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Hadith

Hadith

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Published by aqueelpremjee

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: aqueelpremjee on Sep 14, 2009
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01/15/2013

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HADITH: THE QUESTION OF AUTHENTICITY
By Aisha Musa
Hadith are such an integral part of traditional Islam in all its variations, thatwhen someone suggests that the Qur’an alone should serve as the source of religious law and guidance for Muslims, the idea is usually met with shockand amazement. So, those who advocate following the Qur’an alone mustaddress the issue of hadith.The Arabic word "hadith," means a story, or saying. Any story, or saying,from anyone. For traditional Muslims, it has come to mean specifically a storyor saying told about, or attributed to the prophet Muhammad.Discussions of hadith have traditionally focused on the question of authenticity. This is true of discussions among those who advocate followinghadith and between them and those who advocate following the Qur’analone. God willing, we will see how this focus on the question of authenticityhas overshadowed other crucial questions about hadith.For traditional Muslims the focus on authenticity is an attempt to insure thatpeople can judge the veracity and reliability of hadiths, in order to determinewhich are valid as sources of law and guidance.Early Muslim scholars took great pains to compile biographical information onthe people who allegedly narrated and transmitted the hadiths in order todetermine those who were to be considered reliable from those who werenot. Only reports passed on by supposedly trustworthy individuals are to beconsidered authentic, and hence valid. The question of whether or notMuslims have always be true to their stated standards is a separate issuethat I will not address here. What is important here is the fact that thequestion of authenticity is of primary importance in their understanding andacceptance of hadith.Many of those who advocate following the Qur’an also focus on the questionof authenticity when debating the use of hadiths. They do so by challengingthe authenticity of all hadiths and thereby, the validity of following them.Their challenge to the authenticity is of hadith is based primarily on the factthat the first so-called "sahih," or "sound, authentic" collections of the hadithwere written over 200 years after the death of Muhammad. Encouraged bythe work of prominent, non-Muslim western scholars have also questionedthe authenticity of hadiths on the same basis, those who advocate followingthe Qur’an alone assert that hadith should not be followed because they arelate fabrications, with no connection to Muhammad.In response to the original challenge posed by non-Muslim scholarship,Muslim scholars have worked diligently to uncover the earliest possiblewritten sources of hadith and have some which they date to the middle of thesecond century after hijra, about 100 years before the writing of the so-
 
called sahih collections. This together with early histories which talk aboutthe first generations of Muslims writing and relating hadiths, leads scholarssympathetic to hadiths to conclude that even without actual physicalspecimens of written hadiths from those early generations, it is reasonable toaccept that hadiths had been transmitted both orally and in writing from thebeginning.The historical record has not provided clear evidence that can prove ordisprove the early transmission of hadiths. So, each side accepts and arguesthe information that best supports its view; and the authenticity debaterages on.But is authenticity the real question we should be addressing? Does itdeserve to be the central focus in the discussions of hadith? Let us now turn,God willing, to the other questions that are often overshadowed by thequestion of authenticity.The Qur’an poses a number of questions related to hadith. By consideringthem, God willing, we can put the question of authenticity in it’s properperspective.Among the questions the Qur’an poses in relation to hadith are:"In which hadith after this will they believe?" (al-A`araaf [7]:185)."These are God’s revelations we recite to you in truth. Then, in which hadithafter God and His revelations will they believe?" (al-Jatheya [45]:6).We understand the import of these questions from yet another questionposed in the Qur’an:"Shall I seek other than God as a source of law and judgment when He is theOne who has sent down the Book to you in detail?" (al-An`am [6]:114).Also,"What is wrong with you? How do you judge? Do you have another bookwhich you study?" (al-Qalam [68]:35-36).These are the real questions that deserve to be the central focus in thediscussions about hadith. If we answer these questions in the negative (i.e."No, I shall not." and "None."), then we see that the question of authenticitydoes not merely become secondary-it becomes moot.If we seek only God and His revelations as a source of law and guidance, anddo not believe in any hadith other than God’s revelations, it makes nodifference if a hadith is authentic, or not. The Qur’an does not ask if hadith is
 
authentic. The Qur’an asks if it is "other than God and His revelations." Evenif we have absolute proof that a hadith came from the messenger, even if wemay have heard it directly from the lips of the messenger, with our own ears,it is still "other than God and His revelations." Therefore, in light of 6:114and 45:6 it is invalid as a source of law and guidance.Not only are hadith, even authentic hadith, invalid as a source of law andguidance, they can be a source of misguidance. It is obvious that hadith withnegative content, such as those that call for stoning adulterers, are a sourceof misguidance. But what about hadith with positive content?Mainstream Muslims of all schools of thought insist that hadith are necessaryfor a number of reasons. Among the most important reasons, is that withouthadith we cannot properly understand the Qur’an. Hadith, they say, shedlight on the Qur’an. But God tells us that the Qur’an is light (4:174, 42:52).Can the hadith shed light on the Qur’an which is light?Can the moon shed light on the sun? No, for the moon only reflects the lightcast by the sun. Likewise, any light in found in any hadith from themessenger is no more than a reflection of the light in the Qur’an.The moon is only visible when our side of the earth is turned away from thesun. When the sun is above us, the moon is no longer visible. But if themoon moves between us and the sun, we find ourselves in the darkness of an eclipse. During an eclipse, the moon which reflects the light of the sunwhen we are turned away from the sun, now cuts us off from the light of thesun.For a believer, the Qur’an is as the sun which never sets. Hadith, any and allhadith, are as the moon. If we turn toward the hadith, we turn away fromthe Qur’an. If we let the hadith come between us and the Qur’an, we will findourselves in the darkness of a spiritual eclipse, cut off from the light of theQur’an.
THE MYTH OF HADITH!
By Layth (e-mail:laytth@hotmail.com)
 "Do not accept anything that you have no knowledge of. Surely the hearing,the sight and the mind you are responsible for." (Quran, 17:36)The above verse does wonders for the students of GOD's religion, it alwaysreminds them what the "criteria" is for accepting and upholding what ispeddled to them as "law" from above.We, as human beings, are commanded by the Lord to use our senses (sight,hearing and mind) so that we may ascertain the truth from thefalsehood…Blind following is NOT allowed in the Quran and it is given as asign of disbelief:

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