My position on the hadith

“Then the Messenger will say: “O my Lord! Truly my people took this Qur’an for just foolish nonsense.” (Holy Qur’an 25:30)

“But there are, among men, those who give heed to (lahwa alhadeeth /vain hadith), without knowledge, or meaning), to mislead from the Path of Allah and throw ridicule on the Path: for such there will be a Humiliating Penalty.

My position on the hadith.

First off, the majority of the hadith are regarded as lone narrator reports or ‘khabar al-wahid’ as being transmitted singularly from one person to the next person.

Even among the various sectarian Muslims they admit that these are known as ‘dalil dhanni’ – which means presumptive proof, or proof based upon mere assumption.

The next is mutawattir hadith’ or that being mass transmitted by congruent chains of transmission.  This is known by the sectarian Muslims as ‘dalil qat’i’ -which means a cogent proof, or a proof that creates conviction.

According to world famous scholar and spokesperson Mark Hanson (Hamza Yusuf) there are only 500 hadith that have reached the status of mutawattir!

So out of the millions of ahadith that we are told that the hadith masters knew about,  in the words of Hamza Yusuf we only have 500 hadith that have reached a level that creates a conviction!

Before someone says that I am misrepresenting the position, you need to press the hadith teacher on what is meant by ‘dalil dhanni’. You need to press them on the definition that their scholars set for this category of hadith< and than ask them the following:

“Why is it speculative?”  ” What  is about this category of hadith that even if they have reached a level of being ‘sahih’ (or sound) would still cause them to be speculative?”

The Hadith versus The Sunnah!  

In fact among the Sunni Muslims,  Imam Malik (founder of the ‘Maliki’ legal school) would take the established practice of the people of Madina over lone narrator hadith!

Now in order for you (the seeker of truth) to understand your going to need to read, and research.

Hopefully the following link will be an eye opener for you, so that I can establish what I am saying as fact.

Here is an interesting excerpt from the above link:

“When ahadith clashes with ‘amal, the latter is preferred over the former. One of Imam Malik’s major shaykhs, Rabi’a Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman, nicknamed Rabi’a al-Ra’y, stated: “I will take a thousand from a thousand before I will take one from one, because that one from one can strip the sunnah out of your hands.” In emulation of his teacher, Malik stated,

The practice is more firmly established than ahadith. One whom I emulate said, “It is distressing that it should be said concerning the like of that, “So-and-so related to me from so-and-so”

To illustrate the point of hadith and Sunnah not being synonymous, the Sunnah including not just the Prophet, Ibn al-Mahdi, one of Imam Malik’s contemporaries, stated: “An established sunnah from the sunnah of the people of Madina is stronger than hadith.”

I would highly recommend you read the entire link above.  At least to gain some insights into the Maliki school of jurisprudence.

Also I think its prudent to mention here that over time the Maliki school went through a metamorphosis; in the sense that I feel it gradually started to move away from its roots.

Also note that ‘The Muwatta’ – (a compilation of oral traditions) said to be compiled from Imam Malik, has come down to us in two versions.

1) The version by Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi  which only contains 883 sayings reported to have come from the Blessed Messenger (saw).

2) The version of Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani which only contains 429 sayings reported to have come from the Blessed Messenger (saw).

Ponder that for a moment if you will.   A very modest collection of oral traditions attributed to Imam Malik, in the very city that the Blessed Messenger (saw), lived!

Please note that for Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him), he saw that the established practice was mass transmitted sunnah!  He saw this as being more reliable, than the khabar al wahid – op lone narrator reports, as mentioned above.

I believe that Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) has a very strong position in this regards.

So anyone who says I reject the sunnah is either

a) misrepresenting my position deliberately.

b) ignorant of my position.

The Civil War among the Muslims & The Development of the Isnad

In my resource page I gave a list of books about hadith that do not come from orientalist.

There is not a single book recommendation from Juynboll, Schacht or Goldziher!

It was in the pages of these traditonalist books that the seeds of doubt concerning ahadith were planted, watered, nurtured and grew.

Take for example the following:

“They did not ask about the Isnad, but when civil war– Fitnah-arose they said ‘Name to us your men; those who belong to Ahl al-Sunnah, their Ahadith were accepted and those who were innovators their Ahadith were neglected.”

“After the civil war they became more cautious and began to inquire about the sources of information and scrutinize them.”

(Source: 46-47 Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature)

That same statement “after the civil war they said name to us your men” is repeated in every book on hadith mentioned above. It is not mentioned in Sunnah notes volume 2 & 3 as it was covered in Sunnah notes volume 1.

Isnad -is chain of narrators.

In other words there was a power struggle in the early Muslim community.   It was so serious that these people were thrusting swords into one another’s chest.  Each side adamant that they are correct.

For some reason the ‘Ahl Al-Sunnah’ are quite uncomfortable to discuss it.  My point is not to rehash history and determine who was right and who was wrong.  To me that whole endeavor is ultimately an exercise in futility.

However, what we are getting is a clash of historical narratives.

The Muslims  caught up in a power struggle. It was a very brutal, and tragic affair. 

Think about this:

Talha and Zubair fought against Ali.  Ali fought against Muawiya. All sides killed many Muslims at the battle of Jamal.  All three of them will be in heaven?

Abu Bakrah ath-Thaqafi  reported – The Blessed Messenger (saw) is reported to have said:  “If two Muslims meet each other with their swords, then both the killer and the killed will be in the Hell-fire.” I said, “O Allāh’s Messenger, that is the case for the killer but why should that be the case for the killed?” He answered, “Because he wanted to kill his companion.” [Bukhāri & Muslim]

Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, he shall abide therein forever. The wrath and the curse of Allāh shall be upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him” (Holy Qur’an 4:93)

To me if a condition of a narrator is that they are just and not have committed major sins and we are truly honest with our selves many of the companions would have to be rejected as narrators, for the simple fact that they have the blood of fellow Muslims on their hands!

Though the Holy Qur’an instructs the following:

“Those are a people who have passed away. Theirs is that which they earned, and yours is that which ye earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.” (Holy Qur’an 21:34)

The truth of the matter is this: If we are to take seriously the science of `Ilm ar-rijal,  or what is commonly referred to as al-jarḥ wa al-taʻdīl (discrediting and accrediting) than an inquiry in to the events that led Muslims to unsheathe swords upon one another deserves closer scrutiny.

Take for example this very interesting hadith found in the canon of the Sunni faction.

Narrated ‘Aisha: Fatima the daughter of the Prophet sent someone to Abu Bakr (when he was a caliph), asking for her inheritance of what Allah’s Apostle had left of the property bestowed on him by Allah from the Fai (i.e. booty gained without fighting) in Medina, and Fadak, and what remained of the Khumus of the Khaibar booty. On that, Abu Bakr said, “Allah’s Apostle said, “Our property is not inherited. Whatever we leave, is Sadaqa, but the family of (the Prophet) Muhammad can eat of this property.’ By Allah, I will not make any change in the state of the Sadaqa of Allah’s Apostle and will leave it as it was during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle, and will dispose of it as Allah’s Apostle used to do.” So Abu Bakr refused to give anything of that to Fatima. So she became angry with Abu Bakr and kept away from him, and did not task to him till she died. She remained alive for six months after the death of the Prophet. When she died, her husband ‘Ali, buried her at night without informing Abu Bakr and he said the funeral prayer by himself. When Fatima was alive, the people used to respect ‘Ali much, but after her death, ‘Ali noticed a change in the people’s attitude towards him. So Ali sought reconciliation with Abu Bakr and gave him an oath of allegiance. ‘Ali had not given the oath of allegiance during those months (i.e. the period between the Prophet’s death and Fatima’s death). ‘Ali sent someone to Abu Bakr saying, “Come to us, but let nobody come with you,” as he disliked that ‘Umar should come, ‘Umar said (to Abu Bakr), “No, by Allah, you shall not enter upon them alone ” Abu Bakr said, “What do you think they will do to me? By Allah, I will go to them’ So Abu Bakr entered upon them, and then ‘Ali uttered Tashah-hud and said (to Abu Bakr), “We know well your superiority and what Allah has given you, and we are not jealous of the good what Allah has bestowed upon you, but you did not consult us in the question of the rule and we thought that we have got a right in it because of our near relationship to Allah’s Apostle .” Thereupon Abu Bakr’s eyes flowed with tears. And when Abu Bakr spoke, he said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is to keep good relations with the relatives of Allah’s Apostle is dearer to me than to keep good relations with my own relatives. But as for the trouble which arose between me and you about his property, I will do my best to spend it according to what is good, and will not leave any rule or regulation which I saw Allah’s Apostle following, in disposing of it, but I will follow.” On that ‘Ali said to Abu Bakr, “I promise to give you the oath of allegiance in this after noon.” So when Abu Bakr had offered the Zuhr prayer, he ascended the pulpit and uttered the Tashah-hud and then mentioned the story of ‘Ali and his failure to give the oath of allegiance, and excused him, accepting what excuses he had offered; Then ‘Ali (got up) and praying (to Allah) for forgiveness, he uttered Tashah-hud, praised Abu Bakr’s right, and said, that he had not done what he had done because of jealousy of Abu Bakr or as a protest of that Allah had favored him with. ‘Ali added, “But we used to consider that we too had some right in this affair (of rulership) and that he (i.e. Abu Bakr) did not consult us in this matter, and therefore caused us to feel sorry.” On that all the Muslims became happy and said, “You have done the right thing.” The Muslims then became friendly with ‘Ali as he returned to what the people had done (i.e. giving the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr).  (Military Expeditions led by the Blessed Messenger’ Sahih Bukhari  546) 

This so called hadith seems tailored made for Umayyad dynastic rule.  It smacks of forgery through and through.   It tries to make Ali look re-conciliatory, while at the same time painting a picture of him as someone who was jealous of Abu Bakr, and acknowledges the ‘superiority’ of Abu Bakr.

I would pay close attention to the text in bold font.

What about this interesting hadith?

“The Prophet said, “On the Day of Resurrection a group of companions will come to me, but will be driven away from the Lake-Fount , and I will say, ‘O Lord those are my companions!’ It will be said, ‘You have no knowledge as to what they innovated after you left; they turned apostate as renegades.”  (Book #76, Hadith # 585 Bukhari)

The problem is we have both factions (Sunni & Shi’a) tampering with chains of narration in support of their respective factions.  The problem is compounded by the fact that all these particular narrators had do to was to be known to be outwardly pious, and to have refrained from major sins.

Which hadith collection?  Which faction?  

Now after the civil war(s)  Muslims split into three major factions.

Each of these factions has its own hadith canon!

1)  Ibadi Islam (Ghuraba) . They have Musnad al-Rabī’ ibn Ḥabīb,

2) Sunni Islam (Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah)  They have Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, An Nasai, Musnad Imam Ahmad, Muwatta Imam Malik, Sunan Al Baihaqi, Sunan Al Darimi, etc…

3) Shi’a Islam (Ahl Bayt) They have Kitab Al Kafi, Tahdib al-Ahkam, etc…

….”but only if you just sat down with the scholars they would it explain it all to you!”   Which scholars?  The Sunni, Shi’a or Ibadi scholars?   Explain what to me?  Don’t you mean try to sell me their version of things?

The discrepancy in ‘the last sermon’ of the Blessed Messenger (saw).

I would also encourage  you to collect and collate as much information you can about ‘the last sermon‘ of the Blessed Messenger (saw).  What you will find is some very interesting discrepancies.

This really made me think twice about a lot of things.  If so many people were present; and we can safely assume a good number of people capable of narrating the sermon (as it was narrated apparently)  so than why the discrepancies?  This was the most witnessed speech of the Blessed Messenger (saw).  This should make one reflect.

Further reflections…

It dawned on me that we do not have one unequivocal statement from the Blessed Messenger (saw) where he instructed anyone to write down his statements!

What we do have is the following narration attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw).

“Convey from me, even if it be only a single verse.”  (Sahih Al Bukhari, Vol. 4, p.442, No. 667)

This tradition which is attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw) some how gets turned into a license to convey ahadith!   However, it is quite clear that the statement is in reference to the Holy Qur’an!

Also, the ahadith never begin with,  “The Messenger of Allah instructed me to inform you thus….”

It is also a mutwattir narration that the Blessed Messenger (saw) is reported to have said:

“Ali said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Do not tell lies about me, for telling lies about me leads to hell fire.” (Source: Bukhari 106)

This is a very frightening prospect to consider! It is one of the reasons that I find  a considerable lack of manners  among the scholars today when they relate ahadith as if they are certain that He (saw) said it!

It is best for the sake of proper etiquette, as well as being fearful of the torment of hell to say,  ‘It has been attributed to the Blessed Messenger.’    I find that this is more appropriate, considering that the bulk of the ahadith literature is dalil dhanni -or speculative proof!

However, today it is common place to hear among layman and scholar alike: “The Prophet said this and the Prophet said that”. It is frightening.

Notable statements from Muslim luminaries. 

Ibn ‘Abdul Barr reports from Al-Dahhabk ibn Muzahim:

“There will come a time over people when the Qur’an will be left on the shelf and spiders will build their webs over it: no use will be made of what is in it and men’s actions will be according to narrations and hadiths.”

Yahya b Sa’id al-Qattan, one of the greatest scholars of the second century was on his death bed, He asked of his attendants, “What do the people of Basrah say about me?” He replied, “They admire you, but they are only afraid of your criticism of the scholars.” On which he replied, “Listen to me, in the Hereafter I would prefer to be opposed by anyone rather than have the Prophet s.a.w. saying: ‘You heard a Hadith attributed to me, and it came to your mind that it as not true but you did not criticize it.’ -Ibn Majah, Sharh Illah

Yahya ibn Sa’id al-Qattan said: “We did not see, concerning the righteous, anyone lie more than they do in hadith.” Abu Zahra, Ibn Hanbal (p. 216)

Yahya ibn Sulayman narrated from Ibn Wahb that he heard Malik say: ‘Many of these hadiths are a cause for misguidance some hadiths were narrated by me and I wish that for each of them I had been flogged with a stick twice. I certainly no longer narrate them!” narrated by al-Khatib, Al-Faqih wal Mutafaqqih (2:80)

Sufyan al-Tahwri used to say to the hadith scholars: “Come forward, O weak ones!” (Zayd ibn Abi Al Zarqa by al-Dhahabi, Siyar)

Al Dhahabi said: “The majority of the hadith scholars have no understanding, no diligence, in the actual knowledge of hadith, and no fear of Allah regarding it.” (Al Sakhawi, al-Jawahir wal Durar p. 18)

Narrated Zayd ibn Thabit:
Al-Muttalib ibn Abdullah ibn Hantab said:
Zayd ibn Thabit entered upon Mu’awiyah and asked him about a tradition. He ordered a man to write it. Zayd said:
The Apostle of Allah ordered us not to write any of his traditions. So he erased it. [Sunan of Abu-Dawood Book 25, Number 3640:]

My position on the hadith.

I personally think that the majority of the ‘khabar al-wahid’ (lone narrator reports) that are actually attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw) and not his companions, can be under the category of sage sayings.

Sage sayings I would define as: Proceeding from wisdom; well judged; shrewd; well adapted to the purpose.

To me it does not even matter if these oral traditions are graded as ‘weak’ ‘good’ or ‘sound’ as long as they have a good moral basis or teaching in them. Also as long as we continue to use the phrase ‘attributed to’  the Blessed Messenger.


To smile is charity.” -Attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw)

If you go to bed at night while your neighbor is starving, do not consider yourself a believer” -Attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw)

Paradise is under the feet of the mother.”- Attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw)

The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” – Attributed to the Blessed Messenger (saw)

Among others.  All of these statements even if they were not true, they are  generally wise sayings, and teachings that are benefit to all; even the not-yet-Muslims.

As regards the Sunnah I believe in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (swt), in that he was commanded to explain the Holy Qur’an.

“And obey Allah  and obey the Messenger. But if you turn away, then Our Messenger is responsible only for conveying the message clearly. (Holy Qur’an 64:12)

So I follow the mass transmitted sunnah as ‘best practice’ of the Blessed Messenger (saw).

However, there is a caveat here.

The practice (mass transmitted sunnah) has to be original, and not have become mass transmitted latter.

The practice (mass transmitted sunnah) has to be agreed upon by all factions of the Muslims.

The practice (mass transmitted sunnah) cannot conflict with the Holy Qur’an.

Some examples:

The punishment for adultery.  This is in conflict with the prescription in the Holy Qur’an.

The addition of folding the hands above the navel or below the navel. The early proto-Muslim community all prayed with their hands to the side.

The addition of saying the adhaan with four takbir ‘allahu akbar’ rather than two.

In  Sunni dominated Morocco the adhaan is said with two takbir ‘allahu akbar’ rather than four that you will find in the vast majority of other Sunni dominated nations.

This alone is proof of how something can become mass transmitted that was not an early practice.

So if anyone says that I reject the Sunnah they are

1) Ignorant of my position.

2) Simply being dishonest.

Let it stand on the record that history is replete with accusations that different madhabs or schools of jurisprudence ‘rejected the sunnah’ according to who was telling the narrative.

So if anyone says that I am a hadith rejector they need to qualify that statement.

A) Does it mean I reject all ahadith?   If they say this they are

1) Ignorant of my position.

2) Simply dishonest.

This web site is about not showing any emotional attachments to a label ‘sunni’ or ‘shi’a’ ; but look objectively at our shared historical narrative, and trying to recapture the truth, of what Islam was, in the early proto-Muslim community, before the civil war.

This web site is about giving primacy about to the Holy Qur’an; which unfortunately takes a back seat to oral traditions, juristic speculation, and endless commentary; all made out to be indisputable facts.

“And thus We have made for every prophet an enemy – devils from mankind and jinn, inspiring to one another decorative speech in delusion. But if your Lord had willed, they would not have done it, so leave them and that which they invent.And so the hearts of those who disbelieve in the Hereafter will incline toward it and that they will be satisfied with it and that they will commit that which they are committing.Say, “Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?” And those to whom We  gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters.” (Holy Qur’an 6:112-114)

“Then the Messenger will say: “O my Lord! Truly my people took this Qur’an for just foolish nonsense.” (Holy Qur’an 25:30)

One response to “My position on the hadith

  1. Omer

    Beautiful approach! Very sensible indeed. This is the approach the Qur’an calls us to if we pay attention.

    Thanks again.

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