hadith is preferred over this one. e.g. saying “its chain is not connected” or “its chain is not that upright” or “its chain is not like that (i.e. it is weak)” etc.
    e.g. After narrating a hadith on wuzoo he said “this hadith is hasan but its chain is not that upright”
    Similarly after narrating the hadith of invocations said during entering and exiting a mosque, he said “this hadith is hasan, its chain is not connected because fatimah bint alhusain didnot live at the time of her grandmother, Faatimah bint muhammad sallallaholaihiwasallam.”

This is the use of “hasan” in majority of the cases. However hw also uses “hasan” to show a defect in the chain which does not make the hadith weak, or when Tirmizi hismelf is in doubt whether to reject or accept the narration.
Sometimes he applies “hasan” to ahadtih even in Saheehs of Bukhari and Muslim e.g. the hadith recomending praying naafil prayers at home. He mentions the difference of narrators: some narrate from the Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam and some from the companion (sahabi). He applies “hasan” on it, while the difference itself is not a weakening defect.

Type 3:

This is when he says about a hadith one of the following:

  1. Ghareeb.
  2. Hasan Ghareeb.
  3. Ghareeb Hasan.
  4. Laisa bil Qawi (not ‘strong’).
  5. Isnadahu Laisa bi Dhaak. (Its chain of narrators is not ‘that strong’).
  6. Laisa sanadahu bil Qaayim. (Its chain is not ‘upright’).
  7. Laisa isnadah bi sahih (Its chain is not authetic).
  8. Isnaadahu Da’eef (Its chain is weak).
  9. La Yasih. (It’s not authentic).
  10. Hadithun Munkarun. (A ‘rejected’ narration).
  11. Fihi fulaan laisa bil qawi. (In it is so and so (a narrator), who is not ‘strong’).


If he applies these terminologies, then it means he is pointing to the weakness of that particular hadith. If he says “Munkar (rejected)”, and he does so very rarely, then this means that the hadith is of the weakest type. The terminology he uses most from this type is “Gharib”, followed by “Hasan Gharib”, by which he means that the text of the narration is free from faults of ‘oddness’ (shuzooz, nakarah and gharabah), but the fault lies in the chain of narrators, which may be a defect (‘illah) causing the rejection of that narration.

A hadith about which Al-Tirmizi says, “Ghareeb” is weaker than the hadith about which he says “Hasan Ghareeb” or “Hasan”. However, A hadith about which he says, “Hasan Ghareeb” is weaker than the one about which he says “Hasan”.

Sometimes, we would say “Ghareeb” or “Hasan Ghareeb” and also explain the ‘defect’ (‘illah) in it. An example of this is what he narrated in his Sunan from the route of Yahya bin Yaman (who narrated) from Shaikh from Al-Harith bin Abdilrahmaan from Talhah from the Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam that he said “Every prophet has a companion and my companion in the paradise is ‘Uthmaan”. This hadith is very weak (‘Da’eef Jiddan’), so after narrating it, Al-Tirmizi said “It is Ghareeb (terminology 1 of type 3). Its chain is not strong (terminology 4 of type 3) and the chain is broken (munqati’, i.e . some of the narrators did not directly hear the hadith from the person they narrate from) ”.

Another example of this is what he narrates from the route of Kharijah bin Mus’ab…that the Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam said “Indeed for the Wudoo (ablution for prayers), there is devil called Al-Wulhaan (who casts doubts in the heart of the worshipper)…. ”. After narrating it, Al-Tirmizi said “It is Ghareeb (terminology 1 of type 3). Its chain is not strong (terminology 4 of type 3) and nothing in this regard is authentically narrated from the Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam”.

Yet another example is the long hadith which he narrated about the description of the Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam. After narrating it he says: “It is Hasan Ghareeb (terminology 2 of type 3). Its chain is not connected (, i.e . some of the narrators did not directly hear the hadith from the person they narrate from))”.

So, in the majority of cases, when he classifies a hadith according to the terminology found in this type, then he means that this hadith is weaker than a hadith on which type 2 terminology is used. However, sometimes, he uses terminology from type 3 to show that weakness of the hadith is not that great (laisa bi shaded Al-Du’f) , such that it can accept mutaabi’aat (‘supporting evidence’, so that this hadith becomes acceptable). Hence, sometimes when he says “Hasan Ghareeb”, he means that the weakness is not too great. We would illustrate it with the following example.

He narrated from the route of Salamahbin Fadhl from Muhammad bin Ishaaq from Hameed (Al-Taweel) from Anas that “The Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam used to do Wudoo (ablution) for every prayer, whether he was in a state of purity fit for prayers or not”. So Hameed Al-Taweel asked him, “How about you (i.e. the companions of the Prophet sallallahoalaihiwasallam)”. Anas replied, “He used to only one Wudoo (for all the prayers)”.

(Similar text is found is Sahih Bukhari too, which by concensus is authenic). After narrating this, Al-Tirmizi said, “The hadith of Hameed from Anas is “Hasan Ghareeb” as far is this route (chain of narration) is concerned”.

However, when he narrated the Mutabi’ (‘supporting evidence’) for this hadith from the route of Sufyan from ‘Amr bin ;Aamir from Anas with a wording similar to the words of the hadith of Hameed from Anas, he said: “This hadith is “Hasan Sahih” and the hadith of Hameed from Anas is “Jayyid (‘good’) Ghareeb Hasan” ”.

So, here he raised its status by saying “Jayyid” after mentioning its supporting evidence, after having weakened it before.

Type 4:

This is when he says about a hadith one of the following:

  1. Hadithun Munkarun. (A ‘rejected’ narration).
  2. La Yasih. (It’s not authentic).

I had mentioned them under type 3, because of their rare occurrence in Sunan Al-Timizi. These comprise the ‘extremely rejectable’ (Munkar jiddan) and ‘False’ (Batil) type of narrations.


So these are in sum, these are most of the terminologies employed by Imam Al-Tirmizi. However there are very few other terminologies that he uses, which require a more detailed essay, May Allah Make it easy.

Translated by: Abu Maryam Al-Salafi

Shaykh Abdul Aziz Al-Tarefe,

Dhul-Hijjah, 1423 H.


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