Read Part 1 here
Quran vs Hadith – Part 2
By Ayeza Nadeem
Quran on obeying the Prophet
I will quote a few verses of the Quran which some scholars quote to prove that Allah has ordered us to strictly follow the Hadith of the Prophet (s). Dear readers, please read these verses of Quran again and again, without any pre-notions and then decide if Allah (swt) is talking about the Quran or Hadith?
“And who so ever obeys the Prophet (s), indeed obeys Allah.” 80:4
“And whatever the Prophet (s) gives you, take it! And whatever he forbids, refrain from doing it.” 7:59
“And whatever he (s) says to you, it is not his personal wish but it is that which is revealed to him.” 3-4:53
My understanding is that everything that the Prophet (s) was saying directly to people was coming directly from Allah to him (s) through Jibreel e Ameen but for the people listening, it was an indirect message coming from the tongue of another human being. There were all kinds of listeners, some who instantly believed him due to the remarkable life that he had spent amongst them, others fell in disbelief that maybe he was making up stories to gain power over them, some called him magician, some realized that he was telling the truth but rejected him and some people who had never met him were moved by the message and the Messenger’s personality later on.
The point is, many just saw a mere mortal man telling them to completely obey him and it is practically very hard to put your complete faith in a man like yourself and surrender yourself completely to him in total submission. It would be virtually impossible for today’s generation to do that without questioning but that was what Allah had ordered the people to do for His final Messenger (s) in that time. That is why there is this stress in these verses for all who wanted to enter into faith to surrender whole heartedly and believe that whatever the Prophet (s) was telling them was coming from the Almighty. People use these verses to justify the need for Hadith as if these verses deal only with what Prophet (s) told his followers, apart from Quran! I disagree with this interpretation because the words of the verses simply do not reveal any such distinction and it is but a forced interpretation.
Let me clarify a very important point here, Hadith literature existed as a symbol of love, devotion and reverence in the time of the Prophet (s) and countless written and oral material reached us through all kinds of different people. There are 500.000 names of self-proclaimed narrators to be exact which are included in the Asma ur Rijaal, who some experts say is a remarkable feat but critics accuse most of these very same narrators to be the cause of all the confusion we see in Islam. Those Hadith which were preserved properly (mutawatar) can be trusted but only if a trusted scholar of Hadith, who not only knows a few books but all existing books of Hadith on the planet can verify its authenticity and true meaning (Ma’ani muraad) which Rasul Allah wanted to convey and not just the text. To give you a simple example, even some Hadith found in the most authentic book, with a perfect chain going back the Prophet (s), narrated by a sound companion like Abu Hurraira (r), found in different ancient manuscripts passed on from generation to generations could have a grave error in them.
Miscommunication in some Ahadith
There is a Hadith narrated in Bukhari in which Abu Hurraira (r) heard from the holy Prophet (s), “Bad luck is found in horse, house and a woman”. I was deeply disturbed after reading it but then I heard a reputable scholar giving justification and explaining that this was not the case and this statement does not remotely resembles the personality of our Prophet (s) who deeply respected women as commanded by Allah and he could not have made this derogatory statement against women. He found another Hadith in some book which made some sense of this one which said, “Some companion told Ayesha (r) about this Hadith found with Abu Huraira and she said, “Abu Huraira did not get this saying right because the Prophet (s) was telling about what Bani Israeel used to think about bad luck and it was not his own opinion”. This shows that it was a human error on Abu Huraira’s part who had not written it down with any ill intention or malice but this mistake casts a deep shadow on our Prophet (s) personality and I wonder if other such Hadith exist in authentic books with perfect chains of narrators. My mind suddenly leaps to the cautious act of Abu Bakar Sideeq (r) when he had saved himself from committing any such mistake regarding the most important role model for all human kind and not forwarded any faulty material to us.
The presence of Munafiqeen
The second issue with the authenticity of even mutawatar Hadith is a very delicate issue that we are too scared to touch out of reverence. The fact is, there was a whole group of hypocrites or munafiqeenpresent in the time of the Prophet (s) who are mentioned as a reality in several surahs of the Quran likeAt Tuba or Al Munafiqoon but Allah never exposed them by name and they remained within the main body of the Muslims. Allah showed severe displeasure at them, criticized their thinking and behavior, gave them the punishment of the lowest parts of hell but most of them were not labeled as hypocrites so they remained anonymous. Some of them like the Abdullah bin Ubey got exposed by his actions but if the stories are correct, even he got a funeral prayer from the Prophet (s) and his son requested the Prophet (s) to let him be buried in his clothes.
The point is, we know that the hypocrites hated the Prophet (s), they hated the Muslims and they hated Islam but could not come out in the open and declare that hatred. All their schemes of harming Islam were secret and they used underhand tactics to achieve that end. They conspired with the disbelievers of Makkaah and hatched plans after consulting the leaders of Jews to discredit Islam. What if people heard something from a munafiq who invented something deliberately to discredit the Prophet (s) but because he was apparently a companion, we are bound to accept that as the truth? The criteria of sometimes accepting a Hadith is that all the companions of the Prophet (s) are “Adool” and so they cannot give an incorrect statement. The more I think about these man made criteria, the more loop-holes I find, which makes it very confusing for students like me to accept the conditions which scholars have led us to believe are fool-proof.
Is the Quran incomprehensible without Hadith?
Is the Quran incomprehensible without Hadith? For me the answer that appeals to my heart and mind is, Quran e Kareem is a complete and absolute single entity that does not require any outside source to complete it. It explains itself completely through its miraculous Divine language and Universal message. It was a linguistic miracle when it was revealed and would continue to amaze mankind with its sublime message eternally. The first person to completely receive its message, understand it and follow it was none other than the Prophet (s) himself. This means that the absolute picture of a true Momin shown in the Quran, the desired Ibad ur Rehman that Allah wants, was none other than our holy Prophet (s) who took every verse and applied it comprehensively in his life. Quran is inseparable from the character of the Prophet (s) and he was the living proof that the teachings in it are practicable for all human beings. That is the living Sunnaah and glimpses of the Seerah of our dearest Prophet (s) that we read in the Quran preserved authentically till the end of times. Every quality that Allah tells us He loves, our Prophet (s) had that and each fault that Allah tells He dislikes, our Prophet (s) refrained from it. That is the sublime character of the Prophet (s) we see in the Quran because it was his duty to not only repeat the verses that were being revealed to him but also to become the first person to practically apply them in his life. He was the testimonial that the message was real, without fault and any Hadith that contradicts that perfect character simply cannot be authentic no matter in which book of Hadith it is placed and with whatever perfect chain of narrators it is presented to us.
The most important point that I want to make in favor of my argument is and this is the vital question that solved the mystery for me; if the Quran is incomprehensible without the Hadith, why did the most pious companions Abu Bakar, Umer, Usman and Ali (r) failed in their most important duty as the head of Islamic Khilafah and did not preserve that treasure for us? They ruled the Islamic state for more than thirty years after the death of the Prophet (s) so how could they have neglected to preserve the sayings of the Prophet (s) when every statement that we find in the existing Hadith books show us that they were the best human beings, the most pious and righteous companions but then they come into position of power and authority and simply ignore this task? How could they allow companions of different statures to go ahead and let the treasures they had compiled be wasted and not make an effort to preserve them officially using the same method they used to preserve the holy Quran? This simply does not add up! They could have at least saved the 10000 Hadith of Ans (r) who was a member of the Prophet’s household and witness to his personal life more closely than any other companion? For me the only answer that comes to mind is, they were the best companions with an insight of a trueMomin, they had learnt from the best teacher and they were 100% right in their assessment that the Divine message of Quran should be given a unique status in order to preserve its sole right to guide mankind!
The previous scriptures which were not the sayings of noble prophets like Dawood or Mosa or Eesaalihimusalam but the Divine speech of Allah Almighty Himself were discarded when they became polluted over time and our Prophet (s) forbade his followers from reading them for guidance according to some stories we read in the Hadith literature. This means that the truth got mingled with falsehood which resulted in nullifying the whole thing because even though the truth existed, it became very difficult for even sincere people who came after that pollution was done to distinguish between the word of Allah and the words of wisdom of maybe some good man or the words of some scholar with a vested interest. Hadith literature does hold many genuine pearls from our Prophet (s) but it would take a remarkable effort to be actually 100% sure if he actually said that or not because harsh as it may sound, there are so many Hadith that make many of us protest that our noblest Prophet (s) could not have said or done something which the Hadith says that he said or did.
Quran is the only Furqaan
The only criterion for a Muslim student of comparative religion who wants to study the previous scriptures is to accept something as the word of Allah only if the Quran verifies it to be true! Quran is now the only Furqaan which distinguishes between the truth and falsehood and we can only accept something if it does not negate any word of the Quran. Now if there is a difference in any story, we will automatically believe the Quranic version and reject the version of previous scripture. If this rule is true for the previous scriptures like Torah, Bible and extra Biblical text found today, then it surely must apply to the existing Hadith literature because any Hadith will have to have the same criteria that it is compatible with Quran and only it can verify that if the Hadith is true and an extension of the word of Allah or not. We have to protect the honor of our Prophet (s) and reject those sayings that throw a bad light on his character and the character of his closest companions.
I have absolutely no doubt that the Prophet (s) was the perfect role model for each and every person and not just a “delivery man” as suggested by some skeptics. In his time if any person had said that we will only accept from him what is in the Quran and will not accept what he tells us in his own capacity, that person could have had his head cut off with a sword of someone like Umer (r) for this insult because there was no distinction between the truth in both cases. It is found in stories that at times the companions would ask this question in some important matter, without disrespect or any ill intention, if the suggestion given by the Prophet (s) was a Wahi or was it his personal opinion. Like in the war council before Gazwa e Uhad some companions asked him if the suggestion to stay inside the city and fight was a wahi or his own opinion. The Prophet (s) cleared that it was his personal opinion and openly asked for their opinions to which they said that it would be better to go outside and fight according to what they felt would be the best war strategy. The Prophet (s) did not disapprove or take offence but went ahead and gave preference to their opinion and this shows that if the distinction was made with sincerity, it was not considered disrespectful or a sin because the companions knew that if it was a revelation, it would be followed to the minutest detail without hesitation.
Every believing companion was more than happy to follow each and every command of the Prophet (s) regardless that it was wahi or not because they deeply loved and respected him. On the other hand, there was a group of Munafiqueen or hypocrites also present among them which at times were disrespectful, questioned his commands or created mischief which is also mentioned in the Quran. The battle between good and evil was there since the creation of Adam and will continue till the last day so we are also no exception. Those who sincerely want to obey our Prophet (s) but want to make sure that what is being associated with him is authentic and those who merely want to downplay the role of our supreme leader to create more confusion and loosen our spiritual link with him.
There is very important verse in the Quran, “I (Allah) swear by your master (the Prophet), they have no faith what so ever, until they make you (s) the decision maker for whatever sprouts between you.” 54.4.
This was a direct command from Allah to obey the Messenger in all matters of dispute and accept his decisions but is this verse a proof to follow all kinds of Hadith associated with him? Like I said, it was different when the holy Prophet was alive and living in the community with fellow human beings. In that time, Muslims were asked to accept him as the final authority from Allah or risk losing their faith. What people like me question today is, whether a particular saying found in a book of Hadith is actually something that he (s) said or maybe there is some doubt in its true meaning and authenticity? Another most vital point, what principals did our Prophet (s) had before him to settle matter of dispute between people? Where did he get his guidance and what rules was he following? A very obvious and simple answer to this question is, he was also following the very same message of Allah that we have in our hands today! His guidance was from Allah, preserved in Quran and he made all his decisions in matters of dispute keeping in mind the golden principals given by the Almighty which are eternal.
Four Khulfa e Rashideen, the rightly guided Caliphs
This means, even for us and all the Muslims that will come before the Qiyamah, all the answers of our disputes should come from Quran, as told by the Prophet (s) who relayed those exact words from Jibreel e Ameen, who brought that message directly from Allah! Where is the ambiguity in that? If for a moment we think about the counter argument that the Prophet (s) was not using the Quranic wisdom or rules to settle the dispute but was using some other form of wisdom, not to be found in the Quran but rather that higher wisdom would be found in some Hadith then I fear for the Eemaan of all those people because this way of thinking creates too many suspicions on his duty as the final messenger who was given the task of not only delivering the message of Quran but for living according to it. And again it brings us to that vital question; if today we are required to make the holy Prophet (s) a decision maker in every dispute but those decisions would not be from the Quran but would be found in some Hadith then why did the official heads of Muslims state (Khulafa e Rashedeen) not preserve each and every such piece related to the sayings and decisions of the Prophet (s) for all times to come? Did they have no consideration for our Eemaan or that we would lose all our faith if we did not look at Hadith for guidance in our disputes till the last day? How could they have neglected to do something so enormous and if the Hadith did not reach us officially, are they actually responsible for all the disunity and divisions we find in the Ummaah on the basis of faulty and fabricated Hadith? This is the toughest question I am putting for the critics to think and answer carefully because they will not be able to sustain the consequences of their faulty analysis. Either the four Khulfaa e Rashideen were the rightly guided Caliphs who were the most pious, righteous, noblest, loyalist, wisest companions who were given the glad tidings of Heaven in their mortal lives or they have committed such a huge blunder (heavens forbid) where they wasted the most valuable treasure of vital Hadith and denied us the authentic material after leaving that most important job for people who came hundreds of years after their time and preserved most of that material on hearsay which created huge controversies and divisions in the true religion!
I will even go a step further and dare to say that it was not the duty of people like Imam Bukhari or Muslim to take this humongous task upon themselves because Allah had not given them that important task. If it was anyone’s duty after the Prophet (s), it would have been the duty of the Khaleefah e Waqat, the head of the state as entrusted by the people for serving and protecting the Deen of Allah. I may not doubt the intention of any Muhadith but the point is, they took this task upon themselves and so they are directly responsible for everything that they may have wrongly passed onto us and that is no easy burden. They should have paid heed to the Hadith of Abu Bakar (r) when he deleted his hand written Hadith out of caution.
I am not required by Quran to believe what they had compiled as an authentic truth because no matter what their exaggerated biographies tell us, they were frail human beings and only Allah knows their true intentions and deeds. As for me, Allah has ordered me again and again in the Quran to use my human faculties of hearing, sight and sound to derive conclusions from the data before me because according to Quran, we will be held answerable for these faculties on the day of Judgement. The criteria for judging an authentic Hadith is also man made and so it is not fool proof as we are lead to believe. It is a very lengthy and technical topic which I cannot discuss in detail right now but the thing is, a true scholar of Hadith should have a most comprehensive knowledge of Quran, Sunnah and Hadith before accepting anything as a truth.
To Be Continued