Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I was looking through some hadith yesterday and came across one of my favourite:

On the authority of Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both), from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), among the sayings he related from his Lord (glorified and exalted be He) is that He said:

“Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones.” Then He explained it [by saying that] “he who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.”

It was related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

(Source: http://hadithqudsi.sacredhadith.com)

I've been generally paranoid about reading hadith because I'm worried about not knowing which ones are strong (with strong chains etc) and which ones are weak. I only began practicing Islam last year and so I don't feel I've studied enough or read enough to be able to get a grip on hadith. For this reason I've only read a few collections. Many people have warned me that a lot of hadith are not real and were added later, or were not transmitted properly. I can understand this, since it was humans who transmitted hadith and thus mistakes are inevitable. It is definitely something I want to study more.

Does anyone have any good online sources for hadith? I've been trying to find an English Bukhari or Muslim collection (books) but haven't so far.
Also, what are everyone's opinion on Bukhari and Muslim? Do you accept all the hadith in their collections, or do you do further research and question each hadith before seeing it as authentic?
What are your opinions on hadith in general?


Aynur said...

I'm not sure myself, the only thing I know for sure is the Qur'an. Sorry, that's not much help. :))

Jasmine said...

I find a lot of them highly upsetting - with a few beautiful ones here and there. Why do we need anything more than God's word?

A good book onthe topic and history of early Islamic development and the establishment of formal practice and hadith usage and sharia is ISLAM by Fazlur Rahman who talks about how Hadith came about, when and why. I'd really recommend reading it before approaching Hadith.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Thanks to both of you for posting :)

Jasmine, I will definitely try and get that book...I think you summed up how I feel about hadith: a lot are upsetting with a few beautiful ones here and there.
The reason I want to understand hadith is because many Muslims today put so much emphasis on them that we end up with a lot of rulings and laws that are a result of hadith. Hadith have also led to an unprecedented amount of sexism (that is clearly contradictory to the Qur'an's message).

Lisa said...

I have concerns about them. Some of them are beautiful like, "One who gets his fill while his neighbor starves is not a believer."

Other hadiths add to ongoing debates and serve only that purpose. One would be a woman who wants to wear niqaab and considers it fard based on her interpretation of Qur'an, but then gets confused because Hadith seem to reject that argument.

I pretty much consider all of them suspect just to be on the safe side. With so much transmission, something surely could get lost, and Hadith veer dangerously close to the very Biblical issues Islam is railing against. But, in terms of Hadith Bukhari was the best for me.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hey Lisa, thanks for posting :) I think like you said, they should all be considered suspect just to be on the safe side. The thing is a lot of scholars and sheikhs do not see them as questionable, and actually base a lot of their opinions on hadith.

Candice said...

I went through a Qur'an Only phase, and I am still generally Qur'an oriented, but I think the Hadiths are useful. I am afraid of following a ruling that was made based on hadiths and that, although does not contradict the Qur'an, is not in the Qur'an either. To me, that is following other than God and equivalent to associating partners to God. That is a bigger fear of mine than not following strictly enough.

Anyway, I find hadiths useful, and I take the good from it. I am just careful not to take what is in them as commandments and I keep in mind that they were not preserved by God as the Qur'an was. I think the best was done to find the right ones and discard the made-up ones, but it is not a science as far as I'm concerned.

Aynur said...

Candice - that's my fear too, and that's pretty much how I see it.
The thing is that hadiths are usually elevated to the status of the Qur'an (or above, as some hadiths abrogate the Qur'an) and that bothers me, as they are not the Qur'an. And then when you question them you're told to do so is "a sin". (at least, that's what I've been told).

cairo - I remember a name of a book I read, you might find useful: 'Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam' by Aisha Y. Musa.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Candice: great point about taking the good from hadith. Like you said, one should be wary of rulings based solely on hadith.

Aynur: I completely agree with your point about hadith being elevated to the rank of the Qur'an or above. This is obviously a problem. I've also been told questioning hadith (especially Bukhari) is a sin, even though he was a human after all, and there are records of some of his hadith having been contradicted by Aisha (of course he didn't record Aisha's changes).
Thanks for the book, I'll check it out :)

Hning said...

Sometimes a Hadith innocently passes by, completely oblivious for the shocking effect that it causes in my mind (such as this one here) I usually just take until and when it serves a purpose. Otherwise, there it remains, in the vault of my shocking religious epiphanies, noted and unconfirmed.

When a purpose comes, and clarity is urgently required, I ask the Timekeeper, who is an Islamic scholar, and has no hidden agenda with the claimed Hadith. When scholars are absent, I refer to (Islamic) sensibility.

Bukhari & Muslim are highly approved of as Hadith resources because of their strict methods of selection. You might have heard about this, that the credibility of a narrators is one of the most important standards of making the Hadith into the Bukari & Muslim records. If a narrator misses a predecessor link, the Hadith fails to make it to their record. If the narrator is mischievous, even to his own goat, he'll fail the selection too.

So back to your question, whether I would or wouldn't accept all the Hadiths in the Bukhari & Muslim records, as long that they make sense, I'd rather do believe. Partially out of reasonable faith in their credibility, but mostly out of laziness.

Peace and hands down on your awesome blog.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hning: oh God that hadith is CRAZY!! I don't even know what to think about it. I think like you said, it pretty much comes down to common sense. If a hadith contradicts logic or the Qur'an then it's probably fake.
Bukhari and Muslim did use the best methods of clarifying hadith, but still, they may have made mistakes since they are human in the end. I do think though that theirs' are the best collections.

Thanks for posting!!