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A report is that which can be characterized by truthfulness or lying.

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Reports are of two types: individually transmitted and collectively transmitted.

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A collectively transmitted report makes knowledge obligatory. It is related, at every stage of its transmission all the way back to the one from whom it is reported, by a group the likes of which could not conspire to lie. It must originate in eye-witnessing or hearing, not in diligent inquiry.

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Individually transmitted reports make action obligatory, but do not make knowledge obligatory. They are of two types: those that are merely attributed to the Prophet, and those that are actually traced to the Prophet. A traced report has a continuous chain of transmission. If an attributed report is attributed to the Prophet by anyone other than a Companion, it is not an authoritative proof, except for the reports attributed by Saʿīd ibn al-Musayyab, which have been scrutinized and found to be traceable to the Prophet.

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Relating a report as “from so and so”1 counts as a form of tracing. If a teacher read a report, the one who later relates it from him may say “he told me” or “he informed me.” If the one who relates the report read it to the teacher, he says “he informed me,” but does not say “he told me.” If the teacher authorized him to relate traditions from him, the one who relates from him says “he authorized me,” or “he informed me by authorization.”

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Key terms

  • report: khabar
  • individually transmitted: āḥād
  • collectively transmitted: mutawātir
  • related: rawā
  • attributed (to the Prophet): mursal
  • traced (to the Prophet): musnad
  • chain of transmission: isnād
  • from so and so: al-ʿanʿana
  • he told me: ḥaddathanī
  • he informed me: akhbaranī
  • read: qaraʾa
  • authorization: ijāza
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Notes

  1. Al-ʿanʿana, the practice of indicating the chain of transmission by saying “from (ʿan) so and so,” instead of using a more complete form such as “so and so told me.” ↩
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Source: http://waraqat.vishanoff.com/e/e13/