Presenting a New Translation of the Ode of Bayqūnīyyah

The Ode of Bayqūnīyyah is a celebrated primer of ḥadīth terminology that represents the entry of a student of knowledge into the very broad discipline of ḥadīth sciences. Authored by ʿUmar b. Muḥammad  b. Futūḥ al-Bayqūnī [lived circa 1080H/1669CE], a Shāfiʿī scholar of Damascus about whom very little is known, it comprises 34 couplets of poetry covering exactly 34 types of ḥadīth. Upon completion of its study and receiving an ijāzah in this text going back to the author, I am pleased to present an original verse translation into English for the first time. Please note that this is a non-traditional, flowing translation and not a commentary, and should be studied with the aid of a teacher or a detailed commentary.

[Download as pdf here / Read bio of Imām al-Bayqūnī here]


أَبْـدَأُ بِالْحَمْـدِ  مُصَلِّـياً  عَلَى      مُحَمَّـدٍ خَـيرِ نَبِـيٍّ أُرْسِلاَ

Begin I do with praise, and prayers and salutations

On Muḥammad the Noble Prophet, the finest ever commissioned

وَذِي مِنْ أَقْـسَامِ الْحَدِيثِ عِدَّه       وَكُـلُّ وَاحِدٍ أَتَـى وَحَـدَّه

So what follows are a number, of the ḥadīth divisions

And all of them do come, with their definitions

أَوَّلُهَا الصَّحِيحُ  وَهْوَ مَا اتَّـصَلْ      إِسْـنَادُهُ وَلَمْ يَشُـذَّ  أَوْ يُعَلّ

The first of them is Sound,1 and that is neither broken

in its chain, nor does it contradict or have a hidden failing

يَرْوِيـهِ عَدْلٌ ضَابِطٌ  عَنْ مِثْلِـهِ       مُعْـتَمَدٌ فِي ضَبْـطِهِ وَنَقْـلِهِ

One who is upright and precise, narrates from his like

Reliable in his precision, as well as his transmission

وَالْحَسَنُ الْمَعْرُوفُ طُرْقاً وَغَدَتْ          رِجَالُهُ لاَ كَالصَّحِيحِ اشْتَهَرَتْ

The tradition that is Fair,2 is one whose routes are known

Its narrators not as famous, as the Sound have shown

وَكُلُّ مَا عَنْ رُتْبـَةِ الْحُسْنِ قَصُرْ      فَهْوَ الضَّعِيفُ وَهْوَ أَقْسَاماً كَثُرْ

And all that falls, below the rank, of the Fair tradition

Weak3 it is, falling short, with many subdivisions.

وَمَا أُضِيـفَ لِلنَّبِي  الْـمَرْفُوعُ        وَمَا لِـتَابِعٍ هُوَ الْـمَقْـطُوعُ

Attributed to the Prophet, is the tradition that is Raised4

While falling on the Successor, Broken5 is it phrased

وَالْمُسْنَدُ الْمُتَّصِلُ الإِسْـنَادِ مِنْ      رَاوِيهِ حَتَّى الْمُصْطَفَى وَلَمْ يَبِنْ

The tradition that is Supported,6 its chain is indeed unbroken

Intact from its last narrator, to the One who has been Chosen

وَمَا بِـسَمْعِ كُلِّ رَاوٍ يَـتَّـصِلْ         إِسْنَادُهُ لِلْمُصْطَفَى فَالْمُتَّـصِلْ

And whatsoever is connected, by the hearing of all who narrated

Through the one who has been Chosen, the term is then Connected7

مُسَلْسَلٌ  قُلْ مَا عَلَى وَصْفٍ أَتَى          مِثلُ أَمَـا وَاللَّهِ أَنْـبَانِي الْفَتَى

Linked8 is the tradition, that does come with a story

As in the saying, “By God it was the lad who did inform me”

كَـذَاكَ قَدْ حَدَّثَنِيـهِ قَائِـمـاَ           أَوْ بَـعْدَ أَنْ حَدَّثَنِـي  تَبَسَّماَ

Likewise: “He told me as he was standing”

Or, “And after he told me he was smiling”

عَزِيـزُ مَرْوِي اثْـنَينِ  أَوْ ثَلاَثَهْ         مَشْـهُورُ مَرْوِي فَوقَ مَا ثَلاَثَهْ

Strengthened9 is the narration, related by two or three

Popular10 is the one, related by more than three

مُعَنْـعَنٌ كَعَنْ سَعِيـدٍ عَنْ كَرَمْ        وَمُبْـهَمٌ مَا فِيهِ رَاوٍ  لَمْ يُسَمّ

Like “from Saʿīd from Karam,” the Muʿanʿan is proclaimed

The Obscure11 contains a person, who has not been named

وَكُلُّ مَـا قَلَّـتْ رِجَالُهُ عَـلاَ          وَضِدُّهُ  ذَاكَ الَّـذِي  قَدْ نَزَلاَ

Those whose men are few, are indeed Uplifted12

Opposed to those the ones, which are deemed Descended13

وَمَا أَضَفْتَهُ  إِلَى الأَصْحَابِ  مِنْ           قَولٍ وَفِعْلٍ فَهْوَ مَوْقُوفٌ زُكِنْ

And that which you related, to the Companions of the Prophet

From their speech and from their actions, the term is then Suspended14

وَمُـرْسَلٌ مِنْهُ الصَّحَابِيُّ  سَقَطْ         وَقُلْ غَرِيبٌ مَا رَوَى رَاوٍ فَقَطْ

Sent15 is the tradition, the Companion is omitted

And say, Strange16 is the one, that only one related

وَكُلُّ مَـا لَمْ يَتَّـصِلْ بِـحَالِ             إِسْـنَادُهُ  مُنْـقَطِعُ الأَوْصَالِ

And each report that does fall short, in its full connection

Its chain is really lacking, Severed17 in its union

وَالْمُعْـضَلُ السَّـاقِطُ مِنْهُ  اثْنَانِ           وَمَـا أَتَـى مُدَلِّـساً  نَوْعَانِ

Problematic18 is the one, from which two are fallen

And that which comes Concealed,19 its types are two in version

الأَوَّلُ الإِسْـقَاطُ لِلشَّيْـخِ  وَأَنْ           يَنْقُلَ عَمَّنْ فَوقَـهُ  بِـعَنْ وَأَنْ

The first of these is by, dropping the teacher and

relating from above him, using terms like “from” and “that”

وَالثَّانِي لاَ يُسْقِطُهُ  لَكِـنْ  يَصِفْ           أَوْصَافَهُ بِمَـا بِـهِ  لاَ يَنْعَرِفْ

The second does arise, not by dropping, but when you do describe

Those traits of his by which he is not recognized

وَمَـا يُخَالِفْ ثِـقَةٌ بِـهِ الْـمَلاَ           فَالشَّاذُّ وَالْمَقْلُوبُ  قِسمَانِ تَلاَ

The one by which the trusted contradicts the greater number

Anomalous20 it is, while the Switched21 are two in number

إِبْـدَالُ رَاوٍ مَـا بِـرَاوٍ قِـسْمُ           وَقَلْبُ إِسْنَادٍ  لِمَتْـنٍ  قِـسْمُ

The first: a switch within the chain, one person for another

But the flipping of the chain to another text, that is the other

وَالْـفَرْدُ مَـا قَيَّـدْتَهُ  بِـثِقَـةِ           أَوْ جَمْعٍ أَوْ قَصْرٍ عَلَـى رِوَايَةِ

And Singular22 is the tradition confined to a trustworthy person

To a group or to a region, by way of one narration

وَمَا بِـعِلَّـةٍ غُمُـوضٌ أَوْ خَفَـا           مُعَلَّـلٌ عِنْـدَهُمُ  قَدْ  عُرِفَـا

And whatever contains a flaw, subtle or obscure

Is then deemed Defective,23 with them known for sure

وَذُو اخْـتِلاَفٍ سَنَـدٍ أَوْ مَتْـنِ          مُضْطَرِبٌ  عِنْدَ أُهَيـلِ الْفَـنِّ

Those that do contain, variance in their text or chain

Confounded24 are they named, by the masters of this game

وَالْمُدْرَجَاتُ فِي الْحَدِيثِ مَا أَتَتْ           مِنْ بَعْضِ أَلْفَاظِ الرُوَاةِ اتَّصَلَتْ

And those Interjections25 into the traditions, are what have come to us

From the words of the narrators, in the chains continuous

وَمَـا رَوَى كُلُّ قَرِينٍ عَنْ أَخِـهْ         مُدَبَّـجٌ فَاعْرِفْهُ حَقاًّ وَانْـتَخِهْ

And what a peer narrates on the authority of his brother,

Adorned26 it is, so know it well, and by it gain your honor

مُتَّـفِـقٌ لَفْظـاً وَخَطاًّ  مُتَّـفِقْ           وَضِدُّهُ فِيمَـا ذَكَرْنَا  الْمُفْتَرِقْ

Agreeing with another, in wording and in script, is the Congruous27

The flip of this, as we have mentioned, is termed Incongruous28

مُؤْتَلِفٌ مُتَّـفِقُ الْـخَطِّ  فَـقَطْ          وَضِدُّهُ مُخْتَلِفٌ  فَاخْشَ الْغَلَطْ

The Common29 one agrees, only in its script

Opposed to it is Discordant,30 so be wary of a slip

وَالْـمُنْكَرُ  الْـفَرْدُ بِهِ رَاوٍ  غَدَا           تَعْدِيـلُهُ لاَ يَحْـمِلُ التَّـفَرُّدَا

Detested31 is the tradition, arising from the single person

Whose vindication cannot strengthen the sole narration

مَتْرُوكُـهُ مَا وَاحِدٌ بِـهِ انْـفَرَدْ          وَأَجْمَعُواْ  لِضَعْفِـهِ  فَهُوَ كَرَدّ

The tradition is Discarded32 that a single one related

Whose weakness is agreed, which is then rejected

وَالْكَذِبُ  الْمُخْتَلَقُ الْـمَصْنُوعُ           عَلَى النَّبِي فَذَلِكَ الْـمَوْضُوعُ

And the lie, concocted and contrived

On the Prophet, is Fabricated33 and connived

وَقَدْ أَتَتْ  كَالْجَوْهَرِ الْـمَكْنُونِ         سَمَّيْـتُهَا  مَنْظُومَةَ الـْبَيْقُونِي

And it has come, like a pearl, veiled from show

Ode of Bayqūnī, have I named it so

فَوْقَ الـثَّلاَثِيـنَ بِأَرْبَعٍ  أَتَـتْ         أَقْـسَامُهَا تَمَّتْ بِخَيْرٍ خُتِمَتْ

By four beyond thirty thus have come

their lines in sum, with grace they’re done.

FOOTNOTES: 1 Ṣaḥīḥ 2 Ḥasan 3 Ḍaʿīf 4 Marfūʿ 5 Maqṭūʿ 6 Musnad 7 Muttaṣil 8 Musalsal 9 ʿAzīz 10 Mashhūr 11 Mubham 12 Isnād ʿĀlī 13 Isnād Nāzil 14 Mawqūf 15 Mursal 16 Gharīb 17 Munqaṭiʿ 18 Muʿḍal 19 Mudallas 20 Shādh 21 Maqlūb 22 Fard 23 Muʿallal 24 Muḍṭarib 25 Mudraj 26 Mudabbaj 27 Muttafiq 28 Muftariq 29 Muʾtalif  30 Mukhtalif 31 Munkar 32 Matrūk 33 Mawḍūʿ

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