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Hawza Subjects - 'Ilm ar-Rijal

'Ilm ar-Rijal (Science of Narrators)

'Ilm ar-Rijal is, literally, "The Science of People". Any tradition (hadith) is usually made up of two parts: a header (called isnad or sanad) and the main text or narration itself (called matn). The header lists the chain of narrators, which is crucial in identifying the original source of a hadith and verifying its authenticity.

'Ilm ar-Rijal, as an off-shoot of 'Ilm al-Hadith, studies the individual lives of narrators to check their trustworthiness. This in turn is used as one factor (amongst others) in concluding the authenticity of narrations. Sometimes a narrator may be unknown and his history may simply be lost in time.

A popular work on 'Ilm ar-Rijal which lists all the narrators in major Shi'ah hadith works and their trustworthiness-status is the Al-Mu'in 'ala Mu'jam Rijal al-Hadith of Marhum Ayatullah Abul Qasim al-Khui.

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