What Is the Difference Between a Sahih, Hassan and Da’if Hadith?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah


What is the difference between a sahih, hasan, and da‘if hadith?


Thank you for your question.

Hadith classification and their rulings are studied in the science of Hadith Terminology (mustalah al-hadith).

Hadith Classification

In regards to classification, there are three general types:

1. Sahih (Sound)

2. Hasan (Good)

3. Da‘if (weak)

Sahih and hasan hadith, according to the hadith scholars (muhaddithun) are “accepted” (maqbul), and da‘if hadith are “rejected” (mardud). Each of these three types has its own subdivisions, weak hadith, in particular, having many sub-branches and reasons for its grading.

Sahih and hasan hadith may be sahih or hasan in of themselves (sahih/hasan li-dhatihi) or may not have reached the highest standards of grading but are elevated to the class of sahih or hasan via other hadith (sahih/hasan li-ghayrihi).

Sahih Hadith

A sahih hadith is a hadith that has a connected chain of transmission (ittisal), each narrator being upright in character (‘adl), exacting, and reliable (dabit) in his narration and transmission and which is free from irregularities (shudhudh) or serious flaws (‘ilal).

Ruling: There is consensus among the ‘ulema that a sahih hadith is evidence for all types of rulings, such as legal rulings and tenants of faith (with further conditions).

Hasan Hadith

A hasan hadith fulfills the same criteria as the sahih hadith except that its narrators’ exactness is less than the exactness found in narrators of sahih hadith.

Ruling: Like the sahih hadith, the fuqaha (jurists) and most of the muhaddithun accept that the hasan hadith can also be used for evidence. For this reason, some Imams of hadith, such as al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban, include hasan ahadith with sahih hadith while still acknowledging its lesser rank to the sahih.

Da’if Hadith

A da‘if hadith is a hadith that does not fulfill the conditions of the sahih or hasan hadith.

Ruling: There is a difference of opinion between the ‘ulema on the ruling on acting upon weak hadiths. The reliable opinion is that weak hadiths can be acted upon for virtuous supererogatory deeds (fada’il al-a‘mal), for religious exhortation, stories, and similar things that are not connected to legal rulings and tenants of belief.

It should also be noted that the meaning conveyed in a weak hadith may still be considered sound and supported by other related texts. [Sharh al Bayquniyyah; Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Nukhbat al-Fikr]

I pray this clarifies things for you.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.