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Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
English
100Level, Nigeria.
Question

What is the difference between a
munkar hadith and a mudtarib
hadith?

Answer

Praise be to Allah.
To know the difference between
these two types of hadith, it is
essential first of all to explain what
is meant by each term, and the
different scenarios in which the
scholars apply these two
descriptions to reports, then to
highlight the similarities and
differences between them.

Firstly:
The scholars apply the description of
munkar (odd) in the following
scenarios:
The first scenario is some cases in
which a report is narrated by only
one narrator. That includes the
following:
1.
The hadith is narrated only by a
narrator who is classed as sadooq
(sincere), but is of lower standing
than those who are precise in
narration, and there is no other
report (from other sources) to
support it and raise it to the level of
being saheeh (sound). We see this
in the writings of Ahmad ibn Hanbal,
Abu Daawood, an-Nasaa’i, al-‘Aqeeli,
Ibn ‘Adiyy and others.
2.
The hadith is narrated only by a
narrator who is classed as mastoor
(one whose character is not known),
or who is described as having a poor
memory or as being da‘eef (weak),
and there is no corroborating
evidence to strengthen his report.
See al-Mooqizah , 42; Tadreeb ar-
Raawi , 2/278; an-Nukat by Ibn
Hajar, 2/647.
The second scenario is some cases
in which the report differs from
other reports:
1.
When the report of the narrator
whose character is not known
(mastoor), or who is described as
having a poor memory or as being
da‘eef, differs from the reports of
other narrators of higher standing.
If this narrator narrates many
reports that differ (from those of
narrators of higher standing), then
he deemed to be matrook (i.e., his
reports are to be overlooked and
rejected). The description of a
hadith as munkar mostly applies to
this scenario.
2.
When the report of a narrator who
is thiqah (trustworthy) differs from
the report of someone who is more
trustworthy than him, or he
narrates a report that differs from
many other reports (that
outnumber his report).
See: Tadreeb ar-Raawi (2/277).
The third scenario is types of hadith
that are weak for other reasons,
such as when the narrator quotes
the hadith and follows it with his
own words, and people think that
those words are the words of the
Prophet (blessings and peace of
Allah be upon him), which is known
as mudraj; hadiths with interrupted
(munqati‘) isnaads; and hadiths of
which the narrator is unknown
(majhool). This occurs in the
writings of more than one of the
earlier leading scholars, such as
Yahya ibn Sa‘eed al-Qattaan, Ahmad
ibn Hanbal, Abu Zar‘ah, Abu Haatim,
Abu Dawood, an-Nasaa’i and others.
They apply the term munkar to
these types of hadith.
See: an-Nukat by Ibn Hajar, 2/675;
Tahreer ‘Uloom al-Hadith by
‘Abdullah an-Judayyi‘, 2/1036.

Secondly:
The scholars apply the description of
mudtarib (confused) in the following
scenarios:
The first scenario is when a hadith
is narrated in many versions, none
of which is better in terms of the
strength of its isnad than the
others, so that it is not possible to
say which is more sound. It is valid
to describe a report as mudtarib if it
is not possible to reconcile all
different versions. If it is possible to
reconcile them, then it cannot be
called mudtarib.
The second scenario is when there is
uncertainty on the part of a
particular narrator with regard to
the isnad (chain of narration) or
matn (text) of the report. Hence it
may be said that “so and so [a
narrator] was confused concerning
it, so sometimes he said one thing,
and sometimes he said something
else.”
See: Tadreeb ar-Raawi , 2/308; an-
Nukat by Ibn Hajar, 2/773

Thirdly:
From the above, the difference
between the munkar hadith and the
mudtarib hadith will be clear, on two
counts:
1.
The description of munkar is applied
when a hadith is narrated by only
one narrator, when it is not possible
for him to have been the only one,
such as when one whose character
is not known (mastoor) or one who
is weak (da‘eef), narrates a report
that has no known corroborating
reports that could support his
narration. In other words, in order
to describe a report as munkar,
there is no stipulation that there
should be many reports that differ
from one another. With regard to
the term mudtarib, it is only used
for a report that is narrated in
different versions, then these
versions differ from one another to
the point that they cannot be
reconciled and it cannot be
determined which is more sound.
2.
There is another difference, which
is when there is more than one
isnad. In that case, we look to see if
we can determine which is more
sound, then the less sound report is
deemed to be munkar, whereas we
cannot describe a report as
mudtarib unless the versions are at
an equal level of soundness and it is
not possible to determine which is
more sound.
And Allah knows best.

islamqa.info/en/answers/85048/the-difference-between-a-munkar-hadith-and-a-mudtarib-hadith

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