The Science of Hadeeth By Shaykh Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (Part 8)


Definition: This is where there is a difference amongst the Muhadeetheen either in the text or chain of the hadeeth and there is difficulty in reconciling the various opinions or determining which one is the strongest[1].

An example of idtirab in the chain: Narrated Abu Bakr: “O Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ)! I see you getting older?” The Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) replied: “What made me old are Soorah Hud and it’s sister Soorahs.”

Ad-Daraqutni ’Alee ibn ’Umar (d.385H) said: “This is an example of a mudtarib hadeeth. It is transmitted through Abu Ishaaq, but as many as ten different opinions are held about this isnad. Some transmit it as mursal (loose) and others as muttasil (continuous), some take it as Musnad of Abu Bakr and others as Musnad of Sa’d or A’ishah. Since all these reports are comparable in weight, it is difficult to reconcile and to prefer one above the other. Hence this hadeeth is termed mudtarib[2].

An example of idtirab in the text[3]: Narrated Rafi’ ibn Khadij: “We worked on farms more than anybody else in Al-Madina. We used to rent the land and say to the owner: ‘The yield of this portion is for us and the yield of that portion is for you (as the rent).’ One of those portions might yield something and the other might not. So, The Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) forbade us to do so[4].

However, the narrators transmitting from Rafi’ give different narrations:

  1. Narrated Hanzla ibn Qays: “I asked Rafi’: ‘What about renting the land for Dinaar (Gold) and Dirham (Silver)?’ He replied: ‘There is no harm in renting for Dinaar-Dirham.’”[5]
  2. Narrated Rafi’ ibn Khandij: My uncle Zuhayr said: “The Messenger of Allaah(ﷺ) forbade us to do a thing which was a source of benefit to us.” I said: “Whatever The Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) said was right.” He said: “The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) sent for me an asked: ‘What are you doing with your farms?’ I replied: ‘We give our farms on rent, on the basis that we get the yield produced at the banks of the water streams (rivers) for rent, or rent it for some Wasq (60sa=135kg) of barley and dates.’ The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) said: ‘Do not do so, but cultivate the (land) yourselves or let it be cultivated by others for free, or keep it uncultivated.’ I said: ‘We hear and we obey.’”[6]
  3. Narrated Rafi’ ibn Khandij: “One day a man of my uncles came to us and said: ‘The Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) has forbidden us to do an act which was a source of benefit to us, for the obedience to Allaah and to His Messenger  (ﷺ) is more beneficial to us. He has forbidden us to plough the land for 1/3 or ¼ (of the product) and a measure of corn. Rather, the owner of the land should cultivate it or let it be cultivated by others, but he showed disapproval of renting it or anything other than that.’”[7]
  4. Narrated ’Abdullaah ibn as-Saa’’ib: We visited ’Abdullaah ibn Ma’qil and asked him about Al-Mukhaabara (sharecropping). He said: “Thaabit ibn Dahhaak claimed that The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) had forbidden share-cropping and commanded renting it and he said: ‘There is no harm in it.’”[8]
  5. Narrated ’Amr: When I mentioned it [i.e. the narration of Rafi’ ibn Khandij regarding the prohibition of renting land] to Tawoos. He said: “It is permissible to rent land for cultivation, for ‘Abdulllaah ibn Abbas said: ‘The Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) did not forbid that but said: `One had better give the land to one’s brother free of charge, rather than charge a certain amount for it.`’”[9]
  6. Narrated Zaid ibn Thaabit: “May Allaah forgive Rafi’! I am more aware of the narration than he is (i.e. the issue of renting land/farm). What happened was that the Ansar (citizens of Al-Madina) had a dispute, so that came to The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) who said after listening to their cases: ‘If this is your position, then do not rent the farms.’ Rafi’ only heard the last phrase (i.e. ‘do not rent the farms).

Thus, due to all the various versions of this hadeeth, Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d.241H) said: “The ahadeeth narrated by Rafi’ regarding the renting of land are mudtarib. They are not to be accepted, especially as they against the well-established hadeeth of ‘Abdullaah ibn Umar: Narrated ‘Abdullaah ibn Umar: “The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) gave the land of Khaybar to the Jews on the Condition that they work on it, cultivate it and take half it’s yield.”[10][11]

However, if it is possible to reconcile the hadeeth or determine which of the various opinions regarding the hadeeth is the strongest, then this hadeeth will not be termed as mudtarib e.g. the various ahadeeth concerning the performance of Hajj (pilgrimage) by The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ);

  1. He performed Hajj only; Narrated ‘Abdullaah ibn Umar: “We entered into the state of Ihram (i.e. the sacred state a pilgrim must be in) with the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) for Hajj alone.”[12]
  2. He performed Hajj and ’Umrah together; Narrated Bakr ibn ’Abdullaah: “Anas bin Maalik had narrated to us he saw the Prophet of Allaah (ﷺ) combining Hajj and ’Umrah…”[13]

These 2 ahadeeth can be reconciled by stating that the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) performed Hajj and ’Umrah together.

The Ruling:

A hadeeth which is mudtarib is da’eef (weak) and cannot be used as a Shari’ah evidence due to an ilah (defect) in the memory of a narrator in the chain of the hadeeth, except in certain cases;

  1. The idtirab in the hadeeth is not related to the main ruling being established by the hadeeth e.g. Narrated Fudaala ibn ’Ubayd: “I bought a necklace for 12 Dinars (gold coins) at the battle of Khaybar. It was made of gold studded with precious stones. So I separated them (i.e. the gold from the precious stones) and found that it (i.e. the gold) was worth more than 12 Dinars. I informed the Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) about this and he said: ‘It must not be sold until the contents (of the necklace) are separated.’”[14] Al-Hafiz ibn Hajr (d.852H) said: “Even though there are many different narrations amongst the narrators regarding this hadeeth, it is not mudtarib. This is because all the various versions of this hadeeth do not differ in the last part of it (i.e. ‘It must not be sold until the contents are separated.’) and this is the part of the hadeeth essential in establishing the ruling.
  2. A hadeeth in which in one of it’s chain, a narrator is mentioned by his proper name. While in another chain of the same hadeeth, the same narrator is mentioned by his kunya (title), laqab (surname) or nickname. Such a hadeeth will not be considered mudtarib because the narrator mentioned in the 2 chains of the hadeeth is one and the same person.


[1] Imaam Ibnul-Katheer (d.744H) said that a mudtarib hadeeth is where the narrators disagree about a particular Shaykh, or about some other points in the chain or text, in such a way that none of the various opinions can be preferred over the others. Therefore, there is uncertainty about the chain or text. Ikhtisar ’Uloomul-Hadeeth by Ibnul-Katheer pg. 72

[2] Ikhtisar ’Uloomul-Hadeeth by Ibnul-Katheer (d.744H) pg. 72

[3] This example and its explanation were included by the translators.

[4] Recorded by Bukhari

[5] Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim

[6] Recorded by Bukhari

[7] Recorded by Muslim

[8] Recorded by Muslim

[9] Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim

[10] Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim

[11] At-Tamheed by ’Abdullaah Ibn ’Abdul-Barr (d.463H) Vol.3 pg.32

[12] Recorded by Muslim

[13] Recorded in Muslim

[14] Recorded in Muslim


One thought on “The Science of Hadeeth By Shaykh Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (Part 8)

  1. Pingback: The Science of Hadeeth By Shaykh Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (Part 8) | SERAAT-E-MUSTAQEEM

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