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Is the Sunnah a rival of the Qur'an?

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    Is the Sunnah a rival of the Qur'an?

    Adil Salahi, Saudis Arabia.

    In recent discussion with friends, I was provided with a written text
    from a book entitled Maqam-e-Hadith by Mr. Pervez stating that there
    is firm evidence suggesting that there should be no written text to
    rival the Qur'an. He quotes three instances of the erasing of Hadith.
    The first is an order by the Prophet to his companions to erase any
    statement of his they might have written down. The second speaks of
    Abu Bakr asking his daughter to bring him any Hadith written down and
    then destroying it. The third speaks of Omar asking all Muslims to
    bring over all that they had of Hadith written down and when it was
    all collected, he ordered that it should all be burned. While this
    raises doubt about the very existence of Hadith, it is in clear
    conflict with what we have learned that the Qur'an and the Hadith are
    the sources of the Islamic faith, its principles and details.

    This is the gist of a letter which I received from Mr. Islam Khan who
    seems to be very disturbed by what he has read. Let me tell him that
    such writings are both numerous and frequent. They come up from time
    to time to question the position of the Hadith and the Sunnah,
    suggesting always that only the Qur'an is the text to be implemented,
    and that Muslims should pay no attention to anything else. However,
    such writers do not seem to understand the Qur'an which they claim to
    revere. They do not know what they are talking about when they
    suggest that they do not want anything to detract from the sanctity
    of the Qur'an, by being considered as complementary or a rival to it.

    The first thing to be said in answer to such writers is that no
    Muslim, not even the most articulate defender of the position of
    Hadith, puts Hadith on the same level with the Qur'an. There is no
    such thing as a rivalry between the Qur'an and the Hadith in any
    sense whatsoever. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that we are
    presented with a Hadith which is in clear disagreement with a clear
    text in the Qur'an, and we are told at the same time that all Hadith
    collections confirm it as authentic. What do we do with such a Hadith?

    We simply disregard it without hesitation because of its being in
    conflict with the Qur'an. At no time did the Prophet say anything
    that may be considered to disagree with the Qur'an. In fact, all that
    he said or did provide us with guidance on how the Qur'an should be
    implemented in practical life. When we take the Prophet's Sunnah,
    whether it is verbal or practical, we find nothing in it that does
    not serve the proper implementation of the Qur'an. Hence, we conclude
    that those who raise doubts as to the importance or the position of
    the Sunnah in Islamic life do not wish the Qur'an to be implemented.

    God tells us in the Qur'an: "Whatever the Prophet bids you, take it;
    and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it." (59: 7). He also says
    in more than one Surah: "Obey God and obey the messenger." (24: 54).
    And He says: "Whoever obeys the messenger obeys God." (4: 80). There
    are many other examples of clear Divine orders instructing us to obey
    God's messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). They confirm
    that by so doing we obey God Himself. If we were to disregard the
    Hadith and claim that it has no position in Islamic legislation, how
    are we to implement God's orders? If we claim that the Hadith was
    destroyed and no longer exists, how are we to explain these repeated
    orders by God to obey the Prophet, when there is no statement by the
    Prophet to obey?

    In fact, this affects every aspect of our faith. For example, God
    commands us clearly to offer our prayers. He does not tell us in the
    Qur'an how or when to pray, or the number of prayers we should offer
    each day. All this has been given to us by the Prophet in statements
    he said and in action he did. He says: "Pray in the manner you have
    seen me pray."

    If we were to say that the Hadith has no validity, or no position in
    Islamic legislation, or that it was destroyed and no longer exists,
    then it does not matter whether we pray once a day or once a week, or
    we perform our prayers in the way Christians, Jews or Buddhists offer
    theirs, because the order we have in the Qur'an only tells us to
    offer prayers without indicating any details. It is the Sunnah which
    provides all these details. But some people want to do away with it.
    In fact, they want to change the whole religion of Islam, and to make
    it a skeleton without flesh. But God foils their attempts and
    preserves His religion intact.

    Moreover, God tells us clearly in the Qur'an that the Prophet does
    not say anything of his own accord. It is all revealed to him. "He
    does not say anything based on his own desire. It is all but
    revelation that has been revealed to him." (53: 3-4). This applies to
    everything that the Prophet said that is relevant to the Islamic
    faith. Scholars divide revelations into three types: 1) the Qur'an
    which is revealed by text and meaning. Every word in the Qur'an is
    the word of God, and it has been revealed as it is. It does not admit
    any change at any time. Its recitation is a form of worship. It is
    recited in prayer, which is unacceptable unless it contains some
    portions of the Qur'an. 2) The Hadith, which is an statement in the
    Prophet's own words of meanings that are revealed to him from on
    high. 3) The sacred, or qudsi Hadith, in which the Prophet quotes a
    statement attributing it to God. The last two types are not read in
    prayer, and their recitation is not a form of worship.

    Besides, God has not guaranteed their preservation in their original
    forms like He preserves the Qur'an. He left this task to the Muslim
    community, and its scholars like Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others have
    certainly done a good job of it.

    Let us now consider the instances Mr. Pervez mentions in his book.
    The first is a statement by the Prophet requiring those who had
    written down Hadith to erase it. Every statement must be taken within
    its context. This the Prophet said in the early days of Islam, when
    the Arabs, mostly unlettered people, were receiving the message
    directly from him, and the Qur'an was in the process of revelation.

    The Prophet feared that in the situation that applied at the time
    that the Hadith might have been confused with the Qur'an. Therefore,
    he wanted to ensure that what was written was only the Qur'an. The
    Hadith was meant to be learned and reported verbally. He was
    available to correct any mistakes that might have occurred. Later on,
    when Muslims were better aware of the text of the Qur'an, and the
    number of people who could read and write increased, the Prophet
    allowed his companions to write down the Hadith. Many of them did.
    None of them said to him that they would not do so because he had
    earlier told them not to write the Hadith. Why do people nowadays say
    something to that effect? Why would they obey the first order, but
    not the second?

    Besides, who says that writing down the Hadith is the only form of
    preserving it. In fact, committing it to memory, particularly in the
    early days of Islam, is far more important. When we rely on written
    text only, and do not support that with good memory, we run the risk
    of distortion. The Qur'an itself is memorized more than it is written
    down. When Othman sent copies of the Qur'an to the main centers of
    the Islamic state, he wanted these to be a sort of reference to
    confirm what people memorized. There were far more people who learned
    the Qur'an by heart than copies of it. Yet no one suggests that the
    Qur'an is not valid because it was not written on paper in sufficient
    numbers of copies.

    The scholars of Hadith have done a marvelous job in ensuring that
    every statement attributed to the Prophet is verified, and only when
    it has been proved as authentic it is implemented. By doing so, they
    have facilitated for all Muslim generations to follow the Divine
    instruction to obey God's messenger. Yet writers like Mr. Pervez want
    us to disregard all this heritage of unrivaled scholarship, although
    it means in practice a willful negligence of God's order to obey His
    messenger. We, as Muslims, know that their argument has no sound
    basis. We continue to obey God's messenger, because by doing so we
    obey God Himself, as He says: "Whoever obeys the messenger is
    obedient to God." (4; 80)

    As for the other two incidents the writer mentions, we say that even
    if they were correct, they are actions by the Prophet's companions.
    Their actions or views represent their own discretion. They are not
    binding on other generations of Muslims. All the Prophet's companions
    reported Hadiths and considered them as basis for actions they did.
    When they were asked why they did certain matters in a certain
    fashion, they answered that they either saw the Prophet doing it in
    that fashion, or heard him recommending or ordering it. This applies
    to Abu Bakr and Omar as well as all the Prophet's companions.

    When we declare that we are Muslims, we state that we believe that
    there is only one God, and that Muhammad is God's messenger. What
    does the second half of this statement mean? It simply means that we
    take from Muhammad (peace be on him) whatever he taught, as he is the
    person through whom God has conveyed His message to us. How can we
    decline that and say at the same time that we believe in him as God's
    messenger? To reject his Hadith is to reject him as a messenger. That
    takes any person outside the fold of Islam altogether.

    Is the Sunnah a rival of the Qur'an?

    "I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He has a grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the straight path. (The truth)"

    "...Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the worlds" (6:162)

    this is the truth without ahadith and sunnah a man cannot carry out his religious duties to full.


      Jazak'Allahu Khaiy'run Sister