Hadith and The Myth of the Telephone Game

A common argument today that attempts to undermine the reliability of hadith is the claim that the transmission of hadith is analogous to that of the Telephone Game. The Telephone Game  (also known as Chinese Whispers) is a children’s game where a message is initiated by a player and consequently whispered through a series of players. As the message is disseminated through multiple intermediaries, errors in transmission eventually accumulate, and the original message relayed from the first player is mutated. At the end of the game, the initial message is compared with the final redaction reproduced by the final player, and the discrepancies are then humorously observed and pointed out.

The primary motive behind the appeal to Telephone Game analogy is to discredit the reliability of the transmission of hadith. If a report at the end of the isnad embodies multiple accretions, omissions and mutations that have drastically distorted its contents, how can we rely upon the process of transmission in the hadith corpus? The reality of the matter, however, is that this analogy is a false analogy that fundamentally misrepresents the transmission of hadith, ultimately strawmanning classical Muslim scholarship. The appeal to the analogy embodies several subtle unverified premises along with several blatantly fallacious claims. In this article, I shall evaluate the argument in light of its premises and assumptions. Then, I will analyze an authentic Prophetic tradition in light of the claims made by proponents of the Telephone Game analogy.

The Stringency of Muslim Scholarship

The Telephone Game analogy often misrepresents classical Muslim scholarship’s attitude towards hadith, as it implicitly presents traditionalists as an assembly of dogmatists who desperately authenticated Prophetic traditions in an attempt to salvage anything they could find. Classical scholarship, in reality, was much more stringent and critical with the hadith corpus than is claimed by skeptics. Many do not know that Muslim scholarship has, in fact, rejected the reliability of most Ahadith to ever exist.

In his book, Al-Tamyiz, Muhamamd b. Ja’far Al-Baghdadi (d. 238) quoted major Muhaddith, such as: Sufyan Al-Thawri, Sho’bah, Yahya b. Sa’id Al-Qattan, ‘Abdurrahman b. Mahdi, Ahmed b. Hanbal and others, stating that the number of authentic Ahadith (excluding repetitions) amounted to around 4400 reports in total. (Ibn Hajar 1/299)

From these ~ 4400 reports, the Ahadith related to fiqh are around 800 in number, according to ‘Abdurrahman b. Mahdi (Ibn Hajar 1/299)

These quotes demonstrate how Muslim scholarship has generally limited the number of authentic reports to around 4400 Ahadith, out of the hundreds of thousands of reports that have been ascribed to the Prophet throughout history. Their attitude with hadith is not that of desperate and blind acceptance as insinuated by ignorant skeptics.

This common misunderstanding, in my experience, stems from a mischaracterization of the hadith cannon, which consists of the “6 books”: Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Jami’ Al-Tirmidhi, Sunan Abi Dawud and Sunan Ibn Majah. Skeptics often erroneously assume that these sources are generally representative of the hadith corpus, hence concluding that Muslim scholarship generally assumes the reliability of the majority of the hadith corpus. These sources, in reality, are but a tiny fraction of the hadith corpus. They are extremely refined collections that were filtered out of a pool of hundreds of thousands of reports.

Abu Dawud Al-Sijistani, author of the Sunan, for example, reportedly said:

I have transcribed 500,000 Ahadith from the Messenger of Allah, and I have chosen the Ahadith that I have included in this book (referring to his Sunan). I have compiled 4,800 Ahadith, and I’ve included the Sahih and what is similar to it. (Al-Baghdadi 10:76)

On another occasion, Abu Dawud said:

If a hadith ascribed to the Prophet is mentioned to you, yet you are not able to find it in my book, then know that it is very weak; unless I had already mentioned it with a different chain of transmission. (Abu Dawud 27)

Out of the 500,000 prophetic traditions Abu Dawud had transcribed throughout his life, only 4800 reports eventually made it into his collection.

A similar statement is reported from Al-Bukhari, who described his Sahih, which consists of around 7397 Ahadith, saying:

I have refined this book from around 600,000 Ahadith [I had collected]. (Al-Baghdadi 10:327)

Many similar statements are reported from other compilers of hadith, and the point of such quotes is to demonstrate the fact that the canonical collections today are severely refined collections that are not representative of the entire hadith corpus.

One may find himself asking: Where are the rest of the Ahadith that were excluded from these collections? The answer to that question is simple: tens of thousands of weak and rejected reports can be found in a multitude of other hadith works, such as:

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A False Assumption

The Telephone Game analogy implicitly makes a variety of false assumptions pertaining to the transmission of hadith. One of those assumptions is that the transmission of hadith was exclusively oral and that the transcription of hadith only occurred much later in history.

This assumption simply is inaccurate. Many renowned early prolific transmitters of hadith transcribed hadith. Some companions of the Prophet, such as ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr, even possessed written collections of Ahadith they had directly transcribed from the Prophet. Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Al-Azami, in Studies in Early Hadith Literature, dedicated an entire chapter to amass the names of notable transmitters who had acquired Prophetic traditions in written form. He listed 50 companions of the Prophet who had possessed written collections of Prophetic traditions (Al-Azami 34-60)

Dr. Azami then amassed the names of several tabi’in who possessed transcribed collections of Prophetic traditions. Under this category, he listed 49 of the early tabi’in and many others (Al-Azami 60-74).

The transcription of hadith simply was not as obscure and rare as proponents of the Telephone Game analogy would like to assume. Let us take the following chain of transmission as an example: Malik b. Anas (d. 179) → Nafi’ (d. 116) → Ibn ‘Umar (d. 73). This is a very popular chain of transmission for hundreds of reports, which can be found dispersed in many hadith collections. Some hadithists even referred to this chain of transmission as “the golden chain” due its reliability and high status among the muhaddithin.

The chain starts with ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar, who was a primary eyewitness to a variety of key events in the Prophet’s life, and he also had some transcriptions of hadith (Al-Azami 45). Nafi, Ibn ‘Umar’s slave, is the next transmitter in this chain, and he had a written collection of the Ahadith he transmitted from Ibn ‘Umar. (Al-Azami 96).

Next in the chain is the Medinite muhaddith, Malik b. Anas (d. 179), who had authored his own book, Al-Muwatta’, which we possess today. In this book, he included hundreds upon hundreds of reports he transmitted from Nafi’ from Ibn ‘Umar.

As seen in this famous chain of transmission, every transmitter up till the primary eyewitness, Ibn ‘Umar, had transcribed Ahadith into written collections. Many similar examples exist with other chains of transmission across the hadith corpus. Thus, it would be unfair and inaccurate to generalize the Telephone Game analogy upon Malik’s transmission from Nafi’ in his Muwatta’ and other analogous instances of transmission.

Other prolific transmitters of hadith, such as Al-Sha’bi were very keen on the transcription of hadith. It is authentically reported, for example, that Al-Sha’bi (d. 100) told Al-Hasan b. ‘Uqbah:

“If you ever hear anything from me, then write it down, even on the wall [if necessary].” (Ibn Hanbal, Al-‘Ilal wa Ma’rifat Al-Rijal 1:216)

The point of this appeal is not to comprehensively list every single transmitter who had possessed a written collection of Ahadith, since hundreds and thousands of transmitters would fit under this category. Rather, the point is to demonstrate that the generalized assumption implied in the Telephone Game analogy is simply fallacious and inaccurate. The transmission of hadith was never exclusively oral at any point in history.

Misrepresenting the Nature of Transmission

The Telephone game analogy fundamentally misrepresents and misconstrues the nature of transmission of hadith in several ways. In a game of Chinese whispers, players are asked to reproduce a statement after hearing it whispered once into their ears. The transmission of hadith is not analogous to transmission in a game of Chinese whispers for several reasons: 

  1. Transmitters of hadith did not relay reports through barely audible whispers.
  2. Reliable transmitters of hadith did not reproduce reports after hearing them once without any form of repetition/revision/ transcription.
  3. The content being transmitted in hadith is not analogous to that of the Telephone Game.
  4. The number of participants in the transmission of authentic canonical Ahadith is not analogous to the number of players in the Telephone Game.

The first and second points should be self-evident. The habits of reliable transmitters are far from the practices exhibited by players in the Telephone Game. Some transmitters, for example, would only transmit a report after hearing it multiple times from their informant(s) on multiple occasions. Renowned transmitter and hadith critic , Sho’bah b. Al-Hajjaj (d. 160), on one occasion, stated that he had heard a specific hadith from his teacher over 20 times (Ibn Abi Hatem 164). Other notable transmitters used to transcribe the reports they had heard from their informants. Traditionalist and hadith critic, Ahmed b. Hanbal (d. 241) , is quoted saying: “If Waki’ [b. Al-Jarrah] and Yahya [b. Sa’id] conflict [in the transmission of a report], then ‘Abdurrahman is more reliable. That is because he was of greater proximity to transcriptions [of hadith]” (Al-Baghdadi 11:512)

The third point is indeed fundamental to this discussion: the transmission of hadith is a much more serious endeavor than the transmission of a message in the Telephone Game. An error in the transmission of a hadith may be of serious implications on a variety of religious doctrines, duties and/or obligations, while an error in the Telephone game usually warrants nothing more than a laugh. Reliable transmitters of hadith were bound by a fear of incorrectly and/or inaccurately ascribing a statement to the Prophet. The same, however, cannot be said about the players in a game of Chinese Whispers who have no serious motive to accurately relay and retain the statements they hear amidst a game session.

Another important point that demonstrates the flawed nature of this analogy involves the number of participants in the transmission of hadith and the number of participants in a game of Chinese whispers. The chains of transmission in third century hadith collections, such as Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and Jami’ Al-Tirmidhi etc., primarily consist of quartets (ruba’iyyat), quintets (khumasiyyat), and sextets (sudassiyyat). These are chains of transmission that respectively contain four, five and six intermediaries. Occasionally, one may even encounter trios (thulathiyyat), which contain only three intermediaries between the author of the collection and the Prophet. If we were to refer to earlier 2nd century sources, such as the Jami’ of Ma’mar b. Rashed (d. 150), the Muwatta’ of Malik (d. 179), or the Juz’ of Isma’il b. Ja’far (d. 180) etc., we’d notice a greater incidence of three and even two-man chains of transmission!

The Telephone Game, however, cannot be played with two, three, four or even five players, as that usually does not allow for the accumulation of enough accretions to drastically mutate the original message. Rather, more players are needed for the game to take place (this article states that the minimum number of players required for a session to commence is 6-8). Thus, it would be inaccurate to compare the transmission of hadith in primary Muslim sources to Chinese whispers in this regard as well.

A Live Example:

To demonstrate the fallacious nature of this analogy with regards to the transmission of hadith, I have decided to present an example which outlines the history of transmission of a single report found in multiple hadith collections, as seen in figure 1 below. I shall then evaluate each redaction of this tradition in search of any discrepancies, accretions, and mutations in its content.

Click here to expand

As seen in Figure 1, the chain of transmission eventually diverges and branches out after Qays b. Muslim (d. 120). After Qays b. Muslim, the  report is circulated through a series of intermediaries for a period of around 130-160 years until it is eventually documented in several 3rd century collections, such as those of: Ahmed b. Hanbal (d. 241), Al-Bukhari (d. 256), Muslim b. Al-Hajjaj (d. 261), Muhammad b. Nasr Al-Marwazi (d. 294), Al-Nasa’i (d. 303) and others. 

If the Telephone Game analogy actually is an a accurate presentation of the transmission of hadith, then one would expect to observe significant textual variation in the different redactions of this report such that it is heavily distorted and its gist is lost. If we otherwise observe that the multiple redactions are nearly identical with very little and insignificant variation, then one can be assured that the Telephone Game analogy is not an accurate characterization of hadith transmission.

Let us list and compare the different redactions of the report outlined in Figure 1:

Al-Marwazi’s redaction from Ishaq b. Rahuyah → ‘Abdullah b. Idris → Idris b. Yazid → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jew once told ‘Umar: “Had this verse been revealed to us Jews, then we would have taken it as festival : ‘This day, I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you, and I have approved for you Islam as a religion.’


Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day when it was revealed: it was revealed on Friday when we were with the Messenger of Allah in ‘Arafat.”

(Al-Marwazi 349)

Al-Nasa’i’s redaction from Ishaq b. Rahuyah → ‘Abdullah b. Idris → Idris b. Yazid → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jew told ‘Umar: “Had this verse been revealed to us, then we would have taken it as festival : ‘This day, I have perfected for you your religion …’ “

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day and night when it was revealed: It was [revealed on] a Friday night when we were with the Messenger of Allah in ‘Arafat.”

(Al-Nasa’i 251)

Muslim b. Al-Hajjaj’s redaction from Abu Bakr b. Abi Shaybah → ‘Abdullah b. Idris → Idris b. Yazid → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

The Jews told ‘Umar: “Had this verse been revealed to us Jews, ‘This day, I have perfected for you your religion ‘, and had we known the day it was revealed, then we would have taken it as festival.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day when it was revealed and the hour, and the Messenger of Allah’s location when it was revealed: it was revealed on a Friday night when we were with the Messenger of Allah in ‘Arafat.”

*Note: Muslim cites Ibn Abi Shaybah’s redaction to represent Ibn Abi Shaybah and Muhammad b. Al-‘Alaa’s transmission as well.

(Muslim 313)

Muslim b. Al-Hajjaj’s redaction from Muhammad b. Al-Muthanna → ‘Abdurrahman b. Mahdi → Sufyan Al-Thawri → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

The Jews told ‘Umar: “You recite a verse. Had it been revealed about us, we would have taken that day as a festival. “

Thereupon ‘Umar said: I know where it was revealed and the day when it was revealed and where Allah’s Messenger was at that time when it was revealed: It was revealed on the day of ‘Arafah while the Messenger of Allah was in ‘Arafah.

Sufyan (the transmitter) said: “I’m not sure whether it was on Friday or not”; referring to the verse: “This day,I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favors upon you”

*Note: Muslim cites Muhammad b. Al-Muthana’s redaction to represent Muhammad b. Al-Muthana and Zuhayr b. Harb’s transmission as well.

(Muslim 312)

Bukhari’s redaction from Muhammad b. Bashar → ‘Abdurrahman b. Mahdi → Sufyan Al-Thawri → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

The Jews told ‘Umar: “You recite a verse. Had it been revealed about us, we would have taken that day as a festival. “

Thereupon ‘Umar said: I know where it was revealed and the day when it was revealed and where Allah’s Messenger had been at that time when it was revealed: It was revealed on the day of ‘Arafah while we were – by Allah – in ‘Arafah.”

Sufyan (the transmitter) said: “I’m not sure whether it was on Friday or not” – “This day,I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favors upon you”

(Al-Bukhari 6:50)

Ahmed b. Hanbal’s redaction from ‘Abdurrahman b. Mahdi → Sufyan Al-Thawri → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

The Jews told ‘Umar: “You recite a verse. Had it been revealed about us, we would have taken that day as a festival. “

Thereupon ‘Umar said: I know where it was revealed and the day when it was revealed and where Allah’s Messenger had been at that time when it was revealed: It was revealed on the day of ‘Arafah while the Messenger of Allah was in ‘Arafah.

Sufyan said: “I’m not sure whether it was on Friday or not”; referring to the verse: “This day, I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favors upon you”

(Ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmed 1:376)

Al-Bukhari’s redaction from Muhammad b. Yusuf → Sufyan Al-Thawri → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

Some Jews said : “Had this verse been revealed about us, then we would have taken that day as a festival. “

‘Umar asked: “Which verse is it?”

They said: “This day, I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favors upon you and accepted Islam as a religion for you

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the location where it was revealed: It was revealed while the Messenger of Allah was in ‘Arafah.”

(Al-Bukhari 5:177)

Muslim’s redaction from ‘Abd b. Humayd → Ja’far b. ‘Awn → ‘Utbah b. ‘Abdillah → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jewish man came to ‘Umar and said: “O commander of the faithful, there’s a verse in your book you recite; had it been revealed to us Jews, then we would have taken that day as a festival.”

‘Umar asked: “and which verse is it?”

He said: “This day, I have perfected for you your religion  and completed My favors upon you and and I have approved for you Islam as a religion.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day when it was revealed and the location where it was revealed: It was revealed to the Messenger of Allah in ‘Arafat on a Friday.”

(Muslim 313)

Ahmed b. Hanbal’s redaction from Ja’far b. ‘Awn → ‘Utbah b. ‘Abdillah → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jewish man came to ‘Umar and said “O commander of the faithful, you recite a verse in your book. Had it been revealed to us Jews, then we would have taken that day as a festival.”

‘Umar asked: “And which verse is it?”
He said: “This day, I have perfected for you your religion  and completed My favors upon you.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “By Allah, I know the day when it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah and the hour when it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah: the evening of ‘Arafah on Friday.”

(Ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmed 1:320)

Al-Bukhari’s redaction from Al-Hasan b. Al-Sabbah → Ja’far b. ‘Awn → ‘Utbah b. ‘Abdillah → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab reported from ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab that a Jewish man told him: “O commander of the faithful, in your book you recite a verse. Had it been revealed to us Jews, then we would have taken that day as a festival.”

He said said: “Which verse is it?”
He said: ” This day, I have perfected for you your religion  and completed My favors upon you and and I have approved for you Islam as a religion.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “We know the day when it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah and the location where it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah as he was standing in ‘Arafah on Friday.”

(Al-Bukhari 1:18)

Al-Fakhi’s redaction from ‘Abduljabbar b. Al-‘Alaa’ → Sufyan b. ‘Uyaynah → Mis’ar b. Kidam → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jewish man told ‘Umar ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab: “Had [the verse]: ‘This day, I have perfected for you your religion  and completed My favors upon you,’ been revealed to us, then we would have taken it as a festival.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day when it was revealed: It was revealed in ‘Arafah on a Friday.”

(Al-Fakhi 318)

Al-Tirmidhi’s redaction from Muhammad b. Abi ‘Umar → Sufyan b. ‘Uyaynah → Mis’ar b. Kidam → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jewish man told ‘Umar ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab: “O commander of the faithful, had [the verse]: ‘This day, I have perfected for you your religion and I have approved for you Islam as a religion,’ been revealed to us, then we would have taken that day as a festival.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day when it was revealed: It was revealed on the day of ‘Arafah on Friday.”

(Al-Tirmidhi 250)

Al-Bukhari’s redaction from ‘Abdullah b. Al-Zubayr → Sufyan b. ‘Uyaynah → Mis’ar b. Kidam → Qays b. Muslim → Tareq b. Shihab → ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab:

Tareq b. Shihab said:

A Jewish man told ‘Umar ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab: “O commander of the faithful, had this verse: ‘This day, I have perfected for you your religion  and completed My favors upon you and and I have approved for you Islam as a religion ,’ been revealed to us, then we would have taken that day as a festival.”

Thereupon ‘Umar said: “I know the day when it was revealed: It was revealed on the day of ‘Arafah on a Friday.”

(Al-Bukhari 9:91)

As seen, all of the redactions in the aforementioned sources are nearly identical. There is not a single instance where the meaning of the report was distorted or where its gist was lost. They have all retained the key features of the report:

  • A Jewish party addressing ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab
  • The verse
  • ‘Umar’s statement that he was aware of the context of the verse’s revelation.
  • The time and location where the verse was revealed

All of these features in the report, as stated, have remained intact, contrary to what one would expect in a round of the Telephone Game. In this report, any of the transmitters could have hypothetically erred in a variety of details, such as the other party’s religion, the verse being discussed, and the time/location where the verse was allegedly revealed. The transmitters could have also erred in the isnad by ascribing it to other than Tareq b. Shihab or any of the subsequent transmitters below him in the chain of transmission. We see, however, that the transmitters have retained and reproduced this report in an accurate and reliable manner that is not characteristic of transmission in the Telephone Game. 

What is noteworthy, in this context, is that the Hadith Method allows us to identify the errors of transmitters. Out of the four transmitters who transmitted this report from Qays b. Muslim, Sufyan Al-Thawri clearly had forgotten that the revelation of the verse was on Friday. All redactions that converge to Sufyan thus quote his uncertainty regarding the verse’s revelation on Friday. Nevertheless, corroborating transmission allows us to identify and locate errors in the transmission of the report. An entire discipline in the hadith sciences, known as ‘ilal al-Hadith, is dedicated to identifying such errors in transmission . In his e-book, In Defense of the Hadith Method, our friend, Abdullah Moataz, has briefly outlined some of the tools used by the muhaddithin to identify and spot errors in transmission.

Conclusion

It is evident that the Telephone Game analogy fundamentally misconstrues the nature of transmission of Prophetic traditions in early primary sources. Through a series of fallacious premises and assumptions, the analogy projects a faulty model of transmission onto hadith. By appealing to this analogy, skeptics simply demonstrate their lack of exposure to hadith collections and biographical sources along with their ignorance in the nature of hadith transmission. 

An actual analysis of the transmission of authentic reports in hadith collections is enough to dispel this fallacious analogy and demonstrate the integrity of authentic Prophetic traditions. It is thus about time that this baseless talking point is abandoned for a more accurate characterization of hadith tranmsission.

Works Cited

Al-Azami, Muhammad Mustafa. Studies in Early Hadith Literature, 2nd ed., American Trust Publications, 1978.

Al-Baghdadi, Ahmed b. ‘Ali. Tarikh Baghdad. Edited by Bashar Awwad Marouf, 1st ed., 10 16, Dar Al-Gharb Al-Islami, 2002.

Al-Fakhi, Muhammad b. Ishaq.  Akhbar Makkah. Edited by Abdulmalik Dhaish, 2nd ed., vol 4 6, Dar Khidr, 1414.

Al-Marwazi, Muhammad b. Nasr. Ta’dhim Qadr Al-Salah. Edited by Abdulrahman Al-Faryawai, 1st ed., vol 1 2, Maktabat Al-Dar, 1406.

Al-Nasa’i, Ahmed b. Shu’ayb. Al-Mujtaba min Al-Sunan. Edited by Abdulfattah Abu Ghuddah, 2nd ed., vol 5 9, Maktabat Al-Matbu’at Al-Islamiyyah, 1986.

Al-Naysaburi, Muslim. Sahih Muslim. Edited by Muhammad Fouad Abdulbaqi, vol 4 5, Dar Ihyaa Al-Turath Al-Arabi, 1954.

Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma’il. Sahih Al-Bukhari. Edited by Muhammad Al-Nasser, 1st ed., Dar Tawq Al-Najah, 1422.

Al-Sijistani, Abu Dawud. Risalat Abi Dawud ila Ahl Makkah fi Wasfi Sunanih. Edited by Muhammad Al-Sabbagh, 3rd ed., Al-Maktab Al-Islami, 1405.

Al-Tirmidhi, Muhammad b. ‘Isa. Jami’ Al-Tirmidhi. Edited by Ibrahim Awadh, 2nd ed., vol 5 5, Maktabat wa Matba’at Mustafa Al-Babi Al-Halabi, 1975. 

Ibn Abi Hatem, ‘Abdurrahman. Al-Jarh wal-Ta’dil. 1st ed., vol 1 9, Dar Ihyaa Al-Turath Al-‘Arabi, 1952.

Ibn Hajar, Ahmed. Al-Nukat ‘ala Kitab Ibn Al-Salah.Edited by Rabi’ Al-Madkhali, 1st ed., vol 1 2, Islamic University of Medina, 1984 .

Ibn Hanbal, Ahmed. Al-‘Ilal wa Ma’rifat Al-Rijal – Riwayat Abdullah. Edited by Wasiyullah Abbas, 2nd ed., vol 1 3, Dar Al-Khani, 1422.

—. Musnad Ahmed. Edited by Shuayb Al-Arnaout et al., 1st ed., vol 1 45, Mu’assasat Al-Resalah, 1421.

2 thoughts on “Hadith and The Myth of the Telephone Game

  1. D Wright says:

    BarakAllahu feek. This is a tremendous article. Masha Allah. Very detailed, yet accessible for unstudied people like myself.

  2. Ali Sadok says:

    My questions are much simpler brother.
    What did the prophet leave written down himself for us as hadiths?
    Is following the prophet following what he left for us written down?
    So we have Qoran which no one disputes as a fact, the prophet meticulously made sure every verse of Qoran was written down . Why did he not do the same with his hadiths or did he?
    Which scholars researched this line of thoughts?
    Thank you.

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