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  • Principles Of Understanding Hadeeth

    Posted by $ohail T@hir on June 24, 2020 at 9:59 am


    Ahadith (plural of Hadith) are narratives which record the words, deeds and tacit approvals of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). They are mostly akhbar-i ahad(isolate reports). It is absolutely evident that they do not add to the contents of religion stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah. In technical terms, they do not add any article of faith or any deed to religion. In other words, it is outside the scope of Ahadith to give an independent directive not covered by the Qur’an and Sunnah. However, this is also a reality that the Hadith literature is the largest and most important source which records the biography, history and the exemplary life of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) as well as his invaluable explanations of various issues of religion. Thus it occupies such great importance that no student of religion can ignore it. It is because of this importance of Hadith that it is essential to know the principles which help us in understanding them.

    Before elaborating on these principles, we will first have a look at the principles on the basis of which a Hadith is accepted or rejected.

    The Chain of Narration of Hadith

    It is the chain of narration of a narrative which makes it a Hadith that can be attributed to the Prophet (sws). In addition to any hidden flaws in the chain of narration of a Hadith, the trustworthiness of the narrators, their memory and the contemporaneousness of the narrators are the three standards which should be kept in consideration in the light of the material which the scholars of Hadith have painstakingly made available. This is the standard which scholars of Hadith have put forth for the examination of the chain of narration of a Hadith, and is so sound that no addition can be made to it nor anything taken away from it.

    Since attributing something suspect to the Prophet (sws) can be of severe consequences in this world and in that to come, it is necessary to apply this standard without any lenience and with absolute impartiality to every narrative attributed to him. Only those narratives should be considered acceptable which fully conform to this standard.1 Thus no narrative attributed to the Prophet (sws) even if found in primary works as the al-Jami al-Sahih of Imam Bukhari, al-Jami al-Sahih of Imam Muslim and the Mu’atta of Imam Malik can be accepted without application of this standard.

    Text of a Hadith

    After investigating the chain of narration of a Hadith, the second thing which requires investigation is the text of a Hadith. Although scholars of Hadith have left no stone unturned in investigating the characters and biographies of the narrators and have spent a greater part of their lives in this research, yet like every human endeavour, the natural flaws which still exist in the narration of a Hadith2 requires that the following two things must always remain in consideration while investigating the text of a Hadith:

    1. Nothing in it should be against the Qur’an and Sunnah

    2. Nothing in it should be against established facts derived from knowledge and reason

    It has already been explained that in religion the Qur’an is the mizan (the scale of truth) and the furqan (the distinguisher between truth and falsehood). It is like a guardian of every religious concept and it has been revealed as a barometer to judge between what is right and what is wrong. Thus no further explanation is required of the fact that if anything is against the Qur’an, then it must stand rejected.

    Similar is the case of the Sunnah. Whatever religion has been received through it is as certain and authentic as the Qur’an, as has already been explained earlier. There is no difference between the level of authenticity of the two. Just as the Qur’an is validated thought the consensus of the ummah, the Sunnah is also determined from its consensus. Since this fact is an absolute reality about the Sunnah, thus if a Hadith is against the Sunnah and if there is no way out to resolve a conflict between the two, the Hadith in consideration must necessarily be rejected.

    Established facts derived from knowledge and reason also have the same status in this regard. The Qur’an is absolutely clear that its message is based on these established facts. Its arguments on such basic issues as tawhidand the Hereafter are primarily based on these facts. It is the requirements and demands of these facts which the Qur’an highlights through its teachings. Every student of the Qur’an is aware that it presents these facts as deciding factors for the message it puts forth. It presented them as the final word both before the Idolaters of Arabia and the People of the Book. Those who oppose these are regarded by it as people who follow their base desires. Thus intuitive realities, historical truths, results of experience and observation – all are discussed in the Qur’an in this very capacity. Hence how can a Hadith which is against these facts regarded by the Qur’an as ones which distinguish between the truth and untruth be accepted? It is obvious that it shall stand rejected. All leading scholars of Hadith also hold this view. Khatib writes:

    ولا يقبل خبر الواحد في منافاة حكم العقل وحكم القرآن الثابت المحكم والسنة المعلومة والفعل الجاري مجرى السنة كل دليل مقطوع به

    A khabr-i wahidcannot be accepted which is against sense and intellect, is against an established and explicit directive of the Qur’an, is against a known Sunnah or is against a practice which is observed like the Sunnah or its conflict with some conclusive argument becomes absolutely evident.3

    Let us now take a look at the principles of understanding the Hadith:

    Literary Appreciation of the Arabic Language

    Just as the Qur’an has been revealed in highly literary Arabic, the language of the Hadith too is highly literary Arabic. There is no doubt that a great number of Ahadith have not been transmitted in their original words, yet whatever much has been preserved of the language of the Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) is still enough for a keen student of the Qur’an to distinguish it from other material. Like the Qur’an, the language of the Hadith too has a certain standard which does not accept any adulteration of material substandard to it. Thus it is necessary that by a continuous study of its language, students of Hadith are able to acquire enough skill of the language so as to reject narratives like الشّيْخُ وَ الشَّيْخَةُ4 on the very basis of the language used in it. Similarly, they should have no problems in understanding the rather difficult style used in الْبِكْزُ باِلبِكزِ5. This skill is also required to solve difficulties posed by the syntax and morphology of the Arabic language. A person should have a deep study of what the authorities of these subjects have written. No one is able to solve the difficulties of Hadith unless he is cognizant of the delicacies of the Arabic language and its various styles and constructions.

    Interpretation in the Light of the Qur’an

    The Hadith should be interpreted in the light of the Qur’an. The status occupied by the Qur’an has already been alluded to earlier. It is the most definite and authentic record of whatever Muhammad (sws) did in his status of a prophet and a messenger. Consequently, most topics covered in the Hadith are related to the Qur’an the way a branch is related to a stem or the way an explanation is related to the text it explains. Without a recourse to the original text, it is obvious that its corollaries and explanations cannot be understood. If all the mistakes in interpreting the Hadith are minutely analyzed, this situation becomes abundantly clear. The incidents of stoning to death in the times of the Prophet (sws), the assassination of Ka’b Ibn Ashraf, punishment meted out in the graves, narratives of intercession and directives as أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أُقَاتِلَ النَّاسَ and (I have been directed to wage war against these people)6 مَنْ بَدَّلَ دِينَهُ فَاقْتُلُوهُ (Execute the person who changes his faith)7 have become issues which have caused a lot of confusion and have been subjected to misinterpretation because they have not been understood by relating them to their basis in the Qur’an.

    In short, if this principal is kept in consideration, a lot of perplexities are resolved in understanding the Hadith.

    Understanding the Occasion of the Hadith

    A Hadith must be understood with reference to the instance and occasion of the topic it records. What was the occasion on which it was said? What was the background in which it was said? Who were the addressees? If one does not address these questions in interpreting a Hadith, on many occasions one fails to get to the right interpretation. The Hadith الأَئِمَّةُ مِنْ قُرِيْش (The rulers will be from the Quraysh)8 is a famous narrative. By the apparent words of this Hadith, scholars of our ummah have been led to believe that a Muslim ruler must always be from among the tribe of the Quraysh. If this is accepted then at least with reference to the political system there remains no difference between Islam and Brahmanism. The basic reason in misinterpreting this Hadith is the fact that this statement of the Prophet (sws) related to the political situation which was to arise right after him; instead of understanding this aspect, the directive stated in it was regarded to be an independent directive of religion applicable for all times. There are numerous such Ahadith in religion and they cover very important topics. It is essential that they be understood by keeping in consideration this principle.

    Study of all the Variant Texts

    All the variant texts of a Hadith must be studied in order to form an opinion about it. Many a time a person may form an opinion about a Hadith by not studying its variants; however, once he deliberates on all the variants his overall interpretation changes. One glaring example of this are the Ahadith which mention the prohibition of pictures and portraits. If some of the narratives are studied only, one can easily conclude that this prohibition is absolute and every picture and portrait is prohibited in Islam. However, if all the variants are collected and analyzed, it becomes evident that the prohibition is regarding only those pictures which have been made for worshipping. Many similar examples can be cited from the corpus of the Hadith. Thus it is essential that if one is not satisfied from the apparent words of a Hadith, one must gather and collate all its variants to form an opinion.

    Reason and Revelation

    It must be appreciated that reason and revelation never contradict. Earlier on, while explaining the principles of acceptance or rejection of a Hadith, it has been explained that religion is based on universally established facts derived from knowledge and reason, and if a Hadith appears to be contradicting these established facts, then it must be deliberated upon repeatedly. However, summarily rejecting a Hadith, if it appears to be against these facts is not the correct academic approach. Similarly, ignoring these facts and accepting an insubstantial interpretation of the Hadith should also not be the case. Experience shows that when a narrative is analyzed in the correct perspective, then many a time no contradiction remains with these facts and what is stated in the Hadith becomes very clear. This of course can only be achieved when it is fully accepted that there can be no contradiction between reason and revelation. The works of scholars who have kept this principle in consideration speak volumes of how aptly they have been able to interpret a Hadith. Thus one must always take into account this all important principle in interpreting the Hadith.

    (Translated from Ghamidi’s Meezan by Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

    $ohail T@hir replied 3 years, 6 months ago 4 Members · 49 Replies
  • 49 Replies
  • Principles Of Understanding Hadeeth

    $ohail T@hir updated 3 years, 6 months ago 4 Members · 49 Replies
  • $ohail T@hir

    Moderator June 24, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Please see this book by Ameen Ahsan Islahi sb on fundamentals of Hadeeth interpretation.

  • $ohail T@hir

    Moderator June 24, 2020 at 10:10 am
  • $ohail T@hir

    Moderator July 2, 2020 at 3:31 pm
  • Sameer Bhagwat

    Contributor July 20, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    Can you please explain where can we find Sunnah of the Prophet ? What is the process of authentication used for Sunnah and how is it different from authentication process of usual Hadith ?

    • Umer

      Moderator July 20, 2020 at 11:22 pm

      Sunnah is found in the same sources where Quran is found, which are Ijma (consensus) of masses (Muslims) and their perpetual recitation / adherence.

    • Umer

      Moderator July 20, 2020 at 11:35 pm

      Prophet Muhammad (sws) is the only source of religion. The whole of religion is contained in Quran & Sunnah, which are transmitted through the most reliable means of Ijma (consensus) of masses (Muslims) and their perpetual recitation / adherence since the time of Prophet (sws). These modes of transmission supersede any written documentation to be relied upon. They are not dependent on any written form whatsoever. Ahadith are just a historical record of how Prophet and companions, among other things, practiced that religion contained in Quran and Sunnah. It is not an independent source of religion.

    • Sameer Bhagwat

      Contributor July 21, 2020 at 3:00 am

      So, can we conclude that the sayings/deeds of the Prophet which don’t have the Ijma of masses and their perpetual adherence, aren’t part of the religion and shouldn’t be taken seriously ?

      For example, a random hadith which describes by the narration of a close companion of Prophet that he said so-and-so thing, and it is considered authentic, what is the level of that particular hadith in terms of religion ? Is it binding on the muslims to follow it/emulate it ? Can one muslim reject it despite it being called authentic ?

    • Umer

      Moderator July 21, 2020 at 3:59 am

      Authentic word for Hadith is used in very loose terms now a days. For a Hadith to be Authentic, it must pass all the conditions mentioned above. Since the mode of transmission of Ahadith have some inherent limitations in them, therefore the rules of ilm-e-Hadith were created to make sure that we take all the measures within our capacity in order to see whether some particular narration can be categorized as Authentic. Nevertheless, no Hadith adds anything to the original content of religion itself; it includes explanation of matters which even in it’s absence were perfectly understandable.

      Please see the principles above which should be followed before reaching to some level of confidence on a particular Hadith.

    • Sameer Bhagwat

      Contributor July 21, 2020 at 8:32 am

      Can you please simplify your explanation ? When some Bukhari/Muslim hadith is considered Sahih, does it still not get accepted as something which Prophet indeed said (unless it was also supported by mass adherence criterion) ? In other words, Sahih Bukhari/Muslim narrations hold no value in terms of defining the character of the Prophet? Why will Muslims lie about him and why will Bukhari label them Sahih ?

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator July 21, 2020 at 8:38 am

      See this for causes of Hadith fabrication: Discussion 1788

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator July 21, 2020 at 8:40 am

      How different jurists view Hadith: Discussion 1787

    • Umer

      Moderator July 21, 2020 at 9:42 am

      When word Sahih is used by Bukhari for example, it doesn’t mean Sahih as in 100% authentic, it is a technical term of ilm-e-Hadith which means that the chain of narrations has no apparent flaws in it and it falls within logical and overall framework of religion as per understanding of Bukhari. However, that same Hadith then has to pass the filter of ilm-e-Hadith which is found in other books (Khatib Baghdadi’s Kifaya is the most prominent in this category). These books lay down detailed principles of understanding Hadith (the same effort at understanding ahadith as done by Ghamidi Sahab in the above article).

      *(Please note that for the ease of understanding, I have tried to explain this in the most simplest way possible. Neither is this a very scholarly approach nor is this a replacement for a proper book in the subject).

  • Sameer Bhagwat

    Contributor July 29, 2020 at 10:31 am

    I see an underlying assumption that a hadith can’t contradict Qur’an and Sunnah.. so I want to understand why Bukhari didn’t keep this fact into account, as so many Hadiths end up contradicting Qur’an, and why did the narrators narrate such a saying from Prophet?

    When we say that a hadith should not contradict Qur’an, are we saying that Prophet couldn’t have said/done anything which is contrary to Qur’an ? If yes, then someone in the chain of narrators must have attributed false thing to Prophet .. it is the most logical explanation.

    How come such a narrator be considered reliable then ?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 28, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    We need the authentic ahadeeth to know our Deen. Without this authentic historical record we wouldn’t know the Sunnah of our prophet (S). And Qur’an can’t be implemented and practiced without knowing the Sunnah of our prophet (S). There’s a reason why Bukhari,Muslim and other muhaddithoon worked hard in preserving these ahadeeth. It’s like preserving deen for coming generations. If you find masses of Muslims following the Sunnah , they’re getting it from these authentic ahadeeth. No where else.

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 28, 2020 at 11:36 pm

      Have you read entire Bukhari and Muslim? I have not

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 28, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    No I haven’t read entire Bukhari and Muslim. Why?

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 28, 2020 at 11:51 pm

      Bukhari documents Jesus (AS) has passed away. There is a narration from ibn Abbas (RA) [companion], this was mentioned by Tabari also.

      a) What is your opinion on Bukhari re. Jesus (AS) death? If you reject Bukhari, let me know why?

      b) What is your opinion of ibn Abbas (RA) suggesting Jesus (AS) died? If you reject Hadith from ibn Abbas (companion), let me know why

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 28, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    I have read some ahadeeth in there which didn’t make any sense. I’m not saying that everything in there definitely has to be from Prophet (S). But the ones which are according to the teachings of Qur’an can be authentic, right ?

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 29, 2020 at 12:01 am

      A moment ago you were suggesting we get Sunnah (which is deen) from Muslim and Bukhari alone. Now you are suggesting “some hadith didnt make sense”.

      Can I then say some Sunnah does not make sense? Which means some deen makes no sense?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 29, 2020 at 12:07 am

    A moment ago I was suggesting we get Sunnah from authentic ahadeeth ( which were proven to be really from our prophet(S)

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 29, 2020 at 12:10 am

      Narration from ibn Abbas (RA) about death of Jesus (AS). Is this “authentic”?

      Bukhari mentioning Jesus (AS) passed away, is this “authentic”?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 29, 2020 at 5:48 am

    I don’t know they’re authentic or not

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 29, 2020 at 5:55 am

    Based on the ayah إني متوفيك و رافعك إلي……. it could be interpretated both ways, physical death or taken up to God physically. I don’t know the narration you are mentioning. Did ibn Abbas say Jesus physically died?

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 29, 2020 at 8:23 am

      yeh, Ibn Abbas (RA) narration suggests physical death.

    • Saba Madani

      Member August 29, 2020 at 8:32 am

      Ghamidi Sb suggests physical death too. I agree

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 29, 2020 at 8:50 am

      95%+ Muslims would not agree w/ your understanding (or Ghamidi sb) that Jesus (AS) physically died based on their understanding of “hadith” (Sunnah for you). If you ask Yaqeen about Jesus (AS)’s death, they will give you standard narrative that he was raised alive.

      So, how do we decide which version is correct?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 29, 2020 at 5:59 am

    But they haven’t killed Jesus nor crucified him. This We know from Qur’an. وما قتلوه وما صلبوه ولكن شبه لهم……..

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 29, 2020 at 8:38 am

      We also know from Quran re. “Mutawaffika” (death)

      ذِكْرُ مَنْ قَالَ ذَلِكَ: حَدَّثَنِي الْمُثَنَّى، قَالَ: ثنا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، قَالَ: ثني مُعَاوِيَةُ، عَنْ عَلِيٍّ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَوْلُهُ: {إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ} [آل عمران: 55] يَقُولُ: «إِنِّي مُمِيتُكَ»

      (تفسير جامع البيان في تفسير القرآن، الطبري ت 310 هـ)

  • $ohail T@hir

    Moderator August 29, 2020 at 9:34 am

    @Afee What is the punishment of fornication/adultery in Quran?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 29, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I have listened to some old vedios of Ghamidi Sb on this issue( punishment for fornication) and I respect and agree with his opinion

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 29, 2020 at 5:14 pm

      But if Hadith is the source of Sunnah, we know the narration that suggests Rajm for adultery (married zaani). How do you view this Hadith?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 29, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    The way Ghamidi Sb explains Sunnah is so strange and confusing. I don’t live in Dallas but I know so many scholars who live there like Yasir qadhi,Omar sulaiman,Noman Ali Khan,Yasir birjas and many more. And none of them agree with his views on this issue. If he could convince some knowledgeable people about this it will become easier for us to follow

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    It requires little unlearning and learning again, I understand on my part. But how about all those scholars they need to forget all they know and start a new?

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    I know Ghamidi Sb is a big scholar and an intellect. He needs to interact with the people of his caliber and convince them. I think it’s dangerous to spread his views about fundamental aqeedah in simple minded folks and confuse them

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    I have read the above article of Shahzad Saleem Sb you have sent. He says the same thing what I heard from Ghamidi Sb’s lectures. For example this is from his article


    Thirdly, the Sunnahis not based on Ahādīth. For instance, we have not adopted the prayer, pilgrimage, etc in all their details because a few narrators explained them to us; on the contrary, we have adopted them because every person in our surroundings is either adhering to it or vouching for its veracity. In other words, Sunnah is an entirely independent source of Islam.

    This explanation of Sunnah is so rediculous, laughable. According to this the Christians, Jews of present time and all the other human beings on on Earth now are all following sunnah

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 30, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      No one said Christian and Jews are following Sunnah as God revealed it. If they were following it as is, there was no need for sending Messengers and Prophets (AS) or any additional scriptures.

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    So Muslims are no different

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Do you follow Mutazili school of thought?

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 30, 2020 at 1:45 pm

      No, we dont

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    I would leave the common folks to follow the Sunnah of our prophet (s) to the best of their abilities and not to confuse them with the other Sunnah you are talking about

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 30, 2020 at 1:48 pm

      Pls. read Meezan (available both in English and Urdu) and read the section on Sunnah. If you find anything objectionable, feel free to post question(s) here.

    • Saba Madani

      Member August 30, 2020 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks. I have started reading Al bayan as well as meezan. I appreciate the opportunity to ask questions if I don’t understand something. Jzk

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 30, 2020 at 1:50 pm
  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    No one denies that Sunnah means well trodden path etc, no one denies that Muhammad (S) brought any new Deen. We all agree that Islam began from the prophet Adam, but the Sunnah for us to follow now is the Sunnah of Muhammed (S) . There is no other Sunnah alive in it’s correct form

    • $ohail T@hir

      Moderator August 30, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      We dont disagree on this.

  • Saba Madani

    Member August 30, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    There are so many good organizations here in US, there are groups of scholars in there like FIQH COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA, AMJA, THE ISLAMIC SEMINARY OF NORTH AMERICA and so many more, I seriously think that Ghamidi Sb, Shahzad Saleem Sb, Hassan Ilyas Sb should have debate with them and come to some common agreement. Otherwise this will further devide the ummah and be the cause of confusion in people

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