A hadith says that amanah (honesty, integrity) was sent down first, and then Revelation was sent down. It should be easy to guess why: if a man is not honest, what good Revelation will do to him? Not surprisingly, he also said that a believer cannot be a liar.
Broadly, there are two classes of Hadith rejecters: One, those who are educated, to some measure or the other, and two, those who are either ignorant, or stupid, or both.
Down the line both the classes merge together and become one as fanatical believers in rejection of Hadith. That is, rejection of Hadith becomes their `aqeedah. It should be obvious that once a tenet becomes an `aqeedah (religious doctrine), it cannot be easily destroyed, no matter how obviously wrong. For example, if a child is taught that God is three, or every stone is God, or, there is no God, then it becomes the child’s `aqeedah. It is hard to shake him from that position once he has grown into adulthood.
The educated ones among the rejecters of Hadith – Muslim or non-Muslim – clearly seem to lack the quality of honesty. And, the nature of their calling demands lots of slinking, and, therefore, apart from dishonest, they also happen to be slinkers.
They cannot go about the affair in a straight, honest way. The Qur’an, in which the Muslim rejecters deceptively claim belief, instructs them that they should go about attempting their affairs in honest straightforward manners. It says (2: 189): “Come into the homes by their doors.”
Yusuf Ali commented on this verse:
“This is a Muslim proverb now, and much might be written about its manifold meanings. (For instance) ‘If you want to achieve an object honorably, go about it openly and not by the back door.’”
Asad (a former Jew), voices much the same opinion:
“Since, metonymically, the word bab (‘door’) signifies ‘a means of access to, or of, a thing’ (see Lane I, 272), the metaphor of ‘entering a house through its door’ is often used in classical Arabic to denote a proper approach to a problem…”
A rejecter of Hadith has to take the crooked path. He must avoid not only the straight path, but also all those who can tell him the bitter truth about him. He must work in private, taking individuals one by one. He will not appear among a group of scholars to announce his rejection of Hadith. He knows that if he does not shut up and get down the stage, after the laughter has died down, someone might call for the mental hospital ambulance.
One problem he realizes is that quite some non-Muslim Western scholars of Islam – who spend their precious lives studying Islamic disciplines – accept the Hadith. This is for two reasons. One, there is so much scholarly evidence that no man in his senses can deny. Second, for centuries some of the Orientalists have been accepting the Hadith and quoting it to discredit the Prophet. They argue, from whom the Muslim rejecters of Hadith steal quite a few tricks of the trade, that they cannot believe in Muhammad as a Prophet because he said such things as, “Women have been made dear to me” (Nasa’i), or, “Musa (asws) had slapped the angel of death” (Bukhari), or, “Ibrahim (asws) had circumcised himself at the age of eighty” (Bukhari), etc. According to them, a Prophet cannot say such things.
So, if you tell an Orientalist that the Hadith is unacceptable, then, firstly, you are to him too ignorant, or fanatic, or stupid; secondly, you have taken the wind out of his argument for rejecting the Prophet.
The honest way then, of going about rejecting the Hadith would be to write a dissertation in Arabic or English and send it across to the seats of learning at say Deoband, Makkah, Cairo, Harvard, Oxford, Leiden, etc. The non-Islamic institutions among them will be particularly glad to receive it and will immediately refer it to their specialists for evaluation. The latter would be quite pleased to get their hand on it, and publish it without delay, because they themselves have not been able to discredit the Hadith despite several centuries of mighty efforts. However, if the dissertation is worth trash, it will be tossed into the garbage right away. The first five sentences will denude the writer. The Hadith rejecter knows this very well. How many times has it not been in the past that he presented his masterpiece article, not to specialists, but to ordinary scholars, but who advised him to attempt anything but writing?
Therefore, he prefers to write in local languages and publish his trash from unknown publishing houses. Since there is no shortage of buffoons among the human population, he is sure to win one here, one there, to his cause through what he thinks are masterpiece writings.
The above is the first dishonesty committed by the rejecter of Hadith: He targets buffoons.
The next dishonesty contains in the way he argues. He starts by saying that he does not believe in the mass of Hadith because, he says, they are untrustworthy. At the start his statements imply that there are perhaps a few that could be the exception. But when you pin him down and ask him as to which ones does he recognize as authentic, he slinks away and admits that he does not believes in the authenticity of any hadith.
But then a problem arises: To believe in the Qur’an he needs at least one Hadith of the following text: “The Qur’an was revealed to me” – or, “was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.” Without this information, how to explain the existence of the Qur’an?
Now, on whatever basis he accepts this one hadith, he will have to accept thousands of ahadith on the same basis.
But of course, a few other Ahadith will be required saying that there used to be a man called Muhammad, that he was born in Makkah, he claimed to be a Prophet, he said that the Qur’an was revealed to him, etc.
With this problem pointed out to him, the time for dodging and slinking has arrived for him. He leaves the highway and slinks into side alleys.
Another dishonesty to which the rejecter of Hadith resorts is that on some occasions he uses the Hadith to strengthen his position. For example, he argues that the Prophet himself said, “Do not write down my Ahadith.” He would almost beat his chest and say to the Muslims, “And look, this Hadith is in Muslim.”
So, he first accepts a Hadith as authentic, and then uses it to reject rest of the Ahadith, including those of Muslim from which he took the Hadith. If you point this out, he retreats into silence. (He is thinking how should he respond the next time he is cornered).
Another dishonesty he commits is that he does not quote the above Hadith in full. (That is one of the reason why most Hadith rejecters are non-Arabs). The Hadith of Muslim that he quotes, says in full:
“Do not write down from me. Whoever wrote from me anything else apart from the Qur’an, may erase it. However, narrate from me, there is no harm in that. But whoever fastened a lie upon me, intentionally, may find his home in the Fire.”
So, there were two ways of reporting what the Prophet spoke:
1. Write it down, or
2. Narrate from memory.
The Prophet preferred verbal narration; but warned against attributing to him what he did not say.
Accordingly, the Companions freely narrated from him. After all, the Prophet had also said, “May Allah keep the face of the man fresh and bright, who heard from me and then forwarded it to someone who might be better understanding than him.”
Now, the question is, where are those Ahadith that the Companions narrated to tens of thousands of the next generation Muslims, and they to hundreds of thousands the next generation? The rejecter of Hadith knows that the verbal narrations permitted by the Prophet were ultimately written down by the scholars of later generations, when they feared corruptions involved in verbal narration. Of course, many preferred to continue with verbal narration, but, ultimately, the written versions prevailed.
On the other hand, the earliest followers of the Prophet were not simpletons. Simpletons do not overturn a thousand year old world Power. And they overturned two. Accordingly, Abu Bakr kept writing the Hadith, `Ali kept writing, and many others did so (some eighty or so). They knew that the instruction was for such starters in Islam who were incapable of differentiating between Qur’an and Hadith – apart from the fact that the writings of the starters, who, after all, did not hold PhDs in literature, could have been no better than a doctor’s scribble which only doctors and pharmacists could decode. So, let such starters not write at all. That is why we find that when the situation of the starters improved, the Prophet allowed that his words be recorded.
Does it sound reasonable? It does, but not to Hadith rejecters. The neurons that are fired by their grey matters are wrongly directed and so land at the wrong places.
Another question that the rejecter does not ask himself is: was writing of Prophetic words completely banned during the time of the Prophet? Well, apart from the statement above, the same Imam Muslim reports that a man called Abu Shah asked some questions and requested the Prophet to get the answers written. The Prophet ordered his Companions, “Write them down for Abu Shah.”
Yet another dishonesty that this Dishonest House commits is that they sniff through the entire Islamic literature to select – out of context – statements of great scholars to demonstrate that they distrusted the Hadith. They have the temerity to mention such names as Imam Zuhri, who, on the order of `Umar b. `Abdul `Aziz collected ahadith of Madinah. They claim that he hated Hadith, whereas, the truth is, he was fearful of the responsibility because of the extreme importance of the task. His fear is reported as ‘hatred of Hadith’ by honest sect leaders of the rejecters of Hadith.
Another person they name is Imam Abu Haneefah about whom they claim that he was a Munkir al-Hadith (rejecter of Hadith), while it is widely reported that Abu Haneefah preferred a weak Hadith over his personal opinion for working out Law.
Similarly, the rejecters of Hadith provide proof that Imam Abu Yusuf was a Fasiq, and Imam Muhammad a liar. The great irony is that they report Hafiz ibn Hajr, a giant Hadith scholar who wrote some 50,000 pages on Hadith literature, as someone who distrusted Hadith.
The list of dishonesties is pretty lengthy, sickening, and stinking.
A question that the commonest of men asks the rejecters of Hadith is, “If we have to depend on the Qur’an alone after we have discarded the Hadith, then, how do we do our Salah, or pay Zakah etc., seeing that the detailed instructions for these rituals, and every other Qur’anic requirement, is not in the Qur’an but only in the Hadith?”
Now, if the question is raised by a commoner, they have one answer, but if it is someone who is a little informed, then the answer is another. We shall deal with the answer given to the commoner in this write-up, to deal with other answers, some other time, Allah willing.
The answer they give about Salah is that at the time of the Prophet there were no organized five daily prayers; and the Madinan mosque was not for prayers. It was more of a place to organize social affairs. This is what the Qur’an means when it says,
“Establish the prayers.” That is, get together into the mosque, there is a social, political, financial, or military problem at hand – over which consultations and distribution of duties are required.”
The idea is preposterous beyond words, but it works with some of the commoners, especially, if they already possess in good quantity the three qualities that we have been speaking of: dishonesty, slinking, stupidity.
Now, if we take Salah in the sense of consultations, distribution of responsibilities, etc. how do we understand the following verse which deals with Salah in battle-fields?
“If you happen to be with them (O Prophet), and you establish the Salah, then let a group of them stand with you, and let them take their arms. Then, when they have done their Sujud, let them fall back to your rear, and let the other group which did not do the Salah come up and do Salah with you.”
Another question, if we do not take the meaning that every Arab child takes of the word Salah, then how does the rejecter of Hadith understand the following?
“Believers, when you establish the Salah, then wash your faces, hands up to the elbows, wipe your heads, and (wash) your feet up to the ankles.”
Does the above mean those who are called through the Adhan for consultations, distribution of political, financial, administrative and military duties, were required to make wudu before they went?
Are the rejecters of Hadith that stupid? The answer is, no, their leaders are devilishly clever. Apparently, there are two purposes for interpreting the Qur’an in the above manner:
1. Salah is the vitally important pillar of Islam. You destroy it and you destroy Islam.
2. If you explain Qur’anic verses in stupid ways, you are testing the man before you. If he accepts such stupidity, he will accept anything. He is the right candidate to be recruited for your cause. That is how you grow in numbers.