THE SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE IN ISLAM
The Meaning of Hadith
The Division of Hadith
- Component of Hadith
- Classification of Hadith
The Importance / Authority / Position of the Prophet s.a.w.(al-Hadith)
Methods of Dealing with Sunnah as the source of knowledge
Methods to prove the authenticity of the Sunnah
The Meaning of Hadith
The Arabic word “hadith” (حديث) has the primary connotation of new (جديد) , being used as antonym of old ( قديم ) .
From this derived the use of the word for an item of news, a tale, a story and a report .
There are some relevant and another terms such as al-sunnah ( السنة ) , al-khabar ( الخبر ) and al-athar ( الأثر ) .
“Al-Sunnah” means a clear path or a way , a beaten track, an established course of conduct, the pattern of life, course, rule, mode and manner. Its plural is “sunan” ( سنن )
. The opposite of sunnah is “bi’ah” ( بدعة ) or innovation, which is characterized by lack of precedent.
“al-Hadith or al-Sunnah, refers to all that is narrated from the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. , his acts, his sayings, his characteristics and whatever he approved plus all reports which described his physical attention and characteristic.”
The Division of Hadith
The Division of Hadith
The following are the usual divisions of hadith :
i. al-Hadith al-Riwayah ( الحديث الرواية )
That means hadith refers to all aspects that is narrated from the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. of his life.
“al-Hadith al-Riwayah refers to all that is narrated from the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. , his acts, his sayings, his characteristics and whatever he approved plus all reports which described his physical attention and characteristic.”
ii. al-Hadith al-Dirayah ( الحديث الدراية ) - Science of Hadith
That means “knowledge that contains methods from which we could know the status of the “sanad” ( سند ) and “matan” ( متن ) whether it can be accepted or not (as the evidence in Islam).”
Components Of Hadith
composed of three parts
Matn (text) & isnad (chain of reporters),
taraf (the part, or the beginning sentence, of the text which refers to the sayings, actions or characteristics of the Prophet, or his concurrence with others action).
The authenticity of the hadith depends on the reliability of its reporters, and the linkage among them.
Classifications Of Hadith
A number of classifications of hadith have been made. Five of these classifications are shown in the figure below:
1. According to the reference to a particular authority
Four types of hadith can be identified.
Qudsi - Divine; a revelation from Allah(SWT); relayed with the words of the Prophet(P).
Marfu` - elevated; a narration from the Prophet(P), e.g., I heard the Prophet(P) saying ...
Mauquf- stopped: a narration from a companion only, e.g., we were commanded to ...
Maqtu` - severed: a narration from a successor.
2. According to the links of isnad - interrupted or uninterrupted
Six categories can be identified.
Musnad - supported: a hadith which is reported by a traditionalist, based on what he learned from his teacher at a time of life suitable for learning; similarly - in turn - for each teacher until the isnad reaches a well known companion, who in turn, reports from the Prophet(P).
Muttasil - continuous: a hadith with an uninterrupted isnad which goes back only to a companion or successor.
Mursal - hurried: if the link between the successor and the Prophet(P) is missing, e.g., when a successor says "The Prophet said...".
Munqati` - broken: is a hadith whose link anywhere before the successor (i.e., closer to the traditionalist recording the hadith) is missing.
Mu`adal - perplexing: is a hadith whose reporter omits two or more consecutive reporters in the isnad.
Mu`allaq - hanging: is a hadith whose reporter omits the whole isnad and quotes the Prophet(P) directly (i.e., the link is missing at the beginning).
3. According to the number of reporters involved in each stage of isnad
Five categories of hadith can be identified:
Mutawatir - Consecutive: is a hadith which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.
Ahad - isolated: is a hadith which is narrated by people whose number does not reach that of the mutawatir.
It is further classified into:
Mash'hur - famous: hadith reported by more than two reporters.
`Aziz - rare, strong: at any stage in the isnad, only two reporters are found to narrate the hadith.
Gharib - strange: At some stage of the isnad, only one reporter is found relating it.
According to the nature of the text and isnad
Munkar - denounced: is a hadith which is reported by a weak narrator, and whose narration goes against another authentic hadith.
Mudraj - interpolated: an addition by a reporter to the text of the hadith being narrated.
5. According to the reliability and memory of the reporters
four categories can be identified:
Sahih - sound. Imam al-Shafi`i states the following requiremetts for a hadith, which is not Mutawatir, to be acceptable "each reporter should be trustworthy in his religion; he should be known to be truthtul in his narrating, to understand what he narrates, to know how a different expression can alter the meaning, and to report the wording of the hadith verbatim, not only its meaning".
Hasan - good: is the one where its source is known and its reporters are unambiguous.
Da`if - weak: a hadith which fails to reach the status of Hasan. Usually, the weakness is: a) one of discontinuity in the isnad, in which case the hadith could be - according to the nature of the discontinuity - Munqati (broken), Mu`allaq (hanging), Mu`adal (perplexing), or Mursal (hurried), or b) one of the reporters having a disparaged character, such as due to his telling lies, excessive mistakes, opposition to the narration of more reliable sources, involvement in innovation, or ambiguity surrounding his person.
Maudu` - fabricated or forged: is a hadith whose text goes against the established norms of the Prophet's sayings, or its reporters include a liar. Fabricated hadith are also recognized by external evidence related to a discrepancy found in the dates or times of a particular incident.
Refer to :
The Science of Hadith (text )
An introduction to the science of Hadith
Hadith Methodology – Classification of Hadith
The Importance / Authority / Position of the Prophet s.a.w. ( al-Hadith) .
1. As the authority of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. comes next only to the Quran. His authority is expressed through divine will. Allah says :
قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ(32)
“ Say: “Obey Allah and His Messenger”: But if they turn back, Allah love not those who reject faith.” (3: 32)
2. As the expounder of the Quran appointed by Allah s.w.t. The Quran says:
بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ(44)
“ (We sent them) with Clear Signs and Scriptures and We have sent down unto thee (also) the Message, that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought.” (16: 44)
3. As legislator appointed by Allah s.w.t with legislative power.
The authority of prophet Muhammad s.a.w. his whole life, decision, judgement, and command are binding authority. The Muslim society must follow him in every walk of life in total obedience to the prophet s.a.w. The Quran says :
وَمَا آتَاكُمْ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ(7)
“ So take what the Messenger gives you, and refrain from what He prohibits you. And fear Allah, for Allah is strict in Punishment.” (59:7)
4. As a model behaviour for the Muslim society and community.
Practicing and doings of the prophet are standardized, sanctioned and knowledgeable by the Quran. Allah says :
لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
“ Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exempler for him who hopes in Allah and the Final Day, and who remember Allah much.” (33: 21)
Aisyah r.a , said in the hadith about Rasulullah s.a.w.
كان خلقه القرآن
5. He was a reformer and successful man
a. To abolish the concept of idolatry and develop the concept of tauhid . The Quran says :
وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا(81)
“And say : “Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished, for Falsehood is (bi its nature) bound to perish.” (17: 81)
b. To abolish, not to prostrate the sun, the moon and starts and created things by Allah s.w.t. : Rasulullah said :
“Do not make prostration before the sun, the moon and innumerable stars.”
c. Reformation in the government :
- To establish the concept of brotherhood(4:1).
- To establish the central government.
- To develop the universalism.(49:1)
- To prepare and train the qualified leadership.
- To develop the structures and frames of the administration.
d. Reformation of social and moral value. Some examples are, before Islam came:
- The pre-Islamic Arabs were worse in social evils and morals corruptions.
- Daughters were buried alive.
- Wine, drinking. Gambling and prostitution were permissible.
- Prophet s.a.w. abolished all types of crimes from the society
e. Evolving a greater civilization and culture, developing the knowledge of art, science, politic and sense of decencies.
- To abolish all superstitions belief and thoughts from the soil of Arab mind.
- To eradicate the poverty by distributing wealth from the wealth treasury.
f. The greatest politician and administrator.
- Foundation of common wealth.
- Founded a small republic consisting of Muslim and non-Muslim on terms of perfect equality.
- Established the concept of brotherhood and sisterhood.
- A pact between Muslims and non-Muslim during his time:
Muslims and the Jews should live as one people.
Each one of the parties shall observe its own faith and neither shall interfere with that of others
In the event of the war with a third party, each is bound to come the assistance of others
In the events of the attack on Medina, both shall join to defend it
Peace, when desirable shall be made in consultation with each other
The prophet should be the final court of the appeal in cases of all disputes.
- Attempts to establish peace in the world.
- Established the policy of the administration (3: 96)
- Established internal administration and good management (22:56)
Equal distribution of wealth and equal status of the people in his state either Muslims or non-Muslims:
There was no compulsion in religion.(2:256)
An ideal head of the state (26:12)
An ideal judge (5:8, 6:193)
Developed the policy of the appointment of the governors, judges and officers without any discrimination.
g. Established judicial systems and was legislative authority :
A. Civil and criminal laws
Distinction of caste, color, birth and any other aspect was totally abolished and honor was laid on piety and good works.
All are equal in the eyes of law.
B. Social law
Established the financial institution to collect zakah, fitrah and sadaqah to eradicate the poverty and establish a balanced society.
C . Religious and moral laws
E.g: International laws :
to respect the lives of ambassadors, tolerance of the religious practices, protection of weak and oppressed nationality and internationally.
D. Laws of private life
such as laws of cleanliness, hygiene, sanitation, public health, decency, manners and simple living.
h. As a peace maker :
- Peace with Allah (4:8)
- Peace with man
- Peace with other people and other religions. (3:63, 6:109, 49:11)
- Peace in the Arabian peninsular (3:142, 29:67)
- Peace with lower animals, plants and other creation. (4:145, 3:141, 11:175)
- Peace by war (21:107)
i.He was the greatest military commander
In the battle of Badr, Uhud, the battle of muraise (enemy of Islam: 2400 while Muslims were 2000 but 600 were arrested by Muslis), in the campaign of Mu’ta, where Muslims were around 3000 while non-Muslims were one hundred thousands. In the battle of Hunain where Muslims received 24000 sheep, 4000 silver coins and 6000 prisoners.
j. His manners and etiquettes
He was an ideal man for mankind (4:94, 89)
Was very kind towards everyone (3:132)
No work was too low for him such as doing things with his own hands, he used to milk goats, mend his own shoes and sometimes cook food.
Simplicity was in habits, manners, living, furniture, foods, dresses and habitation structures.
Hospitality was so high
He was a trustee (al-Ameen)
Gifts and presents.
Flattery to praise a person in front of him, which he dislikes.
Equal treatment to all.
Humility and humbleness
Forgiveness to enemies
such wahshi, safwan bin omayyah, Abdullah ibn Ubai, Labib bin ‘Asam, Ferat bin Hyan who was the spy of Abu Suffian, Hind, Akramah who was fled to Yemen, son of Abu Jahl, Habbat b Aswad who was the killer of his daughter Zainab who was pregnant
Dislike for backbiting (49:12)
Self-needs were subordinate to the needs of others
Was a charitable man
Ideal allegiance of his followers
Hair dressing and combing ( he said who has hair, let him honor it).
Methods of dealing with Sunnah as the source of knowledge
1. Sunnah of the prophet s.a.w is a source of Shari’ah and in its rulings with regard to halal and haram. It stands on the same footing as the Quran.
2. It is a proof (hujjah) for the Quran testifies to its authority and enjoins the Muslim to comply with it.
3. His acts, sayings and teachings are means to establish a rule of Shari’ah constitute a binding proof.
4. The proof of authenticity is two types:
it may be definitive (al-qat’ie)
it may amount to a preferable conjecture (al-Zanni)
5. All rulings of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w which, correspond with the Quran and corroborate its contents, constitute binding law. Because of the followings:
His words are divinely inspired (53:3)
The Quran enjoins obedience to him and makes it a duty of the believers to submit to his judgement and his authority without question. (59: 7, 4:58, 4:80)
Definitive rulings of the sunnah are binding on believers in that they are no longer at liberty to differ with the dictates of the divine will or to follow a course of their own choice. (33:36)
Submission to the authority of sunnah is an integral part of the Muslim’s faith, not mere formalistic legality. (4:65)
6. Based on all the Quranic verses, it is concluded that sunnah is a proof (hujjah) next to the Quran in all shari’ah matters and that conformity to the term of prophetic legislation is a Quranic obligation of all Muslims.
7. The companions have reached a consensus on this point.
Some other methods to prove the authenticity of the Sunnah
1. Various ways of teaching and transmissions of hadith of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w :
a. Three methods used by him to teach his sunnah:
Verbal sunnah : consist of the sayings of the prophet on any subject such as repeating important issues thrice.
Written medium (dictation to scribes) such as his all letters to king, rulers and Muslim governors were in writing.
Practical demonstration such as fasting, prayers and hajj etc.
b. Measures taken by him for the diffusion of sunnah.
Establishment of schools to spread widely teachings of Islam and preaching of Islam.
His directions about diffusion of knowledge. He said: “pass on knowledge from me even if it is only verse”.
Creation of intensive for teachers and students such as rewards for students and teachers, the threat of punishment.
c. Three methods of learning by his companions
Through recording and writing
d. Seven methods are used by the companion of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w and their successors:
Sama’ : means reading by the teachers to the students such as oral recitation, reading from books, questions and answers and dictation.
‘Ard: means reading to teachers such as provided scribes and materials by teachers.
Ijazah: means permission such as provided the certificate by the individual scholar.
Munawalah: means handing teacher’s book to student.
Kitabah: means correspondence from one to another.
I’Lam : means to inform about hadith
Wasiyyah: means to entrust someone the book which may be transmitted on the authority of the one who entrusted the book.
2. Classification of the sunnah from the viewpoint of its subject matter.
a. The sunnah is divided into three types:
Verbal (qawli) consist of the saying of the prophet.
Actual (fi’li) consist of the practical demonstration of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w such as the way to perform salah, sawm etc.
Approved by him (Taqrir). The tacit approval of the prophet may be inferred from his silence or verbal conformation or from his express approval, such as two companions went on a journey that did not find water for ablution, and then they observed the obligatory prayers with tayammum…
b. The other division of the sunnah as his sayings, acts and tacit enactments is divided into to types:
Non-legal sunnah which consist of natural activities of the prophet Muhammad s.a.w such as the manner he ate, slept, clothed and such other activities. Another example id to learn medicine, commerce and agriculture, strategy of war, some aspect related purely with his personality such as polygamy, etc.
The legal sunnah consist of the exemplary conduct of the prophet, be it an act, saying or approval which incorporate the rules and principles of the Shari’ah.
c. The variety of sunnah may be divided into three types:
i. In his capacity as Messenger of Allah
He laid down rules which are, whole complementary to the Quran.
The sunnah clarifies mujmal (ambiguous) parts of the Quran or specifying and qualifying the general and absolute contents of the Quran.
All commands and prohibitions that are imposed by sunnah are binding on every Muslim regardless of individual circumstances, social status, or political office. Such as salah on the occasion of lunar and solar eclipse, iqamah, azan etc.
ii. In his capacity as Imam or head of the state
Such as allocation and expenditure of public funds, decisions pertaining to military strategy and war, appointment of state officials, distribution of booty, signing of treaties, etc.
This type sunnah may not be implemented by individuals without the permission of the lawful authority.
iii. In his capacity as a judge
This has two parts:
Situational and does not constitute general law
It related to claims, evidence and factual proof and judgement which is issued as a result such as the reclamation of barren land because the prophet s.a.w said that whoever reclaims barren land becomes its owner. The ulama has differed as to whether the prophet mentioned this hadith in his prophetic capacity or in his capacity as the head of the state. If the first one, then this rule is binding on Muslims and no need to permission from the head of the state while if the he mentioned this hadith as a Imam, then he needs to obtain the permission from Imam or the head of the state.
The second part lays down general general law
Such as the case of Hindun during the time of the prophet s.a.w, the wife of Abu Suffian complained to the prophet that her husband refused to give adequate maintenance to her and her child. The prophet instructed to take of her husband’s property what is sufficient for yourself and your child according to custom. Now the question is that did the prophet order the Suffian’s wife to take from his property in his capacity as a judge or just a general rule of law. Imam Shafi’ie, Abu Hanifah and Ahmad ibn Hambal said that the Islamic court may order the sale of his property or even the court may imprison a persistently neglectful husband.
d. Sunnah is not as an independent source of knowledge/laws of the Shari’ah.
The answer is no because of the following:
1. The sunnah may consist of rules that merely confirm and mention in the Quran. The rules originate from the Quran but corroborated by sunnah.
2. The sunnah may consist of an explanation or clarification to the Quran.
It may clarify the content of the Quran
It may qualify its absolute
It may specify its general terms
It is a substancial part of the Quran
3. The sunnah may consist of rulings on which the Quran is silent such as the punishment of rajm, that is death by stoning for adultery when committed by a married Muslim.
4. Some rulings of the sunnah consist of an analogy (qiyas)
See also :
The Sunnah : A source of civilization
Understanding the Sunnah in the light of the Quran (Dr.Yusuf al-Qaradhawi)
The Importance of Hadith in Islam
(Prof. Shahul Hamid)
What is the Significance of Hadith in Islam ? (Sheikh Ahmad Kutty)
Authenticity of Hadith & the Perfection of Islam (Sheikh Ahmad Kutty)