Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mutaabi’aat, Shawaahid, and I’tibaar

1-            Mutaabi’aat (المتابعات):

It is the plural of Mutaabi’ah (متابعة) and it refers to the “support” or “accordance” of a narrator in the narration of a particular hadeeth with another narrator, with a condition that the Sahaabi who narrates the hadeeth from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the same.

For example: Naafi’ the freed slave of Ibn Umar (radiallah anhu) narrates a hadeeth from Ibn Umar.

And he is supported in the narration of this hadeeth by Saalim the son of Ibn Umar who also narrates it from his father i.e. Ibn Umar.

In this case since Saalim and Naafi both narrate the same hadeeth from Ibn Umar, it can be said that Saalim is the mutaabi’ (support) of Naafi, or Saalim has done the mutaabi’ah of Naafi’ and vice versa.

Example from an actual Hadeeth:

In his book “Al-Umm”, Imaam Shaafi’ee narrates from Imaam Maalik who narrates from Abdullah bin Deenaar who narrates from Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “A month has twenty-nine days in it. Do not start the fast or break it until you see the new moon. If the new moon is obscured from you then complete Sha’baan as thirty days.

So the chain of this narration is:

Narrates (Ash-Shaafi’ee) – from – (Maalik) – from – (Ibn Deenaar) – from – (Ibn Umar) – from – (the Prophet)

A group of people thought that Imaam Shaafi’ee is alone in narrating the words “complete Sha’baan as thirty days” in this hadeeth as compared to the other companions of Imaam Maalik, so they counted this hadeeth among the “Ghareeb” narrations of Ash-Shaafi’ee.

But after I’tibaar (i.e. doing research and finding all the routes of the narration), we find that Imaam Shaafi’ee has other “Mutaabi’aat” as well (i.e. narrators that support him) and he is not alone here.

Hence, Imaam Bukhaari narrates this hadeeth in his Saheeh with the following chain:

Narrates (Abdullah bin Maslamah al-Qa’nabi) – from – (Maalik) – from – (Ibn Deenaar) – from – (Ibn Umar) – from – (the Prophet) who said: “A month has twenty nine days in it… until, complete Sha’baan as thirty days”

As we can see in this chain, Imaam Shaafi’ee has been supported by Al-Qa’nabi in narrating this narration from Imaam Maalik. So we can say that Al-Qa’nabi is the Mutaabi’ of Ash-Shaafi’ee in this narration or that Ash-Shaafi’ee is the Mutaabi’ of Al-Qa’nabi.

Benefit of Mutaabi’ah:

Mutaabi’aat serve the purpose of elevating Gharaabah (i.e. loneliness) of the narrator whose support has been done, so that it gives more strength to the hadeeth in that particular level of the chain, depending on the strength of the Mutaabi’.

One condition for the Mutaabi’ah is that it should share a common Isnaad (i.e. the same Sahaabi at the very least), and its text should at least share a common meaning if not wording.

Sometimes some Muhadditheen also call it “Shaahid” instead of Mutaabi’ah by making a wider use of the word and that is permissible too based on the language, but we will see below that the word Shaahid has a different and a more general connotation when used in a technical meaning.

Types of Mutaabi’ah:

Mutaabi’ah (support/corroboration) is divided into two categories:

1)   Mutaabi’ah Taammah (متابعة تامة) (i.e. full follow-up), which refers to sharing a common chain from the beginning to the end. Meaning, the narrator who supports another narrator, both, share a common chain from their Shaykh to the end.

2)   Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah (متابعة قاصرة) (i.e. incomplete follow-up), which refers to the follow-up of chain from the middle to the end. Meaning, the narrator who supports another narrator, both, share a common chain somewhere above their Shaykh i.e. either at the Shaykh of the Shaykh or further above, both their chains join to a common narrator.

Examples of both types:

The same hadeeth of Imaam Shaafi’ee illustrated above can be used to give examples of these types. After compiling all the chains of the narration of Imaam Shaafi’ee, we find that this hadeeth has one “Mutaabi’ah Taammah”, and two “Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah”.

The chain of the hadeeth, once again, is as follows:

Narrates (Ash-Shaafi’ee) – from – (Maalik) – from – (Ibn Deenaar) – from – (Ibn Umar) – from – (the Prophet): “complete Sha’baan as thirty days

The example of its Mutaabi’ah given above from Saheeh Bukhaari is its Mutaabi’ah Taammah, which once again, is as follows:

Narrates (Abdullah bin Maslamah al-Qa’nabi) – from – (Maalik) – from – (Ibn Deenaar) – from – (Ibn Umar) – from – (the Prophet): “complete Sha’baan as thirty days
Its first Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah is as Ibn Khuzaymah narrates in his Saheeh through the following route:

Narrates (Aasim bin Muhammad al-Umari) – from – (Muhammad bin Zayd) – from – (Ibn Umar) – from – (the Prophet): “complete Sha’baan as thirty days

Its second Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah is as Imaam Muslim narrates in his Saheeh through the following route:

Narrates (Ubaydullah bin Umar) – from – (Naafi’) – from – (Ibn Umar) – from – (the Prophet): “complete Sha’baan as thirty days

As we can see, in the first chain (Al-Qa’nabi) agreed with (Ash-Shaafi’ee) in narrating it from (Maalik) with the same common chain so it is a full follow-up or Mutaabi’ah Taammah.

While in the second and third chain, (Aasim) and (Ubaydullah) both agree on narrating it from (Ibn Umar) so they are incomplete follow-ups or Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah.

2-            Shawaahid (الشواهد):

Shawaahid is the plural of “Shaahid” and it is a form of “Mutaabi’ah” except that it is only relevant or special to the one who narrated the hadeeth from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) meaning, the Sahaabi. In other words, it is a Mutaabi’ah of a Sahaabi with another Sahaabi in narrating the text or meaning of a certain hadeeth.

Such as a hadeeth which is narrated by Jaabir bin Abdullah (radiallah anhu) and a similar hadeeth either in text or meaning is also narrated from Aa’ishah (radiallah anha). So it can be said about the hadeeth of Jaabir that, “It has a Shaahid from the hadeeth of Aa’ishah” and the opposite can also be said for the hadeeth of Aa’ishah.

Likewise, a Mursal narration (a Taabi’ee narrating directly from the Prophet) can also become a Shaahid for a Muttasil narration. It is known that the Mursal narration does not mention the name of a Sahaabi but it still can be a Shaahid based on its independence of narration from the Muttasil.

Examples of Shawaahid:

The same hadeeth used in the examples above can be used here again to illustrate a shaahid. We learned above that the hadeeth of Ash-Shaafi’ee had one Mutaabi’ah Taammah and two Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah. Now the same hadeeth has two Shawaahid as well (meaning, the same hadeeth narrated from two different Sahaabah).

Hence, Imaam Nasaa’ee narrates with the following route:

Narrates (Amr bin Deenaar) – from – (Muhammad bin Hunayn) – from – (Ibn Abbaas) – from – (the Prophet): “complete Sha’baan as thirty days

And similarly, Imaam Bukhaari narrates:

Narrates (Shu’bah) – from – (Muhammad bin Ziyaad) – from – (Abu Hurayrah) – from – (the Prophet): “complete Sha’baan as thirty days

So these two narrations contain different Sahaabah, so they are Shawaahid.


(1) The Narrator ---------- (2) The Shaykh of the Narrator ---------- (3) The Taabi’ee ---------- (4) The Sahaabi ---------- (5) The Prophet

So, Mutaabi’ah Taammah: is that some other narrator narrates a similar narration from “The Shaykh of the Narrator” i.e. containing all (2), (3), (4), (5) in common.

Mutaabi’ah Qaasirah: is that some other narrator narrates a similar narration from the same or common Sahaabi i.e. containing (3), (4), (5) OR (4) & (5) as common in its chain.

Shaahid: refers to a similar hadeeth but narrated from a different Sahaabi, i.e. only having (5) as common.

3-            What is I’tibaar?

Linguistically, “I’tibaar (اعتبار) (i.e. consideration)” means to ponder over some things so as to be able to recognize several things of a single type.

In Istilaah (technical meaning), I’tibaar means to research the status of a given hadeeth by pondering over other ahaadeeth to see if anyone else has also narrated it or not. If someone else has also narrated it then what is its specification i.e. do they agree with each other or oppose each other? If they agree with each other, do they agree in literal words or in meaning? Similarly, do they both narrate from the same Sahaabi or different Sahaabah? If they oppose each other then what mutual relation do they have with each other due to which one of them can be preferred over another?

Hence, Ali bin Muhammad al-Jarjaani (D. 816) writes in “Al-Mukhtasar fi Usool al-Hadeeth” (P. 86) that:

والاعتبار هو النظر في حال الحديث هل تفرد به راويه أم لا وهل هو معروف أو لا

“I’tibaar refers to looking into the condition of the hadeeth, whether its narrator is alone in narrating it or not? And whether he is known or not”

If after research, it is known that this particular hadeeth is not narrated by anyone else then it will be termed “Fard” and “Ghareeb”. And if someone else has also supported the narration then it will be termed as a “Mutaabi’” or “Shaahid” based on their details. And if someone has opposed it then it will be termed “Shaadh” or “Munkar” accordingly, whose details will be dealt with later on, in-shaa-Allaah.

And Allaah knows best
Compiled from different sources.

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