November 2005: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2

Whom should we trust?

Cont’d from page 1

The point is that God gave us the freedom to choose what we eat and how we eat, beyond the prohibited categories of food. When we are not satisfied with what God enjoined us to do, what does that make us? To make additional laws over and above God’s commands to regulate our lives whether it is related to food, dress, or practices of religion, is to be unappreciative of God, to say the least.

Furthermore, how can anyone rely on the accuracy of hadiths when some of them are full of contradictions, nonsense, blasphemies and lies against God and the prophet? How could recordings attributed to Muhammad be free of misrepresentations, political and social bias and distortions? Why should we put our trust in 43 volumes of what Bukhari wrote down when God’s book is free of all that, proven and fully protected, and only one volume?

Are all hadiths false?

Probably not. However, the real question is what do we do with the hadiths. They may give us some historical perspective, but are they also useful for our religious guidance? God tells us in the Quran that His revelations are the best hadith (39:23), that He made the Quran complete and fully detailed. It is sufficient for our salvation (6:114). God also repeated several times in the Quran “We made the Quran easy to learn. Does any of you wish to learn?” (54:17,22,32,40)

So the argument that hadiths complement the Quran has no basis, nor do we need hadiths to understand the Quran (12:111). It is in fact tantamount to saying that God

does not know what He is talking about, or suggesting that the prophet has defied God’s commands:

This [Quran] is the utterance of an honorable messenger.
Not the utterance of a poet; rarely do you believe.
Nor the utterance of a soothsayer; rarely do you take heed.
A revelation from the Lord of the universe.
Had he [Muhammad] uttered any other teachings.
We would have punished him.
We would have stopped the revelations to him.
None of you could have helped him. [69:40-47]

Indeed it is in one of the reported hadiths that Prophet Muhammad asked his followers not to write down anything from him, except the Quran, the revelations of God. Muhammad’s request is in line with the Quranic teaching above. Knowing that he was a strict follower of the Quran, because otherwise God would punish him, we can assume that he probably made such a request. This is a demonstration of the use of a hadith of the prophet for historical purposes. There is nothing wrong with refering to hadiths as long as we do not use them as a religious source and spiritual guidance beside the Quran. We have to keep in mind how the hadiths were compiled and the process of their supposed “authentication.”

Bukhari, the hadith compiler

Bukhari included in his book a collection of over 6,000 hadiths. There are reports that he had heard or had access to more than 600,000 hadiths in his lifetime. He admittedly used extensive methods to test the authenticity of the hadiths

and to sort them out. Basically he accepted about 1% of the hadiths he encountered. He found the rest, the 99% of them, to be unreliable or not worthy of publication. If this is the case, the people who rely on hadiths are at the mercy of Bukhari. They trust his judgment and his work more than they trust in God and His revelations, about what is good and useful to them for their guidance.

How reliable was Bukhari? How did he manage to pick the “genuine” hadiths from his collection of over 600,000 hadiths? Is it possible to achieve this overwhelming task physically in one’s lifetime? It is reported that Bukhari lived 62 years. Had he spent a mere hour per hadith for compilation, checking the authenticity, and for recording it, he would require 600,000 hours total. This translates into more than 68 years! Assuming that he started collecting hadith at birth; if he did not sleep, did not eat, did not do anything else but work, he still would not manage to complete his work before he died. Therefore it certainly defies logic, especially considering the reported instances where he supposedly traveled to places that sometimes took days, or weeks to check the authenticity of a given hadith.

Quran: God’s authentic book

In any case, the truth is that we have the Quran, the word of God. It is a protected book that no falsehood can enter. It does not have any contradictions, nor any nonsense. We cannot say the same thing for the hadiths.

Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than GOD, they would have found in it numerous contradictions. [4:82]

Cont’d on page 4