Why Trash All the Hadiths?
After witnessing the comparison between the hadith and the Quran, how can a sound mind still insist on hadith? How can still call those books sharif, or sahih, or authentic? How can they forgive the hadith narrators and collectors who sold them all kinds of lies and stories, containing so much ignorance and distortion? How can they get mat at Salman Rushdi, while much worse insults charged against Muhammad by hadith narrators and collectors?
When followers of hadith and sunna cannot defend the nonsensical and contradictory hadiths (narrations) abundant in their so-called authentic hadith books, they suggest picking and choosing those hadiths that are not contradictory to the Quran. The following brief argument with a Sunnite shows how deceptive and meaningless this apparently innocent suggestion. We call these people compromisers, or Selective Sunnis. Let’s now follow a debate between a Selective Sunni and a Monotheist Muslim:
1. How can you claim that several thousand sahih hadiths are necessarily false while you cite only a few sahih hadiths which have debatable contents? Is this not generalization from scanty data?
2. Why do you assume that either all sahih hadiths should be rejected or all of them should be accepted? Why not judge each hadith based on its individual merit according to all the available data about its isnad, its transmitters, and so on?
3. Suppose we cease to use hadith as a source of information about the Prophet, his life, and his career. Then we notice that the Qur’an itself says very little about the Prophet’s life. It also says nothing about how it was complied.
4. The historicity of the Quran is based on hadiths. It is from hadiths that we know how the Quran was complied. It is also from hadith that we know about the life of the Prophet.
1. If any book contains a few lies (and we have more than just “a few” examples), then, the endorsement of that book is not reliable. If you see dozens of repeated fabrications introduced as trustworthy (sahih) hadith, then how can you still rely on other narrations of the same book?
2. Judging each hadith on its individual merit may seem attractive for those who are not satisfied with God’s book, but it is a waste of time and a deceptive method. If the signature of narrators (sanad) cannot provide authenticity about the source of hadith, then our only guide to decide on the content of hadiths (matn) will be our personal wish or our current inclinations. How can we decide which hadith has merit? How can we decide which hadith is accurate? We may say “by comparing them with the Quran!” But, what does this really mean? If it is “me” who will compare a hadith to the Quran, if it is again “me” who will judge whether it contradicts the Quran or not, then, I will end up with “hadith” which supports “my” personal understanding of the Quran. In this case a hadith cannot function as an explanation of the Quran. It will be confirmation or justification of my understanding of the Quran; with literally tasteless, grammatically lame language…. Furthermore, what about hadiths that bring extra duties and prohibitions?
3. Again, there are many hadiths about the prophet’s life, which you cannot accept with a sober mind. They are narrated repeatedly in many so-called authentic books. We cannot create a history out of a mishmash of narration by a subjective method of pick and choose. We can create many conflicting portraits of Muhammad out of those hadiths. As for pure historical events that are isolated from their moral and religious implications, they are not part of the religion, and we don’t need them for our salvation. I never said “we should not read hadith.” In fact, we can study hadith books to get an approximate idea about the people and events of those times. We can even construct a “conjecture” about the history, without attributing them to God or his prophet. Please don’t forget that “history” is not immune to filtration, censorship and distortion by the ruling class. You can see many different versions of histories (!) regarding the era of early Islam . Just read Sunni and Shiite histories.
4. We cannot disregard God’s frequent assertion that the Quran is sufficiently detailed, complete, clear, and easy to understand. What do you think about the verse 17:46? “When you preach your Lord, in the Quran ALONE, they run away with aversion.”
5. Hadith books are full of contradictory teachings. They eventually lead us to a sanctified and justified sectarian division in the name of the Prophet. Their very nature is another proof that hadith collections cannot be divine, since God, characterizes his word and religion as not having contradiction: “Why do they not study the Quran careful? If it were from other than God, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.” (4:82). This verse clearly refutes the traditional argument that hadith books contain other revelations besides the Quran, since the followers of Hadith and Sunna wrongly attribute verses about the Quran to hadith, such as: “Your friend (Muhammad) is not astray, nor is he deceived. Nor is he speaking out of a personal desire. It is a divine inspiration.” (53:2-4). Furthermore, verses 39:27-28 describes the Quran and the following verse to distinguish the divine teaching from other teachings. “God cites the example of a man who deals with disputing partners, compared to a man who deals with only one man. Are they the same? Praise be to God; most of them do not know.” (39:29). Obviously, hadith narrators and collections are “disputing partners,” while the Quran is a consistent source.
6. Our conviction regarding the divinity of the Quran and even its protection does not come from our trust in the number of people, but from the evidence contained in the book, which is another number, a number that is not appreciated by those who determine the truth based on the number of heads with turbans. (Wonder about that number? See 74:30).
7. We reject Hadith because we respect Muhammad. No sound person would like to have people born several centuries after him roam the earth and collect hearsay attributed to him. Besides, if Muhammad and his supporters really believed that the Quran was not sufficient for guidance, an ambiguous book, or lacked details, then, surely they would be the first ones who would write them down and collect them in books. After all, their numbers were in hundreds of thousands and they had plenty of wealth. They could afford some ink, papyrus paper or leather, and some brain cells, for such an important task. They would not leave it for a guy from far Bukhara or his ilk, more than two hundred years to collect hadiths in a land soaked with blood because of sectarian wars. Besides, Muhammad had many unemployed or handicapped people around who would gladly volunteer for such mission. The traditional excuse fabricated for Prophet Muhammad and his supporters is absurd. Supposedly, Muhammad and his followers feared that people would mix the Quran with hadiths. This is nonsense. They were smart enough to distinguish both, and there were enough people to keep track of them.
Besides, it is the followers of hadith and sunna themselves who claim that the Quran was a “literary miracle”. If their claim of “literary miracle” were true, then it would be much easier to separate the verses of the Quran from hadith. Let’s assume that they could not really distinguish the text of the Quran from Muhammad’s words, then couldn’t they simply mark the pages of the scripture with the letter Q for the Quran and letter H for Hadith, or let some record only the Quran, or simply color code their covers? Or allocate leather for the Quran and paper for hadith, or vise versa? They could find many ways to keep different books separate from each other. They did not need to study rocket science or have computer technology to accomplish that primitive task. The collectors of hadiths wished that people would accept their assertion that Muhammad and his supporters did not have ink, paper or leather, mind, and care to collect hadith before them. No wonder, they even fabricated a few hadiths claiming that Muhammad’s companions were competing with dogs for bones to write on the verses of the Quran!
Well, most likely, Muhammad feared that people would mix his words with the Quran. Not the primitive way that is depicted by the Sunnis and Shiites, since as we pointed out, there were many ways to eliminate that concern. But the real concern of Muhammad was different. Because of the warnings of the Quran, he feared that Muslims would follow the footsteps of Jews and would create their own Mishna, Gomorra, and Talmud: hadith would be considered as an authority, as another source besides the Quran, setting him as partner with God! Ironically, the followers of hadith and sunna accomplished exactly that. They did not need to publish the text of hadith together with the Quran–though they have done that in many commentaries–they have been doing worse. Though they usually have kept hadith separate from the Quran physically, as far as for the purpose of guidance and religious authority, they mix it with the Quran. Even worse, they make the understanding of the Quran dependant to the understanding of hadith, thereby elevating hadith to position of authority over the Quran. Thus, if indeed Muhammad was worried about people mixing his words with the Quran, the followers of hadith proved his worries right: centuries after him, they did not only mix his words with the Quran, they mixed thousands of fabrication and nonsense attributed to him. See 25:30; 59:7.
8. Give me one, only one “hadith” that you think is necessary for my salvation besides the Quran. If you are not ready to discuss the necessity and accuracy of a single hadith, then please give inviting people to hadith and Sunna.
Sunni: The bound collection of testimony from any court is certain to contain some lies and some errors. The reliability of any piece of evidence remains debatable. Where the narrators agree, where there is no irreconcilable conflict with the Qur’an, where the hadith is not offensive to tawhid, etc., we may well be justified in accepting it as reliable. And if a collector collects a thousand hadith and makes a few errors, neither is he to be condemned as unreliable.
Muslim: Not a single court will accept the testimony of Bukhari who collected contradictory hadiths about the Prophet Muhammad, narrated from generation to generation 200 years after his departure. You try to minimize the number and size of errors. There are hundreds lies, not “a few errors.” And they are grave ones. They attribute stupid and contradictory laws and words to God. They create a manmade religion in the name of God! They are full of insult to God and his messenger. They are not trivial, since God Almighty does not accept those “few errors” as trivial:
” . . . Who is more evil than the one who fabricates lies and attributes them to God?” (29:68)
Sunni: If the hadith are not mutawwatir, the monotheist Muslim should know by now that most scholars would say that one is free to disregard it, though not necessarily without peril. The issue the Muslim raises about the difficulties of decision regarding hadith also apply to personal interpretation of the Qur’an. No, the Qur’an makes it clear, we cannot disregard any evidence out of hand, not even the evidence of an unrighteous man; how much less the evidence of those against whom we have no evidence of unrighteousness or lack of caution?
Muslim: First, can you please tell us how many mutawatir (accepted with consensus) Hadith are there. What are they and where are they? Second, can you give me a few names of those “most scholars” who would say that I am free to disregard non-mutawatir hadiths? As far as for evidences…. Sure, we cannot disregard evidences for our daily affair, even of an unrighteous man. But, God’s religion is not left to the mercy of those evidences. God explained and sufficiently detailed his religion in his book, which is described as complete, detailed, and perfect. It does not contain any doubt. Furthermore, God promised to preserve it. An He did it with a unique mathematical system which hypocrites and disbelievers are unable to see.
Sunni: I have answered The Muslim about of a number of these hadith. Certainly, I personally have trouble with certain hadith; however, I must always ask myself whether or not it is my own view which is in error, rather than the hadith. Perhaps there is something I have not thought of.
For example, there is a hadith, which The Muslim loves to cite mentioning the drinking of camel’s urine, which he seems to believe, is particularly ridiculous. Does he base this on a scientific study of the virtues of drinking camel’s urine? I think not. Nor does he ever mention that nomadic peoples, not just Arabs but including them, often consume the waste products of their animals. So “cannot accept” is definitely culturally conditioned. But no one has claimed that drinking camels’ urine is required of any Muslim.
Muslim: Well, prescribing camels’ urine is the minor problem of that hadith. You can even find some Sunni doctors who pontificate that camel’s urine is a panacea for every disease. The big problem was about gouging their eyes after pruning all their legs and hands, etc. You craftily skipped that part.
Sunni: The Muslim confuses Hadith and Sunna. Hadith is only one of a number of major sources of Sunna, other major sources being the Qur’an and the practice of the community. The latter is how we generally learn to pray, by the way. To answer the question about necessity of hadith without going deeply into the whole concept of necessity is impossible.
But I will answer this way: if a hadith transmits a wisdom necessary in a particular situation, and one turns away from that wisdom merely because it was a hadith (and not some other preferred modality), then one becomes culpable for failure to act correctly in the situation. This could, indeed lead to hell-fire. Of course, the same is true of the Qur’an, or even the preaching of a Christian.
Muslim: If you think that some one is wrong and even misguided because of his rejection of hadith and that person challenges you with that question you don’t answer like you did above. You did not or could not answer my challenge. Answering questions is not an act of writing irrelevant lines after the question. Please come to the point.