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Is there any Agreement on the Collection and Praxis of the Sunnah (Ahadiths)? Part I



 Monday, 4 May 2009


"Mega-Confusion on the Sunnah and the Qur’an"


Because the Qur’an is incomplete on its own, this means it is absolutely necessary to be able to identify the true Sunnah, and the true meaning of them so as to understand the true meaning of the Qur’anic part of the ‘revelation’. Only in such a way could the Qur’an be understood, let alone be followed up with obedience.


Our first step was to evaluate the collections of Sunnah. We just noted the uncertainty of what Islam admits are its ‘sources’ for that Sunnah. Some of our examples have already shown that there was not agreement on these.


Our purpose now is to gain a broader perspective on how the scholars fared correlating the collected Sunnah to the Qur’an. Did Islam come up with something that could be construed as ‘a revelation’.


Can it be said, as Islam [and the Qur’an in Q15:9] requires, that a ‘thikr’ has been ‘Preserved’ in such sources? Was it something that was clearly discernible?


No Agreement On The Collected Sunnah?


Ibn Hazm, who we just noted rejected at-Tirmidhi’s Sunan, is elsewhere declared to have acknowledged that thousands of Ahadith had been overlooked:


"There are many other Hadiths that people of Taqleed and Qiyas have rejected what they contained of the Messenger’s orders. If one sought to count them, the number will be in the thousands, as ibn Hazm has said." (The Hadith is Proof..., Al-Albani, p.53)


But, if ibn Hazm rejected the large number of ‘extra Ahadith’ that at-Tirmidhi had collected, yet he knew of thousands of others that had been rejected, where were they? In fact it appears they were among those that were already in the accepted collections but were rejected for various reasons.1


No Agreement On The Guidance Of The Sunnah For The Qur’an?


As we noted earlier, there was confusion concerning the Sunnah and Qur’an:


"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." (Link)


It is evident that this assertion of ‘confusion’ is a truth which resulted in the inability to even agree on what would make one’s wudu invalidated simply because the scholars could not agree on the interpretation of a Companion’s report on a very simple matter:


"Al-Shafi`i took the verse "Or if you have touched women" (4:43) literally, and considered that contact between the sexes, even accidental, nullified ablution. This is also the position of Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Umar, al-Sha`bi, al-Nakha`i, al-Zuhri, and al-Awza`i, which is confirmed by Ibn `Umar’s report: "Whoever kisses or touches his wife with his hand must renew his wudû’." It is authentic and related in numerous places including Malik's Muwatta’. Al-Shafi`i said: "Something similar has reached us from Ibn Mas`ud." They all read the above verse literally, without interpreting "touch" to mean "sexual intercourse" as do the Hanafis, or "touch with pleasure" as do the Malikis. (Internet article, Imam Shafi’i, GF Haddad; Link)


This means that some are obviously praying while unclean and the prayer is invalidated!!


Sometimes this lack of decisive evidence entailed rejection of the ‘sahih’ Ahadith by some, as the following comments on the Hanafi perspective on the Sunnah, the Qur’an and prayer, indicate:


"The Prophet said, what translated means: "There is no prayer for whoever does not read the Fati’hah of the Book (the first chapter of the Qur’an)." This Hadith is correct and is narrated by the two correct books of Hadith (Al- Bukhari and Muslim). Followers of Hanafi Mathhab rejected this Hadith saying that it is in opposition to what was mentioned in the Qur’an! Allah said what translated means, {So recite as much of the Qur’an as may be easy (for you).} [73:20]. Therefore they changed its meaning because it is an Ahad Hadith, as they claimed. However the leader of Hadith scholars, Al-Bukhari, said in the beginning of "Chapter: Book of reciting," that this Hadith is a Mutawatir from the Messenger of Allah. What these people were supposed to do was to benefit from the knowledge of this Imam who specialised in Hadith. They should have changed their mind that this Hadith is Ahad. They could have accepted this Hadith, joined it with the Ayah, and said that the Hadith is restricting the general meaning of the Ayah. We say this, knowing fully that this Ayah is about the voluntary prayer at night. It is not about what one must read in the compulsory prayer!!" (The Hadith is Proof..., Al-Albani; from the Introduction by: Muhammad Eid Al-Abbasi, p. 79f)


So, while the one group (Hanafites - the largest Madhab in Islam) declared that this ‘Sunnah’ disagrees with the Qur’an, the other group decided that they "should" rather have interpreted everything so it could all be thought to ‘fit together’ as something which would provide a clear Message from the Qur’an and Sunnah.


The one group had declared the Hadith Ahad, while the other attests to it being Mutawatir (universal) and continuous to Muhammad. Such differences of ‘informed opinion’ ('ijtihad), were the cause of many conflicts between the schools of interpretation.


The translator of Sahih Muslim finds himself trying to pacify his readers over the content of this same problem which has resulted in three interpretations:


"This hadith and the forgoing ones in this chapter prove beyond doubt that the recitation of Surat al-Fatiha in every rakah of the prayer is essential, and if it is not recited one is not credited with having observed one’s prayer. There is perfect agreement among the jurists on this basic point. The difference, however, is on the nature of recitation. Imam Shafii and some other Fuqaha are of the view that the recitation of Surah Fatihah by each individual is essential in all rakas and in both types of prayer (jahri, in which the Imam recites loudly and in sirri in which the Imam recites inwardly). Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal are of the opinion that in jahri prayers when the recitation of the Imam is audible to his followers, one should only listen to him attentively as the recitation of the Imam would absolve the followers of the responsibility of its recitation. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, even in sirri prayers, the followers need not recite Surat al-Fatihah as the recitations of the Imam (even though it is done inwardly) is sufficient for the followers." (Sahih Muslim, English version, Vol. 1, p 217, ft. 616)


Thus, the ‘4 Madhabs’ have managed to have 3 versions of how to get ‘credit’ for prayer - according to the Qur’an - and these are not even close to one another.


No Agreement On The Same Sunnah?


Even the Ahadith on ‘Difference of opinion is a sign of Mercy’ which today is ‘central’, is acknowledged to have had less than acceptance from many of the ‘imams of learning’:


"5 Al-Hafiz al-Sakhawi said in his "Maqasid al-hasana" p. 49 #39 after quoting the above: "I have read the following written in my shaykh’s (al-Hafiz ibn Hajar) handwriting: ‘The hadith of Layth is a reference to a very famous hadith of the Prophet (s), cited by Ibn al-Hajib in the "Mukhtasar" in the section on qiyas (analogy), which says: "Difference of opinion in my Community is a mercy for people" (ikhtilafu ummati rahmatun li al-nas). There is a lot of questioning about its authenticity, and many of the imams of learning have claimed that it has no basis (la asla lahu). However, al-Khattabi mentions it in the context of a digression in "Gharib al-hadith" . . . and what he says concerning the tracing of the hadith is not free from im perfection, but he makes it known that it does have a basis in his opinion.’" (Internet article, Ikhtilaf (differences) among the Madhhabs in Islam, GF Haddad; Link)


Another specific example shows that Abu Hanifah originally accepted a Hadith now contained in Sahih Muslim but he later rejected it after identifying it as false. Other have continued using it. We again cite our Shi’ah scholar’s interpretation:



Bukhari and Muslim have related in their Saheehs in connection with forgetfulness that Abu Huraira related that the Holy Prophet (S.A.) offered one of the Isha prayer (or probably Asr prayer) in only two Raka’ts then he recited Salam and stood up towards a post in the fore part of the Mosque and placed his hand on it. Among the people there were Abu Bakr and Umar but they felt hesitant to talk to him. The people came out hurriedly and they said, "Did you shorten the prayer?" And a man came out whom the Holy Prophet (S.A.) used to call Zul Yadain said, "Did you forget or shorten it?" The Holy Prophet said, "I neither forgot nor did I shorten." He said, "Then you did forget." Thereupon he offered two Raka’ts, recited Salam, then recited Takbeer and performed prostration."



... the man shown as Zul Yadain in this tradition is really Zush Shimalain Ibne Abd Amr, ally of Bani Zohra, and he had been martyred in the Battle of Badr five years before Abu Huraira embraced Islam. This is confirmed by the Chief of Bani Zohra Muhammad Bin Muslim Zohri as is shown in Isaba of Ibne Hajar Asqalani, in Istee-aab, and all the commentaries of the two Saheehs of Bukhari and Muslim. It is also confirmed by Sauri in two of the most reliable traditions narrated by him and by Abu Hanifa when they stopped acting on this tradition, and gave verdict against it, as has been shown in the commentary of Saheeh of Muslim by Novi. Nisai also shows that Zul Yadain is the same as Zush Shimalain. The same point is further clarified by Imam Ahmed in his Musnad, Volume 2, page 271 and also page 284. It is also noteworthy that the version of this tradition as adopted by Muslim in his Saheeh, volume 1, page 216, contains the words of Abu Huraira as "Once when I was offering Zohr prayer with the Prophet of Allah he recited the Salam after two Raka’ts ..." up to the end of the tradition including the conversation between Zul Yadain (or Zush Shimalain) etc. Since Zul Yadain had been martyred in Badr had been martyred in Badr five years before Abu Huraira embraced Islam and came to the Holy Prophet (S.A.), their whole tradition can be given no credence at all." (Abu Huraira, Mossvi, p. 46f)


Again on the same topic he relates a conversation between Abu Hanifa and one of his chief pupils in Kufa, Abu Yusuf:


"Abu Yusuf asked Abu Hanifa that in case we come across a tradition as from the Holy Prophet (S.A.) but at variance with our opinion what should we do with it. He said, "If it comes through reliable narrators we should act upon it and disregard our own opinion". Then I said, "What do you say about Abu Bakr and Umar." He said, "In their case I would forbid you from personal opinion". I said, "And Ali (A.S.) and Usman". He said, "The same". When he saw that I was naming the Companions one by one he said, "The Companions are all just except a few", then he excepted Abu Huraira and Anas Bin Malik. In short, it is clear that Abu Hanifa and other great Companions used to reject the traditions of Abu Huraira when they conflicted with their opinions. For example, Abu Huraira and all the Companions are agreed that Salat (prayer) becomes void by speaking whether in forgetfulness, in ignorance or under the impression of the offerer that he has finished. The Hanafi school of fiqh is clear on the point and the same view is held by Sufian Souri. This means that they attach no value to the tradition of Abu Huraira wherein he narrated that: The Holy Prophet (S.A.) once forgot and finished a four-raka’t prayer at the end of two raka’ts, then he stood up from his prayer-place and went to his apartment. Then he came back when it was said to him, "Did you shorten the prayer or you forgot it". He replied, "I neither cut it short nor did I forget". Then they said, "But you only offered two raka’ts with us". And after some exchange of conversation between him and them he believed what they were saying. So basing on the previous two raka’ts he completed the prayer then offered prostration for forgetfulness. On this basis Imam Malik, Imam Shafei and Imam Ahmad have held that speaking in forgetfulness during prayer, or the belief of the offerer that he is no more engaged in it does not make it void. Since, however, Abu Hanifa did not accept Abu Huraira’s tradition he holds the prayer void in such a case." (Abu Huraira, Mossvi, p. 93f)


Thus, despite the fact that several of the earliest scholars noted this was a false Hadith, three of the four ‘authentic’ Madhabs continue to base rulings upon it - even the Hanbalites whose credited ‘founder’ said the Hadith was false!


And all this the scholars of Islam freely admit to one another - but not to ‘outsiders’ to whom it is said ‘Allah left an eternal witness’ and Islam is still said to know ‘as if it were yesterday’, a ‘clear revelation.


Yet, there are other more obvious matters to consider than merely later disagreement over the Sunnah.


Disagreement Over Time - Even Within A Madhab?


It is worth noting the following example which shows how much disagreement there was amongst the great scholars:


"(Ali Qari:) The Hadith "I am the city of knowledge and ‘Ali is its gate," was mentioned by Tirmidhi in his Jami’, where he said it was unacknowledgeable. Bukhari also said this, and said that it was without legitimate claim to authenticity. Ibn Ma’in said that it was a baseless lie, as did Abu Hatim and Yahya ibn Sa’id. Ibn Jawzi recorded it in his book of Hadith forgeries, and was confirmed by Dhahabi, and others in this. Ibn Daqiq al-’Eid said, "This Hadith is not confirmed by scholars, and is held by some as spurious." Daraqutni stated that it was uncorroborated. Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalani was asked about it and answered that it was well authenticated (hasan), not rigorously authenticated (sahih) as Hakim had said, but NOT a forgery (mawdu’), as Ibn Jawzi had said. This was mentioned by Suyuti. The Hadith master (hafiz) Abu Sa’id ‘Ala’i said, "The truth is that the Hadith is well authenticated (hasan), in view of its multiple means of transmission, being neither rigorously authenticated (sahih) nor weak (da’if), much less a forgery" (Risala al-mawdu’at, 26)" (Al-Albani Unveiled, p. 73)


One need only acknowledge the time element involved between the opinions of these high profile scholars to realise that this was a change in opinion over time, for al-Bukhari died 256 AH, al-Dhahabi died 748 AH, ibn Hajar died 852 AH, and as-Suyuti died 911 AH. These four were all Shafi’ite scholars, which means that within that Madhab opinion changed considerably over time.


"No Agreement On [Evaluating] The Sunnah And Practice" - Or Between ‘The Sciences’?


More evidence of the early inability to agree over the religion can be found in the vast discrepancy which existed in the approaches to the topic of Sunnah and Practice by those persons whose names have become associated with the ‘founding’ of the Madhabs - namely Malik, Abu Hanifah, Shafi’i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.


As we examine this evidence we recall that today the proclamation is made to the world that the development of the "the Science of Hadith" has provided THE WAY to establish the reliability of Ahadith so that one should give credibility and authority to them. However we note that one very important sector of Islam completely ignored what that ‘Science of Hadith’ established.


Namely, the " Scholars of Sacred Law" ignored the rules of the "Science of Hadith". Without doing this they would have been left in confusion about how to decide ‘exactly’ what the religion was supposed to be.


We find that the scholars accepted the ‘practice’ of the people [the word ‘practice’ may mean they incorporated something into their actions or into their sayings] while in fact there was no Ahadith to support it. Indeed great discrepancy exists amongst those credited with being the ‘founding’ scholars of early Islam on this issue showing again the great confusion of early Islam:


"...Malik strongly supported the view that the practice of the people of Medina was a major factor in accepting a Hadith or rejecting it. If a Hadith was found against the practice of the people of Medina, he would prefer the practice to the Hadith itself....

Shafi’i also recognises a weak Hadith as authentic if it is found to be accepted by the whole Ummah. (See Al-Sakawi: Fath al-Mugith). But he doesn’t accept Malik’s view of restricting the practice to the people of Medina. According to later scholars of Hanafi school like Ibn al-Humam, a Hadith will be declared Sahih, if it is supported by the practice of the Ummah. (See Abd al-Rashid Nu’mani: Ma tamusu ilaihe al-Haja, p. 18).

Among traditionists, Tirmidhi often remarks, after quoting a less authentic Hadith:

‘It is being practiced by the people of learning (Ahl `Ilm)’.

Suyuti deduces: It indicates that the Hadith is supported by the sayings of the people of learning. More than one scholar has said that a Hadith is declared Sahih if supported by the sayings of the people of learning, even if it lacks a proper Isnad. (See Suyuti: al-Ta’aqubat, folio 20).

Tirmidhi had also said: All that is found in this book (al-Sunan) is being practiced and adopted by the people of learning except two Ahadith. (ibn Rajab: Kitab al-’Ilal, p. 43).

Ahmad adheres to the Hadith strictly and gives it preference to any practice, opinion or analogy. Ibn Qayyim (d. 751 A.H./1350 A.D.) among later scholars has supported this view strongly. Similar is the view of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyya. (See Ibn Qayyim: I’lam al-waqqi’in, 2:361-366). one has declared a Sahih Hadith as weak if it is not supported by the practice. But most scholars are inclined to find reasons for the absence of the practice in relation to a particular Hadith. The most likely reason is that the implication of that particular Hadith is abrogated.

Muhammad b Ibrahil al-Wazir (d. 840 A.H./ 1446 A.D.) in his book al-Ruad al-Basim has given ninety nine examples of such Hadith as [are] known to be abrogated. But to him only twenty seven of them are found to be abrogated by the consensus of the scholars.

...those who gave preference to the practice of the people of Medina in particular or the practice of the whole Ummah in general, would certainly adopt the practice as a deciding factor if two Ahadith are found contradictory while one of them is supported by the practice." (Criticism..., p. 130ff)


It should be obvious that several very revealing things are brought forward here.


Firstly, even amongst those credited with ‘founding’ the Madhabs, there was not agreement as to which should be considered ‘valid’, the Ahadith or the prevailing practice.


This indicates the difference in how they viewed the basic principle of analysis of accepting the ‘consensus of the community’. Although both recognised this concept as a ‘root of the derivation of law’, yet Malik perceived ‘the community’ as being the community of Medinah (‘the city of the Prophet’), where he was raised and where he obviously thought truth still reigned!


Shafi’i, on the other hand, although he had been raised in Mecca and had spent time when he was 20 years old under Malik, was later taken to Baghdad for trial. When he was set free he met with the Hanfites in Baghdad. Later he went to Egypt where he taught and wrote extensively. By this time his perception was that ‘the consensus’ must be as the consensus of the Islamic community as a whole.


Thus we find the assessment:


"The consensus allowed as a ‘root’ by ash-Shafi’i was different from the agreement or consensus of the jurists of Medina of which Malik had spoken. The latter consensus has been reached after argument, but ash-Shafi’i was concerned rather with the fact that there were certain practices universally accepted by Muslims for which there was no Qur’anic prescription and no Tradition with named transmitters. In such cases he argued that the general public could not have been ignorant of a Sunna of the Prophet, and could not have agreed on what was contrary to a Sunna or in error, and that therefore the practice in question was obligatory." (The Majesty That Was Islam, Watt, p. 128f)


Secondly, it shows that the ‘practice’ [sayings or actions] of the people of Islam was not something uniform. Either this had to be viewed as an indication that the people of Medina had become corrupted, or the Ummah in general had become corrupted.


Thirdly, we need to ask exactly when the assertion arose that the "practice of the people of learning" made it unnecessary for the confirming evidence of a Hadith. The late evolution of this ‘legal principle’ would seem to be the only reason that Tirmidhi’s collection of Sunnah, which had been rejected for so long, was suddenly accepted! We recall that he claimed:


"All that is found in this book (Al-Sunan) is being practised and adopted by the people of learning except two Ahadith."


The conflict between the ‘science of Hadith’ and the ‘science of law’ is evidence, according to those who have studied the history of Islam thoroughly in the Islamic sources, in that in the same period both the Traditionists (major collectors of Traditions) and the Legislators (those who sought to set out the legal aspects of Islam systematically) arose. Each had approached the systematising of his particular facet of Islam from a differing perspective.


The Traditionists were interested in preserving a clear line of transmitters which they felt would be ‘Proof’ that they could show people ‘the Way’. The Legislators were busy trying to ‘systematise’ the existing condition of the entire community despite the fact that there was no clear basis for it in the Sunnah.


Thus, when we remember that ibn Hazm rejected at-Tirmidhi’s collection, we must consider that he did so because he considered these ‘practices of the people of learning’ to be innovations, things provable, not by ‘sound’ Ahadith, but by Ahadith quite possibly concocted to uphold the practice. This must be so if he upheld the opinion of the ‘founder’ of his Madhab, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, of whom we just read:


"Ahmad adheres to the Hadith strictly and gives it preference to any practice, opinion or analogy."


Today the ‘ West’ is presented with a false picture, as if everyone in scholarship had agreed on ‘Islam’ because the Traditions had been certified and this was ‘Proof’ that ‘true Islam’ was being followed because ‘the true Sunnah’ had thus been identified! This is far from the truth


To show just how confused the whole issue truly is we note:


"Two points:

1. Attacking the credibility of some hadiths is not the same as attacking the credibility of all hadith. I have not claimed that all hadiths are spurious. Some of them are probably authentic, though on the whole the determination of the authentic core is difficult and uncertain.

2. Rejecting an individual hadith with a good (sahih) isnad is not necessarily attacking Islam. Many classical Muslim scholars agreed that a hadith could have good (sahih) isnads and still be spurious. So, "sahih" is not synonymous with authentic. Al-Nawawi states that outright.

One may also cite Ibn al-Jawzi. In his {kitab al-mawdu'at min al-hadith al-marfu'at} (Book of Fabricated Prophetic Traditions) he cites some hadiths with good isnads that he thinks are fabrications. He thinks that in such cases the hadith was originated by somebody not listed in the isnad. (Don't be surprised; that could happen easily, e.g. due to the transmitters' widespread practice of omitting one's immediate authority/authorities when handing down the tradition. Transmitters who engaged in this practice were still deemed reliable and their hadiths are to be found in collections such as Bukhari's and Muslim's.)

Perhaps Malik b. Anas is relevant in this regard too. He sometimes overruled Prophetic hadiths with good isnads, i.e. isnads that later came to be known as "sahih," if their contents went against the prevailing practice of Medinan authorities. Many Malikites thought that the "Practice of Medina" preserved the Prophetic Sunna better than hadith did.

Of course, there are also many scholars who say that every sahih hadith is authentic. Many of them go so far as to attach miraculous properties to the physical collections of hadith. For example, some said that a ship would not sink if there was a copy of Bukhari's _ (sic) Sahih_ (sic) in it.

I happen to agree with the view that "sahih" is not synonymous with authentic. There are several historical reasons for this view which can be explained based on the study of the usual classical methods of hadith transmission and isnad & rijal criticism, and the historical evolution of these fields. I will not get into any of the arguments in this post.

Is my position anti-Islamic? For most people "anti-Islamic" is whatever they were taught to be so by their teachers. If somebody thinks I'm anti-Islamic, all I can say is, "I don't think so."

As for the question of whether it's reasonable to reject mutawatir hadiths (i.e. multiple and allegedly independent reports of sense observation), the issue boils down to exactly how tawatur is defined. Many definitions were proposed in the past, and today we may choose to give additional definitions. By most of these definitions, relatively very few hadiths end up qualifying for tawatur. And by *some* of the more strict definitions proposed by classical scholars of jurisprudence (usul), no hadith actually qualifies. So the question of whether mutawatir hadiths are authentic or not becomes moot in many cases, since there are so few of them.

For examples of classical proposals of how to define tawatur, see: Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, {Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence}, Pelanduk Publications, 1989.

Now, are any of the traditions for/against writing hadiths _ (sic) mutawatir_ (sic)? Their isnads are listed or cited in this excellent article by Michael Cook: "The opponents of the writing of tradition in early Islam," Arabica, vol. XLIV, no. 4, October 1997, pp. 437-530. as well as in some other works on the subject of writing (Azami, Abbot, Sezgin). None of these traditions is mutawatir, by any of the many different formal definitions proposed for tawatur." (Re: Was The Sunnah Preserved, Behnam Sadeghi, soc.religion.islam, Aug. 24, 1999; Internet article; italics added; URL unavailable)


Another follower of Islam responded to this posting [The text behind ‘’ is a portion of the previous posting which is being responded to.]:


"... 2. Rejecting an individual hadith with a good (sahih) isnad is not necessarily attacking Islam. Many classical Muslim scholars agreed that a hadith could have good (sahih) isnads and still be spurious. Agreed, like I said before, "mutawaatir" is based on transmission, while "saHeeH" is based on the isnad, reporter, matn, etc. The only type of hadith that is accepted in the Islamic creed is the hadith mutawaatir. So, "sahih"is not synonymous with authentic. Al-Nawawi states that outright. Agreed, An-Nawawi talks about this issue in his preface and commentary to "SharH SaHeeH Muslim." Because what composes the Islamic creed is of course and mutawaatir hadiths. There is no "DHann" or doubt in mutawaatir, according to many muhaddith and lexicons such as "Lisan al-Arab," "ilm" is the complete opposite of "DHann," and hadith ahad is not free from DHann.

Some of those that said hadith ahad does not provided certainty are Al Kamal bin Al Humaam (at Tahrir vol. 2 pg 368), Al Aamidi (Al Ahkaam vol. 2 pg 49-50), Ibn Taymiyyah (some say he believe hadith ahad is taken in the Creed, but please refer to his book "Al Musawwadah pg. 236-244), Al Ansari (Fatawih ur Rahmoot fee Sharhi Muslim ath Thaboot vol. 2 pg, 121), Ash Shawkani (Irshaad al Fuhool pg, 48-49).

One may also cite Ibn al-Jawzi. In his {kitab al-mawdu’at min al-hadith al-marfu’at} (Book of Fabricated Prophetic Traditions) he cites some hadiths with good isnads that he thinks are fabrications. He thinks that in such cases the hadith was originated by somebody not listed in the isnad. The criterion for authentication of hadith is not the same for every scholar who is a scholar of hadith. That is why the level of transmission is more important that who or what regards a hadith to be saheeh, hasan, da’eef, mawdu’, etc. As for the question of whether it’s reasonable to reject mutawatir hadiths (i.e. multiple and allegedly independent reports of sense observation), the issue boils down to exactly how tawatur is defined. Of course I am quite aware of this issue. Different scholars have different criterion for Tawaatur, but it is all agreed that Tawaatur does not have or imply any doubt whatsoever. By most of these definitions, relatively very few hadiths end up qualifying for tawatur. That is true, but according to Islamic jurisprudence, the minimum number of transmitter to classify something as Mutawaatir is generally five." (24/09/99; (Link)


Thus ‘ certainty’ varies greatly from one scholar to the next(!):


"Regarding the issue of tawatur...: The numbers cited for the required minimum number of independent transmitters of a hadith at each stage of transmission are usually between 4 and 100.... P.S. Incidentally, as a side note: I do not think the Qur’an can be shown to be mutawatir at all. At least not based on evidence which itself is near-certain." (Link)


While our one respondent clings to the ulema’s principle of ‘certainty’ (despite the absurdity of varying from 4 to 100 transmitters), the other knows it is too stringent as the dividing line between ‘truth’ and ‘falsehood’:


"Certainty establishs (sic) truth from falsehood, without it, we are left with conjecture and wishful thinking. We live in a reality where facts are truth and fiction is falsehood. If you can not prove a belief, than you should not tout it or give the impressing of touting it as a fact or the closest thing to it.". " I don’t think that a report must be mutawatir, i.e. established as nearly-certain, for it to form the core creed (‘aqida). If one were to hold this view, then nothing would remain of Islam! " (Link)


The more we view, the more we see that is " only conjecture to follow".


No Agreement On Abrogation Of The Sunnah?


We note also that great disagreement exists as to how many Ahadith (Sunnah?) have been abrogated - somewhere between 99 and 27! Yet this too is a far more complex issue than at first it appears to be as it is coupled with the more complex issues of "disagreement between the sciences".


Von Denffer defines it clearly as:


"What is Abrogated?According to some scholars the Qur’an abrogates only the Qur’an. They base their view on suras 2:106 and 16:101. According to them the Qur’an does not abrogate the sunna nor does the sunna abrogate the Qur’an. This is, in particular, the view held by Shafi’i. Others are of the opinion that the Qur’an may abrogate the Qur’an as well as the sunna. They base their view on Sura 53:3-4. There is also the view that there are four classes of naskh:

1 Qur’an abrogates Qur’an.

2 Qur’an abrogates sunna.

3 Sunna abrogates Qur’an.

4 Sunna abrogates sunna." (Ulum, Von Denffer, p. 107f)


The ‘founding’ scholars couldn’t even agree in ‘basic principles’ over what abrogates what between the Sunnah and Qur’an!



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