Because the Ahadith, as we will see, were collected late and their content left the scholars in confusion as to how at all fit together with itself and the Qur’an to form ‘the revelation’, this means that Islam, while striking out at the Bible because it is "like the Hadith, Sira, and Tarikh all together", in fact needed to sift through this very type of materials long after Muhammad’s time to try and find a comprehension of the Qur’an and the rest of its ‘revelation’ - in the Sunnah! In fact, as we are about to see, it had to collect all this long after Muhmmad died!
It is now obvious why Islam has found it ‘useful’ (indeed necessary!) to place everyone’s attention on a ‘Qur’an vs. Bible’ comparison! Only then could it hide its true need and still openly accuse the Gospel of ‘pollution’ because "it is like the Word of God, the Hadith, the Sirah and Tarikh all in one".
Only through such a presentation could it build up the Qur’an’s prestige by asserting "We keep the ‘Word of God’ separate from these other things, and so we have been kept pure - but look at you!" And all the while the Qur’an is admittedly meaningless and useless without these very materials.
Was There An Early And Continuous Collection Of The Sunnah?
In general there is a great emphasis laid upon the existence of early collections of Ahadith. Little statements declaring, for example, that a Companion preserved Ahadith in writing are ‘pulled out’ of their context in Islam’s history and given as ‘Proof’ that Ahadith have ‘always’ been collected and recorded. Small collections are even named and presented as if they tie into such a ‘history’.
Yet, this is not the truth. As we will see in what follows, the 2nd Caliph ‘Umar initially allowed the collecting of Ahadith, but then forbade it and ordered the burning of all such collections. This order was not rescindssed until ‘Umar II reigned, and he was not Caliph until 717AD
A Shi'ah book on the Internet under the subheading The Order of the Qur'an's Revelation and the Growth of the Qur'anic Sciences states:
"Secondly, it has been related with certainty that the early Caliphs strictly prohibited the recording and writing down of the narrations and, whenever a sheet of paper or tablet was found on which a saying had been written, it was burned. This prohibition lasted until nearly the end of the first century after Hijrah, that is, for a period of about ninety years. The effect of this prohibition was that the narrators and scholars of sayings were free to make small additions or changes during oral transmission of the saying. These additions gradually accumulated until the original meaning of the saying was lost." (http://www.al-islam.org/quraninislam/index.htm )
Another statement on the matter of the collecting of Sunnah states:
"A clear proof that the fatwa of the leader overrules but does not invalidate the opinion of the Companions even if it directly contradicts it, is the fact that when `Umar ibn al-Khattab proposed to have all the hadith collected and written down he consulted the Companions and they unanimously agreed to his proposal; later he disapproved of it and ordered that everyone who had written a collection burn it. Yet `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz later ordered that hadith be collected and written. Al-Hafiz al-Baghdadi relates it in his "Taqyid al-`ilm" 49, 52-53, 105-106, and Ibn Sa`d in his "Tabaqat" 3(1):206, 8:353." (http://ds.dial.pipex.com/masud/ISLAM/misc/ikhtilaf.htm )
Since 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz ('Umar II, the nephew of 'Abd al-Malik) was only the twelfth caliph beginning his rule in 717 AD (97 AH), it would seem that indeed the act of collecting the Ahadith was illegal even after the end of the first century AH.
Since the earliest collection of Ahadith mentioned by those in Islam seems to be that of Hammam ibn Munabbih it could in fact be the FIRST of those ‘allowed’ since the collector died in 99AH/719AD.
Further, it only contains 138 Ahadith, which is not many when compared with the 5000+ which are said to have been related from only Abu Hurraira, let alone the vast numbers known later to be in circulation.
Finally, we note the following which seems to indicate that the collection of Ahadith was not even immediately universally accepted:
"An aside about the writing of traditions: during the second century AH, a controversy raged about whether it was permissible to put hadiths in writing. The pro-permissibility side won the argument in all centers of learning except for Basrah, though at an earlier time the pro-prohibition stance had been dominant. As for Basrah: throughout most of the second century, the majority view there was that it was not permissible to write down hadiths. For the details about the second-century controversy on the writing of hadiths, see the truly excellent article: Cook, Michael, "The opponents of the writing of tradition in early Islam," Arabica, vol. XLIV, no. 4, October 1997, pp. 437-530." (Re: Was The Sunnah Preserved?, Behnam Sadeghi, Aug 6, 1999; URL unavailable)
Quite naturally, anyone would wonder at a ‘Final Book’ which was totally dependent upon possessing the ‘correct’ Sunnah, when such were only first recorded as very small collections which only began to be set down in writing some 90 years after the one declared to be the originator of these teachings died!! All the more when it must be added to this knowledge that by the time the really large collections were made, the scholars were having to sort out some hundreds of thousands of Ahadith, and many of them spurious! These later problems, some of which we will examine in this section are mentioned as follows:
"But confronted with the enormous body of hadiths, which had been scattered in various forms and narrations throughout the length and breadth of the Islamic world following the migrations of the Companions and Followers, the Sunnah sometimes proved difficult to interpret. Even when the sound hadiths had been sifted out from this great body of material, which totalled several hundred thousand hadith reports, there were some hadiths which appeared to conflict with each other, or even with verses of the Quran." (http://ds.dial.pipex.com/masud/ISLAM/ahm/newmadhh.htm )
How ‘Preserved’ Are The Sources Of The Sunnah?
Everyone knows that the major accepted collections of Ahadith are known as the Sahih Sitta (the authentic six) being the Sahihs of al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim, the Sunan of Abu Da’ud, Al-Nisa’i, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja. It is impossible to read up on these and find anything other than assertions that these are absolutely authentic having been selected through meticulous application of the Science of Hadith by which each and every one has been certified truthful.
The Sahih of Bukhari is touted as being, next to the Qur’an, the most valuable of Islamic books and is that which is most useful for Shari’ah purposes. When a Hadith is contained in both the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim it is termed ‘Agreed upon’, being the greatest attestation any Hadith can attain.
When we look for confirmation of the ‘Preservation’ of these collections of Sunnah, we find one Islamic scholar who, like most others, is not convinced that there is a ‘Divine Protection’ upon the extra-Qur’anic sources, asserting that what others would rather not hear:
"We Muslims, on our own, are duty bound towards Allah and his last Prophet to make a continuous and thorough checking of the Hadith-books at our disposal in the same way as the Mohaddeseen did in their own times. As the extra-Quranic literature including the Hadith books is not being divinely guarded there is in every age a continuous attempt to introduce suspicious material therein and delete useful matter therefrom. In our own extra-Quranic literature numerous references are available throwing light on these facts. For the sake of example I mention one of them:
The Prophet said: ‘Beware! after me you will have abundance in traditions associated with me. So do apply a check of the Qur’an on these traditions. Whatever confirms the Qur’an you may accept it but whatever goes against the Qur’an you must reject it outright’.
The book At-talweeh-wat-tawzeeh has quoted the above tradition from Saheeh Bukhari but the various versions of Bukhari’s collection available today do not include this tradition!!1 It is because of this tampering with the books of Hadith that we do not get any uniformity in the bulk of this literature. To give another example, the Muwatta which is said to be Hadith-collection of Imam Malik is not one uniform Muwatta. There are more than one Muwatta-books and they drastically differ from one another. Similar is the case with Sahih Bukhari, as well as with Kitab-ul-Aasaar which is regarded as the Hadith-collection of Imam Hanifa.
Bukhari himself has written a book on the life-history of the narrators. This book called Zuafa-us-sagher condemns certain individuals like 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 (sic.) bin Saeed, Ata bin As-Saib bin Yazeed, and Khamsan bin Minhal as unreliable and hence rejected. But the Hadith-collection of Bukhari in the present day includes many traditions narrated by these very individuals! This is a crystal clear proof of the fact that whatever Bukhari has rejected was later on re-introduced in his book after his death. Bukhari has named his collection as As-Saheeh wherein he has mentioned that he has included only saheeh traditions. But the copies of Saheeh Bukhari available today contain many such traditions which are termed moallaq by the Mohaddessen and are not at all saheeh. Hafiz Ibn-e-Hajar Asqalani who is famous as a shareh of Saheeh Bukhari has pinpointed such weaknesses in the preface of his sharah named Fath-ul-Bari. Bukhari’s collection is divided into kitabs and baabs but in many cases the title of the kitab or baab has no relation whatsoever with the Hadith quoted under it, for example, see the baabs of Tool-e-qiyam and Qaza-e-salat-ul-Eid. Similar is the case with baab Ghazva-e-Badr in Kitab-ul-Jihad. In some baabs either there is only a title without any Hadith whatsoever or a Hadith without any authority of narrators." (Deep into the Qur’an, Dr, Kamal Omar, p. 285ff).
Indeed, one publication of Muwatta here in the U.K. - that of Islamic Academy U.K. - has notes relating how this one was chosen from among 50 ‘versions’ of the Muwatta, and only 16 were considered "best transmitted"
Yet the seriousness of this is really only understood when we consider that Muwatta and Sahih Bukhari are considered the most important collections on Legal matters [next to the Qur’an!] which means that this affects the Sunnah relating to the Shari`ah of the 4 Madhabs! "Kitab-ul-Aasaar which is regarded as the Hadith-collection of Imam Hanifa" must also be seen in that light, for Imam Abu Hanifah is attributed with the founding of the Hanafite
Not only so, but the Saudi scholars who are publishing the ‘Summarised Sahih Bukhari’ have not only congratulatory notes to the translator for having ‘chosen’ the ‘accepted’ translations of the hadith(!), but the notes also state which particular ‘version’ of Sahih Bukhari they used:
"Compilation: Al-Imam Zair-ud-Din Ahmad bin Abdul-Lateef Az-Zubaidi." (p. 1), and again, "the text of Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari used for this translation is taken from At-Tajrid As-Sarih by Az-Zubaidi." (Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari, p.10).
Furthermore, in keeping with the fears of Dr. Omar, the notes admit:
"Some materials concerned with Arabic grammar and etymology have been excluded from the Arabic text." (Summarized..., Notes)
This ‘editing’ is also upheld in that the all important Hadith relating Caliph `Uthman’s burning of the ‘original’ texts of the Qur’an, which was cited earlier in this present writing (Sahih Bukari, Vol. 6, p. 479), has also been ‘expunged’ in keeping with the Saudi cover up of the `Uthmanic errors in their false Mushaf al-Madinah!! Thus we see the motivation is that Islam is "made to appear" to be ‘perfect’ and ‘protected’ when it is not.
In the same way, the Sirat un-Nabi of Allamah Shibli Nu`mani (p. 140) declares that Hadith #4403 of Sahih Muslim Vol. 3, in the chapter on the Treaty of Hudaibiya says "Muhammad rubbed out and replaced" the words "Muhammad the Messenger of Allah" because Quraish objected to them. However when one looks at the English version translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi (proclaimer of truth?), such a wording has been almost entirely replaced with Ali writing the initial text, Muhammad erasing his name, "and Ali wrote: Ibn `Abdullah"!! Is this a case of ‘editing’ the Arabic (or the English), or finding another Arabic ‘version’ of Sahih Muslim? Although all the ‘tampering’ we have just noted is the work of the various Sunni factions, it is the very thing of which the Sunnis accuse the Shi’a! We read:
"It is all the more difficult to write the bibliography of Shia books. The reason being that Shia publishers have consistently altered the sequence and also the contents of their original books. Two recent publications of the same book often have two different sets of information. Strange enough, when a Shia publisher reprints a certain book, he often rearranges the contents. Thus two editions of the same book by the same publisher may also have two different sets of information." (Bibliography, The Sunni and Shi’a Perspective of The Holy Qur’an, p. 26).
The same type of behaviour seems to be prevalent today, and it is recognised by those on the outside of Islam that nobody on the inside seems to be giving us the same story!
Whole Collections Of Sunnah Were Given ‘Authority’ Much Later?
And yet two of the collections now called ‘sahih’ were not even accepted until very late:
"During the fourth and fifth centuries, no importance was attached to Ibn Maja. Ibn al-Sakan (Abu ‘Ali Sa’id b `Uthman, d. 353 A.H./964 A.D.) and Abu Manda (Abu `Abdullah Muhammad b Ishaq, d. 396 A.H./ 1005 A.D.) had mentioned four books only i.e. Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Nasa`i. Till that time Ibn Hazm (Abu Muhammad `Ali b Muhammad, d. 456 A.H./1063 A.D.) declined to recognise Tirmidhi. Abu Tahir (`Imad al-Din Ahmad b Muhammad al-Silafi, d. 576 A.H./ 1180A.D.) added Tirmidhi to the above-mentioned four works of Hadith.
During the sixth century, as we shall discuss later, ibn Maja’s position was consolidated by Muhammad b `Uthman al-Hazimi in his Shurut al-A`imma al-Khamsa and Ibn Salah (`Uthman b `Abd al-Rahman, d. 642A.H./1244 A.D.) in his Muqaddima confined themselves to the five books. Ibn Karrat (Abu Muhammad `Abd al-Haq al-Azadi, d. 581A.H./1185A.D.) offered no place to Ibn Maja in his al-Ahkam al-Sha`iyya al-Kubra.
Later Nawawi (Yahya b Sharaf al-Din, d.676A.H./1277A.D.) in his explanation to Muqaddima Ibn al-Salah followed suit. Ibn Khaldun (Abu Zaid, `Abd al-Rahman b Abi Bakr, d.808 A.H./1405 A.D.) speaks of al-Ummahat al-Khams2 only.
Muwaatta of Imam Malik was considered as the sixth by Razin b Mu`awiya al-`Abdari al-Sarqasti (d.525 A.H./1130 A.D.) in his book Al-Tajrid bi`l Sihah wa`l-Sunan and later by Mubarak b Muhammad ibn al-Athir al-Jazari (d.606A.H./1209A.D.) in his book Jami` al-usul. But the first one to declare Ibn Maja as the sixth book was Abu`l-Fadl Muhammad b Tahir al-Maqdisi (d. 507 A.H./1113 A.D.) in his book Atraf al-Kutub al-Sitta followed by `Abd al-Ghani b `Abd al-Wahid al-Maqdisi "(d.600 A.H./1203 A.D.) in his book al-Kamal fi Asam`i al-Rijal. ...[2 paragraphs omitted]
Ibn Taymiya (Majd al-Din b ‘Abd al-Salam, the grandfather of Ibn Taymiya, the famous scholar, (d. 652 A.H./1254 A.D.) compiled a book on legal issues based on a selection of Hadith from six books including Ibn Maja. Ibn Khallikan, in his Wafayat al-A’yan and Shams al-Din al-Jazari (d. 711 A.H./ 1311 A.D.) recognised Ibn Maja as sixth as well.
...but as late as the twelfth century we find traditionists like `Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (d.1143A.H./1730A.D.) who talked of the general opinion held by the people in the Maghrib (countries west of Egypt) in favour of Muwatta, saying: "A difference of opinion is held about the sixth one. The people of the East (Countries in the
3. Its position in comparison with other collections
Though Ibn Maja is regarded as one of the six Sihah to many traditionists it is less-authenticated compared to the Muwatta. Shah Wali Allah (d.1176A.H/1762A.D.) has supported this view in his explanatory book known as Musaffa Sharh al-Muwatta.
However preference was given to Ibn Maja because of his additional Hadith, as pointed out by al-Sakhawi:
"They have given it (al-Sunan) preference to Muwatta because of the great number of additional Hadith which are not found in the five books, unlike Muwatta."
To some traditionists like Salah al-Din Khalil al-`
Sahih of Ibn Hibban is well recognised among the traditionists. Ibn al-`Imad (Abu al-Falah, `Abd al-Hayy b Ahmad (d.1089A.H./1678A.D.) preferred it to Ibn Maja by saying:
"Most of the critics hold the opinion that his book (Sahih) is more authentic than Ibn Maja." "
(Criticism of Hadith..., Abdul Ghaffar, p.139f)
Thus we find that Islam seeks its ‘Divinely Protected Sunnah’ from books whose content is constantly changing.
And, to the number of these collections, from time to time, they added new ones because there were "a great number of additional Hadith which are not found" in the previously accepted ‘sound’ books!3 And, as we expect, everywhere one looks one finds Ahadith cited from ibn Maja, at-Tirmidhi, and many others.
As to the matter of the number of new Ahadith, we are told that:
"According to Fu’ad ‘Abd al-Baqi, the total number of Hadith in this collection amounts to 4341 of which 3002 Ahadith are recorded by the five other traditionists as well." (Criticism of Hadith..., Abdul Ghaffar, p.139).
This means that 1339 NEW Ahadith (Sunnah!) were accepted when ibn Maja’s Sunan was accepted!
The trouble, though, is not solely that the Islamic leadership is constantly shifting the ‘content’, or that it has added ‘new’ collections from time to time. Further to this, there has been obvious disagreement among the top Islamic scholars as to how much of these ‘sahih’ Ahadith collections is admittedly not ‘sahih’ (sound/authentic). The book Criticism of Hadith Among Muslims With Reference to Sunan4 Ibn Maja, documents the vast difference of opinion among Islamic scholars as to just how much of it was fabricated and false:
"In spite of all the admiring words associated with al-Sunan, it has a good number of weak and spurious Ahadith. Ibn Zur’a was the first to point out this fact. After giving praiseworthy remarks quoted above, he said:
"I hope that there will be no more than thirty Ahadith with weak isnad." Dhahabi5 added: "Abu Zur’a by saying this, might have meant such Ahadith as totally abandoned because there might be about one thousand Ahadith in al-Sunan which are not valid for argument." He further says: "Ibn Maja was a preserver of Ahadith (Naqid) with a vast amount of knowledge but the Sunan became low in position because of a lot of Makruh and spurious Ahadith in it." Ibn al-Jauzi (d. 597) pin-pointed thirty four Ahadith in al-Sunan as spurious in his book al-Maudat. But Suyuti took great pains to defend all such Ahadith as declared to be spurious..." (Criticism of Hadith Among Muslims With Reference To Sunan Ibn Maja, Suhaib Hasan Abdul Ghaffar , p. 144f).
Which ‘point of view’ shall we accept as being most truthful?
"More Material Which Missed these Prominent Scholars"?
On top of this, it is admitted that many collections were only made much later, and are composed of material said to have been ‘missed’ by the earlier great collectors:
"The collections of Hadith made it easier for the coming generations to have a clear picture of the science of Hadith and enabled them to base all legal issues upon them and to find out more material which missed these prominent scholars, resulting in collections like Sahih Abu `Uwana (316 A.H./ 928 A.D.), Mustadrak al-Hakim (d. 405 A.H./ 1014 A.D.) and Sunan al-Baihaqi (458 A.H./1065 A.D.)." (Criticism of Hadith..., Abdul Ghaffar , p. 126; emphasis added)6
Confusion reigns! Yet this type of thing reminds one of Shafi noting that no Ahadith existed in his time on a certain topic, but the same were in plentiful supply much later! How many were ‘missed’, and how many were ‘new creations’?
Could the early collectors have only found a few Ahadith through their efforts to preserve the religion of Muhammad, but five (5) centuries after Muhammad’s death others ’found’ masses of ‘other’ Ahadith!?
This, then, is the admitted condition of the "preserved Source" for the understanding of Islam’s Qur’an, as well as for ‘the rest of the revelation’ - ever shifting, ever evolving!
How Reliable Is The Wording Of The Sunnah?
It is obvious that the ‘pure’ religion which it is claimed came through Muhammad is only determinable by examining the Ahadith in the collections, as well as in the sira, tarikh, etc., and after trying to sort truth from falsehood, deciding what the ‘Word of Allah’ 7 it claims to possess is supposed to be. And so is defined the true importance of the need for absolutely pure extra-Qur’anic records. It is well stated that:
"To declare these sources of knowledge unreliable, false or fictitious would mean shutting the door on practical adherence to the Qur’an.8 Moreover, the superiority that Islam and the Muslims enjoy over all other faiths and religious communities would also be destroyed. For it would necessarily mean that the Muslims had no history, no intellectual or practical achievement to their credit, since there is no dependable way of knowing those achievement. Surely no Muslim could accept such a position." (The Sunnah..., Azami, p.24)
Although "no Muslim could accept such a position", yet such a realisation has driven many followers of Islam away from an acceptance of the sources, and in fact they are the audience to which the maulana’s booklet was written. This too was the reason behind the writing of the 1934 booklet Islam at the Crossroads by M. Asad.
Yet, it is no wonder that people have found themselves distrusting the Ahadith, for, according to the "principal early grammarians", even the Arabic they were recorded in is extremely dubious:
"However, it is interesting to note that the principal early grammarians, though they dare not say that the hadith were not authentic, asserted that the Arabic in which they were written was so bad that they could not be held to transmit the actual words of the prophet, though doubtless they conveyed his meaning. Their argument was that it is impossible that the prophet, the exponent of perfect Arabic, could have violated the rules of grammar."" (Islam, Guillaume, p. 91f)
Thus because of its poor Arabic, the Ahadith, the only record of Muhammad’s words (Sunnah), [i.e. the only record of his illumination of the Qur’an as well as ‘the rest of the Word of Allah’], is already admitted to be uncertifiable even on the grounds of its grammar!
This actual condition of the Arabic of the Sunnah disavows the worth of Qadi Iyad’s (d. 544/1149) assertion that the Sahaba "knew... the exact pronunciation of the Prophet’s words", for even if they did it has not been transmitted!! What false encouragement!
Continues in Part II