A critical evaluation with argument and counter-Argument
Hadeeth is the term used to denote the alleged sayings and acts, 'traditions', of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him.
Thousands of 'aHadeeth are preserved in volumes of all sorts that adorn the bookcases of every devout 'Muslim'. Few of these 'Muslims' ever read the 'aHadeeth with care and attention, and fewer still think carefully about their content and its implications; they just accept them.
The advocates of Hadeeth, unfortunately the vast majority of those who call themselves 'Muslim', consider it to be necessary to elucidate the Qur'an and shed light on those areas where It is silent. Their belief is based on the allegation that the Qur'an does not state the times prescribed for offering the 'salat', prayers, their number, their method or the number of 'rak'a', bowings and kneeling, of each. Hadeeth, they claim, teaches them these things.
Their argument is that the Qur'an is analogous to a constitution which lays down broad guidelines leaving it to the legislature to fill in the necessary detail in the form of laws, application rules and interpretation bulletins needed to implement the intent of the constitution. To them, Hadeeth fills in the detail for their constitution.
Ironically, this is only partially true. They stumbled upon this partial truth, misconstrued it and based it on the wrong rationale, as we shall, God willing, see later.
Hadeeth is claimed to be a 'science' by its advocates, though there is nothing in it that might be amenable to scientific testing. Nonetheless, the 'aHadeeth - of a specific format of which more later - that were reduced to writing have been sorted into two major categories and several sub-categories depending upon the researcher.
Briefly, the two major classifications are 'Hadeeth Shareef' and 'Hadeeth Qudsi'. The vast majority of 'aHadeeth fall into the first category which is defined as the sayings and acts of the Prophet Muhammad as reported verbatim, by word of mouth, by his immediate companions. Although derived from the same source, the sayings have come to be known as 'al-aHadeeth an-nabawiya', whereas the acts constitute what is known as 'Sunna Muhammad' roughly translated as Muhammad's 'method'. It is this category of 'aHadeeth that concerns us in this article.
The second classification comprises short sayings - reported verbatim by Muhammad's closest companions - said to be God Himself speaking in the first person but issuing from the mouth of Muhammad. They are alleged to be divine revelation outside of the Qur'an. We shall, God willing, show later that these allegations are totally contrary to the Qur'an.
The 'aHadeeth ash-shareefah' are further classified into three - though both Al-Bukhari and Muslim recognize two, the first and last only - sub-classes, 'saheeh' (intact or integral), 'hassan' (good) and 'da'eef' (weak or defective).
'Saheeh' describes those 'aHadeeth reported, in the first person, by an unbroken transmission chain of reporters whose integrity is judged, by the compilers, to be beyond reproach.
'Hassan' refers to those 'aHadeeth that do not conform to the conditions laid down for 'saheeh' in that their transmission chains are good but contain one weak but honest reporter.
'Da'eef' describes the bulk of 'aHadeeth, and which do not meet the requirements for the other two classes. The 'aHadeeth ad da'eefah' may have one or more defects in the transmission chain and are classified into several sub-classes ranging from the 'acceptable' to the 'fraudulent', depending on the type and gravity of the defect in the transmission chain.
It is to be emphasized that the above classification of the 'aHadeeth is based exclusively on the 'sanad', transmission chain, and does not address the 'matn', content or substance of the Hadeeth.
Ironically, there are several 'aHadeeth, traceable to the Prophet himself, that prohibit the recording of anything from him except the Qur'an; thus in Ahmad Ibn Hanbal as well as in Muslim we find an identical Hadeeth stating "Abi Sa'eed Al-Khudri, may God be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of God, may peace be upon him, said, 'Do not write anything from me EXCEPT the Qur'an. Anyone who wrote anything other than the Qur'an shall erase it'..." Obviously the Prophet's prime motivation was God's imposition of the Qur'an upon him; chapter 28, Al-Qassas, verse 85 states "Surely, the One who decreed the Qur'an upon you will summon you to a predetermined appointment. Say 'My Lord is fully aware of those who uphold the guidance, and those who have gone astray.'", but also being the astute, intelligent man endowed with foresight that he undoubtedly was, he had foreseen the problems that such writing might engender, hence the prohibition on anything from him but the Qur'an, not least because God Himself has undertaken to preserve It as stated at chapter 15, Al-Hijr, verse 9, which assures "We have revealed the Reminder and We shall preserve it." God says nothing about preserving Hadeeth.
The ban on writing Hadeeth remained in effect till the end of the first century A.H. when Umar Ibn Abdil-Azeez, the great grandson of the illustrious Umar Ibnil-Khattab, became khalifa. This pious and righteous man instituted several memorable 'reforms'. First, he banned the despicable custom of cursing Ali Ibn Abi-Talib from the pulpits of the empire - which custom had been imposed by the usurper Mu'awiya Ibn Abi-Sufyan - and attempted to eliminate the ongoing disputes regarding the companions of the Prophet by decreeing that none of them is to be maligned from the pulpits; they were to be praised instead. Then he lifted the ban on reducing the 'aHadeeth to writing. This was a fatal mistake!
Umar's intentions are not in question, but in this particular case the road, literally, to Hell is paved with good intentions.
It is worth digressing at this point to bring certain facts to the fore. After the Prophet's death many disputes arose among his 'sahabah', immediate companions. They got involved in intrigues and factional disputes finally leading to their taking sides in the assassination of Uthman Ibn-'Affan and in a war that pitted some, including 'A'isha, the Prophet's widow against others, including Ali Ibn Abi-Talib, his cousin and close confidant, which culminated in the murder of Ali.
Umar's edict enjoining the praising of the Prophet's companions from the pulpits and prohibiting attacks upon them had the effect, in time, of turning them into saints who could do no wrong. This, in the long run suited the compilers of the 'aHadeeth and the 'sunna', especially those with ulterior motives, perfectly since it tended to enhance the credibility of the reporters and lend strength to the 'aHadeeth transmitted through any of them.
Historians such as At-Tabari and Ibnil-Atheer were under no such constraints and have recorded the darker and less seemly side of the 'sahabah', reporting that many of them, especially during Uthman's incumbency, including Uthman himself, amassed large fortunes. Umar Ibnil-Khattab is said to have appointed Abu Hurayra governor of Bahrain then recalled him and accused him of misappropriating funds and forced him to pay back some of his ill-gotten gains. Others were accused of murder and others still of adultery. Not all of the Prophet's companions, of course, took advantage of their friendship with him for personal gain; many, including Abu-Bakr, Umar and Ali, were pious men who feared God and honored their relationship with the Prophet.
Umar Ibn Abdil-Azeez's edict, in time, turned all the 'sahabah' into pious men whose integrity was beyond question, thus giving Abu Hurayra's words equal weight with those of Abu-Bakr. The books of Hadeeth are replete with 'aHadeeth from Abu Hurayra the embezzler, Al-Mughira Ibn-Shu'bah the adulterer, Khalid Ibnil-Waleed the murderer and Amr Ibnil 'Aas the treacherous liar who precipitated the civil war that led to Ali's assassination. Their names are now always followed by the phrase "may God be pleased with them".
Strangely enough, Umar, in lifting the ban on the recording of Hadeeth, was almost certainly influenced by the existence of other 'aHadeeth, also traceable to the Prophet, permitting the recording of his sayings. Obviously the contradiction and the glaring lack of written material throughout the preceding century and its ramifications must have escaped our venerable scholars, as did, above all, the reasons behind it.
There are many books of Hadeeth of varying reliability and repute. Of these, six, collectively known as 'kutub as-sahaah', are generally accepted as 'saheeh', literally 'intact' or 'true', the oldest and most authoritative of which is Al-Bukhari, followed by Muslim, his pupil, then At-Tirmidhi, An-Nissa'i, Ibn-Majja and Ahmad Ibn Hanbal though not necessarily in that order.
Some Hadeeth scholars take only the works of Al-Bukhari and Muslim as being 'saheeh' and classify the other four authors' works as 'hassan'.
Typical of the authors of the books of 'sahaah' is Al-Bukhari (194-256 A.H./810-870 A.D.) who wrote two hundred odd years after the Prophet Muhammad. He claims to have collected six hundred thousand 'aHadeeth examined and sifted them, finally settling on about seventy six hundred which, when the repetitions are deleted, drop to about four thousand. The 'aHadeeth in 'Saheeh Al-Bukhari', as with those in the other 'saheeh' books, are said to be true in every respect and unassailable as to their line of transmission all the way down from the Prophet. They constitute the most important body of Islamic religious literature.
The work, as with all the others, is monumental, but unfortunately, and perhaps contrary to the intention of the author, it has come to be the source of the religion now professed by those who claim to be Muslims. It has, in practice, replaced the Qur'an as the major source of Islamic religious knowledge and turned the Prophet Muhammad, certainly without his knowledge and most assuredly against his will - as attested to by the ban he imposed on the recording of anything from him except the Qur'an - into an object of unwitting worship as the source of all knowledge, religious and worldly, apart from the Qur'an.
The advocates of Hadeeth put forward a specious argument mandating the acceptance of the 'sunna' and the following of it.
Briefly their argument goes as follows:
'God sent down the scripture, the Qur'an, through the Prophet Muhammad - the final emissary from God and whom God describes as a mercy to all mankind - by way of a constitution, laying down broad guidelines. We are commanded by God to obey the Prophet, take what he gives us, refrain from what he prohibits and follow his excellent example. It is obligatory to follow the Prophet's example because he was divinely inspired in everything he did and said and was, as the recipient of the Qur'an, the best candidate to expound It. Furthermore, Muhammad was given the 'hikmah', wisdom, which was sent down by God to him to enable him to teach us the details of our religion and its proper practice, legislating the good things and prohibiting the evil. In addition, Muhammad, as a mercy to all mankind, will intercede on behalf of his 'ummah', followers, on the Day of Judgment with God. Al-Bukhari and the other 'righteous predecessors' spent their entire lives collecting, examining, sorting and sifting the 'aHadeeth which are the residual wisdom of the Prophet and therefore the example we are to follow.'
Their argument is based on their misunderstanding of the numerous verses in the Qur'an which enjoin us to obey God and the Messenger; the most commonly quoted of which are: chapter 4, An-Nissa', verse 59, which reads, in part, "O you who believe obey God and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you...", and verse 80 which says, in part, "Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed God."; chapter 3, Ali-'Imran, verse 31 which commands: " Say 'If you love God you shall follow me' God will love you and forgive your transgressions. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful." and verse 32, which dictates " Say 'Obey God and the Messenger'..."; the preceding verses, they claim, dictate obedience to the prophet. They also quote, probably the most abused verse in the Qur'an, chapter 59, Al-Hashr, verse 7 which says, in part, "...Whatever the Messenger gives you, you shall take and whatever he prohibits, you shall refrain from." to legitimize and mandate the acceptance of the Hadeeth and the 'sunna'.
They adduce chapter 33, Al-Ahzaab, verse 21, which states "You have, in the Messenger of God, an excellent example for whomever seeks God and the Last Day and constantly commemorates God." This verse enjoins following the example of the prophet.
They present another passage, based, we hasten to add, on a non-sequitur as we shall, God willing, later show, to argue the veracity and correctness of Hadeeth, namely chapter 53, An-Najm, verses 2, 3 and 4, which state "(2) Your friend was not astray nor was he misled. (3) Nor does he speak of his own desire. (4) It is none but inspiration divinely inspired" From this last verse they go so far as to claim that every word issuing from the mouth of Muhammad is 'inspiration divinely inspired'.
Finally, chapter 2, Al-Baqarah, verse 151, states, in part "...Such as sending into you a Messenger from among you to recite our revelations to you and to purify you and teach you the Book and Wisdom..." This verse, of course, is vital to their argument since it purports to support their belief that God sent down two distinct revelations, the Book, that is the Qur'an, and Wisdom, supposedly the 'sunna'.
The above verses are the ones most frequently presented by the proponents of Hadeeth to support their argument that the Messenger through his legacy, the 'aHadeeth, is, by God's command, to be obeyed, posthumously, we might add, unconditionally.
They do not, it is worthwhile noting, quote any verses to support their contentions that Muhammad was empowered to expound the Qur'an or that he will intercede with God on their behalf on the Day of Judgment. They support these contentions only from the Hadeeth. This is not surprising since there are no verses that would readily, even superficially, convey this meaning; a major leap of logic is required.
Let us take a close look at the parameters of Al-Bukhari's claims.
He claims to have been tutored by more than one thousand teachers, to have collected, examined and classified six hundred thousand 'aHadeeth of which he memorized more than one hundred thousand. We are not told that he had any assistants or helpers. Now, if we allow one single hour to process each Hadeeth he would have had to work non-stop for about seventy years. Since the work involved is time consuming and arduous, because each Hadeeth would have had to be traced back to the Prophet Muhammad through a long transmission chain each link of which must be closely examined to determine if the reporter partook of strong drink, and for such attributes as integrity, moral rectitude, astuteness, truthfulness, mental alertness, and, not least, soundness of memory; one would imagine that it would take considerably more than one single hour to process each Hadeeth. Add to that the fact that each chain might consist of as many as six or seven individuals of successive generations all but one of whom are dead, and one can readily see the magnitude of this daunting task.
At this juncture one might reasonably ask: was it physically possible for Al-Bukhari to have examined that many 'aHadeeth? The answer is no! If that is the case, then Al-Bukhari's own credibility becomes suspect. If in fact he did examine that many 'aHadeeth then could he have possibly given the work due care? The answer is, again, no! He is said to have completed the work in sixteen years. This means that he could not have devoted more than fifteen minutes to process each Hadeeth all told, including, presumably, the two genuflection prayer he is said to have offered before recording each Hadeeth. In either case we are left with a highly questionable situation.
These questions are basic and go to the root of the problem at hand. How Islamic scholars, who claim to be 'scientific', could have failed to pose them is, to say the least, puzzling. Even more puzzling, if they did, in fact, pose these questions, is their very ready acceptance of obviously absurd and evidently unscientific answers.
Even more disquieting is the enormous importance ascribed to Al- Bukhari, Muslim and the other 'saheeh' tomes in Islamic religious literature. The 'sharee'ah', Islamic canon law, is drawn mainly from the 'sunna' as are the everyday religious practices and anyone not following, let alone rejecting, the 'sunna' is considered to border on apostasy 'murtad'. The punishment for apostasy, 'ridda' according to the 'sunna' is death. The Qur'an does not lay down any punishment to apostasy. Chapter 2, Al-Baqarah, verse 256 states, in part "There shall be no compulsion in religion; the right path is now distinct from the wrong path..."
Apart from any questions speaking to the integrity of the content of Hadeeth, logic dictates that it should play no role whatsoever in either exegesis or jurisprudence.
God tells us that the Qur'an is fully detailed and complete. Chapter 6, Al-An'am, verses 114 - 115 state "(114) Shall I seek other than God as an arbiter, when He is the one who revealed to you the Book explained in detail? Those to whom We have given the Book know that it was revealed by your Lord in truth. So be not among those who harbour doubt. (115) The word of your Lord is complete in truth and justice. Nothing shall alter His words and He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.".
These verses clearly and unequivocally state that the Qur'an is fully detailed and complete. God Himself tells us that. Thus, in light of the foregoing, one might conclude that any Hadeeth - regardless of whether it issued from the lips of the prophet or of its quality - that conforms with the Qur'an is not needed since it can add nothing to, or enhance our understanding of the Qur'an which, according to God, is fully detailed and complete. If, on the other hand, it does not conform with the Qur'an, it is false and must be discarded. So, one might legitimately ask, what need is there for Hadeeth? Again, the honest answer is none!
So much for the logic of accepting Hadeeth. As for following it, this is risky business indeed! Accepting any matter of religion other than that which is specifically sanctioned by God - regardless of its intrinsic merit - is tantamount to idol-worship. God has sanctioned only the Qur'an. Read what chapter 42, Ash-Shura, verse 21 in part, states, "Or do they have partners who decree for them matters of religion not sanctioned by God?..."
There are other reasons for not accepting the 'aHadeeth.
Even a perfunctory perusal of Al-Bukhari's, Muslim's or any of the other works reveals very serious shortcomings. The 'sahaah' authors concentrated only on examining the transmission chain 'sanad' and failed, deliberately it seems, to consider the content 'matn' or substance, assuming, instead, that the impeccable credentials of the individuals reporting the Hadeeth - who will never report anything they had not themselves witnessed or heard from the Prophet himself or from other equally reliable reporters as the case may be - will guarantee the veracity of the Hadeeth.
Consequently, and not surprisingly, they attribute to the Prophet, may peace be upon him, sayings and actions that are contrary to reason and good sense or involving knowledge of future events - which, one might add, is specifically denied in the Qur'an - or things that are devoid of any useful subject matter and, in many instances, reprehensible behavior.
Other 'aHadeeth are slanted in favor of one or another of the political factions that came into being long after the prophet's death, most notably the Bani-Umayya who usurped power from the rightful ruler Ali Ibn Abi-Talib. Al-Bukhari betrays his own anti-Ali feelings for he relates very few 'aHadeeth through Ali and does not include ones that favor him but relates many that are inimical to Ali and has included a whole section on Mu'awiya, Ali's arch enemy. Muslim, in fairness, holds a more balanced view.
There are, of course, numerous 'aHadeeth that contradict the Qur'an outright and others, especially ones coming through Abu-Hurayra, that are distinctly rabbinical in nature and content.
The most commonly stated justification for Hadeeth is that it teaches the 'salat' (obligatory prayer). Al-Bukhari has a whole section called 'The Book of Prayer' and what is most amazing is that it does not contain a single Hadeeth that teaches the obligatory prayer. It contains mostly reports of people who purportedly saw the Prophet do or say certain things relating to the prayer and only one Hadeeth where he is reported to have taught one man, whom he had seen perform the prayer incorrectly, to pray. But the Hadeeth, as reported, says that the Prophet instructed the man in how to carry out the physical actions, kneeling and bowing, and to recite any part of the Qur'an failing to cite the number of bowing and kneeling or to mention the required recitation of "Al-Fatihah" the omission of which, we are told by other 'aHadeeth nullifies the prayer. There is one other Hadeeth, "Pray in the way you have seen me pray", but this Hadeeth does not teach the prayer either. There are no 'aHadeeth that give the number of 'rak'ah', bowings and kneeling, for each prayer, or, for that matter the rate of 'zakat', the self-administered obligatory 'income' tax.
Surely, had the Prophet been instructed by God to teach the obligatory prayer, as they claim, God would have, in view of its paramount importance, clearly told him so in the Qur'an. Had God instructed him - in some way outside of the Qur'an - he would have unambiguously and persistently proclaimed it to the people and would have taught them the prayer in detail just as the Qur'an does when we are instructed to carry out the ritual washing. Chapter 5 'Al-Ma'ida', verse 6 says, in part, "O you who believe, when you determine to offer the prayer you shall wash your faces and your arms to the elbows, and wipe your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. If you were ritually unclean from sexual intercourse you shall bathe..."
In this verse the Qur'an not only gives us detailed instructions for the 'wudu'', but also gives us the conditions precedent - ritual cleanliness after sexual intercourse - the conditions that nullify the 'wudu'' - discharge of human waste - as well as the alternative, 'tayammum', again fully detailed, in case clean water is not readily available or not recommended where the supplicant is sick. The instructions are succinct and comprehensive.
Contrast that with the paucity of instruction in a sea of marginally relevant 'aHadeeth. If one were to peruse the whole section on prayer and many other 'aHadeeth dealing with the subject of prayer, one might, with a great deal of patience, emerge with what resembles the obligatory prayer; but there are no 'aHadeeth that clearly and unambiguously teach the prayer, citing the actions and the required recitations, their order and number, the number of 'rak'ah' in each, the number of prayers in the day and their prescribed times.
Now let us examine Hadeeth from the Qur'anic point of view.
We shall, God willing, endeavor to put the verses most commonly cited by the advocates of Hadeeth, in support of their argument, in their correct Qur'anic perspective by accepting their straight forward meanings at face value. This is how we are to read the Qur'an. God describes the Qur'an at chapter 39, Az-Zumar, verse 28, "An Arabic Qur'an without any ambiguity that they might be righteous."
This last verse and Chapter 6, Al-An'am, verses 114 and 115, quoted above, unequivocally state that the Qur'an is clear, complete and fully detailed. If the Qur'an, as God Himself states, is complete and fully detailed, then It, ipso facto, cannot be clarified or completed since It is already fully detailed, clear and complete.
This argument is logically unassailable, yet Islamic scholars fail to see its logic and still insist on the need for Hadeeth, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that they do not, at least fully, believe God when He says that the Qur'an is clear, fully detailed, complete and contains no contradictions. Only then would their position make any sense, for if they do believe God, as they emphatically claim, they would accept that the Qur'an is clear, fully detailed, complete and contains no contradictions and thus does not need Hadeeth or anything else to explain, elucidate or complete It.
The conclusion that must be drawn from their insistence on the role they ascribe to Hadeeth is that they only partially believe God. If they do believe that the Qur'an is complete and fully detailed then they must believe that it contains contradictions in order to allow for a role for Hadeeth and 'sunna'. The corollary is that if they accept that the Qur'an is free of contradiction then they cannot believe that it is complete and fully detailed; otherwise their position would be logically untenable.
Such confused thinking is not surprising given that these people believe, accept and defend contradictory 'aHadeeth and will even seriously consider that the 'sunna' can abrogate the Qur'an since the 'sunna' is in fact divinely inspired revelation and therefore comes from the same source as the Qur'an except that it, unlike the Qur'an, is not in 'recitable' form. Many scholars of Islam actually believe this to be the case and believe that the words of Muhammad, may peace be upon him, a mere mortal, can take precedence over those of the Almighty Creator or even abrogate them. The prophet, like Jesus, will disown all those who claim to love him and would make such idolatrous allegations in his name.
Obedience to the Prophet:
First, we shall, God willing, address the issue of obeying the Prophet in spite of the fact that he has been dead for fourteen centuries and cannot issue any orders and consequently cannot be disobeyed.
God, in the Qur'an, invariably refers to 'God and the Messenger', as shown in the verses previously quoted, but this is clearly done for emphasis. God is telling us in no uncertain terms that the Messenger will never willfully take a position other than that taken by God, that he will never knowingly make a statement contrary to the Qur'an and that he will always support God's position as stated in the Qur'an, hence the phrase 'God and the Messenger'. It implies total support, not that the prophet might, or indeed can, take an independent stance. Chapter 69, Al-Haaqah, verses 44 to 47 state "(44) Had he falsely attributed certain sayings to Us (45) We would have inflicted punishment upon him (46) Then We would have stopped the revelation to him (47) And none of you could have shielded him from Us." These verses also definitively deny the body of 'aHadeeth referred to as 'Qudsi' which would thus fall under the purview of 69 (Al-Haaqah):44 cited above.
What is it that the Messenger is to be obeyed in? His whims? absolutely not! Chapter 10, Yunus, verse 15 states, "When Our revelations are recited to them, those who do not expect to meet Us say 'Bring a Qur'an other than this, or change It!' Say, 'It is not for me to amend It of my own volition. I simply follow what is revealed to me. I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the retribution of an awesome day." From this we learn that the Prophet had no mandate to command us to do anything not sanctioned by God, otherwise the request to 'bring a Qur'an other than this or change it' would not make sense; his orders to us must be restricted to the message just like those issued by his illustrious predecessor messengers such as Nuh, Hud, Luut, Shu'aib and Saleh.
Chapter 7, Al-A'raaf, verses 59 through 93 inform us that they proclaimed to their people, in practically identical words, that they were messengers from God instructed to command them to worship God alone, to follow the guidance sent down by God and to obey them, the messengers, - they ask for no wage - in order to be rightly guided. They also warned their people of the consequences of disobeying them. Note that obedience is always voluntary and always connected with the message they were sent to deliver; the 'messenger' is always identified with his 'message'. From this, one may deduce that obedience was due not the individual, but the messenger, that is the message, as it is the message which will lead to right guidance; the message is meant to be obeyed even after the demise of the Messenger himself. It therefore follows that the messenger's job was to deliver the message and warn the recipients of the consequences of failing to obey the message. Once this is done, the messenger has no further responsibility. Whether they and their descendants obey the 'messenger' or not is entirely up to them. If they do obey it will be for their own good, if they do not it will be to their own detriment.
Had the obedience been due the Messenger himself, God would have told us to obey 'Muhammad', extended his responsibilities and given him powers of enforcement. There are no such provisions, and force is never recommended except within very narrow limits and always in a defensive manner as a reaction to its use by the opposition.
Muhammad's message was no different; obeying him, in the Qur'anic context, means only one thing: obeying God's commandments, and God's commandments are to be found exclusively in the Qur'an. In this case, of course, obeying the Messenger is obligatory for one's salvation since he is telling us, in effect, to "Obey the commandments of God as laid down in the Qur'an." Obeying others or disobeying God will inevitably lead us to perdition.
God tells us, in support of the above argument, at chapter 24, An-Nur, verse 54 " Say, 'Obey God and the Messenger.' If they refuse then he is responsible for his obligations and you are responsible for yours. If you obey him you will be rightly guided. The sole duty of the Messenger is to deliver." and at chapter 6, Al-An'am, verse 19, in part "...and this Qur'an has been inspired to me to warn you with and whomever It reaches..." and again at chapter 18, Al-Kahf, verse 27, we are told "Recite what has been revealed to you from your Lord's Book. None shall abrogate Its words and you shall never find refuge besides It." Note that the subject of the verse is 'Your Lord's Book'; thus 'words', 'abrogate' and 'refuge' apply to the 'Book', not 'Your Lord'. Salvation for us is in our 'Lord's book'.
Finally, and for good measure, we cite here two verses, chapter 5, Al-Ma'idah, verse 67, which commands "O Messenger! deliver what was sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you will not have delivered His messages, and God protects you from the people. God does not guide the disbelievers." and chapter 88, Al-Ghaashiyah, verses 21 and 22 state "(21) You shall remind; you are entrusted to remind, (22) You have no power over them." Only the believers will obey the Messenger; as for the disbelievers, they will not obey and will not be guided, but they will have been given a fair chance to be.
The above verses notwithstanding, the advocates of Hadeeth take the position that the Prophet was empowered to legalize things and prohibit other things and it is in these matters that he is to be obeyed and they go so far as to accept a Hadeeth which brazenly states "I was given the Qur'an and a similar one with it!" Maybe it is that 'similar Qur'an' which empowers the Prophet to legislate; the Qur'an we know certainly does not!
Could this Hadeeth be true in view of 5(Al-Ma'idah):67 quoted immediately above? If it were, God would have informed us in the Qur'an. Muhammad delivered only one Qur'an. Could he have flouted God's direct orders, amply cited above, and failed to deliver the 'similar Qur'an'? and what good is this 'similar Qur'an' to us if he kept it to himself?
Nowhere is it stated, or even implied, that the Messenger was commanded to deliver other than the Qur'an. In fact God, in the above cited verses, tells us clearly that it is only the Qur'an that we are to receive from His prophet and the only thing we are to consider. It is this Qur'an that the Messenger warns us with and it is this Qur'an that he is to deliver. These are perfectly clear verses that need no exegesis or interpretation. God will hold us, as well as the Messenger, responsible for the Qur'an, thus at chapter 43, Az-Zukhruf, verse 44, He says "It is the Reminder for you and for your people and you will surely be held accountable."
Here God imposes the Qur'an on our prophet and on us; He does not mention anything else. God does not err, be He exalted, nor does He forget. The omission of anything else from the above verse is not an oversight, it is deliberate because He decreed nothing else. The Qur'an is not a riddle.
Finally, we present, in support of our contention that the Prophet Muhammad was given nothing but the Qur'an as the instrument of his mission, the following two verses, chapter 50, Qaf, verse 45 "We are fully aware of what they say, and you have no power over them. Therefore, remind with the Qur'an those who would fear My warnings." and chapter 27, An-Naml, at verses 91 and 92 says "(91) I was commanded to worship the Lord of this town; He has made it a safe sanctuary and He possesses all things. I was commanded to be a submitter (92) And to recite the Qur'an. Whoever is guided is guided for his own good and if they go astray, then Say 'I am merely a warner'". The use of the term 'guided' after the word 'Qur'an' can only mean that the instrument for this guidance is the Qur'an.
These verses clearly show that Muhammad's task was to deliver only the Qur'an. He was not commanded to deliver anything else, to recite anything else, to warn with anything else, to strive with anything else, to remind with anything else or to rule with anything else. There are, it is to be reiterated, no contradictions or ambiguities in the Qur'an.
From these and the following verses one can also deduce that Muhammad's task, as the Messenger, did not include expounding the Qur'an. Chapter 33, Al-Ahzaab, verse 45, states "O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of good news and a warner." Also, Chapter 5, Al-Ma'ida, verse 99, states "The sole duty of the Messenger is to deliver the message and God knows what you reveal and what you conceal." Again, at chapter 13, Ar-Ra'd, verse 40, we read "Whether we show you some of what We promise them or earlier terminate your life, it is for you to deliver the message and for Us to call them to account." Also chapter 42, Ash-Shura, verse 48 informs us, in part, that "So if they turn away, We did not send you as their guardian. Your duty is but to convey..." If God is just, as He claims to be, would He call us to account for an unclear and incomplete message that was not manifestly delivered to us? No!
As amply shown above, the Prophet's sole function was to deliver the Qur'an and use It to warn, but also Muhammad's activities as Messenger were circumscribed by the Qur'an thus at chapter 25, Al-Furqan, verse 52 God commands him "Therefore do not obey the disbelievers and strive against them with It, a great striving." Thus all of Muhammad's mission is centered on the Qur'an, including his struggles.
In his temporal functions also, Muhammad is commanded to use the Qur'an. Chapter 5, Al-Ma'ida, verse 48, commands, in part, "...You shall rule among them in accordance with what God has revealed and do not follow their wishes if these differ from what was sent down to you..."
What is it that God sent down to His Messenger? Only the Qur'an! As we have seen, the Prophet himself prohibited the recording of anything from him except the Qur'an. That should tell us something about the importance he himself placed upon Hadeeth. Actions speak louder than words.
If there are no contradictions in the Qur'an - and there are none - these verses should be sufficient to convince the most obdurate of proponents of Hadeeth that Muhammad was sent to deliver only the Qur'an and use It to deal with the believer as well as the disbeliever; bring good news to the former and warn the latter, and to use It as his reference in his functions as a temporal leader.
According to the clear verses of the Qur'an, Muhammad was prohibited from explaining the Qur'an. At chapter 75, Al-Qiyamah, verses 16 to 19, Muhammad is commanded "(16) Do not move your tongue to expedite It. (17) It is for Us to collect It and promulgate It. (18) Once We have promulgated It, you shall follow Its promulgation. (19) Thereafter it is for Us to explain It." These verses confirm three things: (a) that it is only the Qur'an that Muhammad was to deliver; the 'It' referred to in these verses is the Qur'an; (b) that not only was Muhammad prohibited from expounding the Qur'an, but (c) he was also commanded to follow It.
We have, by God's leave, presented proof from His Book that the Prophet had no mandate to explain the Qur'an. The Qur'an Itself, if we care to read It carefully, clearly implies that there was never a need for Muhammad to interpret or explain It, simply because God provided him - in the Qur'an - with all the answers he needed to have. Thus we read in the Qur'an the expression "They ask you about..., Say...!" The answer to the question put to the prophet is given, by God, in the detail sufficient to obviate further questions on the issue. Nowhere do we read "They ask you about..., Give them your opinion!" or "...See what you think!" or even "...answer them as you see fit!"
Whatever the Messenger Gives You, You Shall Take.
As previously stated, probably the most abused and bandied about verse in the entire Qur'an is chapter 59, Al-Hashr, verse 7 which reads, in part, "...Whatever the Messenger gives you, you shall accept, and whatever he prohibits, you shall refrain from."
This verse was revealed in connection with the distribution of the spoils of war, more specifically 'fay'', that is booty acquired from the enemy without combat such as, for example, abandoned enemy property. In this type of spoils the fighters do not share. Thus the believers were enjoined to accept only those spoils the Messenger gives them and to refrain from taking what he prohibits them. It is the 'fay'' which they are prohibited to take; God has dictated who the recipients are to be.
Even a simple perusal of that, the preceding and succeeding verses clearly shows that it refers to the spoils of war. But even if we give the proponents of Hadeeth the benefit of the doubt and assume that the verse is of a general rather than a specific nature we would have to ask ourselves "what is it that the Messenger gave us? and what is it that the Messenger prohibited?" The only thing that he did give us, according to the Qur'an, is the Qur'an Itself. He prohibited only what he was commanded to prohibit, namely the things specifically cited in the Qur'an. Chapter 66, At-Tahreem, verse 1 states, in part, "O Prophet, why do you prohibit what God has made lawful for you...?" This is a reprimand, one of several, directed to the Prophet for having prohibited something which God made lawful.
Since the Qur'an is fully detailed and complete, It must contain all the prohibitions imposed by God. Anything that is not specifically prohibited is thus ipso facto permitted and the Prophet is not allowed to prohibit it as evidenced by the above cited verse as well as by 6(Al-An'am):115 and by 10(Yunus):15 quoted earlier. And lest, by some twist of logic, the proponents of Hadeeth argue that the Prophet was not permitted to prohibit something that God made lawful for him, but he may prohibit things made lawful for others, we present chapter 5, Al-Ma'idah, verse 87 in part "O you who believe, do not prohibit the good things which God has made lawful for you..." Here God commands all those who believe - and that includes the Prophet - not to prohibit things made lawful by Him. Also recall 6(Al-An'am):115 where God states that nothing shall alter His words and 10(Yunus):15 where the Messenger states that he cannot amend the Qur'an of his own volition.
This position with regards the Qur'an, enjoining what It makes lawful and proscribing what It prohibits, is the only one befitting a messenger of God who is commanded to deliver the Qur'an and to obey It; only then would his stand be consistent with that of God and conforming to the Qur'an and the only fair one since on the Day of Judgment God will not accept any excuses from us for failing to follow His commandments, which He distinctly and unequivocally detailed for us in the Qur'an. The exclusion of prohibitions from the Qur'an would constitute a valid excuse, at God, for not honoring them.
As for chapter 33, Al-Ahzaab, verse 21 which enjoins us to follow the messenger's excellent example, we must ask ourselves what is the example the conveyor of our religion is to give us? how he combed his hair? his mode of travel? what he did when he got sick? what foods he liked and how he ate them? how he carried out his personal hygiene? how he dressed? Obviously not, since most, if not all, of these things are irrelevant in our day and age; the Messenger had no hot and cold running water, shower or soap in his dwelling; he had no sewer, no pharmaceutical preparations or cosmetics, no automobile, no telescope, no machine gun, no high speed telecommunications or printing presses and no computers. All these modern amenities are gifts from God which He, in His mercy, created for our use. We should use them, as God intends them to be used, to make our lives easier and to praise Him. Thus it cannot be the messenger's life style that we are to follow as an example. What then?
Since he was commanded to follow the Qur'an and only the Qur'an, and since he was prohibited from explaining It, because though It is in plain Arabic, It is accessible only to the believer and no amount of explanation will get through to the disbeliever, the example must be in his moral behavior which is described as 'excellent' in the Qur'an and which must therefore accord with It, and in his steadfastness in the worship of the Almighty. The Messenger absolutely devoted his worship to God alone and sought his guidance only in the 'Light' that God sent down to him for us. We, by God's grace, still have that 'Light' to follow. What better example can there be?
God imposed the Qur'an on Muhammad just as He imposed It upon us. Muhammad thus had no choice but to follow It. He had the best road map or handbook, if you will, to get him to Paradise. If we wish to get to Paradise, we too must follow his example. He meticulously followed the road map or handbook which God gave to him - and to us, the Qur'an. In following the Qur'an we are necessarily following the Prophet's most excellent example.
That is the example that can be followed by anyone, anywhere at anytime and is the only example that matters since, if followed, it will lead to Paradise, the fulfillment of God's promise to those who will devote their worship to Him alone. This is the only example that need not be seen or explained to be understood and very easily followed.
The proponents of Hadeeth, of course, claim that Muhammad's lifestyle as well as his method of worship is the example to be followed. This inevitably leads to major inconsistencies in their behavior. We see many of these followers of the 'Sunna' - at least the more extreme among them - dressed in archaic garb and sporting unkempt beards without mustachio - they assure us that this is proper Islamic attire - in supposed emulation of the Prophet, and yet they do not hesitate to travel by air or to use assault rifles and anti-personnel devices with remote detonators to eliminate those who would dare hold opinions contrary to their tenets and whom they view as 'infidels' without regard for any innocent bystander who may happen to be in the way.
It is as if these 'Muslims' never heard 2(Al-Baqarah):256 cited earlier or chapter 18, Al-Kahf, verse 29 which commands Muhammad to "Proclaim: 'The truth is from your Lord'; so let whomever wishes to believe, do so and let whomever wishes to disbelieve, do so." These verses grant the entire human race absolute freedom of worship.
The confused and misguided tenets of these extremists are invariably derived from the myriad conflicting 'aHadeeth that suit their purposes and which permit them to do anything they wish and justify it no matter how reprehensible. They should pay heed to chapter 68, Al-Qalam, verse 36 to 38 which ask: "(36) What is wrong with your judgment? (37) Or do you have a Book to refer to? (38) In which you find anything you desire?". Nothing could be more apt.
These 'aHadeeth were certainly fabricated to justify and lend legitimacy to the iniquitous political behavior of the despotic ruler, who, more likely than not, had usurped power from his predecessor and who naturally was determined to hold on to it, or by the equally iniquitous opposition who were just as determined to remove the incumbent by any means - foul or fair.
The advocates of Hadeeth, as mentioned earlier, also follow what they believe to be the 'sunna' of the Prophet in the method of worship such as for example the ritual wash for prayer, 'wudu'. They do things differently from the ablution prescribed by God in the Qur'an. Here their alleged Hadeeth puts them at variance with God's direct commands. The 'wudu'', as detailed in the Qur'an, is a direct commandment of God; any changes to it, except as permitted by God, would put it outside of the definition laid down by God. It would thus cease to be valid consequently nullifying the prayer which it must, normally, precede. Surely Muhammad would never have flouted a direct order from his Lord.
Inspiration Divinely Inspired:
Chapter 53, An-Najm, verse 4 which refers to 'inspiration divinely inspired' and which the proponents of Hadeeth say applies to every word issuing from the mouth of Muhammad and which they use in their attempt to prove the veracity of Hadeeth, in fact speaks to the Qur'an. The whole chapter refers to the Qur'an and to the 'Issra'', the heavenly journey that Muhammad was, by God's will, taken on and during which the Qur'an was placed in his heart and he was shown of the marvels of his Lord. It is the Qur'an which is 'inspiration divinely inspired'.
In the first place, even if we grant that every word that issued from the mouth of Muhammad was divine revelation or 'inspiration divinely inspired' - which we emphatically deny - it does not necessarily follow that Hadeeth is correct, because it is simply impossible to prove, scientifically or otherwise, that the Prophet actually said any of it given the total absence of writing throughout the first century A.H. In fact, in view of the odd nature of the content of some 'aHadeeth, the balance of probabilities weighs overwhelmingly against the Messenger, a good and sensible man chosen by God, ever having said them.
Here the proponents of Hadeeth are trying logical acrobatics to support their case! They are trying to lend an aura of infallibility to their 'aHadeeth by ascribing them to divine inspiration and then using that same divine inspiration to point to the infallibility of their 'aHadeeth all the while failing to establish any connection between the 'aHadeeth and the Prophet who is the one supposed to receive that divine inspiration in the first place. Clear? No amount of assumption or circular thinking will correct a non-sequitur.
Secondly it is utterly unreasonable to apply that verse to every word that issued from the mouth of Muhammad and, above all, it is contrary to the Qur'an, which, at chapter 33, Al-Ahzaab, verse 37, states in part "Recall that you said to the one who was blessed by God and blessed by you, 'Keep your wife and revere God' while hiding within yourself what God wished to proclaim. Thus you feared the people when you should have feared only God..." Muhammad made a major error and God is here reprimanding him. How can this be 'inspiration divinely inspired'?
The above verse also tells us that Muhammad did speak out of his own 'desire' or volition, thus proving that 53(An-Najm):3 could not possibly apply to every word he uttered, but, as we said earlier, applies only to the Qur'an. The words "keep your wife..." were uttered by Muhammad of his own desire; they could not possibly have been 'inspiration divinely inspired' since God reprimanded him for uttering them. God's testimony should put finis to this blasphemous claim for good.
Another reprimand is directed at Muhammad in chapter 80, Abasa, verse 1, and there are, as cited above, several others. The proponents of Hadeeth insist that these are not 'errors' and that Muhammad was immune to error. They refuse to believe God and accept that he was an ordinary human like them - the Qur'an assures us of that, thus at chapter 18, Al-Kahf, verse 110 God commands Muhammad, in part, to: " Say 'I am no more than a human like you, receiving inspiration that your God is One God'..." - and that all humans err. Furthermore, if these were not errors, then why, pray tell, did the Almighty reprimand him? Is God unfair? Are these people prepared to accuse God, tacitly albeit, of injustice in order to vindicate Muhammad and God, hallowed be His Name, Al-Haq, is the very essence of justice? This is indeed exceeding strange! Again, the Qur'an gives us the truth. Chapter 41, Fussilat, verse 6, commands "Say, 'I am no more than a human like you who receives inspiration that your God is one God. You shall be devoted to Him and ask His forgiveness. Woe to the idol-worshippers." It is significant that the warning phrase 'woe to the idol-worshippers' is used in the verse which instructs Muhammad to tell his people that he is a human just like them.
The Qur'an also tells us that Muhammad not only erred and was reprimanded, as stated above, but also that he was capable of the worst error of all, idolatry, which would have caused him to end up in Hell; thus chapter 39, Az-Zumar, verse 65 states "It has been revealed to you and to those before you that if you ever commit idolatry all your works shall be nullified and you shall be among the losers." Why would God issue such a stern warning to Muhammad if he were not capable of, or was immune to, idol-worship? God's words, be He exalted far above what they say, are not hollow.
Wisdom separate from Qur'an:
As stated earlier, Islamic scholars claim that Hadeeth is the 'wisdom' referred to in the Qur'an, and that it is distinct from the Qur'an. Chapter 17, Bani-Isra'eel, verse 39 should disabuse them. It reads "This is part of the wisdom revealed to you by your Lord. You shall not set up with God another God, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and defeated." What else besides the Qur'an did God reveal to His Messenger? God Himself mentions nothing! Note also that this verse warns Muhammad against idol-worship, further proof that he was a mere mortal capable of the worst of offences.
Moreover, God Himself refers to the Qur'an as "Hakeem" (endowed with wisdom). Let us read chapter 10, Yunus, verse 1, "A. L. R. These are the proofs of this Book of wisdom"; chapter 31, Luqman, verse 1 and 2, "(1)A. L. M. (2)These are the proofs of this Book endowed with wisdom" and chapter 36, Ya Seen, verse 1 and 2, "(1) Y. S. (2) And the Qur'an endowed with wisdom." Need we say more? Why God would send down the scripture devoid of wisdom - and yet He, in His wisdom, describes it as 'hakeem' - and then proceed to send down the wisdom separately, is hard to comprehend. What else is one to think if the book and wisdom are two separate things?
Be that as it may; we, however, cite one last verse to put this matter to rest. In chapter 43, Az-Zukhruf, verse 4, God states "And It is preserved at Us in the original, exalted and endowed with wisdom." Any further argument to the effect that the wisdom is separate from the Qur'an would defy all logic and, worse still, fly in the face of the Qur'anic evidence heretofore adduced.
At this point it would be appropriate to clear a few matters relating to the wisdom inherent in the Qur'an and its acquisition by the reader and to knowledge of the Qur'an Itself. Is it possible to read the Qur'an and not acquire wisdom?
Yes! if you are a disbeliever.
Chapter 41, Fussilat, verse 44 states "If We had made this a non-Arabic Qur'an, they would have said 'why were Its verses not detailed?' Arabic and non-Arabic; Say 'It is, for those who believe, guidance and healing; as for those who do not believe, there is deafness in their ears and for them It is blindness.'
It is as though these are being called from a distant place." Here, blindness is allegorical for lack of wisdom. The fact is that only the believer will gain wisdom from the Qur'an. The infidel will not only not gain wisdom, but he will be misled.
The Qur'an is unlike any other book in the universe; it is the very word of the Almighty Creator, and only He can teach it. God also tells us that He will explain it. Chapter 55, Ar-Rahman, verse 1, says: "The Almighty taught the Qur'an."
In order to know and understand the Qur'an and thus gain wisdom from It, one must first sincerely ask God for His help to understand It, then go back to the Qur'an Itself. Thus at chapter 2, Al-Baqarah, verses 2 and 3, God tells us, in part: "(2) This Book, which is free of doubt, is a guidance to the righteous (3) who, in good faith, believe..." Thus the Qur'an is a guidance only to those who accept It without requiring proof of Its credentials, that is, those who accept It in good faith.
A close examination of 'accepting in good faith' reveals that only three things need be accepted without proof: (a) that the Qur'an is divine revelation, (b) that It is complete and (c) that It is fully detailed. Once one accepts these three elements without proof thereof, the Qur'an, quite literally, opens up and becomes a guidance; one then experiences an 'explosion' of knowledge. Things suddenly, by the will of God, become clear.
Failure, on the other hand, to accept any one of these elements in good faith will result in the active intervention of the Almighty to prevent the seeker from gaining guidance from the Qur'an. The seeker will only be misled. This, God tells us at chapter 17, Bani Isra'eel, verses 45 and 46 "(45) When you read the Qur'an We place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter an invisible barrier. (46) We put shields upon their hearts to prevent them from understanding It, and deafness in their ears. And when you commemorate your Lord in the Qur'an alone they turn away in aversion."
Anyone who says that the Qur'an is not endowed with wisdom and that he needs Hadeeth to supply the wisdom is loudly proclaiming that he is not a believer!
We have, by God's will, addressed every one of the major arguments of the advocates of Hadeeth and put the underlying Qur'anic quotations in their right perspective and reinforced our counter arguments with other verses and with logical arguments that are incontrovertible.
There is only one major issue that we have not addressed, intercession. The advocates of Hadeeth assure us that the Messenger will intercede on our behalf with God on the Day of Judgment, but they do not quote any verses from the Qur'an to support their contention since there are none, but they depend instead on 'aHadeeth to back up their belief. There are several verses in the Qur'an that refer to intercession.
God says that only those who will be allowed by Him will intercede but He does not tell us who they are or under what circumstances. It is safe to assume that intercession will only be on behalf of believers. We do know, however, that the Prophet Muhammad will not intercede on behalf of his 'ummah', he will, instead, bear witness against them; the Qur'an tells us that at chapter 25, Al-Furqaan, verse 30 which states that, on the Day of Judgment, "And the Messenger said, 'My Lord, my people have abandoned this Qur'an.'"
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