Al-Khabar al-Wāḥid (Arabic: الخَبَرُ الواحِد) is, according to hadith sciences, a narration of hadiths which is not regarded al-mutawatir hadith which means the number of narrators in all generations of transmission is not enough to ascertain the authenticity of Khabar.
Al-khabar al-wahid is categorized into three groups in the aspect of the number of narrators: al-mustafid, al-aziz, and al-gharib.
Sunni scholars did not accept categorizing hadiths into al-wahid and al-mutawatir, so they categorized them into three aforementioned groups, al-mustafid, al-aziz, and al-gharib.
Lexical and Technical Meaning
Al-khabar al-wahid is a hadith narrated in a way that did not fulfill all the conditions necessary to be deemed a mutawatir hadith. Then, it is not proved authentic itself and must be proved by means of other evidence. As a result, if a hadith has all the conditions of tawatur in several generations but one generation lacks them, it is regarded as al-khabar al-wahid.
The authenticity of al-khabar al-wahid is among the main topics of the principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh).
Al-khabar al-wahid is not certainly reported from the Infallibles, in addition, they are not handy on their own in religious matters. In issuing fatwa on ancillaries of the faith (furu' al-din), religious scholars mostly accept verses of the Qur'an and mutawatir hadiths first and al-khabar al-wahid is acceptable only in exceptional situations.
If there is an evidence or a group of evidences which confirms that the hadith has been issued by an infallible Imam (a), this will help religious authorities and hadith scholars to consider it as a reliable hadith:
- If the hadith exists in a number of asl books out of al-usul al-arba'ami'a (the four hundred asls).
- If the hadith has been narrated in one asl through different chains.
- If the hadith exists in an asl which is compiled by a member of people of consensus such as Zurara, Muhammad b. Muslim, etc.
- If the hadith exists in a book which has been presented to and confirmed by a Shi'a Imam.
- If the hadith exists in reliable Shi'a books.
- The hadith must be compatible with logical reasoning, the text of the Qur'an, confirmed tradition and consensus of Shi'a scholars.
Most of hadiths and reports in narrative books are regarded al-khabar al-wahid.
With respect to the number of narrators, al-khabar al-wahid is categorized into three groups:
If a hadith is transmitted by at least three narrators in every generation, it is called "al-mustafid". Lexically istifada means abundant and large number. As a result, if an account is transmitted with more than three narrators it will become closer to al-mutawatir hadith. Al-Hadith al-mustafid is sometimes called "al-mashhur" (famous), although they have different meanings; as in al-hadith al-mustafid the account is transmitted with at least three narrators in every generation and al-hadith al-mashhur (the famous hadith) is transmitted with at least three narrators in only some generations, not necessarily all of them. For instance, the hadith "deeds are by intentions." is regarded al-mashhur not al-mustafid.
If a hadith is transmitted with at least two narrators in every generation, it is called "al-aziz". Lexically al-aziz means few in number because such hadiths are few or it means solid because such narrations have two evidences or chains of transmitters each supporting each other.
If a hadith is transmitted with only one narrator in every generation or only one narrator in the first generation it is called "al-gharib". It has different types such as:
- Gharib in the chain of narrators: a hadith which is transmitted with only one narrator in all generations.
- Gharib in the text: a hadith which is transmitted with one narrator in the first generation and then it is narrated with a large number of narrators in next generations; it is also called al-mashhur al-gharib. The hadith "deeds are by intentions" is regarded "gharib mashhur" as it was narrated with only one companion of the Infallible.