particular time and place, including the time and place of the Prophet and thecompanions, and hence its fuller understanding is an unending and gradual process. Animplication of this is that it is possible for us to understand the Qur’an better than theProphet and the companions. But from the Qur’anic verses discussed in Part I it is clear that theProphet’s understanding of the revelation is decisive and is the norm for Muslims. And since the companions were the first eyewitnesses of what the Prophettaught and did, their testimony becomes decisive in determining the Prophet’sunderstanding of the revelation. It is possible that in case of some verses about Nature our understanding can increase with time by scientific development, but it is inconceivable inthe light of the Qur’an that we can know better the religious teachings of Islam than didthe Prophet and his companions, especially when it comes to the basic questions of thetype we are concerned with in this book, e.g., is the Sunnah/Hadith a source of Islam, is itrevelatory, does it have an authority exactly like that of the Qur’an, and to which extent itis binding?Interestingly, some of the more compelling arguments of the Qur’an-only people are not based on the Qur’an but on the Hadith – yes, the very Hadith that they so vehementlyreject. From the Hadith and the other traditions it becomes clear (see Chapter 6) that theProphet and the companions did not consider it necessary to produce authoritativecomprehensive collections of the Hadith for the guidance of the people, which isincomprehensible if the Hadith or the Sunnah is viewed as an independent and primarysources of Islam, along with the Qur’an. This favors some aspects of the views of theQur’an-only Muslims, although, not their main contention that the Hadith has norevelatory value and is not a part of Islamic teachings.
Traditions discussed in Part II
In Chapter 4 we discuss those prophetic traditions (ahadith) that have a bearing on therole of the Sunnah and/or the Hadith. These include, but do not consist entirely of,ahadith that are often mentioned in the classical hadith collections under the subject of the Sunnah as a source of Islam, e.g.,
m bi al-kit
b wa al-sunnah
h al-Bukhari. Chapter 5 discusses traditions about some leading companions thatreveal their attitude towards the Sunnah/Hadith. A particular class of traditions, thoseconcerned with the transmission, collection or writing of the Hadith is discussedseparately in Chapter 6.This part of the book not only serves the purpose defined above – to examine the basicquestions about the Sunnah/Hadith in the light of the Hadith -- but it also contributes tothe subsequent parts of the book. We discuss here many ahadith in some detail andcomment on their authenticity. In this way we will provide several examples of unauthentic traditions that are found in
collections. The process will be continuedin Part III and will show that the ahadith in the existing collections are much more subjectto doubt than is generally admitted.