What does “Tadlees” mean?

I’m having trouble understanding the concept of Tadlees taught to us in class. Does it mean lying or fraud?

Tadlees means imposition, or giving a false impression. It can be deliberate but it may also be unintended. It is often cited in Hadeeth authentication. Some examples of Tadlees have been called other names in order to distinguish them specifically. For instance, interjection of one’s own words in the body of a narration is Tadlees, but scholars have called it Idraaj (interjection) instead, in order not to confuse Tadlees within content with Tadlees within the attribution chain.

Other examples of Tadlees in Hadeeth attribution is when a narrator is referred to by an ambiguous nickname, such as Abu-Abdillah or only his first name, such as Sa`eed. That could be out of brevity, relying on the fact that all who hear the narrator know exactly whom he means, but it can also be out of deception because one Abu-Abdillah may have heard from the narrator before him in the chain while another Abu-Abdillah did not.

Scholars opinion on Tadlees vary a lot. Some have called it “the brother of lying”, others have tolerated it. Scrutineers of Hadeeth have usually been able to tell whether any given Tadlees is deceptive.

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