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There are scholars who believe that the Ahādīth are as authentic as the Qur’ān. This view is not correct. Whilst there is no need to investigate the authenticity of the Qurān, both the text and chain of narration of a Hadīth require investigation.
Ghāmidī, while explaining this, writes:
It is the chain of narration of a narrative that makes it a Hadīth that can be attributed to the Prophet (sws). In addition to any hidden flaws in the chain of narration of a Hadīth, the trustworthiness of the narrators, their memory and the contemporaneous of the narrators are the three standards which should be taken into consideration in the light of the material which the scholars of Hadīth have painstakingly made available. This is the standard which scholars of Hadīth have put forth for the examination of the chain of narration of a Hadīth, 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. Thus no narrative attributed to the Prophet (sws) even if found in primary works as the al-Jami Al-Sahih of Imām Bukhārī, al-Jami al-Sahih of Imām Muslim and the Muatta of Imām Mālik can be accepted without application of this standard.
Besides investigating the chain of narration of a Hadīth, the second thing which requires investigation is the text of a Hadīth. Although scholars of Hadīth have left no stone unturned in investigating the characters and biographies of the narrators and have spent the greater part of their lives in this research yet, like every human endeavor, the natural flaws which still exist in the narration of a Hadīth require that the following two things must always be considered while investigating the text of a Hadīth:
1. Nothing in it should be against the Qur’ān and Sunnah.
2. Nothing in it should be against established facts derived from knowledge and reason.
The Qur’ān, it has been alluded to earlier, 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’ān, 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’ān, as has been explained earlier. There is no difference between the level of authenticity of the two. Just as the Qur’ān is validated through the consensus of the ummah , the Sunnah is also determined from its consensus. Since this fact is an absolute reality about the Sunnah, so if a Hadīth is against the Sunnah and if there is no way out to resolve a conflict between the two, the Hadīth in consideration must necessarily be rejected.
Established facts derived from knowledge and reason also have the same status in this regard. The Qur’ān is absolutely clear that its message is based on these established facts. Its arguments on such basic issues as tawhid and the Hereafter are primarily based on these facts. It is the requirements and demands of these facts which the Qur’ān highlights through its teachings. Every student of the Qur’ān 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’ān in this very capacity. Hence how can a Hadīth which is against these facts regarded by the Qur’ān as ones which distinguish between the truth and untruth be accepted? It is obvious that it shall stand rejected. All leading scholars of Hadīth also hold this view. Al-Khatīb writes:
ولا يقبل خبر الواحدفي منافاة حكم العقل وحكم القرآن الثابت المحكم والسنة المعلومة والفعل الجاري مجرى السنة كل دليل مقطوع به
A khabar ak-wahid [– Hadīth –] cannot be accepted which is against sense and reason, is against an established and explicit directive of the Qur’ān, 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.
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