Ever thought of the fallibility of 'isnad?'

'Isnad' is the term given to the chain of narrators of every Hadith. It is often known as the "methodology" or "scientific compilation of Hadith." In other words, it refers to the verification of the chain of narrators ('isnad') for authenticity. If this chain of narrators is considered reliable by the ulemas then the hadith is recognized as 'authentic' or 'sahih.'

Our scholars say that the 'isnad' of every "authentic" or "sahih" Hadith has been studied and found "true." Unfortunately, this claim itself exhibits the biggest falsehood.

According to the rules of the Hadith doctors, Hadith requires to be examined for authenticity on the basis of:

1) its chain of narrators
2) its body text

But even according to their own criteria of applying these two rules, the ulemas often find themselves in a quagmire. There are many Ahadith which according to them appear to have a "sound" or "reliable" chain of narrators, but the substance or the meaning is not acceptable. As Brother Muhammad Asadi explains, "One example of this and their whole system collapses. The Koran gives us the standard for judging anything that is presented. If the Koran confirms it in total its true. If the material adds to or contradicts the Quran, its source is not God or His Messenger."

Big claims of "scientific compilation" of Hadith are not unusual. But if the contents of a Hadith are unacceptable (which is very often so), the "scientific compilation" or whatever impressive term one may like to use, is rendered useless. In that case it simply means that that Hadith is false and must be trashed. No amount of "scientific compilation" can turn falsehood into truth. No matter how "truthful" the chain of narrators may appear, that's insignificant and serves no purpose unless the contents are in conformity with the Glorious Quran. Again quoting Br. Muhammad Asadi on what the scientific method demands is "how truthful a person was be ignored, and the item be tested on objective criteria. What does the content say?"

This is by far the most important aspect. If the substance of a narration goes against the Quranic principles (and always remember, the Prophet's [SAAW] teachings were based meticulously on Quranic values), the acceptance of 'isnad' is of NO value.

Furthermore, if one concentrates on the concept of the term "isnad" as a criterion, the word itself refers to little beyond hearsay. It defines it's own self as a flimsy and not a foolproof evidence of any claims whatsoever, symbolising the travelling path of gossip or calculated bluff. The only simple requirement to concoct a false yet irrefutable chain of narrators is to have some information on the family & social relationships of the person in focus and perhaps the political setup of the era. Anyone determined to lie on a particular issue can construct a phoney chain of narrtors to support that lie in a few minutes. That's nothing difficult, and it could be virtually impossible to refute that chain on the basis of practical logic.

In any court of law, is the plaintiff or the defendant or any witnesses allowed to testify by mentioning the "chain of narrators" as the sole evidence to their dispute? That would surely be a mockery of justice. But our ulemas are compelled to use "isnad" for this purpose by giving it a dozen different titles because this is the only tool available that can be twisted to masquerade as some sort of "proof" for authentcity.

Although God Amighty has plainly and firmly stated that only the Quran is to be taken as the Criterion (refer to Verse 25:1 - Surah Al Furqan) for judging all matters, yet according to the rules of our ulemas, the fractured and deeply suspicious ideology of "isnad" has bypassed the Quran and established itself as the 'criterion' in this field. It amounts to betrayal of public trust and is a very serious issue. On the Day of Judgment each one of us will be questioned on what basis we accepted human writings in preference to the Divine Message for which God Almighty gave us no warrant.

May Allah grant us an independent sense of perception, constantly keeping in mind the norms & principles of the Glorious Quran as our only Criterion. Allah has given each one of us a degree of common sense and surely He expects us to use it.