Two of the primary terminologies of Hadith are Ṣaḥīḥ and Ḥasan. Although the absence/weakness of only 1 of the 5 conditions of Ṣaḥīḥ (ḍabṭ) make the Hadith Ḥasan, they are not on the same level, rather, they’re almost opposites. For this reason, using ‘Ṣaḥīḥ’ and ‘Ḥasan’ synonymously or together doesn’t seem accurate, as they both have qualities that oppose each other, main quality being that; the memory of a Ṣaḥīḥ Hadith’s narrator is complete whilst the memory of a Ḥasan Hadith’s narrator is defective. So what does it mean when the likes of Imām Tirmizī (رحمه الله) label one Hadith with both terms?

ʿAllamah Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalāni explains this in his ‘Nuzhatun Nazar Sharhu Nukhbatil Fikr‘ and mentions two main reasons for labelling one Hadith with two seemingly opposing terms:

  1. The first reason, as explained by ʿAllamah Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalāni, could be, when an author (for instance; Imām Tirmizī رحمه الله) has one form of a narration, but due to a  doubt he faces, he chooses to not pass a final decision of whether the Hadith is rigorously authentic (Sahih) or a narrator has a defective memory (Hasan), therefore he chooses to leave it to those after him to decide and labels the Hadith with both terms. It’s as if he is saying: “If others [after me] also state that this particular narrator is authentic, then the Hadith is Sahih, otherwise, it’s Hasan. In this case, we would have to assume that there’s a hidden “أو ” (or) between both terms that indicates towards Imām Tirmizī’s doubt. In the above case, a Sahih Hadith would be stronger than a “Sahihun ( أو ) Hasanun” Hadith, as surety, which the former contains, surpasses doubt, which is found in the latter.
  2. On the other hand, Imām Tirmizī could have had the same Hadith with two different chains. In this case, it’s simple. It means the same Hadith with one chain (sanad) is at the level of Sahih and at the level of Hasan with the other chain. In this case, we would have to assume that there’s a hidden Harf ‘Ataf ” وَ ” between both terms and it is as if the author is saying: “This Hadith is Sahih [according to one chain] and Hasan [according to another chain]. Here, the Hadith that is “Sahihun ( وَ )Hasanun” would be stronger than a Hadith that is only Sahih because in the former, despite the Hadith already being Sahih, it has another Hasan chain boosting its authenticity.

And Allah Ta’āla knows best.

Written by TheHadithDisciple