The Science of al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl: Separating Wheat from Chaff
By Muntasir Zaman
“And true virtue is what critics cannot help but acknowledge” goes the popular adage. A case in point is where the renowned Orientalist Aloys Sprenger (d. 1893 CE) humbles his pen to write, “There is no nation, nor has there been any which like them [Muslims] has during twelve centuries recorded the life of every man of letters.” The exclusivity of Muslims vis-à-vis the isnād system, as explained earlier, lies in their detailed evaluations of the transmitters who form the chains of transmission, better known as al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl (lit. criticism and accreditation). In this article, we will briefly outline the origins and development, basic nomenclature, procedures, and relevant literature in the science of al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl (henceforth narrator criticism).
To ensure the accurate transmission of the Prophet’s teachings, the science of narrator criticism…
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