Balancing Scales for Evaluating Hadith Transmitters


Mīzān al-iʻtidāl fī naqd al-rijāl (Balancing scales for evaluating hadith transmitters) is a reference book listing hadith transmitters along with evaluation of their reliability, written by Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Dhahabi (1274‒1348). The sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, known collectively as hadith, were collected and written down by scholars well after the death of Muhammad. Major collections, such as those of al-Bukhari (810‒70) and Muslim ibn Hajjaj (circa 821‒75), were based on the recollections of those who knew Muhammad or witnessed his activities. The quotations and stories were passed on orally through the centuries until finally assembled in what are called the Six Books, that is, compilations of traditions that are recognized as authoritative and carry great weight in judicial decisions. The difficulty faced by collectors was to evaluate the validity of each hadith. This required the appraisal of each person in the oral chain of transmission. Transmitters and their texts were evaluated according to a scale from sahih (sound) to mawduʻ (fabricated) or munkar (reprehensible). Mizān al-iʻtidāl lists the thousands of these transmitters found in the Six Books and includes the rating of each person in a process termed ʻilm al-rijal (biographical science). The three volumes of this work are arranged into several alphabetical sets: by personal name, kunyah (nickname such as ‘Abu), nasab (associated places or other ascriptions), women transmitters, and unknown transmitters listed by putative or best-available name. This edition is “corrected” (i.e., edited) by Muhammad Badr al-Din al-Na’sani al-Halabi (1881‒1943), who prepared many classical works for publication. He was from Syria, where later in life he worked as a teacher and newspaper editor. Mizān al-iʻtidāl was printed at al-Saʻadah Press in Cairo and distributed from the al-Khanji bookstore, both businesses that were part of the well-developed printing and publishing trade in early 20th century Cairo. 

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

al-Sa’adah Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

ميزان الاعتدال في نقد الرجال

Type of Item

Physical Description

3 volumes ; 29 centimeters


  1. Jonathan A.C. Brown, “Did the Prophet Say It or Not? The Literal, Historical, and Effective Truth of Hadiths in Early Sunnism,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 129, number 2 (April‒June 2009).

Last updated: July 28, 2017