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THE STATUS OF SUNNAH IN ISLAAM

By: Muhammad Naasir-Ud-Deen Al-Albaani.

Introduction

Praise be to Allah, Benediction and Peace be on the Messenger of Allah, his family, his companions, and his adherents.

This is a lecture which I delivered in the city of Doha, the capital of Qatar, in the blessed month of Ramadhan 1392 A.H. Some of my friends have suggested to me to publish my lecture on account of need of the Muslims to a work of its kind. In response to their request, I am printing it for general propagation on account of its advantage, having regard for the reminiscences and history. I have added some separate titles to assist the reader to collect the main ideas. I pray to Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious, to write me among those who defend the religion and those who help enact the law; and to reward me for it. Surely he is the most generous in responding to my prayer.

Damascus 22 Muharram-al-Haram 1394 A.H.

A Declaration that it cannot dispense with The Qur’ân

All Praise be to Allah, we praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our souls and evils of our deeds. One whom Allah guides, none can lead him astray, and one whom He misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAW) is His servant and His messenger.

 (O you who believe. Fear Allah truly, and don’t die except in a state of Islam) (3:102).

(O Men fear your Lord who created you from one soul, and created its partner, and from them spread men and women in numbers. Take care, Allah will question you about it and the kinship. Surely, Allah is ever watchful of your deeds) (4:1).

(O those who believe. Fear Allah and say what is correct so that it fits you. He will forgive your sins. Whoever obeys Allah and His messenger that is a great achievement) (33:70-71).

The best of speech is the speech of Allah. That is The Book of Allah. The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. Of all matters, the worst are innovations; and everything new is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation leads to Hell-fire.

I do not think that I will be able to offer this high ranking assembly – especially when there are distinguished ulama (scholars) and professors present – some knowledge which has not been dealt with before. If what I think is true, I will rest contented that my address will be a reminder, as it says in the Qur’an: (Remind, for the reminder would benefit the believers) (51:55).

I do not think that my talk in this blessed month of Ramadhan, the month of importance, is an exposition of something of its merits, rules and their practice, and the like, which generally the preachers and instructors touch on, on account of the benefit they give to the listeners, and procure for them good and blessing; but I have chosen my talk to be a study of a general nature, surely it is one of the roots of the Shari’ah (Islamic law). It is a declaration of the importance attached to the Sunnah in the Islamic law.

The Role of Sunnah Towards The Qur’ân

You all know that Allah, The Blessed and Mighty, chose Muhammad (SAW) as His Prophet and picked him to deliver the final message. The Qur’ân was revealed to him and commanded him to obey all what He had ordered him to do, that is, to expound His message to the people. Allah says, (We have revealed to you the Reminder (The Qur’ân) to expound to people what was revealed to them) (16:44).

I think that the declaration mentioned in the verse contains two orders: Declaration of the word and its arrangement. It is the communication of the Qur’ân and its non-concealment, and its pursuit to Mankind just as Allah, The Blessed Almighty, has revealed to the heart of the Prophet (SAW) which is the intent of His saying: (O Messenger proclaim what is revealed to you from your Lord) (5:67). Sayyida Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have said “Whosoever says that Muhammad (SAW) concealed something which he was commanded to communicate, it is a great calumny against Allah.” Then she read the abovementioned verse. (Bukhaaree and Muslim have stated it.)

And according to the narration of Muslim: “If the Messenger of Allah (SAW) had concealed something which he was commanded to communicate, he would have concealed the saying of The Almighty: Behold thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: Keep your wife to yourself and fear Allah. But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest; you did fear the people, whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him (33:37).
The explanation of the meaning of the word or sentence or verse for which man needs an explanation, most of which bear reference to ‘Mujmal’ (comprehensive) verses or ‘Amah’ (general) verses or ‘Mutlaq’ (unbounded) verses.

Then comes the Sunnah and clarifies the sentences and specifies the verses called ‘Amah’ and defines what is ‘mutlaq’ that is, in refernce to the saying (Qaul) of The Prophet (SAW), his deed (Fi’l) and the act he confirmed (Iqrar).

The necessity of Sunnah to understand The Qur’ân and Parables on that

Allah says: (The male thief and female thief cut off their hands) (5:38) is a fitting example of that. The thief in it is general like the hand.

The oral tradition explains the first of them and restricts it by ‘as-sareq’ (the thief) who steals something worth a fourth of a Dinar(2) according to the saying of the Prophet (SAW) There is no cutting – of the hand – unless the thing stolen is worth a fourth of a Dinar or more (Bukhaaree & Muslim) the two shaikhs have recorded this Ahaadeeth.

Again, the other is explained by the action of the Prophet (SAW) or the action of his companions and his confirmation. They used to cut the hand of the thief from the wrist as is known in the work of Ahaadeeth. The oral tradition explains the hand mentioned in the verse on Tayammum (dust ablution) (And rub therewith your faces and hands) (5:6) is also the palm of the hand as is stated in a Ahaadeeth Tayammum is the wiping of the face and the hands recorded by the two shaikhs and Ahmad and others from a tradition reported by Ammar bin Yasir (may Allah be pleased with them).

There are other verses that cannot be completely understood except through Sunnah. They are:

(It is whose who believe and confuse not their beliefs with wrong, ‘dhulm’ that are (truly) in security for they are on (right) guidance)(6:82).

The companions of the Prophet (SAW) understood the word ‘dhulm’ in its general sense to mean every wrong doing, even if it be little. On this account the verse is regarded as dubious and they said, “O Messenger of Allah, which of us did not involve his faith with obscurity?” He (SAW) said; It is not that. It is only the ‘shirk’(3). Have you not heard what Luqman said: Verily, ‘shirk’ is a very great sin (dhulm) (31:13). The two shaikhs have recorded it with others.
Allah says: (When you travel on earth, there is no blame on you to shorten your prayer, for fear the unbelievers will persecute you) (4:101). It is obvious from this verse that fear is a pre-requisite for the shortening of prayers. Some of the Prophet’s companions asked him: “Why do we shorten our prayers while we feel safe?” He said: It is a charity from Allah, so accept it (Muslim).

Allah says: (The carcass and it’s blood are forbidden to you) (5:3). In explanation of this verse, the corpse of locusts, fish, the livers, spleen of blood are lawful. So the Prophet (SAW) said: He has made two dead things and blood lawful: the locusts and the fish, the liver and the spleen.

Baihaqi and others have recorded it as ‘marfu’ type of hadeeth as also ‘mauquf’ type. The ‘isnad’ od ‘mauquf’ is authentic and it is as good as ‘marfu’ tradition, since it is not stated in the form of a ‘ra’y’ (decision based on one individual’s judgement not on Qur’ân and Sunnah).

Allah says: (I find not in the message received by me by inspiration any (food) forbidden to be taken by one who wishes to, unless it is dead meat or blood poured forth or the flesh of swine, for it is an abomination, or what is impious (meat) on which a name has been invoked other that Allah’s) (6:145).

The Sunnah has forbidden many things not mentioned in the verse mentioned above, as for example in the saying of the Holy Prophet (SAW): All predatory animals with tusk and every bird with claw are forbidden for consumption. There are other traditions which have forbidden the consumption of such animals as the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said on the Day of Khayber: Allah and His Messenger have prohibited the consumption of domesticated asses, for they are filth. The two shaikhs have reported it.

Allah says: (Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants, and the things clean and pure (which he has provided for sustenance) (7:32).

The Sunnah, too, has forbidden some adornments, and this is evident from the Prophet (SAW) who is reported to have met some of his companions, and had a silk garment in one hand, and gold in the other, and said: These are prohibited to Muslim males, lawful to females. The Ahaadeeths in their interpretation are many and well known in both the authentic collections of Ahaadeeths, and others and the like of many examples well known to scholars familiar with ahaadeeth and Islamic Jurisprudence.
From what has been stated above, O Muslim Brethren, you can see the importance attached to Sunnah in Islamic Law. When we divert our intention again to the examples mentioned beside others not mentioned, we are certain that there is no way to understand the Qur’ân correctly except in association with the interpretation of the Sunnah.

In the first example, the understanding of the ‘sahabah’ of ‘dhulm’ mentioned in the verse is on its general sense, despite the fact that the (Allah be pleased with them) were, as stated by Ibn Mas’ud: “The best of this community, most pious, profound in learning, least of dissimulation.” Yet with all that they erred in their understanding of that.

Were it not for the Prophet (SAW), who held them back from their mistaken notion, and made them take the step in the right direction in that the correct meaning of ‘dhulm’ in the context is shirk (association of partnership with Allah), we too would have followed in their wrong thinking. Allah, The Blessed and The Most High saved us from that wrong notion by the grace of the right direction of the Prophet (SAW) and his Sunnah.

In the second example – with Allah’s guidance – if not for the ahaadeeth mentioned above, we would have been in doubt at least with regard to the shortening of prayer (qasr-as-salat) during a journey while secure – if we did stipulate the condition of fear as obvious in the verse – till the companions saw the Prophet (SAW) shorten the prayers when it was safe and secure.

In the third example, if not for the ahaadeeth, we would have forbidden ourselves the consumption of good things made lawful to us: locusts, fish, liver, and the spleen.

In the fourth example, if not for the Ahaadeeths, some of which we have mentioned, we would have considered lawful what Allah has made unlawful through the dictum of the holy Prophet (SAW) like predatory animals, and the birds which have claws.

And so in the fifth example, if not for the Ahaadeeths in regard to this question, we would have considered lawful what Allah prohibited through the words of His Prophet (SAW) like gold and silk.

It is for this, some forbearers (as-SALAF) say that ‘Sunnah’ pronounces judgement of The Book (al-Qur’ân).

The Deviation of those who are satisfied with The Qur’ân to the exclusion of Ahaadeeth

It is a matter of regret that according to the interpretation found in the works of some commentators and modern authors, that it is permissible to do what is stated in the last two examples: Consumption of the predatory animals and the waearing of gold and silk by referring their interpretation only to the Qur’ân.

Today, a sect exists called “Qur’ânites” who comment according to their whims and fancies; without seeking the explanation of the authentic Sunnah. They only accept and follow the Sunnah which suit their desires, the rest they throw behind. The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that: None of you reclines on his bed, the order comes to him on an affair which I am commanded to do or not to do. He says: “I don’t know, what is found in The Book of Allah we follow” (Tirmidhi). According to another report: What is found in The Book of Allah as ‘Haram,’ we pronounce it ‘haram’ (forbidden). Surely, I am given The Qur’ân and its example with it. Yet, according to another report: What the Messenger of Allah has forbidden, Allah has prohibited it.

It is a matter of regret that one renowned scholar has written a book on Islamic law and its dogma, and in its preface, he says that he has written it and that he has made reference only to The Qur’ân.

This true ahaadeeth gives positive evidence that the divine law of Islam – As-Shari’ah – is not merely Qur’ân, but Qur’ân and Sunnah. Therefore, whoever holds fast to one source for reference to the exclusion of the other, he held fast to neither of them, since both complement each other. The Qur’ân says: (Whoever obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. Allah says, No, by your Lord they do not believe until they submit to your adjucation in all disputes between them, then they do not find themselves oppressed with your decisions and they completely submit)(4:65). Again, Allah says: (When a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, it does not behave a believer, man or woman, to have choice in their matter. One who disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path) (33:36). Furthermore, Allah says: (What the Messenger teaches you, take it, and what he forbids you, avoid doing it) (59:7).

In connection with this verse, I am marvelled by what is corroborated by Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) that is, a woman came to him and told him, “You who says: May Allah’s curse be on ‘Al-Namisat’ and ‘Al-Motanamisat’(4) and those who tattoo.” He said “Yes.” She said, “I read the Book of Allah (Al-Qur’an) from beginning to its end. I did not find what you have said. He told her, “If you have read it, you would have found it. As for your reading what the Messenger teaches you, take it, and what he forbids you, avoid doing it.” She said, “Certainly.” He said, “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say May Allah’s Curse be on the Al-Namisat.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Inadequacy of Philology to understand The Qur’ân

From what has been stated above, it is clear that there is no scope for anyone with all his Arabic Scholarship to understand the glorious Qur’an, without the help of the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), his sayings and actions.

The companions of the Prophet (SAW) were the most knowledgeable in the language, which The Qur’ân was revealed in, when it was not blemished by the incorrectness of the common folks knowledge or their grammatical mistakes. Yet, they erred in understanding the verses quoted above when they relied on language alone.

It is self-evident that a man well-informed of the Sunnah is more appropriate to understand The Qur’ân and deduce the rules from it than one who is ignorant of it. How can it be a source to one who does not reckon it and does not make reference to it?

For this reason, it is part of the rules agreed upon that Qur’ân should be interpreted by the Qur’ân itself as welll as the Sunnah, then by the sayings of the SAHABAH… etc. (5)

It is here that the cause of deviation of scholastic theologians (Ahlu-el-Kalam) become clear, both ancient and modern, and their opposition to the forbears ‘As-salaf’ (May Allah be pleased with them) in their doctrines not to speak of their laws. They are far from Sunnah, and knowledge of it, and rely on their intelligence and desires to decide on the verses of attributes and others.

What is best is what was written down in the exposition of Tahawi’s doctrine (page 212 Fourth Edition):
When one is not well-informed of The Book and Sunnah, what would he say about the Fundamentals of Religion (usulu-d-din)? He only receives the assertion of someone. If he says that he takes it from The Book of Allah, he does not study the commentary of The Qur’ân on the basis of prophetic traditions, and reflects over it, nor what the companions (Sahâbah), and the following generations narrated, which is transmitted to us from the authorities whom the critics chose. They have not transmitted the system and arrangement of The Qur’ân, but its poetic expression and meaning. They did not learn the Qur’ân like children, but studied it with meaning. One who does not follow in their footsteps, speaks on his own accord. One who does that thinks it be the religion of Allah, and does not study The Book of Allah, he sins, even if he is right.
One who studies The Qur’ân and The Sunnah, he is rewarded, even if he goes wrong, but if he is right in his opinion, his reward is doubled. Then he says:
What is obligatory, is submission to the Messenger (SAW) carrying out his saying and accepting his saying with satisfaction and belief without contradicting it with false ideas called ‘opprehensive faculty’ (Ma’qul) bearing doubt or complaint, or offering the opinions of men and the garbage of their intellect. We unite with The Prophet (SAW) in judgement, submission, obedience and compliance, just as we have unison with Allah, glory be to Him, by worshipping Him by humility, submissiveness, repentance and reliance.
In short, what is obligatory on all Muslims is that they do not separate between Qur’ân and Sunnah; whereas, it is obligatory to take both of them and to formulate the law on both of them.

This is a safeguard for them, so that they won’t fall right or left; and that they won’t fall back in error as explained by The Prophet (SAW): I leave behind me two things. You will never go astray if you hold fast to them: The Qur’an and my Sunnah.

CAUTION

It is self-evident after this that I say:

The Sunnah which has an important bearing on Islamic Law is only the Sunnah confirmed by scientific channels, and authentic chains of narrations known to the learned in regard to hadeeths and the background of the narrators.

It is not the one which is found in different works of Tafseers (commentaries of The Qur’ân) and Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), and in different writings of longing, intimidation, advices, and admonitions, etc…

They contain Weak, spurious, and fabricated Ahaadeeths, of which Islam absolves, like the story of ‘Harut and Marut,’ and the sotry of ‘gharanik.’ I have a special letter which makes it void and it is printed(6). A major part of it is recorded in two huge books namely “A chain of weak and fabricated Ahaadeeths and their evil impact on the community.” Their number up to date have reached approximately four thousand hadeeths(7).

It is obligatory on the learned, especially those who spread the knowledge of fiqh and legal opinions among the public, that they shouldn’t dare to argue with ahaadeeth unless it is well-attested. Books of jurisprudence, which they refer to, are normally filled with traditions which are not well-attested, nor have any bases, as is well-known to the learned.

I have begun an important project, and I think it will be of use to those occupied with jurisprudence, and I will name it: “Weak and Fabricated Ahaadeeths in the Major Jurisprudence ‘fiqh’ Books,” by which I mean:

  • Al-Hidayah, by Al-Marghinani, in Hanafi fiqh,
  • Al-Modawwanah, by Ibnil-Qasim, in Maliki fiqh,
  • Sharhul-wajeez, by Al-rafiee, in Shafiee fiqh,
  • Al-Mughni, by Ibn Quddamah, in Hanbali fiqh, and
  • Bidayatul Mujtahid, by Ibn Rushd-al-Andalusi, in comparative fiqh.

I regret that I did not get the opportunity to finish it, because the journal “Al-Wa’e-al-Islami” of Kuwait which promised to publish it, when perused it, didn’t print it.

Although I missed this opportunity, perhaps I will succeed on another occasion, Allah willing, to offer to my bretheren occupied with jurisprudence a precise learned course to help them to facilitate their knowledge of the different categories of hadeeth with reference to various sources from books on hadeeth, with an explanation of its special nature and character and reliance on them. Allah is the source of success.

Weakness of Ahaadeeth of Muadh in the opinion And its disapproval

Before I conclude my talk, I think I must direct the attention of brethren present to a well known ahaadeeth. It is devoid of one of the books of jurisprudence on account of its weakness in respect of its chain of narration (isnad) and its contradiction with what we have concluded in this talk, regarding the illegitimacy of discrimination in law between The Qur’ân and Sunnah; and the necessity of taking both.

It is a ahaadeeth of Muadh bin Jabal (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (SAW) said to him when he sent hin to Yaman: By what source will you decide? He said, “By the book of Allah.” He then asked, If you don’t find any guidline? He said, “I will make an effort to form my own opinion.” He said, Praise be to Allah who makes success the effort of the envoy of the Messenger of Allah, to what The Prophet likes.

As for the weakness of its ‘isnad,’ there is no scope for its explanation now. But I have explained it clearly in the above mentioned chain(8).

It would suffice now to mention that the Commander of the Believers in the ahaadeeth ‘Imam Al-Bukhaaree’ (may Allah have mercy on him) says that the ahaadeeth is not recognized (munkar). After this I am permitted to begin to explain the conflict which I pointed.

The tradition of Muadh gives the ruler a method of three stages which does not permit to search for any rule with regard to ‘Ra’e’ (personal opinion) except that he does not find it in the Sunnah, nor in the Sunnah, except that after he does not find it in The Qur’ân. It is in relation to ‘Ra’e’ a genuine method with all the learned (ulama), so that they say, “Where there is a tradition relating the deeds and utterances of The Prophet (SAW), personal opinion is void.” But in relation to Sunnah, it is not true, because Sunnah dictates The Qur’ân and and clarifies its doctrines. It is then essential to search for a ruling in Sunnah, even if he thinks it is found in The Qur’ân as we have mentioned it.

Sunnah is not with The Qur’ân in the same manner as ‘Ar-Ra’e’ with the Sunnah. No, definitely not. It is rather necessary to regard the Qur’ân and Sunnah as being one source with no discrimination between the two whatsoever. This is indicated in a saying of the Prophet (SAW): Certainly I have come with The Qur’ân and its like (meaning the Sunnah). He said They are never separated until they come to the Basin(9).(#) The compilation mentioned between them is not correct because the separation between them is void as we have explained.

(#) the Basin: Arabic Al-Hawdh, a very large pond that Allah azza wa jall gave to the prophet, salla Allah u alihi wa sallam, from which the believers will drink before entering the Jannah.

This is what I wish to draw attention to. If I am right, it is from Allah; if wrong, it is from me. I ask Allah Almighty to protect us and you from errors and from all that displeases him. I conclude my praising by “Al-Hamdu-lillahi rabbil-alameen” – Praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds.

Footnotes

i.e.: There is no true god – but Allah – who really deserves to be worshipped by Mankind

Dinar: A form of currency

Shirk is to disbelieve in the oneness of Allah, or to offer any form of worship to other than Allah.

Namisah: a woman who plucks hers or others eyebrows – to be a thin line – to seek beauty. Such an act is forbidden. It is a means to change the form of Allah’s creation.
Motanamisah: a woman who asks others to do it for her.

This states other than what is known by many of the learned: to comment on The Qur’an itself if there is not any Sunnah, then by the Sunnah. This will be explained in at then end of this treatise on the hadeeth of Muadh bin Jabal – may Allah be pleased with him.

Its title is “Pitch of majaniq to demolish the story of gharaniq” printed by Al-Maktabul-e-Islami Story of gharaniq: is a fabricated story found in some commentaries, claiming that a verse in The Qur’an acknowledged the polytheists in their beliefs.

The number at present [1394 A.H.] has exceeded five thousand and may Allah make easy its publication in the near future. So far only five hundred have broken into print.

No. 885 of the chain mentioned, and we hope that the volume which includes it will be published shortly, ‘insha Allah.’

i.e. until the Day of Judgement.

THE DEVIATION OF QURANITES

The Deviation of those who are satisfied with The QurAn To the exclusion of Ahaadeeth
By Shaykh Muhammad Naasir-Ud-Deen al-Albaanee

It is a matter of regret that according to the interpretation found in the works of some commentators and modern authors, that it is permissible to do what is stated in the last two examples.

[“In the this example, if not for the Ahaadeeths, some of which have been mentioned, we would have considered lawful what Allah has made unlawful through the dictum of the holy Prophet (sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam) like predatory animals, and the birds which have claws.

And so is the this example, if not for the Ahaadeeths, in regard to this question, we would have considered lawful what Allah has prohibited through the words of His Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam) like gold and silk.

It is for this, some fore bearers (AS-SALAF) say that ‘Sunnah’ pronounces Judgement of The Book (Al-Qur’ân)

Consumption of the predatory animals, and the wearing of gold and silk by referring their interpretation only to The Qur’ân.

Today, a sect exists, called “Qur’ânites” who comment according to their whims and fancies; without seeking the explanation of the authentic Sunnah. They only accept and follow the Sunnah which suit their desires, the rest they throw behind. Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam) is reported to have said that: “None of you reclines on his bed, the order comes to him on an affair which I am commanded to do or not to do, he says: ‘I do not know, what is found in the Book of Allah, we follow.” (Tirmidhi).

According to another report: “What is found in The Book of Allah as ‘Haram’ we pronounce it ‘Haram’ (forbidden). Surely, I am given The Qur’ân and its example with it.’ Yet, according to another report: “What the Messenger of Allah has forbidden, Allah has prohibited it.”

It is a matter of regret that one renowned scholar has written a book on Islamic Law and its dogma, and in its preface, he says that he has written it and that he has made reference only to the Qur’ân.

This true Ahaadeeth gives positive evidence that the divine law of Islam – As-Sharee’ah – is not mere Qur’ân, But Qur’ân and Sunnah. Therefore, whoever hold fast ton one source for reference to the exclusion of the other, he held fast to none of them, since both complement each other.

The Qur’ân says
“Whoever obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah”. 

Allah says: “No, by your Lord, they do not believe until they submit to your adjudication in all disputes between them, then they do not find themselves oppressed with your decisions and they completely submit.” Qur’ân (4:65)

Again, Allah says: “When a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, it does not behoove a believer, man or woman, to have choice in their matter. One who disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” Qur’ân (33:36)

Furthermore, Allah says: “What the Messenger teaches you, take it; and what he forbids you, avoid doing it.” Qur’ân (59:7)

In connection with this verse, I am marveled by what is corroborated by Ibn Masoud (Allah be pleased with him) that is,  A woman came to him and told him: “You who says: May Allah’s curse be on Al-Namisat [a woman who plucks hers or others eye-brows – to be a thin line – to seek beauty. Such an act is forbidden. It is a mean to change the form of Allah’s creation] and Al-Motanamisat [a woman who asks others to do it for her] and those who tattoo.” He said: “Yes.” She said, “I read the Book of Allah (Al-Qur’ân) from its beginning to its end, I did not find what you have said.” He told her: “If you have read it, you would have found it. As for your reading what the Messenger teaches you, take it, and what he forbids you, avoid doing it.” She said: “Certainly”. He said: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam) says:  “May Allah’s curse be on Al-Namisat.” (Bukhaaree & Muslim)

The Madhhab of the People of Hadeeth

By :Imaam Abul-’Alee Muhammad Ibn ’Abdur-Rahmaan Ibn ’Abdur-Raheem al-Mubaarakfooree (d.1352)
Source : Tuhfatul-Ahwadhee (1/351)
Translated By : Abul-Hasan Maalik
http://www.therighteouspath.com

Know that the scholars of the Hanafee school of thought maintain that Imaam at-Tirmidhee was of the Shaafi`ee school of thought and some of them say that he was Hanbalee and this is their statement of which their mouths have put forth and falsehood that which they claim! For the truth of the matter is that he was neither Shaafi`ee nor Hanbalee, just as he was neither Maalikee, nor Hanafee. Rather, he was – may Allaah have mercy upon him – from the people of hadeeth; adhering to the Sunnah, working by it. He was a Mujtahid, not a blind follower of any one from the people. And this is apparent to any one who has read his Jaami’ and has examined it and reflected upon it. And what is astonishing is how they maintain that he was Shaafi`ee or Hanbalee. Did they not know that if he was Shaafi`ee, blindly following Imaam ash-Shaafi`ee he would have given precedence to the madhhab of his Imaam, ash-Shaafi`ee, in all of the issues where there is difference of opinion or most of them over the other madhhabs and he would have supported it and aided it as is the case with those who blindly follow, but he did not, rather he refuted the statement of ash-Shaafi`ee in many places in his book. Do you not see that in the chapter of the delaying of Salaatudh-Dhuhr in the extreme heat after the narration of al-Ibraad,“…and a number of the people of knowledge have preferred the delaying of Salaatudh-Dhuhr in extreme heat, from them: Ibnul-Mubaarak and Ahmad and Ishaaq. Ash-Shaafi`ee said, “Certainly al-Ibraad [1] for Salaatudh-Dhuhr is only if the people find difficulty due to distance form the mosque. As for the one who prays alone or prays in the mosque of his people then that which I like for him is not to delay the salaat in the extreme heat.” As for those who have chosen to delay Salaatul-Dhuhr in the extreme heat this is more appropriate closer to the adherence of the Sunnah. As for the opinion of Imaam ash-Shaafi`ee, that the permission to delay is for one affected by distance from the mosque because of the difficulty upon the people, verily what is in the hadeeth of Aboo Dharr points to the opposite of what Imaam ash-Shaafi`ee said. Aboo Dharr said, “We were with the Prophet (sallAllaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) in a journey, so Bilaal called the adhaan for Salaatul-Dhuhr. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “ O Bilaal, when it is cool, when it is cool.” So if the matter was as Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee says, there would have been no reason for al-Ibraad at that time due to their all being together while on a journey so there was no difficulty upon them due to distance.” Do they not have knowledge that he (at-Tirmidhee) said in the chapter of the one who prays the obligatory Prayer then goes to lead the people after that, “This is the practice of our companions, ash-Shaafi`ee, Ahmad and Ishaaq,” and he says in the chapter of the man who accepts Islaam and has ten women, [2] “…the practice upon the hadeeth of Ghaylaan with our companions from them ash-Shaafi`ee [3] and Ahmad and Ishaaq.” He says in the chapter of what has come in regards to the Prayer in the dwellings of sheep and the resting places of camels, [4] “And upon this is the practice of our companions and the saying of Ahmad and Ishaaq.”

So these statements of at-Tirmidhee are a clear illustration that Imaam at-Tirmidhee was not Shaafi`ee nor was he Hanbalee so the statement of the one who claims this has been clearly negated. So if you ask what is intended by his statement “our companions,” I say, Imaam Aboo ’Eesaa at-Tirmidhee was from the people of hadeeth and his madhhab was that of the people of hadeeth, so the intention of his statement “our companions” was Ahlul-Hadeeth. Al-Qaaree said in al- Mirqaat Sharhul- Mishkaat, an explanation of the statement of at-Tirmidhee “…he is considered weak amongst our companions, that is, the people of hadeeth.” I say this is the truth of the matter of which the aforementioned statements of at-Tirmidhee points to.

Some of the Hanafiyyah say in their commentary on Jaami’ut-Tirmidhee, “As for the madhhab of the authors of as-Sihah it is said that al-Bukhaaree (d.256H) was Shaafi’ee, but the truth of the matter is that al-Bukhaaree was mujtahid. As for Muslim I am not certain to what his madhhab was. As for Ibn Maajah, perhaps he was Shaafi`ee and that at-Tirmidhee was Shaafi`ee. As for Aboo Daawood and an-Nisaa‘ee, what is commonly understood is that they were Shaafi`ee. The truth of the matter is that they were Hanbalee. Certainly the books of Hanbalee fiqh are filled with the narration’s of Aboo Daawood on Imaam Ahmad.”

I say just as al-Bukhaaree – may Allaah have mercy upon him – was a follower of the Sunnah, adhering to it, a mujtahid, not a blind follower of any of the four imaams or other than them. So was the case with Muslim and Aboo Daawood and an-Nisaa‘ee and Ibn Maajah. All of them were followers of the Sunnah, working by it, not blind followers of any of the people. As for the conclusion that Aboo Daawood and an-Nisaa‘ee were Hanbalee by the fact that the books of Hanbalee fiqh are filled with the narration’s of Aboo Daawood on Ahmad, than this is baseless! Even if the books of Hanbalee fiqh were filled with the narration’s of Abee Daawood, this does not necessitate the fact that he was Hanbalee, do you not see that the books of Hanafee fiqh are filled with narration’s of Imaam Abee Yoosuf and Imaam Muhammad, and with that they were not considered Hanafee, blind followers of Abee Haneefah.

Know that these few have claimed that Aboo Daawood and an-Nisaa‘ee were blindly following Imaam Ahmad absolutely, without restriction, then condescended from this statement after taking heed. He says elsewhere in his commentary on Jaami’ut-Tirmidhee, “Yahyaa Ibn Ma’een was of the Hanafee madhhab, as found in at-Taareekh of Ibnul- Khalkaan, except the taqleed of the Salaf was the taqleed of the ijtihaadaat of which there was nothing established in it from the marfoo’ (suspended) or mawqoof (stopped), not like the taqleed of ours, and this is my belief.”

I say there is no established proof that Imaam Aboo Daawood and an-Nisaa‘ee were blind followers of Imaam Ahmad in the ijtihaadaat and certainly this is only their conjecture and certainly conjecture is no substitute for the truth! And as for his statement, “As for Ibn Maajah perhaps he was Shaafi’ee,” points to the fact that they have no proof that Ibn Maajah was Shaafi’ee. One of the Hanafiyyah says in the introduction to the explanation of Saheeh Muslim, “Some of those skilled in the knowledge of the narrations say, as for al- Bukhaaree and Aboo Daawood they were imaams in fiqh, from the people of ijtihaad. As for Muslim, at-Tirmidhee, an-Nisaa‘ee (d.303H), Ibn Maajah, Ibn Khuzaymah, Aboo Ya’laa, al-Bazzaar and the likes of them, they are from the madhhab of the people of hadeeth, not blindly following anyone from the people, nor were they absolutely from the people of ijtihaad. Rather, they leaned towards the statement of the imaams of hadeeth, like ash-Shaafi’ee (d.204H) and Ahmad and Ishaaq and Abee ’Ubayd and those who are like them. And they are closer to the madhhab of the people of Hijaaz than the madhhab of the people of al-’Iraaq. As for Aboo Daawood at-Tiyaalisee, he preceded all of them being from the generation of Yahyaa Ibn Sa’eed al-Qattaan and Yazeed Ibn Haaroon al-Waasitee and ’Abdur-Rahman al-Mahdee and the likes of them from the generation of the teachers of Imaam Ahmad. And all of them went to the greatest efforts in the following the Sunnah. Although there were from them who leaned toward the madhhab of the people of al-’Iraaq, like Wakee’ and Yahyaa Ibn Sa’eed, and from them those who leaned toward the madhhab of the people of al-Madeenah, like ’Abdur-Rahmaan al-Mahdee. As for ad-Daaraqutnee, he leaned towards the madhhab of ash-Shaafi’ee, though he was one who made ijtihaad, and he was from the imaams of hadeeth and Sunnah. His situation was not like some who came after him from the Scholars of Hadeeth, adhering to taqleed (blind-following) in general, except in a few instances of which can be counted. And certainly ad-Daaraqutnee was stronger in ijtihaad more knowledgeable.”

And he said, “And what is apparent is that Aboo Daawood was closer to being Hanbalee, for certainly the books of Hanbalee fiqh are filled with his narrations upon Ahmad.” His quoting from al-A’rfush-Shaadhee, and you have already learned the response to it. So if you ask, if Imaam al-Bukhaare was not Shaafi’ee following Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee then why did they consider him Shaafi’ee and why is he mentioned in the Tabaqaatush- Shaafi’iyyah? Al-’Allaamah Shaah Waliyyullaah ad-Dihlawee states in his Hujjatullahul-Baalighah, “Perhaps the people of hadeeth would be attributed to one of the schools of thought due to his agreement with it in many issues. Like an-Nisaa‘ee and al- Bayhaqee were attributed to ash-Shaafi`ee.” And he states in his work titled al-Insaaf, “What is meant by the attribution to the Shaafi`ee madhhab is that he follows him in principals of exploration of the evidences (usool), and it’s classification. And if he sometimes differs with this there is no concern because of it, and he does not stray from this methodology except in some issues, and it does not affect his being considered from the Shaafi`ee madhhab. And like this al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d.256H), for he is counted from the Tabaqaatush-Shaafi’iyyah by Shaykh Taajud-Deen as-Subkee, he said, “He took knowledge from al- Humaydee and al-Humaydee took knowledge from ash-Shaafi’ee.”

Al-’Allaamah Shaykh Ismaa’eel al-’Ijloonee states in his book, al-Fawaa‘idud-Daraaree his explanation on what has preceded on al-Bukhaaree taking from al-Karabeesee and az-Za’faraanee and Aboo Thawr making him Shaafi’ee, and they differ in what his madhhab was. And it is said that he was Shaafi`ee in his madhhab, and as-Subkee went to this in his Tabaqaatush- Shaafi’yyah and he states, “Certainly he heard from al-Karabeesee and Abee Thawr and az-Za’faraanee and took knowledge from al-Humaydee, all of them are from the companions of ash-Shaafi`ee.” And it is stated that he was Hanbalee. Abul-Hasan Ibnul- ’Iraaqi mentioned him in the companions of Imaam Ahmad. Then he brought the narration from al-Bukhaaree that he said, “I entered Baghdaad eight times and every time I sat with Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and he said to me the last time I left him, “O Abaa ’Abdullah will you leave the knowledge and the people and travel to Khurasaan?” And al-Bukhaaree said, “I now recall his statement.” And it is said he was mujtahid, this is the choice of as-Sakhaawee, he said, “And I lean toward the fact that he was mujtahid.” This was clearly stated by Taqiyyud-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah, he said, “Certainly he was an Imaam in fiqh for reason of ijtihaad.

Footnotes:
[1] Delaying the Prayer from the time of extreme heat until when it has become cool. It is collected by al-Bukhaaree (no. 532, 528, 621, 895, 3188), Muslim (no. 135) Aboo Daawood (no. 401), at-Tirmidhee (no. 157, 158), Ahmad (6/129, 202, 222). It is also related in the Saheeh of Ibn Khuzaimah ( no. 330, 397, 1843), Sunanul-Kubraa (2/220), (4/422, 423), the Saheeh of Ibn Hibbaan (no. 1802) and in the Musannaf of Ibn Abee Shaybah (1/321).
[2] Related by at-Tirmidhee (no. 1125). He said, Hannaad narrated that ’Abdah narrated upon Sa’eed Ibn Abee Arubah upon az-Zuhree upon Saalim Ibn ’Abdullaah upon Ibn ’Umar, that Ghaylaan Ibn Salamah ath-Thaqafee accepted Islaam and had ten women in al-Jaahiliyyah, and they accepted Islaam with him. So the Prophet (sallAllaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) commanded him to chose four [from them]. It was also collected by Ibn Maajah (no. 2010), Ahmad (2/79, 81, 131, 198), al-Muwattaa (no. 1250), the Saheeh of Ibn Hibbaan (no. 4080, 4081, 4082), the Sunanul- Kubraa of al-Bayhaqee (10/378, 442, 443, 444, 445, 447), al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak (2/209, 210) and ad-Daaraqutnee in his Sunan (no. 3617, 3618, 3619, 3620, 3628).
[3] He says, “The chapter of what has come in the prohibition of the sale of wheat for grain and the sale of dates for raisins.” It was reported to us by Qutaybah that Ya’qoob Ibn ’Abdur- Rahmaan related to us upon Suhayl Ibn Abee Saalih from his father upon Abee Hurayrah he said, “The Prophet, (sallAllaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), prohibited the sale of wheat for grain and dates for raisins (dried dates). It is also collected by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh (no.2160, 2179), and Muslim (no. 3862,3865,3867, 3887), Aboo Daawood (no.3402, 3405, 3406), the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad (1/368,510), (2/551,603), (3/478), (4/249,333,379), an-Nisaa‘ee (no. 3890, 3894, 3895, 3896, 3897, 3900, 3903, 4518, 4580, 4616), Ibn Maajah (no. 2331, 2332, 2517, and 2523).
[4] It is related by Imaam at-Tirmidhee (no. 348, 349). He says, “It was related to us by Aboo Kurayb, he said it was reported to us by Yahyaa Ibn Aadam on Abee Bakr Ibn Abbaas on Hishaam on Ibn Seereen upon Abee Hurayrah he said that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Pray in the dwellings of sheep and do not pray in the resting places of the camels.” Imaam at-Tirmidhee said, “This hadeeth is Hasan Saheeh.”

THE SCIENCE OF AHAADEETH

We have, Without doubt, sent down the message: and we will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (Qur’ân 15:9)

The promise made by Allah (SWT) in Qur’ân 15:9 is obviously fulfilled in the undisputed purity of the Qur’ânic text throughout the fourteen centuries since its revelation. However, what is often forgotten by many Muslims is that the divine promise also includes, by necessity, the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), because the Sunnah is the practical example of the implementation of the Qur’ânic guidance, the wisdom taught to the Prophet (PBUH) along with the scripture, and neither the Qur’ân nor the Sunnah can be understood correctly without the other.

Allah (SWT) preserved the Sunnah by enabling the companions and those after them to memorize, write down and pass on the statements of the Prophet (PBUH), and the descriptions of his way, as well as to continue the blessings of practicing the Sunnah.

Later, as the purity of the knowledge of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah (SWT) caused the Muslim Ummah to produce individuals with exceptional memory skills and analytical expertise, who travelled tirelessly to collect thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of prophetic wisdom from those corrupted by weak memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of the large number of Ulama (scholars), the companions and those who followed their way. All of this was achieved through precise attention to the words narrated, and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of hadith.

The methodology of the expert scholars of hadith in assessing the narrations and sorting out the genuine from the mistaken and fabricated, for ms the subject matter of the science of hadith. In this article a brief discussion is given of the terminology and classifications of hadith.

Components of Hadith

A hadith is composed of three parts

Matn (text), isnad (chain of reporters), and taraf (the part, or the beginning sentence, of the text which refers to the sayings, actions or characteristics of the Prophet (PBUH), or his concurrence with others action). The authenticity of the hadith depends on the reliability of its reporters, and the linkage among them.

Classifications of Hadith

A number of classifications of hadith have been made. Five of these classifications are briefly described subsequently.

According to the reference to a particular authority
Four types of hadith can be identified.

 Qudsi – Divine; a revelation from Allah (SWT); relayed with the words of the Prophet (PBUH).

Marfu – elevated; a narration from the Prophet (PBUH), e.g. I heard the Prophet (PBUH) saying …

Mauquf- stopped: a narration from a companion only, e.g.,
we were commanded to …

Maqtu’ – severed: a narration from a successor

According to the links of Isnaad – interrupted or uninterrupted Six categories can be identified.

 Musnad – supported: a hadith which is reported by a traditionalist, based on what he learned from his teacher at a time of life suitable for learning; similarly – in turn – for each teacher until the isnad reaches  a well known companion, who in turn, reports from the Prophet (PBUH).

Mutassil – continuous: a hadith with an uninterrupted isnad which goes back only to a companion or successor.

Mursal – hurried: if the link between the successor and the Prophet (PBUH) is missing, e.g. when a successor says “The Prophet said…”.

Munqati – broken: is a hadeeth whose link anywhere before the successor (i.e., closer to the traditionalist recording the hadith) is missing.

Mu’adal – perplexing: is a hadith whose reporter omits two or more consecutive reporters in the isnaad.

Mu’allaq – hanging: is a hadith whose reporter omits the whole isnaad and quotes the Prophet (PBUH) directly (i.e., the link is missing at the beginning)

According to the number of reporters involved in each stage of Isnaad Five categories of hadith can be identified:

Mutawatir – Consecutive: is a hadith which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.

Aahad – isolated: is a hadith which is narrated by people whose number does not reach that of the mutawaatir. It is further classified into:

Mash’hur – famous: hadith reported by more than two reporters.

Aziz – rare, strong: at any stage in the isnaad, only two reporters are found to narrate the hadith.

Gharib – strange: At some stage of the Isnaad, only one reporter is found relating it

According to the nature of the text and isnaad

Mutawatir – Consecutive: is a hadith which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.

Munkar – denounced: is a hadith which is reported by a weak narrator, and whose narration goes against another authentic hadith.

Mudraj – interpolated: an addition by a reporter to the text of the hadith  being narrated

According to the reliability and memory of the reporters
This provides the final verdict on a hadith – four categories can be identified:

Saheeh – sound. Imam Al-Shaafi’ee states the following requirements for a  hadith, which is not mutawaatir, to be acceptable “each reporter should be trustworthy in his religion; he should be known to be truthful in his narrating, to understand what he narrates, to know how a different expression can alter the meaning, and to report the wording of the hadith verbatim, not only its meaning”.

Hasan – good: is the one where its source is known and its reporters are unambiguous.

DA’EEF – weak: a hadith which fails to reach the status of hasan. Usually, the weakness is: 

  1. a) one of discontinuity in the isnaad, in which case the hadith could be – according to the nature of the discontinuity – munqati  (broken), Mu’allaq (hanging), mu’dal (perplexing), or mursal (hurried), or 
  2. b) one of the reporters having a disparaged character, such as due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes, opposition to the narration of more reliable sources, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity surrounding his person.

Maudu’ – fabricated or forged: is a hadith whose text goes against the established norms of the Prophet’s sayings, or its reporters include a liar. Fabricated hadith are also recognized by external evidence related to a discrepancy found in the dates or times of a particular incident.

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SUNNAH

Revelation Besides the Qur’ân: 

The Qur’ân is the word of God which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, and preserved both verbally and in writing by his Companions. Apart from the Qur’ân, whatever the Prophet uttered or did was also preserved by the Companions. Thus the Sunnah includes the sayings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, known commonly as Ahaadeeths (i.e. sayings), his practices, and actions which gained his approval. Both the Qur’ân and the Sunnah fall under a common title “wahy” (i.e. revelation or inspiration); the difference between the two is that the Qur’ân is a revelation which is recited (matalu) in the formal prayer (salat) while the Sunnah is not recited in the formal prayers. The importance of the Sunnah as the second source of Islam is covered in Chapter 2.

First of all, we will establish that the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, not only received the verses of the Qur’ân from God, but he also received other revelation from time to time which is now preserved in the form of Ahaadeeths. The following examples show how the Qur’ân itself refers to this revelation:

  1. According to verse 144 of Surah al-Baqarah (Chapter 2 of the Qur’ân), God Almighty commanded the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, to face the Ka’bah (in Mecca) in his daily prayers instead of Jerusalem.

“We see the turning of thy face to the heavens: now shall We turn thee to a Qiblah that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque; wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction.”

But why was the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, facing Jerusalem before that? Verse 143 (of Surah al-Baqarah) shows that God Himself had appointed Jerusalem as the initial Qiblah (i.e. direction faced when praying) for the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him.

“And we appointed the Qiblah to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (from the Faith).”

The appointment of the previous Qiblah is referred to as being in the past. But there is no verse in the Qur’ân which commands the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, to face Jerusalem at the beginning of his mission! Therefore, the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, must have received this guidance from God in a form other than the Qur’ân. As we have said above, this alternative revelation is preserved in the Sunnah.

  1. In verse 3 of Surah al-Tahreem (Chapter 66 of the Qur’ân), a certain incident is cited.

“When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives, and she then divulged it, and God made it known to him, he confirmed a part of it and repudiated a part. Then when he told her of it, she said, ‘Who told you this?’ He said, ‘He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted (with all things)’.”

We must consider carefully the phrases “God made it known to him” and “He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted”, The question is, how did God make it known to him and tell him? Certainly not via the Qur’ân, since there is no mention of it anywhere else in the Book of God. Therefore, the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, must have been told via revelation from God which is not part of the Qur’ân.

  1. In verse 5 of Surah al-Hashr (Chapter 59 of the Qur’ân), a reference is made to the expedition against the rebellious Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir, during which the Muslims cut down some palm-trees and left others alone.

“Whether ye (O Muslims) cut down the tender palm-trees or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of God, and in order that He might cover the rebellious transgressors with shame.”

Here, their action is attributed to the “leave of God” given to them. Nowhere in the Qur’ân is such permission found. Hence God guided the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, in this matter but not via the Qur’ân.

  1. According to verses 17-18 of Surah al-Qiyamah (Chapter 75), God took it upon Himself to collect the Qur’ân. The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, directed the scribes of the Qur’ân to arrange its surahs (chapters) in the order found today; this is not the order in which they were revealed. Therefore, since this was God’s responsibility, it shows that He guided the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, with respect to the order of the surahs.

These are just a few examples out of many which leave no doubt that the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, used to receive revelation from God either directly or through the medium of the Angel Gabriel (Arabic: Jibreel). A part of this revelation was preserved word for word under the title of the Qur’ân. All other revelation was embodied either in the Prophet’s sayings or in his practices which were carefully preserved by the Companions as the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him.

The various purposes served by the Sunnah

The Mother of the Believers (Arabic: Umm al-Mu’mineen) ‘Aishah was once asked: “What was the character of the Prophet?” She replied: “His character was nothing but the Qur’ân”. Thus the Prophet, peace be upon him, was an embodiment of the Qur’ân itself: whatever he practiced or said, i.e. the Sunnah, is related to the guidance of the Qur’ân. Let us explore the role of the Sunnah in relation to the Qur’ân.

  1. The Sunnah explains Qur’ânic injunctions in detail.
  2. a) God says in verse 43 of Surah al-Baqarah (Chapter 2 of the Qur’ân): “Establish prayer and practice regular charity”, and many similar verses (Arabic: ayaat) also exist. All issues related to the prayer, such as the required number of daily prayers, the number of prayer units (Arabic: rak’at) and the recitation in each prayer, as well as how to perform the prayer from beginning to end, are explained by the Sunnah. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Pray as you have seen me pray.” (Reported in Sahih al-Bukhari.) Similarly, all issues related to the Poor Due (Arabic: zakat), such as the minimum amount on which zakat becomes payable, the percentage paid, the kinds of wealth, goods, and animals on which zakat is obligatory, etc. are clearly expounded by the Sunnah of the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him.

Again, a detailed picture of fasting and Hajj can only be seen in the Sunnah, for the Qur’ân has touched upon both subjects briefly.

  1. b) Almighty God says in verse 38 of Surah al-Ma’idah (Chapter 5 of the Qur’ân):

“As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hand – a punishment from God by way of example for their crime. And God is exalted in Power, Wise.”

The Sunnah explains the minimum of stolen goods for which a thief deserves this punishment and the manner in which the hand should be cut off.

To reject the Sunnah, as some misguided “Muslims” advocate, will render the whole Qur’ân open to a hotchpotch of interpretations inspired by the individuals’ whims and desires, which often come from the devil. For example, someone who does not accept the practical demonstration of formal prayer (Arabic: salat) given by the Prophet, peace be upon him, will make a mockery of salat by doing it in a way suitable to his wishes. But how can a Muslim worship God, if he does not know the way in which God wants to be worshipped?

  1. The Sunnah can establish a specific meaning when a number of meanings are possible.
  2. a) God Almighty says in verse 82 of Surah al-An’aam (Chapter 6 of the Qur’ân):

“It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with dhulm that are in security, for they are on (right) guidance.”

Imam Bukhari relates that some of the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, took the word “dhulm” in its general meaning, i.e. to do injustice, to do wrong, to sin. So they were troubled and said: “Which of us has not done wrong?” The Prophet, peace be upon him, relieved them of this worry by explaining that “dhulm” here means to commit shirk (i.e. to associate partners with God in worship and/or belief; idol worship; polytheism), as in Surah Luqman (Chapter 31), verse 13:

“Indeed, worshipping others besides God is the greatest injustice (dhulm).”

  1. b) Almighty God says in verse 34 of Surah al-Taubah (Chapter 9 of the Qur’an):

“Those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of God, announce unto them a most grievous penalty. On the day when heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs . . . “

The Arabic word “kanz” means a hoard, big or small. So this verse seemingly dooms a person who hoards any amount and does not spend it in the way of God. With this meaning in mind, ‘Umar, may God be pleased with him, questioned the Prophet, peace be upon him, about this verse, to which he replied that once the Poor Tax (zakat) which is due on the hoarded amount is paid, it is no longer considered as “kanz”. (Reported by Ibn Majah.)

  1. The sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Arabic: ahaadeeth) explain some historical events in detail since they are mentioned only briefly in the Qur’an.
  2. a) God says in Surah al-Anfal (Chapter 8) verse 7:

“Behold! God promised you one of the two (enemy) parties, that it should be yours; ye wished that the one unarmed should be yours, but God intended to justify the Truth according to His words and to cut off the roots of the unbelievers.”

Which two parties are meant? Which of them is unarmed? From books of ahadith we learn the relevant details about the Battle of Badr, which is the incident referred to in the above verses.

  1. b) Surah al-Taubah, verse 118 says:

“(God turned in mercy) to the three who were left behind;”

Who were these three people, and why did they remain behind? Again, the books of ahadith explain this.

  1. c) Surah ‘Abasa (Chapter 80), verses 1-2:

“He frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man.”

Who frowned and turned away, and why? Who was the blind man? The details are furnished by the books of ahadith.

  1. The Sunnah can specify exemptions from a general injunction.
  2. a) In Surah Nisa’ (Chapter 4) verse 11, the share of children in inheritance is given.

“God directs you as regards your children’s inheritance . . . “

The Prophet, peace be upon him, explained that the Muslim child of a disbeliever (Arabic: kafir) the non-Muslim child of a Muslim, and the murderer of his/her own father, none of these can inherit.

  1. b) The Qur’an declares the flesh of a dead animal and blood as prohibited (Arabic: haraam) in Surah al-Ma’idah (Chapter 5), verse 3. The Prophet, peace be upon him, exempted fish and locusts from the term “dead flesh”, and the liver and spleen from “blood”.
  2. Deduction of a similar injunction in an analogous case.
  3. a) Surah an-Nisa’ (Chapter 4), verse 23:

“Prohibited to you are . . . and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time.”

The Prophet, peace be upon him, declared that to marry a woman as well as her aunt in the same wedlock is also prohibited.

  1. b) Wine has been declared unlawful by Almighty God in Surah al-Ma’idah, verse 93. The Prophet, peace be upon him, extended the prohibition to anything which is intoxicating in large doses, even if it is taken in a small quantity.
  2. The Prophet, peace be upon him, gave additional injunctions in a number of issues.

One of the many duties of the Messenger, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, was to tell the believers what is lawful (halaal) and what is unlawful (haraam) (See Qur’an 7:157). For example, he prohibited the flesh of donkeys, dogs, beasts with canine teeth and birds of prey. He also made gold and silk haraam for Muslim men, but halaal for Muslim women.

Significance of the Sunnah

No devout Muslim would ever dare to go against the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, but it is regrettable to note that some of the liberal elite tend to raise the slogan that the Book of God (i.e. the Qur’an) is enough and that there is no need at all for the Sunnah of the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. Slogans like this are raised mainly by people who want to get rid of the Islamic Law (Arabic: Sharee’ah) completely. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, himself was well-aware that such ill-natured opinions would arise and hence gave a clear warning of this as reported by Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’di Karib, one of his Companions: “I have indeed been given the Qur’an and something similar to it besides it. Yet, the time will come when a man leaning on his couch will say, ‘Follow the Qur’an only; what you find in it as halaal, take it as halaal, and what you find in it as haraam, take it as haraam.’ But truly, what the Messenger of God has forbidden is like what God has forbidden.” (Reported by Abu Dawud and Darimi.)

In fact, ANYONE WHO REJECTS THE SUNNAH OF THE PROPHET, PEACE BE UPON HIM, DOES NOT BELIEVE IN THE QUR’AN, for Almighty God Himself has emphasized the importance of the Sunnah in many verses, of which a few are given below. “O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you; and if you differ in anything among yourselves, then refer it to God and the Messenger if you do believe in God and the Last Day. That is best and most suitable for final determination.” (Surah Al-Nisa’ 4:59)

“The answer of the believers, when summoned to God and His Messenger in order that he may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, ‘We hear and we obey‘. It is such as these who will attain success.” (Surah Al-Nur 24:51)

“But no, by your Lord! (O Muhammad) They cannot be believers until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest submission.” (Surah Al-Nisa’ 4:65)

Anas reported that the Messenger of God said: “I have left among you two things; you will never go astray as long as you hold fast to them: the Book of God and my Sunnah.” (Reported by Haakim.) The Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to hold the commandments given by the Prophet, peace be upon him, in a very high esteem, making no distinctions between them and those given by God. Once ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood quoted this saying of the Prophet (hadith) while he was delivering a sermon: “May God curse the women who tattoo their bodies and those who pluck their eyebrows; those who separate their teeth to make them look more pretty and those who try to change the creation of God.” A woman named Umm Yaqub from the tribe of Banu Asad came to know of these words. She approached Ibn Mas’ood and said: “O Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman! It was reported to me that you have cursed such and such women.” He said: “Why should I not curse those whom the Prophet, peace be upon him, cursed and who are cursed in the Book of God as well.” She said: “I have read whatever is contained between the two covers (i.e. the whole Qur’an).” Had you been a good reader, you would have discovered it. Did you not read the following verse? “So take whatever the Messenger gives you and keep away from what he forbids you.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:7)

There are numerous examples set by the Companions which show how emphatically they abided by the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, to the extent of severing their relations with their kith and kin once they discovered someone going against the Sunnah. Let us have some examples from the lives of the great Khulafah (Caliphs, i.e. leaders) of Islam followed by a host of other Companions. Just after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, three major issues confronted the Muslim community. They could have left it apart and disunited, had it not been for the wise guidance of Abu Bakr who settled them amicably in the light of the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. The first issue was related to the appointment of the Khalifah (i.e. leader of the Muslims). Assembled in Saqifa Bani Sa’ida, a great number of Muhajirin (i.e. those who emigrated from Mecca to Madina) and Ansar (those helped the emigrants from Mecca) originally had been busy arguing this issue. The Ansar proposed that the leader (Arabic: Emir) should be appointed from both of the above communities. The noble companion Abu Bakr cited the saying of the Prophet: “Leaders (Arabic: Imams) should be from Quraish (the tribe of Prophet Muhammad) as long as they have the understanding (of the religion).” The Ansar conceded to this quietly. The great companion ‘Umar proposed the name of Abu Bakr as the Khalifah which was accepted unanimously by those present there and later followed by all the inhabitants of Madina through the oath of allegiance.

The second issue was related to the place where the Prophet should be buried. Again the companion Abu Bakr cited the saying of the Prophet: ‘A Prophet is to be buried where he breathes his last.’ Accordingly, his burial took place in the apartment of his wife, the Mother of the Faithful – ‘Aishah, where he died.

The third issue was related to the inheritance of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as raised by his daughter Fatima who came to the Caliph Abu Bakr asking for her share. Abu Bakr replied by reminding her of the saying of the Prophet: “We, the community of the Prophets, are not inherited from – whatever we leave behind us is a charity.” Fatima didn’t argue further, but retired quietly. Once the great companion ‘Umar saw Khalid bin Walid wearing a silk shirt. He asked him to take it off (since it is forbidden for Muslim men to wear silk). Khalid replied that Abd ar-Rahman ibn Auf used to have one as well. ‘Umar said: “The Prophet allowed him because he suffered badly from itching.” Khalid, then, had no alternative but to take if off. Following the news of the Muslim’s victory in the conquest of Syria, ‘Umar advanced to Damascus with a number of Companions. On reaching the outskirts of Amwas, a town in Syria, the news of a widespread plague in the town reached him. ‘Umar consulted his people whether or not he should venture into the town. The heated discussion that followed came to an end when Abd ar-Rahman ibn Auf cited this saying of the Prophet: “If you are inside a place where an epidemic breaks out, don’t come out of it. And don’t go in if you happen to be away from such a place.” ‘Umar, eventually commanded his people to retreat. Someone still remarked: “‘Umar! Do you run away from a destiny decreed by God?” To this ‘Umar replied: “Yes, we run away from one destiny to the other decreed by God as well.” Such was the wisdom of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and centuries ago it foreshadowed today’s quarantine regulations. The Caliph ‘Uthman once agreed to buy a piece of land from a person. On the completion of the verbal agreement, he asked the man to collect the money the following day. But the man turned up after a few days, only to renounce the agreement. He had changed his mind because his friends had blamed him for selling the land at a low price. ‘Uthman could have been adamant about the sale, particularly when it had been agreed upon completely. But he remembered the saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him, which admired a person who treated the people easily and wholeheartedly in his sales. So, ‘Uthman preferred to concede to the man’s wish without raising any objection. Once ‘Ali was approached by a person who wanted his counsel concerning the engagement of his daughter whose hand was sought by three persons: Hasan, Hussain and ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far. ‘Ali found himself involved personally as his two sons were among the candidates. But he recalled the saying of the Prophet: “The one whose counsel is sought, should be honest.” So after giving some thought, he told the man: “Don’t go for Hasan because he is known to have divorced his women many times. And don’t go for Hussain as well, as he loves to be admired. Rather go for ‘Abdullah bin Ja’far.” In one of his journeys, he found a merchant hoarding a stock of grain in the hope of a good price. ‘Ali reminded him of the saying of the Prophet: “The hoarder is cursed” and instructed his people to set the stock on fire as a punishment. This is how the Four Caliphs (Arabic: Khulafah) reacted to the Sunnah of the Prophet.

Let us have some more examples from the lives of the Companions. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood heard a man saying after a sneeze: “Al-hamdu Lillah wa as-Salatu wa as-Salamu ‘Ala Rasul Allah.” Ibn Mas’ood said to him: “Whatever you have said is true, but that is not the way that the Prophet has taught us. He instructed us to say simply “Al-Hamdu Lillah” after sneezing.” It would be appropriate to remind all Muslims about this Sunnah, which is commonly abandoned by a great number of them. Say “Al-Hamdu Lillah” whenever you sneeze. If you hear someone saying this after sneezing, say to him: “Yarhamukumu Allah” (May God have mercy upon you). The sneezer should pray for you as well by saying: “Yahdi Kumullah wa Yuslihu Balakum” (May God guide you and set your affairs right). There are plenty of occasions when you should say: “As-Salatu Wa as-Salamu ‘ala Rasul Allah”. You should say it, for example, whenever you hear the name of our beloved Prophet or whenever you enter a mosque (Arabic: masjid) or step out of it adding these words respectively: “Allahumma Iftah li abwaba Rahmatik” (O God! Open for me the doors of your Mercy) and “Allahumma Inni As’aluka min fadlika” (O God! I ask you for your Bounty).

Once ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas was sitting beside the Ka’bah when Emir Mu’awiyyah entered the Grand Mosque and began circumambulating (Arabic: tawaf) around the Ka’bah. He kissed the Black Stone in the beginning, but he rubbed his hand on the other three corners of Ka’bah as well. Ibn Abbas knew that the Prophet, peace be upon him, apart from kissing the Black Stone and rubbing the Yemeni corner – had never touched the other two corners during tawaf. So he objected to Mu’awiyyah, to which he replied: “To me none of the four corners of Ka’bah is deserted.” “But that was not the practice of the Prophet, peace be upon him,” Ibn Abbas emphasized. Mu’awiyyah could only say: “You have said the truth.” Once Ibn Abbas saw a man drawing a picture of a living being. He advised him not to do that because the Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade such a practice.

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar was well-known for his adherence to the Sunnah. He once saw his son Bilal stopping his wife from going to the mosque. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar said: “Don’t do that because the Messenger of God has said: ‘Don’t stop the female servants of God from entering the Houses of God.” Bilal was adamant that he would not allow her to go, even after listening to this saying. Ibn ‘Umar was so upset that he swore never to speak to him again until his dying day. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr bin Aas had a very large garden with a great number of palm trees. Water in this area was so abundant that his assistant planned to sell the extra amount of it, after irrigating the whole garden, to a neighbor at an exorbitant price of thirty thousand dirhams. That offer could have attracted anyone except a companion like ‘Abdullah ibn ”Amr who refused to approve of this sale because the Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade the selling of any extra water. Abu Hurairrah used to address a gathering of Muslims on Friday night (lit: after sunset on Thursday). Once, before beginning his sermon, he said to the people: “Whoever has cut off from any of his relations should leave this place.” No one stood up. On repeating these words thrice, a young man left the place and went to his aunt whom he had deserted a long time before and reconciled with her. Abu Hurairrah said this because he knew that all actions are presented to God on each Friday night. He didn’t like his assembly of the devout to be smeared by a person who had committed the sin of deserting his relatives. By doing so, he saved a person from a major sin. Anas ibn Malik was known to be a faithful servant of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Once he was invited to a party where a Magian (i.e. a Persian fire-worshipper) offered him some faluda ( a well-known drink) in a silver glass. Anas refused to accept it. He preferred to drink in an earthen pot than to use the silver one because the Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade the Muslims from eating or drinking from golden or silver utensils. This is how the Companions behaved throughout their lives – setting sublime examples of adherence to the Sunnah.

The numerous examples given above are from the Companions. Let us see what the four great Imams (i.e. religious scholars) have said about the authority of the Sunnah.

  1. a) Imam Abu Hanifah was asked: “What do we do if we find a saying of yours opposing the Book of God?” He replied: “Leave my saying and stick to the Book of God.” The questioner asked: “What if it contradicts a saying of the Prophet?” Abu Hanifah said: “Leave my saying in the face of the Prophet’s saying.” Again he was asked: “What if it goes against the saying of a Companion?” Again he said: “Leave my saying in the face of the Companion’s saying.” (Reported in Al-Qawl al-Mufeed by Shawkani.) Imam Abu Hanifah also declared: “My way (Arabic: madh-hab) is whatever hadith (saying of the Prophet) that is proved to be authentic.” (Shami 1:50, Al-Fulani in Iqaz, p. 62.)
  2. b) The saying of Imam Malik ibn Anas is well-known: “The saying of any person can be accepted or rejected, except for the Prophet of God, peace be upon him.” (Reported by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr and Ibn Hazm. Also in Al-Yawaqeet wa Al-Jawahir 2:96.) He also said: “I am just a mortal; sometimes 1 am wrong, sometimes I am right – so check my opinions. Whatever agrees with the Book (i.e. the Qu’ran) and the Sunnah, accept it; whatever disagrees with them, reject it.” (Reported by Al-Fulani in Iqaz, p. 72.)
  3. c) Once Imam Shafi’i narrated a saying of the Prophet (hadith). Someone from the audience said: “Do you say so as well?” On hearing this, the Imam was enraged. His face turned pale and he said: “Woe to you! Which earth would carry me, which sky would shelter me if I narrate a saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and do not hold the same view! Do you see a zunnar (belt worn by non-Muslims) on me? Or have you noticed me coming out of a church? How can I report something from the Prophet, peace be upon him, and not agree with ?!!”
  4. d) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “Do not follow me or Malik or Shafi’i or Auza’i or Thawri, but take from where they took (i.e. from the Qu’ran and authentic Sunnah).” (Reported by Al-Fulani and Ibn al-Qayyim.) He also said: “He who is on the verge of destruction rejects a saving of the Messenger of God, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him.” (Reported by Ibn al-Jauzi.)

A SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF AHAADEETHS

The status of the Sunnah (This is the Guidance with which the Prophet (S) came. It includes his sayings, actions or his attributes.) of the Prophet Muhammad (S) as a divine source of Islamic law and guidance has been accepted unanimously by the Muslims throughout the centuries. However, during the last century, many non-Muslim Orientalists and their followers have tried to cast doubts in the authority of the Sunnah, and have created a suspicious attitude towards Ahaadeeth.

The Ahaadeeths of our Messenger (S) all of which have been scrupulously studied and verified by specialists in the study of Ahaadeeth. Because of this, it is appropriate to mention a few facts about the authority and reliability of the Sunnah, so that any skepticism and suspicions can be laid to rest.

As for the authority of the Sunnah, then it must be understood that the role of the Prophet Muhammad (S) was not as a mere postman who, after delivering his letter, has no concern with it whatsoever. The Messenger was not sent just to deliver the Book of Allah, but to expound it and demonstrate a practical example of its contents. (Aal-`Imran 3:164.) This function of the Prophet (S) could not be carried out unless his guidance was held to be authoritative and binding upon his followers. Thus Allah made obedience to His Messenger (S) an obligation upon mankind. (Aal-`Imraan 3:132, An-Noor 24:54, etc.)

Today many Muslims do not understand this point, thinking that following and obeying the Prophet’s (S) commands is a matter of choice, and that it is only the commandments in the Qur’ân that they are duty-bound to comply with. This misconception was indeed prophesied by the Messenger (S) who made the correct position and status of the Sunnah explicitly clear. He said,

<Indeed I have been given the Qur’ân, and that which is like it along with it; yet the time is coming where a man reclining on his couch will say, “Keep to this Qur’ân: what you find in it to be permissible treat as permissible; and what you find prohibited treat as prohibited.” But what Allah’s Messenger has prohibited is like what Allah has prohibited.> (Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Daawood, and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albaani (Saheeh ul-Jaami` 8186).

Careful consideration of this ahaadeeth will also lead us to deduce that his (S) authority was not confined to his time, as many nowadays purport; it holds good for all times to come. Since the above ahaadeeth is a prophecy, it also shows us that the Sunnah is divine in its origin.

Allah is Al-Aleem (the All-Knowing) and Al-Hakeem (the All-Wise); and He is aware of the past and everything to come in the future. Thus, His divinely revealed Sunnah is applicable to mankind from the time of the Prophet (S) until the Day of Resurrection. Allah is able to do all things; and He has given us a Sunnah that is preserved, perfect and complete and does not need to be changed with the times. Surely removing something from it when it is complete and perfect will only cause imperfection and incompleteness. He has told us (by revealing to the Prophet (S) towards the end of his life):
<<This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your way of life.>>(Al-Maaidah 5:3.)

As for the reliability of the Prophet’s (S) Sunnah, first of all, contrary to what many think, compilation of the Prophet’s (S) Sunnah began in his own lifetime. Many Companions of the Messenger (R) documented the sayings and actions of the Prophet (S); and this was something the Prophet (S) himself instructed them to do. He (S) said to one of his Companions (R):

<Continue writing [what I say] for by Him in whose Hand is my soul, nothing comes out from my mouth except the Truth.> ( Ahmad, Abu Daawood, and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albaani (As-Saheehah 1532)

Moreover, writing was not their sole means of preservation. The Arabs before Islam were well accustomed to memorizing thousands of verses of poetry. Thus, it was not hard for the Companions (R) to precisely commit the sayings of the Messenger of Allah (S) to memory, and then convey them to others. At the same time, they understood very well the Prophet’s (S) warning:

<Let him who ascribes to me what I did not say come to his abode in Hell Fire.>
( Al-Bukhaaree, Muslim, and others.)

Furthermore, they understood that the knowledge conveyed by the Prophet (S) was not merely theoretical, but meant for practical life. Hence, they spared no effort in imbibing his Sunnah into their personal lives, meticulously following his sayings and manners. (We look to the Companions of the Prophet (S) to see which of the actions of the Prophet (S) were meant to be followed, which were part of his own personal preference, and which were prescribed by Allah solely only for him. The Companions (R) were most eager to earn rewards for the Hereafter. If they were not found following an action of the Prophet, we know that this action is not part of his Sunnah that should be followed. Thus we are to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (S) according to the way and understanding of his Companions (R))

In these different ways then, everything from the Prophet (S) was carefully preserved. The Companions took tremendous care and responsibility over the enormous trust that was placed upon their shoulders-a trust that was passed on to the scholars of ahaadeeth in each succeeding generation. These noble scholars performed the task of the preservation of ahaadeeth with such diligence, precaution and sense of responsibility that one cannot find its parallel in the history of any other community. Throughout the centuries these scholars have used their expertise to document and check the authenticity of each and every ahaadeeth. They would record and carefully investigate the biography of every single narrator on whose authority the ahaadeeth had been passed down. If it was proven that a narrator had once told a lie, or that his memory was not dependable, or if his trustworthiness and character came into question, the whole ahaadeeth would be declared weak. To these scholars, every ahaadeeth is weak until there is no doubt that it can be proven otherwise. Only then can a ahaadeeth be truly trusted to have been uttered upon the tongue of the Messenger (S). May Allah reward our scholars and guide us all to what is right. Aameen.

COMPILATION OF AHAADEETH

It is a common misconception amongst people that Ahaadeeth were collected and written down after 150 to 200 years of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) ‘s death. This misconception has led to people viewing hadeeth suspiciously as they surely can’t be authentic as they were collected much later.

Ahaadeeth were compiled and written down since the time of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam), Sahabah (radiallah tala anhum) had their own scrolls or books, with the help of these scrolls and books other hadeeth books were compiled later onwards.

At first the Prophet (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) stopped his companions (radiallah tala anhum) from writing down hadeeth. [Sahih Bukhari] then afterwards this was permitted, there is a narration regarding it.

Prophet of Allah (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) said to Abdullah bin Amr (radiallah tala anho): Write ahaadeeth, I swear by Him who holds my life in His hand, from this mouth nothing but the truth comes out. [Abu Dawood, volume 1, pg 158: Isnaad is Saheeh]

Abdullah bin Amr (radiallah tala anho) says: We were seated near prophet of Allah (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) and were writing, in this manner was asked: which city will be first conquered, Constantinople or Rome?

He (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) said: Hercules’s city will be conquered first. [Darami, pg 126: Isnaad is Saheeh]

Prophet (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) said: Write this hadeeth and give it to Abu shah (radiallah tala anho)…. [Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim]

Ali (radiallah tala anho) says: We don’t have anything but Kitab Allah and the scriptures in which are ahaadeeth of prophet of Allah (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). [Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim]

Abu Huraira (radiallah tala anho) says: Amongst the Sahabah (radiallah tala anhum) no one narrates ahaadeeth more than I do save Abdullah bin Amr (radiallah tala anho), because he used to write them and I didn’t. [Sahih Bukhari]

Anas (radiallah tala anho) heard a hadeeth and liked it so much, he told his son to write it and he wrote it. [Sahih Muslim, Kitab ul Iman]

Anas (radiallah tala anho) says that when Abu Bakr (radiallah tala anho) sent him to Yemen as the governor, he wrote on a scroll and gave it to him whose content was: Start with Allah ‘s name who is Rehman and Raheem, this is the obligation of Zakat which Prophet of Allah (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) has made on the Muslimeen and this is what Allah ordered His prophet  [Sahih Bukhari, Kitab ul Zakat]

The narrator Hamad bin Salma says: I got this book from Anas (radiallah tala anho) ‘s grandson Samama. [Nasai, kitab ul zakat]

Imam Malik says: I read Omar (radiallah tala anho)’s book …  [Muwatta Malik, pg 106]

From the above few authentic narrations from many, we can conclude that ahaadeeth were being written down since the time of the prophet (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). From such scripts other famous ahaadeeth books were compiled.

But where are these scrolls or books? When the ahaadeeth were copied and narrated into other books, it was but logical that the small compilations get absorbed in bigger compilations.

It is not true that the Muhadditheen collected only verbally transmitted ahaadeeth, and there were no compilations in the earlier times especially the first century of the hijrah. Old compilations can be found today like Sahifa Hammaam, in this are ahaadeeth in which Imam Hamaam bin Munabbi took dictation from Abu Huraira (radiallah tala anho), this compilation is easily available for everyone to view.

So to say that there were no compilations for ahaadeeth till the second century is just a misconception spread by helpers of shaitan so that people give up believing in ahaadeeth and interpret Quran according to their desires thus making a mockery of prophethood which is clear blasphemy. May Allah save us form such a thought. Aameen.

And Allaah Knows Best.

The importance of the Isnaad in relation to the Ahaadeeth 

All praise is due to Allah and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon His messenger (saws). Verily the best speech is the book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad sallallahu alaihiwasallam and the worst of affairs are the newly invented matters and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the fire. (Sahih Muslim Eng. Trans. Vol. 2 Page 40 no. 1885).

To proceed: The religion of Islam is that which has been ordained by Allah, fully explained by the prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam as understood and practised by the salaf-us-saliheen (the pious predecessors which includes the Sahabah, Tabi’een and their followers).

The Sunnah has been preserved in its pristine purity in the books of Sunnah only because of the chain of narrators (isnaad) reaching up to the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam, has been meticulously preserved by the Muhadditheen (Scholars of Hadeeth). In the words of Abdullah Ibn al-Mubarak (died 181 A.H.) one of the very illustrious teachers of Imam al-Bukhari, who said: “The isnaad is part of the religion and had it not been for the isnaad, whoever wished would have said whatever he liked”

Reported by Imam Muslim in the introduction to his Sahih. (Sharh Sahih Muslim – Arabic Vol. 1 Page 87 published by Darul Kuthubul-Islamiyyah, Lebanon).

Only the narrations which reach the level of Saheeh (authentic) or Hasan (good) as defined by the Scholars (Muhadditheen) are suitable to be held as evidence in matter of belief [such as creed (Aqeedah) and the unseen (ghaib)], in the rulings and laws of the religion or in matters of worship. Only these can be attributed definitely and directly to the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam.

Narrations which fail to reach these two standards will be collectively termed weak (Da’eef) and should not be attributed directly to the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam in a definite form as clearly explained by Imam Nawawi in Sharh Sahih Muslim (Arabic Vol. 1, Page 81 – Darul Kuthubul Islamiyyah). Weak narrations provided their weakness is not severe, (i.e. There are no liars and / or fabricators and none suspected of lying or fabricating in the chain) can only be used to exhort or warn of a deed (amal) already sanctioned by the other authentic ahaadeeth (singular – hadeeth). If the weakness is severe (as in the case of false, fabricated, etc. ahaadeeth) it cannot be used for the above purpose as well. If such hadeeth are over to be quoted it should be only for the purpose of warning the Muslim community of false and fabricated ahaadeeth. Even then the defect should be clearly stated so that the ahaadeeth will not be attributed to the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam.

The Muhadditheen have collected such narrations for the purpose of warning the community, in separate books Few examples of such books are :

  1. Ak-Maudhooaathul Kubra by Mulla Ali Qari.
  2. Al-Maudhooaathul Sughra by Mulla Ali Qari.
  3. Al-La’aali-ul-Masnuah fil Ahaadeethil Maudhoo’ah by Imaam Suyooti.
  4. Thanzeehus Shareeathil Marfoo’ah anil Ahaadithish- Shaneeathul Maudoo’ah by Ibnul Iraq al-Kan’ani.

Attributing a saying not told by the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam to the Prophet is a very grave sin and will lead the person to Hell. It is reported from a large number of Sahabah from the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam that he said: “Whoever lies on me intentionally then let him reserve his seat in hell.”

(Sahih Bukhari. Eng. Trans. Book of Knowledge, Chapter – The sin of a person who tells a lie against the Prophet sallallahu alaihiwasallam Vol. 1 Hadeeth no 106 and also by Imam Muslim in his preface to Sahih Muslim).

Also it will include a person among the liars as can be seen in the following two ahaadeeth also found in the preface to Sahih Muslim.

  1. Whoever narrated a hadeeth from me which is seen as a lie then he is one of the liars[From Sharh Sahih Muslim (Arabic) by Imam Nawawi Vol. 1 Page 62 – Darul Kuthubul Islamiyyah]
  2. It is sufficient for a person to be a liar that he narrates all that he hears(page 73 of the book referred to above).

And commenting on the above Imam Nawawi goes on to say “……. and there is no difference in the prohibition of lying on the Prophet either in what concerns the laws of the religion or in other than the laws like exhorting, warning, advising and the like of it, all of this is Haram (Forbidden). It is from the greatest of the grave sins and vilest of the abominable matters in the unanimous opinion of the Muslims ..etc”