- Elevated chains (al-isnād al-ʻālī): fewest links to the Prophet, vertical transmission only
- Descended chains (al-isnād al-nāzil): multiple links, often with horizontal transmission (between individuals in the same level or generation ṭabaqah)
- Best chains of Abū Hurayrah:
- Ibn Shihāb al-Zuhrī → Saʻīd b. al-Musayyib → Abū Hurayrah [considered the best isnād of Abū Hurayra]
- Abūʼl-Zanād → al-Aʻraj→ Abū Hurayrah
- Yaḥyā b. Abī Kathīr → Abū Salama → Abū Hurayrah
- Best chain of Abū Bakr: Ismaʻīl b. Abī Khālid → Qays b. Abī Ḥāzim → Abū Bakr
- Best isnād of ʻUmar: al-Zuhrī → Sālim → his father Ibn ʻUmar → his father ʻUmar
- Best chain of ‘Ali: al-Zuhri → ‘Ali b. al-Husayn → al-Husayn → Ali
- Best isnād of ʻĀʼisha: ʻUbaydullah b. ʻUmar → al-Qāsim b. Muḥammad b. Abū Bakr → his aunt ʻĀʼisha
- The Golden Chain: Imām Aḥmad → Imām al-Shāfiʻī → Imām Mālik
- Other strong chains:
- Muḥammad b. Sīrīn → ʻUbaydah b. ʻAmr → ʻAlī b. Abī Ṭālib
- Ibrāhīm al-Nakhaʻī → ʻAlqamah b. Qays → Ibn Masʻūd
- Imām Mālik → Nāfiʻ → Ibn ʻUmar
compiled from . . .
Mohammad Hashim Kamali, A Textbook of Ḥadīth Studies. The Islamic Foundation, United Kingdom. 2005.
Muhammad Mustafa Azami, Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature. American Trust Publications, Indiana. 1992.