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"O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful." [Noble Quran 9:119]

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I bear witness that NONE is worthy of worship except ALLAH, He has NO partner nor partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the slave and Final Messenger of Allah.


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Thursday, February 4, 2010

My deep disappointment with the Hadith literature

I had been brought up as a traditional Muslimah, Alhamdulilah, deriving my spiritual and ethical knowledge only from the Glorious Quran. Since the past few years I had been hearing much about "Hadith" from many sections of the Muslim community, so I thought of studying it too. As we know, Hadiths are the alleged sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) as claimed by the Muslim traditionalists, but in reality it is NOT. I studied Sahih al-Bukhari thoroughly from cover to cover and parts of certain other collections as well. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, I was very disappointed. I became deeply disturbed by the contents of many of these Ahadith, to the extent that it robbed my sleep for many nights. I found majority of them to be full of absurdities. Most of them clearly contradict the Quran, many are totally unnecessary, some are silly, some are funny and many sound vulgar & embarrassing. Many clash with the emplemary character of the most beloved Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace. Of course, it goes without saying that the beloved Prophet (SAAW) never said such things. What boggles my mind is how can so many Muslims today take these narrations seriously by attributing them to the Prophet (SAAW), and implementing important laws based on such narrations that have apparently been cooked up by the self-appointed law makers to suit their own motives?

There are a few good narrations as well, ones compatible with the Glorious Quran and the Prophet's (SAAW) humble temperament. But the improper ones have shaken my trust considerably and I am not sure if I can give the benefit of the doubt for authenticity even to the few good ones.  However, the decent sounding Ahadith (not more than a drop in the ocean) can surely be retained for deriving ethical lessons.  But because the history of Hadith is tainted with such deep controversy, no narrations (good or bad) should be attributed to the Prophet (SAAW). Almighty Allah says in the Quran not to say or believe in matters about which we have no knowledge. Surely, attributing wrong narrations to the Prophet (SAAW) would be a serious violation in the sight of Allah (Subhanu Wa'Tala).

Besides, I've heard a great deal about 'isnads' or chain of narrators being manipulated too. So, that might not be a really satisfying reason for recognizing a narration as authentic. I've come across many narrations declared "authentic" by our so-called "scholars," but their contents are such that my heart can never accept them.

The good hadith sound very nice, but the bad ones sound really very bad. The problem with hadith begins when you start reading the collections systematically. The hardliners say that we must believe in all the Hadith. This means believing in the bad ones too. I already stated I cannot do that.

There's yet another important aspect to reflect upon. Even if a few Ahadith are found unauthentic or absurd in the entire set of all collections, it would be enough to shake the trust of people. If something is based upon truth with a straight intent of conveying the truth and nothing but the truth, there ought to be no cracks anywhere. Of course we cannot say this about hadith because there are not just a 'few' that are absurd, but majority are in that categroy. A few good sayings from the Hadith cannot cover up for all the bad ones.

We cannot simply quote the good ones and slip the bad ones under the carpet. This is not the way 'guidance' is supposed to present itself to people. If we really value a collection of writings or narrations, we should be proud of every word of it .. just like we are proud of every single Ayah of the Glorious Qur'aan .. it's contents, it's uniformity, eloquence, and the honesty and beauty with which it presents the truth. But it's the opposite with the Hadith. I've very often come across people circulating handpicked narrations of Hadith, making sure they select the best ones to avoid embarrassment, and hiding the disgusting ones. So how is one be expected to trust the institution of hadith and acquire peace of mind by reading it when most of its narrations sound so inappropriate that they have to be concealed from public view? I thought that the Hadith was meant to compliment the Quraan, not contradict it.

Now think of this. There are so many Ahadith that discuss the conjugal relationship of the Prophet (SAAW) with his wives. I say to myself .. is all this necessary to discuss? Wasn't our beloved Prophet entitled to any privacy in his life? If the Prophet (SAAW) ever knew of these obnoxious narrations, would he be pleased with those people responsible for circulating such gossip? We are supposed to love and respect the beloved Prophet even more than we love and respect our own parents, and that's really saying a lot. Would any of us ever discuss the conjugal relationship of our parents? I am sure not. So why do the Hadith writers narrate such intimate aspects about the beloved Prophet's life? All I can say is that these Hadith writers had a questionable intent .. a bad intent.

People say Hadith explains the Quran. Among the ulemas and imams, this is the standard excuse for accepting Hadith. But that just isn't true. All my life I have read the Glorious Quraan independently and never needed help from any source to understand it. Quran is not complicated nor difficult to understand particularly for those who are seriously looking for guidance. Allah Himself says in that the Quran is "easy to understand." Indeed it is. Secondly, it would be gross arrogance on the part of we humans to say that the Glorious Quraan depends on Hadith or on any collection of writings for its explanation. The Glorious Quraan in independent of everything. It is a STANDALONE BOOK about which there is NO doubt.

As anyone who has studied Hadith would know that it has a striking resemblance with the Old and New Testaments. Researchers who have analysed the history of Hadith have confirmed that the Hadith writers read little or nothing of the Quran, but they surely scanned the Torah and Gospel to write the Hadith narrations, the purpose being to revive many of the pre-Islamic laws. Looking at many of the contents of the Hadith, this analysis is apparently very true. E.g. stoning to death for adultery, death for apostacy, re-appearance of Jesus son of Mary etc. are all taken from the Bible. Such laws have nothing to do with the Quran. The counterpart of the Gospels is the Hadith, not the Quraan.

It's a natural tendency in human beings to accept & adhere to human dictates with much greater willingness than Divine Commandments. If Allah (The Most High) hadn't taken the responsibility upon Himself to preserve the Glorious Quran, perhaps the Quran would have also been completely altered by humans over the last several centuries, just like the Torah and the Bible have been changed. But Allah has stated that the Glorious Quran is in a "guarded tablet" and will never change. So it won't. Praise be to Him! So the manipulators needed a different channel altogether to present their own views and attribute narrations to the Prophet (SAAW) for acquring acceptance from the people. Most of these exaggerated or completely concocted and fabricated narrations are today read in the form of 'Hadith.' It is also an accepted fact that most of the Ahadith we see today have been 'edited' dozens of times during the last several centuries by various imams and "scholars" to suit their own social & political interests and personal thoughts.

Then again, I have very often come across this needless and hackneyed concept that Hadith teaches prayer (salaah), without which we wouldn't know how to offer salaah today. After reflecting a little, anyone with a shred of sense would agree that nothing could be farther from the truth. Hadith does not teach salaah. I never came across the entire procedure of salaah in any Hadith nor have any of those whom I've asked. Most importantly, we must know that the culture of Hadith narrations came around 200 years after the passing away of the Prophet (SAAW). So, according to the theory of the clergy that Muslims have learnt to offer salaah through Hadeeth, the question arises .. how did those Muslims offer their salaah who lived during the 200 years after the passing of the Prophet (SAAW) and the coming of Imam Bukhari? Or does this mean that for those 200 years the Muslims didn't offer salaah or forgot the method of salaah till Bukhari and other narrators came along and showed it to them ? Of course this is nonsense. In other words, if Bukhari & Co. showed people how to offer salaah through their Hadith narrations, I would like to know how the Muslims learnt to offer prayers during those 200 years between the Prophet's (pbuh) death and Bukhari's appearance for writing narrations. The answer is simple. Muslims have not learnt the method of prayers from the Hadith. Instead, they have learnt to offer salaah from the practical demonstrations of the beloved Prophet (SAAW) who used to lead the prayers 5 times a day throughout his lifetime. After the Prophet (pbuh), Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali led the prayers and so on. This is how the unwritten practice and tradition of offering salaah was passed on from generation to generation. Bukhari and other hadith writers learnt these details from the people and thus wrote it down. I wouldn't give Hadith any credit for teaching us prayers.

Some adherents of Hadith, in an effort to defend it from this argument, claim that Hadith narrations already existed since the time of the Prophet (SAAW), and Bukhari and others simply compiled them into different collections/sections. This is another contradiction from the many concrete data of Islamic history that categorically state that the Prophet (SAAW) did not allow any of his narrations to be preserved for fear that people might mix them up with the Quran or get distracted from the Quran, and in accordance with his (pbuh) wishes, Abu Bakr (ra) and Umer bin Khattab (ra) had destroyed thousands of Ahadith narrations. In fact, there are some Hadith narrations that themselves mention that the Prophet (SAAW) did not allow anyone to preserve his words. If you think of it, this admission makes the Hadith literature a 'contradiciton within a contradiction' in that, it apparently denies the truth of its own narrations and yet goes on with it.

Surely, the Glorious Quran itself contains the Sunnah, in that, it mentions every basic aspect about the Prophet's (SAAW) life and character. In the Quran, Allah also tells the Prophet what to narrate and how to respond to queries. This alone makes up the real, authentic Sunnah. What we read in the various Hadith collections are the 'sunnah' of the Hadith narrators or writers, NOT of the Prophet (SAAW). Thus, every reliable and truly authentic information about the Prophet can only be acquired from the Quran. Following the Quran automatically means following the beloved Prophet (SAAW). But following the Hadith means neither following the Quran nor the Prophet.

Adhering to the teachings of the Prophet (SAAW) is most important. When the Quran tells the believers to follow the example of the Prophet, it refers to those believers living in the Prophet's era. And now since the beloved Prophet (SAAW) has passed away, the believers are expected to follow Allah's Quran and then only can they be sure that they are adhering to the teachings of the Prophet (SAAW)otherwise they are bound to waver and fall into the trap of falsehood. True & pure guidance as preached by the beloved Prophet Muhammad comes only by endearing the Message that was revealed to him (SAAW) in the Glorious Quran and nurturing our conscience on the basis of the principles and broad guidelines of the Noble Quran.

Last but not least, many conscientious believers have upheld that as Muslims we simply ought to know that we should not adhere to any other book except the Quran. Allowing any other set of human writings to come between the Quran and us would definitely distract us from the Quran. This is precisely what has happened to the so-called 'Ummah' of today that has been carried away in a very different direction than the one ordained by the Almighty Allah, only because of their involvement with Hadith.

I've now quit the Hadith and am back to the Quran alone like before, praise be to Allah Almighty .. thus, getting back my peace of mind.


  1. We don’t rely on Quran and Sunnah (Physically Established Practice). We Rely on Human Being, having VARYING Opinions + Pre- Concieved Notions.

    The most common set-up we have:

    Hadiths and Sunnah + Practice of the Prophet's companions + Practice of the companions of the Prophet's companions + Opinions of imams (qiyas and ijtihad) + Consensus of "ulama" in a particular sect (ijma') + the comments and opinions of their students + the comments and opinions of early "ulama" + the comments and opinions of later "ulama" + the fatwas of living "ulama." + ………. And Last item will be Quran

  2. Second thing we don't understand is that the whole Quran came to Prophet (PBUH) and everything is addressing him to educate us.

    To read and understand Quran, the best way is explore it, the way the commandments came. To get in-depth knowledge, Quran should always be read and understood, by keeping in mind the context and the addressee. So, it has three portions:
    1. Commandments that came for Prophet (SAW), only.
    2. Past Episodes and why limited information
    3. Our behavior & consequences
    Let’s look at them one by one.
    1. Commandments For Prophet (SAW):
    The first thing we have to look at. is this AYAT relates to a commandment to our Prophet (SAW) or not. A lot portion of Quran contains orders which were directed to Prophet (SAW) to address a particular situation that HE (SAW) was facing at that instant and had nothing to do with Us.
    These are all those commandments that people have taken them wrongly and use them today to create controversy. The critics of Islam also use these Verses to criticize Muslims, without understanding that Verses relates to a specified situation which our Prophet (SAW) was encountering at that specified time.
    Just remember that Prophet (RUA) is a messenger of ALLAH, so he will have all the best qualities that one can aspire for. He (RUA) will be soft and tender hearted, people oriented, cultural impacted etc.
    Let’s look at few examples:
    And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have Turned you out;……………………… (2:191)
    Here Prophet (SAW) was in state of war, so a direct commandment on what HE (SAW), should do. HE (SAW) should take difficult decision to crush all, as war was imposed on HIM (SAW).
    Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah:………….. (3:28)
    A numerous verses you will find in Quran, that’s an order for Prophet (SAW), and had nothing to do with present time.
    Remember, that communication between Prophet (SAW) and ALLAH was only, through Verses.

  3. 2. Past Episodes:
    When we look deeply into the Verses we find that our beloved Prophet (SAW) was facing an issue of different communities and each group had their own story to tell. To correct those stories, a large portion of Quran is addressing that, to:
    a. Tell us in Truth for all past incidents
    b. To give knowledge to Prophet (SAW), and Us, not to get misguided by changed stories of Jews, Christians etc.
    And verily, We shall recount their whole story with knowledge, for We were never absent (7:7)
    Recite to them the truth of the story…………. (5:27)
    They ask thee concerning Zul-qarnain. Say, "I will rehearse to you something of his story." (18:83)
    There are few other lessons also, in these episodes, but I will cover them in separate topic.
    Just keep in mind that Only those episodes with specified information, are covered in Quran, on which people of that time had issues or misinterpreting it and were trying to give a different picture by putting in their point of view.
    3. Our Behaviours & Consquences:
    This is the part of Holy Book that is directly addressing us. So, this portion has to be thoroughly understood and implemented in our daily life to reap the full benefits of this world and Hereafter.
    I fully agree that this is the most difficult part and requires lot of efforts, as it contradicts the norms of the prevailing society.
    This is the portion where as humans we try to find the alternatives and try to relate to culture and society, when cannot find a direct answer then we try to find other means to justify our actions. By doing that we twist the massage of ALLAH and end up giving it a totally different look and then try to justify it by all means.
    Thus have We revealed it to be a judgment of authority in Arabic. Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither protector nor defender against Allah. (13:37)
    To any that desires the tilth of the Hereafter, We give increase in his tilth, and to any that desires the tilth of this world, We grant somewhat thereof, but he has no share or lot in the Hereafter. (42:20)
    Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but satan's promises are nothing but deception. (4:120)
    Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits, but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, (2:155)
    Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: women and sons; heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded; and cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals. (3:14)