In this era of communications by cyber space the texts from the various collections of Ahadith (singular, Hadith), comprising of varying classifications do appear on the Internet.
I believe that these collections, especially the collection maintained by the USC Muslim Students Association are an incredible resource for Muslims as well as for Christian students of Islam. We are very fortunate to live in an era when so much information is readily available for us to read and study, and the USC MSA should be commended, and thanked, for the excellent job that they have done on their website.
Muslims do the same! I have talked to many Muslims in college who quote Hadith on an ad hoc basis! I DO NOT believe that the Ahadith are completely accurate, nor do I believe that they were written anywhere near the time of Muhammad. However, these traditions, however flawed, are among the few historical sources of the early history of Islam. Mr. Meherally appears to be following a popular new trend among Muslims [which I have noticed on campus] of claiming that they believe in only the Qur'an and completely ignore the Ahadith. This is an extremely difficult position for a Muslim to maintain because the traditions are a crucial portion of the Sunnah which helps explain the context and meaning of the "revelations" in the Qur'an and provides the foundation for the Muslim legal system.
First of all, I always quote the name of the compiler, list the number, and provide a link to the Hadith Database, so that readers can study the tradition for themselves in order to determine if I am quoting it in context. The fact of the matter is that this debate is about beliefs, and what we believe will determine our eternal destiny.
Second, the problem with this argument is : how do we know that any "chain" of transmission is authentic? In fact, it is difficult, in spite of the Muslim "science" of Hadith to know which traditions are strong or weak! If someone wanted to "make up" a tradition, what would prevent them from also "making up" a chain of narration?
I agree, people must realize that the Qur'an and traditions are different. However, the Qur'an cannot stand by itself, we need the Ahadith to get the complete picture of what is being said in the Qur'an. For example, how could we explain Suras 113 and 114 without the traditions? The fact of the matter is that the Qur'an, by itself, is incomplete both in terms of giving a full context of the "revelations" or for providing legal prescriptions for the followers of Islam.
What is a Hadith?
The word "Hadith" literally means; "a saying", "a report", "an account". Within the Islamic circle and literature, the term Hadith is used to identify a text that is related to a "re-narrated" saying or account of deeds or approval by the Prophet. However, if one was to review the physical process involved in the collection and compilation of these texts one has but to admit the fact that these "reported" texts have gone through a process of several "re-narrated" verbal transmissions involving a chain of narrators going through three or more generations. Some of these narrators were reliable and unfailing in their verbal reports whereas others were not. Often, a narrator being "a man of faith" cannot utter a lie was the criteria used. But, there was a lapse of nearly two centuries from the year of the passing away of the Prophet to the dates in which these compilations did happen, and memories of human beings do slip in the course of time.
It is interesting to note that Bukhari wrote a book about the narrators (Zuafa-us-sagher). What is even more interesting is that Bukhari's book condemns several narrators including: Ata bin abi Maimoona, Ayyub bin Aiz, Ismail bin Aban, Zubair bin Muhammad, At-Tayyimi, Saeed bin Urwa, Abdullah bin Abi Labeed, Abdul Malik bin Ameen, Abdul waris bin Saeed, Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed, and Khamsan bin Minhal as unreliable. However, the Hadith-collection of Bukhari in the its modern form actually includes many traditions narrated by these very individuals! Obviously, these traditions, which Bukhari rejected, were inserted in his book following his death.
Is the Qur'an which we have today really the "definitive canon" of Uthman? If you believe that it is, please read A `Perfect' Qur'an OR "So it was made to appear to them"? - you will be surprised!
In spite of the Muslim "science" of classifying Hadith, it is very difficult to know which traditions are strong or weak and there has been wide disagreement among Muslim scholars which pre-dates the Internet! For example, Bukhari collected over 600,000 reports, but kept only 7,397 as true! To make matters even more confusing, there are contradictions among the "accepted" Hadiths (ikhtilaf al-hadith). There are many "approved" Hadiths which record conflicting accounts of the same event!
The above list tells us that each and every "published" Hadith that is identified and enumerated cannot be justly labeled "authoritative or sound". Also, the possibility of a "weak" or "faulty" Hadith falling under the wrong criteria and/or regarded as "sound" by a compiler, cannot be ruled out with certainty and cent per cent surety. Hence, the use of incorrect terminology to justify our egoistic attitude or a resentment to observe the needed caution may end up putting the Credibility of the Messenger of Allah and/or the Integrity of Islam, on the line.
The "soundness" of the traditions is very disturbing. After all, we need the traditions to interpret the Qur'an and to define the Sunnah, therefore, if we cannot trust the traditions, the entire argument presented by Islam collapses.
If so, the need for the observance of the "caution" is to be felt the most, by those who have complete confidence in such a corpus of collection.
I am not sure of the point of this question. I am not questioning the sincerity of the compilers, however, most of these traditions were complied long after the death Muhammad. However, the problem is that we need the traditions to understand the context of the "revelations" in the Qur'an. The traditions are also crucial in Islam as a foundation of the legal and ethical system. In the end, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In the Islamic argument, the weak link is the authenticity of the traditions.
My primary motive for studying the Qur'an and the Hadith was to search for the truth and, quit honestly, I did not find the truth in either. My goal is not to "shake the foundations" of any person - it is to critically examine questions of faith, which are of eternal importance.
Responses to Akbarally Meherally
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