Answering Hadith Rejectors

It is not unexpected to see today people having a dubious attitude towards the legality of the Sunnah  of the prophet Muhammad . A number of people of them have taken an extreme position while some have remained relatively moderate. They maintain that the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad SAW was restricted to his lifetime and since he is no more amongst us, the Quran is ample as a code of life.

The advocate of such views mainly the orientalists and self proclaim Muslims convey that since the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad SAW were not recorded during his lifetime, it may have gone through deliberate manipulations as of those religious scriptures prior to him. A newly reverted Muslim may reflect that the Sunnah is no more than the gospels. However, a close look into the discipline of collecting the hadith erases all the doubt regarding the preservation of the hadith.

The Quran in several places commands the believers to obey Allah and obey His messenger SAW. One should inquire how a Muslim can obey Allah’s messenger if the Sunnah is not well preserved in its original form. Logically speaking Allah must have preserved the Sunnah. The Quran further guarantees the mankind that Allah will protect the reminder (Quran) from any corruption or alteration. The verse follows:

Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder, and lo! We verily are its Guardian.
The Quran further says that Allah has revealed the reminder (Quran) to his messenger so that he  may elucidate it to the mankind. The verse follows:

And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the reminder and the advice (the Quran), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought .
The prophet  explained in detail the matters of Salah, zakah etc. How can we observe these fiqh   if the Sunnah had not been preserved?

The companions  (may Allah have mercy on them) understood the duty of conveying the message of the prophet to later generations. They were motivated by the words of the prophet who assured them great reward in the hereafter. This instruction from the prophet can be seen in a hadith,

“May Allah make radiant [the face of] someone who has heard what I have said, has learnt it by heart and has transmitted it as he heard it.”

Abdul Mushin –al-Abbad has written comprehensive book on this single hadith. Beside the Sahabah feared Allah’s punishment prepared for those who conceal knowledge. Many people have the perception that hadith was not written down until lapse of 2nd century. However writing down the hadith has started during the lifetime of the prophet. Once it happened that few of the companions were in disagreement over the issue whether they should write everything they hear from the prophet   as he may, at times be in a state of anger. Upon hearing this, Prophet Muhammad  replied,

“Write [my hadith], by the One in whose hand is my soul, nothing leaves it [the Prophet’s mouth] save the truth.”

The hadith scholar M al-Azmi stated in his PhD thesis that prophet Muhammad  had sent hundreds of letters containing the detailed aspects of prayers, fasting hajj etc. These are nothing but the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad .  He further cites in his exceptional work that around fifty companions were occupied in the task of recording the ahadith. To quote al- Azmi,

 ”recent research has proved that almost all the hadith of the prophet  was written in the lifetime of the companions, which stretched to the end of the first century.”

If we take the second century in consideration, we find that there were thousands of books and booklets of hadith in circulation. We may ask why these thousands of hadith books are not extant. To quote al-Azmi again,

 “When the encyclopedia type of books were produced scholars did not feel necessity to keep the early booklets, and slowly they disappeared.”

One of the earliest collections of the hadith is Saheefah of Hammam ibn Munabbia, student of Abu Hurairah, the great intellectual and companion of the prophet Muhammad . This small book contains 137 ahadith of the prophet was passed down to his immediate student Mamar. Mamar was blessed to have student like abd-ur Razak who in turn taught Ahmad bin Hanbal the compiler of musnad available to us. Ahmad bin Hanbal in his musnad of 30,000 hadith included all the hadith of the Saheefah of Hammam except two.

After the lapse of the two centuries, the great works of compiling hadith began. The scholars collecting the hadith laid down stringent conditions in verifying hadith. Imam Bukhari would offer two units of prayer before including them in his book . They did not leave any effort in investigating the accuracy, trustworthiness and good memory of the person narrating the hadith. Ali ibn al-Matin when asked about his father, first tried to avoid the question and replied ‘’ask some other scholars about him’. But when the question was repeated with a request for his own opinion, he said,’ it is the matter of faith; (I therefore reply) “he is a weak narrator.

The fear of chastisement was deep rooted in the hearts of the companions and the later generations for any misquotations or fabrications of hadith attributed to the prophet. A beautiful incidence, worth mentioning will throw some light on how the scholars of hadith precisely took care in writing down the hadith of the prophet. One night the prophet woke up, made ablution and began to pray.ibn Abbas who was there, did the same and stood on the prophet’s left side.

Prophet Muhammad  shifted him from left to his right side. The hadith scholar Yazeed ibn Abee Zinaad narrated this hadith stating that ibn Abbas stood on the right side of the prophet and was shifted to the left. Imam Muslim investigated this incidence by gathering all the narrations from Yazid’s colleagues and found unanimously that ibn Abbas stood initially to the left and was shifted to the right side of the prophet. Imam Muslim did not stop here. He further collected all the narrations from the companions of the prophet who prayed alone with the prophet and found that they too had prayed on the right . Such a precise verification for a single word was indeed rare throughout the history.

Quran along with the Sunnah are the sources of guidance for the mankind until the day of resurrection. It has been made clear that Quran without Sunnah is impossible to understand. Whoever denies Sunnah has in fact denied the validity of the Quran. Only a prejudice heart will turn away from the Sunnah. Sheikh ibn Hazam has made very clear that whoever denies the Sunnah of the prophet has in fact committed blasphemy . Allah has set an excellent example for us in the life of the prophet. We must put every effort to follow the guidance set by Quran and Sunnah together without making any distinction between them.
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