Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Criticism on sunnah and hadith


Lately, I have come across a few people who don't believe in the Hadith or Sunnah. Some argue that Hadith is just a "word of mouth" and how can one be sure it is the Prophet's saying as it is all "hearsays". So, question is, is it impossible for a person to memorise the Hadith?

Firstly, Hadith is preserved in the same way of the Holy Quran which is through memorisation (although the Qur'an were written down by the scribes, it is memorised before recorded). Memorisation was the way of the uneducated/ poor arabs learn things. Most Arabs were not literate during the period of Jahiliyah (ignorance), and those who were not literate had no choice but to memorise what they have learnt. The literate Arabs were then the scribes which documented what have been said and done.

Qur'an was revealed by the Prophet salallahualaihiwasalam about 1400 years ago. It was revealed to him in fragments and not all at once. It was compiled as a Qur'an during the reign of the first caliph (Abu Bakr) by the initiation of  Umar al Khattab. The duty was given to Zaid bin Thabit. So it was compiled after the Prophet salallahualaihiwasalam passed away. What happened during this gap of time? If one were to accept Qur'an as the word of the truth, why can't one accept the sunna and hadith?

Umar al Khattab initiated it because the hafidh (protector) of Qur'an were the frontliners in the Jihad fisabilillah helping to expand the Islam empire. They were hafidh (protector) of the Qur'an not only from the memorisation part but they were also hafidh of the moral values in the Qur'an. This is the reason that they are the frontliners, because they understand and do not want to contradict themselves with the teachings of the Qur'an.

Anyway, Umar al Khattab was worried that all the hafidh being killed therefore suggested to Abu Bakr to compile the Qur'an in writing. Clearly, they relied heavily on people who had memorised the word of Allah subahanawata'ala (it is also undeniable that they needed the written verses as well to compile the Qur'an). Since all Muslims have no doubts in the Quran, why are there people who wouldn't accept the Sunnah and Hadith when in actual fact it is being preserved through memorisation until the time of Imam Malik, Bukhari and etc.

Arabs at the beginning of Islam were of the ignorance. Their level of ignorance were drastic which they do not learn how to read or write. Due to the ignorance of the people, those who are poor and no authority were oppressed. The oppression also caused them not being able to educate themselves on how to read/write. Therefore they relied heavily on memorising. In the early years of spreading Islam, the oppressed people were more keen towards embracing Islam. Hence, they were keen to learn more about Islam without knowing how to read and write which left them with no choice but to memorise. This is another point that make the Sunnah and Hadith reliable as it is relied heavily on memorisation.

Abu Hurayrah (Abdurrahman) radiallahuanhu is an example of a person who travelled to Madinah and wanted to study the ways of Islam with Prophet salallahualaihiwasalam himself. He dedicated himself to studying by living in the Prophet's mosque in Madinah. Even though he was so dedicated, he did not know how to read or write. Therefore relied heavily on memorisation. Perhaps when one do not know how to read/write they will master the art of memorising.

Does the Sunnah and Hadith rely only on sanad (chain of narrators)? No, it does not! Most of the Hadith do refer to the revelation of the verses. Hadith are mostly explanation of the verses. Without the Sunnah and Hadith it is difficult for muslim to pray, make hajj and etc. The bible states how the Prophets prayed, even so it is not being practised by Christians. Therefore, without the Sunna and Hadith, muslims would not even know how to pray and will end up with empty mosques! Most importantly, these Sunna and Hadith are in spirit with the Qur'an. For example, the verses on the prohibition of riba from the Qur'an (baqarah verse 275), then there came hadith on explaining riba and the way to prevent it. There are no contradictions between the verse of the Quran and the Hadith. The Hadith are there just to explain the grey areas. So, what is the purpose/excuse of rejecting these Hadith? Why would then people go to an extent of saying the Hadith as being fabricated?? Some have criticised that Bukhari is not reliable because verification on the reliability of the hadith is only/solely by checking the isnad (chain of narrators). This is not true! Bukhari mastered a few techniques other than verifying the isnad. He mastered the art of ascertaining the veracity of the Hadith's texts through its chain of narration (isnad), the background of the hadith narrator (al-asma al-rijal), as well as a sound knowledge and understanding of the Qur'an in order to determine whether the Hadith was in compliance with the Divine revelation. This is what made his work famous in the first place! Yet, there are common people in the ummah who dares to criticise his work!

Then, there are those verse on obey Allah and His Messenger. How do we obey the Messenger if it's not from the Hadith? It's almost impossible to follow the Qur'an without the sunna and hadiths. I don't really mind if there are people out there who doesn't want to practise the sunna & hadith, but to go all the way to abolish it and abolish shari'ah law without any justification is just out of hand. Its ironic that these type of people would like to talk about the "Islamisation of education".

Another thing to ponder before ending this entry is the azan (calling to prayer). It has been practised for centuries and there are no difference in its text, be it in the past or present,  or even on the geographical location. From Japan to the U.S the wordings for the azan are exactly the same and it relied on memorisation and not in writings. Do not rule out something just because it is being memorised. These are the few points that I have and I'm sure there are many other facts to support the authenticity of the sunna and hadith. Allah knows best!

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