1 – Introduction:
Praise to Allah who never ceases being knowing, able. May Allah bless our leader Mohammed, whom He sent to mankind as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner, and upon his family, his companions and many salutations.
To proceed: The books of the classification of hadith specialists are many and were expanded and condensed. One of my brothers asked that I summarize for them what is important. I responded to his request seeking to be counted among those who walked the (scholarly) paths. So I say:
2 – Reports and their Paths:
The paths of a report are either:
1) Without a specific number
2) More than two paths
3) Two paths
4) One path
• The first is the mass-transmitted report (mutawaatir) and conveys sure knowledge when its conditions are met.
• The second is the well-known report (mashhoor) and it is also called the well-circulated report (mustafeed) according to one opinion.
• The third is the rare report (aziz). It is not the (minimal) condition for authenticity, contrary to whoever claimed it.
• The fourth is the uncommon/strange (ghareeb).
All of them except for the first are solitary reports (ahad). They (these reports) encompass the accepted and the rejected since using them as evidence hinges on investigating the status of the reporters, contrary to the first category. Yet they might contain what conveys inductive knowledge (ilm nazari) with external indicators, according to the preferred opinion.
3 – Uncommonness:
Then the uncommonness (gharaba) is either:
1) At the root of the chain
2) Or not
• The first is the absolutely-unique report (fard mutlaq) (e.g. one-hadith narrator, one-compiler narrator, one-narrator hadith, one-locally narrations).
• The second is the relatively-unique report (fard nisbi) and it is rare that the term ‘unique’ (fard) is used for it without qualification.
4 – Sound/Authentic (sahih) reports:
The solitary report (ahad) transmitted by:
1) An upright (adl) narrator
2) An thoroughly accurate narrator (taam al-Dabt)
3) With a continuous chain (muttasil isnad)
4) That is not defective (mu’allal)
5) Nor irregular/anomalous (Shadhah) is the authentic-in-itself (Sahih li-dhatihi).
Its ranks are commensurate to variation in these conditions. Hence al-Bukhari’s Sahih was put first, then Muslim’s and then what matches their conditions (shuroot).
5 – Fair (Hasan) Reports:
If the accuracy decreases then it is the fait-in-itself report (Hasan li-dhatihi), with multiple paths it is considered sound (Sahih).
If the grading is composite [e.g. fair- sound (Hasan Sahih)] it is [either] because of indecision regarding the reporter when it [his report] is unique [either fair or sound], otherwise it is from examining two chains [one fair and one authentic.