What is a muhaddith?

Since someone apparently found my blog by googling this: What is a muhaddith?  What is a muhadditha?

Carrying on from my last post about the hadith, a muhaddith is a transmitter of stories about the Prophet (s’lm).  A muhadditha is the feminine form.

All three terms come from the verb haddatha, which means to tell or recount.  ‘Hadith’ is the verbal noun, and ‘muhaddith(a)’ the active participle, so literally, ‘one who tells or recounts’.  In my experience, it seems that the term is used more often for people who act as links in the isnad, the chain of transmission, for stories of the Prophet (s’lm) than for the scholars who codified the hadith (who seem just to be called ‘ulama, or scholar, as often as anything else), but technically, the term ‘muhaddith(a)’ can refer either to a transmitter of stories or a collector of stories.

As it happens, most of the early converts and the Companions (sahaba) of the Prophet (s’lm) are all muhaddith(a), as they all interacted with Muhammad (s’lm) on a regular basis, and thus all served as ports of call for queries about how he had practiced his faith.

Muhadditha are actually quite common – perhaps the most important is ‘Aisha, one of the wives of the Prophet (s’lm).  She is cited as giving accounts of many of his habits, particularly in his later years.  There was some debate among the scholars who codified the hadith about the use of muhadditha, and whether citations from muhadditha should follow the same rules as the Islamic legal requirements for witnesses in court, which state that testimony should come from one Muslim man or two Muslim women.  As far as I am aware, there was no official rule for the transmission of hadith, but in many collections, ‘Aisha and other muhadditha are cited as the final link in an isnad without any secondary citations from anyone else.  But that’s just from my experience of reading hadith – if anyone is aware of an official policy, please let me know!

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About askanislamicist

I'm an academic who specializes in early Islamic history and the history of religious interactions, who, in her free time, enjoys shouting into the internet.
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One Response to What is a muhaddith?

  1. Abdoulaye says:

    Salamaleycum brother.
    Please brother could you tell me why some people when they perform salat they don’t hold their arms like many Muslims do…they keep the arms down, please if you have any references on the hadiths.
    Many thanks may Allah bless you

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