Keep the Quran but abandon Hadith: A new salvo against Islam

Syed Sharfuddin

There is a gentle  but mischievous campaign going on in some young Muslim internet chat rooms that they should focus on the Quran as the source of Muslim faith but reject hadith (sayings of the holy Prophet) because these were collected several centuries after the demise of the Prophet, peace be upon him as their veracity to the original source cannot be forensically established. The people who advance this argument are Muslims, or at least it appears from their Muslim names. They are polite and appear to be good demagogues. Their line of enquiry goes on like this: how can one be sure of authenticity when thousands of hadith exist on every topic; and that even the so called verified (mustanad) hadith are not real if one takes into account the passage of time from the life of the Prophet to when these were collected, edited and compiled. Some of the well meaning Muslims who are in search of the truth or who hear this argument for the first time get so shocked with this discovery that they start following this conversation with total absorption as if they will find the answer by the process of elimination this argument suggests.

This is a very clever and wicked method of creating division between two fundamental sources of Islam, saying that one source (the body of the Quran) is fine and it is ok to follow it but the other source (the body of the hadith) is not fine and should be laid aside. This rejection completely disregards the history of hadith gathering by the recognised hadith collectors such as Bokhari, Muslim, Ibn Maja and others. There was a through process of verification of the sayings of the holy Prophet and actions/events of his life going from one generation to other all the way up to the life of the Prophet, his companions and family members. This process relied on not one or two reliable source but multiple reliable sources to reach the consensus that these hadith were correct (sahih) and worth keeping in the books. This is why every single hadith we read today is preceded by a long chain of narrators. Scholars have also provided a simple common sense method of checking out the health of a Hadith. As long as it does not contradict the Quran and other information coming to us from the life and sayings of the Prophet, it is credible reporting (weak or daeef hadith).

For example the Azan we hear five times a day from the minarets of mosques all over the world is not written in the Quran. Yet for the entire life of the Prophet in Madina, it was recited by the Prophet’s chosen Moazzin (the one who calls the Azan), Bilal from the Prophet’s mosque. The call to prayer is acknowledged in the Quran in Chapter 62, verse 9. Think about what Azan says. Its words are taken from the Quran. These are: Allah is great (9:72); there is no god but Allah (47:19); Mohammad is the prophet of Allah (48:29); worship leads to the right path (29:45). All these things are from the Quran. The five times prayers are also mentioned in the Quran (11:114; 17:78; 30:17-18; 50:39). The Azan is in Arabic and no other language. The prescribed prayers comprise recitation from the verses of the holy Quran, which is in Arabic. For eighteen years, the post war Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk abandoned reading of the Azan in Arabic but it was revived by President Suleiman Demeril in 1950.

Take another example. The prayer of the dead and the mention of the hardship of the grave (Azab Qabar) is not mentioned in the Quran. This is a difficult one because no one has seen anyone coming back after dying and reporting what happens after death. It is reported in the hadith. Would you then decide that when your parents pass away, you wouldn’t want funeral prayers to be organised for them because it is not written in the Quran? If you feel so, you are wrong. Prayer for the dead is mentioned in Chapter 9, verse 84 in the Quran. But it doesn’t quite say a funeral prayer should be read for a Muslim when he/she dies. The guidance for this comes from sunnah and hadith.

You just need to be aware that such distractions will continue to be introduced from time to time at different forums by the enemies of Islam with a view to weakening your faith by splitting hair and with questions which aim to fill your mind with doubt about Islam’s original texts and sources. The answer to dealing with this mischief is to find out who is asking these questions. If these are being asked by someone who is a practicing Muslim and is seeking knowledge then feel free to engage in such conversation; but if you note that it is being asked on a platform which is claiming to be progressive and liberal but is used by all sorts of people except practicing Muslims, then just say Salam and move away from them. “The (true) servants of the most gracious (Allah) are (those) who walk gently on earth, and who, whenever the foolish address them, reply with words of peace” (25:63), and (the true servants of the most gracious Allah) leave the (foolish) alone and wait for the truth to unfold (32:30).”