Due to a variety of factors, the narration of hadeeths came under careful scrutiny beginning with the generation of the companions and their students. The statements of the Tabi'ee, ibn Sireen, identifies the approximate time period in which verification began.
He said: "(In the beginning) they would not ask about the isnad ask when the fitnah (civil war) happened, thcy demanded, Name your men to us. The narration of the Ahl as Sunnah would be accepted, while those of Ahl al- Bid'ah would be rejected."
Once the name of the narrator was known, it was possible to investigate whether ge was trustworthy or not and whether he actually heard the person from whom he was reporting. Criticism of this nature later came to be known as 'llm as Jarh wa at Ta'deel (The science of validation).
The earliest recorded comments made for this purpose were reported by Shu'bah ibn aI Hajjaj (701-776 C.E). Ibn 'Ad reported with his isnad going back to 'Abdur Rahman ibn al Mahdi who said: "Once they differed in the presence of Shu'bah and said, 'O' Abu Bistam, appoint a judge between you and us.' He replied, 'I agree to appoint at Ahwal (Yahya ibn Sa'eed al Qattan).' After a short while, he came. So they referred the issue to him and he gave his judgement against Shu'bah judgement against Shu'bah has the ability to examine (tanqud) like you?'"
The term used by Shu'bah was a form of the verb naqada which means 'to examine or test'. Yahya ibn Sa'eed (d. 804) was also the earliest of those whose comments were recorded. Ibn Shu'bah az Zuhri, as was earlier mentioned, was the first to record biographical material along with the narrations themselves. From these early efforts the science of hadeeth ('llmMustalah al Hadeeth or llm Usool 01 Hodeeth) evolved to distinguish between authentic narrations and spurious or fabricated ones.
The scholars of hadeeth have dealt with each hadeeth as an independent case, subjecting both its isnad and its matn to dose scrutiny according to the fundamental principles of this, science. Although the rules and criteria governing the study of hadeeth were meticulous in the early generations, there was judgement against Shu'bah considerable variation in their terminology.
Their principles can be found scattered among various books of that era, e.g., ar Risatah of Imaam ash Shafi'ee (d. 204 AH.), the introduction to Saheeh Muslim of Imaam Muslim(d. 261 AH.) and Sunan at Tirmidhi of Imaam at Tirmidhi (d. 279 AH.) later scholars deduced the criteria of about the hadeeth narrators the early scholars like Bukhari, from a careful study of which narrators or isnads were accepted or rejected by them.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited