In the Name of Allāh
There are 2 things:
1) the authenticity of Hadith; in which the status of the Hadiths’ text and chain is concerned, and
2) the authority of Hadith; in which the authority that Hadith holds in Islamic rulings is concerned.
Since early Islamic History, there has been groups that have objected the authenticity of Hadith. In the very beginning, when a group started doubting the authenticity of Hadith, Imam Shafi’i (d. 204 A.H) refuted them. Then the idea of rejecting hadith that contradicted one’s intellect (`aql) emerged, so Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276 A.H) refuted them and they stopped their arguments. Then a group came and tried attacking hadith by claiming that the Prophet (peace & blessing upon him) had prohibited writing down hadith so Khatib al-Baghdadi (463 A.H) responded to them and they stopped. After Khatib Baghdadi, a bid’ati from the Rawafid appeared and started claiming that the Sunnah has no authority. These were the extreme Rawafid. The non-extreme shi’as objected on the authenticity of hadith, and take only from narrators that are shi’a. So Imam Suyuti wrote a book called ‘Miftahul Jannah fi Ihtijaaj bis Sunnah’ doing radd on his claims.
It was only form the end of the 19th to the early of the 20th century when certain groups emerged which rejected Hadith, and the authority (hujjiyyat) of the prophet.
There are 2 types of Wahi: 1) matlu; the Qur’an 2) ghair matlu; the Hadith
They are both revelation from Allāh Ta’āla. One cannot accept only one method of revelation and reject the other. Allāh Ta’āla sends wahī in several different ways; a verse of the Qur’an, sends an angel to direct/correct the prophet, or Allāh Ta’āla himself gives a command to the prophet but it’s not sent as a verse of the Qur’ān. One example can be: when Allah Ta’āla sent: ‘Fa walli wajhaka…’ (So turn you face towards Masjid Haram…), we understand that at that point, the Muslims are facing another direction, which is Masjid al Aqsa. However, in the Qur’an, the time when Allah Ta’āla actually ordered the Muslims to face masjid al-Aqsa, that command isn’t there. So we understand that Allāh Ta’āla commanded them, but that command isn’t in the Qur’ān. Which means that what the prophet does and says is actually wahī from Allah Ta’āla. Allāh Ta’āla thereafter mentions about this turning that it was actually a test: ‘Li na’lama may yattabi’ur Rasula mim may yanqalibu’ (So that we may distinguish those that follow the prophet from those that turn away). Allāh Ta’āla didn’t say ‘to distinguish those who follow the Qur’ān from those who don’t, but said to distinguish those that follow the prophet from those that don’t. This means that the sayings and actions of the prophet are hujjah (authoritative).
There are so many verses that prove that we have to follow the prophet’s commands, because Allāh Ta’āla says so.
The Arguments of the Rejectors of Hadith:
The Hadith rejectors have many arguments, but I’ll mention 2 main ones that seems like their strongest arguments:
1. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not write anything from me, except the Qur’ān” [Sahīh Muslim]
Firstly it’s very foolish that they use one hadith to reject all hadith. If they reject hadith, they can’t use a hadith to prove this. This prohibition was in the beginning of Islam because the Prophet ﷺ feared that people might mix Qur’an with his hadith, or that the people will start relying on books and stop memorizing knowledge. After some time, the prophet ﷺ gave permission to the sahabah to write his ahadith.
They also use this hadith that the prophet ﷺ said: “when you find a hadith from me, refer it to the book of Allah, if it conforms with it, accept it. If it contradicts it, then reject it”. This hadith is actually known to be mowdhū’ (fabricated). The enemies of Islam have fabricated this hadith so that hadith on it’s own can have no hujjat until the Qur’an confirms it. So the Rejectors of Hadith can get rid of all those hadith which aren’t mentioned in the Qur’an as well, which is the majority of Hadith. So our muhaddithūn have done exactly what this hadith says, they referred it to the Qur’an and saw that nowhere in the Qur’an does it say that only those hadith should be accepted that are in agreement with the Qur’an, so they rejected this hadith as well. Well the hadith is most likely mowdhū’ anyways, but they just did that to show that what they’re saying is bātil.
2. They say that the hadith were written in the 3rd century.
They say this as if the prophet ﷺ said all his Hadith, then once he passed away, everyone became quiet. Then, someone from the 3rd century decided to start writing Hadith. This is completely incorrect, because since the prophet said all the hadith, people have been memorizing the hadith, and it was passed down through the generation by memory, which was the strongest method of that time. In reality there were 50 sahabah who had collections of hadith, some had written them in the prophet’s mosque and it couldn’t have been done except with the prophet’s permission. There were also 49 scholars from the first century, 87 from the last first century, and 251 from the second century, all who recorded Hadith. If one rejects hadith on the basis that it was not in written form, then one must reject the the Qur’an as well because even the Qur’an did not take form of a book during the lifetime of the prophet ﷺ, it was during the khilafat of Abu Bakr that it was collected into one single book.
Obstacles Faced by the Rejectors of Hadith
1. Since all the ahkām in the Qur’an are mentioned briefly, it’s only possible to apply them through hadith. However, because they reject hadith, they know they have to pray, but don’t know how. They have so much differences amongst them that they have so many different ways of praying. Most of them pray 2 rakaats of salaah, 3 times a day because of the verse: ‘Wa aqimis Salaata tarafayin Nahari wa Zulfam minal Layl’. Some kneel on one knee and slowly recite Allahu Akbar. Some stand with their imam, which stands amongst the people, not in front of them. They recite 25 verses and go to ruku’. After ruku’, they go straight to sajdah and do only one sajdah. And they end the prayer without any salaam. They pray like this but even this full method is not proved from the Qur’an. Allāh Ta’āla has commanded us to pray in so many places but how can Allāh commands us to pray without telling us the method? That’s why we understand that hadith is hujjat because the method of prayer is found in it. The same goes for zakah.
2. Another issue they face is regarding zakah.
These are two examples, but there are many more obstacles they face. They are not aware what’s khās, ām, mustahab, makrūh etc. Also, for example the verses pertaining to alcohol, it’s mentioned in 4 different places. However, since the verses clash among each other, they don’t know whether, alcohol was first allowed, then the prohibition was revealed or was it first not allowed, then Allāh Ta’āla said ‘now you can drink it, but not in prayer’. Even the details for qat’u yad, hajj and almost all actions, they can’t figure it out by merely depending on the Qur’an.
The truth is, the reason why certain people want to reject hadith is because they want to free themselves from acting upon the shar’i rulings. Just because they don’t want to pray, fast or give zakah, the actual way the shari’ah has prescribed, they want to attack the authority of hadith. This is because they know that if hadith is removed, they can live their lives almost exactly like modern western lives. Since they have left hadith, they have separated into so many little groups, and they are extremely confused of how salah, zakah and other rulings should be carried out.
We ask Allāh Ta’āla for protection
Written by ‘Alimah Sabrina al-Faarsiyyah (@thehadithdisciple)