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The hadith is the second type of Revelation

Publish Date: Thursday,23 October, 2008, at 11:17 PM Doha Time



The hadith is the second type of Revelation

Adherence to the Sunnah is an obligation. So there must be a means by which Muslims could fulfil their obligation. The only way to completely do so is to know exactly what the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said and did. This cannot be fulfilled by following or reading the Qur’an alone, therefore we must turn to the reports and record of the Prophet’s (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) words and deeds, meaning the hadith.



The hadith is the second type of revelation from Allah the Almighty. From the hadith do we derive the sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). These terms are often used synonymously, though a hadith is specifically a report or narration of a statement, action, description of character and features, or tacit approvals of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) while the sunnah is specifically the ruling or principle derived from the hadith. When we use the term sunnah in general it of course encompasses both definitions.



A widespread and common mistake on the part of many is the misapplication of the term sunnah based upon the fiqhi (jurisprudence) usage of the term which is: That which is less than fardh or waajib (obligation) and therefore if it is performed one is rewarded but if one does not perform it then no punishment or sin is incurred. For this reason, one often hears from the tongues of Muslims “I don’t do it because it is only a sunnah” when in fact the matter which they have neglected may actually be a ‘fardh’ or ‘waajib’ in the fiqh sense.



For example, a person may neglect eating and drinking with the right hand or a man may not grow his beard with the understanding that such actions were merely the personal habits (also sunnah) of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) which one may or may not follow, without realising that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in fact ordered Muslims to do so and any order of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) becomes an obligatory duty upon the believers.

Allah in His Book says: And We did not appoint the Qiblah on which you were earlier but that We might know the people who follow the Messenger as distinct from those who turn back on their heels. [Surah Al-Baqarah 143]



At the early stages of Islam in Medinah, the Muslims faced Jerusalem in prayer as Qiblah for seventeen months. The Qur’an itself abrogated this by requiring that the Muslims face Masjid Al-Haraam in Makkah (see 2:144). The verse above was revealed as an answer to the objections of the disbelievers who criticised the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) for changing the direction of the Qiblah. It is key to note that the previous order to face Bait Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) is found nowhere in the Qur’an yet Allah states in the verse quoted above that He appointed it as Qiblah! And We did not appoint the Qiblah on which you were earlier but that We might know the people who follow the Messenger... It was not the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaih wa sallam) who arbitrarily decided to make Jerusalem the Qiblah, rather it was revealed to him by Allah to do so though it was not a part of the Qur’an!



There are at least 15 other verses of the Qur’an that prove that Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) received revelation other than the Qur’an. It is made very clear in that case that the hadith and the sunnah contained within are none other than revelation and that a true Muslim has no choice to ought but adhere to and obey what is contained therein.



The statements of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) himself oblige Muslims to obey him

If the previously stated premise is accepted then we can move to the next stage, which is bringing hadith that call upon Muslims to obey the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in all affairs. Though we have not yet tackled the issue of authenticity of the hadith, we feel compelled to transmit a few hadith that are known to be authentic by the scholars of hadith, that illustrate the point of the obligation to follow the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).



a) Abu Hurairah (radiallahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said what translated means: All of my ummah will enter Al-Jannah except whoever refuses. They (the companions) said: And who would refuse? He (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) replied: Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise, and whoever disobeys me will have refused.” [Al-Bukhari]



b) Jaabir Ibn Abdullah (radiallahu ‘anhu) said: Whoever obeys Muhammad, obeys Allah. Whoever disobeys Muhammad, disobeys Allah, Muhammad divides between people (between those who believe and obey him and those who disbelieve and disobey him). [Al-Bukhari]



c) Abu Moosa (radiallahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said what translated means: The example of me and what Allah has sent me with, is like the example of a man who came to a people saying: ‘O my people! I saw the army of the enemy with my own eyes. I am the naked warner (the habit of the Arabs before Islam was that when one wanted to warn his people of an invading army, he did so while naked to be more dramatic). Therefore, escape, escape!’ Some of his people obeyed him and left at night, travelling at ease, and they were safe. Others disbelieved and in the morning they were still in their places. The army attacked them in the morning, destroyed and overwhelmed them. This is the example of whoever obeys me and follows what I was sent with, and the example of whoever disobeys me and disbelieves in what I was sent with of truth.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]



d) Abu Rafi’ (radiallahu ‘anhu) said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said what translated means: Let me not find any of you, and while resting on his couch, that if an order of mine is mentioned in front of him, whether a command of mine or a prohibition, he says: ‘I do not know! Whatever we find in the Book of Allah (the Qur’an) we follow (otherwise we do not)! [Ahmed, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah, At-Tahaawi and others]



e) Al-Miqdam (radiallahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Messenger Of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said what translated means: Verily I was given the Qur’an and its equal with it (the sunnah). There may be a man, his stomach is full and he is laying on his couch and saying: ‘Hold fast to this Qur’an. Whatever you find of permissible matters, take it as permissible, and whatever you find in it of prohibitions, consider it prohibited.’ However, whatever the Messenger of Allah renders impermissible is equal to what Allah renders impermissible... [Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, Al-Haakim & Ahmed]



f) Abu Hurairah (radiallahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said what translated means: I have left you with two things, that (if you hold fast to them) you will never be misled after them: The Book of Allah and my Sunnah. They will not separate from each other until they meet me at the Hawdh (the pool of river water that flows outside of the gates of Al-Jannah). [Maalik & Al-Haakim]

The Sunnah Has Become Strange To Many These Days



We often read answers from writers to questions posed by Muslims in English language publications and have read and heard reports of those in Arabic and other languages as well, that clearly show the large extent to which the sunnah is ignored. It is actually quite amazing that such individuals are widely published who consistently give rulings and advice that is incorrect while making broad, sweeping statements like “There is no text from Book (Al-Qur’an) or the Sunnah...” concerning this or that matter when there are indeed confirmed texts proving the opposite. It is almost incomprehensible that such a situation could continue in the face of the vast wealth of information and work that has been done by the scholars of hadith to insure the preservation of authentic reports and Islamic rulings. There are however some reasons that may contribute to ignorance such as the incorrect rules and regulations put forward by some latter day “scholars”.



One such regulation is the statement that hadith al-Aahaad are not valid in matters of ‘aqeedah (matters of belief and the unseen). Al-Aahaad hadith are those narrations made by a single individual. Certain schools established some rules regarding this type of hadith such as: a) They preferred analogy (qiyaas) to establish a ruling regarding a new matter to the aahaad hadith. b) Aahaad hadith are rejected if they oppose their own established rules and regulations. c) They reject hadith that introduce a decree that adds to a rule in the Qur’an based on the claim that because the sunnah does not abrogate the Qur’an, acceptance of such a hadith constitutes abrogation. d) They say that general rules of the Qur’an cannot be restricted by aahaad hadith based on the claim that a specific rule is overruled by a general one if they are opposed to one another.



Yet another contributor to ignorance of the Sunnah is merely blind following (taqleed) of a particular school (madhhab) in all matters of religion. We have however found that much of the source of giving incorrect rulings and discounting the hadith is merely due to plain ignorance, lack of scholarship and an unwillingness to submit to the rulings found in the hadith. The root causes of a person doing this could be anything from sinfulness to political or social pressure and we seek refuge in Allah from that.



Preserving The Faith: The Hadith And Its Preservation

We have undoubtedly sent down the Reminder, and We will truly preserve it. [Soorah Al-Hijr 15 Aayah 9]

The above is a promise made by Allah Himself and it is therefore necessarily fulfilled. This is attested to by all with regard to the Noble Qur’an itself but questions have been raised with regards to the hadith of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). It is ironic that those who question the hadith often forget that the same transmitters of the Qur’an which all Muslims accept as authentic, also transmitted the hadith of the Prophet (‘alaihi salaat wa salaam) and of course both came from his lips.


The promise of Allah however includes by necessity the hadith of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) for it is the practical example of the implementation of Qur’anic guidance and neither the Qur’an nor the Sunnah can be correctly understood without recourse to the other. We hope to briefly outline the steps taken by the Muslims throughout the ages to preserve the ahadith of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and insure their authenticity.



We have shown how Allah preserved the Qur’an from being initially lost by the martyrdom of its memorisers by guiding the Rightly Guided Caliphs (Khulafaa’u Raashidoon) to compile the ayaat with the consensus of the companions (radiallahu ‘anhum). Allah has similarly preserved the sunnah by enabling the companions (radiallahu ‘anhum) and those after them to memorise, write down and pass on the statements of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and his way.



Later as the purity of the knowledge of the sunnah became threatened, Allah caused the Muslim nation to produce outstanding individuals possessing incredible powers of retention and analytical expertise, who journeyed tirelessly to collect hundreds of thousands of narrations. They distinguished the true words of precious wisdom from the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) from those corrupted by weak memories, or from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, or from the statements of thousands of scholars, companions, and others. They achieved this through precise attention to the words narrated and detailed familiarity with the biographies of the thousands of reporters of hadith.



The Importance of Authentication

It is unfortunate but true that many statements will continue to be attributed to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) although the person quoting them may have no idea what the specialists in the science of hadith (al-muhaddithoon) have ruled regarding them. They therefore contravene the authenticated and widely narrated stern warnings from the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) against attributing unsound and incorrect statements to him. The muhddithoon have employed a methodology to assess the types of narrations to sort out the authentic and genuine from the mistaken and fabricated.



A hadith is composed of the text (matn) and the chain of reporters (isnaad). Of course in the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) the companions would refer to him directly. The next generation (taabi’oon) followed suit by quoting the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) through the companions (sahaabah) and some would omit the intermediate authority. This latter type of report came later to be known as mursal. Missing links made necessary the need to verify each isnaad as time passed. Another very important reason was the deliberate fabrication of ahadith by various sects which appeared among the Muslims in order to support their views.



As time passed, more reports were involved in each isnaad and so the situation demanded strict discipline for the acceptance of ahadith. The rules of this discipline are known as mustalah al-hadith. The early scholars of hadith were very meticulous though their terminology would sometimes differ and their principles began to be written down. Later scholars deduced many of their criteria from careful study of early scholars works such as Al-Bukhari. Major writings were produced by the scholars in mustalah al-hadith, some of which are used to this day.



Rest Assured And Thank Allah

We thank Allah Ta’aala for the gift He has afforded the Muslim nation through the scholars who had foresight and worked hard to preserve the words of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi was sallam). We ask for His blessing upon those who continue this work to this day. It is precisely through the work of such men that deviations are exposed. This of course leads to such scholars undergoing much trial at the hands of those who – having built an entire doctrine or viewpoint around weak and fabricated traditions - resort to personal attacks, libel and slander. They do so to turn their ignorant followers away from guidance and possibly exposing their deviations.

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