Brother Burhan, To begin with, I firmly and absolutely believe in the oneness of all the `Ummah` - in it lies the pleasure of Allah and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Brother Burhan, To begin with, I firmly and absolutely believe in the oneness of all the `Ummah` - in it lies the pleasure of Allah and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
One question has always vexed me - if every Hadith is indeed from the Holy Prophet(PBUH) himself, why then do we have so many sects.Is this not proof enough that there are Hadiths which are not true?
And now that this case is laid to rest and since no one today has seen or heard the Prophet(PBUH) in person, can we not be sensible and unite under the `Shahada` rather than each of us calling the other sect wrong and causing disunity which goes against the essence of Islam?
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Hadiths and sects
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Dear and beloved brother in Islam, first and foremost, it is not the recorded or documented hadiths which are at all responsible for either the prevalent disunity in the Ummah, nor are the hadiths responsible for the breaking of the Ummah into various sects!
It has always happened since time immemorial that when the Lord Most Merciful revealed His Guidance, His Revelations, and His Prophets, some unscrupulous people who came after them, who had their own individual and evil agendas, created discord and disunity and fitnah in the Ummah.and succeeded in dividing that Ummah into various sects and creeds on absolutely flimsy and baseless rhetoric.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 45 Surah Al-Jathiyah verse 17:
16 We did aforetime grant to the Children of Israel the Book, the Power of Command, and Prophethood; We gave them for sustenance things good and pure; and We favored them above the nations.
17 And We granted them clear Signs in affairs (of religion): it was only after knowledge had been granted to them that they fell into schisms (sects) through insolent envy among themselves. Verily thy Lord will Judge between them on the Day of Judgement as to those matters in which they set up differences.
Thus if, even only hypothetically, there was absolutely no documentation of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws), and only the Glorious Quran remained in the Ummah for guidance..the unscrupulous people and the hypocrites would leave no stone unturned in their striving to break the Ummah of the believers!
Allah Says in the Holy Quran Chatper 3 Surah Ale-Imraan verses 7-8:
7 He (Allah) it is Who has sent down to thee the Book (The Quran): in it are Verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the Foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity, follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking fitnah (discord, disunity, etc) and searching for its hidden meanings; but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord"; and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.
8 "O Our Lord!" (they say) "let not our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us mercy from Thine own Presence; for Thou art the Grantor of bounties without measure.
Time and time again Allah Subhanah and His Noble Messenger (saws) guided and Commanded the believers, that absolutely regardless of the differences which may arise amongst them, they should remain united in the Brotherhood and Ummah of the believers and never never ever break themselves into sects and creeds!
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 30 Surah Rum verses 31-32:
This (Islam) is the right and true faith, but most people do not know. (Be steadfast on this) turning wholly and sincerely towards Allah Alone, and fear Him, and establish the Salat, and do not be like the mushriks who have set up their separate creeds and divided themselves into sects, each sect rejoicing in what it has!
Allahs says in the Holy Quran Chapter 42 Surah Ash-Shura verse 13:
He has appointed for you the same Way of Life which He had ordained for Noah, and which (O Mohamed (saws)) We have now revealed to you, and which We had already enjoined on Abraham and Moses and Jesus, stressing this: " Establish this way (Islam) and be not divided in it"."
Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 171 Narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr
Allah's Messenger (saws) said: There will befall my Ummah exactly (all those) evils which befell the people of Israil, so much so that if there was one amongst them who openly committed fornication with his mother there will be among my Ummah one who will do that, and if the people of Israil were fragmented into seventy-two sects my Ummah will be fragmented into seventy-three sects. All of them will be in Hell Fire except one sect. They (the Companions) said: O Allah's Messenger (saws), which is that? Whereupon he (saws) said: It is one to which I and my companions belong.
Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.206 Narrated by Hudhaifa bin Al Yaman
The people used to ask Allah's Messenger (saws) about the good but I used to ask him about the evil lest I should be overtaken by them. So I said, "O Allah's Messenger (saws)! We were living in ignorance and in an (extremely) worst atmosphere, then Allah brought to us this good (i.e., Islam); will there be any evil after this good?" He (saws) said, "Yes." I said, "Will there be any good after that evil?" He (saws) replied, "Yes, but it will be tainted (not pure.)" I asked, "What will be its taint?" He (saws) replied: There will be) some people who will guide others not according to my tradition. You will approve of some of their deeds and disapprove of some others." I asked, "Will there be any evil after that good?" He (saws) replied, "Yes, (there will be) some people calling at the gates of the (Hell) Fire, and whoever will respond to their call, will be thrown by them into the (Hell) Fire." I said, "O Allah s Messenger (saws)! Will you describe them to us?" He (saws) said, "They will be from our own people and will speak our language." I said, "What do you order me to do if such a state should take place in my life?" He (saws) said, "Stick to the group of Muslims and their Imam (ruler)." I said, "If there is neither a group of Muslims nor an Imam (ruler)?" He (saws) said, "Then turn away from all those sects even if you were to bite (eat) the roots of a tree till death overtakes you while you are in that state!"
Because the Lord Most High has bestowed upon man intelligence and a free will, it is only natural and an integral part of the test that there will arise difference of opinion between man and man! What one says and what one does when differences of opinion arise between man and man or nation and nation will determine whether it is a virtue or a sin in the Sight of Allah Subhanah.
Thus my beloved brother, as despised and detestable the inevitable creation of sects and creeds may be in the Sight of the believers and of Allah Subhanah..it is neither fair, nor justice, nor wisdom, nor intelligence, nor accurate to blame the creation of the sects in the Ummah of the believers upon the collectors or collections of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saws)!
If a Divine Book from Allah Subhanah Alone would have sufficed for the guidance of mankind, the All-Knowing, All-Wise Lord would not have appointed and sent His Messengersbut in His Perfect and Absolute Wisdom and as a Mercy towards His creation, the Lord Most High chose to never reveal His Revelation except to His Messengers, so that they may live their lives as a practical and perfect example for the believing Ummah to follow.
To unconditionally obey and follow the example of the Prophet (saws) is an obligatory Command of the Glorious Quran; and any who even imagines that he can disown or reject or deny the example and guidance of the Last Prophet (saws) and still take the Straight Path is either extremely arrogant or utterly ignorant!
Holy Quran Chapter 33 Surah Ahzab verse 21:
There is indeed the best example for you to follow, in the Messenger of Allah, for every such person looks forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 4 Surah Nisa verse 79-80:
We have sent you (O Mohamed) as a Messenger to mankind, and Allahs witness suffices for this. Whoever obeys the Messenger, in fact obeys Allah, and whoever turns away from him, he will be accountable for his deeds. Anyhow, we have not sent you (O Mohamed) to be a guardian over them.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 3 Surah Ale Imran verse 31-32:
O Prophet, tell the people, If you sincerely love Allah, follow me. Then Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, for He is All Forgiving, All Merciful. Also say to them, Obey Allah and His Messenger. And if, in spite of this, they do not accept your invitation, warn them that Allah does not love those, who refuse to obey Him and His Messenger.
It is indeed unfortunate that some people have gone to the two extremes when dealing with the ahaadiths of the Messenger of Allah (saws). One extreme declares belief in each and every hadith of the Prophet (saws), without confirming whether the hadith is authentic or not! The other extreme declares their complete opposition and rejection of any and all ahaadiths, regardless of whether they are fabricated or not!
The true muslims must take a balanced view or the middle way when dealing with anything. Just because someone calls a statement or a deed a hadith, we are not to completely submit to it, nor completely reject it; but the right and correct mode of conduct would be to do a thorough investigation to determine whether the Messenger of Allah (saws) indeed did do or say the thing claimed by the raavi or narrator.
The great and eminent scholars like Bukhari and Muslim have done an exhaustive research and investigation in each of the hadiths to determine their authenticity, and only when they were completely satisfied, they recorded these hadiths in their Sahih or Book of Authentic Hadiths. They investigated each aspect of the saying or deed whether it was in conformity with the Quran or not, for it is inconceivable for a believer to assume that the Messenger of Allah (saws) would have done or said anything against the dictates of the Quran. Then they thoroughly checked and investigated the chain of narrators to see whether they were truthful people or not, or whether one who claimed to have heard it from the other was alive at the same time or not, and if alive, did they ever meet each other or not! If there was even a slight doubt in any event or chain of events, these eminent scholars refused to accept the hadith as authentic.
Even after all their exhaustive efforts and thorough investigations, it is impossible to claim, nor does anyone ever claim, that each and every hadith in their collection of sahih is absolutely authentic; for after all, this is a work of man, and man is prone to shortcomings and error. For the believers, the only guaranteed authentic Book of Guidance has to be the Glorious Quran, whose authenticity is guaranteed until the end of time by none other than Allah Subhanah. For every aspect of guidance, emaan, belief, faith, aqeedah, tawheed, shirk, etc., one need not look beyond the Quran. The hadiths, once they have been declared authentic by the scholars, will only be used when one finds the Quran silent on a practical subject.
Whatever the Prophet (saws) said, and whatever he did are known as his Sunnah, which means The Prophets (saws) way. Hadith is the name given to the record of writing down the Prophets (saws) Sunnah by somebody.
What concerns us first and foremost is the guidance and the teachings in the Holy Quran. There is absolutely no doubt in the mind of any believer that these are the very words of Allah Subhanah. The Sunnah of the Prophet (saws) is the way he followed the commandments of the Holy Quran in a practical way and showed his companions and believers to act accordingly. To follow the way and example of the Prophet (saws) is a commandment of the Holy Quran Chapter 33 Surah Al Ahzaab verse 21:
There is indeed the best example or model for you (to follow) in the Messenger of Allah, for every such person who looks forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.
For example: The Quran says establish Prayer, but does not give other details of the number of rakah, etc. This the Prophet (saws) showed us practically by praying five times a day for a number of years in front of thousands of believers. He prayed two rakahs for fajr, three for magrib, and four for zuhr, asr and isha. This is how the Prophet (saws) established the Prayer commandment of the Holy Quran practically. And that is known as His Sunnah. Another example is that the Prophet (saws) kept a beard, and instructed the believers to grow a beard. Thus keeping a beard is regarded as Prophet Mohamed (saws) Sunnah. In other words, Sunnah is the way of the Prophet Mohamed (saws).
The Sunnah is something that the believers followed immediately after the Prophet (saws) did or said something himself. They did not wait for a 120 years for the hadith to be recorded and then started doing it, but rather as soon the Prophet (saws) did it, they started following it as his way or Sunnah. The Sunnah of the Prophet (saws) was followed by the believers from the first day of the Prophets mission.
The Hadith is only a record of the acts or words of the Prophet (saws), written down by some muslims 120 years after the Prophets (saws) death, for reference to future generations. The reason we pray the five prayers or the 3 rakahs of magrib prayers today, is not because they are recorded in the hadiths of Bukhari or Muslim, but because hundreds of thousands of the believers saw the way or Sunnah of the Prophet (saws) and followed it. And this Sunnah or way of the Prophet (saws) was being followed by all the believers, who narrated to their next generation, and they to the next. The Sunnah was followed when the Prophet (saws) was alive, and will be followed, Insha Allah, until the end of time.
The original laws and commandments are all in the Holy Quran for the guidance of mankind. The Sunnah or way of the Prophet (saws) is exactly according to the teachings of the Holy Quran. And the Hadiths are just a record of these ways written by man some 120 years after the death of the Prophet (saws) as reference for future generations.
Because the hadiths were recorded by man, they are prone to error. Not every hadith recorded is genuine. In fact a lot of them are fabrications and may have been recorded by people with political or material bias.
Some might say the Prophet (saws) said or did this act, which, he (saws) might never have done or said! But a lot of the hadiths are genuine, and the Prophet (saws) did say and do these things, and these are the ones we have to follow. It is said that Bukhari collected in excess of 300,000 hadiths, but only 7500 were considered authentic by him and recorded in his volumes of Sahih Bukhari. So, how can we gauge which hadiths are genuine and which ones are fabrications?
There are a few rules, if followed, one can easily realize if the hadith is genuine or not.
1. If any hadith is directly against any commandment or statement of the Holy Quran, it will be immediately rejected. Simply because, it is inconceivable that the Prophet (saws) did or said anything against the Holy Quran. His whole life was a practical example of following the Quran, and Allah Himself certifies in the Holy Quran that the Prophet (saws) is a good example to follow for anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day.
2. If any hadith is directly against any established Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), it will be rejected. For example, if one hadith says the Prophet (saws) prayed four rakahs for magrib prayers, it will not be accepted.
3. If any hadith goes against the foundation of Islam, it will not be accepted. For example, if one hadith says that the Prophet (saws) went to an idol or grave and invoked it, it is against the basic foundation of Tauheed or worship and invocation of one-God, and will thus be rejected. It would just be inconceivable for the Prophet (saws) to do such an act!
4. If any hadith is against basic common-sense, it will not be accepted. For example if one hadith says that a man talked to a tree and the tree started walking! These sort of things are absolutely against basic common sense, and will be rejected.
A lot of unscrupulous people wrote a lot of slander and false statements and said the Prophet (saws) said or did this. These people might have had any number of agendas, be it political, or material, or otherwise. If one wrote that the Prophet (saws) said this or that, it does not mean by any means that the Prophet (saws) actually said or did those things. If the saying or act goes against any of the four principles or laws laid above, chances are that the hadith is a fabrication and should be rejected.
Thus in conclusion, the genuine hadiths are a record of the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), and the false hadiths are the work of unscrupulous people in pursuit of their own agendas.
If one trusts, obeys, and follows the guidance and commands of Allah and His Messenger (saws), one can be assured of never ever being misled; but if one believes, obeys and follows any other guidance, other than that of Allah and His Messenger (saws), one can be assured of being led astray.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother and well wisher in Islam,