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Difference between Hadith and Rivaya


Salam,can the word “Hadith” be used for a false narration, or the word “Rivaya” (narration) is used for a narration until it’s properly evaluated and the word “Hadith” can only used when the authenticity of a narration is established??


Wa Alaykumussalam

Thank you for your query.

From Shias’ point of view:

  1. Literary “Hadith” has a general meaning and includes any type of speech.
  2. Lexicologically, Hadith is something that indicates Masoom(infallible)’s word, action or speech.
  3. Sometimes, hadith is also known as riwayat and hence there is no difference between them
  4. Lexicologically, Riwayat is the transmission of khabar from multiple narrators in the form of a narrator, narrating from a narrator before him until it reaches the Masumeen(as)

Therefore, it can be said:

  1. a) Hadith and riwayat are completely different from each other in terms of vocabulary, but they are not different in lexicological terms. As said, sometimes the hadith is called riwayat.
  2. b) From the lexicological meaning of Riwayat, it is understood that it refers to Hadith as well.
  3. c) Hadith or Riwayat is not specific to the speech of Masumeen(as), and it also includes the actions of Masumeen(as) and verification/approval by Masumeen(as)as well.


From Sunnis’ point of view:

There are four other terms which closely denote hadith; riwayat, khabr, athar, and sunnah. In practice, all of these are synonymous especially amongst the earlier scholars who used them interchangeably. The prophet (peace be upon him) referred to any narration relating to himself be it utterance or action as hadith.
However, some have made distinctions between these terms. Riwayat and khabr are considered more general than hadith in that it includes any narrative which is linked to the prophet (peace be upon him) be it direct or remote such as the narratives about the sahabah or tabi’un. Comparatively, Khabr is assumed to focus more on remote narratives but not exclusively so. In contrast, Athar in theory is considered exclusive to the narratives about the sahabah and tabi’un.
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May Allah(swt) grant you success
Syed Haider