6
Jul
2018
Some Reasons Why There Are Different Wordings of One Hadeeth or Incident
6th July 2018
The scholars have pinpointed many major causes for different narrations or wordings of what is apparently one hadeeth or one incident. [1] 

The following are some of the major causes: 

(1) The incident narrated may only seem like one event or statement while, in reality, each narrator or narration is describing a different event or statement of the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم. 

(2) Sometimes the hadeeth is narrated according to its meaning only and the exact wording has not been preserved. Other narrators may narrate the same hadeeth while preserving the exact wording. [2] 

(3) Narrators have different retentive strengths. Particularly if a hadeeth or anecdote is long, it is natural for a narrator to recall or to narrate more of an incident than others. Hence, one's version of the hadeeth may be longer than that of another narrator. 

(4) Narrators sometimes intentionally abridge the text of the hadeeth. This is considered permissible as long as the meaning is not distorted. Hence, one narrator may narrate a complete statement of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم while another may only narrate what he feels is relevant at the time he is speaking. 

(5) Sometimes a narrator is present for only a portion of a statement or discussion while another person may have heard the entire statement or discussion. Hence, when the two narrate the same incident, the narrations may be quite different, especially in length. 

(6) The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would sometimes put questions to the Companions رضي الله عنهم and their responses in one setting would differ. When a narrator relates that particular event, he may relate the response that he heard while others may relate the response that they heard. 

(7) Narrators do commit mistakes, even very proficient narrators. This is an obvious reason for why one narration may differ from another. The scholars of hadeeth spent a great deal of time and effort weeding out such mistakes. 

(8) Finally, there is the problem of intentional fabrication and distortion. This obviously did not occur from the honest and trustworthy narrators. In any case, though, its existence did lead to differing narrations of the same hadeeth. [3] 

Notes: 

[1] Cf., Dr. Sharf al-Qadaa حفظه الله, Asbaab Ta'addud ar-Riwaayaat fil-Hadeeth an-Nabawi ash-Shareef (Amman, Jordan: Daar al-Furqaan, 1985), passim. 

[2] The scholars of hadeeth have differed over whether one may narrate a hadeeth according to its meaning only. Perhaps the most balanced opinion is if the narrator is a scholar of the Arabic language and will not distort the meaning of the hadeeth in any way, he may narrate the hadeeth according to its meaning if he does not have access to the exact wording of the hadeeth. 

[3] Shaykh Jamaluddin Zarabozo حفظه الله, Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi, vol. 1, pp. 156-157. 
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posted by Seifeddine-M on 6th July 2018 - 0 comments

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