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LLB(H) ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE
3rd Semester Hadith & Sunnah : Primary Source Of Law
Submitted By: Madhulika Manohar (10-BA.LLB- )
Hadith & Sunnah: Primary Source Of Law .
If we assign the same meaning to both the terms. the Muhaddithin believe that a Khabar may be authentic or it may be false. The Muhaddithin employ the term. Classification of Hadith or Khabar The Muhaddithin divide Hadith or Khabar into two main classes 1. and each one holds a different status in the Shari`ah. agree on a false matter. or of an act. The words Hadith and Sunnah have entirely different connotations. On this account. it is discovered that during a span of three periods only one or two narrators could be established. in my opinion. whereas their number was found to increase during the period of the third or fourth period. no Hadith exists which satisfies the definition of Khabar-iTawatur. Da`if. the author of "al-Kifayah fi`ilm al-Riwayah" defines Khabar-iTawatur as follows: It is that Khabar which is quoted by such a large number of persons that in normal circumstances it is impossible that on a manifest subject so many people would. the Ahadith (plural of Hadith) are also termed as Zanni (presumptive or undefined). Sometimes a Hadith is assigned the status of a Khabar-i-Mashhur. when there is no evidence of any pressure on them too. a Muslim acted in a particular manner and the Prophet (sws) observed it and did not disapprove it. Khabar for Hadith. Likewise. therefore. . it is necessary to know precisely the difference between Hadith and Sunnah Hadith implies the narration of a saying. at one and the same time. such Ahadith as have been declared as Khabar-i-Mutawatir stand in need of investigation. This is not a correct impression. For a proper understanding of the science of Hadith. it would create a lot of complications. Mawdu`. It implies that while doing something in the presence of the Prophet (sws).Hadith and Sunnah are generally taken as synonymous terms. on investigation. A Khabar bears the possibility of being either right or wrong. Khabar-i-Tawatur (multiple evidence Hadith) 2. However. In other words. In this way. or of an approval (Taswib) of the Prophet (sws). irrespective of whether the matter is authenticated or still disputed. Khabar-i-Wahid (single evidence Hadith) KHABAR-I-TAWATUR Khatib Baghdadi. The Muhaddithin (the scholars of Hadith) use the word Taqrir to express Taswib. This means that a Hadith could be anything ranging from Sahih to Hasan. that person received the tacit approval of the Prophet (sws) regarding that particular action. or Maqlub Therefore each one of these categories should be treated on its own merits. To my knowledge.
It is actually this category of Hadith which has contributed to the greater part of our treasure of Hadith. it would not be correct to accept anything as Mutawatir. they will still be firm in their beliefs. (a) Narrations the Veracity of which is Crystal Clear: The author of "al-Kifayah" has assigned the top category to narrations which possess the following characteristics: i) Narrations which are endorsed by human intellect and wisdom as geniune and which are readily acceptable to common sense. as we shall explain further. only then should they be accepted as Mutawatir. their number is not so large that one is able to assert that there is no possibility of doubt or falsehood in the Khabar. (c) Narrations the character of which we have not yet been able to determine. (b) Narrations the factitious character of which is crystal clear. The Prophet (sws) is said to have said: A section of my Ummah shall invariably stick to verity. so much so that when they will depart from this world. Even though the narrators in this case too be more than one. it does hold the status of Tawatur (continuity). It must be clearly understood that "acceptance by the Ummah" in this case signifies acceptance by that section of the Ummah which has not allowed itself to be influenced by religious innovations (bid`at) or blind-following (taqlid). Now let us elaborate on these. It must. Gradation of Akhbar Ahad on the Basis of their Acceptance or Rejection The author of "al-Kifayah" has graded the Akhbar-i-Ahad into three categories from the point of view of their being worthy of acceptance or rejection: (a) Narrations the veracity of which is crystal clear. ii) Narrations which aptly elaborate the immutable commandments of the Qur’an or Sunnah. but practical. And this Tawatur is not verbal.If they come up to the prescribed standard. iii) Narrations which have been accepted by the Ummah. Without this investigation. be remembered that so far as the Sunnah is concerned. (Muslim: Chapter 53) . Whosoever tries to dissociate himself from them will not be able to harm them in any manner. however. KHABAR-I-WAHID Khabar-i-Wahid is that Khabar which is not as authentic as Khabar-i-Tawatur.
or clash with them.and which holds true for all nations -. ‘smooth path’. but instead they are found to have been narrated by very few of them. The manner in which the Almighty deals with nations -. the word ‘Sunnah’ means ‘a clear path’. ‘busy path’. iv) In case of (`Umum-i-balwah) ie. In such matters. iii) Narrations which cover such important subjects that people require positive and precise information about them for guidance.(b) Narrations the Factitious Character of which is Crsytal Clear: The author of "alKifayah" has placed in the second category narrations that bear the following characteristics: i) Narrations which are rejected by human intellect and wisdom. where the situation calls for narrations from a number of sources). c) Narrations the Character of which is not yet Determined Third place in the classification has been allotted by the author of "al-Kifayah" to narrations which convey certain commandments of the Prophet (sws) that are found to be contradictory and. etc. In such cases. I am of the opinion that the wording of the narrations should be carefully scrutinized in the light of the immutable commandments of the Qur’an and Sunnah and other aspects. consequently. the Hanafites do not attach any importance to Akhbar-iAhad. ‘beaten path’. it is difficult to decide which version should be followed in actual practice. they generally prefer Ijtihad and Qiyas (analogical deductions). ii) Narrations which are contrary to the immutable commandments of the Qur’an and Mutawatir Sunnah. and then the most suitable narration be adopted. therefore. or narrations which are related to some important event and. (33:38) Now are they but looking for the way the ancients were dealt with? But no change will thou find in God's way [of dealing]: No turning off wilt thou Find . but they do not provide such information. And the Command of God is a decree determined. Sunnah Literally.as been termed in the Holy Qur’an as the Sunnah of Allah. should have been narrated by a sufficient number of narrators. ‘trodden path’. For instance: It was the practice [approved] of God amongst those of old that have passed away.
and the number of rak`ats in each prayer. Need for Sunnah The religion with which we have been blessed by Almighty Allah through the Qur’an only lays down broadly the fundamentals for life. The same is true of all other modes of worship and of other .in God's way [of dealing]. rehearsing unto them the Signs of God. (3:164) You have indeed in the Prophet of God a beautiful pattern [of conduct] for anyone whose hope is in God and the Final Day. For instance. we are going to discuss the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). (purifier of souls). but is simultaneously a Mu`allim-i-Shari`ah (teacher of the Shari’ah) and Muzakki-i-Nufus. in his capacity as a teacher of Shari`ah (Islamic Law). and we can cast our lives in a truly righteous and Islamic mould only if we follow in his footsteps in each and every sphere of life. in every sphere of life we have before us ideal examples set by the Prophet (sws) for our guidance. purifying them and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom. The overall structure of Islam has been raised and completed through the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). view point of those who do not believe in the Sunnah viz that the role of the Prophet (sws) is simply that of a courier who delivers the post is absolutely baseless and nonsensical. However. for example their timings. Comprehensive education of the Ummah in the matter of details has been left entirely to the Mu`allim-i-Qur’an. His entire life is the highest ideal for us. It does not embrace all the details of expositions thereof. pilgrimage. fasts. This assignment was a necessary corollary to his status as a Prophet and has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as follows: God did confer a great favour on the Believers when He sent among them a Prophet from among themselves. there are no details mentioned on any of these subjects. while before that they had been in manifest error. zakat and other obligations and rites have. Whatever Commandments and rules of conduct of Islam we are supposed to know and learn have been demonstrated by him for us through actual practice. been laid down in the Holy Qur’an. and who engages much in the praise of God. basic commandments with regarding prayers. the Prophet (sws) himself. (35:43) In the discussion which follows. total number. he laid down ideal standards of leading a life which one should meet to earn Allah's approval through complete submission to His Commandments. so much so that the Qur’an does not even mention the details of such an extremely important matter as prayers. no doubt. The Prophet (sws) is not only the Messenger who delivered the Book to humanity. This means the way of life which the Prophet (sws) taught the people in theory and practice and for which. (33:21) No doubt.
this is what is demanded by common sense and wisdom. Interrelation Between the Qur’an and Sunnah: A Natural Affiliation The interrelation which has been established between the Qur’an and Sunnah by the Almighty Allah is not a casual matter. This explains that it is but the Sunnah which elaborates the Qur’an. and the whole structure falls apart. but is revealed to mankind in a perfectly tangible and ideal form -. the Qur’an lays down the cutting of the hands as a penalty for theft. simply imparting verbal education on such matters cannot be very fruitful. They must be . Ch 6) Therefore. (Abu Da`ud. That is why the Prophet (sws) has observed: I have been given the Qur’an and besides it.as what is the definition of `theft' with reference to the value thereof. in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). we would have done so accordingly'. matters which call for practical demonstration can hardly be elucidated orally. However. that the relation between the Qur’an and Sunnah is that of the soul and the body. On the contrary. something similar to it. the soul or the spirit of the Qur’an is given. They must be demonstrated practically. In fact. We can see. Otherwise. there are things in which it is not enough to teach them in theory alone. Secondly. we might acquire a good knowledge of its fundamentals. In other words. For instance. Allah the Almighty appointed for us the Messenger for this very purpose so that the Qur’an does not remain ambiguous. Kitab al-Sunnah. but we would remain ignorant of their practical version in the same manner as were the followers of the Din of Prophet Abraham (sws) during the pre-Islamic dark ages. Both go together to complete the splendid edifice of Islam. Now if we rule out Sunnah as a source of Islam.and by actually acting upon the word of the Book. Allah. therefore. Some of them had reclined against the walls of the Ka`bah and had cried out: `O. very essential that the religious minded people devoted to spreading the light of the Din of Allah do their utmost to act upon the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). you need unlimited records. or what is the point where the hand should be severed etc. we know not the right way to worship You. therefore. the details have been left to the Prophet (sws) to explain -. the Messenger did just that.commandments and laws. followed by a chain of Companions and later other luminaries held aloft the torch of the Din of Allah on earth. Take away any one of them. It was for this mission that the Prophet (sws) was chosen. If only we knew it. To cover everything. It is. a form for its display. the Sunnah is binding on us as much as the Qur’an itself. Human affairs know no bounds and cannot possibly be confined to a single book.
if the variation cannot be explained. likewise the veracity of Sunnah is equally proved by the Ummah's perpetuity in practical adherence to it. actions which are a part of our daily lives. In this manner. Thereafter. but we act in a particular manner because the Prophet (sws) acted accordingly. since in any case the latter are presumptive. If it is observed that in a certain case the Akhbar-i-Ahad differ from the Sunnah. For instance Sunnah has nothing to do with articles of faith. through him learnt the Companions. occasion for revelation of the Qur’anic verses. the narrative records also testify to this effect. in any case. We must bear in mind the fact that the perpetual adherence to practical issues by the Ummah means the practice of the Prophet (sws). The creed of the Malki School of Fiqh whereby they prefer the practice of the people of Madina to Akhbar-i-Ahad. as we have seen in the foregoing pages. history. we shall be obliged to give up the narrations. The Hanafites. and through them learnt the followers of the Companions. go to the perpetual adherence to practice. In case. it must be clearly understood that the Sunnah is purely related to the practical aspects of life. which have an inherent prospect of either being right or wrong. do not attach any importance to Akhbar-i-Ahad on problems which relate to `Umum-i-Balwah. that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. On the contrary. Matters which concern beliefs or issues of academic interest are outside its domain. and of the Companions of the Prophet (may Allah's blessings be upon them all). whereas in comparison the Sunnah is a categorical reality. reasons for variation shall be investigated. For instance. etc. They regard the practice of the people of Madina as a conclusive evidence and say `among us the Sunnah is like this'. we have not adopted the prayers. if the narrations are found to vary in any manner. However. is based on this very principle. The Sunnah is not Based on the Ahadith The Sunnah has not been founded on Ahadith. it should be taken as additional testimony. pilgrimage etc.meticulous in this regard even in minor matters so that they can inspire others too to live up to the Sunnah of the Prophet (sws). ie. preference shall. and then the successors thereof learnt through the followers. However. likewise. Says the Holy Prophet (sws): Acting upon my Sunnah and the Sunnah of my Rightly Guided Caliphs is . and do so with the same principle in view. it is based on the perpetual adherence of the Ummah to it. the later generations continued to learn through their earlier predecessors. in all their details because a few narrators explained them to us. The Sphere of the Sunnah In this connection. Just as the veracity of the Qur’an is proved by perpetuity in verbal adherence.
the followers of Sunnah themselves are divided into different sects. In their ignorance. However. Those who are familiar with the history of the denial of Hadith are fully aware that this mischief actually raised its head over a few Ahadith of anomalous nature. in fact. Thereafter. as already explained. a very large section of the people have adopted practices which are evidently contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah. And with regard to heresy the Prophet (sws) has said that heresy is deviation. in the heat of arguments people lost sight of the difference between Hadith and Sunnah. and the supporters of Hadith. there is no justification to accept the Qur’an. They are all in the category of heretics. There is hardly any difference in the credentials of either. since. It is rather important that the difference between Hadith and Sunnah. It has been narrated that on the occasion of his last pilgrimage to Makkah. either side ended up in a loss. In our times. it should not be hard for them to comprehend that a Sunnah can vary on any single issue. be kept in mind. as the Qur’an is proved by the verbal adherence of the Ummah. likewise the Sunnah is proved by the practical adherence of the Ummah. nor did the defenders knew what exactly they had to defend and wasted their energies on a different front. though the denial of the Sunnah is tantamount to denial of the Qur’an itself. later on this matter turned into a hot-bed of debates. the result was that the denial of a few Ahadith was construed to mean the denial of the Sunnah. (Ibn Majah. If these people reject the Sunnah. and continue to accuse one another of disregarding the Sunnah. and this deviation leads to Hell-fire. the attacking party failed to realize what they were attacking. When this difference was overlooked. In Any Practice the Sunnah can Vary The common man appears to be unaware of the fact that in case of one particular issue there can be more than one Sunnah. the . the mainstream of the Muslim Ummah. elucidated in the foregoing pages. The non-believers of Hadith stretched their doctrines so far as to touch the bounds of Kufr (disbelief). However. It is hard to understand their logic. In such battles of wits. Ch 6) This is the group which is. if they are fair to themselves in this regard. and still deny the Sunnah. on the other hand quite unnecessarily dragged the Sunnah as well along with the Hadith into the firing-range. Owing to ignorance on this point. A Question to Non-Believers of the Sunnah Those who reject the Sunnah claim to believe in the Qur’an. whatever doubts were invented against the Hadith by the non-believers of Hadith were extended by them to deny the Sunnah as well.obligatory for you.
At the most. that practice cannot be said to have overstepped the limits of Sunnah.reciting the word Amen audibly and reciting Amen mutely during the course of prayers. one can raise the question of the degree of emphasis being laid on a particular practice vis-a-vis others. For instance the narrations with regard to Tashahhudd4 are all associated with Companions who were authorities on Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). the Prophet (sws) approved all the different ways of practice of the people and disapproved none. While carefully preserving the core and essence of a practice. Although the wording of each one differs. even evidence. some of these practices gained greater popularity than others at certain places. There is a possibility. as a point of academic interest. . But how can one reject any of these practices as going against the Sunnah? To my mind. none of them can be set aside as being repugnant to the Sunnah. would it be justified if we declare his action contrary to the Sunnah? One can of course discuss. The Prophet (sws) replied that there was no harm in it. Now supposing a person chooses to adopt that Tashahhud which is associated with Hadrat 'Umar or Hadrat 'Abdullah Ibn 'Umar. and people started to approach him in the form of groups for guidance. the practice which might be preferred and the merits thereof. Owing to certain factors for which this is not the occasion for elaboration.Prophet (sws) sat down at one place. Another one observed that in a particular issue he had acted in such and such manner. and does not adopt the one practised by Hadrat `Aishah or Hadrat 'Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah's blessings be upon them). In fact. Some one explained that he had acted on a certain issue in such and such manner. But one just cannot deny it the status of Sunnah. The Prophet (sws) approved that action too. Apparently the reason for this could only be that they must have all been acting within the sphere of the Sunnah. or with regard to folding the arms below the chest or letting the arms down loose during the prayers. we do have arguments supporting their status as Sunnah. the spirit underlying each is identical. of these different practices being reckoned as the Sunnah. according to the narrations. if there happens to be some variation in its outward form. the same is the position with regard to the word Amen -. However. people approached him one after the other and asked his opinion on the manner they had been acting on different matters. Likewise.
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