Hadith: Forms of Conveyance

When a hadith is conveyed, the narrators use one of the following terms to indicate to us ‘how’ the narration reached them. Ibn Hajar explains the various forms in his work, Nukhbat al-Fikr:

Sami’tu سَمِعْتُ (I heard)

This form is used by someone who heard the hadith directly one-on-one from the narrator. It also denotes he understood the hadith, not merely heard it in passing. This is typical in a student-teacher class as opposed to someone sharing a hadith in the marketplace and not much attention is paid. This hadith is then related verbatim. It is the most explicit and highest-ranked in hadith narration. This form is common usually at the top of a chain.

For example,

أَخْبَرَنَا عَمْرُو بْنُ عَلِيٍّ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَنَسًا، يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم الصَّبْرُ عِنْدَ الصَّدْمَةِ الأُولَى‏

…from Thaabit, he said, I heard Anas say: The Messenger of Allah said: ‘True patience is that which comes at the first blow.’

We can see here Thaabit heard Anas say ‘The Messenger of Allah said, ‘True patience is that which comes at the first blow.”

Sami’naa (سَمِعْنَا), ‘we heard’ is used when someone hears the hadith with others in the same sitting, i.e. in a class. For Imam Ahmad, the plural form was weaker than the singular because it opened up the possibility for weakness.

One cannot listen to a recording and say he heard the hadith, as there is chance of tampering and taking things out of context. So it must be live in person or on an online class.

Hadathani (narrated to me)

This form is also used by someone who heard the hadith directly one-on-one from the narrator. It is ranked slightly lower than Sami’tu. Hadathanaa (حَدَّثَنَا), ‘narrated to us’ is used in a group setting.

حَدَّثَنِي أَحْمَدُ بْنُ حَنْبَلٍ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ بْنُ عُيَيْنَةَ، حَدَّثَنِي عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ أَبِي يَزِيدَ، عَنْ نَافِعِ بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ قَالَ لِحَسَنٍ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أُحِبُّهُ فَأَحِبَّهُ وَأَحْبِبْ مَنْ يُحِبُّهُ

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying to Hasan: O Allah, behold, I love him. Thou too love him and love one who loves him.

Akhbarani (reported to me)

This form is used for someone who read to the teacher directly. If the teacher does not interrupt or correct the narrator, then it is a form of approval. Imam Malik preferred this method of narrating as it denotes the student has checked his understanding with the teacher.

For example,

أَخْبَرَنِي مُوسَى بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ بْنِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ الْقَاسِمِ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا بَقِيَّةُ، عَنْ يُونُسَ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي الزُّهْرِيُّ، عَنْ سَالِمٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ‏ مَنْ أَدْرَكَ رَكْعَةً مِنَ الْجُمُعَةِ أَوْ غَيْرِهَا فَقَدْ تَمَّتْ صَلاَتُهُ‏

It was narrated from Salim, from his father, that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever catches up with with a Rak’ah of Jumu’ah or any other (prayer), his prayer is complete.”

If the narrator uses other words with it, then it could mean something else as well, ex: the narrator says, “The Shaykh reported to me through permission”

Akhbaranaa (أَخْبَرَنَا), ‘reported to us’ denotes the hadith was related in a group setting, but does not specify who in the group read the hadith.

Alternatively, Qara’tu ‘alayhi (قَرَاْتُ عَلَيْهِ), ‘I read to him’, is also used by someone who read to the Shaykh while alone.

Sometimes Quri’a ‘alayhi wa-ana asma’u, ‘it was read to him while I heard’, is used i.e. the narrator was present while someone else was reading to the Shaykh. It is lower in rank than Akhbaranaa and Qara’tu ‘alayhi. If the narrator uses just the words ‘it was read to him’ without adding the words ‘while I heard,’ then this is even weaker because it opens the possibility that he wasn’t present when it was read.

Balaghna (reached us)

Balaghna (بَلَغَنَا), reached us or Balaghahu (بَلَغَهُ), reached him – is often used in Malik’s Muwatta. It confirms the deliverance of a hadith, but doesn’t specify the full chain. Imam Malik only related those hadith he had absolute confidence in.

For example,

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّهُ بَلَغَهُ أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَبَّاسٍ، كَانَ يَقُولُ مَا فَرَى الأَوْدَاجَ فَكُلُوهُ‏

(Yahya) narrated to me from Malik that it reached him that Abdullah ibn Abbas used to say, “You can eat anything that has had its jugular vein cut.”

Malik never met the Sahabi Abdullah ibn Abbas, but from other narrators, it has reached him that Abdullah stated the above.

‘An (from or on the authority of) or ‘An’Ana (from so and so)

‘An (عَنْ), from, denotes an indecisive-transmission form, or does not know the correct form. It indicates there is a link between the two narrators but doesn’t indicate the form of conveyance. If it can be proved the two narrators are contemporaries and met then it is accepted, however, if the narrator is a mudallis (someone who conceals either the narrator or the form), then it is not accepted. Each narrators memory and character is also considered. ‘An in effect is used when we can’t prove any of the other forms of conveyance. Likewise ‘An’Ana (عَنْعَنَةْ), from so and so, may also be used in the same regard. It has to be proven the two people met.


Some forms are used to convey authorisation.

Anba’ani (he informed me)

This form is synonymous to Akhbarani, however, in the custom of the later generations (those who came after Ibn Salah.) it is used to denote authorisation to transmit the hadith (ijazah).

Naawalani (he put into my hands)

This is when a Shaykh hands the student, for example, a book of hadiths from him, however, handing it to him alone will not suffice in narrating the reports on his behalf, rather, the Shaykh must accompany it by permission to relate. It is the highest type of authorization (ijazah).

Shaafahani (he told me verbally)

This is a form of verbal authorization (ijazah) from the Shaykh to narrate the report from him.

Kataba ilayya (he wrote to me)

This is a form of written authorization (ijazah) from the Shaykh to narrate the report from him, such as, in the form of a letter

The concept of wijaada (something found in a book)

This is when someone finds a hadith written by a narrator in his notes, book(s), papers, etc. Ex: If Imam Ahmad’s son says that he found a paper with a number of hadiths written in the handwriting of his father. It also includes when a Shaykh bequeathed a book to a student or he makes a public announcement that he narrates something. All of the above require authorization from the Shaykh and merely finding something does not mean that the student is allowed to relate. If not, then they are not counted and considered invalid. The same goes for giving universal authorizations, authorisation to someone non-existent or to someone unknown.

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