As time passed after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) passed away, more reporters were involved in each (chain of narrators) of the Prophet's hadiths, and so the situation demanded strict discipline in the acceptance of hadiths; the rules regulating this discipline are known as (Hadith methodology).
Among the early traditionists ( of Ash-Shafi`i (d. AH 204), the introduction to the of Muslim (d. AH 261) and the of At-Tirmidhi (d. AH 279)., scholars of Hadith), the rules and criteria governing their study of Hadith were meticulous, but some of their terminology varied from person to person, and their principles began to be systematically written down, but scattered among various books; for example, in
Besides, many of the criteria of early traditionists, for example Al-Bukhari, were deduced by later scholars from a careful study of which reporters or were accepted and rejected by them.
One of the earliest writings to attempt to cover methodology comprehensively, using standard (generally accepted) terminology, was the work by Ar-Ramahurmuzi (d. AH 360).
The next major contribution was by Al-Hakim (d. AH 405), which covered 50 classifications of Hadith, but still left some points untouched; Abu Nu`aim Al-Asbahani (d. AH 430) completed some of the missing parts to this work.
After that came of Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi (d. AH 463) and another work on the manner of teaching and studying Hadith. Later scholars were considered to be greatly indebted to Al-Khatib’s work.
After further contributions by Qadi `Iyad Al-Yahsubi (d. AH 544) and Abu Hafs Al-Mayanji (d. AH 580) among others, came the work which, although modest in size, was so comprehensive in its excellent treatment of the subject that it came to be the standard reference for thousands of scholars and students of Hadith to come, over many centuries until the present day: of Abu `Amr `Uthman ibn As-Salah (d. AH 643), commonly known as ( of Ibn As-Salah), was compiled while he taught in the dar al-Hadith (Hadith school) of several cities in Syria.
Some of the numerous later works based on that of Ibn As-Salah are these:
, an abridgement of , by An-Nawawi (d. AH 676), which he later summarized in his . As-Suyuti (d. AH 911) compiled a valuable commentary on the latter entitled .
by Ibn Kathir (d. AH 774); by Al-Taibi (d. AH 743); by Badr Ad-Din ibn Jama`ah (d. AH 733); by Ibn Al-Mulaqqin (d. AH 802); and by Al-Balqini (d. AH 805 ), all of which are abridgements of .
by Az-Zarkashi (d. AH 794); by Al-`Iraqi (d. AH 806); and by Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalani (d. AH 852), all of which are further notes on the points made by Ibn As-Salah.
by Al-`Iraqi, a rewriting of in the form of a lengthy poem, which became the subject of several commentaries, including two (one long, one short) by the author himself; by As-Sakhawi (d. AH 903); by As-Suyuti; and by Sheikh Zakariya Al-Ansari (d. AH 928).
Other notable treatises on Hadith methodology include the following:
by Ibn Daqiq Al-`Id (d. AH 702); by Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al-Wazir (d. AH 840), which was the subject of a commentary by Al-Amir As-San`ani (d. AH 1182).
by Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalani, again the subject of several commentaries, including one by the author himself, one by his son Muhammad, and those of `Ali Al-Qari (d. AH 1014), `Abdur-Ra’uf Al-Munawi (d. AH 1031) and Muhammad ibn `Abdul-Hadi As-Sindi (d. AH 1138). Among those who rephrased the in poetic form are At-Tufi (d. AH 893) and Al-Amir As-San`ani.
by As-Suyuti, the most comprehensive poetic work in the field; by Al-Baiquni, which was expanded upon by, among others, Az-Zurqani (d. AH 1122) and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (d. AH 1307); by Jamal Ad-Din Al-Qasimi (d. AH 1332).
by Tahir Al-Jaza’iri (d. AH 1338), a summary of Al-Hakim’s.