|Muqaam-e-Hadith (The Actual Status of Hadith)|
The human mind has proved itself effete and tardy. Very careful scrutiny and ransacking of the mind is required to reach the heart of any matter, but it eschews and cuts corners at every possible opportunity. As the world turns, new discoveries and laws are made in social circles and all the more so in the realm of religion, where some incidences have become standard clichés or myths of wisdom over the passage of years. No one deems it necessary to think twice as to how most of these parables or folklore became the criteria of wisdom and faith although, these doctrines of wisdom might have been twisted through the generations.
The insurmountable impediment while examining, scrutinizing or giving our serious thought on any religious myth or cliché is the righteous halo we have woven around it. We consider ourselves of a blasphemy, a sin of the highest intensity or committing a blunder of the superlative degree, to question the origins of any religious myth or cliché. No matter how much we make the person realize the importance of cogent rationale on these standard religious clichés, nonetheless, his level of thought hesitates to enter into broader horizons. It is commonly observed that a person is more inclined towards finding a justification of the religious cliché one adheres to, rather than having an open and an unbiased mind. More formidable than the inner turmoil are the fears of wrath from ones religious connoisseurs. The derogatory opinion and threats of being outcaste by these demigods, do not allow an individual to muster courage enough to give ones serious thoughts on these myths or stories attributed towards the bulwarks with unshakable faith.
The Need for Research
On the other hand, if we agree and are of the opinion, that only 'reality' must have value, that has been through the process of our rational sifting and only that 'faith' carries weight which has been acquired after our thorough speculation and cognitive experiences, then it becomes incumbent upon us to weigh the pros and cons of any religious issue. No matter how many treacherous peaks we may have to climb. At this point, it is advised to refrain from our personal conflicting religious experiences and do away with all external fears. In this connection we shall endeavour to consider a common religious doctrine, that in our subconscious, appears as part and parcel of the core of our religious set of beliefs.
You question any Muslim today as to how would he define the system or 'DEEN' of Islam. Without any hesitation we are replied that, 'Islam is a compound of the Holy Quran and Hadith.' The indoctrination of this reply is so deep down in our hearts, we do not have the faintest notion of doubt about it when answering, no matter how glaringly self-contradictory the myth may appear to us. The important question is, the myth or story we take so much for granted, the sentence we speak everyday with so much confidence and strong conviction; has it ever been brought to our personal scrutiny and examined by rationale, before being accepted by us? Or do we accept, merely because it has traveled down to us through many, many generations. If that does not happen to be the case, then let us have the courage to face the culmination of the ancestral paths we have chosen.
By rationalizing our belief we are obtaining dual advantage. If the myth or cliché stands the scrutiny of our cognizance, then it shall become more profound and ingrained in our minds and close to our heart beats, otherwise we will know, we relinquished a myth that was nothing else but a rigmarole of someone's fantasy. Even more so, it will open our eyes to the fact that our belief was based on sheer custom. The process of cogent reasoning when accepting any statement is also reaffirmed by the Holy Quran that characterizes momins as:
And those who do not fall (forsaketh reason) for these ayats (Allah's words) like the dumb and deaf. 25:73
Reasoning also coincides with one of the postulates of the Holy Quran, wherein is said:
Do not follow that of which you knoweth not; remember, your sense of sight, hearing and cognitive capabilities will be questioned. 17:36
It is hoped we are of no two opinions over the fact, that Deen in reality is one that is invincible, in other words which is not based on fantasy or illusion. So it is said in Quran:
Most of these (people) are prone to fantasy and hearsay. In actuality 'illusion' will have no benefit in comparison with 'reality.' And Allah knoweth everyone as to what they do. 10:36
It becomes mandatory for us, when it is said, 'Islam is a composition of the Holy Quran and Hadith,' to determine whether in actuality it happens to be the case or not. Is it in reality true that both of the above mentioned books have been revealed as Deen in Islam through MuhammadPBUH? The Holy Book reiterates numerous times, that this Book is nothing else but the 'Truth.'
"What we have revealed unto you is truth............" 35:31
The opening words of this book of wisdom are... . There is absolutely no doubt about this book. In other words, it is factual and not based on fantasy or illusion. This is as far as the spirit of the Book is concerned. Now how was it revealed and compiled and in what capacity is it going to exist, Quran further says:
Verily, unto us is the compilation and transmission of its knowledge. 75:17
It goes beyond compilation and explicitly asserts that we hold its responsibility as far as its preservation is concerned. Till the Day of Judgment not a single letter will be changed. It augurs:
Verily! We have revealed, unto us lies its preservation. 15:9
To give this notion of preservation a practical shape, it further commands:
O Muhammad! Deliver it to the people, what is being revealed unto you. 5:67
What did the Messenger MuhammadPBUH do to implement this command of Almighty, we nearly all of us are aware of it. Whatever was revealed unto the Messenger, he had each and every letter of the revelation dictated to his disciples or followers. Thousands were made to memorize the revelations on MuhammadPBUH by heart. Not only that, MuhammadPBUH himself listened to those verses who had learnt them by heart and then cast his seal of approval upon them.
Messenger MuhammadPBUH before taking his last breadth, ascertained and made sure that whatever had been revealed unto him, had been delivered to the humankind in its complete form. In his famous sermon of last Friday of the last Ramadan, before his soul departed from this world he bore Allah as his witness and confirmed from his audience, that he had delivered all revelations to them in its complete form. In the caliphate period, after the unbearable demise of MuhammadPBUH, the four caliphs made it obligatory upon themselves, the sacred duty of preserving the Holy Quran. Henceforth, these holy scriptures, which are in the hearts of myriad of Muslims and also on paper, are coming down through the years in its original and true shape. Even foreign religious scholars do not question its verity.
However moved we may be, by the uniformity of our religious liturgy, the case with our Hadith somehow, does not seem to hold water. We must not omit the fact that nowhere has Allah held the responsibility of hadith, as it has done in the case of the Holy Quran. That is of utmost significance, since the hadith consists of parables and sayings of Messenger MuhammadPBUH and nothing else, we must consider Muhammad's attitude towards hadith. If Hadith is part of Deen, then the procedures Messenger adopted for Quran are not implemented in the case of hadith. Like having it memorized, then listening to his followers for any errors or that he satisfactorily approved what had been dictated and written, that over and above all, it was in its pure and authentic form. Though the mind questions, if hadith is all that significant, why the Messenger did not take the same measures as he did in the case of Holy Quran? On the contrary, we find in that very hadith, Muhammad PBUH clearly says:
Do not have anything else dictated from me, save the Quran. If anyone of you has written any word other than the Quran, erase it!
We are also told that this was a temporary mandate from the Messenger. That at another time, it is observed, upon the request of Hazrat Abdullah bin OmarR, the Messenger permitted them to write down his sayings. As is noticed, the Messenger only permitted his followers, he did not make it mandatory for them to write, as we find he did, in the compilation of the Holy Quran. Moreover, he did not at anytime, ask as to what they had written or heard or question the verity of their writings. Neither we find MuhammadPBUH adopting measures to safeguard or preserve those hadiths as he had done with Quran. It is usually said and believed that in those days the Arabs had stupendous memory and also those sayings were very dear to the hearts of the disciples. Now the mind again questions, if memory was enough of a viable resource to be depended upon, why then was the need felt to have the Holy Quran dictated and written on paper, then recited again to remove any possibility of errors or mistakes during the process of its dictation. If any disciple of the Messenger had learnt those hadiths or sayings of the Messenger by heart, we still are not in a position to vouch for it. Until and unless those sayings were not verified, and the seal of approval cast on them by the Messenger Muhammad PBUH himself, we cannot depend on them. We also have no knowledge of the Messenger ever giving to the Muslims the Hadith in the form of a book and coming down to us through the generations. We observe the Messenger MuhammadPBUH did not take any of the precautions in the case of hadith, as he did for the Holy Quran.
What we have gathered from the historical resources, is that we do find documents other than the Quran, that were written under the orders of MuhammadPBUH. For example, contracts, treatises and letters that he sent to other tribes. What in this matter, has come to our knowledge and what we have been able to gather, at the time of Messenger's demise, are the following:
A register containing the list of names of 1500 holy disciples or followers of Muhammad PBUH.
The letters MuhammadPBUH wrote to various kings and rulers of that age or time.
Documents of treatise and other obligatory rules.
Hadiths from Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar, Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Uuns who wrote them on their own.
No one knows if these sayings written down were ever verified by the Messenger himself or not and whether they have come down to us in its original version. We have no knowledge of any collected works or hadith that Messenger himself gave to the Muslims before his departure from this world. We do in fact find in the Hadith of Bukhari, that someone asked Hazrat Ibn e AbbassR as to what MuhammadPBUH had left behind for the Muslims. He said, 'The Messenger left behind nothing, save the Quran.' (Bukhari, Vol. III, Fuzail ul Quran.) (Sahih Bukhari: Virtues of the Quran)
The Deeds of Disciples
As we glance through the names of Islam's historic personalities, we notice that after Muhammad's lifetime, the caliphate period is also worthy of being looked into. In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad we find the disciples saying,
"Whatever utterances we heard from MuhammadPBUH we noted them down in writing. One day it so happened the Messenger appeared and asked us about the subject of our writings. We replied that whatsoever we hear from his Majesty's lips we transform it into writing. To which he said,
"What! Are you compiling another book along with the book of Allah?"
Meaning in other words that this cannot be made possible. He then insisted and commanded us that we ought to keep Allah's words pure and that we must not amalgamate them with any kind of ambiguities. So we made a bonfire of our notes and parables in an open field." (Quoted from Tudween e Hadith, page 249)
At another instance we find Imam Zuhbi mentioning Hazrat Abu Bakr who gathering the disciples of the Messenger, after his passing away said,
'You people have so much self-contradictory gossip about MuhammadPBUH that you squabble among yourselves. The future generations will become more rigid than you all and quarrel more. You must not feign sayings of Holy Messenger that are fallacious. If anyone inquires you can always say that we have the Holy Quran between us. Whatsoever has been granted must be made permissible and whatsoever has been prohibited must be relinquished.' (Quoted in Tazkara tul Hifaaz e Zuhby, page 321)
Then Imam Zuhbi quotes another parable of the Messenger's wife Hazrat Aisha and writes:
"The wife of the Messenger mentions that her father (Hazrat Abu Bakr) had collected the Hadiths of the Messenger which were five hundred in number. She says,
'One night I noticed that my father was restless in his bed and was very perturbed. I asked him if he was in some bodily pain or was this condition due to any bad news that he might have heard? He did not answer my question. In the morning he asked me to bring him the collection of Hadiths and then he made a bonfire of them all." (Quoted in Tudween e Hadith, page 285-88)
As far as Hazrat Omar's caliphate is concerned, Allama Ibne Abdulbur has mentioned him in his famous book Jama e Biyaan ul ilm, wherein he says:
"OmarR wanted to compile the sayings and parables of the Messenger. He asked from the companions of Messenger MuhammadPBUH to grant him a decree, to which they faithfully conceded.
Inspite of the companions consent Hazrat OmarR was not convinced. For complete one month Hazrat OmarR performed Istekhara. Then one morning when Allah calmed his body and mind and he was able to concentrate on the issue at hand in serenity, he talked to his people about his decision to compile the hadiths. But then he said I thought about the generations that have passed before us, who wrote books and adhered to those books so strongly that they forgot the Book of Allah. I swear upon Allah, I will not let the word of Allah be amalgamated with other words." (Quoted in Tadween e Hadith, page 394)
This was decided because the Messenger had ordered every companion not to ask him to dictate anything else besides the Quran. Whosoever has written anything else besides Quran must erase it. Omar did not finish the matter here. He not only prohibited and banned the collection of ahadith, he went a step ahead and as is written in Tubqaat ibn Sa'ad:
"During Hazrat Omar's caliphate the ahadith were in abundance. He made sure by putting the people under oath that whatever hadith the people had in their possession ought to be brought before him. As ordered, the public submitted whatever they possessed. He then ordered to make a public bonfire of those hadiths." (vol.5, page 141)
This was the third incident of igniting the hadith collection. The first ignition took place when the Messenger commanded. The second instance was when Hazrat Abu BakrR did the same with his own collection and the third time Hazrat OmarR took all the collections from the people under oath and publicly ignited them. All this took place in the capital city. As to what happened afterwards we get a glimpse of it in Hafiz Ibne Abdulbur's Jama e Biyaan wherein he states:
"Hazrat Omar ibn KhattaabR first expressed his desire to compile the ahadith, it dawned upon him later that it will not be appropriate. So he sent a circular in the districts and cantonments to destroy whichever hadith anybody was in possession of." (Tadween e Hadith,Vol.1, page 400)
He writes further and gives us a detailed account, of how elaborate and precautionary measures were taken for the compilation of the Holy Quran. If the government wanted, what possibly could have come in the way of adopting the same policy towards the compilation of the Hadith. He states that the government of that time did not adopt the same policy towards the Hadith with a specific purpose. This was the situation at the time of the Messenger and his companions, of hadith.
The Messenger ordered his companions not to ask him to dictate anything else besides the Quran.
Whatever Hadith collection was present among the companions, it was ordered to be ignited.
Hazrat Abu Bakr made a bonfire of his own collection and banned others from quoting any hadith.
Hazrat Omar after giving his best thought for one month, reached the conclusion to ban the compilation and collection of ahadith.
Hazrat Omar also asked to submit all ahadith in possession of the public who were under oath and then ignited them all.
He also sent a circular in all cities to destroy any evidence of hadith.
This did not happen by chance, according to Maulana Munazar Ahsin Gilani this policy was adopted with a definite purpose in mind.
More Strict Measures:
Day after day Hazrat OmarR became more strict on this issue of transmission of hadith. According to Qaza bin Qa'ab, " When Caliph Omar sent us to Iraq he emphatically drummed it into our heads, that Iraq was a place where sounds of Quran echo like wild bees and we must exercise extreme precaution as not to distract their minds with all kinds of ahadith." It was asked from Abu HurairaR if during Hazrat Omar's caliphate he ever remembered stating the hadith in the same way as he was doing now. To that he replied, if he had done so Hazrat OmarR would have physically scolded him. It has also come down to us that Hazrat OmarR had imprisoned Hazrat Abdullah bin Ma'soodR, Abu DurdaR and Abu Ma'sood AnsariR for illegally in possession of ahadith.
It is quite possible these ahadith may have been weeded out because of ambiguity, although according to the author of this book they are closer to being true, as they were according to the principles of Quran and also parallel to the desire of MuhammadPBUH. We however, are not interested in debating on this point. Even if we do not have the above quoted hadiths, we still are in possession of another historical fact that cannot be denied. We observe that by the end of the caliphate period, there isn't a single copy of Hadith that was compiled and completed under the supervision of any Caliph of that period. From these historical facts it can easily be determined, if those Caliphs or the Holy Messenger had ever considered the hadith to be a part of the Deen of Islam, they would have adopted the same measures as were taken towards the Holy Quran. Hence after the demise of the Messenger no steps were taken towards collection of Hadith.
Hamam Ibn Mamba's Manuscript
What the religious scholars of hadith, after much struggle, have succeeded in discovering, has come down to us under the title of Hamam ibne Mamba's manuscript. This was published by Dr. Hameed ullah several years ago from Hyderabad (India). It is believed that Hamam ibne Mamba was the student of Abu HurairaR who died in hijra 131. In this manuscript there are 138 ahadith in total, which its author states were compiled before his teacher Abu Huraira. His teacher is believed to have departed from us in hijra 58. By other means we can say that this manuscript was compiled before hijra 58. We also notice that Imam Mamba writes these hadiths before hijra 58 in Medina and is able to obtain only 138 ahadith. Whereas in hijra 300 when Imam Bokhari decides to collect ahadith he gathers six hundred thousand. (Imam Humbal found 1,000,000 ahadith and Imam Yahya bin Moeen found 1,200,000 hadiths) Another fact we observe that those ahadith that have been confered upon Abu HurairaR amount to thousands, though his student was able to write only 138 ahadith. However, in the first century of the Islamic calendar, the sum total of all individual collection is Imam Mamba's 138 ahadith. There are no other written records of Holy Messenger's gospel belonging to that period of Islamic history.
At the close of hijra100 we notice that Caliph Omar bin Abdul AzizR on his own, had some work done on Hadith. After him was Imam Ibne Shahab ZuhryR who at the order of Caliph Bannu Umayya compiled a concise edition of Hadith and that also according to its author was against his desire. At present we neither have any copy or manuscript of hadith of Hazrat Omar bin Abdul AzizR nor the concise edition of Shahab Zuhry. Although ahadith confered in their names are mentioned at a later period, when the need was felt to bring into record the historical events of Holy Messenger's life. The material for the historical records was a conglomerate of all that had been coming down to them through the generations. Some writers narrowed their research to only those records that refer to the parables, gospels or sayings of the Messenger MuhammadR. This collection is titled Hadith (the very word hadith means conversations).
The first compilation of Hadith that is present today belongs to Imam Malik (died hijra179) and is called Muta. In it we find three to five hundred various ahadith, it further informs us about the activities of Messenger's companions in Medina. After Imam Malik we find various other scholars venturing on this subject and compiling several different editions of Hadith.
During the Abbasids period we observe spectacular progress in the field of Islamic arts and sciences and along with that the number of hadith compilations also increased. The most famous of all compilations that has come down to us is known as the 'Sahiheen,' these books are authored by Imam BokhariR and Imam MuslimR. Imam BukhariR who died in hijra 256 had made a collection of 600,000 ahadith. After sifting through various ahadith he finally decided to retain 2,630 and produced them in book form under the title of 'Us'hal Kitab baaduz Kitab e Allah' (The most pure book after the book of Allah).
This Hadith is now being pronounced as inseparable part of the Deen of Islam. Six different editions of Hadith are considered to be the most authentic by the Sunniites and are called 'Sahaa Sitaa.' The Shiites have their own collections that are different from Sunniites. Those six editions come under the following titles:
The introduction to the authors of the above listed collections is as follows:
IMAM BUKHARI: He was born in Bukhari in hijra 256 and some believe the date to be hijra 260 but we all know that he died in Samarkand. It is said that after wandering through different cities and villages he collected close to six hundred thousand hadiths and after sifting through he found 7,300 ahadith that he considered close to being authentic. Some have been repeated in various chapters. If we do not count the repetitions, the total figures we get are 2,630 or 2,762.
IMAM MUSLIM: Muslim bin Hajaj belonged to a city in Iran called Nishapur. He was born in hijra 204 and died in hijra 261.
TRIMZI: Imam Abu Isa Muhammad Trimzi was from the city called Trimz in Iran. He was born in hijra 209 and died in hijra 279.
ABU DAWOOD: He comes from Seestan in Iran. He was born in hijra 202 and died in hijra 275.
IBNE MAJA: Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Zaid ibne Maja came from northern Iran, a city that goes by the name of Kazdin. His year of birth is hijra 209 and he died in hijra 273.
IMAM NISAAYEE: Imam Abdur Rahman Nisaayee came from a city called Nisa in Iran's eastern province of Khorasan. He died in hijra 303.
After a brief introduction of these religious scholars one can easily infer that (a) they all came from Iran. (b) None of these scholars was from Arab descent. We also notice that none of the Arabs were prepared to do what these scholars have done. (c) All of them were born in the third century. (d) Whatever ahadith were collected, were all hearsay, (e) there were no written records of hadith before their collections.
From these thousands of ahadith that were gathered, they chose some and discarded others. The criterion of selection was their personal judgment. For these gospels, their authors had no decree of any kind from God (revealing to them as to which hadith to choose and which ones to discard). Nor we find they had the consent or approval of the Holy Messenger (proving that the selected ahadith were the true parables or sayings of the Messenger). Again, there were no previous records that they could have borrowed the material for their collections. All the sayings were just word of the mouth they gathered from various cities and villages. After giving their own judgment or approval these religious scholars selected some and discredited others on their own. Hence the denounement of Hadith.
(After having assessed the long chase of the departed Messenger MuhammadPBUH, it appears as though Allah was no more an important Being in the life of Muslims. Which was quite contrary to what Muhammad was trying to teach.)
How can anyone vouch for these kinds of ahadith based on hearsay or prove, that in actuality these were the original words of the Messenger? Keeping in mind that, after two or two and a half centuries, not a single word could be guaranteed that it belonged to the Messenger, or has been conveyed from father to son or teacher to student by memorizing. These were garbled words of previous centuries.
(In as much as I would want to hear the exact words of the last of the Great Messengers; at the same time to accept a version that is not first hand, second hand or even third, forth or fifth hand, does not make any sense at all. On the contrary, we are defeating our very purpose for which the Ahadith were written i.e., to seek the Truth. And by accepting a clone, we are corroding our own system of thought.)
It would not be futile to know the number of ahadith that have been discredited.
Ahadith Compiler Found Ahadith Selected Ahadith for the book Imam Bukhari 600,000 2,762 (after repetitions) Imam Muslim 300,000 4,348 Imam Trimzi 300,000 3,115 Imam Abu Dawood 500,000 4,800 Imam Ibn Maja 400,000 4,000 Imam Nisai 200,000 4,321
What comes to mind again, after the sifting was done by the authors of hadith, who can say for sure the authors did not relegate the actual sayings or parables of the Messenger. Many of those ahadith that these authors have included in their collection, also go against the Messenger. This discussion will be taken later on in this book.
From the above research, it is determined, the collection of parables and teachings of the Messenger was an individual effort without any warranty from Allah or any kind of consent from the Messenger. These findings also invite one to ponder as to what would have been the condition of the DEEN (Quran), if it was thrown at the mercy of humankind.
It is widely discussed, we were fortunate that Imam BukhariR and various other religious scholars were able to make a collection, otherwise we would have been (God forbid) robbed of our Islamic treasure. Some scholars go so far as to exclaim that only one tenth of the knowledge is in the Quran and the rest of nine tenths of the treasure is in the Hadiths. (No wonder nine tenths of the time the world is at war with each other). Please give your serious attention to this. A God who explicitly proclaims in the Quran that 'the system of DEEN is now complete,' and after hearing that can we even for a moment imagine, that the last of the Messengers will leave so gargantuan amount of other knowledge about it at the mercy of fate? I have grave doubts if that will make any sense!
It could have been possible, as we had seen with the preserving of the Holy Quran, that the words of the Messenger be made to travel from heart to heart until they were compiled in the form of a book. Their authenticity could have been, to quite an extent vouched for. As we all know now, even this was not the story. The Hadith books that are present today, do not contain the original sayings of the MuhammadPBUH. These are interpretations of his gospel or sayings. As in common conversation and literature we find sentences with 'in other words..........' For example the Messenger's companion heard him say or utter something and reached his own conclusion and delivered it to another companion in a different tone, then the second one tried to understand and conveyed it to another companion. Now imagine this going on, not for one day or two days, one or two months, not even one year or two years, this went on for a crucial period of two or two and a half centuries. And these centuries, mind you, were full of conspiracies and intrigues against the Islamic ideology. How much truth is left, when sentences have been moving from one mind to another for this prolonged period of time, I shall leave it for you to imagine?
BENEFIT OF DOUBT
It would be worthwhile to mention Maulana Abul A. Maudoodi's criticism here. In order to thoroughly understand the genius of the Messenger, (what to talk about the late comers in Hadith writing) he gives his critique on the pioneer Abu Huraira as follows:
"Apparently, it seems that either Abu HurairaR was unable to comprehend Muhammad's statement or he did not hear him completely...........These kinds of misinterpretations are not uncommon in our Hadith literature, sometimes a saying has been clarified by another saying while there are others that are still more ambiguous." (Quoted from Tasneem, Ahadith number, Oct. 14, 1959)
This was his viewpoint on the interpretation of the first compiler on Hadith. As far as transfering these interpretations to others is concerned, the same author narrates in his book (Tafheemaat, volume, 1) as follows:
"Let us say for example, I am giving a speech today and many thousands are listening to me. Few hours later, after I have finished my speech (not months or years, but only a few hours later), just ask the people as to what I was saying. It will be observed that all translations will be different from each other. Everyone will emphasize a different portion of the speech. Somebody will take down word for word whereas another will interpret that sentence according to his own understanding. One person will have a better mind and will give the correct meaning of it, whereas another with limited intellectual capacity, may garble the true meanings. One person maybe having a good memory and may give you a word for word translation, whereas another with a weak memory will make mistakes conveying the meaning to others."
SAYINGS ATTRIBUTED TO THE MESSENGER
This was in fact the way in which the statements and parables of the Messenger traveled through two or two and a half centuries. That is absolutely the reason when one reads the Quran we say it in all belief, (qalallahwatallah ) "which Allah promulgates." When we begin to narrate any statement of Hadith we say 'The Messenger of Allah said...' And at the end we say (oqamaqala'rasoolallah ) meaning 'otherwise or as the Messenger might have said.' That is also why the statements in Hadith are not considered the original words of the Messenger. The statements in hadith are believed to be those that are referenced to Messenger's statements. And are not his exact words.
Narrators of Ahadith
It is obvious, in the conventional parables, we come across numerous names of writers, on a single statement of the Messenger. After the compilation of Hadith, question arose as to the moral health and conduct of those who have refered these statements. For that we must take each and every hadith and check for the morals and character of its author. This is one of those arts, of which we can proudly boast and which is little known anywhere else. We do not have the faintest bit of doubt on the intention of narrators. Again the important question is, can we by this approach arrive at Truth? You can vouch for the individual's character who is saying the hadith to you, how can you say with authority that all the people who carried the words of Messenger were sincere at heart or could be depended on. It is not the question of having confidence in those writers, the most important aspect is, were they capable of thoroughly understanding a statement and giving the correct interpretation of it. If we can prove, that in two or two and a half centuries the words are capable of remaining in their original form, then I think we have solved the greatest mystery of our times........... It is impossible!
Maulana Abul A. Maudoodi has also something to say on this:
"These people (who believe the Hadith to be a part of Deen), crushed the limits of justice. Now we should rank the Hadith according to the degree they have been granted. If for example when we read a stronger version, we must let go of its weaker counterpart. No doubt the material that is provided about the pioneers is of immense value for future narrators of Hadith. The only question is how far are these people completely trustworthy. After all they were all but human and we must not expect them to go beyond the scope of human limits. Nor can we guarantee they can compensate for the human lacuna. How are you to say for sure, that whatever they are relating is fool proof, when the writers themselves are not sure about it?" (Tafheemat, part I, page 318)
He further writes:
"The respectful Hadith writers have provided gargantuan volumes of worthy treasure, but how can we say that it is absolutely beyond doubt. (page 319)
He is not commenting on inadvertent mistakes, when he says:
"There is an evil in each one of us, and there lies a strong possibility, when forming an opinion, that it shall interdict."
He further argues:
"By these examples we are not, by any means, connoting that their research is abracadabra. Our purpose is only to bring to surface the fact that the narrators were but only human. They were not above human imperfections. Is it then mandatory that whosoever they claim to be worthy of respect ought to be taken with respect." (page 321)
"All the elements of Hadith have been excavated as far as the human factor could take us. But it is not essential that in their researches they have succeeded in reaching the truth. There is every likelihood that the saying they claim to be true, may not in fact exist. This and other similar factors restrain us from drawing conclusions from the art of rational gleaning. Their research provides great material for the Messenger's lifetime and in researching the relics of the Messenger's companions, but they are not fool proof." (page 321-22)
Verdict on Reliability
As far as personal inclinations are concerned we are entering a region where even the angels fear to tread. When a person passes a judgement on another whether he/she qualifies the morality standard or not, there is every bit of likelihood of involving our personal propensities. And these inclinations are founded and based on our set of beliefs. Imam BukhariR was in disagreement with Imam Abu HanifaR on the issue of fluctuations in faith in a person's lifetime. Consequently, he never considered the great Imam very honorably. Not only that, as the great Imam had his roots in Kufa, thenceforth all the citizens of Kufa were not considered to be trustworthy and incapable of transmitting the hadith. As Kufa was in Iraq, so all Iraqis were chips of the same block and he reached the decision that 99 out of 100 Iraqi hadiths ought to be counted as ambiguous. In the same way on a frivolous difference two great Imams, Imam Abu Hatim and Imam Abu Zra'a decreed Imam BukhariR of being untrustworthy, and ceased all communications on hadith with him. Let us not forget that Bukhari and Muslim are the most trustworthy in the Islamic world and their works are called 'Sahiheen' (the most perfect ones). In Hadith literature, we observe quite a bit of friction and conflict between these two narrators. This division in hadith, based on the conflict of belief can easily be observed by the existence of Shia and Sunni factions. As mentioned before, the Sunnis have their own collection of Hadith and claim their source coming from TabaeenR and the Messenger's companionsR. The teachings we gather from this resource are disparate from the Shiite hadith. The Shiites also claim their hadith origins in TabaeenR and companionsR of Messenger MuhammadPBUH.
It cannot even be imagined (at least by Sunnis) that those honorable narrators and writers of Hadith that are included in Shia hadiths are all (God forgive) liers. As the Holy Messengers companions were neither Sunni nor Shia - to which these hadiths are attributed. So they have no other choice left, expect to include the hadith from every sect in order to get the correct biography of the Messenger MuhammadPBUH. The present situation happens to be, that from a respectable source we get hadiths that are deemed correct in the Shia circles - yet both these hadiths of two different sects contradict each other. You tell us, as to which hadith ought to be considered genuine and true to the life of Messenger MuhammadPBUH. It is all the more difficult when we have to include the condition that the writer of hadith has to be honorable, trustworthy and sincere. This way no one can vouch for the authenticity of any hadith, gospel or parable. We may call it by any other name, sheer bigotry, party politics or whatever, except the true and authentic words of MuhammadPBUH. The great BukhariR includes material for Hadith from sources which he himself considers to be untrustworthy. (refer to Mezaan ul Aitadaal az Allama Zuhby au Tadreeb al Ravi)
These were the external sources by means of which we reach the conclusion, that neither MuhammadPBUH anywhere mentions hadith to be part of DEEN nor his companions believed it to be so. The collection of Hadiths that we possess today are also not the original words of MuhammadPBUH. The most cutting evidence that goes against these hadiths are its contents. Our spirit freezes and the pen shakes when we read what is narrated. We realize that the latter sentence of ours must have astonished the readers - it ought to do so too. As the Hadith is almost as sacred, respectworthy and close to the hearts as the Holy Quran. Obviously this kind of critical perusal from us ought to bamboozle and baffle you. You must neither listen to us nor anybody else and read what is written in Bukhari's collection and decide for yourself as to how far, what we have written, is correct. We also know and are sure that you are going to be persuaded by others. You may also be told to take into consideration the magnitude of respect that has been granted to authors like Imam Bukhari, whose book has been placed almost next to Quran. You will be condescendingly asked and urged not to believe in any kind of undermining or vile conversation. We sincerely plead to you again, the respects to the cadre and caliber of our ancestors is very close to our hearts also. When Imam Bukhari is there and available, why not read and confirm it for yourself, as to how far we are justified in writing about the Bukhari's Hadith. You will read words and sentences, that no one in his right frame of mind, will ever have the audacity to attribute towards the Holy Messenger. Especially to a personality whose vision and insight has no parallel and who is suppose to lead the humanity and be a symbol of peace to them. A person's blood freezes in the veins when we read those kind of words attributed to such a great and noble man as MuhammadPBUH.
That is why Maulana Abul A. Maudoodi felt compelled to write:
"It shall not be appropriate to claim, that all the hadiths that are in Bukhari must be accepted as they are, without any critical revision. (Quoted from Tarjuman ul Quran, Oct., Nov. 1952)
The late Maulana Abul K. Azad gives us his opinion on Bukhari's Hadith, wherein it is said that 3 times in his lifetime, Messenger Abraham was forced to tell lies:
"From the various hadiths that we read, no matter how close it may seem to the truth, the innocence of the hadith cannot go further than the innocence of the mind of its narrator. Neither must the hadith be taken to go beyond our belief. We must admit that this hadith cannot be the words of the Holy Messenger. Definitely, somewhere the narrator of this hadith has made a mistake. And in admitting this fact neither the sky is going to fall nor the ground will break apart." (Quoted from Tafsir Tarjuman ul Quran, Volume 2, published by Zamzam Co, Lahore pg 499-500)
Maulana Ubaid Ullah Sindhi goes even further and says,
'I feel embarrassed to ask a Neo-Muslim European to read Bukhari's Hadith.' (Risala al'Furqan, Shah Waliullah number, page # 286)
These were criticisms of individuals. The whole of the Hanafi sect does not believe in the two hundred or so hadiths present in Muslim and Bukhari.
It is usually asserted, that let us suppose the Hadith collection is not totally authentic, that it does contain a figment of writers' or narrators' imagination. And what is wrong with that? After all our whole business and commercial lifestyle is based on imagination too. Don't we believe in historical events, whether from a journalist's pen or read them in newspapers? How can we say those stories are in fact true? So why do we have to dishonor the hadiths if they have been slightly modified?
Apparently these seem to be cogent arguments. When we dig deeper, we will find how big the difference is, the curtain falls down and we become familiar with 'reality.' Newspapers or history is not a matter of belief for us. If I want I may accept a certain event, if I have arguments against it, without any second thoughts or hesitation I can relinquish. On the contrary, hadith we know has to do with our beliefs. That means it is beyond critique. Even the slightest doubt on hadith will shake our faith. Let us say, that we find in history the king, at such and such an event or at such and such a date told a lie. It is totally up to me to accept or reject it. I am not bound by any means to believe in it, neither does my accepting it or not, will have any affect on my faith.
On the other side when Bukhari's hadith is put in front of me, in which it is written that "Messenger Abraham spoke 3 lies in his lifetime," and because hadith is part of my faith, it becomes my duty to believe in it. If I don't believe in this hadith, it would mean I am doubting the verdict of the Messenger. And if I believe in this hadith then I am alleging a respectworthy and an honorable Messenger of God (God forgive me) a lier.
Or say, you read in the newspapers that one man cut off another's nose. You are under no obligation to believe in it or not. And then you read Bukhari's hadith, wherein it is narrated, "When the angel of death arrived in front of the Messenger Moses, he slapped the angel so hard that the angel lost one eye." It becomes mandatory upon you to believe in this parable. If one doubts the story then you are doubting Islam. Now we must be confident after having discussed the vast difference. It is also hoped now that the difference has been adequately revealed, as to a belief that is part of our faith and a belief that involves our business or commercial lifestyle.
CONSEQUENCES OF A BELIEF
Let us take you on an insight of the practical implications of taking the hadith lightly. When we bring forth a Quranic ayat (sentence) linked to an issue in our daily life, it is quite possible the debating parties may not agree on the Quran's translation, or maybe hesitant to agree on its interpretation. However the case maybe, no one will ever deny that this ayat is not from the Quran. In our hadiths it is altogether a different story. Whenever someone quotes a hadith, the first question that comes to our minds is whether that hadith is true or not. Consequently, Maulana Abul A. Maudoodi writes:
"In actuality, any hadith attributed towards MuhammadPBUH, is always a controversial issue. It may be mandatory for you (or any other party) to believe in a hadith, that is approved by the narrators. This does not happen to be the case with us. We are not obligated to the narrator's approval in order to believe in the hadith to be true." (Risayal au Masayal, part one, page 290)
We were discussing that in order to have a belief in a certain statement, it is indispensible for that statement or verdict to be truthful. When it is proclaimed that what we call DEEN, that is made of the Holy Quran and the Hadith, then it becomes incumbent upon both of these to be genuine and true. Whenever we say that Allah has proclaimed in Quran, then there does not exist the slightest bit of doubt about the verity of that statement. On the contrary, when we produce a hadith, the first reflection that comes in our minds is, as to wherefrom this hadith has been quoted and how far is the hadith honorable.
The altercations among the Muslims are all due to this question of hadiths verity. One faction in Islam claims a hold on a certain belief and brings the hadith as its witness, while another sect plainly dishonours and brushes it aside, as not being the true words of the Messenger. These frictions among various sects are a thousand years old and there seems no immediate panacea for it. This is so because in the whole of Muslim world, we do not have any means to substantiate, that the hadith being quoted has the original words of the Messenger.
Also bear in mind, that nobody will ever say that we do believe in any one of these ayats to be from the Quran, or that some words have weakened in value over the passage of years. Quran's every ayat is as strong as it was the day it was revealed. There is no question about it. On the contrary, when a hadith is submitted to anyone, the party may relinquish the hadith as a piece of gossip. Since there are various kinds of Hadith books - and that also is the basis of all the squabbles between these different sects. At present there seems to be no cure in sight...... No! That is not so. We are told there is an answer, there is a panacea and there is a remedy available. There is one standard or measure that can tell whether a certain hadith is viable or not, and whether the Holy Messenger could have uttered those words or not. Not only that, even if there does not exist a hadith on a certain matter, we still can know what possibly the Holy Messenger could have said on that subject. Of course! it would be a subject of highest metaphysical interest to know of a source thirteen or fourteen hundred years after the departing of the Messenger.
Again Maulana Maudoodi's views on this are:
"The person who is bestowed the honor by Allah, develops by the study of Quran and the character of the Messenger, a certain kind of sense. This sense is analogous to the experience of an old jeweler, that is capable of recognizing the finer characteristics in a diamond. That person can realize the temperament of the whole Islamic system, by casting a bird's eye view. When the time comes to craft the details of this system, his developed sense guides him to discern the difference between Islamic and non-Islamic elements. The same sense becomes a rule and standard in the case of hadith also, that lets him decide the viability of a hadith. The culture and ethos of Islam can be realized in the life of the Messenger. A person who understands the distinguishing character of Islam and has done a thorough study of Quran and the character of MuhammadPBUH becomes capable of sensing the finer sentiments of the character of the Messenger. (As I am translating this quote, thoughts are flashing in my mind, if ever there can be a man/woman who can sense the finer sentiments of the Messenger, then what is hampering or coming in the way to adopt the Messenger's way of life. Muhammad's character is a balance of forgiveness, justice and sacrifice. How many of these authors have that balance in them. If they are capable of sensing those Messengeric qualities, then why do they not act upon them. Perhaps they have not reached those heights of character and are just talking about it. If they want to be righteous that is their choice, but why impose a righteous attitude if someone does not want it.) His insight is able to sense which words his Holy Majesty the Messenger of Allah could have uttered in a certain hadith, while dishonoring others that he does not sense, belong to the Messenger.
Not only that, those matters about which he cannot find any reference in the Quran, can also be explained by that person, as he knows what could have been the Messenger's verdict. And this becomes possible as his spirit has become lost in the spirit of MuhammadPBUH and his insight is one with the vision of Messenger. After reaching that heightened stage an individual needs no warrants to check the viability of any hadith. There are times when he can pick up an old, outcasted, discontinued or dishonoured hadith, as he has that sense to make Messengeric decisions. At other times a hadith that is near to being credible, more popular and socially accepted may find no value according to him. As he finds no meaning to this golden drink of Islam that is in accordance with the sentiments of Islam and the Messenger." (Tafheemaat, vol. 1,page 323-24)
Let us scrutinize and examine rationally what has just been quoted above. What it actually means is:
You all ought to have faith in Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim (and various other hadith scholars). The words 'have faith in' are not brought in for nothing. You have to have faith that what these above mentioned authors have written in hadith are the true statements of the Messenger of Islam. If you renounce, in that case you become a non-believer of hadith, heretic and therefore exiled from the sphere of Islam.
And if you renounce faith in the authorities on hadith then you ought to have faith in the vision of that individual who recognizes the Messenger's character. It means that you must believe in whatever he says, that those are the true words of the Messenger, inspite of the fact whether that statement is nowhere under the sun or is present in the hadith books. If you do not comply, you are considered a non-believer in Hadith, an agnostic and a pagan.
More correctly, the quote means if you all have faith in the collectors of Hadith (book's authorities) and do not have faith in the vision of one who has insight into the temperament of the Messenger, then in his eyes you are a non-believer in hadith and thus a pagan. Again if you do not have faith in Imam BukhariR and Imam MuslimR and deny them, then again according to 'Ahl e Hadith' sect you are denying Hadith and therefore a heretic.
In other words, God wanted you all to have faith in the messages sent through the holy Messenger, in order for you to be a true Muslim. Now the scenario that is made to prevail is, if you do not have faith in the above mentioned human beings, you cannot be called a Muslim.
BELIEF IN HADITH
This remains the status quo as far as hadith is concerned. Are you aware, what is being discussed in our religious circles? Please peruse carefully, and think again that if our belief in these hadiths is not the actual cause of confusion in DEEN (Islamic system) what else is? Late Maulana M. Ismail (former president, 'Jamiat e Ahl e Hadith) writes in his periodical 'Jamaat e Islami ka Nazariya Hadith.'
"The correct rank of hadith, after research, remains equivalent to the Holy Quran. In fact its denial will have the same consequences as the denial of Quran...Those hadiths that are proven perfect by the value standards and are chosen according to the choice of Sunnis cannot be denied. Otherwise you are an agnostic and an outcast from the Islamic community." (page 48)
Meaning that not even one hadith, that has been proven true can be denied (to say, that it does not belong to the Holy Messenger). Otherwise it is tantamount to agnosticism and you are an alien in the sphere of Islam. According to the above mentioned sect, the Bukhari and Muslim books are considered 'Sahiheen' (meaning it is the truth), therefore if whosoever denies any of these books is a 'Kafir' (agnostic). It is written:
"The Muslims are united on Bukhari and Muslim...These hadiths are the absolute." (Page 55)
The word 'Muslims' is meant for all those who belong to the Ahl e Hadith sect. This is because, the Hanafi sect that is considered the majority in the Muslim world, deny at least two hundred hadiths of Imam BukhariPBUH and Imam Muslim.
HADITH IS REVELATION
As to why it is heresy to deny these hadiths, the late Maulana Ismail writes:
"The archangel Gabriel brought the revelations of "Quran" and "Sunnat" (the lifestyle of the Messenger) together. The angel taught 'sunnat' to the Messenger just like the "Quran." That is why we do not differentiate in these 'revelations.' (Page 60)
TWO KINDS OF REVELATION
Meaning to say, that Quran and the Hadith, both are revelations of God and there is no difference between them. That is why a hadith was later on crafted, according to which the Holy Messenger told his disciples that I get revelations of Quran and Masla Ma'a (along with it similar and something else). Another concept was brought into use, that 'revelations' are of two kinds.
The revelation called 'Jalli' (that means Quran)
and the other revelation is 'Khaffe' (meaning the Hadith).
The 'Jalli' revelation is also named 'Multoo' (which means a revelation that is recitable) and the other kind is 'Ghair Multoo' that cannot be recited. Please be advised here, that we have found no mention in the Quran and there is no clue of it even in the primary literature of hadith. This idea of two revelations actually belonged to the Jews. These writers have borrowed it from the Jews who believed in a revelation that could be written and the other that is not written (which means it was transferred through traditions). We do not want to involve ourselves here, as to how this concept is contrary to Quran and how it shatters its foundations. All we want to know is, that if God accepted the responsibility of the 'Holy Quran,' what came in his way, from taking the responsibility of the. Hadith? The Messenger neither gave it to the Muslims, in any book form nor did the following Caliphs consider it essential to do so. Nor did any of the disciples of the Messenger bring it into writing. Whosoever had written the hadith had either publicly burnt it himself or had it burnt. If 'Quran' and 'Hadith' both were revelations, then why so much favoritism, care, and protection of one and no care at all for the other revelation? Can we by any means understand what this connotes? (Or where these concepts are leading us to?)
Why Ahadith were not Written
It would not be a bad idea at all to listen to the answers to our question. Maulana Maudoodi writes that if Hadith had also been preserved as the Quran, then:
"The Quran would have at least become as big as Encyclopedia Britannica in volume."(Tafheemaat. Vol 1,page 236)
Because its volume would have increased so God did not include this part of revelation in the Quran. If we accept this argument, that the volume would be huge, then why was this revelation not written in a separate volume. To this the answer is:
"In those times there was paucity of literacy, and almost little means to have it written." (Tarjuman ul Quran, March 1954)
This was Maulana Maudoodi's answer. Dr. Hameed Ullah who is at present settled in Paris, has something else to say on this topic. He writes in one of his articles that was printed in the Karachi periodical 'Al Islam,' in its January 1-15, 1959 issue:
"The Messenger proved to be a man of modest and careful deeds. In the capacity of a Messenger of God, he had taken all possible and necessary steps to ensure that the message of God, not only was it delivered correctly to the people, but also that it was preserved. If he had adopted the same steps for his own deeds, he would have been taken for an egoist. That is why the Hadith story is different from the Quran."
This is the story of that Hadith, which is being placed next to Quran and which was revealed by archangel Gabrial just like the Quran. And by renouncing it we become heretics, in the same way we become a heretic by not believing in the Quran.
HADITH IS BEYOND QURAN
Uptil now we have noticed that it is being mentioned that Hadith is an example of the Holy Quran, meaning in other words, it is equivalent to the Quran. Now let us move a bit further Imam Ozai states:
"Quran is more dependent on the Hadith books as compared with Hadith depending on the Holy Quran." (Muktasir Jama e Biyaan ul Ilm, page 223)
HADITH CAN NEGATE QURAN
What this means is, that whenever there is a deadlock between Quran and Hadith, the hadith will over rule the Quran's verdict. Some hadith authorities even go beyond and proclaim that hadith can negate the tenets of Quran. The late Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Ayub ventures on this topic in his pamphlet, 'Fitna Inkar e Hadith' that:
"It is not imperative for the Messenger's statements to go according to the Quran. Refering to Quran wherein is stated 2:180 (page 29). It is mandatory to willeth your riches to your parents, when you have wealth and are to die. Whereas the Holy Messenger said, 'It is not necessary for the heir to willeth.' Circumstances prove that the Holy Messenger's verdict has prevailed. Thus the hadith has negated the Holy Quran, as the Holy Messenger's statement has been enacted." (page 85)
Those of us who are comparatively less fiendish, are of the opinion that hadith is in fact an elucidation or explanation of the Quran. Actually these people only say this to please others. Their beliefs are very different from what they actually say. What they say is that hadith is an example of the Holy Quran, and they do not deny the consequences of this statement. They do not believe the hadith to be an explanation of the Quran, instead they believe the Hadith of being the actual DEEN (Islamic system). Hence Maulana Maudoodi (the same Maudoodi who was criticizing the hadiths a while ago) writes on this issue:
"If the negation of the permanence of Hadith means that it only explains the issues and topics of the Quran, and by itself the hadith is of no significance, then this proclamation is denying the facts... ..Hadith has its own permanent place, concerning mandates and issues. (Tarjuman ul Quran, July-August 1950)
RECAPITULATION OF HADITH:
Hadith and the Holy Quran both have been revealed by God.
Hadith is an example of the Quran.
Hadith is not as dependent on the Quran as the Holy Quran is dependent on the Hadith.
Hadith over rules the tenets of the Quran.
Hadith is not an explanation of the Holy Quran, actually Hadith has its own place.
Hadith negates the Holy Quran.
Anyone who does not have a belief in the above is denying the hadith, hence he is a heretic and an outcast from the sphere of Islam.
EXPLANATION OF QURAN
It is stated that the Quran was revealed to the Messenger MuhammadPBUH. Hence there can be no explanation of the Quran better than that of the Messenger. If someone extradites some other kind of meaning than the one explained by the Messenger, then he is not correct.
Apparently, this seems a very logical argument. Who would be audacious enough to contradict the Messenger, the question does not arise here - the important aspect to this argument is, whether the given data in the hadith is in fact the true and authentic statement of the Messenger? Concerning this issue it must be made to understand, that Hadith does not explain the whole of the Holy Quran. Only a few ayats of the Quran have been explained. In the Bukhari Hadith there is only one chapter devoted to the explanation of the Quran and that too of a few significant ayats from the Quran.
I repeat again what I wrote before, who would have the audacity, as not to bow his head before the verdict of the Messenger of Islam? In the present situation, where we cannot prove the verity of any hadith, if a person says that a hadith is not the true words of the Holy Messenger, it must not be construed that he is denying the Holy Messenger's explanation of Quran. What actually he is trying to convey is, what is being explained and attributed towards the Messenger, does not ipso facto, belong to MuhammadPBUH.
Consider this, when Imam Bukhari discards 594,000 hadiths that he does not think to have been the words or deeds of the Messenger, then no one calls him to be a disbeliever. Why then a person, who has negated only one hadith, which is not according to his own study of the Quran, is exiled from the sphere of Islam and called a non-believer and a heretic. He actually is simply refusing to believe in the decision of the narrator of that hadith, that it is not the true statement of the Messenger. He is only negating the authenticity of that hadith which has been attributed towards the Messenger. (Perhaps that is why the Messenger prohibited the writing of hadith, to his companions).
HOW MUST WE PRAY WITHOUT HADITH
Let us examine another issue that seems very powerful and is the cause of frustration to many believers. It is usually said that if we do not believe in the Hadith, how are we to apply the tenets of the Holy Quran on ourselves. For example, it is mandatory to pray. Now nowhere does the Quran explain, as to how must we pray or what ought to be the manner and text in our prayers etc, etc. All we know, the Holy Messenger enacted on this mandate from God and we must follow in his foot-steps.
First of all it is absolutely incorrect to say, 'what if we do not believe in Hadith...' Noone is denying the deeds or words of the Messenger. Hadith books are available from every where. Actually the question ought to be rephrased that, "If we do not believe in the verity of Hadith, then how are we supposed to pray?"
We all know that Shia's way of praying is different from that of a Sunni. And both claim to be following in the foot-steps of the Messenger. When we look at Sunnis, their 'Ahl e Hadith' sect's way of praying is different from the 'Hannafi' sect. And everyone knows that. Again both of these sects claim to be in the foot-steps of the Messenger. The question is, whose way of praying ought we to consider as a true and a genuine version of the Messenger, when various different hadiths stand witness to every sect's way of praying. Our important question to you all is, are there any means existing today, by means of which we may know the exact manner, how the Messenger offered his prayers?
The answer to this question that these people give is, besides the Shiites, the differences in various factions of Sunni Muslims are flimsy and of no significance. Otherwise the procedures and manner of praying in all are the same. First of all it is all bunkum to say that these are flimsy differences and have no significance. The followers of one sect, leave alone the fact that they do not pray together, if by any chance a soft tone Quran reciter enters into the mosque of a high volume reciter, if they will not refurbish the floor of that mosque, it will at least be washed ten times and blessed ten times more.
What we read and listen now and then, to the riots in the mosques and between various sect members...... what does that mean? Or when we come to know that a certain Imam (headpriest) has been murdered, members getting at each others throats, the interference of police and the government locking up and sealing the mosques...... are these all due to trivial differences? And when these fanatics say that these differences are of no significance, it is sheer escapism from actual facts and an excuse to avoid the real meanings of a prayer.
It must be observed when a command or law is promulgated by the God (or His messenger), then the principle and its corollaries both are given their due importance; no way are these supposed to differ, by any means. For example, let us take the principle of Wadhu (ablutions) which is stated in the Quran that, we must wash our face and our hands upto the elbows. Now, if a person washes his hands upto the wrists and another upto the elbows, would you say that both of them are correct in doing so? As it is a trivial difference, is not the principle the same? It would certainly be incorrect to say that! Only he/she will be correct whose deed is according to the Quran. So to say that if anyone lifted his hands upto the ears or not, folded his arms on his chest or below the belly button, the space between his/her feet while standing for prayers, was too little or too much? Whether he recited to himself the sura 'fatiha' from the Quran after the Imam or not, and what phrases were uttered in a prayer? During the Ramadan, did he recite the 'Tarawi' eight or twenty times? How many was the number of 'Takbeers' in Eid prayers, so on and so forth, you are insinuating, are all matters of no significance? It is nothing else except escapism. If these people really believe that these trivialities are of no consequence, then just ask a staunch member of Ahl e Hadith sect to offer his prayers like the Hannafi sect does... He will not do so!
Can we who believe in Hadith, in all honesty say that our way of prayers is the genuine and true method of the Messenger MuhammadPBUH? Yet, each and every one of these sects claim that their way was the only way of the Messenger. And it does not make sense that all sects are correct. Are you prepared to believe that? Are you sure that during the times of the Messenger, some disciples offered their prayers like the Sunnis while other disciples offered their prayers like the Shiites do? Or that some prayed like 'Ahl e Hadith,' while others prayed like 'Hannafis'? Or that the Messenger himself offered his prayers like the Sunnis at one time, while at another time he offered like the Shiites? Or sometimes like 'Ahl e Hadith' and sometimes like 'Hannafis'? Obviously, we all know that it could not have been possible or behooving of the Messenger to adopt different manners at various times. There must have been one and only one way of praying by the Messenger and all his disciples must be offering prayers in one manner also. In Quran's language difference between sects means the wrath of God and bifurcation in the DEEN of Islam.
If that was the state of affairs in those times of the Messenger, is it possible that we in anyway, again can unite the Muslim brotherhood and see them praying in unison? Unfortunately, we think this shall not be possible, as long as you all will believe in the hadiths to be the true and authentic words of the Messenger. Until then it is not possible to achieve this unanimity. As every sect in Islam has his own hadiths and every one of them claims to be in the foot-steps of the Messenger. Leaving aside the question of uniting these Muslims, in the present scenario, we are faced with an even bigger dilemma, of which there is no panacea at all.
Let us assume, that a Neo-Muslim embraces Islam today. And the Maulana who takes the oath and baptizes him/her, happens to belong to a Dayobundi sect. After embracing Islam he is told that the first and foremost requirement of Islam - that distinguishes a believer from a disbeliever - is a prayer. So he learns the wordings and manner of praying from that Maulana. Later on, a person from 'Ahl e Hadith' sect sees this individual praying and tells him that his prayers are not done. Now if his prayers are not accepted by the God, how can he remain a Muslim. As he was taught that a prayer divides a Muslim from a non-Muslim. Our question remains, can anyone of you give us a solution to resolve this innocent man's plight, who has embraced Islam? Please do not escape this issue and kindly give your serious consideration. The Hadith will not be able to resolve this matter as initially, this issue was created by the Hadith. We will discuss this matter later in the book.
WHAT IS SUNNAH
Besides hadith there is another term that is prevalent by the name of 'Sunnah.' And this term impinges upon the finer sentiments of our being. 'Deen' it is said, 'is complying with the Sunnah of the Messenger.' You all must have heard these words buzzing everywhere. At the same time it will be amazing to know, that they have more than one opinion when it comes to defining this term called 'Sunnah.'
Several years from now, the president of Jamiat e Ahl e Hadith, the late Maulana Muhammad Ismail, published a magazine by the title, "Jamaat e Islami ka Nazariya Hadith" In that he had written a critique on Maulana Maudoodi's view of hadith. He explained that Maulana Maudoodi's views on hadith are close to a non-believer of hadith. So in his entries of hadith non-believers, the names of religious personalities included, besides others, were those of Sir Syed, Maulana Shibly, Maulana Hameed uddeen Farahi, Maulana Maudoodi and Maulana Ameem Ehson Islahi.
Although he did not fire at them directly, he did say:
"These personalities are not disbelievers of Hadith. However, from their way of thinking, one sees a rebellious attitude towards hadith, that leaves the back doors open for non-believers."
The late Maulana Ismail also mentioned that 'Hadith' and 'Sunnah' compliment each other. Meaning that hadith and Sunnah are one and the same. According to his belief, the terms 'Book and Sunnah' (Kitab aur Sunnah) means 'Quran and Hadith' (Quran aur Hadith). And Maulana Maudoodi has his own interpretation of Sunnah. He narrates in his book 'Risayal aur Masayal' volume 1, that:
"Sunnah are those actions and deeds for which God sent his Messenger to teach us in order to be implemented. The deeds that he performed in the capacity of a human being or those acts that he performed as a personality in history, are excluded from the Messenger's life. At times there have been deeds and actions that have become so indistinguishable, whether it was a habit or a sunnah of the Messenger, that these actions can only be determined by those who have thoroughly understood the temperament or spirit of Islam....In the social and cultural issues there is a thing called ethical principles, for which the Messenger came to introduce them in the lives of the people. The other thing is the implementation factor of these principles that he himself adopted in his life. The implementation was based on his own temperament, while some were based on the traditions of the times he was born in and some on the ethos of the culture. None of these was meant to be applied on all people, all nations or all human beings as a 'Sunnah." (page 311, page 317)
He further writes in the same chapter:
"We find a few characteristics that are bonded to the Messenger's personal habits and social customs of those times. Those were not, according to the hadith literature, intended for 'Sunnah,' nor it is argued that these principles, of the social customs of a certain culture at a certain period in history, were sent to be applied to the whole of human kind for all times. If this definition of Sunnah is kept in mind, then it becomes very clear that those acts or deeds that do not come within the jurisprudence terminology, ought not to be forced as a 'Sunnah,' as this will be dividing the Deen." (page 314)
In short, according to the late Maulana Ismail, 'Sunnah' is all and everything that is contained in the ahadith, and renouncing them is considered heresy. Whereas where Maulana Maudoodi is concerned, the actions, words and deeds of the Messenger performed in the capacity of a human being or as a habit, cannot be considered viable hadith. If anyone includes these acts also in the sphere of hadith, then he says:
"I am in the belief, that to call these acts and deeds the 'Sunnah' of the Messenger and insist on it is a conspiracy against Deen; it has had adverse effects in the past and shall prove dangerous in future also." (page 308)
Before this he wrote:
"To call those deeds, that he performed as a matter of habit and have them applied on all humankind, was not the intention of Allah and his Messenger. This is a bifurcation of Islam." (page 300)
In the light of the above excerpts, let us see a practical shape. There is an amendment in the Pakistan constitution, wherein is stated, that there shall be no law passed that goes against the 'Quran and Sunnah.' Now a law is legislated and Maulana Ismail defies that law, as he considers it against the 'Sunnah' and brings forth a hadith as his witness. Maulana Maudoodi confronts him and gives his verdict that it is not against the 'Sunnah.' The former Maulana inquires whether the hadith that has been produced is authentic or not? Maulana Maudoodi argues that the hadith incidence is correct, though it was not performed in the capacity of a Messenger. The Maulana questions him again, as to what proof does he have and how can he be a judge as to the capacity of MuhammadPBUH. Maulana Maudoodi states that these matters are not qualified by authority or reason. These are decided by an individual who has an insight into Messenger's habits and temperament. Maulana Ismail answers:
"If a group of people, because of their obedient nature, decide to make one of its elderly members a Messengeric visionary and invest powers in him to annul or accept any hadith. We will, Inshallah, fight to the bitter end and defend the 'Sunnah' of the Messenger from such kinds of fluke attacks." (Jamaat e Islami ka Nazariya Hadith, page 63)
What Maulana Maudoodi claims as 'Sunnah' of the Messenger, the 'Ahl e Hadith' sect calls it fluke attacks. And who also consider it their duty to defend the 'Sunnah' from these type of attacks; until now we have discussed the views of Maulana Maudoodi and Maulana Ismail. Let us see another Maulana Islahi, who also has something to say on this issue:
"Hadith is every act, speech or deed that is referenced to the Messenger. Sunnah on the other hand is only that proven and known manner on which the Messenger has acted repeatedly, protected and to which he usually remained duty bound." (page 25)
To which the late Maulana Ismail retorted and answered:
"Maulana (Islahi) has shrunk the definition of Sunnah so much that it is only concerned with a few actions, for example as the 'fundamentals' in the prayers. It must be repeated a thousand times that, 'if a person does not believe the 'Sunnah' to have been derived from 'Deen,' he must not be acknowledged as a Muslim.' The question is how are we to apply, a Sunnah that does not go beyond a few acts or deeds, to the whole of Islam. In that case then, Islam will have to be defined from somewhere else. Why decree on something that does not make sense?" (page 26)
This was the definition of 'Sunnah' (deeds of Messenger) about which the late Maulana Ismail said:
"In my opinion the ideas of Maulana Maudoodi and Maulana Islahi are not only against 'Ahl e Hadith,' in fact these ideas are against all hadith believers. The ideas carry the potential germs of modern justification." (page 110)
From these above controversial reviews, the united stand of 'Book and Sunnah' believers, it can be infered that they have yet to search for a common definition of 'Sunnah.' What one sect considers a 'Sunnah,' is thought as a division of Islam by another.
When the clergy demanded to include in the Pakistan constitution a clause, whereby no law shall be passed that is against the 'Book and Sunnah.', we wrote, it will not be possible according to this condition, for all the diverse factions, to unanimously declare any amendment in its constitution to be Islamic. For this statement of ours the reason we provided was, that 'Quran' no doubt is the highest common factor among the various Islamic sects (in this we did not argue on Shiite idiosyncrasy), but each one of them has its own 'Sunnah.' For saying this our Tolu-e-Islam organization was put in the melting pot and there was a pandemonium. It was decreed that we were non-believers of Hadith, disbelievers in his Great Holiness Messenger MuhammadPBUH, that we were agnostics and heretics etc., etc. This propaganda against us was prolonged for a period of twenty years. On the other hand, the consequences remained the same. None of those hooters were able to pass any law, that could unanimously be agreed upon by these various sects. It was not possible then and neither has it become possible now.
Finally Maulana Maudoodi had no choice left but to say:
"There is no such element in the 'Kitab aur Sunnah' (the Book and the Sunnah) that can resolve the legal issues of Hannafis, Shiites and Ahl e Hadith on a common basis." (Asia, August 23, 1970)
It is hence obvious that, as long as Islam is divided in various sections, every section according to its own idiosyncrasies shall act upon the 'Sunnah.' And as soon as you shall endeavour to unite these divided sections on a single platform, the status quo of 'Sunnah' (according to the present definition of it) will be transformed.
HOW SHOULD WE FOLLOW MUHAMMAD?
The above moot brings us to a phase that is the core of our arguments. That it is the law of Allah - and He has reiterated in his command - to follow His Messenger. Whosoever follows the Messenger has indirectly followed Allah, and whosoever renounced the Messenger has reached the gates of hellfire. Again the same question occurs, that if we do not believe in the present ahadith, how is it possible to follow the life of the Messenger? This is the question, the most important and the basic one that is usually put forward; they prove it through Quran, that one ought to believe in the words and deeds of the Messenger and that hadith is the indispensible need of Islam. We do not have the slightest doubt that this question, is in fact very important, and that it does need our serious attention.
Before we attempt to answer the question, we think it is necessary to straighten its kink first. It is said:
According to the Holy Quran it is compulsory to follow the Messenger Muhammad.
And there are no other means apart from the Hadith books to follow the Messenger.
It is therefore indispensible to believe the words or deeds of Messenger written in Hadith books as true and authentic, inspite of the facts that state the contrary. It is insisted that without hadith it would not be possible to fulfill the duty of following the Messenger. It is thus compulsory to believe in ahadith. The kink of this argument is very glaring.
Allow me to tackle the real question. Actually the root of all problems is hadith; rather we must say, in the spirit of Islam, the Quran's command 'to follow Allah and the Messenger,' has been completely misunderstood. The common meanings that are extracted or the interpretations are usually put forth, that we are supposed to 'follow Allah and His Messenger' separately. Also that Allah is followed from the Quran, while the Messenger can be chased by means of the ahadith. (Then the way for us becomes clear to the Heavens! Easy isn't it?) From the start we have to say, the basic understanding we have, to 'follow Allah and Messenger' separately, is incorrect. The intrinsic point of departure of Quran's system is, that we must only serve God. Worshipping or following any other Entity or Being is totally out of question.
If on the other hand, Hadith was the only source by which we could follow the Messenger, then it was the emergent and primary need of Islam, just like the Quran, to preserve the Hadith with God's warranty, so that each one of us would have been able to follow the life of Messenger in all certainty. The 'following of God' does not by any way mean, that we may follow our own wishful thinking of God. To follow God means to follow His law revealed in the Book. The preservation of which HE took upon His Ownself. By virtue of this, the Messenger became capable of delivering it in concrete book form to the whole of Muslim ummah.
In the same vein, 'to follow the Messenger' will not mean that a person or group makes his own cliches of Messenger's teachings and starts to follow them. It is absolutely necessary, that in order to follow, we must have an objective standard. By this we can conclude, God did not put any seal of His authority nor did the Messenger deliver it to his disciples in any concrete form with his approval; that it was neither in God's programme nor the aim of the Messenger, to preserve the hadith.
We again come to the same question, that if Hadith is not the source, then what else are we suppose to believe to follow the Messenger's life?
ISLAM IS A COLLECTIVE SYSTEM
The reality is that Islam is not (as is commonly believed) a religion, in which each one of us can worship the God of our own wishful concepts. Islam is a collective system for life, in which we are collectively subservient to the Law of Quran. Islamic republic or system...... is responsible for legislating and imposing God's Laws and having them implemented in the nation. The first Islamic nation was established by the Messenger, the purpose and aim of which was to abide by God's Law. In Quran's terminology, 'to follow Allah and Messenger' does not mean to follow ones wishful thinking of our own make-belief world. It meant to follow the system that the Messenger had established. God's commands were present in the Quran, the Messenger with powers bestowed upon him by Allah, according to the needs and ethos of that culture, made the public abide by those laws.
DETAILS OF PRINCIPLES
The second emphatic reality that we observe is that Quran is in possession of some laws. In most matters we find that it provides us with only the basic Shari'at laws (Ahkam). The duty of that Islamic Republic was to legislate the clauses and sub-clauses of Quran's basic Shari'at laws or principles, according to the social, cultural and geo-political conditions of the times, by democratic means (in consultation with other Muslims). It is precisely because of this, the Messenger was commanded to consult his disciples and followers. That is how the Messenger was able to legislate the clauses of the basic Shari'at laws or principles given in the Quran. For example, the command of Zakat is given numerous times in the Quran. Inspite of it, we cannot find a single instance, where the amount has been fixed or any detail of Zakat command frozen by any given amount. It means, Zakat was a basic Shari'at law, to provide growth to the Islamic System and consequently to the civilians to nurture their personalities. What will be the infrastructure, how much will be the amount of Zakat collected from each capable person, or what is going to be the mode of expenditure of this revenue, all these details were supposed to be formulated by the Islamic Republic. When the Messenger promulgated the Zakat ordinance, he must have fixed two and a half percent for its amount. It is quite possible in those days, that with this small amount the government was able to cater to its needs. Now from this, we must refrain from jumping to the conclusion that we have fulfilled our responsibility of Quran's command 'to follow Allah and the Messenger.' That by giving Zakat we served Allah and by giving two and a half percent we fulfilled our duty and followed the Messenger's command. The Quran's command 'to follow Allah and His Messenger' was fulfilled in those days, by giving two and a half percent of Zakat to that Islamic system.
THE GROWTH OF THE SYSTEM
The Islamic republic was not established to cease, as soon as the Messenger departed from this world - It was established to remain till the end of times. However this system, after the demise of the Messenger, continued in the shape of Caliphate. Now to 'follow Allah and the Messenger' meant to follow the commands of Allah through the system, whose top official was the Caliph of Messenger. In those days the same measures were taken, to implement and impose the Shari'at laws of God as in the days of the Messenger. As these laws or commands were permanent and unchangeable, no human had the right to make any amendments or modify these laws. As far as the sub-clauses were concerned (that were legislated during the days of the Messenger), only those sub-laws were modified that were no more applicable to the changed conditions, otherwise the remaining clauses were left intact, as they were. If the need was felt, new clause was added to the Shari'at law. History of those times does reveal, that new clauses were added later on and those that were amended, in the details of Messenger's legislature.
From the above queries, we must be able to comprehend why the Quran did not give us the details of clauses and sub-clauses of its basic principles or Shari'at laws. And also this should answer our question, as to why the Messenger did not give us in concrete shape, the corollaries of the laws of Allah, that he had imposed in his system of government. The statements and principal laws of Quran were meant to remain permanent and absolute for all times. That is why those laws were preserved forever. In the light of these laws, whatever clauses were approved by the assembly of those times were not preserved, as it was not necessary. The disciples of the Messenger were very much conscious of this too, that is why they also did not feel the need to preserve the hadith. On the contrary, they strictly prohibited anyone from doing so also. If the ahadith had been preserved, it is quite possible that in later ages these ahadith, like the Quran would have been thought permanent and unchangeable.
As long as God's system of Caliphate survived, this reality prevailed and shone through. The 'following of Allah and the Messenger' was very much existing without the hadith. Unfortunately, after sometime this system could not continue as Caliphate changed into monarchy. The infrastructure of Deen disintegrated, the dual standards of church and state entered in its system. The dictators took the political affairs in their own hands, while the religious matters (belief, worship or marriage and divorce type of personal laws) were given to the priestcrafts. The concept 'to follow Allah and the Messenger' also changed with the passage of time. As the government did not deem it necessary to analyze or examine the laws of Allah, so the public did not feel the need to follow any human or group of human beings. (Perhaps Allah gave us this law of being subservient only to Him, because it is the natural need of a human being to feel free. Or, as the times have proved that no human is capable of governing another human being satisfactorily)
THEN WHAT HAPPENED
The same question was put in those days, as to how can 'the following of Allah and the Messenger' be instantiated. There was no way out, but to assume that to follow the Quran means following Allah and by obeying the statements of the Messenger we would be following Him. And so the need for hadith was created. Since those days we have yet to see another Caliphate of God's system. Because of it we are unable to understand the real meanings and procedures of 'following Allah and the Messenger'. Since Quran possessed only a few basic Shari'at laws and life matters demanded more elaboration, these elaborate details were supposed to be provided by that Caliphate. Since we are devoid of it now, the eyes keep looking towards the Ahadith. In all this time, that is the main reason why the ahadith have remained the centre of Islamic learnings. When the exhausted ahadith could not fulfill the needs of the changed environment, authors and priests began to fabricate new ones. New sects came into being, that brought their own self-made ahadith to the surface. When centuries passed, these idiosyncrasies acquired the form of a belief that to follow the Messenger, one must follow the hadith and those who renounce the ahadith are nonbelievers and heretics.
This is the blatant notion that is the root cause of all problems in matters of Deen. There is one and only one remedy to deal with this monster of a problem and that would be to re-establish once again the Caliphate of God's system. It means, that government of the Muslims and by the Muslims must decide that it shall be governing by the laws and principles in the Quran. The government must impose Quran's Laws and also examine what Quran says about other departments of life and how can Quran fulfill those legal needs. The government must also take advantage from the hadith treasure that has come to us through the ages, find in them those laws that synchronize with Quran's teachings and fulfill our requirements also, thus making them a part of the constitution. If and when the government does not find any laws in the hadith, in that case in the light of the principles of Quran, the government must make new laws. The basic Shari'at laws of Quran shall remain permanent in the constitution of the government. Those by-laws, whether they have already been formulated or newly made, in the light of the principles of Quran, can be amended according to the changing needs. These laws shall be imposed or enacted, without any discrimination of any faction or sect, on all Muslims equally. This is how the state will begin to create solidarity in the Islamic world. Over a period of time and gradually we should be able to emboss an environment similar to that, which existed during the days of his Great Holiness Messenger MuhammadPBUH.
To summarize on what we have just mentioned, that the basic laws of Quran will be perpetually permanent. The procedures to execute these laws and making of its sub-clauses according to the changing circumstances of the times, shall remain open to amendment. It shall be of benefit to consider, what Dr. Allama Iqbal had to say concerning this, in his famous work entitled, 'Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam.' He writes:
"..................The ultimate spiritual basis of all life, as conceived by Islam, is eternal and reveals itself in variety and change. A society based on such a conception of Reality must reconcile, in its life, the categories of permanence and change. It must possess eternal principles to regulate its collective life; for the eternal gives us a foothold in the world of perpetual change. But eternal principles when they are understood to exclude all possibilities of change which, according to the Quran, is one of the greatest 'signs' of God, tend to immobilize what is essentially mobile in its nature. The failure of Europe in political and social science illustrates the former principle, the immobility of Islam during the last 500 years illustrates the latter. What then is the principle of movement in the structure of Islam? This is known as 'Ijtehad'." (Page 147)
Concerning his views on Hadith he says in the same book:
"For our present purpose, however, we must distinguish traditions of a purely legal import from those which are of a non-legal character. With regard to the former, there arises a very important question as to how far they embody the pre-Islamic usages of Arabia which were in some cases left intact, and in others modified by the Prophet. It is difficult to make this discovery, for our early writers do not always refer to pre-Islamic usages. Nor is it possible to discover that the usages, left intact by express or tacit approval of the Prophet, were intended to be universal in their application. Shah Wali Ullah has a very illuminating discussion on the point. I reproduce here the substance of his view. The Prophet method of teaching, according to Shah Wali Ullah is that, generally speaking, the law revealed by a Prophet takes special notice of the habits, ways and peculiarities of the people to whom he is specifically sent. The Prophet who aims at all-embracing principles, however, can neither reveal different principles for different peoples, nor leaves them to work out their own rules of conduct. His method is to train one particular people, and to use them as a nucleus for the building up of a universal Shari'at. In doing so he accentuates the principles underlying the social life of all mankind, and applies them to concrete cases in the light of the specific habits of the people immediately before him. The Shari'at values (Ahkam) resulting from this application (e.g. rules relating to penalties for crimes) are in a sense specific to that people; and since their observance is not an end in itself they cannot be strictly enforced in the case of future generations. It was perhaps in view of this that Abu Hanifa, who had a keen insight into the universal character of Islam, made practically no use of these traditions. The fact that he introduced the principles of 'Istihsan' i.e., juristic preference, which necessitates a careful study of actual conditions in legal thinking, throws further light on the motives which determined his attitude towards this source of Mohammadan Law. It is said that Abu Hanifa made no use of traditions because there were no regular collections in his day. In the first place, it is not true to say that there were no collections in his day, as the collections of Abdul Malik and Zuhri were made not less than thirty years before the death of Abu Hanifa. But even if we suppose that these collections never reached him, or that they did not contain traditions of a legal import, Abu Hanifa like Malik and Ahmad Ibn e Hambal after him, could have easily made his own collection if he had deemed such a thing necessary. On the whole then, the attitude of Abu Hanifa towards the traditions of a purely legal import is to my mind perfectly sound; and if modern Liberalism considers it safer not to make any indiscriminate use of them as a source of law, it will be only following one of the greatest exponents of Mohammadan Law in Sunni Islam." (Pages 171-173)
Of the changing environment during the days of the Messenger, Maulana Maudoodi says:
"It is an undeniable fact that the Lawmaker after administering the highest degree of wisdom and the finest knowledge, has suggested those principal laws that are applicable and fulfill the needs of all times and all conditions. Inspite of all this, majority of sub-clauses in the details of principal laws need amendments because of the changing environment. The conditions that prevailed during the times of the Messenger in Arabia, cannot necessarily prevail in the rest of the world and through different ages. It would be traditional or conventional to give a permanent status to those sub-clauses of Islamic laws that fulfilled the requirements of those times and that has nothing to do with Islamic spirit...... It is known a person must, in every matter keep a keen eye on the aims and objectives of the Lawmaker, so that the changes in the details may correspond with the basic principles." (Tufheemaat, vol II, page 327)
At another place he speaks on the same issue that:
"When we speak of gaining similarity with Medina, we do not by any means want to be similar in the outward appearance. We do not want to regress, from where the world stands today, into those times of thirteen centuries before. This is a completely wrong notion of 'following the Messenger' principle, but mostly the religious community takes the same meaning. According to them, to follow in the footsteps of the forefathers of disciples means to keep a fossilized version of their culture till the end of times, whatever is happening outside our culture and the changes that are taking place must not be cared for. To construct a wall around our own lives, whereby the movement of time and changing of the times are not allowed to enter. This concept of survival that has been instilled in the minds by religious Muslims belongs to a decadent age and negates the spirit of Islam. Islam does not teach us to become an exhibit of our ancestral past and make a drama of our lives, of the past. It does not teach us a monastic way of living. Islam does not want to produce a nation that tries to impede the progressive stages of live. On the contrary, it wants to produce a nation that ceases the progressive process from taking wrong directions and wants to guide in the correct direction. It does not give us a heart, it gives us the spirit. It desires, that the hearts produced from the changing environment, must be filled till doomsday with this spirit.
"The real character that shines of the Messenger and his disciples, which we must follow, is that they controlled the physical laws by Islamic laws and thereby fulfilled their sacred duty. They imbued a fresh spirit in the culture of their times. Thus, the real followers of the Messenger and his disciples are those who try to enslave the resources of the discoveries caused by physical laws and cultural evolution and bring them under Islamic culture, as was done by the pioneers of Islam." (Nishan e Rah page 55)
Maulana Ameen A. Islahi is of the opinion, that not only Quran, the Hadith also mostly contains principles, and their corollaries are left upto the Muslim Ummah to decide for themselves. He says:
"In the Quran and Hadith we find only the basics. Both the books have avoided the details and explanations. To replenish this void, they leave it for the Ummah, according to their standards to make Islamic laws, for their collective and political matters." (Tarjuman ul Quran, April 1954)
We also mentioned, wherever the Quran speaks 'to follow Allah and Messenger' it means a system which has been established to implement God's laws. Let us see what Maulana Maudoodi has to say about this. In sura, Al-Ma'aida's ayat 33 it is said: "And those of you who fight against Allah and His Messenger are given the punishment of...." Endorsing the above ayat Maulana Maudoodi writes in Tafheemul Quran:
"To fight against Allah and His Messenger means waging war against the leading system which the Islamic government has established." (Tafheemul Quran, vol. I, page 465)
Thus 'to follow Allah and Messenger' does not mean to follow the 'Quran and the Hadith' according to our own personal standards. It is abiding by the laws of God imposed by the central authority. It is the duty of the central authority to carry out and implement these laws of God. This is the actual meaning of 'to follow Allah and the Messenger.' Insubordination to these laws is not only immanent, the person is practically involved in a crime of treason. Without this central authority 'to follow Allah and Messenger' means worshipping individually, in which a coterie or a single person enacts according to his/her own standards. After the establishment of an Islamic system, to follow 'Allah and the Messenger' have an altogether different meanings i.e., to abide by the decisions of the central authority. This is the purpose of Deen and by means of this we gain solidarity.
In our hadith collection we also have a portion that is concerned with the character traits of the Messenger. The character of His Holiness Messenger MuhammadPBUH is a paragon of humanity. Unfortunately, we also have some, among our Ahadith, that blemish and stain his character. For this purpose it is advised, the biography of His Holiness Messenger MuhammadPBUH ought to be rewritten in the light of the Quran, concentrating on his character alone. Only those essentials be borrowed from the Hadith books that correspond with the teachings of the Quran. Those traditions that do not tally with the Holy Quran or those that fantasize the Messenger's character must be discarded.
This is the correct scenario of Hadith. Unless and until we are not prepared to give our treasure of Hadith its proper place, we shall not be able to find our way out of this imbroglio or solve the enigmas in which the Muslim ummah is surrounded and going hay-wire for the past several centuries. We also hope that you will give your serious thoughts to these matters of Hadith with a cool mind. Then only shall we abate this ancient chronic aberration.