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What is the Shia position on “Mu’an’an”


Salamu alaykum, what is the Shia position on “mu’an’an” narrations? In other words, hadiths which contain the phrase ‘an in the chain as oppposed to hadathani (I heard)? Did any scholars say this way of transmission is unreliable or is there complete agreement on its usagage?



Wa Alaykumussalam

Thank you for your query.

A muʿanʿan (المُعَنعَن) hadith is one in the chain of narrators of which the word عن=from, is mentioned, without words such as “akhbarani” (he reported to me), “haddathani” (he let me know) and “sami’tu” (I heard from), such as “Ahmad b. Idris ‘an (from) Muhammad b. Hassan ‘an (from) Abi Muhammad al-Razi ‘an (from) Sayf b. ‘Amiyra ‘an (from) Ishaq b. ‘Ammar qal (who said), ‘qal (said) Abu ‘Abd Allah (a) …’”.

Allamah al-Hilli and the ‘ulama coming after him have divided the ahadith into four categories according to the qualifications of the ruwat:

  1. Sahih (Correct-True)
  2. Hassan (good)
  3. Muwathaq (reliable)
  4. Da’if (weak)

The first three categories are considered genuine. Da’if has got no worth at all unless it was accepted by all ‘ulama of the early period, in which case it is called maqbul (مقبول = acceptable) that is, accepted by early scholars.

Read more about the types of hadith on:


The majority are of the opinion that Mu’an’an hadith is connected(Muttasil) if it has the following conditions:

  1. The possibility of meeting the narrator with the one who he has narration the hadith from.
  2. The narrator is away from Tadlis(fraud).
  3. Some have considered the proof of the narrator’s meeting and long conversation with his narrator as a condition for linking the narration.
  4. The other group considers the Mu’an’an hadith as connected(Muttasil), and does not consider that condition subject to any conditions.
  5. Some have only considered it conditional on proof of meeting.
  6. Some have considered only the meeting of the narrator with the person he has narrated from, as a condition to be considered as Muttasil.

Ma’an is derived from the word ‘Anana’, which is a fake infinitive, and the word ‘Anana’ is derived from the repetition of the letter ‘An’.


In Ahlus Sunnah hadiths and narrators, Bukhari, who is considered one of the famous Muhaddith(narrators), had two conditions for narrating Mu’an’an hadiths:
(1) the narrator must be contemporaneous with the person from who he has narrated it from

(2) Evidence of the meeting of the two;

According to Bukhari, only if these two conditions exist, it is possible to be sure that the Mu’an’an hadiths are connected(Muttasil). Although Bukhari, only in the presence of these two conditions can we be sure that the hadiths are connected(Muttasil).

Even though, Bukhari neither in his Sahih book nor in his other books, has ever specified the conditions under which the narrators narrated their hadiths.

However, the people in ilm al-Hadith, by closely following the recordation of the hadiths that he narrated, have found that in the hadiths that he related with the chain of transmission, he has narrated from only those famous narrators who are at the highest level in terms of justice, preservation and perfection.


However, there is no such clarification, neither from Shaikh Kulaini himself, nor from other scholars regarding the transmission of the Mu’an’an hadiths in the book al-Kafi and other ancient and advanced sources of Shia narration. And such a condition is not observed in the history either. Therefore, in the field of hadiths and Shia muhadithin, in the Mu’an’an hadiths, if the narrations are free from the suspicion of Tadlis(fraud), the chain of transmission is considered to be connected, provided that the meeting of each of the narrators is possible according to era, time and place, otherwise, the narrator may not have seen the other narrator and narrate a hadith from him(عن فلان), in which case, that narration will be known as Munqati’(not connected).


From the point of view of contemporary scholars, the Mu’an’an ahadith are considered as Da’if.

If a hadith is classified as da’if (weak), it means that a particular sanad is weak. But that same text might have been narrated somewhere else with sahihhasan or muwaththaq sanad; and the value of hadith will change accordingly.

All the Da’if ahadith are left over if we don’t have other evidence but if there are evidence and authenticity from Quran, Sunnah or Aql then as mentioned above, the value of hadith will change.

The opinion of scholars nowadays is often based on this. The point regarding Mu’an’an ahadith, that they will be accepted even if there is enough evidence to confirm them through other Sahih ahadith, is not specific to the Mu’an’an hadiths, but is true for all types of Da’if(weak) hadiths.

Ayatollah Subhani believes that a Da’if(weak) hadith is different from a fake(Ja’l) hadith. Narrating a Ja’l(fake) hadith is not permissible, but a Da’if(weak) hadith can be used as a reference for understanding the correct hadith.

Considering that many hadiths transmitted from the Masumeen (as) were in the form of “Mu’an’an” and basically the method of narrating hadiths was the same, and the use of the word “عن” is actually considered the method of narrators in narrating ahadith, so it cannot be said the fact that the hadiths are “Mu’an’an” is the proof of their weak Sanad, because many ahadith are like this. So these ahadith are kept with other Sahih hadith to understand the authenticity and sanad of it and hence taken into consideration if not against the other true beliefs of Shias.

May Allah(swt) grant you success


Syed Haider