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The Prophet emphasized different things during different talks. Consequently, believers in his Message must understand that the correctness of their actions and attitudes in life will depend on how they understand the sources. They are a few. To name some: the Qur’an, the Sunnah, the lives of the Prophet’s exemplary kinsfolk and the ways of his Companions, especially the four Khulafa’, writes SYED IQBAL ZAHEER.

Before closing our discussion with the Hadith rejecters, we may ask ourselves: What exactly is the function of a Prophet? Is he a kind of postman who delivers messages? Or, there is more to do about it? We may refer to the Qur’an for illumination. It says (3: 164),

 “Surely, Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He raised amidst them a Messenger from amongst themselves, who recites to them His verses, purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, while, before that, they were in manifest error.”

This verse, (and there are two others of similar meaning), sets forth the functions of a Prophet. They are:

  1. He recites to the people Allah’s revelations;
  2. He purifies them,
  3. He teaches them the Book,
  4. He teaches them wisdom.

One may honestly ask himself, where is the material that the Prophet used for purifying his followers? Where are his teachings of the Book? Where is his wisdom? One cannot conclude but to admit that it is in the Hadith literature.

One can also ask, did the Prophet really instruct his followers in wisdom? Let the Qur’an answer this question. It says, addressing the wives of the Prophet (33: 34),

And mention Allah’s revelations and wisdom that is recited in your houses.”

In these words the Qur’an confirms that the Prophet taught his followers wisdom.

If such is the importance of the Hadith, which contains the revelation, although of a different kind, then, Islam will remain incomplete without the Sunnah. The question that next arises is, if Allah preserved the Qur’an, did He also preserve the Sunnah? The answer is, yes. Allah has promised in the Qur’an that He will preserve the Sunnah. Whether the Muslims follow it or not, the preservation is promised. Allah did not leave the collection of Hadith to the will of the people and vagaries of time. He made arrangements to preserve the Hadith. Those who played their roles in the collection and codification of the Hadith, were being guided by the divine Will. The Qur’an said (75: 16-19),

 “Move not your tongue along with it, to hasten it. Surely, upon Us is its collection, and upon Us is its recital. Therefore, when We recite, follow its recital. Then upon Us is the expounding thereof.”

The Qur’an is made several promises in these verses:

  1. Allah will collect the Qur’an. (Accordingly, we notice that the Prophet made no effort to collect it during his life-time).
  2. Allah will not only collect it but also see to it that it is properly recited.
  3. Finally, Allah will explain it.

Now, where is the explanation? The answer is, in the Hadith. So Hadith collection followed the Divine Plan, and happened by the Will of Allah.

Those who wish to dismantle the Hadith, quote a few ahadith to strengthen their position. Of course, it is dishonesty to reject the body of Hadith, and then argue with the Hadith itself. But their dishonesty is not limited to arguing with the Hadith. While they reject the Hadith, they resort to arguing with the statements of Companions or those who followed them. So, to them Prophetic statements are untrustworthy but statements of those who came after him are trustworthy!

They learnt this art from the worst of Jews and Christians, seeing that ordinary Jews and Christians are not found to be as dishonest as some of their scholars were who wrote on Islam.

However, an examination of the literature produced by the two: the wickedly dishonest Western scholars, and their spiritual descendents, reveals that the descendents did not inherit the cunning strategies of their progenitors. Their masters were far more cunning. An example might illustrate.

It is from a book written by John Burton, no less than Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies at the Edinburgh University, London. The book is entitled An Introduction to the Hadith (Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1994). He states on p. 58:

‘Believers! When summoned to the Friday prayer, hasten (is`aw) to worship’ [Q 62.9] … Taking the word is`aw literally, some would run to the mosque. We hear, for example, that `Abdallah ibn `Umar, on hearing the call to prayer, would make all speed and might arrive flustered and out of breathe. In order to make the point that the Muslim should come to prayer in the composed frame of mind that befits the ritual, his father, the caliph, recited not the word is`aw, but imdu, make your way to the mosque.’ (Malik, Muwatta’) [The author gives complete Muwatta reference under footnote 195: ed.)

In reporting this, for which he has no isnad, Malik comments: In the Book of God, the root sa`y implies merely ‘doing’, nothing more… He thinks that `Umar had reacted to a false interpretation of the verse and so had substituted the other word in order to establish his view of the meaning.

`Umar’s alleged view was taken up in an instruction from the Prophet himself, as reported by Abu Hurayra: ‘When the ritual prayer is called, do not run, but come to prayer in a seemly and dignified manner’. Apparently, Malik had not heard this hadith, or he might have cited it, for he had nothing against the Abu Hurayra reports. This particular Abu Hurayra report from the Prophet may then, be taken to date from after Malik’s time.”

Start to count the dishonesties. The author states, “Taking the word is`aw literally, some would run to the mosque.” But this is false. We do not have any report in any Hadith work which says that some of the Companions ran to the mosque when the prayer call was made on Friday. Yes, there is a report of some hurrying and making noise while the Prophet was in Prayer (not on a Friday). After he had terminated the prayer, he enquired what the noise was about. He was told that some people were hurrying in. He told them not to rush up, but maintain calm and composure.

John Burton adds dishonesty to dishonesty by stating: “`Abdallah ibn `Umar, on hearing the call to prayer, would make all speed and might arrive flustered and out of breathe.” But Ibn `Umar never ran either. Instead, what he said was that if he understood the word is`aw as “run up”, “he would have (in obedience) run until his shroud fell off him.”

The author adds dishonesty upon dishonesty upon dishonesty when he states: “In reporting this, for which he has no isnad.” This is incorrect because Muwatta’s version tells that that Malik had asked Zuhri who informed him that `Umar used to recite is`aw as imdu. So, the isnad is there. It is of one man: Zuhri, whom Imam Malik personally knew.

His fourth dishonesty is in words, “Apparently, Malik had not heard this hadith.” Writing a book on Hadith filled with complicated discussions, the author would have known that there were a hundred thousand ahadith floating around during the time of Imam Malik, out of which he gave place to only a thousand in his Muwatta. It is widely reported that Malik’s Muwatta originally had 10,000 ahadith. But, he kept on deleting them perhaps in order to arrive at a manageable minimum. That apart, there were several other Muwattas by other authors in circulation during his time. When someone objected to his collection, Imam Malik remarked that his Muwatta will be different from others, which perhaps led him to cut out 90% of what he had started with. He wanted it to be a unique collection, and unique it has remained. But 10,000 is not all. One of his masters, Zuhri alone had over 100,000 ahadith in his collection. So, to conclude that if Imam Malik did not place a hadith in his collection, the hadith did not exist at all, is not a stupid statement, but a dishonest one.

The fifth dishonesty consists in the statement, “This particular Abu Hurayra report from the Prophet may then, be taken to date from after Malik’s time.” We can notice how the man first makes an appalling assumption, and then concludes that this particular hadith of Abu Hurayrah was fabricated after Imam Malik, i.e. roughly 200 years after the Prophet. This is the dishonest fib that the Western scholars have floated viz. the Hadith was documented 200 years after the Prophet, and which their spiritual rookies of our times spread across among the ignorant Muslims.

There are other dishonesties hidden in the above passage (which we picked up at random, without any search), but we suppose even the reader is feeling tired of them and their perpetrators by now.

To move on, the Rejecters use weak ahadith to justify their claims, or derive meanings that suit them. Here are a few examples from the letter by one Dr. Nisar P. T.:

Ahmad and Abu Da’ud have a report which says that Zayd b. Thabit entered on Mu`awiyyah who asked him to narrate a hadith and ordered a man to write down. But Zayd said that the Prophet prohibited that any of his Hadith should be written. Therefore he erased it.

This hadith has been declared weak by Shu`ayb al-Arna’ut and Albani. Further, it is well-known that in the earlier stages the Prophet disallowed that his Hadith be written, but allowed later.

The Hadith Rejecter presents another hadith. It is as follows:

It is reported in the book “Ulum Al-Hadith” by Ibn Al-Salah, by Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of God came out to us while we were writing his hadiths and said; “What are you writing?” We said, “hadiths that we hear from you, messenger of God.” He said, “A book other than the book of God?” We said, “Should we talk about you?” He said, “Talk about me, that would be fine, but those who will lie will go to Hell.” Abu Hurayra said, “We collected what we wrote of hadiths and burned them in fire.”

First of all, there is an effort to deceive the common man. The above hadith is not in Ibn al-Salah’s book. In fact, it is not found in any Hadith collection. It is found in a fifth century book by Khateeb al-Baghdadi. None of the earlier Hadith collections have recorded this hadith.

Further, a hadith which has three persons in its chain of narrators is considered a strong report. Five narrators is average. In worst case, it can have 7-8 narrators in its chain. This particular hadith has fifteen narrators in the chain, many of whom are unknown figures. The following is an average length of chain of narrators, involving five narrators.

حَدَّثَنِى زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ1 حَدَّثَنَا جَرِيرٌ2 عَنْ عُمَارَةَ3 عَنْ أَبِى زُرْعَةَ4 عَنْ أَبِى هُرَيْرَةَ5 قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ

In contrast, there are fifteen men in the “chain of narrators” of the hadith that the Hadith Rejecter uses to knock off the ignorant Muslim from the holy trail.

أخبرنا الحسن بن علي التميمي1 ، أخبرنا أحمد بن جعفر بن حمدان2 ، حدثنا عبد الله بن أحمد3 ، حدثنا أبي4 ، حدثنا إسحاق بن عيسى5 ، حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن زيد6 ، وأخبرنا أحمد بن أبي جعفر القطيعي7 ، أخبرنا محمد بن المظفر8 ، حدثنا قاسم بن زكريا المطرز9 ، حدثني علي بن سهل10 ، حدثنا أبي11 ، حدثنا عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم12 ، عن أبيه13 ، عن عطاء بن يسار14 ، عن أبي هريرة15 قال : خرج علينا رسول الله …

No surprise then that none of the Hadith collectors placed the above report in their collections, and no surprise too that the Hadith Rejecter digs it out to fool the public. The whole idea of Hadith rejection is as flimsy, and as loaded with dishonesties, as this example. They reject ahadith that have just three narrators in the chain, but accept ahadith that have fifteen narrators in the chain, and choose a report which is no hadith, and which appears in a non-Hadith work!

The Rejecter of Hadith quotes another hadith:

In the famous book, “Taq-yeed Al-Ilm“, Abu Hurayra said, the Messenger of God was informed that some people are writing his hadiths. He took to the pulpit of the mosque and said, “What are these books that I heard you wrote? I am just a human being. Anyone who has any of these writings should bring it here.” Abu Hurayra said we collected all these and burned them in fire.

To use the book “Taqyeed al-`Ilm” (Preservation of Knowledge) to reject the Hadith is an act of such dishonesty that deserves advertisements at every Islamic site as well as at every mosque. This book was authored by Khateeb al-Baghdadi. It deals with the importance of knowledge. Its contents may be used for such purposes only. Al-Khateeb starts with every report that is not in favor of “written material.” That is, the author tries to make a case for memorization against documentation. He also quotes the names of those who were not in favor of “written” but preferred “memorized” material. The above hadith is from this chapter of the book.

Khateeb al-Baghdadi then makes the case for “written” material to demonstrate that there is no harm in knowledge being documented; in fact, it is advantageous and the preferable method of preservation of knowledge. Accordingly he goes on to collect together a few reports of the Prophet which demonstrate that the Prophet himself got the Hadith written, those in which he instructed his Companions to write, those which demonstrate that it was in his knowledge that they were being written, and those which were independently written by his Companions.

Khateeb also names those who were in favor of knowledge, whether it was Prophetic hadith or something else, NOT committed to writing, but only memorized. He cites six Companions who did not favor writing. He follows up by citing the reports of ten Companions who favored Hadith reports written down, (whether memorized or not). Of the six not in favor, two of them also appear as those in favor, meaning they had changed their opinions.

Of course, Khateeb’s list is not exhaustive, it is merely illustrative; otherwise we know that dozens of the Companions wrote down the Hadith during the life-time of the Prophet.

That said, the above hadith is not found in any of the dozens of Hadith collections. It is not found even in any of the dozens of works on Criticism of Hadith that deal with weak and fabricated hadith. Hadith collectors of the first four centuries do not seem to know about the hadith of Khateeb al-Baghdadi.

Another instance of dishonesty is that Khateeb presents in his book “Taqyeed” some 40 reports concerning Hadith documentation. Ten of them report prohibition; while 30 of them report permission. The Hadith Rejecter makes no mention of any of the 30 reports allowing documentation of Hadith.

Further, Khateeb offers his own opinion at the end that knowledge must be written down, and if some Companions were prevented, it was because they could mix up Qur’an and Sunnah. In fact, he has a report which says that, on one occasion, some were found to be writing the Qur’an and the Hadith on the same writing material, and, were, therefore, ordered to erase them all.

To be sure, we have an interesting report in Khateeb’s collection. It goes like this:

`Abdullah ibn `Amr relates: There were a group of people around the Prophet. I was the youngest among them. The Prophet said, “Whoever fastened a lie upon me may seek his refuge in the Fire.” When the people got up, I said: “How could you be narrating from the Prophet, on whom be peace? You have heard what he said and still you are so deeply committed to his Hadith?”

He (Ibn `Amr) said, “They laughed and said, ‘O our cousin! All that we hear from him is jotted down in a book with us.”

The Munkirul Hadith under discussion further writes:

The farewell Pilgrimage of the prophet Muhammad is a corner stone in the Muslim history. The Final Sermon given by the Prophet during this pilgrimage was witnessed by thousands of Muslims. There are however three versions of this sermon in the hadith books. This by itself reflects the degree of corruption of the hadith books as this is the most witnessed speech of the prophet Muhammad.

1- First version, “I left for you what if you hold on to, you will never be misguided, the Book of God and my family. (Moslim 44/ 4, Nu 2408; Ibn Hanbal 4/ 366; Darimi 23/ 1, Nu 3319).
This is the version made up by the Shi’te Muslims.

2- Second version, “I left for you what if you hold on to, you will never be misguided, the book of God and my Sunnah“(Muwatta, 46/ 3). This is the version made up by the Sunni Muslims.

3- Third version, “I left for you what if you hold on to, you will never be misguided, the Book of God.” (Moslim 15/ 19, Nu 1218; Ibn Majah 25/ 84, Abu Dawud 11/ 56)

This last version is the version hated by the Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike. This is the only version which conforms with the repeated assertion in the Qur’an that Muhammad’s message was only the Qur’an. Many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims do not even know that this version of the sermon exists. In reality, they do not want to know, the truth hurts.

Dr. Nisar P.T.

We have left the writing of the Doctor Nisar P. T. uncorrected to demonstrate the quality of his learning. Common factors that unite the rejecters of Hadith on a single platform are: charlatanism, dishonesty, fanaticism and crankiness.

He assumes that,

  1. the Prophet delivered a single speech at `Arafat during his Hajj,
  2. the first hadith is a Shi`ah fabrication,
  3. the second version is a Sunni fabrication,
  4. he cannot say whose fabrication is the third version (it does not occur to him as to whose fabrication is the third version, if it is hated by both the Sunnis as well as the Shi`ah),
  5. that there is contradiction in the above reports,
  6. that Muslims do not even know of the existence of the sermons and, therefore,
  7. the body of Hadith stands rejected.

All the assumptions are unworthy of any serious note, but to explain to the laymen: the Prophet emphasized different things during different talks. Consequently, believers in his Message must understand that the correctness of their actions and attitudes in life will depend on how they understand the sources. They are a few. To name some: the Qur’an, the Sunnah, the lives of the Prophet’s exemplary kinsfolk (one of whom – the Mahdi – will appear at the end of times), and, the ways of his Companions, especially the four Khulafa’. Neither has the Qur’an made a list of do’s and don’t do’s, nor the Hadith has made lists, unless it was to specify, emphasize, clarify, and make it easy for memory. Therefore, there is no hadith that lists all the sources of guidance together, in one sentence. On various occasions the Prophet mentioned various sources of guidance. Sometimes he said, “Hold on to the Qur’an.” At another time he said, “Hold on to the Qur’an and Sunnah.” Yet another time he said, “Hold on to the Qur’an and my kinsfolk.” On some occasions, he did not mention the Qur’an. He said, “Upon you is my Sunnah, and the Sunnah of the Khulafa’ after me.” But he did not mean to say, “Ignore the Qur’an, follow the Khulafa’.” Similarly, if he did not mention the Sunnah at any time, it did not mean, “Ignore the Sunnah, follow only the Qur’an.”


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