Tag Archive | Isnad


One of the earliest manuscripts of Tuhfat ul Atfal, from the al-Azhar Library Collection 385/29810.

One of the earliest manuscripts of Tuhfat ul Atfal, from the al-Azhar Library Collection 385/29810.

A Closer Look at the Historical Transmission of this Popular Text

pdfdThe poem Tuḥfat al-Aṭfāl, authored by the Egyptian scholar Sulaymān Ḥusayn al-Jamzūrī [died circa 1198AH/1783-4CE], has been memorized, taught and kept alive by countless individuals since its authorship more than two centuries ago, making it the single most utilized resource for learning Tajweed to this day. Since that time, it has continued to be transmitted in the traditional manner, in the line of great classical works of Islamic learning, complete with formal authorization (ijāzah) and chains of transmission (isnād) tracing the line of one’s teachers back to the author. These documents exist across the Muslim world in various shapes and forms, handwritten, transcribed and sometimes even oral; at times free-standing and sometimes as part of larger written works.

Despite its great popularity as a traditional text, however, the chain of transmission of Tuḥfat al-Aṭfāl to the author remains problematic for a variety of reasons. Continue reading

Aṣaḥḥ al-Asānīd (The Best Chains of Ḥadīth)

  • Two types of chains with respect to proximity to the Prophet:
  1. Elevated chains (al-isnād al-ʻālī): fewest links to the Prophet, vertical transmission only
  2. 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.