Linguistically the term Hasan means "beautiful; fair; good". However, according to the science of hadeeth evaluation, it refers to a hadith that is graded between Saheeh and da'eef (inauthentic). Imam at-Tirmidhi, who was the first to use the term Hasan consistently in a technical way, defined it as a hadeeth that does not have in its chain a narrator suspected of lying, nor does it conflict with superior texts and it is transmitted via more than one chain of similar strength.
This definition is quite general and could include the hadeeth saheeh lighayrih (Saheeh due to external corroboration). Or it could define one dimension of the hadeeth hasan, namely the hasan lighayrih (hasan due to external corroboration).
Ibn Hajar, on the other hand, gave the most accurate definition of the hadeeth Hasan as one transmitted by upstanding narrators in a continuous chain of narration, free from any hidden defects or conflict with superior texts. Except that it contains a narrator or narrators whose accuracy is inferior. Such a hadith is regarded as Hasan lidhatih (Hasan by itself). In other words, a hadeeth is considered Hasan if it fulfills all the requirements of Saheeh except dabt (accuracy). If the memory of a narrator was only considered fair (sadooq), that is, he was known to make a few mistakes. The hadeeth is lowered from the level of Saheeh to the level of Hasan. In the early days, some scholars like Ibn Khuzaymah (one of Bukhari's teachers) made no distinction between the hadeeth Saheeh and the hadeeth Hasan.
Ibn Hibban and al-Haakim also followed this practice. The following is an example of a hadith hasan from the Sunan of Imam at-Tirmidhi: "Qutaybah informed us from Ja'far ibn Sulaymiin ad-Duba'ee informed us from Abu 'Imran al-Jawni from Abi Bakr ibn Abi Moosa al-Ash'ari who said: I heard my father saying when we faced the enemy: The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Indeed paradise is under the shade of the swords." ...
Abu 'Eesa (at-Tirmidhi) said: "This is a hadeeth hasan ghareeb."
This hadeeth is rated hasan because Ja'far ibn Sulayman was graded Sadooq (less accurate but upright) while the other narrators were all graded thiqah (reliable). The ruling on a hadeeth is always according to the weakest link in its chain of narrators. It is a hadeeth hasan Ii dhatih.
However, due to the existence of three narrations of this text in Saheeh al-Bukhari and two narrations in Saheeh Muslim it is reclassified as Saheeh li Ghayrih. The following hadeeth is one of the corroborating narrations in Saheeh al-Bukhari: "'Abdullah ibn Muhammad informed us that Mu'awiyah ibn 'Amr informed them from Abu Ishaq from Moosa ibn 'Uqbah from Salim ibn an-Nadr, the freed slave and scribe of 'Umar ibn 'Ubaydillah, who said that 'Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa wrote to him saying that the Messenger of Allaah said: "Know that Paradise is under the shade ofthe swords." (Bukhari)
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited