On 2003-05-18 20:43:48 PST thebit (thebit1979@hotmail.com) wrote:
>> The hadith is mutawattir among Muslims today.
>Salaam alaykum

wa `alayka wa `alayna al-salam

>Is it possible you can provide a technical definition of "mutawattir"?
>For example, how many people are required to have transmitted a
>narration, for that narrative to be considered "mutawattir"?

For this we need only turn to al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani in his
_Nuzhat al-Nazr Bi Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikr_, with additional notes from Mula
`Ali al-Qari's commentary, and a few notes from yours truly (set off in
parentheses with tn: ). The translation is a bit rusty, but bismillah:

(tn: the later muhaddithun and the majority usuliyun divide hadiths with
respect to the number of paths through which they came into two major
categories: mutawatir and ahad. They then divide ahad into three additional
categories: "Mashhur", "`Aziz", and "Gharib". Ibn Manda and the Hanafis
used a difference division: "Mutawatir", "Mashhur", and "Ahad", with "Ahad"
including "`Aziz" and "Gharib". This is essential to know since some people
accuse the Hanafis of throwing away a good portion of the Sunna, while this
is not entirely the case; indeed: the ones who throw away the Sunna are the
ones who reject everything their sheikh has not stamped with his approval.)

Concerning how it reached us, it either has paths--meaning many asanid (the
plural of isnad, meaning the men in the hadith since they prop the khabr
onto what the sanad [chain of transmission] ends in, and authenticity and
others revolve around them. So isnad [ascribing a chain] means the sanad
[chain] which is propped upon. Because of this Ibn al-Mubarak said: isnad
is part of the religion. If not for isnad whoever wanted would have said
whatever they wanted,and Ibn Sirin said: Verily this matter is religion, so
look from whom you are taking your religion,and Abu Nasr Ibn Salam said:
There is nothing heavier on the people of disbelief and more hateful to
them than hadith being heard, related, and given a sanad.This is how he
mentioned it in al-Khalasa, and it is problematic since the Quran should be
more hateful to them, or equal to hadith in hatred. I respond to this in
that he judged this based on hadith being an explanation of the Quran and a
final arbiter over it)--because turuqis the plural of tariq, and fa`il when
numerous is pluralized as fu`ulwith two dhammas and in small amount af`ila.
What is intended by pathsis the asanid. An isnad is a literal quotation of
the path of the matn [subject matter].

MUTAWATIR (Continuous mass testimony)
Being numerous is one of the (five, or four) conditions for the Mutawatir
[continuous mass testimony], when it is mentioned without being confined by
a specific number (al-Sakhawi added: and without being qualified by being
upright or Islam. The Sheikh omitted it here since the states of the men of
the Mutawatir are not asked about) rather it is normally impossible for
them to simultaneously agree on lying, and likewise for it to occur from
them unintentionally. (Not being confined to a specific number means that
what is considered regarding the informers being numerous is that they
reach a limit where the mind rejects them simultaneously agree to lie, not
that it does not fall under a specific number.) There is no meaning in
specifying the number (al-Asili said: indeed, the parameter is obtaining
knowledge, so whenever this group informs and it achieves knowledge, then
we know that their khabr is Mutawatir, and otherwise it is not), according
to the sound position.

Some of them specified that it is four, five, seven, ten, twelve, forty,
seventy, or something else. Everyone held firm to evidence (with a verse or
a hadith) that came with that number and was beneficial for certain
knowledge (`ilm), and it is not necessary for it to be forced on the others
(...the summary is that that number will contribute to knowledge in every
situation, and likewise it is not obligatory that less than it not
contribute to knowledge in another situation) since it possible that is it
specific to it.

Thus, whenever a khabr is related like this, in addition to the matter of
fulfilling the mentioned number from its beginning until its end and what
is intended by fulfilling is that the mentioned number not decrease in some
places (on the number which typically is impossible, etc...), not that it
not increase, since it increasing is sought after here min bab awla--and
that the matter it is finally attributed to is something seen or heard, not
something proven through pure intellectual reasoning, (like the existence
of the Creator and eternal preexistence, the preexistence of His
attributes; creation having a beginning and end, and its material both
basic and complex,) like that one is half of two... so if these four
conditions are gathered, and they are:

(1)     such a large number such that it is typically impossible for them
to agree upon a lie or to simultaneously lie
(2)     (being without number)
(3)     that they related it from the same, from the beginning to the end
(4)     that the matter it is finally attributed to is something sensed

and in addition to this:

(5)     that this khabr is accompanied by benefiting knowledge for the one
who hears it

then it is Mutawatir. Anything [like this] which does not benefit knowledge
(...which is related without being confined in number) is merely Mashur
[well-known]. Every Mutawatir is Mashhur, but not the opposite.

It can be said that if the four conditions are achieved then it
necessitates achieving knowledge, and in the majority this is so, but it
can be contrary to this in some because of a hindrance (&like the stupidity
of the one who heard it--like a scholar who did not come across some of the
conditions&like two contradictory khabr which both gather the conditions)

Through this, I have made clear the definition of Mutawatir. [...]

Ibn al-Salah mentioned that examples of the Mutawatir according to the
previous particulars are rarely found, except that it is claimed for the
hadith Whomsoever ascribes a lie to me ((intentionally takes his spot in
the Hellfire)) (since it was related by more than one hundred companions
(Allah be well pleased with them), including the ten announced to have
Paradise, and its narrators did not cease to increase the conditions are
gathered in it). What he claims about it being rare is refused, and also
what others (like Ibn Hibban and al-Hazimi) claimed about it being
non-existent, since this is a result of their lack of familiarity with the
many paths and states of the people and their attributes which necessitate
that their agreeing to lie or simultaneously lying is normally far fetched.

Among the best of what establishes that Mutawatir does exist and is
existent in numerous hadiths is the well-known recorded books which are in
the hands of the people of knowledge in the East and West, and their being
attributed to their authors is certain: when they all narrate a hadith and
its paths are numerous, such that it is ordinarily impossible for them to
simultaneously lie -- to the end of the conditions -- then it achieves
certain knowledge of it being sound up to the person who said it. This
occurs numerously in the well-known books.

>Salaam and Regards

Regards from one in need of his Lords forgiveness,