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Is There Any Qur’anic Evidence the Hadith is a Valid Part of Islam?

By Sheikh Ahmad Kutty

I have recently begun to ponder the validity of Hadith in Islam. If Allah had intended for us to follow the Hadith, He would have included them in the Qur’an. Since I’m pretty sure He didn’t forget to do so, is there any Qur’anic evidence that the Hadith is a valid part of Islam?

Is There Any Qur’anic Evidence the Hadith is a Valid Part of Islam

The Quran tells us to obey the Messenger and abide by his decision.

Between Hadith & Qur’an

Hadith is integral to the Qur’an; since they are inseparably linked to each other, it is impossible to understand the Qur’an without reference to the Hadith. The Qur’an is the message, and the Hadith is the explanation of the message by the Messenger himself (peace be upon him). I mention the following points to clarify the issue:

1- The Qur’an makes it abundantly clear that the function of the Messenger is not merely that of delivery man who simply delivered the revelation from Allah to us; rather he has been entrusted with the most important task of explaining and illustrating the same. This is a point mentioned in a number of verses in the Qur’an:

…and We have sent down unto you (also) the Message; that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought. (An-Nahl 16:44)

And We sent down the Book to you for the express purpose, that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe. (An-Nahl 16:64)

Therefore, the Hadith explains, clarifies, and removes ambiguities about the Qur’an. Hence, once we reject the Hadith, we may never be able to figure out the whole meaning of the Qur’an.

The Illustrative Hadith

Much of Islam will remain mere abstract concepts without the Hadith: We would never know how to pray, fast or pay Zakah or make pilgrimage without the illustration found in Hadith, for they remain as abstract imperatives in the Qur’an.

…The Wisdom

The Qur’an tells us the Prophet (peace be upon him) has taught not only the Book but also the wisdom:

It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error. (Al-Jumu`ah 62:2)

And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes, of the Signs of Allah and Wisdom: for Allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted (with them). (Al-Ahzab 33:34)

But for the Grace of Allah to you (O Muhammad) and His Mercy, a party of them would certainly have plotted to lead you astray. But (in fact) they will only Lead their own souls astray, and to you they can do no harm in the least. For Allah has sent down to you the Book and wisdom and taught you what you did not know (before): And great is the Grace of Allah unto you. (An-Nisaa’ 4:113)

As Imam Shafi`i stated the wisdom mentioned here is the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) so if we were to reject the Hadith, we would be rejecting the Qur’an itself.

Obeying the Messenger

The Quran tells us to obey the Messenger and abide by his decision:

But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (An-Nisaa’ 4:65)

And this (He commands): Judge (O Muhammad) between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile you from any of that (teaching) which Allah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, be assured that for some of their crime it is Allah’s purpose to punish them. And truly most men are rebellious. (Al-Ma’idah 5:49)

Where we do we find such decisions except in the Hadith?

Our Exemplar

Last but not least, the Qur’an orders the faithful to emulate the role model of the Messenger (peace be upon him) and reckons it as the only way to gain the pleasure of Allah.

It is therefore imperative that we look up to his morals and behavior and emulate them in our lives. We can never do so without studying the Hadith. It is most illuminating in this respect to learn that when `A’ishah was asked to describe the character of the Prophet (peace be upon him) her definite answer was, “His character was the Qur’an” (Muslim).

In other words, he personified the best ideals and values of the Qur’an. How could we then neglect the Hadith which alone can lead us to the precise ways in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, exemplified the Qur’anic ideals?

Authentic

Having said this, however, we must never fall into the temptation of taking all that which is found in the works of Hadith as being authentic or genuine. Hadith at all times must be evaluated by the well-established rules of validation as established by the great scholars.

Such firm criteria include the following: If a certain hadith is contrary to the well-established principles of the Qur’an or sound reason, it must be rejected.

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Source: askthescholar.com

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

 

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Hadith: Its Meaning and Significance

sahih muslim

If one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, they must consider what the Prophet said or did regarding it.

The Arabic word hadith basically means ‘an item of news, conversation, a tale, a story or a report,’ whether historical or legendary, true or false, relating to the present or the past. Its secondary meaning as an adjective is ‘new’ as opposed to qadeem, ‘old’.

However, like other Arabic words (e.g. salah, zakah), its meaning changed in Islam. From the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his stories and communications dominated all other forms of communication. Consequently, the term hadith began to be used almost exclusively for reports that spoke of his actions and sayings.

Usage of the Word Hadith

The term hadith has been used in both the Qur’an-where it is mentioned 23 times- and the prophetic traditions according to all of its linguistic meanings. The following three categories are the most notable usages. It has been used to mean:

a- The Qur’an itself:

Then leave Me alone with those who reject this communication. (Al-Qalam 68:44)

“Indeed, the best form of communication is the Book of Allah…” (Muslims and Ahmad)

b- A historical story:

Has the story of Moses reached you? (Taha 20:9)

“You may speak about the Children of Israel without …” (Al-Bukhari)

c- A general conversation:

When the Prophet confided in one of his wives… (At-Tahrim 66:3)

“Molten copper will be poured in the ear of whoever eavesdrops on the conversation of people who dislike him doing so or flee from him.” (Al-Bukhari)

Among the hadith scholars the term hadith means ‘whatever is transmitted from the Prophet of his actions, sayings, tacit approvals, or physical characteristics. Scholars of Islamic Law do not include the physical appearance of the Prophet in their definition.

Importance of Hadith

1- Revelation

The Prophet’s sayings and actions were primarily based on revelation from Allah and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance second only to the Qur’an. Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet:

(Muhammad) does not speak from his desires; indeed, what he says is revelation. (An-Najm 53:3-4)

Therefore, the hadith represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted His Prophet which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself. The Prophet reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements, “Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” (Abu Dawud)

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him

Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet himself.

2- Tafseer

The preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change. Were that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording.

However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet himself. Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

 And I revealed to you the Reminder (Qur’an) in order that you explain to the people what was revealed to them.” (An-Nahl 16:44)

Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, he or she must consider what the Prophet said or did regarding it. E.g. in the Qur’an, Allah instructs the believers to offer salah (formal prayers) and pay zakah (obligatory charity) in Surat Al-Baqarah (2), verse 43.

And be steadfast in prayer; practice regular charity; and bow down your heads with those who bow down (in worship). (Al-Baqarah 2:43)

However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the Prophet in this regard. Among his many clarifications concerning salah and zakah, he instructed his followers saying “Pray as you saw me pray,” (Al-Bukhari) and he specified that 2.5% of surplus wealth, unused for a year,9 should be given as zakah.

Also, there are a number of authentic hadiths in which the Prophet gave specific instructions concerning the items and quantities on which zakah was due, as well as the time it is due. Among them is the following narration from `Ali ibn Abi Talib:

`Ali ibn Abi Taalib quoted Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: “Whenever you possess 200 dirhams and a year passes on it, 5 dirhams is to be paid on it. You are not liable to pay anything until you possess 20 dinars and a year passes on it, in which case ½ a dinar is due. Whatever exceeds that will be counted likewise9. And no zakah is payable on wealth until a year passes on it.” (Abu Dawud)

3- Laws

One of the primary duties of the Prophet was to judge between people in their disputes. Since his judgments were all based on revelation, as stated earlier, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgments are carried out in an Islamic State. Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:

O believers obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. If you dispute about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger. (An-Nisaa’ 4:59)

Thus, hadiths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic State.

4- Moral Ideal

Since the Prophet was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the Last Day. Attention was drawn to this fact in the following Qur’anic verse:

Surely there is for all of you a good example (of conduct) in the way of Allah’s Messenger. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Consequently, the daily life of the Prophet as recorded in hadith represents an ideal code of good conduct. In fact, when the Prophet’s wife, ‘A’ishah, was asked about his conduct, she replied, “His character was the Qur’an.” (Ahmad)

5- Preservation of Islam

The science of narration, collection and criticism of hadith was unknown to the world prior to the era of the Prophet .

In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such a reliable science that the messages of the former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them.

Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science of hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times. This is alluded to in the Qur’anic verse:

 Indeed, I have revealed the Reminder, I will, indeed, protect it. (Al-Hijr 15:9)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Usool Al-Hadith”.

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The Difference between the Qur’an, Hadith and Hadith Qudsi

By Ahmad von Denffer

The Qur’an

The Qur’an can be defined as follows:

The speech of Allah, sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in its precise meaning and precise wording, transmitted to us by numerous persons (tawatur), both verbally and in writing.

The Word Qur’an

The Quran is the speech of Allah, sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in its precise meaning and precise wording, transmitted to us by numerous persons (tawatur), both verbally and in writing.

The Arabic word ‘qur’an‘ is derived from the root qara’a, which has various meanings, such as to read, [Sura 17: 93.] to recite, [Sura 75:18:17: 46.] etc. Qur’an is a verbal noun and hence means the ‘reading‘ or ‘recitation‘. As used in the Qur’an itself, the word refers to the revelation from Allah in the broad sense [Sura 17: 82.] and is not always restricted to the written form in the shape of a book, as we have it before us today.

However, it means revelation to Muhammad only, while revelation to other prophets has been referred to by different names (e.g. taurat, Injil, kitab, etc.).

Other Names of the Qur’an

The revelation from Allah to the Prophet Muhammad is referred to in the Qur’an itself by the name qur’an (recitation) as well as by other names, such as e.g.

  • Furqaan (criterion, see 25: 1).
  • Tanzil (sent down, see 26: 192).
  • Dhikr (reminder, see 15: 9).
  • Kitab (scripture, see 21:10).

Other references to the Qur’an are by such words as Nur (light), Huda (guidance), Rahma (mercy), Majid (glorious), Mubarak (blessed), Bashir (announcer), Nadhir (warner), etc.

All these names reflect one of the various aspects of the revealed word of Allah.

The Meaning of Hadith

The word hadith means news, report or narration. It is in this general sense that the word is used in the Qur’an. [e.g. Sura 12:101.] Technically, the word hadith, (pl. ahadith) means in particular the reports (verbal and written) about the sunna of the Prophet Muhammad. Hadith reports about the Prophet Muhammad are of the following kinds:

  • What he said (qaul).
  • What he did (fi’l).
  • What he (silently) approved (taqrir) in others’ actions.

There are also reports about him, i.e. about what he was like (sifa).

The Difference between the Qur’an and Hadith

There is agreement among most Muslim scholars that the contents of the sunna are also from Allah. Hence they have described it as also being the result of some form of inspiration. The contents of the sunna are however expressed through the Prophet’s own words or actions, while in the case of the Qur’an the Angel Gabriel brought the exact wording and contents to the Prophet, who received this as revelation and then announced it, in the very same manner that he received it.

The difference between these two forms has been illustrated by Suyuti (following Juwaini) in the following manner:

‘The revealed speech of Allah is of two kinds: As to the first kind, Allah says to Gabriel: Tell the Prophet to whom I sent you that Allah tells him to do this and this, and He ordered him something. So Gabriel understood what His Lord had told him. Then he descended with this to the Prophet and told him what His Lord had told him, but the expression is not this (same) expression, just as a king says to someone upon whom he relies: Tell so-and-so: The king says to you: strive in his service and gather your army for fighting … and when the messenger (goes and) says: The king tells you: do not fail in my service, and do not let the army break up, and call for fighting, etc., then he has not lied nor shortened (the message) …

‘And as to the other kind, Allah says to Gabriel: Read to the Prophet this (piece of) writing, and Gabriel descended with it from Allah, without altering it the least, just as (if) the king writes a written (instruction) and hands it over to his trustworthy (servant) and says (to him): Read it to so-and-so. Suyuti said: The Qur’an belongs to the second kind, and the first kind is the Sunna, and from this derives the reporting of the Sunna according to the meaning unlike the Qur’an.” [Sabuni, tibyan, p.52]

It is generally accepted that the difference between Qur’an and sunna is as follows:

The ahadith from or about the Prophet Muhammad are:

  • The words or actions of a human being, and not the speech of God as the Qur’an is.
  • Not necessarily reported in their precise wording, as the Qur’an is.
  • Not necessarily transmitted by tawatur, except in some instances.

Hadith Qudsi

Qudsi means holy, or pure. There are some reports from the Prophet Muhammad where he relates to the people what God has said (says) or did (does), but this information is not part of the Qur’an. Such a report is called hadith qudsi, e.g.:

Abu Hurairah reported that Allah’s messenger said:

‘Allah, Mighty and Exalted is He, said: If My servant likes to meet me, I like to meet him, and if he dislikes to meet Me, I dislike to meet him.’ [Forty Hadith Qudsi, Beirut, Damascus, 1980, No. 30.]

While the common factor between hadith qudsi and the Qur’an is that both contain words from Allah which have been revealed to Muhammad, the main points of difference between Qur’an and hadith qudsi are as follows:

In the Qur’an the precise wording is from Allah, while in the hadith qudsi the wording is given by the Prophet Muhammad.

  • The Qur’an has been brought to Muhammad only by the Angel Gabriel, while hadith qudsi may also have been inspired otherwise, such as e.g. in a dream.
  • The Qur’an is inimitable and unique, but not so the hadith qudsi.
  • The Qur’an has been transmitted by numerous persons, (tawatur) but the hadith and hadith qudsi often only by a few or even one individual. There are hadith qudsi which are sahih, but also others hasan, or even da’if, while there is no doubt at all about any aya from the Qur’an.

Another point is that a hadith qudsi cannot be recited in prayer.

Distinctive Features of the Qur’an

The most important distinction between the Qur’an and all other words or writings therefore is that the Qur’an is the speech from Allah, revealed in its precise meaning and wording through the Angel Gabriel, transmitted by many, inimitable, unique and protected by Allah Himself against any corruption.


The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Ulum al-Quran: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran” with some modifications.

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