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Author Topic: explanation of 'hadith'  (Read 3205 times)
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« on: August 24, 2009, 08:12:05 AM »

Assalamu'alaikum wr wb.

A brother has e-mailed for explanation of some simple aspects of Hadith:

Assalam Wrmtll Wbrktu
What's Hadith?
What are Ahaadith?
Are these from Allah?
When were they written?
Were they written by the Jews?
Why are they categorised and classified as Weak?
Which Hadith was the Holy Prophet and his Noble Companions following?
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2009, 01:34:08 PM »

wa 3alaykum as-salam wa ra7mat ALLAHi wa barakatuhu


Will try to make it as short as possible, because the topic is very big:
When we say, Sunnah, we mean following what our Prophet (salla ALLAHu `alayhi wa salam) used to do or used to order us to do. And the sunnah is described in ahadeeth (pl. of hadeeth)

The Sunnah (the actions, sayings and confirmations of Prophet Muhammad, salallaahu alayhi wa sallam is the second source of Islamic legislation and must be in complete agreement with the first source (i. e. the Quran).
The term Sunnah comes from the root word ‘sanna’, which means to pave the way.
Sunnah can be used to describe a path that people follow. In Islamic terminology, Sunnah applies to a prophetic way which includes references to the Prophet’s (SAS) sayings, actions, approvals, physical features and character traits.
His actions pertain to anything he did, as authentically reported by the Companions may Allaah be pleased with them. His silent approvals on different issues meant he didn’t oppose or mind what he saw, heard or knew of the actions or sayings of his Companions. Sunnah also includes everything authentically narrated concerning the Prophet's physical features and his traits.
The Quran and the Sunnah complement each other. Without the Sunnah, Islam is not complete, likewise without the Quran, Islam is not complete.
Actually, Sunnah is so important that without it one cannot fully understand the Quran and Islam, or be able to apply it to his life. Both of these sources guide us to the right path.
The Quran is the word of Allah, whereas the Sunnah is its practical interpretation. Sunnah also gives a full account of the life of the Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam.

1. A hadith (pl. ahadith) is composed of two parts: the matn (text) and the isnad (chain of reporters). A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic isnad with reliable reporters to be acceptable; 'Abdullah b. al-Mubarak (d. 181 AH) is reported to have said,
"The isnad is part of the religion: had it not been for the isnad, whoever wished to would have said
whatever he liked."

During the lifetime of the Prophet (SAS) and after his death, his Companions (Sahabah) used to refer to him when quoting his sayings. The Successors (Tabi'un) followed suit; some of them used to quote the Prophet (SAS) through the Companions while others would omit the intermediate authority - such a hadith was known as mursal (loose). It was found that the missing link between the Successor and the Prophet (SAS) might be one person, i.e. a Companion, or two persons, the extra person being an older Successor who heard the hadith from the Companion. This is an example of how the need for the verification of each isnad arose.Malik (d. 179) said,
"The first one to utilise the isnad was Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri" (d. 124 AH).

There are many types of classification of ahadeeth, but i'll paste for u only the ones u've requested, namely, hadeeth da`if (weak) saheeh (sound) etc.

The Classification of Hadeeth - According to the reliability and memory of the reporters

Under this classification falls the final verdict on a hadith, being one of the following: sahih, hasan,
da'if or maudu'.

Among the early traditionists, mostly of the first two centuries, ahadith were classified into two
categories only: sahih and da'if; al-Tirmidhi was to be the first to distinguish hasan fromda'if. This is why traditionists and jurists such as Ahmad, who seemed to argue on the basis of da'if ahadith sometimes, were in fact basing their argument on the ahadith which were later to be known as hasan.

We now examine in more detail these four important classes of ahadith.

Saheeh (sound)
Hasan (agreeable)
Da'eef (weak)
Maudoo' (fabricated)

Shortly describing each of them

- Ibn al-Salah, however, defines a sahih hadith more precisely by saying:
"A sahih hadith is the one which has a continuous isnad, made up of reporters of trustworthy
preservers from similar authorities, and which is found to be clear fromshudhudh and any defects."

Of all the collectors of hadith, al-Bukhari and Muslim were greatly admired because of their tireless
attempt to collect sahih hadith only. It is generally understood that the more trustworthy and of good
memory the reporters, the more authentic the hadith. The isnad: al-Shafi'i ---Malik --- Nafi' ---
'Abdullah b. 'Umar --- The Prophet, is called a "goldenisnad" because of its renowned reporters.

Hasan (agreeable)

means by hadith hasan, a hadith which is not shadhdh (one which is reported by a trustworthy person but goes against the narration of a person more authentic than him), which does not contain a disparaged reporter in its isnad, and which is reported through more than one route of narration.

Da'eef (weak)

A hadith which fails to reach the status of hasan is da'if. Usually, the weakness is one of discontinuity
in the isnad or one of a reporter having a disparaged character, such as due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes, opposition to the narration of more reliable sources, involvement in innovation, and ambiguity surrounding his own person.
The smaller the number and importance of defects, the less severe the weakness. The more the defects
in number and severity, the closer the hadith will be to being fabricated.
Some ahadith, according to the variation in the nature of the weakness associated with its reporters,
rank at the bottom of the hasan grade or the top of the da'if grade. Reporters such as 'Abdullah b.
Lahi'a, 'Abd al-Rahman b. Zaid b. Aslam, Abu Bakr b. Abi Maryamal-Himsi, Faraj b. Fadala, Rishdin
b. Sa'd and the like, attract such types of varying ranks as they are neither extremely good preservers
nor totally abandoned.

Maudoo' (fabricated)

Al-Dhahabi defines it as a hadith, the text of which goes against the established norms or its reporters
include a liar, e.g. the forty ahadith known as Wad'aniyya or the copy of 'Ali al-Rida which was
fabricated against him.
A number of traditionists have collected fabricated ahadith separately in order to distinguish them
from other ahadith; among them are Ibn al-Jauzi in al-Maudu'at, al-Janzaqani in Kitab al-Abatil, and al-Suyuti in al-La'ali al-Masnu'a fi al-Ahadith al-Maudu'a.

A text may seem to be logical and reasonable but it needs an authentic Isnaad with reliable reporters to be acceptable. 'Abdullaah Ibn Al-Mubaarak may Allaah have mercy upon him (d. 181 AH), one of the illustrious teachers of Imaam Al-Bukhaari may Allaah have mercy upon him said: "The Isnaad is part of the religion, had it not been for the Isnaad, then people would have claimed whatever they wished."

Among the sciences of Hadeeth is the study of the chain of reporters (the Isnaad). Many Muslim scholars have specialized in this field. It includes identifying the name of each and every narrator (reporter), his character (his truthfulness, piety, public behavior), his ability and reputation as a memorizer and the types of narrations he is known to report, whether authentic, weak, fabricated, etc. In addition, each narrator should be identified by a rating given by other narrators who knew him. So all of these and many other details must be considered to know the degree to which a Hadeeth may be used as a basis for Islamic belief or practice (Sharee’ah), or merely as a point of interest (not to be attributed to the sayings, etc. of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )).

After the Book of Allaah (The Quran), the books of Hadeeth collection that were collected by Imaams Bukhaari and Muslim may Allaah have mercy upon them are considered by the Muslim scholars to be the most authentic books of Hadeeth. However, there are other famous scholars in the field who compiled books of Hadeeth such as; Abu Daawood (d.275), At-Tirmithi (d. 279), An-Nasaa’i (d. 303) and others may Allaah have mercy upon them.

The Companions may Allaah be pleased with them did their utmost to convey Islam to the generations succeeding them in the best and most accurate way possible. They sincerely loved it, honestly lived according to it and faithfully preserved it and kept any impurity or irregularity out of it.

Their role in the preservation of Islam was one of utmost importance to its continuation, but they were highly prepared for it by the best teacher and trainer, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)

Methodology of the Companions in Preserving the Sunnah

Before discussing the Companions' ways of learning, practicing, preserving and conveying of the Sunnah, it is worthwhile to shed some light on the main points one needs to understand about the Companions may Allaah be pleased with them and their methodology:

1.      The Companions may Allaah be pleased with them were fully aware of the responsibility they shoulder after the death of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ).

2.      The Companions may Allaah be pleased with them are all trustworthy. They may Allaah be pleased with them never doubted one another in the matters of this religion and the narration of Hadeeth.

3.      The Companions may Allaah be pleased with them have developed a methodology for scrutinizing Hadeeths and narrators, and by doing that have established the rules of ascertaining narrations for those who came after them.

4.      The ability of different Companions may Allaah be pleased with them to understand the Sunnah, memorize it and convey it varied from one Companion to another.

5.      The Companions may Allaah be pleased with them left Makkah and Madeenah to many places around the Muslim world, at the time, for the purpose of delivering the message and teaching Islam to those who accepted it thus spreading the Sunnah throughout the land.

It is interesting to note that about 750 Companions may Allaah be pleased with them narrated Hadeeths, seven of whom narrated a high number of Hadeeths, and about twenty narrated an average number, the rest narrated a small number.

The seven who narrated a large number of Hadeeths are: Abu Hurayrah who narrated 5374 Hadeeths, 'Abdullaah Ibn ‘Umar narrated 2630, Anas Ibn Maalik narrated 2286, 'Aa'ishah narrated 2210 Hadeeths, 'Abdullaah Ibn 'Abbaas narrated 1660, Jaabir Ibn 'Abdullaah narrated 1540, and Abu Sa'eed AI-Khudri narrated 1100 Hadeeths may Allaah be pleased with them. They understood their role and were aware of the significance of their ability in narrating the Hadeeths and did their best to deliver them diligently and accurately. Muslims of all times are indebted to them may Allaah be pleased with them.

As for the last question ("Which Hadith was the Holy Prophet and his Noble Companions following?"), u can't say they were following the hadeeth, but we are following the ahadeeth harrated by the Companions (may ALLAH be pleased with them) from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)

source: 1. from the book "Rules Governing The Criticism of Hadeeth" by Sheikh Mahmood Al-Tahaan
            2. islamweb.net

Fee aman ALLAH

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning Me, then, I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. Qur'an (2:186)
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